Not just your next door action star, Don Wilson started to get in being a movie producer early.
Don “The Dragon” Wilson is staring out the picture window of his sumptious penthouse onto the streets below and speaks in a quiet voice. “Who knows – who knows where I’d be if it wasn’t for that phone call.” The call Wilson refers to came from Concorde-New Horizon producer Roger Corman, the legendary “King of the B (movies).” Corman had read about Wilson in BLACK BELT and wanted to meet the man who was named “The greatest kickboxer who ever lived” by the independent STAR SYSTEM ranking organization. Corman had a kickboxing script in the works and wanted to cast an undisputed World Kickboxing Champion in the lead role.
Corman, who helped launch the careers of Jack Nicholson and countless other actors, apparently knew a winner when he saw one. Soon after his meeting, BLACK BELT Hall of Farner Wilson was signed to a three-picture deal that would start with the surprisingly successful BLOODFIST, shot for peanuts in the Phillippines. “We had virtually no budget, no name stars, just the script and the fighters.” says Wilson. “I think Roger wanted to experiment, to see if a kickboxing movie starring real kickboxers would do well at the box office.”
The experiment paid off and BLOODFIST was a solid success and became a video hit as well. Corman soon extended Wilson’s contract, and the kickboxing legend has since starred in nine movies for Concorde. Wilson had appeared in bit parts before his discovery and once had a recurring role on the daytime soap GENERAL HOSPITAL. he had no idea what was in store for him. “I was still, just concentrating on fighting then.” says Wilson. “And show business came in second to my efforts in the ring.”
After his retirement, it’s clear that this situation has been reversed. Wilson has now starred in sixteen motion pictures and has received story andfor producer credit on the most recent ones including CYBERTRACKER, DIE TRYING, and RING OF FIRE III, and LIONSTRIKE. He is scheduled for production through all of 1994 and is a growing force in the rabid action/martial arts genre.
With a reputation for hard work, honesty, and a surprising lack of ego, Wilson has given many current and former champions substantial roles in his movies and plans to continue this policy in the future. “It’s my way of rewarding them for the years of struggle they endured as fighters. Having gone through it myself – the small purses, the ripoffs, the pain and sacrifice I feel it’s the least I can do.”
Wilson’s current goal is to blur the line between star and producer. “I thinks that’s the goal of any performer in any profession, to control the field of play. As a producer, you control the story, the actors, the characterization, the action. It’s like seeing your dream come alive on screen.” Wilson ponders this a second, then turns from the window and laughs. “And if you screw it up, you have nobody to blame but yourself.”