Tran, Maria

maria tran coverTran, Maria – Critical Biography 

Maria Tran (born January 30, 1985) is an Australian-born Vietnamese actress, martial artist, producer, writer and director. She is known for developing the martial arts action film genre in Australia via the Asian diaspora communities of Western Sydney through her shorts such as Hit GirlsGaffaEnter The Dojo; her contributions on Australian television; Maximum Choppage and movies outside of Australia; Roger Corman‘s Fist of the DragonDeath Mist and Vietnamese action blockbuster Tracer. Tran is pivotal to the creative development of the Australian Vietnamese film movement that challenges gender stereotypes and the exploration of “female action”.

Although she is not a Hong Kong filmmkaer, Tran has been extensively influenced by Hong Kong cinema. While growing up and watching action comedies by Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock and during her university years, she collaborated on a local filmmaker; Timothy Ly and other Western Sydney filmmakers and made Australia’s first kung fu urban action movie “Maximum Choppage: Round 2”. Despite being shot on a handy cam and no good sound was recorded, critics have praised it for its fight choreography and comic timing. 


In 2008, Maria’s documentary-drama Happy Dent won Shortcuts Film Festival for Best Film and Achievement in Directing. This award lead her to a meeting with a TV network executive and she went on to make TV micro series “Downtown Rumble”, 6 part kung fu action micro series which aired at the end of that year.

In 2009, Maria was awarded the Metroscreen Multicultural Mentorship Scheme for her short film script “A Little Dream”, which was granted seed funding and Maria directed the film with the mentorship by Khoa Do.

In 2011, Maria pursued documentary filmmaking with her quirky self transmedia documentary “Quest for Jackie!” which is about a young girl’s filmmaking plight as well as meeting her action idol; Jackie Chan. She travel to Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Tasmania in 21 days to connect with Jackie Chan fans and stories of the “underdog”. With hundreds of hours of footage, this project remains incomplete. In July, 2016, Screen NSW gave Tran a stunt attachment position on board of Jackie Chan’s movie “Bleeding Steel” as it shoots in Sydney.She has been learning from the Jackie Chan Stunt Team and has seen Jackie, but has yet to officially meet him and complete her documentary.

She was also the 2011 NSW State Champion and represented the state at National Film Pitching Competition held at Metroscreen.

In 2012, she directed and produced many short action films with Trung Ly and Adrian Castro with subsequent works such as Enter The Dojo, Gaffa, and award winning action comedy Hit Girls; which she wrote, produced and directed. Tran was also a recipient of the Screen NSW Emerging Producer Placement in the same year.

In 2013, she was approached by Cancer Council and Information & Cultural Exchange (ICE) to produced and directed the movie Change of Our Lives. The film was officially selected for the Viet Film Festival 2014.

Tran worked on Roger Corman‘s mixed martial arts movie Fist of the Dragon in Nanhai, China as killer assassin “Zhen” as well as fight supervisor for fight choreographer Trung Ly and director Antony Szeto in 2014.

In 2015, Tran flew over to Vietnam to be part of the making of Vietnamese action blockbuster Tracer/ Truy Sat. She played female antagonist “Phuong Lua” and executed spectacular fight sequences against Vietnam’s leading actress Truong Ngoc Anh.

In 2016 Tran wrote an original screenplay for a Vietnamese historical epic The Drums of Me Linh as well as action comedy Fury of the Far East; combining martial arts expertise and the supernatural, was awarded seed funding from ICE’s Produce Perfect program to be developed into a proof of concept for television. The Drums of Me Linh was selected by Lost in Books to be made into a bilingual children’s book, written by Tran in collaboration with illustrator Britney Fong. Fury of the Far Eastevolved into Tiger Cops which was funded through the ABC Freshblood scheme.

In 2017, Tran officially set up film production company Phoenix Eye as she received an artist-in-residency with Powerhouse Youth Theatre where her company lives.

The same year, she produced, wrote and directed “The Subtractor”; a mockumentary short film about an Asian lead breaking into Hollywood. This film was commissioned by Diverse Arts Australia and was selected to be pitched at the 2017 Video Junkee Festival.

Tran occasionally teaches at AFTRS via the Open Program in Stage Combat/ Fight Choreography and the holiday filmmaking programs and run workshops in regional NSW.


“The Challenge Letter”
Maximum Choppage” (ABC TV series)2015
“Cybersquad” (Short)2015
“How Not To Behave” (ABC TV series)2015
“Fist of the Dragon” (Action)
Hit Girls” (Action Comedy)
“Enter The Dojo”2012
My Place” (ABC TV series)2009