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Filmmaker John Radel thinks that Asian films will soon take over the world from Hollywood movies, and he is not afraid to state it outright during an interview with movieXclusive.com.

Recently in Singapore to promote Dance of the Dragon, which opens here on 1 May, the film’s director tells us that there aren’t too many fresh and new ideas coming from Hollywood anymore. Instead, the world should be looking out for films originating from Asia.

“I love Asian cinema. About three quarters of films are made in Asia, and there is no reason why all eyes should be set in this region,” says the Australian, comfortably seated in a lounge in Cathay Cineleisure.

His film tells the story of a Korean country boy who dreams of being a famous ballroom dancer. Twenty years later, he leaves Korea for Singapore where he is trained by a former ballroom dancing champion. Feelings begin develop between the two and a tale of passion, love, dreams and hopes follows.

Radel says that there is something special and appealing about ballroom dancing which attracted him to the project: “There is beauty and grace in this, and it’s also empowering. I hope that by making this film, there will be a wider audience who will appreciate it.”

The film stars Korean heartthrob Jang Hyuk (Windstruck, Please Teach Me English) and Singapore’s starlet Fann Wong (Shanghai Knights, Ah Long Pte Ltd) in the leading roles. The bespectacled director, who also served as the film’s director of photography has nothing but praises for these two Asian actors.

“There is no ego involved at all, and there is so much dedication from them. It’s an absolute joy to work with these professional actors.”

But having no prior training in dancing, there must have been some embarrassing moments on set?

Radel reveals: “Sure, Fann fell on her butt a few times, but for the rest of the juicy moments, maybe I’d only talk about it when the DVD is released!”

Executive producer Robin Leong isn’t spilling any beans on the actors too. However, the international martial arts champion also sing praises for the cast on the film: “I’m pleasantly surprised how easy it was to work with the actors.

“And for Fann, I’ve known her since 1997, and she has matured nicely over the years. She’s definitely got it,” adds Leong, who himself has starred in films like One Leg Kicking (2002) and Yesteryou, Yesterme, Yesterday (1992).

Having won numerous international fighting and forms competitions throughout the world, Leong thinks one of the highlights of the films is its fusion of martial arts with ballroom dancing. There are several scenes with Jang and co-star Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Jungle Book) practicing martial arts. In fact, Leong has roped in help from family and friends for this element of the film.

“My kungfu brother helped with the action choreography and my Dad has a cameo role in one of the scenes as the old man practicing taichi on the rooftop,” laughs Leong.

So what do Radel and Leong hope viewers will take away after watching the film?

“I hope the film inspires people, and they will continue pushing and pushing even though there are obstacles in the way. It is like, there is a possibility making an international film right here in Singapore,” says Leong.

Radel agrees and states: “I hope the world will start to see a different side of Asia, that there people here go through emotional sufferings and triumphs, and not everything is about stereotypes that we get in Hollywood movies.”

“Dance of the Dragon” opens on 1st May and is reviewed here

Report | Photos: John Li
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