Chapter 192: Zhang Ye’s Real and Fake Kung Fu!
The movie studio.
At a tiny corner, on a row of benches.
Zhang Ye was sitting there reading the script. It contained the lines for his role. It was simple, just a few lines. The difficulty was in the fight scenes. To Zhang Ye, who was filming for the first time, this was a challenge.
But he believed that he could do it well. As Zhang Ye always said, confidence was very important. If you did not believe in yourself, then you will lose confidence and as a result, you will not be able to do it. Because you had already lost half the battle before you fought it. This was a very intriguing thing, if you had the confidence, then you would surely be able to do it! This was not bullshit, nor was it scaremongering. In the field of psychology, there had been studies on it. A plebeian could never become a rich handsome person? It was only fantasy? It was definitely not the case! So what if he was a plebeian? So what if a plebeian was weak and ugly? As long as one firmly believed in one’s success, as long as one firmly believed that he could do it, then there would be a day that he would become…an extremely confident weak and ugly plebeian!
“Little Zhang!” Yao Jiancai came over.
Zhang Ye kept his script, “Hey, what’s the matter?”
Yao Jiancai said in a speechless manner, “Didn’t you say you were a rookie?”
“But I am a rookie,” Zhang Ye said with his eyes blinking.
Only then did Yao Jiancai realize that since Zhang Ye had never acted in movies, he was indeed a complete newcomer in the filming industry. “I only just got to know that you are pretty famous in Beijing.”
Zhang Ye hurriedly said, “It’s nothing. I can’t compare with you.”
This was not him being modest. If he were to really compete with Yao Jiancai in fame, despite always being a supporting character, how many shows had Yao Jiancai acted in over all those years? He did have some fame in the country. Well, although it was not that much, he was much better than Zhang Ye who was only known in the Beijing circles. At least he was not as “limited”.
“Fine,” Yao Jiancai laughed, “In Beijing, there are definitely more people who know you than me. Nice, you are promising. You can even compose poems?”
“Nothing serious, ” Zhang Ye said.
After hearing of Zhang Ye’s deeds, Yao Jiancai increasingly found that Zhang Ye’s attitude matched his appetite. He sat beside Zhang Ye and put his arms around his shoulder, “Quickly tell me the process of how you smacked the face of your television station’s Leader. Haha, it was to the point of every television station in the country not daring to hire you? Forcing you to act? Kid, you sure are impressive! You are so frisky! Not bad, not bad. You have a bit of my style like me back in the day!”
“You also did something like that?”
“Then what was that about your style?”
“Hai, it was just an analogy.”
The old and young duo had gotten close through their chatting. They even exchanged telephone numbers and were like old pals.
Suddenly, a stout man in his thirties walked over. He was the film crew’s martial arts director. He looked very strong and it was clear at a glance that he practiced kung fu. “Which one of you is Zhang Ye?”
“I am.” Zhang Ye stood up with the script in hand.
The martial arts director glanced at him and said with a speechless manner, “You are acting as young hero Chen?”
This was Zhang Ye’s role. He nodded, “That’s right.”
The martial arts director sized him up and then squeezed his arms. After some evaluation, he turned and left without saying a word. He went directly to the Assistant Director, “Assistant Director, are you sure you didn’t make a mistake? That Zhang Ye is acting as young hero Chen? He won’t do as young hero Chen. He’s small in size and his attacks would look weak like a girl’s. You can’t get a substitute for a supporting actor. And even if you looked for one, no one is suitable. How are we to film?”
The Assistant Director looked at him and said, “If you think he won’t do, then train him well. Teach him the motions. The role has been decided, so there won’t be any changes. The rest is your job.”
The martial arts director said, “But I can’t make something out of nothing. Let’s not talk about his looks, just his physique is terrible. It will have an adverse effect on the filming.”
The two began to quarrel.
Zhang Ye felt helpless. Man, he had been looked down upon on the first day of filming.
Finally, the martial arts director came back without any success. He looked at Zhang Ye and said with a sense of powerlessness, “Have you filmed a martial arts scene before?”
Zhang Ye shook his head.
The martial arts director asked, “Have you acted before?”
Zhang Ye shook his head again.
The martial arts director said, “Have you practiced dancing before?”
Zhang Ye still shook his head.
The martial arts director slapped himself in the forehead. Man, he was useless on all fronts!
This movie had quite a large investment and was considered a medium to large production, hence the requirements of the actors were very high. It was not like low-cost martial arts movies where a punch or kick would do. If they did so, people would die laughing at them. Hence, the actors they found had some foundation in martial arts or had acted in martial arts movies. Even the main lead could not be too shabby. He had to have the arms and the figure. Furthermore, a substitute could be used for the main lead, but how could one find a substitute for a supporting actor?
The martial arts director had a headache.
Yao Jiancai was the funny fellow in the film crew, so he could easily speak with anyone. “This lad is my good friend, please take care of him.”
The martial arts director said, “Uncle Yao, young hero Chen has quite a few scenes in the movie. It’s at least a minute and half of screen time. There are quite a lot of advanced movements required, but he…”
Zhang Ye summoned his courage and said, “Why don’t we try it out?”
The martial arts director found a sword and passed it to him, “Wave the sword twice for me to see.”
Zhang Ye took it over and immediately felt high-spirited. With a flick of his wrist, he caused sword beams to flicker in the air…Alright, those were just adjectives with artistic embellishment. Actually he just waved the sword in the air. This was a real sword and due to the soft nature of a sword, this shake of the sword nearly stabbed Yao Jiancai.
Yao Jiancai was so scared out of his wits that he retreated a few steps, “Take it easy, bro.”
The martial arts director then instructed Zhang Ye to do a few other actions. However, when Zhang Ye followed his instructions, it was still a mismatch. His person and the sword were not well-coordinated. There was no elegance, nor was there any forcefulness. It had the mood of an “old farmer crossing the river”, and the old farmer was one that did not know how to swim.
“Learn from me!”
“Follow my demonstration. This way. Your wrist has to be straight. Your lower body has to be stable. No swaying!”
“This way? Will this do?”
“Aiyah, what do you mean will this do!? Are you practicing aerobics?”
After a long period of back and forth, the martial arts director could no longer endure it. He got another supporting actor. It was easy to tell that this person had probably practiced martial arts in the past. The martial arts director let the actor demonstrate to Zhang Ye as well as attempt a fighting scene. However, Zhang Ye, who was a complete rookie, was unable to match the actor. Either his lines did not match or his martial arts motions were lacking. The actor was feeling quite vexed in the end.
The acting elsewhere had finished filming. Quite a few people had noticed the commotion here. Many people were amused by Zhang Ye’s “clumsy-handed” swordplay.
“What is this?”
“We can film this? Are we even filming a wuxia movie?”
“His actions are quite strong. I couldn’t tell that he had so much strength? It looks like his kicks are quite forceful too, but..it’s just not pretty. It’s too ugly.”
“So what if he’s famous in Beijing. He’s not cut out for acting.”
“Don’t spout irresponsible words. Do you think Teacher Zhang is like the bunch of you who are veterans in this circle? Teacher Zhang is a learned man. To think you ridicule him? I’m telling you. Even if our entire filming crew’s literary ability is combined together, we are still inferior to Teacher Zhang!”
“Every industry has its specialists.”
“We aren’t mocking him, but we are after all in acting, and not competing in literature.”
With the filming done, they could switch locations. So the moment there was a break, more people gathered around. Some were here to join in the fun, while others were well-meaning and tried to give some advice.
The actress who had taken a picture with Zhang Ye said, “Should we try changing a few actions? The ones before are indeed too difficult. Even professional martial arts actors would have difficulties doing them.”
The martial arts director sighed, “It’s already been decided. If we are changing it, we need to redo the choreography. There’s no time left. The Director has said that we are wrapping up in two days, so where do we have the time?”
Yao Jiancai said, “When is Zhang Ye’s part?”
The assistant director also looked over, “It will be tonight. We will be driving to a new location. It’s a monastery.”
“Tonight? Then he wouldn’t be able to make it in time even if he practices for a few days.” Yao Jiancai began to worry for Zhang Ye.
The person who was most angry was Zhang Ye himself. When had this fellow ever been so embarrassed. So many people were watching him? They were pointing at him? His face was slightly red. However, he did not believe his actions were in anyway not up to mark. In terms of swordplay and kicking, he had done it properly, but these people did not agree to it. They believed Zhang Ye was not up to standard. Why? It was because this was filming for a movie. It was all about the effects and the beauty of fighting. It cared about style. The martial arts director and the other actors who practiced martial arts since they were young definitely had some foundation, but it was at most just a bit. Don’t look at their muscles, if they really began fighting, Zhang Ye believed he could beat all them himself without breaking a sweat. And this was if he was unable to use the Taiji Fist.
This wasn’t an exaggeration.
What did Zhang Ye know?
Taekwondo and Taiji Fist!
One was a foreign fighting style! Another was a traditional Chinese martial art!
Be it the former or latter, these kung fu were ultimately used to suppress one’s enemy. Each punch and kick was the real deal and not just a pretty act. It was no joke. But what did they care about when filming a martial arts film? It was the coolness and stylishness. Every movement had to be be wide and open. If they could do it, they would somersault in the air dozens of times before sending a kick towards their enemy. This was what they felt was awesome!
But from Zhang Ye’s point of view, that was being a retard!
If you were to do all this cool stuff while somersaulting in midair, an enemy would have sent you flying with a kick. There were too many flaws!
However, this was the difference between industries. Zhang Ye did not look down on others because he knew some kung fu. He knew that in other people’s territory and domain, he had to listen to them. This martial arts director was a professional. This was not a problem of knowing kung fu. If a master who had practiced in Chinese martial arts came to direct, it would be unknown what the outcome of the movie would be. The actions would probably be unsightly!
Zhang Ye still maintained a heart of humility. He practiced and learned from the martial arts director. He tried to adapt as much as possible to this “martial arts act” that seemed retarded to him.