It is not exactly ‘Casino Royale’, but Singapore’s casino resort Marina Bay Sands can now lay claim to its own James Bond-like spectacle, thanks to Taiwan-based actor-singer Wang Lee Hom.
“The climax of the movie is probably when Lee Homemerged from the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands with his bare torso,” remarked emcee Danny Yeo at a press conference, referring to the swimming pool in the hotel that is located at the 57th floor.
Wang, 37, and Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, 34, was in town on 13 September to promote their film, ‘My Lucky Star’, opening in Singapore this week.
It is the first international filmed to be shot at the city resort.
Zhang quipped to reporters: “Tourists now have a new reason to visit the Marina Bay Sands now that Lee Hom has soaked in it.”
‘My Lucky Star’ is an autonomous prequel to 2009’s box-office hit ‘Sophie’s Revenge’.
Zhang, who is the movie’s co-producer, reprises her role as Sophie, a muddle-headed travel agent who is also a talented comic artist.
‘My Lucky Star’ follows Sophie’s adventures when she scores a five-day luxurious holiday to Singapore, and meets the man of her dreams – a suave international spy who looks like one of her comic characters.
What ensues is a crazy adventure where she gets embroiled in the spy’s mission to find the biggest diamond in the world named “My Lucky Star”, taking them from Beijing to Singapore to Hong Kong and Macau.
‘My Lucky Star’ trailer
The chemistry between the two stars were evident as they joked about their onscreen kisses at the press conference held at the ArtScience Museum.
There were “many long and good takes”, both of them said.
“When they kissed, I never wanted to call ‘cut’,” said director Dennie Gordon, who is the first American woman to direct a film for China’s domestic market. She has worked on American TV dramas such as ‘Chicago Hope’, ‘Ally Mcbeal’ and ’30 Rock’.
Fans of Wang did not want to call “cut” with their digital devices either.
They were busy shooting videos or taking photos of him at Marina Bay Sands, and Zhang recalled that these female fans were a distraction during filming.
‘MY LUCKY STAR’ GETS ‘LUCKY’
Wang Lee Hom
When shooting in Hong Kong, the cast had a different sort of “distraction”.
Veteran action star Jackie Chan visited the set and decided to offer some unsolicited “consultancy” services.
Wang recalled with a laugh: “Ziyi and I were filming an action sequence when he visited, I guess when da ge (big brother) saw us, he could not sit by and do nothing.”
Chan stayed till 4am guiding the pair as they filmed, and even choreographed an entire action sequence for them.
Also see: Zhang Ziyi and Wang Lee Hom gallery
The film crew was met with yet another surprise the following day when Chan’s whole stunt crew turned up. He had generously “loaned” his team for the rest of the production with no charges.
The co-stars were especially moved by his gestures, because he visited the set when they were filming in one of Hong Kong’s sewage treatment spots.
Zhang recalled: “Although the scene was shot very beautifully, it was exceedingly smelly and unsanitary, but brother Chanstill stayed with us throughout to rehearse and to help us.”
Gordon, who is also a Jackie Chan fan, was immensely grateful for his generosity. She felt extremely privileged to be able to collaborate with these showbiz icons from the Chinese film industry.
Zhang said that as producer, she wanted to experiment with a new model of production so that “the vast talent and materials in mainland China can be further tapped upon” for the entertainment industry.
The actress added: “It was a very bold move on my part, but I decided to go ahead with it because it would open up a world of options (for collaborations) should my attempt succeed.”
A GLIMPSE OF THE ‘REAL’ ZIYI
And speaking of bold, the light-hearted film presents a very different side of Zhang, who is best known for her tough women roles in martial arts and period action films such as ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, ‘Hero’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’.
Here, she stops flying through air on wires and breaks from the typecast for once to play a simple-minded, modern-day woman in her latest film.
Wang said: “Unlike the Ziyi you see on the red carpet, the film will present a feminine, cute, down-to-earth, dreamy, and even whiny side of the usually glamorous star.”
Zhang added: “Sophie is very much like me away from the public’s eye. Because I cannot present that side of myself to the public, I wanted to show that side of myself in the movie.”
The film also showcases Zhang’s virgin attempt at singing. The actress had to step out of her comfort zone to perform a duet, ‘Ai Yi Dian’ (translated as “love a little”), with seasoned pop singer Wang.
Zhang said she had to be coaxed to go into the studio. While she was comfortable having karaoke sessions with her friends, this was an entirely different experience.
“I recognise that my forte is not in singing, and it will never be. But I was not in a position to reject, and so I did it, and I’m glad I did,” she said.