The fascinating documentary, “I AM THE WHITE TIGER” charts British martial artist Mark Houghton’s action-packed journey, from the Midlands, UK to Hong Kong movie stardom and beyond!
It makes its worldwide debut on Blu-ray (also available on digital download), and is packaged as part of Eureka Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon.
Order your copy of this eye-opening, sometimes harrowing, and otherwise deeply emotive film NOW, from Eureka Video or Amazon!
Known as “Ho Mak” in China, Mark Houghton stars, leading the viewer on a journey from the UK to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Foshan, China, the spiritual home of Hung Gar/Hung Kuen kung fu.
Houghton’s martial arts training led to him becoming a disciple of the legendary filmmaker Lau Kar Leung, a Hung Gar expert with a direct lineage to the Chinese folk hero and martial arts master Wong Fei-hung.
Inevitably this led to Houghton working on dozens of classic Hong Kong film productions, including “City Cops”, “Outlaw Brothers”, “She Shoots Straight”, “Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon”, “Angel Terminators”, “Drunken Master 2”, and “Knock Off”, to name but a few.
The documentary includes archive footage of martial arts masters Lau Kar Leung and Ho Kam Wai, as well as contributions from Houghton’s lifelong friend Willie Wong, daughter Charlene Houghton, and Lau Kar Leung’s wife and daughter.
Stuntman, action director, and martial arts legend, Mark Houghton tells his story of breaking into the Hong Kong film industry, his struggle with injuries and depression, and the promise he made to his teacher, the legendary filmmaker Lau Kar Leung.
A teenage fan of Bruce Lee, Houghton started training in Judo in Nuneaton. Wanting to learn authentic Chinese martial arts, his close friend Willie Wong advised him to go to Malaysia, where he could stay and work at his parent’s hotel.
Lau Kar Leung Teaching Cinema Fighting
With the beautiful Malaysian coast as a backdrop, Houghton recalls some intriguing memories from these early days, including an unexpected outcome to saving someone from drowning. There are also a few amusing anecdotes of some of the scrapes Mark and his friend Willie got into during their time together.
In 1988, Houghton travelled to Hong Kong to meet his hero, the legendary Lau Kar Leung, and also further his Hung Gar training.
Final Fight Scene: Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
The encounter saw Sifu Lau being suitably impressed by the young Englishman’s kung fu skills. It led to a role in the action comedy “Aces Go Places V”, and Houghton’s subsequent decision to move permanently to Hong Kong, resulting in his film career.
The documentary is peppered throughout with action-packed clips from the many classic movies Houghton has appeared in.
Things weren’t always such plain sailing though. There is a brutal and bloody reconstruction of an encounter Houghton experienced in 1991 in Malaysia that nearly ended his life.
KELNER – On To Something New (Feat. Mark Houghton) Official Music Video
As if those injuries weren’t enough, the toll his film career took on his body leads to a candid and poignant confession of his resulting depression.
With the handing of the Hung Gar baton to Houghton, we get to see him passing on his knowledge to a new generation of students, including his own daughter, Charlene and Lau Kar Leung’s daughter, Jeanne. There is even a fun little action scene showcasing his student’s impressive screen fighting skills!
This is a fascinating story and an intriguing insight into an equally fascinating and intriguing man.
Having lived in the Far East for the majority of his adult life, Houghton has fully embraced Asian culture from his style of dress, knowledge, and practice of local traditions, through to his vocal inflections with a hint of a Midlands accent.
For someone who might be perceived as a “tough guy”, the documentary is a surprisingly touching and emotional journey.
Houghton’s bond with his Sifu, Lau Kar Leung, is very obviously one forged from the heart. It doesn’t shy away from the darker episodes in Ho Mak’s life however, although ultimately this is a tale of a person’s ability to evolve through their obstacles and tragedies and carry the light on.
It’s all very well filmed capturing many exotic locations accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack as the story unfolds. I would like to have seen a more detailed look into the making of some of the classic movies that Houghton worked on. He does elucidate during the documentary why much of his personal archive of behind-the-scenes footage and photographs no longer exist, perhaps explaining this shortfall.
For many martial artists, it’s their dream to go to the Far East, train with the masters, or star in action movies. Mark Houghton didn’t just dream it, he did it, resulting in this thoroughly absorbing life story. Highly recommended.
- “I’ve had three attempts on my life. I’ve been stabbed many times. Lucky for me, heaven or hell doesn’t want me. It’s not my time.” – Mark Houghton
- “Working in Hong Kong movies is pretty dangerous…I was more like a human prop.” – Mark Houghton
- “Even though Mark is a Westerner, the way he shows respect to Sifu and honours his teachings makes Mark more Chinese than anything else.” – Mary Jean Reimer / Lau Kar Leung’s wife
- “Without you, I wouldn’t have anything. Thank you Sifu.” – Mark Houghton
- Mark Houghton began training in martial arts at the age of 14, initially studying Judo, Karate, Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo and Lau Gar Kung Fu.
- Houghton required 400 stitches after being attacked by a knife-wielding gang in a Malaysian nightclub.
- Houghton became a fan of Lau Kar Leung and the Hung Gar style after watching the movie, “Mad Monkey Kung Fu”.
- He first learned Hung Gar from Sifu Ho Kam Wai in Malaysia.
- Mark Houghton was the first European to become a member of the Hong Kong Stuntman Association.
- For the movie “Knock Off”, Houghton took a crash course in scuba diving. He enjoyed it so much he became a fully qualified diving instructor.