THE NEXT ACTION HERO
"He's not a flexible person," Shou says. "He has really fast hands. [Cinematographer] Paul Anderson wanted to use a steady cam that moves around us as we fight so everything is circular. I choreographed a lot of traditional style. I would do the kick and Cary would not have to kick at all. We go circular, so it works out pretty well. I used Cary's abilities. His legs are weak so we used a lot of hands."
Shou finds choreography so satisfying that he would work as a fight choreographer if his acting career doesn't go anywhere. "The money isn't as good, but I like films so much, as long as I'm in the creative end, it doesn't matter.
"I want to do what I really enjoy doing instead of the money and seeing myself in magazines and the big screen," says Shou. "I've seen myself on the big screen. In HK people recognize me on the street. I'm not after that any more. I'm after what makes me happy."
Coming into Mortal Kombat as an unknown, Shou wasn't well paid.
"They say I got the least money and did the most work," says Shou. "I got SAG scale, a little more than $500 a day during two months of training and three and a half months of shooting. I don't really care about that because it's my chance to break into Hollywood and do something [significant].
Shou is worried lest people lump Mortal Kombat into the same category with all the B-grade flicks commonly associated with martial arts.
"I think the age group for Mortal Kombat is 7 to 35," Shou says out of the blue. "It's not like Power Rangers. They shot it under crank at 20 frames per second."
Mortal Kombat, Shou believes, is on its own level in terms of concept and quality. "I am pretty amazed with how good it is. I have strong confidence that it will change martial arts filmmaking in America. [After they see it] everybody's gonna say, 'Let's do this. Let's make the same kind of thing.'"
Shou exudes a quiet assurance that comes of his deep down belief that Mortal Kombat will be hailed as an entirely new order of action movie, and that its box office success will elevate him to a higher plane. Regardless of what one may feel about the precise quality of the individual performances in Mortal Kombat, the movie's success is likely to take Shou a big step closer to joining Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Sylvestor Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme in the action-hero firmament.
Shou is of two minds as to what he will do with his newfound leverage. On the one hand, he insists he wants to act in movies that call on his acting talents more than his fighting ability. On the other hand, he is level-headed enough to understand that he will have to consolidate his stature as an action star before moving on to riskier areas.
"I feel really honored in doing Mortal Kombat because these are my fight sequences," Shou says, "but I still didn't have control because there's the director, there's the choreographer. I really want to get my hands on every detail of it. It's time for a change in filmmaking. If someone asked me to do a film I would [insist on the right to control direction] as far as special effects, the stunts, the fight sequences."
Shou would be content to leave to others the non-action aspects of directing. "Which lens, which angle makes a kick look powerful--in Hong Kong we study those angles specifically, instead of the ones used in general movies. American filmmakers think drama is more important. The fight is as important as the drama."
Like many Asian American actors, Shou longs to expand the domain of Asian actors. "We need to have more stories that revolve around us, because we have this whole history here. I want to present Asians as regular people here." Regular people who can perform spectacular flipping kicks.
The area in which Asian males have been most glaringly excluded from in Hollywood movies is the romance department. With his role in Forbidden Love, Shou has done as much in this regard as any Asian American actor in recent memory--and that's precious little. Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat will do little to enhance the Asian male romantic image. PAGE 6