Tsui Hark: Precision is vital in 3D

By Patrick BenjaminMovies - 09 July 2012 9:42 AM | Updated 9:50 AM

Tsui Hark:  Precision is vital in 3D

Any fan of Hong Kong cinema will definitely know the name Tsui Hark. A veteran filmmaker with more than 40 movies to his name (and countless producing credits), Tsui is instrumental in bringing Hong Kong films to the global stage, namely with his brand of action-fantasy and period movies like ‘Once Upon A Time In China’, ‘Black Mask’, ‘Peking Opera Blues’, ‘Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’ and most recently ‘ The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate’.

Ahead of the tele-premiere of ‘Flying Swords of Dragon Gate’ as part of the Celestial Superstars Club on Celestial Movies, had the chance to speak with the auteur who lets us in about directing the first ever 3-D wu-xia box office hit film.


‘Flying Swords of Dragon Gate’ is the world’s first 3D wu-xia film. What are some of your fondest experiences during the production of the movie?  

Some of my fondest experiences involve the challenges concerning the climate and the natural environment during the filming. Those things brought a whole host of challenges to the actors too.


What kind of challenges?

The actors pointed out that it was hard for keep their focus and say their lines because of the sandy wind. It also took the crew a longer time to reapply makeup because of that. Not to mention that we have a big cast as well.

It was also hard to design the filming schedule since it was not possible to attend to the needs of all the actors. Some actors didn’t have time or some actors were just too tired after a day of filming.

Most of them hadn’t had such a challenging shooting experience. But even then, I was happy to work with all of them; since most of them are professional and willing to handle difficulties.


What about the challenges of shooting in 3D?

There were a lot of challenges. In the past, you just needed to gauge approximately within a frame. And like what Jet Li has mentioned before, having been in the film industry for around thirty years, he only needed just one take.

Also read: Interview with Jet Li

However, now, since it’s important to show the sharpness of the swords in 3D movies, every shot needs to be executed perfectly. A great deal of measurement needed to be carried out. A tiny difference could cause very different results.

Hence, precision is vital. Jet had to imagine there is a tiny hole in front of him instead of a big frame. We had to go over and over again to attain the best effects.


'The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate' trailer


Is there anything new that you discovered about Jet Li during the making of this film? 

I have been working with Jet Li for many years. He has grown and matured as an actor, but in the past, he could be a little silly.

I’m very glad to be working with Jet again for this film. Since his character in this movie is very different from his previous ones, this is definitely an eye-opener for audiences.


Tell us more about the action scenes.

A lot of the action in this movie looks more rounded and powerful thanks to 3D. However, our eyes may not be able to respond to 3D as well as 2D. To deal with this, we designed some slow but arduous fighting scenes for the audiences. This was surely a challenge for us.  


Your favourite scene

It would have to be the scene in Xi Xia Palace. It’s like a maze that’s as big as Chaoyang District (in Beijing). When the camera pans out from the roof, you can see the scale of the palace.

Another great scene was in the shipyard with an enormous harbour and a lot of ships. Every location and scene has its special place in my heart. I think the one I miss most will be the Dragon Gate Inn.


Grab your spicy Szechuan takeouts and don’t forget to tune into Celestial Movies (Starhub TV Cable ch 868 and SingTel mioTV ch 52) on July 15 for a 3-D action feast.