EXCLUSIVE: Director Chris Chung Talks SOHO JIMBO Release, Present And Future Plans

Photo: Dan Donovan
It's not too far into the year but it didn't take long for me to connect with a director whose previous work on the shorfilm, Handuken, came on my radar once upon a time. Meeting filmmaker Chris Chung last week, I had the honor of almost immediately engaging an interview ahead of the release of his latest shortfilm, Soho Jimbo.

The project has been a major highlight of Chung's work for a few years now as he has also mingled with the prospects of turning this project into a feature film. It would he his debut if that were to be the case, and not exactly being a stranger to martial arts cinema is certainly a helpful factor here with talents like Into The Badlands series co-star Alan Wai taking center stage.

I credit Soho Jimbo co-star, actor and martial artist David Cheung who shared the initial trailer tease from last week ahead of this week's official trailer. To say the least, it caught my eye and with the project picking up speed in the news as well as its release this week, I consider it an opportune moment to help cast a light on a director with a golden opportunity for something amazing.

Here's my chat with Chris Chung, and enjoy Soho Jimbo at the end of our interview!

Film Combat Syndicate: Hey Chris! Thank you for chatting with us this month. It's been a just few weeks going into 2017 but how have you been thusfar?
Chris Chung: Hi Lee, very well thanks, busy start to the year, which is always good!
FCSyndicate: Sweet! Now I'm pretty new to you as maybe some of our readers but obviously a project like Soho Jimbo would catch our attention. And by the way, thank you! 😄 Please tell us about yourself.
CC: Sure, really happy to be chatting to you guys! I’m a London based director, I mainly work in advertising and branded content by day and by night, I’m plotting and working on projects like 'Soho Jimbo' with a team of dedicated and wonderful collaborators. My shorts have screened at a number of international festivals including L.A Action on Film Festival, Raindance, BFI Future Film Festival and Virgin Media Shorts.
FCSyndicate: What drew you to this project?

CC: I did a short film called ‘Handuken’ for the Virgin Media Shorts back in 2013 which more or less got me into working as a director, at the screening of the short at the BFI IMAX, super producer Christine Cheung was in the audience. We got connected and been keen to collaborate since. I grew up with action cinema, Hong Kong movies and fell in-love with films like Rush Hour, Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, these stylised action comedies don’t come around too often, so as an audience member myself and the team wanted to add some more films to the genre with our own spin on it. Mixing Western and Eastern influences.
FCSyndicate: I literally when "oh shit!" in my head the second you mentioned Handuken. I remember that one! I think it was a late catch for me, like maybe around late 2013 or mid 2014.

Tell us about your main actor, Alan Wai and what it was like to work with him. Was this his first film project?
CC: Haha I hope you enjoyed Handuken! 
Alan is a very good friend of mine, we’re on ‘bro terms' even! [laughs] Alan is one of the most hardest working actors I’ve met and incredibly dedicated, I joked around with him a few months before shooting that he may have to do a sequence topless! 😂 In turn he got in ridiculous shape for the role, granted we only had two days to shoot the sequence, so all of the actors performing action had to be ready to go! Fortunately most of the guys you see performing the action did stunts on films like ’Now You See Me 2’, 'Doctor Strange’ etc.
FCSyndicate: Apart from the shooting days, were there any other particular challenges with this project?
CC: Speaking of ‘challenge’, Soho Jimbo was one of five projects made through the Directors UK: Challenge ALEXA. Where we had just two days to shoot the project with the support of Directors UK and ARRI. Aside from the shooting days, I would just say staying on top of everything, just as it was such an ambitious project, Christine and myself found that having the right people onboard helped keep the momentum flowing as we set the pace.
FCSyndicate: I also had no idea you choreographed the fights which I think is fascinating. How did you go about designing the action for this project?
CC: I've been doing martial arts for the last 10-11 years, ranging from Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Shaolin and boxing to Muay Thai. I think the majority of what I call 'Film-Fu' in here is a variety of things I've tried out in sparring (they don't always work, trust me) and learned across the arts. A huge inspiration is the life work of Jackie Chan, some Donnie Yen and a bit of Monty Python too. If you look closely, I make a little cameo somewhere in the film too! 😉
Photo: Dan Donovan
FCSyndicate: You've also been vocal about turning this into a feature as you last mentioned in your Directors UK interview last year that this WAS definitely your next project. Between then and now with the release of the official trailer and pending shortfilm thereafter, how soon are you looking to start filming?
CC: Yep! It's still is on the cards to be my first feature. In terms of filming and production, that be more a question for Christine (my producer). I’ve almost completed a first draft of the script and we are keen to get this badboy going as soon as possible. We are using the short film/sequence to get a gauge of what our target audience think and how we can better improve the project.
FCSyndicate: In terms of casting along with Wai, are there any specific actors and action actors that you're keen on bringing aboard?
CC: Very much so, but I think we may be too early in the draft of the script to talk about casting! 😉
FCSyndicate: Understood, and are there any other future plans for Soho Jimbo, if any? Can we expect a sequel from this particular venture if all goes well?
CC: Appreciated, and YES for sure! If the film is well received, I’d love to do more.. sort of like Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, films of similar tone and style but not necessarily interlacing stories.
FCSyndicate: Hmm... I think a fight scene between Wai and Nick Frost is in order! 🙏
CC: I think that would be brilliant, Nick Frost looks like he can throw down too!
FCSyndicate: What are some important lessons you've taken with you in the course of your growing career and through this particular process?
CC: I’ve learned the importance of collaboration, it is key to any project, not one person makes a film, having the incredible talents that surround the set and stages of production has been key… and it’s such a joy to see in action, when everyone from cast and crew are vibing with each other and I think it raises the level of input, especially for me.
FCSyndicate: And lastly, what can we ewexpect in whole from Soho Jimbo?
CC: Hopefully a fun ride. We made this sequence as an experiment of some old school martial arts action-comedy, so please check it out this week, and do follow our news on Facebook.com/sohojimbo to follow our journey!


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