Edmond Pang Ho Cheung Interview

An Interview with Edmond Pang Ho Cheung  
      Hong Kong director Pang Ho Cheung came  to attention in 2001 with the edgy black comedy You Shoot, I Shoot, which depicts the business partnership of an assistant film director (Cheung Tat Ming) and a hitman (Eric Kot Man Fai) during Hong Kong's troubled economy.

                          

   Pang's sophomore release, Men Suddenly in Black, is another genre parody headed by a stellar cast including Eric Tsang, Jordan Chan, Teresa Mo and Tony Leung Ka Fai. A   re-working of traditional American and HK crime film scenarios, MSIB utilizes a cops and robbers style script to chronicle four men's pursuit of hanky panky "missions" while their wives and girlfriends are away. The film was a critical and commercial success and garnered nominations or awards with the Hong Kong Film Awards, Hong Kong Film Critics Society, and Golden Horse Awards. (Look closely in a nightclub scene, and you can spot Edmond dancing in the background).

    Having just completed directing a play for the Hong Kong Arts Festival starring Karen Mok, Edmond answers a few questions about his film career. As Mr. Pang is not fluent in English, this interview has been kindly translated by his assistant.

                      

Eric Kot (Bart) and Cheung Tat Ming (Chuen)Since you both write books and make films, would you consider yourself a "writer turned director", or is film your first love? 

Edmond: I won't consider myself as a "writer turned director." It is because I had decided to be a director since I was in high school. That's why I took a screenwriting course in order to learn how to organize the story structure in its best way. Thereafter, I began to write novels to improve my skill in writing a screenplay. And both writing novels and taking screenwriting course are the preparations for myself to become a director, instead of a writer.

How did you like Johnnie To and Wai Kai Fai's "Fulltime Killer"? As the author of  the story, would you have liked to direct this film yourself?

Edmond:  At the very beginning when I published my debut novel, "Full Time Killer," I had decided not to direct it as a movie by my myself, since the story contains many fighting scenes, it is very difficult for a new director like me, to direct it. Moreover, I believe that Johnnie To and Wai Kai Fai did a very great job on it.

It seemed like an unlikely partnership when Golden Harvest released your first movie, You Shoot, I Shoot, since they're known primarily for more commercial action and romantic comedies. Was it hard to get financing and partnerships for You Shoot I Shoot?
                           

Edmond: It is not difficult for me to get financing and partnerships for "You Shoot, I Shoot," because I had the whole screenplay ready before approaching Golden Harvest for investment. In Hong Kong, most directors do not have complete screenplays when they try to find investors, so it is most likely to be difficult for them to get financing and partnerships. Besides, I really thanks for Golden Harvest being my partner. Most film producers do not want to make investment on new directors, since they don't want to take any risk. Fortunately, Vincent Kok (the CEO of Golden Harvest) has given me such an opportunity to accomplish my film. 

How much are you involved with the casting choices in your films? Is it important to get certain actors to fit roles that you have in mind?

Edmond: I always have full involvement in the casting choices for my films. It is definitely important to get certain actors to fit roles in my mind. That's why I usually just provide one single option with each main actor and main actress for the producers in order to acquire the ideal actors in my mind. 

As a new director, you seem to be developing a reputation as a satirist. You like to use dark humor, irony, and play with genre conventions. Is this Edmond Pang's trademark style?

Edmond:  I don't mean to develop my reputation as a satirist on purpose, and I don't think it is my trademark also. I play with genre conventions because I like this kind of way to express myself, but I'm not doing it to make myself to be a satirist. Using dark humor and irony is the way I communicate with others; it is one of my personalities, so this personality appears in my films too.

Cheung Tat Ming's character in You Shoot, I Shoot deeply admires Martin Scorcese, a detail that's both funny and quite accurate, as my impression is that most HK film types love Scorcese, Coppola, Pacino, De Niro, etc.. Were you poking fun at your peers, or perhaps yourself?
                      Cheung Tat Ming in You Shoot, I Shoot
Edmond:  I didn't realize that most Hong Kong film types love Scorcese, Coppola, Pacino, De Niro, etc. but apparently, they all are my favourites. I wasn't poking fun neither at my peers nor myself. I put Martin Scorcese in the film because I like him, I just do so. 

I get the impression from your work that you are a real enthusiast of film and film making, as your films both reference and parody other movies. Can you talk about the films that inspired you as a viewer and as a filmmaker?

Edmond:  Both as a viewer and as a filmmaker, I like all the movies from Stanley Kubrick. His movies do inspire me a lot. His films are incredible. I like him because he is a real enthusiast of film and filmmaking. He does a very great job in all types of movies. 

Can you tell us about any new projects in development? 

Edmond:  I am currently preparing my third feature film, "Crime Without Punishment".  I am glad that I have a chance to work with Chen Kuo Fu*. I really admire his talent in filmmaking and I do learn a lot from him. I'm looking forward to work with him.

          * Taiwanese director of Peony Pavilion and Double Vision.

         

                                                                                                   
                                                      Edmond Pang's Biography and Filmography

 

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