Profile: Marko Zaror

Posted in Profiles by - December 02, 2023
Profile: Marko Zaror

Date of birth: 10 June, 1978 (Santiago, Chile)

Full name: Marko Zaror Aguad

Nickname: The Latin Dragon

Occupation: Actor, fight choreographer, producer.

Style: Taekwondo, kickboxing, MMA, Judo, Aikido, Shotokan Karate

Biography: Marko Zaror Aguad was born in Santiago, Chile. His Peruvian mother, Gina Aguad, was the first woman in Chile to receive a karate black belt. Inspired by Bruce Lee, he started training in martial arts from the age of six. His main martial art styles are taekwondo, kickboxing, and kung fu. He also has black belts in Judo and Aikido, and a green belt in Shotokan Karate. He has also studied boxing, acrobatics, and wrestling. In high-school, he excelled at sports, particularly rugby, which he could have continued playing after graduating, however his main passion was martial arts.

Despite studying to become a commercial engineer, in 1997, at the age of 18, Marko decided to make the move to Mexico because of a girlfriend at the time. He made a living modelling and doing fashion shows, eventually working as an actor in local films through his friendship with kickboxing champion, Jose Luis Mosca (who later played the villain in Redeemer), who was making low-budget movies in Mexico. While in Mexico, Marko received a scholarship to learn acting with Televisa, the largest Spanish-speaking media organisation, where he would have been guaranteed a career in soap operas. However, he was determined to work in action movies, and turned down the opportunity.

In the early 2000s, Marko moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a dishwasher, and taught kickboxing in a gym in order to make money to supplement his dreams of becoming an action star. When the stunt coordinator and Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Andy Cheng met Marko in the same gym, he asked him if he was interested in doing stunts, and summarily cast him as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s stunt double in The Rundown (2003). Andy fought to keep Marko on the project when he had issues with his visa. He also met J.J. Perry on the same production, who was working as Seann William Scott’s stunt double.

With the money he had made in Hollywood and the skills he learned from Andy Cheng, he returned to Chile to make his own martial arts film with his childhood friend, Ernesto Díaz Espinoza. In 2006, Zaror gained international notoriety as the lead actor and producer of the indie action film, Kiltro. It was the first Latin American martial arts film to receive a theatrical release. Together they have helped to progress the genre of action cinema across Latin America, following Kiltro with the superhero-inspired Mirageman, and the spy spoof Mandrill. All premiered at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, where they achieved domestic and international distribution.

In 2010, Zaror made his first English-language appearance as the Colombian prisoner Raul “Dolor” Quinones in Isaac Florentine’s Undisputed III: Redemption (2010), opposite Scott Adkins, with fight choreography by Larnell Stovall. Scott and Marko spent three days filming their final fight scene. Zaror would later team up with Adkins again in Jesse V. Johnson’s Savage Dog (2017).

Due to issues relating to a business partnership that went badly, it was around this time that Marko considered retiring from the film business for good, and training as a professional MMA fighter. However, in 2013, Robert Rodriguez asked him to play the main henchman in the action comedy, Machete Kills, and he decided to remain working in movies. He has continued to work on projects with Rodriguez, including From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series in 2016, and Alita: Battle Angel (2019).

He also decided to return to producing his own films. In 2014, he made the biblical-themed vigilante film, Redeemer, reuniting with Ernesto. In 2016, he worked on the Bollywood action film Sultan with the action director and friend, Larnell Stovall.
In 2021, he produced and starred in the family superhero comedy, Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone, which also saw him reunite with Machete star, Danny Trejo, and Andy Cheng.

In 2023, he reunited with Ernesto for their fifth film, the martial arts revenge drama, The Fist of the Condor, in which he played two roles. He also acted alongside his mother, who played a martial arts instructor in the film. For the film, Marko helped to create the ‘condor’ fighting style, modelled on the animal styles in kung fu, named after the national bird of Chile. The same year, Zaror appeared in the all-action sequel, John Wick: Chapter 4, fighting alongside Donnie Yen, Hiroyuki Sanada and Keanu Reeves.

Marko Zaror lives in Los Angeles.

Speech! “I identified very early that martial arts was my passion and my journey, and I didn’t know how, but I was going to be connected to that. Then I just embrace the mystery. I try to ask life to give me sign, and to follow those signs so I can follow this path of being truthful with myself.” Interview with Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast, 2023.

Click here to listen to KFMG Podcast S07 Episode 95 with Marko Zaror.

Filmography (as actor): 1998 Juan Camaney en Acapulco; El carro cargado; 2001 Hard As Nails; 2002 Into the Flames; 2006 Kiltro (+ prod, action dir.); Mirageman (+ prod, action dir.); 2007 Prince and Me and You; Casado con Hijos (TV); 2009 Mandrill (+ prod, action dir.); Chinango (+ prod.); 2010 Undisputed III: Redemption; Myths and Legends: The New Alliance; 2013 Machete Kills; 2014 Redeemer (+ prod, action dir.); 2016 Sultan; Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything (TV); From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (TV); 2017 Savage Dog; The Defenders (TV); Zambo Dende: Predictable Night (short); 2019 Alita: Battle Angel; 2020 Invincible; 2021 Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone (+ prod, action dir.); 2023 The Fist of the Condor (+ prod, action dir.); John Wick: Chapter 4; 2024 The Killer’s Game; Fight or Flight.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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