A decade and a half after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon made a huge splash on screens across the globe, the much-anticipated sequel will premiere on Netflix and in IMAX theaters in February. We caught up with actor Chris Pang, who plays Flying Blade in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, to chat about his experience making the film, his martial arts history, and his depressing New Year’s resolution. Read on for our full interview with Chris Pang.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a huge success when it came out 15 years ago. You’re the son of two martial arts instructors – was the film a big favorite in your household?
Chris Pang: You know, you would think that a household of martial artists would love the film even more, but it almost had the opposite effect! That’s not to say it’s not a big favourite in my household – because it is – but for reasons other than just the spectacular action. Martial arts films in Asia had been doing wirework and fight choreography similar to that for years but Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon brought it to the world. The action was not new for us to see, however to witness it being paired with a beautiful romantic story and memorable characters – that is what made it a favourite.
Did you ever imagine that one day, you’d get to be part of the sequel to such a legendary film? How did you react when you got the news? How did your parents react?
My parents were over the moon with me even when I got my pen license in grade 4 – they’d react positively no matter what. When I told them this news, I had to move the phone away from my ears for a good minute to stop myself going deaf and wait for the excitement to die down a bit! I never imagined I’d be blessed enough to be a part of the sequel and it’s a special part for me as the original film was the first film I had ever seen in a theatre that was not in English, but in Chinese, and just struck a chord with me somewhere deep.
You play Flying Blade in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Without giving too much away, who is Flying Blade and what’s his role in the story?
Flying Blade is an 18th-century martial arts cowboy. He embodies the perfect warrior of the time – a fun-loving fighter for honor, fun and wine. The film centers around a plot to place the legendary sword from the first film into the hand of chaos and Flying Blade is hired to help protect it. If you’re wondering where the name comes from, I haven’t worked out whether it’s because when he releases his deadly throwing knives they seem to fly, or because he moves so quickly dispatching enemies with his blade that it seems like he himself is flying.
Have you seen the final cut of CTHD2 already, or are you waiting for the premiere? What do you think people will like most about the film?
I’m waiting for the premiere! There’s no way I’m seeing this film for the first time in anything besides a 70-foot IMAX screen! I have seen little pieces of the film in the sound studio while we were recording extra lines and sounds, however, and I can tell you it looks amazing. The original film blew people away with the fight sequences and this sequel will not disappoint. Of course it’s a Chinese period piece so the scenery and costumes will be beautifully brilliant, and to see Michelle Yeoh return as Yu Shu-Lien joined by a new cast would be terrific, but you can’t get past the action. Master Yuen Woo Ping is simply the best – he choreographed the action in the first film and returns to direct this sequel – I’m excited for the world to see just how explosive action can be when he’s in charge!
You kicked off your acting career with a breakout role in 2010’s Tomorrow, When the War Began, which was a box-office hit in your native Australia. How did your experience making that film and working on subsequent projects affect how you approached CTHD2? What did you do differently, and what stayed the same?
Tomorrow, When the War Began was a ridiculous learning experience – a huge Paramount Pictures studio film with an all-young cast. I was literally thrown into the deep end and it was fantastic! I think at that point my aspirations as an actor stopped at driving a golf buggy around the studio and having a chair with my name on it to sit in. I feel like I have grown since then (I have achieved both those goals) and the greatest thing about creative medium is that an artist can never stop growing and evolving, so every set I walk onto is a learning experience. CTDH2 was the most physically demanding role I’ve done and it required a different level of commitment to stay capable to perform scenes. This was the biggest difference, but the process of making film is still just as exciting for me now as it was back then and, yes, I also got a lovely Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny chair with my name on to sit in on set.
Lastly, the end of the year is coming up fast – do you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2016?
Like everyone, I want to be healthier, especially after spending time with stuntmen and seeing just how much further you can push your body. This year I will be cutting down my sugar consumption. Less cakes, soda, candy, ice-cream, chocolate. None of the Australian favourites like sticky date pudding and pavlova. No marshmallows and Skittles. I’m going to stop because this is making me depressed.
We’d like to thank Chris Pang for taking the time to answer our questions. Keep up with Chris on Twitter (@pangerz) and Instagram (@pangeerz), and don’t forget to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny when it’s released in the U.S. on February 26!