It wasn’t until 2006 I became aware of the mighty presence of Christoph Klüppel. I’ve probably seen him before, on VHS home in Sweden when I was younger and had no idea that it was possible to watch movies outside the United States. Well, maybe just Hong Kong and Jackie Chan. But you can imagine how my fascination started when the first I saw of him was this:
At this time I knew this was a Thai movie, because I bought it at Uncle Chai’s shop at the Pakkret intersection, in Bangkok. A small store, like many others, but this one’s filled with vintage Thai movies – mostly flicks with Mitr Chaibancha, Sombat Metanee and Sorapong Chatree – the holy trio of Thai male movie stars. At this time I was mostly looking for productions starring Panna Rittikrai, because I saw his directional debut Born to fight earlier that week, plus the in-name-only remake, and I wanted to see more!
Fast forward to 2011 and I actually managed to find every known movie starring Mr Klüppel, including the fantastic, cheap and entertaining Hong Kong movie Satanic Crystals where Mr Klüppel has a smaller part – but still manages to kill a lot of people and flex his muscles. The way we want it of course. What come next? Should I write a book about him, start a blog? No, the best way was to find him, ask him for an interview and tell people about his work and career in the Thai movie industry. So, that’s what I did, a very detailed interview with everything you would like to know about Christoph Klüppel!
Ninja Dixon: It’s an honour to be able to interview you about your action career in Thailand! Nowadays you are in a completely different business, which I will get back to later in the interview. Today, when you look back, how do you feel being the big guy killing hundreds of bad guys in these old Thai action movies?
Christoph Klüppel: As it is all fiction, I don’t really think much about the action I had to perform playing my parts in these movies; after all, as an actor, one doesn’t really have much saying in it, but has to do what the director/producer requests. But what I can say is that even today, more than 20 years after the shooting of “The Lost Idol” and other of my action movies, local people, especially in their late thirties and forties, often still recognize me from my parts in these movies and greet me with enthusiasm because of them. My action and performance appears to have generated a lasting impression in these people’s minds. To be acknowledged and greeted by people or even asked for an autograph so many years after my active movie career came to an end, is still a quite elevating feeling for me, and whenever it happens, I always thank people for remembering me from the “old days”.
ND: First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your background, how you ended up in Thailand for example, your training, etc?
CK: After graduating from High School in my German hometown Fulda, I moved to Austria to study medicine at the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz. I had already started to train with weights from the age of fifteen, pursuing regular weight training throughout my last few high school years in Germany. Then, during the initial years of my university studies in the late seventies and early eighties, I trained bodybuilding and Olympic weight-lifting at the Union Graz Athletic Club, the same place where Arnold Schwarzenegger had started his impressive bodybuilding career a few years earlier. As a member of the Olympic Weightlifting Team of Union Graz, I participated in many local and international weight lifting competitions and won many prestigious awards. My enthusiasm for weight-training and my engagement in competitive sports became so strong that it caused me to eventually curtail my medical studies after completing seven semesters and to rather pursue a career in the fitness industry. My partial studies of medicine and subsequent studies of fitness sciences proved an excellent basis for my further career as a fitness trainer and fitness manager, gym equipment manufacturer and gym owner, fitness- , nutrition- and natural health consultant, most of which took off in Thailand after moving over here .
Moving to Thailand was actually the final consequence of having met and fallen in love with a Thai girl in Austria. She had already lived in Austria for years before we met and fell in love with each other, but throughout our relationship, she conveyed to me a lot of things which are unique and positive about Thailand and about Thai culture; getting to know her better and getting acquainted with more of her relatives and friends, who likewise lived in Austria, I gradually learned so much more about Thai people, Thai culture and life in Thailand that I felt I might enjoy living there. So I eventually decided to move to Bangkok without actually having ever visited there before; I just sold whatever of my possessions where possible for me to sell and took a one-way KLM flight from Vienna to Bangkok. And I never had to regret my decision, as Thailand indeed provided me with a number of unique opportunities, one of them the chance to play parts in a variety of action movies, TV series and commercials. Living here also offered to me the great chance to make a good living with my favorite hobby and passion - fitness - , and, while pursuing my work and fitness lifestyle, also allowed me to enjoy life on a daily basis. I met many loyal and pleasant people over here, made great friends from all over the globe throughout the past decades, and found respect and recognition for what I do in the local society. The movie career of my early years in Thailand definitely helped to successfully establish myself in business over here.