photographer : Michelle Tran
- Can you give us a brief Bio of yourself.
I was born during the Khmer Rouge era. As refugees, my family escaped and fled to Thailand, the Philippines and, eventually, to America where I was raised in Long Beach, California.
My love for martial arts was recognized early age. When I was seven, my father took me to a karate school and I realized that martial arts was what I wanted to do, but 50 dollars a month for training was a luxury my family could not afford. To make up for it, my father watched the karate classes from afar and tried to draw the techniques for me to learn even though he worked two jobs. Time passed and so too did my hopes of formally training in martial arts. Fortunately I found the “poor kid’s route.” I watched and imitated figures in the media like Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan. Inspired to imitate and create movements in the martial spirit, little by little, I began to abandon feeling sorry for myself and insecure attitude I had taken on.
- At what point in life when you decided that this is your calling?
Actually I had a feeling that film-making was my calling since I was 13 years old studying martial arts through film but then I thought to myself I could never be that great. Now I realize that it’s not about greatness but about sharing yourself with the world. I would say at 25 years old, I didn’t choose film-making, instead film-making chose me… It’s like everything I did in my life prior prepared me for THIS point in time. Do you believe in fate? I do.
- You seem to be very fit and in shape, how often do you work out? Do you have a trainer and what is your method to keep in shape?
I work out 6 days a week at least 4 hours a day, mostly rehabilitation. I’m not a body builder so the aesthetics is secondary to performance. Simply stated, I will not give up speed for a bigger bicep.
I don’t have a trainer but I am a former personal trainer so I know what to do with my body to achieve my goals. I keep shape and performance by mixing stability training, strength training, calisthenics, and ballistic training for all muscle groups.
For martial arts, I use high reps with low intensity for joint preservation purposes.
Fortunate for me, keeping in shape is part of my job description and I love working out. The even tougher challenge is balancing mind, body, and spirit.
- What do you consider your proud accomplishment as far not just in term of film but in life?
Honestly? And this will sound very Cambodian but my proudest accomplishment is being able to sit at the dinner table with my family and laugh at each other out of love. I know these moments will not last forever and I am proud to achieve a perspective that has come to appreciate this irreplaceable gift of family.
- who do you want work with in the future and why?
I don’t discriminate. I am about ideas and passion. It would be great to work with those that have inspired me as a child and are still alive (Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan) but the things there work has taught me is already inside of me. I’m not about the past but about the future. I would like to work with creative, passionate, hardworking individuals because they can great enrich my journey.
- what your take on our current economy ?
I have no such knowledge to form a concrete opinion on the current economy even though it affects us all. But what I DO know is I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and most of all, people to share it with.
Lastly, I would like to say that I don’t know what happens behind the scenes in this country’s government but I am grateful to be in the US of A.
- Who inspire you in life ?
My father, my mother, My grandfather, my older sister, my little sister, her husband, Sifu Chris Ho, Eston Diaz, D. Miles, Tiffanie, Ely, Kelly, Jay, God, Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Bruce Lee, Nelson Mandela, actors in certain films, certain basketball players, ice-skaters, gymnasts, everyone I’ve interacted with… in a nutshell, everyone.
- 5 favorite movie of all time?
Wow, this one is tough and took me awhile to compile (not written in stone).
1. Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom – taught me english
2. Iron Monkey – changed my life.
3. Fong Sai Yuk – a Jet Li – Corey Yuen collaboration.
4. Rocky – so inspirational
5. Rush Hour 2 – Ghetto comedy with Asian people, my favorite haha.
- Who do you consider the most underrated Asian actor, and the most over rated?
Haha. To be honest, no one comes to mind but myself for both.
- Is there any upcoming project of your that we should look out for? and what is your current project, and where can we find your past projects?
I’m currently developing an indy film called “Ego” that is a psychological thriller, which is a genre I like. I was a psychology major in college.
I’m looking forward to shooting 2 feature films this year, Rooks and Champion Road Forever; I play an Asian lead in both.
Many of my past projects have been solely stunt work and small roles. Soon my 2 films, On The Edge (short) and Champion Road Arena will be released.
- What is your movement and why should we support you?
My movement is called the “Independent Revolution” coined by my friend, D. Miles and me. Not only does Hollywood lacks creativity and create a glass ceiling for individuals like myself, they make shitty martial arts films. Martial arts films is a great vehicle to get young children and old children motivated. To do what?... to seek.
Can my vision do that? If I didn’t believe it can then I wouldn’t be doing this.
- 7 words to best describe yourself?
With empathy comes courage eat good food ( haha I feel like I can’t speak English again)
- 7 thing you would put in your time capsule?
My martial arts film collection, the ring my parents gave me, my memories video collection, Family and friends photo album, my CPU, a punching bag, aaaand I guess a lint roller.
- Any last words ?
Let me share something with you, not for me but because it is inspiring. When I was 20 days old, my ill mother had to flee an internment camp through gunfire and bombs during the Cambodian Civil War; she climb through jungles and walked across chest-high waters with me tied to her back. My father helped so many strangers get through hard times during the war but yet couldn’t hold on to his father and his eldest brother.
You can SAY that my parents are extraordinary human beings. But actually they are not. “OUR” parents’ generation WAS regular people. They were extraordinary when circumstance called for it. They did things they didn’t know they could do. They had courage they didn’t know they had… and out of them comes the next generation of Cambodians. And now, circumstance is calling for us. Time to stand together.