A: In this movie I needed to learn the basics
of using a sword. It took about a month. The only things we could learn
were the basic moves like this and this [he demonstrates a few simple
blocks and parries]. The problem was, we didn't know what kind of
action movie we were going to make. The action director liked to
arrange all the scenes and the details on-set. So everyday we'd go on
set and wait for him to come in and see what he wanted to do. Then we'd
practice, then we'd shoot.
Q: That sounds quite dangerous...
A: It was very... precarious!
Q: The movie was shot on location in the Ukraine. Was that a challenge?
A: Not so much for us, the actors. We just had to sit
around and wait. But it was something of a challenge for the director
Q: The snow battle looked like it was more challenging for the actors than the director...
A: That was good actually. It was very cold and very
tiring, but the snow was really something. I once heard this opinion
about drama. What is a movie? A movie is story, story, story. What is a
story? A story is all about drama. What is drama? When I walk to the
door over there and enter the room behind it - that is not drama. But
when I walk over to the door and it's locked and I do something to make
the door open - that's drama. So drama involves something that stops
you from doing what you want to do. When I was fighting in the snow, I
knew that it was going to be dramatic. Even when you tried to walk, the
snow was against you. So even the walking was dramatic!
Q: The snow wasn't planned for that fight scene, was it?
A: No, it wasn't planned. It was a gift!
Q: Was that the most difficult action sequence to shoot?
A: The hardest for me was fighting with the other actor
[Andy Lau] and actress [Zhang Ziyi]. It was easier fighting against
stuntmen, because they were professionals and if you hit them it didn't
hurt them so much. But when you're fighting one of the actors it
becomes really scary because you're afraid that you'll hit one of them.
So I think doing action scenes with real actors is very difficult.
G: I guess you don't want to go down in history as the man who hurt Andy Lau, do you?
A: No! Exactly! [Laughs]
Q: Do you think it's a very different film from Hero?
A: It's totally different. But the common point of both the
films is about sacrifice - when you make a choice you have to sacrifice
Q: After finishing this big-budget Chinese epic
would you be interested in working in Hollywood, or do you prefer to
remain in Asia?
A: I'll try any kind of movie, not just because of its
budget. A big budget doesn't mean it'll be a good movie. So if the
story's good or the character's interesting enough to make you want to
collaborate on it, then I think I would take the opportunity. But I
don't think Asian people get very good roles in Hollywood. I'm not
really aiming at moving into that area.
Q: This must be a great time to be working in Asian cinema with internationally acclaimed films like Old Boy and lots of Hollywood interest in Asian films...
A: I think that the cinema industry in mainland China has
really opened up and all of Hollywood and Europe wants to go into that
market. That's why Asian movies have become so huge in western
Q: Have you noticed a difference with your fans? Do you have more international fans now?
A: Basically, I don't have a fan club. But I have noticed
that I get more letters from people in non-Asian countries than I used
House Of Flying Daggers is released in UK cinemas on Friday 26th December 2004