“It was a dream come true. I meet Mike the first day on the set and we are about to shoot a fight scene. So that’s the day I meet Mike when he’s going to start punching me. It’s not bad when you know somebody that’s going to be punching you, but when you don’t know them, you really don’t know how it’s going to go yet,” stated actor Alain Moussi, who talked about what it was like to work with both Mike Tyson and Jean-Claude Van Damme in the move “Kickboxer: Retaliation”. Check it out!
PC: It has been busy times for you with Kickboxer: Retaliation set to be released. How are you doing?
AM: I have to say life is good. I can’t complain (laughing). We had a major premier last week and it was awesome, in LA. It was awesome. The audience’s reaction to the film was incredible and Kickboxing: Retaliation is being released worldwide, so it’s just real exciting.
PC: What can people expect from the prior Kickboxer, Kickboxer: Vengeance to this one, Retaliation?
AM: So, Kickboxer: Retaliation being the second one, what we decided to do, we really wanted to amp it up in many ways. So, number one, it’s an original story. If you remember in the 80’s when they had sequels to the Kickboxer series, it did not include the character Kurt Sloane who Van Damme played in the original movie at that time. This time around, we incorporate Kurt Sloane, which is my character. Going from Vengeance to Retaliation, there is more at stake and everything is just more amped up. So, the cinematography and the way it is shot, it is directed by Dimitri Logothetis, so he made sure it was shot like a big movie, which is really really cool. I took over the action department to design some cool action that would be really hard-hitting and raw and real. So, what you will see in this action pieces is a lot of people getting the shit kicked out of them; which is great. And me included by the way. I take a licking from a lot of people (laughing), which is good, you know. The action is amped up and the cinematography is even better, so the story moves forward in a great way. It’s just a very entertaining movie.
PC: Were you a huge fan of the original Kickboxer and the character Kurt Sloane and if so, how big of an honor was it to recreate that character?
AM: Absolutely! My favorite Van Damme movie was Kickboxer! I like the other ones too, but my favorite was Kickboxer because the character was cool. The Kurt Sloane character was cool and also because of the villain. Because of Tong Po, I loved that story and he was such a mean guy and such a bad dude, it’s so satisfying in the end when Kurt goes and kicks his butt. So, I was a huge fan of Kickboxer growing up and a huge fan of Van Damme, so for me doing this movie now and this franchise and having Van Damme in the franchise is like a dream come true to me. I have to pinch myself all of the time to make sure it’s real and it’s just awesome.
PC: You started out as a stuntman. Anytime you can go from stuntman to lead role that is a huge deal. While you were a stuntman, did you ever imagine being in this position or were you content with being a stuntman and this kind of just happened for you?
AM: I did. I pictured myself as a lead as a kid. You picture yourself as an action hero because all of your idols are action heroes. So, it was definitely on my list. But, then when I started doing stunt work I doubled as a lot of leads. I doubled as Henry Cavill (Immortals), I doubled as Travis Fimmel (WarCraft) and Hugh Jackman (X-Men: Apocalypse). So, all of the guys I doubled, I would watch them and I was always like, “Man, it would be so cool to be in that position.” And, I loved being a stuntman. It was so much fun. I had a blast. I admire these guys a lot and I know they work really hard. But, at the same time I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to be doing all of this action and also be doing everything else; be the actual character. That’s definitely where I wanted to be. I was working in Montreal in 2011 on this martial arts film. And, that’s where I met Dimitri Logothetis. He was directing and producing this film and we did the showcase. I was in the opening fight and the end fight and Dimitri came over and introduced himself, we talked for like 5-minutes and he asked me a whole bunch of questions. The next day I got a call from casting saying that Dimitri wanted me to audition for the lead role in this film. I prepped for 3-days and to me, it’s was like, “Oh my God.” Number one, I’m a rookie actor. I had done some workshops and a few classes, but I could never consider myself a serious actor. So, Im like, “What do I do?” So, I asked a friend of mine who was an actor to help me out. He helped me prep. I auditioned and the next day I get a call saying Dimitri wants to meet me for breakfast. I go to breakfast with Dimitri, we sit down and he says, “Alain, what I’m doing right now is I want to relaunch the martial arts genre because it’s gone. It’s not here anymore and that’s my goal. That’s what I want to do and I want to do it with you. So, do you want to do a couple of movies together?” And I was like, “Oh my God! Absolutely!” He gave me the perfect opportunity. He believed in me and said, “Listen, I want to do this.” So, thankfully I said, yes, and years later, here we are into our second Kickboxer film.
PC: You have been training in martial arts since you were a kid, headed into some of these roles, how important was that martial arts training you received as a kid and into adulthood?
AM: It’s everything, man. Thankfully, I started when I was a kid. I got really interested in kicking and doing the splits and that was inspired by Jean Claude Van Damme. I always wanted to do fight scenes. I did fight scenes on stage with my friend Bobby. We used to go and do these big martial arts shows. We would display these fight scenes on stage which is really cool. But, martial arts brought me where I am today and it’s given me the moves and the skills to perform the way I do today, but it’s also the mindset that you get training martial arts. You learn how to set goals and work towards them and how to achieve them. You learn defeat, you learn victory and you learn a lot about yourself. I attribute a lot of my success to marital arts. That’s not just in the film industry but every part of my life. Martial arts training was a huge influence on the way that I live my life today.
PC: What do you think the biggest misperception of a stuntman is?
AM: I think there’s two, they are crazy and they’re dumb. The reality is, the first stuntmen, I know there were a lot of daredevils and a lot of cowboys. That’s no longer a reality today. Today the stunt business is about safety and intelligence and design; artistic design. It’s no longer about, who could do the craziest thing. That’s not how you approach it at all. The great stunt coordinators that I have worked for, their main concern is, number one, they want to serve the story. When it comes to fighting let’s say, the idea is to understand the character, to understand the story and then serve the story of the character with cool action design. We don’t call it fights, we call it action designs because it has to tell a story. And then, how do we take all of this, whether it’s car chases, fights or falls and make it as safe as possible? S, there is a lot of engineering that goes into this. We check all of the safety measures that you have to use to get this done. They are no longer dumb, trust me, these guys are very intelligent and very artistic. They are not just daredevils trying to break their necks; the idea is to never hurt yourself so that your career could last long, which is what you want.
PC: Anytime there is a remake and the actor or actress that was the original is involved, that could be a lot of pressure or it could be fuel. You could actually be fueled by their presence, how did you handle Jean Claude Van Damme being on set?
AM: For me it was fuel. I thought it was a great thing and actually the reality is I brought it up the first time. I said it would be great to have Van Damme involved in the movie. And I didn’t want him in the cast, I wanted to have him back in an important role. I thought it would be really great to have him as one of the main cast. I was all for it and you know why, to me it was an honor to be working with Van Damme. I don’t see it as a competition. I wasn’t out there to be better than Van Damme or try to be better than Van Damme. I wasn’t even trying to be the next Van Damme; none of that. I wanted to try and recreate the performance from the original film. I’m going to go out there and serve this new story, I’m going to do it the best that I can, display the best martial arts that I can display and bring Kurt Sloane to a brand new generation. Trying to recreate what was done… I figured Van Damme being in the story could help that out. I thought it would be cool and also I was selfish, I wanted to work with Van Damme. It would be awesome to be on screen with my childhood hero. The first day we were shooting we shot this scene and he was there and he started getting ready and I looked at him and he was nervous. This is a veteran actor out here and he’s got the first day jitters just like I get every time we start a new project. And he told me later on, we’re doing a scene and he’s like, “First day-first day!” And I thought that was so cool because I felt the chemistry already because I know he was out there to be the best he can be just like everybody else. That’s awesome to see and we clicked right away and became friends and it was just an amazing experience.
PC: Mike Tyson was on the set and from the trailer I see you have some interesting parts with him as well. How was it working with Mike?
AM: It was a dream come true. I meet Mike the first day on the set and we are about to shoot a fight scene. So that’s the day I meet Mike when he’s going to start punching me. It’s not bad when you know somebody that’s going to be punching you, but when you don’t know them, you really don’t know how it’s going to go yet (laughing). So, I introduced myself and we chat a bit and then we start going through the fight, we start rehearsing and then we start shooting. And, you’ll see in the movie at some point Mike has to slap me in the face. That’s just one of the things he does because it’s like the master showing up the kid, right. I throw a jab, he parries the jab and he slaps me. This dude is so fast. I swear I have never seen hands this fast in front of me. And we’re shooting this scene with a high speed camera so it could capture exactly that, the reaction and the ripples in the face. He’s going to do this for real, right. We go for it and we go, “Boom!” I felt that slap I swear. Holy crap! My head just went, boom, and after they called, “Cut,” I start laughing because I can’t believe it. So, we see the monitors and in the monitors because of the high speed cameras, we see me flinch before the slap even leaves, so then it’s like, “Can’t have me flinching, so we gotta do it again.” We ended up doing it 20 times. I got slapped by Mike Tyson 20 times. That’s how we were introduced to each other. And then we had the fight scene, we had a blast throughout the fight scene. Like I said we shot with high speed cameras and other than the slap there is this scene where he’s punching me in the chest and the body and we captured it with these high speed cameras and you can see his knuckles digging into my body. I was a huge fan of Mike; I’m still a huge fan of Mike’s. I was so happy to meet him and actually sit down and chat with him. I got to chat with him about his career, boxing and his approach to fighting. All of this stuff was fascinating to me. I feel blessed, man. It was awesome to work with him.
PC: I also saw where you did a kicking workshop at Team Alpha Male. How did that come about?
AM: I met Urijah Faber in October. He was at the screening of Kickboxer: Retaliation and we hit it off. We chatted a bit and ever since then he’s been like, ‘Man, you gotta come down to Sacramento and come do a workout or teach.” While we were at the premier in California he said, “If you’re here for a few days why don’t you come down,” so I did. He thought it would be really cool for me to do a kicking seminar. That’s something that not everyone is great at and he thought it would really benefit his guys. I taught a lot of precision kicking and how to properly target with your knee. What it is, we want to take the techniques that we do and learn how to apply them in real fight situations that are good for MMA, good for kickboxing or Muay Thai. How to set them up and how to make them work for real. So, that was kind of the whole thing around the seminar. Kicking is my specialty, so I love getting in there and sharing and having fun with everybody. Then we threw in some cool Hollywood reactions to have fun in there at the end and to give it a Hollywood flare at the same time. It was a great time. Fighting is my background. I’ve been a student, I’ve been a coach and I’ve coached guys in the ring in amateur MMA. I’ve been around it all my life, so I just love going back and teaching and sharing whatever I know that could benefit anyone.
PC: I look forward to the movie, best of luck with Kickboxer: Retaliation and all of your other endeavors. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?
AM: Number one, go on Itunes and get a copy of Kickboxer: Retalation, number two, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @AlainMoussi. I post tons of behind the scenes stuff. I have a lot of fun. I want to thank you very much for the opportunity.
Watch the trailer at:
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]