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Florian Munteanu Talks Shang-Chi's Razor Fist, Boxing, Tony Leung, And Borderlands - Exclusive Interview

One of the most compelling characters from "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" is Razor Fist. Acting as something of a midboss for Shang-Chi and a loyal henchman for Wenwu, his name sums up his whole deal: he has a razor for a fist (Which, to be clear, is awesome). Razor Fist is played by Florian Munteanu, a former boxer who broke into Hollywood as Viktor Drago in "Creed 2." Now, he's got a few more projects up his belt, including sympathetic Psycho Krieg in the upcoming "Borderlands" movie.

In anticipation of the home release of "Shang-Chi," Looper spoke with Munteanu about the role. He told us about how his boxing background prepared him for fight scenes, how Tony Leung is especially compelling in person, and how playing Razor Fist gave him the skills to best portray Krieg. He also shared that he was grateful Razor Fist only had one razor for a fist.

The bus fight and a boxing background

In the comics, Razor Fist has two razors for fists. How glad are you that you only had one razor for a fist?

Well, in terms of movements, it helped me a lot because it was already pretty awkward and weird to move with that one hand because you cannot use it in real life. I mean, it was a CGI glove that I was wearing, but I couldn't use it and I had to actually play it like I have no forearm there. So that was tough in terms of stabilization and your fighting style. I had to adapt, it was basically a completely new fighting style but I was aware of that coming into the project.

My boxing background helped, but this is not a boxing movie or a fighting movie, like a typical fighting movie. This is a comic movie, a Marvel movie. So I was aware and we had the best stunt team, I worked with probably the best in the game if it comes to martial arts and this movie is very martial arts inspired. So I was thankful for that. And it gives you options, right? For whatever comes in the future.

You mentioned your boxing background. The whole point of things like boxing is to hit your opponent, knock them down, damage them in some way, and the whole point of movie fighting is "do not hurt your opponent at all." How do you transition from one to the other?

Unless you really hate him. And then you can sneak a punch in and there and say, "ah, I guess that this was not good enough," but ... Yeah, I know what you're trying to say. Well, the thing is, boxing is part of martial arts and martial arts and fighting in general, they always teach you to control your emotions. So bringing hate into a ring, into a fight, that's not really benefiting you. It does the opposite.

Because once your emotions take over, you're not calculating enough and you're not calculated enough and you forget about the game plan. And it's a little bit different with fighting in movies, because you actually have to play those emotions. It's very important in acting and in movies that you go over the top. If it comes to fighting and to punches but also to the emotions, because that's very important. That you can transmit those emotions to the audience.

Thank God I had a little bit of experience already coming into this project, "Creed" helped me a lot. And that was basically... To be honest with you when I shot "Creed," that was the most difficult part I have ever done. Because boxing and hitting something, connecting with something, is just a natural habit of mine. And to break out of a habit is usually the most difficult part. And that's for all the habits in life in general.

So I already knew what I was going to bring to the table and what I was going into, so that this time around now, it wasn't so difficult for me because I already had the experience of Creed. And yeah, it was easy for me to control the distance and actually not hit him. Or hit anybody.

Tony Leung's magic and Krieg in Borderlands

I'm going to ask about Tony Leung now, who you spent a lot of time with, at least on screen. And I've spoken to most of the rest of the cast and they all have glowing things to say about Tony Leung. I've heard, he never went back to his trailer, he never brought his phone on set, he would talk about his scenes while after they were done. What was your experience with Tony Leung?

Well, you always try to get some information about everyone and everything coming into a project. The thing with Tony was that I didn't have to get too much information because you know, I already knew that he's a legend and I saw a lot of the martial arts movies that he was in already. So I knew that he was a legend, but it's one thing if you know about someone that he's a legend, and then it's another thing to actually experience it with your own eyes in real life. And I can just remember... My brother is always with me, he works like an assistant for me. And we were looking forward to a specific scene, to one of the deleted scenes and that was on the dinner table.

And I was sitting there actually being the character Razor Fist and just doing my job, but Tony was having a monologue there. And I just realized at some point that I was forgetting about me being Razor Fist because I was just looking in awe at him, because I was just so amazed and stunned by his performance. Yeah, it's a special aura around him. It's really hard to describe if you've not experienced that in real life. So all I can say is a true legend, indeed.

As you mentioned you already did "Creed," which was a boxing movie. Now you've done this, which is a fighting movie with a little more CGI. And you got an upcoming project that I'm personally looking forward to, which is the "Borderlands" movie where you play Krieg, a character very close to my own heart. How did playing Razor Fist help prepare you for playing Krieg?

Well, first of all I have to say if you're a fan of Krieg, you will love the character. Trust me, it's funny, it's violent, it's everything that's needed to be. So I feel like the audience will fall in love with the character and there are some little surprises there as well. But yeah, obviously every project helps you not only prepare for the next role, but it makes you better, right? You always have the possibility to gain experience, to work with so many beautiful and talented people and you get better each day.

If I'm looking back when I did my Hollywood debut with "Creed" and I'm looking at me now, I'm a whole different person and I'm a whole different actor. My skillset is a whole just different now than three or four years ago, because you are improving constantly because you have the opportunity to work with the best in the game. So after I shot "Shang-Chi" and after I played Razor Fist, I was already a better martial artist, a better fighter, better actor and all that I brought to the new character, which is Krieg in "Borderlands." So there's always development, there's always evolvement and you will see that with the character in that movie.

"Shang-Chi" is now on Disney+ and all other major digital platforms and will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on November 30.