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Interview with Toby Russell, a student of Robert Tai
Godfrey Ho, Malaysia and Bruceploitation 1/1 - Page 3
Author(s) : Yannick Langevin
Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 17/2/2007
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Godfrey Ho Chi Keung
Roy Horan
Philip Ko Fei
André Koob
John Ladalski
Bruce Le
Chris Lee Kin Sang
Dragon Lee
Bruce Leung Siu Lung
Bruce Li Siu Lung
Movies :
Angel Mission
Bruce Lee - True Story
The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
Fist Of Unicorn
The Man From Holland
Ninja Final Duel
The Story Of Drunken Master
< Previous
Page 2 : Toby Russel and Taiwanese Kung Fu movies
Questions by John Nada and Rico for Nanarland.com.

We are grateful to Toby Russell for his availability, his passion... and his patience.


Nanarland: You are credited as an actor in Angel Mission /Born to Fight directed by Chris Lee and Godfrey Ho. The latter has a very poor reputation among fans. How was the shooting? As you're an expert on HK cinema, what can you tell us about this mysterious character?
Toby Russell: Godfrey Ho is a really cool guy and a decent director too. I first met him when he was making a Man from Holland. I was amazed at how fast he was. I got a small part inAngel Mission, but Godfrey was overpowered by Philip Ko Fei and all the stuntmen. He was like a school teacher taking care of a group of naughty boys.

I don't think he is mysterious, he really did a lot of films, but he did not do those Korean IFD films. They were made by Koreans. He was teaching film studies until last year at the HK Polytechnic [University] (Roy Horan also teaches there -science). I forget what Godfrey is doing now. I met him about six months ago, he told me but I forgot.

Nanarland: You worked in Malaysia (with John Ladalski) as a scriptwriter, director and actor on two films. How did you find yourself on those projects? Were those films made for the local markets or the international ones?
Toby Russell: I got John those jobs. I went to Cannes in 89, I met a guy called Sunny Lim. He asked me if I wanted to make films in Malaysia. I said "yes, of course," so I did. They were for the Malaysian market mainly but the first film Daddha Connection was sold to many countries. It was an OK film but it was unfinished as Alexander wanted more money to stay an extra week and Sunny Lim said no. So there were a few scenes missing. It was shot on Super 16mm like Ninja Final Duel. The second film was shot on 35mm. The crew were all amateurs. It was mad but good fun. The film was good too in a mad way. I did not edit that film as Sunny would not even pay for me to stay and edit it. So they spoiled a lot of it. Now Sunny is going to shoot a film with Seagal, Van Damme and Mike B, a new Thai kung fu star.
Nanarland: Action cinema from the Philippines and Indonesia are known but we are not much aware of Malaysian productions. Can you tell us more about them?
Toby Russell: They are few and far between, but in the 50s there were many films made by Shaw Bros and a great director called P Ramlee. The trouble with them is they are so lazy and they lack creativity, same can be said for Singaporeans.


Bruce Li Siu Lung Vs Lung Fei in New Game of Death aka Goodbye Bruce Lee


Nanarland: How Bruce Lee' death was felt in HK? We are surprised to see so many movies using archive images of Bruce Lee in his coffin. Wasn't it shocking for the audience at this period?
Toby Russell: No.
Nanarland: Is it true that fake Bruce Lee movies were only made for exportation and targetting Western audience? Was the HK and Taiwan audience interested in such productions? Was the movie marketing (actor's names, titles, posters using the real Bruce Lee) made in order to misguide foreign buyers?
Toby Russell: No, Taiwan was a big market for these films too. Bruce Lee - True Story was seen dubbed into Cantonese for theatrical release. I have it.
Nanarland: It seems that the bruceploitation wave has a Taiwanese origin more than an HK origin, is it true in your opinion? Where did the idea to make fake Bruce Lee's movies with Bruce Lee's stock shots come from?
Toby Russell: I am not sure about this, as the producers that had those Taiwan films lived in HK too. My friend Mr Shih Chiao Chin shot all the funeral footage with the idea of using [them] in movies he produced, Fist of Unicorn and Story of Drunken Master.
Nanarland: You have met and talked with fake Bruce Lee performers such as Bruce Li Siu Lung. What's your take on them and what could you tell us about peoples like Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Bruce Liang, Dragon Lee or other ones you personally appreciate?

Toby Russell:

Bruce Li: A very nice polite gentle guy, a big movie fan and a Bruce Lee fan.

Bruce Le: A mad scheming businessman who loves to talk fast and think big, not afraid to take risks, that's why he is now in prison in China for fraud. I asked to interview him but he refused /said that people will hate him as he copies Bruce Lee. I said no they like you for it , but he still would not do it. At that time when I asked him he had hit the big time selling currency and stocks and shares. I met him many times even in Cannes.

Bruce Leung: A complete martial arts fanatic who loves fighting. In fact that's all he talks about fighting, fighting, fighting and he's good at it.

Dragon Lee: A very smart, very nice guy. I only met him once for about an hour in a Korean coffee shop but he was great, he is a good businessman too, he has a chain of cinemas in Korea.

Nanarland: Could you tell us about Dick Randall and André Koob, two producers who came to Hong Kong to shoot movies with Bruce Le for the Western market?
Toby Russell: I don't know André Koob, never heard of him. Dick Randall, I knew [him] well, he was a great guy. I did the last deal of his life and his wife said his dying words were "Tell Toby the master is at Del Compo." That's a lab in Rome. I once took Dick and his Wife to late night kung fu cinema to watch Eight Diagram Pole Fighter in Brixton, he loved it. He said that was the best cinema experience ever!
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Page 2 : Toby Russel and Taiwanese Kung Fu movies

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