Cinematographer's death casts another shadow on Jackie Chan's movie

The sampan that capsized was towed back to the shore on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: APPLE DAILY
The sampan that capsized was towed back to the shore on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: APPLE DAILY
Cinematographer Chan Kwok Hung drowned on Dec 17, 2014 when he was trapped in the sampan that capsized. -- PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

Hong Kong - A cinematographer for the Jackie Chan movie Skiptrace drowned during a shoot at the sea on Wednesday, said Apply Daily. He had been trapped under a capsized, motorised sampan at Sunny Bay, off Lantau Island.

Chan Kwok Hung, 51, was a veteran of action films such as 2000's Tokyo Raiders, starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, and 2007's Invisible Target, starring Nicholas Tse and Jaycee Chan.

At about 2.50am on Wednesday, Chan Kwok Hung, a second unit cinematographer, was filming a dive with seven crew members on a sampan, said Apple Daily. Chan, who could not swim, was wearing a life jacket, and there were two security vessels nearby.

He was sitting at the stern and filming a crew member who was preparing to dock, when the sampan capsized owing to high wind and waves, said the report. All of the crew swam back to the shore, except Chan, who disappeared. After the safety vessels searched the area for 15 minutes in vain, the movie company called the police, said Apple Daily.

Marine policemen arrived and found the sampan 30m from the shore. At about 4am, divers found Chan trapped under the upturned sampan and unconscious. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

A disciple of cinematographer and director Jingle Ma, Chan was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Hong Kong Film Awards for two Richie Jen romances, 1999's Fly Me To Polaris and 2000's Summer Holiday.

Chan was married with two teenage children. He had a boisterous supper with the crew just before the shoot, a colleague told Apple Daily. The colleague said there would usually be divers on standby for dive shoots but "last night, we just didn't call them".

Jackie Chan was resting on a temporary set, an abandoned cement factory nearby, at the time of the accident. He headed to the seashore after hearing the crew's cries for help and learned of the drowning. At about 7pm, he said on Weibo: "Yesterday we were still together. Pain! How could I be so incompetent, I didn't save you! My brother, go in peace."

Skiptrace, directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, 1990), also stars Fan Bingbing. The movie had two more days of production in Hong Kong before a scheduled move to Beijing, and filming continued at Sunny Bay after the accident, said Apple Daily.

The Hong Kong-China-United States co-production has had a bumpy ride. Harlin stepped in after director Sam Fell left the project. When the shoot started in August, Chan's son, Jaycee, was arrested, casting a shadow on the father's public appearance for the new production.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.