Interview: Tony De Leon discusses his all-star action film, Trigger Reaction
David KnightView all articles by David Knight
Normally, if one has been on the bad side of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bolo Yeung, Sylvester Stallone, and Will Smith, you would consider that most unfortunate. For Tony De Leon, that has actually made for some very fortunate circumstances because the bad blood was only on screen: in the world of film, as on screen villlain, fight choreographer, and stunt man, it is one powerful resume.
Tony De Leon was born in Chicago, Illinois, where his parents had immigrated from Puerto Rico. De Leon began his martial arts career young, beginning with Tae Kwon Do initially. As he grew and experienced other styles he soon found himself liking and disliking elements of what he was learning on the basis of real-life applications, and he found himself developing his own style based on what he percieved as strengths in other styles, Tada Ken Do, translated as 'way of the free fist'.
De Leon has contributed his fight and stunt skills to such blockbuster hits as True Lies, The Specialist, Bad Boys, and to the enduring popular rentals, The Substitute and Shootfighter 2. He was fight choreographer and stunt coordinator on the fan acclaimed To Kill A Killer (2007) and Day Of The Dead (2007), both films from Ricardo Islas. Tony De Leon's current film project, Trigger Reaction, is one that he is well invested in, as an executive producer and the man who came up with the story. Trigger Reaction is the story of two detectives from Cicero, Illinois, who think they are going to break up a drug smuggling ring, but soon find it is something far more insidious -- organ trafficking. Caught off guard, they are shot and left for dead, but one of them lives, for awhile in a coma. He has partial amnesia when he comes out of the coma, but the criminal conspiracy of organ trafficking isn't going to wait and see if he recovers enough memory to be a threat, so he is "marked" for death by the head of the organization. As he recovers his memory and takes the fight to the traffickers, he is assisted from the inside by an undercover agent who has worked his way into the criminal network. Along the way, he has to deal with an investigation into what procedures he and his deceased partner did or didn't follow by the State Attorney's Office, and a reporter who is chasing the story to its end.
Much of the news surrounding Trigger Reaction is being generated by fans as much as any promotion from Inter Choice Productions Inc. There are many fans who are referring to the upcoming film as another "Expendables" based on the fans' knowledge of the cast involved. The cast features a number of luminaries from the world of martial arts film, martial arts competition, and some who have been part of both fields, in the USA, Hong Kong, or Europe. In addition to De Leon being featured in his story, he is supported by Cynthia Rothrock, Matthias Hues, Richard Norton, Bolo Yeung, and Oleg Taktarov. Joining them are a dozen or more, including Nelson Ricardo, Robert Berneika, Silvio Simac, and Todd Senofonte.
In addition to Tony De Leon as a producer of Trigger Reaction, there is producer Stefano La Gotti, co-producer Gauri Artist,associate producer Michael A. Davis, and associate producer Pavel Nyziak.
Knight: Hello Tony, I have been following the news of your film project, Trigger Reaction on the internet...
De Leon: Thank you so much for the fabulous opportunity to be interviewed. It is really an honour to be 'here' with you!
Knight: The idea (and in some parts of the world a very real reality) of illegal organ harvest isn't one that gets reported often, but it always seems to be there in that dark corner the news media sometimes doesn't venture. What inspired you to use this issue as a main element of Trigger Reaction?
De Leon: That is a great question; one that I get all the time. The idea for the movie came up from an experience that I had while in a routine check-up at a Hospital. I went in for check-up and some tests, the Doctors ran me through every possible one that the insurance would cover, including Electrocardiogram (EKG). My wife was with me. We noticed that there was some kind of commotion going on concerning my EKG results, so a second one was performed with several student Doctors attending it. I kept my cool, but was starting to feel unease. After the test was conducted, The Doctors came to see me with the final results. They congratulated me and said that I had a very powerful heart. They were all impressed to see just how healthy my heart was. One of them even asks if I was an Organ Donor.
I was surprised to hear that kind of question and so was my wife, because it was not the question that surprised me but rather the intent behind it? I looked at her, and said in Spanish, Don’t leave and keep a sharp look at what type of medicine these Doctors are trying to put in me. I told her, I think they are planning to do me in. We laughed after they left, but it did trigger a reaction in me.
I started to investigate the black market of organ trafficking, and after discovering just how real it was, and that perhaps I was a potential target,I decided to write an Action Cop thriller based upon MY EXPERIENCE at the hospital. I called it "Trigger Reaction". That’s how the story for the script was born.
A current promotional poster design for Tony De Leon's film, with stars credited.
Knight: This story seems designed to showcase your cast's talents dramatically and not just in the martial arts. It doesn't look like it is a matter of building a story around fights, but working the fights into the story that you have envisioned?
De Leon: That is correct, David. I have envisioned the story line to be more of a thriller, action packed, rather than 'another Martial Arts film'. The fight has justified the story and not the story the fight, somewhere along the lines like the Bourne Identity and the movie Taken. Plus it will give the All Star Cast the opportunity for them to explore their dramatic side.