UPDATE: Netflix and The Weinstein Company have just sent a statement regarding Ju Kun: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” they said in a joint statement. “Ju Kun, who was on board, was an integral part of our production team and a tremendous talent. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
EARLIER: Among the passengers missing and believed to have perished on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is Ju Kun, the veteran martial arts expert and assistant martial arts choreographer on Marco Polo, the Netflix/The Weinstein Company series pilot that is scheduled to begin production in three weeks. The 35-year old stuntman had completed a day of training and choreography and made a quick trip from Pinewood Studios in Malaysia to his home in Beijing, which was why he boarded the flight that disappeared 35,000 feet over Vietnam.
This sad news comes to me from Marco Polo series creator John Fusco, who provided the below photo he took with Ju Kun the day he boarded the flight. Fusco first worked with Ju Kun on The Forbidden Kingdom and made sure that Ju Kun’s close friend, Marco Polo‘s head fight choreographer Brett Chan, brought him in for both choreography and stunt work on the ambitious series. He said Ju Kun has worked at Jet Li’s stunt double and been in films like Fearless, The Expendables, The Grandmaster and The Forbidden Kingdom, and Fusco said Ju Kun’s mastery of several martial arts styles made his choreography distinctive. Right now, they are all waiting for answers.
“All of us on location in Malaysia are devastated as we go through this agonizing wait,” Fusco told me. “Ju Kun is an integral and beloved member of our Marco Polo family, and on behalf of Harvey Weinstein and Netflix, we are all profoundly shocked and saddened. Right now are are rallying around his wife, Li Ping as she awaits answers in Kuala Lumpur. Our hearts and prayers are also with all of the other missing passengers and their families.”
At present, Fusco said there are few concrete answers. “At this point, there is no confirmation of a crash, just a missing plane,” Fusco said. “We are staying close to Li Ping and supporting her in every way possible. We will be there for her and their two young sons, whatever the outcome may be. I first worked with Ju Kun on The Forbidden Kingdom in 2008 and recognized him then as an amazing martial arts performer. He has risen through the ranks of stunt men and fight choreographers to become one of the best and most sought after. He has worked closely with Master Yuen Woo-Ping and is currently a key member of Brett Chan’s stunt team on Marco Polo. Ju Kun’s skill-set encompasses a vast array of martial arts styles, yet he does each one of them, not just well, but at a supreme level. From the internal systems like Bagua to acrobatic wushu to the close combat system of Wing Chun, and beyond. But his true mastery is in bringing all of this knowledge together through his action choreography. Although we are still three weeks out from the start of principle photography, Ju Kun’s special footprint is already on many of our unique martial arts sequences that have been choreographed and prepared by Brett Chan’s stellar team.
“Ju Kun is a wonderful, caring soul whose disciplined work ethic inspires everyone around him to raise the bar on themselves,” Fusco said. “We love him dearly and can only pray and soldier on as he would want us to do at this time.”