with Mark Houghton at the Kung-Fu Cafe
My friend and Hong Kong Cinema expert Rick Baker hosted another of his Kung Fu Cafe this past weekend.
What made this one special was his guest, a Student of the late great Lau Gar Leung, Sifu Mark Houghton.
Mark who from his early years was a fan of Martial arts and films made his dream come true by actually getting to meet his hero and ended up not just being taught by him but actually working for him in the Hong Kong film industry of the 80s and 90s.
Mark already was an established Martial artist in the UK when he left for Hong Kong.
And ended up staying forever.
By the time I arrived the event was underway and Mark was mingling with the many die-hard fans that frequent these events.
Must admit it was the busiest I had seen at the Kung Fu cafe, but then I don't always get to them all due to other commitments.
I was also happy to see my old friend John Brennen and Ron Ivy who had a table at the event selling some of their collection.
Also on hand was Rick Baker's partner in crime Toby Russell.
What's great about these types of events are there very low-key and just people having a mingle.
Also appearing was Mark Houghton's daughter Charlene Houghton who is also a martial artist and actress in Hong Kong TV and film.
Once everyone was in Rick Baker hosted an interview where Mark talked
about his career, his relationship with the legendary Lau Gar Leung,
and working with Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan.
There were definitely some intriguing stories about how Sammo Hung gave him multiple more days' pay to sleep on set because he had respected him for letting Sammo lay into him in their fight scenes in Skinny Tiger Fatty Dragon.
Mark Houghton appeared in some sixty films in those years and got to star alongside some of Hong Kong's leading players like Moon Lee, Yuen Biao, and many more.
Being the gwei-lo or ghost face as the Hong Kong people use to call caucasian people.
Mark told us about how most Westerners had a hard time adapting to working in the Hong Kong industry.
Where you had to grin and bear it to succeed, amidst racial abuse and even to the point of throwing yourself off a rooftop three floors up with nothing but old mattresses and cardboard boxes to break your fall.Even though you know you didn't want to do it.
Mark also went into his reason for packing it all in, due to injury and depression for nigh on fifteen years until the death of Master Lau in 2013.
But you can understand when you have burnt out your body where you need two hip replacements and a new knee to carry on.
Arriving a little later Martial artists and stuntman Winston Ellis arrived, Mark and Winston know each other, so we had an alternative insight into some of the shenanigans they all got up to while working together out in Hong Kong.
We also got to learn about Charlene Houghton who Mark has a trilogy of scripts for her to star in. One of the names of Paradise.
Charlene has her father's gusto when it comes to fighting and you can see the energy she wants to unleash. Well, we did learn at Age 6 she beat up a boy by kicking him in the head, though he apparently run into her foot.
We hope to see more of her on our screens soon.
Events like these are few and far between nowadays. And for us aficionados of Hong Kong action cinema, they are a breadth of fresh air.
There's nothing like meeting someone you have admired and mingling with whilst having a cuppa.
All courtesy of Rick Baker / Toby Russell and Eastern Heroes.
Whatever you do don't retire guys cause who will carry the lantern?
Till the next one!
Some of the latest issues of Eastern Heroes , hardbacks and special editions for sale at the event
Even more reading material on your favorite martial arts stars
Charlene Houghton mingling with the crew
John Brennan at the event with a table of wares for sale