It seems to me that Simon Rhee is one of the busiest actors/stuntmen working in Hollywood today.
Rhee is busy choreographic fight scenes and doing stuntwork on Hollywood’s biggest productions (such as the upcoming “Dark Night Rises”), and acting in low-budget films as well.
Master Simon Rhee is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and a 4th Degree Black Belt in Hap Ki Do. He is a World-Class Martial Artist, and is a many-time Grand Champion of the tournament circuit. He’s well known throughout the martial arts community for his countless victories as Grand Champion in the tournament circuit, in both sparring and in forms.
Since coming to the movie industry, Rhee has evolved as a stunt coordinator, fight choreographer and actor as well. He’s also an instructor to many celebrities. He has a keen eye for creating the most dynamic fight and action sequences specifically for the motion picture camera, and has available to him an extensive network of the best trained stunt people and equipment to use for specific stunt scenes.
Simon Rhee has acted, fight choreographed, performed stunts for, and stunt coordinated in the motion picture industry for over 30 years. Master Rhee is also a member of the International Stunt Association and a 2 time winner of the Taurus World Stunt Awards (“Best Fight Scene”, 2002; “Best Fire Work”, 2007), having been involved in the film and television industry for over 30 years as an actor, stunt person, fight choreographer, 2nd unit director and stunt coordinator.
When he is not filming, he continues to enjoy teaching and training at his Woodland Hills Tae Kwon Do Center with his panel of Black Belts. Master Rhee has taught thousands of men, women and children the art of Tae Kwon Do for over 30 years at his Tae Kwon Do Center. Because Simon Rhee is a teacher’s teacher when it comes to Tae Kwon Do instruction, he has given many dynamic seminars throughout the United States and around the world, to students and to Black Belt Instructors.
And, my luck did not let me down this time, as Mr. Rhee did find some time to answer my questions, exclusively for “BZFilm”. Scroll down to read the interview, where Master Rhee briefly talks about his martial arts, people he trained, the upcoming “Dark Night Rises” film, and more.
You’ve trained a lot of celebrities such as Faye Dunaway, Heather Locklear, Beau Bridges, Jay Leno… who of them all, in your opinion, had the discipline and abilities to learn something from martial arts?
All of them – everyone has the capability of learning something from training.
Please tell us how you got the part in “Best of the Best”…
I got the part because my brother, Phillip Rhee (played “Tommy Lee”) trusted me to do the acting and fight choreography.
Back to the “Best of the Best” film… in the first movie, you starred with Eric Roberts, who is not a martial artist, yet he appeared in first two parts of the series. Some sources online list Roberts as one of your students. Did you train him for the films, or he was your student outside of “Best of the Best”? What was it like working with him?
Phillip trained him on the first film, and I trained him on the second film. Eric was very professional and was a hard working, dedicated learner – I taught him martial arts techniques, and he would teach me acting techniques.
A question I am sure most people would want to ask… your brother, Phillip Rhee did all four of “Best of the Best” films, and then vanished from the screens. The last time I checked, Mr. Rhee was an acting head of a 3D animation studio… What happened to him?
He is still involved in the business side of movie making, and may be focusing on directing in the future.
Your stunt work in movies is very impressive, and one of your last projects is the awaited batman film “The Dark Night Rises”. Without spoiling the upcoming spectacle…please tell what a viewer should approximately expect? Did you just do the stuntwork on the film, or some martial arts/choreography as well?
I did teach some fight choreography to about 150 background actors, but mostly it was doing stunt work. From “Dark Night Rises” people should expect some spectacular stunts, and it promises to be one heck of a ride.
IMDB lists a few titles, where you appeared as a second unit director. With such an impressive film work as yours, have you ever considered making your own film, with martial arts in it maybe?
I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the time to focus on making my own film, but it’s always a possibility.
As far as your acting credits go, in most films an expert martial arts master as you are, is given mostly small parts (aside from stunt work and fighting choreography)…don’t you feel you’ve been stereotyped?
That’s the nature of stunt work and all of us have to do small parts when you are in the business. Much of the work we do is not seen, and I do enjoy all of the work, since it’s sometimes about the cameraderie and putting together some cool choreography, and it’s sometimes about working with actors or stunt people you respect and admire.
You’ve fought many martial arts both on-screen and off the camera as well. Whom would you recall being really good at what he does?
Some of the best martial artists I have worked with are J.J. Perry, Scott Adkins, Robin Shou, John Valera, Hiro Koda, Ming Qiu, James Lew, and of course my brother, Phillip Rhee.
You’ve won numerous awards for your stunt work and fight scenes. Which award, both in movies and outside of them, you would love to get?
I am very honored to have received 2 World Stunt Awards. In the future, I wish stunt people would be recognized for their important part in the movie industry from the Oscars.
Below is a photo gallery of Simon Rhee that I’ve put up. Most of it was taken from his official website, and I must admit I was impressed. It seems like Rhee took pictures of every major Hollywood star he worked with!
Check out the photos below, where Rhee stands shoulder to shoulder with such stars as Jack Black, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Austin, Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, Adam Sandler, and others.
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