Member kokuryuha Posted October 7, 2015 Member Share Posted October 7, 2015 If I ever stop doing posts here or anywhere else,I had to make sure I do at least one on my favorite henchman/stuntman...Al "Ka-bong"Leong.As a kid he always had me mystified because he had that look about him that made you believe in that stereotype back in the day that most chinese people knew kung-fu.I couldn't speak for the rest of them but I was pretty sure he did! Born Albert Leong in 1952,The youngest of three kids he spent his early years in St.Louis,Missouri.His parents were the owners of a laundromat and ironically not a kung-fu school.It was only when His family migrated to California in 1962 Al was to take that step into the martial arts world.He began his formal training while attending high school under the tutelage of Ark Yuey Wong,a trailblazer in Martial Arts being among the first(If not the first)to start teaching kung-fu formally in the US to non chinese despite coming from a traditional background that forbade it.He taught Ng Ga Kuen kung-fu translated as: Five family/Five animals fist. Having a strong foundation and being taught by one of the best,It was no surprise that those skills were put to use.But like some of the best success stories it wasn't planned that way.It was a chance encounter that brought Al to being involved with movies that came during the early eighties when he accompanied a friend to the set of a movie where he was given work as grip.Due to the stereotype about Asians mentioned earlier on this post The director asked if he knew any martial arts.Al admitted:"Yes I do" The director then invited him to teach some actresses on the set some moves.Al complied and the rest as they say is history. Al became the guy to call upon when producers needed an shall we say..."Instant kung-fu man" This allowed him to secure gigs on mainstream t.v.shows like The A-Team,Magnum P.I.,Knight Rider,MacGuyver,etc.becoming that familiar face you kept seeing.The time eventually came for transitioning to the big screen for that iconic role as the leader of the Wing Kong Gang in John Carpenter's(cult favorite and box office smash and inspiration to mortal kombat's Raiden character)Big trouble in little china (1986)Al starred alongside other fellow martial arts contemporaries and familiars such as Carter Wong,James Lew,Gerald Okamura,and Peter Kwong.I'll never forget his opening scene in the back alley striding nonchalantly through the fog with a meat cleaver twirling it with dexterity in his hands.He epitomized that tagline..."someone you don't want to meet in dark alley" Al has an impressive filmography starring in mainstream movies with the lion's share of them box office hits.My favorites besides BTILC are Bill & Ted's excellent adventure(1989) where someone with good taste cast him as Genghis Khan.Of all his movie roles I felt this one suited him the most because he actually resembles the Notorious Conqueror/Warrior figure and got to show off his weapon proficiency with the Kwan Dao.He even gets to wreck havoc in a sporting goods store! (I was secretly hoping he would kill somebody!) Let's not forget his best fight scene ever with the scion of "The little dragon" himself Brandon Lee in Rapid fire(1992) Those two should've gotten an award for best fight of the year or at least nominated in a viewer poll or something.Al had the distinction of really putting Brandon to the test and allowing him to shine like in no other movie with The Crow as the only exception.Brandon did good in Showdown in little Tokyo but he was a sidekick to Dolph Lundgren in that flick.In Rapid Fire,Brandon was the lead man and Al was his only worthy foe.Good back and forth exchanges between the two with Brandon showing some Yong Chun boxing and Al with his trademark kung-fu brawling style.Classic. Al's road to stardom wasn't without it's share of disappointments though.Two missed opportunities to work with Sly Stallone fell through the pocket.One of them being in Cobra (1986)When Al originally was cast as the Ax Gang leader.Brian Thompson was only an ersatz replacement because An Asian rights group protested against the role because "It put Asians in a negative light" (Where were those groups when they had buck toothed asians as coolies in movies and cartoons with the over exaggerated accents I wonder?) Anyway that was one.The other opportunity arose when Al was already doing Die Hard(1988) and was offered a role in Rambo 3.Al intended to shuttle back and forth to simultaneously work on both productions but was told he couldn't leave because they had paid him in advance for two weeks and refused to let him fly out to England to participate in a rival movie on their dollar.Al was let down because he was looking forward to working with Sly and doing a memorable fight with him.One could only think of how grueling a fight Ka-Bong would've given Sly for his money to our delight. Through it all,tribulations came with the territory as well.Al testifies to breaking all of his ribs,cracking his sternum,Breaking both arms and collarbones as well as having a life threatening bout with brain cancer.Despite surviving it,extensive radiation treatments has left him without the use of his right eardrum and one saliva gland.Yet,true to his screen image he's diehard.With over 30 plus years in the business of movie acting and stunts Al is showing no signs of giving up or slowing down.He's published his first memoir "The eight lives of Al "Ka-Bong" Leong" an autobiographical account on his life(2011) On a final note...Al Leong is one of those individuals who although he never got the chance to star in a leading role and deserved to with his enviable skills,he humbly played the background content with making other actors/actresses look good and making sure that you got your money's worth.He was a man of pride and standards though and had no gripes with walking off a production if he felt it wasn't worth his time.A true craftsman and an admirable marital artist as well as a good guy even though he portrayed a villain onscreen,Al Leong deserves a round of applause.?Or bow if you prefer.? 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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