Talks & Interviews — February 8, 2018 at 10:31 am

Jino Kang: Wire work doesn’t belong in modern martial arts movies

By Tim Tal

Martial arts master and action star Jino Kang is wasting no time, keeping balance between his martial arts and filmmaking.

Kang, a black belt in several martial arts disciplines, also a Hapkido master, is known for his films “Fist 2 Fist” and “Weapon of Choice”, and is currently working on new projects.

He spoke to BZFilm about those projects, as well as other subjects, such as film distribution, martial arts philosophy and more.


Mr. Kang, the question of most importance – what plans do you have for your next film? Anything particular in the works already?

Yes, I have several projects in development. I have “Blade Fury” which is a follow up to “Weapon of Choice” and I have a “Wages of Sin” which is a follow up to first “Fist 2 Fist” but as a hopeful spec TV Pilot. I am also writing 2 books – Secrets of Hapkido (for 20 years) which should be published online shortly and a fiction about a young man who deals with high school bullies, which I hope to develop in to film in the near future.

You’ve written, directed and starred in three martial arts films. What are the most important things you’ve learned from the experience?

All three films made were very difficult and let alone get it distributed. Definitely it’s not me alone that made it happen. Many wonderful people and bloody efforts that come together to make it happen. From inception to the finish line it is a mind boggling struggle to get it done. However, you do have to have a vision to get it made and lead, people will join you and your passion. To these incredible people I’m forever grateful.

What was the biggest mistake you’ve made as a a filmmaker?

When you’re a struggling filmmaker you are eager to sign a deal made by shady distributors. We had numerous offers for my films even though each one seem like a good one and you want to trust them but most are not. It’s very tough to make money as an indy filmmaker. I’ll just leave it at that. But my sales agent was and is still great. An honest one at that.

Considering that money is not an issue… who of today’s martial artist you’d want to have in your next film?

Some of may heroes, Jackie Chan, Donny Yen, JCVD and Tony Jaa. And, of course it would be lovely to have Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Wesley Snipes, Cung Le and Don “Dragon” Wilson.

In the 90’s it was all about the “kickboxing movies”, which later transformed into “MMA movies”. Which do you like more? How do you think martial arts films changed through the years?

Yeah, it’s funny that way. Whatever sports/martial arts are popular at that time, the movies follow suit. Honestly, I like them all and I’ll watch them all, no matter how bad they are. Even in HK/China their films have changed drastically. Look at the “Ip man” franchise – beautifully made with great story, choreography, and without too much wirework.

When wirework is appropriate like Crouching Tiger, I love it. It doesn’t belong in modern martial arts movies, just my personal opinion. I believe there will still be lots of independent martial arts movies that will be made by up and coming filmmakers because of technology advancement. I just wish they pay attention to story, acting and choreography. I also think because of comic book heroes, lots of stunt work will be available for martial artists who want to break into the industry.

Obviously today independent filmmakers cannot always count on big investments and studio support, thus other methods of finding money for a film come in place. What’s your opinion on crowdfunding?

Well, it didn’t work for us (Weapon of Choice). We had to seek private investors, which worked out fin because of massive success of “Fist 2 Fist”. However, if you have the star power, one or more recognizable names, I believe it’s totally possible. Let’s say, I can secure Wesley Snipes for my next feature. I believe I can get funding immediately because of his name and stature. Sometimes in this business it’s who you know.

You are a Hapkido master. Please sum up your martial arts philosophy in one paragraph…

Train your body, mind and spirit. Take care of yourself. You are privileged to be here on this Earth for a fleeting moment. Train everyday and enjoy the process. Eat healthy and take care of your body which will carry you a long way. Learn self-defense. You’ll never know when you need it and it will keep you strong and confident.

Train your mind. Meditate and learn to let things go. All that trivial stuff does not matter. When you do these two things your spirit will change for the better. You’ll go to class when you don’t want to, you’ll make the time when you don’t have the time. You’ll simply be a better person when you train. You see, evil people don’t have that mental and physical discipline to last rigorous training.

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