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05 April 2009 | 1600 HRS Hibiscus Room The Grand Hyatt

Edison Chen may play a sniper in his new movie but he found himself on the other end of the barrel at the movie’s press conference.

Never mind that a year has passed since his infamous scandal- it seemed that for many members of the local and regional media, the raison d’être for their attendance was simply to put him in the hot seat again.

Once the floor was open, questions came fast and furious from the packed crowd for a visibly uncomfortable Edison Chen. No expense was spared drawing a possible link between Edison Chen’s self-confident and headstrong rookie sniper character OJ in the movie and his real-life persona.

To this, Edison replied: “I don’t think I like to challenge others in real life like my character does... but I certainly like to challenge myself. I like to challenge myself to be the best that I can be in whatever I do in life.”  

But that was not enough to satisfy many members of the media, who kept at the same line of questioning, albeit in various creative ways. Even Edison’s co-star Ritchie Jen and director Dante Lam, who were also present for their movie The Sniper’s promotional tour, found themselves having to come to his defense.

 “Edison is a person who has his own vision and opinions...If he believes very strongly in something, he will do ahead and do it to the best of his ability,” said Ritchie. And director Dante Lam was even more point-blank. “I hope that people will not look at Edison Chen from the point of view of his character. How his [Edison’s] character is should be a reflection of what it takes to be a sniper.”

“Think about it this way- a sniper only has a very limited time window to make a life or death decision. Without that confidence, you’ll probably lose that opportunity or make a wrong judgment,” added Dante. “There are about 30 people in the Hong Kong Police Force sniper team, and only about five or six are shooters. That shows how difficult it is to be one.”

Not only is it not easy being a sniper, it appears that both its stars also did not have an easy time acting as one too. Ritchie Jen said that this movie was the most difficult action film he has ever been involved in. He said: “Besides fist fights, there was also a lot of foot chases, jumping off buildings, and also gun fights.”

And while filming one of the movie’s close-range shootouts, Ritchie Jen was even temporarily blinded in one eye. “In that scene, I was trying to force a confession out of someone so I was grabbing him very close to me. So when the bad guy fired at him, the impact of the shot just blinded me and I had to be sent to the hospital.”

But as director Dante Lam explained, it was all for the sake of making everything in the movie look more authentic. Even before filming began, he had the stars train with a sniper from the police force so they could learn some real life techniques of how to properly handle the sniper rifle they would be using in the movie.

In this aspect, Ritchie Jen found that his army experience was in fact of no help to him. “I was part of the infantry in the army, so I was constantly on the move with my weapon. But as a sniper, you are fixed at one location so it’s much more immobile.”

He added: “I used to think that you had to aim and shoot with one eye. But I realised that a sniper has to keep both eyes open- one to look through the sight and the other to observe any changes in the surroundings.”

Despite the many risks while filming, Edison Chen said that he still felt safe on the set thanks to the many safety preparations and rehearsals. The one scene that left a deepest impression on him was his finale when he was standing on the top of a bridge. Even so, he described it as “exciting”.

That’s not to say nothing fazes him. Indeed, despite the tight security at the press conference, Edison Chen admitted that he would be lying if he said that he was not afraid- in an obvious reference to the death threats he received earlier last month. “But I have to continue with my life. I just hope people will welcome me and the movie,” he said.

Judging from the rapid volley of questions reporters kept at him about his personal life, it seems that while his days as a sniper are certainly over, his time as a target (and painful victim) of constant scrutiny is likely to continue.

The Sniper opens 9 April 2009

Interview with Dante Lam

Interview: Gabriel Chong | Video: Richard Lim Jr | Photos: Linus Tee
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