The upcoming “Lady Bloodfight”, a female heavy, 21st century reboot of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s cult classic “Bloodsport”, is set to arrive later this year and we’re certainly ready for it – we made sure to give it a place of honor on our list of Most Anticipated Martial Arts Movies of 2016!
Here at KFK, we’ve already had the great privilege to interview the film’s leading lady, Amy Johnston, and today, our great fortune continues with another of the women of the Kumite, Jenny Wu!
While many of her co-stars have years of experience under their belts, Jenny entered the film as a newcomer to martial arts, but her unbreakable tenacity and iron will got her up to fighting speed in record time. As the world awaits the film’s release, Jenny shares some amazing behind-the-scenes stories from the making of the film, alongside Amy and “Kiss of the Dragon” director Chris Nahon. There are plenty of other fascinating stories from her life and career – including serving as assistant director on Jackie Chan’s recent action-adventure film, “Dragon Blade”!
Welcome to Kung Fu Kingdom! It’s great to connect with you and we hope you’re keeping well?
Hey Brad, thank you. It’s great to connect with you too!
Have you taken a look at our site?
I love your site, it’s fantastic, it’s a martial arts encyclopedia!
Thanks, that’s definitely what we strive to be! What do you think of the name Kung Fu Kingdom (KFK)?
Well you can call it Kick Fight Kick, or Kind Friendly Kicks, both (KFK), but Kung Fu Kingdom works.
(Laughs) Interesting alternatives, OK now let’s kick off with some basics:
When and where were you born?
I was born in China, and every year I feel I’m getting younger.
What is your height and weight?
You know it fluctuates. Not the height but the weight definitely does, depending on the role I’m playing and how good the catering is on set.
You were new to martial arts when you were cast in “Lady Bloodfight”. What did you train in for the film?
My character style was Shaolin kung fu so that was the style I was being trained in. That being said, I think they trained me in anything and everything that made my character lethal. I was not the usual ‘started at 5 years old’, so it was not easy.
Can imagine! So, who would you credit as some of your influences in martial arts?
Jackie Chan – I was so blessed to have worked with this guy! Bruce Lee – I wrote a whole essay on this guy! Benny the Jet – I love getting words of wisdom from this guy! Michelle Yeoh – She is embodiment of female cool!Yuen Woo Ping – Martial arts in movies would not be what it is today without this guy!
Some great legends there! Let’s look now more toward your career. How did you first get started in the film industry?
I always knew I wanted to work in the film industry; I was attracted to movies and everything about them. I think life as an actress is very adventurous. I started out on stage, in theatre and physical theatre before working in films and television. The best way to describe my start into the film industry would be like the segment from “Singing in the Rain” where Gene Kelly knocks on several theatrical agents’ doors singing “Gotta Dance”, most of them close in his face, but one finally opens leading him to the Broadway stage.
That’s a great analogy. Mentioning Jackie Chan earlier, one of your first big projects was as assistant director on “Dragon Blade”. How did you become involved with the film and what was your experience of making it alongside Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody?
I think I got the job because most other people turned it down and I said yes to the challenge. I had a wonderful time on set. It was definitely challenging, because it was the first time I was on set with around 700 to 800 people every day, and among them big A-listers. It was so fun to be working closely with all those big names, I mean it’s crazy to think that there I was, riding on the side of Jackie’s car, riding at the back of John’s scooter, script discussions with Adrien Brody. I was in amongst the action.
Sounds like a fabulous experience. Another of your first roles was in the film “Drown”. Describe how you became involved with the film and the experience of making it?
“Drown” is an Australian independent feature film about homophobia. The audition process was extensive. We workshopped post the auditions where we revealed our most embarrassing moments and integrated those stories into our characters. Most of my character ended up on the cutting room floor, if you blink you’ll miss me, so make sure your eyes are wide open throughout all 93mins of the film.
Certainly will! Looking ahead now, you will also soon be seen in the upcoming “Lady Bloodfight” in the role of Ling. How did you get involved in the film?
There are so many elements as to why or how someone gets involved in a film. Usually a chain of events that leads to the right time and the right place, and being seen by the right people. I was lucky to be referred to Chris Nahon for an audition, I couldn’t be certain at the time, but I had a good feeling when I walked away.
Most definitely. So, what was your experience of making “Lady Bloodfight” alongside Amy Johnston and director Chris Nahon?
Amy is the sweetest person ever and also extremely lethal. She kicks ass, as in her personality kicks ass. She’s the most wonderful and supportive person ever. When I had my fight scene with her, I was nervously picking up new routine on the spot, which would all come very naturally to Amy as she’s been doing martial arts all her life. She’d stop, help me, give me advice, tell me to trust her and I did, I trusted her completely. I knew that if I fell, she’d catch me.
Chris is non-stop action, every day and every minute of shooting. And what’s funny is that although “Lady Bloodfight” is an action movie, Chris could equally win the medal for being the most active person on set. He had this 360 degrees of shooting, where he was operating the camera on a ronin around the action, so every now and then, he would spontaneously rotate around the action at 360 degrees. And it was funny, because the whole crew followed behind Chris like a massive fish tale, and every time the camera moved, there was this delayed domino effect of the fish tale running to keep up with Chris and stay behind the camera, all the time not sure when and where he was moving to.
Yes, Chris Nahon, director of Jet Li’s “Kiss of the Dragon”, definitely knows his stuff! So, what was the most demanding fight or piece of choreography you were involved in?
Definitely opposite Amy. There was a lot of choreography to remember for that fight and we didn’t have a lot of rehearsal time, so most of it was done on location -very Hong Kong style. Plus, there was added wire work which I never rehearsed. So the fear you see on my face is real fear, haha! It was me fearing for my life.
Wow, real dedication there. What are some other memorable experiences you took from the making of “Lady Bloodfight”? Did you sustain any injuries?
Injuries…haha, I don’t think you walk away from a martial arts movie without a few injures. Nothing serious though. Bruises and swollen fists are the norm. I also got smashed in the face twice, but that’s apparently normal too, as long as the face is still intact. Thank goodness it is.
I had some wonderful experiences on “Lady Bloodfight” and also some not so wonderful experiences. Every movie is a challenge, it’s a miracle that a movie gets through the finish line. We certainly had a lot of dramas behind the camera on this movie. Luckily we had a very tight cast and us girls bonded very well, I was so lucky to have the support of many of my fellow actors during training and further into shooting. So whatever dramas behind the camera, usually to do with the business side of things, and of course battling egos, persecuting the innocent and so on, stayed… well… behind the camera.
Sounds like “Lady Bloodfight” is going to be great, we’re really looking forward to it. You’ll also soon be seen in the TV series “Secret City” in the role of Mae Lin. What can you tell us about the series?
“Secret City” is a political espionage starring Anna Torv & Jackie Weaver. It will soon premiere on Foxtel’s Showcase Channel on Sunday June 5th. So don’t forget to catch me in the series opposite Anna Torv! And for the martial arts fans out there, I also worked with Eugenia Yuan, another martial artist in the series.
Awesome! What other projects do you have coming up in the pipeline?
I currently just finished working with Jane Campion, can’t say what it is, but I had great fun!
Sounds good. So, which other actors, filmmakers and martial artists would you like to work with moving forward?
You know this is going to be a long list if I list them all out, and I can’t be choosy at the moment, so I’m very open at this stage. However, that being said, I would love to work with Quentin Tarantino, the Wachowski Sisters, Martha Coolidge, Christopher Doyle, Luc Besson, Guillermo del Toro, Eli Roth, James Wan, Robert Rodriguez, J.J. Abrams, Sam Raimi, Ang Lee, Gareth Evans, Sammo Hung, Sophia Coppola, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hiddleston, Yuen Woo Ping, Michelle Yeoh, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, this list could go on…
Some stellar names there! Moving on…who do you most admire in the martial arts movies? Give us your brief views on: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Mark Dacascos, Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa, Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung…
All these guys mentioned have made martial arts movie what it is today, you could say they’ve fostered the genre! Some of them are the forefathers of martial arts movies, and they set the bar to what an entertaining martial arts movie is. I was lucky to have worked with one out of that list, and I hope I get to work with the others.
Absolutely true! So, what are your top 10 kung-fu movies?
Not in any particular order: “Enter the Dragon”, “Bloodsport”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hero”, “Rumble in the Bronx”, “Fist of Fury”, “The Prodigal Son”, “Wheels on Meals”, “Dragons Forever”, and “House of Flying Daggers”.
(I want add three more if I can, “Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2”, and the film which they were based on, “Lady Snowblood”.
OK great choices! Moving ahead now, what kind of workouts do you typically do?
I do yoga to help my flexibility, core and resistance exercises to build up my strength, and I go for a swim or 2 to 3km jog every weekend to improve my endurance.
What’s your favourite exercise and what specific or special training techniques do you really find brings out the best in you?
I like my squats and planks. I also like to try new things and mix routines up every now and then, I find that works best because the body goes through different needs at different stages.
Interesting, that’s a good point. What do you like to do to recover from a particularly strenuous period of physical activity?
I think a good night sleep is the best recovery tool ever!
Deep sleep preferably…On that note, what are a couple of your favourite pieces of gym/exercise or training equipment that you absolutely love using and would recommend to others?
I’m a treadmill and bike person, it’s very conventional but works wonders.
Absolutely. Looking at nutrition now, what kind of diet do you follow?
I eat very healthy but I can’t say I follow any specific diet. When I was shooting “Lady Bloodfight”, it was about cutting out the carbs completely, so all I was having was salads and protein.
Which foods do you find work for you to remain at your most energetic, what’s the best fuel for your workouts?
Drink plenty of water post workout, not before as I’ve learnt, the water just gushes around inside your stomach when you are exercising and it’s not such a nice feeling. When your body is asking for food, give it food, nothing beats a hearty meal after a workout and nuts are the best energy snacks between meals, to prevent your body going nuts from lack of energy, hehe!
Easy to remember that. Do you take supplements, what do you recommend?
I take way too many supplements which I have cut down over the years. When I went traveling I had this whole other bag of supplements including multivitamins, fish oil, calcium pills, vitamins C & D, grape seed extracts, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, protein supplements and other antioxidant supplements as you can see, it’s kinda ridiculous. I have realized over the years that the body produces everything it needs itself and there’s really no reason to go crazy with supplements because whatever you end up supplementing the body then produces less of it itself. So now all I take is fish oil, if I don’t forget.
Excellent approach. Looking at fun and leisure now, what’s one geeky thing that people don’t really know about you?
I’m attracted to geeks.
Did I mention I’m a geek? (Ahem)…OK so moving on… If you could be a superhero, who would you be and what superpower would you most like to possess?
I would love nothing more than to exist in the Marvel or DC Comics universe. I think I’m a superhero that is not yet written, I’d have the ability to turn back time, to read minds, to be invisible or shapeshift, have super fighting skills, and I’d never die.
Hard to beat that! So, what are some of your hobbies?
When you’ve turned your hobby into your job, you realize you have no other hobbies. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Occasionally I paint, I edit, play music and go for treks.
Made your vocation your vacation, eh? And why not! Favourite music?
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Favourite movies? (non-martial arts)
I have so many… don’t get me started…! “The Graduate”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “Body Heat”, “Chinatown”, “A Fist Full of Dollars”, “Deadpool”…
Awesome! Looking ahead now, What in life do you really:
- a) Like?
- b) Dislike?
What would you say is your proudest accomplishment so far?
That I’ve worked on movies in different parts of the world.
Nice! So, what are you really keen to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I would love to have my own production company where I’m producing and making my own movies. That as well as Lady Bloodfight 2, haha!
That sequel’s already in the works! So, as we wind things down here, what’s a warrior-wisdom quote that has helped mold you into who you are today?
“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
Very true. So, what special message would you like to share with Kung Fu Kingdom readers and your fans around the world?
If you have a dream, don’t be afraid to chase it, it will only be a dream if you don’t chase it.
Sound advice. Well, as we prepare to sign off Jenny, where’s the best place for readers to go and find out more about you?
Outstanding! Thank you so much Jenny for your kind participation in this interview. We hope it gives our readers a glimpse into the life of the delightful Jenny Wu. We wish you all the very best with “Lady Bloodfight” and your other future action movies. Keep up the great work and keep in touch!
Thank you to the team at Kung Fu Kingdom for featuring me and supporting me. I promise you I will continue to kick ass for the rest of my life, I won’t disappoint!