Don Wilson Is Playing a Hit Man?
Don “The Dragon” Wilson, the kickboxing legend who became an action star, is back on the screen, and this time the movie is a quirky action comedy with a twist for the former fighter: He plays a hit man.
Titled Paying Mr. McGetty, the new film comes from Traditionz Entertainment, the same company that produced The Martial Arts Kid with Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock.
The plot of Paying Mr. McGetty reflects the madcap style that’s often used in Hong Kong cinema. After a night of drinking and gambling, Tyrell (played by R. Marcos Taylor, who appeared in Straight Outta Compton and Baby Driver) is awakened by an angry call from his girlfriend Meena. Turns out, Tyrell is in bed with a strange woman — who happens to be the daughter of a local mob boss. Once the mobster finds out, he hires hit-man Shota (Wilson) to take out the transgressor.
To make matters worse, the reward that’s placed on Tyrell’s head drives dozens of others to look for him, too. Further adding to Tyrell’s troubles, Meena, the love of his life, is put in harm’s way. Tyrell must make a stand by taking on the mob, dealing with Shota and finding the money to pay his landlord — the eponymous Mr. McGetty — before the day ends. PRODUCER JAMES WILSON said the concept for Paying Mr. McGetty began more like a Jackie Chan movie than an urban action drama. “There [was supposed to] be more comedy than action, but the star R. Marcos Taylor was injured in the first scene on the first day,”
James said. “So we changed it right away. We went in a quirky different direction. We knew the movie would be risky from the beginning. We tried to make this a very unique and unusual movie.”
Don Wilson, who’s starred in more than 30 feature films, enjoyed the challenge of playing an anti-hero in McGetty. “In my other films, I usually work very heavily on story, casting and editing, but on this one, I just had more input on my own character,” he said. “I’m not used to being the bad guy, so I tried to make this character like Leon in The Professional and a little like the villain from No Country for Old Men.
“But I had scruples. I did not want to take out Marcos because he did not do what they thought he had done. I’m not just a hit man who will do anything for money — I actually have a code.” BECAUSE OF HIS martial arts training — which includes karate, muay Thai and taekwondo — Taylor was up to the task of squaring off with Wilson. “I always seem to play the heavy, the thug or the tough guy, so Tyrell was really interesting to play physically,” he said. “Going from confusion, stress, frustration, depression and fear to courage, determination and happiness was a challenge, but one I loved doing. There was plenty of action to keep things interesting.”
In an interview with The Action Elite, fight coordinator and stunt performer John Kreng said he was honored to collaborate with Wilson on McGetty. “He was amazing to work with because he has a certain understanding and a logic; he let me create what I needed to create, and he would take it and make it his,” Kreng explained. “He would watch what I had choreographed with the stunt crew [and] he would say, ‘OK, I see why you’re doing this and this, but I just need to change it to work for me,’ so it was a great process.”
Changing things so they better match his skill set is something Wilson is used to. “If you do anything for over 30 years, you should be comfortable doing it by now,” he said. “I am much more comfortable now on a set in front of a camera, doing my dialogue, engaging in action and becoming [different] characters.”
The action scenes that Wilson and Kreng crafted draw from both men’s backgrounds. “Don wanted something along the lines of The Bourne Identity, where it was simple yet forceful,” Kreng said. “So I started looking more into it, and I incorporated a little more Japanese jiu-jitsu, aikido locks and stuff just to change it up a bit. I wanted to add something that I hadn’t seen Don do yet. He was totally up for it and thought it was really cool.” THE LIKELIHOOD that McGetty will be a hit with the martial arts community is boosted by the fact that the producers are firmly enmeshed within that community and have subtly inserted respected fighters into the film. It’s a nod to fans of the genre. Former kickboxing legends Jeff Smith and Olando Rivera have roles. Former top-rated competitor James Sisco, grandmasters Glenn C. Wilson and Sergio Barriga, and masters Kevin Bergquist, Doug Zimmer and Mark Liverio also make appearances.
Clearly, the film is designed to appeal to those who have devoted their lives to their martial arts. But it offers so much more. “Paying Mr. McGetty is for anyone who loves romance and action,” said Michael Baumgarten, the film’s director. “This is the type of movie that can be a fun little cult film for a lot of audiences. We want a diverse crowd. We want to plug into those markets and give them a film that they don’t get every week.”
IF IMDB IS TO BE BELIEVED … The extended cast list for Paying Mr. McGetty includes other martial artists whose names may be familiar to Black Belt readers: • Cynthia Rothrock • Tayari Casel • Alan Goldberg • Maurice Elmalem • Robert Goldman
The film is designed to appeal to those who have devoted their lives to their martial arts. But it offers so much more.
R. Marcos Taylor Tayari Casel