Leaps and lots of laughter

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 December, 2009, 12:00am

Korean martial arts group Jump will be in Hong Kong during the Christmas break, offering audiences a unique theatrical experience. Young Post junior reporters had an exclusive interview with the performers last month when they jetted into the city, and also got a chance to learn some of the entertainers' moves.

The troupe was founded in 1999 as a way to combine martial arts and acrobatics into a comedy. They have performed in more than 20 countries since their first international performance in 2005; this month's trip to the SAR will be their Hong Kong debut.

The show is a mime about a martial arts family. There is the father and mother, the drunken uncle, grumpy grandfather, beautiful daughter and geeky son-in-law.

Two unwitting burglars break into the household and soon wish they had picked another house. The audience will be treated to a slapstick martial arts show that critics have described as Jackie Chan meets Charlie Chaplin.

All the cast members are from South Korea, except one: Liu Ke, who plays the father, is a mainlander who studied martial arts at Beijing University and Beijing Wushu Institute. When he was in his fourth year at college, a friend told him about an audition for Jump in Korea. He gave it a shot and was chosen from thousands of candidates. He has been with Jump for three and a half years.

'My parents gave me unwavering support,' he says, 'but they do worry about me because they don't get to see me very often.'

Liu is not the only university graduate among the cast. All the cast members have qualifications in their specialities. Hong Kyung-Ae, who plays the mother, and Kim Young-gee, who plays daughter, majored in gymnastics. Kim Dong-kyun, the son-in-law, and other cast members are experts in taekwondo, breakdancing and acrobatics, as well as taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art.

The group has an intensive practice schedule and can work on their moves for up to six hours every day. They always take great care to warm up their muscles before they try out the mind-boggling leaps and twists. That way they seldom experience serious injuries. But the work is very physical and, like any athletes, they suffer the minor aches and pains.

Jump has performed in many countries, including Britain, the US, Israel, Thailand, Singapore and Japan. To make their performance unique to each country, they adapt their script every time to relate directly to that particular country's audience.

For instance, when they performed in Bangkok, they incorporated a Thai martial art, krabi krabon, into a few scenes, much to the delight of the locals. In countries that don't have their own martial arts, a nation-specific wedding dress may be included in the last scene.

The cast spends long spells away from home, but appreciates the chance they get to meet a variety of people and see interesting places.

The thing they miss most is traditional Korean food. Mostly, though, when they go abroad, they like to sample the local food at some point, and so far they haven't been disappointed. Jump is showing at the HKAPA December 24 to 27 at HKAPA. Tickets are HK$380 and HK$480 (HK$280-HK$680 for adults) from HK Ticketing on 31 288 288.