"I've been getting ready for this," says Jeff Speakman, 33, of his starring role in Paramount Pictures' upcoming action picture, "The Perfect Weapon."
Due in March, the $10-million title is co-produced and directed by Mark DiSalle, whose "Kickboxer" and "Bloodsport" paved Jean-Claude Van Damme's way into the action arena.
DiSalle says he met Speakman during a casting call for "Kickboxer" and "knew the minute I met him that I had to find a film for him."
A fifth-degree Kenpo karate black belt, Speakman is a protege of the late martial-arts master Ed Parker, who was a consultant on the film and choreographed the film's fight scenes with the star.
Born in Chicago, the 6-foot, 185-pound Speakman was a high school athlete who got interested in martial arts watching the "Kung Fu" TV series. He studied Japanese Goju-Ryu karate while earning a degree in psychology at Missouri Southern State.
After relocating here, he began working with Parker, studying acting and appearing in non-martial arts roles on TV and in low-budget movies.
For his role in "The Perfect Weapon," which co-stars Mako, Speakman will be on a quest for justice. But he claims that he won't "do a film with violence for the sake of violence."
"I want to play straight-on heroes, the traditional kind."