It all started one hot summer day on the set of The Golden Arms Returns. I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know anyone there, until I saw kung fu master Sifu James Valentino Santi in the distance. He was friendly and gave me a hug. Then I met the amazing Robert “Bobby” Samuels (actor/martial artist/choreographer/stuntman/director), Iron Sheik, and Master Clark (the Sifu at Wing Chun Temple). They were also very welcoming, and didn’t come across at all in the way I thought they would. Come to find out, they are down-to-earth and very funny guys, always joking around.
So after an hour or so HE arrived, and as soon as he got to the movie set everyone started applauding. He was taken straight to make-up, but Robert Samuels was ready to introduce me to Lo Meng. Yes, that Lo Meng. The one that has appeared in over 80 Hong Kong movies, starring in some of the most beloved films from the Shaw Brothers studios. He’s long been a fan favorite, showing off his muscular physique, playing big-hearted but blustery roles in kung fu classics such as The Five Venoms, Invincible Shaolin (both in 1978), The Kid With The Golden Arm (1979), and Five Element Ninjas (1982).
When the time came, I couldn’t believe that I actually got to meet him. We shook hands and Robert then pointed to my arm. Lo took a look and jumped back a little in surprise as he saw my The Kid With The Golden Arm tattoo of him. He said “Wow” and I could tell he was a little speechless. But I guess who wouldn’t be in that kind of situation? And his smile! He had a beautiful smile with deep dimples.
Soon after, I got to watch him do what he does best, and I couldn’t be more honored, having the privilege to be on the set witnessing it all. Watching him act, as well as teach others how to react to a punch on set, or how to position themselves in a fight scene was incredible. The guys he was doing the fight scenes with were real kung fu practitioners, but not experienced screen-fighters. So Lo was sharing his vast amount of on-camera combat knowledge with them to help make the action read correctly on film. Seeing him work his magic despite extremely hot temperatures and a cramped working space let me know just how professional he is, and why he has always looked so impressive in films- he gives it his all.
So what I can reveal about this project? Lo Meng is playing a heroic role, it’s being done in true “old school style” (yes, there’s a white wig involved!) with exciting, real kung fu action, and that it’s being directed by Bobby Samuels. Having a director that’s a long time student of Hung Gar Fist, trained under Sammo Hung (the Magnificent Butcher himself), and has appeared in Hong Kong films like Gambling Ghost (1991), Don’t Give a Damn and Red Wolf (both 1995), is definitely a good thing. Add to that stuntman Ron Hall (2014’s Kung Fu Brother) and the Martial Club team (Andy Le, Brian Le, and Daniel Mah) as the project’s action designers, and you can see the potential for something special. According to Robert “This is a long form music video currently being developed into a web series as a co-production with Iron Chamber Films and R4 Films LLC. The story is by Sean Slaughter, Ron Hall, and Robert Jefferson, and the Producer block is Sean Slaughter, Lo Meng, Ron Hall, and Gine Lui.”
Day 2: The Day of the Event
The event in honor of Lo Meng had taken place at the Wing Chun Temple, located in Longbeach, California. It was hosted by James Santi and Master Clark Tang. I arrived a little late, but I was greeted at the door by Santi’s friend, Wing Chun practitioner David Burrola. I waking into the next room to find myself catching the end of one person’s testimonial on what Martial Arts meant to them and how Lo Meng inspired them. It was a great honor to be around like-minded people.
Master Clark turned to me, made my introduction to everyone, and had me tell my testimony next. I was nervous, but I showed my tattoo to everyone and began my story. I could hear my own shaky voice, it was a little embarrassing, but I got over it. There were a few people that were able to tell their stories after me as well, and everyone’s stories were very inspiring and moving.
When it came time for Lo Meng to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award, there was something about his personality that just stood out. He doesn’t smile a lot, and seems to be a serious person (much like me), but no matter what was going on in his head he always had time for his fans. Whether to shake your hand, or take pictures with you. As he was being presented the award he gave a speech spoken in his native tongue, Cantonese I believe, while his good friend Gine Lui translated. It felt good to hear him speak from the heart, hearing how appreciative he was for everyone being there and supporting him throughout the years.
During the autograph session he must have signed at least a hundred autographs and took countless more pictures. By then Lo was very tired, hot and hungry because of all the people in the temple. It got a little steamy, but can you imagine- he endured a 16 hour flight, worked on a movie set all day, and then was front and center for the event the following day? All I have to say is, wow. That right there is inspirational in itself.
The dedication he has had throughout his career is tremendous, and he generously gave the same kind of big love back to me and all the other fans in attendance.
I know all of you must be as excited as I am to check out this project once it’s released. You can bet that we here at Shaolin Chamber 36 will keep you up-to-date.
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