Something ought to be said here about the enormous influence that Sifu Kam Yuen has had on me, and on the whole of martial arts, for that matter. The choice of a Sifu is one of the most important moments in a martial artist’s journey. That’s for sure. In my case, as has been true of most of the turning points in my life, it just happened. Kam Yuen simply fell into my lap, or perhaps I fell into his. Read the rest of this entry »
A Thirtieth Anniversary Trip down Memory Lane
Back in 1971, a script came across my desk, so to speak (I actually had no desk: I barely had a front door) that was going to change my life and a whole lot of other people’s. It was called Kung Fu: The Way of The Tiger, The Sign of The Dragon. Jerry Thorpe, at Warner Brothers sent it to me because he’d seen my triumphant portrayal of The Emperor of The Incas on Broadway in ’65, and had been interested in me ever since. This, he thought, was a perfect role for me. Read the rest of this entry »
For a month and a half, KILL BILL concerned itself with the scenes in the hospital, with Uma in a coma, and various bits and pieces: a parking garage, an airport, stuff like that.
Finally, I got the call to go to Lancaster, out in the desert, where they’d built a pretty little chapel for the wedding rehearsal scene which is the constantly flashed-back-to centerpiece of the film. The first day there, I waited around until almost sunset, to play The Silent Flute, off-camera. It turned out it wouldn’t play at all. The poor thing had finally gone completely south, from all the cracks it had in it as a result of using it as a weapon in Circle of Iron and Dune Warriors. I switched to the flute I’d made for Kung Fu, The Movie. That worked fine, until the next day, when I had to tell Quentin. He thought about using The Silent Flute anyway, and putting in the sound later, but then decided it wouldn’t be as much fun as having the music “live’, and reasoned that, come-to-think-of-it, it would be cool to have a flute from one of the Kung Fu shows. Read the rest of this entry »
This was supposed to be a two-parter, but there’s just too much to tell.
To bring you up to date: for a month, we (Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hanna, Vivica A. Fox, Julie Dreyfus and I) had all been sweating it out in Beijing, training vigorously under the tutelage of Yuen Wu Ping, Sonny Chiba and Tetsuro Shimaguchi, while Quentin prepared to start shooting his epic Martial-Arts film: probably the bloodiest, most ambitious ‘B’ movie ever made. A Kung Fu/Samurai/Spaghetti-Western/Revenge/Love-Story, with lots of special effects and Matrix-style wirework, plus (are you ready?) more than a taste of Japanese-style animation! “KILL BILL”. (I’m Bill…but don’t try it!) Read the rest of this entry »
Exclusive Firsthand account of the making of Quentin Tarantino’s Epic Martial Arts film
I have fun these days, when people ask me what I’ve been doing. I say, “A movie called “Kill Bill”. Then I smile and say; “I’m Bill.” Sometimes (depends who I’m talking to) I say, “But don’t try it.”
Beginning on April 8, 2002, a definite red letter day in my life and, for my money, in the history of films (not just martial-arts films but films, period), I began training, along with “The Deadly Viper Squad”, four extraordinarily beautiful young women, for Quentin Tarantino’s much-anticipated epic masterpiece. And that’s what it will be, I have no doubt: a masterpiece. Certainly an epic. Read the rest of this entry »
You might find more than you ever dreamed
Most of us who were drawn to kung fu, over the other disciplines, were looking for something very special. Some of us have never found that extra magic. Others of us may have stumbled on some of it by accident. Very few of us have achieved what they started out to look for. Not that we didn’t find much to cheer about. Not that we haven’t enriched our lives in wonderful ways. But, the dream somehow has escaped most of us. Read the rest of this entry »
This year, I’m being honored by a martial arts magazine (which shall remain nameless) in its ‘Hall of Fame’, as “Martial Artist of The Year”. This is remarkable to me as I have always thought of this Magazine as the Anti-Christ of martial Arts. It seems, though, that the folks over there are coming around, although one wonders why somebody didn’t think of this twenty-five years or so ago, when I was at the spearhead of the whole martial arts explosion. Well, better late than never. And, a rocking chair is a perfectly acceptable place from which to enjoy the fruits of one’s youth. Actually, I’ve been working on these folks for some time. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve got a gripe. I love movies. I certainly feel a little special about martial arts films. Now, in recent times, there’s been a huge rush by filmmakers to get on the Special Effects bandwagon. Computer graphics and optical effects lurk behind the scenes in almost every movie. I think this is totally cool in pictures like Crouching Tiger, ‘Hidden Wires’ or Matrix I and II. (Charlie’s Angels, either I or II, hardly need any Special FX to hold my interest) I do object to this fakery, though, in pictures like, say, Romeo Must Die. Read the rest of this entry »
The following article, part of a series we will be republishing here, was written by David in November of 2003. We hope you enjoy this series.
I’ve been asked to write a column, a monthly column, here, in the pages of this magazine. It’s a very exciting idea. I think I may have been on the cover of the very first issue. I met Curtis Wong, the publisher of Inside Kung Fu, very early in the original Kung Fu series. He and his brother came in to play bad guys and have a fight with me. Curtis had the idea to start a magazine devoted to kung fu right about then. Sometime during the second year of the series, I decided to study formally with Sifu Kam Yuen. We went down the road together for quite awhile, as the awareness of kung fu spread wider and wider. When the series ended, I actually lived at Kam’s Kwoon in Torrance for a while. Sifu gave me a key and I slept on a cot in a little room in the back. Read the rest of this entry »