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Gordon Chan
    2008-09-22 16:03:15     CRIENGLISH.com

In 1970s, a horror movie called "Hua Pi", or "Painted Skin" in English, was shown in China. The film was adapted from the novel Liao Zhai Zhi Yi, a collection of supernatural stories written by Pu Songling in the Qing Dynasty. It was said the movie so horrifying, some audience members suffered heart attacks. So the film was not shown publicly anymore.

In late September, a remake of "Painted Skin" will hit the cinema. A departure from the old version, this movie is said to be more of a love story than a thriller. People are expecting a lot from the movie, not only because of the star-studded cast, but also its director Gordon Chan, who is considered one of the best directors in Hong Kong. Today, let's learn more about this highbrow director.

Gordon Chan [Photo source: sohu.com]


When people talk about Gordon Chan, a number of action movies such as Beast Cops, Fist of Legend and 2000 AD are mentioned. Once a stunt props manager, Chan is now associated with many movies exploring the adventures of swordsmen. He is good at using special effects, and many of his swordsmen and action films were box office hits in the 1990s. However, Chan made his movies differently than other filmmakers during that time.

"I tried my best to avoid using wire, which was used a lot in Hong Kong's kung fu movies. I think it looks unreal. From my past experience, I found that real expressions have their own power. It may not be as eye-catching as special effects, but can give a different, more intense experience to the audience."

In the movie Fist of Legend, which starred Jet Li, Chan focused on real fight scenes instead of special effects. The movie won wide acclaim from critics and the audience.

With Beast Cops in 1998, Gordon Chan mixed high-octane gunplay with a powerful dramatic interplay between his characters. Beast Cops won him the Best Director award at the 1999 Hong Kong Film Awards. Although action was always a key element in Chan's work, he says he tries to convey a different view of violence.

"Action movies are not for promoting violence. Force is the last choice when there is no other way to save a life. This is my principle of making action scenes."

Gordon Chan is a versatile person who is not only good at directing different types of movies, but also in screenwriting and producing. Many consider him a highbrow movie practitioner because of the positive things he tried to transfer through his films.

In the early 1990s, Gordon Chan made several comedies with actor Stephen Chow, such as 'King of Beggars' and 'Fight Back to School'. In these works, which appeared to be slapstick, Chan showed how an average person gradually became a hero, and also tried to express his understanding of life.

"I often go to the theater to hear what the audience is saying about my films. Since most of them don't know me, I can get honest feedback from them. Once upon a time, I heard several boys discussing the ideas I wanted to convey. I was so happy that they understood it. For me, it is great that the audience can be entertained by my movies, but it is even better that they can get something from it. And that's what I want the most."

'Painted Skin' features top Chinese stars such as Zhao Wei, Chen Kun, Donnie Yen and Zhou Xun. However, many of them said they initially did not want to join the act. But after the director spent a few minutes persuading them, they were sold. Zhao Wei says Gordon Chan is an excellent communicator who not only helped the cast perform better and understand the plot, but someone who gave them a better understanding of life itself.

"On the set, performers sometimes face difficulties getting into character. Director Chan is a good communicator and tutor. He could help us understand the plot and solve our various problems in only a few sentences. So we learned a lot during the shooting."

In his latest movie, Chan adapts the original thriller to a story telling what love really is. He also wants to express his perspective of love. Although the audience and critics have a high expectations from the movie, Chan says he doesn't care much about the box office.

"To be frank, as a director I try my best while making a movie, and when I finish it, I just forget about it. I then prepare for my next work. I cannot control other people's comments and the box office. All these things cannot change the movie. So I think what matters most is that I have done my best."

Gordon Chan is now also working as the chairman of the Hong Kong Film Awards Association Board of Directors. He hopes that he will continue to contribute to the development of Hong Kong's and China's movie industry.



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