The presence of Ludi Lin as Zack, the Black Ranger can only have benefited Power Rangers in landing its May 12 release date in China and improving its prospects at the box office. Lin is young, sporty and Chinese.
But the Fuzhou-born star is no mere English-speaking Asian makeweight. Lin boasts a strong filmography in China, and his role in the Lionsgate fantasy is as super-heroic as the other characters.
Conversations with him invariably reveal some serious attitude and hunger. “I went into acting thinking that it was about imitating a character, but found it is just the opposite. It is more about what is inside me, confronting my own truth and emotions,” he once said, in a typical Lin utterance.
And from a man heavily into snowboarding, scuba diving, Muay Thai and jiujitsu martial arts: “Acting and sport have many things in common. They challenge the performer. There can be no deception.”
The sporty influence may have come from a childhood in Australia, where Lin moved to when he was nine years old. That was followed by a college study period in the US and Canada, and eventually a return to his homeland about five years ago.
His recent years in China have been put to good use. Lin had modest roles in smash-hit movies Monster Hunt and Lost In Hong Kong while also appearing in The Weinstein Co’s made-in-Asia series Marco Polo for Netflix. This year he has lead roles in two Chinese movies – My Second First Romance and TIK Films’ upcoming Come Across Love.
Lin says his cultural references are in equal measure Chinese-Hong Kong, Australian and North American. That puts him in good position to be one of the increasingly sought-after bridges between the world’s two wealthiest film industries.
“I don’t want to be pigeonholed as an Asian guy on screen. I want to beat back those caricatures of Asian roles in Western cinema, which are often simplistic or melodramatic. They should be capable of being humorous, strong or sensitive,” he says.
“I love the celebrity and the stardom. It’s what I asked for. But the craft has to come first. The thrill comes from affecting people, making them react,” Lin says. “Honestly, I want it all.”
Come Across Love has its commercial premiere in China on May 19, one week after the release of Power Rangers there. In Malaysia, Power Rangers premiered on March 23. – Reuters/Variety/Patrick Frater