The Asian film industry has been rocked by the loss of one of their top talents with the death of John Ladalski, an American martial artist who has appeared in countless Asian films for the past three decades. Ladalski passed away last night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the age of 66.
Ladalski’s most prominent roles include that of the second-in-command of the evil cult run by Ken Boyle in Armour of God opposite Jackie Chan, the trainer of Yasuaki Kurata’s ex-champion in Bloodfight, and recently, a turn as a well-suited goon who gets involved in the one vs. many battle against Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong aka The Protector.
John Ladalski was born on February 16, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois. An avid fan of martial arts, John began training after serving in Vietnam, where he took up boxing, Taekwondo, Jeet Kune Do, Shorinji Kempo, Wing Chun, Kali, and other various forms. In the 1970’s, emigrated to Hong Kong to not only continue his training, but begin a film career where he would be respected as an actor, stuntman, and fight choreographer. However, his first film role was in a 1977 Andy Sidaris film entitled Seven.
After a brief role in Robert Clouse’s version of Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, John had an uncredited role in The Informer in 1980. However, in 1981, he got his first major co-starring role opposite Bruce Lee clone Ho Chung Tao (aka Bruce Li) in Chinese Stuntman as Li’s best friend.
Like many Westerners in Hong Kong in the 80’s, John has had his share of screen time in Joseph Lai’s IFD Arts and Films “cut-and-paste” films including Mission Thunderbolt, Ninja Thunderbolt, Diamond Ninja Force, and Ninja the Protector. However, after scoring the role of the second-in-command villain in Armour of God, Ladalski began to appear in more quality Hong Kong films such as The Inspector Wears Skirts II, City War, returned in a new role as a mercenary in Armour of God II: Operation Condor, and The Cyprus Tigers.
John would appear in many more Asian films and even become an instructor and well known fight choreographer. One of his most recent projects as a fight choreographer was on the Indonesian version of The Expendables, Garuda 7.
I remember years ago, during the waning days of my High Impact days (pre-Kung Fu Cinema) where I corresponded with John through e-mail and he was such a very nice guy who knew his stuff due to his prolific career in Asia.
World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of John Ladalski. As homage, here is an interview with John posted by Youtube user Cult Cinema, where he talked about his Hong Kong film career:
For more information on John, check out this interview with Cool A** Cinema.
Rest in Peace, John Ladalski.
H/T: Ricky Baker Facebook