Tue, Apr 06, 2010
my paper
Monga actors bring down the house in rowdy action scene


SCRAPES, sprains and bruises.

These were the "gifts" that the two lead actors of Taiwanese film, Monga, took home with them every day after filming.

At a press conference to promote the movie yesterday, Taiwanese actor Mark Chao and his co-star, Taiwanese actor and model Ethan Juan, told reporters that they had sustained injuries from head to toe, including scraped knees and palms.

"I also pulled a muscle in my thigh and knees, strained my back, and hurt my fist because I had accidentally hit other people or the wall," revealed Chao, 25, in Mandarin.

The gangster flick had many action scenes which required him and Juan to fight or run.

Set in Taiwan's Monga district (today's Wanhua district) in the 1980s, it centres on five teenagers who join a gang and find themselves in the thick of gang rivalries.

The gritty action film, which cost NT$70 million (S$3 million) to make, has enjoyed massive success in Taiwan's box office, raking in NT$59.32 million (S$2.6 million) in its opening weekend in February - even surpassing the worldwide hit Avatar that week.

So rowdy were some scenes and so intense were Chao and Juan that, in filming one fight scene, they actually smashed their way into someone's house.

"Juan was supposed to push me against the wall, but we were so into the scene that we crashed through someone's door and broke their refrigerator, table and glasses, shocking the people in the house," said Chao.

But fight scenes or no, Chao and Juan, 27, have developed a close bond "akin to brotherhood", said the film's Taiwanese director, Doze Niu.

Indeed, the two actors even finished each other's sentences during the conference.

This was probably a big relief to Chao, who was previously plagued with rumours of a rift between him and his former co-star, Vic Zhou, in the police drama series Black And White.

Chao and Juan were in town yesterday with Niu, 44, to promote the movie, which will be released next Thursday.

The film, which centres on a male world of loyalty and betrayal, also stars veteran actor Ma Ju Lung and rising star Rhydian Vaughan.

Juan's wounds during filming, however, went more than skin deep. While filming a particularly emotional crying scene, Niu, who is a good friend of Juan, had leveraged on "past issues" - issues that he did not want to reflect upon, said Juan.

Niu had brought up the painful topics, whispering them into Juan's ear to get him to cry for the scene.

"He kept talking about them and my tears just kept flowing," said Juan, who did not reveal what those heartrending issues were.

"After the scene wrapped, I asked Niu why he had to mess up my life and make it so painful," he said, smiling.

But the director told him an actor often has to drag out old wounds in order to tap into real, raw emotions.

And after the audience watches the performance and applauds them on it, it can also heal the wounds they have, Niu added.

"After I heard that, I felt touched and consoled. But I was still very angry with him!" added Juan with a laugh.



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