Review: Iceman: The Time Traveller (2019)

Posted in Baoqiang Wang, Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Yasuaki Kurata with tags , on February 19, 2019 by Michael S. Moore

Starring: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Yasuaki Kurata, Eva Huang, Wong Baoqiang, Kang Yu

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Yip Wai Man

The adventures of He Ying continues in the next chapter of The Iceman saga!

*Beware Spoilers for Iceman, Part 1*

After He Ying takes a nosedive off of a bridge in part one, we pick up hours afterward, where he winds up being saved by Yuang Long, his commanding officer and friend (Yam) who suddenly arrives in the future 18 years before He Ying gets there (and this goes completely unexplained how he did it without the time travel device). Together they seem to team up to return to the past, but He Ying finds too late that Yang simply wants to go back to the past and rule the world, and they kidnap May in order to make He Ying recite the incantation to activate the device. This he does, but he and May also follow them to the past after a quick interlude on a train in 1927’s China. How this has anything to do with Part 3 is anyone’s guess. Once they wind up in the past, the full story of what led to He Ying’s frame job is revealed, and He Ying, along with May, will try to keep his village from being destroyed…again.

 

Donnie Yen is a bit better this time out as He Ying, now that we find out more about his motivations and the relationships he had with his former elite guard brothers. Simon Yam hams it up, now that he gets to drop all pretenses of being anything other than The Bad Guy. Eva Huang as May does a bit of a better job here as she gets to do more, but I still think a more seasoned actress would’ve been better here. The person who gets short-served here is Wong Baoqiang as Sao. He merely gets a mention that he’s been killed off from the previous film, and he gets one lackluster fight scene here, making his presence completely without any merit or function except to watch him die again in a different way. This film also makes maddening leaps of logic. If Yang needed the Linga so badly, how the hell did he time travel himself ahead of He Ying? This is never explained at all. And what happened to the superhuman feats all parties did in the first film? Now they are suddenly, mostly human (I actually criticized this in the first film but even if you change this you HAVE to explain it!) and so the action suddenly isn’t as good as the previous film, and that film had problems. The scenes in the village are pretty good and add weight to the stakes, but it would’ve been better had we met any of the villagers in the first film, which would have made the stakes even greater, and what happens even more emotional than it ultimately was.

A change in directors may explain a lot of the differences between the films, but the story leaps and revelations are so all over the place that it’s hard to get a bead on where the story is going. The most interesting part, at least to me, was the fight between Yen and Kurata, which jumps through time, and finishes in this awesome place between time and space. I wish the audience would’ve been treated to more of this place. Now there is one important thing to know going into this film, and it’s even more crazy than the first, and maybe this film’s biggest sin:

NOTHING RESOLVES ITSELF

That’s right. No matter what happens here, it doesn’t resolve the story at all, even with the deaths of important characters. Nothing from the first film is resolved. Even in a film series where time is fluid, there needs to be a resolution of at least a few story threads, but this doesn’t happen here. This may be what swings this film, and this series, to failure. Part 3 is all that can save it, and it better resolve everything spectacularly. But there has to BE a part 3, and that’s now in doubt.

Normally I would go into the actions scenes, but aside from the finale, nothing here is very good. Kurata vs Yen is awesome, for however much of it is actually Kurata doing his own fighting (something I doubt highly at this point. He’s one of my favorite action actors of all time, but even I frowned at his participation in this) and Wong Baoqiang’s fight with Kang Yu was really weak, and if you’ve seen Kung Fu Killer then you know what Wong can bring to the party, so understand that a great opportunity was missed here.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4.5

A slick production doesn’t make a film great. It’s not as good as the first film, which was merely ok at the best moments. Leaving every plotline unresolved is just bad writing. The question really is will they get a Part 3 to right the wrongs? 

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Review: Iceman (2014)

Posted in Baoqiang Wang, Donnie Yen, Simon Yam with tags , on February 18, 2019 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Wang Baoqiang, Eva Huang, Kang Yu

Fight Choreography by Don Salvitti, Donnie Yen

Directed by Law Wing-Cheung

Donnie Yen, red hot after his Ip Man films, tackles a remake of the 1989 HK classic Iceman Cometh with Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah. So how does this new version do? Is it a grand slam or a horrible car crash?

The true answer is somewhere in the middle…

Donnie Yen stars as He Ying , and imperial guard for the Ming Dynasty, who finds a time travel device in India, and is betrayed while transporting it back to the Emperor, and subsequently is frozen in nice for 400 years along with two of the guards sent to kill him, Sao and Neihu. They are all accidently thawed out when the transport carrying them crashes, release them from their cryofreeze chambers. Now in the present day, He Ying must elude the guards still chasing him and retrieve the key to time travel back to his age in order to save his village…

The story here is just, well, meh. Nothing here is original, and takes its queues from films like The Matrix to the Terminator series, and this film makes the cardinal sin of simply being “Part 1” and not giving a complete ending, which makes for a dissatisfying ending and an end credit sequence that basically shows a scene from what is to be Part 2. Donnie Yen is merely Okay as He Ying, the time displaced soldier. We don’t really get much of a fish-out-of-water story here. Just a few funny bits and then on to the action, which is in and of itself weak. The story jumps back and forth in time, and leaves the audience to figure a lot of things out before explaining them in flashback, which to me is a lazy way to create suspense. Not having all of the information at hand does NOT create a suspenseful scene between characters. Also, Yen and Huang, as a potential love interest show absolutely no chemistry. Yen needed an older, more seasoned actress for this part. Simon Yam is okay here as well, but is a nondescript bad guy whose motivations we don’t find out until nearly the end of the film.are also a lot of comedy moments that just fall flat. Newsflash: Donnie Yen and comedy don’t really work well together. The camera work is all over the place, trying its best to justify this film being shown in 3D, and fails miserably in nearly every scene. 

The fights here are largely CG and wire assisted, which is completely unnecessary given the talent involved. The final fight, on a busy street bridge, is basically nothing that hasn’t been seen in bunch of recent superhero films. Which, in all honestly, is what Iceman is. It’s a superhero film, with He Ying and his fellow combatants doing crazy jumps, falls from buildings, showing superhuman strength, and as we see this over and over again there is never a doubt He Ying would survive just about anything. So there is no suspense or edge-of-your-seat moments that grab you, because no one actually gets hurt. The bridge fight does have a few well choreographed moments, but taken as a whole entity is just as weak as the rest of this film. Maybe Part 2 will bring things into focus.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

This is a middling film with middling characters with “meh” as action. So that equals an average grade. There is nothing special about this film except how unspectacular it actually is.

MGM Is bringing El Gato Negro to TV!

Posted in Michael Moore on February 14, 2019 by Michael S. Moore
Diego Boneta is playing El Gato Negro!

I’m happy to announce that El Gato Negro is coming to TV via MGM studios, and we already have the main character cast: Diego Boneta is starring as the Nocturnal Warrior himself! Via Deadline:

MGM Television is developing a television series based on Richard Dominguez’s Latino comic book series, El Gato Negro: Nocturnal WarriorDiego Boneta (Luis Miguel: La Serie, Rock of Ages) is attached to star in the series as the titular hero and also will executive produce under his production company, Three Amigos. Joel Novoa (Arrow) will co-executive produce.

MGM Television will produce and MGM will internationally distribute the series and are interviewing showrunners and writers to complete the creative team. Andrew Mittman, MGM’s SVP Television Production and Development, will oversee the series for MGM Television.

This is the culmination of a lot of hard work over the years by creator Richard Dominguez and myself, and I can’t be happier. As for the short film I directed, El Gato Negro: Prey, has been submitted to many film festivals, and I’ll let everyone know when/where it will play! And look for updates here as the TV Series begins to take shape!

Source: Deadline

The Trailer for Triple Threat has arrived to Kick Your Ass!

Posted in Iko Uwais, Jeeja Yanin, Michael Jai White, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins, Tiger Hu Chen, Tony Jaa with tags on February 14, 2019 by Michael S. Moore

Hot damn, this poster already looks epic! Check out those names! This is the kind of film I dreamed about since I started this website oh so many years ago! You want the biggest team up film of 2019? If you thought it was Avengers: Endgame you are wrong! There’s no way kicking ass in CGI is better than these guys and gals whooping ass in reality! This film is boasting amazing talent across the board, and I can’t wait to see what it all looks like when it comes together, so let’s get to that trailer: 

Good Lord.

…Great Googly-Moogly.

Jaa vs Uwais?! MJW and Scott Adkins versus, well, anybody listed in the credits?! There’s so much goodness here I STILL can’t believe this film is actually happening! Add to that the fact that Jesse V Johnson is a dependable martial arts film director (Savage Dog, Accident Man) and you’ve got a great mix!

And here is a little more info from the good folks at WELLGOUSA, who look like they’ve scored a home run here:

In Wide Release for One Night Only Tuesday, March 19 In Select Theaters and VOD Friday, March 22  

This is the perfect film to seek out and take a HUGE group of friends with you to see this sucker on the big screen. Like-minded folks who love martial arts films will have that theater rockin’! Outside of John Wick 3 THIS is my most anticipated film of 2019!

You knew it had to happen! Zombies and Kung-Fu collide with Rampant!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 28, 2019 by Michael S. Moore

The good folks at WellGOUSA come correct with what looks like a great entry into the zombie horror pantheon if Train to Busan is any indication! Details below:

 

PLANO, TEXAS (January 25, 2019) – From the creators of Train to Busan, comes a fresh new take on the zombie-horror genre when RAMPANT debuts on digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD February 26 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Set in ancient Korea, the story follows Prince Ganglim, who after returning from a long imprisonment, discovers a bloody rampage spreading across the nation by murderous creatures known as Night Demons. He soon realizes that it will take the strength of his fellow countrymen to stop the Night Demons from overrunning the kingdom. RAMPANT was directed by Kim Sung-Hoon (Confidential Assignment) and stars Hyun-Bin (The Swinders), Jang Dong-Gun (The Warriors Way), Jo Woo-Jin (Inside Men), Man-Sik (Man of Will) and Kim Eui-Sung (Train to Busan). Bonus features include making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Synopsis:
A darkness looms over ancient Korea: murderous creatures known as Night Demons have overrun the country. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation in this fresh new take on zombie horror from the studios that brought you Train to Busan.

RAMPANT Debuts on Digital, Blu-ray Combo & DVD February 26

RED ALERT! It’s time to call in sick for a week! Twitch has a Shaw Brothers Marathon!

Posted in Shaw Brothers on January 28, 2019 by Michael S. Moore

Just read the below. If you come to this site regularly, I don’t need to sell you on this! Maybe ya’ll would like to watch some of this with some commentary…from me?

 

 

GAMMARAY AND CELESTIAL PICTURES TO STREAM SHAW BROTHERS’ KUNG FU MOVIE MARATHON EXCLUSIVELY ON TWITCH

 

44 Full-Length Classic Kung Fu Features Make their Twitch Debut to Global Interactive Audience

 

January 23, 2019 (Los Angeles, CA) – GammaRay and Celestial pictures today announced they will stream a Shaw Brothers movie marathon on Twitch (twitch.tv/gammaray_tv) from February 4 to February 8, 2019. The marathon will include 44 full-length features from the Shaw Brothers’ extensive library of kung fu titles, including iconic films such as King Boxer, Crippled Avengers, and Five Deadly Venoms. This viewing event will be streamed globally and exclusively on Twitch, the leading service and community for multiplayer entertainment, and marks the first time Twitch has featured kung fu films.

 

After the marathon airs from February 4-8, there will be double feature movie nights on Thursdays and Fridays at 5:00 pm PT for four weeks. The marathon is also the first time GammaRay has hosted full-length features on Twitch.

 

“We’re excited to introduce cult classic movies from the 70s and 80s to our fans on Twitch for the first time,” said GammaRay COO Do Duong. “Kung fu has influenced filmmaking, hip hop music, and pop culture, so we’re thankful to Celestial Pictures for access to their Shaw Brothers action titles, and to Twitch for using their service to introduce a larger audience to the kung fu phenomenon.”

 

“The Twitch community has lots of interests, with martial arts and film-based marathons among them,” said Jane Weedon, Director of Business Development at Twitch. “We’ve seen it in the games they play, their cosplay outfits, and the programming they watch, with the Shaw Brothers’ kung fu films being the perfect pop culture combo of these fandoms. Thanks to GammaRay, we get to livestream over 40 of the Shaw Brothers’ seminal movies with an interactive global audience.”

 

Celestial Pictures is the owner of the Shaw Brothers library of over 760 digitally remastered classics. The custodian of the Shaw Brothers legacy, Celestial Pictures continues to keep the love for peak kung fu cinema alive by presenting it to loyal enthusiasts and new-found audiences across the globe.

 

“We’re thrilled to bring the quintessential Shaw Brothers films to a new generation of fans through this collaboration with GammaRay,” said Agnes Cheung, Executive Vice President of Celestial Pictures. “Interactive streaming will open up a new horizon for the passionate fandom of kung fu cinema. The marathon will allow the audience to be immersed without interruption in the everlasting Shaw Brothers magic.”

 

44 Titles will be featured during the Twitch livestream including the following kung fu classics:

 

  • King Boxer(1972): A student (Lieh Lo) of kung fu meets resistance on his way to a major Chinese tournament.
  • Crippled Avengers(1978): After the death of his wife, warlord Dao Tian-du (Kuan Tai Chen) turns evil and holds a town in thrall to his reign of fear with the help of his sadistic son. Four of the villain’s victims — a blind man, an amputee, a deaf-mute, and an insane fighter — seek the help of a wise kung fu master as they train to eliminate the tyrant for good.
  • Five Deadly Venoms (1978): A dying master sends his last student to check up on five former pupils, who each know a special style of kung fu.

 

Twitch streamers will also be able to co-stream the marathon. Co-streaming is a feature unique to Twitch which allows a streamer to share another channel’s video feed, but with their own commentary and community. The result is a more personalized, social experience.

 

For more information including the full marathon schedule and movie times, visit GammaRay’s Twitch channel page and follow them on Twitter