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By John Li

Director Peter Chan does not think that Tony Leung, Eric Tsang and Andy Lau are superstars. Having worked with Leung in He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (1993), Tsang in Alan and Eric: Between Hello and Goodbye (1991) and Lau in his latest film The Warlords, the 45-year-old feels that these critically-acclaimed award-winning Asian movie stars are no different from other movie stars.

“To you, they may be are megastars, but I’ve known them since the 1980s when they were playing supporting roles on television. They are just people like you and me,” says Chan articulately in Mandarin during an interview with MovieXclusive.com recently.

In town to promote his latest work, Chan explains that because he has known these stars for over 20 years, he does not feel any pressure working with them on his films. Coincidentally, it is the glorious years of Hong Kong cinema during the 1980s that he wants to celebrate with The Warlords, which he also served as a producer.

The war drama tells the story of three sworn brothers who initially went through thick and thin together, but eventually turned against each other due to tragic circumstances.

The bespectacled Chan explains: “In the 1980s, many Hong Kong movies like John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow portrayed strong themes of brotherhood and comradeship. I feel that this vividly represents the spirit of Hong Kong and I want to revive that in The Warlords.” Incidentally, Chan was Woo’s second assistant director and producer on Woo’s 1986 movie Heroes Shed No Tears.

“Using international film language, I hope that today’s audiences can feel the same passion,” he adds.

Working on the saga hasn’t been an easy journey for the award-winning filmmaker, who took home two Best Director Golden Horse Awards for Perhaps Love (2005) and Comrades: Almost a Love Story (1996). This is his first time directing such an epic story, and one of the key scenes is an impressive 10-odd minute battle sequence involving thousands of extras.

“Shooting that scene was very tiring and not easy at all because I’m not the only one who’s having this ‘first-time’,” Chan chuckles. Referring to his male leads and action coordinator, he says: “It’s Jet Li’s first time, it’s Takeshi Kaneshiro’s first time, it’s Ching Siu-Tung’s first time, it’s everyone’s first time.

“But we slowly figured our way through and the scene evolved into what you see on screen in the final version.”

Born in Bangkok before studying at UCLA in the United States, Chan is clearly a passionate filmmaker who believes in telling good stories with his works. While academics and scholars have referred to fellow filmmakers like Johnnie To and Wong Kar Wai as auteur directors, Chan feels that all directors in Hong Kong have their signature styles.

“The term ‘auteur’ is difficult to define. In Hong Kong, most of us write our own screenplays and have strong messages to tell.

“For me, as long as you can proudly call the film your own, you are an auteur.”

More interview video clips with Director Peter Chan:

Peter Chan Interview Part 2:

Peter Chan Interview Part 3:

The Warlords opens 13 December and is reviewed here


Video Clips & Photos : Richard Lim Jr & Lokman B S | Interviews: John Li & Richard Lim Jr
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