Moh owes his martial arts skills to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he trains with his wife and children, he’s appeared in a film with Jackie Chan, and he will play Lee, one of his heroes, in director’s film about the Manson family
Whether you’re a fan of director Quentin Tarantino’s distinctive filmmaking style or not, there’s no denying that any film he touches seems to gain a cultlike following. His latest project, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, whose storyline includes the Manson family murders, is sure to be no different.
Set in 1969 Los Angeles at the “height of hippy Hollywood”, the film will feature a star-studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, who will play actress Sharon Tate, the most high-profile of the five people murdered by followers of Charles Manson at a house in the Hollywood hills.
While plot details are under wraps at the moment, it’s been revealed that among the actors cast in Tarantino’s ninth film is relative newcomer Mike Moh, who will play Bruce Lee. The martial arts legend’s hairdresser, Jay Sebring, was another of those killed at the house on Cielo Drive.
A former boyfriend of Tate, he had dropped by to pay her a visit.
So who exactly is Mike Moh? Here are five things you should know about the American small-town business owner turned rising film star.
The child of Korean immigrants, Moh was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in suburban St Paul, Minnesota. His love for taekwondo started at a young age thanks to Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael – that’s right, his passion for martial arts came from watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers on TV as a child.
He had his first taekwondo lesson at the age of 12. Moh has a marketing degree from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business.
He’s a black belt
To be able to play the martial arts legend that is Bruce Lee, Moh obviously has to have some mad skills of his own. The actor earned his black belt at the young age of 14, only two years after he started taekwondo.
The 34-year-old is now a fifth-degree black belt in American Taekwondo, and has travelled around the US and to several Asian countries in pursuit of his passion.
Moh has won taekwondo world championship titles, and owns and is chief instructor at Moh’s Martial Arts in Wisconsin.
Jackie Chan inspired him
Actor and martial arts star Jackie Chan inspired Moh to pursue an acting career. Moh met Chan 11 years ago while working as a stuntman on the film Rob-B-Hood, shot in Hong Kong. He got the stuntman opportunity via a friend who he had met at a taekwondo competition. On Instagram, Moh says Chan made an incredible impression on him.
“This man was the hardest working and most humble person on set. Nothing was beneath him. He was sweeping the floor, directing the action, eating lunch with the stunt team, etc. His attitude and demeanour set an amazing example for everyone.”
From martial arts to films
After his time in Hong Kong, Moh was inspired to follow a career in the film and TV industry. While growing his martial arts school, he landed a few small roles in TV series such as 2 Broke Girls, True Blood and Empire. He also appeared on American Ninja Warrior three years in a row.
His big TV break came when he landed the role of Triton in Marvel’s Inhumans. He would spend hours in the make-up chair being transformed into his character, who can breathe underwater and has superhuman strength and speed. He also played Ryu in Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist and Street Fighter: World Warrior.
Now, in his biggest role to date, he will play his idol Lee in Tarantino’s new film.
A family that trains together …
Moh has three young kids – two boys and a girl – and it seems they are following in their dad’s martial arts footsteps, training at his school. He also met his wife, Richelle Kondratowicz-Moh, through martial arts – as children they trained at the same dojang. She received her fifth-degree black belt before Moh, and still outranks him. They train together at Moh’s Martial Arts.
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My thought on how MM should portray the character.
1) no stunting, just do the kicks BL was known for
2) no wire-work
3) no attempt to look like BL beyond his normal appearance
4) no long, drawn-out fights - BL was short, fast and to the point
5) no made up biographic stuff
6) train with some BL people to learn some of the moves, pak-sao, short power, but don't try to do anything he did that the actor can't really do.
7) no jump-cuts, shaky cam, too close shots or trick photography
8) no pasting of BL's face in post...(duh)