It’s been a long time since we last heard from Malaysian filmmaker James Lee who first came on our radar with an array of amazing short films. His career is undoubtedly inclusive with some terrific feature work, some of which include 2009’s Call Me If You Need Me and 2012 action comedy, The Collector – both featuring Singaporean import Sunny Pang.
The two have since gotten together once more just last year on Kill-Fist, Pang’s own latest in a stint of qualifiable action roles since starring in Mo’ Bros’ thriller, Headshot, and Timo Tjajanto’s feature debut, The Night Comes For Us with Joe Taslim. Among the international line-up, folks attending this year’s 9th Cambodian International Film Festival will be the first to see what the film has in store.
Zhang is a middle aged man struggling with a dead end job as an insurance salesperson, on the verge of divorce with his wife, losing custody of his daughter and on top of all this he has to take care of his father who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s. Unknowingly Zhang is invited to join an underground fighting game for financial purposes but eventually becomes hooked on the fights and determined to reach the final round of the game and find out its true nature and purpose.
I first interviewed Lee about the film last April and he described it as “a true indie effort”. Feasibly, Ive covered a great deal of action gems that have been inherently indie and after first catching Lee’s 2014 short, Second Life, I was instantly hooked on his potential, and Lee hasn’t let me down since.
He spoke highly of the action scenes in Kill-Fist on Monday in a social media post, promising the action will be better than most of what moviegoers have seen of late. That’s not to say putting the action scenes together didn’t have its share of challenges, as he so elucidated last April in our interview:
“It was simply an idea to just make an no-nonsense martial arts action movie, like those in the 80s with titles like ‘Kill And Kill Again’.”says Lee. “With focus on the families of the characters, I was inspired to write and design a story that will legitimize the action look instead of bringing action just for the sake of action. The two mutually co-exist and so the story will still play an inherent, important part in the film.”
“The biggest hurdles were the fight and action scenes totaling about ten scenes, with Sunny himself in eight of them,” says Lee. “It was really a demanding shoot for all of us, and so we didn’t have ample pre-production time to complete the choreography, so five of the scenes were choreographed and improvised on set.”
Pang’s other Malaysian outing will be in April for the release of Zahir Omar’s critically acclaimed feature debut, Fly By Night, from Planet Films.
Kill-Fist also stars Alan Yun, Koe Yeet and Marcio Sebsam among the cast, and with fight choreography by Chee Hong. Check out the poster below!