I first got
a taste of what this man knows when I listened to the audio commentary
on the Hong Kong Legends dvd of The Big Boss. Before that
I knew basically nothing about Bruce Lee and not a whole lot about
Hong Kong cinema. Many commentaries later I've been enlightened
on so many aspects of Hong Kong films and that is very much thanks
to Bey Logan's efforts. He's not showing signs of being bored of
the process or running out of things to say, so new or die hard
fans will have lots more audio commentaries to look forward to.
Let me start off by testing your knowledge of Hong Kong movies,
with a simple question. The name of my reviews site (So Good...) is
a quote taken from a fairly recent Hong Kong movie, which one, Bey?
off to a bad start, because I have no idea! Next...
It's the line, in english, by Lau Ching Wan in La Brassiere
and he's commenting on his previous nights erotic 'encounter' with
Carina Lau's character. Someone suggested that name for use in my
signature on the Bullets n Babes discussion forums but instead it
ended up as the name of my site.
I have to confess that I never saw La Brassiere and they've
already shot the sequel. Guess I'd better buy the DVD...
Do you remember the first Hong Kong movie you ever saw and did that
make you an instant fan?
I remember the first IMAGE I saw from a Hong Kong film, which was
a black-and-white still of Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon.
I was hooked. I couldn't actually see the films for a long time,
because I was stuck in an English public school (which is basically
a prison your parents pay for...) The whole 70s kung fu boom was
winding down by the time I got into it, but I guess I've since made
up for lost time! The first kung fu films I saw in the theatre were
the Bruce Li/Le/Lung titles but I didn't care, just so long as they
had kung fu fighting. While I was still living in Peterborough,
my home town, I saw various Hong Kong titles on video but when I
first moved to London, I saw all the latest from Jackie Chan, Sammo
Hung and the rest in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre cinema in Gerrard
Street. I remember bouncing down the street after a midnight showing
of Winners And Sinners. I couldn't believe there was somewhere
in the world where they allowed you to make films with that kind
of energy, and I still can't!
What's your favourite Hong Kong movie of all time regardless
The Prodigal Son. I think Hong Kong Legends even say that
on the sleeve! I was actually on the set of that film for a few
days, when I was 19 years old.
Can you tell us about that experience and what you were doing
on the set of this classic movie?
I went to Hong Kong as a 'Bruce Lee tourist', visiting Lee's old
home and going to the Golden Harvest studios. It was there that
I first met Sammo Hung, who was shooting The Prodigal Son.
I thought he was a much older man, because I never saw him out of
make-up! I had no idea that he had become such an amazing action
actor and director in his own right, so I just kept asking him about
Bruce! I met Yuen Biao as well, but had no idea who he was. The
person I really wanted to see was Jackie Chan. The day Jackie arrived,
I was scheduled to leave, and I was broke! I had to spend the night
on the airport roof then take a bus to Golden Harvest studios where
I stayed on the farmyard set you see in the finished film. It was
an amazing experience. When I came back to England, I went to see The Prodigal Son in London's Chinatown and, of course, I
was blown away by it (and I still am!).
Tell us about you starting to work for Impact Magazine and how it
led you to working fulltime in Hong Kong today.
I began my journalistic career writing for the martial arts magazines.
Someone once called rock-and-roll journalism "People that can't
talk interviewed by people that can't write for people that can't
read..." That's equally true of martial arts publications but I
guess I still managed to make my mark. I was offered the job of
editing 'Combat', which was then the UK's biggest martial arts magazine.
That was the good news. The bad news was that I had to moved to
Birrrrmingham. I was there for five years (and believe me, Hong
Kong seems grrrreat by comparison!). I finally ran out of track
with 'Combat', realizing that I'd spend the next five years interviewing
the same people all over again. I quit, and spent a year off, during
which I worked as line producer on the film Guns And Roses and got fired as line producer on Misty (Peter Pao's directorical,
or dictatorial, debut!). Roy Jessop and Bob Sykes, publisher and
editor, respectively, of Martial Arts Illustrated, invited me to
start a new publication for their compan and that was 'Impact'.
I think I'd been writing and editing 'Impact' for about three years
when Mark Houghton, my then teacher, partner and friend, called
and said that he'd put together a movie called Tiger Storm and would I like to write and co-produce. I moved to Hong Kong to
do that and the whole project turned out to be a disaster! I was
about ready to head back to the UK but Donnie Yen suggested I stick
around, and invited me to appear in a film called Circus Kids.
I stayed on, and its been downhill from there...
What kind of martial arts do you practice and how far have you come
in your training?
I've trained in different arts throughout my adult life. I started
off with a system called Lau Gar, a kind of chop suey Southern style
invented by a man named Jeremy Yau. I also trained in Taekwondo
and Thai Boxing, but I kept coming back to the Southern Chinese
arts, finally settling on Hung Gar. I've trained in Hung Gar under
Mark Houghton, Jim Uglow and, in Hong Kong, Cheung Yee Keung. I
still train almost every day but I cross-train between cardio, which
includes kickboxing, some weights and the traditional kung fu training.
I've seen your name in the liner notes for several VHS releases
by Made In Hong Kong. What did your involvment mainly consist of?
I just provided liner notes. It was fun to be involved with. Hong
Kong Legends have kind of stolen their thunder but people should
remember that it was MIHK that really paved the way for Hong Kong
cinema to make its mark in the UK.
(Bullet In The Head, one of Made In Hong
Kong's great VHS releases)
Speaking of which, how much are you involved in the Hong Kong
Legends dvd releases besides doing commentaries and conducting interviews?
Actually, that's all my involvement consists of! I suppose I'm an
unofficial advisor as well, seeing as I'm working here on the front
line. I only do a few interviews, when time allows.
Can you tell us about your research process before recording
a commentary track?
I usually watch the film through, pausing to pick out faces and
places, and taking notes. Anything I'm not clear on, I either look
on the Internet or in my library of Hong Kong cinema books or else
I call up someone involved with making the film concerned. I then
organize all the information into notes. If you're going to talk
solo for 110 minutes or so, you need all the help you can get!
Your almost endless knowledge about different aspects of Hong Kong
cinema is very impressive. How much of a commentary is in-depth
research and how much is stuff you know by heart?
It's a mix. As I mentioned above, I do have notes, mainly of names
and dates. I do seem to have amassed a huge amount of anecdotal
and generally useless information over the years, so I can often
spin a yarn off the cuff.
in the Fist Of Fury tv series)
One of the constant traps that some commentary participants
fall into is the one where you basically narrate the onscreen action.
How much you aware of falling into that trap or leaving periods
of silent gaps while recording?
I try never to fall into the 'horse race' style, though I do sometimes
have a trace of that when the action picks up. My goal is to keep
talking for the entire time. If I 'dry up', I cut, and then go back
to where I left off. It's a business! I can't understand why so-called
'experts' do commentaries that feature the traits you mention. There
was one guy who did a couple of HKL commentaries and crashed and
burned, and afterwards he said to me "You mean, they expect us to
do RESEARCH as well?"...
Some commentaries are edited affairs and can consist of up to
5 different full length recordings (The Fight Club Cast commentary
for example). Do you guys do something similar when you're doing
commentaries or are they one take so to speak?
Mine are as close to one take as I can manage. Gordon Chan and I
did Beast Cops and 2000AD in one take each. Among
Hong Kong directors, Gordon is the commentary king. The most stops
and starts I had was when Donnie Yen and I did one for the as yet
unreleased special edition DVD of Iron Monkey. We were videotaping
the commentary so we had to stop every half-hour when the tape ran
Sammo Hung's Iron Fisted Monk is one title that was cut by the
BBFC (British Board Of Film Classification). When you were doing
your narration, did you watch a pre-cut version or did you actually
screen the uncut version?
I watched the uncut version and I guess they edited my comments
to fit. I remember I commented about the violence to women that
is often found in Sammo's films and that was exactly what they cut!
BBFC cut 1 minute and 16 seconds from Iron Fisted Monk)
you find it difficult to balance information for both newcomers
to Hong Kong Cinema and hardcore fans?
I don't find it hard but I do keep it in mind. For example, even
though long time fans are very familiar with certain faces, I still
try to give the different versions of the persons name and their
major credits. It gets a bit repetitive but I always think there
must be new fans watching a Hong Kong film for the first time (at
least, I hope there are!).
Which one of your recordings has been the most rewarding or
exciting, besides the Red Wolf commentary with Christy Chung?
You hit the nail on the head! Christy's was the most fun. Tsui Hark
was the most intimidating, because he is such a legend. Mark King's
was the most exasperating, and it keeps coming back to haunt me.
I really should have hit him on the head with the microphone stand! The Prodigal Son was great because I love that film so much
and Tai Chi Boxer was, for some reason, really hard work. Hong Kong 1941 was the most demanding so I'm delighted the
commentary was well-received.
How much do you yourself listen to commentaries and do you have
any favourite track?
I try to listen to as many as I can but it's actually quite a time-consuming
process! Mike Leeder listens to every one ever recorded and tells
me which are worth it. I don't have an all-time favourite but I
think the multi-person commentaries recorded for the James Bond
films are very entertaining.
You have for the last two years given so much to Hong Kong movie
fans with your contribution to the Hong Kong Legends label but what
have you yourself learned from this experience?
I learned that we don't make films here half as well as we used
to! Almost all the Hong Kong Legends releases are at least twelve
years old. We need to get that magic back somehow.
Logan as a SDU commander in Gen-X Cops)
With you working full time in the industry, how do you find time
to work with Hong Kong Legends also?
I've realized that, if you do without food and sleep, you can really
get so much out of the day! I really try to get the most out of
every day, and it really frustrates me when I see people take their
time for granted. They should give it to me! I could easily live
three lives for the price of one.
Let's talk a little bit about the Hong Kong movie scene for
a moment. Are there any particular new directors that have impressed
I like Soi Cheang who just directed a horror film for us. It's called New Blood. He has a very good eye. Actually, not to be too
partisan, but I think the new EMG line-up features the best directing
talent on offer including Gordon Chan and Dante Lam from Beast
Cops, Riley Ip from Metade Fumaca, Wilson Ip who directed Juliet In Love and Patrick Leung who made Somebody Up
There Likes Me. There's a staff writer called Max Ip who will
become a good director in due course also.
(Soi Cheang's New Blood)
What's Emperor Multimedia Group got going on at the moment? I heard
something about you shooting a movie with director Wilson Yip. What
can you tell us about that?
Right now, we're shooting two romantic comedy films back-to-back
: Demi Haunted with Eason Chan and Joey Yung, directed by
Patrick Leung, and Just One Look, starring Twins (Charlene
Choi and Gillian Chung) and Anthony Wong (among others). Beyond
that, a vampire action movie called Twins Effect, starring
you-know-who, Edison Chen and Anthony Wong, directed by Dante Lam,
action directed by Donnie Yen, and Thieves Like Us, directed
by Wilson Ip. I'm also in pre-production on my next EMG film, Kung
Fu Master, which will star and be action directed by Donnie
I've become a huge fan of Wilson Yip's work in a short period
of time and it's not hard to notice that he likes to try out an
almost entirely different genre each time he directs a movie, so
can you tell us what kind of movie Thieves Like Us is?
'Thieves' is a caper movie, a fun summer actioner with a
bunch of kids executing a light-hearted theft. I hope it combines
the fun of the recent 'youth' comedies with the kind of action we
used to see in the 'Lucky Stars' films. We certainly have the right
team for that!
(Part of director Wilson Yips very diverse filmography)
You mentioned on the commentary for Purple Storm that the project
was worth doing even if it had lost money at the box office. Is
it difficult to get a more risky project like that (profit wise)
Well, you never set out to make a film that loses money and in the
case of Purple Storm, it did, eventually, turn a healthy
profit. However, I do think its possible, especially in Hong Kong,
to make a worthwhile film that no-one goes to see. I think both Beijing Rocks and Princess-D were good examples of
that. Maybe they weren't masterpieces, but, my God, they were better
than the films people WERE going to see instead! It was in that
spirit that I said it was worth making Purple Storm, even
if it wasn't a local hit.
Do you think that Hong Kong Cinema will find it's way back to
some form of great golden era of filmmaking, like when John Woo
was still working in Hong Kong?
I don't think you can look back. We have to recapture the magic
for the modern audiences. We need to bring certain concepts from
the West and introduce them into local films. We need to develop
new stars who are actors instead of pop stars, develop cutting edge
special effects technicians, find new and better screenwriters.
We're not competing with the John Woo of the 80s. We're competing
with the Hollywood of today.
Maybe you're not in a position to talk about this but I was
wondering what you think about the constant cutting and rescoring
of Hong Kong films in America at the moment?
This may surprise a lot of people, but I think the recutting and
rescoring of Hong Kong films for the American market, by American
companies, is quite right and only to be expected. If I sell you
my house for a million dollars and you decide to paint it green,
do I have a right to complain? You might say films are 'art' in
a way that property is not but Hong Kong filmmakers have the right
not to sell their films. Having bought them, US distributors have
the right to do whatever they feel necessary to get a return on
their investment. What I find even more shocking is the number of
Hong Kong titles dumped on the DVD market by major US studios with
no bonus value to speak of. Compare that with what the UK's Hong
Kong Legends do, with far less resources. Hopefully, more HKL titles
will make it to the US, though without my commentaries because,
as Peter Poon of Fortune Star has pointed out, I have a British
accent, and American audiences, apparently, hate British accents.
Thank goodness Ric Meyers is available!
on the set of Highbinders, later retitled The Medallion)
you ever write another book on Hong Kong movies? Maybe an update
on Hong Kong Action Cinema?
If I ever do another Hong Kong cinema book, it'll be REAL insider's
guide which means I'd probably have to leave town first! I'd be
delighted to do an updated 'Hong Kong Action Cinema', if the publishers,
Titan Books, asked me to but to date they have not.
Matt, who runs HK
Film Recommendations was wondering if you knew the name of the
actor who plays Jacky Wu's best friend in Tai Chi Boxer (a.k.a.
Tai Chi 2). He noticed that that actor doubles almost everyone in
the film but his name seems hard to dig up.
Yes, his name is 'Patrick Leung'. Actually, that's not true but
back when I did the MIHK liner notes, every time I didn't know the
name of a director or actor, I called him 'Patrick Leung', kind
of like an 'Alan Smithee'. Patrick Leung is my brother in law's
name. Belatedly, I realized that there is also a director of that
name, and, embarrassingly enough, I'm now working with him...
And finally, any words of wisdom you want to share with the
Hong Kong movie fans out there?
Firstly, thanks for supporting Hong Kong cinema with an energy and
a passion that I would never have believed possible. After I first
saw Hong Kong films, I started dreaming that I would one day work
in the industry. I worked hard, I got lucky and that's what I do
today, every day. Your dreams will be different from mine but, if
I had a chance, so do you. My warmest best wishes to you all.
So Good... thanks
Bey Logan for taking time out of this busy schedule and making this
BACK TO TOP