When he was seven years old Michel Qissi began training in boxing. He soon met and befriended a young Jean-Claude Van Varenberg (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who was studying Shotokan Karate, and the two traded techniques in their systems. They grew up together and shared the same love of action films and dreamed of being action stars themselves one day. In 1982, Qissi and Jean-Claude went to Hollywood together to look for a career in action movies. landing their big break in 1986. After obtaining an interview with Menahem Golan of Cannon Pictures they secured a three-picture deal, the first of which was the highly successful Bloodsport. In Cyborg (1989), Qissi worked as Van Damme’s personal trainer but had no part in the cast. In the picture, Kickboxer (1989), Qissi was working as a choreographer when he overheard the production crew say they needed a tall Asian-looking guy who had a background in Muay Thai. Qissi had studied Muay Thai years before in Thailand so he volunteered and got the part of Tong Po. Michel Qissi was not credited; however, he was dubbed as Tong Po and even given a make-up job to make him look Asian. His final picture with Van Damme was Lionheart (1990) (AWOL), playing a legionnaire sent to bring Van Damme back to the army. Since then, he returned to his role of Tong Po in the sequel Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991). Qissi also did a few of his own flicks including Terminator Woman (1993) which he directed; he also had a relative Jeanette Agaronoff as the writer for this movie. Extreme Force (2001) was a movie directed by him along side Hector Echavarria as once again looking just like Tong Po but under the moniker Kong Li.
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