Tag Archives: Action Films

Ken Zheng: Indonesia’s Action Star Phenomenon

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Actors like Tom Cruise and Jackie Chan are famed worldwide for their talent and their drive. Artists of this ilk are deeply involved in the productions they star in, evident in their performances. Many are referring to Indonesian actor and writer Ken Zheng in a similar manner as the aforementioned celebrities. His work as an action star and as a screenwriter has made him an international sensation in the last few years. Athlete (Zheng was part of the Indonesian National Team for Kickboxing and became the youngest Champion in Indonesia’s history) turned stuntman turned marquee name, this talent from Indonesia seems to revel in the action genre. His roles in US films and those abroad have seen him starring alongside long-established actors, vetting him as a peer and a major force in the international film industry.

2017’s Down by the River stars Zheng as a prison escapee making his way through the wilderness to the Rio Grande river while being hunted by a killer. It’s a classic tale of survival driven by a small cast. No less frightening is the film Hitman in which a woman inadvertently witnesses a drug deal gone wrong and pays the price for doing the right thing. Second Chance pits two hired killers against each other. Zheng is perfectly paired in this tale, starring alongside Trent Moore (of the Coen Brothers multiple Oscar-winning films No Country for Old Men). Concerning his work in these thrilling productions, Ken communicates, “I see the beauty in action and I love bringing thrills to the audience when they watch a movie. The action itself is always supplementary to the story and the visuals help the audience integrate to the world of the movie”

Currently, in post-production, Ken starred in the upcoming feature film he wrote called Insight. The story goes beyond the label “action film” as it is centered on two siblings who possess the gift of clairvoyance. Escaping an abusive home, they are recruited by a counter-terrorism agency. The brothers grow apart as they enter adulthood and this motivates the action of the story. As Qiang, the younger of two siblings, Ken delivers an emotional and visceral performance alongside such celebrated talents as Keith David (multiple Primetime Emmy winner) and John Savage (The Deer Hunter-winner of five Oscars, Hair-winner of two Golden Globes). Zheng concedes, “There’s always room to learn as an actor. Working with John and Keith was an opportunity to learn from their experience and talent. They’ve both been in so many extraordinary films; to see them creating on set like that…it was an incredible learning opportunity. As an actor who is also a writer, it also gave me the chance to see what I could do with the script to help the actors. When I first moved to the United States I tried to bridge the East and West as each has its own unique stories. Moreover, I always try to keep my stories rooted and grounded to real emotion and real relationship between the characters. The movie itself is not always self- contained but the relationship between the characters is always clearly defined in my stories.”

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“Rollin’ with the Nines” Reveals Anthony Warren’s Flare for Action

Actor Anthony Warren
Actor Anthony Warren shot by Will Tudor

There’s a scene in the hit film “Rollin’ with the Nines” where Anthony Warren, playing the Jamaican drug dealer Karnage, stabs an informant trying to buy drugs. Warren’s performance is so believable and his Jamaican patois so on point that anyone could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a documentary about crime on the island nation. Upon meeting the successful British actor however, it’s clear that the scene was very much a reflection of his impressive acting talent. Warren is a charming and imposing figure all the same, representing the ideal combination for leading men in the world of film.

Anthony’s ability to jump into distinctive roles that prove to be memorable and game-changing for any film of which he takes part is making him known in the industry. He tells us that the aforementioned scene in particular was “so violently gross [to film] but it was fun.” If anything, the London native was so convincing to his co-stars on the set of “Rollin’ with the Nines” as a menacing drug dealer that “Eastenders” star Terry Stone felt compelled to literally hit Warren in the head with a frying pan in a scene where he and his buddies try to swindle Warren’s antagonist. It hurt, according to Warren, but he swears it was an accident.

Anthony Warren’s hugely successful career began over 20 years ago, in a more humble fashion than compared to his current position of fortune. His work in “Rollin’ with the Nines” marked the beginning of his dominance in the action genre that began simultaneously over a decade ago with his critical role in “Control” opposite Academy-Award nominee Willem Dafoe (“Spiderman,” “The Aviator”), and “Fast and Furious” and “Avatar” heroine Michelle Rodriguez. Leading and starring roles in similar projects have continued, and when watching his impactful performances in films like “Rollin’ with the Nines” and “Control,” it’s clear why Warren hasn’t lived the typical life of the struggling artist.

While many actors take on work whenever they’re hired, Warren’s sought after stature in the industry means he needn’t be concerned with just taking on any project. If anything, his filmography proves his careful selectiveness and irreplaceable position within the acting field.

The truthfulness of Warren’s leading performances in other genre films like “The Deaths of Ian Stone,” opposite “Under the Dome” and “Bates Motel” star Mike Vogel, and as Capt. Naish in the Wesley Snipes (“Blade,” “Passenger 57”) and William Hope (“Aliens, “Captain America,” “Sherlock Holmes”) feature film “The Marksman,” are all proof of Warren having firmly found his own place in a world characterized by high-standards, loyal fans and blockbuster thrills.

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“Rollin’ with the Nines” film poster

“Rollin’ with the Nines” in particular has been a thrilling highlight for Anthony, notably so for representing his collaboration with successful director Julian Gilby who also directed Will Poulter (Oscar-Winner “The Revenant”, “We’re the Millers”) and Emma Rigby (ABC hit “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”) in the 2014 hit-film “Plastic.” It further reinforced his growing profile with action films shot in the UK and his association with the music industry, as “Rollin’ with the Nines” concerns small-time drug dealers releasing their music in urban London.

And therein lies part of Warren’s truly exceptional talent – he has managed to traverse genres effortlessly. In his case (and maybe for this decade) action and musical theatre specifically. Alongside his key roles in action films “The Contract” with Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (“Driving Miss Daisy,” “The Dark Knight”), Warren’s classical singing training and skill on stage landed him a leading role in Opera North’s Rodgers and Hammerstein production of “Carousel,” directed by Jo Davies, and “Brashana O”, directed by Geoffrey Creswell.

In “Brashana O”, a story based on the legendary rolling calf that forms part of Jamaica’s folklore, Warren wowed audiences with his portrayal of Barker. His connection to Jamaica gave the production a refined sense of integrity, helping to sustain the belief that the Rolling Calf is really a ‘duppy’ (ghost) that has the ability the change, if and when necessary, into other animals. Warren’s performance was easily considered as both impactful and humorous all at the same time. His role as Heavenly Goggin in “Carousel,” a more traditional musical, was an important one that esteemed reviewer Geoffrey Mogridge noted as “mysterious,” and set the scene for the protagonist’s confrontation with the production’s antagonist.

One could say that Anthony Warren is something of a ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ But his success in the different areas of the acting field prove that he is certainly not a ‘master-of-none.’ We look forward to seeing him in many more blockbusters (hopefully action movies, and more musicals) for years to come.