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By Park Boram
BUSAN, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- As the first Hong Kong action film to close the annual Busan International Film Festival, "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy" seeks to revive the allure and aesthetic from the heyday of Hong Kong action cinema, its directors and main cast said Friday.
The new film by legendary action film director Yuen Woo-ping is a spin-off of the director's famous "Ip Man" series. It was chosen to close the 10-day festival on Saturday.
Rising action star Zhang Jin plays Cheung Tin-chi, a martial artist who fights against the corrupt connection between Western colonial police and a Western heroin dealer during the colonial period in Hong Kong.
"I am of a generation that grew watching Hong Kong action movies ... It was because of the kung fu movies that I started learning martial arts," Zhang said in a press conference at the 23rd BIFF.
"Hong Kong action films played a role in letting people around the world understand kung fu and achieved the miracle of opening up an era for kung fu movies," the actor noted.
"Martial art is not just a tool used for the movie, but martial art cinema is itself a form of art," he also said, adding that the film will prove its high value with the passage of time, just as the Hong Kong action movies from the past retain their allure to this day.
Compared with the Hong Kong action genre's peak in the '80s and '90s, today's environment is dire in terms of the number of theatrical releases, Yuen said, attributing the smaller market to deteriorating film quality since the '90s.
"But the level (of quality) is increasingly getting better ... and the Hong Kong film industry is seeing an improvement in its environment and its global reputation is also improving," he said. "This is what Hong Kong movie people have achieved so far and what they will continue to achieve going forward."
Mind-blowing kung fu combat scenes dominate the story set in a bar district in Hong Kong's Wan Chai District. Swords or airborne action scenes were sometimes employed to add an edge to the movie. Famous Hong Kong actress Michelle Yeoh plays a main role as the leader of a powerful criminal gang, skilled in martial arts.
"Every scene in the film was difficult and perilous to shoot, but the most risky was the scene where a fight takes place on commercial neon signs hung on the sides of high buildings," Zhang noted.
They were set as high as a building's roof, requiring the staff and the cast members to be extremely cautious.
"As someone who has acrophobia, it was a real challenge to me. I sustained minor injuries ... but (finished the shooting) without a major accident," he said.
"It a story of foreigners bullying Chinese people, something that was likely (in that period) in the district of Wan Chai where in fact many foreigners and foreign soldiers lived," the director noted.
Patrick Tam, also one of the film's cast members, said, "From the past to up until today, what Hong Kong action films try to convey is not individualism, but the spirit of living together and cooperating, and this movie is one of them."
"There's a Chinese saying 'if you don't bother me, I don't bother you.'" he said. "In Hong Kong action movies, people never easily pick a fight. But there's those bad guys and people engage in fights out of a sense of justice," he said. "I think Hong Kong movies carry the path a human should rightly follow."