Chapter 602 Zhang Ye's Eight Trigrams Palm!
At the site of the audition.
The atmosphere of the audition was becoming a little difficult to perceive.
"Where did Zhang Ye learn how to act like this?"
"With that level of acting, he should already be considered a professional actor."
"It's even more than that, I think he's even more professional than a professional actor. If I didn't already know that Zhang Ye was a graduate from Media College, I would have thought that he attended Beijing Film Academy instead!"
"It would be good if he gets this role."
"Right, it shouldn't be a problem at all to age him by ten years with some makeup."
"Teacher Little Yu does not look ruthless enough and is more suited for an honest character, but Teacher Zhang clearly looked like an antagonist and it didn't feel weird when he stepped into character. It's as though he was just acting as himself."
"F**k, be quiet. Don't let anyone hear you."
"Hai, why is Zhang Ye able to do everything!"
"Yeah, why are there traces of him in every industry? Not only does he like to cross over to other industries, the key is that it even feels like he belongs right at home in whatever industry he jumps over to!"
Some of the film crew staff on set were exchanging whispers.
The first round of auditions was over.
The second round was also over.
Now, there was only the third and final round to go-martial arts scenes.
The actor who went before Zhang Ye in the previous round was put on pending status at this round. That actor did not need to go through the acting audition and instead started directly at the character portrayal audition. He did rather well, about as good as Zhang Ye. The leaders of the film crew were also quite satisfied with his performance. However, in the audition for the martial arts scenes, he did not impress at all and that led to the director hesitating to decide if he would use him as the replacement or not.
There were many actors, and a lot of them were also good actors. However, for martial arts actors or even martial arts stars, there were only a handful of people who could be called that. If this was just an ordinary movie production, it would be fine even if they just got any ordinary actor as the replacement. All they needed to do was just act out a fight scene with some fake motions, or at most use a stunt double. Most martial arts movies could always be acted out somehow, sometimes "cheating" a little by adding some special effects, all of which were fair game. But this particular production was different, as the core of the movie was focused on the title Grandmasters. It was a movie about Chinese martial arts and realism was its priority, or at least, realistic enough to the viewers. They couldn't possibly do it in a way that would leave the audience spitting in disgust when a fight scene was played out in the theaters. That would greatly impair the whole viewing experience.
The male lead, Dalong, was a professional martial arts star.
The female lead, Zhang Yuanqi, did not have many fight scenes, but Old Zhang had a dance background, so her physical conditions were all there and she only needed to act a little to make it feel real.
The second male lead, Tian Xuetao, wasn't good at acting or martial arts, but as he had a body double who looked very similar to him, his role was not a problem either.
As the third male lead, who was also an important antagonist, would have multiple fight scenes with Dalong, they couldn't just find any actor who had style and no substance in martial arts. There was no time left for them to pick a double who could fight well and also look like the actor. Even as they were faced with the possibility of not being able to wrap things before the premiere, they still could not take things so lightly, especially not when it was also such a big production film. This was the reason why the film crew was so picky with Brother Shui's replacement; not only would they have to be able to act, they also had to be able to handle martial arts scenes.
"This will be difficult."
"The martial arts have to be for real. Even acting can't fake it."
"Yeah, the foundations for such martial arts movies are the most difficult. Many of the actors started learning since they were young, training hard with every move done repeatedly. These days, it's really getting hard to find an actor who can also do fight scenes."
"What to do?"
"Yes, it's more important to find a replacement at this point in time. The candidate has to be confirmed today and we can't drag this any longer."
"Zhang Ye is an academic who works in literature and the arts. I think he wouldn't do as well as the other actors when it comes to executing the basic stances for fighting. It's still unclear who the director will choose. If he places an emphasis on the popularity, quality, and acting chops of the person, then surely Teacher Zhang Ye has an advantage over the others. But the antagonist has many important fighting scenes and those take up more than fifty percent of this character's appearances, so that is clearly the more important factor. Zhang Ye surely can't handle that."
"Let's see how it goes. I've heard that Zhang Ye frequently gets into fights with other people, like that Wang Shuixin's son, or that Korean celebrity, Lee Anson. Didn't he beat them up before? Right, there was also that plane hijacking incident. Wasn't that when Zhang Ye had to fight the terrorists to take control of the situation? I remember that was what was reported in the news!"
"That was him, but that's a different thing altogether."
"Yea, how is fighting and martial arts the same?"
Everyone was observing the auditions and exchanging views with one another.
At the same time, a few important people of the film crew were also speaking in low whispers, exchanging their views on the audition.
Would Zhang Ye do?
Let him try it out first.
The assistant director said, "In the final round, we'll test out your punch and kicks."
At first, everyone thought that Zhang Ye would have difficulties with this round, so no one expected it when he just rolled up his sleeves and adjusted his shirt before standing there and saying, "Sure."
The assistant director said, "Take some time to get ready first."
"There's no need, I'm ready." Zhang Ye wondered to himself just how ready he had to be? Was it necessary to do some warm ups? Stretch his arms and legs? He did not need to do any of that, so he just said, "I'm ready anytime."
The assistant director nodded and then looked to the martial arts director.
Under everyone's watchful eyes, the martial arts director strode over to face Zhang Ye and was about to do a set of movements for Zhang Ye to follow along with so that he could understand his foundations.
But a scene played out in front of them that no one could have expected!
Zhang Ye had actually gotten into an opening form that no one could recognize, relaxingly moving his hands and feet into a stance that no one could understand. He said, "Punches and kicks have no eyes, please be careful."
Be careful? What?
What were you even intending to do??
The martial arts director was also taken aback. He had come across many different styles of martial arts, even those that had branched into different sects from their original styles. As an industry insider, he had many more opportunities than the average person to be in contact with martial arts. However, even with his vast knowledge, he could not make out this opening form that Zhang Ye was displaying. It was like nothing he had ever seen before!
What style of martial arts was this?
Hai, it was probably something randomly made up by him!
The martial arts director did not take this to heart and just looked at Zhang Ye in a speechless manner, saying, "What's the meaning of this?"
Zhang Ye was confused and said, "Aren't we going to spar?"
Everyone who was watching was wondered whether to laugh or cry when they heard this. Who were you intending to spar with? That teacher from the film crew could be considered as one of the top martial arts directors domestically, a true martial arts expert. He had real martial arts background and had been trained in Xingyi Fist, Eight Trigrams Palm, and some other styles since his childhood. He was even ranked in some national freestyle combat competitions before, having made it to the round of 32 when he was younger.
And here you are, saying things like "punches and kicks have no eyes"?
You even want to spar with him?
You're really too funny. What the assistant director meant was not for you to really spar with the martial arts director, but to follow the previous actor and imitate the martial arts moves so that they could evaluate if your physical movements are of a good enough standard!
Tian Xuetao also couldn't help but laugh ironically at this.
"We're not going to spar." The martial arts director smiled and said, "We're just going to go through the motions of it. Ten of you wouldn't even be able to handle one of me since I am a real practitioner of martial arts. I am different from you all in that my execution and toughness of my moves can be really heavy. That is what you would truly refer to as 'punches and kicks have no eyes.' What if we sparred for real in the auditions? Then we might accidentally hurt people and if that happens, how would we be able to go on with the filming? What I need is just for you to imitate the martial arts moves."
When Zhang Ye heard this, he also laughed and said, "Then I have misunderstood."
However, on the topic of what the martial arts director had claimed earlier, he kept his reservations about it. Ten of me wouldn't be able to handle one of you? You're even afraid of hurting me? Zhang Ye could only laugh to himself about this. Don't try to boast to me. If it really came down to us sparring, I wonder who would be the one to get hurt. If this was any other situation, Zhang Ye would have seriously considered taking it up with him. But since he was only here for the audition today to try to land the role in the movie, he knew what his priorities were. As a result, did not argue with the martial arts director over it.
The martial arts director demonstrated the moves and said, "Watch carefully."
"OK." Zhang Ye kept his eye on the martial arts director's movements.
The martial arts director began. With his first move, it looked full of vigor and extremely powerful. It was like the wind followed with every move of his fist, whistling along with each movement!
He struck out his palm!
Then pulled it back!
Next was a side palm strike!
He thrust his palm upwards!
This set of palm techniques was similar to what he had shown and tested the previous actors with. It seemed like it was of the same style of martial arts, yet still felt very different as the angle of the palm movements and the translational motions were not the same as before.
After a round, the martial arts director came back to the same spot as he had started. He finished off with a closing form and said, "Teacher Zhang, did you see clearly? I know that you're more of an art person and have not dealt with martial arts before, but just do your best to imitate what I had just shown to you. Don't worry too much, it will be fine."
Zhang Ye finished observing.
Do my best?
Imitate it as much as I can?
What the was this? Didn't you just demonstrate the Eight Trigrams Palm!?
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "Alright then, I'll give it a try?"
The martial arts director made a gesture for him to get started and then took a few steps back.
Instantly, everyone's eyes now fully focused on Zhang Ye.
The director, assistant director, Zhang Yuanqi, Dalong, Tian Xuetao, and everyone else were all waiting for Zhang Ye to start his movements. None of them thought that Zhang Ye would be able to do it like the martial arts director but were still curious at how well he could imitate the movements. When the previous actor had imitated the moves, the martial arts director had already informed Wang Chengpeng how it wasn't too bad even if there was barely any power in the movements and looked a little stiff. The movements were not standard, but were at least followed in a general sense. If not for those factors, it wouldn't have even worked out to an acceptable imitation. Now to them, Zhang Ye was unlikely to do any better than the previous actor.
Zhang Ye breathed in without showing any signs of pressure or nervousness, looking very relaxed. As he began imitating the martial arts director's movements from earlier, his feet started moving beneath him and he took the first step in the footwork of the Eight Trigrams Palm.
It was a simple step.
And also looked like a natural step.
However, this step was not noticed by everyone.
Except for the martial arts director, who, when he saw it, was a little shocked. Damn, you're just a layman, but how did you also manage to imitate the steps of the Eight Trigrams Palm? This step was too precisely executed. It was as standard as it could be and that left the martial arts director in disbelief with what he had just seen!
What was the Eight Trigrams Palm about? Everyone would think that it was about palm strikes, but they couldn't be more wrong. That would be the conclusion of a layman, but in actual fact, the core of the Eight Trigrams Palm was not down to its palm strikes but its footwork. The Eight Trigrams Palm was also known as Swimming Bagua,1 Linking Palms. The "swimming" portion, also know as the footwork, was actually the base of the style. For example, when the two actors were auditioning for the role earlier, they had only concentrated on the movements of the arm and copied it in form while moving around blindly. The martial arts director did not take this to heart as he knew that they were only ordinary actors and different from martial arts practitioners like himself. It would be unreasonable to apply his standards to them as actors since it was already quite a big deal that they could remember how to execute the palm techniques.
But that was not the case for Zhang Ye!
The martial arts director knew that this step made by Zhang Ye was the real thing in the Eight Trigrams Palm footwork. The direction at which his feet pointed, the control of his steps, and more importantly, the change in his center of gravity, it was all flawless. The movements were exactly the same as when he had demonstrated it. Because of what he saw, it had left him a little shocked!
1. Bagua () are the Eight Trigrams important to the I Ching and Taoism (They're also what you see on South Korea's flag).