I am extremely shocked and saddened to hear about Darren’s passing. He was a great and genuine person, a true talent and a real source of inspiration. He was always very kind and supportive of me and my projects. I was (and am) exceptionally proud to have him included in Life of Action. Now, I’m saddened that I won’t get to share the finished book with him. His work and accomplishments will always remain his legacy and I only hope he inspires countless generations to come.
Born on 5 August 1972 in Cheshire, England, Darren Shahlavi was a British Martial Arts star well known and loved by genre fans around the world. Having started his Martial Arts training at the age of seven, Darren was spurred on after taking a screen fighting seminar at the age of 17 with none other than the legendary Donnie Yen. Fuelled in his artistic endeavours, he began working as a stuntman in Hong Kong before moving onto bigger acting roles. His first big break came in Tai Chi II when he was hired by action master Yuen Woo-ping. The film remains a cult favourite today and Darren more than proved his talents delivering the goods in the notoriously high-pressure, demanding world of Hong Kong action.
Later, he played the terrifying lead villain in Bloodmoon opposite Gary Daniels, which further demonstrated his exceptional screen fighting talent and kicking dexterity. Those fight scenes remain stunning to this day.
However, it was Ip Man 2, in which he went toe-to-toe with both Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung, which truly cemented his reputation. To have taken a seminar with Donnie at the age of 17, only to fight him on screen years later, is surely an amazing story in itself… full circle. The film was a huge success and remains a firm favourite. Donnie and Sammo also rated Darren very highly for his talents and commitment to the film.
In the West, he worked as a stunt performer in major blockbusters likes of 300 and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and would later play memorable roles in the likes of I-Spy, Born to Raise Hell, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, The Package and more. Most recently, he played the main villain opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Pound of Flesh and was filming Kickboxer Revenge opposite Dave Bautista. Darren always pleased fans with dynamic, larger-than-life and action-packed performances which proved him to be one of the most talented and skilled actors in the genre.
Throughout his career, he traded blows with the likes of Eddie Murphy, Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Steve Austin, Michael Jai White, Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Gary Daniels, Wu Jing and many more, in some truly epic battles.
His journey and career were forged through sheer, hard work. With everything he achieved, it’s safe to say he truly conquered his dream to be an action star. It’s just a shame and tragedy that his journey ended where it did, as there was plenty more great work to come. He left this place far too soon.
My thoughts are with his friends and family during this very difficult time. Thank you for everything Darren.
If you would like to donate to Darren’s memorial fund and help his family, please click here