Cats as alien invaders who are out to take over the world? That’s the premise of Hong Kong sci-fi comedy Meow, and it doesn’t sound odd at all.
After all, with over 160 million cat videos on the Internet getting millions of views every day, those fickle felines already have a way of conquering us humans anyway.
In separate phone interviews from Hong Kong recently, Meow director Benny Chan and leading man Louis Koo said they had been waiting for the right script to make another comedy together, after their 2006 action comedy Rob-B-Hood.
They then got the idea for their sixth collaboration after observing the worldwide craze for cat videos.
“When I saw all these cute cat videos and pictures and how people were transfixed by them, I knew that we were onto something,” shared Koo.
“So, we decided to make a movie about cats, and feature everything to do with felines in it.”
In Meow, Koo plays the kind- hearted Ng Sau Lung, a retired footballer who adopts a giant alien named Xixili as his pet cat.
The movie also stars mainland Chinese actress Ma Li as his wife, Andy Wong as his son and Jessica Liu as his daughter.
“When we first started making the movie, we thought that it would mostly appeal to the kids. Then as filming progressed, we discovered that the ladies loved it even more! As it turns out, lots of people are just crazy about cats,” mused the 46-year-old actor.
Though neither Koo nor Chan have cats as pets, the director says it was more important that the rest of his cast and crew are simply crazy about cats.
“The wonderful thing about having so many cat lovers working with us is that everybody pays more attention to details,” shared director Chan, 47.
He added that a significant part of the budget went to the special effects for scenes featuring the big cat Xixili.
“The most challenging part for this movie is adding the visual effects during post-production, particularly in the scenes with our big cat mascot, Xixili.
“In order to make it appear realistic, we worked with the top post-production teams from Hong Kong and Korea,” the director explained.
He also said a lot of the painstaking work went into rendering Xixili’s soft furry hair, adorable facial expressions and hilarious movements, all of which feature in more than 1,000 scenes.
After collaborating on six movies together, Koo and Chan have a very comfortable working relationship.
Praising Koo for being a professional and dedicated actor, Chan laughed about designing Koo’s character, who is a flaky fellow with a messy mop top.
“In this movie, he will surprise audiences. He plays a goofy guy, and it’s a major contrast to his previous serious film characters. Once I delivered the script for the movie, he agreed without hesitation,” he said.
Meanwhile Koo, who sounded decidedly chirpier than usual, said that he was glad to be making a comedy after a string of action thrillers recently.
“It has been so long since I did comedy. The difference is we have to keep ourselves in high spirits throughout the shoot.
“Our aim is to bring joy to everyone. And in Meow, we use a cat to show how a family can achieve happiness together,” Koo concluded.