Street Fighter: Assasin’s Fist
By: Leslie Wong
Hollywood’s current resurgence of hits from the 1980’s and 90’s is only getting started. With talks of renewing Mortal Kombat and with the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie coming out later this year, it’s was only a matter of time that Street Fighter would get a chance at a second life.
Street Fighter: Assasin’s Fist is a story of origin for the Street Fighter franchise. The origin story is based on the ancient art of “ansatsuken”. This is the style of martial arts Ryu and Ken learned from their master Gouken. It traces the lineage through multiple generations as we learn of the dangerous paths it can lead to.
Mike Moh, who plays Ryu in the series, entered the entertainment industry as a part owner of Excel Martial Arts in St. Paul and a world champion taekwondo competitor. He got his first taste of show biz when he met Mike Chat, founder of the Xtreme Martial Arts (XMA) movement. With Chat’s help, Mike was hand selected by Jackie Chan to appear in “Rob-B-Hood.” Shortly after returning home to Minnesota from working with Jackie in Hong Kong, Mike made the move to Hollywood to pursue acting. It did not take long for mike to land a role that would showcase both his acting and martial arts abilities as Danny Cho in the CW’s “Kamen Rider:Dragon Knight.” His performance in the series would later help earn the show a daytime Emmy for best stunt coordination.
Bellus Magazine got an exclusive interview with Mike to talk about his exciting adventures as one of 1990’s most beloved video game characters, Ryu:
BELLUS MAGAZINE [BM]: How did you like playing the role of RYU?
MIKE MOH [MM]: It’s my favorite role and project I’ve ever worked on. I got to play one of my favorite video game characters. That, and I got to throw multiple Hadoukens! What’s not to love!??
[BM]: How did you train for this role?
[MM]: I’ve been studying martial arts for most of my life so the majority of my preparation was bulking up to match Ryu’s look in the earlier versions of Street Fighter games. I put on 30 pounds of muscle in 6 months so I was in the gym a lot! Also, picking up the Japanese language. Luckily for me Japanese and Korean are fairly similar so that helped. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I spent countless hours playing Street Fighter…
[BM]: What was it like working with the cast?
[MM]: It never felt like work! Don’t get me wrong we put in long and many times grueling hours on set but we had so much fun working on a project we all believed in. We were only in Bulgaria together for 8 weeks and most of us had never met beforehand, but I now consider them family and can’t wait to have us all together again!
[BM]: How do you think the fans will react to this series?
[MM]: I truly believe they’re going to love it. It is SO different from the previous 2 Street Fighter movies and in this case, that’s a good thing. It stays true to the roots of Street Fighter. It has great action, great characters, and most importantly it tells a great story.
[BM]: What’s next for you? What are you currently working on now that Street Fighter has wrapped?
[MM]: I recently guest-starred on an episode of “Castle” and a really cool short film titled “The Man from Death” produced and starring my good friend Eric Lim that will come out later this year.
[BM]: Tell us how you got started in the business?
[MM]: In 2006 I was chosen by Jackie Chan to work on one of his Hong Kong feature films called “Rob B Hood” after seeing a demo reel one of my friends sent to him. At that time I was working as a taekwondo instructor in Minnesota. After that, my wife and I packed up and headed to Los Angeles.
[BM]: Had you always wanted to be an actor?
[MM]: When I was in elementary school I have memories of putting on improvised one-man shows for my entire class. My friends and I would make these terrible action movies but we had a blast. I always dreamed about becoming the next big action star but it always felt like a pipe dream because my Asian parents were always pushing me towards being a doctor or a lawyer. I’m glad I rebelled. My parents are finally starting to forgive me J
[BM]: What are the challenges of being an Asian American male in this industry?
[MM]: How much time do we have? I could go on and on but the main challenge is the lack of quality roles that don’t take cues from the negative stereotypes Asian guys have to deal with everyday. Nerdy, passive, asexual, weak, techy, awkward – those are all words that commonly describe the Asian male characters portrayed by Hollywood. None of which I’d like to portray on screen.
All Asian-American actors say we want to change that perception but it’s difficult to do because as actors we can only play the roles that are written for us. That’s why it’s important to get more Asian writers, producers, and directors to break through and feature strong Asian Male characters. Thankfully, it’s starting to happen slowly but surely!
[BM]: Do you think you are pigeonholed because of your ethnicity?
[MM]: Yes and no. I’ve done a lot of work in commercials playing a ninja and it definitely helps to be Asian in the audition room for those roles! In those cases I am pigeonholed but actually in my favor because I wanted those jobs! Outside of martial arts type roles, I have not felt pigeonholed because in most cases an actor of any ethnicity could have played my roles.
[BM]: How often are you going out for the roles you want and not some stereotypical role?
[MM]: When I was just starting out I auditioned for anything and everything that came my way. Sometimes it would involve a stereotypical role that had an accent. Thankfully for me my Asian accents are terrible and I never ended up booking those roles which was a blessing in disguise. I did, however, play the stereotypical Bruce Lee-type character in a few small projects but I only regret those because of how bad the projects turned out!
Now, I turn down auditioning for roles that perpetuate the negative Asian male stereotype.
[BM]: Where do you see yourself and your career in 5-10 years? Will you still be acting?
[MM]: That’s tough to answer because I no clue what even my next 2 years will look like. I have 2 passions in my life (besides my family) and they are martial arts and performing. I will continue to act as long as I find it to be fun and challenging. In a perfect world in 5 years I will own a successful martial arts school and work on 1 or 2 action films a year!
[BM]: What kind of advice would you give others who are trying to act?
[MM]: Remember that everyone’s path to success is unique. And everyone’s definition of “success” is also unique. Focus on improving yourself as a performer, not trying to be famous. Find other things in your life you’re passionate about other than acting. Lastly, good luck and stay positive!