Q. Do you have any memories of the
first film you've seen?
A. I remember vividly the first movie I
saw, it was the animated Disney film “Bambi” I especially remember the sequence
with the fire in the forest. My father toke me to see it when I was 4 or 5
years old, and I have never seen it again since.
Q. Why did you fly back to Tel Aviv?
Do you believe that Hollywood has nothing more to offer to B-movies directors?
A. I do believe that the era of low
budget B action movies in Hollywood is over. In the 80s and 90s we made the so
called low budget action flicks with a decent budget of 2.5 to 4.5 million
dollars and a shooting schedule of 50 days and more, this is equivalent to $10 million
in today’s money. Nowadays the economy of the business dictates that such a
movie cannot be produced for more than one and a half million in less than 36
days, so basically this field of film making is dead.
Q. If you had to choose one of your
movies and reshoot it entirely, which one would it be? Why?
I have no desire in reshoot one of
my old movies. I am always interested in new ideas and new stories. In the
other hand there are some movies I have directed that now in retrospect I wish
can be erased from existence.
Q. What was it like to work with
Menahem Golan as a producer? Did you have total freedom to shoot the movie the
way you wanted to?
Menahem Golan gave me totally free
hand in all creative matters during the shooting period of the production, he
usually got involved only in the editing stage with editorial suggestions and
story points. One of his demands was always not to exceed 95 minutes in length
for every movie. The efforts to squeeze the story into 95 minutes actually
enhanced the past of the movies
Q. Which one of the movies you've
shot is your favorite?
Although “American Ninja” is the
most successful and popular of all the movies I have directed, ”Avenging Force”,
also with Michael Dudikoff and Steve James, is a much better movie over all and
Q. Which one makes you the proudest?
The movie “Riverbend” with Steve
James and Margaret Avery is by far the most interesting to all the movies I
have directed it deals with racial tension during the 60s in the south.
Q. Is there one action star you did
not direct you would have loved to work with? Who and why?
Yes! Jackie Chan
Q. Brian Trenchard Smith said about
today's action movies that "The bar has been lifted even higher with THE
RAID: REDEMPTION (…) the actual fights in the corridors and the rooms, these
guys are really fighting and receiving contact. Obviously light contact but one
man’s light contact is another’s knock-out. It’s extraordinary. How can anyone
out stage that?". What is your opinion on action-martial art films today?
Do you agree with Brian Trenchard Smith?
He is definitely right in one front
the action and fight sequences in the Far East movies are violent, realistic,
and painful. On the other front the action and fight sequences I the Hollywood films
are magnificent, breathtaking and with all the new computerized technology very
exciting but they all come with a hefty price tag. It is not cheap to produce
this kind of action it is rather very expansive.
Q. You launched the career of
Michael Dudikoff. How was it to work with him? Are you still in touch with him?
It was great working with Dudikoff,
he is a dedicated, disciplined, hard working actor, always prepared and ready
to go. Yes we are still in touch, we live not far from each other and we meet
frequwently. I am attaching a photo from a lunch meeting we had recently with
him and me and also Judie Aronson from American Ninja and Steve Lambert the
Q. Is there a director you feel
close to? Why?
I always loved the movies of the
Japanese master of cinema Akira Kurosawa. When I am watching his movies, let
say “Yojimbo” “Seven Samurai” or “High and Low” I am totally transfixed and
transformed to another reality, and that what movies supposed to do. Riveting
story, strong characters, visual beauty, and cinematic magic. Another master
that I fill close to, for the same reason, is John Ford
Q. Do you believe making a low
budget movie makes you more creative?
Making low budget “big” movies
forces the director to be resourceful, creative, innovative, and a great
problems solver. In the big budget production every wish of the director is
fulfilled by furring in more money. Money resolves all, but in the world of low
budget, because of the lack of funds, the director and his crow must come up
with creative solutions to achieve the desired vision within the limited
Q. Not knowing anything about
martial arts, how much did you get involved in the fighting sequences of your
I am not a martial artist, and
before directing “revenge of the Ninja” did not know anything about martial
arts, therefore when it comes to choreographing and staging the fight sequences
I listen to the experts and learn from them. I was lucky to work with some
great masters like: Sho kosugi, Michael Stone, Tadashi Yamashita, Steve
Lambert, Richard Norton and others. Once I see the fight sequence staged I take
over and direct it for film: break it down to segments, place the cameras for
most effective angels and figure out the editing possibilities for the most
effective and exciting cinematic effect. My job is to transform the staged
fight to the visual language of cinema, to interpret it to the screen in such a
way that the audience watching it will get emotionally involved.
Q. It is known that shooting a
horror film is generally a lot of fun. What about martial art movies?
Shooting any kind of film is a lot
of fun; it is hard work, sometimes tens and frustrating but in general terms
for a movies lover and a story teller it is rewording and great fun.
Q. Is there one particular sequence
in one of your films that made you think after shooting it "wow, I'm one
hell of a director"?
In some of the movies I have
directed there are few scenes and sequences that are very impressive very well
directed, but the truth is that you don’t realize who good they are until they
are fully edited with sound effects and music added. Only then you can judge
the creation and think “wow, I am a director that knows how to create
excitement and manipulate audients emotions with cinematic means”. The ending
scene of “Electric Boogaloo”, the final fight in “Revenge of the Ninja”,
Michael Dudikoff arriving in the Cajon village at night in “Avenging Force” the
fight sequence in the bayous in heavy rain in the same movie, or the ending of
“Rivrbend” just to name few.
Q. You said that "in the
beginning you saw yourself as "a director who would make social dramas,
serious type movies" now that you've earned a great deal of experience in
B-movies and if you had the opportunity to start all over again, from scratch,
would you choose to reshoot the movies you've done or would you try to shoot
the dramas, serious type movies?
I still don’t know what dictates the
path that a movie maker carrier will take once it is lunched. I was destined to
tell stories through cinematic means all kind of stories. I have directed more
than 20 movies of all types and genres: martial arts, action, musical, drama,
comedy, war, sci fe and social drama as well. The only thing I did not have a
chance to do is to direct a major big budget studio movie it was probably not
in the cards.
Q. If you want to say something
personal to your fans, please go for it.
A. From feedback I am getting through the years vie
mail, articles, interviews, comments, film festivals and conversations with
fans young and old, I have learned that some of the movies I have directed had
touched, excited, brought joy, and influenced various viewers all around the
globe. All I want to say to all the fans and followers is that I am proud and
happy to know that my creations had served their purpose namely entertain the
crowds in memorable way
and Sam Firstenberg in American Ninja