Asian Cop - High Voltage
1995 (Lead/Action Director)
Shot in the Philippines, the story pairs renegade cop Yen with a Filipino. Yen encounters his nemesis (Roy Cheung), a cruel gangster, responsible for the death of his wife, and from there on, the story becomes a game of cat and mouse as Yen raises the ante and cranks up the action.
Although originally signing on as an actor, Yen was asked by the director to also take on the action after another director had used up most of the budget and produced little useful footage. Harsh conditions, from a lack of stand-up stunt people to unavailable props and jammed guns, and conflicts between the Chinese and Filipino crews, worsened the situation. Considering the circumstances, Yen took on the challenge of creating something from almost nothing, and the movie serves as a lesson in filmmaking if you watch how Yen, out of necessity, cut corners to get the shots the storyline required. Yen, working without a monitor, carried shots in his head, and found ways to cheat through camera manipulation, actors reversing positions for single direction camera positions, and editing techniques.
For example, with the nighttime car chase sequence, Yen discovered one car didn’t have an engine and the other could be blown up. Shooting the scene, he had to keep one car in frame, the other out, or close in on a part of each, as the engineless car was pushed and pulled to create a chase. For the climactic fight in the rain between Yen and Cheung, only two hoses were available to make the rain, so Yen was limited to shooting from one direction and re- positioning actors to trick the camera. The beating rain, handheld camerawork, fast cuts and a darkly lit setting create the atmosphere and tension for the fight; beyond that, Yen had to use makeshift wire from a chainlink fence for the wirework involved, as none was available.
The English title ‘High Voltage’ takes on a whole new meaning, as Yen’s electrified editing saved the film. This experience, a trial by fire, served as a turning point for him, being the first time he took on a whole film.
Director: Kam Yeung-wah
Cast: Donnie Yen, Roy Cheung Yiu-yeung, Lily Lee Li- li, Edu Manzano