Exclusive Interview: Director Gregory McQualter Talks BLOODY MONEY And Real Action
Writer/Producer/Director Gregory McQualter‘s new action-thriller BLOOD MONEY releases on Tuesday, August 28th and this movie is something that action/martial arts fans and adrenaline junkies have been craving! The movie , to say the least is an action-packed extravaganza with real stunts performed by the actors! That’s right people, these guys are really going at it! The movie also introduces us to Zheng Zhou who has been compared to Bruce Lee and when you see what all he can do and pull off you’ll understand why. Simply put, amazing!
Check out my latest Versus as I go head-to-head with Gregory McQualter as he goes in depth about the making of this film and the grueling task of creating these action sequences. Remember Blood Money releases on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack and DVD on August 28th.
Alien Bee - First off tell me a little about Blood Money.
Gregory McQualter – Although wall to wall Action, Blood Money really is a story about redemption. When the parents of a Shaolin Warrior (Zheng Zhou) are killed and his younger sister kidnapped, he turns to a life of crime as a hitman for a vicious Hong Kong Triad syndicate. What follows is a street war across three countries when the Triads join forces with a Colombian Drugs cartel to import two tonnes of cocaine into Australia and China.
Looking for revenge wherever he can find it, Zhou eventually comes under attack from his own organisation who decide he is too far over the edge and needs to be killed. Falling deeper into a hole of drugs and alchohol, he is eventually saved by a man from his past who not only teaches him the true meaning of Shaolin, but gives his special powers only few will ever have.
Alien Bee - Zheng Lui is being compared to Bruce Lee. What makes him standout over others?
Gregory McQualter With all due respect to current Martial Arts actors and Action Stars in general, I believe no-one in the world comes anywhere near Zheng Liu. In short, Zheng is THE REAL DEAL!
Raised since a boy at the Shaolin Academy which adjoins the famed Shaolin Temple in Central China, Zheng has developed into an incredible fighting machine. Learnt over many many years, he now has the ability to bring all the energy in his body to one point and not only “break real steel bars” over his head, (which he does in Blood Money), but also “throw steel pins through sheets of glass” at speeds of up to 300 mph. They come out the other side without breaking the actual glass. If you see Zheng break the steel in front of you (which many people have), you will be speechless. No tricks, just genuine Shaolin Mystique! To have real speed and agility in Kung Fu, the fighter or actor needs to be around 5ft 6ins like say Jet Li or Jackie Chan. For Zheng to have this incredible speed and power at six feet tall is very, very unique. Although not thick in the legs, his natural power allows him to jump 12 feet into the air with a flying kick just off a few steps. I have not seen an Asian Martial Artist in a feature film before with his height, power and ability.
Alien Bee - Ok, no stuntmen or CGI . As a director how nervous was you during some of these stunts?
Gregory McQualter A little nervous. What we were looking for was full on contact with all of the kicks and punches. Knowing that we could not expect actors to take even one kick from Zheng, we cast real life street fighters to act in the film. I did not want the usual fake fighting and green screen. What is the point?
Fortunately Zheng is so in control of his skills, he could make strong contact but without the use of full force. A good example is where he kicks a guard into a swimming pool. Although the actor was blasted almost across the entire pool,
Zheng still used only 70% power. Fortunately he was able to complete 90% of the fights scenes in the first take, so damage to the other actors was kept to a minimum, although the list of cuts, bruises and very battered bodies, was very
Probably the best example of Zheng doing his own stunts with real power is when he runs at an oncoming Harley Davidson motorbike racing towards him at full speed. He launches from just a few steps, sommersaults into the air over the oncoming motorbike, lands on his feet and starts a whirlwind of punches and kicks against some pretty tough bikers. Keeping it all real, they are of course real bikers!
Alien Bee - Were there ever any accidents on set?
Gregory McQualter- There were many instances where people were hurt. Broken glasses across the faces of bikers, together with badly bruised faces and bodies. When Zheng initially runs from the alleyway gang to lead them away from the girl, the gang boss throws a real beer bottle at a pole as they chase him. Unfortunately the bottle exploded, showering the eyes of the gang. That was a bit scary, but in true street fighter style, they kept chasing him even though the crew were freaking out.
In the final fight scene, Zheng blasts Alexander Castro (who plays Colombian drugs boss Estaban Cabrera) through a real wall full of old nails. The Hong Kong crew who also shoot with Jackie Chan, did not want to shoot the scene at all as
they deemed it too dangerous. We did it anyway!
Alien Bee - I know somebody had to have gotten hurt. How bad was it?
Gregory McQualter – Probably the most damage was done to Alexander Castro. Also in the final fight scene which was filmed in a giant scrap steel yard on Hong Kong Harbour, Zheng and Alex go toe to toe for almost eight minutes in the film.
I am not sure how many broken bones Alex ended up with, particualrly in his nose and shoulder, but he spent three days in bed and could not move. He was continuously punched, kicked and smashed with a steel bar over three nights of
Alien Bee - A movie like this that is set in the world of underworld crime scene allows the viewer to believe they’ve entered a gritty world like this. Did you have a closed set or did you ever run across any gangs or other kind of uncomfortable situations while filming?
Gregory McQualter This is a very interesting question. As we were shooting in real life locations with an open set, the stories behind the scenes are just as dramatic as the on – screen scenes.
The location of the Jewellery Story robbery (which was filmed in Hong Kong) was attacked by the notorious “Hong Kong Chemical Bombers” the day before we filmed there. Exactly the same location. We were not aware of this until we
arrived and there were no other options. The Hong Kong Police did not want us there at all. There were a lot of very worried cast and crew that night.
Whilst filming in Miami, we discovered that our location for the drugs shipment on a small river was actually one of the most dangerous drug gang courier areas in Miami. We were advised to have Police protection or we would not be coming
From real gangster threats to the crew, real biker fights in Australia, police
intervention and constant damage to our actors, it was a thrill a minute shoot
Alien Bee - How is Pitbull as an actor?
Gregory McQualter – Pitbull is not only a very genuine person, he is a wonderful natural actor. I remember sitting down with him for the first time whilst shooting at Mangos in South Beach Miami. I presented him with three pages of dialogue in “my style”.
Not having seen them before and with no rehearsals, he not only memorized all of the dialogue within minutes, but put his own “Mr. Worldwide” street wise interpretations on them and proceeded to deliver all lines in one take. The cast,
crew and onlookers were absolutely amazed.
Alien Bee - This is a cool movie that I think lots of action film buffs will love and appreciate. Who were your influences in getting into filmmaking and making a cool movie like this?
Gregory McQualter – My main influence in getting into filmaking is certainly just the amount of stories I think I have inside my imagination. I just wanted to get them out and tell the stories that I hope people will enjoy. I am not trying to emulate or copy anyone else. I hope my own style of realism in film will provide something
I guess I am coming from the “real world” side of film making. Films that look like a CNN Documentary, but have the polish of a Hollywood Film. Like most people, Bruce Lee and particularly Enter the Dragon are very big favourites. I also admire Paul Greengrass for his wonderful direction of actors and real life scenes and Christopher Nolan for his genius.
Alien Bee - What’s up next for you?
Gregory McQualter – At the risk of sounding over the top, we have over twenty feature films ready to go into production. These are mainly Action, Action/Thriller and Action/Adventure. I believe we have a International Crime Trilogy that has the potential to be a huge hit around the world.
Bourne meets Miami Vice meets Blood Diamond. It is to be filmed in Washington, Paris, Portofino Italy, Moscow, Berlin, Miami, Rio, London, Shanghai and Saudi Arabia. It is an amazing story based on real events that very few know about!
Alien Bee - Would you like to say anything to everyone checking this out?
Gregory McQualter – Above all, please realize and hopefully appreciate that what you will see in Blood Money is REAL! When you see Zheng breaking the steel bar over his head, it is REAL STEEL. The sound you will hear is the actual sound of the steel breaking over his head from location filming, not sfx.
REAL ACTION, REAL FIGHTING, REAL CONTACT.