Archive for May, 2011

Review: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Posted in Jackie Chan, James Hong, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michelle Yeoh with tags , on May 29, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Featuring the voices of: Jack Black, Gary Oldman, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michelle Yeoh, and James Hong.

Fight Choreography by Rodolphe Guenoden

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Kung Fu Panda was a huge hit when it came out, at the time the biggest hit Dreamworks animation had that wasn’t named Shrek. After the film became a huge success, Dreamworks let it slip that they had 6 Kung Fu Panda films planned, that would tell the story of Po. Without a doubt it’s an ambitious undertaking, and now we have Kung Fu Panda 2. Is there enough story to sustain 6 films?

I don’t know, but this film proves that the answer may be closer to yes than you might think.

The film opens with a 2-D animation, just like the previous film, but this time we are told the story of Lord Shen (Oldman), a prince in his province who yearns to be a great emperor and rule China. Shen is told by his father’s Soothsayer (Yeoh) that if he continues on his quest, a warrior of black and white would destroy him. Shen scoffs at this prophecy, and goes on a killing spree, destroying every panda village he could find, wiping them all out. For his evil deed Shen’s father cast him out, and years later the story begins…

Po (Black)  is now a fully integrated member of the Furious Five–er, six now. The Five now have come to love Po, and completely accept him as the Dragon Warrior. Shifu has reached inner peace due the events of the previous film, and begins to teach the same to Po when a nearby village is being raided by Lord Shen’s wolf guards. Po and the Furious Five face them in a fantastic fight that shows just how good Po is, and how he fights as one with the Five, but the wolves escape when Po sees a symbol on their armor and has a flashback to something that happened when he was a baby…

Meanwhile, in Gongmen City, Lord Shen approaches the Kung Fu Council, headed by Master Thundering Rhino, along with Lord Croc (JCVD) and Master Storming Ox. He challenges them for his father’s throne, and defeats the other lords to get to the Rhino, whom he is unable to defeat, and unleashes a new weapon, a cannon, and kills Master Rhino. Shifu (Hoffman) is alerted to this, and sends Po and the Five to go and stop him, but little does Po know that facing Lord Shen means facing who he really is and where he comes from. Secrets are revealed, and Po’s life will never be the same again…

The story here is very much an old school kung-fu film revenge story, although it doesn’t start out that way. There is far more drama than in the previous film, as this film doesn’t question whether Po is the Dragon Warrior. It questions who Po actually is, and why his father is a goose. Po goes on a journey that changes him, and it is a well told story. The audience really gets to see the Furious Five in action the entire film this time. No bite size morsels here. There isn’t much of Shifu in this film, but that’s okay, because when he does appear it’s worth it. I was saddened that there wasn’t any Master Oogway, since he ascended in the previous film, but I was happy to see he was the Dreamworks logo at the beginning of the film. I guess there’s more Master Oogway love out there than I thought! (If there’s a Master Oogway T-shirt I’d buy it in a heartbeat.)

Jack Black once again does a great job as Po, and handles the dramatic scenes with ease. Angelina Jolie takes a softer-but-not-quite performance as Tigress, who doesn’t often show much emotion, but when it appears, it’s heartwarming to see how much she truly cares about Po. All of the rest of the five do a great job, and Jackie Chan gets more speaking lines than what Monkey had in the previous film, but then again they all do. Gary Oldman plays Lord Shen like the ruthless opportunist that he is, cunning and smart, but cannot get his ego out of his own way, which proves to be his undoing. And for anyone wondering, Lord Croc (JCVD) DOES do the splits, which made me laugh out loud. Funny enough that Soothsayer, as played by Michelle Yeoh, turns out to be not so different from her last role as Dr. Yu in True Legend.

The fighting is even better in this film than in the last. It’s fast, but not so much that you can’t see the wonderful fight choreography. The fight inside the palace toward the middle of the film is as much a showstopper as the prison escape from the first film, and the first fight of Po and the Five versus the wolf warriors was terrific. Once again this is like a Sammo Hung film in animated disguise, but tossing in his cohorts Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao for good measure.  Each member of the Five have a way of fighting that is immediately recognized as kung-fu, and they way they aid each other is a fun thing to see. Lord Shen is a dangerous fighter, but not in the same way that Tai Lung was in the first film. Shen is an intelligent backstabber who uses knives and a spear to fight with grace and speed rather than power and rage.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is better than the first film in many ways, and the surprise ending alone shows that Po’s personal journey will continue. So there could be four more chapters? I’m excited to see what they do next!

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) They really outdid themselves, and give Rodolpho a hand for having the animators stage fight choreography that’s every but as complex as anything you’d see in an old school Shaw Brothers film.

STAR POWER: (10) Just look at the names above. Big named stars mixed with martial arts stars. Wow.

FINAL GRADE: (10) A fantastic animated film that trumps the original. Po’s journey is a dramatic one that changes his character, and deepens his relationships with the Furious Five. A great tribute to all martial arts films, and why we love them so much!

NEXT:  Bruce Li returns for The Image of Bruce Lee!

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Review: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010)

Posted in Donnie Yen, Yasuaki Kurata with tags , on May 27, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Shu Qi, Anthony Wong, Ryu Kohata, Yasuaki Kurata (cameo)

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Andrew Lau

Chen Zhen is a fictional hero of China who fought to drive out the Japanese during a time period between WW I and WWII, a creation of writer Ni Kuang. The character’s most famous portrayals were by Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury and Jet Li in Fist of Legend, and now Donnie Yen takes up the mantle in a film that shows what happened to Chen Zhen after the events of those films. Even after I watched the film I still don’t know what hell happened to Chen Zhen because despite some good-to-great fight scenes this film is a muddled mess in the story department.

The film opens in 1917 France, where Chen Zhen (Yen) and a group of chinese couriers run weapons and ammunition out to the French soldiers, and before long they find themselves attacked from all sides by the Germans, so you know it’s time for Chen to go into action, and the action scenes that follow are fantastic, as Chen Zhen parkours his way around mortar shells and explosions everywhere, taking out german soldiers with nothing more than a few knives. The Germans had machine guns, but Chen had knives, wirework, and French parkour, so you know he wins this one. The Germans were like “WTF? Can no one not shoot this jackhole?!” This is the one of the best scenes in the film, and also the least confusing.

After his victory killing a ton of Germans, we fast forward to 1927 Japanese occupied Shanghai, where Chen Zhen is working undercover for the Chinese resistance, as part owner of the Casablanca bar, the other owner being mafia boss Yuu (Wong). Chen Zhen is undercover to weed out Chinese traitors in their midst. He starts to fall for Yuu’s woman, dancer and singer Ky Ky (Qi). The town is ruthless controlled by Colonel Chikaraishi, son of the dojo master (Kurata) that Chen Zhen (at least in Bruce Lee’s version) killed years ago. As the Colonel’s grip on the town tightens, Chen Zhen finds himself defending the freedom fighters until he has a familiar fight to the finish with the Colonel and his entire dojo…

Legend of the Fist doesn’t know exactly what it wants to be. A straightforward martial arts film? It has those elements, the strongest of them all. What about a superhero film? Yes, it wants to be that too, having Chen Zhen running around town like Bruce Wayne and the donning a Kato costume and beating the tar out of people, and inexplicable wire work that’s not needed–unless he is a superhero. A spy thriller? Yes, but it may confuse the hell out of you to figure out who’s who, and who is loyal to what, etc. It wants to be a little bit of everything, but fails at most of it–save for the fights, and the films’ budget, which looks like they really went all out for this one.

The choreography is top-notch stuff as always for Yen, and the final fights allows him to fuse the versions of Jet Li and Bruce Lee’s take on the character. Thankfully there isn’t much if any wirework in the final fights, allowing Donnie Yen’s natural skills to shine, and they do, and he also gives what must be one of the most painful crotch punches I’ve ever seen. I’m fairly sure that dude’s nuts were turned into paste. The fifty man fight was great, if a little unrealistic that he would fight off that many with nunchucks. The smaller Kato fights are pretty good, but nothing beats the bookend fights at the beginning and the end of the film.

Donnie Yen does a good job portraying Chen Zhen as a confident but conflicted man who is sure of his cause but not so sure of whom he can trust, and Anthony Wong is cool as the mafia boss who hates the Japanese but loves their business, and Shu Qi is great as the singer who may be more than what she seems.

If you are looking for a great story with your kick-ass martial arts scenes, you may want to look elsewhere. If you just want to see Donnie Yen doing what he does best, then I would recommend you check it out, but have that fast forward button on hot standby.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The best scenes are at the beginning and the end. The Kato fights are great as well, but not as good as what comes before and after.

STUNTWORK: (8) Great work by everyone involved. The stuntmen did what was needed and then some. Very realistic falls and reactions to strikes.

STAR POWER: (8) Donnie Yen, Shu Qi and Anthony Wong. All big HK stars who bring good performances to the table. Yen is forging his place in HK cinema next to Bruce, Jet , and Jackie.

FINAL GRADE: (8) Not close to Donnie’s best, this still film contains some memorably good fight scenes, and that may be enough of a reason to watch this one. Donnie is on a roll right now, and he’s not slowing down!

NEXT: Shashabooey! Kung Fu Panda 2!

Review: Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Posted in Jackie Chan, James Hong with tags , on May 23, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Featuring the voices of: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, and James Hong.

Fight Choreography by Rodolphe Guenoden

Directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne

 Who would’ve thought we would get not one–but two–major American martial arts films in the same year? One a team-up we’ve been waiting for since the name Jet Li and Jackie Chan became synonymous with kick-ass films, the other co-starring Jackie Chan that is an animated love letter to all things kung-fu. Both films are a celebration of kung-fu films past and present, but does Kung Fu Panda succeed?

In a word–well, hell yeah.

The film starts as we meet our hero Po (Black) in fantastic dream sequence that anyone who has ever dreamed of being a kung-fu hero has had (kid or adult). Po is rudely brought back to the real world, where he works in his father’s (Hong) noodle shop. Why his father is a duck is never explained, which leaves this bit of character drama for another film *wink*. Po loves kung fu, but doesn’t know any, and his heroes are the Furious Five, protectors of the Valley of Peace, who represents the animal forms of kung fu: Mantis (Rogen), Tigress (Jolie,), Monkey (Chan), Crane (Cross), and Snake (Liu). They are trained by the greatest kung fu master in the valley, Master Shifu (Hoffman), who in turn is notified by his Master Oogway (Kim) that the kung-fu traitor Tai Lung (McShane) will soon escape his prison.

Of course, in the attempt to make sure this doesn’t happen, Master Shifu inadvertently causes this very thing to come to pass, in a thrilling sequence in which Tai Lung escapes, and so it is said that only thing that can beat Tai Lung is one who can read the dragon scrolls and become the Dragon Warrior. Thus, a tournament is held the next day to find the Dragon Warrior, and Po, eager to go, is saddled with his father’s noodle cart, but is able to make his way into the tournament after a hilarious sequence of failures, and you guessed it, is chosen to become the dragon warrior, much to the chagrin of Master Shifu and the Furious Five. Shifu plans to train Po so hard he quits, but Tai Lung is fastly approaching, and Po is not so easily deterred. Can Po learn Kung Fu in time to save the Valley and become the Dragon Warrior?

The attention to detail is really top-notch here, and the animation is some of the best there is. The colors are bright and joyful, making this a true celebration of martial arts films. The story is fun but is also has–to put it as Bruce Lee would– emotional content. Po’s story is one of believing in oneself, and Master Shifu’s is having faith in others, namely Po and the wisdom of his own Master Oogway, who is my favorite character. His final scene in the film is heartfelt and beautiful, at a point where character, story, music and animation converge to form a scene you’ll remember long after the film is over. We don’t get to spend much time with the Furious Five, but that’s okay. They are awesome, the great fighters Po believes they are, and Tai Lung is an amalgamation of dozens of old school kung fu baddies, and strong enough and evil enough to be a great match for Po, but Tai Lung also has his reasons for wanting the dragon scroll, and some great flashbacks tell his story. There is so many good martial arts lessons that Po and Shifu learn, that is universal across many forms, such as focus, patience, belief in your self and for teachers how to approach teaching from a different perspective, finding something the student can relate to.

The fight scenes are fantastic, perhaps the best being Tai Lung’s escape from Chorh-Gom prison, an exciting scene featuring exploding cave ceilings, Rhinos getting the stuffing beat out of them, and it is here that we actually see background characters getting killed, just to show how large a threat Tai Lung is. The next best fight is part of Po’s training sequence, when he is challenged to a duel with Shifu for the last dumpling, which, like many scenes, is lifted straight from classic kung fu films. Here’s an example:

  

Kung Fu Panda is a literal love letter to kung fu films. You can tell the filmmakers know and love classic kung fu films. The Furious Five? Straight out of a Shaw brothers film. Po? He may as well be Sammo Hung. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is really an animated late 70’s, early 80’s Sammo Hung film. This film is a bright, colorful celebration of the kung fu film genre, and is not to be missed by those who love it the most.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Pretty good scenes that sometimes has to be slowed down to view properly, but is extremely well done for am animated feature.

STUNTWORK: (O): Umm…animated feature. Maybe a few animators paper cut themselves.

STAR POWER: (10) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, so many of today’s stars in this film, a martial arts film of all things!

FINAL GRADE: (10) There is too much fun to be found here, and this is a great film that celebrates all the things we love about the genre, but also manages to tell a great story. This is a fantastic gateway for children into the realm of martial arts and martial arts films!

NEXT: Donnie Yen takes over for Bruce and Jet! Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen!

Review: True Legend (2010)

Posted in Andy On, David Carradine, Gordon Liu, Jay Chou, Michelle Yeoh, Vincent Zhao, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , , on May 17, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Vincent Zhao, Andy On, Jay Chou, Michelle Yeoh, Gordon Liu, Zhou Xun

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo Ping

Directed By Yuen Woo Ping

After serving up some of his best fight choreography for other directors and their films, Woo Ping jumps back into the directing saddle for his first 3D film. As a disclaimer, I didn’t watch the 3D version, so I can’t really speak to how “good” the 3D is, not that it really matters. After all, this is Woo Ping, right?

True Legend tells the story of the famous Beggar Su, who was said to have created the form of drunken boxing. The film starts off with a bang as General Su, as he was known at one time, leads a daring raid against another tribe to save his commander and the fighting that ensues is vintage Woo-Ping: good use of wires, acrobatic and lyrical fight choreography that never forgets the life and death at play. In other words, they all look great whaling on each other. Su vs the general of the opposing army is some of Woo Ping’s best choreography in years. Su saves his commander, and is commended and offered a governorship, but Su refuses, instead giving it to his foster brother Yuan (Andy On). Little does Su know that his act of friendship would also be the source of his impending tragedy.

Years later Yuan shows up at the home of Su and his family, and we find that Yuan’s real father was killed by Su’s father long ago, after Yuan’s father starting going around killing other kung-fu people with his Five Venom Fist kung-fu style. Yuan has learned this style also, and it evidently turns your skin bone white! Yuan kills Su’s father, and another fantastic fight ensues when Su goes after Yuan, and meets the kung-fu version of the wonder twins, called the Iron Twins. Both brother and sister give Su one hell of a fight, and Su is able to get past them and tries to save his wife Ying and their son from Yuan and duels him, and we come to our first Holy Shit! moment, when we find that Yuan, being the crazy bastard he is, has actually attached his armor to his skin.Yuan then zaps Su with his Five Venom Fist, and the next Holy Shit! moment occurs as we see the poison turn Su into a human blueberry. Su and Ying escape, but they leave their son Little Feng behind. Su and his wife are saved by Dr. Yu (Yeoh) a woman who lives atop a mountain, who treats Su’s wounds, and they stay with her, but over time Su starts to go off into the forest and is challenged by the God of Wushu (Chou) and is watched by the Old Sage (Liu) who try to get his kung-fu in tip top shape. A disturbing moment causes Ying to attempt to save Little Feng herself, and Su goes after them both. Can he save his family and stop Yuan without killing him?

Yuen Woo Ping is back in Iron Monkey form, folks, having lost none of his imaginative choreography. Almost every fight in this film would have been the climatic fight of many others. Woo Ping has scenes with Su and the God of Wushu that uses just about every damn weapon chinese martial arts has. There is a fight in a well that has to be seen to be believed. As for Beggar Su’s drunken style, this is some of the best drunken style fighting you’ll see. It stands right next to Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s best versions of the style. Particularly when you see Jay Chou go at it, also playing the Drunken God. The camerawork is beautifully done, and some of the set designs are nothing short of terrific.

Vincent Zhao gives a great, heartfelt performance as a man whose successes create his own downfall. He’s a good man, and it will pain you to see what horrible things happen to him. Andy On is a perfect bastard as Yuan. He’s at once needy like a child and brutally evil at the same time. He even gets to be all creepy Uncle to Little Feng. Gordon Liu was disappointing as he doesn’t do much more than drink, point at Su and laugh. The same goes for Michelle Yeoh, who basically has a walk-on role. What wasn’t disappointing was when David Carradine, that’s right, Qui Chang F***ing Kang shows up as the ringleader for a bunch of overgrown wrestlers who take on Beggar Su. Thankfully Carradine doesn’t try to attempt any martial arts. There isn’t enough choreography in Woo Ping’s Magic Bag of Tricks that could make him look good. Jay Chou is fantastic in his dual roles, and I had no idea his kung-fu was so good.

If there is one drawback it’s the story, primarily toward the end of the film, where the movie goes from being the fun of Iron Monkey to being serious like Jet Li’s Fearless. The main story ends after 90 minutes, but we get 30 minutes of Su being, well, Beggar Su, but it seems as if we’re getting the start–or end–of a different film altogether. Also, his son cries too damn much. I was almost hoping a stray punch, or Venom fist, would knock this kid out just to shut him up.

Despite the nit picky flaws, True Legend is a fun martial arts film that shows that the master himself still has it. He simply needs to do his own stuff from now on. It’s well worth your money to go and see the Master at work.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Woo Ping does some of his best work here, perhaps his best since Fearless. Everyone does a fantastic job, and Jay Chou and Vincent Zhao’s fights are memorable. Smooth and flowing, each fight sings its own song, and it never forgets what’s at stake for the characters.

STUNTWORK: (8) The stunts here are terrific, and the wirework is just astounding, but never gets in the way of the fights themselves.

STAR POWER: (9) Vincent Zhao’s primary work lately has been on TV, and he was the star of Once Upon A Time in China 4 and 5 before Jet returned to the series, but this film shows that Zhao deserves to be a star in his own right. Jay Chou is a revelation here, and Gordon Liu and Michelle Yeoh are always a joy to see. Oh yeah, that Carradine guy is in it too.

FINAL GRADE: (9) This film can stand tall next to any of Woo-Ping’s films. Fun and exciting, you’ll never get bored, and the action never gets stale. Only the last 30 minutes keeps this one from being perfect. We need to get both Jay Chou and Vincent Zhao into more martial arts films…

NEXT: Who is the Dragon Warrior? Why, Kung Fu Panda, that’s who!

Review: Double Impact (1991)

Posted in Bolo Yeung, Jean-Claude Van Damme with tags , on May 6, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Geoffrey Lewis, Philip Chan, Bolo Yeung

Fight Choreography by Peter Malota and Jean-Claude Van Damme

Directed by Sheldon Lettich

In the early 1990’s JCVD became a huge star, whose modestly lower budgeted films were raking in a lot of money. Not Swartzenegger money, but enough to make him a major martial arts star. This film really starts what I’ve always believed was a dream of his, to make a martial arts film like the kind made by Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. So how does he fare?

The film opens in Hong Kong as Philip Wagner and his wife attend the opening of the Victoria Crown Tunnel, which Philip constructed with his partner Griffith. Now If you know your film lore, back in the 80’s and early 90‘s any older white business suit-wearing-dude with a last name of Griffith or Devereaux was a sure fire douche bag of the highest order, and so it is here. That night Philip and his wife are ambushed by a squad of hit men who kill them both particularly the mother, who gets blasted in the face with a shot gun by Moon (Bolo), and to have his face as the last one she sees before she dies places her in an elite company kept only by herself, Han’s men, (for you Enter the Dragon enthusiasts), and that poor sap toward the end of Bloodsport. The assassins are about to kill their twin babies Chad and Alex when Wagner’s bodyguard Frank (Lewis) shows up and starts kicking ass, which leads you to wonder what made him think to drive off and leave them behind, which was kind of dumbshit thing to do.  Frank takes Chad with him, and the nurse who was in the car with the family takes Alex, and both run away. Before he leaves, Frank sees Griffin and his partner Raymond Zhang (Chan) because they were too stupid to simply stay in the F***ing tinted car and let their well paid henchmen do the killings without revealing that “hey, we’re the guys who ordered this!”

25 years later we find Chad (Van Damme) teaching stretching to a bunch of women wearing leotards so tight I could count the bumps on his nuts. He takes over the karate class afterward, and oh my goodness they were wearing pink and pastel gi’s. Only in California. Maybe they wanted their opponents to laugh to distract them from the slow Van Damme kick they would give them?

Anyway, Frank has an investigator come by, who shows him pictures of Alex in Hong Kong.  Frank tells Chad that he has a brother who lives there and together they head to Hong Kong. Chad and Alex meet, and already don’t like each other, which is understandable in Alex’s case, because seeing Chad wearing pink shorts and high socks in a rough and tumble bar in Hong Kong is stretching the boundaries of fine taste.  At one point Chad gets mistaken for Alex, who does some work for Zhang, and is taken to the docks where Chad refuses to do a job for Zhang, who makes him fight Moon, who soundly kicks his ass, after Chad beats down a few of his men, one of whom Moon kills, ‘cause we know Bolo doesn’t like his own men in any films, and usually kills at least one in every movie. If his men would do things, like remember his birthday or something, he might not have such animosity toward them.

They move their headquarters to a deserted island resort so they can plan on how to take out Griffith and Zhang. They go on two unsuccessful missions to do so, and a mistake by Chad brings Zhang’s militia to their island, where really small battle ensues, culminating in the capture of Frank and Alex’s girlfriend. Alex and Chad go to the docks, to battle Zhang and Griffith one final time for control of their family’s tunnel.

Double Impact was JCVD’s highest-budgeted film to date at that time, and the effects to put Alex and Chad onscreen at the same time was considered a pretty good effect. JCVD actually does a great job playing two different characters, and he’s good enough to make it work, playing Chad as a California douche bag, and Alex as a rough and tumble Hong Kong underworld hardass. The story itself is typical of late 80’s action films, but isn’t bad. Bolo, is, well, Bolo. ‘nuff said. The main bad guys are typical 80’s villains, bad guys in white suits, barely worth mentioning.

The action is pretty good, especially a scene where they raid a narcotics plant owned by Zhang, and Alex gets to go all John Woo on everyone, and some scenes here feel lifted straight from Hard Boiled. The rest of the martial arts scenes seems to fall into the same camp as most of JCVD’s early 90’s films:

He gives a headbutt to a few people. And we wonder why JCVD always has that knot on his forehead.

He’ll use tons of slow motion to mask that he isn’t really that fast a fighter,

and he’ll give that helicopter kick to the last big guy, which is Bolo.

He’ll use the splits at some point.

He’ll be wearing incredibly tight pants.

He’ll have his shirt ripped off at some point. (items 4, 5 & 6 are for the ladies)

I do admire JCVD because you can tell he wants to fight like the HK actions heroes, but he just doesn’t have the skill set to do so. He’s a better actor than many Hollywood action heroes, but his martial arts knowledge seems to be limited. That perception could be the fault of his fight choreographers not really utilizing what he can do well. I’d love to see someone like Larnell Stovall or JJ Perry choreograph a fight scene for him.

Double Impact is a good overall action film, but it isn’t a very good martial arts film.  JCVD does a good job, further cementing his status as an action star. After this he’ll have about three more years of hit films before he starts to decline. This won’t be the last time he’ll play twins in a film…

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (5) The fight scenes are horrid here. There is no real cadence or excitement to the fights. There is too much slow motion to make them exciting. JCVD has done better than this. The fight with Bolo should have been better than what it was.

STUNTWORK: (7) The extras did a decent job with the fighting, shooting, and getting kicked by JCVD. Their reactions were good, making the fights look better than what they actually are.

STAR POWER: (8) JCVD was nearing the height of his stardom, and Bolo is always a good thing to see, and Philip Chan always brings the goods, but there isn’t anyone else in this film of note.

FINAL GRADE: (7) This is a good early 90’s action film, but it just doesn’t cut it as a martial arts film. JCVD had done better and will do so again, and this is still one of his highest grossing films. If only the fights had been better…

NEXT: Yuen Woo Ping returns to the Director’s Chair and Vincent Zhao leads an all-star cast in True Legend!