Archive for January, 2014

Behind the scenes of this year’s UnLucky Stars!

Posted in Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr., Emmanuel Manzanares, Jose Montesinos, Vlad Rimburg with tags , , on January 28, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Unlucky Stars

Since this film, an homage to the Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung films of the 80’s, started, I’ve been beating the drums for this film, and will continue to do so. Dennis Ruel, Vlad Rimburg, Emmanuel Manzanares, Edward Kahana Jr. , Jose Montesinos, and so many more have been featured on this website throughout the years, and now their film Unlucky Stars will be out this year! As soon as the festival appearances become known,  I will let YOU know! I’m super excited for these guys and can’t wait to see their film! Check out the Behind the scenes below, and note they use the theme song from Police Story. Believe me, it’s appropriate! Also: the official trailer is coming out soon! I include the teaser below. Hit the comments button and let me know what you think!

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Short Film: ” Just Another Day” by Walter Garcia kicks all kinds of ass!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 27, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Wow. I had never heard of Walter Garcia, but I’ll be keeping an eye on him after watching this terrific short martial arts film starring his Dad! The film is well made, and the fight choreography is excellent. Evidently the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Walter Garcia Sr. does  a great job here. The story just goes to show, don’t judge a book by its cover. That book can probably kick your ass. Watch and enjoy, and look forward to more work from Walter Garcia and Co! Thanks to Emmanuel Manzanares with LBP Stunts Chicago for the heads-up!

Today’s Coolness brought to you by Vlad Rimburg!

Posted in Vlad Rimburg on January 24, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Utterly fantastic. Vlad Rimburg is a great fight choreographer I’ve featured here on quite a few occasions, and here he comes back with another short film starring PeiPei Yuan and Brendon Huor. Here Vlad tackles Drunken Boxing, and he doesn’t disappoint! Enjoy the video below! I think Vlad is going to have a great 2014…

Review: Only The Strong (1993)

Posted in Frank Dux, Mark Dacascos with tags , on January 21, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

 

Only The Strong

Starring: Mark Dacascos, Stacey Travis, Geoffrey Lewis, Paco Christian Prieto, Frank Dux

 

Fight Choreography by Frank Dux and Paco Christian Prieto

 

Directed by Sheldon Lettich

 

Some of the best martial arts films out there are the ones that center around a particular style like Drunken Master, Ip Man, Hapkido, and the Master of Ballroom Dancing (Just kidding ). The dynamic style of Brazilian Capoeira is so awesome to see on screen that surely someone would have made it into a film. Well, thanks to Sheldon Lettich (Double Impact, Lionheart) we have that, and a proper introduction to one Mark Dacascos. So how does the film hold up?

 

Pretty damn good, I’m actually sad to say, but more on that later.

 

Mark plays Louis Stevens, an ex-marine skilled in the art of Capoeira, returns to him home in Miami and to the school he graduated from to find that gangs are as bad as ever, and the kids are going downhill fast. He teams up with his friend and former mentor Kerrigan (Lewis) and creates a program to teach the worst kids in the school the martial art of Capoeira. Louis is even able to reconnect with an old girlfriend, Dianna, who now teaches at the school. Louis has trouble with the kids at first, but then begins to get through to them, but this brings Louis head to head with Silverio (Prieto), the marble-mouthed leader of a local Brazilian drug gang, whose nephew is one of Louis’ students. Silverio is an expert in Capoeira, and before long Louis must save his friends and the neighborhood from Silverio once and for all…

Only The Strong3

 

The basic story of the film isn’t much different from films like The Principal, The Substitute and Dangerous Minds, with a group of thugs turned into good kids by a traveling hero who must reconcile a past relationship, and of course one of the more sympathetic kids must get killed so the hero and the other kids and rally at the end for the finale. This in no way hampers the fun. Mark Dacascos is great as Louis, and has the right amount of naiveté and heart. Prieto, whom I found hard to understand, did a great job as Silverio, bringing a lot of menace to the screen. The kids were decent, and ranged from ok to pretty good. The music used, is just all kinds of awesome, and I find myself humming some of them, especially the “remix” of the tune Louis brings with him.

Only The Strong2

 

The fight choreography is actually pretty good, with the fights brought to us by Frank Dux, he of Bloodsport (he’s in the film as the helmeted fighter in the garage fight scene), and Prieto, and their combination gives some really great Capoeira fights (the beginning and end displays are awesome) and the fight between Silverio and Louis is done fairly well. The camerawork is plain and the editing is basic, in the style of all late 80’s-early 90’s American martial art films, but that can sometimes help as it’s far better than the MTV-style edited-to-hell-and-back fight scenes that come down the pike in the late 90‘s to this day.

 

The sadness I mentioned earlier is that no one has really made a better Capoeira film than Only The Strong. It’s still the best!

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

 

 Mark Dacascos in his first starring role does a great job, and successfully showcases the exciting art of Brazilian Capoeira! 

 

 

NEXT: They killed WHO? Scott Adkins returns in Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear!

 

Review: Badges of Fury (2013)

Posted in Collin Chou, Corey Yuen, Fung Hak-On, Grace Huang, Jacky Wu Jing, Jet Li, Sui-Lung Leung with tags , , on January 7, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Badges of Fury

Starring Jet Li, Wen Zhang, Michelle Chen, Lui Yan, Stephen Fung, Grace Huang, Fung Hak On, Wu Jing, Collin Chou, Leung Sui-Lung,

Fight Choreography by Corey Yuen

Directed by Wong Tsz Ming

Badges of Fury is perhaps the funniest comedy in Jet Li’s filmography, and for someone who doesn’t do it often, Jet really works here, but don’t be surprised that while his name is at the head of the credits, he is a supporting actor in this film, and Wen Zhang is the star. Of course, the first thing you have to do to best enjoy this film is to understand that the film is a comedy from the outset, a spoof of the kung-fu cop genre.

Around Hong Kong, a slew of actors, dancers, and the wealthy, all of them men, die of unknown circumstances, except that they were smiling at the time of death. Enter Huang Fei Hung (Li) an about to be retired cop, and Wang (Zhang) his overeager young partner are assigned to the case, even after botching up a major crime bust that could have net them a major gangster (great cameo appearance here by Collin Chou, acting like he stepped off the set of Flashpoint). What follows is wrong leads, bike chases, spoofs or mentions of films like Police Story 1, 2 and 3, and in one funny scene, a group of Interpol agents accuse Jet Li of BitTorrenting Fearless and the Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Their leads take them to one woman who is connected to all of the murdered men, and of course things go sideways, including a fight between Jet Li and Wu Jing, and wait until you see exactly who Wu Jing is playing. I can’t reveal any more of the story without giving away any other jokes!

Badges of Fury 1

The film is just out and out fun. Jet is really game here, playing the grizzled vet who is always mysteriously asking to go home early. Jet is energized, and looks great. Wen Zhang is able to carry the film, doing most of the funny stuff and is able to bounce jokes off of Jet well. Collin Chou and Wu Jing have “fighting” cameos, but perform well in their screen time. Leung Sui-Lung is great as well, but doesn’t really get his performance going until late, playing a character not unlike the one he played in Kung Fu Hustle. The film has scenes that reminded me of the whacked out stuff Stephen Fung did in his Tai Chi Zero series (Of course, he has a small part in this film), like the hilarious entrance of the femme fatale played to perfection by Lui Yan.

Badges of Fury Liu Yan

Corey Yuen choreographed the fights here, and did a great job. The fights were able to match the silliness of the rest of the film, but delivered some good kung fu fights. Jet versus Wu Jing was good, as was Jet vs. Collin Chou. Wen Zhang does a good job and gets the more “out there” fights, but does it well. The final fight between Jet Li and Leung Sui-Lung leaves all believability at the door for a fight that uses a lot of wire work and special effects, but they fit the escalating fantasy of the film.  I said Jet was more of a supporting character, and he is, but the lion’s share of the fights go to him, just as it should.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

 Jet Li and Wen Zhang take us on a hilarious romp through the “kung fu” cop genre, and fight choreographer Corey Yuen pulls out the stops to make this one of the best kung fu comedies to come around in a long while!

Badges of Fury is out today from the good folks at Wellgo USA!

 

NEXT: Mark Dacascos will teach you how to fight the Brazilian way in Only The Strong!

Review: No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)

Posted in Corey Yuen, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Cunningham with tags , , on January 5, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

No Retreat JCVD 2

Starring Kurt McKinney, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Cunningham, R.J. Madison, Kim Tai Chung

Fight Choreography by Hoi Mang and Corey Yuen

Directed by Corey Yuen

Corey Yuen, as I’ve described in other reviews, is hit and miss with his American output. “Slumming it” has been a description I’ve given to some of his films. Here we are with Corey’s first American film as a director and his fourth film overall as director. Here he managed to do something that hasn’t been done since: he actually made JCVD, in his first role, look as if he could hang with the Hong Kong greats. For a little while.

No Retreat, No Surrender tells the story of Jason Stillwell (McKinney) , a typical young, brash teenager who years to be just like his hero, Bruce Lee. Stillwell’s Dad is a karate sensei himself, who disapproves of Jason’s aggression. One day a group of Russian gangsters try to force Papa Stillwell to fight in their tournament, but he refuses, and winds up fighting some of the gangsters and is injured while dueling their star fighter Ivan (JCVD). This forces them to close their dojo and move to Seattle, home of Bruce Lee. Here he makes a friend in J.W. (Madison), and many enemies, especially at the dojo Jason wants to train at, where a misunderstanding puts him in the cross hairs of the local dojo student instructor. However, Jason still manages to get a girlfriend (really, it’s like damn magic. The film seemed to just jam her in there for the hell of it) and, after getting his ass kicked numerous times by various people, Jason retreats to an abandoned house where the spirit of Bruce Lee (Chung) appears and begins to teach Jeet Kun Do to Jason. Meanwhile, the very Russian gang that drove him and his Dad away from California arrive in Seattle, and challenges the local school to a duel. Before long Jason must use his skills to save the local dojo from the fury (and blatant cheating) of Ivan and his crew of baddies once and for all…

No Retreat 1

Let’s get this out of the way now: this film is terribly acted. I mean, community theater actors could do a way better job. This is Mystery Science Theater 3000 terrible. Having said that, the film still has a low -budget charm of its own. This film is known for the first appearance of JCVD, and there’s a reason why. He’s the only actor in the film who actually has a screen presence, even though he barely speaks. He takes over the film every time he appears, even though what little acting he does isn’t very good. The film’s story is okay, but nothing special. Kurt McKinney does a passable job as Jason, and Madison grates as J.W. , and the Russians, well, the more unsaid the better. Chung does a decent job impersonating Bruce Lee, even though he looks nothing at all like Bruce.

No Retreat JCVD

The fights, particularly at the end, are the real attraction here. The only regret I have is that Peter Cunningham (Above the Law) doesn’t have a better fight with JCVD. Peter could have gone toe to toe with JCVD in a much longer and complex fight. The next to last fight is between JCVD and Riley, the local dojo master. Now THAT was a great end fight, better than the fight between Jason and Ivan. Corey brought his “A” game to that fight, and made JCVD look like an all-world martial artist (As most of you know I’ve had my issues in regards to how good JCVD is as a pure martial-artist, but I’ve always admired him nevertheless, for his “want-to” as much as anything else.). The final fight between Jason and Ivan has some good moments, but is far too short, shorter than the previous fight, which is puzzling.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

Corey Yuen isn’t “slumming” it here! However, the film is so poorly acted and edited you may find yourself fast forwarding to the end fights to see JCVD let loose for the first time.

 

NEXT: I’m not done with Corey Yuen just yet! He returns as fight choreographer for Jet Li’s newest: Badges of Fury!