Savage Dog: Interview with JuJu Chan
JuJu Chan is a rising talent to watch out for. A former model and pageant winner, this Hong Kong actress is a proven athlete in the ring and a medalist in both ITF Taekwondo and Muay Thai. She has even been labelled the "Female Bruce Lee" by media and fans for her skilled use of the double nunchucks. Most recently, she appeared in Yuen Woo-ping's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny and will next be seen in Jesse V. Johnson's Savage Dog, alongside Scott Adkins, Cung Le, Marko Zaror and Keith David.
Indochina – 1959. A lawless town controlled by the criminal class: Vietnamese warlords and European war criminals. Den-Dhin-Chan Labor Camp is run by four such dangerous men. The worst prison in the land, it is here that a European, former-champion boxer Martin Tillman (Scott Adkins, Marvel's "Doctor Strange") has made a name for himself fighting tournaments, on which wealthy criminals gamble in high stakes events. When Tillman is due for release, he just wants to return home, but the corrupt forces running the jail will do everything in their power to keep him locked down. When all that Tillman holds dear is taken away in a vicious act of violence, he is forced to confront the men responsible and take his revenge.
To coincide with Savage Dog, JuJu was kind enough to talk me through her latest project and give some insight into one of her most challenging roles to date...
How did you first come onboard Savage Dog?
I first met director Jesse V. Johnson last year, we were introduced by a mutual friend. After our meeting, he told me about a role he had in mind for a new film. I thought it sounded great but right then I had to go back to Hong Kong and work on another project. Later, Jesse got in touch and wanted to send me the final script because they were filming pretty soon. I read it and immediately loved Isabelle, the character he wanted me to play. She has a real inner strength, not so much physically, but how she stands up for what she believes in. She’s complex and has a lot of emotional scenes so I knew it would be a challenge. From the script, I could see it would be a kickass action film and once I heard Scott Adkins and Cung Le were starring, I knew it would be cool. The scheduling worked out well for me too, once I finished my previous project I was able to go and shoot Savage Dog.
How did you find it working with your fellow cast?
I’d met Cung Le a couple of years back in Macau as we were guests at the UFC. He attended as an MMA star and I was a Hong Kong celebrity. We met there and kept in touch and were both surprised to see each other, “Hey, long time no see!” We became really good friends and he even invited me and Marko Zaror to train at his gym which was fun. I also went to his house to watch UFC 200, so it formed a good friendship.
Scott Adkins is amazingly talented. Coming from my Taekwondo background, seeing his kicks up close is amazing. He’s very easy going and I found it comfortable getting into character with him; we have some really intimate and emotional scenes together. He’s a very good actor, very caring and professional so we did those intimate scenes in one or two takes. The director Jesse V. Johnson was wonderful to work with too, we had a very good team overall.
What was the toughest aspect of the movie for you? [SPOILERS]
The most difficult scene for me involves Scott and I being buried underneath mud. We shot it at around 4am, it was freezing and the temperature dropped to below 10°C. Then the scene needed rain so we had this rain pouring down on us and we were quickly soaked. After that, they put the mud on us so we were shaking but knew we had to do it in one take, otherwise we have to do it all over again! My character is supposed to be unconscious too, so it was difficult to play that because I was cold and shaking [Laughs]. It was a tough scene but it turned out very well.
What’s different about Savage Dog, compared to other movies you’ve seen?
Savage Dog has a very good story and script with some great character development. Each character has their own journey. I think a lot of action movies show off the action without much story but this gives a lot of attention to the drama. However, it also has real, amazing martial artists doing their own action. Since it’s set in the 1950’s, it has a very authentic feel to it too. I think people will really enjoy this.
Savage Dog is coming soon.