From 'Five Fingers of Death' to the Last Frontier

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU)


Every Thursday, James Sukhoon Nam plays the piano at the Salvation Army's McKinnell House in front of dozens of seniors.

His fingers move quickly over the keys. The room fills with the sounds of hymnals and gospel music.

Sukhoon Nam has been playing the piano since he was a child, he also sings, acts and paints. But, what he's really famous for are his martial arts skills.

Sukhoon Nam has acted in 150 movies, one of his most famous," Five Fingers of Death," was one of the biggest inspirations to the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.

In most of his movies Sukhoon Nam played the "bad guy." He says that's because he is Korean and most of the others actors were Chinese.

"Korean man kill Chinese? Cannot make money," Sukhoon Nam said, "So from that time I'm bad, a bad guy. That's good fun, the bad guy. Better action."

Sukhoon Nam learned Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do when he was 18 because other kids at school used to hit him.

Movie producers quickly saw his talent and he was booked in movie after movie. For his part, Sukhoon Nam also was good at spotting other talented actors. He says he helped Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee in their careers.

His style is very distinct. Sukhoon Nam stretches out his arms and slowly forms loopy letters. First an "a" then a "b." Then he speeds-up his movement, his hands clench tightly together, claw-like, as he punctuates his letters with deep, forced exhaled breath's: "G!" "F!"

These days he's mostly interested the piano, which was his first love. Sukhoon Nam says from the moment he can remember he always wanted to be a famous pianist.

"When I was young, my dream pianist," Sukhoon Nam said, "but pianist very poor."

Sukhoon Nam moved to Anchorage five months ago to become a painter, it also meant more time to focus on the piano.

Most days he's up at three in the morning with his brushes and canvas. His favorite's are classic Alaskan scenes of northern lights and snowcapped mountains.

"Alaska's best place for my style," Sukhoon Nam said.



 
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