Being an MMA fighter is no easy feat – the discipline, training and endurance needed for the sport is definitely no laughing matter. Some might think that being a reel-life MMA fighter would be a piece of cake, but the cast of K.O. – Andie Chen and Chen Tian Wen told us otherwise.
Apart from preparing themselves physically for the challenge and the long filming hours (overnight shoots were not uncommon due to the stars’ hectic schedules and the need for night scenes in certain takes) were just two of the many reasons why the filming process, while rewarding, was also both physically and mentally exhausting.
Andie, for one, lamented that insufficient prep time led to him not being in tip-top physical condition to be a convincing MMA champion-cum-coach; Tian Wen, on the other hand, dusted off his gloves and climbed back into the ring for the first time in many years.
The star of our show, Andie, chuckled during an interview prior to filming K.O., “To be honest, I don’t know why I accepted this role! I’m so busy and yet I said yes – I think I must be crazy.” No doubt, it’s been a busy year for the daddy of two. While he was shooting K.O., he was also working on Channel 8 drama Hero, where he put on eight kilograms for his role. Having both dramas being shot concurrently also meant that he could not afford to lose any weight to make a more convincing MMA champion-cum-coach.
He lamented, “After I put on weight, the company offered me the role in K.O.. At the time, I wondered if I could take on the role with my current physique, but because we rarely have martial arts-related projects in Singapore, I decided to take the plunge for the experience.” He chuckled, “I hope people won’t turn up their noses at me!”
While he might not have been as toned as he liked, Andie was most convincing as an MMA star under the guidance of a professional coach, who taught him how to move and have the right posture. Just before the cameras rolled, he would also work out in order for his muscles to look more defined on screen.
On the last day of filming, Andie mused, “While I don’t think I was able to put on the best performance for K.O., I think we did the best under the circumstances. It’s really not as easy as it seems because we have to do so many takes just to get one scene, so I can understand why people can be hesitant to film martial arts dramas or films. Given the chance, I’d love to do it again.”
Continued on next page: Why Chen Tian Wen decided to make his return to martial arts dramas
While this was the first time Andie dipped his toes into the world of martial arts, Tian Wen was merely getting back into the game. For those not in the know, the taekwondo black-belter was the go-to man for many wuxia dramas due to his strong background in martial arts years before he became known as Mr. Unbelievable. While he might have hung up his fighting gloves for other sorts of roles in more recent years, he returned to his roots in K.O..
The 53-year-old showed that he’s still very much in the game during filming, where he rejected the use of body doubles and did all his stunts himself. A scene where he was hit on the head by a wooden plank needed close to 10 takes because of the need for angles and a couple of NG (no good) takes, and despite using a stunt prop, he was still battered on the head multiple times. This came after close to 12 hours of filming, which Tian Wen handled like a pro because he did not want to cause any delays in the already-tight filming schedule.
After filming for close to 15 hours, Tian Wen still gamely agreed to speak to Toggle. “I got hit everywhere! I’m currently limping and I got hit by Andie on my right eye by accident earlier and my legs are hurting,” he shared. His arm, neck, shoulders and chest were also strained from the hours of filming.
He revealed that he had injured his leg muscles during The Celebrity Sports Day. “The doctor told me that I shouldn’t engage in strenuous activities but I didn’t have a choice after I accepted this role!” he mused. “The director was adamant about me being in this role and the team personally called me to convince me, so I couldn’t say no.”
K.O. airs every Monday on Toggle. For more information, check out toggle.sg/KO