Keith Vitali is considered one of the 10 Best Fighters of all time according to Black Belt Magazine and was inducted into the Black Belt Hall Of Fame. Apart from his professional Karate career, he has appeared in several martial arts films, working with some of the best martial arts stars in the business. (08/03)

ANM: How was it like working with other martial arts greats such as Jackie Chan, Loren Avedon and John Barret?

Keith Vitali: Working with Jackie Chan was the highlight of my film career. He was charismatic, talented and just a thrill to see first-hand in action. John Barrett and I became good friends and had a mutual respect for each other's talent. John is someone I would like to see in more films myself. photos1.gif
ANM: You have now gone into producing safety videos for kids. How much is that a change from the days of kicking ass in "No Retreat No Surrender 3" and "American Kickboxer 1"?

KV: Now that I'm producing films, kid's videos and writing kid's illustrated books, I find it fulfilling in an entirely different way. I do miss the competition though.

ANM: What age did you start martial arts; because you are ranked as one of the top martial artists of all time; and what would be your advise to anyone who wants to be a karate champ?

KV: I started my martial arts career in college at the University of South Carolina when I was 18. I wish I had started at 3 instead. That is the time I believe Kids should begin taking it.

ANM: So why did you stop making martial arts films like "NRNS III" and "American Kickboxer 1"?

KV: It wasn't so much that I quit making films as the ones you mentioned; but those films actually quit being made at all. Now most action films have martial arts in them, but very few "martial arts" films are actually being made anymore. Even Jackie Chan doesn't do just pure martial arts movies, but action films with big stars like Tucker and just includes his wonderful martial arts.

ANM: Just curious, why the heck was the "American Kickboxer" movie titled as "American Kickboxer 1"? Were there sequels planned? Actually I did see "American Kickboxer 2" and it was pretty bad)

KV: I'm clueless about why "American Kickboxer" even had the 1 attached to it and I didn't like 2 either. photos2.gif
ANM: I understand you were in the Jackie Chan movie "Wheels On Meals" and that Jackie Chan and Benny "The Jet" Urquidez had somewhat of a rivalry. What exactly happened behind the scenes?

KV: Actually Benny and Jackie got along wonderfully. On one particular day, they got overheated during one of their many takes and Jackie expressed perhaps coming to America one day to fight Benny. That's about all that happened. We were all eating together later that night laughing.

ANM: What goes on behind the process of chreographing the fights of your films?

KV: Mostly hard work, but fun went on behind the scenes when you are putting the fight sequences together. It was always challenging but with the great talent I worked with, it made it much easier.

ANM: As you look back on your resume, who was your favorite actor you have ever worked with as well as your favorite movie?

KV: My favorite actor is Jackie Chan that I worked with and "Superfights" was my favorite movie.

ANM: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to make it in Hollywood?

KV: I would recommend that if anyone is interested in pursing a career in films that they get the proper training. Enroll in an acting class, sharpen up your martial arts techniques and find a action film camp like the one Michael Dipasquale Jr, Keith Strandberg and myself produce once a year at Storm King in New York. Most of all, keep a positive attitude at all times and treat people with respect.

ANM: What does the future hold for You?

KV: As far as what the future holds, Plenty!


Bloodmoon (1997)
Superfights (1995)
American Kickboxer (1991)
No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers (1990)
Wheels on Meals (1984)
Revenge of the Ninja (1983)

All photos courtesy of Keith Vitali
Please visit Keith's official site