Movies & TV / Columns

Mathew Ziff Talks w/411 About His Film The Martial Arts Kid

February 22, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The 411 Interview: Mathew Ziff

Mathew Ziff is an actor, producer, and model who has been in show business since he was two months old. He has been making movies since 2002 and has even dabbled in television (My Thai Life, Another Castle, TMI Hollywood). He has worked with actors like Michael Biehn, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Jason Beghe, Eric Roberts, Martin Kove, and many others. Ziff is set to reprise his role of Bo in the upcoming sequel The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback (check out my review of the first The Martial Arts Kid here). In this interview Ziff talks with this writer about The Martial Arts Kid, Payback and more.


Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved in the first The Martial Arts Kid? Why did you want to do it?

Mathew Ziff: I got involved with MAK originally back when they first started development. I had met James and Don through mutual connections and we hit it off, so when they called me to come in for Bo I was thrilled to jump on the opportunity and join such a wonderful cast of legendary martial artists.

BK: How would you describe your The Martial Arts Kid character Bo? Is Bo a villain or is he just misunderstood? Do you enjoy playing villains or do you like to mix it up?

MZ: In MAK, Bo was definitely a villain, no question. He only though about himself and if it didn’t go his way it didn’t happen. I enjoyed the character because it gave me an opportunity to switch it up from my typical nice guy characters. We are in for some changes in MAK2 though!

BK: What was it like working with T.J. Storm?

MZ: T.J. is awesome! Fantastic guy. Intense, but really a big softy. We had some fun in Kickboxer, too. I like to compare our roles to the old guys in the Muppets who make fun of everyone else. We got some free reign to improv with our insults for one of our scenes. We came up with a few ideas and then got to just riff off each other. I’m hoping we get that opportunity again on MAK2!

BK: How has Bo changed in The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback, or has he changed at all since the end of the first movie?

MZ: There has been some passage of time between films. I don’t wanna give away too much, but Bo is ready for some nice character progression. His emotional arc is getting some changes you might not quite expect after MAK1!

BK: How did you get involved with the martial arts? What sort of martial arts background do you have?

MZ I started martial arts at 3 years old in Tae Kwon Do and practiced pretty regularly up through college and grad school, so somewhere around 20 years. I’ve been on and off since then. In that time I also trained in a few other styles here and there, predominantly Kendo, but also aikido, hapkeido, boxing, and wrestling.

BK: Is working with action stars in movies like The Martial Arts Kid and Kickboxer: Vengeance different from working with just “regular” actors?

MZ: It’s not that much different! It’s like working with different martial artists, you interact with people with a different training style. Action stars tend to have a bit more intensity and slightly less subtlety, but in a way that works for the role, ya know? I don’t think there’s really a “regular” actor with all the different styles- it really differs more in the film’s writing and what it calls for from the actor.

BK: You have a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Miami. How did you develop an interest in industrial engineering?

MZ: Yes! Funny story I’m actually currently studying for my PhD in biomedical engineering, too. I always loved building things as a kid and was encouraged to pursue engineering through college. It’s totally the other end of the spectrum but I love it. I’m heavily involved in research and I just love the opportunity to learn and create!

BK: How did you get involved in movie producing? Was that something you always wanted to do or is it something that you developed an interest in over the years?

MZ: I kinda fell into producing, but that’s really common for actors. You have a project or you see or a project that means something to you and you want to help your vision or someone else’s that you support be realized!

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

MZ: Something is in the works but it’s all hush hush for now!

BK: Is Chuck Zito a nice guy?

MZ: He was great to work with on set! Lots of crazy and interesting stories.


A very special thanks to Mathew Ziff for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for helping set it up.

Check out Mathew Ziff’s official website here and Twitter page here. Check out Mathew Ziff’s imdb page here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback Indiegogo page here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid official website here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback official website here.

Check out the Traditionz Entertainment website here.

Check out the The Martial Arts Kid Facebook page here, Twitter page here, and Instagram page here.

The Martial Arts Kid poster from the movie’s official website. Mathew Ziff publicity image from Mathew Ziff’s official website. Mathew Ziff/T.J. Storm image from The Martial Arts Kid. The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback banner from The Martial Arts Kid Facebook page.