When Korean actor Kang Ha-neul was in town with director Jason Kim on last Thursday to promote their new film Midnight Runners, he wowed all present with his cheerfulness and earnestness.
Before group interviews commenced, Kang went around the whole room once to shake hands with every reporter present, even remarking to familiar faces, “I remember you!” And when a reporter expressed disbelief, he insisted, “You interviewed me when I was in Singapore for the first time.” Indeed, his memory is said to be so good, he remembers the names of all the cast members on set.
Scheduled to be released in Singapore on September 7, Midnight Runners is an action comedy about two greenhorn police academy cadets who accidentally see a woman abducted before their very eyes, and decide to take matters into their own hands to save her. This film marks the first collaboration between Kang and his co-star, Park Seo-joon, but the powerful chemistry between the two led to many improvised scenes, which makes Midnight Runners so fun to watch.
Director Jason Kim, who spoke in perfect English during the press event, shared that the movie was “full of” improvisations between his two male leads. An example was the scene inside Octagon, the night club where the two go prowling one night in hopes of getting lucky. “The two of them were just so spontaneous during the making of that scene, I let them do their thing,” he said.
Kang, who is enlisting himself for compulsory military service on September 11 at the age of 27, is said to be very different from some of his contemporaries, who try to delay enlistment until age 30, or even try to avoid it altogether. “I thought I should enlist before I get too greedy in terms of work,” he said through a translator.
The question of military conscription led people to ask if filming the many physically strenuous scenes in Midnight Runners has prepared him for the training ahead. “Director Kim really emphasises the realness of the scenes. In that sense, he really made it (feel) as if we were going through actual training,” he quipped.
As police academy cadets, Park’s and Kang’s characters both undergo rigorous physical training, and in one of the scenes, you even get to see them strung from the ceiling, half-naked. That’s really where you see the difference between their physiques. “(Park) has a really nice, sculpted body. Even though I tried really hard, I could not get a body like his in such a short period of time,” he said.
Kang’s character, though, uses more brains than muscle. “I took reference from Sheldon of Big Bang Theory for my role,” he said, when asked how much of his dorky character was of himself in real life.
The easy-going, baby-faced actor was like a breath of fresh air compared to many of his compatriots, who usually impose restrictions on the type of questions the media is allowed to ask at such events. One brave reporter even managed to ask him what type of girl he would like to date.
“I would be attracted to a girl who is very professional at her job and really puts her heart into what she does… someone whom I can communicate with comfortably,” he said.
Heard that, ladies? Time to learn some Korean!
Midnight Runners opens in theatres here on September 7.
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