Why Lewis Tan Is Proud of Complex Fistful of Vengeance Fights … and That Sex Scene (Exclusive)
His upcoming sequels, Asian stories receiving worldwide attention, and his “nudie sock”
Lewis Tan pushes himself in the new Netflix film “Fistful of Vengeance,” a sequel to the streamer’s “Wu Assassins” series.
It’s another stunt-heavy film for Tan, who recently starred in “Mortal Combat” and AMC’s “Into the Badlands,” but it’s also a project that brought him some new ground.
In the first, his character, Lu Xin Lee, intercourse with newcomer Pearl Thus, in his first “totally nude” scene.
Also, the use of a high-speed robotic Bolt camera complicates the combat choreography.
It follows “Squid Game” and “All of Us Are Dead” as the latest Netflix film with a predominantly Asian cast to achieve global success. As the son of a stunt coordinator, Tan never saw many looks like his on TV.
Tan discussed the challenges of shooting intricate action sequences, his “awkward” sex scene, and his plans for a sequel. He also mentioned how vital it is for viewers at home to see Asian characters in mainstream culture.
This movie has some deadly fight sequences, one after the other. Which one did you like best? The street cart brawl was posted this morning.
We wanted to pay respect to those wonderful action flicks of the 1990s and make it practical, so you can see martial arts, Jackie Chan-style battling with noodles and pans and everything we could find. Our combat choreography is also developed around this incredible camera, the Bolt camera, which is rarely utilized for fight choreography. So those cameras are quite risky. It’s been known to injure many individuals, so you don’t generally fight it.
It’s a robot arm on a track that’s moving all around you. If you’re not at the proper spot at the right time, the camera will hit you. We made a battle scene out of it because we’re nuts!
It’s layered intricacy. In one take we execute 200-300 moves, memorizing where to land, making sure you hit your spot every single time until we get the perfect photo. We’re just trying to do things differently, giving folks something new.
Those long one-take fight scenes have been my favorites. I don’t know whether you seen Park Chan-Old boy, wok’s but that hallway fight is iconic. Making classic action sequences is one of my professional ambitions.
How much time do you spend practicing and learning new skills between assignments as a stunt and martial arts expert? What made this project’s training distinct from others?
Many people don’t realize what it takes to make a film like that. We fight for three months, ten hours a day. They don’t quite get it. It requires ongoing training and readiness. My next project is Shadow and Bone in Hungary. My training continues every day, whenever I can. The only thing you need to do is stay alert, because as soon as I finish this, I’ll be moving on. So simply levelling up, learning new weapons, skills, and I enjoy it, so I’d train even if I wasn’t doing anything, even on vacation.
After Mortal Combat, I spent two weeks in Thailand doing a full may Thai camp because, well, I’m crazy.
How did production on this compare to Wu Assassins, the TV show?
Crazy. Unlike the show, we didn’t shoot much on a staging or in a studio. This is 98 percent on location in Thailand, and I think it better builds the Wu Assassins environment. I prefer world building with real sets and places. What we liked about the series, we enlarged and improved it for the feature. Neither the series nor the movie are required. Finding a mix between supernatural fantasy and martial arts, gritty, visceral action. Finding it takes time. This is a unique action show. Many things nowadays are remakes or based on IPs or comics, but this is an original and I’m proud of it.
What’s not to appreciate about a show that features hot people battling, fantastic mythology, and cool locations?
Throwing noodles at each other in the middle of the street is a lot of fun. This is how I presented it!
Now you’re not simply kicking a**… but almost reveal some. I’ve noticed you reposting your sex scene comments. What was your initial reaction and how do you feel now?
See the ones I haven’t posted! In all seriousness, it was a wonderful experience. I’m working with Pearl Thusi, a South African actress, in a scenario with a Black female and an Asian guy. We were both proud and happy to do the scene, which I think we need to see more of.
I’d never done a fully naked scene before, and it’s a little awkward. I’ll tell you a funny storey nobody knows… I’m not sure I should say this. Pearl was excellent to deal with and made everything very pleasant. We planned everything with the director. Nice. It’s just strange because you’re wearing these like, a nudie sock. That’s it, imagine!
It was done well and photographed well, so I was pleased.
This project seems to be a worldwide hit on Netflix, debuting at #1. What does that mean to you and where do you see this franchise going?
It’s odd. The work is fulfilling, but when people started saying, “OK, you’re Top 10 in France, Germany, Thailand, the UK, Brazil, Mexico,” I thought, “Wow, Netflix viewership is incredible.” You get a global fan base. We were ecstatic when we achieved #1 in the US because we kept saying on set, it’s not the biggest film, it’s not a Marvel blockbuster, but we put our heart and soul into it. “We’re going to make it, we’re going to hit #1,” we repeated every day on site. We had a group chat when we hit #1 and everyone was ecstatic. It means a lot that fans adore it and people watch it globally.
What do you think the future does hold?
I’d like to do more. We could accomplish something akin to ‘Fast and the Furious’, where they’ve travelled to outer space now, if we keep upping the action. I’m not sure what we’ll do for the next one, but maybe we’ll leap out of a plane. We’ll find out. I want to try something different every time. I’d love to do another, plus I adore the cast.
You said it, but it seems like Asian stories are being seen more globally than ever on Netflix. How does it feel to be a part of that shift? It’s a shift, not a trend, as individuals have more access to things they couldn’t see before.
However, if a child grows up seeing me or [Costar Ikot Uway’s] or Joe Talsi or anybody, their outlook will be completely different, and that means the world to me. Nothing matters more to me.
That is the change we need to see, and Netflix is one of those fantastic studios that allows people to express themselves. I appreciate it.
“Wu Assassins” and “Fistful of Vengeance” are now on Netflix.