Profile of Robin Shou

Preparing to fight to the death with the Bo Staff

Preparing to fight to the death with the Bo Staff

Birth name: Shou Wan Por
Born: July 17 1960, Hong Kong
Star Sign: Cancer (Year of the Rat)
Height: 6’ (1.83m)
Weight: 165 lbs (75 kg)

TRAINING BACKGROUND

  • Robin took Kenpo Karate classes at California State University
  • He moved onto Chinese Wushu in his twenties
  • 1982-1983 International Forms Champion
  • Winner of several gold and silver medals at prestigious competitions in China
  • Four time traditional forms Grand Champion in California

INFLUENCES

  • Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, who Robin calls the ‘big brothers’ of the Beijing Opera school
  • Jet Li, whose performance in Shaolin Temple (1982) inspired Robin to learn Wu Shu
  • Chris Farley, who Robin had the pleasure of working alongside in Beverly Hills Ninja. Robin later said that he “learnt a lot from that movie,” and that Chris Farley was “one of the most talented comedic actors.”

QUOTES

  • “I love jumping out of a window!”
  • “Anyone who studies martial arts, -it just brings out more than a skill, like fighting or self-defence, it really centres you.”
  • “I’m a fanatic martial arts freak”
  • “Getting hit, it’s not really a big deal.”
  • “Opera fighting is more refined, smooth.”

BACKGROUND

Ready for action

Ready for action

Robin Shou was born in Shanghai, but his parents moved to southern California in 1971 when he was ten years old. He attended Palm Springs High School and went on to study Civil Engineering at California State University. In his words, Robin grew up as a “normal American kid.”

It wasn’t until he was at university that his interest in martial arts began to grow. Robin tried studying Kenpo, but quit soon after as he felt it wasn’t right for him. The fascination for martial arts remained, however, and when Robin watched Jet Li in Shaolin Temple, he felt a need to practice Wushu and get back to his Chinese roots.

After using his degree to work in the field, Robin realised that Civil Engineering wasn’t for him. He decided to spend some time in Hong Kong, and somehow ran into some people from the film industry. He became a Hong Kong stuntman, a dangerous and risky vocation that Robin later would epitomise in his documentary Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen.

In 2003, Robin tried his hand at directing, producing the award winning documentary Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen.  Red Trousers was a particularly poignant documentary for Robin to make, as he “came from that background.” The film production in its entirety took him over two years to complete. “I don’t know how many 24 hour shifts I did,” Robin admitted. The documentary was a way of paying tribute to his friends in the Hong Kong filmmaking industry, as well as providing an insight into the Beijing Opera School and its students.

Robin looks pensive in Street Fighter the Legend of Chun Li

Robin looks pensive in Street Fighter the Legend of Chun Li

Robin’s first dramatic role was in Forbidden Nights (1990) with Melissa Gilbert, a television film directed by Waris Hussein. This was his American debut, although he would not act in another American film until Mortal Kombat.

Robin continued to act in Hong Kong, steadily building up a fan base. “I guess that’s how I got started,” he said, “people started to know who I am, and what I could do.” After several years of working, he decided to move back to LA.

After many A-Listers auditioned to play the character of Liu Kang for the film adaption of Mortal Kombat (1995), Robin was discovered as perfect for the role. “They wanted to use someone new,” he explained. At first Robin was hesitant, but after the reading the script he accepted. This iconic movie would become what he is most famous for.

Robin enjoyed fame in the American film industry, producing Beverly Hills Ninja in 1997 with Chris Farley.

In 2008, Robin was asked to race against Jason Statham in the action film Death Race, where he played the triad member 14K. Death Race went on to become a trilogy, which allowed Robin to develop the character of 14K a little more. “He’s not just a killer,” he explained in a later interview, “he has a sense of humour.”

Nowadays, Robin would like to move from the screen to the Director’s chair. “I want to write, I want to direct,” Robin recently told the public. If his future filmmaking proves as interesting as Red Trousers, we can’t wait!

Robin talks about Red Trousers

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY

YEARTITLEROLE
1990Forbidden Nights Liang Hong
1995Mortal KombatLiu Kang
1997Beverly Hills NinjaGobei
1997Mortal Kombat 2: AnnihilationLiu Kang
2003Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen
2006DOA: Dead or AlivePirate Leader
2008Death Race14K
2009Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Gen
2008Death Race 214K
2011Mortal EnemiesSunny
2012Death Race: Inferno14K

Image Gallery

Although Emily had spent a year learning Shotokan Karate as a teenager, she spent three months at a martial arts school in the Fujian province of China and discovered her passion for kung fu! She practiced White Crane style, returning for a full year to learn Yang and Sun style Tai Chi as well as Ba Gua and Xing Yi Fist, Bai Ji Fist and weapon forms. Emily spends her free time perfecting her Tai Chi and hopes to teach it one day. Her favourite Kung Fu movie is The Grandmaster, but she also loves Kung Fu Panda, and has seen it more times than she would like to admit!

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