With a budget of US$65 million, this true historical event-inspired Chinese film was produced after seven-long years of planning, with 350 staffers, 800 extras and 200 horses (just for an estimation, 2000 boxes of plain water was consumed in five days). Shot in the Gobi Desert, Dragon Blade tells the tale of the ancient city ‘Regum’, the story of peace-maintaining warriors along the Silk Road, and how peace regardless of race and languages can be realized.
As part of Dragon Blade promotions in Singapore, the cast consisting of Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Choi Siwon, Lin Peng and Mika Wang arrived at the 45-minute long press conference as they shared their filming experiences, talks about the story line and showed their close chemistry between the cast members.
While sharing their experiences on set, both Western stars John Cusack and Adrien Brody mentioned how it is a thrill to work with Jackie Chan on the martial arts scene. Being asked which was easier – martial arts scenes or singing – K-Pop star Siwon commented that both are different and difficult, but learning them helped to equip him better to challenge other movies in the future. He also shared that the cast and production team guided him in the actual action scenes and angles so it helped a lot.
Big Brother Jackie Chan said that mentioned how he was glad that the younger generation still enjoyed his old-school style of martial arts, without all the fancy wire works and just pure hand-to-hand combat: “It’s a miracle”. The effort of the production team could be seen as every scene from the movie, including the long-shots of the dessert and the close-up combat shots, was filmed by them instead of being outsourced. Running on a packed schedule, Jackie Chan also talked about how the staff had to work the hardest by preparing things at three in the morning and leaving the last, thus applauding their effort.
On this note, Jackie Chan couldn’t help but throw a jab at John Cusack and Adrien Brody, complaining that he had to entertain them after a day’s worth of schedules, as the two actors wanted to talk to him about the kinds of shots they want for the next day’s filming when he was actually tired. In disbelief, John Cusack took the microphone to say “now it all comes out!”, eliciting laughter from the floor.
When asked about the preparations for the cast in terms of martial arts, as most of them are not well-verse in it except for John Cusack, who did boxing, Jackie Chan said that he personally coached both John Cusack and Adrien Brody, while his stunt team helped to guide the other members. Also, because the style of the action scenes are more direct with little flashy tricks, the members of the cast actually picked up the skills really quickly.
In elaboration to the film’s concept and their own character, Adrien Brody said that even though he played a villain, he tried to find the glimpse of humanity in his character, and the film showed how good can triumph evil, and how enemies can be friends as long as one can make that effort. Jackie Chan really liked his own character because Huo An (the name of the character) is a peace protector which aligns to his personal belief, and he feels that he has the responsibility to spread that awareness with his movies. John Cusack who plays a Roman General that stumbles upon the city in which Huo An was sent to repair, said that the idea of finding a safe haven where people can live in dignity and how people put aside differences to get to know each other is a very important underlying theme.
In a twist of lightheartedness, the two western actors were asked with regards to what were the first words they learnt in Mandarin while filming on site. Immediately, John Cusack said ‘hello’ and ‘big brother’ in mandarin. In fact, the first Chinese words they learnt was ‘Big Brother’! On the spot, Adrien Brody and John Cusack also learned how to wish everyone a ‘happy new year’, earning applause for their efforts.
As to why the Singapore fans should watch the film? The crew immediately commented on how much hard work, tears and blood that had been devoted into the production, from preparations to the actual filming; on how they enjoy the movie and how it had a great theme of pushing for peace; on how they’ve achieved their childhood dream of working with the best martial arts actor and how they learnt a lot. But even then the cast couldn’t help but note that just perhaps, nothing beats Siwon’s short shoutout to the Singapore fans in fluent Mandarin: “Because I love Singapore!”
With that, the press conference drawled to an end as the actors proceeded to sign on the wall-size banner, before taking a group shot. Don’t forget to check our coverage on their follow-up mini fan meet-and-greet events held at NEX and VivoCity, as well as our short movie review over here!
Many thanks to Encore Films for the invitation!