Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ho-Sung Pak

Before attempting to become the next Asian action hero, long-haired Korean-American Wushu champion Ho-Sung Pak was stunt coordinator for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze and doubled for Raphael, the leader of the group transformed from the norm by the nuclear goop.

He made screen debut fighting non other than Jackie Chan in Drunken Master 2 (aka Legend of the Drunken Master, after which he appeared in WMAC Masters (1995-1997) hosted by Shannon Lee and played a lead role in the coming-of-age/action movie Epoch of Lotus (2000).

Though that was technically his starring debut as an action star it never got an international release and has yet to become available on DVD. It was with his second feature, supernatural cop movie Book of Swords (2003), that he made his debut proper.

Certainly looking the part, Pak was more than proficient in the fight scenes, which he also choreographed, making the movie an excellent showcase while not entirely satisfactory as a whole. The film is hugely entertaining. The plot’s blend of revenge and prophecy-fulfillment fantasy is an uneasy one but the climactic 15 minutes of the movie is almost non-stop awesome action.

Donning a red headband in the climactic sequence, Pak brings to mind Robin Shou of the Mortal Kombat films. In fact both have played that game’s hero Liu Kang; Pak in the first two games and Shou in the films.

In terms of quality filmmaking, Pak fared much better in Lesser of Three Evils, made a year later. This time one of three main characters. He’s part of an ensemble this time, alongside experienced character actors Peter Greene and Roger Guenveur Smith.

Out for revenge again, though this time playing a hitman, Pak is the titular Lesser of Three Evils. A combination of action and crime drama, it’s a decent movie and the action scenes further proof that Pak is a screen force to be reckoned with.

While Pak has all the qualities to be a martial arts superstar (Ho Sung means Superstar in Korean) he has yet to become one. Despite starring roles in three independent films of increasing quality his career as a leading man has stalled, much like that of Book of Swords co-star Taimak.

This obviously wasn’t helped when Lesser of Three Evils remained unreleased because of a lengthy legal dispute; after first changing its title to Blood Money and represented by Uwe Boll’s company Boll World Sales it was released on DVD in 2009, the title amended to the more commercial Fist of the Warrior.

Pak has gone on to appear in a couple of Uwe Boll videogame adaptations (Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne, both 2005) and the directorial debuts of actors James Lew 18 Fingers of Death! (2006) and Aki Aleong (I Am Somebody: No Chance in Hell, 2008)

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