The crime thriller Project Gutenberg plays with perceptions that audiences have of its lead actors.
The film stars some of Hong Kong’s biggest names – Aaron Kwok and Chow Yun Fat – but has them playing less than savoury characters. Kwok is a counterfeit artist while Chow is a mercurial mastermind.
While Kwok has gone from teenybopper pop idol to award-winning actor, he might not be the first name to come to mind given that his character cowers through half the movie. Writer-director Felix Chong, 50, had decided to cast him after watching After This Our Exile (2006), in which Kwok plays a deadbeat father, and Port Of Call (2015), in which he plays a quirky grizzled detective.
In a telephone interview, Kwok, 52, says that he has no qualms playing despicable characters. “To me, Li Wen (the name of his character in the movie) is completely different from After This Our Exile. I just want to convey the personality and what’s special about a character, I don’t have any baggage.”
While the film was completely shut out of the recent Golden Horse Award nominations, the star was nonplussed. He says: “Awards are really a matter of fate. I’ve been on the jury before so I face all awards with equanimity.”
He might find some consolation though in Chong’s effusive praise of him. The director says in a separate interview: “Kwok has reached the level of (acclaimed Hong Kong actor) Tony Leung Chiu Wai and there’s been great improvement. Technically, he’s very skilled, it’s just that, till now, he hasn’t had the right script to fully showcase that.”
In turn, the actor says he has been a fan of Chong’s work.
The filmmaker is best known for scripting the acclaimed crime thriller trilogy Infernal Affairs (2002 to 2003) and scripting and directing the surveillance thriller trilogy Overheard (2009 to 2014). – The Straits Times/Asia News Network