The Teaser Trailer for Cobra Kai is here!

Posted in Ralph Macchio with tags on February 15, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Will Daniel get that leg swept again? Whatever happened with anyone from the Karate Kid 2? Will Daniel meet Hillary Swank’s character for a team-up beatdown? At least one of these questions will be answered in the webseries Cobra Kai, and behold the teaser below:

 

Hmm. I’ve been hesitant about this series ever since I heard about it, but there is a chance to have good drama following these characters again. I can’t imagine these characters will face off again, but who knows? I wonder who the fight choreographer is? What do ya’ll think?

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Because we can never have enough Vlad in our lives.

Posted in Vlad Rimburg on January 29, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

So here’s some cool stuff to get the week started. Vladislav Rimburg, fight choreographer extraordinaire, graces us with a prior unreleased little jem he made back in 2010 with Andy Long and some other good folks you may recognize. Enjoy, and happy Monday everybody!

Review: Showdown in Manila (2018)

Posted in Alexander Nevsky, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Cynthia Rothrock, Don"The Dragon" Wilson, Mark Dacascos, Matthias Hues, Olivier Gruner with tags , , , on January 19, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Alexander Nevsky, Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Mark Dacascos, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Matthias Hues, Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, Don ” The Dragon” Wilson

Fight Choreography by Al Dacascos

Directed by Mark Dacascos

After years of watching Marc Dacascos on the big and small screen, he finally steps behind the camera for his first film, produced and starring 3-time Mr. Universe Alexander Nevsky and a whole horde of b-movie stars. So how did his first venture do?

It has moments that aren’t as good as it could have been, but this movie…

… is a LOT of fun.

Alexander Nevsky stars as Nick Peyton, a disgraced Thailand cop who now works as a private detective after he his whole team is killed in a botched raid on a drug den owned by a man known as The Wrath (the CHT!). Two years later Nick and his sex-crazed partner Charlie (Van Dien) are hired by a police sketch artist (Carrere) whose husband, a secret agent, is killed by The Wrath right in front of her. She pays them to bring him to her…alive. Now working in Manila, Nick has a second chance to get revenge for his fallen comrades, but he’ll need some high-powered help to finish the job…

The film, despite the Raid-like opening moves a little slow at the beginning, but picks up steam as the film goes on. While Alexander Nevsky is a little wooden in his acting, which may be a lot better had he spoken in his native Russian dialect, he is aided well by the presence of his co-star Casper Van Dien. They have a good on-screen chemistry with each other that more than makes up for a few weak acting moments from Nevsky, who is a large presence in the film, and the Dacascos family had the good sense to use that largeness for maximum effect. Van Dien does well bringing in the comedy aspects of the film, which helps keep things light and helps propel the film forward in its slower moments. The CHT is as a good a villain as always, but I wish he had been in the film more, but we do get some villainy from the always great Matthias Hues, but here again, I wish we had more of him. The directing by Mark is confident, even in the slower scenes, which I think could have been slightly better with just a little more editing down, but that’s a minor nitpick for the treasure of goods this film delivers, which comes in the form of a boat ride that brings in some of Nick’s friends during the climax of the film: Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, and Don ” The Dragon” Wilson.

That’s right, ya’ll. China O’Brien, Nemesis, and Bloodfist show up to kick all kinds of ass 90’s style.

So let’s get into the action side of things, shall we? Early on we get a quick fight scene with Mark Dacascos that shows that the man can still kick all kinds of ass, and we need to see him back in a movie doing so pronto! His fight scene is really quick and far too short, but it looks good and is shot well. Fast forward to the big action finale, and I was transported back to 1992, ya’ll. At first there is a lot of gun play, and while I loved seeing everyone, I came to terms with the fact that they may all be too old to actually do a fight scene anymore, and that seeing them shooting folks will just have to do.

Silly rabbit. I should’ve had more faith in the film’s director. He knows what true fans want to see…

…and eventually the bullets run out.

What follows is an orgasmic cavalcade of action goodness, with Cynthia Rothrock going knives-out, and punching and kicking foes like the good ol’ days! ( Now I want to see what China O’Brien has been up to this past decade!) Don ” The Dragon” Wilson also gets a scene where he gets to show he can still kick with the best of them, and no one looks like they can take a hit and keep fighting like Don, and Olivier looks more brutal than I’ve ever seen him in an action scene. The fights are shot well, showing us the FULL action of what’s happening without quick-cut edits…because what we see on screen is real martial artists doing onscreen what they’ve been doing for decades. Kudos to Al Dacascos for making sure each action scene plays to the strengths of each fighter. I wish we could have had a bigger hand to hand combat scene for Nevsky, but there is so much other cool action happening I didn’t mind this time, but he does mix it up a little with Matthias Hues, and I wish THAT fight had been bigger, but maybe next time?

 

Look, this film isn’t for everyone. If you want something on the order of Tony Jaa or Iko Uwais, you won’t get that kind of wild action here. But for those of us who grew up on these kinds of films, it’s mana from heaven. Alexander Nevsky and Mark Dacascos did what The Expendables couldn’t do: provide a film that truly showcases what these action stars can still do, and make them look great at doing it. 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade : 8.5

A really fun film that kicks you in the face with nostalgia, and the only thing that’s missing are four people: Jalal Merhi, Billy Blanks, Richard Norton, and the greatness himself, Al Leong. Showdown in Manila 2, perhaps? 

Old School Action: A talk with Alexander Nevsky!

Posted in Alexander Nevsky, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Cynthia Rothrock, Don"The Dragon" Wilson, Mark Dacascos on January 17, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Friday January 19th will see the limited release of Showdown in Manila, marking the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos (Only the Strong, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Drive) and marks the meeting of some 80’s and 90’s badasses: Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa (the CHT!), Cynthia Rothrock, Don ” The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, Matthias Hues, as well as Casper Van Dien and Tia Carrera. I had a talk with producer and 3-time Mr. Universe star Alexander Nevsky about the film. We had a LOT of fun talking about the film and the stars involved. I hope you all enjoy this!

M: You’ve taken your career into your hands as both the producer and star. What was it like wearing both of those hats on set?

A: First of all let me explain to you why I do this. I really believe that if you want to achieve something you shouldn’t wait; you should do it yourself. Unfortunately right now, when you talk about old fashioned action movies, they don’t make them much anymore. And what of Showdown in Manila? All of those guys, they’re still in great shape: Cynthia Rothrock, Don the Dragon Wilson, Olivier Gruner, Dacascos himself, Casper Van Dien. They’re all in great shape. Right now, what’s going on in international cinema, even at a studio it’s hard to move forward with a movie (like this) . That’s why I make movies which I want to see; I’m a huge fan of each and every one of them. I love Dacascos’ movies, Tagawa’s movies, all of them. So I always wanted to get involved not just as an actor but a producer.

It’s not easy but as a producer you have more control. And if your a good producer you can make sure your film is finished and released everywhere.

M: The scene where you call for your friends and they arrive on the boat: Cynthia, Don, and Olivier, and I nearly jumped out of my chair, because I loved all of them! That final action scenes reminded me of 80’s action films like Commando and Missing in Action. Was that what you were going for?

A: Exactly. I’m just as excited as you are hearing you talk about it! I was excited as I was dreaming the film, shooting the film, promoting the film. I’m as excited as you are about the film! And Oliver Gruner, I love him in Nemesis!

**Okay, ya’ll have to forgive me. Things had to grind to a halt as we extolled our mutual love for the film Nemesis. If you haven’t see it, get on that

We went from an epic discussion of Nemesis, to talking about old school action films, and what it takes to get one made nowadays:**

A: Times change, and I think when a studio like Lionsgate produces John Wick, and it’s also a great film, and Keanu Reeves doing great things, and in every  John Wick they had four months of preparation, and its him fighting and everything, but you can’t compare him to Oliver Gruner, or Don the Dragon Wilson, or Cynthia Rothrock, as they are all martial artists, with all due respect to Keanu as he’s a great guy and artist. With Showdown in Manila, Mark’s father Al Dacascos even went to Manila to support Mark and choreograph all of the fights. So we had many real people on set, and the set we used for Manila is the same set used in Apocalypse Now.

M: How much training did you all have to do for the fight scenes?

A: That’s another thing, even in a movie like John Wick where Keanu had 4 months to prepare, of course we didn’t have that with Showdown for Manila. We just had a couple of weeks. We spent about five weeks shooting it, and then another month in post production. So for the action we trained for a couple of weeks on that, but because we had people like Oliver Gruner, Cynthia Rothrock, Al Dacascos, Mark Dacascos, Don the Dragon Wilson, they all continue to train and are in great shape, also Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, so it wasn’t hard for us to do it all. As for me, I was a boxer before. I did some kickboxing before, but I was a boxer before I started bodybuilding.

Marc as the director gave everyone some screen time, especially at the end in the jungle so you can enjoy Cynthia Rothrock doing martial arts, and Olivier Gruner and the Don the Dragon. It was much easier and everyone knows what to do. It was all real, and I hope it felt real when you watched it. It was tough but it was huge fun.

M: Alexander, I had a lot of fun talking to you! It’s great that your doing it with the love and care your doing it! I wish you great success and I can’t wait to talk with you about Maximum Impact!

A:  Thank you very much, and thank you for your support! Me and you are fans of this genre, and fans of these action stars, so thank you for your support! I’m glad you enjoyed the film!

Talk to you soon I hope!

 

We had a really great talk, much longer than what you have here! We went to town on all kinds of cool action movies.  Maybe someday I’ll post the audio from the entire interview! Bug me enough and I’ll do it! Look for the the film in limited release stateside this Friday, and look for it Digital HD and VOD on January 23rd. My review will be up Friday!

Review: SkinTrade (2014)

Posted in Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Dolph Lundgren, Michael Jai White, Tony Jaa, Uncategorized on January 15, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Selina Jade, Ron Perlman

Fight Choreography by Dain Hristov

Directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham

After the debacle that was Ong Bak 3 Tony Jaa started doing the Tony Jaa World Tour, and this was another film made while he is/was transitioning away from Prachya Pinkaew and legendary Panna Rittikrai, who had already passed away. Jaa joined this film with martial arts stars Michael Jai White and Dolph Lundgren, and one would expect an action packed fisticuffs classic. I’m sorry to say that doesn’t quite happen here.

Dolph Lundgren stars as Nick Cassidy, a New York cop who is hot on the heels of the Serbian mafia led by Viktor Dragovic (Perlman) and his sons. After Nick kills the youngest son of Viktor during a raid, Viktor attacks Nick and his family, killing his wife and presumably his teenage daughter. After Nick recovers from his injuries he seeks out Viktor and follows him to Thailand, with the somewhat help of FBI agent Reed (MJW) and runs afoul of Bangkok cops Tony and his partner Nung, the latter of whom is killed by an agent of Viktor and frames Nick, causing Tony to go after Nick with a vengeance, but both men discover a human smuggling operation run by Viktor and quickly put aside their differences in order to stop Viktor once and for all…

Human Trafficking of any kind is a touchy subject for even a serious film, and for an action film it HAS to get it just right, and this film really botches things here. Only women are shown being trafficked, and none of them even have much of a dialog in the film, and merely exist to give Lundgren and Jaa a reason to stop fighting each other and going after the bad guys.  Ron Perlman is grossly underused here, and not allowed to create a compelling character. Viktor is just another cackling villain here, which is a waste of his talents, which is sad, as there could have been something more there in relation to his sons. Dolph, is well, Dolph. He’s the requisite action star going out for revenge. Ditto the same for Tony Jaa. Michael Jai White is there but doesn’t really leave much of an impression. The film drives on, but there are no real standout scenes, either with characters or with cinematography or even action, which for a film like this is criminal.

The place where this film SHOULD shine is in the action scenes, but even here they drop the ball. The choreography is uninspiring, as the Dolph vs. Jaa fight is only slightly better than Dolph’s fight vs Jet Li in The Expendables. The fight that should have been the standout, Jaa vs MJW, isn’t as good as it could have been, but this is attributed to camerawork and editing. I’ll never understand why some directors feel the need to have the actions scenes chopped to hell, and editing in quick cuts. It NEVER makes the fight more exciting to watch, and doesn’t allow us the audience to marvel at the martial arts we are watching. MJW and Tony Jaa perform their fights just fine, and parts of it look terrific as one would expect, but the editing just slices and dices it up and doesn’t make the fight feel urgent, and after all of that it ends too quickly.

SkinTrade should have been a martial arts classic, but a number of poor directing and editorial decisions ruin the film. And with all the talent assembled that’s a crying shame.  It should’ve been an action classic.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

Such great talent is wasted in this film. I’ll hold out hope for a proper Tony Jaa/MJW film. Such a disappointment. 

 

 

 

Kickboxer: Retaliation Trailer!

Posted in Alain Moussi, Christopher Lambert, Jean-Claude Van Damme on January 5, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

I enjoyed Kickboxer: Vengeance well enough, but between that film and watching Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Review coming soon) I don’t see why we couldn’t have just continued with JCVD still playing Kurt Sloane. So here comes the sequel, once again starring Alain Moussi as Sloane and JCVD as his teacher Durant. Let’s see what they have us…

 

So Christopher Lambert and Mike Tyson are along for the ride on this one? That’s kinda cool. Yeah, its another final fight against a big man, but the rest of it looks like a lot of fun. Looking forward to seeing this one. Hopefully JCVD will have a bigger part! I’d still love for JCVD to take over his series (sorry Alain, but it will always be JCVD’s) for the final film in the trilogy. I liked Alain in the first film but wasn’t sure he had the onscreen presence to really make it all work. He looks better in this film, but as with all things, it remains to be seen.

 

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