Sunday, June 28, 2009

An Interview with martial artist/choreographer/writer/stand-up comedian (and more!) John Kreng - Part 1




A couple of months ago, I reviewed John Kreng's book Fight Choreography: The Art of Non-Verbal Dialogue on this blog. Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, I managed to contact mr. Kreng, and after reading the review he very graciously agreed to do an e-mail interview - and here it is! John went so far beyond the call of duty, I've split the interview up in two parts as there's almost as much to read here as in his book!!!
Clear the dojo, make sure you have ample time to read this and crank up either your Enter The Dragon soundtrack or Under The General's Marching Orders - better known in the West as the Wong Fei Hung-theme, amply featured in the Once Upon A Time In China-series.

To start, a very important and essential question: if you, Jet Lee, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen were locked in a room and had to fight to the death, who would win?!??

On any given day any of these guys would take the prize. But I do know one thing for certain… I would be the first person to be trembling in a puddle of my own piss while looking for a way to burrow myself out of there! LOL! And by the way… Why didn’t you also include James Ryan, Kurt Thomas, Jillian Kessner, David Bradley, Michael Dudikoff, the 3 Ninja kids, Billy Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Johnny Yune, Bruce Li, Bruce Lo, Bruce Le, and all the other Bruce clones??? Come on Wout... share the love, brother! (Laughs)

Well, I thought the room was crowded enough with just the four of you, but I guess the more the merrier (and I totally should have included Sammo Hung in that group)! Back to more serious matters: How did you get started as a martial artist and what styles did you learn?

I was always interested in the martial arts as a kid when I would watch James Bond films and the Green Hornet TV series with Bruce Lee. There is a science and a belief system within the martial arts that always intrigued me. I started in martial arts when I was a kid about to go into Junior High School (7th grade) because I felt like I was going to be a little fish in a bigger pond. We heard rumors that people we knew were getting beat up and harassed and I was afraid.

I was always interested in taking lessons but didn’t know much about it and what one might have to do to take lessons. This was right before the kung fu boom in the 70’s when martial arts was still considered “exotic” and kind of cultish and kids classes were not the bread and butter of a martial arts school like they are today. This was also a time when it was not as commercialized, genericized, and commonly accepted in the West as it is today.

The year before I started taking lessons, I was visiting my relatives who escaped from Vietnam during the previous year and several of them were black belts who were living in France as refugees. One of my cousins came home with bruises on the arms and I asked them what happened. He told me he was free-sparring with a friend of his. It was a strange concept to have a “friendly fight with a friend.” To me (at that time) it was a contradiction in so many ways. He explained what free-sparring was about where you are testing your abilities in a non-rehearsed but controlled situation where you do not try to destroy your opponent. He then told me what the training entailed when you first started out without any of the “smoke and mirrors” by taking the mystery out of it and what I would learn and how it could change my approach to life in a positive way. He continued to tell me that many of my cousins had previously trained and many were black belts and encouraged me to take it up. That really opened my eyes because he did not overexaggerate or tell me any tall tales about his experiences.

Coming back to the States, I was determined to learn, but my mom never had the money for my lessons. So I was stuck with introductory lessons for several years as a birthday present. In-between those times I would actively seek out anyone who I knew trained or knew anything about martial arts and I would ask them to teach me what they knew.

My first style I learned as a kid was Tae Kwon Do. At first, it was a pretty traumatic experience for me because up to that point, I was the last kid picked for team sports and with Sensei looking over and scrutinizing every move I made it a very uncomfortable experience. Needless to say, I was not a natural at it and was extremely un-coordinated when I first started. I could not do the simple twisting type punches from your hip that all karate styles do. My teacher was one of those strict traditionalists who used negative reinforcement to motivate you. He told me that I should not buy a gi because he did not think I would not make it past my first belt exam. Unfortunately, it created doubt in my mom and she thought that I might not be good at this and we did not continue with him and waste his time and her money.
But I was determined to stick to it and I was going to get it, which I did by training diligently by myself all summer. I would study Aikido for several years and various different styles in-between. Then I finally stuck to a school and got my black belts in Tang Soo Do and Te-Katana Jujitsu. Over the years, I have learned many different styles and am not locked down in one particular ideology of a style. I appreciate every style and system that I have learned because they all have a different approach to combat and life. But don’t ever ask me to do a karate twisting punch! I’m in therapy because of that! (Laughs)

But as a kid and in my teen years, I had aspirations of being a great tournament fighter and eventually get into movies. I went to Los Angeles for the summer before I graduated high school to visit family and was able to scope out the place. I asked a tour guide (who was an actor) if he could give me advice. He asked me what my specialty was? I told him I was a martial artist and that I wanted to be the next Bruce Lee! He laughed to himself and told me I was in the wrong city for that type of stuff. See, this was when Hollywood looked upon the martial arts film genre as just a small notch above porno movies. So, I had to think of a way to come back out to L.A. but with some other talent that could be marketable. Little did I know that it be stand up comedy that got me back out to Hollywood several years later.

Have you added any styles to your curriculum since you became a fight choreographer?

Yes! Whenever I get a chance to I will take the time to learn something new. The more you study the martial arts the more you realize that you really don’t know that much especially when you stray outside of your base style. You’ve got to understand several different approaches/styles to a fight because every style has their individual strengths and flaws. What if you were a pure Tae Kwon Do stylist and were asked to choreograph a fight scene where the director wanted a high level of grappling? You would either lose the gig or do a really bad job with it.

It’s not like it was back in the 70’s and 80’s where a fight choreographer was only adept in one style and used a slightly modified version of one-step sparring as their form of fight choreography, where the transitions were made with a right handed lunge punch. What made the one-step sparring approach to fight choreography so terrible was that the cadence and timing was almost the same for each fight. Very boring! I feel the influence in the mid-to-late 90’s changed all that with Yuen Woo Ping in The Matrix, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Sammo Hung (with his TV show Martial Law) leading to the acceptance of Hong Kong style film fighting in the American mainstream films.

I feel a fight choreographer should constantly seek new ways to express visually through non-verbal dialogue a.k.a. fight choreography. I watch many different types of sports on TV where physical contact is involved to see how the players make contact under the rules of that specific game, like Australian rules football, the Thai game of seepak takraw, rugby, ice hockey fights, etc.

I will always keep my ear to the ground to check out action films from all over the world to see how they choose to express themselves. For example, I saw Ong Bak for a little over 2 years before it ever got noticed here in America.

I was on a guest panel at a film festival and a writer/director (who wrote and directed action films) said he only watches what comes out of the West and does not understand the Hong Kong style of fight choreography and thinks it was bull crap. He continued to say that he was only into realistic fights and does not believe in wires, anything exotic, or impractical and fights should be short and quick. I really wanted to tell him, “Well, what about the sword fights in the swashbuckler movies? They can be as long as kung fu movie fights! We don’t understand the subtleties but we still enjoy them?” I bit my tongue until it bled and did not say anything to the guy. But I thought to myself afterwards, 'How sad was that?' That this guy only limits himself to one way of physical expression when there’s so much out there that you can creatively draw from. It’s like eating steak and potatoes every night for dinner for the rest of your life. He was pretty arrogant if you ask me.

You became a stand-up comedian - when did that come about and how difficult was it to break into that scene?

To make a long story even LONGER… I was competing at a karate tournament at Madison Square Garden in NYC and I wondered to myself, 'Gee, is there something else I can do with my life other than this?', because martial arts was ALL that I knew and was good at, but I knew there was a huge expansive life outside of the dojo. I was a huge martial arts geek. I read almost every magazine and book and saw almost every martial arts movie that was out there.
A few months later, I was competing at another tournament and I tore my groin muscle. I went to several doctors and they told me that they would have to do surgery and afterwards one leg would be shorter than the other and I would be lucky if I could touch my toes and I would not be able to do martial arts EVER again! That scared the living hell out of me… but something told me not to do the surgery. So the lesson here is be careful what you ask for!

At the time, I was confused, restless, and did not know what I wanted to do with my life now that martial arts were no longer a part of it. It left a huge void that I now had to figure out how to fill. I went back to college to figure out what I was going to do with myself now. I changed majors often. I was a psychology major… then social sciences… then math… then computer science… then I finally became an art major. But the problem was that I could not draw (but I always had a deep desire to learn)! However my counselor told me they had classes where you could learn. I immediately learned after my first class that it was a frame of mind on how you saw things and the more your trained the better your skills would get. Studying art is where I would learn visual balance, composition, presentation, aesthetics, etc. (which I would later use with my thought process in how I constructed my fight choreography).

After several semesters being an art major I began to get restless and impatient because the projects as you advanced would get longer and longer. I needed some immediate gratification. Yeah, I’m an adrenaline junkie or I’ve got A.D.D. or both!

When I was in training in the martial arts, I was often the class clown by pulling pranks on my instructors (thank God they all had a great sense of humor) and fellow students. This attitude bled over into my art classes. I get bored very easily so it got out of hand one day and my art teacher, Mr. Forsythe, told me that I had to do something about it and felt it was a waste of energy to spend it on disrupting a classroom. He took out the newspaper and showed me an ad where a local comedy club was having open mike night for amateur comedians.

So I went and checked out the room and eventually got the courage to perform by going and having some of my close friends help encourage me to get up there. My first couple times up on stage were excruciatingly painful… not just for me… but for the audience as well! I think being dragged through a field of broken glass then jumping in a pool of salt water would’ve been much more enjoyable for them! But I knew deep down inside that if I stuck to it I would be good at it, and I did.

It took me close to a year of bad nights to get the hang of it, but I jumped into stand-up as passionately as I had into the martial arts. There were no classes to take so it was a constant trial by fire. I read and studied the history of stand-up comedy while watching, studying, and dissecting all of the great stand up comedians figuring out what they contributed to the art form. I quickly began to realize that fighting in martial arts had many similarities with stand-up. Like reading and sizing up an audience/opponent to know what they might fall for. Setting an audience/opponent up with a joke/technique and hitting them with a technique/punch-line they never expected.

I decided to fully commit to comedy when I was up in NYC studying art at Parsons School of Design, and felt that I could not fully express myself through stand-up. One night after class, I was at The Bottom Line watching Billy Crystal record a special. Watching him perfom changed my mind, so I finished up the semester and went home knowing this was what I was going to do. Boy, was my mom pissed! She was not pleased that I became an art major but I was going over the deep end when I told her I was going to tell jokes to strangers and try to get paid for it!

About a year later, I moved out to Los Angeles and I was accepted to The Comedy Store in Hollywood about 6 months later. I was there for a little over 10 years and learned so much . I was talking to Charlie Hill, a fellow comedian who I worked with back then and he told me that we both played at the hardest club in the world and survived to talk about it. This was because on any given night the line up would include Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Kinison, Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, etc. These are comedians who sell out theaters on a daily basis and then I had to follow them. The other comedians would sit in back of the club to see if I would sink or swim. It was like going to comedy college and I learned from the best. Sometimes I drowned, sometimes I would be able to turn the audience around and keep the momentum of the room going.

I did stand up professionally for about 14 years and had 3 national TV appearances and traveled across the U.S. as a headliner. I learned a lot of life lessons while doing stand-up. I remember briefly talking with George Carlin and he told me, “The more you know about yourself and the world around you, along with your life experiences- the more material you can take up on stage.” Looking back I realized I got into stand-up because I needed to do it. At the time it was the only way I could happily express myself.

When and how did you become a professional fight choreographer?
A good friend of mine that I competed against on the tournament circuit when I was younger, Stuart Quan (R.I.P.), was hired to be a fight choreographer on a small independent movie called A Party Called Earth sometime in the late 80’s. He couldn’t do the job, so he recommended me. That was my first job as a fight choreographer. I look back at it and kind of cringe at it because of my limited understanding of what fight choreography was at the time because it looked very one-step sparring-like.

That experience made me step back and think more about what I could do as a choreographer and my knowledge as a martial artist, realizing there was a huge chasm between both skill sets that I needed to bridge. Then I would work on other films as a screen fighter and realized that I had a deeper understanding of how a fight visually should look through my art school background, but I didn’t know how to marry the two just quite yet. Even thought I worked on The Master (starring Jet Li)a year or so earlier, I still could not grasp the concept of what I needed to do to orchestrate a fight scene.

Around this time, I also became very good friends with Jeff Imada, a Stunt Coordinator and martial artist. We were both members of a laserdisc store in L.A. Chinatown where we would rent the latest films from Hong Kong that weren’t available in U.S. mainstream stores. He would always ask me what good laserdiscs to rent and then ask me why I thought the action was good. So I described to him what I thought made them stand out. When I saw him next, I would ask him if he felt I was right about my description/critique of the action and he would give me his opinions of them. This went on for a while and it was through these conversations with Jeff that he really helped develop my critical eye towards action instead of “oooh-ing and ahh-ing” at anything that looked cool.

Then I got work from TC Media as a freelance journalist where I had the opportunity to interview Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, and Yuen Woo Ping among others. I asked them questions about what they do and their creative process when I came to fights. This always fascinated me because I feel artists like them can create something from nothing.

It was also during this time I became friends with a filmmaker, Ron Strong, who is also known as a “walking film encyclopedia.” He’s helped refined my film education, sending me further down the cineaste rabbit hole. I’ve had countless conversations with Jeff and Ron about filmmaking and fight choreography over the years that have been extremely invaluable to me.

Then all this led to the point where I had to “do” instead of just “know.” Inside, I was percolating- nervous about if I could do this or not but wanting the chance to prove it to myself that I can actually do this. I was very restless at this time yet nervous whether I was able to do it or not. Then it wasn’t long before I got the job to choreograph the fight scenes for Enter The Grillmaster.


At what time did your interest in the storytelling aspect of creating a fight scene really take off?

Before I was choreographing my own stuff, I sensed a difference between choreographers, but could not structurally or technically point out what made that difference in their choreography. But whenever I saw a fight scene choreographed by people like Sammo Hung and Yuen Woo Ping, I was always on the edge of my seat, though I could not tell you what it was that they did to get that type of reaction from me. I did know I always wanted to do that myself.

That’s what made me think real hard after I worked on A Party Called Earth, because I was not really satisfied with what I did on it because it was not very natural-looking. I was very disappointed with myself and what I did with it, so I decided to put fight choreography on the back burner and focus more on being a professional stand-up because that was already heating up.

I decided to be proactive about learning to tell a story around 1990, when I was still professionally performing stand-up in Los Angeles, I got to a point where I was seen by lots of producers and talent agents who would frequently come to The Comedy Store looking for future talent. The producers told me that there was nothing as far as roles or anything really comedic for Asians. The only thing that was always available was the stereotypes of how Hollywood saw Asians at the time… the one dimensional characters - tourists with camera, refugees, convenience store owners, etc.

I was not really interested in doing that, which was why I loved doing stand-up because I felt I was breaking the stereotype by telling funny stories of how I saw the world without being unnecessarily demeaning to myself or the Asian culture. So I decided to learn how to write scripts by taking classes at UCLA Extension. There I learned the 3-act structure of story.

One of the classes I took was with Neill Hicks who specializes in writing action films. It was while taking his classes I learned and understood the 3-act structure of an action film and how important the emotional lead up to and action scene was.

Bruce Lee had this saying that went something like this... “Before I was into the martial arts, a kick was just a kick and a punch was just a punch. When I studied martial arts a kick was more than a kick and a punch was more than a punch. After I understood the concepts of the martial arts, a kick was just a kick, and a punch was just a punch.”

If you go on YouTube or any user online site where you can post your homemade fight scenes, you will see many martial artists who put up their fight scenes. You will notice a good majority of them are stuck on exotic or cool moves where “the technique is more than a technique.” Until the fight choreographer gets over the infatuation of the cool move in the fight, you cannot tell a story nor can you add natural personality to the fight because you are still concerned about the “ooh’s and ahh’s” instead of the emotional content of the fight scene.

If you look at Bruce’s fights and break them down, they are very simple in comparison to someone like Tony Jaa or Jackie Chan. But Bruce’s fights emotionally sucked you in. There was a lot of personality to them. He was in the moment with those fight scenes and you could feel it. Many people tried to copy Bruce’s techniques and his mannerisms in their films, thinking that was what made him unique. But they really miss the point because it’s not about the technique, but expressing the character through the fight scene that tells the story, while trying not to be trapped in the miasma of the technique.

How well do you feel have you been able to implement this in the work you've done?

I am very critical of my work and I often times see the flaws on the film and what could’ve made it better before I am able to ever celebrate anything I’ve ever done. I am too much of a perfectionist. Which is why I am going to direct my own short film sometime this fall.

You were a stuntman in The Master, Jet Li's first America-based film. What were the main lessons you took away from that experience?

This job was a miracle to me. A year earlier, I was at the Comedy Store working as a stand-up comedian. But there was a part of me that missed doing martial arts, but I could not because of my torn groin. I soon met Dr. Bloomquist, a chiropractor who said he could get my leg back together without surgery and he promised that I would be better than I was before my injury about 4 years earlier. Well, I was in intense holistic physical therapy for about 6-8 months. Then one day he told me that I could train again. I started training again and my skills started coming back to me pretty quickly. I am very grateful for him to get me back in shape in such a quick time. It was a real miracle. The first lesson here is that you have to believe in the impossible and that anything can happen if you put your mind to it. You also have to have the right people by your side that believe in you sometimes more than you do yourself, and that was Dr. Bloomquist.

It wasn’t long after that I met Roberta Chin who worked for Golden Harvest. She came down and saw me perform at The Comedy Store and we were talking about me possibly going to Hong Kong to perform my comedy where I would do half of it in Chinese and the other half in English and record it and possibly selling it to HBO. Unfortunately, the project did not come to fruition so she asked if I would be interested in auditioning for a movie she was producing. I wasn’t told who the director or the stars would be. She knew that I was a huge Hong Kong movie fan and I eventually got a part in it being a gang member.

The Master was my first ever job as a stuntman. It was much like on the job training for me. Many people turn their nose up to that film, but many don’t remember that it was one of Jet’s first films outside of Mainland China and he was still learning how to act and fight on film. This film was where I learned my screen fighting skills and began to understand how to construct a fight scene for film.

I learned that a fight scene is very organic in nature and the way they put fights together was through trying it out to see if it looks and feels right for the scene and then putting it together to make one cohesive piece. You have to know that I was in heaven there seeing how a Hong Kong style fight scene was created! We shot about 8 different fight scenes for that one scene and what you saw in the movie was a culmination of all those fights edited together. If you watch carefully you will see me dressed as three different people in that fight scene by the abandoned trolley station.

One of the lessons I learned was that if you are a martial artist and you have never worked on a set before, you have to be open-minded and flexible to what the fight director asks you do. It does not matter how many black belts or championships you have won, it still does not make you a filmmaker.

The reason I say this is because several stuntmen who were hired were real martial artists who did not understand how to fight on film. I kept my mouth shut because I wanted to learn and was one of the few on the set who knew who Jet Li, Brandy Yuen- the fight director, and Tsui Hark were and already admired their work. I just watched them work and did anything they told me to do. But I watched these guys continually put their foot in their mouths telling the fight director, “That would not work because a martial artist would not do that in real life!” They forget we are creating a fantasy and are hired to be stuntmen and not martial artists!

That’s one of the main handicaps in hiring a martial artist who has never worked on a film set, no matter how good you might think they are. They have a learning curve that could seriously take up a fight director's already hectic schedule. I’ve seen it happen often because they might be the star black belt of the dojo, or won some tournament, and they expect to be treated the same way on the set. Or maybe they don’t understand why they need to alter/stylize their techniques so it can read on film because they have been doing the same techniques repetitiously for many years, they feel awkward when they have to change it for film.

To a martial artist who has never been on a set before, it’s much like landing on a strange planet with different customs and ways of acting. My advice is to sit off on the side, shut up, watch, and learn. And when you are asked to do something… do it. But if you need to ask why you are doing something try not to come across like an arrogant fool. I’ve seen this happen too many times on sets and they end up not getting hired again because Hollywood is a very small town and everybody knows everybody and if you act like an idiot on a set word spreads around very quickly and they end up blowing off a potential career. Also do your homework and learn some stage or film combat skills by someone who has worked on a set as a stuntman or take a class before you walk onto a set.

When I worked on this film there were no real film stunt or film fighting schools around so I had to learn on the set. Master Yuen had a team of Hong Kong stuntmen and each of us were assigned our own personal stuntman to learn from. Brandy and his team would put together a fight scene and we had to watch our own assigned stuntman and see what they did as they went through the fight scene they choreographed. Then we would come in and copy exactly what they did… or at least try to.

We’d run through it several times while our own Hong Kong stuntman would give us pointers in-between each dry run to make it look better. Then they would each take us off to the side to clean things up if we needed to. I was fascinated at how quick they worked in putting together a fight scene. I was glad they worked fast because each fight was different from the previous and each one required something completely different from me.

It was with Master Yuen’s stunt team that I learned how important it was to stylize the techniques and how important reactions were and how our job as stuntmen was to make the star look as good as possible by how we sold the hits and reactions to whatever he threw at us. The hard part about working on a Hong Kong film with Jet was that he hit REALLY HARD!

If you notice many Hong Kong films during this time their angles never lied showing actual contact being made. Jet’s blows felt like as if I was jumping off a two story building and landing on the side of my face! And it wasn’t like you did this only one time! We had to do it over and over again! And remember we had to do about 8 different fights. Standing there as a sitting duck, exposed, and getting hit with a 25 lb sledge hammer over and over again! (Laughs)

I felt and heard my bones and tendons make a crunch noise every time Jet made contact on my body. I’ve been hit many times before in my career as a martial artist, but never as hard as Jet would hit me. He knew how to torque his body in a way that whatever he did, it would be the strongest. During one take, he hit me so hard the complete left side of my body went numb! Each time he hit me I thought to myself, “This is the end of my life as I know it! Please say we can go onto the next scene!” Then Tsui Hark would yell, “Cut! OK, let’s do it again!”

Tears would run down my eyes as my body was screaming at me for subjecting it to this bizarre and sadistic brand of torture. There was a lot of praying coming from me in-between takes, hoping we could move onto the next scene and a whole lot of cussing and crying when I or another stuntman would mess up a take and we would have to do the whole fight all over again!

One of the most important lessons I learned from this shoot was that the director really has to know what they want before they shoot their action scenes. These guys knew what they wanted with each fight scene and they often “edited in camera.” Every now and then they would shoot a master shot to cut into. You always hear directors say, let’s shoot this all in master shots from several different angles and then “fix it in post.” To be honest, I feel the director is being very lazy or they simply do not know what they want and are leaving it all up to the editor. That’s like throwing up all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle up in the air hoping that when it all hits the ground that it will be nicely put together. Just like your other shots in your film, you’ve got to know what shots you want before you shoot if you want your action to come out right.

The experience was not what I expected at all, but to be honest I did not know what I was expecting and I was grateful for the whole experience. We spent most of the time searching for techniques that would make everyone look good and have the maximum impact. The more we worked with the stunt team, the more they would understand our strengths and weaknesses. The stunt team would always push us further to see if we could do more than what they already knew we were capable of. It was like searching for buried treasure in us all.

After we wrapped the fight scene, I was laid up in bed for a week and could not move. I was one big throbbing bruise….yeah, not a pretty sight. I remember I had to do a set at The Comedy Store the night we finished all the fight scenes. As I was headed down to the club, I could feel different parts of my body cramping up and the adrenaline rush was no longer in my veins and I started to feel every hit I took from Jet. I usually am an animated performer on stage, moving back and forth on stage like a caged animal ready to pounce on the audience. However, it would not be so that night. I just sat on the stool because I could not hold myself up for any length of time. Let’s just say my set much more like a mellow “fireside chat” that night. Thank God my wife (at the time) was driving, or else I would have never made it home that night!

That experience on the film stuck with me for a very long time. I would find myself thinking about my experiences on that set and what I learned from it and what I would hypothetically do if I were in Master Yuen’s situation. I feel it was the foundation for me to build on for my career as a fight choreographer. It wasn’t long after this that I ended up getting work on Hook which was a stroll through the park in comparison.


Did you have a lot of contact with Tsui Hark? How was he to work with?
The contact I had with Tsui Hark was pretty minimal. I would take direction from the Hong Kong stunt crew during rehearsal and then from Tsui Hark when we were in front of the camera. The stunt crew would also come by in-between takes and give us quick pointers to make our techniques, reactions, or falls better. These guys were really good and quick. I do remember we had one small break in-between fights and I told Tsui Hark that I loved what he did with ZU WARRIORS OF THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN. He was shocked I even knew about it. I told him I would go to Chinatown and buy videotapes of all the good martial arts movies. There was a time I had well over 700videotapes in my collection.


Was there a 'Western-style' script for The Master or did it get changed all the time during production?
I don’t know. There must’ve been, but I was never given a script to the film. All I knew was that I was a gang member and was harassing the three Hispanic kids when Jet comes in to beat us all up.


That's it for part one of the interview, folks - part 2 is coming up tomorrow, taking us through the rest of John's career, and going into depth about his theories, likes and dislikes with regards to screen choreography. Trust me - it's great stuff!

And anyone who wants to see Jet Li beat John up (and see an interview with John recalling the occasion as well as the stunt that almost killed him), can get the Hong Kong Legends DVD of The Master right here:



And if you want to be impressed by John's abilities as a martial artist, stunt performer AND choreographer, check out his demo reel!

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