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[HERALD INTERVIEW] Andy Lau urges Asian films to experiment

2006/10/16 Source

Hong Kong star expresses his wish to work with filmmakers in Korea

By Cho Chung-un

BUSAN - A key focus for this year's Pusan International Film Festival is to encourage more pan-Asian film productions by bolstering the increased commercial influence of Asian movies.

At the center of this mission stands Andy Lau Tak-wah, a Hong Kong star who has made tremendous contributions in unearthing new talented filmmakers across Asia.

The multitalented star with more than 130 films as an actor, producer credits and a number of chart-topping music albums has been selected as the Asian Filmmaker of the Year at PIFF for encouraging six new directors of the region to shoot high-definition feature-length films.

The list of supported films includes the low budget black comedy and the PIFF closing film, "Crazy Stone", directed by China's Ning Hao. "Film markets in Asia have made rapid improvements in recent years. But they still need to put in continuous efforts and experiment further to reach their potential", said Andy Lau in an interview with The Korea Herald.

"And I think it is important to be loved by the local audience first rather than focusing and spending time on finding an identity accepted by all Asians", the 45-year-old actor, singer and film director said.

Pointing out the big successes in the Korean movie market, he said, "I was amazed to see the tremendous development of Korean movies in terms of the use of technology".

"No one in Hong Kong some 10 years ago paid attention to me when I pointed out the need to develop 'scientific effects'. But Korea has made steady development on upgrading its technology. I think it made a huge difference (between the two countries)", he said, adding that he's a big fan of Korean smash hit "The Host" (2006).

Lau said the movie by director Bong Joon-ho had viewers clamoring to see the fantastic movements of the monster in the movie, made possible with superb special effects.

"Technology shown in Korean movies is already comparable to that of Hollywood movies. The development of Korean movies shows me how continuous efforts can eventually lead to a big success. I have a wish to take a part in filmmaking in Korea", he said.

The talented star and filmmaker also said that he is a great fan of Korean TV dramas and actor Lee Byung-heon. "I think Lee Byung-heon is very flexible and can play various roles", he said.

"I loved watching the Korean TV drama 'The Palace' ("Princess Hours", 'Gung' in Korean) that featured singer-turned-actress Yoon Eun-hye. It was so romantic", he said.

Making his debut in 1980 with a Hong Kong-based broadcaster, the megastar has gained a reputation in the industry for being extremely hardworking. He juggles time to manage multiple films a year, continue his singing career and appear in numerous commercials ranging from clothing to watches.

But he is not happy about the difficulties Asian stars face to gain a breakthrough in Hollywood, the world's biggest film market.

"I don't quite understand why Asian actors (or actresses) are not given chances to take main supportive roles in Hollywood movies although we (Asian stars) don't have problems in language. I am pretty disappointed about that", he said.

Lau has not yet appeared in any Hollywood-made films unlike his colleagues Jackie Chan or Jet Li.

Asked whether he wants to work in Hollywood, Lau said, "I had a number of offers but couldn't find proper roles that fit with my character".

Although he hasn't debuted in Hollywood, his film "Infernal Affair" was recently remade as "The Departed" by legendary director Martin Scorsese.

For Lau, Korea has always been an enjoyable place where he can greet a number of passionate and enthusiastic fans ranging from teenagers to those in their 40s or 50s.

"I was surprised yesterday (at the opening ceremony) at seeing young Korean students screaming my name. It is hard to believe that I still have such a young fan base", Lau said.

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