When filming a scene with handcuffs in Taiwan, actors would receive a red packet as it is considered inauspicious to have one's hands in cuffs. The amount would be a token NT$50 (S$2.10), as the number 50 in Mandarin sounds like "fine".
But when filming local crime thriller Re:solve, Taiwanese actor Chris Lee Chih-cheng, 32, realised there was no such custom here. In it, he plays Inspector Chen Shaoqiang, who tries to solve a series of armed heists and murders linked to a botched mission from his Special Tactics Unit days.
Lee, known as a television actor back home, says that he is not superstitious but as it happened, a key that was supposed to unlock his cuffs broke. "So one of my hands was cuffed and I accidentally pressed it so it became tighter, to the point that blood was not flowing through."
He recounts calmly that his hand turned purple and the crew considered using an electric saw to cut through the cuffs. In the end, a locksmith took half an hour to free him. Director Randy Ang, 35, chips in: "He didn't say a single word at all and just continued acting."
Another Taiwanese in the cast is Mico Chang, 30, better known for being a sexy model. In the film though, she is all covered up. Ang says: "I didn't want to treat her as a sex object. In every work that I try to do, I'm very conscious of the female roles, that they shouldn't be just a 'flower vase', one-dimensional roles."
Chang is happy for the opportunity to be seen in a different light. "Sexiness is not a crime and clearly I'm not being pigeonholed because of it as I'm all wrapped up in Re:solve, so you get to see what's inside and I get to show my acting skills," she says.
The cast also includes home-grown and Singapore-based actors such as Yuan Shuai, Sunny Pang and Pamelyn Chee, who were all excited to be part of what is billed as Singapore's first crime thriller movie.
Ang, executive producer of indie feature Becoming Royston (2007), says of his big screen directorial debut: "I've always liked watching cop thrillers and I wondered why no one in Singapore dared to do one. Then I made one and realised how hard it was."
He was met by a chorus of no's when it came to scouting for filming locations, especially when firearms were involved.
He adds: "My requirements were simple. I wanted to use real guns and bullets and it wasn't easy to get the permits to have explosions and gunfights in this bustling city." Furthermore, insurance was twice that of a regular film, he notes.
For all the challenges faced in the making of the $1.2-million film, the biggest one could well be the inevitable comparisons made with films of the same genre from film-making hubs such as Hong Kong and Hollywood.
The director says: "We do not have a humongous budget to pull off something bigger. We wish we could, but our market is very small. Of course, you have every right to compare and I would love to hear your feedback, but the idea is that we are trying to do something quite different."
Producer Jimmy Wong, 38, who also has a supporting role in the film, adds: "In all businesses, it's about trying. Even if this movie is not very well accepted, I will keep on trying. We have all the talents, I don't believe we can't make it."
Meanwhile, leading man Lee puts a more positive spin on the issue of comparisons. He says: "It can be a source of pressure or a source of motivation, it all depends on how you look at it."
Re:solve is now showing.
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