Archive for September, 2013

Check out The Stuntpeople’s Eric Jacobus in Future Boss!

Posted in Eric Jacobus with tags , , , on September 30, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Okay, I’ve sung the praises on this website on LBP Stunts Chicago’s work (Yo Soy Un Hombre Loco, for example) and Thousand Pounds, but I have a confession to make. I’ve been grossly negligent in recognizing the work of Eric Jacobus and The Stuntpeople. I reviewed his film Death Grip not long ago, but I need to bring more of his work to everyone’s attention, and now is as good a time as any, since he plays Stryker in Mortal Kombat Legacy Season 2, which I’ll posting a review of later today.

This new short gives an example of just how good Eric is. Here he fights Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe  of The Young Masters (another group I’ll be writing about soon) in a terrific homage to the 80’s HK style of fighting (my favorite style of fight choreography)

So watch the awesome and funny short that shows how you can learn to use kung-fu using Google Glass. Great stuff, and something we need to see more of! More goodness from both The Stuntpeople and The Young Masters is on the way, but for now watch and have some fun!

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Review: Who Am I? (1998)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Kwan Yung, Ron Smoorenburg with tags , on September 23, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Jackie Chan, Ron Smerczak, Ron Smoorenburg, Kwan Yung, Michelle Ferre, Mirai Yamamoto, Ken Lo, Kane Kosugi, Ed Nelson

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Benny Chan

The 1990’s is really the last major time that Jackie Chan’s cinematic output was really good. There were some pandering to western audiences, even with his Hong Kong output, but his skills were still way up there, even though he was showing small signs of decline. One of his final films before the new millennium would see some of the things that make Jackie Chan films great, and things that ensure that there is no way any of those films would win an award for acting. Such is the case with Who am I?

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Jackie plays, well, Jackie, an agent working alongside an international group of soldiers for the CIA under the command of Morgan (Smerczak), and they are tasked with kidnapping several scientists who are using an unstable new ore to create a new power source. The plan goes well, but the team is betrayed, and all are killed except for Jackie, who finds himself saved by an African tribe, and also suffers memory loss. After living with the tribe for a time, they are able to find the wreckage of his helicopter, and the bodies of his friends. Jackie’s memories are fragmented, but he does somewhat remember them. After joining a road race, and finishing first, Jackie goes on a mission to find out what happened to him and the scientists, which puts him in the crosshairs of Morgan and General Sherman (Nelson), who have their own uses for the scientists. Jackie never knows who to trust, and even the most unlikeliest people pose the greatest threat…

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Who am I? is a really fun, rollicking film that despite its premise is a grand time, and without a doubt one of JC’s best 90’s films. The story is basic and somewhat predictable, but Jackie is able to play the character well, even in the dramatic moments, save for a few moments where he tries to go “Academy Awards” and winds up going all Darth Vader “Noooooooooooo!” on us. But I have to say, while the acting in his films has been passable, there are two actors who were mind-stabbingly bad. That would be Mirai Yamamoto and Michelle Ferre, playing the female leads respectively. Gorgeous women to be sure, but both of them were nails-on-a-chalkboard terrible. In the case of Michelle Ferre I get that as she actually WAS a reporter, and not an actress, so I’m more forgiving of her part. JC was wrong to put her in the film regardless of how much he liked her or how cute she was. Ron Smerczak was really good as Morgan, creating a more serious foe for JC than he’d had in a while. What bothered me about his performance is that there are several lines where you know he was dubbed for some odd reason. That actually goes for other characters in the film in some spots. It just pulled me out of the film.
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The fights and the stunts are the things to see here, just like in the best of Jackie Chan movies, and there is no lack of it here, with car stunts, avoiding getting crushed by a piano stunt, and the terrific slide down the side of a skyscraper with no wires (try that, Tom Cruise). The choreography is well done, and start off small but they end in what is one of JC’s last truly great fights:

Jackie Chan versus Ron Smoorenburg and Kwan Yung.

This rooftop fight is absolutely fantastic, with both men specializing in arts the emphasize fists for one and feet for the other. Ron Smoorenburg is terrific here, and takes his place alongside some of the best super-kickers to ever fight Jackie Chan going all the way back to Hwang Jang Lee. If there is a particular reason I could give you to see this film, this is it. The fight is fast, furious, funny, and just plain epic.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

A good James Bond-esque adventure that features some truly terrible acting but one of the best onscreen fights of Jackie’s 90’s output. I recommend it! 

Review: Heatseeker (1995)

Posted in Gary Daniels, Keith Cooke on September 12, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Tina Cote, Tim Thomerson, Norbert Weisser

Fight Choreography by Burton Richardson

Directed by Albert Pyun

 

Simply the name of Albert Pyun brings back a flood of friday nights on Cinemax, where a schlocky b-movie that seemed to have Pyun’s name on it flood the television screens. Pyun is a king of barely  B-movie sci-fi films, his ambitions far exceeding his budgets, and the talents of his actors. He has fellow actors who have been in many of his films, like Tina Cote and the legendary Tim Thomerson. Pyun always seemed to have an obsession with cyborgs (JCVD’s Cyborg and the Nemesis series come to mind) and here he gets to scratch that itch, but does it make for an entertaining film?

Heatseeker takes place in a future Earth where corporations rule, biotechnology and human augmentation are now what drives the world. The biotech companies advertise themselves by having augmented cyborgs fight in martial arts tournaments. The Sianon Corporation headed by CEO Tung (Weisser) has just had their best fighter, Xao (Daniels) defeated in a tournament by 100 percent human Chance O’Brien (Cooke). Facing punishment from his shareholders, Tung upgrades Xao, and creates a tournament against which cyborgs representing their parent corporations can duel it out to see whose technology is the best. Tung wants Chance to enter into this as well, but Chance and his fiancee/manager Jo (Cote) refuse. Tung kidnaps Jo and holds her hostage with two goals: to get Chance to fight, and to also have her train Xao with Chance’s moves. Chance enters the tournament and fights his way to Jo, who may or may not have gone over to Xao’s side…

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Heatseeker is an ok film, but just barely. The sets are laughably low-budget, and the only way to tell if someone is a cyborg are by the few times where their technology pokes out, which only happens when they are kicked or punched, but mostly when they make laughably bad computer bleeps and bloops as they shut down. Characterization is keep to the level of an 80’s comic book, but Keith Cooke tries his best, and is passable as the hero. There isn’t much of Gary Daniels in this film, and Pyun inserts his gratuitous nude shots of a writhing Tina Cote (not that I’m complaining…) that doesn’t mean anything at to the story. The cinematography is bare bones with everything done with a soft focus and nothing memorable. Basically point and shoot with average lighting.

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The fight scenes are passable, but not great. The speed of the fighters is slow, and the main fight between Keith Cooke and Gary Daniels is disappointing. This should have been a battle royale on the level of a Hong Kong film, but alas, that was not to be. As someone who has seen both of them perform in better films, this wasted opportunity would have redeemed much of this movie. The film tries to be a cyborg recreation of Bloodsport with far worse martial arts scenes on a smaller budget.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

 

No truly great Keith Cooke/Gary Daniels matchup? This film is full of might-have-beens  moments that never were. No real filmmaking imagination went into this. Okay to watch, particularly if you’re drunk. I’m positive there’s a drinking game in it somewhere…

Scott Adkins vs. Kane Kosugi! The Trailer for Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear!

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Mika Hijii, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins with tags , on September 9, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Scott Adkins, how we’ve missed you! While we all await Undisputed 4 (if it still happens) we return to one of Scott’s other popular characters, Casey the Ninja, who looks to have settled in with Mika Hijii from the events of the previous film, but you know in action hero realm that means the family has gotta get jacked up so the hero can return to action, and he does so here. The action looks less comic-booky and more Ong Bak-ish than the previous film, but you’ll get no complaints from me. Adkins looks to be in fine form. Toss in a fight with Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?) and what looks like a bigger budget, and we have the makings of a great martial arts film! Check out the trailer below!

Review: Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back (1995)

Posted in Phillip Rhee with tags on September 3, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Phillip Rhee, Gina Gershon, Christopher McDonald, Mark Rolston

Fight Choreography by Simon Rhee

Directed by Phillip Rhee

The Best of the Best series is an odd bird. The first film starred bigger names (for a martial arts film shot at that time) like James Earl Jones, Eric Roberts, Sally Kirkland, and Chris Penn (not a big name, but we all know his bro…). It was a smaller film, and the main attraction was Phillip Rhee. After the mild success of that film many sequels were made, and this one finds Phillip Rhee stepping behind the camera….

The film begins in a small town of Liberty as the local pastor, Reverend Phelps, is beaten and kidnapped by a group of local skinheads, and is humiliated and eventually murdered. Not long after Tommy Lee (Rhee) returns to Liberty, which just so happens to be his hometown to visit his sister and her family, mega tight t-shirt and all.  His sister’s husband, Jack Banning, is the local sheriff of the town, and can’t find enough proof to put the skinheads away for the murder of the reverend as he can’t even find a body. The reverend’s son, Luther, is currently staying with his family, and so Tommy finds he must protect them all from the white supremacists, while also falling for the local school teacher Margo Preston (Gershon), and finding out the grand scheme the skinheads ultimately have for the land and a acquiring a mini-gun. All in a week’s work for Tommy Lee…

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In many respects the film is “ Tommy Lee beats the shit out of Racism!” and is heavy-handed in it depiction of racism. Or is it? I had moments where I rolled my eyes but other moments where the brutality of the racism (mostly at the beginning) were driven home.  The acting was…passable, but I thought some scenes lingered on far too long. Some extra time in the edit room would’ve solved this. Rhee was okay, although I don’t think he has a lot of screen presence or charisma. Gina Gershon, on the other hand, has charisma in spades, enough to cover carry every part of the film she appears in. The same goes for Christopher McDonald. Mark Rolston chews the screen as the leader of the skinheads like it’s a toffee stick. The cinematography is okay, but nothing dynamic. Just really basic, and not really enticing to look at (as it was for most B-level martial arts films of the time).

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I nearly laughed out loud at the end of the film as enough baby oil was slathered onto Rhee that I thought “ if he gets any closer to any of those flames he’s gonna get charbroiled.”

The fight scenes are done well, but there are no really standout fights, but is well done throughout the film, but are really too small. The final fight at the end is the worst, particularly because Tommy Lee beats down the main baddie, but has too much difficulty doing so compared to the skills he shows earlier in the film. The fights here don’t remotely compare to the fights of the previous films. I think Rhee was too busy trying to direct a “message movie” to deliver a fun martial arts film.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

Best of The Best 3 is a middling film that really doesn’t have enough vision or fights to be anything more than an ok friday night fight film. But hey, sometimes that’s good enough!