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Interview with Steve Tartalia : another gweilo bites the dust
Filmography 1/1 - Page 2
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 16/10/2005
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Frankie Chan Fan Kei
Jackie Chan
Cynthia Khan Lai Ching
John Ladalski
Chris Lee Kin Sang
Conan Lee Yuen Ba
Alexander Lo Rei
Sharon Yeung Pan Pan
Movies :
Armour Of God II : Operation Condor
In The Line Of Duty 5 : Middle Man
The Outlaw Brothers
Companies :
Golden Harvest
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Page 1 : A gweilo in HK
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Page 3 : Current career

middle man

HKCinemagic : You have a few fights with Cynthia Khan in this movie. Did her physical specificities (small, a woman) make those fights scenes more difficult to shoot?
S T : She had a dance background and was quick with rehearsals, brave, tough and spirited. In principal, I go easy on' hard blocking' during fights with women. It's terrible when an actress holds her arms in pain between takes. You know where you're going and when you're being blocked, so you just come in hard and fast but sort of ‘put on the brakes' when you're going in with fists or feet… trying to be soft at the power point without looking soft. Acting ya know!

Incidentally, in Middle Man, after fighting with Cynthia on a rooftop the jump from one building to the next with me, Gin Sun, and Cynthia was probably the most dangerous stunt I've ever done. 3 steps to jump 8 or 9 feet across a windy 400-feet canyon to the other side of a 40-storey building. Not to difficult but very very risky.


Chris Lee (the director with the gun) and Steve Tartalia

outlaw brothers

HKCinemagic : Did you find it frustrating to be killed just before the big final started?
S T : On the first day of that fight where they all came in for the final I was double booked for work I started much earlier, and had to make a painful choice; my end battle with Cynthia Khan on ‘The Middle Man', or day one of the finale of ‘Outlaw bros'. I told Frankie Chan my problem and went with my 1 st and earliest commitment. When I came back to Frankie's ‘Outlaw Brothers' he made like ‘No problem/it's cool/never mind and then…they put me out in front of the warehouse in a scene where I'm on lookout. When I get mugged from behind while putting my gun away, I accidentally shoot and kill myself. I remember at the screening all my friends laughed so hard. That's what happens if you inconvenience the boss in hk… revenge kill on film!
HKCinemagic : Frankie Chan was criticized by John Ladalski who said he hit the stuntmen for real in order to look better on screen. What is your own opinion of him?
S T : I always liked him. I believe he liked me too. I never complained. But then again, he never hit me. Outlaw Bros. was harsh on some of the players, and a few Chinese stunt players went to the hospital. But anyone who signs up for work on one of these thinking it'll be like a Disney production with a little kung fu dancing, is deluded. Once in the office Frankie showed me dailies of a nasty car slide/hits man/man goes flying. He says ‘no-one will do this, will you?'

I go ‘whats wrong with this, it looks great?'…‘Oh he's in the hospital and I'd like it done a bit differently'. I said ‘I wondered how I could do it as well without going to the hospital afterwards… He looked at me funny and laughed, I didn't. It never happened…

Crazy Yes! Stupid No… is my Motto.

HKCinemagic : Do you remember how the action scenes were designed between the several action directors of the movie?
S T : All I remember was a car team and a different fight team. A funny thing happened at the docks when Frankie stole Dragon Lady ‘Mitsuko's' Porsche and the gweilo gang gives chase. I was standing around talking to a kid watching US films who had a nice little Suzuki rsv250. He insisted I give it a ride. So I take off and come back at a good speed (top of 3 rd gear) and hit an unseen nasty little dark marble wall ‘ head on' at 60mph. Well me and that kids bike both took off and flew a good 12 meters. I know I did a double flip and managed to tuck and roll out… unharmed! The bike of course was completely wrecked. Now, imagine, every single person on the set including the action director saw this happen. 3 days later during the chase where Frankie throws the briefcase of money out of his car to slow his pursuers. A moto-cop hits the back of a stopped car sending him flying over it? … I KNOW my misfortune inspired that stunt. But that player did go to the hospital unconscious after Frankie ran in with the camera for a close up of him knocked out at front of the car. Nice guy in person but anything goes while filming.

angel terminators

HKCinemagic : You do a very dangerous stunt here, jumping on a public light from a parking, a stunt Conan Lee failed before. Was it a big pressure for you? What are your memories of that stunt?
S T : Honestly, it was a little creepy. I think Conan was still in the hospital too. I said yes but wasn't exited to rehearse…Then I saw Pan Pan go off after one stunt guy for rehearsal. WELL of course if she's doing it, I'll do it all day. When an actress is more brave than a hard-ass stunt guy well… Sheesh! On film it doesn't look like a big deal because of the coverage. But, I had to run and jump up to a car hood, railing, and ‘jump' with pam pam very close up my ass … No safety below, just some Armco railing at the curb 10 meters down. But the way they edited doesn't look scary to me… I'm all for an ‘all in one' dangerous shot, but show it that way don't cut it up please? Later on at the gravel pit fight with some good ‘TVB' fighter (forgot his name) I was on break when I witnessed Pam Pam's fight on the catwalks. The stunt guys fall over the rail, - head/shoulder into a crane platform then onto the top (not slope) of the gravel pit is to this day one of the best stunt/wrecks I ever witnessed! I was very surprised that he was ok. I must add that fighting Sharon Yeung Pan Pan was a high for me...What Power! Speed! ... Love that woman.

operation condor

HKCinemagic : How did you find yourself hired for this movie?
S T : Big casting call went out. Competition was fierce. Many European travellers stuck in town teaching English or something showed up. I remember seeing many guys lined up and given little punch/block/take a hit/fall down tests. I was happy to see Ah Gee & Ah Gunn doing the eliminations, as they were the core stunt team under Chris Lee of ‘The Middle Man' shortly before. Having gotten down and dirty with them on that, of course, they waived me off to a video screen test with dialogue. I found out I was in one month later while working in Malaysia on ‘Dadah Connection'. (Dir. Toby Russell and Alexander Lo Rei) - After calling back to HK to check my status, I found out some unnamed stuntman who wanted my job told Golden Harvest that I was in a all broken up in a deep coma in the USA. I informed them otherwise of my health, and flew back to start work. (Jan. 1990)
HKCinemagic : It was a very big production by HK standard; did it affect your working conditions compared to the other productions you had worked for? And did you feel a big difference in Jackie Chan's way of working?
S T : a) Judging by the food? Well... we all still had to fight for a good rice box lunch/dinner. You see, at mealtime a minivan opens up a back door revealing a big pyramid of takeaway food marked in Chinese. Small or big productions are the same in this. I got stuck many times on Operation Condorat the end of a food line were only chicken claws over rice were left. But in Morocco , the catered food was fine but working conditions in the Sahara dessert were pretty harsh, even for Jackie. I remember being on standby/hold near the desserts edge with no shade to hide from the sun (125degrees f) and the stunt-team would all be under the camera truck or curled up under some baby palm tree leaves. Quite funny. Then back to the hotel for swimming pool volleyball after 1 pm , - to hot to film beyond then as film stock melts at 125f.

b) It's peculiar when a director can show you how to do something better than any stuntman can. In the dessert, Jackie was directing an American stuntman to fall to his back from getting shot who was falling too ‘comfortably'. Jackie stepped in and jumped 5 feet up, legs above head and landed on his back without using his hands to break-fall!. He had a way of making it seem that ‘If I can do it, so can you'! Everyone's game would go up.

Also memorable to me was the fight on a water tower in the underground military base. I'm on the ground after falling off an air duct and Ken & Bruce were fighting Jackie right on the very edge 30 feet up. Jackie, Ah gunn, and Ah Gee worked up a 30-move sequence in 10 minutes or so at a medium to quick pace!... 1...1,2...123...123456.... and so on up to 30. Mad Genius! I thought I guess you could say the difference is feeling humbled yet inspired even more than ever before! I have never seen anyone then or now work so fast and expertly as I did then.

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