Darren Shahlavi: In a way. Bey invited me to attend a seminar that Lau Ka Fai / Gordon Lau and Mark Houghton were doing in Birmingham, and not long after that I got a call from Bey who said "Are you sitting down? I’ve got some exciting news for you." Bey told me that Mark, his partner in a new film company and he were producing a movie called The Last Shaolin Bey was writing the script and I’d be the star with Gordon Liu playing my master and we’d shoot in Malaysia!! Obviously I was shocked and on cloud nine. Bey told me "borrow the money from your father and fly out to Malaysia and you’ll stay with Mark." I was 17 years old and about to have my eyes opened.
It turned out that there was no money to shoot The Last Shaolin, there probably never was going to be a film. I was in Malaysia under the assumption I was going to be starring in a film and apparently Bey told Mark "hey this kid wants to be in
movies and learn, train, study and follow him." So when there was no movie for me I thought they were getting it together. In the meantime I went with Mark on a couple of sets and was basically an errand boy doing what I was told to do. Thankfully Mark was working as the stunt / fight coordinator and I was working for him, it was a very good way to learn choreography, timing techniques, angles etc. from Mark, though it was hard for me as I’d unintentionally offended him.
He thought I was there to be a diligent student and I had been told by Bey I’d be starring in a film, and Mark didn’t seem to know anything about this. Let's just say there were some nice memories from Malaysia, but only some.
Mark Houghton, the first teacher of Darren Shahlavi
I remember my first time doing stunts for Mark was on a TV movie and I
was playing a role and fighting one of the lead actors from Singapore, in
one take I hit the actor with a kick and it hurt him so he took a machete
a threw it at my feet and just missed me, Mark pulled the guy aside and I
don’t know what he said to him but that guy was very nice to me after
I also did some stunts, 360 spin to the concrete with no pads only a t-shirt, a high fall from a bridge and a stair roll, at the end of the night I was exhausted but ecstatic, Mark put his hand on my shoulder nodded his approval and said "now you know why we do what we do."
That was a good night. I was very grateful for Mark for teaching me so much about film fighting but heart broken that I never got to make
The Last Shaolin and upset that Bey sent me out there at my expense to be the star of a non-existing movie the other side of the world. I know he was only trying to help but that wasn’t the right way to do so, not to a 17 year old kid as naïve as I was, with stars in my eyes. But Bey gave me my start in films and I’ll always be very grateful for him believing in me and supporting me back in the day.