Archive for the Jet Li Category

YEAH! Dragon Dynasty Returns! (Sorta)

Posted in Jet Li, Stephen Chow with tags on August 19, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

dragondynastyheader

Before Wellgousa blew our minds, Dragon Dynasty, owned by the Weinsteins, was responsible for releasing HK action in the states in fantastic DVD’s (many of which I have, and still have yet to review quite a few!) and now thanks to Anchor Bay Entertainment we have the Dragon Dynasty 5- Film Collection! I’m really hoping this is the start of releasing all of their catalogue. There is just too much goodness to be bought by Hong Kong film fans new and old! Just read the goodness below:

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. – August 18, 2015 – Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are proud to announce the action packed martial arts home entertainment release of the Dragon Dynasty 5 Movie Collection. This classic set features four films from legendary martial arts superstar Jet Li and one film from icon Stephen Chow. In 2006, The Weinstein Company launched the Dragon Dynasty brand in order to showcase classic and contemporary Asian Cinema, particularly films in the action/martial arts genre. An immediate hit with fans and critics, Dragon Dynasty brought home the world’s greatest martial arts and Asian action films, featuring the groundbreaking work of international superstars and legendary filmmakers. Anchor Bay Entertainment is honoring this legacy with the Dragon Dynasty: 5 Movie Collection, arriving on 3-Disc DVD set and Digital HD bundle on October 6th.  

The Dragon Dynasty 5 Movie Collection includes:

 Born to Defense

Born to Defense (1986)

Directed by & Starring Jet Li (Rated R, 91 min.)

Jet (Jet Li) is a WWII soldier returning after the war to find he must continue to fight against abusive Americans now taking advantage of citizens in his hometown.

 defender

The Defender (1994)

Directed by Corey Yuen & Starring Jet Li (Rated R, 92 min.)

Jet Li – the former bodyguard to the most powerful leader in China is hired to protect school teacher Christy Chung after having witnessed a brutal murder.

 fong sai yuk

The Legend II (aka The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk II, 1993)

Directed by Corey Yuen & Starring Jet Li (Rated R, 92 min.)

Having failed a secret mission for the Red Flowers Society, an underground organization dedicated to the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty and restoration of the Ming Dynasty, Fong Sai Yuk must try to get his hands on a special document by wooing the governor’s daughter.

 OUTICA

Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997)

Directed by Sammo Hung Kam-Bo & Starring Jet Li (Not Rated, 99 min.)

Wong Fei-Hung travels to the U.S. to visit a martial arts branch that one of his disciples has set up and ends up establishing himself as a respected kung fu master, helping gain recognition for Chinese martial arts in the West.

 Beijing_with_love_1994

From Beijing with Love (1994)

Directed by & Starring Stephen Chow. (Not Rated, 84 min.)

A comedic send-up of Bond’s 007, Ling Ling-Chat is the unlikely pork butcher / superspy sent to Hong Kong to find a priceless stolen fossil. Assassins, spy gadgets, stunts and chases ensue.

 Dragon Dynasty 5 Movie Collection will be available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment for the suggested retail price of $19.98

 

To learn more about this film, please visit anchorbayentertainment.com.

 

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Review: Once Upon A Time In China 3 (1993)

Posted in Jet Li, Xin Xin Xiong with tags , on May 20, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

 

OUATIC 3-1

Starring Jet Li, Xin Xin Xiong, Rosamund Kwan, Max Mok

Fight Choreography by Yuen Bun

Directed by Tsui Hark

Jet Li returns as Wong Fei Hung in part 3 of his great Once Upon a Time In China series that helped define Jet as one of the definitive Wong Fei Hungs. 

This film finds Wong Fei Hung engaged to Aunt 13 (Kwan) and returning home to visit his father, Wong Kei-Ying, to inform him of their impending nuptials, but of course there are other complications, such as the traditional Lion Dance, which causes major competitions among other kung-fu schools. Added to this the attendance of a group of British, Russian, and German representatives, one of whom knew Aunt 13 (and maybe had a romance with her back then), really complicates things to a level Wong Fei Hung hasn’t experienced in the series. 

The first problem is his father, who may or may not approve of Aunt 13, since she is a distant relative of the family. The more pressing matter is the local Cantonese kung-fu association, led by the ever-laughing Chiu Tin Bai and his enforcer Clubfoot (Xin Xin Xiong), who is raiding any martial arts school thinking about participating in the tournament and smashing their Lions, and during their initial attack they injure Wong Kei-Ying, which draws the ire of Wong Fei Hung. In the meantime a plot is discovered to assassinate the Prime Minister during the Lion Dance, but is Tin Bai behind it, or the strange foreigners? 

ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA

The series, as always, keeps things light and fun, and the fights are a mixture of traditional Jet-Li ass-kicking and wirework, and never trades on the fun, and has less serious moments than the last two films in the series, but still manages to deliver a message about nationalism and the encroachment of foreign ideas and technology. Here, though, Wong has something to say about education for Chinese as well to compete with the Foreigners. Jet is as good a Wong Fei Hung as he ever has been, and wears the character like a nice shirt. Max Mok is still ridiculous as Foo, and Rosamund Kwan is as beautiful as always as Aunt 13. We get a new addition in Xin Xin Xiong as Clubfoot, first an enemy and then later an ally. His story arc is interesting, and his fighting style, relying on his feet, make for fantastic fights with Jet Li. The story here is light, but still confronts a host of issues, and does so competently. Tsui Hark has always had a good bead on the Wong Fei Hung character, and nothing has changed here.

OUATIC 3-4

The fights, no longer done by Woo Ping, still manage to maintain the energy of the previous entries. The Lion dancing finale is great, but it’s the fights versus Xin Xin Xiong that are the showstoppers, as is the fight in the tea house. I could start to feel a sort of tiredness starting to set in, however. The ideas for fights featuring this character were starting to wear thin, and I think everyone knew it, which is why Jet and most everyone else left the series for films 4 and 5. 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A kung-fu film that puts Jet Li back into the character he’s most comfortable with, and he delivers yet another fight filled chapter in the story of Wong Fei-Hung!

 

Review: Badges of Fury (2013)

Posted in Collin Chou, Corey Yuen, Fung Hak-On, Grace Huang, Jacky Wu Jing, Jet Li, Sui-Lung Leung with tags , , on January 7, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Badges of Fury

Starring Jet Li, Wen Zhang, Michelle Chen, Lui Yan, Stephen Fung, Grace Huang, Fung Hak On, Wu Jing, Collin Chou, Leung Sui-Lung,

Fight Choreography by Corey Yuen

Directed by Wong Tsz Ming

Badges of Fury is perhaps the funniest comedy in Jet Li’s filmography, and for someone who doesn’t do it often, Jet really works here, but don’t be surprised that while his name is at the head of the credits, he is a supporting actor in this film, and Wen Zhang is the star. Of course, the first thing you have to do to best enjoy this film is to understand that the film is a comedy from the outset, a spoof of the kung-fu cop genre.

Around Hong Kong, a slew of actors, dancers, and the wealthy, all of them men, die of unknown circumstances, except that they were smiling at the time of death. Enter Huang Fei Hung (Li) an about to be retired cop, and Wang (Zhang) his overeager young partner are assigned to the case, even after botching up a major crime bust that could have net them a major gangster (great cameo appearance here by Collin Chou, acting like he stepped off the set of Flashpoint). What follows is wrong leads, bike chases, spoofs or mentions of films like Police Story 1, 2 and 3, and in one funny scene, a group of Interpol agents accuse Jet Li of BitTorrenting Fearless and the Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Their leads take them to one woman who is connected to all of the murdered men, and of course things go sideways, including a fight between Jet Li and Wu Jing, and wait until you see exactly who Wu Jing is playing. I can’t reveal any more of the story without giving away any other jokes!

Badges of Fury 1

The film is just out and out fun. Jet is really game here, playing the grizzled vet who is always mysteriously asking to go home early. Jet is energized, and looks great. Wen Zhang is able to carry the film, doing most of the funny stuff and is able to bounce jokes off of Jet well. Collin Chou and Wu Jing have “fighting” cameos, but perform well in their screen time. Leung Sui-Lung is great as well, but doesn’t really get his performance going until late, playing a character not unlike the one he played in Kung Fu Hustle. The film has scenes that reminded me of the whacked out stuff Stephen Fung did in his Tai Chi Zero series (Of course, he has a small part in this film), like the hilarious entrance of the femme fatale played to perfection by Lui Yan.

Badges of Fury Liu Yan

Corey Yuen choreographed the fights here, and did a great job. The fights were able to match the silliness of the rest of the film, but delivered some good kung fu fights. Jet versus Wu Jing was good, as was Jet vs. Collin Chou. Wen Zhang does a good job and gets the more “out there” fights, but does it well. The final fight between Jet Li and Leung Sui-Lung leaves all believability at the door for a fight that uses a lot of wire work and special effects, but they fit the escalating fantasy of the film.  I said Jet was more of a supporting character, and he is, but the lion’s share of the fights go to him, just as it should.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

 Jet Li and Wen Zhang take us on a hilarious romp through the “kung fu” cop genre, and fight choreographer Corey Yuen pulls out the stops to make this one of the best kung fu comedies to come around in a long while!

Badges of Fury is out today from the good folks at Wellgo USA!

 

NEXT: Mark Dacascos will teach you how to fight the Brazilian way in Only The Strong!

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: Once Upon A Time In China 2 (1991)

Posted in David Chiang, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Tsui Hark, Xin Xin Xiong, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , , on June 25, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Donnie Yen, David Chiang, Xin Xin Xiong, Mok Siu Chung, Zhang Tie Lin

Fight Choreography By: Yuen Woo Ping, Donnie Yen

Directed By Tsui Hark

In the first film Wong Fei Hung (Li) was resistant to the westernization of China, while Aunt Yee and Bucktooth So embraced it. The sequel picks up some time later, and Fei-Hung’s views have evolved, and while he is still hesitant, he tries to get used to western customs and doesn’t quite view it as such a detriment to destroying Chinese culture as he once did, but upon arriving with Aunt Yee (Kwan) and Foon (now played by Mok Siu Chung, taking over for Yuen Biao) in Canton they discover a cult called the White Lotus, who have extreme views about westernization, and want to crush and destroy it, and anyone, Chinese or other, who represent it. The film opens with the White Lotus showing exactly how extreme they are in a scene where they burn western paintings, clocks, and even an American dog, which is just wrong.

Once again Aunt Yee, who dresses in western clothing, finds herself abused and embarassed by the locals, who consider her a traitor, many supporters of the White Lotus, and she finds herself quickly in their crosshairs. things get complicated, and continue to do so as Wong Fei Hung and goon attend a medical conference that gets attacked by the White Lotus, and they receive help from Dr. Sun (Zhang) who turns out to be more than just a simple doctor, and secretly plots against the White Lotus with his cohort Luk Ho Dung (Chiang). Wong Fei-Hung’s plate gets even fuller as he tries to protect them on their mission and protect Foon and Yee (not to mention his feelings for Yee) and comes into contention with the local constable Commander Lan (Yen), whose true allegiances may very well be to the White Lotus…

Once again Jet Li is fantastic as the reserved Master Wong Fei-Hung, and brings the same grace and intelligence to the character as he did in the original. Rosamund Kwan also does a great job again as Aunt Yee, but I found Mok Siu Ching not nearly as good a Foon as Yuen Biao was. Some of that may be that the story “dumbed down” the character of Foon, and didn’t seem to reflect the character growth he had in the first film. Donnie Yen was pretty good as the commander, but is more of a typical bad guy rather than anything special. It was great to see David Chiang (The Water Margin, Five Shaolin Masters) on film side by side with Jet Li, even if David didn’t fight. One thing I found missing from the original was a truly great scene like the one Bucktooth So had in the first film regarding a dying patient. In fact I missed So immensely in this film, since he represented a Chinese man who was so westernized he couldn’t read or speak Chinese very well.

The fights are also great, and more of them than in the first film, but I’m not so sure the fights are better. There is a little more wirework, particularly at the end fight in the White Lotus temple. The fights versus Donnie Yen was a great showcase of staff fighting, some of the best ever done in film, but I was really hoping for a hand-to-hand confrontation between the two, but the White Lotus fight made up for some of that. Woo Ping pulls off some imaginative fights, the most imagination saved for the White Lotus temple fight and the siege on the Consulate building. The best thing is these fights are still in service to the story, and not the other way around.

Once again fellow blogger Dangerous Meredith really breaks down these fights, and you can read those here.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Jet Li had one of the best staff fights versus Donnie Yen, but I wish Donnie had more to do. The White Lotus and Consulate fights were well done and brought the right amount of tension and excitement to the film.  Jet Li and Woo Ping still make magic together.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stunts were pretty elaborate in regards to the fight choreography, which they pulled off brilliantly. Their best work came with the Temple Fight and Consulate attacks.

STAR POWER: (10) Jet Li was working on all cylinders here, and Donnie Yen is now at the top of his game, but his talents were evident even here. Rosamund Kwan was good, but it was a real treat to see David Chiang in kung-fu film again!

FINAL GRADE: (9) Not quite as good as the original by a hair, Once Upon A Time in China 2 is a great film that successfully continues (and evolves) the story of Wong Fei-Hung and his friends.

NEXT: Jean-Claude Van Damme takes on half of Thailand in Kickboxer!