Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Train In Peace: Darren Shahlavi

I woke up to shocking news this morning: martial artist, stuntman and actor Darren Shahlavi passed away at age 42.  Born in Stockport, Cheshire, England, Shahlavi began training in martial arts at the age of 7.  By the early 90's, he found himself in Hong Kong finding work as thugs, gangsters, bodyguards and as a stunt man in films like Angel on Fire, Hero's Blood and Tai Chi II.  Working with Hong Kong staples like Bey Logan, Mike Leeder, Yuen Woo Ping and Sammo Hung; Shahlavi would eventually land the villain role in Donnie Yen's Ip Man 2 in 2010.  This would mark an upswing towards more high profile fare like the Mortal Kombat: Legacy webseries, Steven Seagal's True Justice, the pilot of Arrow, Metal Hurlant Chronicles and action flicks starring Steve Austin, Michael Jai White and Dolph Lundgren.  His final credits include the unreleased Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller Pound of Flesh, a role in the Kickboxer remake and Disney's big budget Tomorrowland starring George Clooney.

While Shahlavi worked hard to create an impressive physique, could pull off flashy kicks and had a natural "bad guy" look, he was nothing but kind in the quick interactions I had with him.  After the Q&A at Dolph Lundgren night, I was making the rounds in the lobby only to be stopped by the sight of Shahlavi hanging out with fellow martial artist turned actor Joey Ansah, who had just released the Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist web series to much acclaim and millions of views.  Quickly introducing myself, Shahlavi just seemed like a nice guy and was smiling the whole time as we chit chatted about Universal Soldier, the Mortal Kombat series and if either of them liked Van Damme's Street Fighter movie.  For a guy 10 years older than me, he somehow looked younger, jerk.

Details of Shahlavi's death are scarce at the moment.  His brother posted a Facebook message simply stating Darren had passed away.  A follow up comment stated he died peacefully in his sleep.  Collaborators Jesse Johnson and Mike Leeder have posted personal and on set photos in remembrance as the news spreads.  Best wishes, condolences, positive thoughts go out to his family and friends. 

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