We enjoy getting to know and reveal the stories of martial artists that are often unknown to the mainstream but are nonetheless very committed, talented and knowledgeable individuals in their own right. One such person is stuntman/martial arts actor Andrew Dasz, twin brother of Steven Dasz (read our interview with Steven here).
With many years of experience under his belt, Argentinean born and Hong Kong based Andrew, now 37, tells us a bit about himself, his martial arts background and activities. Of note, he’s worked with the likes of Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen and several others.
Andrew is a Kung fu instructor and personal trainer versed in Taekwondo, Wing Chun, boxing and Hung Kuen. He’s a got a wealth of experience, is exceptionally hard working coupled with a very humble, all round good guy persona; we thought it’d be worthwhile tuning in to what he has to say. Now here’s Andrew!
Hi Andrew, nice to have you with us! Let’s start by asking, when were you born and where do you come from?
Thank you Raj for the opportunity! I was born on 29 May 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
What is your height and weight?
I am 5’6” (1.70m) tall and weigh 10st 3lb (65kg).
Describe your martial arts background. What different disciplines have you studied or been involved with?
I started with my brothers, Steven (my twin brother who did an interview with you before) and my older brother, Damian, who is a professional photographer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Together, we did (ITF) Taekwondo in our own neighbourhood, we were around 10 years old.Later, Damian found he didn’t readily identify so much with martial arts and continued with other sports, but Steven and I continued with Taekwondo in different schools for about 3 years, and also participated in some competitions. So, that was the first step in my martial arts career.
Later with Steven, I practiced Aikido for a few months, training 3 hours per day, every day.
I was around 15 years old at the time. A year later, Steven started to develop his acrobatic skills by doing olympic gymnastics and I got started in Hung Kuen and Wing Chun in 1993. From there, I trained in Mantis Tong Long, Chin Na, Tai Chi Chuan, and regular Kickboxing training.I’m a qualified Hung Kuen and Wing Chun instructor and I’ve also trained boxing in back in Argentina.
This year in Hong Kong I’ve gained some more experience in Muay Thai, as well as MMA and Kali. My core style is Ip Man’s art of Wing Chun which I continue to do because in body and mind I’m a Wing Chun guy.
Who would you consider your own heroes or strong inspirations in martial arts?
My first inspiration was Chuck Norris. Because of him, my father encouraged me to start training martial arts in 1987. Later it was Bruce Lee; I was a crazy fan of his and learned everything I could about his background from magazines, posters, videos, and all the rest. I was lucky not to stay in the realm of theories only!I had different instructors and masters who inspired me at different moments in my life.
My Sikung (Grandfather of kung fu) in Moy Yat was Leo Imamura, a great personality in the kung fu community from Brazil. He taught me different aspects of the art for 7 years while I was there. His strategies, methods and vision are exceptional. Right now in Hong Kong I have contact with Micky Chan, my Sibak (Uncle in kung fu), who helps me to develop my skills.
How did you originally become involved in stuntwork and performing martial arts on film?
I started in 2005 with Steven on his own project called “Evolucion”, which was a short film directed by Emilio Schargorodsky. He recently made a feature film “Dracula 0.9”, which met with good success.In reality, I think my relationship with the action movie industry started when I was young, having seen many martial arts movies from Hong Kong and the US. This kick started my martial arts education. Later in Spain I did some fight choreography and action coordination and you can see the difference; people who have great knowledge about cinema but never see action lose out on a lot of detail when it comes to their action sequences. I consider myself more an actor and fight choreographer. Stunts is for people who like to jump from buildings and this kind of thing, I really respect stuntmen, they do great work!
What are some observations and highlights in your martial arts life?
I think right now is a great moment, because I’m in Hong Kong and have the possibility to train and teach. Sometimes you teach and give seminars, but then you don’t have time for your personal training -this happened with me when I was in Spain. There I taught many students, and gave many seminars in different cities but didn’t have time for training.Right now in Hong Kong, I have some students as well as online students from Latin-America AND I do get to keep up my training every day!
For a martial artist I think it’s very important to be involved in constant development. Normally you see basic level students develop more than advanced level ones, because they have more motivation. When you start anything it’s new of course but for older students, they may think they have nothing new to discover. But this is the wrong attitude, you always have something to learn.This is how I feel, having trained in martial arts for almost 25 years.Maybe one of the most important aspects is the daily hard work. This is something I picked up from my father, training hard, enjoying feeling tired and exhausted. Martial arts training is like therapy for me, and it helps me to get to know myself better.
You appeared alongside your twin brother Steven in the film “Stunt Games”. What was the experience making that like?
This is the movie I was talking about earlier. “Stunt Games” is the project, we started in 2007 and finished in 2010.
It was a great experience with many problems but we also learned a lot about how to make a movie on a very low (or rather non existent!) budget. On this movie I worked in several capacities, from training the actors as well as working on my own acting, to casting the fighters and finding and preparing the locations. Right now we have in mind to start, “Stunt Games 2”. “Stunt Games” is available on sale on DVD (in Spain and Portugal), and you can also get your copy online. This year, a company bought the rights to it and started distributing it in the US and worldwide. Not too bad for a literally zero budget movie!
What are some of the more memorable experiences you’ve had in your stunt career? Have you had had any significant injuries?
Regarding stunts or fight action sequences, I remember some intense situations. One was in the movie “Stunt Games”, in a final fight scene we did Madrid. There, I fought with with 5 or 6 guys, with the director shooting everything in one take. That wasn’t the problem, but shooting the whole scene several times was!There was a part where one guy (a Taekwondo champion called Jose Sanchez) double kicks me in the back (we do this take maybe 10 to 20 times) for a scene where I was unable to see him. I just had to remain ready, only knowing he was advancing toward me by sound alone.The result was a whole day in bed without being able to move my body. I just had muscular pain all over, it was like I had been hit by a truck or something!
Another was in “Guay Paut”, the Spanish version of the American program, “Wipe Out” filmed in Argentina.
There, I was to compete for a cash prize of 15,000 Euros. I made it to the final, but because of bad nutrition, overtraining, and cloudy weather I sustained a serious injury to my left shoulder which got hit three times in the same place, as a result it got hyper extended.
My doctor advised me not to move my arm for 3 weeks which was bad advice because then it actually took longer (3 months) to restore the full movement of my arm. To this day, some ligaments are still in the process healing. Wing Chun training helps me a lot in this though. By now, I think I’m more knowledgeable than many doctors when it comes to recovering from shoulder injuries!
You learn a lot about your body when dealing with injuries; a person who has never had an injury or lost mobility (and this is a hard thing to bear with), may not fully appreciate what you have to go through.
One of your roles in Hong Kong was in Jackie Chan’s “Chinese Zodiac“. Describe your experience making the film and working alongside the legendary Jackie Chan.
For me Jackie Chan, is one of the best directors I’ve ever seen on set. Being with him shooting for a day was awesome. I didn’t have any action in my part, I had a small part as a Spanish reporter. It was fun to be directed by Jackie because he also knows some Spanish from his earlier days working in Spain on such movies as “Wheels on Meals”!That day when I finished shooting my scene, the casting director said I needed to leave the set but I didn’t want to. I just wanted to stay there and observe what Jackie was doing some more. You never know, but I hope I’ll work with him again on a future project.
One of your upcoming roles from Hong Kong is Anthony Szeto’s “Fist of the Dragon”. Describe your role in the film. What can fans expect?
I play an undercover agent who fights with the main baddie of the movie in the first action scene of the film.
It was a great scene with all the necessary ingredients: kicks, fire, explosions, guns, stunt falls and cars.
After I watched the scene over, I felt it was reminiscent of 1980’s Hong Kong fight scenes. My partner in the scene, Xin Sarith WuKu, is an excellent martial artist and a super guy.You can see the trailer on YouTube, and you’ll get an idea of the frenetic, energetic action scenes involved.
You also recently appeared in Donnie Yen’s upcoming film “Iceman”. Describe your role in the film. What was it like working alongside him? What can we expect of the film?
On Donnie Yen’s movie I have just one scene with him and a small dialog but I consider myself lucky these days to get such action assignment offers.“Iceman” is a big budget movie made in two parts. In it, Donnie gets a chance to show some Pakua martial arts moves.It was good to see how Donnie and his stunt team operate to bring their fights together. Normally they shoot at night, and finish at 5am; it’s crazy to see these Chinese guys jumping around everywhere at these hours!The reality is Donnie is a very good martial artist, but he doesn’t do too many stunts. For that he has stunt doubles.His stunt team is very good, including some young Chinese Wushu-trained guys, that are ready for everything.I really liked the stunt coordinator too, a more senior guy who I had the opportunity to work with. He liked my movements, but they really needed tall Western guys measuring 1.85m or taller, I’m shorter at 1.70m! It was good working with Donnie, different to working with Jackie but it’s so nice getting to know everyone in this industry.
You’ve worked quite a bit in the Hong Kong action film industry, how does the Hong Kong approach to making action and martial arts films differ from the West?
As well as Hong Kong, mainland China is also advancing in the making of action fight scenes. I love how people do action in China, the action is great. From the position of the camera to the movements displayed, everything is really quality. In my opinion they are the best; the Asian action industry know how to shoot. To have good martial arts techniques and crazy choreography is not enough, you need a great crew to shoot and edit it in the right way. My experience in the West, mainly in Spain, is totally different. There isn’t a huge action movie making culture but I think this will change in the near future. This is one of the reasons why Quentin Tarantino wanted to work with with Yuen Woo Ping on the “Kill Bill” series. I think this movie is a great example of combining Eastern and Western action styles, creating something of a synergy between the two.
Are there any big names in the world of martial arts movies you’d like to work with?
I’d like to work with Sammo Hung, and others in the Hong Kong action movie industry.
In the West, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, would be highly motivating people to work with on set.
I think it’s good to work with very good actors and learn more about the acting profession too.
What advice would you give to martial artists hoping to work in action and martial arts films?
I think the most important thing is to have a good foundation, it’s a never ending journey of development and always give yourself something new to learn. You need adapt your skills and learn quickly if you need to do something new on set.
In the movie industry you never have time, everything happens fast, without time to prepare. For this reason regular training will help massively so that when something new does come along, you’ll be ready to pick it up in a few minutes. Another tip is to be clear on what it is that you like doing and whether you want to be a stuntman, actor or choreographer. These points are very important to me and will be for anyone who’d like to make a name for himself in the industry. Keep training, learn quickly, and keep clear in mind what you like doing most.
In this world it’s easy to get tempted and distracted with parties (which is not something I like) and online activities like shopping (for girls), drugs, alcohol, smoking etc. If you keep away from these things everything will be okay!
Who is ideally suited for it, what can and should newcomers expect from the experience?
Some people like the glamour, the red carpet, the parties, but I don’t think making movies is anything to do with this.
You can find yourself in hard, sometimes tough situations like cold, hot, danger of injuries etc. If you enjoy staying in front of the camera, then fine, everything will be okay. Sometimes, I ask myself ‘why do I like doing movies?’ When some actors become stars, they try to find other things to keep them occupied, often finishing up on drugs.If you think the movie industry is heaven, you are wrong. But if you like the idea of living with extreme situations while getting paid for it, maybe this is the industry for you!
What sorts of films and projects are on your near future horizon?
I did a casting for a Mel Gibson movie in China. Maybe my brother and I will work there, just waiting for some news. We’re also looking to make a new movie “The Snake Key”, with director David Xarach, with shooting in Malaysia.
There is another project from the director of “Dracula 0.9”, on the cards. Right now, the most important thing is to keep preparing and doing my research so I’ll be able to do like Bruce Lee says and “express yourself honestly”.
What message would you like to share with our readers?
Dòh jê (thanks in Cantonese) for the interview guys. Your site is a great reference for the people who are interested in and work in the action industry. I hope to have more good news to tell you guys soon!
Finally, where’s the best place for readers to find out more about you?
They can go to my IMDb page: IMDb
Thanks Andrew for your time and giving us the lowdown on what you’re up to, Keep in touch!
Thanks again, I will, really appreciate it!