MAAC had the honor to sit down and chat with the one and only Scott Adkins (Ip Man 4: The Finale) about his excellent Youtube series The Art of Action, his involvement with the upcoming live commentary event with 36 Cinema, and the current state of martial arts action cinema.
MAAC: First and foremost, we here at M.A.A.C. want to congratulate you on the huge success of Ip Man 4: The Finale! It was such a satisfying send off to one of the greatest martial arts franchises of this generation, especially to have someone of your caliber as the villain of the film. Thanks for making the dream match up of Donnie Yen vs Scott Adkins a reality!
Scott Adkins: Oh well, don’t thank me, I was just happy to be involved. I do agree that it is the best modern day kung fu franchise. I was honored to be asked by Donnie to play that part. Obviously, my character is a bit of a nasty guy. So, you know, I probably didn’t win many more fans in China. But I did my job. I was happy to be involved.
MAAC: We got to ask you about your new Youtube series The Art of Action. How did you come up with the idea of hosting your own Youtube talk show?
Scott Adkins: Just having so much time during lockdown thinking I need to keep myself busy. I just thought to myself, “I know what I can do.” I’ll talk to Marko (Zaror) and Kane (Kosugi) and we can discuss what it was like filming some of the fights that people have responded to the best from my movies. So obviously, Undisputed 3 and Ninja 2. A lot of people think that those are my best films. So I thought, why don’t I talk to them, I’ll record it, and we’ll discuss it and then I suddenly thought, “Hang on a minute, this is pretty cool!”
Why don’t I start talking to other people that I haven’t even worked with before? Like obviously, Mark Dacascos, Chad Stahelski, Gareth Evans and other people. I mean, they are like Titans in the action film industry as directors, you know, Chad, Gareth and JJ Perry also, and I’ve got one coming up with Sam Hargrave. And I’ve got to talk to people like Mark Dacascos and Richard Norton, who I’ve never actually met before or have even spoke to but it’s been a chance to first of all, to meet them, to chat with them, and to learn some new stuff about them and to educate my audience about some of the guys that I’ve grown up appreciating and also just to talk about the art of action and what it takes to make good action movies, good martial arts, how to film fights. And also for me to just enjoy it to be honest, so yes, its been really great.
MAAC: Yeah, it definitely really opened up our eyes as far as all these great insight from all the top of the line action guys in the business. It’s great to hear you interviewing them and getting all these information regarding how martial arts movie magic is made.
Scott Adkins: Yeah, there’s plenty more really great guests down the pipeline. Don’t want to give anything away. People should definitely subscribe.
MAAC: Yeah, definitely go to Scott Adkins official YouTube page and subscribe. We recently saw the Mark Dacascos episode and noticed how down to earth the guy is. You can just tell by the way he talks. He’s just so nice, but also such a badass on screen!
Scott Adkins: Very humble guy but of course a legitimate martial artist. I didn’t actually know the extent of his real training in martial arts. I knew he came from a martial arts family, but learning the extensive training that he did, and this horse stance for 20 minutes! My god, I was a bit dumbstruck at one point, I don’t know what to say! That is incredible! Very humble guy. The best martial artists are always very humble.
MAAC: Yeah, definitely. So we’ve noticed with all these episodes of The Art of Action, you’ve asked these martial artists about their martial arts background. Can we turn the table and maybe ask you to share a little bit of your martial arts background?
Scott Adkins: But the thing is, I don’t want to break the spell of all the incredible lies that have been told about me like my “seven black belts!” (laughs)
For me, I started Judo when I was 10. I did that for a couple of years. I was just a kid, you know, but it was a great martial art, a great base to start with the gentle way. Learned a lot, learned some discipline, learn some integrity, all the rest of it. And then I went into Taekwondo, which was the TAGB, the Taekwondo Association of Great Britain. I didn’t get my black belt. I’ve got a red belt belt below black and we would do a lot of patterns cutters. And I think I just got to a point where I was like “Ah, I’m just not seeing and doing all these patterns anymore” and I regret it. I actually should have stayed and got my black belt but I didn’t and I found kickboxing.
I stayed in kickboxing for quite a while, you know, got my black belt and started teaching professional kickboxing association. And through my 20s I was teaching kickboxing. I dipped my toe into stuff like Wushu, did a bit of Wushu training mainly to learn the weapons and the butterfly twist. You got to remember this was before the days of tricking. So you know now it’s all about tricking and you go to these places and you learn these crazy kicks but back then, if you want to learn the butterfly twist you got to go to a Wushu place. Then you can put a twist in there, maybe you can learn to do two if you’re lucky. I mean, they can do four now or something crazy. But back in those days, the Kung Fu, especially in England as well, was a little bit niche. I had to travel all the way down to Bristol from Birmingham, which is a two hour drive to get there and another two hour drive to get back. So every Monday night we do that. Hardcore. Motivated. And I was also doing stuff like Krav Maga, Capoeira and different things. I started gymnastics when I was 18, pretty late, but I could already do some flips, but I had bad habits to break out of. And then obviously mixed martial arts came along and you start cross training with that and you’re boxing in the Thai boxing and Jujitsu. These days, I’ll go and I’ll train at an MMA gym not far from where I live twice a week. That’s why I do this, but you know, nothing fancy. I’m not trained with any Kung Fu masters or Japanese ex samurais or anything either. Just local stuff in England and putting in the work and always trained. Been doing this for many, many years.
MAAC: That’s awesome! Very, very well-rounded! Let’s move on and talk the RZA’s 36 Cinema and what gravitated you to get involved with the upcoming live commentary event for My Lucky Stars?
Scott Adkins: Well, they reached out to me and thought it would be a good idea because I obviously, recently I’ve been on Youtube a lot and breaking down fights with The Arts of Action. They saw this guy might be good to get on 36 Cinema with RZA. So yeah, I’ll talk about Hong Kong movies, absolutely, especially the 80s golden era.
MAAC: For sure. I mean, you’ve worked in Hong Kong yourself. You’ve got the knowledge and everything about it. When we’re talking about My Lucky Stars, it is a martial arts classic that features such legends of the genre as Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching Ying, and Bolo Yeung. Can you touch base on how some of these legends influence your career?
Scott Adkins: Well, this is part of the Lucky Stars series of films, some of them loosely connected, but all directed by Sammo Hung with Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao coming in almost in a cameo sort of way. So there’s the comedy that’s going on. Sammo at the center playing his part and also directing along with this great cast of comedians. And obviously with Jackie and Yuen Biao. Biao was not in this one so much, but obviously you’ve got some great action and the 80s Hong Kong action cinema. To me that was the golden era. That was when it was at its very best. And I don’t think even to this day, it’s been equal.
You want to talk about martial arts action movies, that 80s, that era, maybe early 90s, you could argue as well. But that was the time when it was at its best. And they were working so hard. They were trying to outdo one another. And you know, Jackie would go off and direct one of his films, and he would try and outdo what Sammo was doing. And then they would come together. They would work together with Wheels On Meals and Dragons Forever. It just felt like they were going above and beyond to outdo one another with the stunts were dangerous. The fights were so great. Obviously, they’re very entertaining movies with a lot of comedy in there. It’s a brilliant, brilliant time to be an action film fan. I always go back to the wealth of those movies for inspiration and just really to see how it’s supposed to be done. So, you know, looking forward to sharing some of my experiences and talking about what I think of the movies and how they’ve inspired me and give a little bit of insight into things that I’ve learned from talking to certain people. I think it’s great and if you haven’t seen that film it’s definitely well worth seeing. So sign up, join in and we’ll have a great time!
MAAC: For sure! So besides My Lucky Stars, you’ve mentioned Dragons Forever and Wheels On Meals, both featuring the “Three Dragons”. Which one of those films do you prefer?
Scott Adkins: I think Wheels On Meals probably was the best one. Dragons Forever second and Project A was pretty damn good. Eastern Condor was great, but Jackie was not in that one.
MAAC: Yeah, those fights that Jackie had with Benny the Jet. Amazing classics!
Scott Adkins: Yes! Benny Urquidez is in an upcoming The Art of Action episode as well. Those two fights, Wheels On Meals and Dragons Forever, for me is when Jackie is at his martial arts best. When Jackie directs himself, I think he leans more into the stunt work, as well as the fights, but he loves to do those big stunts as well. But I feel like when he works with Sammo, Sammo keeps it more in the martial arts realm. So when Jackie is being directed by Sammo, he delivers the goods with the fighting. That’s what we get with My Lucky Stars and those films as well.
MAAC: So if I’m not mistaken, you’ve worked with Jackie a couple times before on The Accidental Spy and The Medallion?
Scott Adkin: The Accidental Spy was actually my second film. I did Extreme Challenge and that director went on to be the stunt coordinator for Teddy Chan. They always work together and Teddy Chan was directing The Accidental Spy. So he was brought along to assist and work alongside the Jackie Chan stunt team. And that was my introduction.
MAAC: Do you have any fond memories that you can share with us about your time on-set with Jackie?
Scott Adkins: Yeah, I mean, he was a complete “god” at the time. And still is, of course, but back then, this was the year 2000s. You know, he was still in his prime, doing amazing stuff. And you know, when you’ve been watching someone all your life and looking up to them, and then you see them in the flesh, so it was a big thing. Obviously, you had to be professional and do your job, but you cannot escape the fact that you’ve grown up idolizing this guy. It was amazing. And I remember the first thing he said to me. I was in the pool, because we were in Turkey and we had a lot of time off. I was lying down to get some sun rays and whatnot. I had my eyes closed and I just heard this guy walk past me go, “You should do your back!” And I open my eyes and it was Jackie Chan! But he was already gone I was like, “Jackie! Talk to me again please say some more!” And then I remember there was another time was on set. He walked pass me and goes “Did you hear the thunder last night?” And I was thinking “Oh, he’s talking to me again!” And I just said “No I didn’t.”(Laughs)
Yeah, you know you want to have a conversation with him? Then one time he said to me and Gordon Mill, he was another guy from England that was lucky enough to be in the same position I was. He said, “I’m going to go to the Bazaar in Turkey.” You know, the big Grand Bazaar. “Do you want to come with us?” So I was like, “Yeah!” We jump in the van and it’s the whole Jackie Chan stunt crew, and they’re like his bodyguards as well. So you kind of feel like you’re part of the stunt team, but you’re not really, but you want to be. And you feel like his bodyguards as well. And we’re walking around this place for a while. And he’s trying to keep as low profile as possible. And it goes into one shop and is in there for quite a while as a massive crowd outside now, they’ve caught on that it’s Jackie Chan. And I saw from his point of view what it was like to be him when he came out. There was thousands of people going absolutely nuts, trying to grab him and trying to get his autograph. You know, he’s trying to put on a brave face in a smile and be nice to everyone. But it was getting chaotic. It was getting dangerous as well. I remember just saying to one of the guys, “Get me out of here!” Then me and Gordon were trying to act like the bodyguards as well and protect Jackie. People were just going crazy. It was insane.
MAAC: That’s crazy! I mean, this shows that Jackie is not just a star, but he a massive international star. Even in Turkey, you know?
Scott Adkins: Exactly. I was trying to explain to my wife, you know, she’s British, but she didn’t understand that Jackie Chan, especially that time in the 80s or 90s, was the biggest star in the world, and she was like “Well, what about Brad Pitt?” But I had to tell her Jackie Chan is the biggest international star in the world, because everyone in every country knows him.
MAAC: Speaking of legends like Jackie, 2020 actually marks the 10th anniversary of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables franchise. We know that you were involved with part two back in 2012, which is our personal favorite.
Scott Adkins: That’s because I’m in it right? I made it the best! Me and Van Damme! (Laughs)
MAAC: Absolutely! When we heard they got Boyka, Scott Adkins as Van Damme’s right hand man? We were sold!
Scott Adkins: Can you believe they didn’t put me on the poster?
MAAC: That’s a travesty for sure! Huge mistake!
Scott Adkins: Still hurts me till this day. (Laugh)
MAAC: You definitely deserve to be on the poster for sure! What was your reaction walking onto the set of The Expendables 2 and seeing such action icons as Sly, Arnold, Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Chuck frickin’ Norris? Was it surreal?
Scott Adkins: Absolutely, like what I was saying about with Jackie Chan but times it by 10! Not because I think of anyone more than I think of Jackie Chan, but it’s because there was so many of them! I mean, Stallone, I love what that guy has done. He’s a true filmmaker. He have Rocky and Rambo! And when you think of Arnold, most people associate him with the Terminator and not any of his other parts. But to be Stallone, when you’ve got Rocky and Rambo, that’s a feat to be that recognizable as two characters, you know you’re doing something right. So it’s a great honor to be asked by him to be part of the film. That is his baby, writing and producing and all the rest of it. And yea, so many huge stunts as well. And I’ve done a few films with Van Damme at that point. Honestly, he was a big influence for me. I was so nervous to meet Van Damme the first time, but I actually felt like Van Damme was more nervous than me! (Laughs) He’s a big deal you know?
MAAC: Yeah, Van Damme was an awesome villain. I mean, the villain makes the film and he absolutely killed it. Especially having you as his right hand man? So good!
Scott Adkins: Van Damme is incredible. He’s got such screen presence. So charismatic. And you know, who didn’t fall in love with him when he came along with Bloodsport and Kickboxer? Incredible stuff. But he’s just such a charismatic force of nature. But they all are.
MAAC: What was it like to throw down with Jason Statham? That was pretty cool to see Boyka go at it with The Transporter!
Scott Akins: Yeah, it was cool! He obviously knows what he’s doing. And it was a pleasure to do it with him. Because he was professional and knew what to do and it didn’t take too long as you know, obviously to be so good. The Stath! We’re all proud of the Stath in England, that he took Hollywood by storm. Good stuff.
MAAC: Rambo vs John Matrix (Commando) vs Luc Deveraux (Universal Soldier). Who you got?
Scott Adkins: Yeah, I think Rambo is gonna take it! Luc Deveraux got no chance, sorry. Matrix is gonna “Eat him for breakfast!”(in Arnold’s voice) because he got the green beret. Wouldn’t that be a great film? Rambo vs Matrix?
MAAC: That’s would be insane! Especially with both Sly and Arnold in their prime!
Scott Adkins: In their prime, yeah! That’s what we should’ve had, but we didn’t. Well, they used to hate each other right? But now they love each other.
MAAC: Yeah! They’re like buddies now. With The Expendables bringing back the nostalgic 80s/90s style action that we all enjoyed growing up, the current trends of action cinema is constantly evolving. From the Bruce Lee era into the action comedy of Jackie Chan, the wife-fu of Woo-ping, the MMA infused action of Donnie Yen, the horrendous shaky cam era of the Bourne films, to finally the current hottest trend: John Wick‘s Gun-fu. Where do you see action films going from here?
Scott Adkins: If I knew the answer to that question, I would be the one who revolutionized Hollywood action cinema. I hope that maybe I will be but at this current moment, I don’t know. It just takes someone to come along with an idea that’s fresh and new, and seems like something you haven’t seen before. It’s hard to do something they hadn’t seen before. I mean, even with John Wick, we’ve all seen it before, but it’s wrapped up in a different package and presented in a different way. That makes it fresh. Somebody needs to come up with something fresh and that’s what Hollywood is always looking for, you know, even with The Raid, it was like, “Wow, we’ve got this new martial arts, it’s called Silat!” I mean, the way it was filmed was what was different about it for me. It just takes someone to come up with something new and refreshing. The way it’s shot. That’s what will change things.
MAAC: We’ve got directors like Gareth Evans who knows how to film action. We need more guys like that, you know?
Scott Adkins: Yes, but it’s not easy. Well, I guess it’s not easy to do. Seems pretty simple to me but people keep messing it up.
MAAC: We know you got the sci-fi action comedy Max Cloud coming up, which we are definitely looking forward to. We love that you are branching out and trying something new. When can fans expect Max Cloud to be released?
Scott Adkins: They are saying December. Not sure, but I think that’s what they said. But yeah, trying different things. I mean, I like to always have action in my movies. Because obviously that’s what people expect from me and I don’t want to disappoint people. I always remember Jeff Speakman, he did The Perfect Weapon and I really loved that film. Then it was like every other film he did had less and less martial arts in it and was quite disappointed about it. And that had a big impact on me. So I never want to do that to my audience. So I will always have martial arts. I will always try and come out with one slam bang, action all the way film at least once a year. But I do like to try different things as well.
Max Cloud is me trying something different, dipping my toe into the comedy, but of course there’s still a lot of action in there and it’s a sci-fi setting. It’s a cool story about this girl who gets trapped in a video game. My character is the star of the video game and he thinks he’s really cool but he’s actually a bit of a d*ck. He’s really good at fighting and everything but he’s got no people skills. Everybody hates him and she’s trapped in the video game and she’s trying to get out. If she dies in the video game then she dies in real life.
MAAC: So it’s sort of like a live action martial arts version of Wreck It Ralph to a degree?
Scott Adkins: Yeah, kind of! It’s like a proper 80s retro video game set in New York. So it’s got that sort of retro throwback feel to it.
MAAC: One of your film that we absolutely love where you combined action and comedy is Accident Man. It have such a great combination of action and dark humor.
Scott Adkins: Oh, good! Thank you!
MAAC: Is there any updates on an Accident Man sequel that fans could look forward to? Or do you have any other projects currently in the pipeline right now?
Scott Adkins: Yeah, we were ready to go and a script is done for Accident Man 2. But of course, COVID-19 has messed everything up. So we’re trying to figure out how we can proceed forward and make it. I’ve got a lot of films that I’m scheduled to do that will push back. But Accident Man is something dear to my heart. Obviously, that’s something I definitely want to push forward. Hopefully we can make it happen, if not this year, next year. I think this script for the second is much better than the first. It’s more of the same but amped up, dialed up to 11. Some zany, crazy stuff.
MAAC: Is Tim Man returning as the action choreographer?
Scott Adkins: Yeah, absolutely. Tim Man will be back along with Jesse (V. Johnson) as Director. Some of the same actors will be back and some new stunts. Some crazy assassins, some funny stuff. We got some really funny stuff; wish we could talk about it. I’m excited for it.
MAAC: Thank you so much for your time Scott! Looking forward to your live commentary of My Lucky Stars with 36 Cinema and your next episode of The Art of Action on your official Youtube channel. Wishing you all the best!
Scott Adkins: Thanks a lot, guys! I really appreciate it. Make sure you guys check out the 36 Cinema live stream event. It’s going to be good.
For more info on 36 Cinema and how to attend the live commentary of My Lucky Stars with Scott Adkins on Friday, August 28th, please CLICK HERE.
Also make sure to subscribe to Scott Adkins’ official Youtube channel to catch the latest episodes of The Art of Action by CLICKING HERE.