Archive for the Amy Johnston Category

What happened to Generation Next?!

Posted in Amy Johnston, Gina Carano, Jeeja Yanin, Ziyi Zhang with tags , on May 5, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Michelle Yeoh has been the standard-bearer for successful female martial arts heroes for decades, followed closely by the likes of Cynthia Rothrock and names like the original hero Angela Mao, Yukari Oshima, Moon Lee, and Cynthia Khan. Year passed, and each one faded into cinema memories as time went on. With the exception of the Wuxia films, there was a noticeable dearth of female action films.

But then things began to change. We were introduced to a new crop of potential action stars: Stateside MMA fighter Gina Carano came out with her first film, Haywire, which was a modestly successful film, and she seemed to be the one to pick up the American mantle left by Ms. Rothrock. Overseas, renewed hope continued in the form of Jeeja Yanin in Chocolate, and Veronica NGO in The Rebel and Clash. Not to miss out we also had Zhang Ziyi making her mark in films like the House of Flying Daggers and The GrandMaster. Toss in Ronda Rousey making her debut in both a Fast and Furious film as well as The Expendables 3 and one would think that female martial arts action cinema would be in good hands.

Until it wasn’t.

Carano, as of this writing, did well with Deadpool but her acting is hampering her. Jeeja Yanin is suffering from two important things: her film choices and the absence of the great Panna Rittikrai as her fight choreographer. Zhang Ziyi was the best thing about The Grandmaster, but it was also Tony Leung’s star vehicle rather than hers. I’m not sure what became of Veronica Ngo, and Ronda Rousey, well, it’s hard to say.

So where do we go from here? Cinema seems to be taking care of it…to a point. Scarlett Johansson had Ghost In The Shell (not a very good film) and we have Wonder Woman coming out soon, as well as Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron, so women are progressing in action cinema to being more than a damsel in distress. But where are the martial arts stars at? Could Ni Ni pull off being an action badass in Enter The Warrior’s Gate? How about stunt woman Amy Johnston in her film debut Lady Bloodfight? Is she ready to take the next step? Charisma and charm are good, but martial arts skills need to be on point as well. Who else is out there in the world of female ass kickers ready to step up to the plate? We have plenty of male martial arts stars. But we need something more. We need kickass women. Action cinema needs kickass women.

We’re still waiting.

And that’s the problem.

Enter the Warriors Gate is now in theaters, VOD and Digital HD.

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The second trailer for Lady Bloodfight is here!

Posted in Amy Johnston, Bey Logan with tags , on April 6, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

We now have the second trailer for Lady Bloodfight, starring Amy Johnston, an immensely talented woman who could very well join the badass ranks with Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins, and this trailer looks much better than the previous trailer, and the idea of a female kumite interests me greatly. If you’ve seen some of Amy’s previous works then you know she’s got the goods. Add to that Chris Nahon, who directed Jet Li’s best American film Kiss of the Dragon and I’m all in.  Check out the trailer below, and get ready for the DVD release in June! Hit the comments section below and let me know what you think!

How about some previs work with Vlad Rimburg and crew?

Posted in Amy Johnston, Brendon Hour, Bryan Sloyer, Dennis Ruel, Emmanuel Manzanares, Jerry Quill, Shawn Bernal, Vlad Rimburg, Vonzell Carter on October 30, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

If you come to this site enough you know how much I love and appreciate the many martial arts stunt people/actors whom I’ve covered over the years. This video pretty much contains my favorite folks, one and all. They are tremendous talents one and all, in front and behind the camera, and it’s badass to see them together at once, even in a previs. My question is, previs for what? Ah, now that’s a question! Amy Johnston, Dennis Ruel, Vonzell Carter, Bryan Sloyer, Jerry Quill, Shawn Bernal, Brendon Huor, and Sam Puefua rock this all the hell out, with exciting choreography by Vlad Rimburg and Emmanuel Manzanares. Really, so much great work went into this. Check it out, and then watch it again. Great work, gang!

My new question for you, Vlad: So when do we get Part 3 Chapter A?

Review: UnLucky Stars (2015)

Posted in Amy Johnston, Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr., Emmanuel Manzanares, Jose Montesinos, Ken Quitugua, Sam Hargrave, Tony Chu, Vlad Rimburg with tags , , , on February 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Unlucky Stars_1

Starring Dennis Ruel, Ken Quitugua, Jose Montesinos, Sari Sabella, Vladislav Rimburg, Sam Hargrave, Emmanuel Manzanares, Edward Kahana, Steven Yu, Roy Chen, Miguel Padilla, Shawn Bernal, Alvin Hsing, Gui Dasilva, Tony Chu, Andy Le Brian Le, Jimmy Chhiu, Yoshi Sudarso, Amy Johnston and two surprises!

Fight Choreography by Vladislav Limburg

Directed by Dennis Ruel

LBP Stunts Chicago. The Stuntpeople. Vladislav Rimburg. Dennis Ruel. Emmanuel Manzanares. All of these names have been spoken of ad nauseum on this website since its inception in 2010. I’ve championed their fight choreography and work in short films, citing that the Powers That Be in Hollywood should let these guys take the reins choreographing and directing big—or at least modestly budgeted— action films. Now action man and director Dennis Ruel (Rope-A-Dope 1 and 2, American Brawler) finally brings these talents together to pay homage to the Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao films of the 80’s, particularly the Lucky Star series of films. This is a tall order, and a major ambition where the talent involved could fall flat on their faces.

So did they?

Nope. Unlucky Stars hit the ground, flipped, kicked, and punched their way to cinematic awesomeness.

The story starts as we meet the major players, but for much of the film we follow Private Investigator Ken Champaco (Quitugua) and his new partner, newly unemployed Josh Whitman (Ruel) as they try to track down Peruvian Action star Tomas De La Cruz (Montesinos), who is working in San Francisco and owes money to bookie and wannabe gangster Sam (Hargrave) whose father Carl (wait ‘till you see who it is. I won’t spoil it.) is one of the most dangerous men in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Cruz has a crazy fan in wannabe action star Sameer Yousef (Sabella) who unwittingly gets involved in the shenanigans, and David Palatnikov (Rimburg) a down and out stuntman simply looking for his next job. Toss in a crazy Celebrity Action Rehab reality show, a sadistic torturer (Bernal), one gonzo bounty hunter named Stan (Yu), and a bit of wrong-place, wrong-time moments that come together to compel Ken and Josh to becomes unlikely heroes…if they can survive the craziness around them…

Unlucky Stars _2

Unlucky Stars lives up to its name and goal. Sammo Hung would be proud, as this film is exactly the kind of film he would’ve tossed Yuen Wah, Richard Ng, and Eric Tsang into. While the story contains a lot of characters to follow, it ties their separate stories perfectly into the main narrative confidently. The comedy moments work for me, in a world where martial arts dominates…well, everything.

Every moment flows smoothly from one piece of insanity to the next, and the action is never far behind, even in small moments. The acting is great, and not a sour note in the bunch. Dennis Ruel and Ken Quitugua are great together as the investigative duo (very much a Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao pairing), and Vladislav Rimburg hits every note as the Sammo Hung-inspired Palatnikov, and Sam Hargrave is charming and funny as the bad guy Sam, and Sari Sabella is hilarious as the dimwitted, hapless Sameer, and brings a natural innocence to the character. It’s obvious that everyone worked their asses off and had a ton of fun doing it, and it shows onscreen.

Yes, this moment reminds me of a little movie called Dragons Forever!

Yes, this moment reminds me of a little movie called Dragons Forever!

This film is made for those of us who love martial arts films, particularly those made in the 80’s. See if you can find all of references. Everything from Y. Kurata Sushi to Golden Harvest Investigations to so much more (the opening of the film tells you exactly what you should expect) you’ll re-watch the film to catch the small things you’ll miss the first time. Even the final fight is an ode to the final fight between Sammo Hung and Richard Norton in Twinkle,Twinkle Lucky Stars, right down to the suspenders. There are not one, but two special guest stars, and I won’t spoil them, but one appear at the end of the film, and may hint at what may happen in the sequel (?).

The fights are as fantastic as you would want them to be, and there are so, so many good ones, from the church fight that brings out so many talented stuntmen/actors like Gui Dasilva and Tony Chu (this scene has my favorite character, an homage to the great Yuen Wah. Cigar included.) to the fight both inside and outside of the Celebrity Rehab house, and the terrific finale at a factory which contains a great fight between Rimburg and Hargrave. Sam Hargrave (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers) goes through some fantastic falling stunts as he bounces himself off of a LOT of metal objects.

There isn’t enough good things I can say about UnLucky Stars. It lived up to the faith I had in the talent involved. This movie was made for me and all of you who love HK martial arts cinema like me. So my final grade is…

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

Amazing action talent plus a great story that serves as a love letter to the Lucky Stars film series, and to 80’s HK action cinema as a whole. Not to be missed!

Review: Clandestine Episode 1 (webseries)

Posted in Amy Johnston, Gui DaSilva, Michelle Lee with tags , on January 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Clanestine

Starring: Marshal Hilton, Amy Johnston, Reuben Langdon, Aaron Toney, Michelle Lee, Gui DaSilva, Jimmy Chhiu, Christopher Rivas

Fight Choreography by Brendon Huor

Directed by Haile Lee & Christopher C. Cowan

First, the episode itself:

So after quite a while of waiting, we finally have the first episode of Clandestine, featuring members of the Thousand Pounds stunt team, a group this site has followed for a while. I was excited to hear about Clandestine, a martial arts web series that was Kickstarted, and rife with great talent across the board. So how did Episode 1 turn out?

I am intrigued, but wished there was more martial arts (but I would say that about anything not named The Raid). In the first episode we are introduced to the world of Clandestine, and we follow the leader of the Lion Clan, Elliot Dural, as he is called to a meeting with the other heads of the rival clans who have kept peace for quite a while. He attends the meeting with William, who I assume is his son(?). Of course at the meeting things don’t go according to plan, and the group is ambushed, and it appears that any further talks of peace are destroyed…

The production values are quite good here, particularly with the costumes and special effects. The acting is decent but just a tad stilted. The camerawork is quite good, but if you follow Thousand Pounds, that’s just par for the course. The story moved along at a good pace for a first episode, and there is some fighting at the end, but I felt a few characters would have been better served with a little more screen time, if only to build sympathy for them when they get killed (dang, couldn’t we get a little more screen time for Michelle Lee?). The little fighting there is does whet the appetite for what’s next, so it did its job! The best job this episode did was to make me want to see episode 2! Well done, ladies and gents, well done.

Episode One of Clandestine is great, and can only get better once Amy Johnston shows up next episode!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

Are you ready for Tony’s Wrath?

Posted in Amy Johnston, Emmanuel Manzanares, Gui DaSilva, Mark Mushashi, Mickey Facchinello, Tony Chu, Vlad Rimburg with tags , on September 28, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Wow. Simply a great short by Vladislav Rimburg featuring cinematographer and fighter Tony Chu, a tremendously talented dude. Vlad made this as a thank you to Tony for helping to start the Indie martial arts community. I have to thank Vlad and all of them for opening my eyes wide to this community that I’ve chosen to become a part of. You’ll find so many great folks on screen here: Mickey Facchinello, Amy Johnston, Mark Mushashi, Gui Dasilva and so many more. Just watch this piece of greatness and enjoy. A lot of hard work went into this!