Jino Kang has been actively lending to the artistic aspect of independent film for much of this past decade, not only on the creative end of film artistry itself, but also to fight choreography and various martial arts with real world application. The writer and director of the Fist 2 Fist movies – the sequel being an absolute masterpiece – Kang has recently been reviving the undervalued and underappreciated art form of the short film via his series, Kid Fury, starring Timothy Mah. Kang spends time with The Movie Elite in discussing his latest installment, The Phantom Witch, in this interview.
The Phantom Witch is the second installment in the Kid Fury short film series. About how many of these do you think you will put together for one saga?
I was hoping for at least six episodes. Right now, we have up to four in mind. The third episode is being written by Christine Lam, my sometimes writing partner.
About how long, on average, does it take to get everything completed per episode?
On the average, it takes about four to six days to shoot, then another month to edit and another month finishing with coloring and sound mix. So, total about three months. Sometimes however, it takes a while to scout and find locations.
What prompted the idea for an older female antagonist in this episode?
Well Virginia has been in my two previous films Blade Warrior and Fist 2 Fist and she has been my student for three decades. I wanted to create an unusual character with super natural abilities and she came to mind. I believe she nailed her character.
This second episode features more locations outside of the dojo this time around, whereas a very large portion of the first was set primarily indoors. Were you always planning to expand to other areas? Any reasons behind particular sets here?
I always try to look for different locations to shoot which I always find difficult with a limited budget. In episode two, I thought the apartment building was perfect find and giving Kid Fury to fight his way from garage to the rooftop like Game of Death. In episode three, most likely it will be an outside shoot.
Timothy Mah has largely been the focus, with a few twist elements to his character, which will not be mentioned here to avoid spoilers. What has his reaction been to these projects? Can we expect him to be the long term focus?
Yes. Timothy has that star quality. He has a quiet demeanor but can be quite deadly when he needs to be. I wanted to capture that quality and wrote the script along that line. I believe he has fun time shooting it and seems to enjoy the process. Last year at the Action on Film Festival, lots of people came up to him and asked to take pictures with him and Timothy was beaming with joy not used to the limelight.
How much creative input comes from the onscreen talent during the writing and filming process?
I’m pretty much a hands-off director. Once I write the script, I let the actors figure out what’s between the lines and bring their take on it. Most of the time it works unless they don’t have much experience. If that’s the case, then I’ll give heavy direction.
These short films feel like a modern throwback to the old serial days, with short feature series such as Flash Gordon and Batman. Was that the idea behind the series?
Ha, how did you know that I was a fan of those campy series? Well, the intent was to create unique characters with a comic book feel. Since it’s a short film series, I thought I could take it anywhere and have fun while doing it.
On a similar note, what were the biggest inspirations for Kid Fury, if any?
It was mostly experimental. I wanted to tell a fantasy story about a kid and estranged mob boss father coming together via mysterious stolen box and their struggle between their relationships about their past, present and future. We also throw in unusual obstacles in their way which makes it a fun and strange journey.
You take on a villain role in this series, something of a departure from earlier work like the Fist 2 Fist movies. What made you decide to go this route? Was any of this inspired by Beat Takeshi’s yakuza roles, or did you make a lot of it up on the spot?
You nailed it. I’m a huge fan of “Beat” Takeshi. I watch all his work and admire his artistic violence. He takes it to another level. I took his character and of all people, my mother’s sarcasm and married the two. My mother had a wicked tongue and I found it funny as I got older. She would say, “Oh, look, you’re going bald, I should buy you some hair. Did you gain weight? So fat, how do you even kick? Teach class…” Her facial expressions were killer too.
Any hints as to what we can expect from a third installment? When can we look forward to hearing more about it?
Two words. Female gang.
Thank you again for your time and best of luck in what comes next!
Thank you, Nathan! Glad that you liked the film series and much thanks for the interview.