26 Dec 2018
Zheng Ge Ping wants to go NC-16 for first action film
Photos: Lee Wei Lin, Zheng Ge Ping/Instagram, JuJu Chan/Instagram, Mandarin Films, Miramax
You might have noticed that we haven’t seen Zheng Ge Ping much on our small screens this year, and it’s not because the actor-turned-executive-producer is on a siesta, but because he’s moved his focus (at least for this year) to behind-the-scenes work.
He took on his first executive producer (EP) role for Toggle original series Close Your Eyes, and quickly took on two more, namely Channel 8 productions How Are You? and The Good Fight. Next year, while his dance card is packed all the way till May or June as he will be filming and doing post-production work for The Good Fight till then, he’s got his eyes set on a new challenge: producing his first full-length action film.
And it’s not just any film, but an action film which he hopes will trigger a butterfly effect for the martial arts in Singapore and beyond, as he told Toggle in an interview at the How Are You? media launch.
“When I was casting for The Good Fight, I realised how few and far between actors with martial arts skills are,” the 54-year-old explained. “We don’t have many actors who can both act and have a certain level of martial arts at the same time. Others like Chen Tian Wen and I are getting older, so it’s my hope that we have some successors as well.”
He added with a chuckle, “If it were that easy, everybody in martial arts could become the next Donnie Yen. Up till now, we haven’t found the second Donnie Yen – if it were that easy, he wouldn’t be so popular until now. It’s the same for Jackie Chan – it’s really, really difficult to find someone (as good as they are).”
Ge Ping revealed that he has a seven-digit investment that is readily available for him to shoot his first movie, and is seriously considering Vincent Ng as his leading man.
“Vincent is definitely someone that I want to work with. I feel that it’s a waste if we don’t give him opportunities. He’s an icon in the wushu industry and I think he’s gotten three gold medals in the SEA (Southeast Asia) games. He was the champion at the 1995 World Wushu Championships in the broadsword category, so there’s no reason for us to bury this gem,” he said. “I just hope that he’ll have time for me, especially since he’s so busy with his baby.”
(Continued on next slide: Ge Ping on why he hasn’t found his ideal leading lady just yet)
26 Dec 2018
Ge Ping on why he hasn’t found his ideal leading lady just yet
While he has at least one strong contender for the leading man spot, Ge Ping let on that he has yet to find his ideal leading lady. He mused, “In terms of just martial arts, there are some people who fit my criteria, but you need to have some level of acting as well.”
What of his daughter, Tay Ying, who has a black belt in Taekwondo?
“I told my daughter that she’s still not up to my standards yet (because) I have high expectations. When I was looking at the tapes from yesterday and today, I told her that her movements aren’t sharp enough in the group shots,” he revealed. “The director might think it’s okay, but I don’t think it’s good enough. If you want to do something, I feel that you should do your best at it. Her strength is in her flexibility, so it’s easier for her to learn. But being flexible is not enough.”
Okay, but what of Rui En, who he previously expressed that he’d like to work with on an action flick?
He paused to think before answering, “I’m in contact with Rui En and if there’s a suitable role for her (I’ll consider it, but she’s not ready to be my leading lady yet). I’ve been to her Muay Thai place and I feel that if she continues training, she might be able to forge a new path for herself too.”
For now, one of the few that has caught his eye is not a Singaporean, but Hong Kong-British-American actress JuJu Chan, who has been in numerous action films, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, and will be gracing our screens through Netflix’s Wu Assassins and the movie Invincible Dragon next year. While he hasn’t contacted her personally to discuss the potential project, he told us that he’s very much impressed by what he’s seen on her Instagram page.
(Continued on next slide: Why does Ge Ping want to go for a NC-16 rating?)
26 Dec 2018
Why does Ge Ping want to go for a NC-16 rating?
While many filmmakers try to go for the PG-13 rating to appeal to a larger demographic, Ge Ping is adamant that his movie, should he really film it, be rated NC-16 or even M-18.
“The lowest rating that I’d go for is NC-16, if not there won’t be anything to watch. It’s not violence in purpose. Look at Ip Man, it was NC-16 in Singapore and M-18 in Malaysia. Kill Bill was even more different, it had an M-18 or even an R-21 rating because it was too bloody, “he shrugged.
“Movie makers these days seem to be afraid of pushing the boundaries of M-18 or R-21 because they might feel that they are more confident of their markets in Singapore and Malaysia. However, if you keep thinking that way, the movies that you film will always be the same. Look at movies like Red Redemption and Headshot. They’re all R-21 and they were even awarded in overseas competitions. From a budget of US$1.5 million they earned US$8 million, so if you only look at movies hoping to screen it in such a small area, you don’t have much of a future.”
The last, and maybe most burning question, we had for the day was this: Why is he still undecided on working on it, especially since Ge Ping has the concept, possible cast members, and even a director on board?
“When you’re holding a seven-digit investment, every cent is your responsibility. A lot of people asked me why I don’t want to go ahead with it since the funds are within my reach, but I tell them that filming a movie not that simple and I don’t have enough time,” he explained. “The movie industry is ruthless. If you don’t do a good job, you can forget about anyone distributing it for you. After that, you still need to think of how many screens you can have your movie on. What’s the point if you’re given slots but at odd hours?”
Ge Ping continued, “I cannot guarantee results, nobody can do that, not even Steven Spielberg (…) Filming a movie is a wish of mine. I don’t do dreams, because to me, if you want to dream, you should go back (home) and dream. It’s irresponsible to say things like ‘My dream is to film a movie!’ (…) It all boils down to responsibility.”