As leading stars for the action flick Kick Ass Girls, newcomers Hidy Yu and Dada Lo had to physically and mentally steel themselves for their gruelling roles – stunt-wire work and all.
AN effortless high kick, followed by an elbow-over-knee strike. Within minutes, a grown man is sent sprawling on the floor, with his arms twisted beneath him. The perpetrator, it seems, is none other than Hong Kong model-turned-actress Hidy Yu. The scene, one of many kung fu-laced standoffs, can be spotted in the trailer for upcoming action flick Kick Ass Girls.
Tucking a lock of ebony-black hair behind her ear, the soft-spoken Yu seems unfazed by the feat accomplished. In person, the lady-like 25-year-old doesn’t appear at all like someone who would take to fist-fighting with a vengeance. Paired up with the equally stunning Dada Lo, the duo were in town recently with co-star and A-lister Chrissie Chau and director Vincci Cheuk to launch the film’s music video.
Sporting a predominantly female cast, Kick Ass Girls may sound uncannily like an Asian Charlie’s Angels. Peppered with hints of friendship, rivalry and romance, the storyline revolves around the lives of Chau, Yu and Lo, who have no qualms over beating their adversaries to a pulp whenever necessary.
Relative newcomers to the field, Yu and Lo were thrown into a gruelling six-month training regime to prepare for their designated roles.
For a few hours each day, the girls were given a taste of real person-to-person combat, which kept them on edge for days on end.
While Yu, who has an athletic background, took to the training with ease, Lo was less prepared for the intensive hours involving mere basics like muscle-stretching and toning.
“I had a hard time catching up as I’ve never really been very active in sports. At times, I would be so frustrated that I’d be gritting my teeth throughout the session, especially when I had to just lie there and the trainers would forcefully stretch my muscles to make me flexible enough to master the moves,” recalls Lo, who plays a rather animated character in the movie.
Apparently, the 23-year-old was ready to call it quits, if not for her co-star Yu’s constant encouragement.
“I kept asking myself: ‘Is this all worth it?’ I was really under a lot of pressure and my health was failing me; I wasn’t eating well or sleeping well. I also felt really lousy that I wasn’t breezing through the choreography, as well as my other co-stars.
“Hidy would partner me for sit-ups, and she would keep encouraging me and telling me that I was already doing a great job. It was then that I realised that she too must’ve gone through the same pain to get to where she is today, and that there can be no accomplishments without sacrifice.”
For Yu, engaging in wire stunt work proved to be the biggest challenge. “The very first time I tried hanging from a wire, I got the side of my arm badly injured – the wires had accidentally scraped off a layer of my skin. It was all very new to me.
“You can do the same stunt on-ground and it’s easy, but when you have to do it in mid-air and leave all the support to the wires, wow, that’s something else altogether. I had to use a lot of strength to master those scenes, even though it looks effortless on-screen.”
Nevertheless, once you pass the initial few attempts, wire stunts can be a fun experience, she adds.
“We could’ve easily gotten an extra to become our stunt doubles, but we chose to do it ourselves. The director really approved of that, as she felt that it helped us understand our roles better. Now, after seeing the final cut, I must say it does make a difference.”
Keeping up appearances
Diet-wise, the girls were given free reign to eat anything they wanted, provided it was in moderation, as with all things.
“Even on a normal basis, I don’t usually limit myself to a particular diet. Being able to have a good meal at the end of a hard day’s work is really food for the soul,” Lo opines.
The girls have since shifted back to the daily grind, though the active lifestyle that they’ve grown used to for the movie shoot hasn’t taken a backseat just yet.
Yu, who comes from a school for athletes, reveals that she is, in fact, an exercise addict.
“I’ve always been very fitness-oriented. As a child, I participated in a lot of marathons and I won many medals in the process. For a marathon runner, giving up isn’t ever a part of the equation – that’s what my family ingrained in me.”
Doubling as a part-time diving instructor, Yu values the rewards that come with regular exercising – first and foremost as a natural de-stressing remedy at the end of a tough day at work.
“I’m always amazed at how good I feel after a simple workout session. Staying active isn’t something that I actively pursue; it just comes naturally, and it’s really a part of my life now.
“Of course, it takes an extreme amount of willpower to keep at it day after day. It can be hard, especially when you come home dead-tired from work. But I always tell myself that laziness begets laziness. So far, I’ve been able to inspire some friends to go down the same route, so it’s been that much more meaningful for me to press on.”
As for Lo, the occasional swim and a stroll in the park with her pet puppy are just about all that she has enough patience for, ever since filming wrapped up several months ago (Kick Ass Girls opens on Nov 21 in cinemas nationwide). Even then, she is blessed with alabaster skin and a trim figure (which seems to come more from genetics than anything else).
“I don’t think I’m cut out for physical activities. I’ve given exercise regimes a go before, but I just don’t have the passion for them. Just keeping myself busy and having a positive outlook in life works for me.”