Review: Die Fighting (2014)

Posted in Didier Buson, Fabien Garcia, Laurent Buson with tags , on November 11, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Fabien Garcia, Laurent Buson, Didier Buson, Jess Allen, Dave Vescio, Xin Sarith Wuku, Gray Michael Sallies, Davis Chong, Jose Rosete

Fight Choreography by Fabien Garcia, Laurent and Didier Buson

Directed by Fabien Garcia

I’ve long been a fan of Laurent “Lohan’ Buson ever since I saw him take on Iko Uwais in Merantau, and hoped he would get into more films. Now, after a few years, he and his group Zteam took it upon themselves to put out their own small budget feature film…

…and it is absolutely badass.

The film combines martial arts with the found footage genre to tell the story of ZTeam, made up of Fabien, Lohan, Didier, and Jess (everyone basically playing themselves to an extent) who have come to Hollywood to make it big as action stars, and find themselves at the whim of a mysterious psychopath named The Filmmaker, who sends them by cell phone on increasingly more dangerous jobs, using security cameras everywhere they go to record the fights they get into, all so The Filmmaker can direct his martial arts masterpiece. He holds the wives of two Zteam members hostage in exchange for cooperation. Can the four future stars survive long enough to find out who The Filmmaker is and stop him?

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The story here is actually really good, and is meant to appeal to…well, folks like me and if you are a fan of this website, you. As demented as The Filmmaker is, in many ways he’s actually us. He tags on so many staples of martial arts films and gets it right. Fight a room full of black belts? Sure. Take on a group of thugs…only using drunken boxing? Why not? Shootouts with gangsters like something out of a John Woo or Ringo Lam film? Yep. Each time I found myself going “Yes!” every time The Filmmaker would announce his next challenge to the crew, even though I knew he was a rat bastard of a bad guy who needed to get his just desserts. Much of the story of the film rests on whether or not you buy who The Filmmaker actually is, so tastes may vary on how much you like the plot twist. I thought it was well done. There is even some humor, and there is one moment that had me laughing hard involving the takedown of a gentleman named Neutron, Bloodsport style.

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The Zteam do a pretty good acting job, but there were moments where the accents were a bit tough to decipher, and so I’d have to rewind and see it again to catch what was being said. Nothing that took away any enjoyment of the film. Between this and John Wick its refreshing to see action scenes that are not a chaotic mess, and show that Fabien Garcia, who also plays Fabien, knows exactly how to properly shoot a fight scene. No quick-cut edits, lots of wide shots for the kicks, and you always know the space everyone is existing in. If you think that’s not important, watch any Michael Bay film and tell me where everyone is in relation to everything else in an action scene. I was curious how the found footage look would work, but it turned out looking fine, and didn’t hinder the action one bit.

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As for that action, this film hearkens back to the Hong Kong action films of the 80’s. Sammo Hung and Freddie Chan would shed a tear if they could see how well done it is. The action is fast and furious, and I wound up rewatching each fight several times, marveling at the execution of the movements. The fight Fabien vs the black belts is awesome, and the final fight featuring Laurent Buson is worth every penny, and he is badass awesome, as is a super kicker that could give Ken Lo and Ron Smoorenborg a run for their money, but my favorite fight has to be between Didier and Chan (Xin Sarith Wuku), Didier being the smallest of the group, but never the weakest, and their fight contains one of the best uses of slow motion during a fight scene that I’ve ever seen. Even though I mention these fights, don’t get me wrong, EVERY fight in this film is great, and there are so many…

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

Folks, this film contains more badassery than you can watch in one sitting, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! If you are able to watch this film, you’re watching a future cult classic! I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next film from ZTeam Films!

This movie can be found On Demand right now!

Die Fighting

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The Trailer for Die Fighting with Merantau’s Laurent “Lohan” Buson!

Posted in Laurent Buson with tags , on November 10, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Ahoy! This film is already out On Demand now, but my review will be up on Tuesday! I’ve been waiting to see this film, and I had initially reported on this last year when it was formerly called The Price of Success, and is produced and starred by Merantau’s Luarent “Lohan” Buson, a guy I had heaped praise on as someone who damn well needed to be in more movies, and here he is! Below is the trailer, and it looks even better than some of the footage I had initally seen!  No one has really tried a “found footage” martial arts film, and the premise:

When a team of Shaolin-trained kung fu actors are on the verge of breaking into Hollywood, a shady Director forces them through a gauntlet in Los Angeles, filming their every move as they are pitted against a gallery of thugs.

Check out the trailer, and look out for my review Tuesday!

Panna Rittikrai’s last! The Trailer for Vengeance Of An Assassin is here!

Posted in Dan Chupong, Panna Rittikrai on November 7, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Thanks to the good folks at Soreelflix for this heads up…Panna Rittikrai has left us with one final film, and goodness, it may outdo the insanity of Bangkok Knockout! The old shaolin man alone is reason enough to see this film, as well as anything with Dan Chupong, but that shot of Dan shooting that guy as they both fall from a building! Damn! I am pumped to see this! They may also be in the running for best martial arts scene on a train…

Here is the trailer:

Review: Hawk’s Vengeance (1996)

Posted in Cass Magda, Gary Daniels with tags , , on November 4, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Gary Daniels, Jayne Heitmeyer, Cass Magda, George Chiang, Charles Biddle Jr, Vlasta Vrana

Fight Choreography by Gary Daniels and Cass Magda

Directed by Mark Voizard

If you read this site, then I’ll assume you love martial arts films, probably in just about any form you find it. Gary Daniels is among the biggest and best of the “B-movie” action stars, and this film, with not so great acting and some hammy dialogue, is as fun a film as you’ll find, despite its warts, which are actually legion.

In the film Gary plays Hawk, an English soldier who finds out that his brother has been murdered in New York, and travels there to find out who and why, and as the title says, get his vengeance. Things get complicated when he crosses path with a cop (Heitmeyer) and finds himself dealing with both Chinese gangs, skinheads, and an enigmatic villain named Garr, who happens to love de-balling his own sparring partners. Together with a local gangbanger, Hawk eludes two nutty assassins, Duquesne (Vrana) and his younger partner Blade (Biddle) and uncovers Garr’s plans before finally facing Garr in a fight to the finish…

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This is a really silly film, and what’s more everyone knows it. That’s part of the fun of this film. Gary Daniels is okay as Hawk, and aside from a funny disguise as a fire inspector isn’t given much to do character-wise until its time to fight. The direction is bland, even for a low-budget film like this, and Jayne Heitmeyer is great eye candy even though I never bought for a second that she was a cop. Cass Magda was laughably bad as Garr, either overplaying or underplaying his character at every moment. The film does contain a masterstroke however: Duquesne and Blade. Of all the characters in the film, these two bumbling assassins get more character development than even the hero of the film! The way the older Duquesne and the younger Blade spar verbally is terrific, but it’s the verbal spats after Blade uses his penchant for knives and wounds Duquesne each time they fight Hawk made me laugh whenever they were on screen and sad when they weren’t, and sadder still after they finally leave the film, in a way that’s most fitting for them both. A prequel with those two would’ve been fun.

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The fights in the film range from okay to good…for an American film. The final fight is pretty good as Cass Magda is a former student of Dan Inosanto, but I wish, especially in some of the Cass Magda sparring scenes, that they approached it with more…intent. Their movements seemed intent on making sure no one was ever even close to getting hurt. And let’s not even talk about the group fight in the operating room, which looked hilarious outside of Gary Daniels, but the director seemed to know this, and made sure Gary gave his opponent a bloody death, and I laughed as Gary basically got away with murdering several people, blowing up a building, kidnapping, and as it is the way with all 90’s heroes, basically gets offered a job as a cop.

I really miss the 90’s.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

A fun Gary Daniel’s B-movie from the 90’s that has one of the best assassin duos to come along in quite a while!

Review: Forced To Fight (2011)

Posted in Gary Daniels with tags , on October 24, 2014 by Michael S. Moore


Starring Gary Daniels, Peter Weller, Arkie Reese, Alexandra Weaver

Fight Choreography by Gary Daniels and Claudiu-Cristian Prisecaru

Directed by Jonas Quastel

Leaving the underground fight game can be hard, and in the realm of cinema, downright fatal. Many films have gone with this premise, but Forced to Fight takes a slightly different approach.

Gary Daniels stars as Shane Slavin, a hard-working man, devoted husband and father, and all around good guy. He had once been a fighter in a series of underground matches put on by the slimy Danny G (Weller), an opportunist who looks for any way he can to make a buck. Shane had gotten out and retired, but his troublemaker brother gets in too deep with Danny, and tries to get out, and after a brutal beating Shane decides to help his brother by returning to the ring and fight for Danny G. Things get complicated, as they always do, when Shane finds that the mentality that makes him a good fighter makes him a poor family man, and a series of mistakes places his family in danger. Can Shane become the good man he once was before it’s too late?


I have to give Jonas Quastel props for a well-made film despite a low budget. The camerawork is well done, and the pacing is spot on. The turn the story takes is something different from the norm and I was happy to see Gary Daniels able to “flip the switch” from being the family man to becoming a devil-may-care fighter who is drunk on winning, and taking a beating. I was invested with his character early enough to care what happened to both him and his family. Alexandra Weaver and Arkie Reese also do a good job with playing Shane’s wife and brother, respectively. This is the first time I’ve seen Peter Weller (outside of 24) play a villain, and he is just great and charismatic as Danny G. He plays the slime ball in just the right way without going too over the top.


The fight scenes are well done, but I would’ve liked to see the camera step back a little so we can discern the action more. The fight scenes are, of course, choreographed for mixed martial arts, which, for those who read this site, I am not a fan of on film, but it looked good, even though I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be.

The ending seemed a little too clean in how things end in regards to what had happened in the rest of the film, and I’m still debating whether Shane truly deserved the clean ending he got, despite what happens at the climax.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

A martial arts tournament film that actually has a good family drama at its center that give weight to the MMA action, and Peter Weller totally rocks it, and makes an excellent foil for Gary Daniels!

Kiai-Kick’s Q & A with Gary Daniels!

Posted in Gary Daniels with tags on October 21, 2014 by Michael S. Moore


To celebrate the release of his newest film Misfire, I had the extreme pleasure to contact Gary and ask some questions. For those who don’t know, Gary Daniels is a fantastic martial artist from England who first came to the attention of filmgoers as the foil for Jackie Chan in the film City Hunter and until recently their Street Fighter scene was still the most faithful rendition of the video game. Gary has since gone on to star in many action films, playing heroes (Fist Of The North Star, Bloodmoon) and villians (The Expendables, Tekken). Gary is every bit as charming and kind in real life as I had been told. Enjoy the conversation!

KK: You’ve been the star of many films over the years, and played so many different kinds of heroes and villains. How do you choose your roles now as compared to when you were younger?

GD: Actually when I was younger I didn’t really have a criteria for picking scripts , I was pretty naïve and just accepted pretty much what was offered to me as long as I got to do martial arts on film, a naïve mistake on my part but I was pretty green back then and hindsight is 20/20 as they say.  Nowadays I am a little wiser and a little more picky, I tend to look for scripts with characters that draw me in and story lines that dictate the action rather than having the action dictate the story lines.

KK: In Misfire you play a dark, intense character whose life doesn’t get easier as the film goes on. What did you have to do to prepare to play such an intense character?

GD: Well for one, I have known the director Roger Ellis for quite a long time and we have worked together on a few projects , although this was the first time as a lead. Roger knows me well and had me in mind when writing the script so it was kind of tailored for me (as was ‘Rumble’, the 2nd feature we collaborated on). Secondly I have to say that life is a great acting teacher, the best, and I have been through certain life experiences over the past 10 years that have deepened my insight , matured me and given me a lot more material to draw upon as an actor, so now I feel more ready and suited to play this kind of character than the less experienced actor / person that I was 20 years ago. As for the physical side of the character I don’t need much preparation as I work out constantly. As the saying goes ‘If you stay ready, you never have to get ready’.

Daniels and Chan


KK: There are those in the martial arts film community that believe that a new renaissance similar to the 80’s is about happen, what with the success of The Raid and its sequel, new action heroes like Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa, Scott Adkins, and all of the independent martial arts films that are coming out from stunt teams like LBP Stunts Chicago and The Stuntpeople and so many more. Do you feel this may be happening?

GD: I don’t believe there is a renaissance. Action films and action actors have been around for decades as it is a popular genre that is easy to sell world wide. But every new generation has its own talent that comes along and pushes the envelope and effectively springboards off of the platform created by the last generation. It is natural. Nowadays the new generation combines martial arts with acrobatics and parkour so they are very exciting. It is not everyone’s cup of tea and I sometimes feel that the drama and reality of a fight or fight scene has now been lost in the importance of seeing how many times someone can spin before they throw a kick or punch. But as in all walks of life it is good that there are choices for audiences.

KK: Ever consider getting behind the camera to direct a feature?

GD: I truly would like to direct, I have directed action scenes before and with 25 years of experience and a pocketful of life lessons, I finally feel the urge and the ambition to direct. I am attempting to write a script at the moment and would love to direct it given the chance. I think for actors it is the obvious next step self expression. So hopefully …


KK: Now, this isn’t exactly a question, but I have to say that one of my favorite films of yours is Bloodmoon with Chuck Jeffrys and Darren Shahlavi. I show the film to anyone who says they haven’t seen it. Now, I’ve spoken with Darren a few times, and now I get to finally say: 

Bravo, sir! A fun filled blast of a movie, and one of the favorites of Kiai-Kick!

GD: Thank you for your kind words and all of your support, hopefully the best is yet to come.

Such a class guy. I hope to meet him someday! Thanks to Gary Daniels for taking time to speak with Kiai-Kick, and check out his movie Misfire, released today on DVD and Digital Download!



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