Archive for August, 2017

Review: Savage Dog (2017)

Posted in Cung Le, David No, JuJu Chan, Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins, Uncategorized with tags on August 29, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror have a really, really bloody rematch! And Keith David!!

 

Starring Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Cung Le, Keith David, Juju Chan

Fight Choreography by Luke LaFontaine

Directed By Jesse V Johnson

Savage Dog is a period film set shortly after the French Indochina War in 1959 tells the story of Martin Tillman, an Irishman and displaced soldier, spending his days as a prisoner of Von Steiner, a sadistic jailer who pits Tillman into a series of martial arts fights with various opponents for money. When not fighting, Tillman spends his time in prison being visited by a local flower girl, Isabelle(Chan). When pressured by a British government official, Steiner releases Tillman, but since Tillman is still a wanted man, he chooses to hide out at a local bar run by Valentine(David) and also the home of the flower girl, where a romance blossoms, but as it happens in action films, Steiner brings Tillman back, but when Steiner and his henchmen go after his love, Tillman goes on a rampage to ensure Steiner never bothers anyone ever again…

It’s nice to see Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror leave their comfort zones and do a period film, and the production values looked great on what had to be a small budget. The story is well done, with, for a change, the villain Steiner being a more well rounded character, with his own motivations, and surprisingly, regrets. Scott Adkins is good here, but, from an acting standpoint, isn’t much of a stretch from most of the characters he plays. The same goes for Marko Zaror, but he is actually a more chilling villain here than in his other bad guy roles. He’s a real bastard here, and I want to see more of him in this mode. Keith David is KEITH MOTHERFU&@!ing DAVID! He’s the spice that makes ANY film better, and he brings his patented coolness here as both the star and narrator. He’s so cool he gets to dispense with a solid rule of cinema that isn’t supposed to be broken. But he can do that, ’cause he’s Keith Motherf&%^!ing David. Cung Le is okay here, but his character gets to real development until his final lines in his fight with Adkins. It made me wish the film had done more than mention his viscous general’s backstory.

The fights here…Let’s get to that.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s brutal. Like they watched the The Raid 2 and said “Hold my beer.”

The blood flows like a river in this film, and I have to admit I’ve never seen the like. You know, like watching a guy get shot with a shotgun in the face point blank. Twice. Or even what Scott Adkins does to Marko Zaror at the end…I can safely say I’ve never seen an action star at ANY level do what he does! It was shocking, but really hearkens back to the title of the film.

The fights are technically well done toward the beginning, but with the exception of a quick fight with stuntman/actor David No, I was really marking time until we get to the main event: Scott Adkins versus Cung Le and Marko Zaror. The Cung Le fight is short, but Le acquits himself well here as the choreography matches his strengths as a martial artist but not at the expense of having Adkins take the petal off the gas, so to speak. It’s a good fight that’s only marred by how cheaply the film ends it, but now we come to the true event, the Undisputed 3 rematch between Adkins and Zaror, and it’s great. First with weapons, both men show why they are awesome, moving fast but their movements are precise, and that knife Marko had…I would NOT want to get stabbed with that sucker. But then the weapons go away.

And then it gets REAL.

The director knows what you want. The fight choreographer knows what you want. Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror sure as HELL know what you want. And they made sure you get it! The fight is everything I was wanting it to be. So help me they put on a clinic in beautiful kicking of every kind. And the music with the furious violin playing during it? Holy hell they hit the sweet spot. The fist work was well done, and the fight lasted exactly as long as it needed to given the story and characters.

Bravo, Jesse V Johnson. Bravo. Now do it again!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

One of Scott Adkins’ best films. Marko Zaror establishes himself as a great villain, and Keith David does Keith David things. Bring on the sequel!

Advertisements

Review: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (2015)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 14, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

“No gelflings here, bro.”

Starring Li Bingbing, Chen Ku, Winston Chao

As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of wuxia films. I mostly prefer my martial arts films like my phones: Wireless.  Having said that, there is fascinating thing going on with those films: they are becoming a giant special effects extravaganza, not unlike many superhero films today. So how does Snow Girl fare given this new light?

In a word, I’m still not really impressed. Maybe even less so than I was of the genre before.

Snow Girl tells the story of Zhang Kui (Chen Ku), protector of the town of Hu, and is tasked by a Lord of Heaven, Daioxin,  to steal the Dark Crystal, a vessel from Hell that has imprisoned the souls of the populace and may cause the end of the world if activated. Zhang succeeds, causing the Demon King to unleash the Snow Girl to get it back. To prepare Zhang to defeat the Snow Girl Daioxin trains Zhang to harness his energy to turn himself into a powerful creature. Of course the moment Zhang meets the Snow Girl everything becomes much, much more complicated…

The story has moments where I was engaged, but by the third act I knew what was going to happen, and there were some dull stretches here and there. The acting in the film is pretty good, and Li Bing Bing does some particularly good work here, but the effects are the real star of the film, and unfortunately that’s a mixed bag. Most of it is really good, but the moments where we have CG monsters fighting made me feel like I was watching a video game being played, and I immediately checked out of the film during these really LONG sequences. It doesn’t help that the CG animation looks exactly like that, and not realistic at all. The final fight ends with one of those “so if the hero could do this the whole time then WHY DIDN’T HE?”. This is, for me at least, the most irritating kind of climactic finish.

The martial arts are kept on the down low here, except for one brief fight toward the end, which is nothing to write home about but adequate. It really could have used more of this and less of the CG monster fights. The ending of the film is jarring, as I didn’t really understand what Zhang was doing at the end and what it meant.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

I’ve seen way better Wuxia films, and this one was definitely mediocre. I’d rather revisit Zu, Warriors from Magic Mountain, or the Storm Riders.

Scott Adkins + Marko Zaror with Keith David! Savage Dog Trailer (2017)

Posted in Scott Adkins with tags on August 2, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

So watch the trailer here and we’ll talk after:

Damn! Scott Adkins looking his actiony best, Marko Zaror looking properly villianous, JuJu Chan looking great, and Keith David, is, well, Keith Friggin’ David! I’m watching the film this week, and my review will be out over this weekend, so I can’t wait! What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! This month may need to be called Scott Adkins Month! I’m down with that! Scott is without a doubt the best martial arts action hero in cinema right now, and we need him to get an A list film. C’mon John Wick guys! Make a franchise film series for Scott!