Fighting for his movie dream
Actor Luke Lee aims to raise $270,000 to fund film and put Singapore on the action movie map
He may only be 24, but local actor and budding producer-filmmaker Luke Lee has big dreams.
He has set his sights on making a genre-breaking local action-thriller flick that will raise the bar for Singapore offerings, and give Hollywood counterparts a run for their money.
His life motto is simple - go hard, or go home.
And it is this attitude that fuels his production debut Burn, which is slated for release early next year. It is to be directed by Malaysian James Lee.
Luke Lee, best known for starring in the Jack Neo flicks Ah Boys To Men and Ah Boys To Men 2 as Sergeant Jed Heng, will also take on the lead role of ruthless ex-hitman Shen who, when critically injured, is taken under the wing of mysterious hermit Shi (Fish Chaar).
Shen later attempts to seek revenge on manipulative criminal organisation head Sebastian, for whom he worked as a right-hand man previously.
Lee, who crafted the storyline last year while finishing his final year at the University of Manchester where he studied law, told The New Paper: "I'm a huge fan of action films. I also feel that Singapore hasn't had a defining action film that truly sets the standards on an international stage.
"Our neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Thailand are able to do that and with a lower budget (compared to Hollywood). We are perfectly placed on the map so I thought, 'Why don't we pull in resources from all over the globe to make (a movie like that)?'"
Burn, which has a projected budget of between $1.5 million and $2 million, will begin filming next month not only in Singapore but in Malaysia, Canada and the US.
It also features local actors like Pamelyn Chee, Keagan Kang and Paul Foster, and Lee is still in talks with local actor Adrian Pang to take on the role of lead antagonist Sebastian.
During this time, cast members will undergo a rigorous boot camp and martial arts training under Singapore-born, Hollywood-based producer, action director and fight choreographer Jennifer Phillips, who has worked on big Hollywood action films like Thor, 300, Salt and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Lee reached out to her last yearafter meeting her at an event nearly four years ago.
"We had a personal connection. She said this project came at a perfect time as she would have wrapped up a project in Canada. It felt like the stars were aligned," he said.
On going without stunt doubles, Lee - who has practised karate since the age of 10 - said: "I think you can tell when somebody knows how to fight or if they had to learn how to fight in a scene. That's why I put together a cast who has had some background in martial arts. Pamelyn is trained in muay thai, Keagan in basic sword fighting, while Paul used to train in taekwondo. The physicality is going to make it more believable."
Today, Lee launches an Indiegogo crowdfunding effort for Burn on the film site www.burnmovieofficial.com, which aims to raise US$200,000 (S$270,000) within a month.
A one-minute teaser trailer has also been released, providing a sneak preview of a fight scene involving Shen and Julie (Chee).
"I like the idea of this movie being a collaborative process, compared to most commercial movies. When you have sleepless nights thinking about how to realise your dream, and then have other people willing to invest and support it, it becomes a beautiful thing.
"This crowdfunding effort will allow the public behind-the-scenes access in the process of making the movie," said Lee.
Burn may sound like an overly-ambitious undertaking for a newbie, but it is a goal Lee is excited to see through.
He said: "One of my favourite quotes is, 'Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard'. When you love something, you make time for it and put everything you have into it. If I don't do this, I will always regret it. Whatever comes out of it will be a success because (Burn) is unprecedented."
When you love something, you make time for it and put everything you have into it. If I don't do this, I will always regret it.
- Luke Lee on his motivation for turning his idea for action film Burn into a reality