The phone clock spins to readings at 12.00 when Tung Bui arrives punctually at a café in Arabianranta, Helsinki.
– Hi! happy man sighs.
Bui sits at the corner table with his back against the wall. I dare not ask, but I assume the seating is a conscious choice. According to the tower rumors, Martial Arts are always taught to sit back against the wall. Then no one will be able to surprise you from behind.
Bui talks about the summer news in a good mood. The stunt actor had finally gotten into real action in the filming of Class Meeting 3 after a long crown break.
– It left a really good feeling, Bui glows.
He also asks what belongs to the reporter. When listening, the actor looks directly into the eyes and gives the impression that he is interested in the answer. A friendly image of the man is immediately conveyed.
Small talk continues until the actual point is reached: How does a boy born in a refugee camp in Bangkok with an economist’s paper in his back pocket end up in Finland as a stunt professional?
Bu’s father fought in the late 70s in the Vietnam Civil War with South Vietnamese troops.
– South Vietnam lost that war. After that, my father, or really my whole family, had to hide outside political persecution, Bui now says seriously.
The hiding place did not succeed indefinitely as the network around it began to tighten. Had to flee. Bu’s father was allowed to take a train to a refugee boat traveling to Thailand with his family of five.
The family spent a year and a half in a Bangkok refugee camp. Bui was born there, although Vietnam is listed in his passport as his country of birth. From Bangkok, the journey continued to the Espoo Refugee Center in 1983.
– I was a three-month-old baby then, Bui says.
A year later, the family, which grew to six, found a home in Helsinki, which is still Hui’s hometown.
– So I am a Finnish citizen.
Exercise was strongly present in Bu’s childhood. He practiced athletics and floorball, among other things, but karate was number one. Its Bui started in 1994 when it was 11 years old.
– I got Dan’s first black belt in 2000, Bui recalls.
The hardworking and conscientious boy was also good at school. He studied long mathematics, long physics and long chemistry at Etu-Töölö High School. Already strong language skills were accumulated in Germany.
Bui dreams of medicine. The second option was TKK and the degree program in production economics. Law was also of interest, but Bui eventually ended up at the Helsinki School of Economics.
– I got tired of high school to study. At the time, I thought my curds were just enough for a trading height.
“Only to Trade High” well describes Buin’s character and ambition.
When the young man graduated with a master’s degree in economics in 2006, he was expected to work for a global consulting firm. Bui had already done a master’s degree for the company.
– But then when I got my master’s papers, I informed my supervisor that I wouldn’t come to work for them. I told you I was going to be a stunt man.
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An economist’s salary and a good job would certainly sound like a dream come true for many in their twenties, but Bu’s dreams were different.
– My idol was Jackie Chan. He has evolved from a stunt man to a media mogul. I then envisioned a similar path for myself.
Even the economic uncertainty did not worry about changing the industry.
– I had lived poor all my studies, so I was already used to that lifestyle.
Bui became a stunt man with his parkour skills. Already in 2003, he and his friend had founded the Finnish Parkour Association, through which promo gigs and performances were offered.
At a gig, Bui met Harri-Pekka to Virkki, a stunt professional.
– He became my mentor. He is the person whom I can thank the fact that I am in this field.
The clue hinted at Buille’s study material related to the stunt field, which was found online. He showed practical tricks on the trampoline and also taught NLP i.e. neuro-linguistic programmingia.
NLP develops e.g. thinking, emotional, and interaction skills. These skills make it easier to understand how the brain works: how do we learn, think, and motivate?
Bui gives an example of his NLP teachings.
– If you tell a story and say “but”, then it “but” sweeps away what you have just said. If I say that you have a really good mood, but, then the thing after that “but” will be remembered by the sun.
Sounds interesting. Does Bui use that skill in this interview as well? Maybe, but let’s move on.
– I thought that with the help of HP I would get into the stunt industry properly in six months.
The master’s view was a little different.
– HP said that nothing will happen in five years.
The return to the career path of an economist crept back into Bu’s mind. After a little deliberation, however, he decided to chase his dream, and Virkki got an eager assistant for his stunt gigs.
– In practice, it was that HP said, ‘Tung, now you’re quiet and watching.’ Sometimes I couldn’t be quiet, but I tried my best, Bui laughs.
There was no pay for just watching, so Bui supported himself with “dentist chores,” as he puts it.
– It was a hand-to-mouth life.
Signature for girlfriend
In addition to the official college, Bui began studying drama and acting at the Folk High School. Contact through the college opened the doors to Secret Lives in September 2009.
– My old teacher Come on, McAlester was Commander of the Casting of the Salkers, Bui reveals.
In Salkkari, Bui performed 18-year-old Noa Okada at the age of 27. People soon recognized the actor on the streets. Some even secretly took pictures, as is a good part of Härmä culture.
At Myllypuro metro station, on the other hand, there was once a slightly different fan encounter.
– The clock was already pretty much in the evening, when a guy taller than two heads approached me. It asked if I was the type of Salkkare.
Bui replied in the affirmative.
– Then it took out a pen and a notebook and asked, ‘Could you give a signature … to my girlfriend?’
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Bui got his first real stunt gig already in 2007. In a Nissan ad made the trick is also so far the most fun in Buin’s career.
– I had to jump off the back of a bicycle into a moving car.
Bui practiced the trick three days before the shots, and the first shot immediately went to the button: Bui slid from the open window into the back seat as a sock.
– I was that Jes! That was it.
Except it wasn’t.
– I was told I was too fast. The camera did not stay included.
And not when again.
The thighs shouted a hoarse and the brain yawned as Bui caught the car on the same uphill for the eighth time. The leap of the man on the acid was no longer as smooth as the first time, but the director was finally pleased with the work of the cameramen, and the intake ended in an ad.
Words fall out of Buin’s mouth carefully and thoughtfully as the conversation turns to the shadows of the profession.
– In one ad I jumped down from the roof of the house. I chose the wrong aerial position, Bui says and at the same time gets up to describe his position.
She had been offered a mattress for the descent, but Bui refused because the descent would not have looked so good on the man then. Professional pride took precedence over health.
With his poor posture and hard ground, Buin’s heels took such a blow on the descent that he had to walk the rest of the day with mere thighs. The recordings lasted another 7-8 hours after the jump.
– After the shots, I couldn’t move for three days.
At the same gig, the palms also went completely bruised.
– But luckily there were no marks on the face, the actor grins.
Bui has survived with fairly minor injuries as he always analyzes the risk level of each trick in a dotted way. The ligament has been broken in the right hand, but no worse has happened.
Bui takes a sip of coffee when I ask him: are the tricks ever scary?
– Definitely scary, the man answers honestly.
– But not so much scared yet that I should have refused something. There are always risks in tricks, but I haven’t experienced them being life-threatening.
Buin’s close circle is still at times worried about the man’s profession.
– Mom in particular. He is of the opinion that this does not make sense, but I solved it, so I did not tell him what I’m doing.
Today, Bui also works as a stunt and combat coordinator. In them, he designs action scenes and leverages his NPL teachings when working with actors and stunt men.
Has the School of Economics been useful in the stunt field?
– It has had both advantages and disadvantages, Bui says after a moment’s reflection.
Thanks to the training, he is able to step out of his own shoes and also watch the film through the eyes of the producer, from an economic point of view.
– However, it limits creativity. If my brain didn’t take into account the financial costs, then maybe we would have more helicopters, cranes, and explosions, Bui thinks.
The chatter session has been going on for almost a couple of hours now, although Bui wasn’t initially excited about the whole interview. A modest man does not need extra visibility. Everyone in the industry already knows him.
But now Bui is looking for even more water and continues to excitedly tell the story of battle scenes and explosions with his hands waving. The passion for the field shines through the eyes.
Have you ever said “no, thank you” for a stunt offer?
– Well, once at the National Opera, small naked men were searched for bodies. They would then have been carried on stage.
– I said I’m not that kind of stunt man.
Bu’s dream would be to coordinate Hollywood-style action scenes.
At the end of the interview, however, Hollywood images of the industry flow into the sewer one glamor at a time. The work of freelance stunt men is actually not only physically but also mentally heavy. For example, there is no regular income.
– Yes, I’m from thinking that should change fields, Bui admits.
He’s certainly not with the idea of being alone in a coronavir-ravaged field.
Family: wife and 1.5-year-old son
Language skills: Finnish, English, Vietnamese, Swedish, German, Chinese
Top movies / series featuring:
Class meeting 3 (2021)
Brother’s Guard (2018)
Night Feed (2017)
Killer Looking Man (2016)
Secret Lives (2009-2010)