Released this evening at 9 pm, “Les Anges gardiens” by Jean-Marie Poiré is a fast-paced comedy carried by Depardieu and Clavier. A hysteria that was felt on the set, which took place partly in Hong Kong …
Two years after the success of the Visitors (more than 13 million spectators), Jean-Marie Poiré reunites with Christian Clavier in 1995 for a new comedy entitled Les Anges gardiens. Adapted from room It’s smart by Fulber Janin, the film follows an unscrupulous businessman and a proud priest grappling with the Hong Kong triads and above all with their guardian angels who try to put them back on the right path …
All haloed by the triumph of the Visitors, Poiré has free rein: it is the most expensive French film that year, with a budget of 16 million euros (80 million francs at the time). He was courted on all sides, notably by Gérard Depardieu who wanted to tour with him and Clavier. A godsend for the director who has hitherto chained the missed appointments with the actor. With this star-studded duo and a shoot planned between Île-de-France and Hong Kong, Les Anges gardiens promises to be a major project.
Half of the script is to take place in the Chinese city and Poiré wants the feature film to open with impressive action scenes. On site, he does not hesitate to multiply the risks: car and boat chases are shot without authorization. “We could do chases, but we had to respect the highway code! The stunts with the speedboats at full throttle did not go well. We were not well received by the Chinese ”*.
According to the filmmaker, an explosion on the set disrupts air traffic and threatens the trajectory of a plane about to land. If the anecdote is somewhat exaggerated (the airport would have contacted production after seeing a large column of fire while a plane was about to take off), other incidents did take place. The production manager spends a short time in prison and the mafia extorts the team.
Once the Hong Kong sequences are boxed, their full duration is one hour, and the film, itself, 2h50! A second cut manages to reduce Les Anges gardiens to 2:05 but it is still too long for producer Alain Terzian. Fifteen additional minutes are cut, and lost forever because destroyed. A heartbreak for Poiré: “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 ”*. An incomplete and imperfect result according to its director, but which will nevertheless attract 5.7 million spectators when it is released in theaters.
* Extracts from the article “The Guardian Angels”: Jean-Marie Poiré tells about the crazy shooting of his supercharged comedy by Jérôme Lachasse, on bfmtv.com.