11 April, 2011

Franco's 80s actors: CÉSAR ANTONIO SERRANO

In Franco’s adventure film En busca del dragon dorado (1983), this one-movie actor was assigned the arguably thankless task of combining the spirit of Bruce Lee with that of Anne Libert’s birdwoman Melissa from La maldición de Frankenstein (1972). Although given top billing, under the fake Chinese-sounding name Li Yung, Serrano, has relatively few scenes as the ghostly “martial arts genius” who emerges deux ex machina to provide the two girls who are the film’s central characters with some help. When he does appear, it is in the form of the disconcerting (some would say unwittingly comical) figure of the “kung fu eagle”, who, accompanied by overdubbed bird screeches, either outstretches his arms into a wing-like flutter or essays some vague kind of cod-martial arts when confronted with villains.

In En busca del dragon dorado, set in an indefinite or imaginary country in Eastern Asia, with myriad Spanish actors (including Franco himself) doing their best to look Oriental, Serrano at least was a bona fide Asian, and moreover from a country once under Spanish dominion. Antonio Mayans, who dubbed in the voice of Serrano’s character, has said the following of him:

“It was me who chose the main actor [of En busca del dragon dorado]. I once went to the Rock-Ola disco to see Alaska [singer] and he worked as the doorman there. He was a Filipino, although we were looking for somebody Chinese. At first he took it as a joke and did a little karate number on me. I later took him to a gym for an audition and we finally hired him.”*

Caption: César Antonio Serrano, immersed in his grotesque “Kung Fu eagle” act.

• Interview with Antonio Mayans by Chus and Al Pereira for the Francomanía website at http://members.fortunecity.es/francomania2/entrevistamayans.html

[Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen]

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