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Lo Meng

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Hong Kong

Vol. 1 #7

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For those who haven't seen many (if any) quality kung fu films from the late 1970's or early 1980's, Lo Meng (a/k/a Lo Mang) is the guy who played the strong man in Chang Cheh's "Venoms" films. In these Shaw Brothers old school classics, he nearly always was an affable, self-confident good guy (except for his title role in The Kid with the Golden Arm), with a honest nature and sometimes simple mindset. His death scenes tended to elicit more tragedy than that of the other Venoms due to his body strength and strength of character: it was often shocking to find that he could be vanquished at all.

A bona fide member of the five-man team that has come to be known as the "Venoms" (comprised of Sun Chien, Kuo Chui, Lu Feng, Lo Meng, and Chiang Sheng), Lo Meng is fondly remembered by many a kung fu fan. His last great film was the post-Venoms 1983 Chang Cheh masterpiece, Superninjas, but he has appeared in other films since. Most recently, Lo Meng has paired with Kuo Chui (a/k/a Kwok Choy) to choreograph a few music videos in England.

For another interview with Lo Meng, see Asian Cult Cinema Number 28 (August 2000), pp. 20-23: "An Evening with Lo Mang: an Interview Conducted by Daniel Tuck."

From HONG KONG SUPERSTARS Vol. 1 No. 7, pp. 14-17:

East Meets West:
In London! Exclusive Lo Mang Interview!

by Stuart Cutler

Stuart Cutler reports on the recent, and first UK visit of Shaw Brothers legend, Lo Mang . . .

Chris Ducker and I were invited along to the set of Dru Hill's new music video for their single "You Are Everything." So far, so good. The main reason for us going, however, was because Robert "Don't Give a Damn" Samuels, stunt co-ordinator for this project, had called up Chris asking if the HKS would like to meet a Shaw Brothers legend in the flesh. Naturally, all plans were dropped, and the next day, your intrepid (and lucky!) reporters were off to West London to hang with the Hill! For this video, Dru Hill were meant to be playing a group of Vampires with superhuman strength and Kung Fu skills. After getting Bobby Samuels on board along with his partner in crime, Rick Hopkins, they in turn recommmended some Hong Kong talent be brought in to add authenticity to the overall effect. Enter Lo Mang, ex-Venom and Shaw Brothers favourite, as Dru Hill's personal coach. Others such as Kwok Choy and 'Little Jackie' were also here in a professional capacity, but didn't have as much time on their hands in between shots to sit and chat. Upon entering the prestigious Brown's night-club, we were introduced to Sifu Mang by Bobby and Rick, and two things immediately sprang to mind. One, he had hardly aged since those late 70's classics. He still looked the same!

Two, sitting down dressed in a shining gold Kung Fu uniform, he looked every bit the master of his domain. He rose to shake hands and offer his thanks for our trip. As you can tell from the following interview (conducted via an interpreter), he is a humble and highly respectful man, and this, by the way, was his FIRST EVER interview outside of Hong Kong. Do we get you the exclusives or what?!!

Stuart Cutler: So, what have you been up to since your days working for Shaw Brothers?

Lo Mang: Mainly Chinese TV dramas for T.V.B., which is part of the Shaw Brothers empire, because they are not making movies anymore. I haven't left Shaws, just moved into a different side of their business. I still make the odd movie appearances, too, for other companies and independents, but these are aimed more at the family audience and usually comedies rather than serious action dramas. (At this point I have to state that Lo Mang is actually a very funny guy in person, very relaxed and armed with a quick and ready sense of humour.)

Stuart Cutler: Which of your own films is your personal favourite?

Lo Mang: "Five Venoms". I am very proud of this film.

Stuart Cutler: Who, of all the people you've worked with, do you admire the most?

Lo Mang: All of them; they each have their own attributes that I admire.

Stuart Cutler: How is the current state of the Hong Kong film industry, in your opinion?

Lo Mang: It is suffering because of the pirate VCD's. They are so cheap to produce that they come out within the first week of a film's release and kill the profit. However, to a certain degree, they are also an advantage, as they are also seen in America and overseas, which means more people get to see the film than would normally happen with all the copyright laws.

Stuart Cutler: You are reknowned for your muscular physique. Do you still train or practice regularly?

Lo Mang: I do not use weights. I practice Kung Fu every day to stay in shape and go to the park where I flex the branches of trees as a substitute for weights. I believe in training naturally instead of letting weights turn me into a great big monster.

Stuart Cutler: Do you still keep in touch with any of the other original Venom gang? If so, how are they and what are they doing now?

Lo Mang: Chiang Sheng passed away, Kwok Choy is working with me on this project, and nobody knows where Sun Chien or Lu Feng are or what they are doing. Nobody can find them.

Stuart Cutler: Is this the first music video you've worked on?

Lo Meng: Yes, it's the first either Chinese or Western music video I've worked on. Chinese music videos are very rare, so this is my first time.

Stuart Cutler: What's your role in this project?

Lo Mang: I'm here to train Dru Hill how to move in an East meets West style, I'm not actually in the video itself. (Bobby Samuels adds that after talking to the director, Lo Mang will be appearing in the video.)

Stuart Cutler: What future projects do you currently have in the works?

Lo Mang: I have a contract for five projects of which this is the first, and also my mentor Chang Cheh wants to make a film starring Andy Lau and myself. Andy Lau is one of the big superstars in Hong Kong, so it would be a very big film. Chang Cheh has been watching recent movies and he thinks they are very poor, so even he is no longer physically mobile, he wants to come out of retirement and set his spirit free on film.

Stuart Cutler: Are you aware of the avid cult following that Shaw Brothers films attract in the West?

Lo Mang: I am aware of the following these movies have and I am also honoured. I thank you for coming along to interview me to let people know about me again, and to see what they've been missing!

Chris Ducker: of all the movies you've made, have you got any good stories to tell?

Lo Mang: There were good times, there were bad times, but it's the Five Venoms that I will always remember. As a group, we had the best director/master to guide us along.

Stuart Cutler: Were you paid a standard performer's wage whilst with Shaws like all the actors, or were you able to ask for a better deal?

Lo Mang: Chang Cheh was my manager as well as director and so he paid each of us what he thought was a fair wage for our performances and we respected him for that. Some got more than others, but I wouldn't know any more about that. We could haggle if we wanted, but I was more interested in the film than the wage.

Chris Ducker: Would you like to tell us how you got started in the Martial Arts?

Lo Mang: I started when I was 13 and learnt new things and new styles until I was 30 and have maintained that standard ever since with my physique, my training and improving on the basics.

Chris Ducker: At what age did your big break come?

Lo Mang: 1978 with "The Five Venoms".

Stuart Cutler: Have you ever been doubled for stunts or acrobatics?

Lo Mang: I have always done everything myself. I've never needed a double and I hope I never will. [This is something Jackie Chan and Jet Li can't claim. -- Steven Feldman]

Stuart Cutler: Is there anyone left who you want to work with on an action movie?

Lo Mang: Yes, Jackie Chan. I feel it would be a good combination of styles as Jackie is very flexible and agile whereas I am more rigid and use more force.

Stuart Cutler: Who do you prefer, Jackie or Jet?

Lo Mang: It's hard to say, as they are both very different and have different qualities that audiences admire. Jackie is more realistic, but Jet is very stylish. I don't really want to choose between them, but if I had to, it would be Jackie.

Stuart Cutler: Do you keep your own films at home in a collection?

Lo Mang: No, because if I kept watching my old movies, I couldn't make any new ones, as I would be too easily satisfied with what I've already done. I feel I am as good now as I was then, and I want to move on and improve, not just live in the past.

As if to demonstrate this exact quote, he then gladly performed an intense and ground shaking display of techniques and forms, followed by a few poses for the camera which you can see here. We sat and relaxed for a few more hours and talked about anything and everything in the good company of the U.S. and Hong Kong stunt group, and were invited back to witness some filming at St. Albans Church in Teddington Lock that weekend. When we returned on the Sunday, Dru Hill were hard at it, filming a scene inside the church where they are being preyed on by a group of female vampires. We watched the camera crew setting up shots, the riggers setting up wires for an elaborate "flying" sequence, Lo Mang prowling the set constantly performing wrist strengthing exercises, and the band coming and going throughout it all all occasionally stopping for a chat.

We spent virtually the entire day watching, learning, talking, eating and hanging out with the stunt crew, and felt so much at home with them, that at one point Chris and Sifu Mang had a private competition going on, using a video game on Sifu Mang's mobile phone, whilst I was trading Kung Fu film forms with Rick "Hong Kong Movie Buff" Hopkins.

Later, when everyone was at lunch, we all broke into song as Sifu Mang would often walk around singing classic tunes from the sixties and seventies! Anyone that was there on the set will never forget the howling that was the Mang and Ducker duo screaming out the classic Motown tune "Under the Boardwalk"!!

He (Lo Mang) really is a genuinely happy and humourous sort of guy. We went behind closed doors to witness him teaching the band their moves and they picked it up surprisingly quickly, especially Sisqo and Nokio. And so ends our memorable meeting with a kung fu legend.

I still haven't seen the finished video yet, but I reckon it'll be a good one when it gets released. Thanks to the entire stunt group for being so welcoming, and Sifu Mang for being so inspiring. Long live the Shaw Brothers!

Copyright Hong Kong Superstars 1999.

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This page first created 6/17/00. Copyright Steven Feldman, 2001. Last update: 1/12/02.