Special Identity – Vincent Zhao out, Andy On in

ImageVincent Zhao at a press conference stating his version of the incident

On February 27 it was reported that Vincent Zhao who was playing the main villain opposite Donnie Yen in the latter’s new action film Special Identity left the set due to dissatisfaction with the script and the production team involved. Since then rumors have been circulating on what really happened on the set and what prompted Zhao to leave the production. As there were no concrete information regarding the incident, words were going everywhere it was hard to determine the cause of Zhao’s departure. Things have ranged from disagreements concerning script changes, disputes on set with the production team, the film went over budget reducing Zhao’s living standards on the hotel he was staying in to different statements from both sides (the production team and Zhao’s management company) blaming each other for poor behavior on set set, the media giving Zhao a bad image etc.

But now Zhao have spoken out on the reason of his departure and why he doesn’t want to continue his cooperation on the production. According to him, the production team had breeched the contractual terms by unilaterally changing the contents of the script without his consent and to his dissatisfaction. He also clarifies rumors of grown tensions between him and Donnie on set stating that nothing of that sort happened as it after all was Donnie who recommended him to the film’s investors and invited him to play the villain role. However, the production team have given out their own version of Zhao’s take-off stating that he had put forth excessive demands and exhibited a poor attitude while shooting the film. Donnie, apart from starring in the film also being the producer, had his own say regarding Zhao’s departure expressing beliefs that Zhao could have handled the matter better. Donnie’s statement: “I went with his agent to persuade him (Zhao) when I heard about the matter (Zhao’s displeasure over the script changes), but unfortunately I failed. I feel that there were some areas which Zhao did not handle well. Making a film is a team effort. Even though I admire him a lot, I cannot go against this principle. In the end, I have to respect the decision of the production team and the investors. Script changes occur very often. If the changes are reasonable, it can improve the whole film. It isn’t something that can be talked over.”

Vincent Zhao’s role will be taken over by Andy On. Many may find this a major step down in terms of hardcore martial artistry onscreen. But before thinking further for the worst, I suggest y’all watch this clip below. It is in my opinion the best action performance I’ve seen from Andy so far, even surpassing the fight scenes opposite Vincent Zhao in True Legend. Here’s hoping to Special Identity turning out well than people currently think it will be and live up to expectations despite all controversy going on right now.

UPDATE: Kevin Ma at LoveHKFilm sheds more light into the incident in his blog: http://www.lovehkfilm.com/blog/thegoldenrock/2012/03/06/the-golden-rock-march-4-2012-edition/