Crying, bruises and blood

Crying, bruises and blood

It was an audition for coming-of-age Brunei silat film Yasmine.

Untrained in the martial art form, actress-wannabe Liyana Yus decided to unleash her wushu moves instead.

To be precise, a kick, a punch and what little she knew after a year of wushu classes as part of her school's co-curricular activity in college in Brunei.

"I'm not even sure if they were correct," Liyana, 21, told The New Paper in a telephone interview from Brunei.


The newbie must have packed a punch because she landed her first-ever acting role as the titular character who pursues her passion for silat against her father's wishes, while grappling with matters of the heart.

Yasmine, which stars regional actors such as Indonesian actor Reza Rahadian, Malaysian actress Nabila Huda and Singapore-born singer-actor M. Nasir, will be in theatres here from Aug 21.

But even before its premiere, the first commercial film for Brunei had already gained massive attention in international film festivals around the world including Korea, Canada and Switzerland.

Liyana is one of two Brunei actresses in the movie - up-and-coming star Nadiah Wahid plays her classmate and silat buddy Nadia Malik.

Liyana has put her pre-university education on hold since taking on the role in 2012.

Despite initial reservations, she soon decided it was a career worth pursuing.

She said: "It helped that my father gave me his support. He told me that academic success is to land a good, well-paying job. "For me, I'm lucky and grateful to be given a possible 'shortcut'. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

On sharing screen time with established actors, Liyana said she initially felt "very small".

But bonds were quickly fostered on set and she looked to her reel-life father, Reza Rahadian (he plays Fahri), for imparting useful acting tips.

"For example, he advised me that in portraying anger, the trick is in the eyes, even without having to frown," she said.

Liyana, who has a passion for singing, had initially thought she'd follow in the footsteps of her musician father.

But a Facebook post on audition details for Yasmine in 2012 changed everything for the oldest of five children.

Her mother, who had spotted it on the social networking site, then told Liyana to "give it a shot".

Her foray onto the silver screen proved challenging.

"Crying, bruises and blood," said Liyana, succinctly describing the experience.

Recalling an accident on set, she said: "I was too slow and the opponent was too fast, so she hit my face. But life goes on and five hours later, we were up and running."

Before filming began, she went through an entire year of training six days a week to brush up on her skills in martial arts and acting. Among her instructors was Jackie Chan's stunt choreographer, Chan Man Ching.

Nonetheless, Liyana admits that the confident and headstrong character she plays cannot be further from her shy self.

Neither has she ever had a love rival like her on-screen persona. "I'm just not boy-crazy!" she said with a laugh.

But one thing is for sure - they are both equally determined.

"I aim to do more action films. I want to learn silat properly and am open to learning other forms as well, like Muay Thai. Who knows? It might open up more doors for me," she said.

For me, I'm lucky and grateful to be given a possible 'shortcut'. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This article was first published on August 13, 2014.
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