A Hong Kong action star gets tongue-tied
Director James Foley wasn’t entirely prepared for the challenges of filming ”The Corruptor,” the gritty new thriller set in New York’s Chinatown, starring Mark Wahlberg and Chow Yun-Fat. ”Hong Kong stuff is not my thing, so I’d only seen two Hong Kong movies in my life, and then only because Yun-Fat was in them,” says Foley (who previously directed ”After Dark, My Sweet” and ”Fear”).
In ”The Corruptor,” Chow — who has only performed in one other English-language film — delivers some of his lines with a thick Chinese accent that can be difficult to decipher. Even for his director. ”He had memorized all the lines,” Foley recalls. ”But he was getting too focused on pronunciation. It was tightening him up. I made a decision early on to ignore the whole thing. There was a dialogue coach there, so that would be her job. I just dealt with the emotions and the behavior (of Chow’s character).”
Neglect seems to have done the trick. ”Since he was around Americans all day long, his English got dramatically better over the course of the shoot,” says Foley. ”Whereas in the beginning I chose my words carefully and kept things pretty simple, by midway through the film I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. He even got my sarcasm.”