With over "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" grossing over $110 million domestically and $300 million worldwide it's first four days in theaters, it's clear Mark Wahlberg has injected new life into the franchise and solidified his status as one of the few genuine movie stars in Hollywood.
Hard to believe that two decades ago, Wahlberg would likely have gotten second billing in a film that interested him and in which he was slated to co-star called "Double Fist". Of course, two decades ago Wahlberg was still known primarily for having been the lead singer in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
Before "Boogie Nights" put him on the map as an actor, Wahlberg had roles in "The Basketball Diaries" and forgettable fare like "Renaissance Man" and "Fear".
Meanwhile, Wahlberg's co-star for "Double Fist" was Paul Mormando, known globally as the creator of the Cha Ki Do Martial Arts System and by the moniker of "Mr. Karate USA".
Mormando was a martial arts grandmaster, self-defense expert, actor and producer who would also gain national notoriety for his creation of the Real Life Self Defense course. Mormando's expertise in these fields has led to over fifty television appearances as well as being featured in over 200 magazines and newspapers.
In short, in a film with Mark Wahlberg, Mormando was the marquee name attached - until a tragic incident changed everything. "Double Fist' was originally a film which was set to star Mark Walhberg, and myself... (then) I was in a car accident".
To be more precise, Mormando had been severely injured at the hands of a drunk driver. "It was all taken away... or so I thought", says Mormando. Mormando refused to give up, however and got himself back in shape after going through extensive rehabilitation.
"Once I had recovered, I decided to to a web series", says Mormando. "People love the story and the back story of my life, and even volunteered services and equipment", Mormando says in amazement. "We felt the story was compelling enough and the material we had shot was good enough to make it into a feature film instead - and that's what we're doing."
Though it has taken him twenty years, Mormando's e determination and perseverance - which were of course developed through his practicing of the martial arts and adhering to it's principles - are about to pay off.
In "Double Fist", Mormando will play Joe Deluca - an ex-military man, who heads back to his neighborhood to find that things aren't quite the way he remembered them. Trying to move on with his life, some of his past experiences come back to haunt him. With no other way of making ends meet, he embarks on some
underground fights to get by.
"Double Fist" was filmed entirely on the streets New York, and was written by Mormando's wife Anna.
Mormando wants to show people through his personal story and the "Double Fist" film itself that "you should never ever give up on your dream". “They - the doctors - told me after my accident to forget about martial arts," says Mormando. "They told me I would be lucky if i could walk, let alone do martial arts."
"Well, I needed to do this for my own sanity, and to prove them wrong", says Mormando, "Now the whole world will see they were wrong.”
The fight choreography in "Double Fist" was choreographed by Mormando and while he tried to keep the scenes as real as possible, he wanted to showcase true martial arts. So in the fight scenes audiences will see techniques from various martial arts styles such as Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do and Kali.