Mike Leeder Interview, the walking Encyclopaedia of Asian cinema
Budomate: Ultimate Justice is your first writing work, is it hard to bring your ideas from paper to the screen?
Mike: I’ve written sequences for a couple of other projects, and done plenty of dialogue rewrites on set and for other projects, and have a couple of scripts out to other people that i’m hoping we can move forward with. I think its hard sometimes, to get the idea you have on to paper in a way that makes sense to you and to other people
The first two scripts I worked on out here were for two projects that Jeff Falcon (Outlaw Brothers, Six String Samurai) was developing when I first arrived, one was a pretty fun martial arts movie The Emperors Sword which Jeff and the late great Lo Lieh were developing, it had some nice ideas and Jeff let me add some comedic beats and some character ideas, at one point the two heroes played by Jeff & Lo Lieh were going to have to run the gauntlet of various genre stereotype villains, ranging from Ninjas to Van Damme styled Kickboxers to the Master of the Fatal Flying Guilotine.
We collaborated on a couple of other projects but there was one that I just did some dialogue polishing on, that Jeff had really developed a long way, it was a martial arts superhero movie, The Plutonium Powered Kung Fu Crusader that I think could have been really cool.
I like working with another writer, bouncing ideas back and forth, rewriting, polishing, I find it hard to get the script down from scratch. For Ultimate Justice, Marco did a German language version of the script to develop the idea and then I adapted it and rewrote and adjusted stuff for the English language version we shot from.
Mike: Keanu is a great guy. There is so much more to him than people realise. Genuinely talented and a really good dude to boot. He appreciates his success and also takes care of the people around him, and those who’ve helped him.
On The Matrix trilogy he gave away a lot of his points etc to other member of the crew, and with Man of Tai Chi for instance, he was fulfilling a promise to a friend, Tiger Chen trained him for The Matrix series, and a very strong friendship was formed and they had talked about working together on something and he’s a man of his word, he put his mainstream career on hold for a solid year to work on MOTC.
He really puts in the effort, he trains, he puts himself through the ringer, a lot of people I don’t think know that he’s had back injuries and stuff that would have a lot of people calling for the stunt double.
I give him so much respect for the time and effort he put into the film, he wasn’t playing at directing or working on the film, he wore multiple hats and put in the blood sweat and tears. He’s got his way of doing things, and has very interesting approach and sometimes sees something in an actor that will make him change a character to use what they can bring to it. I think the film wasn’t handled properly when it came to its release, I think it and Man with the Iron Fists were not marketed the right way, and to the people who would really appreciate them.
John Wick, I loved it! Everything I want to see in an action movie, the action drove the story and the drama, interesting characters, back stories that weren’t unnecessary or intruding on the pacing. Really impressed by David Leitch and Chad Stehleski’s work on the film, the action scenes delivered both high octane gun play and high impact martial artistry that delivered technique, reactions and power without showboating! Really liked the acting too, great to see David Patrick Kelly there too and also like the black humour and some very subtle jokes and references too. And really looking forward to John Wick 2: Electric Boogaloo!