ByJerome Maida, writer at
Jerome Maida

When "The Martial Arts Kid" producer James Wilson first decided to turn the idea for the film - a coming-of-age story featuring martial arts - into a reality, he knew some ingredients were absolutely necessary.

First, of course, was a charismatic lead as the titular "Kid", around which the movie would revolve. He was able to entice Jansen Panettiere to fill that role.


Then he would need someone to be a mentor to the "Kid", named Robbie. Instead, James Wilson had two superstars to fill that role - Cynthia Rothrock and his brother, Don "The Dragon" Wilson - who have been leads in 75 martial arts/action movies between them.


He also needed a love interest for the "Kid" - and Kathryn Newton was tabbed for that part.


However, very film like this needs a strong antagonist for the hero/underdog to overcome and for everyone else to respond to. An anti-bullying film needs, well, a formidable bully.

So Matthew Ziff was tabbed to play the film's bully, Bo Whitlaw.

Despite the fact that the young, polite, clean-cut heartthrob looks and acts nothing like a bully in real life.

Which, of course, is why they call it acting.

Ziff threw himself into the role and literally transformed himself into a believable, intimidating bully - and the result is much buzz and acclaim for his performance, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor award at the Sunscreen Film Festival last month.

James Wilson says the accolades Ziff is receiving for his performance are well deserved.

"We were all proud of Matthew Ziff winning Best Supporting Actor", he says. "He was terrific in a difficult role as Bo the Bully."

"He worked hard for this role", James Wilson adds. "Changed his appearance by gaining (over) 20 pounds, cutting his hair and growing a goatee."

"The Martial Arts Kid" is scheduled to to hit theaters this summer.


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