I learned a couple things recently when I saw the advanced press screening for BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER. First, I realized that multi-ton train cars can actually be flipped. Second, I made a groundbreaking discovery in the area of dermatology. From what I gathered, Antonio Banderas, who plays special agent Jeremiah Ecks in the film, has permanent 5-oclock shadow. And lastly, I realized that Lucy Liu can absolutely, one hundred percent, kick ASS. The movie was certainly entertaining, while lacking an elaborate plot, and was filled with so many explosions and gunfire my ears were ringing as I headed back to my car afterwards; but what stood out the most was Liu. I must say, shes unbelievable. I think Im in love.
So, as lovestruck as I was, its understandable that I was fired up to hear Warner Brothers was holding press interviews for the film. By Saturday morning, I was a mess. I scurried around my apartment, gathering the usual press-dude stuff .pen, tape recorder, long-stemmed rose .and headed out the door. The event was held at the Park Hyatt hotel in Century City, the perfect romantic backdrop for me to make my move and . OK, listen. To make a long story short (which is, Im sure, what youd all love for me to do more often), nothing happened. Despite my constant attempts at flattery, and my repeated use of the word organic in order to sound intelligent, the interviews went off as they always do business as usual. I was heartbroken, but plugged away.
Oh yeah, Ray Park was there too. He came in first, in fact. He plays the head evil henchman, A.J. Ross, working for sinister villain Robert Gant. Park is a martial arts master who got his big break playing Darth Maul in STAR WARS: EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE but also starred as the headless horseman in THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW and Toad in X-MEN. He is, as they say, the most recognizable actor youve never seen. Needless to say, Park was very happy to finally be playing a regular guy, without makeup. Sure, he still plays an ass-whoopin dude, but at least you see his face. During the interview he came across as very mellow, especially for a guy who could snap your neck just by looking at you. He talked about his days growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, how he once was jumped by 10 drunk guys (some with knives) and came out alive, and how he once competed in the Martial Arts World Championships. Heres a bit more from Park
So you said that you were attacked once, and it motivated you to try acting. Is it true that in real life, unlike movies, you dont get attacked one at a time, like you do in films?
Yeah. Id like to one time try it in a movie, though. Itd be nice to have five guys jump at me at once, and I have to just defend myself and see where it goes. Itd be fun to do that.
Do you still live in London?
Yes. I commute a lot to Los Angeles, though. Im married there, but dont have children. I like it in Los Angeles, but I love it in London. My home is there. But I like to travel. I always have. Through my martial arts Ive always been able to travel. And now because of my work Ive felt really privileged to travel a lot.
Have you begun pre-production on IRON FIST yet?
In a way, yes. Were looking to start that later this year. And Im really excited about that. Itll be my first leading role, and Im playing a good guy. I might be able to kiss a few girls even.
When you first got into movies through martial arts, did you expect to be a leading man?
I started martial arts because of movies the Hong Kong movies, etc. I wanted to be able to do what they did in the movies like fly through the air, you know. And I actually believed as a kid that I could do that. As I got older, I got more into the love of martial arts. When I was 14, I realized I wanted to take a crack at movies. I said that when I was 25, I wanted to be in movies I figured the way to do it was start in Hong Kong movies, then move to Hollywood Then I got my lucky break in a martial arts movie in London and it took off from there.
Is there an age limit for martial arts actors? Say, by the time youre 30 are you too old to do some things?
I dont think so. In martial arts theres something for everyone, at every age Theres all different styles of martial arts for everyone. In Malaysia there are kids as young as 5, and adults as old as 80 doing it.
What do you do for fun now, besides martial arts, to relax?
Martial arts does relax me. I love going to the gym. I used to be a fanatic as a kid. I would be in there all day. Now I just go in for a few hours But I also love reading scripts.
Do you ever envision a point in your career when youll be acting, and martial arts wont be involved?
It will always be a part of me. Id love to do comedy. I wouldnt see myself doing Shakespeare, but comedy Id like to do. I like fooling around, myself. Itd be nice to be light and doing action as well, like Jackie Chan.
What did Darth Maul do for your career? Was it what you expected?
It helped, but not as quickly as I wouldve liked. Im an impatient person, and when I have focus on something, I achieve it It was hard to wait 18 months for a movie to come out before everyone knew who you were.
Any chance youll be in another STAR WARS movie?
Im not too sure. Id like to. Itd be nice to come back as Darth Maul.
Next in was
Was this movie exhausting or what?
Um, yeah. It was. Not only were we kicking butt but the weather there was frigid, so cold. But I had a great time doing it. I trained a lot beforehand here in Los Angeles that I was pretty prepared for it. When we started shooting it was already pretty natural to your body. You cant just pick something up and do it. You have to practice and then let it flow.
But you did CHARLIES ANGELS. Did that make this easier?
Yes. I now understand the vocabulary of fight choreography So I could understand them and I could also give them my input.
What kind of training did you guys do?
Amazing. Three and a half months of 7am to 6pm. I did some weight training, and a ton of choreography and stick fighting. And then the worst thing, well not the worst thing but the most difficult thing was when you got out there you suddenly had to beat up a bunch of guys you dont know. Some guys are harder and not as soft when you hit them. So it can be very painful. You have to kind of re-learn everything.
No major injuries, but tons of bruising. Tons of bruises. I had done a lot of acupuncture and massage before I left to shoot, but then when I was up there I just took hot baths to recoup.
What role do you play in KILL BILL, the new Tarantino film?
We are all assassins in KILL BILL. Im an assassin, but I become queen of the underworld in it.
What do you think about the violence in this movie and others youre doing?
Theres excessive violence in this movie, but the irony is you dont see blood, ever. You see a couple of cuts on Antonios face, but thats it. I dont endorse gunplay at all. Thats what we did in CHARLIES ANGELS. Theres no gunplay for the girls. But this is that kind of movie. Im not going to deny that this is a full action movie. Lets face it, the title is BALLISTIC. This isnt a romance. And if you dont want to go ballistic, dont go .But this is more of a bullet, Steve McQueen, old school action movie. Theres no C.G.I. in this film That was not our intention. Its a simple story about two people trying to find something thats important to them.
Is there a superpower you wish you could have to help save the world?
You dont need a superpower to do that. You just need people to love each other. I know, it sounds so cliché, but its true.
Did you get to keep any of the cool clothes you wear in the film?
No. Never. They always say youll get stuff from the movie .not.
You have little dialogue in the film. How did that help or hurt you?
I think when youre doing action, unless youre Indiana Jones, the less exposition the better. For her, she was kind of doing one thing and it happened to coincide with what Ecks was doing. But I think that having less dialogue just makes her seem more intense. As opposed to giving her all these lines, which I think would take away the intensity that you could bring to the audience.
What drew you to the part?
She was originally supposed to be a male character, and that I liked. So turning her into a female I thought, good, you can have a woman fighting a man and not have her whining and pulling hair. For this movie it wasnt about gender and emotion, it was just about skills, and I think its nice to see a woman who have skills and not try to make her seem like shes weaker.
KILL BILL is also about revenge, right?
Yes. Uma Thurman is the lead in the movie, and its going to be a kick-ass movie. I dont know, I havent been there for a month or so, but I feel really good about it. I feel very proud to be a part of it. I just felt like it was one of the most amazing experiences Ive had.
Are you done with it?
No. I have to go back intermittently.
Where does your family come from?
My familys from China. They came here and I was born in New York.
Were you a fan of martial arts films as a kid?
When youre younger, you just watch what your parents are watching. My dad watched martial arts films. Its very normal to watch those films when youre Chinese, when youre exposed to it when you go to the theater in Chinatown and thats whats playing.
Thats about it. Thanks again to Warner Brothers for their hospitality.