Exclusive Interview: Stunt Coordinator Travis Wong Talks Developing the Action for the New Martial Arts Thriller INSIGHT!

By: david j. moore

For a film like Insight (out March 12th from Gravitas Ventures), there are stunts and fight scenes galore, which means that there are always going to be stunt people and stunt coordinators and choreographers involved in every aspect of the fights and stunts. One of the unusual aspects to this film was that it had a collective total of 11 stunt coordinators and fight choreographers combined, for various aspects throughout the making of the movie. One of the stunt coordinators was Travis Wong, who was readily available for an interview during freelance film journalist david j. moore’s visit to the set of Insight.

A veteran of stunts in motion pictures and television shows for over a decade, Wong has quickly established himself as a dependable coordinator and stunt performer for projects like Django Unchained (2012), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), several of the Fast & Furious films, and many others in a relatively short amount of time. Wong has also been inducted in the Kung Fu Hall of Fame, and continues working in the multi-faceted world of stunts and martial arts.

1) Travis, you’ve done all sorts of projects in the action and martial arts world. You’re also in the Kung Fu Hall of Fame. What are you up to today in terms of your tasks on set for Insight?

Today, I’m helping out with this project, just filling in stunt coordinating for a sequence. This isn’t my project, but I’m just sitting in for the day, making sure everything runs smoothly and safely. I’m choreographing the actors and making sure that they maintain the integrity of the choreography that was already planned. I’m making sure to see if there are any moments where I can also spice up the action.

Ken Zheng delivers a lethal kick in the warehouse fight from Insight

2) As I understand it, this movie will have a variety of fight choreographers.

Yeah, it’s unique that way. It’s a little different this way because usually there’s only one coordinator from top to bottom, but my job is to check with the actors to make sure that the moves that I’m giving them fit in line with the moves from the choreography from before. I don’t want to change the style too much.

Travis Wong flying high!

3) You’ve worked with a lot of actors in your line of work, but talk a little bit about working with Ken.

Totally. What’s cool about him is that he actually has a martial arts background. I’ve worked on huge Hollywood blockbusters before, and I’ve worked with big Hollywood actors, and they can be amazingly talented, but they usually have stunt doubles because they sometimes aren’t able to do the movements. But Ken is amazing because you can keep him in a shot without having to cut away to his double. You can have Ken do everything. It allows us to do a lot more wider shots and a lot more master shots. A lot less cutting. Those are the types of movies where there’s a lot of integrity to the fights. You really believe that Ken is out there fighting, which he really is in this case.

Travis Wong shows off his screen worthy moves

4) You mention integrity to fights. That has become lost these days. They’re training Matt Damon to fight. If you look at somebody like Ken or Scott Adkins, for example, you can see the integrity of the skills on screen.

Yeah, the state of action is somewhat of a dying breed, so to speak, as far as the mainstream goes. Any of the Hollywood blockbusters, you’re going to get an “A”-list actor, who generally doesn’t have a martial arts background. I feel like when I was growing up as a kid, there were a lot more “B” movies being made. You had people like Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Karen Shepherd, and they were bringing people in to see these kinds of movies. There aren’t movies like that anymore, unfortunately. It is cool to see someone like Ken stepping into the limelight, trying to act and trying to do his own stunts and fights.

5) Who do you think this movie will appeal most to?

This movie will appeal to people who are into action, people who watch movies with a star who has a martial arts background. We also have a director who has a martial arts background. As long as Levi’s vision translates itself to the screen the way I think it will, it could come out great. The action will pull you in. The rest will fall into place.

Insight hits select theaters, Digital & VOD on March 12th from Gravitas Ventures

About the author: david j. moore is the author of The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly: Action Movies and Stars” and a contributing writer to Action-Flix.com

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