Archive for October, 2015

Review: Tokyo Tribe (2015)

Posted in Sion Sono, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 23, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

TT_sub

Starring Young Dias, Ryohei Suzuki, Nana Seino, Akihiro Kitamura, Tomoko Karina, Rikki Takeuchi,

Fight Choreography by Toshiro Takuma

Directed by Sion Sono

The moment I heard that director Sion  Sono had created a Japanese Yakuza-swordplay-martial arts…wait for it…hip hop musical I laughed out loud, but after further thinking it became my most anticipated film of 2015. Suffice to say now that I’ve seen it, my year has been made.

Tokyo Tribe starts in the future, where earthquakes have devastated Japan, and Tokyo has been broken up and taken over by a colorful assortment of gangs (you gotta see how they visualize this). After grandma drops the sick beat (yeah, I said that) we meet the best of the gangs, a peaceful group called Mushashino, a group that looks like the 80’s never left (in the best ways possible) led by the always calm Tera and his right hand man Kai (Dias). The entire film takes place over the course of one blood soaked night, when the leader of the worst of the gangs, Merra, decides to destroy Mushashino to exact his revenge on Kai (the reason why is left for the end of the film) but to do so means destroying every gang, and Merra tries to do so, but things get complicated when Erika (, the virgin daughter of the High Priest (who is unlike any high priest ever seen) has gone missing, and is purported to be in one of the gang districts. Toss in human furniture, a finger chopping insane mob boss who gets himself off often in front of…anyone, rapping grandmas, tanks, a black dude with superhuman strength, and a giant gangwar finale complete with a DJ spinning in the middle of the fighting, and you haven’t scratched the surface of the insanity…

Mera _T12257

I loved this movie. I really loved this movie. It takes chances you will NOT see in American cinema nowadays, and the actors are all game for it. The hip hop songs, which are many, are actually pretty damn good. Special props go to Rikki Takeuchi as Merra’s father Buppa, as insane a Yakuza boss as you’ll ever see, and he chews every moment he’s onscreen. Sion Sono uses every camera trick imaginable to pull off this film, and despite everything he tosses onscreen, it all seems to work. My only real issue is toward the middle of the film, where I think the momentum slows down too much while spending time with Buppa and his crazy family.

_T2_1148

The martial arts scenes are okay. Nothing great or fantastic, although the two hitmen sent by the High Priest are pretty awesome. The majority of fighting is done by Nana Seino, and she’s good, but really, the fighting just adds spice to the rap, and in some cases the actor have to act and fight at the same time.

Soomi _MG6695

In the end the film is about belonging to a group that really represents all of us, differences and all. So yeah, amidst all the crazy there’s a cool message there. One of the best films of the year.

‘Tokyo Tribe! Never ever Die!”

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Tokyo Tribe is a punch to the gut blast of hip-hop fun! I bet you’ll be humming the final song, ’cause who doesn’t want to be a part of the Tokyo Tribe? Where can I join?

Tokyo Tribe is out TODAY in Theaters, iTunes, and VOD!!

Advertisements

Review: The Grandmaster (2013)

Posted in Cung Le, Tony Leung, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , on October 21, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

grandmaster3

Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Cung Le, Elvis Tsui, Lau Shun, Lo Mang, Yuen Woo-Ping, Zhang Jin

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping

Directed by Wong Kar-Wai

When news came that another Ip Man film not starring Donnie Yen was being made, I had to roll my eyes. Much like Wong Fei-Hung everyone has to have their own take on Ip Man. Most have been okay to really good, but none have come close to the quality of the Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen series. Now toss in Wong Kar Wai, a prolific and one of the most talented filmmakers..well, anywhere, and I thought this was on the road to greatness.

But along the way Wong Kar-Wai decided to take a detour.

The film starts off by showing a rain-soaked fight between Ip Man (Leung) and a legion of gentlemen led by Iron Shoes (Le). After Ip Man tears ass through them we learn of his early years learning Wing Chun, and then his marriage and life with Cheung Wing-Sing. Ip Man’s life seems to be going peacefully until The Northern Boxing GrandMaster Gong Yutian arrives, challenged the southern schools to find their own Grandmaster, as he is retired and has made his son Ma San the Northern Grandmaster. The southern masters agree that Ip Man should represent them, and things get complicated when Gong Yutian’s daughter Gong Er (Ziyi) arrives, and Ip Man finds his heart may be going to her, but arrival of the Japanese and his flight to Hong Kong threatens to undo the perfect life he’s made for himself, and Gong Er must deal with a treacherous brother and ailing father in order to protect her family’s martial arts legacy. But how much is that worth to her?

the grandmaster

My issue with the film, and maybe it is a matter of expectation, is that it’s a little deceptive, and maybe not in a good way. I went into this thinking I was watching a Ip Man film. But from a  narrative perspective that’s not really the case; this film is really about Gong Er and her family. The Grandmaster title isn’t referring to Ip Man, but rather Gong Er. Ip Man is nothing more than a supporting character. This is not to say that Tony Leung doesn’t do a good job, because he does. He’s stoic as Ip Man, but at the same time conflicted. Zhang Ziyi is also excellent as Gong Er, a strong woman who was unfortunate enough to not be born a man, at least in her father’s eyes. The issue here is that the film takes a narrative turn away from Ip Man to follow Gong Er, and then jumps back to Ip Man toward the end, pretending as if the previous hour we had been watching an Ip Man film the entire time. Did Wong Kar-Wai simply decide that Gong Er was a more fascinating character to follow? I felt that there was a whole Ip Man film left on the cutting room floor, and with Wong Kar-Wai’s reputation, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was actually the case. I have to admit, however, the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It almost looks as if it could have been a black and white film, in the way that the camera plays with the shadows and golden skin tones, contrasted by the opening of the film in a rainstorm that never looked so good.

grandmaster

The fights are solid, though it had more wirework than I was comfortable with, but one was a big notch above the rest: Gong Er versus her brother Ma San at the train station. It was a cinematically gorgeous fight, and with the train passing by it added a layer to the composition of the visuals. Zhang Ziyi and Zhang Jin do excellent work here. Yuen Woo Ping still has a great big bag of tricks in his tool belt, but aside from looking beautiful, it just felt like something was missing.

Wong Kar Wai’s film asks the question “What is Kung-Fu?” but I’m not sure he knows the answer. Maybe that’s the point.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

The Grandmaster is a gorgeous film to look at, and Zhang Ziyi does a great job as Gong Er, and Tony Leung lights up the screen as Ip Man. If only Wong Kar Wai knew which movie he wanted to make.

Are you ready for The Challenger?

Posted in Andy Le, Ken Quitugua on October 13, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Martial Club member Andy Le and Zerogravity Stunts’ Ken Quitugua (UnLucky Stars) totally rock this short film about…well, a challenger named Danny who faces off with Chuck, the current King Of Fighters (See what i did there! Neo Geo still runs in my blood). This short is a prequel to an actual feature film, and if the quality of this short is anything to go on, the feature should absolutely rock. The fight is fun and exciting, a testament to Ken Quitugua’s kung fu fight choreography, and Director Tran Quoc Bao does a good job framing the scenes and setting the dark mood with DP Jeremy Mackie. Click below to watch this short, and just imagine a feature film!

Here’s an exclusive clip from Tokyo Tribe! “Erica’s Rap”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 1, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

TokyoTribePoster_8LR

Yeah! Martial arts, Swordsplay, heroic blood shedding, dancing, hip hop, musical dance numbers…wait what?!

That’s right! Tokyo Tribe is about to drop on us, and I’ve been looking forward to this movie in the worst possible way, and if this clip is any indication, this is going to be crazy ride! Written and directed by Sion Sono, man he is one crazy bastard, and I love him for it! I’ve already showed you good folks the trailer, but how about that exclusive clip? Martial arts and rapping on the way below!

Synopsis:

In a futuristic Japan, territorial street gangs form opposing factions collectively known as the Tokyo Tribes. When one of the gang leaders breaks the fragile peace, it triggers a brutal street war for supremacy. Based on a popular Manga series and told almost entirely in rap verse, TOKYO TRIBE is an ingenious mash-up of Yakuza gang violence, martial arts action and hip-hop musical.