LED by mostly first-time actors, the film about the world’s top badminton athlete and his rise to sports superstardom will be released somewhere in 2018.
Directed by Malaysian Teng Bee, the film will chronicle the Malaysian athlete’s life from his days as an aspiring young athlete in the Malaysian state of Perak.
“It is very humbling to have a movie made about me,” Lee said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
Lee is one of badminton’s biggest stars, having held the global no. 1 spot from August 2008 until June 2012, the only Malaysian to do so for more than a year. The national hero is also a triple silver medalist at the Olympic Games and four-time champion of the All England Open, the oldest and most prestigious badminton championship in the world.
Director Teng said the film aims to depict Lee’s tenacious spirit during his tough phases, which would have made others quit, instead of just being a film about badminton as a sport alone.
“We all have a Lee Chong Wei in us. We have a “never say die” spirit. It belongs to every Malaysian who loves sports,” Teng said.
The film, the budget of which has thus far excess RM4 million, took four years to produce and over two thousand movie auditions in total. It hit a delay of one month when the Southeast Asian Games was held in Kuala Lumpur as the regional sporting event occupied some of the venues they were using to shoot the film.
First-time actors play the main roles in the film – 12-year-old Jake Eng as the kid Lee while 22-year-old Tosh Chan plays the adult Lee.
The young cast were put through a rigorous 12 hour daily training regime under former national player Chan Chong Ming, as well as with professional acting coaches.
For Eng, the most memorable moment for the child actor was when they shot the scene involving opening serves as it was very unpredictable where the shuttlecock would land.
“The crew had prepared to shoot a scene where the young Lee had to return a serve from between his legs, using computer generated (CG) effects. But I have to praise Eng for being able to shoot that scene on his own by the 12th take itself,” director Teng, who also wrote the screenplay, said.
Veteran actors play the roles of Lee’s father (Singaporean comedian Mark Lee) and Misbun Sidek (Rosyam Nor), a former badminton icon in the 80s before becoming the national singles men’s coach and Lee’s mentor.
The film will mostly be in the Hokkien dialect and the rest in the Malay language.