Archive for the Donnie Yen Category

Review: Ip Man 3 (2015)

Posted in Chao Chen, Donnie Yen, Lo Meng (Turbo Law), Max Zhang, Mike Tyson, Wilson Yip, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , , on April 19, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

02_IP MAN 3_Courtesy of Well Go USA_0

Starring Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Max Zhang, Lo Meng, Chao Chen, Sarut Khanwali, Mike Tyson, Kent Cheng

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo Ping

Directed by Wilson Yip

Donnie Yen has recently stated that he is basically retiring from film, that he’s said all he wants to say in regards to martial arts. After seeing Kung Fu Killer, I was inclined to agree. Now that I’ve seen Ip Man 3, it’s a certainty (of course before he retires we get Donnie Yen….IN SPACE! ). It’s customary for the third film of a series to be inferior to the two films that preceded it. There are only a few examples of films whose third film was the equal or better than its predecessors, and Ip Man 3 is one of those films, but I was surprised as to the reason why.

Donnie Yen returns as Ip Man, many years after the events of Ip Man 2, and Ip Man is once again prosperous in 1960’s Hong Kong. His Wing Chun school is thriving, he is well-respected in the community, basically placing him back in the position he was in before the events of the first Ip Man took it all away. Hong Kong also seems like its doing well, but it’s not. There are too few police to handle the growing numbers of people. and crime is running rampant. Fatso (Cheng) tries to keep order, but finds himself once again under the command of a corrupt British commander, who takes his orders from Frank (Tyson) a ruthless property owner who now targets the school Ip Man’s son attends as his next conquest. Ip Man finds himself defending the school from Frank’s goons, while navigating a rickshaw driver (Zhang) who may be as skilled in Wing Chun as Ip Man and looks to start his own school, and Ip Man’s wife Cheung Wing-Sing gets devastating news that will alter their lives forever.

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The film is a triumph by Wilson Yip, and the story feels like an organic continuation of the series. The film never forgets the events of the previous films, and does quite a few call backs. Ip Man vs. Ten Men? Sure. To the bad guys, the events of the first Ip Man are nothing more than legend. Surely Ip Man never fought and beat ten black belts? The film even begins how the second film ended: with an adult Bruce Lee looking to train under Ip Man. The film does a great job of resolving Bruce Lee without actually telling that side of the story. Donnie Yen once again does a great job as Ip Man, and his acting has improved, which is needed to as there are quite a few emotional scenes for him. Mike Tyson is adequate as the bad guy Frank, but thankfully you won’t see him very much. Better served is Max Zhang as the rickshaw driver Cheung Tin-chi. He’s a driven,  conflicted man, coming from nothing but has the will to achieve his goals no matter what, and the problem with that is he’s a good man who may have to do bad things in order to achieve his dreams, and Ip Man is the final obstacle standing in his way.

The surprise of the film was Lynn Hung as Cheung Wing-sing. Her story arc drives the final half of the film, and she is excellent. I never really warmed to her character through the first two films, as I never understood how she is always upset when Ip Man either fights or studies his arts, even though those very things have provided her with her lifestyle, and has represented China countless times. This time her story arc recognizes her contradictions, and brings her character full circle by the end of the film as she realizes that Ip Man doesn’t just study Wing Chun, Ip Man IS Wing Chun, as much as the sky is blue and water is wet.

04_IP MAN 3_Courtesy of Well Go USA_0

I had thought that Yuen Woo Ping was losing his skills as a fight choreographer, but nope. He’s at his best here, and the fight scenes are plentiful and all of them are excellent. From the Ip Man vs Ten men fight, with a new wrinkle put in, the massive battles with what appears to be Ip Man fighting half of China, to his duel with Mike Tyson, and the bring-down-the-house finale versus Max Zhang in a Wing Chun vs. Wing Chun fight for the ages. Every fight is imaginative, bone-crunching, fast-paced affairs that really outdo the previous films, and that’s not even mentioning the terrific Wing Chun vs Muay Thai elevator fight between Donnie Yen and Sarut Khanwilai. Really, the weakest fight was Donnie Yen vs Mike Tyson, in that is was short, and Ip Man already faced this kind of fight with Twister (the late great Darren Shahlavi).

The only thing missing from this film was the late Fung Hak-on as the best friend of Master Law (Lo Meng).

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip bring the Ip Man trilogy to a satisfying conclusion, culminating in one of the best one on one fights in recent memory. Kung Fu cinema fans, it simply doesn’t get better than this!

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How about a Giveaway? Kung Fu Killer on Blu Ray!

Posted in Donnie Yen with tags on July 7, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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It’s been a long while since I’ve done a giveaway, but here we are! I’ve got two, I say two, copies of Donnie Yen’s Kung Fu Killer (aka Kung Fu Jungle) to give away thanks to the good folks at WellGOUSA! Now how good was this film? Suffice to say it was damn good. You can read my review here!

Ah, but now you ask “So what do I have to do to score a copy?”  Easy peasy. First, go and, if you haven’t already, like the Kiai Kick Facebook page which you can find here.

Next, I wanna know what’s your favorite Donnie Yen film and why! Get creative, and post your answer to the facebook page and the top two posts gets a copy of this action packed piece of awesomeness! The third best? Weeelll, I’ll dig into my bag of Kiai-Kick goodies and reward you with another blu-ray film! I will announce the winners on the facebook page July 21st, the date of the film’s release on DVD and Blu Ray! Sorry, but this contest is for North American readers only!

The rules and regulations can be found after the pic!

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Rules And Regulations: Everyone entering the giveaway must be at least eighteen years of age and a legal resident of the United States. To qualify, participants must post before July 17th at 7 PM CST. Kiai-Kick reserves the right to disqualify any participant for any reason. Kiai Kick is not responsible for any problems with shipping or any communication failures that may occur after the winner is chosen. If the winner does not respond with their information within the designated window, another winner will be chosen.

Good Luck!

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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!

WELLGOUSA is bringing us Donnie Yen’s Kung Fu Killer on April 24th!

Posted in Donnie Yen on April 7, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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Ah, those great folks at WellGoUSA have graced us with yet another piece of awesomeness! My friends, Donnie Yen is back with a Vengeance! (That’s right, with a capital V!) The fights here look refreshingly old school, and looks to put Donnie back on top after a few lackluster past couple of films (all still enjoyable, though!) Here’s the synopsis:

A vicious serial killer is targeting top martial arts masters, and convicted criminal and kung-fu master Hahou (Donnie Yen) is the only one with the skills to stop him. Released from jail and into police custody, they soon have their doubts about Hahou’s true allegiance after a series of mysterious events. Hunted by an unstoppable killer (Wang Baoqiang) and the entire police force, Hahou finds himself on his own, leading to a final battle you have to see to believe in this action-packed, kung fu crime thriller from director Teddy Chen (Bodyguards & Assassins, The Accidental Spy).

I don’t see much in the way of wirework, and this looks like something closer to Flashpoint than anything else, and that my friends, is a good thing. The story kind of reminds me in spirit to the film Bloodmoon, and that is also a good thing. The fight in the streets look particularly great!  Teddy Chen is a good director, whose stories seem to take a more somber finale, and that may work really well here. Check out the trailer below, and get ready for April 24th! I may have a surprise or two before then that I think readers of this site are really gonna love…

Review: Iron Monkey 2 (1996)

Posted in Donnie Yen, Wu Ma, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , on April 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Donnie Yen, Wu Ma, Billy Chow, Chang Jian-Li, Yuen Man-hing, Lee Hoi-hing

Fight Choreography by Yuen Woo Ping

Directed by Chao Lu-Jiang

Iron Monkey is of the best kung fu films, combining a good story with heart and simply amazing fight choreography, and even though I am decidedly NOT a fan of wirework, the work done here is excellent and compliments the action. I was really looking forward to watching Donnie Yen return, as he was so excellent as Wong Kei-Ying.

The film begins as we meet Jade Tiger (Jian-Li) a triad boss who is working with a foreign group to run the town into the ground, and during a chinese opera he’s attending he finds himself under attack by a group of men led by the infamous Iron Monkey (Yen). The attack ultimately fails and Iron Monkey retreats. Meanwhile we meet Jin, a young man from the countryside (Haven’t I said before to watch those country guys? They know some crazy kung-fu!) who travels to town in order to find his father (Ma), who happens to be posing in town as a blind man who works for the local resistance group. Hijinks ensue as Jin meets Xiaochun and Xiaoqian, two young people who spend their day conning others out of their cash, and see a new opportunity to cash in by tricking Jin into posing as the Iron Monkey. Of course this brings him on a deadly trajectory with the real Iron Monkey and Jade Tiger…

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UGH.

Let me repeat.

UGH.

First off, this is no true sequel to Iron Monkey. This isn’t even the same f***king character as played by Yu Rongguang, so fie on that. Why bother to call it Iron Monkey if has not a damn thing to do with the original? Donnie Yen did well, for the short amount of time he had onscreen. I think he showed up in Blade 2 more. This film spends too much time dealing with Xiaochun and Xiaoquan and their antics with Jin rather than concentrating on the title character. Jade Tiger is a by the book baddie, so it was up to the others to make the film interesting. Well, they failed with flying colors on that, and I found myself marking time until the next fight scene. As if things weren’t bad enough, it looks as if the budget for the film got slashed into half of what the original film’s was. Everything from the costumes to the sets looked shoddy, and the camerawork was just terrible and lacked any style whatsoever.

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The biggest sin this film commits is one I thought wasn’t possible. The film actually made Yuen Woo Ping, the great man himself, look pedestrian as a fight choreographer. No, really. The fights are completely unimaginative and without any real thrills. It looked like one of Corey Yuen’s “I’m just collecting a paycheck” films ( you know which ones I mean). Even the final fight was dull and no, under cranking the camera so the action seems faster didn’t make the fights any better. In fact they made them look more pitifully awful.

Notice I haven’t said anything at all about Billy Chow and Wu Ma. Yeah, this film is that bad.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 2

A terrible effort, particularly with the talent involved. Save ninety minutes of your life and take up scrapbooking instead of the dreck.

Review: Special ID (2013)

Posted in Andy On, Collin Chou, Donnie Yen, Kenneth Lo with tags , , on May 13, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

 

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Starring Donnie Yen, Tian Jing, Collin Chou, Andy On, Ken Lo

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Clarence Fok

After living with the moniker “he has the potential, but…” Donnie Yen has finally taken his place alongside Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Sammo Hung as a bona-fide action star, after rattling off a string of hits in Killzone (SPL), Flashpoint, Ip Man 1 and 2, and Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. Now he returns to the cop genre. But the results are a mixed bag, through no real fault of his own.

Yen plays Chi-Lung “Dragon” Chan, an undercover cop who has been working to infiltrate members of local crime gangs in Hong Kong, in particular one ran by Xiong Cheung Mo-Hung  (Chou) and finds that his old protoge Sunny (On) is trying to take over, and must go to mainland China to find and stop him. There Chan teams up with cop Jing Fang (Jing) to stop Sunny, but things get complicated when Chan’s real identity is revealed, and he’ll have to stop the entire gang if he’s to save the only person he truly cares about…

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The film itself is a mixed bag. The story doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, but I can guess. This film wants to be what Jackie Chan’s Police Story was: a mixture of comedy, drama, and action. Donnie Yen can do the last two. But the first comes off as silly and out of character for him, and out of place for the film in general. Jackie Chan could balance the comedy and serious stuff, but it just doesn’t work here with Yen. The story also has serious logic issues that exist only to make things more dramatic and tension filled. Yen’s character does some things that are head-scratching, as does Jing Fang, as if they don’t understand the concepts of what undercover means. Yen is good in the serious scenes, and Jing Fang is a welcome character, but the best performance here is Collin Chou and Andy On. Collin oozes menace whenever he’s on screen, and really, the finale should have been him. Andy On does a terrific job as the thug who’s set his sights far too high, and his energy brings a needed life to the film, but there’s far too little of either him or Chou.

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The fights here are of a similar type to the fights in SPL and Flashpoint, with Donnie Yen mixing Mixed Martial Arts with kung-fu, but the results leave much to be desired. The kitchen fight is the best fight of the film, in some ways very reminiscent of a fight in one of the Police Story films, but the finale, the one on one between On and Yen, which should have been the show stopper, is okay, but not great, and no where in the league of Collin Chou vs. Yen in Flashpoint or Sammo vs Yen in SPL. It felt like a “been there, done that” kind of thing, which is not good for a martial arts film. The car fight between On and Jing was good, and maybe it was excellent (it was well-shot) but after the car fight of The Raid 2, you’ll forgive me if I wasn’t as impressed as I should’ve been.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

Special ID isn’t as special as it should have been. Despite some cool moments, the film just doesn’t come together as well as it should have.

The film is out today on Blu-Ray from Wellgousa