By Tim Tal
Quite honestly, this was indeed one of the most unexpected “R.I.P.” news I’ve received or heard/saw in a while.
This came out of nowhere, as I was scrolling down my Facebook news feed.
And there I stumbled on it – the sad news that Darren Shahlavi – one of those really gifted action stars of our time – has died in his sleep. Darren’s own last message was on January 8. The news about his passing was revealed by Darren’s family member.
According to his agent, Shahlavi died in his sleep Jan. 14. Later, a family member said that Shahlavi was taking painkillers from a hip injury, and reportedly died of an overdose.
The first reaction was obvious – “WTF?!”. Basically every day I was checking out what this guy was posting on his page, I watched his movies, I was excited about the upcoming “Kickboxer:Vengeance” film with him and Van Damme…and now he’s gone. Just like that, at 42.
I didn’t really know Darren personally (one short conversation on Facebook doesn’t count, obviously), but I do know that the martial arts community and the action film world have lost one of the best performers and actors too soon. Shahlavi could go at it both on the highest level and on a low-budget level, get beat and still look good.
Shahlavi was well respected among actors, fighters, stuntmen, other people working in the film industry and the martial arts world, who deeply saddened by his passing.
“I am deeply saddened. In loss of words. My only shimmer of a light is knowing Darren had an amazing life and career, countless friends, respect and a never ending smile. Now I am sure he is entertaining and performing in heaven. God only knows why he takes one of our loved ones so early. I pray for you and your family. Your friend in respectful memory, missing knowing you are out there…,” wrote the famous b-movie bad guy Matthias Hues, who worked with Shahlavi in several movies.
“Darren was a talented actor, an amazing screen fighter and a real gentleman. I never had the chance to work with him, though I wanted so much. When the opportunity finally arrived he was already committed to do another movie, we talked about it and he said “Next time”… Sad! Rest in Peace!”, said “Undisputed 2-3”, “Ninja” director Isaac Florentine.
I personally first paid attention to Shahlavi in the movie “Bloodmoon”, where he relentlessly fought another screen legend Gary Daniels, playing a martial arts killer. Shahlavi spent most of his career playing bad guys and he was good at it. He fought everyone – starting from Van Damme, Mark Dacascos and Donnie Yen to Steven Seagal and Steve Austin. The guy was a perfect “fighting” villain for the hero.
Shahlavi is known for his work in “Ip Man 2″ (2010), “Watchmen” (2009), “300” (2006), “Bloodmoon” (1996), as well as numerous action and martial arts films from the 1990’s and 2000’s.
He began martial arts training when he was 7 years old in Manchester, England. He then moved to Hong Kong and found himself working as a stuntman in Kung-Fu films, before he was discovered by director Yuen Woo Ping and cast in “Tai Chi Chuan.”
Shahlavi then broke into Hollywood, scoring supporting roles as a boxer fighting Eddie Murphy in 2002’s “I Spy” and 2004’s “The Final Cut” with Robin Williams.
Shahlavi returned to Hong Kong action films in 2010, co-starring with Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung in “Ip Man 2,” the semi-autobiographical tale of Bruce Lee’s real-life kung fu master Ip Man. The movie would go on to become the most successful Asian film at the box office in 2010.
I still can’t believe he’s gone. Rest in peace, Darren Shahlavi (1972-2015).
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