17 September 2010 (PENANG, MALAYSIA) [press release] – The traditional pre-shoot prayer ceremony held today marks the launch of production for A.I. Pictures’ debut film, Perfect Rivals, scheduled to air first quarter of 2011 on the big screens in Singapore and Malaysia. The traditional pre-shoot prayer session was held at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Penang House, which will be one of the shoot locations.
Perfect Rivals features a stellar cast of international actors – veteran Hong Kong actor Ha Yu夏雨stars as Chen Hao; alongside female lead Irene Ang洪爱玲who plays Mei Mei. Pamelyn Chee齊騛 (Zhen Zhen) and Mindee Ong王欣 (Yuan Yuan), are both daughters of Mei Mei; while Malaysian Josh Lai 赖力豪(Xiao Ma) and Taiwanese Stanly Hsu許仁杰 (Xiao Hu) play the sons of Chen Hao. The two families own competing Bak Kwa stalls with a history of rivalry crossing two generations.
The cast showed great chemistry at the press conference, with Director Han Yew Kwang and female lead Irene Ang revealing the urban legend that Perfect Rivals is based on.
Q. Irene, how’s your chemistry with Ha Yu?
IRENE: We haven’t started filming.
HA YU: Today may only be the first day but I don’t think there’s going to be any problem at all when it comes to chemistry. I’m only worried about the kissing scene.
IRENE: Because after shooting in TVB for so long, the producers also haven’t given you any kissing scenes!
HA YU: No.. Kissing is already a thing of the past.
IRENE: Time of the Condor Heroes you mean!
Q. What’s the meaning behind Mei Hao Yuan Jia “Perfect Rivals”?
HAN YEW KWANG: What we really wanted to flesh out is when a whole family cooks together, or when you put in heart and passion, food will be good. Plus, our female lead is called Mei Mei and our male lead is Chen Hao, so when they come together to create a dish, it will be perfect (Mei Hao in Chinese)! Besides, “Mei” and “Hao” are rivals, hence the title Perfect Rivals!
Q. Will you actors really get down to grilling the meat?
HA YU: Oh! We did it just now, didn’t you see it?
Q. Stanly, it’s your first visit to Malaysia right? What are your sentiments on taking on this film?
STANLY: Very happy – it’s my first movie plus I’m acting with foreign actors. I’m feeling very excited also because the role is way much younger than my actual age.. Prior to this, I had to play someone who got married and had kids, ie. Someone much older than my real age and then now, this. So it is quite strange to be playing roles so with such a radical age gap.
Q. Ha Yu, so what’s the difference between HK bak kwa and Singapore bak kwa?
HA YU: First, I’ve never been a fussy eater. So, in my dictionary, there isn’t one food that is better than another. When I have bak kwa in HK, it’s nice. When I have it here, it’s great too!
Q. Josh, is this your first film?
JOSH: Yes, I’m a Malaysian and also the only Malaysian lead in the show. Very nervous but excited cos I’m going to be acting with my idol Rosie Phua (Irene Ang). I’ve been watching her shows since primary school!
IRENE: And you’ve been watching Ha Yu’s shows since birth? *laughs*
HA YU: Yes. And I have also been watching Ha Yu’s shows too! So, it’s really something I’m looking forward to.
Q. Ha Yu, in the show, you play a loud-mouthed uncouth character who used to be an introvert, so which of these 2 personalities are closer to your real self?
HA YU: I think basically, I’m just a traditional man. For someone who opened a bak kwa store and have his business remain unchanged after so many years, is a little like me. But people are really quite different in different stages… Well, but the script is writen by the director..After reading the script, I think he’s really talented, in particular when dealing with emotions. I’m feel assured working with him.
Q. Mindee, tell us about your role where you have to disguise as a man?
MINDEE: It is my first time playing a girl disguised as a man, and cutting my hair again for a role. For my 1st film, 881, I cut my hair. And right after that, Lelio Popo and now after growing it long, I’ve to cut it again.
And I’m also very glad working with a veteran co-actor, just now when I hugged him, the feeling was very good, felt very fatherly love..Very solid! And just now, someone asked about chemistry. I think after hugging Ha Yu just now, all gates have been opened!
Q. So, maybe everyone should just hug one another!
HA YU: We should all have a hugging practice session.
Q. To the boys, share with us your feelings on working with the girls.
JOSH: My first time meeting Mindee was with the director, at the beginning it was rather awkward. Mindee is a very bubbly and lively girl so it wasn’t difficult to warm up to her. In the show, I have quite a number of intimate scenes with her, so this is also something I’m quite concerned about. But I do believe in Mindee and I trust she’ll be able to bring me into the scene very easily.
STANLY: I had my first scene with Irene yesterday..
MINDEE: I heard you were “violated” by her yesterday, weren’t you?
IRENE: Yes, I’ve given him an angbao already! *laughs*
STANLY: *laughs* Well, first time acting in a film, it feels very real and Irene also allows me to express myself freely yet at the same time, guide me. With a personality like Irene, it helps me get into the character quite naturally.
Q. Director, where did you get your inspiration from?
HAN YEW KWANG: Actually, it was birthed through Irene. She wanted to do a New Year show about bak kwa and she threw the ball in my court. After some brainstorming, we came up with this script. But the true inspiration came from an urban legend she heard..
IRENE: Because in Singapore, legend has it said that there are 2 very famous bak kwa stores, and everytime when you go house-visiting during CNY, there’ll always be talk about how these 2 stores actually came from the same “shi fu” (master), but have now become rivals. But in real life, of course we do not know if it is real. On my own part, I was curious how come no one verified this tale so I approached Yaoguang to explore this love story and the rest was conceived by Yaoguang.
Q. Any expectations on the box office?
IRENE: Actually, in whatever that I do, I always have a principle, that is to put in my 200%. I’m very pleased all our actors are very professional and we’re all on one united front, to put in our best. But what I think is important is not to tag an amount to gauge whether a film is good or bad, but to do it wholeheartedly. With this film, I hope it will be something that everyone will like, something heartwarming that people can identify with. As for my goal, I just hope that we will at least break even at the box office and hopefully make some.
If you’re making a film just to reap huge profits, you’re better off buying gold and keeping it. When making films, our aim is to deliver a good story, a good message, good acting, to share with everyone. And that, I believe is the true meaning and purpose of a good film. There are many commercial films out there nowadays, which is why we’ve gotten our very arty director here to give us his input!
MINDEE: As an actor, I always hope to bring to audiences something that will touch people’s hearts. And if you like it, we also hope you will spread the good word.
HAN YEW KWANG: And if you don’t like it, tell it to someone you don’t like, and ask them to go watch it! Then everyone will watch it!
MINDEE: I also think it is the role of every good actor, to bring good acting onto the screens and hopefully the audience will support us and buy a ticket to watch our films!
Q. What languages or dialects can we expect from the show?
HAN YEW KWANG: There will be a variety, seeing how we have Ha Yu onboard and we can enjoy Cantonese! Because in Singapore, dialects are not allowed on TV, so the only channel available is the movies, where we can speak Teochew, Hokkien and other dialects!
Q. Stanly, so what homework have you done for your role?
When I first got the script, I went out and bought a nice mirror, about this size (half A4), and I started experimenting with different expressions on how I was gonna emote for my character. Because in reality, a 20 yr old boy with a 10yr old mentality is different from one who is mentally retarded. So I needed to make a differentiation. And I also hope that audiences will be able to feel Xiaoma’s naivety and sincerity.
About A.I. Pictures
A.I. Pictures 《爱电影》, a subsidiary of FLY Entertainment, is named after its founders Irene Ang and Lim Soo Ann. A.I. Pictures also means ‘love’ in Chinese, aptly named as it aims to produce quality films about love and everything associated with love.
About Perfect Rivals
Perfect Rivals is the debut film by A.I. Pictures, slated to air during the first quarter of 2011 in Singapore and Malaysia. Perfect Rivals has received funding from the Media Development Authority under the International Film Fund.