Mike Leeder Interview, the walking Encyclopaedia of Asian cinema
Budomate: Please tell about your most interesting star struck experience.
Mike: Hmmm there’s been a few, from the late great Kelvin Wong (Casino Raiders 2, Runaway Blues) introducing me to the lovely Rosamund Kan (Once Upon a Time in China series) by telling her how I wanted to marry her! Sadly she turned me down, but has reminded me of the introduction on many a time since!
The first time I got to sit down with Jackie for an indepth interview and he mentioned how impressed he was that I knew his work, and wasn’t asking the standard set of questions, “Do you do all your own stunts? Tell us about the differences between yourself & Bruce Lee?”
Getting the first indepth interview with Korean martial arts legend Hwang Jang-Lee for Hong Kong Legends, there had been so many rumors and misinformation spread about him, and thanks to the late great Lynn Haynes, we managed to set up an interview.
We set up, and he arrived and had this real regal presence and seemed almost disinterested until we began and once he knew that I knew my stuff, he really warmed up and we shot about 5 hrs of solid interview only for HKL who had insisted I ship the footage to them immediately to beat a deadline, managed to sit on it for ever, then tried sublicensing it to Soul Blade and then managed to lose the footage!
That interview I was a little star struck to say the least as he is such a legend, and there had been no interviews or press on him previously. At least now he is much more readily contactable and a very good friend of mine Guy Larke handles his appearances etc. One of the funniest things about that interview was when we discussed the big issue between himself and Jackie Chan, he hurt Jackie during filming and there’s always been talk of a big feud between them, which he dismissed saying it was a simple misunderstanding and he hadn’t intended to hurt him, just mistiming on a kick.
The day after the interview in Korea, I flew back to Hong Kong and had to shoot an interview with Jackie Chan for Channel Four, for a TV special, and Jackie asked me where I had come from, and I said I had just got back from Korea and seeing Hwang Jan-lee, and suddenly Jackie got all serious and started talking about how Hwang had kicked his teeth out, he had dislodged Jackie’s bridge during one of the fight scenes, it felt like it had just happened, and then Jackie asked me for his telephone number and called up Master Hwang, and I’m expecting the worst and they have this very polite conversation once Jackie has identified himself.
Some people can really make you star struck, Chow Yun-fat for instance, and what makes him even more of a star for me, is just how easy going he is. The last proper time I saw him, was when they were prepping From Vegas to Macau 2.
I got asked to come in for a casting and I’m getting off the MTR (Hong Kong’s subway train system) and so is Mr Chow, who recognises me and asks me where I am going, I tell him I’m going to Andrew Lau’s office for a casting, he says he is going there too, so we walk off together, chatting about films and life, and I’m thinking how cool this is.
Then he’s asking me if I am casting for a certain role, as he think’s I’d be great for it and is going to tell Andrew and Wong Jing. I think this is great, we get there, he starts telling Andrew how I should play the role. I am laughing to myself thinking this is great, Chow Yun-fatt / Mark Gor from A Better Tomorrow is repping me! Then of course they ask me if I ant to play the role, and I have a schedule issue with my own movie Ultimate Justice, and in true irony, I also had to turn down a role in Jackie Chan’s Skiptrace as I was doing my movie at same time.
Chow is one of the most down to Earth people, and he has such a good memory, I was shooting an interview yesterday with actor Pierre Tremblay who worked with him on The Bund TV series in the early 80’s, and he was saying how Chow had bumped into him on the MTR a few years ago and had a good conversation with him. He’s a star but he doesn’t throw his star power around, he’s approachable and one hell of a dude!
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Budomate: What I’m really interesting to know is about Bradley Allan, he is so talented but mostly invisible for most of people and only true fans know him. What can you say about him and we don’t see him in movies since Gorgeous? What he is up to now?
Mike: Brad Allan is a hell of a talented fellow, incredible performer and fantastic choreographer. I first heard of him through a choreographer friend, Alip Sak (Nightlife Hero) he’s like my godfather, he had gone to Australia to train some kids for a potential project and he came back with hours of footage and fight scenes they’d run through, and it was interesting to see the progress these kids made, but there was this guy doing Wushu and Hong Kong style reactions from day one who was incredible, and Alip said that was Brad, a student of Wushu master Leung Chun-xing. Alip told me Brad was really good and had a good knowledge of choreography and reactions, and understood timing etc.
A couple of years passed and I see Mr. Nice Guy and I think on of the guys in the construction site fight looks familiar, and then the making of Who Am I? There’s a clip where the JC Stunt-Team are working out a sequence where Jackie will come down from a raised section of the roof top in Amsterdam, and the stunt guys are all going through falls, and jumps, and then one guy does a series of flips and comes up in a Wushu pose and I go, “that’s Brad!”
A few months later I met Brad when he came to Hong Kong, he worked on some of the action pick ups for the finale shot at Golden Harvest, and then during Gorgeous we became friends. Brad saw the opportunity that Jackie was giving him, and put his all into it.
Mike Leeder and Brad Allan” width=”300″ class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-13253″ />He worked on Gen-X Cops and Hot War behind the scenes, and became a key member of Jackie’s team on Shanghai Noon, Rush Hour 2, Tuxedo etc, handling some of the rigging and action for New Police Story through being the stunt team director and choreographer for Rush Hour 3 (although a large amount of his work on that film never made it to the final cut which was very frustrating).
He also coordinated the sky diving sequence for Chinese Zodiac. He’s handled the action for so many projects like Chronicles of Riddick, Scott Pilgrim, Kick Ass, Worlds End, and of course The Kingsmen. But he’s also been busy busy behind the scenes there’s the movies you know he choreographed and worked on, but there’s also smaller projects like Cuban Fury, he spent a lot of time prepping The Hobbit when Guilermo Del Toro was supposed to direct, same for Ant-Man he was working on that with Edgar Wright developing a lot of the action and ideas for the stunts on that movie, but he left when Edgar did.
Unfortunately haven’t had a chance to catch up with him for a while, he’s been busy with work and his family, he just had a baby a while back. I know he’s currently working on The Kingsmen 2 and prepping some very cool action for that, and I am sure he’s got some other very cool projects in the works.