The Mighty Dragon recently caught up with Andrew Ng, a Hong Kong based actor and producer. Andrew’s film work includes The Man with the Iron Fists, The Mercury Conspiracy, SPL2, and Pound of Flesh as well as the multiple award winning Sci-Fi short The Fisherman. I was very keen to speak to Andrew to find out why he had made the transition from the States to Hong Kong and also find out more on his work on Marco Polo (one of my favourite TV series!).
Vikki: From Arizona originally, what brought you to Hong Kong?
Andrew: My first life was in the corporate world. Growing up in a very small town (Parker) on the banks of the Colorado River, there weren’t many Chinese or for that matter Asians about. Parker was situated 16 miles from the 2nd largest Japanese internment camp during the 40’s. Parker was a rich mini-melting pot of America with predominant contingents of Hispanics and Caucasians situated in the middle of the Colorado River Indian Tribe’s Reservation. My mother was instrumental in trying to instill in my brothers and sister, our Chinese culture. She was always telling us stories of how it was and why we do the things we do. The corporate opportunity to work in Asia was a chance to experience this first hand, though it was 40 years removed from her experiences.
Vikki: When did you start training as a martial artist and as an actor?
Andrew: There were no martial arts being practiced in my home-town. My knowledge of martial arts was limited to I think one of the only magazines being published at that time “Black Belt”. I spent much of my active time playing baseball and American football. It was when my older brother returned from the east coast that he asked me to work with him following the guidelines of a book called “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do”. My training as an actor began in high school where the Drama Club, of which I was the president, formed to put on our school’s first three act play. Life got in the way via non-arts education and the beginning of a business career and acting fell by the wayside. Decades later I restarted with Sharon Yang Pan Pan and her team at the Hit Hut Cinematic Action.
Vikki: Who were your acting and/or martial arts inspirations?
Andrew: My inspiration continues. My formative years were filled with the early hero’s and notables of the time. Marlon Brando, Richard Harris, and Peter O’Toole come to mind. Obviously Bruce Lee was one of them and Toshiro Mifune another from the Asian side. Access to truly Asian martial arts films was limited and it was only when I made my first trip to Taiwan ever that I got a taste of Shaw Brothers fare (the One Armed Swordsman-1967) which was replaying during that summer. There was a huge billboard with the SB movie poster on it that attracted me to go in. Certainly Gordon Liu Chia-Hui of whom I have had the pleasure of sharing scenes with on location at Hengdian World Studios during the shoot of “The Man with the Iron Fists” is there along with Sammo Hung, Jacky Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun-Fat.
Vikki: I see you have featured in quite a few short films, what interests you most about this genre?
Andrew: Short films are a good challenging format for an actor. They can be excellent opportunities to be the story’s lead actor. “The Fisherman” (Director and writer: Alejadro Suárez Lozano) , was just that, relying heavily on visual storytelling in a format condensed for time. “The Fisherman” was selected to over 100 film festivals worldwide as well as having been viewed over 5M times in its original language and dubbed versions on YouTube. I along with Alejandro and the cast and crew are very proud “The Fisherman” has garnered many awards that include best film, best SFX, and best actor. The options on “The Fisherman” were picked up for development into a feature film. That speaks a lot about this genre and how it can give an actor worldwide exposure.
Vikki: You appeared in the TV series Marco Polo, I was quite disappointed there were only 2 seasons, do you feel there was more story to tell?
Andrew: Yes as was I, there are always more stories to tell, especially when it comes to period pieces. It was an honour to participate in one of the first productions shot at Pinewood Studios in Jahor Bahru, there was significant investment in period costumes and sets and these will carry on to future productions I’m sure. Disappointing that further depth of stories that make up the saga didn’t pan out.
Vikki: You’re in Abduction with Scott Adkins (with quite a few other The Mighty Dragon interviewees!), what were the high points for you making this movie?
Andrew: There were so many it makes my head hurt just to think about them! First of all reuniting with the Pound of Flesh crew was one. Being able to play Dr. Gong the eccentric inter-dimensional scientist was the other. Dr. Gong was a welcome addition to my stealing hearts (SPL2) and saving souls (Man with the Iron Fists/Pound of Flesh) roles. Additional pluses were working with Scott Adkins, Andy On, and Truong Ngoc Ahn, both on-set and between takes. And getting killed by Big Mike Leeder (spoiler alert), in our first scene together finally after casting me in so many roles.
Vikki: What is your favourite piece of work so far and why?
Andrew: Great question! And not with intent to evade the answer, I can say I don’t really have a favourite. Movies are so complex and challenges happen every minute from day 1 of shooting. There is always a critical flaw somewhere due to adjustments. Looking at the experiences I had, I always find something to like about each and every production I’ve been involved with from the majesty of the sets and locations, the enjoyment of working with my fellow actors and crew members, to the challenges my characters faced and the things they had to bring to the final cut. It’s about loving what one does.
Vikki: In my recent interview with Hua Yan, we spoke about the differences between American and Chinese action films – what are your thoughts on this and do you see any changes in the US and China on their productions?
Andrew: Wow, thank you for putting me in with Hua Yan, I believe he sums it up well. I might add that, thanks to the worldwide rise of physical culture in the past decades, I am sure they will be even more talent coming along with physical, acting, and language skills that cross over in both directions allowing directors to emphasize the wide shot and longer takes as we’ve seen in “the Raid 2” and “SPL2”.
Vikki: What advice would you give someone wanting to enter the industry?
Andrew: Refine your skills constantly. It’s a profession, be professional. That means if you’re looking for a job, have a resume and a reel and update it as often as you can. This gives you a reason to contact casting people, just to update them. I recently did to add “Loveland” (Ivan Sen) and “Effetto Domino” (Director: Alessandro Rossetto) to my filmography. Sent it out with polite note asking folks just to update their files, politely thanking them, and nothing more. Lo and behold two opportunities for casting came back. One being a very exciting opportunity. Everyone on set and in the production has a job to do-treat or give respect, doing your job is what makes it easy for everyone else-earn respect. That means being on time. Taking direction. Don’t be a dick at any time or anywhere. Seek balance, as it’s not all about you (and your ego) and not everyone in the industry has your best interest at heart.
Thank you Andrew for sharing your advice and experience and all the best for your upcoming projects.