Archive for the Daniel Wu Category

Review: Sky On Fire (2016)

Posted in Daniel Wu with tags , on June 9, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Ahoy! Here is my video review for Sky On Fire!

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Daniel Wu rocks it in AMC’s Into The Badlands!

Posted in Daniel Wu on July 11, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

badlands

I have to say that this looks really good after a lot of misgivings I had upon hearing about this series. I mean let’s face it, American martial arts on TV has never been very good, the high water mark being Martial Law with Sammo Hung. Daniel Wu looks like a badass (I have no idea how good his martial arts skills are overall, but looks really good here). Of course once you put “I’m a walking badass” Stephen Lang in the series and I’m sold. The series gives off a southern post apocalyptic flavor, but I still don’t know if this our world or an alternate reality one. Either way, I’ll be watching. Check out this first trailer!

Review: The Man With The Iron Fists (2012)

Posted in Andrew Lin, Chen Kuan-Tai, Corey Yuen, Cung Le, Daniel Wu, Gordon Liu, Grace Huang, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, RZA with tags , on November 3, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, David Bautista, Jamie Chung,Byron Mann, Cung Le, Daniel Wu, Gordon Liu, Chen Tai Kuan, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Grace Huang, Andrew Lin, Dennis Chan, Pam Grier

Fight Choreography by Corey Yuen

Directed by RZA

The Wu Tang Clan is without a doubt one of the best hip hop groups of all time, basing their music on their love of kung fu films, and even their names professed their love for the genre, all taken from kung-fu films: RZA, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB), Method Man, Raekwon, Masta Killah, and U-God. The 36 Chambers, of course taken from Gordon Liu’s 36 Chambers of Shaolin, is considered one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time, and even some of their music videos show off Shaw Brothers inspired kung fu fight scenes. So of course when word came that RZA was making his own kung-fu film excitement spread among his fans due to his love and pedigree. With an assortment of current and old school stars, we now have The Man With The Iron Fists.

The film follows the exploits of three heroes: Blacksmith (RZA), an escaped slave that came to the small town of Jungle Village in China after his ship crashed, and becomes a renowned weaponsmith, who hopes to make enough money to buy prostitute Lady Silk (Chung) whom he is in love with from Madame Blossom, who runs one of the best whore houses in China.

The second hero is Jack Knife (Crowe), a vulgar British man who arrives to Jungle Village, waiting on a shipment of gold to arrive sent from the Emperor.

The third hero is Zen Yi (Yune), son of Gold Lion (Chen), who is the head of the Lion Clan, who comes to Jungle Village to avenge the murder of his father at the hands of his lieutenants Bronze Lion (Le) and Silver Lion (Mann) and Poison Dagger (Wu).

Jungle Village is soon overrun with men who arrive to attempt to steal the gold shipment when it arrives, and the Lion Clan succeed in doing so, killing the Gemini Clan who had been sent to protect the convoy. The Lion Clan is also joined by Brass Body (Bautista), a man who can actually turn his skin into actual brass, so weapons have little effect on him. The Emperor, enraged at the theft, sends his soldiers with a new weapon from America: The gatling gun, with order to raze the village to the ground if the villagers don’t turn the gold over to the soldiers. Now Blacksmith, Jack Knife and Zen Yi must enter the Blossom and face the Lion Clan, the prostitutes who are far more deadly than they seem, and a metal man in an attempt to get their revenge and save the town at the same time…

A football analogy may best describe this film: That of a wide receiver jumping up in the endzone covered by two cornerbacks and makes a spectacular catch only to have the ball slip through his fingers just as he’s touching down. This film has a lot of problems, but also has quite a few things that the RZA did do really well. The cast was well chosen with the exception of one cast member. Russell Crowe was actually really good as the crude, rude Jack Knife (the character was modeled after the late ODB), Lucy Lui also does a fine job as Madame Blossom, bringing a lot of personality and deadly beauty to the role. Cung Le is also very good as baddie Bronze Lion, and the list of supporting characters is just awesome: you have the great Gordon Lui, Beardy, and Chen Tai Kuan all looking great to see on screen again. Special recognition to Grace Huang and Andrew Lin as the Gemini Twins. They had a short amount of screen time but were two of the most interesting characters in the film, that I really wanted to see more of, and seeing Dennis Chan (Kick boxer) and Pam Grier rounds things off nicely. Daniel Wu was miscast as the main villain as Daniel doesn’t know much in the way of martial arts and it shows, but he can look menacing. I wish they had gotten someone like a Yuen Biao or Lo Meng or hell, why not Wang Lung Wei to play his part. Rick Yune does fine job with the action but his acting is very one-note, but of all the cast members, one sticks out as the worst, and it brings the film down a lot.

That would be the RZA himself.

He’s really not very good as an actor, and he’s not a martial artist, and that is a bad combination (he did use Marrese Crump as his martial arts stuntman, which causes problems of its own) . For his character to work he had to be good at one or the other. As the film goes on that becomes a problem as he simple can’t pull off the dramatic scenes. This is a role that should’ve gone to a Michael Jai White or Wesley Snipes, men who are good at both acting and martial arts. The RZA gets so many things right, but this one piece of hubris brings everything down as he can’t carry the film in his scenes.

The directing by the RZA is decent, and the production values are top notch, and the music is absolutely fantastic, featuring the Wu Tang Clan at its best, and really fits with the look of the film (showing once and for all that yes, hip hop music in a martial arts film can work if done correctly). The first 30 minutes of the film is absolute top notch, from the old school opening credits to the first fights, but after that the story settles down and becomes a been-there-seen-that affair as nothing new is brought to the table, except gore on the level of Story of Ricky, so this film is not for the squeamish. The climactic fights at the end of the film for the three protagonists is resolved so simply it brings down the level of threat the villains ever had to begin with. The camera work is well done, but another culprit rears its ugly head, one common to American action films: editing, but I’ll get to that as part of my next problem with the film.

That would be the fight choreography by Corey Yuen. Tons of unnecessary wirework, and dammit Corey goes slumming again. I thought Romeo Must Die would be his low point, but he manages to nearly hit that point again. The fight scenes are not very well done. There is no complexity to the choreography, no grace, even for those who know martial arts. This is the biggest sin this film commits. The editing does nothing to help, as it is editing in typical American MTV style quick cuts and extreme close-ups to the point where you can’t see where the hell anyone is at in relation to each other. It is also here that the RZA’s camera work (or that of the 2nd unit director if there was one) really let the film down, as they don’t know how to shoot or follow action very well. This may be due to the fact that things had to be edited to appear as if RZA knew martial arts and to hide his stunt man. If Corey Yuen directed these scenes, then shame on him. Either way this wouldn’t have passed mustard in a Hong Kong production.

I did love the Shaw Brothers-inspired closing credits, though.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

The Man With The Iron Fists falls short of greatness, but isn’t a terrible movie, and fun may be had if you see it at matinee prices. The RZA’s heart is in the right place, but in the end it’s just an American film pretending to be a Shaw Brothers film.

Review: New Police Story (2004)

Posted in Andy On, Benny Chan, Daniel Wu, Jackie Chan, Nicolas Tse, Reviews with tags , , on October 25, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Nicolas Tse, Daniel Wu, Andy On

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Benny Chan

After making some successful but not great films here in America, Chan took himself back to Hong Kong to film a new chapter in the series that turned him into an international superstar, but there are some changes as this is more of a reimagining of Police Story rather than a sequel.

Chan plays Senior Inspector Chan Wing, the best cop on the force who is looking to retire but is training a new generation of cops to take over when he’s gone. In this case he may as well by Supercop Kevin Chan, but the attitude of this film is much more dramatic, but to me, he’s Kevin Chan. He still carries that character’s confidence and swagger, both of which are decimated early on in the film, thanks to a new group of criminals, teenagers who get off on extreme sports and taking everything to the limit, led by Joe, who has some serious daddy issues that become more apparent later. After yet another successful bank robbery that results in a quarter of the Hong Kong police force to be killed, Chan vows to bring the robbers to just in just a few short hours. Of course Joe takes offense to this, and lures the Supercop and his team to a warehouse that is tricked out with traps that would make Jigsaw proud. One by one Chan’s men are injured and captured, until Chan and his future brother-in-law are all that is left, and before long only Chan is left, and he finds himself playing elaborate games for the lives of his men, and he fails every test, causing the deaths of each of his men. Joe and his crew escape before Chan can kill them, and Chan is barely able to escape with all of the bodies before the warehouse explodes, taking with it his confidence and bravado.

The traps are well done, as is his first fight with Tin Tin Law, played by Andy Oh. It’s a great reminder that Jackie Chan can still bring a good fight, but this must be the first film to really acknowledge Jackie’s real age, and his character is beaten because he’s an old man trying to fight as a youngster. If any fans wondered what Jackie has left physically, this is the answer, and that answer is that he’s got quite a lot, but has to modify his fights for what he can still do.

We catch up to Chan, now a drunk in an alley, scared and ashamed to see his fiancee Ho Yee after getting her brother killed, when out of no where comes Frank Chen (Tse), a mysterious young man who decides to help Chan get his life back together and stop Joe and his gang for reasons you won’t find out about until the last scene in the film, but it all makes sense in a pay it forward kind of way. Soon Chan, Frank, and another police operator Sasa go after Joe and his crew, who refuse to go down without one last reckoning…

Even though this is called New Police Story, it share more in common with the first two entries than it does with Supercop and First Strike. It was refreshing to see the action come back to street level crime, instead of the James Bond style adventures of the previous two. It also has the big stunts that we come to expect from Jackie Chan, including a fall from the Bank of Hong Kong, and stunts on a bus reminscient of Police Story 2. He even smacks a lawyer, and we know Kevin Chan doesn’t like lawyers.That’s some Kevin Chan shit right there for you. The film is slickly shot by Benny Chan, but is still gritty in some places. Jackie Chan gives a great dramatic performance here, and make no mistake this isn’t an action comedy. It’s an action thriller with some light moments here and there, mostly provided by Nicolas Tse.

The final fight between Andy On and Chan in a Lego store is fantastic, and shows that Jackie can still do a complex choreographed fight scene if given the time. It’s great to see his character fight using his experience rather than trying to match youthful speed and power with the same.

New Police Story may be a reboot, but it does a great job of starting—and ending—the Police Story series. That makes me excited to see how Jackie will end his Armor of God series that is in preproduction now…

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Not quite as great as the other Police Story films, but a good return to form for Jackie after his hiatus making Rush Hour sequels.

STUNTS: (9) Great stunts this time around. The gliding down the side of a building with a bicycle, iron bar, and handcuffs was fantastic.

STAR POWER: (8) Jackie looks better here than he has in a while, and Nicolas Tse and Daniel Wu, both of whom Jackie found for the film Gen-X Cops are getting better and better.

FINAL GRADE: (8) A dramatic reboot and ending of a great series and a huge return to form for Jackie Chan. One of his best of the 2000’s.

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