Ilram Choi Interview
Budomate: As far as I know your parents from Korea, but you were born in US, learning Taekwondo was only your decision or it is just family tradition?
Ilram Choi: My parents are from Korea, but I was born on June 30, 1974 in the U.S. When I was 9 months old my family moved to Louisville, Kentucky and as my father is a great martial artist and athlete, as soon as i learned to walk I began training in Taekwondo. So it was family decision.
Budomate: When and how did you come up with idea of making home video movies?
Ilram Choi: My friend Jason Decker got me into home movies, he wanted to be a director and he was the only friend that had the video camera.
Budomate: I know you attended the Savannah College of Art and Design and pursued your career in Visual Effects, did it helped you to break into the film business?
Ilram Choi: Hard to say. It did give me the drive to make some action short movies and that eventually ended up in my stunt demos. So it probably helped.
Budomate: Do you remember your first casting?
Ilram Choi: I made a documentary of myself when I got my first commercial SAG job on my website. It was for NIKE on July 15, 2004.. The commercial that TAFT Hartled me to get into the union (SAG) Screen Actors Guild. There was a casting call for a tall thin Asian martial artist. Originally they were looking for two, one young and the other old. They canned the younger character. Luckily they picked me and transformed my youth.
Budomate: Regarding imdb.com your first appearance was in 1998 on TV show Charmed where you worked as a stunt performer. This is a very popular show, do you remember any interesting moments from the sets?
Ilram Choi: 1998 is when the show started but I started doing stunt professionally in 2002. Can’t remember the exact date when I did Charmed. The stunt coordinator at the time was Noon Orsatti. He was my boss, very cool dude. I remember being bashed up against the top of a door frame repeatedly during one particular scene. I counted 30 times at the most. I felt bad for Noon who was pulling me on the wire.
Budomate: You worked on video game Devil May Cry 3, is it different kind of work in comparing with films?
Ilram Choi: This is all about motion capture. Most video games use motion capture which is a bit more disconnected from live action.
Budomate: You appeared in different TV shows such as Entourage, Numb3rs, E-Ring, Knight Rider, Moonlight, Flash Forward, which one was more dangerous?
Ilram Choi: For me the show Moonlight was the most dangerous. I had to get pulled face first into a wall then pulled back through glass. Luckily the people I worked with were professionals and knew what they were doing.
Budomate: You worked as a stunt performer on the Crank movies with Jason Statham, what can you tell about him?
Ilram Choi: When I worked with Jason he was great. He is a fearless and real cool dude. I was amazed at some of the stunts he wanted to do himself.
Budomate: In 2007 you were lucky enough to work on two blockbusters Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean. How was it to work with such a great cast and producers?
Ilram Choi: The experience was great. It’s always fun to hang and get to know famous people like Johnny Depp, Michael Bay, Tyrese and others.
Budomate: With years your list of movies became bigger and better, you worked on Star Trek, Avatar, Thor, Spiderman etc, is there any difference for stunt work between low budget film and blockbuster?
Ilram Choi: Well as bigger the movie as bigger the stunts usually, however a stunts is a stunt and we treat them all very seriously. Safety first.
Budomate: Do you have any favorite trick when you do fighting, for example van Damme is famous by his splits, Chuck Norris by round kick, Jackie by jumps, Seagal by breaking bones.
Ilram Choi: Kicks are always cool but I have no favorite one. I do like the side flip though and still think I started my own version of the side flip.
Budomate: You worked as assistant fight coordinator on G.I. Joe 2 movie, alongside Rock, Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum. Is it easy to do choreography for actors?
Ilram Choi: Unfortunately I didn’t get to work with the Rock to much as I was assisting Thomas DuPont and we had a ton of fights to prepare. So Thomas worked with the Rock while I was doing other things. Anyway this is a great experience and you will see our work when G.I. Joe will hit screens.
Budomate: In G.I. Joe 2 Ray Park plays Snake Eyes character, he is a really gifted martial artists, what can you say about your work with him on the sets?
Ilram Choi: He is a very talented and always moves beautifully. It’s always nice when someone can do the moves and remember choreography.
Budomate: Thomas DuPont is a lead fight coordinator for G.I. Joe movie, did you find a common language fast?
Ilram Choi: Yes, I felt like we worked well together. I definitely looked up to him. He is one of the top stuntmen in my book. We both understood performance.
Budomate: Who was your idol in childhood?
Ilram Choi: Mark Dacascos and Jackie Chan were my idols.
Budomate: Could you please tell about about your training process, preparation of your body and mind for dangerous stunts?
Ilram Choi: Well after the rehearsals you just say “lets see what happens”.
Budomate: You worked on Undisputed 3 alongside Scott Adkins, how can you specify a phenomenon of Boyka and what can you say about Scott, Isaac and franchise itself?
Ilram Choi: It is definitely a great environment to work in. They are very cool and layed back. They enjoy making movies. A huge fan base just has grown with them and because of their work and I hope to work with them again in the future.
Budomate: My traditional question: which three martial arts movies you can call a classic?
Ilram Choi: I can just give you 3 names: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li, they are the 3 top martial artist in my book. So any movies they have done.
The next two upcoming blockbusters where Ilram Choi served as a stunt performer are Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness, both in post-production, and will be released on April 25 and May 17, 2013. Go to ilram.com to watch more videos with Ilram.
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