Set Visit: Rogue

Part 1 & Philip G. Atwell / Jet Li / Jason Statham

All by themselves, Jet Li movies like THE ONE and KISS OF THE DRAGON, always promise to be sweeping cinematic ballets of martial arts action. The same goes for films starring actor Jason Statham, who has crashed his way to box office success with films like THE ITALIAN JOB and playing Frank “there are rules” Martin in THE TRANSPORTER series.

But a collaboration, a teaming of these two powerhouse actors for a single film would truly be something special, a day to remember indeed. Well for me, that day arrived, as I recently went on a set visit for their new action flick together called ROGUE, which is currently in production in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. (And while the two actors previously acted together in the film THE ONE, you ain’t seen nothing yet!)

ROGUE is the story of FBI agent played by Statham, who after his partner is killed by assassin Rogue, played by Li, becomes obsessed by guilt and rage, vowing to bring him down no matter what. Rogue himself, with agent Statham hot on his tail, resurfaces to set off a crime war between two Asian mobs rivals. It’s a tale of revenge with plenty of anger and asskicking to go around!

The following is an inside look at my day on the set of ROGUE:

It's day 28 of a 44 day shoot here in Vancouver on the flick ROGUE and the weather here is cold, damn cold. The location of shooting today is a large warehouse on Ballantyne Pier, a location with a great look to it where some of the John Woo film PAYCHECK was also shot. Walking onto the set, it’s clear that today chaos reigns. The set is Yanagawa Motors, an exotic car dealership that someone, who is obviously pissed, has decided to inflict serious damage throughout because there is glass, debris and bodies everywhere. (Plus the smoke machines that create the mood are in full force!)

There are banners on the wall that have phrases like “true power” and “high performance”, but don’t even come close to describing just how magnificent these cars look in person. (Even being covered in crap!) On the sales floor are three expensive sports cars, a grey Ferrari, a Spider and a Lamborghini, as well as two Hellcat motorcycles in a glass case in the back. With over three million dollars worth of automobiles in this room alone, it’s quite a spectacle, though nothing compared to what’s going on in the center of the room.

Actor and martial arts master Jet Li is about to film a well choreographed action sequence, involving fake swords (they look pretty real to me!) and breakaway tables. The director, music video and The Shield episode director Philip G. Atwell, calls action and Li and actor Ryo Ishibashi, who is playing Asian mob boss Shiro, begin to fight. With both actors jumping, swinging, and crashing down on a table that splits in half, it’s an exciting and rare glimpse most will never get to see – a in person look at Jet Li in action and trust me, it’s just as cool looking as it sounds.

Next, I head outside to where actor Jason Statham will be shooting later tonight. The setting is outside on the dock, where a large truck carrying a very impressive and very green Lamborghini, will take off down the road. Little does the driver know that about a hundred yards down this very road, he will be killed. The car and look of the pier is a sight to be seen and since they will be using the location later to also do some car chases, I can verify that it’s gonna look knockin’ in the movie.

If ROGUE is half as good as it looks here in person, I think action fans have something cool to look forward to! (I’m going inside now; it’s just too damn cold!)

Besides a few memorable music videos and a few episodes of the F/X series "The Shield", director Philip G. Atwell is rather new to feature films. He is helming ROGUE, which teams up action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham, and he sat down to discuss the story, his vision for the film and going from the small screen to the big screen.

Director Philip G. Atwell

So you’re on day 28 of filming…

We are?

That’s what they said.

Oh, (joking) it’s a blur. It’s amazing because it feels like yesterday was day one. When I was walking up here (to do the interview) I was just thinking about the first frame that we shot and how different it is from the film that we’re making right now. In the sense that as a director your first shot is there, it’s like your base and then everything for the film, for me, everyday is better. Everyday I think everyone learns something new. You bring crews together, you bring people together and it’s a process of making a film.

What is the tone of the film?

The idea is that is was set in a real world of Asian gangs, Triads and Yakuzas, and a cop who is kind of consumed with finding a killer. So the tone itself is a dark, gritty world, that’s what we’re trying to achieve.

What is the key for you to be able to translate that visually?

I think the drama and the action, just the overall attitude of the characters. It’s an R-rated movie, when people get hurt in this movie; they look like they really got hurt. We’re not relying on wire works or, there are some stunts in the movie, but they’re stunts that in my mind could happen in reality. So with the exception of some of the big action sequence fights, I’m sure not everyone could do those things. But someone who was trained and skilled like Rogue is and a few of the people he is fighting, they have that ability. But this isn’t a world where everybody is a great fighter and fights last a very long time.

One of the things that we wanted to do was combine the talents of Jet Li and Jason and kind of tone some of the stuff down you’ve seen them do before and bring it into an environment where viewers looked at it and go “wow, that guy really got hurt”, as opposed to “it looked like he was waiting for the kick and felt very choreographed”.

Since you’ve done mostly music videos and television work, have you found it hard directing a feature film?

As a director, the medium is the medium. I think when you get to work with actors Glenn Close, Michael Chiklis, Forest Whitaker, those are all feature film actors and when you’re directing a scene, your directing a scene. Feature film is just, in my mind, an extension of the videos I’ve shot three, four days, five days, working in television set in 11 days. But it’s pretty much keeping the pace, so this is really about me, just continuity for everyone, trying to tell a story in a proper fashion.

Did working on The Shield influence your style as a director on this film?

No, not really because the thing about The Shield is, as a director, you get to work with some really talented actors and with a certain condition of “the ships already sailed” and for that week or two weeks, you get to steer the boat, but you can’t turn it, because there are story lines that you have to play into that are far beyond, like whatever your vision would be. Just from the standpoint of storytelling, I think that it definitely helped. I think what’s interesting is the last episode I did was called Trophy and it was about misdesception and here I am in a film that’s kind of riddled in lots of misdesception and people aren’t who you think they are. It’s a good story.

Interviews with Jason Statham & Jet Li coming soon!!

Source: JoBlo.com



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