By Ines Min
BUSAN — Jang Dong-gun’s long-awaited, upcoming Hollywood debut combines a “Western set and Asian mysticism,” while maintaining an international universality, he said.
The Korean actor unveiled his winter blockbuster “The Warrior’s Way” at a press conference Saturday at the 15th Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival, alongside director Lee Seung-moo, mega producer Barrie M. Osborne (“Matrix” and “Lord of the Rings”) and Lee Joo-ick.
A look at the behind-the-scenes of the multi-national production — Jang co-stars with American actress Kate Bosworth (“Superman Returns”) and Australian legend Geoffrey Rush (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) — and an eight-minute clip of film highlights was shown, simultaneously full of gravity-defying Matrix-action, Zack Snyder slow-motion drama and even a vintage, eclectic circus a la Terry Gilliam.
The movie follows the story of a man raised to become the world’s greatest warrior, then foiled by the laugh of an infant. Vowing to leave behind his violent ways, Warrior (Jang) crosses the seas to find refuge in a small, dusty town, where he learns about life and loving.
“I wanted to create visual images of a fantasy through the clothing design and action scenes,” said the director, whose vision included elegant sword fights and rampant gunplay. He added that he borrowed and melded stylistics from all Asian countries, lending to a feeling of universality. “When the Chinese see it, they think it’s Japanese or Korean. With the Japanese it’s Korean or Chinese, and Koreans, because we know our culture, think it’s Japanese or Chinese.”
Supported by partial sets, green screen and entire backgrounds made of CGI, the movie looks sleek and well-worth the three years since first making the project public.
“We knew we were not striving for a world of reality,” Osborne said. “In our film, it was important for us to convince you that you were in a fable.”
Although the $40 million blockbuster is independently financed, the names and skills behind the shooting certainly help create a polished product, along with the star-studded cast. Three-times Academy Award winning costume designer James Acheson was on board, as well as composer Javier Navarrete (“Pan’s Labyrinth”).
“The Warrior’s Way” will be released Dec. 2 in Korea and the following day in the United States.