Author: Mike Fury
Publisher: Mill City Press, Inc
Subject: Cinema/Martial Arts
Mike Fury has written for a number of martial arts and cinema publications over the last decade and has been able to interview many martial arts and action stars during this time. Mike has had access to a wide variety of people involved in both arts and has been able to get close to actors, stunt performers and filmmakers. This book is a collection of interviews with a selected filmography for each individual.
The book is best described by its full title – Life of Action: Interviews with the Men and Women of Martial Arts and Action Cinema.
The hardback book is physically impressive at first sight. It is a nice size, being just under A4 page size, and about an inch thick. The front and back covers are well laid out with an excellent image of Scott Adkins as ‘Yuri Boyka’ taking up most of the front cover.
Upon opening the book you’ll quickly get to the contents. It is here you get to appreciate the wide range of interviews. They are broken down into three areas of action cinema, starting first with actors, moving onto stunts and closing with filmmakers.
You’ll understand the volume of the book as you can see from the page numbers that the actors interviews take up over 150 pages, the stunts interviews a further 50 pages and the filmmakers over 100. It is cleanly laid out with the interviewees name and this is where we find the variety of people Fury has had access to.
There are names you would expect, such as Dolph Lundgren, Donnie Yen, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton and Andy Lau as well as stunt people such as J.J. Perry and filmmakers such as Isaac Florentine and Mike Leeder. During the introduction to the book, the author highlights how there are some names missing who you may expect to be there, and describe the reasons they are missing from this volume (as well as his hopes that another volume could follow this book).
Each of the interviews is well laid out with large, clear photos of the person in film or working on set and each interview is somewhere between 5 and 12 pages long.
The questions are interesting and tailored to that individual, although there are general themes about the films they have worked upon, training they undertake and each interview closes with a question about advice for people aspiring to be in cinema, whether it be behind or in front of the camera.
So, as mentioned, the interviews start with actors, including Scott Adkins, Darren Shahlavi, Zara Phythian and Johnny Strong. This leads us to the Stunts section which includes interviews with Paul Lazenby and Chad Stahelski. The book finishes with Filmmakers’ interviews, including Clement Cheng and Alan Mak.
The book then closes with Fury’s final thoughts, thanks and acknowledgements, and a good index.
Life of Action is a brilliant consolidation of Interviews with the filmmakers, actors and stunt people who bring us the action films that we love to watch. The questions asked are thoughtful and pertinent, and the answers provided are interesting and useful.
Mike himself has trained in Wing Chun, Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and his knowledge and passion for both martial arts and action cinema are clearly displayed on each page of the book.
As stated in the review above, at the end of each interview Mike asks a question regarding advice for people aspiring to enter that person’s field of work, whether it be filmmaking, stunt work or acting and some of the answers are very detailed and contain some great hints and tips. One of the overarching sentiments from most of the action gurus to this question is just to keep going, research your field and keep trying – I found that to be a really positive message.
I love this book; I spent 4 hours reading it from cover to cover and would recommend it to anyone and everyone interested in martial arts or the various aspects of action cinema. Some of the answers contain really good advice, as well us embodying the artists’ thoughts and points of view.
Book Rating: 10/10
‘My job is crashing cars, having fights and shooting people. It’s great! – J.J. Perry’
‘I moved to Plymouth in Devon which is known as the home of the Navy, so the town is full of squaddies and military types. The club was tough. There weren’t kids and families there, it was all men and I was the first youth to join. It was an old school type place but I’m glad I had the chance to train somewhere like that especially as a lot of these places don’t exist anymore. I’d get knocked out, choked out, had my shoulder dislocated, ribs broken. You’d regularly show up with butterflies at the thought of what’s going to happen and you’d leave bleeding! – Joey Ansah’
Throughout all my competitions I always tried to bring my best and do well. I’d also try to visualize my moves and attacks throughout the fight and this worked really well for me. There was one particular fighter I’d always come up against as she and I would often get through to the final’s together. I’d always be really nervous before the fight but would then try to visualize what I’d do at what point during the match. I was shocked when I first discovered this actually working for me. I visualized the moves and then executed them. I’d recommend this to anyone else competing. Fights can be unpredictable but it doesn’t hurt to map out a fight in your mind. – Zara Phythian’
‘After Hong Kong, I found the work in America so much easier! [Laughs] For one thing, I actually had a script in my hand and knew what the film was about. Also everyone spoke English so it was much easier to communicate and know what was happening. The action was also a lot simpler and I remember the American stunt guys telling me I didn’t need to hit so hard! [Laughs] This had been drilled into me because I have very distinct memories of Yuen Biao shouting “Harder Cindy!, Harder!” – Cynthia Rothrock’