FilmFrak Exclusive: Interview with Jino Kang


FilmFrak Exclusive: Interview with Jino Kang

Continuing our interview series with an eclectic mix of filmmaking legends, cult heroes and upcoming stars that begun last week. Today FilmFrak is excited to share our interview with Martial Arts Hall of Famer Jino Kang. Holding a 7th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido and a Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Kyokoshin-Kai Karate and Tae Kwon Do, Master Jino Kang somehow manages to also Write, Direct, Produce and Star in his own films.

Making his filmmaking debut with the the labor of love BLADE WARRIOR (2001), his latest film FIST2FIST2: WEAPON OF CHOICE (Available through Amazon) is an indirect sequel to 2011’s FIST2FIST. We hope you enjoy our interview with this inspirational personality.


e9b05362-1c8b-4197-a1ed-40186e07cc66Thank you for allowing us the privilege of an interview. Congratulations on the award winning WEAPON OF CHOICE. Can you describe your writing process with the film? Do you come up with action set pieces and then work the story around those ideas or is it a more organic approach?
-FilmFrak Adam-

JINO KANG: Thank you very much.  I usually let the story and action pieces ruminate in my head for a while until i get the URGE then I can’t wait any longer and start typing away.  When I write it’s usually fast, a week or two to get the bulk of the story, character development, plot and action pieces.  Every thing seems to come together at that point.


How did you approach the fight choreography with WEAPON OF CHOICE and what were some of the challenges?
-FilmFrak Adam-

JINO KANG: For Weapon of Choice, I knew that I wanted to incorporate and represent all different martial arts not just Hapkido, but such as Wushu, San Shou Kung Fu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and Kali.  So I carefully selected great martial artist to portray their arts and incorporated it into the fight scenes.  The challenges weren’t too many.  I only wish I had more money to extend the fight scenes.


Do you have any students currently that you feel might be a good addition to one of your upcoming movies? Are you building a larger choreography team with each film?
-FilmFrak Jon-

Ha ha, yes.  We have many talented young individuals at my school.  Some can really fly and really getting good at acrobatic trick kicks and such.  I’m testing them out with a short film series KID FURY and you can check them out when it comes out soon.  We’re getting a lot of attention from the critics and festivals.  I’ll be shooting a spec TV Pilot called Hand to Hand – Wages of Sin soon and will be incorporating Eskrima and Kali blade work on it and we have solid guys coming up.  Of course, our instructors are incredible.


Reading about how your 2001 debut feature BLADE WARRIOR was realized and released there seems to be a D.I.Y. spirit to your trajectory. Can you tell us how you made the step from martial arts teacher to martial arts filmmaker? What feeds your desire to keep JinoKang_Swordgoing in such a competitive industry?
-FilmFrak Adam-

JINO KANG: Hmmmm.  I don’t really know why I keep going.  I ask that all the time especially after a long arduous journey of completing a film.  All that pain and effort that went into it.  But it’s like giving birth, after when it’s done, you realize you have a beautiful kid that you created and be a proud papa.  Time erases the pain and stress and you do it happily all over again.  For Blade Warrior, It was a such a juggernaut task for us, shooting and editing on film then converting it digitally was a monumental task.  I didn’t want to quit since everything was shot.  I learned PATIENCE which I teach to my students, meaning the teacher became a student and practiced what I preached.


As you get more experienced in your craft in both filmmaking and martial arts, what do you find has changed the most in how you train for both? Are you more focused on a specific form of regimented fitness or do you try and stay diverse in your training?
-FilmFrak Jon-

JINO KANG: Great questions.  For filmmaking, I become more careful and selective in my scenes such as lighting, composition and image conveyance.  For martial arts and filmmaking/choreography, I believe diversity is the key.  Otherwise you get stagnant and do same techniques over and over again. For me, that’s boring so I train in multiple styles keep things fresh and entertaining.

Legend has it that a piece of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum was the catalyst for your family immigrating from a small town outside of Seoul in South Korea to the bustling metropolis of San Francisco in America. Can you tell us about your childhood journey?
-FilmFrak Adam-

JINO KANG: Ah, yes.  Growing up in my early years in both Korea and the States was rough.  I always resisted social hierarchical class distinction in Korea.  Even if the individual is one year older than you, you would have to kow tow to them and I always refused and got beat up a lot in my school. 

In the states, it was being Asian, all grouped together as Chinese/Japanese alike and got hassled a lot by other ethnicities.  Not knowing the language and communicating didn’t help.  Needless to say, I got in to lot of fights.  It did make me tough growing up in San Francisco and Oakland.  I learned to calm down when my father and I opened our Hapkido school.  Yoga and meditation really helps.  Just kidding, but it’s awesome.  As I matured, I learnt to deflect rather than meet aggression head-on.  Being a teacher comes with a great responsibility.


JinoKang_PortraitA few years after your arrival in San Francisco, you opened your first Korean Martial Arts school. This being the late 70’s early 80’s did you find that people were receptive to learning, or did you face any stigmas with the meshing of cultural traditions?
-FilmFrak Jon-

JINO KANG: People were very receptive to learning martial arts back then too.  Bruce Lee hype was still around and Karate Kid hit in the theaters and people were lining up to take lessons.  So it was cool.


As a 7th degree black belt in Hapkido, how do you feel about the explosion in popularity in MMA fighting and what do you think differs in the mindset of more traditional martial arts and this current trend of fighting?
-FilmFrak Jon-

JINO KANG: I think it’s fine.  Traditional martial arts has it’s place because it not only teaches self-defense but other important character development such as self-discipline both physical and mental, positive attitude and learning to set goals and sticking to it such as getting a black belt.  If a student applies these principles to daily life ,they become a better person.  Don’t you agree? 

MMA fighting is excellent for fitness.  BJJ and Muay Thai is solid and adding these two would be essential to anyone who wants to train in MMA.  The only thing lacking in MMA is sportsmanship conduct.  The pros don’t show it.  The respect goes out the window.  But, I do understand that they need to get the ratings up so trash talking will continue on.  However, BJJ and Muay Thai classes by itself has discipline and respect.  If the teacher or coach has these qualities then the students would definitely mirror that aspect.

What are the films that made you passionate about cinema? What are your favorite martial arts films?
-FilmFrak Adam-

JINO KANG: The classics like Yojimbo, Seven Samurai, Once upon a time in America, Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection) and Enter the Dragon.  These films have compelling stories, creative action, charismatic actors and stunning visuals.


What do you think the future of martial arts films is?
-FilmFrak Jon-

World domination.  All action films will have martial arts featured or choreographed as part of the scenes.  Look at Marvel films.  Hollywood will continue to shake the cameras with extreme close ups to create frenzy but as we know it inevitably we will be confused by what’s going on in the action.

Chinese martial arts films you can really see the action like Ipman 1,2 and 3, because living legends like Donnie Yen and Jet Li can really fight on camera and act. If the actor really trains in martial arts like Keanu Reeves then you can pull the camera back and really show the action as it was meant to be like John Wick.  If you’re a martial artist, study acting like you train in the arts and you’ll be great.

I believe there will still be martial arts films being made good or bad especially independent films because the technology let’s them.  The audience will weed out the bad ones and they will seek out the good ones.

Thank you for having me.



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