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An Exclusive Interview
with Law Wing-cheong
Please welcome our first guest this year, director Law Wing-cheong. To those who are familiar with
Johnnie To's films, director Law should not be a stranger. Having worked in most of the recent To's
films as the associate director, including the award winning Election, Law is a long-time collaborator
with Johnnie To. This time, the two paired up again, with Law as the director and To as the producer,
together they produced a movie adaptation of a novel titled 2 Become 1, a drama about breast
cancer. We are glad to have the opportunity to talk to director Law. In this interview, not only did he
talk about his latest film, he was also generous to share his filmmaking experience as an editor and also
some anecdotes of his collaborations with Johnnie To.
Special thanks to Media Asia for making this interview possible.
Please enjoy the interview!
* The interview was originally conducted in Cantonese.
Who is Law Wing-cheong?
A seasoned film editor in Hong Kong who has worked in director Johnnie To's recent
films, Law Wing-cheong was a two-time Best Editing nominee at the 23rd Hong Kong Film Awards,
for his acclaimed works in To's PTU and Running on Karma. Law also
got his directing debut with a segment in the horror omnibus Ghost Office,
followed by the cat-and-mouse thriller Running out of Time 2 which earned him the
Best Editing kudos at the 39th Taiwan Golden Horse Awards.
Source: Media Asia
2 Become 1
Cinespot: As we know, 2 Become 1 was adapted from a novel. Why would you want to adapt it?
Law: My company bought the right of the novel and from that on, we began to develop the story.
Looking back at the novel, one may notice that it is actually a diary of the author Xi Xi. It is about how she
has found out that she has breast cancer, and her medical treatments following that, while our film is little different.
It centers on a young and contemporary woman who is diagnosed of breast cancer. After she realizes her illness,
she has to tackle with it and makes decision on whether she should receive the operation.
Cinespot: Were you moved by the emotional conflict of the character in the original novel?
Law: I think the disease (breast cancer) struck me quite a bit. Through the research on this subject,
we discovered that even though nowadays more and more women are aware of this disease, they do not
actually know too well about its symptoms, or whether they should receive an operation for that or not. I
believe we could deliver some accurate information to the audiences through our movie, and let them know
how to handle such a situation. Like, perhaps we all know that an operation is necessary, but what is the
process in between? That's what we would like to cover.
Cinespot: The original title of the novel in Chinese is Mourning the Breasts, which is also the
preliminary film title. Why would you want to change it to Perfect Match (Chinese title)?
Law: It is related to the story of the film. The subject itself is already very miserable, and so we do
not want the title to sound too heavy or pessimistic. We know that the title Perfect Match may
contain some implications of romance, but if you take a look at the story in general, you would find out that
romance is not the focus at all, it is about Miriam's struggle with the breast cancer after all.
Cinespot: While Hong Kong people are usually labeled as open-minded, Hong Kong is nevertheless
a traditional Chinese society. Topics like sex or breasts are very often paralleled to vulgarism. How would
you avoid this misconception?
Law: Starting from the first day of the promotions, we have already stated clearly that the story is
about a woman (Miriam Yeung) struggling with breast cancer, and it is what the movie wants to convey.
In the movie, we try our best to present some factual information on the treatment of breast cancer. We
hope that it can bring some relief to those who care about this disease. For instance, we want the female
audiences to learn that it does not necessarily mean a breast cancer patient must cut off her entire breast.
From our research, we got to know that an entire cut off of the breast is not common among breast cancer
patients, unless the condition is totally uncontrollable.
Cinespot: As we all know, the author of the original novel is female. So as a male director, how
would you interpret her writings?
Law: Personally, I do not think the male perspective is very different from that of the female.
No matter men or women, both are human being, it is that simple. Nevertheless, during our creative
process, we certainly surveyed a lot of women, asking them how they would react if they know that
they have breast cancer. And based on all of these opinions and comments, we slowly built up the story.
Cinespot: Can you tell us some of your experience working with the scriptwriter Ivy Ho?
Law: After Ivy Ho wrote the first draft of the story, we realized that we had had very different
point of views, and so we found another scriptwriter Fung Chi-keung to continue the scriptwriting process.
I think it is perhaps not that appropriate to use the word “adaptation”. It is because the original novel
doesn't really have a complete story, it is rather just some diary-structured writings. Therefore, when
we were working on the script of the movie, we had to conceive a brand new story. Another difference
from the original is the age of the protagonist. When Xi Xi wrote her novel, she was already a 50~60
year-old retired teacher, but the lead character of our film is a 30 year-old working class woman.
Therefore, you can say that the only element we borrowed from the original is the treatment of breast
cancer, while the original story of the movie was written by Ivy Ho.
Cinespot: Talking about the actors, Miriam Yeung and Richie Ren have been working together many
times before. So how would you make them look refreshing to the audiences?
Law: I didn't ask Miriam to specifically change her style this time. But as you know, her role is
different from most of her crazy and bombastic comedy characters in the past, and so I expected her
to do something different. The most important thing I demanded from her is a more natural and daily life
approach in acting. I believe her experience as a nurse did help her a lot.
Cinespot: Another actor we wanted to ask about his Justin Lo. Being a popular singer, this film
does mark his film acting debut. How would you rate his performance?
Law: He was very hardworking. We picked him because he was a good fit for the role of a
shy and passive young man who is good at singing. His popularity was not a criterion because he was not
that popular yet at the time when we were casting the actors. By the way, I would also like to appreciate
him for composing and singing two of the songs in the movie.
Cinespot: What kind of help did Johnnie To offer as a producer?
Law: He gave me a lot of freedom to make this movie. It is because he understood
that if he interfered too much, it would become his movie instead of mine. So when I got an idea I liked,
I would first write it out and present to him, and then he would offer his feedbacks, and
from there we would begin the discussions. In that way, I just felt I got more freedom to
do what I preferred.
Cinespot: Ok, what about the box office expectation?
Law: It is probably hard to talk about the expectation. When I was making the movie,
what I only made clear was to do something I enjoyed. That's what I told my actors too,
the most important thing is to understand what I, as the director, wanted. It is because
it is very hard to satisfy every audience. For instance, if there are ten audiences out there,
it is impossible to satisfy everyone of them, and if you really could do it, then
the movie would not retain your own style anymore.
In part II of the interview, director Law Wing-cheong talks about his
experience in editing and his collaborations with Johnnie To. Please click here to go to Part II!