Taiwan "triad" in town

Writer: Tammy Ang

L-R: Filmmaker Doze Niu (in sunglasses) with producer Li Lieh flanked by Taiwanese heartthrobs Mark Chao & Ethan Juan

10 Apr – Taiwanese heartthrobs Ethan Juan and Mark Chao together with director Doze Niu Chen Zer and producer Li Lieh were in Singapore earlier on Monday to promote their acclaimed triad picture "Monga".

It was revealed at a press conference in Fullerton Hotel that Ethan Juan and fellow casts went to visit the present Wan Hua district (previously known as Monga) two months prior to the shoot to get familiarised with the neighbourhood and to interview locals with triad backgrounds. Mark Chao was absent for the visit as his mother disallowed him. He added: "The other reason is because my character is someone who's not familiar with the environment, so if I hadn't been to the place, I'll be able to play the role better."

Both artistes sustained many injuries during the shoot. In filming one action scene, they actually smashed into someone's house unintentionally. "Ethan was supposed to push me against the wall but we were so into the scene that we accidentally crashed through someone's door and broke their refrigerator, table and glasses, not to mention completely shocking the people in the house!" said Chao.

The director expressed his approval on their impressive commitment towards the movie.

Juan also revealed that director Doze Niu is a good friend of his who got the most out of him by whispering his painful past to him as they were shooting emotional scenes. "The director explained that as an actor, we often dig up real old wounds to bring on the emotion. When the audience watch the performance and applauds, it can even heal the wounds they have. After I heard that, I felt touched and consoled. But I was still very angry with him!" added Juan with a laugh.

High quality pirated "Monga" DVD copy available on Malaysian streets before Singaporean release.
"Monga", which opened in its native Taiwan back in February 2010, broke opening day and opening weekend records, grossing more than NT$200 million (SG$8.8 million) during its first two weeks of release, outshining even "Avatar" in first-day receipts.

A meet-the-fans session at Junction Mall proceeded in the evening but their GV VivoCity red carpet gala premiere was delayed as the stars appeared an hour and a half past the scheduled time. Fans at the cinema had waited for hours but only managed a 5-minute glimpse of the duo. However, the short appearance had the stars and director performing a dance onstage as requested by the audience.

"Monga" is distributed by Encore Films in Singapore. There is no word of a Malaysian release but high quality pirated DVD copies of the film have been available on the streets even before the movie releases officially in Singapore this 15 April 2010.

Cinema Online, 10 April 2010