"Scott, how did you feel returning to the character and what’s different this time round? What were your thoughts on the original Ninja (I know Isaac has mixed feelings about the film and the way it was presented)
Scott Adkins: Isaac and I both felt we didn't do our best work on Ninja 1. From my perspective I always try to play the character that’s written on the page and in hindsight Casey was a weak lead - he was a young guy out of his depth, not very world-wise and just a reactive character, not pro-active. The villain was actually a much more interesting character than Casey... so for Ninja 2, from the very outset we destroy his world and take him to dark places, we give the character more of an edge and it's him that propels the story forwards as he sets out on a destructive trail of vengeance. Another mistake we made with the first film was the style of the fights, it lacked what I would call "the flash" of fights like the ones we had in the Undisputed films.
We tried to go more Japanese and somewhere along the way we lost some of the flash. Only in the 'Temple' fight in the first film did I really let loose.. so we have certainly corrected that for this film - the action is considerably more intense and crowd pleasing. It's tough to make a modern day ninja film and not make it cheesy and our first film was definitely too cheesy so we have tried to ground Ninja 2 a bit more. I know people will complain that maybe Casey isn't in his Ninja suit enough but we do that deliberately to avoid too much cheese."
Well I have to say I thought that having him wear that ninja suit captured the feeling of a classic 80s action movie. One of the reasons I really enjoyed the first Ninja movie is because it dared to be so cheesy at times when most modern action movies take themselves way too seriously...I'll take The Running Man over The Bourne Identity or a 'gritty' James Bond reboot any day.
"Now you’d been out of action for a bit due to injury, would you mind telling us what exactly happened and how long you were out of action for? (I know you touched upon the injury in the Making of Universal Soldier 4) Was it hard for you to step back from both your career and also from just generally staying physical, practicing your martial arts and your gymnastics...
SA: Yes I tore my ACL in my left knee six weeks before shooting Universal Soldier so I basically made that film, El Gringo and Expendables 2 with just one leg. I actually damaged it much more in '...Soldier' and smashed a large piece of Meniscus out from my knee joint, not fun but this is what we do for our chosen art right? By the time I was filming Expendables I was in a hell of a lot of pain so December 2011 I went in to surgery and they used part of my hamstring to create my new ACL. But in order to make sure I rehabilitated it properly I needed to take at least six months off from making action films, hence Zero Dark Thirty and Legendary. Green Street 3 was a good warm up for me a year later which we shot November/December 2012 and then I went straight into Ninja 2 in January (2013). But luckily for me I badly injured my back shooting Ninja 2 which took my mind off the knee! I'm feeling good now though, got all my old kicks and flips back so I'm happy for that."
There's a bit of Expendables 2 trivia for you. These guys really take a beating to make these movies, if you've seen the "Making Of" video for The Expendables you'll probably remember that Stallone was hospitalized after his fight scene with Steve Austin!
"The film sees you working with Isaac Florentine once again. The two of you make one hell of a team and I would love to see the two of you being given bigger budgets, better schedules and a broader canvas to work with for your future projects. Describe the relationship between you and Isaac, and your thoughts on him as a director...
SA: Well, for me, I have a director who first and foremost is a dear friend and a wonderful person - you'll be hard pressed to find a more good-natured and decent family man in Hollywood. He is the guy that discovered me and gave me my first break in a leading role (Special Forces) and he fought for me to play Boyka when everyone else thought it was a huge mistake... kind of hard to believe that now I know, but it's true. This is enough of a reason to keep working with the guy but on top of that he is the best martial arts film director in the Western world, bar none. I make action films that have a huge emphasis on martial arts, so it just makes so much sense for us to work together. So many times on other movies I'm left scratching my head and getting frustrated because I can see that they just don't 'get' how to shoot the action. If I'm working with Isaac I don't have to worry about that, we can spend more time working on my performance..."
"How would you describe Ninja 2 to the potential viewer? SA: Full on old school martial arts revenge flick with non-stop action!
The film got premiered to a very strong positive response this summer, do you find it frustrating that too often films like this don’t get a chance to play before an audience? Do you think that takes away from the experience?
SA: It’s great to do the festival circuit with films like this but I don't think watching it at home will spoil your experience... the real problem is the piracy and I really would hope that people that enjoy these types of films. Let's be honest, we don't get that many anymore. I hope they support it by buying it on whatever platform when they get the chance because it is getting harder and harder to finance these films because they make no money. If you want Undisputed 4 then you'd better make sure you support Ninja 2.
Do you think a lot people don’t realise the effect that piracy has on these movies?
SA: I think people think that we are all millionaires and that they are somehow sticking it to the man in his Hollywood ivory tower by downloading for free... but the truth is that guy will stay in his ivory tower and continue making loads of money and the hardworking actors and crew and their families around the world will suffer and ultimately we will be left with huge summer superhero movies and there will be no independent alternative titles to choose from. It will be remakes, superheroes and horror films."
That sounds like a nightmare future.
Here's part of an earlier answer that I thought was interesting:
"SA:...I'm looking forward to meeting Tony (Jaa) soon as we have discussed making a film together which I would absolutely love to do."
"It has been speculated that Chan was possibly nearing the end of his career as an action star while leaning toward an interest in more drama-oriented or musical roles. And while this is mostly true, Chan eventually clarified things back in October expressing the facts a little bit more to The Wall Street Journal's Don Steinberg regarding what some believed was his wish to retire from action in general.
"No, I never said that!" he exclaimed. "I was in Cannes Film Festival and said 'Chinese Zodiac' is my last big action movie. All the media, they skipped the 'big.'. Probably they misunderstand my English. Now I have to say that’s my last BIIIIG action movie. I’m still doing them. If I jump off a building or doing a very dangerous stunt, I might use a double now. My body tells me: you are not young anymore."
That's interesting to hear, it seems like Jackie Chan is often misinterpreted or something is lost in translation as we saw during the filming of Expendables 3 when it was unclear for a while whether or not he would be in the movie.
"...Chan also says he plans on starting his own action academy to personally instruct all action and stunt actors and pass down his knowledge to future generations of martial arts screenfighters."
What better credentials could you have as a martial arts stuntman than Jackie Chan's seal of approval? "Police Story 2013" will be out in theaters across Asia on December 24th although there are no international release dates yet.
"A jaded hit man regains his humanity in this dark tale of redemption and sacrifice, set amidst a brutal underworld in which daily survival is not so much a skill but an instinct."