Filmmaker's balancing act

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 January, 2011, 12:00am

Name: Benny Chan Muk-sing
Born: Hong Kong
Zodiac: neo Virgo
Chinese zodiac: Rooster

Major film credits: A Moment of Romance (1990), Son on the Run (1991), What a Hero! (1992), The Magic Crane (1993), A Moment of Romance 2 (1993), Happy Hour (1995), Man Wanted (1995), Fist of Fury (1995), Big Bullet (1996), They Don't Care About Us (1996), Who Am I? (1998), Gen-X Cops (1999), Last Ghost Standing (1999), Gen-Y Cops (2000), Heroic Duo (2003), New Police Story (2004), Divergence (2005), Rob-B-Hood (2006), Invisible Target (2007), Connected (2008), City Under Siege (2010) and The New Shaolin Temple (2011)

After middle school ... I joined a TV broadcast company and started as an assistant director. At the time it was called RTV. It was a very long time ago. I never studied film or any production courses at school.

As a film director ... I started in 1990 with A Moment of Romance. I always wanted to be a director/producer. Even now I still love this type of work.

With every film I release ... I hope it will be my best, or the highlight of my career. My lowest point was the last movie [City Under Siege]; at the box office it made two million something dollars; not more than three million. Yet on the mainland it was a high point for me. So I'm very confused about the preference of the two markets. I need to readjust and think about how I can balance the story and concept to fit both markets. That's what I'm thinking about all the time.

I saw the original Shaolin Temple film ... when I was really young. I can't really remember much about it, but I remember Jet Li. It was in 1983. Everyone agreed his kung fu was phenomenal. But I still thought he wasn't as great as Bruce Lee [laughs]. Bruce Lee is number one.

My latest film, The New Shaolin Temple ... has more drama than the original, which had a lot of kung fu. In The New Shaolin Temple, we focused more on the emotional side of the story. The kung fu is different, too. I use a more modern style. We have horse or horse carriage chases, which I think is reminiscent of car chases or car stunts.

The current abbot of the Shaolin Temple ... Shi Yongxin supported me and my film. He said just one line to his students before filming began: 'Fully support this director and everything he says. You guys should obey him.' It was very good - everybody listened.

Zen is about ... self-reflection and knowing more about yourself. Shaolin monks use self-reflection with kung fu to create a kind of philosophy. While practising kung fu, you'll think about yourself and understand yourself more. I put this philosophy into Andy Lau's character [Hao Jie] and let him bring out the main message: You have to understand what you need instead of what you want in your life.

Making a 3D movie ... might be difficult for me - now. I'm an action film director. I would need to use a lot of computer-generated imagery. I use a lot of live action for my kung fu fights. I'd definitely be interested to try.