Movie Feature

Taiwanese actor Ethan Juan takes on boldest role yet in 'Paradise in Service'

By Ang Jia YunMovies - 28 October 2014 4:08 PM | Updated 4:26 PM

Taiwanese actor Ethan Juan takes on boldest role yet in 'Paradise in Service'

Just when Taiwanese model-actor Ethan Juan Jing-Tian completed his military service after being discharged in 2013, ‘Paradise in Service’ lures him back to training of a tougher sort in front of the camera. 

Best known for his performance as Monk in gangster movie ‘Monga’, which won him Best Actor at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards in 2010, the 32-year-old actor transforms in his latest movie into a compliant but faint-hearted soldier named Pao.

It is set in the island of Quemoy, otherwise known as the most dangerous military base due to its proximity to China, between the years 1969 and 1972.

His character serves in the Sea Dragon, the toughest unit from the nationalist force that withdrew from Mainland China.

Actor Ethan Juan says the harsh physical training in Quemoy was "on a whole new level (Photo: Golden Village Pictures, Encore Films)

“The experience of acting in this movie was bittersweet. I felt happy I could work with Do ge (director Doze Niu Chen-Zer) and my meimei (younger sister) Chen Yi-Han. On the other hand, unlike the other movies I’ve done, the training was very tough. I miss it but I don’t wish to repeat it,” Juan said , as he reminisced about the conditions they endured during the five-month-long shoot.

The soldiers of the past went through agonising situations and the actors subjected themselves to similar routines, which means to "treat (themselves) like dogs", he added.

Above all else, it was team effort that helped the actors persevere through the arduous shoot.
 (Photo: Golden Village Pictures, Encore Films)

Juan told inSing: “I could tolerate the physical pain, but what was most tormenting was missing home.” 

During filming, the actor was not allowed to return home to his seven-year girlfriend Tiffany Hsu, because director Niu wanted them to stomach the insatiable physical desire their characters faced.

“I overcame my suffering by being in the company of fellow actors. We encouraged one another a lot. Everyone suffered together, so it was less painful that way,” Juan revealed.

The “paradise” in ‘Paradise in Service’ was introduced when the ever-incompetent Pao was transferred to Unit 831, which was a military brothel that caters to the island troops.

Determined to remain a virgin till marriage, Pao fights off the pestering from his fellow soldiers and the come-hither looks by prostitutes.

His resistance is challenged by one woman named Nini (Regina Wan Qian).

Regina Wan Qian as Nini, otherwise known as prostitute "No. 7" at Unit 831 (Photo: Golden Village Pictures, Encore Films)

Juan’s lovemaking scene with Wan has garnered a lot of talk, especially since it involves the latter slipping her hands beneath his underwear. The award-winning actor had to pad extra layers inside to avoid having a "reaction".  

“At first, I was very worried, as it required me to be extremely daring. But the filming went very smoothly with (Wan), as we had strong chemistry and respect for each other,” Juan explained, to address if there was any potential awkwardness with his co-star.  

He also put to bed notions that this sex scene might have impacted his real-life romance with Hsu: “My girlfriend is an actress as well, so she understands that it’s part of our job instead of other reasons.”

The intimate scene between Juan and Wan has been the focus of media attention (Photo: Golden Village Pictures, Encore Films)

Juan said the sex scene is hardly the main gist of the movie, and the female characters aim to portray the tragic resignation of their characters, as well as their soul-destroying jobs and listless lives as prostitutes.

The actor hopes the movie will “translate a larger message" beyond Pao's sex life.

“It uncovers what my grandfather’s generation went through, and it helped me understand their thoughts and feelings better. While filming, I thought of my grandfather’s situation back then and secretly cried. My director scolded me for that.

"Another reason why I picked this movie is to allow the audience to understand that they have it so much better living in today’s world.”

‘Paradise in Service’ opens in cinemas 6 November 2014 

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Paradise In Service
  • Paradise In Service

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