Known for his roles in martial arts classics King of the Kickboxers, No Retreat No Surrender 2 and 3, The Silent Force and many more Loren Avedon has been a fan favourite for many years. I recently did a rather huge interview with him that I’ve split into two parts with part 2 coming in a few days. So sit back, relax and enjoy.
Thanks for joining us today; so I think all the fans would love to know what are you up to these days?
Well, I’m just trying to be a part of the solution in this current environment; I have been in Florida now for about 16 months and I just love the area. I’m a very regular chap who has done some extraordinary things. I’m still training as well as working on my house; I have wonderful neighbours which is one of the reasons I love the South. People are so friendly, and I am naturally; I grew up in Los Angeles but you can live in L.A. next to someone for 40 years and never talk to them.
I’m still writing and getting things organized with a few projects that I’m trying to initiate. My daughter has set up a wonderful website to help me. She was inspired by my passion for certain charities so we’re trying to put out with the help of friends warriorwear.clothing. It’s just in the cocoon phase just now but we’d like to raise money; these products wouldn’t be to raise money for my personal portfolio as it were; it would be to give to some charities that I’m very, very passionate about like UNICEF or UNHCR. There are a lot of people that are living in tents ostracized from the countries they live in because of war and various things. We have a terrible problem here with PTS (it’s no longer called PTSD) with soldiers killing themselves with around 22 per day in my country and I can’t live with that. I’m from a military family on my father’s side and my mother’s side.
So, I’m just day to day being a regular guy and love to keep in touch with my fans and I love to get my hands dirty and do a lot of work on the house. I help friends; I’m in Florida so there are a lot of older people here, so I help my neighbours with things. Some of them know what I’ve done in the past and some of them don’t, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just wonderful to be able to communicate with you, to have done so many wonderful things at a time that really was the golden age of the first sort of Western/Hong Kong, action driven, martial arts movies. Just to be a part of that is amazing.
I’ve been in the rabbit hole for quite a while so I took care of my mother in Hawaii – that was my project, just move over there with my mom and then I can take care of her and let her go. I’m an only child from a single parent. So what I’m up to today is I’m trying to catch back up to speed; I didn’t have an Instagram account until recently and yes, I’ve got a Facebook so I’m just reconnecting with the world. That was my therapy was to be in Hawaii. There’s a few irons in the fire with projects but that’s really just something that I would like to do behind the scenes as I started to produce a couple of films in the late 90’s and enjoyed it. I’ve also written some things and then there’s all these projects that I’d love to do; I’m passionate about kid’s programs, about martial arts always; I’m supposed to do a seminar in Stuttgart in May but that’s probably going to get rescheduled. The whole idea is that I’ve completed my duties as a son and my daughter is doing fabulously well at school. So just trying to be of service and that’s part of being a good martial artist as that’s what I am at heart. I come from the warrior class and that’s why I feel that I should do things to help others.
I was actually going to ask you if you would ever be interested in doing a YouTube seminar for fans?
Oh sure! That would be fantastic! I have some really wonderful fans that are really technically gifted plus I have a former partner in other businesses. He’s an amazing programmer. I have a couple of chaps including one who built my website and he also built Warrior Wear for me using WordPress. I mean I would love to! I’ve got a YouTube channel which I should start using. It’s just a matter of timing, support and need. People ask me “Why don’t you write a book?” and I say “Who cares? Everybody writes a book; I’m not done yet! When I’m real old then maybe I’ll do that.” I would love to do that though and have that kind of interaction.
Yeah! I know Scott Adkins has been posting all kinds of videos recently like training, etc…
Well I’m a big fan of his; not sure if you know this or not but when I did the Clash of Titans 5 in Birmingham; there are some YouTube videos of me with long hair doing a musical form with Vincent Lyn. Scott was one of the young lads who came up and got an autograph. Now here he is so many years later and I know him through the stunt community as that’s what I did later on in my life as I went back to stunting. I mean, they know that I can whoop ass and take it and I would rather work so I love being part of the stunt team. J.J. Perry (a very dear friend of mine) hired Scott to double Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Scott is just such an amazing athlete and martial artist. I think that was back in 2009 so that’s how he kinda got into it. Scott is a whole different level of athlete but for my time I was an Action Elite! He’s a really great fighter who loves to put the physicality in to the fights which is something that I miss in all of these over choreographed videogame-y generation films. Scott is a bit underrated even though he works quite a bit and I’m so happy for him. I hope to someday do a film with him; as a matter of fact I’ve written a treatment so if we get the funding for this or that then we’re going to try and get him in there. So we’ll see…
Fan Question:Stefanos Loisiosasks who are some of your favourite martial artists working today and what is your opinion on modern martial arts in general?
There are so many it’s really unfair to pick a favourite; the thing that is important to me is that there are so many people who have doubles. When you know about the filmmaking business you know there are a lot of people who can’t really do it. Their stunt doubles make them look good. Like I said Scott is still number 1 on my list. As far as other martial artists I don’t really know very much about them. Of course there’s Tony Jaa and the oldies like Jet Li, Jackie Chan and of course Donnie Yen who trained for years for the Ip Man films. We have some incredible athletes and even going back to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon you have Yuen Woo-ping still working. So they all qualify for being action stars. When I was living in Hawaii I did a breakdown of Ip Man in an action workshop which is on one of my YouTube channels. There was Tony Leung Siu-Hung who plays the Green Dragon master in the first Ip Man. He’s the guy who did the fight choreography for Blood Brothers: No Retreat No Surrender 3 and King of the Kickboxers and there he is! In the picture we have together he’s wearing a green sweat suit that’s just kinda eerie and weird.
There are so many great and talented martial artists and what’s happening now is that we have all of these phenomenally talented martial artists who can just pick up a camera, go out and shoot an incredible fight scene. You’ll know all about this but these days they do Pre-visualisation where they shoot all these particular things. I know all the biggies like Chad Stahelski who did the John Wicks; I know J.J. Perry as we trained together, and I used to teach at his school in Inglewood. I know all of these chaps so it’s just wonderful to see them and people like Keanu Reeves out there doing his thing. Some of these actors who are very serious, they’re not necessarily martial artists but they’re exceptional athletes and they are willing. It’s hard for me to really say but I’m sorry Tom Cruise, you do some of your own stunts but not all of them. It’s an interesting world we live in now where you don’t know what’s real as you have things like face replacement like in Gemini Man with Will Smith. J.J. gaffed this whole motorcycle thing which is absolutely phenomenal. Over the top for me but still amazing. That’s all face replacement where it’s some other guy but they have the technology of putting Will Smith’s face on this stuntman.
So it’s an interesting question you ask but my favourites is Scott Adkins as he is a naturally gifted athlete and martial artist. I think he is a little pigeonholed in these macho roles as I would love to see him in other genres and do more writing and directing. I also love seeing Gina Carano do her thing as I know when it’s her. When she’s in a movie like Haywire (which J.J. also gaffed) it was amazing as when I see action I want it to look like it really hurt and I got that from the fights in that film. There is an acting aspect to fight scenes and that’s what I get bored with in the overly choreographed films. I just want the fans to understand that there are a lot of stunt professionals out there that are making these actors look good. It was great to see Brad Pitt receiving his Oscar for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and praising the stunt community.
Any major franchises you’d be interested in joining these days like John Wick?
You know, I really love Daniel Bernhardt in that, and he is just fantastic. I remember seeing his demo reel as I was doing my stuff and I thought “wow, the camera really likes him” but he didn’t say anything in the demo reel, so it was just him bouncing around and laughing. Now look at him! He’s a tremendously talented martial artist and actor. The thing is about being part of a franchise is if you think of say Johnny Depp and how he said he didn’t want to become a product but then he did all those Pirates of the Caribbean films. There are so many characters from Mortal Kombat and Fatal Fury that are based on me or my characters. You can see it in some of their features, so I guess I’m sort of a part of them already… they just haven’t paid me anything yet (laughs). The thing is it’s all a machine, it really is. Here’s my feeling on it -If I can lend something to that and they recognize that then I would love to be a part of it. There are so many talented actors and martial artists that I don’t feel upset about not being included. I’m sure if I had stayed more in the business (as I segued out to look after my mother and daughter) as I could have gone into stunt coordinating or action direction, but family is more important. Whatever these franchises are there’s always going to be somebody who’s great for that role but I would love to be included and I can still do it. I’ve done hundreds of episodic TV for the likes of Disney and ABC; then there’s Netflix now and anyone with a camera can make a movie. I ain’t dead yet so we’ll see what happens (laughs). There are hundreds of people who could do these jobs; I love Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man for example. Nobody could play that part better than him. He’s just so natural when he’s on screen so there are just so many talented people out there. Would I have liked to be one of The Expendables? Yeah but I’m not that caliber; I’m not an A guy, I’m a B guy but what the heck.
What film do fans ask you about the most?
King of the Kickboxers absolutely! First of all I’m just so grateful for the people who interact with me. I have some the nicest fans; I can’t speak for anybody else but if you look at my Facebook you’ll see all of these really nice people because you can have some really nasty trolls out there. To hear things like “you inspired me to start martial arts” is great; yes, they ask about King of the Kickboxers, they ask about this or that and I give them little tidbits. There could be documentaries or films made about the making of these movies. It’s just really wonderful to be King of the Kickboxers; I never got in the ring in my life but at least unlike Van Damme I didn’t lie about it. Just to be able to hang with people of the caliber of Billy Blanks, Keith Cooke or Keith Vitali in those days was wonderful.
Just as an aside the Hong Kong stunt guys would get kind of upset as I kept saying “I want to do that stunt!” and they would tell me to take a rest. I want to do as much as I can as I want the audience to be involved in this and to see me as much as possible. That’s just part of it. So King of the Kickboxers and then of course No Retreat No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers. Keith Vitali and I are still great friends; he lives in Atlanta, so he’s been down to visit me a couple of times now that we’re so close. He’s just a terrific guy. He got upset with the writer Keith W. Strandberg saying “what’s the idea of having the two of us trying to beat up this one guy? (laughs)” but it’s a fabulous fight scene! A funny story about the end of it – Lucas Lo the director didn’t want to shoot that ending reconciliation scene and I went absolutely bananas about that and I said “listen, this is a story about brothers! We have to reconcile” and he said “OK I give you one take!” and if you look at the movie it wouldn’t have been the same without the two of us making up at the end.
Keith Vitali hasn’t been on social media for a while now as he’s got a bunch of things he’s working on and frankly he just can’t be distracted as it takes a lot of time.
What do you think is the enduring appeal of King of the Kickboxers?
With these movies they’re all meant to be entertaining; they’re all meant to be something where you go “wow, that’s cool!” or get involved with the characters and just brought into that world. To be able to have done that and again been able to work with Billy Blanks; I’m doing a fight that was epic with this 7-time world karate champion! Getting kicked by him every day for 14 hours every day is something (laughs). The story too with the revenge aspect is one people enjoy and the fans want to see what happens with this over the top, tongue in cheek story. I mean who shows up at a Muay Thai camp and challenges the Thai boxers and gets his ass kicked by some other guy and keeps going? (laughs)
It’s entertaining! I think it’s still the fights that hold up. There’s some acting involved in those fight scenes, there is actual pain in those fights that’s palpable. It was kind of a unique film. No disrespect to other fight movies but King of the Kickboxers had a through line and a sort of fantasy world that was really engaging. The same thing could be said for Blood Brothers. Keith and I made this into something that people just wanted to see. Keith broke his arm and that’s why he’s got the cast in that movie. Somewhere buried is a film crew that followed us around; there’s some little video clips but there is 6 weeks worth of footage of what it was like. I think it would be fascinating if we could dig that up and show people that this is how it used to be done.
If I can digress for a moment at one-point Tony Leung Siu-Hung is standing behind the camera with his fist out and I have to turn into him going BOOM and getting hit in the face and he’s like “Loren… we’re still friends, right?” and I’m like “yes, Tony we are! Let me just stick some cotton on my face so we don’t have swelling (laughs).” I mean there is no one to replace the likes of Billy Blanks or even Matthias Hues due to their build and skills in Thailand. It was that combination of having the fantasy story and a larger than life situation and some really great action. I was so lucky to get to work with Billy Blanks as he was so humble; he would say “Loren, this is your movie so I want to make it the best it can possibly be” and it was. I think Keith Cooke was also amazing in it with one of his best characters.
I can remember being there on the day and he had to do these three spin kicks and Corey Yuen had shown up for this day as it was going to be this epic introduction of Prang to this film. He said “Loren I can’t get around the last spin” and I said “jump!” so he did it and it was just superb! That’s the thing; it’s all a team effort. It would be hard to replicate it now. We didn’t have any monitors or pre-viz back then. We were sick a lot due to the temperatures in Thailand so all of that shows and you use all of it when you’re in that kind of scenario.
Back in the day only Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee had better choreographed fight scenes according the Blackbelt Magazine. King of the Kickboxers was number 4 on their list, then Blood Brothers at number 5 with No Retreat No Surrender at number 6. That was back in the early 90’s but hey, that’s something!
Peter Kane wanted to know what your favourite fight scene is that you’ve done?
It’s like trying to pick an apple out of a bag of apples (laughs). All of them I enjoyed and tried to make exceptional. There are some fights that I’ve done in other movies with other stars where frankly a lot of good stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. When you look better than the star of the movie it doesn’t look too good. I would probably have to say the Blood Brothers fight in the hanger. That’s at the same level as the fight with Billy Blanks. Just the level of all these great fights; when I first came to Thailand I was as green as green can be as I was 23 years old and did No Retreat No Surrender 2 I was able to work with all these amazing choreographers and stunt people. To be able to jump off the doorknob and sidekick that guy in the hall was another favourite but there are so many little snippets that I can’t really choose one.