Actor Kurt Mckinney made his movie debut as Jason Stillwell in 1986 martial arts film No Retreat, No Surrender. Directed by Ng See-Yuen, it was a way to cash-in on the popularity of the Karate Kid movies and also add a little splash of Bruceploitation.
Following this role, Kurt went on to become a popular television actor before semi-retiring from the industry.
How did you first get started in the movie industry?
My first film was No Retreat No Surrender. I had been in LA for 5 months when I landed the job. I couldn’t believe it. I had thought that I might be able to get a small role in the film due to my Martial Arts background.
How did you get involved with the movie No Retreat, No Surrender ?
I almost didn’t go to the open call. I had sent in a picture but did not get a response…so I figured they weren’t interested. At the last minute I said what the hell and just showed up. The guard at the gate said they had just about cast all the parts and that they were only still looking for the lead character a 17 yr old boy. I said well I’m here to audition for the lead. He said you look a little old but go ahead . The rest is history.
What are your memories of working on the film?
Sore muscles, long days and nights. It was an amzing time in my life I will never forget it. I had a great time with the cast and crew NG Yuen, Corey Yuen, Keith Strandberg, Jean Claude. I learned to eat with chop sticks. I also learned a few new moves.
What are your memories of your scenes with the ghost Bruce Lee, playd by Kim Tai-Jung?
We had a great time together. The Bruce Lee stuff was really magical. He did a great job with the Character. He didn’t speak English and I knew just enough Korean to count to ten. We communicated through an interpreter and through gestures. All his dialogue was spoken in Korean and mine in English. They would tell me he will be saying this which means this. So we communicated even though we spoke different languages in the scene.
Any stories or antidotes you remember from working on the movie?
I scared the shit out of Jean Claude. He had to jump on me in the final fight scene. I asked the makeup dept for a blood capsule before we started and bit down on it in the first take. I started coughing blood and JC crapped his pants. I started laughing as did the whole crew. I got him good.
Did you keep in touch with anyone when the film completed?
I kept in touch with Jean Claude for a while but have since lost to touch. I do speak with the writer Keith Strandberg once in a while.
What are your thoughts on the ‘Bruceploitation’ genre and the Bruce Lee Clones?
It’s fine with me. I think it’s a nice tribute to the King Of Martial Arts.
Finally, what can we expect to see you in next?
I just finished a couple episodes of “One Life to Live” and I’ll be in the fall opening episode of “Blue Bloods”.
TEXT: © Lee Holmes/The Clones of Bruce Lee 2012.