L-R: Ryan Lian, Wang Lei, Maxi Lim, Gadrick Chin
Video: Charlene Chong
Chinese New Year is almost upon us, and with it will come a host of festive films that will grace cinemas just in time for the holidays. Among them are the three Lee’s (Li Nanxing, Christopher Lee and Mark Lee) The Fortune Handbook and Jackie Chan’s Kungfu Yoga, and along with them is a rather unconventional choice for a Chinese New Year movie - Take 2.
The film, which marks local producer Ivan Ho’s directorial debut, revolves around the misadventures of an unlikely band of brothers made up of former cell mates - and by cell mates, we mean prison buddies. Ah Hu (played by Ryan Lian) vows to turn over a new leaf after being released from prison and teams up with Mad Dog (played by Wang Lei), Jian Ren (Maxi Lim) and Sha Bao (Gadrick Chin) to set up a ramen stall to earn a living.
Little do they know that Ah Hu’s son, Ah Guang (played by newly-discovered talent Shawn Ho) would retrace the footsteps that they took once upon a time and end up in trouble with the big bad boss of the underworld Di Tie (played by Chen Tian Wen), culminating in the quartet’s brave and hilarious rescue mission.
Photo: Golden Village Pictures
Given that the movie is based on the not-so-squeaky clean pasts of its characters, the cast ‘fessed up to their misadventures in their younger years at the movie’s press conference held at the Park Hotel Clarke Quay yesterday afternoon.
“I’ve done all sorts of things when I was younger,” Wang Lei let on with a chuckle. “I’ve even been arrested and charged, so I was pretty much like my reel-like self back in the day.” He confessed that he was once a runner for an illegal bookie and had his home raided by the police one day.
“The police arrived at my house and asked my family members, including my wife and my mother, to squat on the floor,” he revealed. “My heart hurt when I saw that, so I told the police that I was the one who did all the wrongdoing and asked that they leave my family out of it. I brought out all the evidence they needed and they didn’t even need to search the place at all.”
(Continued on the next page: Maxi Lim on leading man aspirations and shedding 14 kilograms in less than half a year)
Photo: Golden Village Pictures
The getai veteran let on that he decided to change his ways on a very special occasion - the day of his daughter’s birth. “I still remember it very clearly - I told myself that I would leave it all behind and be a good person on the day she was born,” Wang Lei mused. “Thankfully, the government was cracking down on gang-related activity at that point of time, so I was able to step out of my old life without much trouble.”
Echoing his experience was Gadrick, who confessed that he was a bit of a hoodlum himself back in his hometown of Sabah, Malaysia. “I have family members who are walking a very fine line - they do all sorts of things and I got affected when I grew up in that environment,” he explained.
“I’ve even tried my hand at burglary before - although we failed pretty badly at it. We went to the store and bought those plastic masks - we were only 14 back then - and it’s pretty funny now that I think back on what happened.”
While Tian Wen had no shadowy past to share about, he grinned that playing the flamboyant mob leader Di Tie was a new experience for him altogether. “There are a lot of different layers to him - he can be sad and happy or angry yet excited at the same time, so he was a very complex character to play,” he explained.
The cast and crew with a specially prepared birthday cake for Jack Neo, who celebrated his 57th birthday at the press conference
The veteran actor, who is no stranger to action scenes, had nothing but praise for his younger co-stars Ryan and Maxi, who displayed their acting - and martial arts - skills during filming. Ryan, who has finally risen to the position of leading man after almost two decades of waiting, is well-versed in wushu while Maxi is a regular in the mixed martial arts (MMA) circle.
Apart from discussing the movie (we learned that the kings of NG (no-good) takes are Wang Lei and Henry Thia, with an ongoing debate over who is the worse offender still going strong), a hot topic of the day was also Maxi’s drastic weight loss.
“The director keeps saying that this film is special because it’s the final product that you can see the fat version of me in,” Maxi chuckled. “I lost around 14 kilograms in the past five months through a combination of exercise and diet control.”
His toned physique has also caught the attention of executive producer Jack Neo, who remarked that he feels “Maxi is ready to be leading man material”, and shared that he felt especially impressed after watching short film I Believe, in which Maxi played an autistic character.
After conveying Jack’s message to Maxi (which was met with a happy sense of disbelief by the actor), he pondered on the type of role that he’d most want to take on. “Ideally, I’d want to be in an action movie,” he grinned. “Although, many people have asked me if I’d consider packing on the pounds and returning to my rounder self - I won’t say no if the script is really good and absolutely requires me to do so, because I know that since I’ve been able to get to this leaner version of myself once, I’ll definitely be able to do it again.”
WATCH: The cast of Take 2 'sabo' one another on stage
Take 2 opens in cinemas on January 26.