During his recent livestream, Wong Jing who directed and wrote the screenplay for the 1993 wuxia film Kung Fu Cult Master addresses casting concerns over the New Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber 倚天屠龙记 movie that he is producing. After Raymond Lam was revealed to be the new Zhang Wuji, a character that was portrayed by international star Jet Li 27 years ago, many felt that it was a miscast because of Raymond’s age (he’s forty) and that the cast as a whole feels older in general.
Wong Jing defends his choice by explaining that he doesn’t feel that Raymond Lam is old. Because Zhang Wuji makes his appearance in his thirties, Raymond Lam’s age is just right. Wong Jing adds that Raymond is skilled at fighting.
When the cast was announced, Wong Jing had intentionally left out the actress who will be playing Xiaozhao, a character of Chinese-Persian descent. There were rumors that it would be Dilraba Dilmurat which Wong Jing has denied. There were also rumors that Chingmy Yau’s teenage daughter Shum Yuet who has yet to break into the entertainment industry will succeed her mother’s role as Xiaozhao in the movie. Wong Jing’s response, “I think I will use a professional actor.”
The New Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber movie is expected to be darker than the 1993 version. Zhang Wuji obtains the Nine Yang Manual and returns to Ice Fire Island where he masters the martial arts technique under his godfather Xie Xun’s guidance. Zhang Wuji learns the way of the king because only in becoming king can he take revenge on his enemy. The journey takes Zhang Wuji 20 years and by the time he returns to Bright Peak, he is already in his thirties.
Yes! he's too old. His definitely looks his age haha. He is no look a little fresh meat. lol actually he never was that type…
Assuming the movie will reflect this report, Wong Jing isn't actually making a movie rendition of HSDS, but a fanfiction. In the novel, Wuji /never/ "goes back to Fire Ice Island for twenty years" to master the Nine Yang Manual. He masters it within five years while trapped in a valley, and that all happens before he ever meets Zhao Min (which apparently happens in "Kung Fu Cult Master", so either this is all retcon, or starting afresh).
The interpretation of Wuji is also… creative. He very clearly says that he doesn't want revenge, he only wants his parents back, and that character never changes. Wuji is supposed to be kind and a bit naive and softhearted. Raymond Lam, at least in the stills, looks like he could play a Zhang *Cuishan*, and after ten years of living on Fire Ice Island.
I haven't seen "Kung Fu Cult Master" and find that movie renditions of wuxia tend to pale in comparison to the novel and [good] TV dramatizations. Wong Jing's explanation does not instill faith.
When you want to renew an old classic with another no buzz veteran actor, there’s nothing to look forward to. Is it worth the investment when the actors (jet Li) wasn’t even able to save the suppose to be franchise. Raymond is no JetLi. But it’s his (producer) money and time to waste. What do I care?!
Zhang Wuji is supposed to be in his early 20's. Raymond is way better suited to probably portray Yin Liting or Yang Xiao.
Their decision to have a star studded cast is not surprising, although it would be nice to see the spotlight go to a younger cast.