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The Swordsman: A Virtual PressCon

By Christy Anka  /  15 Oct 2020 (Thursday)

We met Jang Hyuk and Joe Taslim on October 12 via Zoom for the press conference of The Swordsman. Despite the limitations of a virtual press conference, it was as engaging and informative as a normal press conference would be.
The Swordsman tells a story of a retired Joseon swordsman who has to pick up his sword again to find his daughter. Jang Hyuk mentioned that there were many conflicts happening in the movie backdrop. His character, Taeyul, not only has to defend a country where rival attacks are imminent, but he also has to save the person he loves the most in the world. Jang explained further of how swordsmanship is vital in this movie, but even more than that, it’s about saving his daughter. For this role, he tried to simplify his facial expressions by blurring his vision to deliver Taeyul’s complex emotions.
Jang performed some of his action scenes by himself. His relationship with the action genre dates back 20 years ago when he filmed his first movie. He was traumatised, yet enlightened, as his own stuntman still continued pushing through undeterred by his injuries. Jang came to a realisation that actions and stunts are parts of what an actor should be able to do, leading to him personally doing stunts he is capable of.

Similarly, Joe Taslim admitted that preparing for Gurutai was the biggest challenge in his career, especially due to the technical aspects, such as speaking foreign languages fluently and executing complicated action sequences. It is virtually impossible to learn a language structure in 2-3 months, which is why he had to understand why his character conveyed his lines to properly deliver his portrayal. He brought and listened to audio recordings every time he ate to familiarise himself with both Manchu and Korean. He was also given formal training in kumdo every day at the hotel. He thanked the crew members for giving positive energy in spite of their language limitations, helping him achieve optimal acting performance.
The Swordsman is Taslim’s first Korean movie after his endeavours in Hollywood and Indonesia. He highlighted the differences working with in different countries, in particular the familial relationships Asian productions tend to adopt. He also expressed his excitement being involved in this project, allowing him to open the door for future collaborations between Indonesia and Korea.
When they were asked about the most difficult scene to film, both actors agreed that it was the final fight scene. It was also the unanimous pick for the most memorable scene. The fight scene required a strong chemistry between Taeyul and Gurutai. They recounted while shooting this scene, which is coincidentally the final scene filmed, they were so immersed in the characters that it didn’t feel like acting anymore. They were overwhelmed by the amount of emotions generated, but they also had so much fun exchanging action and reaction.

Both Jang and Taslim showered each other with heartfelt compliments throughout the press conference. Jang confessed that he had wanted to work with Taslim ever since the latter’s performance in The Raid. Taslim’s attitude and dedication to being Gurutai earned him Jang’s utmost respect. “It was great working with such a passionate actor,” said Jang. Meanwhile, Taslim revealed his fascination towards Jang’s lengthy discussions with the director regarding the movie’s action scenes, even during breaks. He dubbed Jang his hyung (older brother in Korean) in the acting industry, earning his respect with his dedication to his character, from the preparation to the performance.
Albeit Taslim did experience difficulties communicating, he had his translator around to help him when he stayed in Korea. He emphasised his love for the country, from the food and culture to the friends he made. Likewise, Jang once visited Bali, Indonesia for 7-10 days for work and leisure. He accentuated feeling peaceful staying in such a beautiful island. I was impressed with Jang Hyuk’s vocal love towards nasi goreng!
At the end of the press conference, both stars said some final words to encourage people to watch The Swordsman. Jang pointed the abundance of actions, characters and back stories as highlights of the movie, wishing everyone to enjoy its relatable element. Taslim reiterated Jang’s comments, adding remarks of following the COVID-19 protocols while watching the movie in theatres to stay safe during the pandemic.
Read our movie review of The Swordsman here.  The Swordsman opens in Singapore on October 15.
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