Mel Novak is an American award winning character actor who is best known for villainous roles in Black Belt Jones, Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, and Chuck Norris’ An Eye for an Eye. He is also known for doing all of his own stunts and fighting scenes. When he’s not filming, he is preaching on skid row in DTLA and in prisons nationwide under the non-profit missionary he founded, Heavenly Manna.
Martial arts legend and quintessential action movie villain Mel Novak has battled a who’s who of legendary Hollywood heroes and is best known as the iconic Stick the Assassin in Bruce Lee’s Game of Death. He has also starred in Black Belt Jones opposite Jim Kelly, The Ultimate Warrior opposite Yul Brenner, Eye for an Eye opposite Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee and Richard Roundtree, Tom Horn opposite Steve McQueen and more recently in Gregory Hatanaka’s Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance opposite Bai Ling. He has also been inducted to the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Playing the villain, Stick, in Bruce Lee’s movie, Game of Death (1978), gave him the open invitation one Easter Sunday service to preach the word to a group of people who were homeless and who were in and out of the criminal system.
Whilst he plays the villain in movies, he is the good guy in real life. For the past thirty-two years, Novak has faithfully ministered to Union Rescue Mission, Fred Jordan Mission, L.A. Mission and the Long Beach Rescue Mission and for 29 years traveled across prisons from San Quentin and Pelican Bay in California, to the prisons in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon.
A native of Pittsburgh, Mel was an outstanding athlete in several sports. He passed up 60 football scholarship offers and signed a pro baseball contract with the Pirates. His career was cut short by a massive rotator cuff injury. Mel was crippled for almost 5 years. This is his testimony of how prayer became his power for physical, emotional and spiritual recovery.
“When you are broken, you have to go out and do something, and that was the healing process.”- Mel Novak
Producer: Mingjie Zhai; Interviewer: Wade Chao; Videographer: Ian Corvin and Wade Chao; Editor: Hsiao Wen Chu and Mingjie Zhai
Share Your Journal Entry
What can you do to help someone in need while you are waiting for your needs to be met?
Download The Love Story companion e-Journal and discover your narrative in Mel’s share.
[purchase_link id=”19613″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” color=”blue”]
Login for the Full Interview
Not a member? Register
Part I: Cripple
“Then, this doctor said to me, ‘Look kid, you think you’re ever going to play ball or do anything again, forget it, you’re going to be a cripple for the rest of your life.’ That was brutal.”
Part II: Reach Out
“You just reach out and help. From the skid row, it transitioned right into the prison ministry.”