After four years away from the global stage, Vietnamese superstar Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat returns to ONE Championship at ONE Fight Night 17 on Prime Video.
The 34-year-old will meet Denis Puric in a flyweight bout in ONE's all-Muay Thai event on Friday, December 8.
However, he has kept himself busy during his time away from the promotion. Although he has remained active in martial arts, Duy Nhat also began acting in a 2021 film titled "Vo Sinh Dai Chien" (The Battle of Pupils).
"[The film] is about the journey of a newly relocated boy, in which he found his love for Vietnamese traditional martial arts, as well as a girl. I starred as Ba Long, the elder pupil of the traditional martial arts club," Duy Nhat told ONE.
"I didn't expect that I could play a role, but acting in a movie was amazing. I had a lot of fun filming. The director and other actors helped me a lot."
The transition came a bit more easily than anticipated for the Vietnamese athletes, partly due to the similarities in his real life. Finding common ground with his character allowed Duy Nhat's film debut to succeed in fans and critics' eyes.
"Ba Long might just be a different version of me in the movie, I think. I coached and mentored young fighters in real life, so when I arrived, people told me that I could work, coach, shout, and cheer – exactly the same thing I do in the gym. It made filming much easier for me," Duy Nhat recalled.
"Many said the movie was good and that I portrayed my character quite well. Lucky me!"
If there was any surprise for Duy Nhat during filming, it was the hard work that went into making a film from the entire production crew.
Much like a martial arts gym, the sum is greater than its parts, and it is a true team effort to create something that yields great results.
"Filming is a hard task, but I felt excited seeing so many people focus on making a great story on a film set," the Vietnamese star said.
"There is a scene where my character, Ba Long. needed to train Khoa (the main character) under the moonlight. We used the four sleepless nights to get it done, to fix the angles and things like that."
"Most of the actors were not martial arts practitioners. In the end, everybody was exhausted, but the result was worth it."
Although "No.1" is focused on his return to ONE, he is excited at the prospect of doing more films in the future.
If he can return in style on December 8 against Puric, it will only increase his drawing power. Duy Nhat can grow his star on a global scale when he steps foot inside the ring in Bangkok, Thailand.
At the end of the day, while acting offers him more opportunities outside of competing, martial arts remains his passion, and fans will see that at ONE Fight Night 17.
"Yes, why not [act in more films]! Acting is so fun. I loved bringing flashy, explosive action scenes to the movie. I hope there will be more chances to show people that martial arts is such a beautiful thing to see," Duy Nhat said.
"But if I had to choose, then it would be fighting. I'm a real fighter with a spirit of fighting. I need competition."
ONE Fight Night 17 airs live and free on Prime Video on Friday, December 8. The action begins at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST and is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.