Aired tonight, Les Anges gardiens is a fast-paced comedy led by Gérard Depardieu and Christian Clavier. A hysteria that contaminated the shooting, which took place partly in Hong Kong.
Two years after the triumph of the Visitors and his 13 million spectators, the director Jean-Marie Poiré reunites with Christian Clavier in 1995 for a new comedy: The Guardian Angels.
The film is an adaptation of the play titled This is clever by Fulber Janin. The story follows an unscrupulous businessman and a proud priest grappling with the Hong Kong triads and especially their guardian angels. They try to put them back on the right track… or not!
Crowned with the success of the Visitors, Poiré goes on filming with confidence. The Guardian Angels is the most expensive French film of the year, with a budget of 16 million euros (80 million francs at the time).
The director is in great demand, especially by Gérard Depardieu who absolutely wants to shoot with him and Clavier. A godsend for the director who has chained the missed appointments with the famous actor.
Once the star duo is engaged, a shoot is planned between Paris and Hong Kong. The Guardian Angels promises to be a project of rather crazy ambition.
Half of the scenario is supposed to take place in the heart of the Chinese city. Poiré really wants his comedy to open with dantesque action scenes. Once there, he rushes headlong and takes big risks.
Car and boat chases are filmed without the approval of the local authorities. “We could do chases, but we had to respect the highway code! The stunts with the speedboats at full throttle weren’t going well. We were not well received by the Chinese “, entrusts the filmmaker to the microphone of Jérôme Lachasse on bfmtv.com.
According to the director, an explosion on the set upset air traffic and threatened the path of a plane.
The airport reportedly contacted the film crew after seeing a gigantic column of smoke as a plane was about to take off.
If this memory seems a bit far-fetched and exaggerated, other incidents have indeed taken place. The production manager notably spent a short time in prison and the local mafia extorted the production.
Once the Hong Kong scenes have been shot and put together, they last an hour! As for the entire film, it flirts with the 3 hours!
Jean-Marie Poiré then resumes his chisel to cut sequences. A second edit manages to reduce Les Anges gardiens to 2:05. However, it is still too long for producer Alain Terzian.
Finally, another 15 minutes are cut … and lost forever because they are destroyed. A real heartbreak for the filmmaker:
“I gave in to the distributor who tortured me so that the film was under two hours. I blame myself because I was way too nice. It was the moment in my life when I was a megastar. If I had said no, everyone would have crashed “, supports Poiré.
Despite the director’s disappointment, Les Anges gardiens gathered 5.7 million spectators when it was released in theaters in October 1995.