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Crank 2's script may have been the "most offensive" Jason Statham ever read - but that was before costar Bai Ling rewrote it. Bai told us about catfights, upskirts and the craziest movie ever. Spoilers!
We were lucky enough to spend some time with Bai, whose well-known zany sense of humor was on full display. (When we asked her where in China she originally hailed from, she told us she'd actually descended from the Moon, via satellite, and had landed in Asia.)
But then she did tell us all about Ria, her character in the movie: "She's totally crazy, and she's very free and she's hilarious. She'll make you laugh..." When we first meet Ria, she falls from a second-storey window, onto the street.
The film's hero, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) saves Ria's life, and afterwards, Ria says, "I'm yours, you saved my life!" Chev is in a hurry to track down his superpowered heart, which an elderly Chinese gangster has stolen. So he tells Ria that he doesn't need her. And Ria says, "You need me like Whitney Houston." The madly-in-love Ria starts following Chev around, and eventually helps him track down the bad guys.
But first, Ria has to have a hilarious catfight with Statham's girlfriend, played by Amy Smart. "She beats me, too. She's tough. It's fun." She calls it a "rollercoaster" of a movie, a 90 minute adventure that feels like 20 minutes. There are tons of crazy moments where Jason Statham goes around electrocuting himself to keep his artificial heart beating. Statham gets pumped up like a cartoon character, grabbing wires that are attached to devices with "DANGER" written on them, and he gets blown down the street but still survives. All the while, he's searching for his missing heart.
"There's a great message in the movie: Looking for a heart," says Bai. "Aren't we all looking for a heart?" Especially in the modern world, with everybody spending all their time on computers and interacting with technology, this is a message she feels resonates.
And Bai explained that she improvised a lot of her dialogue in the film:
My character's supposed to be funny, because it's a comedy. They ask me to read specifically what they've written, because they think it's funny. I ask, "Can I do something else?" They say sure, so I start to improvise. And then after that, they say, "Wow, you're hilarious!" So they let me do whatever I want to do, and say whatever I want to say. "Just keep going, Bai Ling!" Okay, if you encourage me, I'm like a kid. All these weird things come to my mind. Everything I say is like strange - it doesn't make any sense to you, but in her character, when you hear her, it makes perfect sense.
Not only that, but she did all of her own stunts, including one sequence where she gets hit by a car and goes flying up in the air. The wirework backfired, and Bai nearly smashed her nose on the pavement.
They had a stuntwoman there, who looked exactly like her, but Bai insisted on doing the stunt herself, even though the stuntwoman said, "You're crazy." But the directors said it was okay. She had straps attached to her legs and waist. She's chasing after Chev, and the car comes out and hits her. She's flung up in the air, and falls upside down, and the pavement rushes towards her face. She was supposed to flip over and land on the sidewalk, but she hurt her arm in the process.
Bai also said she developed her own "silly but crazy" fighting style for the film. And when directors/writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor told her how her character ends, she decided that wasn't fun enough and came up with her own final scene. They let her choose her own guns - which turned out to be way too heavy and overwhelming for her to handle. And she came up with a "very spontaneous" ending for Ria. (But it sounds like Ria doesn't die, because Bai says she's hoping to come back for Crank 3.)
I asked her if she's comfortable with the way Crank 2 portrays Asian people, since its main villain is Hu Dong, a 100-year-old Chinese gangster. She responded, "I don't consider myself an Asian actress or an Asian American actress. I'm just one of the creatures in the world, happy to have the gift as an actress [who's] working." People might point out that a lot of actors from Asia or Eastern Europe play prostitutes or "somebody's girlfriend," but "a lot them in real life are." So there's nothing wrong with showing it. And there's no point in having a lot of anger, or being caught up with criciticizing one aspect of a movie. "There is a Chinese mafia, and they do a lot of bad things. So it's fine for this film to show that. It's their choice."
The best thing about Crank 2 is that it's not the type of "fashionable action movie where everything's polished and beautiful. Everything's raw, like the street." Neveldine and Taylor shot the movie
this optical relationship is OVER. 5 minutes before boarding the greyhound to NYC my glasses snapped in half. the movie of the story of my life. blurriest 6-hour bus ride ever.
"baltoween" wasn't as fast-paced as i had imagined it, but it was still fun. however, the best part of the late night/early morning interchange took place at the $1 pizza slice place up the street from where the party was.
it was 2 AM and several hours since anyone's last meal, so we decided on cheap and fast food (lactose intolerance be damned, i was HUNGRY). there was a one-man shouting match going on when we got to the place, as one guy was jumping around shouting "i PAID fo' yo' slice! ONE DOLLAH!" at some woman. no idea what was going on, but he was worked up and his friends were trying to calm him down. expletives, more jumping, more yelling, standard 2 AM entertainment.
so fellow coursemate E, my friend G and i are standing in line when the group of guys from out front bursts into the shop like nothing of what went down outside happened and totally cuts us off. they order pizza ("three slices, boss. nah, man, separate plates! i don't eat off the plate of anotha man!") and start conversing among themselves, then one guy turns and sees me and E standing in stunned and amused silence behind them:
man1: "you wanna slice, honey? give her a slice, boss."
man2: "we got two dollahs left."
man1: "two more slices, boss, for the lady right here and the lady behind her. all respects to the foreign lady in the back [some drunk woman sliding against the wall with a slice of pizza hanging out her mouth], but only for these two ladies here."
man2: "we got two dollahs left. I'S HALLOWEEN!"
man1: "i's halloween, baby! two for the ladies -- they may be out with their man (turns to G), but it's HALLOWEEN!"
me, E: (say humble and polite thank-yous and take the plate of pizza and turn to leave)
man1: "they may be out with their man-" (all 5 of guys now circle G and start thumping him on the back, repeating "it's halloween", "save yo' money, you gonna NEED yo' money!" and adding new things like "i'm like geico -- I'M THE GECKO -- imma SAVE you that 15%!"
E and i exit the shop and wonder whether we should actually eat the pizza (save we end up in a similar yelling match as the first woman). then the primary yeller of "i PAID for yo' slice!!!" bursts out of the shop in an excited manner and turns to E and me, saying "did you SEE that service?! it was LIGHTNING FAST! hoooo! somebody call zaGATS!" meanwhile E is stifling laughter and i feel it appropriate to add "super fast! put it in the BOOK!", to which this guy does a fist-pump and runs off a ways, eating his pizza and yelling "HALLOWEEN!"
that was my first night in NYC. and it was freaking hilarious.
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