A decade after the hit Donnie Yen-Sammo Hung movie SPL: Sha Po Lang was released in 2005, local Cantopop rocker Alex Chia has gone further than any fan of the Hong Kong actioner could dream of.
The 36-year-old was chosen to sing the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of the theme song for the highly-anticipated sequel SPL 2: A Time For Consequences, which is showing in cinemas here.
Chia told The New Paper: "It's my biggest achievement to sing for SPL. I'm a fan of the first movie and Donnie Yen."
Original stars Yen and Hung do not reprise their roles in SPL 2, which is about an undercover cop (Wu Jing) who tries to catch the mastermind (Louis Koo) of a crime syndicate.
He ends up in a Thai prison and joins forces with a prison guard (Tony Jaa) to take down the bad guys.
"I was quite nervous at the (SPL 2) press conference in Beijing ," said Chia, who performed the song there.
The song is entitled Sha Po Lang in Mandarin and Breakthrough in Cantonese. He also made an appearance at the gala premiere in Hong Kong.
"I didn't want to disappoint (director) Paco (Wong) because he took this performance quite seriously.
"It was a great experience. I (even) took a photo with Tony Jaa and he told me that I sang the song very well."
In April this year, Chia spent an average of six to seven hours a day for four days recording both versions.
It was the chance of a lifetime for Chia, who fell in love with rock music when he was 10 and has been singing since he was five.
He grew up listening to US groups like Guns N' Roses and Metallica, while Hong Kong band Beyond influenced him to pick up the guitar.
"Rock runs in my blood. I believe if you try something that's not really you, it won't turn out well because it's not natural," said Chia.
Though he is pursuing a singing career in Hong Kong, he is still running his interior design company Tomohiro Concept Arts in Singapore.
Chia formed a band in 1998 when he was in Ngee Ann Polytechnic studying mechanical engineering and even had an EP, but the band disbanded two years later.
In 2006, former vocalist Toy Yan recruited Chia for his local Chinese rock band V's, but Chia was too busy to commit fully to rehearsals for their live nightclub performances.
In 2011, things took a tragic turn when Yan died in a road accident.
He was 39, V's lead guitarist Francis Cheng asked Chia to produce a tribute album for Yan - also V's first studio album - comprising the songs they had written before, with Chia taking over as vocalist.
After 18 months of challenges and sheer dedication, it was completed.
When Chia sent out the as yet untitled album to see who might want to distribute it, Wong came calling.
"I was on my bed and it was really early in the morning. Paco's secretary called and said he was interested in reserving the rights," Chia said .
Chia was signed by Sun Entertainment Culture in Hong Kong and V's have shot two music videos, for the tracks One Day, One Day and Honour Among Bandits.
The SPL 2 gig followed shortly.
Chia said: "I even heard that one of the Four Heavenly Kings (in reference to the four biggest Hong Kong singing superstars of the 1990s Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai and Jacky Cheung) asked why Paco didn't let him sing. In the end, he chose me, instead of the other singers in the same company.
"I couldn't believe it. I didn't feel it was true till I received the song and recorded it, that it was real."
This article was first published on July 6, 2015.
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