Profile of Richard Norton

Name: Richard Norton
Date of Birth: 6 January 1950
Height: 6’2” (188 m)
Weight: N/A
Birth sign: Capricorn
Country: Australia

In case you’re not aware, here’s a cool tribute video to Richard Norton to give you an idea of who he is:

CAREER RETROSPECTIVE

Richard Norton’s close friendship with Chuck Norris led to his first film role in The Octagon (1980), in which Norris was the star. The production needed an actor who could portray the main villain as well as handle Okinawan-style weaponry; with Norton’s experience in Japanese martial arts, he stepped up for the part. This was followed by another role in Forced Vengeance (1982), also starring Chuck Norris and Norton eventually graduated to a leading man in Force: Five (1981).

Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985) would be Norton’s first Hong Kong role in which he played one of the three main assassins. One of the film’s highlights was his fight with Sammo Hung, which also debuts his memorable catchphrase, “Painful?” Norton earned Chan and Hung’s respect and admiration due to his work ethic and ability to adapt to Hong Kong fight choreography. This eventually led to more roles in films like Millionaire’s Express (1986) and Magic Crystal (1986). In the former, Norton gets to reprise his famous catchphrase while going toe-to-toe with Yasuaki Kurata. Magic Crystal, gave Norton a chance to show off his Karate skills and mastery with the Japanese Sais against Cynthia Rothrock’s more traditional Chinese style of martial arts.

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Norton returned to America where he made a number of action B-movies. Notable ones include Fight To Win (1987), China O’Brien 1 and 2 (1990) and a made-for-TV film, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1992). However, he did return to Hong Kong to play the menacing but humorous villain, Col. MacDonald in City Hunter (1993) opposite Jackie Chan. The final fight between the two is another great JC style sequence that effortlessly combines hand-to-hand combat, weaponry and physical comedy. Norton would work with Chan again and play a similar type of villain in Mr Nice Guy (1997) with Sammo Hung directing. The film’s unique climax has Chan fighting Norton’s villain while having his hands and legs completely bound – “Don‘t mind the ropes, take your best shot!”

Norton continues to work on films and has appeared in Redemption (2002) with Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson’ and Road House 2: Last Call (2006). He is also a stunt coordinator and fight choreographer for films like Stealth (2005) and The Condemned (2007). Most recently, he worked on Mad Max: Fury Road (2014), serving as co-fight coordinator and stunt performer. In addition to films, Norton gives seminars that not only utilise his strong martial arts background, but also his experience in security and as a bodyguard.

Richard Norton is recognised more for his work in Hong Kong, where he was generally cast as a typical Western bad guy. However, with an abundant amount of charm, acting talent and flawless screen-fighting ability, he was able to elevate himself beyond the standard ‘Gweilo’ villains into one of the most memorable faces of Hong Kong action cinema.

TRAINING BACKGROUND

  • At age 12, Richard Norton was introduced to Judo by a friend. He enjoyed the art but was at a physical disadvantage due to his small and skinny stature. As such, this led to his introduction to Karate.
  • Started training Goju-Kai Karate under the tutelage of Tino Ceberano. He became a black belt by age 17 and began working as a security guard for nightclubs.
  • Norton also trained in Zen Do Kai Karate under long-time friend Bob Jones. He now holds a 8th degree black belt.
  • His work as a security guard led to 20 years of bodyguard work. He watched over such popular celebrities like ‘The Rolling Stones’, ‘Fleetwood Mac’ and David Bowie.
  • Moved to California and trained extensively with Chuck Norris. Norton is currently at a 5th degree rank under Norris’ Chun Kuk Do.
  • Norton’s exposure to top martial artists led to him training in kickboxing with Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez and Pete Cunningham.
  • He eventually began training in Brazilian Ju-jitsu under Jean Jacques Machado and is currently a 4th degree black belt.

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INFLUENCES

  • In 1976, Chuck Norris did a number of tournament demonstrations in Australia, which led to Norris and Norton being introduced and becoming extremely good friends. When Norton moved to California, he regularly trained with Norris, which led to introductions to top martial artists like Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez and Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace.
  • His association with Chuck Norris also led to his first film role in The Octagon (1980)
  • [On Jackie Chan & Sammo Hung] “The thing that sets people like Jackie [Chan] and Sammo [Hung] apart is that they’re versed in just about every form of martial art – I can’t think of a fight that they were not able to put together” (taken from City Hunter DVD, Hong Kong Legends, 2001)

PERSONAL QUOTES

  • “I never started martial arts in order to become rich or wealthy from it… all I really wanted to do was be the best martial artist I could be“ (taken from Martial Info TV)
  • “When we talk about etiquette in the dojo or in a school, the ideas of bowing and showing respect to each other, for some ridiculous reason, that’s looked on these days as ‘old-school’. Why should it be old-school? It’s about a constant through line of behaviour – to be a gentleman, to be courteous, to be respectful to each other” (taken from Martial Info TV)

 

Trivia

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VIDEOS

Mr. Richard Norton talks about “Being a Black Belt” and dealing with “Fear”

Richard Norton and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez talk about “Martial Living” at Team Karate Centers in Woodland Hills, CA.

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY

YEARTITLEROLE
1980The OctagonKyo
1981Force: FiveEzekiel
1982Forced VengeanceHerb
1985Twinkle Twinkle Lucky StarsCaucasian Assassin
1986Millionaires ExpressMountain Bandit
1986Magic CrystalKarov
1987Fight to WinArmstrong
1990China O'BrienMatt Conroy
1990China O'Brien IIMatt Conroy
1992Kung Fu: The Legend Continues
1993City HunterCol. MacDonald
1995Under The GunFrank Torrence
1997Mr. Nice GuyGiancarlo
2002RedemptionTom 'Snake' Sasso
2006Road House 2: Last CallVictor Cross
2008Man of Blood (Short)Lee Francis

Links

Richard Norton website

Wing-Ho Lin is a big cinema fan. His forte is Hong Kong action cinema of the 70s and 80s, but likes to look at undiscovered action films beyond HK. He has trained in Wing Chun and Shaolin (Sanshou), and enjoys writing.

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