There’s a lot to be said about following one’s dreams, however challenging or hopeless the situation may seem. Grinding day in day out for something you believe in, when it seems no one else believes in you. To the brothers and sisters who are chasing their passions and goals, you all help to make the world a better place!
The “never say die attitude” and the beautiful struggle to achieve success is embodied in this short inspirational film about mixed martial arts. But the message transcends fighting, and can apply to everybody. So whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going, I hope this can inspire your day the same way it did mine.
Following up on an in-depth 7,000-word article I wrote on why there were no high-level Chinese fighters in modern combat sports “Where Are The Chinese Fighters?”, I decided to make a short film that I hope will not only inspire people out there–especially Chinese people–to train MMA, but also to be able to tell a story that could relate to the masses, the average Joe or Jane on their everyday struggle to (both literally and figuratively) continue to fight for their dreams.
My reasons for making this film are plentiful. First and foremost, I wanted to uplift the spirits of the average guy or girl out there. The ones who may be alone on their journey. Struggling day in and day out at their job, their chosen profession, or craft. The ones on the grind everyday working towards something seemingly impossible to achieve, or for a moment of glory that may never come. This is the film I want them to watch so that hopefully they also know they aren’t alone; that there are people out there just like them, striving for success no matter the odds.
The film purposely doesn’t show how the fight went for our protagonist, because at the end of it all, it didn’t matter what the outcome was. I wanted viewers to know that it doesn’t matter if they won or lost their own battles, if they beat their opponent or got beaten down, and if they got the job promotion, their award for excellence, or broke a new sales record.
I want them to know that what matters most is the journey. What they learned through the process of hard work and dedication. That very process is the ultimate reward–the life lessons that one learns when they choose to dedicate themselves to the path of mastery. It may be mastery of cookery. It may be mastery of craftsmanship. Or it may be mastery of martial arts. Whichever path they’ve chosen, I believe that achieving mastery in something–like turning a piece of coal into a diamond–means you’ll have mastered yourself. If you master yourself, you become the winner–in life. That is the ultimate goal we should all be striving for. To become the best human being we can possibly be and to break our own records, and not compare ourselves to others, external influences, or materialistic–and ultimately superficial–forces.
This film also ties in with the same philosophy of Dynasty Clothing, an authentic Chinese mixed martial arts gear and street fashion brand I started in 2010. I made the film so that it would stand alone as a piece of cinematic art, but also tied it in as an advertisement campaign with Dynasty’s core values and role as “the underdog”. Dynasty Clothing is my own mixed martial arts brand that I created not just to share our culture and provide authentic Asian-inspired MMA gear to the world but also because I wanted to provide the Chinese people with an MMA brand that they could call “their own” (much like how American, Brazilian, and Japanese fighters have their own brand that represents them). As you may have figured out, I am quite proud of my Chinese heritage, history, and culture. The Chinese created martial arts, and there’s no reason why they don’t belong in the arena of mixed martial arts, especially since Bruce Lee was the first person to advocate cross training (mixed martial arts) at a time when doing so was unthinkable.
The main character of the film is a Chinese guy who breaks out of traditional Chinese norms and Hollywood stereotypes. Instead of following Chinese family expectations like dating and marrying a Chinese girl and having a successful career with lots of money, he chooses to rebel against his parents’ wishes instead, train MMA, and date a Caucasian girl. Instead of presenting a more conventional rags to riches storyline of the struggling poor underdog fighting for money and fame, I decided to present a character who came from wealth and does not need to fight but chooses to fight, not for money and fame but for self-actualization and personal fulfillment. I wanted to show a character that has the strength and skill of a fighter, but also has a humble, kind, and romantic heart of a real man, and that of a real martial artist.
This was my intention as Director, Producer, Writer, and an Actor of this film. Being an overseas Chinese, I wanted to inspire Asian men around the world but especially those from back home (who may be less outgoing / have less self-esteem having not grown up in a western environment in an ever-increasingly globalized world), by creating this film and inspiring them with the message that they too can stand up for themselves. I previously made a film (We Are All One 當我們站起來) that dealt with issues of how Asian men are often mistreated and both stereotypically and negatively depicted in North American mass media. As a natural extension, Fight For Your Dreams is almost an unofficial sequel in a sense, as this time it shows our protagonist in action; how he is in active pursuit to become the positive man that We Are All One only began to hint at.
It was my intention as an artist and filmmaker, to showcase my skills and combine my abilities together in a film such as Fight For Your Dreams; it just so happens that the film ties in beautifully as a promotional vehicle for Dynasty Clothing, because Dynasty carries the same philosophies and ideas as my films. To represent who you are as a man, as a proud martial artist who never quits and strives for ultimate success. The film is also relevant to the current state of Chinese MMA, which is in its infancy and has not had any impact at the international levels, yet. It shows a Chinese fighter who is learning to grapple and wrestle, two areas that Chinese mixed martial artists have the most difficulty adapting to in modern MMA. It was the perfect moment in time to re-introduce a strong Chinese male character that embodies this fighting spirit combined with western thinking (much like in the spirit of Bruce Lee) along with Dynasty Clothing, which is the first authentic Chinese MMA brand in the world.
Last but not least, I wanted to represent multiculturalism by having actors from all backgrounds and colors featured in the film (much like how the unique sport of mixed martial arts embraces practitioners from all around the world because martial arts and fighting is universal and transcends cultures and boundaries) to show that my film and my clothing brand can relate to and be appreciated by anyone.
Some may think the film may suffer as a result of turning into an advertisement at the end, but I don’t feel this is true, as many have told me they cried while watching the film and commented on how the film spoke to them. If one looks at some of the best films used as advertising campaigns (like the ones from Thailand), that is where you get some of the best and most well-told stories on cinema. That is not to say my film is on par with Thai advertisements–I would be the first to admit that it clearly is not–but I feel that using an effective film that doubles as an advertising campaign is much smarter and has much more emotional impact than a tacky 30-second commercial could ever hope to produce. If people happened to like my clothing brand and purchase my products–then it would merely be a bonus.
My main goal was to inspire others and instill positive vibes–and if I was able to achieve that–then my job was done. I hope I was able to do my job as a filmmaker, as an MMA fan, and as a human being in contributing to your lives and entertain you. Thank you sincerely for watching my film.
– Danny Hoi-Wah Ho