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James Hong cameo stokes island actor's 'Lo Pan Style'

By Mike Gordon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:32 p.m. HST, Oct 28, 2012


The high from his summer viral video, "Batman Maybe," a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen's megahit "Call Me Maybe," was starting to wear off when Maui-born actor Wesley Freitas had another snap-genius moment.

"I was freaking out about a follow-up video," he said. "Everyone was asking, ‘What are you going to do now?'"

His solution combined another musical hit — Psy's "Gangnam Style," which has more than 530 million views on YouTube — with one of his favorite films, John Carpenter's 1986 cult classic "Big Trouble in Little China."

Freitas calls his new parody "Lo Pan Style," after the character in the film played by the venerable actor James Hong.

And, oh yeah, Freitas convinced the 83-year-old Hong to dance in the video.

Freitas wrote the lyrics, directed the video and helped produce it as well. He also stars as Lo Pan, zipping around in a motorized wheelchair as the centuries-old version of the villain and as his younger self, rollerskating through scenes, whipping nunchakus and sashaying past the entrance to Los Angeles' Chinatown while wearing black robes and sunglasses.

How Freitas dreams up this stuff, even he doesn't know. He remembers lyrics easily, thanks to time spent hosting karaoke night at a bar, so he's often singing his own versions in his head and laughing like a lunatic.

"I guess if I think something's funny I dwell on it until it spills out," he said. "Music parodies were never something I thought I'd do but it's an easy way to stick in people's heads."

The 30-year-old Freitas has been fan of "Big Trouble in Little China" since he attended Kamehameha Schools.

"I can pretty much quote that whole movie," he said. "It was one of those movies that when you watch as a kid you don't know what is happening but you like it and you revisit it."

The cameo appearance by Hong, who has appeared in dozens of TV shows and films as diverse as "Blade Runner" and "Wayne's World 2," is "the crown jewel of my video," said Freitas, who met the actor years ago after sneaking into a cast screening of "Balls of Fury." Freitas told Hong he would put him in a movie someday and took his business card.

Freitas created the whole video except for Hong's scene, then invited the actor for a screening as a way to convince him that the project was solid.

"He's watching it and he kind of chuckles, laughs a bit more," Freitas said. "When the video was over, he got up and started dancing around. He started doing hip-hop moves. He gave dancing approval."

Find a link to the video at honolulustaradvertiser.com.

HONOLULU photographer Tavis Glover hopes to test the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words — or at the very least, worthy of inspiring short films that Oscar-winning director Ron Howard will help produce.

Glover is a finalist in "Project Imaginat10n," a contest sponsored by the Canon camera company that will turn a collection of photographs into five short films. His self-portrait, "A Cry for Help," is one of 10 finalists in the "obstacle" category, which is one of 10 categories in the project.

Howard will supervise creation of five films, each one conceived and produced by five celebrities: Eva Longoria, Jamie Foxx, Biz Stone, Georgina Chapman and James Murphy. Production on the films is expected to begin December.

The photo of Glover holding a water hose to his head as if it were a handgun was partly inspired by the suicide of a cousin. He took the photo last year and when he looks at it, Glover envisions a film with hope.

"Maybe a story about a guy who has a rough life and a rough job … maybe that is a scene in it and he finds hope in something, in love or his future," Glover said. "I would like the filmmakers to show that scene to make people realize there is more to live for."

AND that's a wrap …

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. Read his Outtakes Online blog at honolulupulse.com. Reach him at 529-4803 or email mgordon@staradvertiser.com.






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