Woochi is not as well-known a hero as Hong Kil-dong. While Hong Kil-dong was recorded in Korea's first tale, "Woochi" was an absurd fantasy novel written by an anonymous writer. So director Choi Dong-hoon took the story to create an action fantasy movie about the rascal wizard who frees himself from 500 years ago to fight against goblins in contemporary Seoul. The full cast and Choi showed up at a press conference at a CJ CGV theater on Monday to talk about Korea's first action-hero flick.
The preview shown at the event was enough to fuel the already much-anticipated film which was sold to 12 countries at the recent American Film Market. Below are exceprts from the press conference of the film set for release on December 23.
Q: It seems you went through a complex process for the filming -- from the wire action to car pursuit scenes.
Choi Dong-hoon (Choi): All movies are difficult to make but "Woochi" in particular was physically difficult. I think it's because I became greedy about wanting to shoot in a way that had nobody had attempted at before. But I realized I was in hell by the tenth day of filming. (laugh) In the middle of it, I knew I was filming somehow but I had no idea how it would look in the end. I was shooting in a better mood toward the end.
Q: Gang Dong-won, you're so good at wire action that even martial arts directors say you're the best actor at it in Korea. What's the secret to your skills?
Gang: There is no secret. But it's something that is done by manpower, not by machines so the most important thing is working in harmony with the martial arts team. I think having talked with them a lot was the main reason I did well. And in my case, all I needed to do was put on a great pose and the staff would work the cords. (laugh) I was really scared though. Being at a height where you think you'll probably break an arm or two isn't too bad, but it's really scary when you're at a height that you think you could fall and die.
Q: Kim Yoon-suk, you on the other hand, seemed quite scared of doing wire action.
Kim Yoon-suk (Kim): Kang became one with the wire but I tried to take control of it with my whole body, bending it and trying to fight against it. (laugh) The director was more lenient toward me because I have a family to support. I was at a lower height than Kang and I did most of my Taoist magic through looks in my eyes or expressions. And Kang would fly off almost 50 meters just from a look I would give him. (laugh)
Choi: I too couldn't ignore the fact that he was married since I am too. (laugh)
Kim: From "The Chaser" to "Running Turtle" to "Woochi", and then my next film "Hwanghae", the actors including Ha Jung-woo, Jung Kyung-ho and Kang Dong-won all stand in the 180-centimeter range. I was never considered small before since I'm 178 myself but I've somehow ended up working with modelesque actors. It's okay though, I can just pull them back behind me. (laugh) I'm young but it's refreshing sucking on their bloods to make myself younger. I also mess up the pretty ones by infecting them with me. The first thing I do is drink with them as long as I can under the excuse that I will give them advice on their lives. Then I mess up their clothes telling them that will be able to act well even if they don't dress well. (laugh) Such processes invigorate me and it's good because I end up developing a friendship with them that surpasses generations.
Q: Lim, this is your first time in an action film but you did wire action too. You also attempted at portraying a femme fatal image. They're a lot of changes. Is there anything you did in particular to change you role?
Lim Soo-jung (Lim): Everyone did wire action in this movie. Thankfully, I didn't have more wire actions scenes than the other actors but it was difficult because I don't have experience. I was able to finish the scenes successfully with the help of the other actors and martial arts team. The wire action I did is nothing compared to what the others did though. (laugh) And the role I took on in "Woochi" is very different from my previous roles but I had a lot of fun developing on a new character. My character didn't have a fixed image but had mysterious sides to her -- to an extent that I myself thought she is a bit weird. But of course, the director seemed to enjoy it the more I became weird. (laugh) I focused more on matching my acting to suit the character rather than on my transformation.
Q: Lim Soo-jung's character's name Seo In-kyung seems to have appeared a lot in director Choi's films including "The War of Flower" or "The Big Swindle".
Choi: That's why my wife keeps asking who she is. (laugh) But she's not someone I've met before. I just like the way it feels pronouncing her name. It's also a hassle to come up with new names.
Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer : Chae ki-won email@example.com
Editor : Jessica Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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