Kung-fu comedy takes you to an alternative-universe Sydney

Stephanie Son, Lawrence Leung and Dave Eastgate in a scene from Maximum Choppage.
Stephanie Son, Lawrence Leung and Dave Eastgate in a scene from Maximum Choppage. Olivia Martin-McGuire

AUSTRALIA'S first kung-fu comedy blends action with a lovably awkward hero.

Maximum Choppage, inspired by the short films of the same name, follows university graduate and the so-called "savoir of Cabramatta" Simon Chan (Lawrence Leung).

His mother mistakenly thinks he has been away studying at a Beijing martial arts school, when Simon has really been painting canvases at the Marshall Art School in Melbourne.

She volunteers him to take on criminal Kai Le, who is putting the squeeze on Cabramatta businesses to pay his gang protection money.

"A lot of people can relate to the idea of faking it until you make it," Lawrence says.

"We've all perhaps exaggerated our CVs for a job interview or made ourselves look more impressive on a first date. I see Simon as living in a world that's completely out of his depth.

"Simon is such a coward; for him lying to his mother is what he's more afraid of than getting killed by a gang leader."

Lawrence and his co-star Stephanie Son, who plays Simon's childhood friend Petal, went through several months of training to get in shape for the show.

"By the end of the shooting schedule she was so good they didn't need to sub in a fight person to double for her. She was able to do a lot of her own moves," he says.

"I got off pretty easy... all I had to do was learn how to take a punch or kick to the face. That came quite easily to me (laughs). I mastered how to get hit in the face well."

The six-part comedy also features plenty of subtle Australian references, such as Kai Le speaking only in Kylie Minogue lyrics. It's a humorous take on real-life gang the Madonna Boys, who menaced Cabramatta in the '90s.

Maximum Choppage debuts tonight at 9pm on ABC2.

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