Archive for the Gary Daniels Category

Review: Hawk’s Vengeance (1996)

Posted in Cass Magda, Gary Daniels with tags , , on November 4, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Gary Daniels, Jayne Heitmeyer, Cass Magda, George Chiang, Charles Biddle Jr, Vlasta Vrana

Fight Choreography by Gary Daniels and Cass Magda

Directed by Mark Voizard

If you read this site, then I’ll assume you love martial arts films, probably in just about any form you find it. Gary Daniels is among the biggest and best of the “B-movie” action stars, and this film, with not so great acting and some hammy dialogue, is as fun a film as you’ll find, despite its warts, which are actually legion.

In the film Gary plays Hawk, an English soldier who finds out that his brother has been murdered in New York, and travels there to find out who and why, and as the title says, get his vengeance. Things get complicated when he crosses path with a cop (Heitmeyer) and finds himself dealing with both Chinese gangs, skinheads, and an enigmatic villain named Garr, who happens to love de-balling his own sparring partners. Together with a local gangbanger, Hawk eludes two nutty assassins, Duquesne (Vrana) and his younger partner Blade (Biddle) and uncovers Garr’s plans before finally facing Garr in a fight to the finish…

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This is a really silly film, and what’s more everyone knows it. That’s part of the fun of this film. Gary Daniels is okay as Hawk, and aside from a funny disguise as a fire inspector isn’t given much to do character-wise until its time to fight. The direction is bland, even for a low-budget film like this, and Jayne Heitmeyer is great eye candy even though I never bought for a second that she was a cop. Cass Magda was laughably bad as Garr, either overplaying or underplaying his character at every moment. The film does contain a masterstroke however: Duquesne and Blade. Of all the characters in the film, these two bumbling assassins get more character development than even the hero of the film! The way the older Duquesne and the younger Blade spar verbally is terrific, but it’s the verbal spats after Blade uses his penchant for knives and wounds Duquesne each time they fight Hawk made me laugh whenever they were on screen and sad when they weren’t, and sadder still after they finally leave the film, in a way that’s most fitting for them both. A prequel with those two would’ve been fun.

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The fights in the film range from okay to good…for an American film. The final fight is pretty good as Cass Magda is a former student of Dan Inosanto, but I wish, especially in some of the Cass Magda sparring scenes, that they approached it with more…intent. Their movements seemed intent on making sure no one was ever even close to getting hurt. And let’s not even talk about the group fight in the operating room, which looked hilarious outside of Gary Daniels, but the director seemed to know this, and made sure Gary gave his opponent a bloody death, and I laughed as Gary basically got away with murdering several people, blowing up a building, kidnapping, and as it is the way with all 90’s heroes, basically gets offered a job as a cop.

I really miss the 90’s.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

A fun Gary Daniel’s B-movie from the 90’s that has one of the best assassin duos to come along in quite a while!

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Review: Forced To Fight (2011)

Posted in Gary Daniels with tags , on October 24, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Gary Daniels, Peter Weller, Arkie Reese, Alexandra Weaver

Fight Choreography by Gary Daniels and Claudiu-Cristian Prisecaru

Directed by Jonas Quastel

Leaving the underground fight game can be hard, and in the realm of cinema, downright fatal. Many films have gone with this premise, but Forced to Fight takes a slightly different approach.

Gary Daniels stars as Shane Slavin, a hard-working man, devoted husband and father, and all around good guy. He had once been a fighter in a series of underground matches put on by the slimy Danny G (Weller), an opportunist who looks for any way he can to make a buck. Shane had gotten out and retired, but his troublemaker brother gets in too deep with Danny, and tries to get out, and after a brutal beating Shane decides to help his brother by returning to the ring and fight for Danny G. Things get complicated, as they always do, when Shane finds that the mentality that makes him a good fighter makes him a poor family man, and a series of mistakes places his family in danger. Can Shane become the good man he once was before it’s too late?

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I have to give Jonas Quastel props for a well-made film despite a low budget. The camerawork is well done, and the pacing is spot on. The turn the story takes is something different from the norm and I was happy to see Gary Daniels able to “flip the switch” from being the family man to becoming a devil-may-care fighter who is drunk on winning, and taking a beating. I was invested with his character early enough to care what happened to both him and his family. Alexandra Weaver and Arkie Reese also do a good job with playing Shane’s wife and brother, respectively. This is the first time I’ve seen Peter Weller (outside of 24) play a villain, and he is just great and charismatic as Danny G. He plays the slime ball in just the right way without going too over the top.

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The fight scenes are well done, but I would’ve liked to see the camera step back a little so we can discern the action more. The fight scenes are, of course, choreographed for mixed martial arts, which, for those who read this site, I am not a fan of on film, but it looked good, even though I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be.

The ending seemed a little too clean in how things end in regards to what had happened in the rest of the film, and I’m still debating whether Shane truly deserved the clean ending he got, despite what happens at the climax.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

A martial arts tournament film that actually has a good family drama at its center that give weight to the MMA action, and Peter Weller totally rocks it, and makes an excellent foil for Gary Daniels!

Kiai-Kick’s Q & A with Gary Daniels!

Posted in Gary Daniels with tags on October 21, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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To celebrate the release of his newest film Misfire, I had the extreme pleasure to contact Gary and ask some questions. For those who don’t know, Gary Daniels is a fantastic martial artist from England who first came to the attention of filmgoers as the foil for Jackie Chan in the film City Hunter and until recently their Street Fighter scene was still the most faithful rendition of the video game. Gary has since gone on to star in many action films, playing heroes (Fist Of The North Star, Bloodmoon) and villians (The Expendables, Tekken). Gary is every bit as charming and kind in real life as I had been told. Enjoy the conversation!

KK: You’ve been the star of many films over the years, and played so many different kinds of heroes and villains. How do you choose your roles now as compared to when you were younger?

GD: Actually when I was younger I didn’t really have a criteria for picking scripts , I was pretty naïve and just accepted pretty much what was offered to me as long as I got to do martial arts on film, a naïve mistake on my part but I was pretty green back then and hindsight is 20/20 as they say.  Nowadays I am a little wiser and a little more picky, I tend to look for scripts with characters that draw me in and story lines that dictate the action rather than having the action dictate the story lines.

KK: In Misfire you play a dark, intense character whose life doesn’t get easier as the film goes on. What did you have to do to prepare to play such an intense character?

GD: Well for one, I have known the director Roger Ellis for quite a long time and we have worked together on a few projects , although this was the first time as a lead. Roger knows me well and had me in mind when writing the script so it was kind of tailored for me (as was ‘Rumble’, the 2nd feature we collaborated on). Secondly I have to say that life is a great acting teacher, the best, and I have been through certain life experiences over the past 10 years that have deepened my insight , matured me and given me a lot more material to draw upon as an actor, so now I feel more ready and suited to play this kind of character than the less experienced actor / person that I was 20 years ago. As for the physical side of the character I don’t need much preparation as I work out constantly. As the saying goes ‘If you stay ready, you never have to get ready’.

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KK: There are those in the martial arts film community that believe that a new renaissance similar to the 80’s is about happen, what with the success of The Raid and its sequel, new action heroes like Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa, Scott Adkins, and all of the independent martial arts films that are coming out from stunt teams like LBP Stunts Chicago and The Stuntpeople and so many more. Do you feel this may be happening?

GD: I don’t believe there is a renaissance. Action films and action actors have been around for decades as it is a popular genre that is easy to sell world wide. But every new generation has its own talent that comes along and pushes the envelope and effectively springboards off of the platform created by the last generation. It is natural. Nowadays the new generation combines martial arts with acrobatics and parkour so they are very exciting. It is not everyone’s cup of tea and I sometimes feel that the drama and reality of a fight or fight scene has now been lost in the importance of seeing how many times someone can spin before they throw a kick or punch. But as in all walks of life it is good that there are choices for audiences.

KK: Ever consider getting behind the camera to direct a feature?

GD: I truly would like to direct, I have directed action scenes before and with 25 years of experience and a pocketful of life lessons, I finally feel the urge and the ambition to direct. I am attempting to write a script at the moment and would love to direct it given the chance. I think for actors it is the obvious next step self expression. So hopefully …

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KK: Now, this isn’t exactly a question, but I have to say that one of my favorite films of yours is Bloodmoon with Chuck Jeffrys and Darren Shahlavi. I show the film to anyone who says they haven’t seen it. Now, I’ve spoken with Darren a few times, and now I get to finally say: 

Bravo, sir! A fun filled blast of a movie, and one of the favorites of Kiai-Kick!

GD: Thank you for your kind words and all of your support, hopefully the best is yet to come.

Such a class guy. I hope to meet him someday! Thanks to Gary Daniels for taking time to speak with Kiai-Kick, and check out his movie Misfire, released today on DVD and Digital Download!

 

Review: Misfire (2014)

Posted in Gary Daniels with tags on October 20, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Gary Daniels, Vannessa Vasquez, Michael Greco, Justin Nesbitt, Fabian Lopez

Fight Choreography by Gary Daniels

Directed by R. Ellis Frazier

Misfire begins as we meet Cole, an experienced and deadly D.E.A. agent who finds himself in Mexico chasing down a suspect and shooting them, but things go wrong when the suspect turns out to be an undercover agent. That, however, is the start of Cole’s problems, especially when he is notified that his brother has been arrested for the disappearance of Cole’s ex-wife Sara, whom his brother is currently sleeping with. Cole then goes to Tijuana to help his brother clear his name and get Sara back. While searching for clues Cole runs into her friend Gracie, who is also searching for her friend Sara’s whereabouts. As they investigate, all roads lead to Raul Montenegro, an underworld kingpin, who has Sara. Together, Cole and Gracie work as the bullets fly in a desperate attempt to save both Sara and his brother…but it may already be too late…

Misfire tells a deliberate story, and is well-shot, but I think the editing could have been better, as the pacing seemed slow for an action thriller. There are scenes that I think we could have done without and moved things along faster. The real standout here is Gary Daniels himself. Cole is a truly dark and haunted character due to all the events that occur, and Gary is able to portray this with an understated, quiet performance. The darkness of Cole can be seen in Gary’s eyes and silent moments, which works well here. I would say from an acting standpoint this is Gary’s best performance.

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I wish I could say the other actors help up their end of the film. While Vannessa Vazquez is serviceable as Gracie, other performances, such as Cole’s Tijuana contact Dale, is, to be nice, not so good. I was really disappointed at the little screen time that was given to the two mercs who work with Cole. I thought they were a good addition, but come and go too quickly to be sure. I think there was a real missed opportunity with those two. The bad guys were not particularly memorable, mostly cannon fodder.

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The gunplay is passable if not amazing, shot for more realism than anything else, but there are moments where there is slow motion for no reason, and the framing of the scenes could have been more dynamic. There is only, disappointingly, really one big martial arts scene, which comes toward the end of the film. Gary himself looks great, and his moves are as good as ever, but I wish there had been many more hand-to-hand fights, and at least one real opponent who knew martial arts at Gary’s level, to give him a really good end fight (Dang, I wish I could be a consultant on some of these films!).

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

Misfire is an action thriller with a lot of pacing and acting issues, but Gary Daniels gives his best onscreen performance ever as the angst-ridden Cole, and shows he’s still one of martial arts cinema’s great badasses!

Misfire will be released from Image and RLJ Entertainment on DVD and Digital Download tomorrow!

Next Week is Gary Daniels Week On Kiai-Kick!

Posted in Gary Daniels with tags on October 17, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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That’s right, Fist Of The North Star and Bryan Fury himself, Gary Daniels, will be celebrated all next week! So what will we do? Well, how about reviews of some of his films, including a review of his newest film Misfire, plus his entry as a Kiai-Kick All Star, and a Q & A with the man himself? Damn Right!

It’s Gary Daniels all week long! It’ll be fun! In the meantime…how about a primer?

Review: Heatseeker (1995)

Posted in Gary Daniels, Keith Cooke on September 12, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Tina Cote, Tim Thomerson, Norbert Weisser

Fight Choreography by Burton Richardson

Directed by Albert Pyun

 

Simply the name of Albert Pyun brings back a flood of friday nights on Cinemax, where a schlocky b-movie that seemed to have Pyun’s name on it flood the television screens. Pyun is a king of barely  B-movie sci-fi films, his ambitions far exceeding his budgets, and the talents of his actors. He has fellow actors who have been in many of his films, like Tina Cote and the legendary Tim Thomerson. Pyun always seemed to have an obsession with cyborgs (JCVD’s Cyborg and the Nemesis series come to mind) and here he gets to scratch that itch, but does it make for an entertaining film?

Heatseeker takes place in a future Earth where corporations rule, biotechnology and human augmentation are now what drives the world. The biotech companies advertise themselves by having augmented cyborgs fight in martial arts tournaments. The Sianon Corporation headed by CEO Tung (Weisser) has just had their best fighter, Xao (Daniels) defeated in a tournament by 100 percent human Chance O’Brien (Cooke). Facing punishment from his shareholders, Tung upgrades Xao, and creates a tournament against which cyborgs representing their parent corporations can duel it out to see whose technology is the best. Tung wants Chance to enter into this as well, but Chance and his fiancee/manager Jo (Cote) refuse. Tung kidnaps Jo and holds her hostage with two goals: to get Chance to fight, and to also have her train Xao with Chance’s moves. Chance enters the tournament and fights his way to Jo, who may or may not have gone over to Xao’s side…

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Heatseeker is an ok film, but just barely. The sets are laughably low-budget, and the only way to tell if someone is a cyborg are by the few times where their technology pokes out, which only happens when they are kicked or punched, but mostly when they make laughably bad computer bleeps and bloops as they shut down. Characterization is keep to the level of an 80’s comic book, but Keith Cooke tries his best, and is passable as the hero. There isn’t much of Gary Daniels in this film, and Pyun inserts his gratuitous nude shots of a writhing Tina Cote (not that I’m complaining…) that doesn’t mean anything at to the story. The cinematography is bare bones with everything done with a soft focus and nothing memorable. Basically point and shoot with average lighting.

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The fight scenes are passable, but not great. The speed of the fighters is slow, and the main fight between Keith Cooke and Gary Daniels is disappointing. This should have been a battle royale on the level of a Hong Kong film, but alas, that was not to be. As someone who has seen both of them perform in better films, this wasted opportunity would have redeemed much of this movie. The film tries to be a cyborg recreation of Bloodsport with far worse martial arts scenes on a smaller budget.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

 

No truly great Keith Cooke/Gary Daniels matchup? This film is full of might-have-beens  moments that never were. No real filmmaking imagination went into this. Okay to watch, particularly if you’re drunk. I’m positive there’s a drinking game in it somewhere…