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Friday, October 17, 2008

Wu Zun: Pretty Fighter

Taiwanese heart-throb Wu Chun earns praise for doing own stunts

By Maureen Koh The New Paper

NOT everyone was optimistic about his first major movie role in the latest adaptation of the classic, Butterfly Lovers. After all Wu Chun is better known for his pretty-boy roles in Taiwanese idol dramas such as Romantic Princess, Hanazakarino Kimitachie and Tokyo Juliet - in which looks matter more than acting. He is also part of the popular Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit, known for its boyish good looks and cheery pop tunes.

The heart-throb, who was in town yesterday to promote his new film, disclosed that it was a role he had to fight hard for. Wu Chun, 29, said: 'I've always wanted to act in a movie and I didn't want to miss the opportunity. And the moment was like now. It took more than a year before I finally landed the role.'

In the film, which opens in Singapore cinemas today, Wu Chun plays Liang Zhongshan, a senior at a martial arts school. He meets Zhu Yanzhi when her parents send her to the school to escape vengeance-seeking enemies. That role is played by Charlene Choi, who replaced her Twins' partner Gillian Chung, after the latter turned down the role. Gillian had gone on long leave after actor Edison Chen's nude photos of her were leaked online in the biggest scandal to rock Asian showbiz this year.

As this version of the classic is set in a pugilistic world, Wu Chun is involved in several action-fighting scenes - almost all of which he performed without using stuntmen. Wu Chun said: 'I insisted on performing my own stunts because I'm someone who prefers to do things myself. I always believe that if I can do it, I will.'

Even then, there were a few hairy moments. He recalled the day when they filmed a scene in which he had to jump from an inn - about three storeys high - into a river. A stuntman, who demonstrated the sequence, jumped into the water and nearly landed on a piece of stray wood. Wu Chun said: 'Luckily he managed to avoid an accident. Even after the crew had removed the wood, I could not help feeling apprehensive when I did the shot.' He did it in just one take.


Another difficult scene - and perhaps most unforgettable for Wu Chun - was the one in which he fights to take Yanzhi's body with him so that he could die with her. It took nearly a week to do the scene. Wu Chun said: 'We'd start from about 5 or 6pm and film till about 5am the next day.' It didn't help that the ground was wet and slippery as the scene was supposed to depict a wounded Zhongshan carrying his lover's body in the pouring rain. 'But when we finally got it right, all the hard work was worth it,' said Wu Chun.

His determination to take on risky stunts has earned him compliments from the film's martial arts director, Ching Siu-tung. He told the Hong Kong media: 'I've never seen a newcomer so willing to take on risks.' But Wu Chun confessed: 'I actually found the whole experience more exciting than tough. I'm very lucky that I had a wonderful crew to work with. 'What I've learned from this experience will definitely benefit me on another level in future.'

He acknowledged that his roles in idol dramas had given him an 'almost perfect' image. He said: 'Everything's all pretty and dandy - your make-up's in place, there are no loose strands of hair. 'Unlike in this film where I bleed from my wounds... and I look scruffy and sweaty from the fighting scenes.'

Wu Chun was also full of praise for Charlene, whom he said was easy to work with. He said: 'Even though she had more experience in doing films, she did not make me feel uncomfortable.' Charlene would readily offer him tips and advice which were unrelated to the movie. He didn't go into details. 'In this way, I didn't feel stressed,' said Wu Chun.

But despite the camaraderie, he said the most awkward scene they filmed was when he had to help Charlene wash her feet. 'It's a very intimate gesture... I mean, even as lovers, you may touch and caress each other's hands, but you won't really touch the feet,' said Wu Chun.

Asked to rate his overall performance in the movie, he skirted the question and said: 'I'm happy that I've been given this chance. But as with everything, there's definitely room for improvement. 'Since it was something I wanted very much and fought hard for, it was critical for me to do well.' He added that he wanted to prove it was not wrong for his company to allow him to take on the role and for director Jingle Ma to place his stakes on him. 'If I fail, I will lose face,' he said.

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