Archive for November, 2018

Review: Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)

Posted in Jason Scott Lee, John Cheung on November 29, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner, John Cheung

Fight Choreography by John Cheung

Directed by Rob Cohen

When Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story came out fans of the Lee family were still reeling from the death of Brandon Lee, which had only occurred a few months before this film was released. I’ve always had a soft spot for this film, as I’ve always connected it with my feelings after Brandon’s death. I went to the theater twice to watch this film, and watching again has brought back some memories from that day, so yeah, it will probably color my review a bit.

Jason Scott Lee stars as Bruce Lee, whom we first meet as a child learning martial arts (while they don’t name him, it can only be Ip Man) and later as an adult, beating up several English sailors while they are harassing a woman at a lantern festival. The consequences of the fight becomes very, very real as Bruce’s father forces him to leave Hong Kong and go to the States to make his fortune. It is during his college days he meets Linda (Lauren Holly), falls in love but not without issues, and before long gets into Hollywood, first making a little TV show called The Green Hornet, and after many roadblocks returns to China after his father’s death, and agrees to make a film called The Big Boss, and the rest his history…

The first thing to understand about this film is that is a fictional telling of Bruce’s life, touching on many real-life events, but make no mistake this is a martial arts action film through and through. Jason Scott Lee, while he doesn’t look anything like Bruce, embodies and humanizes him in a way that other Bruce wannabes don’t, or can’t. While not a natural martial artist himself, Lee does a great job moving like Bruce, and its hard to tell that he didn’t really know much martial arts before the film. Lauren Holly isn’t bad as Linda, but while she’s stunningly beautiful in the film, the script didn’t really get into her enough beyond the broad strokes to truly care about her, particularly during some of the most emotional scenes, and her acting hadn’t evolved enough yet to mask the deficiencies in her character. The most standout parts of her are the scenes with Lee where they have to face various forms of racism at a restaurant, and with her mother before that. Those scenes were well done, and believe me those moments do happen in real life. Take that from someone who is living it.

Rob Cohen isn’t too imaginative as a director, but the fight scenes are, for the most part well shot. The script sprinkles in moments we are supposed to believe will inform Bruce’s films later, and while that is eye-rolling, I didn’t mind them quite so much. The scenes with Brandon, particularly at the end, when Bruce has to do battle with his demons, were more affecting and haunting than otherwise may have been if Brandon hadn’t died not long before the films’ release. If I recall at the time there was some discussion on putting off the release of the film, or at least changing the end fight, but they did add a dedication to Brandon, which was nicely done.

The fights in the film range the gamut from ok to pretty good. The fights versus Johnny Sun are the best in the film, well shot and the choreography by John Cheung is pretty on point (which is to be expected as he’s a veteran of early Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung films, and plays Johnny Sun himself) and the alley fight with the cooks was, to my surprise, a lot of fun, and was very reminiscent of the fight in the alley in Return of the Dragon (pretty sure that was intentional).

I have to toss a special shout to Randy Edelman, the music composer of the film, and this is one of the best soundtracks of any film in the 90’s. Lord knows just about every film trailer in the mid 90’s -early 00’s used parts of it, but as an owner of the soundtrack I stand by its greatness!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

This was a star-making performance by Jason Scott Lee, and it’s a shame his star didn’t rise as it should have, but this is an entertaining film about Bruce Lee, albeit a Hollywoodized action film version of it.

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Review: Blood, Sweat and Terrors (2018)

Posted in Daniel Bernhardt with tags , on November 6, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Blood, Sweat and Terrors is an anthology of action, suspense and a dash of horror, and since this is split by different stories, I’ll review each short story in turn:

Awesome Runaway

This story, of a man who has been captured and somehow attempts an amazing escape, is one of the weakest entries in the entire anthology. There is a fight scene, but it’s poorly shot and poorly choreographed, and the way the story is constructed, you can’t really relate to the main character as you never know why he is being held captive and who the captives are, so the action seems meaningless. If the action had been amazing, or even good, it might be forgivable. But it isn’t.

Jacob’s Wrath

A short film told from two different states in the mind of and old man who is about to make a choice that will change the course of two lives, as he deals with the grief of his daughters’ death. Before the story reaches its end you’ll know how it will go, but it’s the inevitability of it that makes it sad. Not much action here, but what little is there is well done.

Flow

Ugh. That’s about all I can say for this short about two female freedom fighters who discuss their issues as they kill random nobodies. Not funny, action bad, and the best thing I can say is that the actresses were okay. The story did them no favors.

Express Delivery

NOW we’re getting somewhere! A tale of a captor and captive who duke it out. The story here is weak, the acting is serviceable, but the action is pretty decent. Not amazing, not excellent, but a bit of fun. Not bad stuntwork here.

Turncoat

Two thieves break into a house with tragic consequences…for them. This is an okay story of deception and backstabbing, but there’s nothing special about it. No real action moments here, but the actors did a fine job with the thin material.

Get Some

A zombie hunting reality show featuring an asshole you REALLY hope gets killed. Good production values here, but not much point to this story, even with The Mummy’s John Hannah as a scientist who wants to study the zombie menace in hopes of making peace with them.

 

 

Olga 

A young woman gets her revenge of the gangsters who killed her father. A simple premise, but excellently pulled off. The flashbacks are well done and add to the overall story, and Naomi Frenette is amazing here, as both an actress and as the action star. The fight choreography here is excellently done and well shot. Without a doubt my favorite of the bunch, and I’d love to see a feature film version of this.

Fetch

87Eleven Action in the House! This anthology definitely saved the best for last, and after Olga this is the best film. David Leitch (you heard that right, One half of John Wick, and director of Deadpool 2) is the title character, a gumshoe who gets a missing persons case from a rich couple, but of course not all is as it seems. It’s a fun little short, and the fights here are well done, especially Fetch versus the two mechanics, who go both high and low in their strikes. It’s a blast to watch, but honestly, director and one of my favorite onscreen martial artists Daniel Bernhardt gave this film the high quality I knew he would. This film reminds me a little of a martial arts version of The Last Boy Scout. So much fun here. Look out for stunt legend JJ Perry and the OTHER half of John Wick Chad Stahleski as two alley thugs.

How to grade this? The anthology actually comes from a Little Terrors Short Film festival, with the horror-style opening that makes zero sense, and there is no connective thread from beginning to end.

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5


So I liked 4 out of eight shorts, so I have to say that overall it’s an average film. Olga is the standout here, and I hope we can see Naomi Frenette getting some bigger roles in the future! How about an Olga feature film?

 

 

Time to giveaway some Blood, Sweat and Terrors!

Posted in Michael Moore, Uncategorized with tags on November 4, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Rather, I’m giving away some copies of Blood, Sweat and Terrors! So what do you have to do to get a copy? Oh, not a whole lot…just hop onto my Facebook page ( on the side of the main page of this website) and under the comments for THIS post drop me your name and your favorite, bloodiest martial arts film OR the one that scares you the most! I’ll randomly choose the winners! The cutoff date is November 8th and winners will be announced on November 9th! This giveaway is for US residents only!

Good Luck!