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Byung Hun Lee talks G.I.JOE

Asian superstar takes on STORM SHADOW role

By Rob M. Worley     August 07, 2009
Source: Mania

G.I.JOE: Storm Shadow
© Mania

Although he's a popular leading man in Korean cinema, many fans in America will be introduced to Byung Hun Lee for the first time in this week's 'G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra'. Lee plays the Storm Shadow, Cobra's evil white ninja opposite Snake Eyes, the black-clad hero on the side of good.

This week had a chance to talk exclusively with the actor who admits the world of Joe vs. Cobra is all new to him.

"It didn't show in Korea. I had no idea about G.I. Joe when I first got the script," Lee said, admitting he was a little hesitant to take the part. "I had a lot of time to discuss the character Storm Shadow with [director] Stephen Sommers and [producer] Lorenzo di Bonaventura."

Fans of the characters know his back story is closely intertwined with that of Snake Eyes, played by Ray Park in the film. Lee told us he bonded with his opposite number immediately.

"He was my first friend in Hollywood actually," Lee said of Park. "In the movie we are hating each other but in real life we're really good friends. We took a lot of time to practice the choreography and training before the production."

Two of the deadliest members of the COBRA organization are Ninja master STORM SHADOW (Byung-hun Lee, left) and The BARONESS (Sienna Miller, right) in G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

Although stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell worked out many of the battles for the movie, including the showdown between the two ninjas, Lee and Park employed their respective martial arts expertise to make the on-screen confrontation as explosive as possible.

"Ray and I talked about the choreography and our skills and specialties. We had a lot of discussions and changed things a little bit," Lee said. "For example, Ray Park's style is WuShu. My martial arts is based on Taekwondo. Taekwondo is more simple, but strong.

"Our movements were totally different, actually. So I wanted the stunt guys to focus on the differences between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's technique."

One element of the battle did present a challenge for Lee. "I've never filmed with the sword before, so I had to train a lot. I usually use my kicks in movies," Lee said.

The COBRA organization’s ninja master STORM SHADOW (Byung-hun Lee, left) engages in a martial arts battle with the G.I. JOE team’s formidable SNAKE EYES (Ray Park, right) in G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

As for the complexity of the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow relationship, Lee admits that they don't reveal and resolve everything in one movie, as there are ten or so other characters with stories to tell. Like most adaptations, the film is designed to introduce G.I.Joe to new audiences as well as entertain the die-hard fans.

"I think there is a little hint and little emotions, but not too much. The director and producer intentionally added something subtle and were thinking about the next one," Lee said alluding to the presumed 'G.I.Joe 2'. He confirmed for us that he's signed to play Storm Shadow in additional films if the studio calls for it.

Byung Hun Lee said he enjoyed the new experience of playing a thug for a change. However, don't expect him to follow the path of martial arts superstars Jackie Chan or Jet Li and start headlining action movies here in the U.S.

"This was my first try to be a comic book character, so that's why I hesitated a little bit to commit to this production," Lee said, adding that, while high-octane superheroes may be popular in America, this kind of movie is new to him. He's not thinking in terms of the next superhero (or villain) he'll play. "I've doing more realistic characters and projects, so I don't know."

He's already working on his next project in Asia, but would consider doing another American film if the right project comes along. We asked him if there's a particular director he's interested in working with.

"There are a lot of good actors and directors in the states I think, but I'd really like to work with director Cameron Crowe. I like his work."

For now you can see Byung Hun Lee as Storm Shadow in 'G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra', opening everywhere today.


Photo Gallery...

The G.I. JOE team’s formidable ninja SNAKE EYES (Ray Park, left) engages in a martial arts battle with the COBRA’s STORM SHADOW (Byung-hun Lee, right) in G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

Byung-hun Lee stars as the COBRA organization’s martial arts expert STORM SHADOW in G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

The G.I. JOE team’s formidable ninja SNAKE EYES (Ray Park, left) engages in a martial arts battle with the COBRA’s STORM SHADOW (Byung-hun Lee, right) in G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

Snake Eyes vs Storm Shadow in G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA



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SgtTechCom 8/7/2009 9:09:48 AM

Check out's video review of GiJoe they actually gave it 3 and a half stars out of 5.  Entertaining and better then Transformers 2 ? WOW lol

yooooooooo joe !

br003 8/7/2009 10:19:09 AM

How would you match it against RESOLUTE?

WarCry 8/7/2009 10:35:51 AM

Brian, it's less grounded in what came before than Resolute is. Resolute would be the continuation of the earlier stories (more the comics than the cartoon, but either/or).

I say this is more like the new Star Trek movie in that it honours what came before, but doesn't feel bound by it. Where Star Trek took the time to tell a story why it was different, this is just - different. It doesn't really need a reason, it's just not the same.

If you're a fan of GI Joe, you'll like this movie. The only exception, as I've posted elsewhere, is that if you expect it to be either the comics or cartoon but with real people, then you will be disappointed, but that's what you're expecting, I don't mind if you're disappointed, because that would likely have been ridiculous.


SgtTechCom 8/7/2009 10:36:04 AM

Resolute is more true to the comic which is obviously better. People die , alot more serious then say the cartoons on tv.

Chopsaki 8/7/2009 11:12:16 AM

I wasn't expecting him to name Cameron Crowe, thats an interesting pick. Must be a big Jerry Maguire fan?

WarCry 8/7/2009 11:22:15 AM

Sarge, there was actually on 2 who died in Resolute that weren't 'redshirts'. In fact, there was an absolutely ridiculous scene with Duke and Scarlett surround, like, ON ALL SIDES, and I think one of them got clipped in the arm. So, it was stil ar cartoon with cartoon results.

Without spoiling, I'd say this is about on par.There was one 'name' character in the movie that actually died, and I can think of one more that may or may not have met that fate (the answer, BTW, is 'not'), but a LOT of the grunts on BOTH sides bought it.

Duggernaut 8/7/2009 1:53:25 PM

Saw it, anyone who read the older or newer comic will be  very dissappointed. They butchered a lot of the story arcs set in the books. An entertaining flick for children. The baroness stole the show/ like the casting and some neat new concepts. As  a fan of the comic a 3 out of ten and for a film as itself a 5 or 6 out of 10.

hanso 8/7/2009 2:44:10 PM

Duggernaut, on a scale of FUN to FUN how much FUN would you say GI JOE was?

hanso 8/7/2009 2:45:18 PM

Also, how much FUN was Cobra Commander in his fish bowl?  On a scale of FUN to FUN of course.

littlemikey979 8/7/2009 2:45:42 PM

I still cant get past the ironma.. i mean accelorator suits, no matter how cool they are. I wouldnt compare it to the new trek cause its a remake reboot whatever of the original, this is the first Joe movie i think it should have been less "real" and maybe closer to the comic type stuff

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