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?

Well, we're 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...

(La Brassiere)

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 of genre?

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!).

(The Prodigal Son)

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.

(Bey 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 out!

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!

(The BBFC cut 1 minute and 16 seconds from Iron Fisted Monk)

Do 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.

(Bey 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 you lately?

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 Yen.

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) green lit?

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!

(Bey on the set of Highbinders, later retitled The Medallion)

Will 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 interview happen.