Martial Arts Movie Born In Vermont - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Martial Arts Movie Born In Vermont

John Fusco John Fusco
Morgan Benoit Morgan Benoit

Williston, Vermont - April 7, 2008

Monday night's movie premier in Williston was a celebration bridging Vermont and China, with all the trappings of Hollywood: autograph signings and a real red carpet walk.

The celebtration was in honor of "The Forbidden Kingdom." The story, written by Morrisville screenwriter John Fusco, is a martial arts fantasy adventure that pairs movie fighting legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Fusco drew inspiration for the script from his own studies at the Vermont Kung Fu Academy.

"When Jackie Chan was reading the script and said, 'Shon dong black tiger? How did you learn about that? How did you know about "praying mantis?" Where did you learn about "flying lohan?"' I said, 'In Vermont,'" Fusco said. "And he said, 'No, no, Vermont's (all about) maple syrup, not kung fu!'"

The writer proved Jackie Chan wrong about that, and had backup in doing so from another Vermont talent. Essex High School graduate, Morgan Benoit, now works in Los Angeles as an actor. Like Fusco, he also studied at the Vermont Kung Fu Academy, and credits that experience with changing his life.

"When I was a kid, I grew up in Vermont, and was getting in trouble as a teenager," Benoit said. "At 14 and 15, I was just hanging out with the wrong crowd. Martial arts took me away from that in put me on a positive path."

That path now appears to be leading him to success in Hollywood. He has a small roll as a villain in "The Forbidden Kingdom," and shares screen time with Jackie Chan.

Both Benoit and Fusco hopes the movie kicks up interest in kung fu, in the same way "The Karate Kid" did for karate.

"It would be great to re-introduce martial arts as a positive influence for kids," Fusco said.

Monday night's screening was just a preview. "The Forbidden Kingdom" doesn't open in wide release until April 18.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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