While we’re all waiting for Undisputed 4, Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine decided to tide everyone over with their newest film, Close Range! Scott looks to be back in form and brings the ass-kicking. My review of the film will be out the day before its release, but how about an ass-kicking clip from the film to tide ya’ll over?
Starring: Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun, Gordon Liu, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Wang Lung Wei, Fung Hark-On, Simon Yuen
Fight Choreography by: Chia Tang and Beardy
Directed by Chang Cheh
Here we have yet another film that proves that Alexander Fu Sheng was taken from us far too young. his onscreen demeanor made him an instant star, and he kept getting better with each film, and I think this film sits high on his small filmography…
At the Temple of the God of Chivalry, both Shaolin and Manchus are having a annual ceremony paying tribute, but things go south as the leader of the Manchu’s, Master Yu, complains that he should lead the tribute rather than the representative from Shaolin, younger master Cheng, who is there because the Shaolin leader has taken ill. Of course you know the Manchus want to start crap just to start crap, and one of their men obliges, taking a perceived insult as a reason to gut one of the Shaolin. This begins a brawl that ends with the authorities showing up and for all intents and purposes taking the side of the Manchus. We soon find out that the General of the Manchus wants to wipe out the Shaolin permanently, and brings in two men to do it, both of them with seemingly invincible marital arts.
As their numbers dwindle, it’s up to a small group of Shaolin fighters to defeat the two invincible fighters by learning new styles of kung fu, but time is running out, and the bodies of the Shaolin are piling up…
For anyone who is a fan of Shaw Brothers films, this plot line is repeated again and again in many of their films albeit with a tweak here and there. That doesn’t mean the film isn’t entertaining, though. The film does manage to be suspenseful as they are not afraid to kill off a slew of good guy characters. Fu Sheng is his normal playful onscreen persona, and as per usual in the these films (Gordon Liu isn’t The Greatness Yet) Gordon doesn’t stick around as much as I’d like. Of course Simon Yuen makes anything he’s in a better film, and the Old Dirty Bastard once again arrives to raise the film up in the middle before things slow down too much, even though he’s more subdued here as a cantankerous kung fu master.
The fight scenes are really good here, comparable with some of the best moments from Chang Cheh’s many films, particularly the final fight between Beardy and Fu Sheng, which seemed to move faster than the typical Shaw Brothers fights, but the Mortal Kombat-style finishing moves here are something special, from a disembowelment to eye gouging to absolute testicle destruction that just looked painful as hell. Actually kudos to every actor for making their death scenes look so painful I think I’d rather be eaten by a wild animal than die by kung-fu move.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5
Alexander Fu Sheng leads an All Star cast of badasses in a fun but familiar kung fu tale, with a ton of action scenes and memorably bloody deaths.
XLRator Media, I love you guys. First you bring the insanity of Tokyo Tribe to the masses stateside, and now you fine folks deliver a Scott Adkins/Isaac Florentine joint while we wait for the next Undisputed film. Close Range looks like a really good time, what with the baddies assaulting Scott Adkins’ home in an attempt to kill him and his family. It sounds like a great story for Scott to ply his trademark martial arts, and you know Florentine will bring the goods. Florentine’s films may be low budget, but he puts every dime onscreen so well it never really feels like a low budget film.
To tide ya’ll over until December 11th, here are some exclusive pics! Click to embiggen!
After rescuing his kidnapped niece from a powerful drug cartel, Colton MacReady (Scott Adkins) begins a relentless fight to save his family. The cartel has descended upon his secluded ranch with a thirst for revenge. In tow are a corrupt local sheriff and his crew of deputies, ensuring that help won’t be coming any time soon. What ensues is a non-stop assault on the ranch, a blow-by-blow survival marathon for Colton to protect his loved ones and save his life.
I’m so jumping on board the crazy train for this one! Who’s coming with me? Check out the trailer below, and get ready to see why you should never attack Scott Adkins at his home on December 11th!
Starring Jose Montesinos, Jessica Etheridge, Troy Carbonel, Marco Antonio Alvarez, Sari Sabella, Edward Kahana, Mathew Zipkin, Lucas Okuma, Ray Carbonel, Steven Yu, Eric Jacobus
Fight Choreography by Dennis Ruel, Ed Kahana, Steven Yu, Troy and Ray Carbonel, Lucas Okuma, Sari Sabella
Directed by Jose Montesinos and Brett Stillo
2016 draws near, but before 2015 ends we get another installment of those Sensitive 70’s Turtleneck Tough Guys, after the fun and well made first original, ade
Once again we pick back up on Tough Guy Raymundo Bala, P.I. (Montesinos) as we find him not hanging out with his boys, Cheegan Jones (T. Carbonel) and Frank Cox (Jacobus), but with foxy lady Detective Jo Dixon (Etheridge) as they discuss their feelings, as sensitive 70’s tough people do, and their mutual case, involving drug lord Escobarrrr (Alvarez) a guy with a lot of henchmen and a dog…which needs to be spayed. Dixon tries to get Bala to rejoin the police force, but he’s not taking the bait, and finds out that Dixon is now partnered up with his buddy Frank Cox, and Bala doesn’t take the bait, and in flashback sequences we find out the connection Dixon and Bala have with Escobarrr…
The first entry in Sensitive 70’s Turtleneck tough guys featured a bit more fighting, but this installment concentrates more on Raymundo Bala, and I wonder how Jose Montesinos could keep himself from laughing at the things that come out of his mouth, but he does, playing Bala as straight as possible, even as things get more insane. Jessica Etheridge is also great here as the sultry-yet-badass cop Dixon, who hints at a previous relationship with Bala, and she sells even her frustration at the fact that Bala isn’t getting the hint that yes, she wants to do more than simply discuss their mutual case.
As always, Troy Carbonel’s Cheegan Jones doesn’t say a word, but sets off the funniest part of the film, involving Escobarrr and his crew of thugs. Speaking of which, they are all good, but Sari Sabella as…wait for it…Worshack Jenkins (even the name makes me laugh!) is the funniest thing about this short, in a moment involving a knife, and his head, and his screams are worth every moment, even his very last moment onscreen made me stop watching until I could compose myself. Marco Antonio Alvarez (Barrio Brawler) plays a great over-the-top Escobarrr (by the way, it’s not a misspelling.) and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our heroes in the next installment. Speaking of which, you’ll notice I haven’t said much of anything about Eric Jacobus as Frank Cox. Well, there’s a reason for that, and you’ll have to watch to find out why!
The 70’s aesthetic is once again done well here, from the film artifacts, to the credits and even the editing all reflect that time period well. Jose has this time period nailed, and knows how to get the comedy out of…tough guys in turtlenecks!
I want to discuss the fight scenes presented here, but I don’t want to spoil it. Suffice to say it’s a lot of fun to watch, and Jessica Etheridge does a good job beating up Edward Kahana, but Troy Carbonel’s fight scene is full of hilarity, not the least of which is thanks to a combination of great reactions from all of the actors, and Sari Sabella’s screams. Please tell me Worshack Jenkins has a twin brother for the next installment!
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5
Jose Montesinos and company craft another well done short film as those Turtleneck tough guys kick ass, and Part 3 can’t come fast enough!
Watch it below!
Starring Young Dias, Ryohei Suzuki, Nana Seino, Akihiro Kitamura, Tomoko Karina, Rikki Takeuchi,
Fight Choreography by Toshiro Takuma
Directed by Sion Sono
The moment I heard that director Sion Sono had created a Japanese Yakuza-swordplay-martial arts…wait for it…hip hop musical I laughed out loud, but after further thinking it became my most anticipated film of 2015. Suffice to say now that I’ve seen it, my year has been made.
Tokyo Tribe starts in the future, where earthquakes have devastated Japan, and Tokyo has been broken up and taken over by a colorful assortment of gangs (you gotta see how they visualize this). After grandma drops the sick beat (yeah, I said that) we meet the best of the gangs, a peaceful group called Mushashino, a group that looks like the 80’s never left (in the best ways possible) led by the always calm Tera and his right hand man Kai (Dias). The entire film takes place over the course of one blood soaked night, when the leader of the worst of the gangs, Merra, decides to destroy Mushashino to exact his revenge on Kai (the reason why is left for the end of the film) but to do so means destroying every gang, and Merra tries to do so, but things get complicated when Erika (, the virgin daughter of the High Priest (who is unlike any high priest ever seen) has gone missing, and is purported to be in one of the gang districts. Toss in human furniture, a finger chopping insane mob boss who gets himself off often in front of…anyone, rapping grandmas, tanks, a black dude with superhuman strength, and a giant gangwar finale complete with a DJ spinning in the middle of the fighting, and you haven’t scratched the surface of the insanity…
I loved this movie. I really loved this movie. It takes chances you will NOT see in American cinema nowadays, and the actors are all game for it. The hip hop songs, which are many, are actually pretty damn good. Special props go to Rikki Takeuchi as Merra’s father Buppa, as insane a Yakuza boss as you’ll ever see, and he chews every moment he’s onscreen. Sion Sono uses every camera trick imaginable to pull off this film, and despite everything he tosses onscreen, it all seems to work. My only real issue is toward the middle of the film, where I think the momentum slows down too much while spending time with Buppa and his crazy family.
The martial arts scenes are okay. Nothing great or fantastic, although the two hitmen sent by the High Priest are pretty awesome. The majority of fighting is done by Nana Seino, and she’s good, but really, the fighting just adds spice to the rap, and in some cases the actor have to act and fight at the same time.
In the end the film is about belonging to a group that really represents all of us, differences and all. So yeah, amidst all the crazy there’s a cool message there. One of the best films of the year.
‘Tokyo Tribe! Never ever Die!”
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9
Tokyo Tribe is a punch to the gut blast of hip-hop fun! I bet you’ll be humming the final song, ’cause who doesn’t want to be a part of the Tokyo Tribe? Where can I join?
Tokyo Tribe is out TODAY in Theaters, iTunes, and VOD!!
Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Cung Le, Elvis Tsui, Lau Shun, Lo Mang, Yuen Woo-Ping, Zhang Jin
Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping
Directed by Wong Kar-Wai
When news came that another Ip Man film not starring Donnie Yen was being made, I had to roll my eyes. Much like Wong Fei-Hung everyone has to have their own take on Ip Man. Most have been okay to really good, but none have come close to the quality of the Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen series. Now toss in Wong Kar Wai, a prolific and one of the most talented filmmakers..well, anywhere, and I thought this was on the road to greatness.
But along the way Wong Kar-Wai decided to take a detour.
The film starts off by showing a rain-soaked fight between Ip Man (Leung) and a legion of gentlemen led by Iron Shoes (Le). After Ip Man tears ass through them we learn of his early years learning Wing Chun, and then his marriage and life with Cheung Wing-Sing. Ip Man’s life seems to be going peacefully until The Northern Boxing GrandMaster Gong Yutian arrives, challenged the southern schools to find their own Grandmaster, as he is retired and has made his son Ma San the Northern Grandmaster. The southern masters agree that Ip Man should represent them, and things get complicated when Gong Yutian’s daughter Gong Er (Ziyi) arrives, and Ip Man finds his heart may be going to her, but arrival of the Japanese and his flight to Hong Kong threatens to undo the perfect life he’s made for himself, and Gong Er must deal with a treacherous brother and ailing father in order to protect her family’s martial arts legacy. But how much is that worth to her?
My issue with the film, and maybe it is a matter of expectation, is that it’s a little deceptive, and maybe not in a good way. I went into this thinking I was watching a Ip Man film. But from a narrative perspective that’s not really the case; this film is really about Gong Er and her family. The Grandmaster title isn’t referring to Ip Man, but rather Gong Er. Ip Man is nothing more than a supporting character. This is not to say that Tony Leung doesn’t do a good job, because he does. He’s stoic as Ip Man, but at the same time conflicted. Zhang Ziyi is also excellent as Gong Er, a strong woman who was unfortunate enough to not be born a man, at least in her father’s eyes. The issue here is that the film takes a narrative turn away from Ip Man to follow Gong Er, and then jumps back to Ip Man toward the end, pretending as if the previous hour we had been watching an Ip Man film the entire time. Did Wong Kar-Wai simply decide that Gong Er was a more fascinating character to follow? I felt that there was a whole Ip Man film left on the cutting room floor, and with Wong Kar-Wai’s reputation, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was actually the case. I have to admit, however, the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It almost looks as if it could have been a black and white film, in the way that the camera plays with the shadows and golden skin tones, contrasted by the opening of the film in a rainstorm that never looked so good.
The fights are solid, though it had more wirework than I was comfortable with, but one was a big notch above the rest: Gong Er versus her brother Ma San at the train station. It was a cinematically gorgeous fight, and with the train passing by it added a layer to the composition of the visuals. Zhang Ziyi and Zhang Jin do excellent work here. Yuen Woo Ping still has a great big bag of tricks in his tool belt, but aside from looking beautiful, it just felt like something was missing.
Wong Kar Wai’s film asks the question “What is Kung-Fu?” but I’m not sure he knows the answer. Maybe that’s the point.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6
The Grandmaster is a gorgeous film to look at, and Zhang Ziyi does a great job as Gong Er, and Tony Leung lights up the screen as Ip Man. If only Wong Kar Wai knew which movie he wanted to make.