Review: Blindsided (2017)

Posted in Clayton Barber, David No, Eric Jacobus, Roger Yuan on February 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-14-13-pm

Starring Eric Jacobus, Roger Yuan, Nicolas Verdi, Brett Sheerin, Khalid Ghajji

Fight Choreography by Roger Yuan

Directed by Clayton Barber

I’ve been gleefully awaiting anything from Eric Jacobus ever since we saw him in Rope-A-Dope 2, and now this filmmaking/martial arts/stuntman badass returns in a film that pays great homage to all of the blind martial arts onscreen fighters over the years, so how does his newest short hold up to everything including his own work?

In short: this is Mr. Jacobus’ best film yet. And that’s really, REALLY saying something.

The film opens as we meet Walter, a blind man with a bit of a problem: he needs milk to go with his apple pie (which looks like the best apple pie I’ve seen in a long time), and goes to his corner market. While shopping there the shop owner (played by the great Roger Yuan!!!) is accosted by a group of thugs, and well, you can probably guess what happens next. I’m not giving it away!

Eric, as always, shows that comedy is his strong suit, and proves it again here, not so much with the character himself, but with the early part of the fight scenes, which remind me of some of Jackie Chan’s best fight scenes using a prop, which in this case is his cane. Roger Yuan looks like he’s having a blast watching the proceedings, and since he’s also the fight choreographer, isn’t that an awesome thing?! The direction by Clayton Barber is spot on, and everyone does a great job packing a lot of character into a very short amount of time. The production values are fantastic as they aways are with Eric’s work, and the fights!

Let’s have a word about that.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-14-47-pm

There is only one fight scene in the film, but covers a lot and since weapons are involved it looks technically difficult to shoot, but the quality is there as we see some amazing movements, parries, blocks and strikes are fast and furious, but the excellent camerawork makes sure you know what’s what and who is where at all times.

If I had any real issue with the film is that I wanted more of everything! But that’s for a sequel, isn’t it? And be sure to stick through the credits as you see what training Eric went through to accurately portray a blind gentlemen. Dedication to craft, everybody!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9.5

Eric knocks this one out of the park–again–and Roger Yuan’s fight choreography is on point! This film comes on Youtube March 1st, and I HIGHLY suggest you watch it! So where’s my feature film with Walter? 

You can watch the film March 1st here.

Advertisements

Scott Adkins + Marko Zaror+Cung Le = Savage Dog Trailer! (2017)

Posted in Cung Le, Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins on January 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Oh yeah. This is my jam! Scott Adkins in a period piece? Yes! Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror in a Undisputed rematch! Yes!  One of them vs. Cung Le? Yes! Keith David? Oh hell yes! I don’t know much about fight choreographer Luke LaFontaine, but here’s hoping he brings the goods. I have a few worries about martial arts films in 2017, but this makes me optimistic. Check out the trailer below, and let me know what you think! By the way, Keith David makes anything better.

Review: Above The Law (1988)

Posted in Steven Seagal with tags , on January 13, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

above-the-law1

Starring: Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Henry Silva, Sharon Stone

Fight Choreography by Steven Seagal

Directed by Andrew Davis

In 1988  martial arts films were going strong, with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh ruling the roost. And in the USA we had…an aging Chuck Norris. And that was it. When would another martial artist step forward for America? Enter two films: Bloodsport and Above the Law, the latter of which introduced the world to the martial arts style Aikido and its practitioner, Steven Seagal.

Steven Seagal plays Nico Toscani, a Chicago cop who used to be special forces CIA who got sick of it after witnessing a man being tortured by maniac CIA operative Zagon (Silva) and quits in the middle of the op, because in the 80s you could do that. Now a detective along with his partner Jax (Grier) he gets involved in a drug ring run by Zagon and a group of CIA operatives who are plotting to kill a US Senator who is investigating their clandestine operations (whew!). But when they go after Nico’s family and church, Nico dispenses his own brand of street justice, because as he says “you think you’re above the law. but you ain’t above mine.” Hell yeah 80’s action!

above-the-law-machete

This film not only made Seagal an action star, but also cemented the style of films he would make: small scale urban justice films, not unlike the Death Wish movies. Seagal is pretty one-note here but does have that elusive on screen charisma. Henry Silvia is, well, Henry Silvia, an always dependable actor when you need a baddie you can hiss at. Pam Grier is okay but she needed to be more than the “put-upon” partner as well as the woman that needs to be protected despite the fact she’s a cop too. This is Pam god****mn Grier. She’ll deliver your dick in a jar to your girlfriend. Surely she could have been presented as more that what she was. Sharon Stone is also in the film in a small role as Nico’s wife, but she doesn’t do much except spending the film trying to get Nico to give up, which means she’s and incredibly annoying character whenever she’s on screen. Andrew Davis does a great job directing here, and his future films Under Siege and The Fugitive would further cement him as a solid film director.

above-the-law2

The opening scene, where Seagal shows off how Aikido works in a dojo is one of the best fight scenes in the film. It really does a great job showing audiences not familiar with the style a little of how it works. The next best fight scene is later in the film, where Seagal takes on a group of thugs in a grocery mart. You can tell the floors are rubber, and many of the moves shown in the beginning are repeated here, but now in a practical setting, but it’s still good. The one thing I didn’t like that will become a staple of many of his movies is that Seagal never fights anyone of a similar skillset, so there is no real challenge. Henry Silva basically gets what I call Getting Seagaled (TM): where the bad guy gets beaten and tossed around like a rag doll, not providing any challenge to the hero whatsoever and dies easily.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A good film that shows off the style of Aikido well and gives a strong introduction to a new action hero, and would become a template for the majority of the films in his career. Pam Grier is wasted here, however.

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!