The comedy Tropic Thunder poked fun at the idea of Hollywood stars doing method acting, such as training at an army boot camp to play a soldier. But for actor Remy Ishak, it helped him to play his character better.
The 33-year-old actor shared that prior to filming the action-packed war film Bravo 5, he and the rest of the ensemble cast trained at an army camp in Sungai Udang, Malacca.
“We spent two weeks doing physical activities and bonding, as well as learning how to use real weapons. It was something that I was excited about because as an actor in Malaysia, you’re never given the chance to train or prepare for a role like that,” said Remy at an interview in Kuala Lumpur.
His co-star Beto Kusyairy, 35, agreed. The physically-gruelling boot camp helped the cast to prepare for movie’s intense combat scenes that were filmed at a jungle in Tapah, Pahang.
“The uniform and the equipment that we had to put on were really heavy. Luckily, we had the training to help us get used to the weight. Plus, we were really proud to have been able to don the army uniform,” said Beto.
Directed by Yeop Hitler Zami, Bravo 5 tells the story of five elite soldiers tasked with a mission to rescue a comrade from the clutches of a ruthless communist party. The script is based on the real-life experiences of Major Zainal Hayat who served in the armed forces for 30 years before he retired in 2010.
“I really hope this film will inspire viewers to appreciate the sacrifices made by our country’s armed men and women in their efforts to protect the country from colonisation,” said Yeop, who also went through the boot camp with the cast.
“I had to, because I wanted to know what it’s like to train and live like an elite soldier. Plus, it’s only fair that I went through it with my actors,” he explained with a laugh.
Remy plays leader Lieutenant Azri Manaf and his unit consists of Karim Abdullah (Beto), Corporal Morgan (Shashi Tharan), Sergeant Unya (Frank Peterson) as well as Corporal Ah Chia (Xavier Fong).
When the communist party led by Commander Lim Yatt (Chew Kin Wah) finds out about the presence of Azri and his men in the jungle, a deadly cat-and-mouse game ensues. Hot on their trails are Sidek Tapa (Soffi Jikan as Lim’s violent right-hand man) and 200 communist soldiers.
With a massive budget of RM5mil, Bravo 5 was produced with the support of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. However, Bravo 5 had a troubled start. The project was initiated in 2008 with Fauzi Nawawi attached as director and Fizz Fairuz cast as the lead.
When Fauzi was dropped from the project, Bravo 5 was stuck in development hell before Yeop took on directorial duties. It eventually began filming in 2012 and was done the same year. But, post-production work took a bit longer.
Remy said he was nervous to watch himself in the film, since three years have passed. “I think I’ve changed a lot in the past three years! Hopefully, I won’t be too embarrassed by my own acting,” he shared before the press screening.
The film’s long road to its official premiere date is worth the wait. Bravo 5 is a gorgeously-shot film with plenty of action, strong characters and heart-wrenching scenes.
Beto said each character in Azri’s unit has his own personal journey in the film.
“My character is a rebellious guy who needs to be constantly watched by Azri. He grew up as an orphan and didn’t have any authority figure to look up to. So through this experience in the jungle, as well as time spent with the team, he learned what it means to be in a family.”
Bravo 5 opens in cinemas nationwide today.