Posted : 2010-11-23 16:50
Updated : 2010-11-23 16:50

Jang Dong-gun brings Asian vibe to Hollywood

A scene from upcoming Hollywood flick "Warrior's Way,'' starring Korean actor Jang Dong-gun, left.

By Lee Hyo-won

This is not your typical Western. In a village swallowed up by sandstorms, a lone Asian swordsman — rather than a gun-trotting cowboy — awaits a final showdown with his foe.

This is Jang Dong-gun, playing a mysterious assassin from the Far East who is forced to hide in the American badlands in the Barrie M. Osborne (“Lord of the Rings”)-produced movie “Warrior’s Way.” The $40 million project co-stars “Superman Returns” sweetheart Kate Bosworth as Jang’s love interest and Academy Award-winning actor Geoffrey Rush (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) as an alcoholic villager.

“It was the biggest challenge for me,” Jang told reporters about his Hollywood debut piece, following the press preview Monday at Coex, southern Seoul. Having worked in Chinese and Japanese before, language was not so much of a problem — it was rather a struggle within that presented a challenge.

“I had to work with staff and for an audience who are not quite familiar with me, so I had to prove myself anew. But the challenges that an actor faces are quite simple. You meet the audience through the screen, and it’s ultimately just you and the camera. You have to deliver something genuine the moment you’re acting.”

Jang seems to have demonstrated his capacity as an actor in full — “I’m absolutely mad about him,” Bosworth said about her co-star during her first visit to Korea. “As soon as I met Dong-gun I was so happy to know that I would have a scene partner who is so willing to collaborate and excited to find the kind of magic dust you’re aiming to get in every scene.”

She was, moreover, inspired by Jang. “I learned a lot from him. As Westerners what we love to do is to be bigger and comedic (in our acting). And Dong-gun gave such a stoic, beautiful, elegant performance... Geoffrey (Rush), Danny (Huston) and I would do our thing and then sit and watch him breeze in and perform so elegantly, beautifully yet emotive, and we were I think all sitting there a little envious of him,” the actress said, adding that she hopes to collaborate with Jang again in the future.

Bosworth also expressed great enthusiasm in working with first-time director Lee Sngmoo. “Sngmoo is wonderfully specific in what he wanted, and that’s what you hope to get in the most seasoned filmmaker.”

She was drawn to the script that Lee penned because it was unique.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s like a fable, a cross-cultural, cross-genre visual extravaganza... It’s bold, unique and has a certain poetry to it and Sngmoo brought it out so authentically and delicately.”

The director said he wanted to create a novel fantasy world that was believable, and thus introduced mystical Asian warriors that were not culture-specific. He did however suggest using the traditional Korean percussion music “samulnori” in the soundtrack.

“This is not a movie geared at introducing Korea to the world. I used the music by Kim Duk-soo not so much because it was Korean as much as it was simply great music.” The result is thus a memorable interplay between roaring machine guns and rhythmic percussion instruments.

The action-heavy film enabled the actors to engage in tough scenes. “In the West, Asian actors are mainly known for their martial arts skills, but Korean actors also have a talent in acting. I played my role hoping to show that Korean actors can pull off both action and drama,” said Jang.

Bosworth, an equestrian, said she thoroughly enjoyed her tomboyish role and pulling off the “ballet choreography”-like action sequences herself.

“I don’t think there are so many opportunities for female actors to get down and dirty... I don’t shy away from physicality.”

Jang complimented the actress. “I had a preconceived notion that Hollywood stars are fussy and snobby, but Kate proved me wrong. She is very mature for her age and is very deep, and knows the virtue of humility.”

“Warrior’s Way” opens in theaters nationwide on Dec. 12, the same day as in North America. Distributed by SK Telecom.

장동건, 아시아의 연기 기품을 헐리우드에

‘반지의 제왕’ 제작자로 알려진 베리 오스본의 또 다른 작품 “워리어스 웨이”에서 베일에 가려진 검객역을 맡은 장동건은 바다 건너 먼 동쪽에서 촬영을 무사히 마쳤다. 4,000만 달러를 들인 이번 영화에는 장동건을 비롯 그가 사랑하는 여인 역으로 “수퍼맨 리턴”의 케이트 보스워스와 아카데미상 수상자인 제프리 러시가 술주정뱅이 마을 주민으로 같이 출연한다.

장동건은 월요일 코엑스에서 열린 시사회에서 기자들에게 자신의 할리우드 데뷔작인 이번 영화가 자신에게 있어 최고의 도전이였으며 일본과 중국에서 영화촬영을 해본 경험이 있는 그에게 있어 언어는 크게 문제가 아니었지만 새로운 스태프들과 일하고 새로운 관객들에게 자신의 연기를 선보여야 하는 것이 과제였다고 말했다.

그의 연기 파트너인 케이트 보스워스는 이번 첫 방한에서 장씨와 연기한 것이 행복했으며 좀 더 드러내고 희극적 색체를 내는 서부의 연기인들과는 달리 그의 냉정하면서도 우아한 연기에서 배울 점이 많았다고 말했다.

이 영화는 12월 12일 미국과 국내에서 동시에 개봉되며 국내 배급사는 SK 텔레콤이다.

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