Bey Logan has been working in Hong Kong for two decades, from doing commentary on Hong Kong films, to working as a writer and director, Bey has carved his slice of the action. Most recently he wrote and produced Lady Bloodfight and worked as a producer on the second installment of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Bey told me it has been a long time since he has been interviewed, well, here goes, another Dan's Movie Report exclusive interview.
about your childhood, and what made you decide to be involved in
when I can first remember, I was just obsessed with the moving image
and with martial arts. I can’t really explain why, especially
regarding the latter. There is one rather metaphysical
interpretation. I have a complicated family background, kind of
similar to that movie ‘Philomena’, and I grew up with adoptive
parents. While I was living my middle class English life in
Peterborough, England, my real mother was over in Australia training
in karate from her husband, Tino Ceberano, and, later, getting
involved in the entertainment industry. And, even though we didn’t
know each other at that time, I ended up doing pretty much the same
things in the UK and then Hong Kong. So I guess if you believe in
these kinds of spiritual connections, that would make sense, and if
you don’t it wouldn’t. First time I’ve talked about that in an
interview, I think!
meeting Jackie Chan inspire you to want to write and direct?
was already writing stories and scripts before I knew Jackie Chan,
but certainly he gave me my first real chance to write and produce
movies for him, and I’ll always be grateful to him. I first met
Jackie when I flew to Hong Kong for the first time, I was 20 years
old, and I interviewed him at Golden Harvest studios for a magazine
article. I never dreamt that I’d ever have a chance to work with
him. It was more than ten years later that he let me work on his
documentaries, ‘Jackie Chan My Story’ and ‘My Stunts’, on the
films ‘Gen-X Cops’ and its sequel, and then to write ‘The
Medallion’, and then to produce ‘Twins Effect’, in which Jackie
appeared. It was an amazing to experience working with Jackie, and I
hope to again before either one of us retires!
Share a story from working on The Twins Effect, interesting film.
became involved with ‘The Twins Effect’ right after we finally
finished ‘The Medallion’. The new head of production at Emperor
Motion Pictures, Carl Chang, showed me these proposals for their
upcoming slate, including this concept for a movie about these two
young Asian girls fighting vampires. I said that was the one we
should make, and that we should bring Donnie Yen back to Hong Kong to
action direct. He was living in LA at that time. Donnie and the
director, Dante Lam, had very different styles, but we won Best
Action at the Hong Kong Film Awards, which was great, and the film
was a big hit, which is never a bad thing!
Chan had a role in the film. I remember one night we were filming
down by the waterfront in Hong Kong, and everyone was under these
canvas awnings. It was dark and I was trying to write some notes on
the dialogue, and I had a pen and notepad and was holding a torch in
my mouth as I wrote. Jackie saw this and went to take the shoelace
from one of his sneakers, and then he took the torch and tied it to
the crossbeam of the awning, and so the light shone down on me as I
wrote. And that’s how I’ve always thought of Jackie Chan, a
bringer of light to this dark world!
about working on The Blood Bond, I reviewed that film
Bond was a movie I rushed into right after I finished my first three
year tour of duty with The Weinstein Company. Most people who leave a
major film company say they’re going to make their own films, and
of course most never do, so I felt I had something to prove. It was
an interesting script, an interesting project, and it kind of got
hijacked by Michael Biehn, who was hired to star in the film and
ended up directing it. Michael’s a nice guy, a very talented actor,
but he was the completely the wrong man to direct a martial arts
action movie in China, at least at that time. It was a good lesson
for me that you either have to maintain control yourself as a
producer, Jerry Bruckheimer style, or else you find people you can
trust and let them shine.
you happy with the final edit of the film?
think it has its moments, but doesn’t match what was intended. And
we had all the moving parts that were needed to make a better film!
It was released in theatres and on DVD in Hong Kong and elsewhere in
Asia, but it kind of got buried internationally. The funny thing is
that I watch all these straight-to-video Dolph Lundgren and Vinnie
Jones films they make now in LA and elsewhere, and, compared to them,
I think Blood Bond actually stands up pretty well. At the time,
though, I felt I could do better. And happily I went on to do so!
about Covert Operations, AKA The Borderland, has the film been
yet? Perhaps discuss the plot and more about the film.
film has been released in the UK, North America and Japan, and
probably elsewhere by now. This was a project that came about when I
was producing a short film, ‘SOLIID’, for a director called F.
Manga. This was something we did at a studio in China I used to have
a deal with, the same one where I shot Blood Bond. Manga’s project
was brought to me by Seydina Balde, an old friend of mine who had
been 5 times world karate champion. ‘SOLIID’ never got made, but
Seydina came back saying he had an investor and a director and a
script for a film called ‘Borderland’, which was kind of ‘Die
Hard’-in-a-North-Korean-bunker concept. So we made that
movie, and it turned out very well, in my admittedly biased opinion!
is such a generic term. On this film, Seydina, as a producer, brought
in the financing (very important!) and found Mathieu Weschler, the
director, and Vincent Viellard-Barone, the DP, and himself as star,
then, when they moved to Hong Kong and China, I took over so Seydina
could focus on the acting and the action. I think it was the perfect
team, and the look
that Mathieu and Vincent got was so great. It’s so imaginative,
such a ‘go for broke’ movie, stylistically, where it could so
easily have been a generic video actioner. I’m very proud of the
film. I kind of thought that it would be a stepping stone for
everyone involved to do bigger films, and I hope that happens in
time. I’d certainly be very open to doing another movie with the
same team. Maybe even ‘Covert Operations AKA The Borderland 2’!
about the idea of Lady Bloodfight, how the concept and idea came
felt that there was an increasing interest in female martial artists,
with these characters being used in side roles in these big
franchises like The Expendables, Fast and Furious, though the leads
were still men… I thought it would be interesting to do a whole
film about an American girl who comes to Hong Kong to compete in a
secret tournament, basically the kind of film you would normally make
with a guy in the lead! As a producer, I always have a decent writer
on staff, myself!, to hammer out a first draft, and that’s what I
it hard to get the project off the ground in the beginning? Chat
the casting and challenges you had to go through on the initial
of Lady Bloodfight?
was very lucky in that Voltage Pictures, who are a highly regarded
LA-based production company, who have won Oscars and so on, responded
to the script. This was Nic Chartier, who started the company, and
Zev Foreman, who was responsible for developing Lady Bloodfight, and
also Babacar Diene, who was very involved in developing the script.
They had a lot more ambition for the film than even I did! They
brought it to a different scale. They were the ones who signed the
incredible Amy Johnston to star in it, and they got Chris Nahon (Kiss
of the Dragon) to direct and Michel Abramowicz (Taken) as DP.
Bloodfight promises full force action, I noticed that several of
ladies in the film are fitness people or body builder types, so a lot
new fresh faces, was there a lengthy audition process? I saw that
a few weeks of training prior to the filming,
was what we thought would be the real challenge. You had to find a
female martial arts star that could carry a film, both as an actress
and a fighter, which was Amy, who is just amazing. I was so impressed
with how good of an actress
she is. It’s not really fair to compare her with the other female
martial artists who’ve starred in movies, she’s that
good. Then you needed all the other women warriors to participate in
the tournament, and what we found was that there were a lot of really
talented, very physically gifted performers out there, just waiting
for someone to make a film like Lady Bloodfight! We had people like
Jenny and Kathy Wu (who are not actually related!) and Muriel
Hoffman, who came from a conventional acting background, and they
really threw themselves into the martial arts training under Hung Yan
Yan Shrfu. Then you had Jet Tranter, who already had an on-line
following as a fitness icon and for whom I think this is a break out
movie role. Jet’s a very interesting actress because she has this
very formidable physical presence, but then she’s also, as a
person, very funny and also very sensitive, and this comes across on
screen. And then you’re only as great as your villain, and we got
really lucky with Mayling Ng, who I had first met when I was working
on the film Twins Effect. She is a martial artist/bodybuilder and was
such a ‘good’ bad girl. Stanislavsky said there are no small
parts, just small actors, and I’m happy to say there are no small
actors in this film. I cast some people I knew, like Rosemary
Vandenbroucke, Nathaliea Ng and Lisa Cheng, and they really surprised
me with what they could do, in terms of both acting and action, and
there were some players who were new to me, including Lauren Rhoden
and Sunny Coelst, who were just as stunning. In total, we had 16
fighting femme fatales in this, and they all gave 100% and more,
How were the local crew to work with? What was the name of the stunt
you used, have to give them their props.
local team were a mixed bag. We made some decisions early that
created challenges for us further down the line and a very
experienced American line producer, Justin Bursch, came on, who had
worked on some Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren films, which was the
perfect background for this film, and Justin proved invaluable. Our
action coordinator was the great Hung Yan Yan, who kung fu film fans
know from the Once Upon a Time in China series, Tsui Hark’s Blade,
Seven Swords… Yan Yan put a good team together, and everyone
trained at my now legendary kwoon in Cheung Sha Wan. I also want to
mention my local producing partner, Uri Schwarz, who had done just
one low budget movie before, Stories Forelorn, but proved such a
great asset. I think we’ve now lost him to Hollywood!
was just blown away by Chris Nahon, who, amazingly, hadn’t made a
film for about five years before working on ‘Lady Bloodfight’,
and this guy is simply incredible. I’d been lucky enough to spend
the previous year working with various Oscar nominated directors, and
Chris is their equal in every respect. ‘Lady Bloodfight’ is going
to be an unusual martial arts film in that the non-action scenes are
shot in a way that’s just as exciting and revolutionary as the
fights. He and (DP) Michel (Abramowicz) created this extraordinary
style for the movie. I’ve actually never worked with anyone who has
a more total grasp of the medium than Chris, and I hope and believe
‘Lady Bloodfight’ will bring him back into the film-making
mainstream. Also he’s such a kind and loyal person, both Chris and
his wife Cecilia. They both showed their appreciation for me creating
a project that can show the world what Chris Nahon can do as a
director, and you don’t always find that kind of loyalty in this
industry. I really miss spending so much time with them in Hong Kong.
Johnston. I predict is going to be an A list action star soon, how
you approach her for the lead in Lady Bloodfight?
have to give Voltage Pictures credit for seeing the full potential in
Amy. She came to us having been Scarlett Johansson’s double on
Captain America: Winter Soldier, so we knew she had the action down.
What blew me away was what a great actress she is. Amy could
completely hold her own in a straight drama with no fighting. She and
Muriel Hofmann, who plays Amy’s teacher in the film, are a great
double act, on camera and off.
that the film has completed principal photography, are there any
shots left, or is it all ready for post? When is the release
for? I am assuming this is going to be a hard R rated film?
film is in post now, Chris is cutting away and this is where we
benefit hugely from having Voltage produce the film, because they
have a great track record in making sure their films get the post
they deserve and the distribution and so on. So it’s in good hands!
time to get on to CTHD2, How did you become involved in the
actually can’t talk about the specifics of CTHD2, other than saying
it was an honour to be invited by the producer, Harvey Weinstein, to
join the team. It was genuinely an amazing experience, truly,
Woo-Ping directing the film seems to promise more action, and
I know the plot and such is under a tight wrap, I hear there are
amazing action sequences with Juju Chan's Silver Dart Shi character,
is like a protector and fights with Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh? Is
anything you can chat about with regards to other action in the film
going to be amazing. Juju Chan worked very hard on the film. We
actually wanted her to be in Lady Bloodfight, but she was apparently
too busy working in LA on a new project. The whole team in front of
and behind the camera on CTHD2 was just world class.
share a cool or funny behind the scenes story from CTHD2 shoot,
pranks or silliness happening?
was working too hard! No-one had time for any pranks. And there
weren’t any on Lady Bloodfight, either! The funniest thing on the
Lady Bloodfight set was Justin Bursch's beard…
about martial arts in US films VS Asian produced movies, do you
the tendency is to take short cuts and quick edits on US films?
was infamous for criticizing the martial arts action scenes in
Hollywood movies, in the pages of Impact and elsewhere. Over time,
American producers realised that Hong Kong film-makers, the people I
was championing, Yuen Woo-ping, Sammo Hung, Corey Yuen and so on,
started working in Hollywood productions. Now, though, I think the
best of the American choreographers, the guys that did John Wick, for
example, are on a par with Hong Kong film-makers in terms of modern
day action, but I still think we do traditional kung fu fighting
share some advice for up and coming actors.
think the best advice comes from object lessons, you see who else has
succeeded and learn from that. For example, something I remember very
well from Maggie Q was still in Hong Kong is her incredible work
ethic. When she had to do martial arts scenes, she would put in extra
time with the stunt team. When she was going to do a stage play, she
took singing lessons to help with her breath control. Her success
came because she worked on it. That’s not to say that everyone who
works hard can succeed, but you do have some say about how much
effort you put it, though not in how lucky you are. As Louis Pasteur
said “chance favours the prepared mind.” You also have to be able
to recognise opportunity when it’s presented to you. And it always
helps if you’re loyal!
she’d played a lead in ‘Naked Weapon’, I offered Maggie a
supporting role in ‘Dragon Squad’, a film I was producing, and
her management were telling her not to take it, the part wasn’t big
enough, the money was no good and she was just like “^%& it,
its Bey, I’m in…” We were filming in Happy Valley cemetery and
there was a stunt where Maggie’s character was meant to be swing
down on a cable from a tree. The action director, Chin Kar Lok, was
suggesting we use a double, and Maggie, of course, insisted on doing
it herself. And someone was on set who was involved with the casting
for ‘Mission Impossible 3’, and that started that whole chain of
events which took her to Hollywood.
the moral of the story is work hard, stay loyal to your mates, jump
from that tree and grab the chance when it comes…!
are some of your future projects?
feel that, with CTHD2. Lady Bloodfight, shooting a fight with Donnie
Yen for Kung Fu Jungle, the first cycle of my career has draw to a
close. I’ve been in production for a long time now, if you add
together the time I spent prepping Lady Bloodfight, then we had to
postpone it and I went to prep and shoot CTHD2 and then
prep and finally make Lady Bloodfight... Right now, I’m taking a
sabbatical in my hidden fortress, writing a new script for an
east-west actioner, finishing my long-awaited new volume on Hong Kong
kung fu cinema, waiting the further call to arms from my home studio,
The Weinstein Company…
the future holds, as a western writer, producer and film expert
living in Hong Kong, I’ve had 20 years here that no-one came close
to matching, in terms of the range of my experience and success, and
yes, I am proud of that! There have been up and downs, like there are
in any career, in any life, but it’s been quite a ride for a middle
class English guy from Peterborough. I’m very aware that I’ve
been blessed to live out the dreams of my youth.
film industry has changed so much, globally, since I joined it and,
locally, I look forward to seeing younger non-Chinese, or overseas
Chinese, fulfilling their visions, people like Mike Leeder, Roseanne
Liang, Uri (Schwarz), Jason (Tobin)… There’s so much talent out
there. The tools are now here for these guys and gals to create their
own projects, from the ground up, and I can take it a little easier!
I’m training with my teacher, Mak Chi-kong Sifu, studying, spending
time with my family, with my kids, who haven’t seen enough of me
the last year. Living the book of my life, as Stevie Wonder put it…
There you have it straight from the mind of Bey Logan, Get ready for the two Bey Logan projects unleashing later in 2015 and more interviews from the cast of Lady Bloodfight!