The Man With The Iron Fists was released this week (read our review in FRONT 180 you punks) and one of the coolest characters is played by Rick Yune, who most of you will recognise as the big baddie in Die Another Day and Johnny Tran from The Fast And The Furious. Well we got the chance to have a quick chat with him WHICH WE HAVE INCLUDED BELOW FOR YOUR PLEASURE. It would be selfish to keep it to ourselves.
Hi Rick, how did you first get involved with the film?
Well, I’ve known RZA for quite some time, probably about eight years now. I was making a film of my own (The Fifth Commandment) and he helped me with some of the research, then just before I went off to film it he mentioned that he’d just finished the script for The Man With The Iron Fists and he wanted me to star in it. It was his first endeavour and you never really know with these things but it was an honour for a buddy to write something that he was passionate about and wanted me to star in it. So when I’d finished The Fifth Commandment I saw that he was moving along with his film and seeing as a lot of friends helped me out with my movie, I thought it would be the right thing to do to help out another friend with his. Originally the story was very different, for example Jack Knife was supposed to be a villain and I was supposed to face off and kill him, also Blacksmith had a smaller role because RZA wanted to stay behind the camera, but it progressed and I think we’ve ended up with something pretty spectacular.
Were you keen to use your martial arts skills in this?
I’ve been training in martial arts since I was a kid and I understand how to move in that way, but when I’m making a movie I feel that the punches, the kicks and the gun fights are really not that important. What’s important is the intention behind it, how it serves the story, how it supports the character and the reasons behind why it’s happening. You see great characters in films like Enter The Dragon or Dirty Harry and you’ll see Bruce Lee do one move that is so powerful or Clint Eastwood might raise a gun and say one line and it’s impactful. It’s the before and after that’s important to me and I think it’s the same for other artists that are doing this – that’s why they hire actors to do it.
How much input did you have in the overall film?
This is one part of my life where I try not to think, I want to have no control over it – I wanna see what can be created and where the spontaneity can lie so I wanted to support RZA and the vision that he had. I was training in taekwondo once and he said he thought my kicks were pretty amazing and wanted to incorporate them into the film, but it was a challenge because the armour I was wearing was restricted, in the sense that if I wasn’t wearing it, it would have been a lot easier to do some of these moves. But again, you’re working with the best of the best – Corey Yuen was choreographing it and he made things flow, so obviously as an actor I make whatever is presented to me my own. I try to work within what the team is going for, it’s not a solo mission.
What was it like working with Corey Yuen? He’s a bit of a legend…
He’s a master, you should see him, especially on set – we’re all there working in the cold and dirt and this guy who is 60 something years old – he came up in the same Chinese opera as Jackie Chan did – has the same passion and child-like glee towards his work that he did when he was young. It’s an inspiration to see and it makes you work harder, that’s why some of the long days would go by so quickly.
Was it a fun set to be on?
The RZA knows how to bring a group of people together and get the best out of them. He did it with Wu-Tang Clan and he did it here, but it was fucking tough – it was hard work, no doubt! This was not a 100 million dollar big budget movie, it was relatively small and in an environment that was similar to an independent film, but if you have a good group of people together – no matter if you’re in St Tropez or the countryside – you can have a good time. That’s exactly what we did even though we worked really hard and there were a lot of injuries, I dropped 30 pounds for the film! It wasn’t like when I shot Die Another Day – I barely saw my trailer on this one – it was constant movement! It was a six day working week of 16-17 hour days, so on that sixth day we would all get together and go into Shanghai to have a meal and party hard, then we’d rest the following day and go back to work the following day – that was the whole journey. You really learn a lot about different aspects of yourself in an experience like that because it’s very similar to what happens in the military – you become better and you do more for the next guy.
Do you wanna do more martial arts films?
I don’t really focus on what the perception of the audience will be or the genre of the movie. What I focus on is the character, I focus on the story, I focus on the people that I get to work with, the director, what direction they’ll be taking – those are the things that I’ll take away with me. Obviously what the audience gets from the movie is completely separate but those memories are the things that I cherish. You know, what I do at this point in my life is the one pure thing that I wanna keep that way – I just wanna keep it spontaneous and creative.
Who would you really like to work with?
If I was going to do an action film, I love Leon – I’ve seen it over 100 times and I’m a huge fan of it so to be able to work with Luc Besson would be amazing. If I was doing a comedy then I’d love to work with Judd Apatow’s work, I’m also a fan of Ridley Scott and Spielberg and I love the work of Danny Boyle – the kind of things he brings out are spectacular, especially for an actor. But for me it’s all about the journey, there’s never an end and it’s enjoyable that way.
So what’s coming up next?
Olympus Has Fallen comes out 17 April and we’re all very happy and excited about it – the marketing team are talking to the North Korean government to make these public releases and help me out! (laughs). The reviews have been great and it’s something that I feel is gonna give the audience something that they’re really gonna enjoy, but will make them think – it’s a realistic fact-based movie similar to what we saw in Zero Dark Thirty.
The Man With The Iron Fists is out on DVD now.