What would have happened had Chuck Norris lived in “Way of the Dragon” after Bruce Lee beat him to a pulp? The answer is simple. It would be “Revenge of the Gweilo!”
I have recently had the amazing opportunity to get a glimpse into what it takes to make an action martial arts thriller, one that has been influenced by great films such as “Kill Bill,” “Enter the Dragon,” “Only God Forgives,” and “Rolling Thunder.”
Nathan Hill, the writer, producer, director, and lead actor in this film, spent nearly a year in pre-production and recently completed production (shooting schedule) with a 14 day shoot, an amazing achievement for a full-length film. The cast is about 50 actors and the crew makes up about 100 total. Nathan wrote, produced, directed and acted in this one, which is the third consecutive movie he’s done in this fashion (including his other films “Jasper” and “Model Behaviour”).
His previous film, “Model Behaviour,” has landed worldwide distribution through RSquared, and last year won Melbourne Underground Film Festival, California Film Awards, and the DV Award for Outstanding Achievement in Digital Video Production. The movie is now available on bluray and online selling predominately to the USA and Canada.
This new film is about an ex-cop whose fiance is murdered by a Triad Asian Mafia Organization and he must use his personal fighting skills and contacts within the force to bring those at fault to justice. It is a brutal journey into the Chinatown underworld where death knocks at almost every door. The lead character, Joseph, played by Nathan himself, goes on the warpath to avenge his woman and, in doing so, questions the love he had for her while all along trying to stay alive himself as the crime syndicate hunts him too after discovering she had a relationship with someone.
There is an incredible cast lined up. Nathan managed to find the best of the Asian talent that resides in Melbourne, Australia. This film is literally one white man and a sea of Asian bad asses that he must fight his way through to reach their leader, the ruthless warrior princess ‘Ishtar.’
I took some time recently to talk with Nathan about his vision for this film and the film itself. He was very forthcoming about his vision saying, “When I was a kid, I did martial arts to stay away from drugs. Now, as an adult, I make films to fulfill fantasies that otherwise would not be a healthy lifestyle.” He goes on to say, “Films are supposed to be an escape. I find with blockbuster Holly movies, it’s hard to relate to them especially with all the Marvel comic book films. You just know it’s fake. That’s why I’ve stuck to raw independent stuff. I want to lose myself and take the audience on a realistic journey. My fight scenes in this are like a Bruce Lee movie. They’re realistic. Not guys floating around on wires in the sky.”
You can sense his love of filmmaking, especially the kinds of films he chooses to make. He loves creating a realistic world we, as an audience, can lose ourselves in, with engaging and interesting characters. He said, “We still have to entertain people and there’s nothing wrong with fantastical movies as an escape. I love them too. It’s just harder to please the adults and I guess that’s what I’m trying to do now. I will say this. Every time, I (or any filmmaker) have to make it better than the last. In doing so, the journey to find the right characters for this film was imperative. You cannot repeat the same mistakes from the last and so I spent at least a year trying to source the right people for the roles. To me, casting is everything! If you have brilliant actors, the sets and even the costumes begin to fade away, as long as the story and the dialogue are engaging. It’s all about the cast. That is the director’s job. To find the right people to match the vision.”
So, you can see the man clearly has a vision for this film, one that will both mesmerize and entertain the audience while still holding some realistic value. It’s a revenge movie, clearly. But at the same time, as a woman, I find it thrilling to see a man so in love with his fiance, he would do anything in his power to avenge her death.
As “Revenge of the Gweilo” goes into post-production, you can be assured Nathan Hill will be working hard to put together the best film possible. He has plans with his film. “I hope ‘Gweilo’ does better, will gain a higher end distributor, and is accepted into a more prestigious festival like Sundance or Cannes. That is the plan anyway.”
Keep an eye out for more on this film as it nears its completion. It sounds like it will be a very fun ride.
For more info on the film, please visit the “Revenge of the Gweilo” Facebook page. It’s still under construction but more info will be released as it comes available.