Director Soi Cheang is making his first appearance at Midnight Madness this year with SPL: A Time For Consequences. But he’s had other films at TIFF. Accident (2009), starring MM Alumnus Louis Koo, and Motorway (2013), starrring MM Alumni Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Josie Ho, screened in the Vanguard Program. This year Soi Cheang brings a follow-up to Wilson Yip’s SPL / Sha Po Long / Killzone. SPL blew the roof off Midnight Madness in 2005–with Sammo Hung in the house. In taking on the sequel, Cheang brings new characters and locations to the series, with characters played by MM Alumni, Wu Jing, Jony Jaa, Louis Koo and Simon Yam. And Cheang maintains some of the original’s sensibility. There will be fights. There will be fights in a Thai prison. Simon Yam might be in peril.
Like many Hong Kong directors, Soi Cheang got his start on Hong Kong’s iconic television station, TVB. He went on to become an assistant director for Johnnie To and Accident and Motorway were both produced by To’s Milkway Image Ltd. Cheang even did some shooting for Wilson Yip on the first SPL. Cheang’s filmography is pretty diverse now, ranging from grimmer films like Dog Bite Dog (2006) to the family friendly Monkey King 3D (2014).
Director Cheang was kind enough to answer some questions for us in advance of the premiere of SPL2. Since he sent his answers back in Chinese and English, we’re posting his answers in both languages.
SPL 2: A Time for Consequences isn’t a traditional sequel to SPL. How did you come up with the new story and how does it keep some of the themes and feel of SPL?
At first, I told him that I wouldn’t want to make an SPL movie unless we had a feasible story. And somehow we managed to put together all the characters and the story framework that you see in the current movie.
You work with many amazing and talented performers in SPL 2. How was it working with them and how did you cast the film?
In fact, they are all good action movie actors. We were grounded in the characteristics of each actor or how I feel about each actor. For example, I don’t want Tony Jaa be a killer. I would like him to be a simple and headlong man, just like in Ong-Bak. Besides, I want the audience can see the other side of Wu Jing. He is always power and prestige in the past. This time, I want him down in the dumps and struggling. This time, I have tried a different and distinctive style on every actor, I hoped everyone could be outstanding.
How was working with action choreographer Li Chung-chi?
We started to discuss the operation of each scene and my demands. We have made many adjustments on site. There were some ideas we created together. And there are some scenes were I decided to do for atmosphere, then he developed it.
I’ve read you started in the film industry as an assistant director for Wilson Yip Wai-shun, Ringo Lam, Andrew Lau and Johnnie To. How have they influenced your filmmaking? What other filmmakers or films have influenced you?
每個跟我合作過的導演對我有很大影響，因為在他們身上學到很多，好似你們提到的Wilson Yip, Ringo Lam, Johnnie To 他們都對我很大影響
Those directors that I’ve worked with are a great influence on me. I learned a lot from them. As you mentioned, directors like Wilson Yip, Ringo Lam, Andrew Lau and Johnnie To. They have a great influence on me.
There are three languages in SPL2: Cantonese, Mandarin and Thai. What were some of the challenges and benefits of shooting in so many languages?
Language is challenge for us during shooting. But we have to overcome it. I think there was a big challenge for Zhang Jin. Although he is not Thai, he had to speak in Thai during shooting. I think he is very talented in language. So it made the shooting very smooth.
Thank you so much, Director Cheang!
This interview was originally published on the official program blog of the Midnight Madness program