Review: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (2015)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 14, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

“No gelflings here, bro.”

Starring Li Bingbing, Chen Ku, Winston Chao

As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of wuxia films. I mostly prefer my martial arts films like my phones: Wireless.  Having said that, there is fascinating thing going on with those films: they are becoming a giant special effects extravaganza, not unlike many superhero films today. So how does Snow Girl fare given this new light?

In a word, I’m still not really impressed. Maybe even less so than I was of the genre before.

Snow Girl tells the story of Zhang Kui (Chen Ku), protector of the town of Hu, and is tasked by a Lord of Heaven, Daioxin,  to steal the Dark Crystal, a vessel from Hell that has imprisoned the souls of the populace and may cause the end of the world if activated. Zhang succeeds, causing the Demon King to unleash the Snow Girl to get it back. To prepare Zhang to defeat the Snow Girl Daioxin trains Zhang to harness his energy to turn himself into a powerful creature. Of course the moment Zhang meets the Snow Girl everything becomes much, much more complicated…

The story has moments where I was engaged, but by the third act I knew what was going to happen, and there were some dull stretches here and there. The acting in the film is pretty good, and Li Bing Bing does some particularly good work here, but the effects are the real star of the film, and unfortunately that’s a mixed bag. Most of it is really good, but the moments where we have CG monsters fighting made me feel like I was watching a video game being played, and I immediately checked out of the film during these really LONG sequences. It doesn’t help that the CG animation looks exactly like that, and not realistic at all. The final fight ends with one of those “so if the hero could do this the whole time then WHY DIDN’T HE?”. This is, for me at least, the most irritating kind of climactic finish.

The martial arts are kept on the down low here, except for one brief fight toward the end, which is nothing to write home about but adequate. It really could have used more of this and less of the CG monster fights. The ending of the film is jarring, as I didn’t really understand what Zhang was doing at the end and what it meant.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

I’ve seen way better Wuxia films, and this one was definitely mediocre. I’d rather revisit Zu, Warriors from Magic Mountain, or the Storm Riders.

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Scott Adkins + Marko Zaror with Keith David! Savage Dog Trailer (2017)

Posted in Scott Adkins with tags on August 2, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

So watch the trailer here and we’ll talk after:

Damn! Scott Adkins looking his actiony best, Marko Zaror looking properly villianous, JuJu Chan looking great, and Keith David, is, well, Keith Friggin’ David! I’m watching the film this week, and my review will be out over this weekend, so I can’t wait! What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! This month may need to be called Scott Adkins Month! I’m down with that! Scott is without a doubt the best martial arts action hero in cinema right now, and we need him to get an A list film. C’mon John Wick guys! Make a franchise film series for Scott!

Birth of the Dragon Trailer (2017)

Posted in Philip Ng with tags , on July 30, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Okay, things have been crazy lately but it’s time to get caught up. First up, Birth of The Dragon. I showed a different trailer not long ago (the overseas version) and I’ve since heard not-so-good things about the film. One item I hear about is how the film almost treats Bruce Lee’s conflict with Wong Jack Man almost a side story to the Steve McQueen-style hero, which would be a shame. I’m hopeful for the film, but remember there are several other Bruce Lee biopics currently in development. I’m confident in Philip Ng and his ability, so there are positives even if the film doesn’t turn out to the be ideal Bruce Lee film. So far the trailer looks great! Fingers crossed for the film!

 

Dave Bautista kicks ass in BUSHWICK Trailer (2017)

Posted in Dave Bautista on July 18, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

With the exception of Bautista’s work in Guardians of the Galaxy (and hopefully the new Bladerunner film) I haven’t been enamored with his work, but this looks really interesting, and seems to give Bautista a genuine vehicle for him to show off his skills. Or this could really be a Brittney Snow film and the trailer makes it look like he’s in it more than what he is. Here’s hoping its the former. Check out the trailer below! From the producers of The Raid, this looks really good. Fingers crossed. Let me know what you think in the comments! Are ya’ll into this?

Review: Altitude (2017)

Posted in Chuck Liddell, Dolph Lundgren on June 22, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Railroad Tigers (2016)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Jaycee Chan with tags , on June 22, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Huang Zitao, Sang Ping, Jaycee Chan, Kai Wang

Fight Choreography by He Jun

Directed by Ding Sheng

Railroad Tigers is one of the newest offerings from Jackie Chan, he the classic king of martial arts and stunts. Now over the age of 60, Jackie continues to make his action films, though the quality of them are beginning to vary in a troubling way. Nevertheless, any Jackie Chan is still better than most. So how does Railroad Tigers fare?

In the film Jackie plays, Ma Yuan, a Chinese railroad worker whom, along with his fellow workers, also moonlights as freedom fighters as they work to free their town that has been taken over by the Japanese. Up till now, his group has robbed a few trains, but done nothing of real note to affect the war effort. This all changes when a Chinese soldier trying to escape the Japanese after he is separated from his garrison after a failed assault and recruits Yuan and his small team to do the impossible: blow up the nearby bridge, cutting off supplies to the Japanese soldiers on the front lines. Can Yuan and his group pull it off and survive?

This is a Jackie Chan movie, so do you REALLY expect him to fail? The real question is how will they pull it off?

This is a slick movie. By that I mean it’s well made, and looks terrific. Ding Sheng does a good job with the shots, and every action beat looks and is edited in a coherent way. Jackie looks great onscreen, even as his age advances, as do his co-stars, particularly Kai Wang as Fan Chuang, a bar keep who quit being a soldier but tries to help the freedom fighters discreetly as a sharpshooter, and Jaycee Chan as Rui Ge, who, actually has some of the best moments of the film with his father Jackie, starting first with their fighting while having ropes attached to each other scene, which is a highlight, and their capture, which initiates some light ribbing and winking at the camera in regards to their similar looks. Jackie still has his physical comedic talents still in check, and does a great job here as a robin hood of sorts, being serious but at the same time beating the Japanese with a delightful air about him that really does remind me of his old films.

But there is one film in particular this film wants to emulate, and in this regard misses its mark.

This film desperately wants to be Millionaires’ Express. As the story goes JC was originally supposed to be in the film but due to scheduling conflicts couldn’t do so.This film shares a lot of atmosphere and even some comedy with that film, but where this film doesn’t meet expectations is with the fight scenes, which were subpar for what I expect from Jackie Chan, yes, even at his advanced age. You may remember Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as the main villain in the first Ip Man film, and here is a wasted opportunity for JC to match up against him. Most of this is due to the story, as JC’s Ma Yuan is an average guy, and not a marital artist. Those waiting for a great martial arts fight scene are going to be disappointed, even more so when you see the cameo that occurs at the end of the film, which will have scenes from Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and many other classic 80’s martial arts films dancing through your heads.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

While not a martial arts film, this is a solid entry in Jackie’s filmography. A fun war movie with grand heroics and Jackie Chan being every bit the action superhero he is!

 

This is was released this past Tuesday on Blu-Ray and DVD!