Vietnamese pride: ‘Shang-Chi’ breakout star Andy Le taught himself martial arts after being bullied as a child

Andy Le played masked villian

Andy Le’s portrayal of the obscure Marvel comics villain “Death Dealer” is arguably one of the most stand-out performances in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” 

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead

Louder than words: As the 29-year-old Southern California native played a silent character in the film, he mostly let his moves do the talking, which were more than enough for many action fans given the incredible martial arts skills he showcased. 

  • Le told Spectrum News that 90% of his martial arts know-how was self-taught, while the remaining 10% was from his formal kung fu training, inspired by Asian action movie heroes, during his childhood.
  • “I got bullied a lot in school and, you know, for me to come home and watch Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan fighting off like 10 guys, you feel, like, empowerment,” said Le.
  • While he took a few years off, he eventually returned to martial arts training after experiencing a tough year in high school.
  • “In 2008, I discovered martial arts tricking when I saw a video of Jeremy Marinas,” Le told FC Syndicate. “I’ve been in love with the craft ever since and it is through tricking that I learned to be open-minded, free and creative.”
  • Le, his brother Brian and fellow martial artist Daniel Ma formed Martial Club and started uploading martial arts videos on YouTube in 2011. 
  • The Martial Club YouTube channel has become a massive hit, with videos collectively generating nearly 100 million views as of this writing. 

The road to ‘Shang-Chi’: Le, whose parents fled to the U.S. during the Vietnam War, wants to be an example of what Vietnamese people can achieve.  

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  • Le shared to Spectrum News that his parents wanted him to pursue a successful career in law or medicine so he could live a “comfortable life,” but they “messed up” when they showed Le “martial arts movies.” 
  • As Le was honing his skills with the Martial Club, he crossed paths with renowned stuntman Brad Allan, who worked with Jackie Chan and passed away in August. 
  • It was through Allan’s efforts in helping undiscovered talent that landed Le a TV ad with martial arts icon Jackie Chan and back-to-back projects with legendary actress Michelle Yeoh.
  • Le and his brother were initially hired on to “Shang-Chi” to perform stunts and train lead star, Simu Liu.
  • When the “Death Dealer” role opened up and got offered to Le, he accepted the opportunity and made the character his own.
  • According to Le, he and his brothers developed the full-twist sidekick to make the character stand out. “I knew if I do that kick, we’ll be making history because no one’s ever done that kick on film yet,” he said.
  • In an interview with the Reel Rejects, Le spoke about the thrill of working alongside actors Liu, Yeoh, Yuen Wah and Tony Leung. “The whole experience has been surreal. But I think, for me, the parts that I will bookmark in my life the most, is when you’re working with people who you looked up to growing up,” he noted.

Featured Image via Martial Club (left), Marvel Entertainment (right)

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