Kung-fu feature 7 years in production close to finish

By Ruth L Ratny

Martial arts superstar Ho-Sung Pak, known to combat fiends, stars in the fantasy “Book of Swords”

Man Sung Son’s fast-paced martial arts movie, “Book of Swords,” took a mere four weeks to shoot and another six years to finish.

And it wasn’t a matter of money, since Man Sung and the other producers had no difficulty raising money for the under $1 million budget. “We wanted to have it just right when we sell it,” Man Sung said.

Since the picture is thisclose to completion, producers Man Sung and Richard Isaac and Peter Allen hosted an SRO screening at Chicago Audio Works. Guests were some 60 persons who had been involved in the fantasy Kung-fu flick way back when, investors and friends.

The 1996 action has withstood the test without a wrinkle. Martial arts superstar Ho-Sung Pak looked as handsome/athletic/charismatic/sexy at the screening as he did in the original scenes.

Don’t bother looking for plot here. If there is one, it sort of goes like this: Ho Sung is a good guy fighting the bad guys, but we’re sure entirely sure what the bad guys did. They may be after the Book of Swords (content uncertain) and somehow Ho Sung is a reincarnation of a dragon type of guy in the book. I think. And I paid strict attention.

Plot, schmot. Super hero Ho-Sung’s dazzling performance as he executes whirls, kicks and chops, or fights with a sword in one hand or both, against a legion of foes more than compensates for the lack of, ah, storyline.< /p>

(On the survey guests were asked to fill out was the question: Did you understand the plot? Check one: Yes, No, Somewhat.)

Pete Biagi’s feature-quality 35mm photography, Elena Maganani’s seamless editing, the music score and overall technical execution are as good — if not superior — to any Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Bruce Lee movie. And that’s saying a lot.

“Book of Swords” started with conversation between equipment dealer/producer Man Sung and his friend Richard Isaac, talking as every filmmaker does sometime in his life, about making a movie together. It became actuality when Isaac, who doesn’t have to take a back seat in the buff/muscular/sexy department, suggested making a Kung-fu feature with his friend, Ho-Sung.

With martial arts master Ho-Sung as a headliner, count on “Swords” becoming a commercial success. Ho- Sung is regarded as one of the greatest Wushu practitioners of the very difficult and elaborate style of Kung-fu known as Wushu. The same Wushu master who trained Jet Li trained him in China.

Millions of arcade game fiends know him as Liu Kang in Bally/Midway’s “Kombat” games. He starred in Fox TV’s “WMAC Masters,” co-starred with Jackie Chan in “Drunken Master II,” and co-starred in “Ninja Turtles.” He was the youngest martial arts practitioner to be in inducted in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

If that isn’t enough, Ho-Sung, now 35, has an MBA from the U of I at Champaign.

With Ho-Sung signed, Isaac got together with his friend, music video director Peter Allen from L.A., and they collaborated on the “script.”

After shooting, some finishing problems delayed completion, such as the sound from an L.A. engineer and the original edit gone wrong. All of which had to repaired as additional funding was sought.

Now, the finish line is only $35,000 away. It will be used to stretch the 70-minutes to a theatrical 80-minute length. An overseas is very interested, notes Man Sun.

“We want to make everything right when we sell it,” Man Sung. “We don’t want to rush into anything.”

“We But we don’t want to rush into it,” he smiles.

Man Sung is at 312/440-8963. See www.powkickboxing.com for Ho-Sung.