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Staten Island Karate Master Choreographs Moves for Big Budget Action Flick

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 1, 2015 7:27am
Staten Island Karate Master Works on New Action Flick
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

NEW DORP — A Staten Island karate master is bringing his moves to the silver screen in a $10 million film about putting an end to the sex trafficking trade.

Grandmaster Jhong Uhk Kim, 78, partnered up with Staten Island producer Julius Nasso to work on his first big budget film called "Darc," which started filming in Vancouver for a potential February 2016 release in theaters.
Kim, one of the only ninth-degree black belts in the world, will be choreographing and filming some of the fighting scenes, along with help from his three sons.

The flick will also star Tony Schiena, a former karate champion who now uses his skills to provide counterterrorism training. He's also active in efforts to fight sex trafficking, which was one reason he was a fit for the film.

"This movie specialized in how to prevent human trafficking," Kim said. "This is a very, very serious problem all over the world, so we can contribute to help."

Kim, the owner of Dragon Kim's Karate USA in New Dorp, has studied Taekwondo since he was a young boy in Korea. The choreography in the film was inspired by classical music, he said.

"When you hear the music of Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, it sounds like it's not human music, it's God's music," Kim said. "The more you study martial arts you're going to say 'Wow, that's God's work.'"

Nasso said he's known Kim for years. He's tapping Kim's expertise for his first martial arts film in more than 10 years, Nasso said.

"Their fight scenes, on a scale of 1 to 10, are 20," Nasso said. "I think the demographics that want to see these kinds of film are going to be very satisfied."

"Darc" also marks a return to action films for Nasso since his release from prison. 

Nasso — who's produced 10 martial arts films including ones that launched Steven Seagal's career — was arrested in 2003 after federal prosecutors said he used Gambino mob enforcers to extort Seagal out of money and served a year in prison, the New York Daily News reported.

"Anyone that knows me knows what really happened, it never inhibited me from making movies," Nasso said. "It's just a schoolyard fight that got out of hand."

Since his release, he's worked on several other movies but stayed away from martial arts pictures. He's known Schiena since 1999 and brought him to America from South Africa so he could train to be a lead in the picture, Nasso said. 

Now, Schiena is ready, and since many of the martial arts stars like Jet Li and Jackie Chan are older, there's a demand for a new star, Nasso said.

"There’s a void right now," Nasso said. "There is nobody with [Schiena's] credentials in the industry to fill that void."