The Underdog Genre
boyka undisputed iv
I take this fact to mind in observing the career progression of martial arts star, actor Scott Adkins, once a stuntman and someone who has essentially woven himself into ample popularity as an action-capable actor, and with his biggest audience keen on major martial arts fanfare. It’s a succession that has not been easy – one plagued by the ever-continued proliferation of piracy that causes films like Adkins’s latest reprisal to remain stagnant for years before ever seeing the light of day, and it should not be that way if the fans wish to see more.
It was back around late 2012 or early 2013 – likely the latter – that I began following actor and martial artist, up-and-comer Emilien De Falco. By then to my knowledge I had spotted him in at least one action short with a group of stunties out West while in actuality, he had already accrued some notable TV and film credits.
I’m pretty sure as others may have felt that there was more waiting in store with De Falco and I have to say, I’m glad I kept up to some degree. It’s not easy working the field he works and a lot of rare and rich opportunities involve a lot of waiting, and staying productive in the course of that period, and surely enough, De Falco has.
He’s become something of an internet sensation for martial arts aficionados alike who get a kick out of seeing great people do unbelievable things on viral video. His training methods are high in caliber and have all but preserved his readiness even more for film opportunities, among which include none other than the chance of a lifetime to be on set with filmmaker and producer Isaac Florentine.
Boyka: Undisputed 4, the latest installment of the fighting/prison sports saga that evolved into a full-on vacuum for martial arts action fans fond of its current star, Scott Adkins, has already had its share of screentime around the world and is now readying a U.S. release next month. Despite not having seen the movie myself, I’ve had my eye on De Falco for an interview for a few years now and with Boyka: Undisputed 4 having stirred even more buzz in Shanghai ahead and a premiere this month at Fantasia Festival, I decided to strike while the iron was hot.
Without further ado, here is my interview with Emilien De Falco.
Photo: Rogue Headshots
Film Combat Syndicate: Greetings Emilien and thank you for taking the time to talk with us. How has your year been for you?
Emilien DeFalco: Thank you for having me! This year has been great – I just got back to California after a two month trip overseas mixing work and vacationing. Apart from that, I also spent most of my time training and focusing on both my personal and professional goals. I can’t talk more about it now but some good stuff is on the way.
FCSyndicate: Well that last part peaks my curiousity some!
I’ve been following you since I started my site and I was connecting with a lot of folks I had known of on the West Coast. I’m curious about who you are and I’d like to help readers and moviegoers get to know you a bit more. Please tell us about yourself.
EDF: Well to be short, I was born and raised in the small town of Millau in the south of France. I started practicing Taekwondo when I was 7 years old and it quickly became my passion, and to this day, I have never stopped practicing.
I grew up watching martial arts and action movies starring Bruce Lee, JCVD, Schwarzenegger and Stallone. They all had a huge impact on me. Very early on I dreamt of coming to America and starring in action and martial arts movies. A few years later, I dropped out of college and decided to move to Los Angeles without any connections nor papers, and I was barely able to speak English.
The initial years were kind of rough, but eventually due to my previous work in movies and entertainment back home, I was able to get an artist visa. After I moved to L.A. and booked different kinds of gigs, I worked as a sports and fitness model, a TV host for a martial arts channel and as a stunt double for JCVD. In the last three years I finally got to work more and more as an actor and specifically as action actor first getting a small but recurring role on a Crossbones. More supporting roles came after that on action and sci-fi movies like Titus Paar’s The Perfect Weapon, V.R. and Boyka: Undisputed 4. This has now become my main focus and working on getting bigger roles.
FCSyndicate: You’ve gained some notoriety in the past year having become somewhat of a viral video sensation on social media with some of your training videos. What goes through your mind when you see posts like that?
EDF: I love physical activities and fitness training as much as I love martial arts. To be very honest, at first, I was not into social media at all until one day when I posted one of my training sessions. It got shared by many people and I started receiving messages from both friends and strangers telling me how motivated and inspired they felt to workout and train after seeing it.
I then remembered that when I was younger I got inspired to start training after watching training sequences on TV and the huge impact it has had on me, so it became incentive for me to engage more and post more online. I think having a positive influence on people and showing them that you can really achieve your personal and professional goal if you focus and work hard is one of my main goals in life.
FCSyndicate: What are some effective or more favorite workouts you enjoy? What challenges you the most over others?
EDF: I like to mix it up. I constantly change my work out routines to shock my body. I would work with heavy weights for a while before switching to plyometrics and calisthenics. That said, my main focus is to maintain and improve my explosive power. I weight between 195lbs and 205 lbs (87 kg and 93 kg) which is kind of heavy to perform a lot of gravity-defying acrobatic kicks like 720s, corkscrews and 900s. Most guys who are doing those kicks and tricks are much lighter and you would need more explosive power to perform them at a heavier weight.
Also, to get into shape for, let’s say, a fight scene or a full action sequence, I believe the best way to workout is in the form of circuit training or interval training. It will reproduce the explosive and fast combinations that you will repeatedly perform in an action scene and get your cardiovascular system ready for it. To spice things up and challenge myself, I like to add flips and intricate moves in my circuit training. For example: instead of doing regular burpees and tuck jumps, I would do backflip-burpees, lift a heavier tire before flipping from it and then go to the next exercise. It’s also much more fun and I feel like kid when training like that.
FCSyndicate: I looked at your IMDb page and it said you did some stuntwork for Banlieue 13: Ultimatum with Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle. Was that the initial start of your career?
EDF: Yes, it was my first time on a big set.
FCSyndicate: What was that experience like for you?
EDF: I started following Cyril Raffaelli’s career after I saw him in Kiss Of The Dragon in which he co-stars and also gets to fight Jet li. I was really impressed by the way he was kicking. His videos online were even more impressive and inspired me to learn acrobatics and improve my kicking abilities.
District B13 came out a few years later which was the consecration for both Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle who got their first lead role in a movie. Working as à stunt performer in the sequel of this cult movie felt really inspiring at the time even tho I was only performing minor stunts (getting kicked and punched by Cyril and maybe throwing a kick or two) it motivated me to keep chasing my dreams.
FCSyndicate: What would you say was the biggest or most exciting stunt you’ve done in your career so far?
EDF: I’m not too sure I can answer that question. I see myself more as an action actor and athlete/martial artist than a stuntman who performs crazy stunts -At least that’s not what I am trying to pursue.
FCSyndicate: That’s a fair assessment, and your latest role in Boyka: Undisputed 4 is an attribution of that, I presume? Tell us about it.
EDF: I was really honored to be chosen by Isaac Florentine to play the role of Viktor. I met Isaac in 2010 at an acting workshop. Back then he told me that he was going to call me for the right project and I didn’t really take him seriously at the time. Five years later he sends me an email saying he is considering me for the fourth film and asks me to send some materials. Once I booked the role and got to Bulgaria he said “…You see?! I told you we were going to work together!”. That was awesome and I was equally honored to work with Scott Adkins and Tim man who are at the top of their craft. As we speak they just won best action actor and best fight choreography for Boyka at the Jackie Chan action awards in Shanghai.
FCSyndicate: Yeah I’ve been keeping up with Jackie Chan Action Week out there. Amazing stuff! For those of us who are unengaged, tell us about your character Viktor.
EDF: I won’t divulge too much but you can already sort of get the idea from the trailers. Viktor is Alma’s husband, as well as a fighter but he is also probably the “nicest guy” in the movie. He is fighting for a cause and to protect his wife. You can already tell he looks different than the other fighters: No crazy haircut or tattoos all over his body. He gets accidentally killed fighting Boyka who himself starts grieving and essentially questioning everything he stands for.
Viktor only appears once within the first act of the movie but also reappears in very short flashback sequences and images. The challenge was to find the right balance between Viktor being a decent opponent for Boyka and at the same time a character that the audience will like and care about. All that without any dialogue and within a five minutes window or so.
FCSyndicate: Tell us about working with your award-winning fight choreographer Tim Man.
EDF: Not only he is a great choreographer but he is Also an amazing martial artist and overall human being. Very humble. He made everything work smoothly and it was very pleasing to work with him and his team.
What makes him different from so many choreographers is that he actually can do whatever he is asking you to do and he will do it on the spot. His work ethic is incredible. I am very pleased he gets more recognition with this award and that’s only the beginning I believe
From L to R: Emilien De Falco, Tim Man, Scott Adkins
FCSyndicate: Were there any time constraints or changes that needed to be made for the fight? Any ideas you three had in mind wherein you might have had to compromise?
EDF: We were actually able to do everything planned within the time frame. All credit to the choreography goes to Tim Man who worked on the beats and techniques beforehand and shot the previz with his stunt team. I just had to learn the choreography and do what I was told. Everything went pretty well.
FCSyndicate: Isaac Florentine has directed two back-to-back sequels in this particular franchise, and presumably someone like Todor Chapkanov is new to a lot of us who have been following the…well…I guess what I’ll call “the Boyka arc”? ?
What does Todor bring to the table? What was it like to work with him?
EDF: Firstly, for those who are worried about the film because Isaac did not direct this time and fear that it might not carry the same spirit, just know that he did not give up on the franchise. I think he loves the character of Boyka and the Undisputed movies which are a great part of his career. He is very much involved in this opus as a producer and he’s put a lot of heart into it. Handing the authority to a younger and upcoming director can be a way to bring something new to the saga. I had a great time working with both and I think Isaac is very proud of this movie, and I cannot wait to hear what audiences think about it.
FCSyndicate: Presumably, you’ve seen the movie already as it has been out in other territories. Granted, there are quite a few stunt professionals who are working their way up the acting ladder such as yourself in hopes of bringing that certified stunt-starpower with dramatic gravitas. Would you call Boyka: Undisputed 4 a milestone of that journey?
EDF: Definitely a milestone. Back in 2007 when I was still in college, I saw Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing and thought that I needed to have a part in a movie like that. And that’s exactly what happened a few years later. It means a lot to me as it shows that I am on the right path and the universe is giving me a positive response.
I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go but I am willing to put in the work and become a better actor, screenfighter and action performer.
FCSyndicate: That, and I understand you also made your second martial arts magazine cover?
EDF: Yep! My second time on the cover of the magazine, Karate Bushido which is the French equivalent of Black Belt Magazine in the U.S.. Karate Bushido is a magazine created in 1974, and is published monthly in every French speaking country.
When I was a kid growing up in France it was one of the only media to stay in touch with what’s going on in the martial arts world, (before the internet became what it is today). Every french martial arts practitioner who grew up in the 80s and 90s know what I am talking about.
For the anecdote, Karate Bushido also gave Jean-Claude Van Damme his first magazine cover when he was still an unknown martial artist. Being on the cover of KB might not be a great deal for many people but it is to me; I remember getting inspired by all the martial artists that I was reading about. Now that Karate Bushido trusts me enough to put me on the cover and share my training knowledge with their readers means that it is my turn to inspire young kids to keep practicing and to keep working on their goals. It is one of the main reasons why I am doing everything I am doing, to inspire and get inspired.
Waking up to being for the second time on the cover of the magazine I grew up reading… Se réveiller en étant pour la deuxième fois en couverture du magazine que je lis depuis l âge de 7 ans.. Thank you to Karate Bushido for the trust and support and @contentbyart @remytortosa for the amazing shot #demystifyingmychildhooddreams #karate @karatebushido #bushido #osu #oss #france #california #venicebeach #summer #fitness #martialarts #artsmartiaux #vandamme #frontkick #kickboxer #childhood #childhooddream #kickpics #gotkickpics #artsmartiaux #edition #inspiration #aptchagui #kickingit #taekwondo #passion #tkd #kickboxing #fighter #spirit #potd
A post shared by Emilien De Falco (@emiliandefalco) on Jun 30, 2017 at 9:31am PDT
FCSyndicate: Do you have any siblings who excel or practice in martial arts?
EDF: Nope. My sister is not really into martial arts. I am kinda the martial arts pioneer in my family ?
FCSyndicate: Pioneer?! Somewhere out there is a proud mother and father indeed. ?
As an aspiring actor who can do the action plentily, do you feel closer to earning that debut lead part on a feature project? What do your prospects look like these days?
EDF: I am definitely up for the challenge, but it has to be for the right project. I am receiving more and more messages from “fans” asking when I will finally play the lead in a feature so I want to make sure I don’t disappoint them. I went from being an extra to landing supporting roles in independent features, so a leading role in an independent film does not seem inaccessible to me. I am actually confident that something will happen sooner or later. That’s all I can say for now. ?
FCSyndicate: Awesome! Would that challenge also include taking up other roles behind the camera? Like say, as director?
EDF: Hopefully one day, but I feel I have so much more to learn before I get to that point. I would probably start by directing short movies.
FCSyndicate: Just a few or so more questions and that will be all. So, you have a big reputation for health and fitness being the professional athlete you are. That said, I’m curious…
What is your absolute most favorite cheat meal to endulge in? Whether sweet or spicy?
EDF: [Laughs] It depends of my mood. I don’t eat dairy on a regular basis and I have reduced my consumption of meat. However when it comes to cheating, I admit I love a hamburger/cheeseburger with sweet potato fries… and for the sweets I am a huge fan of Donuts ?
I also love ice cream, so I would have that all at the same time. I know it’s not original and very American.
FCSyndicate: That settles it. Please come by the Big Apple someday so you and I can just pig out on burgers and soda the whole evening. I’m sure NYC has some great spots where this is possible!
EDF: Hahah for sure! I would love to go to New York I have not been in years. I love the energy there. Hopefully work will call me there one day or I will stop by on my way to Europe. Thanks for everything!
FCSyndicate: With pleasure!
The high-octane action series Undisputed is back with BOYKA: UNDISPUTED 4. Scott Adkins is Boyka, the most complete fighter in the world, a man looking for his shot to fight for a championship belt. After he accidentally kills an opponent in the ring, Boyka reaches out to the fallen opponent’s wife. But when the wife gets kidnapped by a crime kingpin, Boyka must take on a series of dangerous opponents in the ring to keep her from a life of servitude.
Martial arts action cinema has seen a ton of glory in the field of film for many years with a multitude of memorable and iconic characters to lend credit to. One such role as of late has been actor Scott Adkins‘s delivery of born-again Russian mixed-martial arts champion, Uri Boyka, following two principle roles in the direct-to-video end of the Undisputed franchise, with the sequel and threequel in 2006 and 2010 respectively, from director Isaac Florentine.
Clock into 2015 well long after the third film as fans remained sizzling with hope for another installment and fans evidently got their wish in late 2013 prior to principle photography earlier this summer, and no less with a meaty handful of top notch action actors from select parts of the world all congregating in Sofia, Bulgaria for the production of Boyka: Undisputed IV. Adkins and Florentine are reunited once more with co-star and fight choreographer Tim Man since putting together the dazzling action in Fantastic Fest 2013 favorite, Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear – another title that is still garnering fandom in support of another, and granted, one that will assure fans more to come from Adkins and those in his corner.
Of course, none of this forward-movement is easy to come by. It took a really, really long time for another Undisputed movie to emerge, and now with its completion of principle photography, it’s onto the next phase which is post-production, and hopefully it won’t be long within that period before we see some footage. Until then, we can rest ourselves in the fact that another is in the can with an invariably exceptional amalgam of screenfighters – several of whom I have written about before on any number of indie projects. This, coupled with a great plot guarantees the franchise even further greatness for a character that has cultivated a generation of martial arts fans and athletes with the purposing of an idol that brings a world of electricity to a niche that will never run out of enthusiasm.
On that note, it’s Adkins himself who had something to say to his followers via social media regarding the new film, its stunt players, the possible future of the character he plays, and more:
That’s a wrap on Boyka: Undisputed IV. I’ve put my heart & soul into this shoot and pushed my body to it’s absolute limit to bring you the next instalment of the greatest martial arts movie franchise the West has to offer.
Yuri Boyka will face many new fights in this chapter, but none more dangerous than the fight within himself.
I’d like to thank Teodora Duhovnikova, Paul Chahidi and Alon Aboutboul who brought their characters to life with and supported my performance in the best way possible.
The fighters Emilien De Falco, Trayan Milenov, Andy Long, Brahim Achabbakhe and Martyn Ford for giving it their all (especially Andy Long who I sent to the hospital – sorry Andy).
Tim Man, our fight choreographer, we couldn’t do it without you my friend (2 more sections please).
All the Bulgarian cast & crew for all their hard work and dedication.
I love playing this character and we already have ideas on where to take him next so do me a favour – if you want to see more of Yuri Boyka and don’t want to wait another 6 years to see it then please, please support this movie through the official channels and not illegal downloads. It needs to make a profit to justify a sequel, it’s plain economics.
Time for me to rest my aching bones.
“If I’m the champion of the toilets? Then what does that make you when I kick the fucking shit out of you?!”
So, for all intents and purposes, it’s quite simple, really. Grant your monetary support to this movie and support Adkins and the cast and crew of his film the right way, and we will see plenty more. The same goes for his recently-completed craft of action with Florentine for Close Range, which still awaits a date; You can also catch Adkins opposite Wu Jing on September 1 when Well Go USA releases Wolf Warrior on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Stay tuned for more info!