Nicholas Tse, who just released his purported “last” album, has begun filming for his new movie, Bodyguards and Assassins, set in Hong Kong during the Qing Dynasty. Despite playing a rather bottom of the rung character, who is billed as “the rickshaw driver”, he is the lead of this star-filled, big-budgeted tale about many who protected Dr. Sun Yat-sen during a trip the famed leader took to Hong Kong in October of 1905 (the film title in Chinese is Besieged in October).
Despite the rather unflattering pics of him released so far, and the big deal made about his shaved head, this is not the first time Nic has gone “bald” for a film. He sported a similar look in A Chinese Tall Story, and he looked great in that movie, good enough to make me think “Yes!” when I first heard he be shaving his hair this time.
However,that movie was a bizarre EEG star-filled fest that was, despite being directed by Jeff Lau, the epitome of the kind of HK idol-movie I talked about before. Nic didn’t stretch himself acting wise (although he hinted at a flair for comedy) and he wasn’t even really bald.
This role obviously took more work and dedication, including Nic actually shaving his head, facial “disfigurement” that took hours to give the impression of scars and old woulds, tanning for the role of the rickshaw driver, and going out barefoot in the hot sun, totally erasing Nic’s potential for good looks as a bald guy. While I can’t say I enjoyed Nic’s lastest album as much as some of his earlier works, I do feel that as an actor he’s growing a lot, and maturing steadily along with the changing HK film industry. From the EEG idol filled movies he’s gone to classier and classier fare, and this is a new milestone for him, and perhaps the HK film industry at large. The movie, rather than simply a way to reap in money through big-name stars, sounds like a solid look at Hong Kong history from a HK director (Teddy Chan), producer (Peter Chan) and a cast filled with HK acting veterans who want to probe the history of this city.
This cast includes Leon Lai as a beggar, Donnie Yen as a gambler, Tony Leung Kai-fa as a revolutionary, Eric Tsang as an exiled general, Simon Yam as a police superintendent, Fan Bingbing as a concubine, and Hu Jun as the assassin everyone is protecting Sun Yat-sen from. Chris Li Yuchun also has a small role as the daughter of Eric Tsang, in her big screen debut. The film is schedule for release in December 2009.