Hi everyone! It has been so long that I updated the blog that I’m finding myself have to re-learn how to use the platform so please bear with me. I wanted to transcribe this interview that took place at “The Source Mall” in OC, Los Angeles on June 22nd, 2022. That’s right! Jang Hyuk travelled to L.A to promote his upcoming movie “The Killer, a girl who deserves to die” an action noir film based on a popular korean webnovel. I think this is one of longest and most in depth interviews I’ve seen with JH in a long time. Especially interesting for action film fans.
Here is the transcription (based on the interpreter and host translations) There are parts I didn’t quite catch, so if you know what he said, let me know and I’ll edit this post.
I’m also posting the video here, so you can watch Jang Hyuk perform a little comedy-action scene with LA stunt actors, before the interview. Also, to hear his fans go nuts! 😀
The host was adorable saying that he was nervous because Jang Hyuk is a big star. I wish I could catch the host’s name. I recommend you also watch the full video when you get a chance, to appreciate the fan interactions, to see JH apologize several times to the interpreter for getting long winded, to hear him say some phrases in his cute English and to see him send heart hands to his fans, while the interpreter spoke. So cute!
SPOILERS AHEAD This interview contains some details about the plot, so if you do not want to be spoiled in any way, I’d recommend you read this after you’ve watched the movie
Host Intro – I got to see the movie “The Killer” yesterday and it was fabulous. “The Killer, the girl who deserves to die” It’s based on a novel, by the same name about a retired assassin. It belongs to the action noir genre. This assassin is forced back into violence because he is supposed to be helping a girl that he doesn’t really like [the role of the girl is played by beloved singer Lee Seo Young, aka Anne from the group GWSN] A lot of you might have seen him [Jang Hyuk] in melodramas, but he is fabulous action actor and he has years of martial arts training as well. So, we are getting into the details of that, how he came to star in this movie and how he prepared for it.
Host: This is actually the first time that you are promoting a film in the US and you were there for the red carpet event, the screening and now this promotional fan tour, you are at The Source Mall, the reception was great.
JH: First for all, I would like to thank this opportunity to promote the movie “The Killer” here in the United States. It’s a great opportunity for me and as “Yun” said (the host) back in 1988, we met when “Yun” was a member of a group called Shark. So, it’s a great reunion.
Host: This movie is part of the “Noir Assassin” genre, similar to John Wick, we also think about the movie “Taken”, “Oldboy” and just looking at the film yesterday I was so blown away by all the action, every action shot was very different and unique and there’s more than meets the eye to this film, than was shown the trailer so, let’s talk about this film.
JH: The Killer, represents the first time for me to participate in the beginning process of planning a movie, so it’s my first opportunity to start organizing the movie, developing the movie, together with the director and while we were developing the movie, we were introduced to this webnovel with the same name, so we adapted it. I took part in the development of all the choreographies, all the action scenes has my planning as well. For the action scenes, we tried to make it more like a dance choreography, so incorporating different sounds, different rhythms of music, we also incorporated different weapons such as guns, sticks (?), even axe so for the martial arts styles we used, we had the musical choreography in mind. One of the movies that was our reference was “No country for old men”. We thought, what if that killer was in this movie? So, that dry, emotionless expression was combined together with the live action that we showed in the movie.
Host: In the movie “No country for old men” the killer was stone cold, he was really cold. I was actually scared watching this man doing the things he did. Now, Ui Gang, is also stone cold, but there is a sense of humor, he loves his wife and he is actually a warm guy and he is really funny, but at the same time when he gets down to business, there is no looking back for this man.
JH: In the movie, Ui Gang, is actually asked to kill a girl, and a portion of this story is about Ui Gang meeting this girl, in a very dream-like scene where Ui Gang is recalling his encounter with this girl, who has asked him to kill her. We don’t know whether she died or not, but based on that request, he decided to retire and the story develops from that point on. So, the storyline develops because Ui Gang, lost(?) this girl that he is asked to take care of and who reminds him of the girl who in the past asked him to kill her. The story is based on the relationship between Ui-Gang and the girl who he was tasked to watch over.
If you watched the movie, you’ll see that Ui Gang holds a cup of latte everywhere he goes, I personally like latte too, but this was inspired in the movie “Leon” aka “The Professional” where Leon meets this girl called Matilda, and he always drinks a cup of milk.
Host: I love how you put that tribute to “The professional” and Jean Reno. How do you like Ui Gang in real life?
JH: The one aspect where I find similarity with Ui Gang is that, when it comes to work, he is a completely different person, in comparison to his personal life. I didn’t notice that about myself but when I see the still cuts of when I’m making the movie, I see myself looking so different from how I am in my normal life. So when it comes to my professional life and my personal life, the difference between those two worlds, I think it’s what is similar to Ui Gang in the movie.
Host: Just a little while ago, you were talking about how, performing some of the stunts, it was like a dance choreography involving many people. It’s a dance choreography that you have to perfect and make it look good. I understand that you insist on performing 99% of your stunts. It is commendable but are you ever worried about injuries?
JH: I’ve done a lot of action film so I get very zealous about it, very passionate about it, at least I used to be in the past. So, I want to do it well, and that led me to sustain injuries, and once I’m injured, the production has to pause. I’ve learned over the years that, it cannot be done like that. So we rehearse “to a t” and make sure that all the movements are practiced and rehearsed.
The reason I try to do the stunts myself is because, action is part of the acting and the character has to come alive in the action as well, so while I’m doing all the actions, my character has to come out and that’s why I choose to do my stunts.
Host: If you guys don’t know, Jang Hyuk, as good looking as he is, does a lot of stuff, he does boxing, and Jeet Kun Do. In 2007, he won an award as the best newcomer in martial arts in China. He does a lot of training year round. Let’s find out how he prepared for this role of Ui Gang.
JH: Movies nowadays, especially action movies, are made with a lot of computer graphics, to which audience members are used to. Usually, the action sequences are cut into many small pieces, but we did all the scenes as one-cut, and while we are filming we are trying to incorporate a rhythm and tempo too, so you will see that come alive while you watch the movie.
In the movie, we tried to sequence the action films in such a way that, there are a variety of different actions involved, a variety of different weapons involved, that all of that worked together, I was working directly with the martial arts director and of course the lighting is important too.
If you see action movies, you see that the emotions get really wild, the actors get very angry and excited, but here in the movie “The Killer” I tried to keep the emotions calm and you’ll see that.
Training was part of my every day routine. As we sequenced the action I had to train myself every day as well.
Host: So, you’ve actually really partaken in the production process and also, creating the whole action scenes, the fight scenes and the choreography so you’ve actually put your opinions and creativity to that as well. You’ve also worked with some really good Hollywood stunt men and also, the stunt director, Bruce Khan.
JH: There is a behind story about this villain that we see in the movie. We had someone else in mind for that role, David (?) the stunt director of the movie “John Wick”, but his schedule wouldn’t fit with our filming schedule so we couldn’t work with him and while looking for a person who could play the villain in the movie, we were introduced to Bruce Khan. The action style he shows in the movie is very different from mine and that was a lot of fun [to see that contrast].
Host: We saw a lot of action scenes, I really liked the one in the motel. The scenes were just phenomenal. What were the best scenes in your opinion?
JH: The scene that I’m most proud of in this movie, is the gun fighting scene. We choreographed a lot of other action scenes in support of that gun fighting scene. So that scene is most memorable and I’m most proud of that.
Host: There were a lot of gun fighting scenes and they were very good. The double tap and the “bap, bap, bap” (he gestures), everything was right on. How did you practice for that?
JH: I was in a drama called Iris 2 and I did a lot of gun shooting in that drama. And that was one of my experiences with this kind of scene. But in that series, we didn’t have a lot of martial arts. What we did was target and shoot. We wanted to do a lot of action involved in this movie and incorporate martial arts to the gun shooting scenes.
Host: Yesterday you had a chance to visit Taran Tactical. Taran Buttler, is the guy who trains all the Hollywood actors, and he is also a former competitive shooter. How was it hanging out with Taran and doing some shooting with him? [I researched this dude and I’m so not a fan, but, yeah, he is the go to gun training guy for Hollywood]
JH: Yesterday at the gun range, I was nervous at first. But, we received detailed explanations about how to position ourselves, our body postures, we had a detailed training before we actually went to the actual shooting. So having a professional explaining things like that in detail, really helps and needs to be incorporated in movies like these as well.
Host: I was reading an interview, and apparently, there was a scene where you could’ve gotten hurt and you actually almost died, not sure if this was exaggerated.
JH: There was one instance where I got hurt. It was a scene where I was fighting with Bruce Kahn. It was a stunt scene where I’m falling off a window. We practiced a lot how to fall through this window, but we didn’t calculate the frame of the window correctly, so as I fell, I hit the frame and I injured my back. You too can watch me getting hurt at the end of the movie, after the credits.
Host: While you are here promoting the film in L.A what are some of things that caught your eye?
JH: My first trip ever to the United States was to Los Angeles back in the late 90s and at the time the person who coordinate my trip took me to Starbucks and he ordered me a cup of Americano, and that cup of Americano felt like Los Angeles. That was a first impression I have of Los Angeles. This is my second trip to L.A, I’ve eaten (???) in Korea and I liked it. I tried it this time again, and yes, L.A (???) is the best. [He then mentioned another meal? and the fans reacted loudly, he then said “It’s very great” in english with an “in love” expression in his eyes. This man loves his food)
Host: How about street tacos in L.A?
JH: I have not tried L. A street tacos
Host: Oh nooo, L.A is all about the tacos!!! [Loud audience reaction]
JH: Ta-Co? Ok!
Host: I’ll get you some good tacos. Ok, I’m going to open it up for some questions, from the audience
QUESTIONS FROM HIS FANS
Roseline Garcia from Santa Ana: In 2014, you were in a drama called “Fated to love you”, as you can tell, my favorite character is Lee Gun and I was wondering if you could do the laugh
[Jang Hyuk, did the signature laugher of Lee Gun and the fans went crazy]
Cindy from Westmister: In Fated to love you, you did that karaoke scene. Can you do a little bit of the rap for us?
[JH talked a lot but it wasn’t translated, then he did a little bit of his rap]
Unamed fan: [We are going to call her the real MVP]: I know your next project is with Jang Nara. Can you give us a tiny spoiler about it?
JH: My next project is going to be a kdrama, I’m reviewing the script. It’s not like the movie “The Killer” but I actually happen to have the same job in this drama. It’ll be action, romantic, comedy and humanistic drama. It’s really interesting, Jang Nara and I work together every seven years.
Host: Before we wrap up we want to ask him what are his plans for the future. You mentioned that are more plans for the film “The Killer”
JH: The Killer is based on a webnovel, and there are four series of that novel. If opportunity arises we are hoping to continue with the series as well and incorporate more action designs along the way.
Host: Lastly, what’s the future for you? You have a film with Jang Nara coming every seven years. You have this ambitious project, which may continue to a series, hopefully it will because it’s a great film. So, for Jang Hyuk, what’s in the future for you?
JH: One of my dreams is to be part of developing characters and I want to continue that, with the opportunity that we have with “The Killer” I want to be able to further my dreams to develop different action designs for movies and working together with other actors in Korea. There are great actors in Korea who are not well known and they are just great talents and want to be able to work with them and also, there are actors who are well known but they have different sides of them, different talents they have, as well as different directors who are looking for opportunities. For me, my dream, my future steps will be that, working together with others, developing different characters, different films. Please if you enjoy “The Killer” tell your friends and we’ll be able to make those dreams come true.
Host: He wants to take care of all the younger actors and to help them on their journey while he is going on his journey. Ok, how about one last goodbye to your fans in L.A!
JH: I’m very thrilled and excited to be visiting you here in Los Angeles through the movie “The Killer”, so many people had a hard time through the pandemic. I hope that everybody takes care of themselves and stay healthy and if there’s another movie that I can come and introduce to you, I look forward to that time. I want everybody to go have fun watching “The Killer”.