Translated by Susanna Ho (Daydreamer)
Venue: The Auditorium, Hong Kong International Trade & Exhibition Centre
Organizer: Gor Gor’s Website
Topic….. Movie Appreciation: “Okinawa Rendez Vous戀戰沖繩”
Host….. Mr. Rong Xueyan榮雪煙 (Director, Mainland China)
Speaker….. Mr. Gordon Chan 陳嘉上 (Movie Director)
In April 2004 I hosted a seminar. I remember the first sentence I said there was “gone but not forgotten”. I believe that we could feel the consciousness of “presence” all the time. This afternoon, we are going to talk about a very light-hearted and relaxing story; the movie “Okinawa Rendez Vous”. First of all, let us take a look at an interview conducted respecting “Okinawa Rendez Vous”.
Our guest today is Director Gordon Chan who had worked with Gorgor on the movies “The Long and Winding Road錦繡前程” and “Okinawa Rendez Vous”.
Good day, everyone I am very touched. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here today. Also thank you for the interview video clip that you have just played, I have never watched it before.
It all started with “Beyond the Yellow Line緣份”
First of all, let’s invite Mr. Gordon Chan to share with us some of his stories or thoughts about his collaboration with Gorgor.
“Okinawa Rendez Vous” is a very special movie. It was not the second time, but the third time, I worked with Gorgor. The first movie we worked together was “Beyond the Yellow Line”.
First of all, let me tell you a short story. Gorgor was not originally cast to play the main role in “Beyond the Yellow Line” by the film production company In those days, Gorgor was not popular. His hit song “Wind Continues to Blow” had not come out as yet. There was a group of youngsters working in that film production company: Yu Yiu Leung 余耀良 (who later became the manager of Mr. Tony Leung Ka Fai), Yun Kai Chi 阮繼志 (who later became a renowned scriptwriter) and myself. I was a nobody then, merely a log-keeper. When we looked at the list of cast, we were disappointed to see that Gorgor was not cast to play the main role. We knew from the script that Maggie Cheung would play the main lead female role and wondered why Leslie Cheung was not cast to play against her. We were brave and expressed our views to the high-level executive, Ms. Mona Fong Yat Wah方逸華. We told her that we were the youngest people in the company so we knew well which actor the young people would love to see. We asked her why Leslie Cheung was not chosen. She told us that he was not popular enough to play that role. Actually, the remuneration they were to pay to the other actor was four times more than the remuneration that Gorgor earned. Without fear, we wrote down the two names, Gorgor’s and the other actor’s, on a clip board and pushed it around the studio asking for people’s ballots. We asked them which actor would be more appropriate to play against Maggie Cheung in the movie. We were lucky, our hard work had not gone in vain. The votes that Gorgor received were twenty times more than the other actor’s. At that time, Gorgor was not merely unpopular, he was even considered as a box office poison. We showed the clip board to Ms. Fong and she said that since everyone believed that Gorgor was more appropriate, the company would take a risk. We were grateful to her for making such a decision. The movie turned out to be a huge success. This movie was very significant to me too because it was the first time I worked with Gorgor.
I did not know Gorgor at the time when I pushed the clip board around. I was merely a fan of his music who believed that one day he would become very successful. “Beyond the Yellow Line” was a very strange movie. Half way through filming, from a log keeper I turned into a scriptwriter. My relationship with Gorgor therefore changed from a log keeper to a partner. At that time, I often discussed the script with him and Anita Mui, trying to figure out what we would shoot the next day and how to act in each scene. At that time, it became Gorgor’s first movie receiving good box office. I was very happy and we later became good friends.
“Okinawa Rendez Vous” was filmed based on trust
The second time we worked together was on the movie “The Long and Winding Road” which was similar to “Okinawa Rendez Vous” in many respects. Both of them were the first movie produced by a newly established film production company. “The Long and Winding Road” was the first movie of China Star Entertainment 中國星集團 of which Mr. Wong Ching 王晶 was the CEO at the time. I directed the first movie for him and he asked me which actor I wanted to recruit. I told him Leslie. At that time, the movie needed to be made in a haste. I told him that in view of the rush, the only person I could trust was Leslie. Leslie and Tony Leung Ka Fai 梁家輝 were two of my best friends. The situation for “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was very similar. It was the first movie produced by One Hundred Years of Film Co. Ltd. 百年電影公司. Both companies belonged to Mr. Kuang Wah Keung向華強. Mr. Kuang felt that since “The Long and Winding Road” had made a very good start to the company, he therefore wanted me to direct the first movie for One Hundred Years of Film Co. Ltd. too. Once again, he asked me who I would use to play the lead role. I told him it certainly would be Leslie. We were in a big rush. We did not have any plot for the movie nor any idea as to what to film, yet we had a deadline for the film to come out. I called Leslie immediately and asked for his opinion. He said, “What kind of movie is that?” I replied, “It is my movie.” He immediately responded, “I’ll do it.”
We had great trust between us. We were friends growing up together. He always said that if I had not turned from a log keeper to a screenwriter, I would be his partner in his concerts. At that time, he went on his first singing tour in Europe after he finished filming “Beyond the Yellow Line”, and I was supposed to go with him. However, I declined that invitation and remained in Hong Kong to finish up my scripts. Afterwards, we often kept in touch. He became a superstar and I became a director. When Gorgor accepted my invitation to act in “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, he did not know what role he was going to play and what sort of movie it would be. All he knew was he was going to work with Tony Leung Ka Fai and me, Gordon Chan Kar Sheung. He said that the three of us should get together every now and then because each time when we got together, we had such a good time.
At that time, my partner Chan Hing Kar 陳慶嘉, who was also the screenwriter of “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, came up with a plot – a thief and a police encountered with a girl and they both fell in love with her. We wrote up three pages of script merely to divide up the scenes and to indicate roughly what would happen in each scene. We did not have time to write up the whole script. In the meantime, we had to look for someone to play the lead female role. I said no one would accept an offer after merely reading 3 pages of script. I analyzed the female role with Leslie and said that if Faye Wong could play it, that would be perfect. We all knew that Faye Wong very seldom played in movies. As a matter of fact, she had only played once in Wong Kar Wai’s film. Without any hesitation, Leslie picked up the phone and called Faye Wong 王菲. The most interesting thing was that their conversation was exactly like the one I had had with Leslie earlier. Faye Wong asked, “Whose movie is that?”. Leslie said, “I am the lead, so will you do it?” Faye Wong said, “Okay, I will do it.” “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was a funny movie because it was made based on a group of people’s trust towards each other and recognition of each other’s professionalism. Later on, I asked Faye Wong why she accepted the offer, she said that with Leslie and me working together, nothing would go wrong. For this, I wanted to thank her.
Spending time with a good friend was more important than the film itself
Gorgor and I tried to decide on the method to use in filming the movie. I liked Wong Kar Wai’s 王家衛 movies a lot, especially “Days of Being Wild 阿飛正傳”. I was obsessed with it but I knew I did not have as much time to spend as Wong Kar Wai did. My movie had to be finished in five weeks. I asked Leslie what we could do in such a short period of time. Since we did not have sufficient time to finish up the script, I asked Leslie whether he wanted to take a chance to try out something new, i.e. to perform in a extemporaneous way. I arranged for each person to play a different role. Leslie was to be the thief with very dissolute character. He would never fall in love and stick with one woman because he never allowed anyone to fetter him. He was someone with a very natural and unrestrained character and feared nothing. He had a friend called Vincent Gu Tak Chiu 谷德昭. This friend had complete trust in the thief and fully supported him. He could even die for him. In Okinawa, they encountered with Faye Wong, the run-away mistress of a mafia. I told them of their characters in the movie but yet I did not have any idea what would happen next. It was only until the next day that I would be able to tell them. Leslie said this kind of filming was very interesting.
As in real life, we never know what will happen tomorrow. Everyday, we meet different people. We never have a script in our hand, yet we know how to communicate with people directly. We never ask them to wait for us to retrieve a script from our pocket. I therefore told the actors to pretend that I was God who had complete power over them. I would arrange for them to meet and then set up the background for them to react. They might react in whatever way they wanted. If you put yourself into the character, then you would react the way that character would react. Such as in real life, when I met Leslie, I would first give him a hug; that was the way I wanted them to interpret the characters. Leslie was fully supportive. He said he had not acted that way for a long time. Actually, that was a big challenge for the actors. They had to be very confident in themselves. They had to fully understand the role that they were playing. They had to have a lot of imagination about the roles. Fortunately, both Leslie and Tony Leung Ka Fai were very experienced, and because of them, other actors’ confidence also built up. On set, they always told the other actors not to be scared. I joked that the three of us were like some swindlers trying to drag people to hell. However, we had a good time because we all tried to play a very dangerous game. We had to finish this movie in five weeks. Amidst the filming, Faye Wong had to go back to Hong Kong for two weeks. The time she actually stayed in Okinawa to make the movie was not much.
The way we worked was like this: on each previous night, I would ponder over the things that would happen the next day. I would arrange for the basic set. I would tell them who would bump into who thus leading to the happening of what thing, and as a result, how would they react. Some times on set, to be direct, I would ask them to merely try it out right in front of the cinema. No one knew how their opponent would respond, yet we filmed it just like that. This filming method was very interesting and everyone thought so. They were all very relaxed since after each hard day’s work, there was no need for them to prepare for the next day by studying the script. You could therefore see from the film’s special feature on production that everyone was very happy.
There was an incident that I will never forget. One day in Okinawa, on an avenue near the dike, we finished early in shooting the scene of Leslie and Vincent Kok sitting on top of the dike watching the take-offs of the air fighters when a decision was made to rob the bank. After that shot, we could wrap up and leave for the day. However, we still needed some empty shots, so I asked the assistant director to carry out that task. While waiting for the crew to return, Faye Wong, who was the naughty one, suggested to play some game to kill time. I am sure none of you can guess what game we played. It was Red Light/Green Light at the dike in Okinawa! Try to imagine Faye Wong standing there at one end with her back turning to the others and then calling out “One, Two, Three, Red Light, Green Light”, and once she turned around, at the other end was the line of superstars making freezing posture. In normal days, it would be very difficult to find them running around on streets like kids. The characteristic of Okinawa is that at specific times, the hours will be announced at public places. As if they were a group of playful kids who had been urged by their mothers to go home for meals, they were so much involved in the game that they ignored the time! I still remember well the time we spent in filming “Okinawa Rendez Vous”. We had a lot of fun. We played riddle-guessing a lot and Faye Wong was often the one who initiated that game because she loved it. Each time, Leslie would shake his head and wave his hand and then asked Faye Wong to look for Gordon. Some times, we would also sing. At that time, Faye Wong and Nicholas Tse were a pair. He had come all the way to visit us. I remember that once, he played the guitar when we sang along.
I miss those days very much. Many people asked, having made so many movies, which one was the most important for me. I would say “Okinawa Rendez Vous” because as a director, it was very difficult to be trusted by so many actors, especially when there was no script and thorough planning, yet we made a movie which I found satisfactory. At that time, every night after supper I would go back to my hotel room and work on my script, to write down what we would film the next day. Some times, Leslie and Tony would come by and visit me. We stayed at the ANA Manza Beach Resort Hotel 萬象酒店 in Okinawa. There wasn’t a lot of tourists. Basically we were the only guests. We always stayed at the coffee shop until it closed. The two of them would accompany me to talk about what we would do the next day. Some times, we just stayed there and chatted after the script was written up. We would chat about the time when we were not that well off, how we wandered on the streets with no money in our pockets. Every time, Leslie would say how very precious it was that the three of us were still friends after all these years and could film a movie together like that. That was the second film. The first one was “The Long and Winding Road” and it was as happy as this one when it was filmed. Therefore, after we finished “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, Leslie asked me when and where we would do it again. To me, this film was a very important one. I still have a lot of opportunities to make movies but being able to spend some good times with some good friends was more valuable than the film itself.
Special character for someone special
Now I want to ask Director Chan, what made you think of giving such a role to Leslie in “The Long and Winding Road”? I feel that in Gorgor’s artistic life, “The Long and Winding Road” played an important part because it was a role that he seldom played.
Actually, ever since “Beyond the Yellow Line”, I had always been thinking of giving him some special roles to play. He was unique and outstanding, not an ordinary person. His strength was his attractiveness and gracefulness. I remember that Mr. James Wong 黃霑 once said that it was very difficult to find such a graceful and handsome young man in this metropolis. He was a very special person, always outstanding and prominent. This was his biggest advantage, yet at the same time, it had also become the weakest part in his performing life. If an audience did not like him from the beginning, that audience would feel that he possessed a certain kind of threat. That’s human nature. When you see someone extraordinarily handsome and graceful, a kind of resistance will grow within you, unless he can conquer you. At the front part of the movie “Beyond the Yellow Line”, we tried to make Gorgor encounter a lot of embarrassing and ridiculous situations and face a lot of troubles. I also loved to give Gorgor some roles that allowed the audience to absorb themselves into the character, giving you a close and warm feeling. He had one good point. He was extremely lovely so even if he had done something wrong, no one would dare to blame or punish him. When we collaborated the second time in “The Long and Winding Road”, you would notice that he was not a good guy, but I said it did not matter because even though Gorgor had done some mischievous thing, as long as he repented, everyone would forgive him. That was how the role was designed. His character in “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was designed the same way. If the role was played by an actor who possessed less loveliness and kindness, that role would become annoying and repugnant. That role therefore must be played by Leslie and no one else.
Gorgor and Vincent Kok in Okinawa
The following are some of Vincent Kok’s views towards “Okinawa Rendez Vous”
Director Gordon Chan asked me to play in “Okinawa Rendez Vous”. After I learned of the cast and the fact that the film would be made in Okinawa, I immediately accepted his offer. (Big Laugh). To be able to work with a group of handsome people in a beautiful place like Okinawa; to have a chance to get some suntan and a slimmer body by the time the movie was finished, to have meal each evening with a group of attractive people, I surely had a great time in filming “Okinawa Rendez Vous”. The most laborious people must have been Director Gordon and the crew members because the weather then was very unstable; not only that, the sky was always grey with no sunlight, some times there would be isolated showers; therefore, the crew had to vigilantly change the order of filming or make modification to the script to accommodate the weather. It probably would not be easy for the crew to feel how much we enjoyed our life there, but after I filmed that movie, I had once thought of becoming an actor permanently if someone invited me to do so!
I did not have any problem with that type of filming technique. In Okinawa, there were a lot of fun things to do. We frequently filmed at the beach of the hotel. I said to Gordon, “Don’t worry, it won’t be hard for you to find me. If I am not kayaking, I probably am either snorkelling, swimming or water skiing. Merely give me fifteen minutes to take a shower, then I will be ready on the set. You can film whichever way you like.” Actually, this type of filming technique does exist. Many directors have used this method before. I believed Gordon was trying to make a new attempt. There are two types of actors. One is those who can create a feeling of texture. Many times, when there is only an outline for a scene, it will rely upon this type of actors to express it by creating a feeling of texture. This is not something that can be put down on script. For example, in the movie “Prison on Fire監獄風雲”, those actors could create a feeling of texture. When I thought that they would act this way, yet it turned out that they had other kind of dialogues and behaviour. Another type of actors is the good quality ones like Gorgor, Ka Fai and Faye. They never had any problem in following the way you asked them to act. On top of it, they would only try to do it better. I believe that was the method that Gordon used. The beginning, the middle and the end parts of each scene were filmed in that similar way; their concern was how they could accomplish to achieve the effect. At that time, mine was just a supporting role. I merely watched the main roles act when I was sunbathing on the side.
At the time “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was filmed, IQ trivia questions suddenly became very popular. Faye Wong had a lot of IQ questions, probably because she played a lot with her daughter. Tony Leung Ka Fai was very earnest in answering them. He could use the time of a meal to ponder on the answers, yet Gorgor would only smile and watch us play. He did not participate much, actually he did not take part in any game at all, all he did was stay aside and smile! I remember that once Faye Wong raised a question, “Wearing flipflops will run slowly, wearing Nikes will run quickly, then wearing what will fly?” Tony Leung pondered for a very long period of time, eventually Faye Wong disclosed the answer saying that “Bird (in Cantonese “bird” sounds like “wear”) will fly”.
At that time, the hotel where we stayed was quite far away from the town. It required more than an hour’s drive to get there. No matter whether I had a part to play or not, I would go out with them in order to go shopping with Gorgor. Wow, shopping with Gorgor, looking at what he would choose, seeing what he would see, and chatting together, what a privilege! We spent some very relaxing time together. Some times we would eat together, but some times, we would eat with our own group, and some times the director would chat with me about my part. I had a lot of opportunities to have coffee with Gorgor. I believe that was the time when we became very close. We had a lot of heart-to-heart talks. We talked about something that only good friends would talk about.
Gorgor was not happy because he did not understand why people had to hurt others. In this world, even though you did not have love for others, you did not have to hurt them. Was that a professional need? It was a very big question mark for me. The main thing was hurting others. He did not understand why and was not happy about it. Was he beset? I think he was. One evening, we talked about this topic at the coffee shop, yet I did not know how to respond. I did not think I was qualified to respond because Gorgor had been in this circle for so long. I could only tell him that no two people were alike, some of them were “scumbags渣斗“. It was very difficult to imagine why those scumbags would do things that sucked. I told him that if he was unhappy about what the people had done to him, he should merely tell himself that these people were scumbags and he should never be bothered by them. After Gorgor heard of the term “scumbags”, he smiled. At that time, I was very happy because I had said something to make him happy when he was at a foul mood. Afterwards, whenever the term “scumbags” came up when we spoke, we would smile at each other.
I do not dare to say, because we were not as close when we filmed “All’s Well Ends Well 家有喜事” as we were when we filmed “Okinawa Rendez Vous”. I felt that Gorgor had opened up his heart, it was a heart-to-heart talk. If we use martial art exercise as an analogy, then when Gorgor filmed “All’s Well Ends Well”, he was practising his physical movements. When he filmed “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, he had reached the internal spiritual level – no matter it was in the level of artistic life, the profession, or as a human being, he was pursuing to become a better person. It is not merely how well he could live himself, but what he could do for the society. I had the feeling that he was searching for something purer and simpler.
Amidst the filming of “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, something happened. I had written about that in my column at a newspaper. One rainy evening in a coffee shop, we were talking about something that led to the sentence of “I am what I am, I am a very special kind of creature”. I told Gorgor that that sentence described him perfectly. We talked a long time on this topic. Gorgor said he had to write a song on it. After a few days, Gorgor told me that he had written a new song called “I”. He then hummed the melody to me and told me that I was his first audience to that song. Later, the melody had its lyrics, in both Cantonese and Mandarin. Gorgor said he liked the Mandarin one more. He once again hummed that song to me and I was very happy. This is my favourite song and Gorgor sang it so wonderfully. There seemed to be a fate in the making of this song and I felt happy and honoured to be involved in some way. At the concerts, Gorgor would cast me a glance when he sang this song.
No matter what role he was designated to play, he could play it well
I remember that in 2005 at the seminar, Mr. Lin Jitao 林紀陶 and Dr. Philip Lo 盧偉力博士discussed about what roles Leslie had not played and what kind of role would suit him well. Today, I would like to ask Director Chan, as a director, what kind of role do you think would suit Gorgor the most?
It’s very difficult to say. I might say that when Leslie was young, there were a few places that he needed to improve on. But at the time of “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, I felt that if I was a scriptwriter, I was facing a person who could portray any character written for him. Vincent was correct, at the time of “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, Gorgor did not rely on expression or movement, he actually entered into the role. Basically, he put what he felt into his acting. Since he could easily absorb into a role, no matter what character he was given, he could play it well and turn it into a characteristic one. At “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, I thought what else did he want and what could we write for him later. So long as we dared to write, there was not a role that he could not play. That was Leslie. He was a big contender. If you gave him a difficult role, he would do it well no matter what. If I must say what role would best suit him, I could not think of any, he was suitable to play many roles, I cannot think of one that he could not play. At “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, I once thought of switching his role with Tony Leung Ka Fai’s. He really wanted to play that silly role. I said to him, “Leslie, of course you can play it well but I don’t think the audience will let me get away from it”. At the time of “The Long and Winding Road”, no one wanted to let me off because at its costume-fitting session, they were panic-stricken to see that Gorgor, a popular actor, instead of wearing well-tailored brand name suits like Armani or Joyce, he was wearing suits made by Kung Kee Tailors; some other clothes were even bought from Temple Street. They thought how could that be possible. They did not expect those clothes would look good on Leslie. People asked sarcastically whether it was necessary to blow-dry Leslie’s hair to match the old-fashioned style. I told them not to look down on Leslie because he was an actor and he knew well what the character required. The good thing to work with Leslie is that he would do things that no one else dared to do. Other people felt that Leslie had only one look, one appearance. I told them that they were wrong to think that way because Leslie was versatile, he could do anything, he was immeasurably deep. If you had the courage to ask, then he would have the courage to play. That was something I really appreciated. I was once scolded by people for making a big mistake to dress Leslie that way, but I enjoyed turning a handsome Leslie into an out of fashion guy. Probably no one knew that Leslie had to take a lot of efforts to turn into such a backward and out of fashion look. It was extremely difficult to make people feel that way about him.
It was a great pity that due to the length of the movie, against my will, one of the scenes in “The Long and Winding Road” had to be deleted. It was the scene when Gorgor first appeared in the movie. After I filmed that scene, I showed it to Director Wang Jing who, as you know, had directed a lot of little-conscience movies. He said, “I thought I was bad, but you were worse”. That scene talked about the character that Leslie played when flirting with a beautiful girl on the subway, he said, “Hi, pretty lady, you really look like my ex-girl friend!”. That girl replied, “yes, that’s right, I was your ex-girl friend!”. Then Leslie thought, “But when was that?”. It turned out that she really was one of her ex-girl friends. It was pitiful to delete that part due to the length of the movie. I still remember well that when this scene was filmed, everyone laughed so badly. Leslie was that kind of person, in real life he kept a very low profile, he would never be as talkative as the character in the movie, but when he was given the role, he would let himself free and interpret it wonderfully. One interesting thing is that he would play roles that many superstars would never dare to play, he therefore was a real actor.
Gorgor was a good director already
Now you may communicate with Director Gordon Chan.
The question scribbled on this piece of paper is that looking at the special feature on the making of “Moonlight Express 星月童話”, we saw that Gorgor had given a lot of opinions to the director. In your opinion, would Gorgor be a good director?
He was a good director already. Despite the fact that “Ashes to Ashes 煙飛煙滅” was only a short film, Gorgor’s directing skill was proven. There are several kinds of actors. In Cantonese, we have very vulgar words to describe the veteran actors with powerful acting skill, we call them “老屎忽old buttocks”. It is a term originated from the Canton-opera field referring to actors who can act better with their buttocks than actors who act with their heads. Gorgor belonged to this type of actors because he was among the small group of actors who clearly understood the relationship between editing and director’s shots. Many actors do not understand that relationship. They would only do what the directors asked them to do after the camera was set up. However, Gorgor would do more than he was asked. This fellow when he acted, sometimes he would put in some gestures or facial expressions that would make you really reluctant to cut them off. He was one of those actors who were famous in doing that. If he felt that that specific shot was very important, he would make some petty gesture or action, such as nonchalantly touching his nose or making his hair, tiny things that you would not realize on set but when you edited the film, you discovered that they were important and could not be cut off because if you cut them off, the scenes would not link properly. So basically, he was the one who had complete control of the way the film was being edited, by stopping the director from cutting them off. He clearly understood the relationship between filming techniques, actors and shots. He knew very well what was rhythm and he knew about movies. All those were the very important fundamental requirements of a director.
Having a very strong sense of rhythm was his forte. He had made many musical videos and I told him often that I had to learn from him because I did not have much musical sense. As a matter of fact, the editing of the part in “Okinawa Rendez Vous” about Gorgor’s encounter with Faye at the little house was suggested by him. He felt that it would look better to do it his way: the music starts, a juke box, himself, and Faye Wong. As you can see, he was a very good director already. Really, it was a pity that he did not eventually get the chance of directing his own movie.
“Okinawa Rendez Vous”, a love movie that talks about disbelief in love
You may now raise your hand and ask your questions.
Audience # 1:
Mr. Director, in “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, there was a scene in which Vincent Kok pointed his gun at Faye Wong yet Gorgor pushed Kok’s gun down, at the same time Faye Wong pointed her gun at Gorgor and not at Vincent Kok. In the movie, Faye Wong took the money away from her ex-boy friend and ran away. She was heartless and non-righteous, what made both Tony Leung Ka Fai and Gorgor fall for her at the same time? I want to know how to the roles were being harmonized in the script. Please advise.
The script of “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was actually a bit strange. We have seen a lot of movies talking about love, but in “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, it talks about love that is supposed to be very important, yet life is far more important than love. It says that love can be bright and happy, a way that we all love it, yet if love becomes bored then you will have to let it go to let a new love develop. This type of love story actually is very rare. I was taking a risk at that time. Even Leslie thought that it was an anti-love movie. I thought it wasn’t so. The guy might be heartless or non-righteous but actually he longed for love. This movie was constructed based on two human beings who did not believe in love yet they were very much longing for it. They believed in no one, neither their partners nor themselves. I chose the song “Great Pretender” because both of them were great pretenders. In the movie, they pretended not to love or care about each other. They pretended that “it’s you who fall for me”. As a matter of fact, they had earnestly fallen in love with each other, they were actually contradicting themselves. I treasured love, that was why I created those two characters. I noticed that there were a lot of films talking about love and death. We conveyed to the audience that love was precious and happy, yet life and ability to live nicely were far more important. Therefore, in “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, I used that method to create those characters. At the end, although they all fell into the love-trap, they still kept on pretending. They kept on fighting and competing. We did not know who won at the end but actually both of them had lost. All audience could see that actually they had fallen in love with each other.
I only wanted to calmly talk about love and write about separation lightly. Actually in the movie, there were a few separations, Gigi Lai 黎姿 and Tony Leung Ka Fai’s split led to the appearance of Stephanie Che; Masaya Katou’s 加藤雅也 separation with Faye Wong led to the love affair of Masaya Katou and Gigi Lai. There were very few movies like that. Normally, apart from the lead male and female roles, all the other characters were villains in the love affairs, because their bad behaviors could make the lead roles look perfect. “Okinawa Rendez Vous” posted an opposite argument, both the main male and female roles were bad guys, those around them were nice people and their sentimental feelings were hurt by the two main characters, but that was not important because as long as you were true to your heart; even though you were hurt, you could still manage to get back on your feet and have a bright future. It was a happy movie yet not too commercial. It did not have an extremely good box office. The movie production company complained because they thought a movie with such a strong cast: Faye Wong, Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Ka Fai, should have very good box office. I personally felt disappointed for a short while because I had high expectation of it too. But afterwards, I understood that since I had taken the risk of making such a non-commercial movie, the audience might find it a bit weird, however, they could not say it was not light-hearted. It definitely was not sweet, but after you watched it, many questions about love would appear in your mind, not a sweet feeling, but it allowed you to understand more about love. I afterwards thought I had done something important. I still remember that Leslie patted my shoulder and asked me when we were going to make a similar movie again. At that time, I was unhappy because the box office was not ideal. I asked him, “you still want to do it again?”. Leslie said “Why not! Of course we must do it again as it was so much fun.” I really wanted to thank him for his support. Leslie kept telling me that it was a movie worth filming and we must believe in what we had done. Today when I look back, I find it very precious.
All the things we possess now about Leslie are treasure
This note says who arranged for the kiss scene in the movie. Why the kiss was not very passionate? Many directors had arranged for Gorgor to have very passionate performance with the female roles, how come in this movie, there wasn’t such an arrangement? Was it because Faye Wong did not want Gorgor to take advantage of her?
Faye would definitely not be afraid of Gorgor! I thought that since the two main characters were in a rivalrous situation, the kiss was like a battle. Actually in that scene, Faye was a winner. Faye resisted Leslie’s kiss, afterwards she called him “idiot”. If Faye and Leslie had a passionate kiss, it would not match the progress of the story. There was a scene of Leslie getting mad because the money slipped away from him after he fought so hard to get it. At that time, the question about the kissing scene was not an issue. Actually Faye would not mind kissing because she was a very professional actress. She had very good relationship with Gorgor. They were like brother and sister on set, therefore the kiss scene was designed according to the character of the two roles.
Today’s topic is “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, I hope the questions that you are asking all relate to “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, “The Long and Winding Road” or “Beyond the Yellow Line”, or at least have something to do with movies.
Audience # 2:
I have a simple question for Director Chan. You just mentioned that the scene on the subway at the beginning of “The Long and Winding Road” was cut, could you please tell us whether one day that part will be released in some form?
I don’t know because the negative of that film is with the production company. Perhaps if I discuss with the company, there is a chance that it will be released. They can probably produce it in DVD format. I believe China Star 中國星 has the copyright, but some NG fragments probably do not exist anymore. I am not certain about that.
Audience # 3:
My question is: some of Leslie’s old movies have not been distributed in Hong King in a VCD or DVD format, could you please provide us with some guidance as to where we can find them from other countries?
I think it is not that easy, but you don’t have to worry, Leslie had acted in so many movies. Today, anything that one possesses that is to do with Leslie will be treated as treasure. I believe they will definitely distribute it. I think Leslie is very lucky because not too many actors after leaving us for so long still have so many friends. There are still many people who are eager to watch his movies. There are people who keep on digging out and collecting his things. I believe there will eventually be a complete set of his collection. I will therefore not worry about it.
Leslie was always that intricate (complex)
Audience # 4:
Mr. Director, you said that the two people did not believe in love, and the song you chose was “Great Pretender”. Was the theme song “Without Love” written by Gorgor after the movie was made, or did he get the inspiration while the movie was made? At first, I did not like the song, but after I watched the movie, I think the song and the movie were a perfect match. It was wonderful.
Actually I had to thank him. He created the whole thing to match the theme of the movie,. I told him about the kind of movie I was to make. As I said, it would be a total disaster if this type of anti-love movie was played by an ordinary person. If Leslie did not do it, I believe that this matter would never be possible. Therefore from start to finish, Leslie had written this song.
Leslie and I are the same type of person. We worked diligently on things that we thought should be done. I told him that if we did not do it, who would. What we meant was that for those without the qualifications, they did not have the chance to do it, but for those who had qualifications, they just refused to try. People with qualifications were those whom Vincent referred to as “scumbags”. What I feel proud of is that if both Leslie and I were considered as people with qualifications, we then had done our best to achieve what we thought was good, not merely for money or for commercial value. That was also Gorgor’s belief in those days. Only love songs would have market value, surely not the song “Without Love”. That’s why we said “If we did not do it, who would?”
Audience # 5:
I want to ask Director Chan, since you and Gorgor had worked together for three times at different phases of his artistic life, please let us have your views on the growth and change of his performance in those three movies.
In “Beyond the Yellow Line”, Gorgor indeed was not an experienced actor but he was obedient, striving hard for success. At that time “Beyond the Yellow Line” was not a big production. The director, Taylor Wong 黃泰來, used to work in a television broadcasting company. “Buddha’s Palm 如來神掌” was his production. “Beyond the Yellow Line” was a very rare movie. In it, there was a lot of songs and music. The good thing about Gorgor was he was a singer. His musical background helped him a lot. When I first worked with him, he had already done a lot of television soap operas. I always told Leslie that he had too much facial expression. In television, one needed a lot of facial expression but not in movies. In television where the screen was small, that kind of facial expression was necessary, but in big silver screen, a tiny expression would become very big and it would look weird making people feel unnatural because normal people would not make such an exaggerated expression. At that time, we would discuss about how to interpret each scene. Long times ago, when movies were made in Hong Kong, the directors would not care how the actors acted. The director would merely set up the camera and then asked the actors to start performing. However, that would give the actor a chance to discuss the script with the screenwriter, log keeper or assisting director. At that time, I was young and inexperienced, so we would get together and discuss about the script.
When we filmed “The Long and Winding Road”, Gorgor already had his own way of acting. At that time, I asked him to play Lam Chiu Wing 林超榮 who everyone knew was a friend of mine. Lam was a guy who did not care much about appearance. When I asked Leslie to play Lam Chiu Wing, Gorgor smiled and said, “To play Lam Chiu Wing! No problem.” He was completely capable of capturing the essence of Lam Chiu Wing. In “The Long and Winding Road”, he had designed a lot of things to enhance the effect but when he filmed “Okinawa Rendez Vous” those designs were completely abandoned because he did not need them anymore. It was perfect performance already for him to stand there and cast a glance without speech; his feelings were shown by his eyes and his face. Actually, it was not easy to do that. I had once argued with people that it was extremely difficult to act in scenes without dialogue. Don’t assume that merely standing there with no facial expression could easily get the job done. Pay attention to Leslie’s still shot and then compare it with the ordinary actor, you will discover that Leslie has given out a lot while the other actors are merely an empty shell. Leslie’s still shots could make you feel how shaken and panic-stricken he was. You could also see from his facial expression as to “when is the right time to cut” too. Every time when I look at Leslie’s still taken for “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, I could see the self-assurance and anxiety on his face, a very complex expression. Leslie was that intricate and complex. In “The Long and Winding Road”, he did not have complex expression on his face. Vincent Kok described Leslie as being funny because he wore a smile all the time. Leslie and I did not speak much on set, we would only smile. He had a very high IQ and many ideas in his head.
Audience # 6:
Gorgor was a very nice person. When he filmed “Moonlight Express” in 1998, I asked him for his autograph. I saw that he was very nice to the tea lady. I requested him to take a picture with me and took his hand and said “I wish you good health”. He was really nice to his fans!
I believe all the fans could feel Gorgor’s kindness towards them. Sometimes people would come out from nowhere when the camera was rolling. It could be really tiresome. Sometimes, I would ask him whether he felt it troublesome to be surrounded by so many people. He always said that his success was the result of those people’s affection towards him. He fully appreciated the kindness that the people showed to him. He treated every crew member equally and was friendly with all of them. On set, this superstar was everyone’s best friend.
Setting a trend was not easy to be understood by other people
Lok Fung 洛楓:
I want to ask Director Chan a sensitive question. Everybody knows how well Gorgor acted. Just now you analyzed his acting skills and his changes in different stages. Although I had held in the past the post of movie award assessor, there is something I found most unjust. In the best actor award category, awards somehow always seemed to elude him each time, or perhaps the awards were given to those actors whose acting skill was inferior. After he passed away, we have unceasingly affirmed his achievement in acting, however, there is always a feeling of unjust. Although I understand that political issues may be involved in the appraisal, how come such an outstanding actor, who was ever changing and could play any kind of role competently, was treated that way all the times? I want to know why there was such an elusion.
That was the reason why I was so close to Leslie. Leslie did not work to please anyone in particular. He had his goal. Many times he would do the most risky thing, or he would walk several steps ahead of other people in real life. For those people who walked ahead of others would always face a reality that would not be understood by other people or something that the ordinary people could not see. Since those people could not understand and did not know how to appreciate, it is therefore not surprising that he did not get the award. Don’t believe that those people who gave out the awards completely understood or knew what they were doing.
Be it an actor, an artistic worker or a media worker, his life recognition and artistic achievement are not determined by an award. His artistic achievement is determined by how long it can be passed down to generations, how many people will still remember him in future, how much he influences people, and how many decisions of the matters are being affected. Leslie and I always encouraged each other. We believed that “It does not matter that people do not understand and appreciate now, they will do so in future.”. This can be said as a kind of sacrifice. Once a decision was made, that was it; occasionally it was hard to take when being criticized. Just like what I said to Leslie, “Once we have decided to go forward, we should not care about whether other people understand it or not. It will be good if in future they understand and then follow suit.” You will discover that Leslie often did things that would be followed by other people afterwards. When Leslie did it, he was criticized and accused, but after a few years, surprisingly, those who accused and criticized him would do what Leslie had once done and they even received appraisal, applauses and appreciation for doing so. Actually, those applauses and appreciation should have been given to Leslie long time ago. But that is not important, the important thing is he has done it and he was the first one doing it.
Story about a bright future in “LWR”
Audience # 7:
When we watched the movie, we would imagine how Gorgor played that role. Actually, did Gorgor ever discuss with you how he interpreted the role?
I would not tell him what the role would do or would not do, that was not the way we discussed it. My way of making movies was making a real life one. We discussed the kind of personality the character possessed, his life and his history. For example, in “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, we discussed what mischievous things the character has done, why he came to Okinawa, what had he done in the past, whether he had any friend, what was his relationship with her girlfriend, why he had a friend like Vincent Kok. We built up a complete character. Then by looking at the character’s past, Leslie would create the character’s future. Such as, if he had killed before, there would be ill feeling when he met a police. If he had robbed or stolen many times before in different places, he would not be afraid of disguising as a police to steal. All these things were established based on the character’s past. We did not talk about how to play the character, only during the course of our discussion Leslie would try to get the feeling as best as possible. Perhaps he would think that if the character was like that, he could probably be really cruel. Say, for instance, towards his Japanese girlfriend, he dumped her shortly after having an affair with her, this showed how bad this guy was. So that was the method we used. We did not talk about how to play the character. Usually I gave him the character and he would develop it himself.
Audience # 8:
Personally, I like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Okinawa Rendez Vous” very much. Just now, Director Chan said that the mainframe of “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was to film a light and extemporaneous type of movie, therefore we got “Okinawa Rendez Vous”; I want to ask what made Director Chan think of making a movie like “The Long and Winding Road” with a main character who was a bit cunning and bad?
I was really excited about “The Long and Winding Road”. It was my second time working with Leslie after “Beyond the Yellow Line”, and it was the first time I worked with Tony Leung Ka Fai. Tony Leung Ka Fai and I were good friends already when we worked at the Shaw Brothers, yet we never got a chance to collaborate then. When we were given this project, the script was actually talking about the three of us, our past and some bygone feelings. But these two guys were really bad. They understood the characters in “The Long and Winding Road” well and said that those characters were actually a reflection of my life which had been divided into three parts. My most cunning part was like Lam Chiu Wing, the good part was like Tony Leung Ka Fai, and the stupid part was like Dayo Wong Chi Wah 黃子華. They both said that they were merely interpreting me. They put all those bad points into the characters. At that time, I decided on such a subject matter because I wanted the movie to have a feeling of reunion. I wanted to capture the process of how a young ignorant man grew and struggled. We had faced a not-so-good society, a lot of people and issues and we had struggled, but we insisted to be a good guy. “The Long and Winding Road” actually was a real life story. We knew that we could not change the society, might not be able to stop the elderly home from being sold, yet we worked hard and finally found our real selves. When “The Long and Winding Road” was made, it was not at the best time of our life since the Hong Kong’s movie industry started to decline then. I was worried at that time and always said so to Leslie. He then would comfort and urge me not to be nervous.
Really, I was deeply worried because each day the shooting schedule was very tight. One day on set, Tony Leung Ka Fai asked me why I only shaved one side of my face. On another occasion, we got some free time between shootings, so Leslie suggested that we had tea at the Regent Hotel. I went there with him and Tony Leung. When I got off the car, Leslie said, “You are really trendy, look at your shoes!” It turned out that one of my shoes was brown and the other black. Leslie said, “Should we switch, it looks pretty cool that way.” He asked whether I was very nervous. I told him that I was under a lot of pressure because that was the first movie of the new film production company; besides, at that time the market was poor due to the worries caused by the approach of 1997. Looking back now we could see the restlessness reflected in “The Long and Winding Road”, yet we tried very hard to tell everyone that we needed not be frightened, we would transit peacefully. At that time, in my mind the elderly home was actually Hong Kong. We did not know how to protect it. We did not know whether it would be demolished or not, yet we had done our best. Probably at the end it got demolished however we were not scared because we would still be there. It was based on that concept that the story of “The Long and Winding Road” was written.
“Love Crazily愛情狂“, a story written for Gorgor
This question is which actor was originally arranged to play the main role in the movie “Beyond the Yellow Line”.
I do not want to disclose it because doing so will hurt the other actor. As long as we know that Gorgor eventually played it, that is good enough.
Director Chan, say, after “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, if Gorgor wanted to work with you again, what kind of character would you design for him. Gorgor always looked for break through; he did not want to repeat playing the same character; he wanted something challenging, what type of role would you choose for him?
It was really a pity because I had already written a script for him. It was completed one month before he passed away. A script called “Love Crazily”. I asked myself at that time why he did not wait for me, why he did not wait for that script. The love maniac that I wrote about was a guy loved by all women, how he treated himself, how he looked at himself, and how he reflected on the relationship he had with each woman because he merely could not stop loving, he was out of his control. I personally love this script very much. I will keep it to myself and never use it for a movie.
“Okinawa Rendez Vous” is a very relaxing and light opuscule. I remember that the movies that Gorgor made during that period of time were relatively heavy, such as “Double Tap 鎗王” which talks about psychological response.
That was the trust that Leslie had in me. Many movies that Gorgor made required him to go to the very deep. Directors gave him all the deep, tough and difficult-to-interpret characters to play. My belief is “an actor should not elevate himself above the audience.” No matter how good the actor could play, we should let him show his affectionate side allowing audience to understand him more. In this movie, Leslie quite deliberately and totally gave his whole self to me, knowing and trusting that I would bring him to the audience without ruining and hurting him. The character that I just said was a very dangerous one, a bad guy yet in a comedian drama would easily lead people to feel that he was cheap and vulgar. Relying on the trust he had in me, and with my past experience in “Beyond the Yellow Line”, we would not cause him harm, instead we would only make the character more colourful and affectionate. That was my perspective in approaching this matter. When an actor repeatedly played the same kind of role in a certain period of time, I would want to give him some new roles to try on. Very often, an actor would be asked by the directors to play the same type of role again and again but the actor would want to be more diversified.
Audience # 9:
Director Chan, you mentioned just now that you have written a script for Gorgor, have you ever considered publishing it as a book in order to share it with us?
That script was a very personal one. The reason why I wanted Leslie to play it was because he was a very good friend of mine. If during my life time, I want someone to feel and share it with me, I will remember him because he understood me and he would protect me. He would understand well how to play this role to its perfection. About publishing a book, at this moment, I can also say that I will consider doing so.
Audience # 10:
Director, did you ever mention “Love Crazily” to Gorgor?
Yes, I did when I filmed “Okinawa Rendez Vous”. (Audience No. 10: It was mentioned and I believe a book should be published. I believe he would know about it.) Because I told him a lot about my personal matters, he understood well my creation.
On the set of “Okinawa Rendez Vous” Gorgor was very relaxed
Many people want to know some details or stores about your collaboration with Gorgor, could you please share some of them with us?
Vincent Kok just mentioned that Gorgor was not too happy, he was indeed unhappy (Xue: it had to do with the negative response about the Passion Tour concerts?!). There were all sorts of negative reports – that was one of the reasons – yet he was used to negative response, I don’t believe that was his main concern. As he told Vincent, he did not understand why those people whom he treated well and regarded as friends would eventually betray and hurt him. Those were the type of issues he and I would discuss, but since I was very busy, Vincent became the one who accompanied Leslie most of the time. When he was unhappy, he would merely hide it deep in his heart and very seldom let it out. When he was not happy he just kept it to himself, he did not want other people to withstand his unhappiness. Even towards his own subordinate, he would never show his temper. I had known him for a long time and seldom saw him having a temper, actually that was not good. To release the pressure and burden, he should let go of the temperament. Fortunately, during the making of “Okinawa Rendez Vous”, he was very relaxed and after it was completed, he liked it too. At the movie’s premiere night, we talked for a long time about what our future project would be, what we would do afterwards and when and where to film it.
There was a very interesting scene. It was when Leslie discovered that Vincent Kok was in the house with Asuka Higuchi. Vincent Kok handed Asuka Higuchi to Leslie for his disposal. The dialogue in that scene was ad lib dialogue. Vincent Kok did not know beforehand how would Leslie reacted. I told Vincent that perhaps Leslie would kill her. Instead, he responded by saying “she’s gone out to get us something to eat”. That unexpected response almost made me laugh to death. The situation then was that it was a very tiny house so the video player was set outside the house. I therefore did not know what was happening inside the house. When they shouted “where is she?”, Gorgor suddenly replied, “she’s gone out to get us something to eat”, I almost fell down from my chair. I told him how could I round it up. He said, “You can just say she’s gone out to get us something to eat.” All the sets in “Okinawa Rendez Vous” were real locations. Gorgor loved to surprise people. I liked it when he cunningly came out and said in a smile, “Was that okay?” Really, what could I do about it! He was the kind of guy who loved to surprise people but I enjoyed that very much. An actor must have this kind of charm. If he was like a dummy doing what was asked to do, I would rather do it myself.
I met with Gorgor a few times in Mainland China on set. I felt that he was a very active person on set. He was the only one in the crew who would run around like a butterfly. I believe that filming “Okinawa Rendez Vous” at a tourist attraction so comfortable and relaxing, apart from that one unhappy incident, he probably would have been very happy, right?
Basically, those were happy days that we would remember fondly. Since we all had busy schedules, it was therefore very precious for us to be able to spend more than a month together on a beautiful island. For me, filming was no hard work. The most difficult part was trying to think at night of something to shoot the next day. Gorgor was very relaxed when “Okinawa Rendez Vous” was filmed. You could tell by the relaxing way he walked. At that time, the bosses of that film once showed their dissatisfaction by saying that “By looking at the movie, one could tell that it was very easy to film. All of you must be having a great time and very relaxed!” Luckily, all actors understood the difficulties that the director was facing. Even though the movie was made in a hurry in order to be finished in five to six weeks, I still wished that all the actors could relax. It was not easy to let them relaxed when the time was pressing.
Gorgor loved to stretch on the sofa. Some times seeing that we were all ready, he would suddenly say a few words to blow things up. For instance, Faye was asking some IQ questions, I had a hard time trying to avoid her, Gorgor suddenly pointed at me, even when I was standing far away from all of them, and said “Why don’t you ask the director!” At that time, it was already very painstaking to work on the script, I therefore did not have much mood to play the IQ question trivia. My way to solve the problem was to quickly answer and then leave. Faye knew there was no fun in asking me. Luckily, even though Tony Leung Ka Fai knew the question, he would not answer right away. Instead, he would try to delay so that other people might avoid answering it! Leslie was very relaxed at that time. Leslie, Tony and I all had different characters. We had a very special way to communicate. Leslie did not say much, Tony would say more, and I was the one who would raise some questions to discuss.
I feel very happy to be his friend
“Beyond the Yellow Line” was filmed in 1981-82, “The Long and Winding Road” in 1993-94 and “Okinawa Rendez Vous” in 2000, since the two of you were so close, how come there was such a lapse of time between each movie?
It is very strange indeed. For example, after “Beyond the Yellow Line”, I have not worked with Maggie Cheung 張曼玉 for over twenty years. When we talked about it recently, we both felt odd enough. I have made so many movies, but there are always some actors whom I have not had a chance to work with. The reason why I had not worked frequently with Leslie was because he became an international superstar very quickly. When he played in “Farewell to My Concubine”, I was filming some comedian movies. Really it was very difficult to use a superstar like him when our productions were small. At that time, the movies made in Hong Kong were mostly for local distribution only. Even for those movies that had a chance to go outside Hong Kong, they would not go very far. Besides, I only produced one movie each year, therefore the chance for us to work together was not high.
Audience # 11:
We all know that Gorgor loved to read both Chinese and English books. Director Chan, do you think Gorgor’s wonderful acting skills at the later stage of his career has anything to do with the essence of the Chinese and foreign cultures he absorbed from reading?
Reading is very important. Good actors whom I know all love to read. Some people thought that by watching a lot of TV shows and movies, you would know how to act. I don’t think that will be helpful. Anything that one watches is something that has already been interpreted by other people. No matter how well Chow Yun Fat acted, it was his interpretation. If you follow the way he acts, then sooner or later, you will only look like Chow Yun Fat. Gorgor read a lot of books covering a vast variety of topics. That is very important because actors need to have a lot of space for imagination. By reading books, you could build up your own imagination and feeling. Leslie loved to read. Tony Leung Ka Fai and I are bookworms too.
I recall that he recommended the book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” to me. He told me that the emotions described in that book were very good. Somehow, “Love Crazily” has some relationship with that book because “Love Crazily” talks about a man who is dissolute about love. The book he recommended to me had given me a very deep impression.
Before we conclude, as a friend or perhaps as a director, could you please say a few words to express your feelings towards Cheung Kwok Wing.
I was lucky to have such a friend. I am an autistic person and do not have too many friends, but Leslie was one of them. As his friend, I feel very happy and fortunate. I miss him a lot. He has given me a lot of happiness.
Today’s Movie Appreciation Session has now come to an end. Let’s once again use our warmest applauses to express our thanks to Director Gordon Chan.