Director Dwight Little
Interview by Gavin Schmitt.
Dwight Little is a director whose name may not be known, but his mark
on film is undeniable -- from modern horror classics like "Halloween 4"
and "Phantom of the Opera" to "Marked For Death and "Murder at 1600", he
has done some of the most memorable films of the past twenty years.
Now, his latest film -- "Tekken" -- is out on DVD and Blu-Ray and brings
Dwight into the world of science fiction and martial arts. I called Dwight
at his office on the morning of July 15, 2011 and he was kind enough to chat
about "Tekken" and his past work...
Links: IMDB Profile Page
Tekken is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.
GS: I think that getting to be the director who revives Michael Myers
is a big deal -- how did that project come your way?
DL: Wow, that was a number of years ago. At that point I had made a
couple of smaller, lower budget movies. I was introduced to Moustapha Akkad,
and he was looking for someone who had a take on "Halloween 4" and could do
it very quickly, because at that point there was a writer's strike pending.
Moustapha had his own distribution company, Galaxy International, and he had
his own finances. I talked to my writing partner, Alan McElroy -- who also
wrote "Tekken" -- and we pitched Moustapha a treatment, which he liked. So
we worked it out that way.
[Gavin notes: All horror fans should know Moustapha Akkad, who was a
Syrian American film producer and director, best known for his key
involvement in the first eight Halloween movies, as an executive producer
(the only producer to participate in all of these films). Akkad and his
34-year-old daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, were killed in the November 9, 2005
Amman bombings in Amman, Jordan. They were both in the lobby at the Grand
Hyatt when a suicide bomber sent by Al-Qaeda detonated his device; his
daughter died instantly, and Akkad died of his injuries two days later in a
GS: Do you happen to recall casting Danielle Harris?
DL: Oh sure. We had a lot of people read for us and we weren't completely
satisfied. So we set up a casting call in New York. We had a bunch of people
read for us, and Danielle came in, and we knew she was the one we wanted.
GS: She's really gone on to make a name for herself.
DL: Oh, yeah, she stays busy. We almost had her in "Tekken" but it didn't
work out at the last minute. She also appeared in "Marked For Death", my
film with Steven Seagal, where she had a small part.
GS: Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories about Jill Schoelen or
"Phantom of the Opera"?
DL: Yeah. Ask her about the one time the set caught fire. (laughs) She
surely remembers that. It was kind of scary.
GS: Let's talk "Tekken"... how is shooting martial arts fighting
different from other types of scenes or films?
DL: Every martial arts fight, for me, has to be treated as its own story.
It has to be a scripted story. The fighters meet, they assess each other's
skills, they engage in combat. Somebody seems to be winning, then there's a
reversal. Throw in a surprise, or a twist, and then an ending. Once the
story is worked out, then you have to work out the logistics. So you have to
work with the stunt coordinator to find out exactly where the fighters will
be doing everything. If any doubles are needed -- for high falls or
something -- I need to know where those roles are going to be taken over by
The difference with "Tekken" was that Jon Foo was a serious martial
artist, and many of the other actors were, as well. Many of them were actual
fighters, so there was very, very little doubling of the actors. If you take
a movie like "Tekken" and start doubling people, it loses some of the
realism and I think people can feel it. All those fighters were the real
deal -- Gary Daniels is a world-class martial artist. He played a fantastic
Bryan Fury. And Jon Foo, the lead, was great, too.
GS: Am I reading too much into this, or does the film have a strong
DL: (laughs) The whole movie is set up to create a kind of political
point of view. Alan and I saw in the "Tekken" universe a very unique family
dynamic, and the use of corporate elements in the story. So it's not an
accident. We have Microsoft, and BP, and Sony, and companies like that, that
have more influence than some countries do. So we came up with this scenario
where corporations would work out their disputes in this gladiator-style
GS: At the end of the film, Jin does not kill kill his father.
DL: That's right.
GS: How does that solve the problems of the film, if his father is
still running Tekken?
DL: If you wait until the very, very end after the very last credits,
there is a shot of Kazuya Mishima in jail and he's pacing back and forth.
He's obviously been captured and held. We also see Heihachi Mishima talking
the guards down. So wait all the way to the end and there are two little
teaser moments that might help offer clues.
GS: Which, of course, implies a sequel.
DL: Well, that's the case in any film.
GS: (laughs) That's true. But this film deserves a sequel. Taking a
simple video game and turning it into a complex movie -- I was impressed.
DL: Thank you. I appreciate that.
GS: I have to ask... Was the character Raven modeled off of Wesley
Snipes, or is that a coincidence?
DL: That is a total coincidence. That wardrobe, the hairstyle and the
glasses are directly lifted from game. The "Blade" people may have seen
Tekken, I don't know. But that's definitely a reference to the game and not
Wesley. (laughs) I mean, Wesley would have been fantastic. I wish we could
have had him. I worked with Wesley for "Murder at 1600", but he's had some
legal difficulties... he would have been great.
GS: What would you say to those who write "Tekken" off as just a fight
DL: Well, the fighting is part of the plot, but it's really a device to
push the story arc. And I think it's bigger than that, because it's really
this whole other world -- we have the world of Tekken, but also the Anvil.
And there's the age-old theme of a son avenging his mother's death.
GS: Jin is a strange protagonist, though. He's a good guy, avenging
his mother's death, but he has his own moral flaws. I mean, he seems to
completely forget he has a girlfriend once he meets Christie.
DL: Yeah, Jin gets caught up in the world of Tekken. He makes this
allegiance with Kelly Overton... they get pretty flirty, but it never comes
to anything. The idea was that he realizes who he is, what he needs to do
and then go back to where he's from. He ultimately leaves Christie and he
goes back to the Anvil. He's a small-time guy in a big city, but he ends up
going back. I think your point is a fair criticism, and all I would say is
that I think it's realistic -- that is something that would happen in real
life. I think his eyes got big when he saw everything around him.
GS: Thanks so much for your time, Dwight... I can't think of any more
questions right now.
DL: Well, thank you for your interest, Gavin.