After starring in recent box-office hits Warcraft and Geostorm, Chinese-American actor Daniel Wu returns to the screen as sailor Lu Ren, in Warner Bros. Pictures’ new action-adventure Tomb Raider (in Philippine cinemas and IMAX on Thursday, March 8.)
In Tomb Raider, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when she was scarcely a teen. Now a young woman of 21 without any real focus or purpose, Lara navigates the chaotic streets of trendy East London as a bike courier, barely making the rent. Determined to forge her own path, she refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire just as staunchly as she rejects the idea that he’s truly gone. Leaving everything she knows behind, Lara goes in search of her dad’s last-known destination: a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan.
The first leg of her odyssey takes Lara to Hong Kong, in search of a man named Lu Ren. She finds him…sort of. The Lu Ren Lara encounters is actually the son of the man her father had been in contact with. But for Lara, any Lu Ren will do, so long as he can captain a boat and take her to the island of Yamatai, her father’s last-known destination.
Lu Ren, who, while he may indeed have a boat, doesn’t appear to be any more seaworthy than it is. “He’s not in a really great state when Lara meets him,” Wu allows. “He’s pretty drunk, actually. And his boat, the Endurance, is more of a rusty bucket of junk. But they discover that his father also disappeared seven years ago, leaving the son in debt and having to take over the family business—tours, sightseeing, smuggling, anything to pay the bills, none of which he wants to do. So, he’s closed the book on finding his father, but Lara hasn’t.”
But for Lu Ren, money talks, and while he feels no personal obligation to go along with her, Lara makes it worth his while. “She basically pays him to take her to the Asian version of the Bermuda Triangle, and he’s desperate enough for money to agree to it,” Wu says.
Wu has been a gamer for years. “I’m a fan of the videogame franchise,” he says. “It was a really cool female action hero you could play, and my girlfriend at the time—now my wife—played a lot. I was really attracted to the project once I found out Alicia was involved and it was an origin story, and that they’d be filming in South Africa, which is a very special place to me. I got married there.”
In fact, both the actual location, as well as the location it was dressed to be when Lu Ren first meets Lara, were personal to Wu. Vikander recalls, “We did our first scenes in ‘pretend’ Hong Kong, built in Cape Town, and I was impressed, but Daniel was even more so since he’s lived there. It was cool to hear him tell stories as we walked around the set.”
Director Roar Uthaug was keen to show a different side of Wu, who is no stranger to action sequences, having performed numerous on-screen fight scenes throughout his career. “He’s not doing the Kung Fu that we’re used to seeing from him,” the director concludes, “but he’s still kicking ass!”
In Philippine cinemas Thursday, March 08, “Tomb Raider” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.