Interview: Juju Chan – 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny'


Dubbed the ‘female Bruce Lee’, Juju Chan plays a kickass, dart throwing mercenary in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny. Arthur Tam talks to the high-kicking, fast rising star

Photo by Calvin Sit. Location: The Air @ The One

After finishing a Thai kickboxing tournament Juju Chan, at just six percent body fat, flew straight to the studio to begin filming for her part in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny. She’s been training for this moment most of her life.

Her martial arts career began with judo when she was just a spritely 10-year-old. From there, she picked up hung kuen, taekwondo, Wing Chun and Thai kickboxing. Chan is no show pony. In 2013 she became a champion in the female black belt pattern category in the China Open Championship, a victory she followed up by winning the World Muaythai Council’s 2014 46kg Thai boxing championship. The girl has got some serious skills.

We talk to the up-and-coming martial arts star about almost going blind, working with the venerated Yuen Woo-ping and the awesomeness of killing 20 people at once… 

How do you feel about being cast in such an iconic franchise? 
Truly honoured. I feel even more honoured because I was one of only four women – aside from Michelle Yeoh – cast in a fighting role.

Sounds like you were quite the minority being a woman on set.
Yes, most of the other cast members were men, especially for the fighting roles. I’m proud to be a woman that practices martial arts, it goes against what people think women should be. I love martial arts! It keeps me strong, confident, unique and I really can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. 

What can we look forward to in this sequel and what role do you play?
I play a super fun and badass character called Silver Dart Shi. She’s one of the four swordsman recruited by Donnie Yen’s character to go on a journey with him to retrieve the Sword of Destiny. Everyone wants the sword because the one who controls it rules the martial world. So, basically, we help Yen in his journey so the bad guys don’t get the sword. Michelle plays his love interest and there is a love-and-fate, straightforward type of plot. The audience will definitely be impressed by the scenery and the fight sequences.

How does your character conduct battle?
I love how master Yuen designed my character, who, as you probably guessed by the name, throws darts. I also have this cape that throws darts out when I spin. It can kill 20 people at once! It’s really awesome. For close combat I have a few hidden daggers that I whip out to kill the enemy. 

What was it like working with the one and only Yuen Woo-ping, aka Grandpa Eight?
Woo really cares about his actors. He’s really warm and super detailed about everything – from the story to the set details. Not everyone is very hands-on, but Grandpa Eight is. He measures every sequence himself, wielding a sword himself to make sure every move makes sense. He’s not your average 70-year-old! I learned a lot watching him.

What was your most memorable part in the film?
The beautiful scenery in New Zealand where the whole film was shot. In the first film, everyone remembers the bamboo forest fight scene. This time around I think audiences will be impressed with the frozen lake fight between Donnie Yen and Harry Shum. The scene took almost two weeks to shoot. I’m very much looking forward to watching it on the big screen, since I haven’t actually seen the film yet. 

This is also the first time I experienced wirework. When I was a kid I really admired this type of kung fu. It’s really cool that I finally got to do it while slaying my enemies in the process [laughs]. I also enjoyed the idea of being a character who gets to work as part of a team to complete a mission. There’s something very satisfying about going on a quest as a unit. 

Did you sustain any injuries during the filming process?
I took a huge hit from a wooden sword to my eye. I thought I was going to go blind, but thankfully we got the shot. My eye swelled up so badly, but I created a really nice eye patch for it [laughs].

We saw you met Quentin Tarantino recently. Any chance you’ll be in one of his films?
That would be awesome if it happened. But I didn’t actually get to talk to him much. It was the screening of The Hateful Eight and everyone was surrounding him. All I got in was, “Hi, I’m Juju, and I’m a martial artist from Hong Kong,” [laughs]. Hopefully I come to mind the next time he has a film.

What’s the most important part of being a martial artist?
As a martial artist you have to learn more than one style of martial arts, especially if you want to act. You never know what role you’ll be in. It’s our responsibility as action actors to keep on learning new things and to have actual fighting experience.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny Opens Thu Feb 18.


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