Korean actor Jang Dong-gun speaks during a press conference for film “The Warrior’s Way” held at the Haeundae Grand Hotel in Busan, South Korea on October 9, 2010.
The storyline of “The Warrior’s Way” may sound like that of a typical western film — a man leaves behind his past to live in peace at a quiet village when one day, the village is attacked by intruders and the man fights till his death to defend the village.
However, as director Sngmoo Lee explained at a press conference in Busan on Saturday, his latest feature flips the story to have an Asian warrior fight for a Western village, the warrior played by Korean actor Jang Dong-gun.
Produced by Barrie Osborne of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix” series, the film also starring Hollywood actors Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth and Danny Houston, is set for release in both Korea and the United States on December 3.
Below are excerpts from the press conference which was attended by Barrie Osborne, Korean producer Jooick Lee, Sngmoo Lee and Jang Dong-gun.
Q: How did you come to make this movie?
Sngmoo Lee: There had been many movies where a Westerner comes and saves an Asian but I started thinking that there weren’t any the other way around where a Korean or Asian saves a Western village so I wanted to see what it would be like to express that through Asian and Western martial arts shot with new filming techniques.
Q: The preview footage we have seen shows that Jang Dong-gun plays the role of an Asian warrior. Does he have a nationality? What sort of warrior did you want to portray him as?
Lee: Jang is a warrior but there’s a baby in the story so we took a fantasy, storybook and comic-like approach. Taking a historical approach would rather get in the way of you enjoying the movie. So when we designed the wardrobe or the action moves, we tried to create a fantasy-like image, not that of a particular country. We tried very hard to make it difficult to associate the warrior with any country. The style of the martial arts you see is neither Japanese nor Korean nor Chinese. We dulled the nationality on purpose. We just wanted to create an Asian image.
Q: Why did you cast Jang Dong-gun for the role?
Barrie Osborne: Most importantly, I think that Dong-gun both looked the part and possessed the inner character strength that I felt was very necessary. I also frankly know that we looked quite wide for a suitable actor for this role and I felt Dong-gun would also appeal to a Western audience which I thought was very important. I know that he’s very popular, especially with women. (laugh) Another point that is crucial for the role was that in the beginning, you want to feel that he’s someone that’s disconnected from society, that he’s an individual with a lot of inner strength but very little connection from the world. And over the course of the movie, you have to believe he suddenly falls in love with a baby, a woman and his community. That is a very difficult thing to portray but just with the very first meeting, I had the belief that he had the ability to convey that.
Q: Jang Dong-gun, how was it for you working on the movie?
Jang Dong-gun: It was a very exciting experience. I had known Geoffrey Rush because I had watched his previous works so I was extremely happy when I heard he had been cast for the movie and I learned a lot while working with worldwide actors. And I’m also happy that I’ve gained a new sort of experience.
Q: What was most difficult about playing your character?
Jang: The situation that my character is laid in the movie constantly changes which brings a lot of changes also to his emotions so what was most difficult was that I wasn’t allowed to express that openly. The director and I talked a lot about that and how my character should respond to something he has never experienced before after living a not-so-ordinary life.
Q: You’ve achieved so much during your career so far. Is there possibly anything more you desire for?
Jang: I don’t think I’ve ever lived my life wanting to reach a certain goal while living as an actor. This work is just fun for me, working on a role after another. Some people have said I’m expanding my acting career into Hollywood now with this movie but I personally don’t put any particular significance into it because this is what I do and it’s just another one of the many roles that I will play in the future. I also don’t think I’ve achieved anything quite yet. I’ll work hard at what I’ve been given and I now have a family so I’ll do my best for them.
Q: How does it feel being a dad?
Jang: Since it seems everyone is curious about the baby, both the mother and child are very healthy and I think he looks exactly half of me and half of the mother. He’s still a newborn but everyone has been praising him, saying that he’s a rare sight to see, because he has very defined features. (laugh) The emotion that I felt when my child was born and I received him, was something that I had never felt before in my life. It was a strange feeling rather than just being plain good. I felt a bit happy, a bit burdened, and a bit marveled. And honestly, all the experiences I had during my lifetime till now and all the concerns I had, whether it be over a new role or the success of a film, they all seemed like nothing. It was a very strange emotion to experience. We haven’t decided on his name yet, we’re trying to choose between three choices. It’ll come in a few days.
Reporter : Jessica Kim jesskim@
Photographer : Chae ki-won ten@
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