Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee, who reprises his role of STORM SHADOW, was excited by the possibility to explore the more internal side of the character. “If I had just a lot of sword fights and kicks in the first movie, this time my character (Storm Shadow) is seen more up close. It has a dramatic aspect that shows his history, inner conflicts. I loved how much of my acting I could show this time around... but I still think I could have been much more competent in a Korean film.
“Frankly speaking, it’s hard. Casual speech and delivering lines in English belong to two different dimensions. Because you use a foreign language, you’ve got to be sure you could recite lines without a mistake even if someone woke you up from a nap.
“On the set, someone from the crew told me after I read my line that my pronunciation was off for one of the words. Right after my head became completely blank, busy thinking about that one line. Sometimes I felt I was back in the earliest days of my career.”
“I am really glad to be back in the role and was excited to show more of STORM SHADOW and his different sides,” says Byung-hun Lee.
Fully prepared to dive into the emotional inter-workings of the character, Lee brought a great deal of passion and physical commitment to the role and his approach. “Byung-hun came with strong ideas on who this character is and he spills it all on the screen,” says Chu.
“Byung-hun has an amazing presence,” says producer di Bonaventura. “He’s doing all these fights himself, but also has an internal strength of character that gives STORM SHADOW great dignity.”
Also an incredibly powerful martial artist and athlete in his own right, Lee did extensive training to reprise the role and was excited to approach the action sequences from a more practical standpoint. “Jon said that he wanted the movie to be more real, so I trained a lot to make my body bigger and more cut.”
“Because we had actors who could really fight, I wanted to show the brutality of their fights and steer away from the uptight ninjas we’ve all seen before,” recalls Chu. “When STORM SHADOW gets hit in the face, I wanted to see the blood seeping through his white mask.”
A new component of the martial arts sequences that is sure to excite audiences is the introduction to the use of sais, the deadly sharp-bladed weapons often seen in the G.I. JOE comics. “I was excited about using the sais as an extension of their punches, like brutal brass knuckles with an extremely sharp edge,” says Chu. “We put them in close quarters where audiences can really experience just how dangerous this is.”
Showing across the Philippines March 2013. “G.I. Joe 2 : Retaliation” is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp.