Archive for August, 2012

Indie Kick Review: All-In (2012)

Posted in Louis Paquette, Tyler Williams with tags , on August 31, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

 

Starring Tyler Williams, Charlie Riina, Louis Paquette

Fight Choreography by Tyler Williams and Louis Paquette

Directed by Tyler Williams

All-in is a moody short film that is simple in its premise: The Knight goes to the Castle to save his lady love from an evil Overlord. In this case, we’re in the modern day, and the knight is a man named Cade (Williams) a mixed martial arts fighter who is approached by M with an offer to throw a fight and offers Cade one of his call girls, a beautiful woman named Aria (Riina), but M doesn’t count on the two falling in love, and Cade decides not to throw the fight.  The film opens as Cade arrives with a bag of money, in exchange for Aria, but M is no fool, and knows that Cade is merely bluffing, and intends to make this Cade’s last gamble…

Without a doubt All-In is a damn fine short film. The grainy visuals give the film a gritty style, and the music sounds like an ode to the late 70’s-early 80’s soundtracks. The film does a good job of telling its story in a very short amount of time, and the fights are excellently choreographed by Tyler Williams and Louis Paquette. They are fast and a reminder of the 80’s heyday of Hong Kong Cinema. The camera work grants a full view of the fights, and the editing give the fights a good flow, and isn’t overdone. The stunt work by Riot Act is excellent, as the stuntmen are able to really pull off some of the falls and crashing through tables and the like.

Tyler Williams and EOS (Eye of the Storm Pictures) has been making really fun action shorts, and it’s my belief that they are ready for a full-blown film, and Tyler Williams himself has a good screen presence and look that works for film. Louis Paquette also does a good job playing a slimy international villain, and sells his scenes and his fight. Charlie Riina also does a fine job as the damsel in distress who finally takes matters into her own hands.

All-In won the award for Best Fight Choreography and Tyler Williams won Male Action Performer of the year at this year’s Action On Film Festival, and it’s all very well deserved. The Blu-Ray of this film has several other shorts, Thirst, Heroic Bloodshed, and The Breakout, all of which are fun short films that show some fantastic fight choreography and just shows how good Tyler Williams and his crew is.

If you love good fight choreography, then All-in is exactly what you want to see!

You can go to the website to inquire about purchasing the Blu-Ray or DVD here: http://www.all-in-movie.com/

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Review: Blood Money (2012)

Posted in Gordon Liu, Zheng Liu with tags , on August 28, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Zheng Liu, Alexander Castro, Gordon Liu, Jimmly Wong, Pitbull

Fight Choreography by Jack Wong

Directed by Gregory McQualters

Recently there have been a increased production of martial arts films popping out from the USA. Bunraku, The Girl From The Naked Eye, and now we have Blood Money, and like those films introduces a potential new star to the world of martial arts cinema, Zheng Liu, a young Shaolin Master. Add to this the legendary Gordon Liu, and maybe we have a new martial arts classic?

Zheng Liu plays Zhou, an assassin who works for Steven Ho (Wong) , a notorious drug lord, who is engaged in a war with biker gangs, Chinese cartels, and a crazy Columbian drug lord named Cabrera (Castro). The war escalates as several tons of cocaine is coming to Shanghai by boat, and all of them want to control it. Ho sends Zheng to “level the playing field” and he does so, meanwhile Cabrera’s men try to deal in distribution with the brother and sister of Steven Ho. When a young woman staying in their care is kidnapped by Cabrera, and his men kill the brother of Steven Ho. Ho sends Zhou to rescue the girl and kill Cabrera and his men. While on the mission Zhou doesn’t complete his mission, and Ho decides to take him out. With both Ho and Cabrera looking to kill Zhou and the girl he steals away from them, Zhou goes to seek help from a monk from his past (Gordon Liu) and together they defend the girl from Cabrera and Ho. But who is this mysterious woman, and why does Zhou care?

The story takes us into the seedy world of drug trafficking, and the shaolin assassin who walks through this world, just as dirty as the people he has to kill, but we don’t get enough time to spend with Zhou. He does a lot of self-destructive things, like taking drugs, and of course the assassinations, with flashbacks that show that he may have undergone a traumatic moment in his life to cause his behavior, but we don’t get to spend enough time with those flashbacks to really care about the character and his plight, and that is the biggest fault of the script, or it may have been left on the cutting room floor. Zheng Liu is a first time actor, and it shows. He does okay with what he has to work with, but it’s apparent he’s a novice, but he does have something in onscreen presence that with some more acting experience he could be quite something. First time (?) Director Gregory McQualter is sure-handed in his direction, even in scenes that don’t work.

Gordon Liu brings warmth to the film as the monk, but his scenes are far too short. He really needed to be in the film more, as his relationship with Zhou was the best thing in the film, and really captured my interest and disappointment that there wasn’t more of that Master/Student relationship. Castro does an okay job, but really plays Cabrera as any old Columbian drug lord except he knows how to fight. While Pitbull is in the film, he only briefly appears at the beginning but frankly Pitbull needs acting lessons…even to play himself. I didn’t feel that any of the female leads brought anything to their roles to make me care about them.

On that note, one thing that did bother me, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems like all of the women in the movie are damsels in distress in one way or the other, waiting for Zhou to save them (usually from an attempted rape), unable to protect themselves. Would it have been too much to ask to have at least one woman kick someone’s ass? ( One of them does, but it’s at the end, in a moment that didn’t seem too empowering.)

The fight scenes are actually pretty good, and as the film progresses gets better, especially the camerawork. Without a doubt Zheng can fight, and gets to really show his stuff, and camera work does a great job of showing him off. It’s in these moments that Zheng Liu shows the brightest, and does a great job with the choreography. I was surprised that Gordon Liu got a two-on-one fight scene, and while it was short, was shot really well and the choreography was a great moment of old-school kung fu fighting from Gordon. Jack Wong does a good job of mixing it all up. There are a few shaky-cam moments here and there, but the editing of the fights are at least not of the MTV variety that so many Hollywood films ascribe to.

Blood Money does introduce a new star in Zheng Liu and has good fight scenes, but the story just doesn’t instill enough character development to invest in what’s going on, which is a shame as the idea of the modern day Shaolin Assassin is a good idea.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (7) The fights are good here, and Wong placing Zheng in a position to look really good. There were a few moments that looked like maybe some flips were wire assisted, but what you see is what you get with Zheng as he does his own stunts. Gordon Liu’s fight was far too short, but great to still see he had “it” at the time. Sadly that may be the last time.

STUNTWORK: (7) Zheng Liu did his own stunts, and many of the punches and kicks look like a few of them connected, and that is a testament to the bravery of the stunt men and the acting job they did.

STAR POWER: (6) Gordon Liu gives the film this score, and to a small extent, Pit Bull. It’s too early to see what direction Zheng takes his career in, but hopefully we will see more of him.

FINAL GRADE: (6) Blood Money is a well-made film, and I would like to see what Zheng Liu and Gregory McQualter can do with a more straightforward and linear plot, but the story here just has too many problems to truly recommend.

Click the link below to purchase!

NEXT: Indie Kick returns and Tyler Williams is All-In!

Kiai-Kick’s Q & A with the director of Blood Money Gregory McQualter!

Posted in Gordon Liu, Zheng Liu with tags , , on August 27, 2012 by Michael S. Moore


MM: The idea of a modern Shaolin story that takes place largely in the criminal underworld isnʼt something I can ever recall seeing, not even in Hong Kong films. Where did you get the idea for the story?

GM: Basically just from my own thoughts on the Martial Arts genre. I think that is the very point. Even though Blood Money is predominately an Action Film, I believe the time is right to change things around. To a degree, we have been seeing the same martial arts themes for 30 years.

I didnʼt want to write the usual story where, “The Kung Fu hero runs into the bad guys and we all know heʼll get them in 90 minutes time”. I feel there is a total void for a real life action hero in films. A martial artist who is a complete street fighter in any environment against any opposition in any country. I guess to a degree a “video game style character on film”. The world is becoming one and cultures are intertwining like never before. East meets West! I want Zheng to be seen for the Action star that he really is. Capable of fighting in many styles, able to use a variety of weapons and use them in real life situations. I guess to a degree, the film is Miami Vice meets Enter the Dragon!

MM: What was it about Zheng Liu that made him perfect for this part? How did you discover him?

GM: A number of years ago I was invited by my Chinese friends in Thailand to travel to the Shaolin Temple in China and the adjoining Shaolin Academy. This was by special invitation only. On arriving, I discovered over 2,000 Students and Instructors. After filming and casting for a number of days, we eventually met Zheng. He was already a Shaolin Master.

To say that he stood out would be an understatement. Standing 6 feet tall with a powerful physique, his display of fighting and weapons was breathtaking. Although a very intelligent and soft person in general, his reputation within Shaolin was that of a fighting machine. A real life Shaolin Master who had it all.

After offering him the opportunity to appear in a film. Zheng though long and hard about the change it would make to his life. He finally decided that although he could share the spirit of Shaolin with many chinese, through film he could share and teach with potentially millions throughout the world.

We re-located him firstly to Thailand to learn Muay Thai and then Australia to learn Street Fighting techniques, other weapons and English. What we didnʼt do was teach him any acting. I believe his natural creativity and charisma should notbe changed. What you see in Blood Money is the real person. A real Shaolin Master!

Traditionally in Kung Fu, the fighter has to be fairly short and of a thin build to have the required leg speed, say 5ft 6ins like Jet Li or Jackie Chan. Zheng is very unique. At 6ft tall, he has not only incredible speed but amazing power. I have seen him fly 12 feet into the air off a couple of paces and launch into an amazing flying kick. His real somersault over an oncoming motorbike in Blood Money says it all!

MM: What was it like working with the great Gordon Liu? You also have Pit Bill in this film. How were you able to get him to take the role?

GM: Working with Gordon was an absolute pleasure. Through a mutual friend, we met over coffee in Hong Kong. I showed him the concept and explained the dream and he signed up immediately. He was a great support to Zheng during filming and his charisma certainly comes out on screen. His understanding of Shaolin and Martial Arts in general is amazing and to see him suck the air out of a flame in Blood Money shows how skilful Gordon really is. We hope to work together again in the sequel.

We also met Pitbull through a mutual friend. He was rehearsing in a warehouse on the outskirts of Miami when we showed him some of the first scenes that we had already shot. He was so impressed by the filmʼs quality, story and Zhengʼs amazing skills, he immediately agreed to join the cast playing himself. What we didnʼt expect is his natural acting talents which are wonderful.

MM: There are a growing number of successful international martial arts films like Ong Bak and The Raid that have raised the bar for these kinds of films with complex choreography and a brutality not seen in current Hong Kong films. What can we expect from the fight scenes in Blood Money? When thinking of fight choreography how did you approach it in regards to both style and story?

GM: The main point of all the action and fighting in Blood Money was that it had to be real. I am very strong on this. With all due respect to other films, I donʼt think there has ever been a main stream action film or martial arts film, that has had the main Star breaking a “real steel bar” over his head, or “real fighting” with “real contact”. In most cases it is fake props and fake fighting, hidden either by over the shoulder camera angles or super fast editing, which hides the fact that they are not making real contact.

In Blood Money we have kept the edits down to a minimum, let the fight flow and shot most of the scenes side on which shows actual contact. When casting for the fight scenes, I was not looking for Actors who could fake fight, but real life street fighters who could take the big hits and kicks. This was extremely risky as Zheng can take anyone out with just one kick, but with precision and control we pulled it off. The fact that 95% of everything Zheng does in the film is first or second take, explains his expertise and professionalism. If you are kicking another actor in the face, you donʼt do it more than once.

MM: Whatʼs your favorite martial arts film and martial artist?

GM: Yes itʼs the same as everyone else. Bruce Lee of course and Enter the Dragon. I also like Jet Li in Kiss of the Dragon. Zheng has been described by a number of people as the next Bruce Lee. They are not saying this with any disrespect. There will only ever be one Bruce Lee who is a legend. Just meaning that Bruce Lee was a huge worldwide star and that Zheng has similar charisma on screen and could follow in his footsteps. I believe Zheng should be judged on his own skills, power and acting. At only 28 years old, he really is a new and exciting “all round” Action Star. Fighting, Weapons and of course doing his own Stunts.

MM: Thanks so much for taking a few moments of your time to answer these questions!

GM: Thanks again Michael for helping us get the film promoted. It was only a $2M budget but filmed around the world in Miami, Hong Kong and Sydney ……… and a lot of hard work by all. We will not forget your support.

Blood Money releases on DVD/Blu Ray tomorrow, and my review will  follow tomorrow’s release! 
 

Review: Choi Lee Fut Kung Fu (1979)

Posted in Chan Siu Pang, Cliff Lok, Lin Chiao, Phillip Ko, Yang Pan Pan with tags , , on August 21, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Cliff Lok, Philip Ko, Lin Chiao, Yang Pan Pan, Chan Siu Pang, Chi Ling Chui

Fight Choreography by Tu Wei Wo and Chu Tak Ke

Directed by Chan Siu Pang

If you read this site enough you know I’m a practitioner of Choy Lat Fut kung-fu, and look for it in film wherever I can. I thought Sammo Hung would provide me the answers with the film Choy Lee Fut, but that is one of the most godawful films I’ve ever seen, and one of Sammo and Yuen Wah’s worst. But lo and behold along comes Cliff Lok and Chan Sui Pang to make a film that properly represents Choy Lay Fut…

The film is set near the end of the Chin Dynasty, and centers around Chang Hung Sing (Lok) a kind and determined young man who yearns to learn Choi Lee Fut kung fu from Master Chan (Chiao), who is a rebel who has gone into hiding from the long haired Chin warlord Southern Head (Ko), who has agents looking for Chan and his compatriot, the Monk Grass.

The problem for Chang is that he wants to learn a style that Master Chan only teaches to those born in that village. Master Chan recognizes that Chang has the gift of kung-fu, and is a natural with the style, and teaches Chang in secret, but soon the others discover Chang’s secret and lean on Master Chan to send Chang away, and Chang does so, but instructs Chang to seek out the other rebel, The Monk Grass (Of course he’s a badass. I’ve never seen a kung-fu film where a monk living in the forest ISN’T a billy badass. Just sayin’.) Chang goes into training, and along with Miss Yang, takes on the Southern Head and his lackeys in a fight to the finish…

Choi Lee Fut is a really fun film that has the checklist of old school kung fu film. Kick ass old Men? Check! Bumbling hero? Check! Kickass girl? Of course! Getting jumped on a dirt road? You bet! Awesome Training sequences? Why not? I say this not in ridicule but with love and fondness. Cliff Lok does a good job here, and it’s no wonder. Cliff is actually one of the Seven Little Fortunes (As it turns out there were several groups of Seven Little Fortunes besides the one that had Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Corey Yuen, and Yuen Wah and Yuen Biao. Cliff was in one of the other groups. According to him they all learned from the same teacher.) Cliff has a similar performance style that reminded me of Yuen Biao, but Cliff doesn’t quite have as much screen presence, but he has enough to function the story well. Chan Sui Pang is great as Monk Grass, who has the right amount of playfulness to thwart Chang’s attempts to cut corners in his training. Philip Ko is good but isn’t in the film nearly enough as Southern Head, and one of his lackeys you’ll recognize as Hung Gar Master Chi Ling Chui (Kung-Fu Hustle).

The training sequences are a great amount of fun and shows off Cliff Lok’s acrobatics and stunt work, and Chan Siu Pang knows how to get the right angles for the fights, of which are many for this film, and they save the best for last as Cliff Lok and Phillip Ko get after it, and of course as many kung-fu films do the moves that doom Southern Head are tied to the training sequences Chang goes through midway through the film. They really get the Choy Lay Fut style right all throughout the film, even the yells, and hell they even scroll text for each form/move that Cliff Lok shows off toward the end of the final fight with Southern Head. Yang Pan Pan’s fights with Lok and others is tremendously good as well, but there needed to be more of her.

**The film is available on DVD through Rarescope, and is the best version I’ve seen, but it really isn’t that good as nothing is cleaned up.**

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The fight choreography really shows off Choy Lay Fut in a way no other film has done, and everyone is more than up to the task of delivering one good fight  after another. Classic choreography well done.

STUNTWORK: (7) The stunts are well done, mostly by Cliff Lok in the training sequences, and all of Southern Head’s lackeys do a good job.

STAR POWER: (7) Cliff Lok never attained the stardom of his kung fu brothers but had a good career nevertheless. Chan Siu Pang has starred and directed many kung fu films, and Yang Pan Pan also had a long career, mostly through Hong Kong television series.

FINAL GRADE: (7) Choi Lee Fut is a fun film that showcases the martial art of Choy Lay Fut and gets it right, which seems to be a hard thing to do. Just ask Sammo Hung.

NEXT: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, To Yu-Hang and Terry Fan bring you an origin story in The Legend is Born: Ip Man!

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Review: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Posted in Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Scott Adkins with tags , , , on August 18, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, Liam Hemsworth, Yu Nan

Fight Choreography by Don Theerathada (also as Don Tai)

Directed by Simon West

The first Expendables film was a modest hit, showing that the old aging action stars still had what it took to carry a film. More must be better as more stars are added and Stallone, while co-writing the story handed the directing chores to Simon West (Con Air) and even had some new talent play with the ‘boys in what amounts to a far stronger film than the previous effort, but not without a small problem or two.

Expendables 2 catches up with the crew of Barney Ross (Stallone) Lee Christmas (Statham), Toll Road (Couture) Hale Caesar (Crews) Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren), Yin Yang (Li) and their newest recruit Billy the Kid (Hemsworth) as they break into a south american base to rescue none other than Trench (Schwarzenegger) who had been embarassingly captured while trying to extract a wealthy Chinese businessman. The Expendables save them both, and Yin Yang takes the businessman back home.

Meanwhile the Expendables are sent on another mission by Church (Willis) whom you remember they screwed over in the previous film, so here is payback. Church has Ross and Co. escort one of his agents Maggie to a plane that has crashed in Russia to retrieve a computer. Their mission is failed when they are ambushed by Vilain (JCVD) and his henchman Hector (Adkins). Vilain kills one of the Expendables, and the group vows revenge, and takes the fight back to Vilain, but not without some high powered help…

As a film, The Expendables 2 has a much better story than the first, but the characters remain the same, with the most character development given to the character with the least amount of screen time. That’s not a bad thing though as we don’t need to know much more about them. The main stars are basically playing their most famous onscreen personas, and no one takes the film seriously, which for a film of this type is a good thing. What is not so good is that there isa little too much winking at the camera as each character goes through their most famous lines, like Arnold with the “I’ll be back” which, in all fairness, is actually a long set up for a joke that comes toward the end of the film, and Chuck Norris plays on just about everything from his films to the Chuck Norris jokes.

The funniest scenes in the film involve Lundgren, and they actually weave Dolph’s real life chemical engineering degree and MIT background into the already twisted Jensen, now making him an insane genius. Van Damme is fantastic as Vilain, and really shows that JCVD can be a very good charismatic bad guy in action films, and he can still give those pretty jump kicks. Just like Stallone and Arnold, JCVD needs to return to A-list Hollywood films!  Scott Adkins (Undisputed 3 and Ninja) kinda channels Yuri Boyka as he plays another Russian bad guy. Jet Li is funny once again as Yin Yang but his part nearly amounts to a cameo, which was disappointing. Liam Hemsworth and Yu Nan, as the new young faces on the team are able to more than hold their own.

The fight choreography is much better than the previous film, because 1) Corey Yuen decided to stop slumming it in American films and didn’t do this one and 2) Simon West’s camerawork was MUCH better as was the editing so you can actually tell what is happening in the fight scenes, especially Jet Li’s, whose fight scenes are a lot better than what he did in the first film. Perhaps the most improved though is Jason Statham, who gets the lion’s share of martial arts fighting, and his duel with Scott Adkins is a highlight. Don Tai did the fight choreography, and that is a name you need to remember. Don is part of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, and did stunts and some choreography for films like Blood and Bone, Rush Hour 2 and 3, Haywire, GI Joe Retaliation, Bullet in the Head (new Stallone film), and had even been offered a starring role in Ong Bak. What that means is that ALL the fights had a singular voice, as even Randy Couture had fight moments that were reminiscent of Hong Kong cinema, having him perform his fights a lot faster than he did in the first film. Don Tai is a new talent that I think we will see a lot more of, and soon.

Overall, The Expendables 2 is a fun time in the theater that finally tickles that 80’s action vibe that proves it’s still fun to watch Stallone and the boys crack a one-liner while blasting/punching/kicking/maiming/exploding the baddies at the same time!

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Solid work all around, as Don Tai is able to give Jet Li a great fighting moment, as well as making Randy Couture look great, and especially for giving Statham a faster Hong Kong style of fight choreography which he did well with, and his duel with Scott Adkins was pretty good. JCVD never looked better.

STUNT WORK: (9) Bodies really went flying all over the place and the stunt performers did a great job during the fight scenes and dealing with explosions and nasty falls.

STAR POWER: (11) It doesn’t get much better than this, but I’ll say that it’s the young upcoming talent that has me intrigued, starting with Don Theerathada and Liam Hemsworth, who is in the upcoming Red Dawn remake and of course you know his brother Chris (Thor). Scott Adkins brought the goods for his first starring A-list film. Now get him his own damn A-list film, Hollywood!

FINAL GRADE: (8) The Expendables 2 is leaps and bounds better than the first film, with great new additions, funnier camaraderie, and a fantastic finale that will leave you in action hero bliss!

NEXT: Cliff Lok takes on Shaolin Assassins in Choi Lee Fut!

 

 

Review: The Expendables (2010)

Posted in Corey Yuen, Dolph Lundgren, Gary Daniels, Jet Li with tags , , , on August 16, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Gary Daniels, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts

Fight Choreography (for Jet Li): Corey Yuen

Directed by Sylvester Stallone

I mulled for quite a while on whether or not I viewed this film as a martial arts film or not. After viewing it again I decided that yes, there was enough.

As a kid in the 80’s this was a film I was eagely awaiting: a team up of action heroes from both the 80’s, 90’s and today, in a manfest of badassery. Stallone is a competent writer and a decent director who knows action, so how could he go wrong?

From a martial arts standpoint, he got a LOT wrong.

The film opens as we meet the mercenaries known as the Expendables: Barney Ross(Stallone) Lee Christmas (Statham), Ying Yang (Li), Toll Road (Couture), Hale Ceasar (Crews) and Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren) as they are just finishing up a mission to free a group of hostages aboard a ship held by Somali pirates. During the mission Jensen goes nuts and tries to hang a dead pirate from the bow of the ship, and after Yin Yang intervenes Jensen is kicked out of the group. Unfortunately they get no rest as they are hired by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to take down a South american warlord General Garza who is in league with an ex-CIA agent Paine (Roberts). Things get complicated when Barney meets their contact, a beautiful woman who gets captured by Paine. Will The Expendables set aside their greed for money to do the right thing and save her and liberate the tiny island?

The film is a by-the-numbers film, the exact kind of film you would’ve seen in the 80’s. There really isn’t a lot of hardcore acting involved as everyone basically just plays badasses. Statham gets the most character development, and I have to admit Jet Li gets more dialogue in this film than all of his other Hollywood films combined ( the funniest scene in the film involved a conversation with Stallone about his place on the team). Eric Roberts was a snake, which is a character he’s played many times. There wasn’t a lot of chances taken with the film. The paper-thin plot exists to give the good guys a bad guy to beat, and nothing more. The gun play and explosions were great, and not something you see much of nowadays. I admit I didn’t like the CGI blood. I understand it’s easier, and does save a ton of time and money, but until it can be perfected…it just doesn’t need to be done.

The fights were the most disappointing thing about the film. The talent was there with Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Gary Daniels, but their talents were wasted because 1) none of them were able to have any length of time in their fights to show their stuff and 2) Stallone suddenly forgot how to shoot a fight scene and sent the fights to MTV quick-cut edit hell. I was looking forward to the Jet Li vs Gary Daniels fight, and when it occurred I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, and it got worse since Stallone cuts back and forth between the gun play and the other fight with himself and Steve Austin. You have two Hong Kong Cinema veterans choreographed by Corey Yuen and that is what they were able to do? Really weak. Slightly better (but not by much) was Jet Li’s fight with Dolph Lundgren. Once again the quick edits kill the fight (maybe it was done this was was because there’s no way in hell Dolph’s as fast as Jet?) but it was slightly more coherent. Statham’s playground fight was equally disappointing, for the same reason. Stallone seems to have forgotten how to shoot action, opting for shakey-cam Jason Bourne style camerawork, which works, but only for Jason Bourne films.

The Expendables is a fun reminder of the 80’s, but it ultimately borrowed too much bad stuff from today.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (4) The editing simply killed this, which should have been some of the strongest things in the film. Stallone doesn’t know how to shoot a martial arts fight scene. Corey Yuen needed to open his mouth and say something to Stallone.

STUNTWORK: (7) The stuntmen did a good job, especially during scenes where things blow up, which happened quite a bit.

STAR POWER: (10) Check the list above and note that three people were missing. Oh yeah, it doesn’t get much bigger.

FINAL GRADE: (6)  While it’s fun to see all of those stars in the same film, they needed to give the actors a better story and better camera work to show case the talents involved.

NEXT: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Yu Nan and Scott Adkins join the boys in The Expendables 2!