Archive for the Bruce Lee Category

Kiai-Kick’s Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Shout Factory!

Posted in Angela Mao, Bruce Lee with tags , on November 25, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

Hey all!

Between working in local news and finishing El Gato Negro: Prey, It’s been a really busy time, but I’m still here, and I’ll still have plenty of reviews on the way, but over the next week or so I’d like to point out some goodies that would make excellent Christmas presents/stocking stuffers for the discerning martial arts film fan! I’ll actually be taking this company by company, and we’ll start with films first, so the first distribution company up is…

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These guys are always good about getting out some of the more obscure cinema out there, and they have an interesting group of martial arts films, but there are two I want to point out:

The Angela Mao Ying Collection

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Angela Mao is one of the classic women of martial arts, and there are 6 films in this DVD set:

When Tae Kwon Do Strikes

Broken Oath

The Himalayan

The Tournament

Stoner

A Queen’s Ransom

I can’t speak for every title, but Broken Oath and When Tae Kwon Do Strikes are gold, and you should own this for those films alone! But I have a feeling the other films in the set are MORE than worth the $35.00 price tag. 10 hours of Angela Mao kicking all kinds of ass. It’s light on extras, with only trailers, but this is still money well spent, and you can get it here.

 

  The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection

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While there is one other set (available only in the UK) I may point out later, this is one of the few Bruce Lee Collections on Blu Ray. I shouldn’t have to point out the importance of these films, and the immense entertainment value they’ll bring! Four films are featured here, with links to my reviews:

The Big Boss 

Fists of Fury

Way Of The Dragon

Game of Death

It’s Bruce Lee, and he’s cool for any present, so you can trust it! Keep in mind you won’t see Enter The Dragon in most sets, as that’s a Warner Brothers film, and not part of Golden Harvest!

Bonus Features

    • Audio Commentary With Hong Kong Film Expert Mike Leeder
    • Featurettes – Return to Pak Chong: The Big Boss Revisited, Remembering Fist of Fury And Game of Death Revisited
    • Interviews With Tung Wai, Gene Lebell, Yuen Wah, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam And Wong Jing
    • Game Of Death Outtake Montage, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes
    • Alternate Openings And Endings
    • Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Still Galleries…And Much More!

You can order this here!

(I would also recommend checking Amazon as well for both films!)

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The Trailer for Birth of The Dragon…and my thoughts.

Posted in Bruce Lee, Philip Ng with tags on September 21, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

First, watch the trailer (if you haven’t already seen it):

Philip Ng looks great as Bruce, and I’d love to see him play the role…in a Bruce Lee film. By that I mean a film that is 100% actually about Bruce Lee. The problem here is Hollywood, as it usually is. Instead of a film that gives us a real life story that is amazing in itself, we get a whitewashed version of it, with Billy Magnussen as Steve McKee (based on Steve McQueen) who has a side plot that has a Romeo and Juliet flair to it. Which is really baffling because the story at hand is already much more interesting. Why can’t we just let the film star Philip Ng and Wong Jack Man? Why is it necessary to have a white guy star in any Hollywood film when the main story is about someone of another race? I keep going back to this video below, from Last Week Tonight:

*Sigh* So here we are again. Now have I seen this film yet? No. Will I? For the purposes of this website, yes. Bruce Lee is/was one of the greatest martial arts alive, and if you wanted to get a white person in there with a side story, how about his actual wife Linda Lee? As for Mr. Magnussen, he may be a fine actor but most people don’t know him any more than they do Philip Ng, so him being in the film won’t give it any more box office, so the “money” explanation won’t work.

The thing that will sell this film is Bruce Lee. His name, to this day, even among mainstream audiences, gets their attention, and a well told BRUCE LEE story will get them to the theater. His world is ours. It doesn’t need a white guy to “navigate” audiences through that world, and Bruce Lee has explained kung fu in such simple terms that anyone can understand, because that was the point. Bruce Lee introduced Kung-Fu to the western world, and was its greatest ambassador. So far, going by this trailer and comments the director and writers have made, they failed to understand this simple concept, and that gives me pause that this film will be very good.

IF, and I say IF there is a “stand in for us” character needed, why not make him African-American (since “Black” movie theaters were the places where kung fu films were shown and flourished the most in the USA)? Or, in a bolder move, make him Chinese-American? Say someone who doesn’t know much about Kung Fu and that side of their own culture? ( I still think a Bruce Lee film needs to be only about Bruce Lee. Say what you want, but Dragon, The Bruce Lee Story got that part right).

The bottom line is this: Hollywood still believes, even with proof to the contrary, that actors of color can’t open a film to good/big box office. This idea will change and this has already begun, but we still have a long ways to go.

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“To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.”

–Bruce Lee

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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

How about a new credit opening for Enter The Dragon?

Posted in Bruce Lee on March 6, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Ahoy all!

While putting together new content for Kiai-Kick readers (Yeah, it’s been a while, but it’ll be worth the wait) I ran across this and wanted to share it with you all:

An enterprising gentleman named Sky Lee just put Warner Brothers to shame. As a total fan project he reimagined the opening credits of Enter the Dragon, and dammit it looks fantastic. It would be perfect as an alternate sequence (are you listening, Warner Bros?) on a blu- Ray, or even the Blu-Ray menu.

Congrats, Sky. You did a great job! If I can find a way to put you to work for me, by golly I’ll find it! Look at his work below!

Review: I Am Bruce Lee (2012)

Posted in Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee, Cung Le, Dan Inosanto, Diana Lee Inosanto, Gina Carano, Robert Wall with tags , on February 12, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, Shannon Lee, Linda Lee Cadwell, Dan Inosanto, Diana Lee Inosanto, Cung Le, Gina Carano, Manny Pacquiao, Robert Wall, Gene LeBell, Ed O’Neill, Mickey Rourke, Taboo, Kobe Bryant, Reginald Hudlin, Teri Tom, Jon Jones, Ray “Boom Boom Mancini”, Daniele Bolelli, Dana White, David Tadman, Dr. Paul Bowman. Richard Bustillo, Paul Rodriguez, Stephan Bonnar

Directed by Pete McCormack

“Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

-Bruce Lee

I Am Bruce Lee is a documentary that follows the life–and death–of Bruce Lee, cinema’s greatest martial arts star, and one of the greatest martial artists who ever lived. There have been other documentaries done over the years about Bruce, so how does this one stack up?

I’ll say it’s probably the best one yet, with one slight problem I’ll touch on shortly. The film really starts with slam bang intro that mixes scenes from Bruce’s films along with sound bytes from some of the stars being interviewed, and it will really get one salivating to see Bruce Lee’s films brought back to the big screen (you listening, whomever holds those rights? If Blade Runner and Star Wars can get rereleased in theaters, why not Bruce?). Then we go into Bruce’s life, and the film does a great job of going step by step through Bruce’s tumultuous time in China to his difficulties in America to when he met Linda and things started falling into place, but not without hard work and sacrifice.

The film then traces the TV shows he was a part of, some of which I had never heard of and wall thrilled to see scenes of, to his departure to China and his surprise at how popular the Green Hornet (or the Kato Show, as it was called there.) was, to his involvement–and problems–with Lo Wei (Jackie Chan would have his own set of problems with Lo Wei years later), to the success of The Big Boss, his other films in China, his matchup with Chuck Norris (I wonder why he wasn’t interviewed for this?) and his eventual death, which becomes the most affecting moments in the film as we see, maybe for the first time, what it meant to not just the fans, but to the people who were closest to Bruce.

Pete McCormack does a great job conducting the interviews and getting the maximum affect interspersing them among footage of Bruce Lee’s screen test, and his only real interview on the Pierre Berton Show, along with video footage in Bruce’s backyard to just pictures from his life before stardom hit. The scenes from all of Bruce’s films are done just right, and are fantastic to see and make perfect sense regarding the discussion or comment at that moment. The interviewees are people who are really Bruce Lee fans, and most are martial artists themselves, and they do a great job.

The only part of the film that rubbed me the wrong way came at about the midpoint of the film. A semi-debate started about whether Bruce was the Father of MMA or not. One side, notably those close to Bruce, are iffy and don’t seem to be comfortable even talking about it, but aren’t really convinced that he is. Dana White and the UFC group profess that he is, Gene LeBell definitely believes in fact that HE is the father of MMA rather than Bruce, and a lot of UFC fight footage is shown. This is a jarring moment that really pulled me out of the film, wondering why this was there. I then remembered that Spike TV helped produce this, and they promote many UFC events, so that explains that, but that is a discussion/debate that needed to be elsewhere, not in a documentary about Bruce Lee, regardless of how popular the MMA style is to today’s fight fans. Maybe MMA fans like it, but I found myself checking my watch at that point. When the film returns to Bruce’s life, it felt like coming back from a commercial break.

For those who are well-versed in Bruce Lee’s life there isn’t anything here that may be new to them, but to those who don’t know as much will find it a rich and exhilarating film. There were things I didn’t know, like the fact that Bruce and James Coburn had tried to location scout for The Silent Flute, eventually to be made by David Carradine, but the film was dropped because no locations could be found, and it was great to see the photos of Coburn and Bruce scouting the locales. I also didn’t know that Bruce had become a big child star in Hong Kong before he was forced to leave to America because of his problems after beating up the son of a police chief. I was aware he had made films as a child, but I didn’t know that he was a very famous child star, so there was an extra treat when the Kato Show came out and people could see the grown up Bruce Lee. I was also unaware of just how much the Manson murder spree affected him.

My personal, most affected moment of the film was after Bruce Lee’s death, and when Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo starting talking about it, you could really feel the shock and pain as they recount when they had heard about it and their feelings that day and both men looked as if they went right back to that moment and the hard days afterward. You may as well have tossed them both into a time machine and dated it July 20th, 1973. That is the moment that was driven home to me that while we think of Bruce Lee the martial arts savant, his family and friends were utterly crushed as they lost a husband, father, friend, and master.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

Final Grade: (9) Overall, I am Bruce Lee delivers on its title. It is hard-hitting, philosophical, excellent even in its imperfections, emotional in its punches and always dancing around, and is fantastic fun to watch on the big screen, just as the man himself.

The film will have selected showings again on February 15th. You can check the listings of their showtimes here: http://www.iambruceleemovie.com/

Review: Circle of Iron aka The Silent Flute (1978)

Posted in Bruce Lee, David Carradine, Reviews with tags , , , , on November 3, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Circle of Iron is based on a story created by Bruce Lee and James Coburn that gives a physical manifestation of Bruce’s Zen philosophy. Unfortunately Bruce died before it could be made, and David Carradine, and I still don’t know who the hell named him the keeper of All Things Bruce, acquired the rights to the story and made it into this film. Did he do Bruce proud?

Not exactly, but it is a train wreck with immense potential given the right creative forces (i.e. not Carradine). The story takes place in a fantasy world where everyone practices martial arts wearing the crappiest clothing ever, and our hero inexplicably wears a loincloth the entire film. I hate to say it, but only Tarzan could rock the loincloth. Of course women out there may think differently. I’ll leave that to you. Now I say inexplicably because at least one character actually questions this, when he could wear a perfectly good pair of pants. He doesn’t really answer, which is kind of his attempt to be badass, but his White Snake hairdo proves to cancel out any badassness he may have.

I refer to our hero Cord (Cooper), who enters a martial arts tournament in an attempt to win the right to find the warrior Zetan, and to defeat him in battle and take his Book of All Knowledge, which may show Cord how to sew his own f*ing pants. The first fight here is straight out of the David Carradine Can’t Fight For Shit book, which would permeate through the entire film. The fighting is slow and the shoddy camera work doesn’t do anyone any favors.

Cord loses the fight because he got a little overzealous and kicked his opponent when he was down, but he says screw you guys, I’ll go anyway, which begs the question why the hell a tournament was needed at all. Cord follows the winner of the tournament, and the soon finds himself alone after the Monkey Tribe tears the winner up, and all Cord can do is to assist the poor guy into committing seppuku. Cord then takes it upon himself to meet the challenges necessary to get to Zetan, and along with way meets a Blind Flute player (Carradine) who may have the keys to getting past he challenges if only Cord would stop long enough to listen, the Monkey King (Carradine again) who shows Cord a different style of fighting (don’t worry, it’s still the same old patented Carradine inside crescent kick), Death itself (Carradine yet again) and Chang-Sha, a travelling warlord (Yes, Carradine again)

Can Cord learn the various lessons they have to teach in time to face Zetan? What will he do with the book if he should win it?

This movie really isn’t good because it has an uphill fight with the shitty production values and lack of a real martial artist playing the main part, which is yet another infuriating practice that Hollywood hasn’t yet put to rest, though Jeff Cooper gives a good effort. He plays Cord with the right amount of arrogance, and he does a good job, loincloth and all, of bringing Cord down when he finds that he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. The film really follows the Zen/Buddhist philosophy the whole way, but the bad fight choreography and bad camera work really undermines this effort. Carradine is a pretty good actor, and plays all of the parts very well, but his fighting is lacking, as always. Once again he still makes his living off of Bruce Lee’s ideas, which really sticks in my craw, and always will. The story is a bit slow in places, but picks up when it needs to. This could have been something special if there was better production values and fight choreography.

As it stands, it’s a cheesy look into the philosophy that Bruce practiced in his everyday life, and the journey to try to maintain it…

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (2) The main character, a martial arts fighter, is played by someone who doesn’t know any. The fights are all badly shot and the choreography is, well, shit.

STUNTS: (3) The stuntmen never really had much to do, since the film concentrates so much on Cooper and Carradine.

STAR POWER: (8) Eli Wallach? Christopher Lee? Roddy McDowell? What magic mojo did Carradine cast to to get this kind of talent to be in this? Impressive, nonetheless.

FINAL GRADE: (4) I am a bit torn here. On one hand, it is crappy, with poor martial arts and productions values so shitty I could have made this film, but the ideas and story beats are really good. Despite the low grade, I actually do recommend this to martial arts film fans as it is an interesting look into Bruce’s life philosophy and ideas, and if any film deserves to be remade, it’s this one, but let’s leave the loincloths at home…