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Ko - production in Busan
  • YANG Kil-young, Director of Martial Arts at Mooto Action Studio
  • by SHIN Dooyoung /  Nov 04, 2011

  • “Wei, ni hao,” martial arts director YANG Kil-young answers the phone in Chinese during our interview. His Chinese sounds natural. Currently, most of his work is concentrated in Taiwan and China. Director Doze NIU, who was captured by Yang’s hammer action sequence from the first film he worked on <Old Boy>, was the first to invite Yang to Taiwan. Since then, director Yang and his Mooto Action Studio have expanded to China from their base in Taiwan. Having worked with JUNG Doo-hong, veteran martial arts director of 17 years, Yang Kil-young has proven his talent not only in <Old Boy> but in <Fighter in the Wind>, <Holiday>, <The Art of Seduction> and <The Host>. Most recently, he also took part in the TV dramas <City Hunter> and <Poseidon>.
    - You started out your career in the pan-China zone with Doze Niu’s gangster film <Monga>.

    = It was a rough time for the Korean film market. I had just left Seoul Action School and by chance joined the <Monga> project. It crossed my mind that I should go a separate way, something different from the martial arts teams in Korea. Perhaps not all the way to Hollywood, but I saw potential in Chinese-speaking countries. Director Niu told me he liked <Old Boy> as well as <The Host>.

    - After <Monga> was a big hit in Taiwan, you also participated in a big project titled <Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale> that also came to this year’s Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). (It was also in competition at the Venice film festival and selected as a contender for nomination for the upcoming Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film.)

    = The producer of <Monga> introduced me to the film’s director, WEI Te-sheng. LIN Yu-hsien’s <Jump Ashin!>, which was introduced at BIFF along with <Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale>, was another project that happened thanks to ties from <Monga>. I’m planning to go to Busan with red ginseng or some other gifts in my hands to thank them! In mainland China, I worked on a TV drama named < My Chief and My Regiment>. It was originally planned as a 30-episode project but was extended to 40. In the course, my name came to be recognized in China too. I was lucky.  

    - What other work did you do there?

    = There was director CHO Li’s  <The Next Magic>, < The Great Gold Heist> (tentative title) by director NING Hao, who wants to make a Chinese version of <The Host>, and the TV drama < Warlord> starring actor HU Jin. I think I’ll be working on about ten projects in the next two or three years. 

    - What makes Korean martial arts teams different?

    = Gangster movies aren’t allowed in China due to censorship. Such films were possible in Taiwan or Hong Kong, but action films in Hong Kong show traces of traditional Chinese martial arts. Niu didn’t like that. Also, in the case of <Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale>, the staff from Hong Kong had no experience with war movies. Since it’s too expensive to use Hollywood, they look for Korean crew.

    - Were there any language problems?

    = Because I look at the script all the time, I can understand most of what the director says. When the person translating has no professional background in movies or TV dramas, sometimes I understand the meaning before the translator. Also, today I have a Chinese lesson at 3pm. The plan is to set up an office in Beijing this year or the next. 

    - Have you ever thought of moving on to other markets beyond China?

    = I intend to do so whatever happens. I’m also thinking of Thailand or India. I’ve worked on a German movie titled <The Chinese Man> in Taiwan, and a documentary on Taekwondo and Korean swordfighting by Canada’s CBC is in progress. I plan to maintain ties with them, too.  
    Photography by BAEK Jong-heon

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