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Local stuntman packs a punch on the big screen
INDONESIAN action star Iko Uwais might get top billing in Headshot but the film's directors Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel say the audience should pay attention to Singapore stuntman-actor Sunny Pang too.
"He is one of the best dramatic performers I've worked with and very under-rated," enthuses Tjahjanto, over the phone from Jakarta earlier this week.
Headshot is screening on Friday as part of the line-up of this year's Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), with the directors and stars in attendance.
Tjahjanto, who directs and produces films with Stamboel under "The Mo Brothers" moniker, adds he had initially wanted to work with Pang three years ago but the project fell through.
An accomplished actor and fight choreographer, Pang stumbled into acting and doing stunts for TV by chance in 1992 after finishing his National Service.
He quit a few years later due to the lack of variety in roles to became a bouncer and bodyguard before the acting bug bit again in 2003 when he landed his breakthrough role in Perth (2004), starring alongside Lim Kay Tong.
Since then, he has appeared in numerous local shorts and features including The Maid (2005) and One Last Dance (2006).
Besides Headshot, Pang can also be seen in local erotic thriller Siew Lup (2016), which is premiering at SGIFF on the same night, and sits on the panel of the festival's Silver Screen awards this year.
Trained in boxing and mixed martial arts, he plays Headshot's main villain and goes fist-to-fist with Uwais - who is best known for his roles in the The Raid duology, Redemption (2011) and Berandal (2014) - in the climatic finale.
An old school action flick inspired by 1980s Hong Kong cinema, Headshot is The Mo Brothers' fourth feature collaboration.
The pair, who are both 36 years old, met in university and made their debut with horror short Alone (2003). Their best-known works include slasher flick Darah (2009), and psychological revenge thriller Killers (2014), a Japan-Indonesia co-production.
On Headshot's relentless pace and visceral fight scenes, Stamboel explains: "The producers (actually) wanted more drama so we had to find a way to balance things ... But in terms of action, we wanted to raise the bar (because the audience has probably seen everything before and will expect something new."
One of The Mo Brothers' main goals is also to raise the level of filmmaking back home.
"Indonesia is one of the biggest producers of films in Asia but not a lot of them are well-made so we want to do something different," quips Tjahjanto.
He adds they have stuck to the action and horror genres so far because both are more universal and have wider mainstream appeal.
Although they have worked on their own individual projects, the pair enjoy working together as The Mo Brothers for several reasons.
For instance, they only had less than a month to prepare for Headshot before cameras rolled, so dividing the work between two of them made the task less challenging than it would have been if the film only had one director.
Stamboel adds: "It also helps when we have to discuss things so I'm glad there are projects coming in that want The Mo Brothers (rather than just one of us)."
- Headshot screens at Shaw Theatres Lido on Nov 25 at 9.30pm. Tickets on sale from Sistic. For more details, check sgiff.com