Archive for the Dolph Lundgren Category

Review: Altitude (2017)

Posted in Chuck Liddell, Dolph Lundgren on June 22, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

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Teaser for Tony Jaa/Dolph Lundgren/Michael Jai White actioner SkinTrade!

Posted in Dolph Lundgren, Michael Jai White, Tony Jaa with tags , on March 22, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

skin-trade

If you’ve been following my facebook page, I ‘ve been updating everyone about the film SkinTrade. I have no idea as to the plot, but know that Tony Jaa looks to fight both Dolph Lundgren and Michael Jai White. Now, MJW we all know, so that should be another fight I can cross off my bucket list, but Jaa versus Lundgren? I’ve never really seen Dolph’s martial arts tested (I mean REALLY tested) but I think we may see it here. This will be Tony Jaa’s first English language movie, so we’ll see. It doesn’t appear to have a large budget, but with Peter Weller and Ron Perlman on board I may be wrong. The trailer looks good enough, but with the Raid 2 coming next week, and will no doubt raise the bar again, I’m a bit worried for Tony. Word is The Protector 2 was a bit of a disappointment, and Tony was already “chasing” the first Raid film, and now he’ll have to contend trying to match Iko Uwais’s work in The Raid 2.

So the question I put to all of you: Do you prefer Tony do a large budget Hollywood film (a la Rush Hour) pairing him with an up and coming A-list talent but provides us Tony-lite action or would you rather him do a small budget American film (Like Ninja 2) that has high B-low A level talent BUT allows Tony to be Tony?

Review: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Posted in Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Scott Adkins with tags , , , on August 18, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, Liam Hemsworth, Yu Nan

Fight Choreography by Don Theerathada (also as Don Tai)

Directed by Simon West

The first Expendables film was a modest hit, showing that the old aging action stars still had what it took to carry a film. More must be better as more stars are added and Stallone, while co-writing the story handed the directing chores to Simon West (Con Air) and even had some new talent play with the ‘boys in what amounts to a far stronger film than the previous effort, but not without a small problem or two.

Expendables 2 catches up with the crew of Barney Ross (Stallone) Lee Christmas (Statham), Toll Road (Couture) Hale Caesar (Crews) Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren), Yin Yang (Li) and their newest recruit Billy the Kid (Hemsworth) as they break into a south american base to rescue none other than Trench (Schwarzenegger) who had been embarassingly captured while trying to extract a wealthy Chinese businessman. The Expendables save them both, and Yin Yang takes the businessman back home.

Meanwhile the Expendables are sent on another mission by Church (Willis) whom you remember they screwed over in the previous film, so here is payback. Church has Ross and Co. escort one of his agents Maggie to a plane that has crashed in Russia to retrieve a computer. Their mission is failed when they are ambushed by Vilain (JCVD) and his henchman Hector (Adkins). Vilain kills one of the Expendables, and the group vows revenge, and takes the fight back to Vilain, but not without some high powered help…

As a film, The Expendables 2 has a much better story than the first, but the characters remain the same, with the most character development given to the character with the least amount of screen time. That’s not a bad thing though as we don’t need to know much more about them. The main stars are basically playing their most famous onscreen personas, and no one takes the film seriously, which for a film of this type is a good thing. What is not so good is that there isa little too much winking at the camera as each character goes through their most famous lines, like Arnold with the “I’ll be back” which, in all fairness, is actually a long set up for a joke that comes toward the end of the film, and Chuck Norris plays on just about everything from his films to the Chuck Norris jokes.

The funniest scenes in the film involve Lundgren, and they actually weave Dolph’s real life chemical engineering degree and MIT background into the already twisted Jensen, now making him an insane genius. Van Damme is fantastic as Vilain, and really shows that JCVD can be a very good charismatic bad guy in action films, and he can still give those pretty jump kicks. Just like Stallone and Arnold, JCVD needs to return to A-list Hollywood films!  Scott Adkins (Undisputed 3 and Ninja) kinda channels Yuri Boyka as he plays another Russian bad guy. Jet Li is funny once again as Yin Yang but his part nearly amounts to a cameo, which was disappointing. Liam Hemsworth and Yu Nan, as the new young faces on the team are able to more than hold their own.

The fight choreography is much better than the previous film, because 1) Corey Yuen decided to stop slumming it in American films and didn’t do this one and 2) Simon West’s camerawork was MUCH better as was the editing so you can actually tell what is happening in the fight scenes, especially Jet Li’s, whose fight scenes are a lot better than what he did in the first film. Perhaps the most improved though is Jason Statham, who gets the lion’s share of martial arts fighting, and his duel with Scott Adkins is a highlight. Don Tai did the fight choreography, and that is a name you need to remember. Don is part of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, and did stunts and some choreography for films like Blood and Bone, Rush Hour 2 and 3, Haywire, GI Joe Retaliation, Bullet in the Head (new Stallone film), and had even been offered a starring role in Ong Bak. What that means is that ALL the fights had a singular voice, as even Randy Couture had fight moments that were reminiscent of Hong Kong cinema, having him perform his fights a lot faster than he did in the first film. Don Tai is a new talent that I think we will see a lot more of, and soon.

Overall, The Expendables 2 is a fun time in the theater that finally tickles that 80’s action vibe that proves it’s still fun to watch Stallone and the boys crack a one-liner while blasting/punching/kicking/maiming/exploding the baddies at the same time!

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Solid work all around, as Don Tai is able to give Jet Li a great fighting moment, as well as making Randy Couture look great, and especially for giving Statham a faster Hong Kong style of fight choreography which he did well with, and his duel with Scott Adkins was pretty good. JCVD never looked better.

STUNT WORK: (9) Bodies really went flying all over the place and the stunt performers did a great job during the fight scenes and dealing with explosions and nasty falls.

STAR POWER: (11) It doesn’t get much better than this, but I’ll say that it’s the young upcoming talent that has me intrigued, starting with Don Theerathada and Liam Hemsworth, who is in the upcoming Red Dawn remake and of course you know his brother Chris (Thor). Scott Adkins brought the goods for his first starring A-list film. Now get him his own damn A-list film, Hollywood!

FINAL GRADE: (8) The Expendables 2 is leaps and bounds better than the first film, with great new additions, funnier camaraderie, and a fantastic finale that will leave you in action hero bliss!

NEXT: Cliff Lok takes on Shaolin Assassins in Choi Lee Fut!

 

 

Review: The Expendables (2010)

Posted in Corey Yuen, Dolph Lundgren, Gary Daniels, Jet Li with tags , , , on August 16, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Gary Daniels, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts

Fight Choreography (for Jet Li): Corey Yuen

Directed by Sylvester Stallone

I mulled for quite a while on whether or not I viewed this film as a martial arts film or not. After viewing it again I decided that yes, there was enough.

As a kid in the 80’s this was a film I was eagely awaiting: a team up of action heroes from both the 80’s, 90’s and today, in a manfest of badassery. Stallone is a competent writer and a decent director who knows action, so how could he go wrong?

From a martial arts standpoint, he got a LOT wrong.

The film opens as we meet the mercenaries known as the Expendables: Barney Ross(Stallone) Lee Christmas (Statham), Ying Yang (Li), Toll Road (Couture), Hale Ceasar (Crews) and Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren) as they are just finishing up a mission to free a group of hostages aboard a ship held by Somali pirates. During the mission Jensen goes nuts and tries to hang a dead pirate from the bow of the ship, and after Yin Yang intervenes Jensen is kicked out of the group. Unfortunately they get no rest as they are hired by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to take down a South american warlord General Garza who is in league with an ex-CIA agent Paine (Roberts). Things get complicated when Barney meets their contact, a beautiful woman who gets captured by Paine. Will The Expendables set aside their greed for money to do the right thing and save her and liberate the tiny island?

The film is a by-the-numbers film, the exact kind of film you would’ve seen in the 80’s. There really isn’t a lot of hardcore acting involved as everyone basically just plays badasses. Statham gets the most character development, and I have to admit Jet Li gets more dialogue in this film than all of his other Hollywood films combined ( the funniest scene in the film involved a conversation with Stallone about his place on the team). Eric Roberts was a snake, which is a character he’s played many times. There wasn’t a lot of chances taken with the film. The paper-thin plot exists to give the good guys a bad guy to beat, and nothing more. The gun play and explosions were great, and not something you see much of nowadays. I admit I didn’t like the CGI blood. I understand it’s easier, and does save a ton of time and money, but until it can be perfected…it just doesn’t need to be done.

The fights were the most disappointing thing about the film. The talent was there with Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Gary Daniels, but their talents were wasted because 1) none of them were able to have any length of time in their fights to show their stuff and 2) Stallone suddenly forgot how to shoot a fight scene and sent the fights to MTV quick-cut edit hell. I was looking forward to the Jet Li vs Gary Daniels fight, and when it occurred I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, and it got worse since Stallone cuts back and forth between the gun play and the other fight with himself and Steve Austin. You have two Hong Kong Cinema veterans choreographed by Corey Yuen and that is what they were able to do? Really weak. Slightly better (but not by much) was Jet Li’s fight with Dolph Lundgren. Once again the quick edits kill the fight (maybe it was done this was was because there’s no way in hell Dolph’s as fast as Jet?) but it was slightly more coherent. Statham’s playground fight was equally disappointing, for the same reason. Stallone seems to have forgotten how to shoot action, opting for shakey-cam Jason Bourne style camerawork, which works, but only for Jason Bourne films.

The Expendables is a fun reminder of the 80’s, but it ultimately borrowed too much bad stuff from today.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (4) The editing simply killed this, which should have been some of the strongest things in the film. Stallone doesn’t know how to shoot a martial arts fight scene. Corey Yuen needed to open his mouth and say something to Stallone.

STUNTWORK: (7) The stuntmen did a good job, especially during scenes where things blow up, which happened quite a bit.

STAR POWER: (10) Check the list above and note that three people were missing. Oh yeah, it doesn’t get much bigger.

FINAL GRADE: (6)  While it’s fun to see all of those stars in the same film, they needed to give the actors a better story and better camera work to show case the talents involved.

NEXT: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Yu Nan and Scott Adkins join the boys in The Expendables 2!

Review: Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

Posted in Al Leong, Brandon Lee, Dolph Lundgren, James Lew, Reviews with tags , on May 19, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Tia Carrere

Directed By Mark Lester

Fight Choreography by Pat Johnson

Fresh off of a string of flops (one could contend that though a flop, he did the best Punisher movie) Dolph Lundgren made this little film with then unknown but about to be famous Brandon Lee. The testosterone and kicks run high in Showdown, but does it amount to anything?

The film opens with Detective Kenner (Dolph Lundgren) busting up an illegal kickboxing operation single-handedly. Cops in the 80’s used to do stuff like that, because back-up means they can’t kill as many people, and usually wind up as random cannon fodder anyway. In the middle of this a group of Yakuza show up for what seems to be the express purpose of killing indiscriminately. Kenner whips out a giant magnum, and starts shooting Yakuza indiscriminately. If they can do it, so can he! And he does so, even leaping over the escape vehicle just as it’s about to cut him down.

He’s pretty pissed about it, but what the hell, he’ll find them the next day when his psychic powers compel him to have coffee in a random Japanese cafe where those same exact guys show up. They arrive to shake the cafe down for protection money. Between the night before and right at that moment, that shows that yes, even Yakuza have to pull down double shifts once in a while. What can you say? The economy sucks for everyone. Kenner of course has to stop them with the SLOWEST KICKS EVER, and I actually don’t blame Dolph for this, ’cause everyone is slow in this film. Thankfully the fight is brief as Johnny Murata (Brandon Lee, who is NOT Japanese) shows up, mistaking Kenner for beating up a bunch of Japanese dudes, and he runs in to fight him, and lo and behold brings a little thing like speed and agility that had just been missing. Brandon vs Dolph went about how you think it would, with Brandon showcasing good martial arts mixed with a little acrobatic flair, and Dolph doing everything big and slowly. Of course they discover that they are both cops just in time for the rest of the Yakuza to arrive and do what they did so well in the 80’s: shoot shit up. What kills me is that the cafe owner, a little Japanese lady, just kinda brushes the whole thing off like it happens a lot. Her insurance must offer Yakuza coverage as well, which is something we should all have. You never know when those a-holes can show up and ruin a good couch.

We are then introduced to the Yakuza lord Yoshida played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (CHT) , the preeminent go-to guy whenever Hollywood needed an Asian bad guy leader-dude in the 80’s and early 90’s. The guy just looks evil. In real life he’s probably the nicest dude in the world. He runs around for a few minutes doing Random Evil Things, such as crushing a guy in a car for really no reason, and chopping the head off of a girl who wants to have sex with him in front of his boys. I mean, you don’t need to kill her. You need to call Vivid Video and run Ron Jeremy over there.

We are then subjected to poorly scripted banter between Kenner and Murata to show us the differences between the two, the japanese guy who is more of a surfer-dude, and the tall blonde guy who is more Japanese than his partner. Soon they arrive at a Yakuza bar and start beating up Yakuza guards quickly, and with poor choreography, which accounts for the entire film. They meet Minako (Tia Carrere) the friend of the girl who lost her head to see what she knows, and then the rest of the Yakuza boys show up, leading to yet another fight-with basically Kenner throwing people and slow punching them, and Brandon gets the best moment in the film to show off a little of his stuff here, but it isn’t long nor particularly well done, though he has one good line during the fight: “Down MF!” Gotta love that. Once trip to Dolph and one strike from behind to Murata by the great asian henchman-guy played by Al Leong (He defined the 80’s for henchmen. He took it to a whole new level. Exhibit 1: the candy bar scene in Die Hard) They are brought before Yoshida, and here we find the connection between Yoshida and Kenner.

After Yoshida has them leave peaceably, they stake out his new brewery, which is a front for smuggling drugs. Yoshida then decides he has some time on his hands and tries to woo Minako-by scaring the crap out of her by showing her the video of her friend getting her head cut off. Kenner, with psychic powers working well, stakes out Yoshida’s house just as Minako is about to commit seppuku (ritual suicide), and in true 80’s action hero form goes in to save her, shooting men with pinpoint accuracy and even turning over a car in true Hulk fashion.

After Yoshida kills the guy in charge of protecting his house, another tried and true evil thing to do, killing your own man to show the audience how evil you are, he decides he needs to relax at the local bathhouse, and with powers in full effect Kenner and Murata go there too, resulting in another badly done fight scene that a 4-year-old would’ve come up with.

After Kenner has the requisite 80’s sex montage scene with body doubles and everything ending with a groaner one-liner, the bad guys show that they too have mental abilities, and show up at Kenner secret hideout and start-you guessed it-shooting shit up. They capture our intrepid heroes, and burn his house down.

After escaping from two Yoshida Traps of Death he found in the James Bond Book of Villany, even to the point of walking away to assume their deaths will go according to plan, they go to the brewery for the final fight-with guns blazing and poorly choreographed fight scenes, with soon to be standard MTV movie editing. Yoshida and Kenner then have what I suppose you can call a sword fight in a Japanese festival, and of course Kenner wins, and with nary a police car in sight the heroes and the girl walk away, laughing, while the festival goers, with horrified children in the crowd, just watched a white dude staple a Japanese guy to a wooden board with a sword and then watched the guy fry when a thousand firecrackers go off all over him. The end.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (2) Sweet lord was this dreadful. I think Dolemite did better fight scenes.  James Lew was in the film, but he couldn’t do a damn thing to save this dreadful choreography.

STUNTS: (3) Meh. They collected their paychecks, except for Al Leong. He always brings it, even if for one scene.

DIRECTION: (2) Mark Lester, like most American directors really hasn’t seen an HK film to see how they do things. But nothing gets him off for a crappy script and poorly acted scenes. You can tell the actors had no help from him.

STAR POWER: (5) Dolph’s star was fading after a string of flops (His last major hit after this would be Universal Soldier)  and Brandon was just getting his career started, and Tia Carrere would fade away until Wayne’s World. CHT is as reliable as always, as is Al Leong.

FINAL GRADE: (3) One of the worst Martial arts films (if you choose to call it that) I have ever seen. Except for one or two lines the acting was dreadful, and the fights were embarrassing. Avoid this one, unless you’re using it to play some sort of drinking game.