Archive for the JJ Perry Category

Review: Safe (2012)

Posted in James Hong, Jason Statham, JJ Perry on May 29, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

 

Safe 1

Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, James Hong, Chris Sarandon, Anson Mount

Fight Choreography by J.J Perry and Chad Stahelski

Directed by Boaz Yakin

The great thing about Jason Statham, being the only A-list martial artist who makes Hollywood films (this needs to change ASAP. I’m looking at you, Hollywood) is that you know pretty much what you’ll get when you put the words Statham and Action together: a healthy mix of martial arts and gunplay, and badass quips. His best mix of these are his Transporter films, and the rest of his action filmography is a mixed bag. So is Safe closer to Transporter or closer to War?

Safe tells the story of Luke Wright (Statham) who starts off as a boxer who doesn’t throw a fight, and since the Russian mafia had bet a lot of money, take it out on Luke by murdering his wife. The Russians let Luke live, but with the knowledge that anyone he befriends will be killed (and they are killed). Meanwhile, in China, a young girl named Mei exibits a genius intellect for numbers, even though she doesn’t like them, and is kidnapped and held to work for the Traids and their leader Han Jiao (Hong). Fast forward to a year later, and Luke is on the streets living as a homeless man, and we find that he was once an undercover cop, who had turned over his partners to internal affairs. Meanwhile Mei is being transported to a location where she is to be give the second set of numbers she is to memorize which will open a safe somewhere in the city.  During her transport the Traids are attacked by the Russians, and Mei escapes and is found by Luke, who defends her from the Russians. Together, Mei and Luke save each other, and if they play their cards right, they can do so and get rich at the same time…

Safe 2

Safe is a decent film, and Statham delivers as always. He plays Luke like the broken man he is, yet he still responds to his call to action. Catherine Chan is good as Mei, even though she doesn’t say much, she conveys it through her eyes. James Hong is Mr. Dependable as the Triad thug, as is Chris Sarandon as a corrupt mayor of New York. The story is at issue here, particularly in the way the film fills in the blanks of Luke’s life for the audience with no prior hints whatsoever. It’s like instant revelations constantly occur: He was once a Cop! He was part of a Task Force! He ratted out his partners! The Mayor’s Aide is some kind of mega-killer-badass! It all seemed to be items shoehorned in to explain the plot, which made parts of the film to appear as if written by someone taking a screenwriting class. I get slow reveals, but these were too many for the wrong reasons.

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The fights were good here, if not very many. The train fight was probably the best fight, as was the fight in the hotel restaurant area, a chaotic mix of martial arts and gunplay that was exciting and fun. The most disappointing fight is the one that didn’t happen: the fight between the Mayor’s Aide (Anson Mount, from Hell on Wheels) and Luke. It had the look of a classic badass fight but is ended before it can start thanks to some quick thinking on Mei’s part. It was such a surprising moment I can forgive the fact that it took away what appeared to be a great duel.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7 

Safe is an entertaining film and Jason Statham delivers the goods as always. A nice way to spend a Friday night.

 

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Review: Blood And Bone (2009)

Posted in Bob Sapp, JJ Perry, Kimbo Slice, Matt Mullins, Michael Jai White, Robert Wall, Ron Yuan with tags , , on April 28, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Michael Jai White, Eamonn Walker, Nona Gaye, Julian Sands,

Dante Basco, Bob Sapp, Kimbo Slice, Matt Mullins, Ron Yuan

Fight Choreography by JJ Perry and Fernando Chien

Directed by Ben Ramsey

Michael Jai White is one of those mysteries that Hollywood hasn’t figured out yet, but fans and martial arts enthusiasts have been waiting for “MJW” to finally star in a film of his own, and somewhere out the there martial arts gods were listening to us, and gave us Undisputed 2, which finally gave MJW the starring film he deserved. It was a huge success on DTV, and MJW follows it up with this film. Can he keep the momentum going?

To quote one random line from the film, “That Bones is the truth!”

The film tells the story of Bone (MJW), a man just released from prison, whom we know from the first fight at the beginning of the film that he’s a martial arts badass who can beat the tar out of Kimbo Slice and a group of unfortunate henchmen who weren’t aware that attacking Bone meant losing both their dignity–and their teeth.

He soon arrives at a boarding home, where he is taken in by Tamara (Gaye) and it’s apparent that he’s there for a reason that won’t be explained until much later. That night he attends an underground fight tournament where he sees a fighter named the Cowboy getting his butt whipped by the HammerMan (Sapp), and Bone uses the beat down to get Cowboy’s promotor Pinball (Basco) to get him into a fight, where Bone obliterates his opponent, and brings him , and after a few fights is brought to the attention of The Hammerman’s promotor James, a street kingpin who is looking to move up to a group called the Consortium, of which his boss Franklin McVeigh (Sands) is a member. And yes, they sound like James Bond villains, but never mind that. Of course, I always viewed Julian Sands as a Bond villain. Score one for MJW’s crew for figuring that one out first!

This is what Bone wants, although it will be midway through the film before we see why, which actually helps keep the story interesting. Bone is offered to join James, by fighting in a special bout financed by the Consortium against their best fighter, Pretty Boy Price (Mullins), considered to be the best in the world. Bone has other plans that involves James’s girl Angela, who has a secret connected with Bone that not even she is aware of until later.

Soon all of Bone’s plans come to fruition, and he had foreshadowed this to James earlier in the film when he quoted Genghis Khan:

I am the punishment of God. And if you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.

Now that is some badass shit to say, ‘cause Genghis Khan was the original badass who said it, and you better be one to use it. Unfortunately James didn’t really put this bit of logic together, else he would have retired early, say, to Siberia.

Bone finally faces off with Price, and James has one last confrontation with Bone, and the results are not what you might expect…

Blood and Bone is a fun film that somewhat hearkens back to the heights of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s popularity, and share some story beats with his own film Lionheart.  MJW owns this role, exuding a great deal of screen presence along with some well-acted scenes. He never portrays Bone as some sort of unstoppable badass, but as a very intelligent man who has a plan, and intends to keep his plan and his promise to a friend. He has a spirituality to himself that is shown in his martial arts, as he never applies more force than what’s necessary to defeat his opponent. In a great montage scene of his fights he also shows that he knows Tai Chi, and it is this form he uses to defeat James at the end. Eamonn Walker also does a fantastic job as James. He plays him as a sociopathic street kingpin with delusions of believing that he is above the thugs he employs, but in reality is a worse monster, and there are some really good moments where he states that he doesn’t curse because it makes man barbaric, but then curses a bunch toward the end when things start to unravel. He becomes what he thought he wasn’t. All of the rest of the cast, particularly Dante Basco as Pinball and Ron Yuan (yep, little brother of  Roger Yuan (Shanghai Noon)) add some hip-hop flavor to the proceedings.

The fights are stand out here. The first few fights show what is in Bone’s mind, how he sees his opponent, and his fight against the Hispanic gang that won’t pay up is fantastic. The 4-man jump kick was astounding. I don’t know how MJW does it. No one that big should be able to do that, but he can. His fight with Bob Sapp is also good, but quick, which is appropriate given the circumstances and his opponent, and holy crap is Bob Sapp scary! The final fight between MJW and Matt Mullins is fantastic, as each fighter sizes up the other, and the choreography is fluid and smooth, and really allows both men to shine.

Ben Ramsey does a great job staging the fights, keeping the camera at good angles so we can see the action, and not quick-cut editing the film to hell. The film also has some good references for those who love martial arts films. In the final fight look for Robert Wall (Enter the Dragon) as one of the Consortium members throwing MJW a sword as McVeigh yells out his name “O’Hara!” I actually laughed out loud at that scene. Sands does a great Shih Kein impersonation!

Blood and Bone is a fun martial arts film that finally allows MJW to cut loose and show us what he can do, and he puts it all together here, the acting, the fighting, the humor. It’s all there, and well worth watching. Also, watch the credits at the end to see James meet a fate that may be worse than death…

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) JJ Perry and Co do a great job staging these fights, and they have a good mix of MMA and traditional martial arts. The final fight between Bone and Price is fantastic. Matt Mullins and MJW really get a chance to show off  their stuff.

STUNTWORK: (8) Good stuff from everyone involved, especially the other fighters, whom I believe are all the real deal.

STAR POWER: (10) Michael Jai White really gets to put himself out there, and it works. Since then his slate has gotten really, really full, so good on him! Eamonn Walker, Bob Sapp  Matt Mullins, Dante Basco, Ron Yuan , Julian Sands and Kimbo Slice all give good contributions to a good film. Hey, so does Robert Wall!

FINAL GRADE: (9) MJW delivers another great martial arts film. I’m glad he’s taken his career into his own hands. Now how about a sequel? Bone did tell McVeigh he would see him later…

Review: Mortal Kombat (1995)

Posted in Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Christopher Lambert, JJ Perry, Keith Cooke, Reviews, Robin Shou with tags , , , on February 9, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Robin Shou, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa (CHT), Christopher Lambert, Keith Cooke (cameo), Bridgette Wilson, Linden Ashby

Fight Choreography by Pat E. Johnson

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

For martial arts fans in the US, the early and mid 90’s were rough. Unless you knew a buddy who got the bootleg stuff from Hong Kong and Japan, you were left with Steven Seagal with the ever-expanding waistline, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, master of the ass shots and splits. In other words you were shit out of luck. There was cool martial arts to be found in video games, with Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat leading the way. Hollywood thought they would both make a good film, and they were half-right. Little did we know that Jackie Chan was about to change US cinema forever with Rumble in the Bronx a year later, but at that time we were given Mortal Kombat…

The film opens following three characters: Liu Kang (Shou), who wants to avenge the death of his brother Chen by the murderous Shang Tsung (CHT), Sonya Blade (Wilson) who is hunting a smuggler who killed her brother and has lured her into the tournament, and Johnny Cage (Ashby) a Van Damme-like movie star who enters the tournament to prove he’s the real deal. They make their way to an island owned by Shang Tsung (doesn’t the plot remind you of another martial arts classic?), and meet his fearsome fighters: Sub-Zero, a ninja who has perfected a freezing technique, and Scorpion, a ninja returned from the dead with a grapple claw and fire breath, which I hear is standard fare for all resurrected ninjitsu warriors. They also have to face Goro, a six-armed 7 foot tall muppet, and Reptile, a lizard who can transform into a ninja fighter. They are all from another dimension called Outworld, ruled by their master Shao Khan.

Our heroes are aided by Princess Kitana (Soto), the former ruler of Outworld, and Rayden (Lambert), the god of Thunder and Lightening, worshipped by the chinese monks for being a god of Thunder and Lightening. And a kung-fu master. And French. Liu Kang and his new friends soon find out they aren’t just fighting in a tournament, but are fighting for the fate of Earth, and each of them learn a valuable lesson about themselves in the process.

Yes, this is truly a silly film, but it’s still fun, probably one of the better video game adaptations done. They rip off the plot for Enter the Dragon wholesale, but hey, someone was going to eventually. Robin Shou does okay for Lui Kang, but his acting leaves a lot to be desired. His fighting isn’t so great either. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not bad. His kung-fu is technically good, but he doesn’t have the grace and speed of Donnie, Jackie or Jet. Everyone else is cut from that same Hollywood cloth of actors who don’t really know any martial arts but has a lot of stunt people doing it for them. In the case of Johnny Cage some of the stunts are done by JJ Perry, the fight choreographer fromUndisputed 2, and Blood and Bone, and Keith Cooke, he of China O’Brien.

The fights themselves are either pretty good or really weak. Sonya Blade’s fight is really weak, but Lui Kang versus Sub-zero and Reptile is pretty damn good. The best, in my opinion, is the fight between Johnny Cage and Scorpion. That has a great fight in Scorpion’s lair, with really good choreography, the best in the film. CHT brings the villany as he always does, and gives a decent fight to Lui Kang at the end of the film, but his-and Lambert’s scene chewing are the best moments of the film, aside from one last thing:

The Music. George S Clinton brought techno music to the attention of pop culture after being in the underground scene for years. Suddenly we became aware of acts like Orbital, Utah Saints, Massive Attack, Juno Reactor, and more. The Mortal Kombat theme itself wants to make you get up and smack someone. Think not? Listen to this:

Makes you want to jump up and give someone a tornado kick to the face! If anything, this film was a good mix of old school martial arts and special effects that had good and weak moments for both, but overall is an enjoyable film, but the soundtrack makes the film better than it actually is.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (7) Good choreography for an American film, and could have been better if the actual stars of the film outside of Robin Shou and CHT (I don’t think he knows much) actually knew martial arts.

STUNTWORK: (8) These guys had to hold up the actors who didn’t know martial arts and did a good job at doing so. The guy wearing the Goro suits deserved a raise.

STAR POWER:(6) CHT is money in the bank as always, and Christopher Lambert is always a treat. Robin Shou doesn’t have the charisma to be a big star. Everyone else is fairly forgettable. Some of the stuntmen in the film went on to bigger and better things.

FINAL GRADE: (7) One of the best video game adaptations ever, which is faint praise, but is a good check-your-brain-at-the-door film for martial arts film buffs.


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