SHANG-CHI Video Interview: Florian Munteanu On Razor Fist's MCU Future, Final Battle, & THAT Car (Exclusive)
In our full video interview with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Florian Munteanu, the actor breaks down his big scenes, the movie's final battle, and the way the heroes trashed his ride...
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrived in theaters earlier this month and has since broken box office records. That's no easy feat in this pandemic era, but this is a key new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and one that introduces us to a cool new villain: Florian Munteanu's Razor Fist.
The boxer turned actor is making a huge impact in Hollywood, and, as we're sure you'll agree after watching the video below, he also happens to be one of the nicest, most humble stars you'll hear from.
As well as breaking down his new Training Program (find more details about that here), Florian talks in detail about his Shang-Chi role and recalls some of his biggest moments on set, including the already iconic bus fight scene and the VFX heavy battle that wasn't as challenging to shoot as you might think. He also explains the process of being cast and then transformed into Razor Fist.
Plus, we get some insight into how it felt to see the movie's heroes trash his character's ride and what we can expect from him as Krieg in Eli Roth's upcoming Borderlands adaptation. Oh, and as if that's not enough, Florian also touches on his MCU future after that big tease in Shang-Chi's post-credits scene.
Watch the full interview below:
I wanted to talk about your training regime as I know you just launched a special 10-week Training Program. For any of our readers who might be interested in checking that out, could you maybe tell them what they can expect?
What they can expect is that the Training Program is exactly how I train. If people are interested in how I get in shape, how I prepare for my roles, or even before that when I did boxing, this is exactly how I trained. I haven’t left anything out. This is basically 17 years of experience, adding different exercises to my routine [and] leaving other exercises out, so after all those years and with all the experience I’ve gained, I’ve perfected that training routine to the point I would say this is the best way to get in shape. So, if people are interested in getting in shape and know how I train, there you are. It’s more than just a piece of paper or sheet that I’m handing out where you can see, ‘Oh, that’s the exercise.’ No, it’s everything: detailed tutorials and I’m basically training with you because I’m showing you every exercise. There’s audiovisual motivation throughout the whole training routine, especially with scenes from my movies which usually should get you pumped. I feel that motivation is the key if you want to get in shape, so it’s definitely a high-end, high-quality product that we’ve put a lot of work into. We invested a lot so people can expect a lot from their training routines. For everyone who wants to know how I train and how I get in shape, there you go!
It sounds awesome and I've got to say, looking on your website, I was blown away by the before and after photo you posted of yourself showing what you looked like. Is it important to you that people do the same thing and that they get to see how you transformed your own physique?
For sure. That’s the progress and you always want to see your progress. We live in an era now with social media and the internet where it’s super easy to document everything, so why not? That should be motivation and inspiration for yourself so you can see your own progress during that whole path. Those two pictures you saw on the site...I usually don’t get out of shape, but I remember that it was after the hernia surgery I had, so with surgery, you have to take a two month lay off and your shape declines. It took me 10 weeks, which is exactly what I show off in the Program, to get in the shape I am right now. Obviously, you can’t expect to look like me in 10 weeks because I’ve been doing this for 17 years, but everyone has to start somewhere, and I feel like that’s the perfect start. It’s definitely tough and hard, so don’t expect if you get the Program that I’m going easy on you, but it will be worth it. That I can promise you.
Amazing. I can tell it means a lot to you to help people in this way.
Of course. People were always asking me, ‘When will you put your training regime out there? When can we expect to do that?’ Especially now I’ve stepped into the film industry, my roles are very physical, so I feel like people are motivated and inspired by me and the way that I look. We made the decision, especially after Borderlands because that was probably the best shape of my life so far, that we won’t take a break directly after the shoot. Instead, we add three more weeks and finish this training routine. I’m very happy with the product and I’m 100% sure that people will be too.
I can’t wait for people to check it out, and watching Shang-Chi, you’re clearly in amazing shape in that film as well, so I’m guessing your Training Program factored a lot into getting you into that supervillain shape?
Yeah, for sure. I have to admit that the Training Program is really, in my opinion, the perfect mix of building muscle while staying athletic at the same time and getting shredded. For the character of Razor Fist, the shredded look was not really the goal. Our director wanted to create something that looked as massive and as solid as possible. I’m always looking to be very athletic and combine different attributes of sport, but in this case, it was basically just weightlifting. There was no cardio in it and I had to eat a lot. I was weighing the most I have weighed so far in my career! That’s what made the fighting so tough. The more you weigh, you’re carrying that around with you, and your moves get a little bit sloppier, your speed declines, and it’s weird to move with so much weight, but also harder. It always felt like someone was pushing me down like a weight on my shoulder. You have to go with the director’s choices if he wants to create a look; that’s the goal, and I feel like we did a good job on that. I feel like, Razor Fist, when we see him in the movie, he looks massive. He looks solid and like a brick. He’s like a solid wall and that’s what we wanted to create.
In terms of being cast as this character, how long was it before you found out you would be playing this iconic comic book villain in Razor Fist?
You mean how long did it take until I got the news?
Yeah, because I know that sometimes with these projects they won’t tell you who it is actually you’re playing until you’ve actually signed on sometimes!
Yeah, they didn’t tell me who the character was when I first auditioned for it, but I’m a huge comic nerd myself and have been for as long as I can remember since I was a child. There was a long term goal to make it into the MCU, so I’m always following the fan pages and want to know when the different movies are coming out, so I knew Shang-Chi was around the corner. When I read those pages, I could put 1+1 together and it was clear to me that it was Shang-Chi. I wasn’t really sure which character and, to be honest with you, I wasn’t familiar with the character of Razor Fist. I knew Shang-Chi from the comics and also because he always reminded me of Bruce Lee who is also a huge inspiration to me, especially his philosophy. So, I was familiar with Shang-Chi, but I wasn’t familiar with Razor Fist. I auditioned for it, I sent in a couple of different tapes, and then I think it took four weeks. I didn’t hear anything and those are always the hardest weeks because you’re hoping and you’ll be like, ‘Damn, when are they calling? I’m the guy! Do they not see that I’m the right guy for this project and for the role?’ [Laughs] Then, after four weeks, I was at the airport after finishing another project and my agency called me and were like, ‘Marvel wants to talk to you.’ I was like, ‘What does that mean?’ [Laughs] ‘Do I have the role? What’s happening?’ They told me, ‘No, they haven’t said anything. They just want to talk to you.’ The next day, they called and we had a talk, and it was then they said, ‘We think you’re the perfect guy for Razor Fist.’
Of course, you didn’t need any visual effects to make you look like a supervillain thanks to your physique, but the whole arm being taken off would have been VFX. What was that experience like for you? Were you wearing some sort of prosthetic or was it a case of having your hand covered with a glove?
That was exactly the case! I put my hand into a green glove and that silver bracket you see around my forearm was actually real. It was just plastic, and I put my hand through it and the green glove was attached so everything that happened from there was CGI. Obviously, it was weird, especially in the beginning, to put your hand into a glove and move with it. I would always imagine that I had a blade here and that’s how I would hold my hand all the time. With me having a boxing and fighting background, you’re usually used to closing your fists when you’re fighting, but this time around, I always imagined I had my blade so I always had my hand like that, like a real blade. It took me a couple of days to adapt to it, but I knew before that I would have to adapt, especially with my fighting style because this movie is so martial arts-inspired. I was prepared for that mentally, and as I said, it took me a couple of days and then I got used to it. Once you get used to it, though, it’s hard to get un-unsed to it if that makes sense? [Laughs]
Absolutely, and you mentioned martial arts, but a scene everyone is talking about since they’ve seen the movie is that fight on the bus between Razor Fist and Shang-Chi on the bus. What was that like for you to shoot? The way it came together means it just looks incredible on screen.
I was also very happy with the end product when I saw the big bus fight! Stepping into the bus, we rehearsed, I think, for four weeks with choreography. It was tough because a bus is generally very tight and very small. You don’t have a lot of space to move in and, especially for a guy like me who is big and tall, I need my space and I need room to actually deliver those big haymakers. I was basically touching the roof with my head; poles were everywhere. From the first day, I remember this exactly, I told Simu, ‘Bro, we’re going to get injured so many times in this bus!’ [Laughs] He was like, ‘Do you really think that?’ I said, ‘Trust me on that.’ I already knew from when I saw the inside of the bus. You know, when you get into character, you don’t think about holding back because you want to be authentic and real, so it was inevitable that we were hitting stools, and cameras, and poles, and everything in there. It was the sacrifice we had to make, and that we had to deliver, and I think in the end it was worth it. I’m very happy with the bus scene and how it turned out and I think we put our mark with that scene on the Marvel Universe, especially when it comes to fighting in Marvel.
I don’t think that scene is one people are going to forget because it really showed a different side of Marvel with that badass martial arts fighting. However, you go from a scene like that to the final battle which, I’m guessing, required a lot more imagination because you’re surrounded by all these mythical creatures in this fantasy setting? What was it like tapping into that different side of things?
To be honest with you, that was maybe the easiest part! Since I was a kid, and I feel like kids especially have that talent to create a different world in front of their eyes. During the process of becoming adults, we lose that ability somehow, but I never lost it. I still have this childish ability inside me. I like to fool around and, very often, I create scenarios in my head even at the age of 30. When they told me what the goal was and that we had to imagine all those demons coming out of that gate, I was like, ‘Hell yeah, this is like being 10 years old again on the playground but, this time, I’m actually getting paid for it!’ [Laughs] That’s the best thing ever. I had absolutely no problem with it and I love science fiction, demons, dragons, and I’m a huge fan of comics and The Lord of the Rings. You name it! It was super easy for me, and in comparison to the bus fight, it was a piece of cake - trust me!
During that final battle, we see Razor Fist align himself with Xialing; do you think in that moment he’s just looking out for #1 and he’s not loyal to anyone or is the writing on the wall for him and he realises it’s the smartest thing to do?
I feel like he definitely sees that decision as the smartest thing to do. The thing with him is that he has an unbreakable loyalty towards Wenwu, but if you look closely and remember the scene where Razor Fist comes into the room where Wenwu has all his books. He tells him the cars are ready and there’s a little glimpse and look he gives him where you can see a little doubt over the decisions Wenwu is making. He’s thinking, ‘Is this really the right thing to do? Is my boss still mentally clear? Does he know what he’s doing or is his fantasy playing tricks on him?’ When he realises in the battle that those demons are actually unbeatable, at least with the weapons the Ten Rings have, it’s not like he makes the decision against Wenwu. He makes a decision for his soldiers and the army who are his brothers; he grew up with them and trained with them. It’s not like he would disobey, but in that case, it was the smartest thing to do, also because he had those doubts heading into it. Like you said, we had that big end battle, and you [originally] would have seen a bit more there from Razor Fist. There are good reasons why now, but you will see what I’m talking about in the bonus material when it comes out. I’m looking forward to people seeing that because there was a reason why he replaced his blade with the dragon sword and fights with two swords, but I don’t want to spoil too much and I don’t want to give away too much. However, people can be very excited about what’s coming in the future and the bonus material.
I can’t wait to check that out, but right at the end of the film in the post-credits scene, we see that Razor Fist has got a new boss and we get the title card saying the Ten Rings will return. Are you looking forward to your future as the character? I know you probably can’t say when you’ll be back, but you must be excited to continue exploring him and his new dynamic in that organisation?
For sure. You know, when you shoot a movie...I’m not the most experienced guy, but with every movie I’ve taken part in so far and with every other actor I’ve worked with, they’ve told me the same thing: ‘Movies always get too long.’ You always have to cut here and there to make the movie work or just because it’s too long. With this movie, we couldn’t focus too much on background stories. The focus had to be on the origin story for Shang-Chi and, as a team, that was the right decision to make. We couldn’t show what Razor Fist really has in store in this one. Obviously, end credits scenes in the Marvel Universe mean a lot and there are no coincidences in the MCU. We all know that, so that’s definitely a hint. I feel like we know Xialing is the daughter of Wenwu, so it’s definitely that I’m now following a new leader as payback not only to honour what I always call his stepdad because, at the end of the day, Wenwu gave him a new life and purpose and a home. He trained him and took him away from the streets. That’s also something you will see in the bonus material. She’s his daughter, so there’s more meaning to that than just following a new leader, but we’ll have to see what happens. I’m very excited about everything that comes. I can’t wait.
In the comic books, we’ve seen Razor Fist have some great rivalries with Shang-Chi and characters like Daredevil and Captain America. Eventually, he ends up losing both hands and wields two blades, so thinking ahead to the future, do you have any superheroes you’d like to see him face and how would you feel about having two blades...and, I guess, putting your hands into two gloves next time?
[Laughs] Definitely hard when it comes to your daily routines. Speaking as a character, I don’t know how Razor Fist goes to the toilet now, but speaking from a fighting perspective, two blades look amazing. My dream matchup would be if Razor Fist were to potentially lose his other hand, I’d love to see him against Wolverine. The battle of the blades. That would be something amazing. We, as actors, always have different fantasies of where we could lead the character and what the path is for them. Since, in the MCU, everything is possible, maybe you can add some cool gadgets to the one arm. Maybe it’s not only a blade, maybe it’s something more because it’s evolving. We’ll see what happens. The other characters you named are super interesting to me. I’m obviously a huge Captain America fan and Daredevil was one of my favourites when I was a kid, so let’s see. It’s a bright future!
It’s exciting times for the character and you, and I know you mentioned Borderlands earlier so while I’m sure it’s very secretive at this stage, is there anything you can tease about that one? I’m sure it was a great experience going from a superhero film to a video game one.
Yeah, to be honest with you, I expected to take a little bit of time off after Shang-Chi and then we immediately went into the next project. Once an opportunity is presented in front of you, you can’t say no to that. The character, Krieg, I’m telling you, that was a lot of fun to play. Playing the two personalities, his craziness, and being violent and vicious when it comes to fighting, but at the same time, give the character heart...maybe people won’t expect that. We know from the games he has a lot of heart, but maybe he just can’t express it. That’s what makes him also very funny, so the character in total has everything. He’s violent, his fighting style is intimidating and vicious, he’s funny and will show heart as well, so it’s the whole package. The movie itself, I was honoured to be next to such an amazing cast. I still feel that I’m at the beginning of my career, so being lined up with legends like Cate, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Hart, Arianna, who was unbelievable, elevated me to the next level. I’m working with the best in the game, so that made me better. The world that Eli, our director created, I just don’t see how people can’t like that. I know in the gaming world, people are very restricted if it comes to a movie adaptation of computer games because there weren’t too many good ones so far. This one, we have a blockbuster right there. It has everything: the tone of the game? We adapted that. It has that black humour to it, and at the same time, it’s violent as that’s what we want when it comes to Borderlands. The storyline is great and we have six cool heroes if we count Jack Black, who plays Claptrap. Everyone gets their piece, we get to know a little backstory for everyone, so I feel like the gaming world will be pleased and the regular fans or audience who don’t know anything about the game will love it as well. You can be very excited for that one.
It sounds amazing. You’re so early into your acting career, but you’ve done the Rocky franchise with Creed, you’ve been in a huge Marvel movie and now a big video game movie...do you have a bucket list of projects you’d like to do? Whether it’s Star Wars or even, as you mentioned, The Lord of the Rings?
The smartest move is to take it one at a time and take it step by step. You never want to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to something in advance, but at the same time, I have a bucket list, for sure. If we’re talking about what has been done so far with the Rocky franchise, with the MCU, or Borderlands, I did those characters, but this is not the end for them. I still have plans for those characters as well. I don’t want to talk about what’s still on my bucket list because I feel like that’s bad luck. I don’t want to put the word out there, but there are two characters in my head I feel I’m perfect for. We’ll see what happens, but there is a bucket list and I’m not nearly towards the end. This is just the beginning.
One final question for you, Florian: in Shang-Chi, we see that Razor Fist has a very cool car and then the heroes, they take that car and trash it, so how gutted were you that you didn’t get to drive it and that the heroes ruined your ride?
[Laughs] Well, first of all, I have to say the car was amazing. When I first saw it with the paint job and everything, that really made me realise how far I’d come. It’s one thing when they tell you that you’re playing this character, but then you realise ‘This is my car’ speaking from the character’s perspective. You see the name on your car and realise, ‘Damn, I’m Razor Fist. I’m playing this character. I made it to the MCU.’ That was an unbelievable feeling, I love the car, and yeah, I wasn’t able to drive it in the movie. The whole scene, I just loved it. They’re racing with my car to find that secret village and I feel like without me being in it, I was somehow in it and I still had that funny moment. That should tell you a little bit about Razor Fist’s character and personality; he is a loyal soldier, he is intimidating and vicious and ruthless when it comes to fighting, but there’s more to the character. He’s not one-dimensional. He’s definitely more layered and the car only shows a glimpse of that.
Fingers crossed you get to drive it in the sequel, but thank you so much for your time, Florian. Congratulations on all your success coming into these big franchises kicking ass and making an impact. It’s great to see.
Appreciate it and I appreciate you, man. I can promise you, like I said before, I’m not stopping here. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve reached so far because there are a lot of goals I want to accomplish and I have the biggest dreams, so all I can say is let’s go on to the next one.