Sunny Pang is a character actor. He is also an accomplished martial artist, action director, and fight choreographer. As a martial arts trainer, he led his team to a gold medal finish in 1995 in the Nam Hua Pai Free Sparring Competition in Singapore. He has appeared in numerous short films and TV serials (including the highly successful “Code of Law” on Singapore’s MediaCorp Ch5 in the recurring role of INSP Nick Han).
He has an impressive list of movie credits that include Call If You Need Me (2009), One Last Dance (2006), The Maid (2005), Perth (2004), Petaling Street Warrior (2012), The Collector (2012), Hantu Di Vietnam (2013), Ranh Giới Trắng Đen (Black & White) (2014), Pukulan Maut (2014) and Re:solve (2014), Siew Lup (2016) and Headshot (2016) Most notably, Sunny was nominated for Best Performance at the 2009 Singapore Film Awards for his leading role in the feature film Lucky 7.
Sunny will collaborate once again with Headshot 2016 Directors Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel for an action crime drama project ” Night Comes for Us ” , right after that he will be going to Malaysia to shoot a project with Director Zahir Omar title ” Four ” A Crime Drama.
We speak with him about martial arts, the path his career took, working with Iko Uwais, his future projects and other topics
You were born in Singapore, but your film credits include movies from Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia. How did this came about?
Well back in 2007, I was introduced to Indonesian producer/director Asun Mawardi for my project “Knife”, and after that I met my Sifu Mentor Producer/Director Alip Sak who is from Hong Kong but based in Indonesia. However, “Knife” never came to light but I got myself into different projects instead, then I got to know Andrew Suleiman who introduced me to Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans, and the rest is history.
How did you first enter the martial arts? What kind of training did you receive? And how is your practice these days?
I went into martial arts during my National Service ( Singapore Armed Forces). I joined boxing but i wasn’t good at it unfortunately hahaha…..And there was Lion Dance during that time, so I was asked to join them for a performance, and they teachetraditional Chinese Kung Fu so I went to have fun, and right after my National Service discharge, I continued my martial arts training in Nam Wah Pai traditional Chinese Kung Fu.
During my days in Nam Wah Pai, I learned traditional Chinese Martial Arts and Shanda. During my training I got to meet different practices from various martial practitioners. Then I get to exchange different form Martial Art of training like knife fighting, stick fights, kickboxing and Muay Thai, which is a lot of fun to learn. I like Jujitsu, KFM, Kenjutsu and Krav Maga. As for these days, I just maintain whatever I have learned, bits of it all cause I am leaning how to direct films and focusing on my acting career, my stunt team (Ronin Action Group ) and my own family.
You are also a stuntman and stunt coordinator. Can you give us some details about the way you work in these capacities? What does being a stunt coordinator entail exactly?
Yes, I used to be a stuntman back in 1994 till 1999; then I quit the entertainment for awhile. It is different nowadays when it comes to doing stunts. There is a lot of work involved, like fight choreography, safety protocol, safety measures, insurance, props, guns, terrain and lot more to consider. So it is not an easy job to deal with and we also have to see the budget that the production has for a certain stunt, and how much time is given to prepare the stunts, there are people to prepare, and of course working with the director on his vision to advice him on the stunts that he wants. If it’s too dangerous then we will not advice it, but nevertheless, injuries are inevitable, its only big or small injuries and depending on your luck as well, so when you do stunt it’s like rolling the dices. I have sustained some injuries myself like hair line fracture rip, dislocated shoulder, calf muscle tear, back shifted, knee injury, hamstring tear and neck injury, and I nearly died twice, guess I am in Buddha watch list somehow hahahaha…….
How was the experience of working in “Headshot” along Iko Uwais?
I love working with Iko and his team; they are down to earth, easy going, no attitude, accept suggestions, what more can you ask for? Iko is a joker, so most of the time we poke fun on each other or poke fun on others hahaha……..I love it.
“Buffalo Boys” is in essence, a western. How was the experience of working in a film like that? Furthermore, this time your role as Leung is not an action one, at least for the most part. Did you enjoy playing in a movie where you don’t have to fight so much?
Yes I enjoyed it a lot even though it’s a small role. But there is action, I did 2 main fight scenes, the opening fight 1 vs 2 and the ending fight with the main lead, I am not sure they put it in cause i haven’t got a chance to watch it cause I am currently working on other projects. “Buffalo Boys” is one of the biggest sets I have been through and to live in the past, dress up in western style, what more can I ask for, I really appreciated the opportunity for it.
With more than 25 titles under your belt, you are actually a veteran actor. Are there any memorable episodes you would like to share with us from your career? Good and bad. From the many martial artists you have collaborated, which were the ones that stand out?
The most memorable for me is when I started to exchange blows with Iko Uwais in “Headshot”. Every crew member was so excited to see the fight, of course it was not a real fight but it was fun just shooting it, it will be something I will never forget.
Iko is by far the most comfortable to work with, cause he has good control and knows how to sell a moments of impact, no egos just playful most of the time even if he is tired. Love you for it Brother ( Iko Uwais )
The Bad! Hmm……….There’s way too many bad moments to talk about, especially where I come from. Of course, there are good ones around but please don’t get me wrong, me and my team are trying to do good work but it will take time, and I will just leave it here.
Can you give us some details about “The Night Comes For Us” “Kill Fist” and “Zombiepura”?
The Night Comes For Us, I play Chien Wu, a supporting role alongside Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim, who are the leads. It is an action Thriller; in terms of the details i can’t say much cause you need to watch the film to know it sorry hahahaha……
“Kill Fist” is an indie drama action film. I wanted to work with James Lee after we worked together before in his other feature films. It’s a very small budget film that I suggested to James Lee because of our long time friendship. I know James is a good storyteller director and he did action films with me before; he is one of the few directors who will stick his neck out and take me as the leading role in an action genre film. In terms of story, it’s about a regular guy trying to make ends meet in an office work, but has troubles with his work, his divorced wife and he is missing his daughter. He picks some games on the phone app that digs out all his dark past with other characters.
“Zombiepura”, me and my team are just doing stunt direction and it’s a comedy action film.
Are there any other projects you have lined up?
Me and my team just completed a monster movie called “Circle Line” with Taipan Films and MM2 mainly just doing stunts. We are also doing 20 episodes of digital content, an action drama thriller next year. I have been approached to do another action film for Indonesia next year, and currently me and my Director friend Glenn Chan and Producer Yan Yan are pitching for an action film which i will be starring and action directing it. So, we are keeping our fingers crossed and I hope I can venture out on more different projects; I will be directing my first short film this coming November, which I am preparing as we speak so there goes nothing hahaha…….Thank you for the interview.