Where is Kirk Wong ? One of the great filmmakers of Hong Kong, with films such as GUNMEN or CRIME STORY, the latter being a superb early specimen of a “serious Jackie Chan” movie, Wong followed Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and John Woo in their temporary migration to Hollywood, directing the Mark Wahlberg-starrer THE BIG HIT in 1998. After that his last film was the 2000 TV movie THE DISCIPLES, starring Ice-T, and he didn’t even sign it with his name, preferring the usual “Alan Smithee” credit of shame.
So now, 14 years later, and without the least new addition to his filmography whether it be as director, producer or writer, one can only wonder what he’s been up to all that time. Retirement perhaps ? It seems not, as all evidence points to him having kept really busy throughout the decade. Here is a rundown of the project he was attached to, either officially or by rumor :
– IRON FIST : in 2001, Kirk Wong was signed to direct Artisan Pictures’ adaptation of the Marvel Comics Iron Fist. Scripted by John Turman (who wrote Ang Lee’s Hulk as well as Fantastic Four : Rise of the Silver Surfer), and starring martial artist Ray Park (aka Darth Maul in Star Wars and Snakes Eyes in G.I. Joe), the film was to begin production in early 2002. But due to scheduling conflicts, Wong had to drop out and was replaced by Steve Carr. The film has since been stuck in development hell.
– WE CAN BE HEROES : little is known on this project, other than that it would have been an action film set in Mexico, and produced by Fortune Star Entertainment, as announced in 2003.
– BLOOD BOND : also to be produced by Fortune Star Entertainment, this film was to be an action-horror film featuring a battle between eastern and western vampires. Written by Wong himself, Erik Martinez and Rod Sokal, the last news of it date back to 2006.
– FIVE DEADLY VENOMS : a remake of the 1978 Chang Cheh classic of the same title about a gang of assassins who kill with the venoms of various animals. Superstar Andy Lau was to produce the film, which Kirk Wong would write and direct. In 2007, a cast was assembled : Jay Chou, Maggie Q, Huang Xiaoming, Gordon Liu, Edison Chen and Jacky Wu Jing. While later Andy Lau seems to have dropped out of producing it, the film is seemingly still in preparation, though probably with another cast : Maggie Q now has her own TV series in the US (CW’s Nikita), Gordon Liu has been having health problems, and Edison Chen was discgraced following a sextape scandal. In fact, in 2009 Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan wrote in his blog that Wong was trying to get Donnie Yen to star in the film, though Yen must’ve declined the offer, as his schedule since then and in the next months doesn’t include Five Deadly Venoms.
– SIX : this US-China co-production was supposed to start shooting in November 2012 and its screenplay, penned by Li Feng, Erik Martinez and Doug Brode, was to tell of “a rogue scientist who has created five human-animal mutants, which are in conflict with Six, another hybrid that is threatening to destroy them”.
Kirk Wong did make a cameo in Donnie Yen’s recent KUNG FU JUNGLE, which might lead to believe he still has a foot in the industry. But for now, 15 years is too long a hiatus for such a talented director to take, and let’s hope we won’t have to wait too long for him to make his comeback.