Whether it is as an actor, trainer, stuntman, or fight choreographer, Roger Yuan has worn many hats in the action film and training industries. His skill and martial arts knowledge, acquired through years of self-study and development, as well as tutelage from Chuck Norris is why Roger remains in such high demand in front of, and behind the camera.
Roger’s four-decade career has seen him work with some of the industry’s biggest names in both film and television, big-budget projects and independent features, home grown Hollywood pictures and a variety of films abroad.
If you have a favourite film, the chances are that Roger played an important part in making it happen, be it training actors to be super spies, X-Men, to fighting ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’, or being a triad boss in John Wick 3, he has done it all. Roger’s evolution in the film business mirrors his growth as a true martial artist, on a never-ending, evolutionary journey.
After working with the likes of Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Daniel Craig, and Matt Damon, Roger was chosen to work with renowned French/Canadian director, Denis Villeneuve on an epic saga. Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures brought him in to work on the latest, cinematic, big $165m-budget adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic ‘Dune’ saga.
For Roger it’s been an opportunity to train the film’s stellar cast and choreograph what promises to be some of cinema’s most stunning battles. At the time we spoke with Roger, Warner Bros had announced that the film’s release date would be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meantime, Roger took some time out to speak with Kung Fu Kingdom for a special, extended, exclusive interview about his life and work in film, including deep-dive, exclusive insights into the fights filmed for this highly-anticipated, sci-fi blockbuster which is scheduled for a 1st October, 2021 release!
Hi Roger, and welcome to Kung Fu Kingdom! It’s great to connect with you.
Thank you Ramon, it’s an honour.
May we get your views briefly on what you think of the site and name Kung Fu Kingdom (or KFK for short)?
It’s quite impressive. You have real fighters, as well as martial artists and actors, and performers that have great notoriety, and great historical importance. The name itself sounds like it might be a really good film script. [Laughs] It’s pretty descriptive of what you want to do in terms of featuring different people from different backgrounds. I take it that it’s not only about Kung Fu, but all martial arts?
That’s right. Our mission is to encourage 100 million people around the world to get into martial arts for all the positive benefits that it brings to individuals, physically, mentally and socially – what do you think about this goal?
I think it’s an amazingly important statement. Obviously, I’m very much in support of that, the idea and the concept. I think it’s very important for people to understand when training in kung fu you don’t necessarily have to go at it with a sense of ego. It’s about what the art is within yourself that you want to create, and what style suits you.
Some people are going to be more inclined to take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because the methodology of learning is much more sense based, much more tactile. Then there’s Western boxing, you can learn it as an art form, for self defense, or to keep yourself in shape and just feel comfortable in movement. Do you absolutely have to get into the ring? That’s up to you but having the right training, and having the sense of timing I think is always good.
Even doing traditional martial arts, such as karate and traditional kung fu – just the stance work and the kata work alone is important. Kata has a beautiful intensity and also develops your breath, coordination, muscular control, stance work, and focus. So if you utilize that but are not bound into any type of dogma, or by any particular style or system, then I think kata, whether it be from tai chi chuan – which is actually very smooth – or from a traditional Japanese or Okinawan system, there’s something beautiful to be gained, and I think that’s a personal journey.
Absolutely. I’d like to ask a little about your background. How did you get into martial arts? Who would you say were your main influences?
NYC: Jumping Sidekicks off the Bed at 5 Years-Old!
I was born in the US, but after a few months, because my parents were in college in Southern Illinois, I was sent back to Taiwan to live with my grandparents. I didn’t get back to the US until I was around four years-old, so I met my parents at age four. They had a one bedroom apartment in New York City and by age five, I was jumping from my parent’s bed to my bed doing these jumping, flying sidekicks!
The Influence of Bruce Lee
At that point I had seen this TV show called “The Green Hornet”. It had this Asian guy doing martial arts and that for me was something that I clung to as a role model, and to build up my own confidence. At that time, there really wasn’t much in terms of Asian actors on television yet here’s this guy – Bruce Lee.
Since then I wanted to learn martial arts but at the time my parents were starving students, and ever since they came to the US they were always struggling to make their way. Because I didn’t meet them till I was four, I was very shy of putting any kind of pressure on them. I had often heard them complaining about money and financial difficulties, so I never actually pressed them about going to a karate class, or a kung fu school.
Also my grandparents – my father’s parents – were very domineering over the whole family, and because I was the oldest grandchild they wouldn’t let me do anything. I tried out for little league baseball at about eight or nine years-old, and apparently I did really well.
Then my mom took their call from Taiwan telling her not to let me play baseball, because some kid in Taiwan got beaten in the head and basically went into a coma and died. It was this weird situation and so I knew from an early age that I had to, in terms of learning martial arts, do it on my own.
Self-Training with Books from the Library & Kung Fu Films in Chinatown
So how did you go about getting martial arts training?
From around 5 to 17 I had no formal martial arts training. I was always training myself, checking out books from the library on karate and judo, studying the photographs. On the weekend I would go to New York Chinatown movie theaters and watch kung fu films, so I could actually see and try to mimic the movements that way.
When I was in junior high, and even up to a certain point in high school, I was very shy but I would go out of my way to overcome that shyness and befriend other kids that I knew who studied martial arts, and ask them to show me their styles.
Starting Karate at 17 Years-Old
It wasn’t until I was 17 that I actually got into my first formal class learning Kyokushin karate, and I was starting to pay for them myself. When I had money I would buy issues of “Inside Kung Fu” and “Karate Illustrated” and martial arts magazines. I even read the “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” by Bruce Lee about which I had no true understanding at that age, but I would study the diagrams and try to understand the philosophy of what he was trying to say.
Between watching films, reading magazines – sometimes stealing magazines (at 8-12 years-old) when I didn’t have money – I found a way of trying to inter-collate all the different movements from western boxing to traditional karate, to some kung fu, to taekwondo. I would try to mimic things that I saw some of my friends do. I do think part of why I’ve done so well in the film industry is that I’ve trained myself to become a very good mimic.
Joining Chuck Norris’ Karate – Now a 4th Degree Black Belt
A couple of years later when I went to college in Los Angeles, well, that was it, I was free and on my own. There was no Kyokushin in Los Angeles, so I rode a bus down from my uncle’s house in Torrance, California looking for a school. I saw this big sign and it read ‘Chuck Norris Karate’ and I remembered he was the dude who fought with Bruce Lee in “Way of the Dragon”. I also knew that he was a six-time karate champion so he obviously knew what he was doing. I was going to go in and check out his system, I wanted to see how good his black belts were.
I walked into the studio in Torrance – which was run by two of his black belts, and Chuck would often come down on the weekends. Of course I didn’t know that, so that day I walked in, who did I see? Chuck Norris teaching; he was working with one of his black belts, and they were developing a new black belt form for his own system that he wanted to use combining elements of Shotokan karate that he learned as well as his Tang Soo Do that he learned in the Air Force when he was over in Korea.
So I’m sitting there in the observation area watching for a bit. He turns over, looks at me, walks over and goes, “Hey, how are you doing? I’m Chuck.” I stammered a bit and told him about how I’m continuing school at UCLA, that I have a green belt in Kyokushin but I haven’t been able to find that Japanese style over here.
Immediately Chuck tells me about how his style was originally Tang Soo Do but with hand techniques similar to Shotokan and Kyokushin and I might see some of the forms that are similar. “You should train here”, he said. I was recruited by Chuck Norris to train in his system, and now I have a fourth-degree black belt.
I also trained with Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez over at ‘The Jet Center’ where I became the main sparring partner for people like World Champion Peter ‘Sugarfoot’ Cunningham. By this time, Sensei Benny was in “Wheels on Meals” with Jackie Chan, and worked on a couple of films.
He wanted to parlay from his fame and his undefeated record as a kickboxing champion, to working in film, training other actors and staging fight choreography for films. By the time I got to him he suggested I fight professionally as I had the skills for it. I basically said no.
Right-Hand Man to Benny ‘The Jet’
Don’t get me wrong I love martial arts, I would love to have competed in the ring, but I’m fine having that professional, championship-level of training and sparring with all these top people. That way I knew how good I was. I told him in terms of making a career, and being creative I wanted to work in film. Sensei Benny made me his right-hand guy and we started a Saturday fight class to train some of his better fighters.
Exposure to Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace & Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson
I got so much intimate knowledge and exposure to all these different champions that came to the Jet Center like Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace, Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, and even boxing champions. At the same time I stayed with Chuck Norris and competed in his international tournaments, and from ’89 to ’96 I won middleweight and lightweight championships.
I would bounce from lower to higher weight classes because actually, I didn’t care too much about winning the championships or the trophies, so much as I wanted to gain fighting experience. Sometimes it’s more about size and being wily, and with other fighters it was actually about how you use your reach. I remember Sensei Benny used to say that sometimes, when he was really really winning, he would fight a bigger opponent just to test himself.
I thought that was pretty interesting. It’s the mentality that there is no perfect scenario for performance, you just have to perform.
Studying Western Boxing, Kung Fu, Muay Thai & BJJ
Over the years I’ve spent time studying various systems. I’ve done western boxing, Muay Thai, some Shaolin Kung Fu and I have a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Of course, I don’t do it for the belts, more for training and also expanding my knowledge and what I can do to utilize that knowledge.
Tell us about how you got into the film business. What was your first job as a stuntman?
My first job was on a TV show called “Manimal”. I was brought on to that by Aaron Norris, Chuck’s brother. He was coordinating a few shows, so I was there for my very first gig.
I did a fight scene against the lead actor, Simon MacCorkindale. At that time, I met other people who are now also martial arts luminaries. I remember meeting Jeff Imada that day, and he was already established in Hollywood doing stunts. “House” (the horror film) was among the first films that I did as a stuntman.
Finance Jobs got Boring, Enjoyed Training with Chuck Norris Instead!
I got into it again through Aaron Norris. Then one day he says to me, “Hey Rog if you fly yourself over to the Philippines I’ll work you onto this film.” It was one of Chuck Norris’ “Missing in Action” films. I actually said no. In my heart, I wanted to take that job so much, but I had also promised my parents that I would graduate from college, at that time I was at UCLA. I had one more year to graduate with my degree in mathematics.
So I figured that before I do anything else, whatever the dream, I had to be the good son, focus, and at least get my degree. After I graduated I started working in different jobs in finance, but I was bored. This was while I was still at Chuck Norris’ karate school and I was starting to teach. Yes I had the 9-5 job, but I couldn’t wait to get into the studio to train. I then realized that was where my drive was, so I started making friends with people who I thought could help me.
Roger’s Big Break in Fight Coordinating
My big break came with “Vanishing Son”. My name was put forward with a bunch of people to be the fight coordinator for the show.
Vanishing Son Trailer
I was in Los Angeles, and this producer, Oscar Costo called me and said, “Hey look, I have an actor, Chi Muoi Lo, that needs training. Can you do this? Can you train him for a few weeks before he goes to Virginia?” I said yes, and asked what kind of style I should train him for? He said, “Whatever, kickboxing, anything to get him to a competent level of movement.”
So, I trained him, shot some footage and sent the VHS over. That footage of him moving was great, but apparently once he got over to Virginia he was a bit uncoordinated for the most part.
He had forgotten a lot of the movement and so Oscar called and asked if I would be interested in going over there to be the fight choreographer for this TV show. I said, “Sure, yeah!” I went to Virginia and took JJ Perry with me. He was just out of the army, and this was his first experience in film and television. I used him to double for Russell Wong. I did the four action-packed movies and also the 13-episode series in San Diego. I would say that’s probably one of my seminal moments where I became more known for my skills.
Working with Jackie Chan & Chuck Norris
That’s so cool! As well as stunts you started acting, and since then you’ve shared screen time with some of the biggest names in the industry including Jackie Chan in “Shanghai Noon”, Bolo Yeung in “Shootfighter” and you also got to appear opposite Chuck Norris in “Walker, Texas Ranger”. What are your most stand out memories working alongside your mentor?
Part of what drives me is fear. And as a martial artist it drove me to try and learn more and to delve more deeply into my craft. That’s why I went into acting and I got a few roles. The break came working with Jackie Chan on “Shanghai Noon”.
Now Chuck saw the movie and he saw the work I did on “Vanishing Son” and so he gave me some work whenever he could, which included smaller parts on “Walker, Texas Ranger”, and also behind the scenes to help choreograph certain action pieces. I was requested to play the part of Lazarus right after I had done “Shanghai Noon”.
Roger in Action as Lazarus
It was a two-hour episode arc and a real honour to have one of the episodes named after my character. That episode was fun as I got to create for Lazarus the movements that I liked.
I worked with Vic Quintero, and also Eric Norris who was the stunt coordinator and also shot some second unit for our fights. I would fight against Chuck, and his stunt double Chip Wright who I used to compete against on the tournament scene. So it was really cool keeping it in the family that way.
Chuck has always been very supportive of everything I did, he’s a great friend and instructor. We had that history, so when I started doing some of the choreography for “Walker, Texas Ranger” he really liked it and wanted to bring me back. I think Lazarus was a prime example of that and it was a lot of fun to create that fight and perform it with my master.
Walker, Texas Ranger – Lazarus
As well as acting and stunt work you’ve also diversified into training some very well-known names in the entertainment industry. How did that come about ?
It came about when I was living in Ireland, I wasn’t getting much work at the time. I was stressed out as I found as I got older the constant hardcore and high intensity workouts, whether it be boxing, kickboxing or running hard or playing basketball were taking their toll.
My knees, my Achilles tendons, my back, shoulders, everything was starting to get these niggly little aches and pains. That was when I realized that I had to change not only my martial arts but also my physical training if I wanted to prolong my career and my own health.
I focused on less intensive regimens such as swimming and yoga, and returned to more traditional martial arts. I realized there’s something to be gained doing things in slow motion and that by putting tension in the right musculature I could generate more power and conserve energy. I could recuperate much faster with less effort. That’s when I got calls to train people.
Training Henry Cavill, X-Men, Daniel Craig & Matt Damon
I trained Henry Cavill to get in fantastic shape for a film called “Immortals” which later got him the role of Superman. I was training, the likes of Jason Flemyng [Azazel] and the whole cast for “X-Men: First Class”, and of course Daniel Craig for “Skyfall”. At that time I got a call from my manager, from America telling me there’s a musician, a singer, that wanted me to train him. I turned it down as I wanted to concentrate on film work, but he suggested that before I turn it down I agree to have a phone conversation with him.
The musician was Tim McGraw. So I finished “Skyfall” and started working with him. That’s the third prong of my trident – acting, stunt work, and training.
I enjoy all three, I know that I have to put a different hat on for each, but all three challenge me creatively in different ways.
James Bond: Developing Daniel Craig’s Boxing Skills
You’ve served as fight trainer on various films including, as mentioned, on James Bond: “Skyfall” and “Jason Bourne”. How do you go about transforming the likes Daniel Craig and Matt Damon from actors to unarmed ‘lethal weapons’?
Well, the note Gary Powell, the stunt coordinator had given me was that Bond doesn’t have any particular style and doesn’t move like a martial artist, but should move like he knows how to fight.
Daniel’s training involved more boxing techniques; I did a lot of focus mitt work with him, movements, and pretty soon he started feeling really comfortable. Then I would get him to use his elbows to block and come back. Next I would shorten the range.
He learned to throw a left hook and a jab, but what if he couldn’t use that and had to fight close quarters like in a telephone booth? I was getting him to generate power from the centre of his body, that way, any technique that I threw at him he could sell with his body, the hips and the shoulders. I also choreographed some of the fight sequences but what I am most proud of was working with Daniel to feel confident in his boxing movement.
Jason Bourne: Adding Finesse to Matt Damon’s Moves & Versatility
Matt [Damon] already had Filipino martial arts (FMA) training, also dirty boxing, and trapping that he used in the first three Bourne films.
With the fourth film [“Jason Bourne” 2016] I wanted to use some of those elements, but also knowing that, as Jason Bourne, he’s gotten older so he’s a lot more efficient. We also knew that the end fight between him and Vincent Cassel was going to be intense because they were both the first of the Treadstone Agents that were kind of the prototypes.
There was also so much hatred between these characters since the asset, which is Cassel’s character, killed Bourne’s dad and Bourne found out. So that was always meant to be much more visceral, less about technique and much more violent.
Matt had brought his boxing coach, Matt Baiamonte with him. I said to his coach whilst training Matt, “Watch this now; he’s looking really good, he’s got really good movement in his upper body and his hands. Now, to sell for the camera a little bit more, I want you to think about how every time Matt executes a technique his knees, hips, and toes have to be in line, and they have to move together. It’s not just about the upper body now, I want you thinking in terms of your whole body.”
Jason Bourne B-Roll Footage Featuring Roger
There’s a moment in one of the fights where Bourne breaks off a chair to use as a weapon. Throughout the films, Bourne is known for taking something to hand and turning it into a weapon; simple things like a rolled-up magazine, or even a pen.
In this scene he was being attacked with a barbell, and weights were being thrown at him. So what was available to him this time? Furniture. So I had him pick up this chair and break it to use as a weapon. It shows he has serious power and creates his own weapon rather than just picking up anything that’s handy.
With both Bond and Bourne they are similar creatures, really two sides of the same coin. Bourne however, because of his programming, has a brainwashed quality to get into this level of fighting. He doesn’t even know why he’s doing it, it’s all just reflex.
Bond is much more of an organic person, he’s a human being that understands the life expectancy of a 007 agent may not be very long so whatever the f*** I’m gonna do, I’m going to go for it. With both Matt and Daniel I definitely used tai chi chuan to refine their movement, and to really internalize power generation.
The way that Bourne is shot is completely different to the way that Sam [Mendes] shot “Skyfall”. Daniel had to understand more and get through the whole process of the flow. Bourne is more frenetic and the camera moves a lot, with a lot of different cuts. So, it was more about short action pieces. There’s the character aspect of what the action was and then there’s also prepping them for the whole methodology of how the scene will be shot.
“DUNE” SPECIAL: The Art of EPIC Fights
Excellent. Okay, for those not familiar with the story, there are many fighting styles detailed in “Dune” the book. How did you go about developing the fighting systems for the film?
Designing the specific fighting styles for the [Padishah] Emperors guard, the Sardaukar, the Atreides, and the Harkonnens were basically the first three things that we focussed on in this first film. We haven’t gotten into Paul Atreides [Played by Timothée Chalamet] teaching The Fremen yet, because that’s going to come in the second film.
For the Atreides, because their weapons are a bit like a shorter sword, I use more Filipino styles of kali and escrima. The Sardaukar are more a group, like a cross between Viking Berserkers, and the Samurai.
Finally the Harkonnens, because of their bestial and sadistic quality – I liken more to the barbarians of old, like maybe Genghis Khan and the Mongols even in the way that they move – they’re efficient but they’re not very precise or stylized.
The Atreides are very precise, and they have techniques that work specifically for the weapons that they use. Those are the three kinds of systems that we wanted to identify, and that will hopefully give the audience something pleasing to look at and something to take away from.
With the ‘Weirding Way’ fighting style, Rebecca [Ferguson] who plays Paul Atreides’ mom has a scene where she’s training him about the hidden blade, and for him to survive he has to rely on the Bene Gesserit way of fighting. I don’t know if that has made it into the film, I guess we’ll see if it features some knife fighting skills.
How much freedom did the director Denis Villeneuve give you in crafting the fight action, training, and choreography?
Denis was great and he definitely gave me certain directions on how he wanted the film to look and I followed all his notes on what he wanted and basically what “Dune” was. I got more creative freedom when it came to working on the motion capture stuff. We had already shot two weeks’ worth of motion capture scenes in Los Angeles which mainly consisted of computer-generated main battle sequences and included the dream sequence of Paul [Atreides] becoming a Freman.
At the time, Denis was with us overlooking the scenes that were being shot. He loved some of the sequences, even the one I shot for pre-viz as a POV [point of view], for the audience. Then COVID hit and we had to stop shooting. We had already prepped for two weeks and with another week to shoot in Los Angeles, we didn’t know when it was going to open up again.
I discussed various options with producer Joe (Caracciolo Jr.). At first they wanted me to oversee motion capture that could be shot over there in a studio used for video game performances, and I would oversee and give notes remotely while they shoot. I basically said no, because I actually need to be there physically to guide the performers and add any choreography to tidy up and bring it all together.
Navigating COVID & Moving Forward
The other option was to fly to Budapest and film the whole thing live in full gear. The third alternative was to actually do it in Los Angeles, but at that point, nobody knew when Los Angeles was going to open up for filming projects. Denis basically said that he needed me to be there in person and he would oversee things through Skype, and a remote camera.
Los Angeles opened up in June and we were ready and had our protocols in place. By the way, “Dune” was the very first film in America to come back into production, right after lockdown, with COVID protocols in place. We were the test case, essentially the lab rats! We would be tested three times-a-week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday – we had to make sure everybody was locked down, in quarantine and not going out.
Rehearsals at 87Eleven Action Design
The first week of production, we went back to ‘87eleven’ into previous rehearsal and training with new notes of what Denis wanted. We had to prep the main piece which was a fight sequence featuring Paul Atreides. Denis was in Montreal watching everything on camera. Basically we would shoot everything and it would all go back to Denis.
He would see it and usually say, “I’m happy if Roger’s happy.” He really entrusted me to oversee these action battle sequences that’s going to be in the film. Denis is such a visual storyteller and I just knew that in terms of any piece of action choreography I would hope to introduce, first and foremost, to take into consideration; does it serve the story? And does it serve the character in line with his concept and his vision?
It wasn’t about how flashy I could make a certain fight sequence or an actor look, but rather about how frenetic, eye-catching and believable we could make this piece of action.
Training Josh Brolin & Jason Momoa
Fascinating. You got to work with actors already accustomed to action roles – Oscar Isaac (“Star Wars”), Jason Momoa (“Justice League”, “Aquaman”), Josh Brolin (“Deadpool 2”) and Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” / “Fallout”).
What training and direction did you have to give them and how well did they respond to it? What were your most stand out moments – (however unexpected or quirky they might’ve been)?
Josh Brolin [who plays Gurney Halleck] was here in LA prepping, so I had him start training in kali with one of my friends, Shioshi – one of Dan Inosanto’s guys. Then I flew over with Timothée’s stunt double to start training Josh for about a week before he was going to fly over to Budapest. He’d just had his baby girl, and said he was this close to sending an email to Denis to saying, “I can’t do this film, I can’t do it, I can’t do it!” [laughs].
His training fight with Paul at the beginning, is a very intricate piece that flows from training, to almost real fighting because Gurney is really trying to inject Paul with the seriousness that, on Arrakis it’s basically life or death. It’s one of the most intense sequences and Josh came through. He’s brilliant, and such a perfectionist as well. Jason [Momoa] is a good mover, he’s done a lot of fight sequences, and he knows what he likes to do with swords.
I like to accommodate the actors according to their strengths, and their weaknesses so that we don’t touch on certain areas. For example, if someone’s got a bad knee or bad shoulder, I’m not going to have them kick high or overly use that particular limb.
I also build the character as well as the actors’ strengths, and it’s challenging, but each and every one of them were up to the task and willing to work hard. It got easier for them I think, once I explained that remembering fight choreography is like remembering a phone number.
When you memorize a phone number, you know it’s three, then four, so think of it in threes or fours, if you can, don’t think of the entirety of the sequence.
Learning the Steps & Linking it All Together
Josh wanted to see the whole thing. After he did his training in L.A, I started to fine tune his movements. He had to learn by rote [mechanical or habitual] movements, like dance steps. You learn what all the steps are and then you link them all together. I started linking thought, movement, and intent right from the very beginning. I wanted it to be done in slow motion first, so that you have time to adjust, and then you’ll have time to understand how the centre of the body is moving.
I said to him, “If you were a tennis player, would you have always had such a beautiful stroke? No. When you learned that back hand, wouldn’t it have felt really weird to have to hit the ball out of bounds over the fence, a few times before you actually fine tuned that?”
“You have to give yourself that time, that ability to make mistakes but right now, since we’re doing it in slow motion you’re learning at a faster pace, even though you think you’re moving in slow motion.”
They all think that, at first, they’ll never get it because they’re doing it in slow motion. And I’m telling them, “Right now everything seems like a forest, but there’s a path, there’s a trail. Before you can go through that path, you have to take your machete out to clear the path. Then you walk that path that you just cleared a few times, and once it’s clear, now you can learn.”
So, in terms of doing it first in slow motion, and then with density increasing by increments of 10%, now, it’s no longer slow motion. I want them to have a flow and to feel the dance. And I guess that’s part of what the training involves; how fast can we get to a level of consistency and comfort so that we don’t have to think about it, it becomes a reaction.
For people that are performing actors, my job, I think as a fight coordinator, is to get to that level of confidence and comfort that the body knows what it’s doing with the movement.
“Dune” Releasing October 1st, 2021
Warner Brothers announced that “Dune” is going to be released in October 1st, this year. Have you seen the finished film – are you happy with how your work has turned out?
I’ve not seen the finished film yet, I’ve seen the trailer and it looks amazing. I’ve seen some of the fight sequences, the visual effects are almost finalized, and it looks really good. I’m happy because I think that’s exactly what Denis wanted. Some of the sword fights that Jason and Timothée have, and Timothée’s and Josh’s training fight – I think they performed really well.
Being involved in the film, working closely with all these actors, we’ve become friends. And seeing their action on film, I think they’ll be very happy, and I hope the audience will be too.
Can’t wait to see this! So, Roger, what other projects do you have coming up?
Denis wanted me to play a part in the film, because if the first one does well – which we hope it will – and we complete the book, then I’ll come back as a character called Lieutenant Lanville. I have a battle to the death with Feyd-Rautha, which is in the book.
Because of COVID there’s been a couple of things that I was up for, but everything’s being pushed back. So I have a few projects, but nothing concrete as of yet that I’ve actually signed onto. I’m looking for the next gig but generally enjoying life and training.
I do have a film coming out – ‘The Paper Tigers’ with my brother Ron and Yuji Okumoto from “Karate Kid” in which I play Sifu Cheung. It’ll be out in cinemas for a short time before release on DVD, so look out for that!
What other dreams, goals and ambitions are you keen to accomplish?
I’ve seen you know my friends, like Chad Stahelski who have gone from a martial arts background and second-unit work to directing the total package of storytelling on film. I watched Denis work, and how he amazingly picks and chooses what points work visually, and how he directs actors.
I find that amazing, daunting and intimidating. I kind of wanted to do that, because I think that that’s part of life, and ultimately it’s another form of creation. I’d like to be able to tell a story through directing, be it a film or something for television, that’s something I’d like to do.
My every day goal is trying to be the best person, to be a little bit better tomorrow than I am today. As a martial artist, that was always my thinking; but also as a father, as a partner, a brother, a son, and as a teacher. I think, if I can do that, it’s a creative process and quite fulfilling, in and of itself, because every day you have to challenge yourself.
Roger’s Message for KFK Followers & Fans
Roger, you’re a very reflective, philosophical person. What warrior-wisdom message, quote or philosophy would you like to leave KFK followers and your fans around the world right now?
It’s something that I wrote to my daughters. Just be what your soul dreamed up before you came to be. That’s my guiding philosophy for myself but also for my daughters. I believe in our souls being immortal. Just be what your soul dreams you would be before you came here, to be…
That’ll be profound, potentially life-changing, and liberating for many we think…Thanks again Roger for taking the time to speak with Kung Fu Kingdom.
Thank you for inviting me. It’s been an honour.