Archive for the Jose Montesinos Category

Review: Sensitive 70’s Turtleneck Tough Guys Part 2 (2015)

Posted in Edward Kahana Jr., Eric Jacobus, Jose Montesinos, Marco Antonio Alvarez on November 3, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Sensitive 70's 2

Starring Jose Montesinos, Jessica Etheridge, Troy Carbonel, Marco Antonio Alvarez, Sari Sabella, Edward Kahana, Mathew Zipkin, Lucas Okuma, Ray Carbonel, Steven Yu, Eric Jacobus

Fight Choreography by Dennis Ruel, Ed Kahana, Steven Yu, Troy and Ray Carbonel, Lucas Okuma, Sari Sabella

Directed by Jose Montesinos and Brett Stillo

2016 draws near, but before 2015 ends we get another installment of those Sensitive 70’s Turtleneck Tough Guys, after the fun and well made first original, ade

Once again we pick back up on Tough Guy Raymundo Bala, P.I. (Montesinos) as we find him not hanging out with his boys, Cheegan Jones (T. Carbonel) and Frank Cox (Jacobus), but with foxy lady Detective Jo Dixon (Etheridge) as they discuss their feelings, as sensitive 70’s tough people do, and their mutual case, involving drug lord Escobarrrr (Alvarez) a guy with a lot of henchmen and a dog…which needs to be spayed. Dixon tries to get Bala to rejoin the police force, but he’s not taking the bait, and finds out that Dixon is now partnered up with his buddy Frank Cox, and Bala doesn’t take the bait, and in flashback sequences we find out the connection Dixon and Bala have with Escobarrr…

The first entry in Sensitive 70’s Turtleneck tough guys featured a bit more fighting, but this installment concentrates more on Raymundo Bala, and I wonder how Jose Montesinos could keep himself from laughing at the things that come out of his mouth, but he does, playing Bala as straight as possible, even as things get more insane. Jessica Etheridge is also great here as the sultry-yet-badass cop Dixon, who hints at a previous relationship with Bala, and she sells even her frustration at the fact that Bala isn’t getting the hint that yes, she wants to do more than simply discuss their mutual case.

70s Turtleneck 2.1

As always, Troy Carbonel’s Cheegan Jones doesn’t say a word, but sets off the funniest part of the film, involving Escobarrr and his crew of thugs. Speaking of which, they are all good, but Sari Sabella as…wait for it…Worshack Jenkins (even the name makes me laugh!) is the funniest thing about this short, in a moment involving a knife, and his head, and his screams are worth every moment, even his very last moment onscreen made me stop watching until I could compose myself. Marco Antonio Alvarez (Barrio Brawler) plays a great over-the-top Escobarrr (by the way, it’s not a misspelling.) and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our heroes in the next installment. Speaking of which, you’ll notice I haven’t said much of anything about Eric Jacobus as Frank Cox. Well, there’s a reason for that, and you’ll have to watch to find out why!

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.24.28 AM

The 70’s aesthetic is once again done well here, from the film artifacts, to the credits and even the editing all reflect that time period well. Jose has this time period nailed, and knows how to get the comedy out of…tough guys in turtlenecks!

I want to discuss the fight scenes presented here, but I don’t want to spoil it. Suffice to say it’s a lot of fun to watch, and Jessica Etheridge does a good job beating up Edward Kahana, but Troy Carbonel’s fight scene is full of hilarity, not the least of which is thanks to a combination of great reactions from all of the actors, and Sari Sabella’s screams. Please tell me Worshack Jenkins has a twin brother for the next installment!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

Jose Montesinos and company craft another well done short film as those Turtleneck tough guys kick ass, and Part 3 can’t come fast enough!

Watch it below!


Review: Sensitive 70’s Turtleneck Tough Guys (2015)

Posted in Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr., Eric Jacobus, Jose Montesinos with tags , on February 24, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Sensitive 70s YT thumb

Starring Jose Montesinos, Eric Jacobus, Troy Carbonel, Sari Sabella, Edward Kahana, DeeDee Luxe, Lisa Younger, Jon Bastian, Gabriel Wheeler, Matthew Zipkin, Tao Sabella

Fight Choreography by Dennis Ruel, Eric Jacobus, Jose Montesinos

Directed by Jose Montesinos and Brett Stillo

How good has 2015 been so far in the world of independent martial art films? First we get Rope A Dope 2, then Unlucky Stars, and now Jose Montesinos (American Brawler) along with Eric Jacobus (Rope A Dope 1 and 2) and with fight choreography by Dennis Ruel (Unlucky Stars) returns with this ode to the 70’s tough guys!

In this short film we meet three tough guys, who also happen to all wear turtlenecks: Raymundo Bala P.I. (Montesinos), Detective Frank Cox (Jacobus), and Cheegan Jones (Carbonel). As they sit, ruminating over their newfound “sensitivity” and what it means to be a man in the tough environment of the 70’s, we flash back to what they’ve been doing, which is beating up a lot of bad guys in incredibly manly ways. As they discuss these issues it is apparent that this sensitivity does not extend to the gents they are fighting, as they are taken out in increasingly brutal ways. But it’s just another day on the job for these Sensitive Turtleneck Tough Guys…


I must admit that during the first minute I wasn’t sure where things were going, but I quickly understood as both Bala and Cox were about to take on a group of baddies in flashback sequences. After the fighting started I was hooked. The sheer look of the film is 70’s style, from the cars to the clothing and locations to the music. The film captures this perfectly, which is impressive given its small budget. Montesinos and Jacobus do a good job as the tough guys, never revealing their emotions, even as they discuss being sensitive. Carbonel does a great job saying absolutely nothing, which is a feat unto itself as he had to manage a straight face amidst the crazy dialogue he had to listen to. The macrame moment with Carbonel made the film for me.


The only thing I didn’t really like was when the guns came out and started blazing. It’s the only part that showed the low budget nature of the film.

The fights are the standouts here, as Dennis Ruel came off with some great-but-cheesy-but-still-great 70’s style fight choreography (I loved the guy who got his arm broken like 3 times.) and it was performed well, especially the fights with Eric Jacobus, who excels at mixing fighting with comedy.


Hopefully we can have these Sensitive Tough Guys return for an encore!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

A great little short film that mixes good laughs with some great 70’s era fighting. Who says sensitive guys with Turtlenecks can’t be tough?

Review: UnLucky Stars (2015)

Posted in Amy Johnston, Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr., Emmanuel Manzanares, Jose Montesinos, Ken Quitugua, Sam Hargrave, Tony Chu, Vlad Rimburg with tags , , , on February 2, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Unlucky Stars_1

Starring Dennis Ruel, Ken Quitugua, Jose Montesinos, Sari Sabella, Vladislav Rimburg, Sam Hargrave, Emmanuel Manzanares, Edward Kahana, Steven Yu, Roy Chen, Miguel Padilla, Shawn Bernal, Alvin Hsing, Gui Dasilva, Tony Chu, Andy Le Brian Le, Jimmy Chhiu, Yoshi Sudarso, Amy Johnston and two surprises!

Fight Choreography by Vladislav Limburg

Directed by Dennis Ruel

LBP Stunts Chicago. The Stuntpeople. Vladislav Rimburg. Dennis Ruel. Emmanuel Manzanares. All of these names have been spoken of ad nauseum on this website since its inception in 2010. I’ve championed their fight choreography and work in short films, citing that the Powers That Be in Hollywood should let these guys take the reins choreographing and directing big—or at least modestly budgeted— action films. Now action man and director Dennis Ruel (Rope-A-Dope 1 and 2, American Brawler) finally brings these talents together to pay homage to the Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung/Yuen Biao films of the 80’s, particularly the Lucky Star series of films. This is a tall order, and a major ambition where the talent involved could fall flat on their faces.

So did they?

Nope. Unlucky Stars hit the ground, flipped, kicked, and punched their way to cinematic awesomeness.

The story starts as we meet the major players, but for much of the film we follow Private Investigator Ken Champaco (Quitugua) and his new partner, newly unemployed Josh Whitman (Ruel) as they try to track down Peruvian Action star Tomas De La Cruz (Montesinos), who is working in San Francisco and owes money to bookie and wannabe gangster Sam (Hargrave) whose father Carl (wait ‘till you see who it is. I won’t spoil it.) is one of the most dangerous men in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Cruz has a crazy fan in wannabe action star Sameer Yousef (Sabella) who unwittingly gets involved in the shenanigans, and David Palatnikov (Rimburg) a down and out stuntman simply looking for his next job. Toss in a crazy Celebrity Action Rehab reality show, a sadistic torturer (Bernal), one gonzo bounty hunter named Stan (Yu), and a bit of wrong-place, wrong-time moments that come together to compel Ken and Josh to becomes unlikely heroes…if they can survive the craziness around them…

Unlucky Stars _2

Unlucky Stars lives up to its name and goal. Sammo Hung would be proud, as this film is exactly the kind of film he would’ve tossed Yuen Wah, Richard Ng, and Eric Tsang into. While the story contains a lot of characters to follow, it ties their separate stories perfectly into the main narrative confidently. The comedy moments work for me, in a world where martial arts dominates…well, everything.

Every moment flows smoothly from one piece of insanity to the next, and the action is never far behind, even in small moments. The acting is great, and not a sour note in the bunch. Dennis Ruel and Ken Quitugua are great together as the investigative duo (very much a Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao pairing), and Vladislav Rimburg hits every note as the Sammo Hung-inspired Palatnikov, and Sam Hargrave is charming and funny as the bad guy Sam, and Sari Sabella is hilarious as the dimwitted, hapless Sameer, and brings a natural innocence to the character. It’s obvious that everyone worked their asses off and had a ton of fun doing it, and it shows onscreen.

Yes, this moment reminds me of a little movie called Dragons Forever!

Yes, this moment reminds me of a little movie called Dragons Forever!

This film is made for those of us who love martial arts films, particularly those made in the 80’s. See if you can find all of references. Everything from Y. Kurata Sushi to Golden Harvest Investigations to so much more (the opening of the film tells you exactly what you should expect) you’ll re-watch the film to catch the small things you’ll miss the first time. Even the final fight is an ode to the final fight between Sammo Hung and Richard Norton in Twinkle,Twinkle Lucky Stars, right down to the suspenders. There are not one, but two special guest stars, and I won’t spoil them, but one appear at the end of the film, and may hint at what may happen in the sequel (?).

The fights are as fantastic as you would want them to be, and there are so, so many good ones, from the church fight that brings out so many talented stuntmen/actors like Gui Dasilva and Tony Chu (this scene has my favorite character, an homage to the great Yuen Wah. Cigar included.) to the fight both inside and outside of the Celebrity Rehab house, and the terrific finale at a factory which contains a great fight between Rimburg and Hargrave. Sam Hargrave (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers) goes through some fantastic falling stunts as he bounces himself off of a LOT of metal objects.

There isn’t enough good things I can say about UnLucky Stars. It lived up to the faith I had in the talent involved. This movie was made for me and all of you who love HK martial arts cinema like me. So my final grade is…

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

Amazing action talent plus a great story that serves as a love letter to the Lucky Stars film series, and to 80’s HK action cinema as a whole. Not to be missed!

Behind the scenes of this year’s UnLucky Stars!

Posted in Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr., Emmanuel Manzanares, Jose Montesinos, Vlad Rimburg with tags , , on January 28, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Unlucky Stars

Since this film, an homage to the Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung films of the 80’s, started, I’ve been beating the drums for this film, and will continue to do so. Dennis Ruel, Vlad Rimburg, Emmanuel Manzanares, Edward Kahana Jr. , Jose Montesinos, and so many more have been featured on this website throughout the years, and now their film Unlucky Stars will be out this year! As soon as the festival appearances become known,  I will let YOU know! I’m super excited for these guys and can’t wait to see their film! Check out the Behind the scenes below, and note they use the theme song from Police Story. Believe me, it’s appropriate! Also: the official trailer is coming out soon! I include the teaser below. Hit the comments button and let me know what you think!

Barrio Brawler and Hit Girls at the Action On Film Festival in Monrovia, CA August 17-25

Posted in Jose Montesinos, JuJu Chan, Maria Tran with tags , on August 8, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Some of you may not be familiar with the Action On Film Festival. It’s a festival exclusive to the world of, you guessed it, martial arts and action cinema. Of course they will show other genres of film, but Action reigns supreme. If it’s for you, and you live in a place close to Monrovia, CA, then you owe it to yourself to check it out. Some of the very folks I like to promote on this website will have films there. Who, you might ask? Well…



Barrio Brawler



Dang right. Here’s your chance to catch this film in the theaters, and I tell you it’s well worth your time. Here is my review, and the trailer below:


For the long-timers on this website you’ll remember Maria Tran from her Quest for Jackie Chan documentary she was making, and a film I reviewed on this website, Maximum Choppage.

Here she teams up with beautiful Hong Kong Actress JuJu Chan (she has multiple projects on the way, and she just had a film come out with the legendary Yuen Wah) Maria’s a cool lady and this should be pretty good.

Hit Girls1

Here’s a synopsis:

Two mismatched killer assassins, sexy elite barbie Pixie Ho (Juju Chan) and hot-tempered, tomboy partner Charlie Vu (Maria Tran) are reaching breaking point in their tag team partnership. The mismatched duo must look past their differences when they take on an unusual undercover school girl assignment and take down the son of a multi millionaire, playboy Michael Huang – their former primary school crush. But will this be their last assignment? 

You can check out the Action On Film Festival Website here.

Of course there will be many, many, MANY more… I’ll post some of the more interesting ones as I hear about them!

Review: Barrio Brawler aka American Brawler (2013)

Posted in Dennis Ruel, Edward Kahana Jr., Jose Montesinos, Marco Antonio Alvarez on June 25, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Barrio Brawler

Starring Marco Antonio Alvarez, Dennis Ruel, O.G Dave Rivera, Morgan Benoit, Steven Yu, Ed Kahana Jr., E. Ambriz De Colosio, Stacey Rose, Justin Perez

Fight Choreography by Dennis Ruel

Directed by Jose Montesinos

Big things…often start small. That’s an adage that is appropriate to this film. Jose Montesinos has been making indie  martial arts films for a bit now, and here he comes with a feature film that FINALLY puts Hispanic-American martial artists front and center, in much the same way that Blood and Bone did the same for African-American martial artists. It’s about damn time, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good martial arts film.

So is it a good film?

Damn right it is.

The film stars Marco Antonio Alvarez as Carlos Castillo, a martial arts teacher who finds himself in rough times: his wife has left him, and they are on the verge of divorce, while the bills start to pile up in his dojo, which just isn’t making enough money. Carlos is also trying pay for his grandmother’s medical bills at the same time. He’s a great sensei and a good man whose life has just taken a bit of a nosedive. He goes to his brother Ricky (Ruel) a ne’er-do-well who works at a bar owned by Morales, a local drug lord who is getting into the unsanctioned underground fight ring. Ricky gets Carlos to enter the fights, and Carlos, who despises such fights, enters them grudgingly, and later to his regret as he finds that Ricky’s problems with Morales quickly become his. Soon Carlos must make a choice between his principles as a martial artist and helping his brother. Can he save Ricky without losing himself? And is Ricky worth saving?

Barrio Brawler 1

Jose Montesinos has a winner here, and it all starts with the cast. Marco A. Alvarez is great as Carlos. I connected with the character immediately, and could sympathize with the hole he found himself in before things get bad. Alvarez plays Carlos as a genuinely good man, and he wears the conflict over his decisions on his face. A great performance, and does well with the fights, but more on that later. Dennis Ruel is perfect as Ricky. He’s a likable character who is just a classic F***up, and we all know a guy like him. He makes bad choice after bad choice, but never did I actually hate the character because of it, and that’s due to Ruel’s performance. O.G. Dave Rivera is an absolute snake as Morales, and plays being such an asshole to the hilt, as is Colosio as Morales’ right hand man Ruiz. The story, while yes, is a tournament-style martial arts film, it tells its story well, and having well-rounded characters can do that, and at no point did any character do something out of character, which I’ve seen in too many films of this type.

Barrio Brawler Dennis Ruel

The fights are all excellently shot, and while the locations could have been better (most of it is in a warehouse, but the final fight is in a really nice location) the fights themselves are great. The choreography is fast and smooth, and combines MMA-style with traditional martial arts much as Donnie Yen did with SPL (Killzone). I cheered during the final fight as I saw perfect examples of limb destruction, rarely seen in modern martial arts films, so kudos to Dennis Ruel on a terrific job!

This film is further proof that a big budget isn’t needed to make a good martial arts film! It isn’t a perfect martial arts film, but nevertheless it’s a damn good one.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

An excellent  film  from Jose Montesinos that kicks all kinds of ass with great martial arts fight scenes and also has a great heart to boot! Alvarez and Ruel are the real deal. 

The film released today. Check your local theaters!