Kiai-Kick’s Holiday Gift Guide: WellGoUSA!

Posted in Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa with tags , on December 20, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

well-go-usa-logo

 

Yeah. Yeah. Yes! When it comes to martial arts films, no one is putting out Blu-Rays on the same level of quality that WellGoUSA does. The love they have for martial arts films can be seen in the quality they put into every disc release. Below are the ones you’ll want, but let’s start with the best of the bunch:

image001

Damn Right! If you haven’t seen Ip Man, you need to get this set. If you are curious about martial arts films but haven’t really watched one, you need to get this set. If you own the DVD versions, you need to get this set. If you have never heard of Donnie Yen but thought he was cool in Star Wars: Rogue One, you need to get this set. This is THE gold standard of martial arts films, a gateway drug if you will to a wonderful world, and some of the best modern martial arts films in existence. Donnie Yen truly takes his place next to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li with this series. Here are the extras and details (click on the title to go to my review of the film itself):

Synopsis:

IP MAN

Wing Chun grandmaster Ip (Donnie Yen) cements his reputation after defeating a roving band of kung fu masters who have come to his village to challenge him and the other marshal arts masters. But his devotion to the martial arts results in tension and discontent with his wife. When the Japanese occupy his hometown of Foshan during the Sino-Japan war (1937), Ip is forced to work as a coolie in a factory and participate in brutal sparring matches for the enemy’s amusement. He demonstrates his superior fighting skills by defeating his opponents despite being heavily outnumbered and wins the admiration of the Japanese Colonel, Mr. Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), who challenges Ip to a championship fight. The outcome of the match inspires the Chinese villagers to rise up and defeat their oppressors. 

IP MAN 2 

Master Ip (Donnie Yen), a new arrival in British-occupied Hong Kong, wants to open a martial arts academy to teach his unique Wing Chun style. A corrupt group of martial arts masters, led by Master Hung (Sammo Hung) refuses to allow him to teach in peace until he proves himself as a kung fu master. Ip’s trouble continues when he is forced to enter a brutal “King of the Ring” boxing match against Twister (Darren Shahlavi), a Western-style boxer who insults the Chinese locals, in a East versus West knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish.

IP MAN 3

Donnie Yen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2) ignites the screen in a return to the role that made him an icon – as Ip Man, the real-life Wing Chun grandmaster who mentored Bruce Lee. In this explosive third installment of the blockbuster martial arts series, when a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer (Mike Tyson) make a play to take over the city, Master Ip is forced to take a stand. Fists will fly as some of the most incredible fight scenes ever filmed play out on the big screen in this soon-to-be genre classic.

Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Mike Tyson, Sammo Hung

Price: Blu-Ray: $34.98, DVD: $24.98

Yes, it’s offered in DVD format, but trust me, you really want the crystal clear Blu-Ray version. The colors just pop, and the extras are just mind-blowing, particularly the bonus DVD disk with interviews of Donnie Yen, Mike Tyson, Max Zhang, and more.  I wish it had been a Blu-Ray disc as well, but that’s a minor nitpick. This is martial arts set to buy this season, bar none.

Now, the best of the rest. These are my personal favs, and you can’t go wrong with ANY of them. Stocking Stuffers indeed:

Kung Fu Killer

3D-Ocards-KungFuKiller

Staying with the Donnie Yen theme, this film is a complete love letter to all things kung fu films, paying respects to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Golden Harvest, King Hu, and Shaw Brothers cinema and the game changers they’ve been to martial arts cinema. A fun film with great fight scenes. One of Yen’s best. You can read my review here.

Killzone 2

killzone2

After a few setbacks, Killzone 2 finds Tony Jaa and Wu Jing back in top form. Bring in the great Max Zhang (Ip Man 3) and you have a fun filled movie with great fights, but more optimistic than the original. A great film and one of Jaa’s best. You can read my review here.

keyart-406x600_16

One of my all-time favorites. The knife fight at the end is a thing of legend, and the rest of the action is incredible. A great story follow the relationship between a little girl and a retired hitman. If you’ve never seen this film, get ready for a fantastic experience. If you have, buy it on Blu and watch it again! My review is right here.

WellGOUSA has many, many more quality films. I’ve reviewed many of the martial arts ones, but they have much, much more than just that. Please go to their website and look around, and order something! You won’t be disappointed! www.wellgousa.com

Kiai-Kick’s Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Arrow Video!

Posted in Sho Kosugi with tags , on December 15, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

arrow

Okay, so Arrow is a company with a LOT of old school films, some box sets and many more items of interest for B and C movie lovers of all kind, but there are two Blu Ray films I just gotta point out revolving around one person: Sho Kosugi.

Pray For Death

pray for death

Pray for Death is one of my favorite films of his, and when you add in a ninja bicycle, you’ve struck gold! You can read my review of the film here, but to see it in a pristine blu-ray format is an added bonus, with some pretty decent extras, and Arrow has it!

Bonus Materials

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM
  • R-rated and Unrated Versions
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi
  • Archive interview and Ninjutsu demonstration with Kosugi from the film’s New York premiere
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

Rage Of Honor

rageofhonor4229

Yeah. More Sho Kosugi here, but not nearly as good as Enter the Ninja or Pray for Death. It has its moments, but it’s still a very, very silly movie. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but if you need that extra Sho Kosugi fix, or are just a completist, then I can recommend this blu ray, but as a movie? A double feature with Miami Connection along with Bourbon, Vodka and pizza will make one hell of a movie night!

Bonus Materials:
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM
– Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Sho and Tell Part 2: The Domination – brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi on Rage of Honor and the later stages of his film career
– Sho Kosugi Trailer Gallery: Enter the Ninja (1981), Revenge of the Ninja (1983), Pray for Death (1985) and Rage of Honor (1987)
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

 

Next up: Of course I’ve saved the Best for Last!

LBP Stunts presents: Blind Date!

Posted in Amy Sturdivant, Emmanuel Manzanares with tags , on December 11, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

Emmanuel Manzanares directs Amy Sturdivant (Queen) and Thelkla Hutyrova in another great action short. Just watch rinse and repeat!

Kiai-Kick’s Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Shout Factory!

Posted in Angela Mao, Bruce Lee with tags , on November 25, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

Hey all!

Between working in local news and finishing El Gato Negro: Prey, It’s been a really busy time, but I’m still here, and I’ll still have plenty of reviews on the way, but over the next week or so I’d like to point out some goodies that would make excellent Christmas presents/stocking stuffers for the discerning martial arts film fan! I’ll actually be taking this company by company, and we’ll start with films first, so the first distribution company up is…

product_detail_shoutlogo_black

These guys are always good about getting out some of the more obscure cinema out there, and they have an interesting group of martial arts films, but there are two I want to point out:

The Angela Mao Ying Collection

mao

Angela Mao is one of the classic women of martial arts, and there are 6 films in this DVD set:

When Tae Kwon Do Strikes

Broken Oath

The Himalayan

The Tournament

Stoner

A Queen’s Ransom

I can’t speak for every title, but Broken Oath and When Tae Kwon Do Strikes are gold, and you should own this for those films alone! But I have a feeling the other films in the set are MORE than worth the $35.00 price tag. 10 hours of Angela Mao kicking all kinds of ass. It’s light on extras, with only trailers, but this is still money well spent, and you can get it here.

 

  The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection

Bruce Lee Fists of Fury 1

While there is one other set (available only in the UK) I may point out later, this is one of the few Bruce Lee Collections on Blu Ray. I shouldn’t have to point out the importance of these films, and the immense entertainment value they’ll bring! Four films are featured here, with links to my reviews:

The Big Boss 

Fists of Fury

Way Of The Dragon

Game of Death

It’s Bruce Lee, and he’s cool for any present, so you can trust it! Keep in mind you won’t see Enter The Dragon in most sets, as that’s a Warner Brothers film, and not part of Golden Harvest!

Bonus Features

    • Audio Commentary With Hong Kong Film Expert Mike Leeder
    • Featurettes – Return to Pak Chong: The Big Boss Revisited, Remembering Fist of Fury And Game of Death Revisited
    • Interviews With Tung Wai, Gene Lebell, Yuen Wah, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam And Wong Jing
    • Game Of Death Outtake Montage, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes
    • Alternate Openings And Endings
    • Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Still Galleries…And Much More!

You can order this here!

(I would also recommend checking Amazon as well for both films!)

Exclusive Clip from Kill Ratio (2016)!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 10, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

kill-ratio-poster

Here is an exclusive clip from XLRATOR MEDIA’s Kill Ratio, starring Tom Hopper (Black Sails). The synopsis:

An attack on the new President of a fledgling Eastern European democracy pits an American covert operative against the country’s ruthless military leader determined to seize control of the government.

Check out the clip below!

The action hits theaters on December 9th, and will shoot it up on VOD and iTunes December 13th, 2016!

Blu-Ray Review: Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016)

Posted in Alain Moussi, Darren Shahlavi, Dave Bautista, Emmanuel Manzanares, Georges St. Pierre, Gina Carano, Jean-Claude Van Damme, TJ Storm with tags , on November 8, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

kbv4

Who’s in this film?

Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, Darren Shahlavi, Gina Carano, Georges St. Pierre, TJ Storm, Sara Malakul Lane

The Film:

Alain Moussi now takes over the role of Kurt Sloane, who serves as a fight assistant to his successful karate champion brother Eric Sloane (Shahlavi). When mysterious fight promoter Marcia offers Eric a lot of money and the chance to face Tong Po (Bautista), a Kickboxing Muay Thai champion, Eric accepts, much to the dismay of Kurt. Eric goes to Thailand, and Kurt eventually follows, only to see his brother killed in the ring by Tong Po. Seeking revenge, Kurt tries to murder Tong Po, but with the help of a local cop (Lane) he hides at the home of Eric’s trainer, Master Durand (JCVD). There Kurt learns how to kick a ton of ass and finally is good enough to challenge Tong Po to a duel to avenge his brother…

The Review:

The film pretty much follows many of the beats of the original film, except for the beginning, which I won’t spoil here except to say that we first meet Kurt Sloane in a very dark place. There is a little time jumping, and the story doesn’t really allow me to connect to Kurt’s pain over his brother’s death, because their relationship isn’t touched on very much. Also a little baffling was the romance (sex) Kurt has with Liu, the Thai cop. It seems to just pop out of bloody nowhere, and there is no real resolution to it. Alain Moussi does a good job of playing Kurt Sloane, but doesn’t quite have the charisma that JCVD had in the same role. Speaking of which, JCVD was great every time he was onscreen, and in fact so much so I wish Master Durand was simply THE Kurt Sloane retired to train Kickboxers. JCVD even gets into a few scraps that show he’s still got it, but that’s no real surprise. I wonder now if JCVD being in the film hurts it rather than helps it.

The late, Great Darren Shahlavi, in his final role, is far too underutilized as Eric Sloane. I wish the film had not strayed from the original and kept Eric alive, which would have meant seeing a lot more of Darren. Gina Carano is in the film but is a complete waste. Her character could have been played by literally anyone. Sorry, if I see a prime Gina Carano in the credits of a film, I damn well expect to see her kick someone’s ass. The same can be said for Georges St. Pierre, who does have a few fight scenes, but there is one glaring edit of one of his fights— or some incident—that left me baffled as the film makes no explanation as to how he suddenly has  a broken arm after seeing him fairly healthy not many scenes before. Dave Bautista is okay as a much more menacing and intelligent Tong Po, but in the end he’s nothing more than a standard cookie-cutter baddie. Sara Malakul Lane is a stunningly beautiful woman, but her character doesn’t bring much to the story, except to slow things down too much with a useless side story.

The place where Kickboxer: Vengeance truly surpasses the original are the fight scenes, which many, and well shot and edited, and really gives Alain Moussi a chance to shine, but in the wake of Muay Thai films like Ong Bak or The Protector, some of it feels a little derivative. The best fight in the film, to me, is the fight between JCVD and Moussi. JCVD has better choreography here than I’ve ever seen this side of No Retreat, No Surrender.

kbv

The Picture:

It’s a fantastic blu-ray transfer, as nearly all newer films are nowadays, and the colors pop appropriately.

Extras:

The only extras is the usual photo gallery and a commercial behind the scenes. The behind the scenes shows a lot of surface stuff, and doesn’t really go into the actual making of the film. In other words, incredibly disappointing. I would’ve loved to see a BTS of the fight choreography sessions (especially since Larnell Stovall and Emmanuel Manzanares of LBP Stunt Chicago are involved), not to mention maybe more interviews of JCVD or shots of him on set. Heck, even a trailer would have been nice. There were a hundred ways they could have gone with extras, and they really dropped the ball here. I also would’ve liked to hear the actors talk about the late Great Darren Shahlavi and what it was like to work with him.

Final Thoughts:

If you loved the film, or even if you just liked it, you’re going to be disappointed by the lack of extras here. It’s as bare bones as you can get. Here’s hoping the sequel will fare with better extras, ones that fans of martial arts film enthusiasts can get behind.

My original film review score stays the same: 6.5.

Kiai-Kick’s Blu Ray Score: 4

kbv2

Not even Gina Carano can save the lack of extras here.