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Top-notch actor and producer invest in 3-D Firestorm

2013-10-08 16:34 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan
Andy Lau (left) and Bill Kong (right) jointly presents Firestorm, a 3-D film to hit the screen in December. Jiang Dong / China Daily

Andy Lau (left) and Bill Kong (right) jointly presents Firestorm, a 3-D film to hit the screen in December. Jiang Dong / China Daily

Andy Lau, Hong Kong's most famous star, and Bill Kong, the island's most successful producer, are working together on a 3-D gang thriller, the first of its kind among Chinese films.

Lau, 52, invested in, and leads the cast of Firestorm, to be released in December. Producing and jointly investing in the film is Kong, a low-profile tycoon behind hit films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and Lust, Caution.

The director who won their trust is Alan Yuen, a veteran Hong Kong scriptwriter whose works include the Jackie Chan vehicles Rob-B-Hood and New Police Story.

Firestorm is his directorial debut.

Both Lau and Kong have been known for their insight in finding new talents and generosity in supporting them.

Lau initiated Focus: First Cuts in 2005, the project that has benefited more than 10 young directors, including Ning Hao, whose black comedy Crazy Stone made him a household name.

In 2012, Lau financially aided mainland director Liu Juan in her directorial debut Singing When We Are Young. The film won Jury Prize at the Asian New Talent Awards of the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival.

Kong produced Ocean Heaven in 2009, a film on autistic children.

Director Xue Xiaolu was then a teacher at Beijing Film Academy who had not directed any feature film. The film won both popular and critical accolades. Xue's second film Finding Mr. Right, also produced by Kong, is one of the most successful films of 2013, grossing 500 million yuan ($82 million) with a budget of only 30 million yuan.

Kong became involved in Firestorm because he was attracted to the story about a senior policeman's struggle with career and friendship.

While some feel that audiences are tired of gang thriller-type stories, Kong believes in it.

"For me, genre is never a decisive factor in a film's success," he says. "What the audience wants is good content. The best gang thriller is yet to come, there is always the next one."

Lau believes the 3-D approach will be a highlight.

"The director impressed me by his understanding of film technology," he says.

"Few scriptwriters, as far as I know, are so good at computer graphics and 3-D. In this film, I began to realize 3-D could enhance not only actions, but also emotional scenes."

In a trailer released on Sept 23, Lau held a machine gun when running on the streets of Central district, the most busy business compound of Hong Kong. The area allows filming only from 8 to 11 am on Saturday and Sunday.

"If we followed the rule, we would have finished the film when I am 54 years old," Lau says.

So he convinced Kong to spend HK$15 million, to build a life-size set of the district - half of which comes from his pay as an actor.

"I read every script sent to me and revise it again and again, but I would only be fussy before the filming starts. Once the filming starts, I give the director full respect and support," Lau says.

In one scene Lau jumped from a skyscraper, and he claims he did it himself.

"No stuntman would do that for me, they all go to mock shows to imitate me, that makes more money," he jokes.

It has been Lau's dream to direct a film himself.

"I have seen many young directors, very talented ones," he says.

"They know today's audience better than I do. I would love to help them.

"If I decide to direct a film, it must be something very special. Otherwise I would rather not do it."

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