Badminton champion Datuk Lee Chong Wei (centre) with Jake Eng (left) and Tosh Chan during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur recently. PIC BY NUR ADIBAH AHMAD IZAM

NEW actors Jake Eng and Tosh Chan are counting their lucky stars.

The two badminton fans, who idolise Datuk Lee Chong Wei, will be portraying their hero in his biopic, Lee Chong Wei: Rise Of The Legend, out in cinemas early next year.

Jake, from Sungai Besar, Selangor, and Tosh from Johor Baru, were selected by director Teng Bee from over 2,000 hopefuls at the auditions, which were held between March and May.

Both of the “Lees” excel in badminton, like the man himself, though they had to brush up their skills before filming began.

Jake, 13, from SM Seri Bedena, has represented his school in state-level badminton competitions. Likewise, for 22-year-old Tosh, a barista in Singapore and who studied in SM Johor Jaya 1.

“I feel blessed to be part of the movie! At first, the director told me I wasn’t chosen, and that upset me — there was another boy who looked like a young Lee,” said Jake, when met at a press conference to announce the main cast of the movie in Kuala Lumpur, recently. Also present was Lee.

“I was crushed! But later, the director came back to me with wonderful news!” Jake added.

As for Tosh, Teng picked him because he was the man who most resembled a 20-something Lee.

“I jumped for joy, but soon found out that getting into Lee’s shoes was a real challenge,” he said.

The boys underwent two months’ of badminton training, 12 hours a day, to prepare themselves for their role.

Teng roped in veteran badminton player Chan Chong Min to coach them to improve their badminton skills.

“We were filming in Bukit Mertajam, Klang and Kuala Lumpur, which lasted from July to September,” said Tosh.

Teng said he chose Jake after looking at photos of Lee in his teens.

“I noticed that Lee’s young face was rounder and he wasn’t as skinny as he is now, and that he looked more like Jake,” he said.

The director, who spent the last three years researching Lee’s life and career said: “Lee’s biopic may not contain every individual who helped him — we’ve created characters who are ‘composites’ of real people.”

The biggest difficulty Teng faced was the use of sports venues for the Sea Games 2017.

“Filming was delayed by a few weeks because most of the venues we wanted to use were booked for the Sea Games events.”

Producer Josiah Chieng, who planned to screen the biopic in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Japan, said the film featured feature advanced camera work, which allowed viewers to experience the fast-paced badminton game from Lee’s perspective.

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