What is the difference between The Kid In The Big Apple and the sequel that has just been released?
“There are more people crying in this one! Even me!” said the movie’s lead actor Ti Lung, chuckling. “It will make you think of the people you love, and those who are no longer with us. Those sort of memories can really move you and make you cry.”
In The Kid From The Big Apple 2: Before We Forget (TKFTBA2), Ti Lung reprises his role as the strict but kindly grandfather from the first movie. However, tragedy strikes when he starts to lose his memory, including his happiest moments with his family.
While Ti Lung was initially reluctant to return to the role, he eventually came around to it after being moved by the script.
“I’m used to playing a lot of heroic characters and gangsters. But this one is very sad and very grey, so I did turn it down at first,” he said during a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur.
“But later, I was slowly moved by it, and I gave myself a challenge. I wanted to surpass myself and try to find a new breakthrough for my acting.”
The 71-year-old veteran Hong Kong actor is best known for his roles in classic Shaw Brothers movies, including the popular The Sentimental Swordsman. His best-known role, however, is the classic 1986 John Woo film A Better Tomorrow, in which he plays a triad member alongside Leslie Cheung and Chow Yun-fat.
TKFTBA2 is directed by Malaysian director Jess Teong, and also stars Debbie Goh and Tan Qin Lin. One other major character is actually played by Ti Lung’s real life son, Shaun Tam, who plays his character’s son-in-law, the father of the titular Kid from the Big Apple.
The father and son have worked together before – they even hosted a show called Health And Wealth together in Hong Kong – but never had scenes together in a film before.
“When I first came out, I was very careful to make sure I never worked with my father. I didn’t want people to always see me as Ti Lung’s son!” Tam recalled. “But I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and chances like this are hard to come by, so I’ll enjoy them when they come. After becoming a father myself, I am even more keen to be with my family more.”
In a classic case of the apple not falling too far from the tree, Tam will be stepping into his father’s shoes with his next role, that of Bao Zheng (better known as “Justice Bao”), in a new TVB drama based on the legendary Chinese judge.
Ti Lung played the same character in a hugely popular TVB drama that ran from 1994 to 1995, and it is one of his most famous roles.
“They found the costume he wore 20 years ago, and when I put it on, my first feeling was … it is so heavy. It’s not easy. You have to wear the costume for 10 to 12 hours a day! It’s so heavy that you can’t help but respect it,” Tam said.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for me. Many people are saying I was meant for the role because I am his son. But it’s not as if I knew how to act the minute I was born! I still had to work hard to get here.”
Tam said that since signing for TVB, it feels as though he is following his father’s footsteps. “My first role was an emperor, and I looked exactly like he did 40 years ago!” he said with a laugh.
He didn’t rule out stepping into his father’s action hero shoes either.
“I just finished shooting The Stuntman (a new TVB drama due for release in 2018) where I play the leading role of a stuntman, and I did most of my stunts,” he said.
And what was the best advice he ever got from his father? “Respect yourself, always. And be prepared. When you finish your work, go home and see your family.”
Ti Lung added: “I never wanted him to become an actor, because I didn’t want him to struggle like I used to. But he loves it, and I never stopped him. And now that he is all grown up and turned out well, I’m happy.”
In TKFTBA2, Ti Lung plays someone who is slowly losing his memory, and the actor said that the one thing he would not ever want to forget is his self-respect. “I think having pride in one’s self is very important. Even if you have no money or live a hard life, as long as you preserve your self-respect, it will be alright,” he said.
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