Archive for April, 2015

Review: Kung Fu Killer (Kung Fu Jungle) (2014)

Posted in Baoqiang Wang, Bey Logan, Bruce Lee, David Chiang, Donnie Yen, Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), Shaw Brothers, Simon Yuen, Xing Yu with tags , on April 23, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

kung fu killer1

Starring Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang, Louis Fan, Xing Yu, Michelle Bai, David Chiang, Raymond Chow, Yuen Cheung-yan, also with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen, Andrew Lau, Bruce Law, Bey Logan, Kirk Wong,Teddy Chan, Dante Lam, Billy Chan, and Enoch Chan

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Teddy Chan

Let me start by saying this: Kung Fu Jungle is the best film Donnie Yen has made since any film not named Ip Man and Flashpoint.  Donnie Yen’s output since Ip Man 2 has been a bit underwhelming, but he fires back on all cylinders with this film. A second/third wind to his career? I think this film may be part of the reason he’s on the verge of retirement, and I’ll elaborate my theory on this later in the review.

The film starts as we meet Hahao Mo (Yen) a kung fu master and sometimes police martial arts trainer. He is bloody, and has just been in a fight to prove how good he is, but wound up killing his opponent (Logan) and turns himself into the police. Three years later, Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (Yeung) finds herself on a case involving serial killer Fung Yu-Sau (Wang) who is targeting kung fu masters across the city. Hahao Mo is released early from prison in order to help the police track down this killer, but Hahao knows more than he lets on, and the police increasingly wonder if they can actually trust him, but the bodies left in Fung’s wake start to pile up…

kungfu killer2

Kung Fu Jungle is a fantastic action film, and more than that its Donnie Yen and Teddy Chan’s love letter to all the kung fu films that inspired them. Just look at the starring credits above. Jackie Chan is onscreen as Hahao is watching Drunken Master in one scene. In fact, he’s specifically watching the scene where JC goes through the form, one of the best scenes of its kind ever filmed. Then you get to Shaw Brothers favorite David Chiang in a cameo appearance, and then, Raymond Chow appears! The list goes on and on, and I’m sure I missed someone. In fact, the only criticism I have is that some folks were left out. Where was the Greatness (Gordon Liu), and where was Sammo Hung? Jet Li? I suppose in Jet’s case he’s more a contemporary for Yen, so there could be that.

As for the story itself, and this is the genius of the film, is that it’s an homage to dozens of  old school kung fu films where a great kung fu master travels around fighting different schools and killing their masters for the sole purpose of being the best. Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, Knockabout, Prodigal Son, and so many dozens more have used this same story conceit, and director Teddy Chan brings that same story to the modern day successfully. Donnie Yen is excellent as Hahao, a man who had paid the price and damaged his own soul trying to be the best. Baoqiang is equally good as the killer, whose reasons go beyond just wanting to be the greatest of all. Charlie Yeung also does a great job here, but I kinda think this film missed out in respect to her casting, and I thought Michelle Yeoh may have been the better play here, given the spirit of the movie, but Michelle Bai does the spirit of female action heroes well as Haoho’s love interest, Sinn Ying, and she proves to give Baoqiang a greater challenge than he suspects.

kung-fu killer

Louis Fan and Xing Yu are in the film more as extended cameos, and while I enjoyed their presence, I had wished they would have appeared in the film longer.

The fights here are some of the best choreographed fights Yen has put out in some time. The first fight in the prison is terrific, as are all of the fights Baoqiang gets into with his various opponents, but the climactic battle on a busy street between Yen and Baoqiang is truly great and hard hitting, with fantastic movement and speed. THIS is the Donnie Yen of SPL and Flashpoint that had been missing for a little while.

kung fu killer3

I said that this film may be contributing to Donnie Yen retiring. I say that because Donnie recently stated that he really has nothing more to say on camera regarding kung fu films. This film expresses his love for the genre and the career its given him as he pays his respects to those that came before him. After Ip Man 3 and this, I’m of the mind that he may be right. His filmography spans just about every type of martial arts film, and I’m not sure there anything else he can make that would be cool without simply spinning his wheels.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Kung Fu Jungle (called Kung Fu Killer by WellGOUSA) is a great piece of entertainment that shows Donnie Yen at his absolute best and writes a thrilling love letter to all martial arts films! You do NOT want to miss this!

Kung Fu Killer will be out in North America tomorrow in select theaters!

Advertisements

Review: Kung Fu Gold (1975)

Posted in Reviews with tags , on April 21, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

kung fu gold

Starring Tien Hsiang Lung, Wong Kuan Hsiung, Tza Lan, Wong Fei Lung, Cheung Ping, Chow Ming Ching

Fight Choreography by   ?

Directed by Shin Sheng En

The film opens as we meet a ground of long time miners, some decent in kung fu, just as they are bickering among themselves about their lack of success finding gold. So of course they suddenly find themselves striking gold after a really long fight scene between two of them that essentially goes nowhere but does introduce us to the main character Yun Lung, who breaks up the fight. In deciding what do to with the gold, of course the first important matter to attend to—of course not exactly mining it all first—is to go find wives for all of the miners. Priorities, folks. So, given what is basically a grocery list of female attributes, Yun Lung is chosen to leave the mine and round up the women the other miners want and return with them. I assume an orgy of Spartacus-level shenanigans would have ensued. Right after Yun Lung leaves the one douchebag among them, named Blackie, betrays them to a greedy kung fu master Lung Woo, who wants the mine for himself. After what has to be the most nonsensical end to a duel ever, which leads to what has to be the most successful version of the old  “look over there!” distraction in the history of ever, Yun Lung returns to his hometown to get the girl he’s always pined for and bring her back, but he finds out she had been raped by the captain of the army and then committed suicide. Yun Lung rounds up the women first (once again, priorities) and teams up with a local rebel to get his revenge on the captain…

If there is a stupid thing that can occur in this film, they manage to find a way to make it happen. For instance, two characters duel with the fate of the mine in the balance, and bad guy wins said duel, but then runs away vowing he’ll return with more men?! That and the end, which literally leaves ten characters story arcs actually hanging in the air. It was like the writer said, “ Okay, we’ve exceeded our running time. Let’s just end this shit. Naw, I don’t give a damn about the miners.” It doesn’t help that the miners are kind of dicks themselves, but after Yun Lung leaves we never really see them again and forget about them, just like the director did. The final battle isn’t bad but shoddy editing and production values really derail it, as it does for most of the picture.

The kung fu fights are okay, but just that. Okay. Nothing great of any note, mostly just displays that show that the fight choreographer can put together really looooonnng fights.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

Actually a pretty good film to watch on a Friday night when you are wanting to go to sleep watching some kung fu. You won’t give a damn about the story or characters. Just let the long fights lull you to sleep…

JCVD returns in Pound of Flesh Trailer!

Posted in Darren Shahlavi, Jean-Claude Van Damme on April 13, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

_MG_3109@

 

JCVD returns in a film that looks really, really cool. It’s refreshing that even at age 51 he can still look and be the part of a badass, and he looks really badass here. It looks like the budgets of his films have increased a bit since his turn in The Expendables 2. This leads me to still have hope that we can get a Double Impact 2 someday. Also starring the late great Darren Shahlavi, so that is another great reason to check this out! Here is a synopsis of the badassery to come:

In China to donate his kidney to his dying niece, former black-ops agent Deacon awakes the day before the operation to find he is the latest victim of organ theft. Stitched up and pissed-off, Deacon descends from his opulent hotel in search of his stolen kidney and carves a blood-soaked path through the darkest corners of the city. The clock is ticking for his niece and with each step he loses blood.

Check out the trailer below:

Get ready to watch JCVD’s kidney’s get a whole lot of people killed on May 15th!

Star Wars: The Betrayal Fan Film! You gotta watch this!

Posted in Brendon Hour, Gui DaSilva, Mickey Facchinello, Tony Chu, Vlad Rimburg with tags on April 9, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Talk about a tide-me-over until Episode 7! With some of my favorite stuntpeople, LBP Stunts Chicago’s Brendon Hour and Mickey Facchinello, and with Tony Chu,  Gui Dasilva, Noah Fleder, Jimmy Chhiu, and Yoshi Sudarso, with fight choreography and directing by the great Vlad Rimburg, playing in the world of Star Wars!

So should you watch?

HELL YES YOU SHOULD!

For me this like Christmas in springtime. Never ask me how many times I’ve watched this. It’s waayyy too embarrassing. And now, JJ Abrams, now you know. So get it together for Episode 8! In fact, you have your stunt people and choreographers right here…

 

Bryan Sloyer Presents the short film QUEEN!

Posted in Bryan Sloyer with tags on April 9, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Bryan Sloyer has worked with great fight choreographers like EMC Monkeys and Emmanuel Manzanares, but this time he steps largely behind the camera for this atmospheric short about The White Queen who battles her way to her King, who is being used by The Dark King and his Bishop to draw her out. The queen finds that she must battle through an army of pawns in order to face the Dark King…

Such a great short. Moody in all the best ways, I was engrossed from the beginning and that music that opens the film is just perfect. The fights themselves are well staged and brutal in places. I can’t wait to see what Bryan Sloyer and company have next!

Starring Amy Sturdivant, Michael Lehr, Jeremy Tristan, Jay Kwon, with additional stunts by Bryan Sloyer, Jerry Quill, and Alex Duong. 

Watch Showdown: Not So Good Gentleman Part 3!

Posted in Aaron Alexander, Donald Brooks on April 9, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

 

So we come to the finale(?) of this series of fighting shorts starring Aaron Alexander and Donald Brooks, and there is even more to come as Alexander choreographed my upcoming web series Cornered, and Donald Brooks stars in said project. They are both just a small taste of what’s going on in Austin Texas right now, and there is even more amazing stuff on the way. For now enjoy what may be their final showdown…or is it?