Archive for the Jon Foo Category

Review: Bangkok Revenge (2011)

Posted in Jon Foo with tags , on April 1, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Bangkok Revenge Jon Foo

Starring Jon Foo, Caroline Ducey, Michael Cohen, Aphiradi Phawaphutanon, Winai Kribut

Fight Choreography by ?

Directed by Jean-Marc Mineo

I found I’ve been beating the drums for Jon Foo for quite some time now. He’s got most of the tools to be a martial arts star. He’s great at on screen fighting, has gymnastic prowess, and (at least the ladies tell me) he’s good looking. So what’s missing? I thought it was the parts he chose. Now that I’ve seen his newest film, I think I have a bead on what’s missing, but more on that later.

Bangkok Revenge begins with an attack on the home of a Thai police detective Samat and his wife by unknown assailants. Both the detective and his wife are killed, leaving only their son Manit, a 10 year old boy who is able to unmask one of the killers, and this knowledge buys the boy a bullet in the head, but miraculously he survives the assault and the attempted assassination afterward by a kindly nurse, who takes the boy to a local village to be care for by her uncle, muay thai master Adjan, who teaches to the boy how to fight. One consequence of the bullet that is still lodged in Manit’s head is that he has no emotions whatsoever. Fast forward ten years, and Manit (Foo) goes to the hospital to see the nurse, who is now dying, and she gives him a folder, with all of the information she was able to find out about the death of his family. Manit then goes on a quest to bring his family’s killers to justice, running into a disgraced French detective and a French reporter along the way, and takes on the police, a girl gang, and more in order to get the people who destroyed his life…

Bangkok Revenge2

The story is as cookie cutter as it sounds, but as the film is called “Bangkok Revenge” you should know what you’re getting into. There are maddening moments that don’t make a lot of sense, like the nurse who rats out Manit to the police–10 years later. There is also a subplot regarding the French detective that goes no where, and some moments with Clara that make no sense given his condition, and there is another plot regarding the wife of the main bad guy, who runs the girl gang and masquerades as an opera singer, and travels around using the instruments of her orchestra to move drugs. This plot line jumps on a fast boat to nowhere. The film mentions it, shows a bit of it, and then just forgets about it. Jon Foo isn’t bad as Manit, and the story conceit is able to mask his acting deficiencies, and Caroline Ducey isn’t bad either, even though she is playing a stereotypical love interest. The bad guys are forgettable, without a memorable one in the bunch.

As an aside it was good to see Kittichaet Rakwong, who also played a fight promoter in Ong Bak, in this film playing much the same part.

bangkokrevenge1

One of the biggest problems this movie has is that it switches from Thai to English often, and Manit can speak English perfectly, and while he says no one would believe the reason why, he never explains the damn reason.  Beyond that this film was made to market to a western audience, thus why most characters speak English, badly in some cases which hurts the acting in the film. I wish everyone simply spoke their languages. Western audiences can deal with it.

The fights have a few moments of coolness, but overall doesn’t have any “wow” factors in regards to the fight choreography. Jon Foo gets to show off some toughness and acrobatic moves, but doesn’t quite reach that level of badassery. Don’t misunderstand, the fights are adequate, but nothing truly amazing. That could be my own bias as I’ve seen so many screen fights, but still. Where’s Panna Rittikrai or Yayan Ruhian when you need them?

I wrote earlier that I had figured out what Foo was missing, and I think this film really shows it. He’s missing a presence. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa have a screen presence and personality.  I don’t see that with Jon Foo, at least not yet. Istill think he’s capable. I said much the same thing about Donnie Yen before he did SPL. Jon just needs to figure himself out and get a choreographer or director who can play to his strengths.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

A passable film from Jon Foo. No stunt or fight scene really stands out, and the story takes a few nonsensical jumps, but nothing truly outstanding. We’re still left waiting for a great Jon Foo film. 

Advertisements

Review: Tekken (2010)

Posted in Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Cung Le, Cyril Raffaelli, Gary Daniels, Jon Foo, Lateef Crowder, Reviews, Roger Huerta with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jon Foo, Ian Anthony Dale, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa (CHT), Kelly Overton, Gary Daniels, Lateef Crowder, Roger Huerta, Cung Le, Tamalyn Tomita and Luke Goss

Fight Choreography by Cyril Raffaelli

Directed by Dwight Little

Tekken is yet another stab at adapting a fighting video game into a movie in the mold of Mortal Kombat, once again using a relative unknown in the main role and surrounding him with a mix of decent actors and martial artists. Directed by Dwight Little (Rapid Fire) Tekken does a much better job in many areas than MK did.

The film begins sometime in the future, where large multinational corporations pretty much take over the world and run things. This group is known as the Iron Fist, which really should have set off warning bells in a bunch of folks, but for whatever reason didn’t. The United States is ruled by the Corporation Tekken, whose CEO, Heihachi Mishima (CHT), holds a tournament once every few years, the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, or Tekken, ‘cause the name sounds badass. Outside of Tekken City itself is known as the Anvil, where the majority of people live day-to-day, and the gangs rule all (kinda like Detroit. Just kidding, Detroit-ians!) Here is where Jin Kazama (Foo) works as a courier for the resistance, delivering high-tech equipment he’s probably had to steal, but he’s good at martial arts and parkour, so he usually survive his excursions, in a job that doesn’t sit well with his mother Jun (Tomita) who wants her son to think of other things besides earning enough money to live in Tekken City. Her wishes will fall to dust when she is killed in a Jackhammer raid by Heihachi’s son Kazuya (Dale), an ambitious man who feels his time has come to take over the company, and holds a dark secret.  Jin, with the help of fight manager Steve Fox (Goss) enters the tournament in order to fight his way to Heihachi and Kazuya, so he can take his revenge, but standing in his way is the current champion Bryan Fury (Daniels) a half-cyborg who hides this fact so he cannot be disqualified from the ring, and uses his superior body to mow his way through all opponents. Soon Jin finds that there is much more at stake than his thirst for revenge, as an entire nation looks to him for salvation…

Tekken succeeds in many respects where MK failed by having all of the fights be traditional martial arts contests, with no special effects and few wires. They didn’t feel the need to make sure each character pulls off their signature moves from the game, and while the game story is simply there to give some background between fights, Tekken does a good job of adapting that story within the context of a film.

Jon Foo does a good job as Jin. If you’ve seen him in his fight versus Tony Jaa in The Protector (he was the swordsman in the temple fight) you know he’s good, and he doesn’t disappoint. His acting starts off clunky, but improves as the film goes on. His acrobatics is fantastic, and he brings his all to each fight scene, of which he has many. He’s still a young man, and I expect greater things from him down the road. He’s got the looks and the martial arts skills and acrobatics. He just needs the right starring vehicle.

CHT is his royal evilness as always, and it’s funny that he’s played the main villain in the two major fight video game adaptations, this and Mortal Kombat. The man likes his video games! Gary Daniels does a great job as the arrogant jackass Bryan Fury, and even at his age can still bring the goods. Between this and the Expendables it’s been a pretty good run lately for Daniels. Cung Le also stars in what I believe is his first film, and he does a good job in a limited appearance. He’s currently working on his first full-on martial arts film, and his appearance here bodes well for that film. Luke Goss brings a cynical edge to the film as Steve Fox, and Ian Anthony Dale is a menacing Kazuya.

My lone problem with the film is that there are still too many actors who play fighters who in reality don’t know any martial arts. While Dale plays a good Kazuya, he doesn’t know any martial arts, but he is the dramatic final fight of the film, and the most disappointing.  The women are all there merely as eye candy, and none of them seem to know anything, even though Cyril Raeffaelli (District B-13) does a good job making them look as if they do. Dammit, since Cyril did the choreography, would it have been too much to ask for him to be a fighter in this film?  Lateef Crowder is showing up everywhere nowadays, but can he not get his ass kicked in every film he appears in? Here, Undisputed 3 and The Protector, he just gets owned, even thought he does get to pull off some awesome capoeira moves.

Tekken does a much better job in many respects than Mortal Kombat, but still suffers from having too many characters that need to have their “scenes” and the film has moments where are some quick-cut edits of fights, which drives me insane! Other than that, a fun b-movie style fight film.

(on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Cyril does a good job with everyone, especially during the Jin versus Rojas fight, and the fight between Jin and Bryan Fury. He does an even better job with the non-martial artists. He could have had even more elaborate fights if not for that.

STUNTWORK: (7) They did a good job, especially making a lot of folks look good.

STAR POWER: (7) Jon Foo, Cung Le, CHT, Gary Daniels, Luke Goss, Lateef Crowder and more really prop this film up. Jon may be poised for great things, and the same can be said for Cung Le and Roger Huerta. This grade could go up in the future.

FINAL GRADE: (7) A bit better than Mortal Kombat, this is a fun b-movie film that does a good job adapting a video game, which is an accomplishment all on its own. The sky’s the limit for Jon Foo.


Review: The Protector (aka Tom Yum Goong) (2005)

Posted in Johnny Nguyen, Jon Foo, Lateef Crowder, Panna Rittikrai, Reviews, Tony Jaa with tags , , , on August 24, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Tony Jaa, Jon Foo, Lateef Crowder, Johnny Nguyen

Fight Choreography by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

Tony Jaa jumped into the international martial arts scene with Ong Bak, a brutally beautiful martial arts film that hit like a breath of fresh air. Tony followed it up with The Protector, and while it may not trump Ong Bak in the story department, it more than makes up for it with more ambitious fight scenes, one of which has to be seen to be believed.

The point of this film is simple. Boy has elephant stolen. Boy kicks the ass of everyone standing between him and his elephant. It really does boil down to being that simple. Jaa plays Cam, a boy raised to be a protector for the royal elephants, considered majestic war creatures in their culture.

He leads the innocent life of the country bumpkin (and if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know what that means) who, along with his father, takes the elephant to a festival where the elephant, Por Yai, can be tested and listed as a King’s elephant, but the guys who run the test have different ideas, which Cam is unaware since he is charged with watching the Por Yai’s baby elephant Kohrn. The men turn out to be poachers in disguise, and steal both Por Yai and Kohrn, shooting Cam’s father in the process. I thought he took his dad’s death really lightly, but Cam soon finds out where some of the boss’ of the poachers live, and crashes a little party they were having, and delivers a great opening scene beatdown that leads to a ludicrous boat chase ending in some old school 80’s overkill: crashing a wooden boat into a helicopter and blowing both of them up. Cool. Pointless, but cool.

He soon heads to Sydney, Australia, where he had found out that the elephants have been kidnapped by Rose, a woman who works for some company that doesn’t respect her, so she kills her way to the top, and needs the elephant which she thinks will give her the ultimate lucky rabbit’s foot. A really big one. She owns a front restaurant named Tom Yum Goong, and that may be where Cam’s answers lie. No sooner does he arrive than he bumps into a Jackie Chan impersonator (Jaa had asked Jackie to be in the film, but due to other commitments he wasn’t able to.) . Yeah, it’s cheesy, but he properly pays his respect to one of the Masters of Kung-Fu Cinema. He meets a fellow Thai named Mark who happens to be a police officer who arrests Jaa after capturing him during a mistaken cab theft. Jaa gets away from Mark, who inadvertently takes him right by the restaurant he was looking for.

The man who run the restaurant for Rose is a street thug named Johnny(Johnny Nguyen), Who kicks Cam around a bit after he is found, but Cam, never one to give up, follows Johnny and his gang to a warehouse where a drug deal was about to go down when Cam comes running in. Johnny calls the rest of his gang, all of whom look as if they were the leftovers from Rumble in the Bronx, and Tony pays his homage to Jackie by fighting them in a way very close to what Jackie would have done at that time. Afterward Cam is saved by Johnny’s girl for who the hell knows what reason, and along with the help of Mark, make their way through a lot of fighting to get to Rose, who has his elephants and won’t give them back without one last battle…

Tony Jaa gets more ambitious with each film, and while this story is scattershot (Dragon Dynasty has 2 versions of the film in the same disc set-watch the Thai version or you won’t know what the hell is going on.) it really shows Tony taking more chances with fight techniques on film.

Each fight in some ways try to outdo what he had done before, but the crown jewel here is in 3 scenes:

The fight up the building, an astonishing 10 minute fight sequence that is shot unedited of Tony Jaa taking all comers as he ascends a building. Not Bruce, Jet or Jackie or anyone else has ever attempted such a thing, and Tony pulls it off, even looking exhausted by the end of it. I don’t even want to know how many takes this took to do this. Lo to the stuntman who misses his queue, for doom shall surely chase him to Valhalla. After ward it features a good fight between himself and Johnny Nguyen, who is quickly rising in the martial arts film ranks.

The next great scene is a fight between himself and Lateef Crowder, one of the best capoeira maestra’s in the world (His father is the best. He did the motion capture for Eddie Gordo in Tekken 2 and 3)

Muay Thai versus capoeira makes for one hell of a fight. I love it when two totally different styles of martial arts are pitted against each other. There are strategies to battle that both sides have to consider. This extends to the fight with Jon Foo and his chinese sword, also well done, but Lateef takes the cake with this one.

The last fight is ludicrous but funny as wave after wave of nameless thugs attack Cam, and he proceeds to make sure that every one of them has a bone-or bones-broken somewhere, anywhere. After the first 20 guys, you’d think the others would go “screw this!” More celery sticks were sacrificed for this film more than any where else. He caught up to Steven Seagal after one film! There were so many ouch moments I can’t even say-not just in this scene-well, mostly this scene.

This film has one message: Kidnap Tony Jaa’s elephant and he will hunt you down and hurt you. Badly.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Tony really out did himself here. The fights are all complicated and fantastic, especially versus Leteef Crowder, and how they pulled off the timing for that 10-minute continuous fight through the restaurant is nearly beyond comprehension.

STUNTS: (10) Tony and his stunt team went above and beyond for this one. The 10 minute fight up the restaurant is worth the price of admission alone!

STAR POWER: (8) Tony Jaa, Lateef Crowder, Jon Foo, and Johnny Nguyen. All up and comers who are slated in films coming soon.

FINAL GRADE: (9) Tony shot for the gold and came real close. An uneven story derails this film, but the fights are second to none.