Jet Li (right) is the biggest star in China since Jackie Chan
very quickly, and three months later the movie comes out. In the States it's like a big family. So you have mum, dad, grandfather, many sisters, brothers. If one of them doesn't like it then you go back and change it. So you can maybe spend three years making one movie.’
Such frustration is understandable; he’s been used to making his own decisions since his first outing as director at the age of 23. Li claims it will be his last: the film, Born To Defence, which evolved from youthful idealism, flopped. Fourteen years on, his beliefs may have altered, but he sees producing as a way of realising them more effectively. ’I’m not a very good director,’ he says. ’As a producer I think I can create more ideas and stories, different ways to make them happen.’ And he does not think that Hollywood and ideals are incompatible.
Not that he appears entirely satisfied with Romeo Must Die, which met with criticism in Asia for its comparatively unambitious fight sequences. ’In Asia I can control what kind of movies I make. In the States I am the new student. So I hope in the future I have the chance to choose what kind of story I really want to make.’
It looks likely. Li is presently co-producing Kiss Of The Dragon with Luc Besson, and there are additional collaborations with Joel Silver and Mel Gibson. ’There’s even a rumour that l have a part in the next Matrix film,’ he says with a big grin. ‘But that’s top secret.’
If the rumours are true, the Wachowski brothers will be making a canny investment; why shell out on martial arts wall- climbing special effects when you've Jet Li on board?
Romeo Must Die opens on Fri 13 Oct. See review.
is going down a storm. While kung fu star JET Ll kicks ass owing the film festival crowd. We met them both.
Director Wong KarWni is as Stylish as his films
love. By contrast there's nothing unrequited, nor heterosexual for that matter, about the love in his last film, 1997’s Happy Together, the tale of an on-off romance between two gay men holidaying in Argentina. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t sit well with the notoriously conservative Chinese government, which forced the withdrawal of Devi/s On The Doorstep, an acclaimed Chinese war movie by Wen Jiang, from the Edinburgh Film Festival this year.
’We had two films to make, one in Argentina, Happy Together, and one in China called Summer In Beijing,’ says Kar-Wai. ’After Happy Together we had our first problem with the censors. In China they had a problem With the title, Summer In Beijing, and they didn’t want us to film in Tiananmen Square. To me, Summer In Beijing is a romantic title, to them it’s not. But we don’t have censor problems as long as we make the films in Hong Kong.’
For his next film, 2046, Kar-Wai is movmg into science fiction. A departure? ’It's about the future but I don’t think you should expect something like The Matrix,’ he says. ’We named the film after the Chinese government said they wouldn't change anything in Hong Kong for 50 years; that’s 2046. It Will be set in Hong Kong, or a place that looks very much like Hong Kong. But there will be no names, there will be code numbers for all the cities'
Has Kar-Wai never been tempted to go mainstream or to America like John Woo? 'Most of the mainstream films have become more and more stupid,’ he says. ’You have everything on the screen and there are no questions. It's good to have questions, so that you are not just watching the film, you are feeling the film.’
Spoken like a true artist. But his attitude is more ambivalent than you’d think. ’I would be very curious to see what I come up With,’ he adds. 'Maybe I would make a film very explicit if there’s a chance it would be fun.’
In The Mood For Love opens on Fri 27 Oct.
‘) l9 Oct 2000 THE LIST 27