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Statistics :
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Interview Mike Lambert : An English stuntman in Hong Kong
Interview Page 1
Info
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 27/12/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 
 Intext Links  
People :
Jackie Chan
Sunny Chan Kam Hung
Mark Houghton
Sammo Hung Kam Bo
Michael Ian Lambert
Jet Li
Bey Logan
Jude Poyer
Donnie Yen Chi Tan
Corey Yuen Kwai
Yuen Woo Ping
Movies :
Cheap Killers
Code Puma
Danny The Dog
Enter The Eagles
Who Am I ?
Lexic :
Taekwondo
Wing Chun
 
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 Notes  
Many thanks to Michael Lambert for his participation and kindness.

Interview by Arnaud Lanuque via email, May 22, 2003.


Real HongKong-action-movie fan Michael Ian Lambert has displayed his impressive martial arts skills in numerous movies, some of the most famous being Black Mask alongside Jet Li or Enter The Eagles where he fights against Bruce Lee's daughter. Mike Lambert's skills were even acknowledged by the Hong Kong Stuntman Association witch took him as a member, a quite rare honour for foreigners.

After working in HK for a few years Michael left the former British colony and worked in Europe: Germany (for the TV series Code Puma with Donnie Yen), England (his native country) and even in France (on Besson's production Danny The Dog ).

Arnaud Lanuque : How did you get involved with the HK movie business ?
Mike Lambert : Since I was a little kid I wanted to be a stuntman, watching films like Hooper and TV shows like Knight rider, A Team, Fall guy etc. I had this dream to work in the movies doing stunts and action stuff, then at school it suddenly hits you that this isn't an everyday job. Teachers rather than encouraging me, actually put me off the idea altogether. Then because of my big sister Carol who was really into Bruce Lee at the time, I got hooked on watching martial art films, Hong Kong style action really appealed to me, even from that early age.

I started doing some karate, and Wing Chun Kung Fu at around 10 and 12 years old respectively then at 14 got into Taekwondo, because I loved all those fancy kicks etc, (respect goes to Bob Angus, Kenny Walton, Dave Oliver, Tony Sewell, Kim Stones). Then I started competing, I got lucky and won a few tournaments and then the editor of Combat magazine Bey Logan, suggested to me that I should go to Hong Kong to try and get involved in the films over there, so I sold some jewellery I had, bought a plane ticket to HK and left to pursue my ambition.

 
HKCM : You've trained in Tae Kwon Doe and Kickboxing. Did you find these experiences enough to work as a stuntman/actor in HK ?
ML : Hum... It depends on the individual and what attitude, frame of mind that they have, you have to adapt and change accordingly to the situation. Just because you are a great martial artist does not automatically guarantee success in HK action flicks. You have to 'sell' it on screen, be explosive and dynamic and look the part, it's not down to just one contributing factor but a combination of many! But of course if it was not for my Taekwondo background, I definitively would not be doing this right now !!
 
HKCM : Did you suffer from discrimination by the local people because of your foreign origin ?

ML : I never suffered any racism, but yeah I got tested by the HK stunt guys, to see how much I could take. If I had the same work attitude as them, if I could move the same etc. A lot of the 'western' guys go over there, and a lot of the HK stuntmen just think that a lot of them are slow and sluggish. I am 6'1 tall and 185lbs, but I think for my size I can move pretty fast. So I hope I changed some minds out there, but it was hard at first, and I had to pay my dues in more ways than one, but had an awesome time doing it !

 

Mike in Enter the Eagles

 

HKCM : What do you think of the working opportunities in HK cinema for a foreigner ? Did your knowledge of Cantonese help you to widen your working choices ?
ML : I think to get by you have to learn Cantonese, I have just finished on the new Jet Li film [Danny The Dog] and the action was done by Master Yuen Woo Ping, and if I didn't speak the lingo I would have had a much harder and less personal experience. I feel by speaking their mother tongue, I am closer to them and they probably respect me for taking the time to learn it. I hope so anyway because it was a bloody hard work.
 
HKCM : You've managed to join the Hong Kong Stuntman Association, something quite rare for foreigners. What does it inspire you ?
ML : Yeah being a member of the HKSMA is awesome as there is only me and a great friend of mine Mark Houghton, who are members. I also think another western guy Jude Poyer, who is also a good mate of mine, is a member. So we are all honoured to be in this association. Mark was another reason I came out here, because at that time, he was real good friend with Bey [Logan] and Bey showed me Mark's showreel. He is probably the most successful western stunt/martial artist who has worked in HK, and he has the skills to prove it !
 
HKCM : Can you share with us your feelings and memories when you shot such scenes as your fight with Shannon Lee in Enter the Eagles or your impressive kicking demonstration against Jet Li in Black Mask ?
ML : eah tiring, hard work, but rewarding in the end when you see the finished product. Impressive !!! Thanks but your probably being too nice as I feel as I have yet to really show what I got here !
 
HKCM : You were a time supposed to be the Who Am I's super-kicker fighting Jackie Chan at the end of the movie. How do you feel about this, especially after seeing that the martial artist they chose had such difficulties handling the rhythm of the choreography ?
ML : Now I don't care, at the time yeah I was a bit peeved off, as I was getting billed up to have the main fight with Jackie at the end of the film, but hey s**t happens. I never bring people down unless they deserve it of course, if the guy can't handle the fight or choreography, then I will never criticise, as it is hard work out there, and nobody's perfect. Hey I would have loved to have done that fight but its not a cure for cancer, not a life or death situation, it's only a film, and as long as I am happy, healthy and have my loved ones and friends around me, I ain't bothered. Like I said it's only a film.
 
HKCM : You've worked with some of the best action directors in the business, people like Corey Yuen, Yuen Woo Ping, Sammo Hung or Donnie Yen. Can you share with us your feelings about them, the way they work and the way they design action scenes ?
ML : All great people with of course, different ideas and attitudes. I enjoyed working with them all, and I am pleased that they are now getting the credit they deserve in Hollywood. Donnie Yen should definitely be the next BIG thing, great looking guy, awesome body, fantastic martial arts skills and deadly legs, also a real good action director. Yeah he should blow up in the US.

HKCM : You have worked on an international productions (HK, France, Germany...). How do you see the working conditions in HK cinema after all these experiences ?

ML : One word......ouch !! Everywhere else is a walk in the park, a nice relaxing stroll ! No but seriously working in HK is A DIFFERENT WORLD ALTOGETHER !! I worked in HK films first and then western movies, but if you did it the other way round, then get prepared, fasten your seat belts and get ready for a culture shock. In the biggest way, back to back movies, long hours, working in very very humid conditions, non stop fight action as they shoot SUPER FAST over there… Man, too many things to mention just that it's tougher than tough, but a great learning ground and I learnt the ropes over there plus I learnt the language, made some great friends and met my wife, so HK has been good to me !!

 


Sunny Chan and Mike Lambert in Cheap Killers


HKCM : Would you be interested in developing your acting or would you prefer to develop a career behind the screen as action director or director ?
ML : We will see what happens, who knows what the future holds !! As long as my family and I are happy and healthy, I ain't too bothered, but what will be will be.
 
HKCM : Do you have something to tell to your French fans ?
ML : I don't think I have any French fans, but I was over in Paris for a few weeks on that Jet Li film [Danny The Dog] and thought France was a fantastic place.
 
HKCM : The last word...
ML : njoy your life, be nice, polite, don't be hating, don't be racist, don't be sexist, life is here to be enjoyed so enjoy it people. Peace !
 
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