Neither movie star Chapman To’s karate fights in 2017 Hong Kong film The Empty Hands nor the scenes of thugs ravaging massage parlours in 2021 crime thriller Kowloon Walled City would have been possible without stuntmen like Alan Cheng. Cheng, artist in residence for performing arts group TS Crew, is a master of martial arts tricking, a type of martial arts that combines kicks with flips and twists, gymnastics and dance.
But Cheng has more than tricking up his sleeves. Most recently, the crew performed in the original show The ChristMice Cracker in Tai Kwun’s December and January circus performance series. Cheng combined circus, beatboxing, Chinese opera and acrobatics with elements of local cultural and daredevil moves. Other performances in 2021, which were supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, included a modern twist on a lion dance without the costumes and props, to showcase the unseen skills of traditional Chinese arts acrobats.
Here, Cheng shares a typical day in his life as a stuntman.
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Unless I have a morning performance, I like starting my day late so that I can catch up on sleep. This also means that I’ll have to skip breakfast. But once my day starts, I become very active. I always do my morning stretches. I focus on stretching each muscle from my head down to my feet so that I can fully warm up for the day’s rehearsals or performances.