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元振  ♂
Won Jin
원진,  Yuen Jan,  김원진,  Kim Won-Jin,  元珍,  Yuan Zhen
Born: December 8th, 1962 (South Korea)

Filmography (1979-2006)
  Actor (17 films)
    The 18 Amazones (1979) ... Green Amazon / Villager
    Hitman in the Hand of Buddha (1981) ... Pickpocket teen
    Enter the Invincible Hero (1981) ... Pang's man in white / Pang's man in black
    The Dragon's Snake Fist (1981) ... Blackbelt student
    Dreadnaught Rivals (1982) ... Shaolin waiter / Gambling stall fighter
    Legend of Peach Blossom (1983) ... Sangmo wielder / Staff wielder / Female cultist / Dungeon gu
    Duel of Ultimate Weapons (1983) ... Cheon-woo / Waiter
    Sheng Tiao Hero (1984) ... Straw hat / Silver swordsman / White swordsman
    Shaolin - The Blood Mission (1984) ... Tai Luk Tong student
    Thunder Kids: Golden Adventure (1989) ... Tek-ti [BRAVE TRIO footage]
    To Catch a Thief (1991) ... Mute martial arts master [Korean cut]
    Saviour of the Soul II (1992) ... Kidnapper Goblin
    Operation Scorpio (1992) ... Sonny Wang
    Hero from Beyond the Boundary of Time (1993) ... Yuen Chun
    Women on the Run (1993) ... King Kong
    China Strike Force (2000) ... Lee, the waiter assassin
    No Problem 2 (2002) ... Invincible
  Action Director (1 film)
    My Wife Is a Gangster 3 (2006)    
  Assistant Martial Arts Director (1 film)
    Seoul Raiders (2005)    
  Stunt Double (5 films)
    The 18 Amazones (1979)    
    Dreadnaught Rivals (1982)    
    Legend of Peach Blossom (1983)    
    Sheng Tiao Hero (1984)    
    Saviour of the Soul II (1992)    
  Won Jin

Early Life

Born Kim Won-jin in Seoul, South Korea on 08 December 1962. His father and older brother both studied Taekwondo. In fact, his father would break rocks with his fists and had appeared on TV. His father found Won Jin's demeanour girly and thought he had a small and weak body. Fearing his son would be bullied he sent him to TKD classes at about age 7.

Won Jin became a huge fan of Bruce Lee Siu-lung and found him to be his biggest inspiration in Martial Arts and action cinema, also creating his obsession with nunchaku. He was also a fan of Jackie Chan Kong-sang, especially the fight with the three spear-men from 1978's Snake & Crane Arts Of Shaolin, he'd go on to love the collaboration films of Chan, Sammo Hung Kam-bo and Yuen Biao particularly Project A and Wheels On Meals. Won Jin was also a fan of fellow Korean martial artists Hwang Jeong-ri and Hwang In-shik that had went on to success in Hong Kong movies.

He would often train alone for ages to perfect his techniques. He created his own moves to overcome his size and to challenge himself, it was also a way for him to take his mind off his boring home life. He trained hard and apparently won awards for being part of a demo team in 1972.

Beginning Of Film career

In the late 70's he was training at the YMCA Mechanical Gymnastics Club alongside Jeong Jin-hwa (aka Elton Chong), it was around this time he would start work as a stuntman and would be a founding member of the Ottugi Martial Arts Group. Apparently his father passed away around this time too and this pushed him harder towards succeeding in the film industry.

KMDB lists his debut as Inchon in 1979 (released in 1981), however, he recalls his first film being The 18 Amazones in 1979 where he was doubling for women with breast padding in his shirt. One of the films stars, Jang Il-do (aka Bruce Lai) would become his manager in the early stages of his career.

Won Jin would get the chance to have a short fight scene with one of his heroes Hwang Jeong-ri in Hitman In The Hand Of Buddha in 1980. He would work with Hwang again while playing some side characters in the films of director Richard Park Woo-sang during the early 80's.

Throughout the 80's he appeared in minor roles in various action/comedies and can even be seen as part of a live martial arts/comedy performance recorded in 1987, but never really got a good chance to show his skills until he got his first starring role in Brave Trio.

In 1988's Brave Trio, Won Jin plays Yong, the eldest of three martial arts students from the countryside, who travel to the city and wind up fighting some local gangsters. The film is an action/comedy aimed at kids but features some very entertaining fight sequences. Although not to the same standards as many Hong Kong action films, there is plenty of great action from Won Jin and other cast members. Won Jin steals the show with his amazing kicking and acrobatic style which was cutting edge for it's time and has many current day imitators such as Tony Jaa and Scott Adkins.

In the years following Brave Trio, he worked on a few other kids action/comedies as an action director and a few appearances in smaller roles. It was during this time he became aware of a casting call by Hong Kong director David Lai Dai-wai, who was looking for a tall handsome Korean martial artist who specialised in side kicks, for an old-school kung fu movie. Won Jin said he didn't consider himself to fit the description but sent in his demo tape anyway. Lai was so impressed that he went to Korea to interview Won Jin in person and cast him in his most famous role to date, Sonny Wong “The Scorpion King”.

The Hong Kong years

Won Jin moved to Hong Kong in 1991 to star as the title character in David Lai's “The Scorpion King” (aka Operation Scorpio). Lai changed the character specifically to suit Won Jin and worked with him to come up with a scorpion kung fu style. Lai had seen plenty of other animal styles but not much scorpion and knew that with Won Jin's style they could create something special.

Chin Ka-lok (who plays the films protagonist) was shown Won Jin's demo tapes and said they looked “vicious”, he'd not seen anything quite like them. He said Won Jin's style was so alien and he spent so much time in the air, he was dubbed “Flying saucer from Korea”. Chin enjoyed working with Won Jin, their timing gelled well and he became good friends with him. He said Won Jin wasn't arrogant and would often help others on the set too. Won Jin spent some time off set with Chin but was often taken out for fancy meals and drinks by Lai and the man who played Mr. Wong (Victor Hon Kwan). On the set of The Scorpion King he got to meet some of his heroes such as Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Won Jin was also given the Chinese name of Yuen Chun, which caused some to believe he was the brother of Biao, probably due to their acrobatic styles.

Won Jin gave the production his all and did almost all of his own stunts, the notable exception is the moment when his character gets kicked out of a window, the stuntman (Derek Cheung Chi-chuen) was seriously injured. Although he's not credited as an action director on the film Won Jin worked on the action with Liu Chia-liang, Corey Yuen Kwai and Yuen Tak and they would often use his demo tapes for reference.

Even though Won Jin has stated his respect for Liu Chia-liang, apparently things didn't always go smoothly between the two. Liu was said to not be too keen on Won Jin's style asking why he's jumping around so much. But things can't have been too bad as Won Jin has said Liu asked him to come work on Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 3, but he couldn't get the required USA visa.

While working on The Scorpion King, he had brief appearances in the Saviour Of The Soul II for David Lai and To Catch A Thief, where his scenes are missing from most prints for some reason. When The Scorpion King was finished in early 1992 the release was actually delayed until November and had several alternate titles including: Scorpion Warriors and Pallet.

Won Jin only featured in two more Hong Kong films during his stay, in 1993 he was in Women On The Run (which has some decent action) and Hero From Beyond The Boundary Of Time, neither of which were a great use of his talents, especially with what might have been. Won Jin was actually contacted by none other than Jackie Chan, who saw him in The Scorpion King and wanted him for Police Story 3 : Supercop. But unfortunately, Won Jin was filming Women On The Run for David Lai, so out of loyalty had to turn it down. He was also asked to be in a Jet Li Lian-jie/Corey Yuen Kwai movie, but again had to say no due to other commitments.

Around his time Won Jin was beginning to suffer both physically and emotionally. He didn't have too many friends in Hong Kong and spent a lot of time training alone, he began to feel a bit lonely and homesick. Worse still was that the diet he had in Hong Kong was taking a toll on his physical well being, to the point he had to be hospitalised with liver issues. Eventually he decided to return to Korea. Following his departure, there were rumours that he had suffered from more severe illness' or even died, but he has stated that he simply returned for his heath but mainly for family reasons.

Back In Korea

Upon returning to Korea, Won Jin found that the martial arts movie scene there had all but dried up, it was difficult to even find one film per year, but he did manage to find work behind the camera as an action director, which he has made a great career out of since, becoming one of Korea's top action directors.

He has made the occasional appearance in front of the camera, most notably was in the 1997 movie The Expert which featured several other Korean martial arts actors such as Lee In-seop and Kim Choon-shik (who was also the director). Won Jin steals the show with his trademark kicking and acrobatic style, although uncredited as an action director you can recognise his input.

In 2000 a mutual friend of Won Jin and Stanley Tong Gwai-lai recommended he be cast in Tong's new action movie, China Strike Force. Won Jin was excited to be working with Ken Lo Wai-kwong, but he (and a lot of fans) weren't too happy with the movie, especially how little he gets to do and how his character meets his end. While in Hong Kong he worked on the action for Gen-Y Cops and Born Wild (although he's not credited) which featured Korean stuntmen and he was also seen on the set of The Accidental Spy.

In 2001 Won Jin would complete work on his most famous project (outside of The Scorpion King), the first My Wife Is A Gangster movie. It was a fairly big budget Korean action comedy with plenty of stylised martial art action provided by Won Jin. Not only did he direct the action, he featured in most of it, doubling extensively for the film's star (Shin Eun-gyung), which he would also do in the rest of the series. It features a lot of his signature moves and is almost like watching him in one of his staring roles. The film was a success and cemented Won Jin's position as the action director of choice for stylised martial arts action in Korea.

From this point on, Won Jin stuck to working behind the camera, as an action director on many big Korean movies and TV series', he has made a good career that way. But on occasion he has come on screen to show off some of his skills as favours to friends.

In 2002 Won Jin was asked by Chin Ka-lok to appear in his action/comedy movie No Problem 2, Chin had stayed in touch since working together on The Scorpion King. Won Jin was happy working on the film for a week, they had fun parodying Jackie Chan's Police Story and even his own “Scorpion Stance”. But the highlight of the film was a good fight with his hero, Yuen Biao. Biao was a fan of Won Jin's work and they got on well together.

In 2006 Won Jin was hired as the action director for Almost Love, but the director (Lee Han) was a fan so wrote a small scene for him to showcase some skills. Then a similar situation occurred with 2013's The Suspect. The film's director (Won Shin-yeon) was a fan, so wrote the part of the agent SA1 specially for Won Jin and had him assist in the movie's action direction.

In 2014 Won Jin worked on Martial Cop : Chinatown to help out his “little brothers” with their low budget martial arts movie. It's probably his most notable on screen role since 1997, he plays the lead villain and gets several opportunities to show that even though he's been gone a long time, he's not lost his skills. Although uncredited he contributed extensively to the film's action scenes. The film itself was filmed in just 15 days, with his first action scene filmed in 8 hours and the final fight in only 7. The film was released in 2015 and is well worth checking out.

Apart from his work in Korean film and TV, Won Jin has other credentials to his name:

Advisor of the International Police Martial Arts Federation

Adviser of martial arts director of the Korean Myeongin Association

University Convergence Education Entertainers

Representative of China CIPP (Hwamun Consulting) Action Supervision Channel

Representative of China Gazaban Action Team

2020 and beyond

Although Won Jin unfortunately is relatively unknown except to die-hard martial arts fans he has had an influence on modern martial arts movies such as the films of Scott Adkins and Panna Rittikrai, but also other media including video games (notably the Tekken series, the character Lei Wu Long even performs The Scorpion King's “Heaven's Knife Whirlwind Kick”).

Won Jin spends a lot of his spare time training, but to really relax he enjoys fishing. He still states his favourite fight scene was his final fight with Chin Ka-lok in The Scorpion King. He still desires to do a sequel, with the possibility of Sonny Wong being reformed and becoming the hero. David Lai would have liked to do a sequel but couldn't get the finances.

Bruce Lee is still his biggest hero and inspiration but he still enjoys looking at the movies of his peers too. He likes anything by Donnie Yen Ji-dan and would love to do a fight scene with him. He also likes Ong-Bak and noticed Tony Jaa incorporating some of his classic moves into his own style.

At the time of writing this (2020) Won Jin is in great shape and currently filming a new movie featuring Wang Ho (aka Casanova Wong) called Tiger's Trigger. He also won the 시마프 (Simapeu) Action Movie Achievement Award at The 2nd Chungju International Martial Arts Action Film Festival.

J.J. Hayden [29-Nov-2020]

Below is the remainder of Won Jin's Korean filmography:

1979 – (1981-May-04) Inchon - 인천(오! 인천) --- Evacuee On Bridge

1982 – (1982Nov) Ottugi Martial Arts Team demo for Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do Ballet at the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division --- (live performer)

1987 - (1987-Jul-17) Imbecile 3 - 돌아이3 --- Waiter In Red

1987 - (1987-Aug-06) KBS [KQTV] Show Video Jockey Summer Special 06-08-1987 - I Changed The Original Title 'Dragon Fight' --- (live performer)

1987 - (1987-Aug-22) Park Cheol-Soo's Hello Im Kuk-Jeong - 박철수의 헬로 임꺽정 --- Escort Hit With Green Bundle

1988 - (1988-Jun-04) The Age Of Success – 성공시대 --- Yumisa brawler

1988 – (1988-Dec-06) Brave Trio - 용호취 --- Yong

1988 - (1989-Aug-05) Super Hong Gil-Dong 3 - 슈퍼 홍길동3 --- Geung-Si + Short Kidnapper

1989 – (1989-Aug-21 to 1989-Sep-12Sep) The Great Challenge (TV Series - MBC Miniseries) – 대도전 --- (unknown name)

1989 - (1990-Jan-16) The Doofus Detective And The Twin Light Brothers - 밥풀떼기 형사와 쌍라이트 --- (unknown name) + [assistant action director]

1990 – (1991-Jan-26) Korean Boy - 코리언 보이 --- Chinese Fighter + [assistant action director]

1991 - (1991-Sep-13) Swordsman San Ji-Ni: Appeared In The City - 도시에 나타난 검객 산지니 --- Brother Of X

1991 - (1991-Dec-21) The Trio Stars – 삼중성 --- Sigma

1991 - (1992-Mar-10) Yeong-Goo And The Bushman - 영구와 부시맨 --- [action director]

1991 - (1992-Jul-07) Swordsman San Ji-Ni 2: Appeared At The Port - 항구에 나타난 검객 산지니 --- Brother Of X + [action director]

1993 - (1993-Jun-08) Invincible Fighter Thunderhawk (Thunderhawk 9) - 무적의 파이터 우뢰매 – 우뢰매9 --- [action director]

1993 - (1993-Oct-20) Boy Wong Fei-Hung - 소년 황비홍 --- [action director]

1994 - (1995-Jan-12) A Boy & 2 Cops - Kids Sold To The Island - 소년 투캅스 - 섬으로 팔려간 아이들 --- Yong-pal

1994 – (1995-Feb-07) Lynx 2 – Challenger - 시라소니2 – 도전자편 --- [action director]

1996 - (1996-Oct-12) The Gate Of Destiny - 귀천도 --- [action director]

1997 - Achilles Heel – 아킬레스건 --- (unknown name)

1997 - (1998-Apr-18) The Expert - 고수 --- Kal Koo-lee + [assistant action director]

1998 - (1999-Jan-04) Vindictive Venom – 독종 --- Ah-Jan + [assistant action director]

2001 - (2001-Sep-27) My Wife Is A Gangster - 조폭 마누라 --- [action director]

2001 - (2002-Apr-30) 4 Toes – 4발가락 --- [action director]

2002 - (2002-Jul-12) Emergency Measure No. 19 - 긴급조치 19호 --- [action director]

2002 - (2002-Aug-28) Boss X File – 보스상륙작전 --- [action director]

2002 - (2003-Jul-16) Sword In The Moon - 청풍명월 --- [action director]

2002 - (2003-Aug-15) Elysium – 엘리시움 --- [action director]

2003 – (2003-Sep-05) My Wife Is A Gangster 2 – The Legend Returns - 조폭 마누라 2 - 돌아온 전설 --- [action director]

2003 - (2003-Dec-02) Romantic Assassin – 낭만자객 --- [action director]

2003 - (2004-Feb-27) Who's Got The Tape - 어깨동무 --- [action director]

2003 – (2004-Mar-08 to 2004-May-11) 2004 Human Market (TV Series - SBS Miniseries) - (SBS 미니시리즈) 2004 인간시장 --- [action director]

2004 - (2004-Sep-10) Thomas Ahn Jung-Keun - 도마 안중근 --- [action director]

2004 – (2004-Oct-15) The Scarlet Letter – 주홍글씨 --- [action director]

2004 - (2004-Jul-19) Flower On The Tip Of A Blade - 칼 끝에 핀 꽃 (KBS TV) --- [action director]

2005 - (2005-Jun-09) A Bold Family - 간 큰 가족 --- [action director]

2005 – (2005-Oct-20) Sad Movie – 새드무비 --- [action director]

2005 - (2006-Feb-09) Ssunday Seoul - 썬데이 서울 --- [action director]

2005 - (2006-Mar-23) Almost Love - 청춘만화 --- Maternity Doctor + [action director]

2006 – (2006-Jul-08 to 2007-Jun-17) Yeon Gaesomun (TV Series SBS) – 연개소문 (SBS TV) --- [action director]

2006 - (2007-Feb-26) Beautiful Sunday - 뷰티풀 선데이 --- [action director]

2007 - (2007-Aug-04 to 2007-Sep-02) SF Family Musical (Fly Superboard) - SF가족 뮤지컬 --- [stage show action director]

2009 - (2009-Oct-07 to 2009-Nov-26) You're Beautiful (TV Series SBS) - 미남이시네요 (SBS TV) --- [action director]

2010 - (2010-May-17 to 2010-Jul-27) Coffee House (TV Series SBS) - 커피하우스 (SBS TV) --- [action director]

2010 - (2010-Nov-06 to 2011-Apr-24) Smile, Mom (TV Series - SBS Miniseries) - 웃어요, 엄마 (SBS TV) --- [action director]

2011 - (2012-Mar-08) Choked - 가시 --- [action director]

2012 - (2013-Mar-14) When Winter Screams - 설인 --- [action director]

2012 - (2013-Apr-18) Azooma - 공정사회 --- [action director]

2012 - (2013-Dec-24) The Suspect – 용의자 --- SA1 + [assistant action director]

2014 - (2015-Jul-09) Martial Cop : Chinatown - 권법형사 – 차이나타운 --- Kwan Xi-pei + [action director]

2015 - (2016-Mar-03) No Tomorrow - 섬. 사라진 사람들 --- [action director]

2015 - (2018-Feb-28) The Princess And The Matchmaker - 궁합 --- [action director]

2017 - (2018-Jan-17) Brothers In Heaven - 돌아와요 부산항애 愛 --- [action director]

2018 - (2019-Aug-07) The Battle : Roar To Victory - 봉오동 전투 --- Gil-san

2019 – (2019-Oct-01) Master Heaven: The Greatest Fighter - 천승: 극강의 싸움꾼 --- [action director]

2019 - (2019-Nov-01) The Bongcheon Tiger, Lee Sang-Dae - 봉천 호랑이 이상대 --- [action director]

2019 – (2021-Apr-30) Lotto Share – 로또쉐어 --- [action director]

2019 – (2022-Jul-08 or 2022-Jul-11) Tiger's Trigger - 검치호 --- (unknown name)

2020 - (2021) Companion - 동행 --- [action director]

2021 - (2021-Oct-15) My Name - 마이 네임 (TV Series Netflix - eps 1-5,7-8) --- Moo-jin's Driver (Mr. Hwang)

2022 – (2022-Apr-08 to 2022-May-28) Again My Life - 어게인마이라이프 (TV Series SBS – ep 1 deleted scene) --- Rooftop Hitman

2022 - (2022-Feb-14) Secretly Sweetly – 달콤살콤 --- [special thanks]

2022 - (2022-Jul-01) Secretly Sweetly Season 2 - 달콤살콤 시즌2 --- [special thanks]

2022 - (2022) Senior Bodyguard - 시니어 보디가드 --- [action director]

2023 – (2023-Mar-15 to 2023-Apr-05 (4eps) ) DMZ Daeseong-dong - DMZ 대성동 --- [action director]

2023 - Jump Senior - 떴다! 어르신 --- (unknown name) + [director+action director]

J.J. Hayden [29-Nov-2020]

J.J. Hayden update [29-Aug-2023]