Luke LaFontaine is an actor, stuntman/coordinator, 2nd Unit Director and swordmaster within the film industry. With over twenty-five years experience his work behind the camera includes Iron Man, Beowolf and Serenity. He can be seen in-front of the camera in the TV series Martial Law, The Karate Kid and in Blood and Bone. His next film in which he has an acting role in is the highly anticipated Savage Dog. We caught up with Luke to find out more about his work including Savage Dog.
GD: Hi Luke, thanks for taking the time for us for this interview. First of all can you tell us how you first came across and got into martial arts?
LF: I first came across martial arts at the age of 8, watching the films of Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa. I began studying Aikido and kendo at age of 9 . I went on to study karate, kenjutsu, judo, kung fu and European swordplay.
GD: One of the first films that you were involved with was the original The Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. Can you tell us how this came about and your role in the film? And was it expected to be such an iconic film when it was being made?
LF: My first film job was the Karate Kid. A great experience. I was put in the film by the director.I did some tournament fights w the cobra kai and a scene with Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue. No one knew it would become a classic.
GD: Can you tell us what it was like to work on these films and how stunts and martial arts in films has changed since then?
LF: It has changed a lot over the years working on action films is a great adventure.The abilities and the complexity of the action have grown exponentially. Fight scenes are bigger and a lot longer now. Average film fight used to be around 2 to 3 minutes. Now they’re upwards of 5 to 8 minutes.
GD: One of the latest films you have worked on is the much anticipated Savage Dog with Scott Adkins. From the trailer we can see that this looks to have a different style of fight scenes for Scott compared to his characters’ fighting styles in the Undisputed and Ninja films. Can you tell us about the style of fighting used in the film?
LF:Producer Ehud Bleiberg has done a lot of action films. He knows what he wants out of a finished film. He wanted a lot of epic action for SAVAGE DOG. Jesse v. Johnson is a very visceral filmmaker. He had a very unflinching, brutal, realistic vision with his story. Scott Adkins’ character Martin Tillman’s story is more reality/ period based than his other films. Set in 1959 in Indochina. Martin Tillman is an Irish boxer and legionnaire who is forced to fight in a corrupt military prison . I had to design a fight style that was interesting but realistic for 1959.
I looked at lots of older boxing, bare knuckle traveler fights, we added some muy thai and other kicks for the time his character was in Indochina. Scott is an amazing martial artist, his abilities had to be featured in a different way. Jesse wanted the character to be a brutal tactician who sizes up his opponents then picks them apart. I put together dirty boxing combos, muy thai legs and evasive footwork, hitting from odd angles. Scott did a great job of physically transforming into Martin Tillman , a new character with, a different weight to him and personality. Once the action really gets going it’s unrelenting until the end.
GD: And can you tell us about your role in the film?
LF: I play Constantine the unapologetic Bully officer/head guard. The other heavies Vladimir Kulitch, Marko Zarror, Cung Le, Charles Fathy don’t think of themselves as bad guys. Constantine doesn’t care and knows he’s bad. Had fun doing scenes with Scott giving him someone to hate. Jesse had great ideas for my look in the movie.
GD: Can you tell us some of your favourite moments in some of the films that you have worked on?
LF: Getting to sword fight Russel Crowe in “Master &,Commander”, stunt doubling Anthony Hopkins and Brendan Gleeson in “Beowulf”, getting kicked thru a flagpole by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, choreographing fights for Scott Adkins, Cung Le, and Marko Zarror for Savage Dog.
GD: And what are the next films that you will be working on?
LF: I just finished choreographing flashback fights for Amy Johnston and Ray Park for the upcoming film Accident Man, also directed by Jesse Johnson.
Thank you Luke Lafontaine for your time and am looking forward to seeing Savage Dog and more of your work in future.