Walk into Calasanz dojo or visit his website and you can’t help but notice the posters for his movie, Crossing the Line. Most students and visitors can’t resist picking up a copy of a movie that was made right here in Fairfield County. In the film, Calasanz stars as Jose Fernandez, a hard-hitting kick boxer and martial arts instructor. Jose rises to stardom after winning the world championship. His popularity attracts the attention of Jimmy Scarfone, a local hoodlum and owner of sleazy strip clubs, who becomes obsessed with the fighter’s new celebrity status, and begins to stalk him. Jose’s every move becomes the subject of Scarfone’s Americas Most Violent Videos. Soon Scarfone finds the ordinary life of a fighter is not exciting enough and sets about to change that. A series of violent encounters, lead to the eventual kidnapping of the champion.
What you may not know about the film is what led up to its making and why it was so important for Calasanz to put his neck on the line to produce an independent movie.
Calasanz was born in the Dominican Republic and like most boys his age, enjoyed action movies. In 1975, his father took him to see Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and he was hooked. His mission in life from that day forward was to come to America, make a movie and become as famous as his matinee movie idol. While his father wanted him to become a competitive boxer, Calasanz wanted something more than jumping into a ring and beating up on his opponent. There was a spiritual aspect to the martial arts that drew him to it. From that point on, he did everything he could do to make his dream come true. Calasanz went to the city to pursue his academic studies and quickly found a traditional martial arts school. He trained long, hard hours, studied and worked at a bank to support himself. All along, he kept his goal in sight. As a valued employee, the bank wanted to invest in his future, so they agreed to send him to the United States on a student visa to study English as a second language. Once he set foot on U.S. soil, Calasanz never cracked open a book, but instead jumped head first into the martial arts.
Calasanz made his desire to make a movie well known to anyone who was willing to listen. All his students and colleagues knew that his sole purpose for coming to America was to make an independent martial arts movie without having to deal with the politics of the mainstream movie industry. He’d heard about how Bruce Lee had to actually leave the United States and make movies in Hong Kong because the industry had a hard time respecting a foreign actor. But in order to do get this movie made, Calasanz needed money and time, two things that are in short supply for a martial arts teacher busy building a business from the bottom up.
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