Archive for the Kazu Tang Category

Review: The Protector 2 (2013)

Posted in Jeeja Yanin, Kazu Tang, Marrese Crump, Panna Rittikrai, Tony Jaa with tags , , on March 11, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Protector 2a

Starring Tony Jaa, Jeeja Yanin, Pechtai Wongkamlao, Marrese Crump, RZA, Patrick Kazu Tang, Jawed Al Berni, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, Theerada Kittisiriprasert

Fight Choreography by Panna Rittikrai

Directed by Pratchya Pinkaew

It’s been well documented through various sources concerning the meltdown Tony Jaa had that occurred during the making of Ong Bak 2 and 3, and his subsequent break from filmmaking. After a time Tony Jaa returned to filmmaking with the announcement of The Protector 2, and would be reunited with his Ong Bak crew and joined by Jeeja Yanin, in a film that once again finds a group of bad guys who haven’t learned not to mess with Jaa’s elephant. A can’t-miss film, right?

Wrong. My worst fear for Tony Jaa became true.

We once again join elephant owner Kham (Jaa) who lives in a small village and takes care of Khorn, now an adult elephant. One day Kham gets a visit from a local elephant wrangler named Suchart who wants to purchase Khorn, but of course Kham refuses the money (did Suchart not know how many asses Kham had to kick to get Khorn back?!), so of course he has to kidnap Khorn, but the reason why isn’t as black and white as believed, as Kham goes after Suchart, and upon breaking into his home Kham finds that Suchart is already dead. Kham gets attacked by his two young daughters who blame him for his death, Ping Ping (Yanin) and Sue Sue (Kittisiriprasert),  and soon Kham finds himself on the run, being chased by his old friend Mark (Wongkamlao), now in Thailand on loan to Interpol, the two daughters, and men hired by gun runner LC (RZA) who have taken Khorn to bring about the assassination of the leaders of East and West Katana, who have gathered in Thailand for peace talks. Kham must evade the police, and find a way for Mark, Sue Sue and Ping Ping to believe in his innocence in time to stop LC and his goons from using a bomb-strapped Khorn to commit an action that will continue a war…

Protector 2b

The story here is utterly ridiculous in how Kham gets involved, and the bad guy LC makes strange decisions, and what little there is in a plot is further hampered by characters whose stories ultimately go nowhere. Jaa returns as Kham, and while he still kicks ass, there is something missing in the performance to make me care. It doesn’t get any better with LC, and the fact that the RZA is playing him, and his acting is far worse than Jaa’s, continue to bring the film down. I wish that Jeeja Yanin would be a saving grace, but she’s not in the film enough to be. I have to say that her part is the most disappointing of all. This film should have presented her and Jaa in much the same way that Supercop presented Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh, but here Yanin is a young woman whose martial arts skills are muted, and she gets nothing but beaten up the entire film, even by flunkies. Where is the girl from Raging Phoenix and Chocolate?  Yes, she is playing a different character, but using Michelle Yeoh as an example, she brought her history with her to Supercop as a badass, and Chan never had to “save” her (for the most part), but here Yanin needs Jaa to save her at every turn. They are never equals. There are only two actors here worthy of note. Petchai Wongkamlao is great in his return as Sergeant Mark, even if he isn’t as funny as the first film. He brings better acting to every scene he’s in, and he has to, as he has to prop up every scene with Jaa, and is able to do so. The other person I want to mention is Marrese Crump as Number 2. He brings a genuine imposing menace, and in truth he should have played LC.

Protector 2c

The fights and stunts here are really disappointing, save for two fights. The stunts are more over the top, but with that brings CGI effects and wirework, two things the first film didn’t have. I have an expectation—and I think many of you do too— of seeing Jaa effects-free, and was disappointed to see this film effects-filled. The motorcycle chase/fights are laughable in their impossibility, and for the first time in a Jaa film I constantly wondered if what I saw was real. Let’s not even get into the fight where he once again sets his feet on fire. Only this time the fire is computer-generated. Even the fight choreography of the late Panna Rittikrai was lacking of originality and energy.

The one lone bright spot is the two fights between Tony Jaa and Marrese Crump. Crump is positioned to be a star here (Okay, Marvel Studios, you have your new Blade! Get on that!) and the fight is great between the two men. Of course, this is nearly wiped out by the finale, which involves Jaa fighting RZA, whom I am sick and tired of seeing playing a martial artist when he isn’t one.

At the start of this review I stated that my worst fear for Tony Jaa came true. That fear was that during his sabbatical from film the world of martial arts film moved on without him. While he was gone The Raid raised the bar and became the new gold standard,  Jackie Chan got some of his mojo back, Scott Adkins continued to kick ass, and Donnie Yen was rocking along as well, and even Jeeja Yanin had some hits.

Can Jaa get his mojo back? I’m not sure. The next few years will tell the tale of whether he’s still the successor to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, or if he’s simply a placeholder.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

A lackluster sequel with poor storytelling and laughable characters. And far too much CGI for a Tony Jaa movie. So disappointing.

Advertisements

Review: DragonWolf (2014)

Posted in Kazu Tang with tags on January 21, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Dragonwolf1

Starring Patrick Kazu Tang, Johan Kirsten, David Polivka, Guk Srisawat Stephen Thomas,

Fight Choreography by Patrick Kazu Tang

Directed by Raimund Huber

DragonWolf is another feature from the gents that brought us Bangkok Adrenaline, a low budget but fun little movie with some decent fight scenes. The question is did they make that jump to the next level?

They tried, but fell flat on their faces.

The film follows two hitmen, Mozart (Tang) and his childhood friend Marcus (Kirsten). Both seem to want to kill each other, and flashbacks fill in the blanks as to why (its about a girl). Both men work in the town of Devil’s Cauldron for Brutus, the most powerful gangster in town, who has grown tired of their little war as it is hurting his businesses, and looks for them to settle things. Neither man heeds this warning, and continue to fight, with Marcus using hired killers to do his dirty work. Before long both men crash into each other, and face off in a duel to death, little knowing they are pawns in someone elses’ game…

dragonwolf2

The story here is laughable, filled with characters I just couldn’t get into, and whatever pacing the film has suffers from far too many flashbacks that are designed to pique interest, but really try to hide the weaknesses of the overall plot. The acting here is simply…pedestrian. Actually, its some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen. There are no-budget films that have shown better acting. Johan Kirsten is monotone, and Patrick Kazu Tang just sleepwalks through the film. The less said about the second in command the better (that’s how he’s listed in the credits). The rest of the actors range from terrible to oh-my-god bad.

Dragonwolf3

The fight choreography is simplistic and slow, with the exception of the next-to-last fight with the two Russians, and a fight between Mozart and three hitmen. These fights are better, but only by a bit. The rest is slow and the camerawork seems to lack any dynamic movement. The final fight features some of the most unimaginative sword fighting I’ve ever seen in a martial arts film, which is criminal. I expected better from Patrick Kazu Tang, and he let me down here big time.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

A barely mediocre film that is further betrayed by a terrible script and worse acting. I recommend you all skip this dreck, but if you have to:

Now available from the good folks at WellgoUSA.

Review: Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013)

Posted in Isaac Florentine, Kane Kosugi, Kazu Tang, Mika Hijii, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins, Tim Man on March 17, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

ninja2

Starring Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi, Mika Hijii, Patrick Kazu Tang, Shun Sugata, Ron Smoorenburg, Jawed El Berni, Tim Man

Fight Choreography by Tim Man

Directed by Isaac Florentine

The original Ninja film was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it bring the ninja back in a big way (Ninja Assassin notwithstanding), but also continued to upward rise of martial arts star Scott Adkins and helmer Isacc Florentine after the classic Undisputed 3. Afterward came a little Indonesian film called The Raid, that upped the ante for everyone. Now we return to the adventures of Casey Bowman and his now wife Namiko (Hijii), and what ensues is a tonally different film than the comic-book style of the original.

Adkins returns as Casey Bowman, who, since the previous film, has married his deceased Sensei’s daughter Namiko and taken control of the Takeda Dojo. Namiko, who is now pregnant, asks Casey to go to the store to get chocolate and seaweed, and Casey returns to fine Namiko murdered by an assailant with a barbed chain weapon. During her funeral Nakabara, an old friend of the clan (Kosugi) shows up to offer his condolences, and to offer Casey a place to train and clear his head, at his Indonesian Dojo. Casey does so, but not before beating the daylights out of an entire dojo plus two thugs he believes were in on it. The thugs reveal that Boss Goro, a Japanese drug lord in Burma, had murdered Namiko. This takes Casey on a whirlwind trip of revenge, but fight after fight brings him closer to his target, who may not be the only villain responsible for Namiko’s death…

Ninja 2-2

Ninja 2 is a far darker film that the previous movie, but that’s to the film’s advantage. Scott Adkins returns as a far more vengeful Casey, and his kills are much more brutal than anything he did in the original film. Adkins’ acting is getting better and better with each film, and he does an even better job of conveying Casey’s emotions as his world falls apart. The only thing I miss is the Hugh Jackman Wolverine jacket he wore in the first film! Kane Kosugi does a good job here as well, and I was happy to see Kane in a good film. I hope that he teams up with Florentine again in a film he can star in. Kane’s skills have always been exemplary, but his film choices have left a lot to be desired. Shun Sugata is also good as Goro, and I smiled as he channelled several of Sonny Chiba’s mannerisms into his fight style. If I have a true issue with the film is that there wasn’t enough action with Casey in his ninja outfit.

Ninja2-1

The fights by Tim Man is the star attraction here, and rightly so. There are a ton of fights in this film, and each one has a different dynamic and aesthetic, and the first fights involving Patrick Kazu Tang are great, but it’s only a hint at the things to come. A too-short fight that included Ron Smoorenburg (Who am I?) and a great fight between Casey Bowman and a fellow student Lucas (el Berni) leads to the two big fights in the film: Scott Adkins vs Tim Man, in a stunningly great looking fight, full of acrobatics and martial arts mastery, but the best is truly saved for last. Scott Adkins vs. Kane Kosugi is one of those fights I’ve always wanted to see (check that off my bucket list!) and it does not disappoint! Both men bring their all to the fight, and is a showcase of their martial arts at their prime. Can we please get Kane Kosugi into a film of his own?

Ninja 2 leaves Casey Bowman in a strange place. His wife and her father are gone. Casey, the man without a family, has lost his. What comes next? It will be fun to see where Casey the ninja goes from here.

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Full of exciting fights and Scott Adkins at his best, the showdown versus Kane Kosugi is worth the price of admission alone!

The Protector 2 has a new trailer! Featuring Tony Jaa and Marrese Crump!

Posted in Jeeja Yanin, Kazu Tang, Marrese Crump, Panna Rittikrai, Prachya Pinkaew, RZA, Tony Jaa on August 29, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Tony Jaa1239196_506194379468723_2047073133_o1268144_506192616135566_2007912897_o

I was already pumped for this film, and I’ve heard from some people who saw the first trailer that there was too much CGI. There was some, but I trust Panna Rittikrai to pull off some amazing non-CGI fights, and that’s the message this trailer looks to deliver here.  The CGI is probably simply an enhancement for the 3D aspect of the film. I trust the filmmakers, so I have faith there won’t be too much of it. Besides,  with Jeeja Yanin, Dan Chupong, and Patrick Kazu Tang aboard, I doubt this will be anything less than awesome. Kinda reminds me of the Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao/Sammo Hung classics.

So watch the trailer below and sound off in the comments (as if I have to ask you to watch!)

 

DAMN RIGHT! The Teaser for Tom Yum Goong 2 (The Protector 2) is live!!

Posted in Jeeja Yanin, Kazu Tang, Marrese Crump, Panna Rittikrai, Prachya Pinkaew, Tony Jaa with tags on July 26, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

protector 2

Yes, Yes, Yes. Simply watch. Just watch. Tony Jaa is back, people! Sound off in the comments and tell me what you think!

Review: Bangkok Adrenaline (2009)

Posted in Daniel O'Neill, Kazu Tang with tags on December 21, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Daniel O’Neill, Raimund Huber, Kazu Tang, Conan Stevens, Priya Suandokmai

Fight Choreography by Daniel O’Neill

Directed by Raimund Huber

The amount of martial arts films from countries other than China and Japan is refreshing, and constantly introduces us to new talent. Even small budget films can be a gateway to the introduction of someone new, and that brings us to this film, and its star Daniel O’Neill.

The film starts as 4 backpackers Conan (Stevens), John (Miles), Mike (Huber), and pickpocket Dan (O’Neill) make their way through Thailand having a good time, and they have a bit too much of a good time when knucklehead John bets too much and now they owe the local Thai gang 3 million Baht, and if they don’t come up with the cash in a week they’ll be killed. The boys get local work where they can, but it won’t make them the money they need. None of them are particularly smart, which makes their scheme to kidnap Irene, stepdaughter of a local wine billionaire, as perhaps the smartest and dumbest thing they’ve ever done, which makes them kinda endearing despite the dreadful act they are about to commit. They successfully pick up Irene, but their problems get worse as Irene is a bigger handful than they thought, and her father actually needs Irene dead so the billions left by her mother will go to him and not her. Soon the boys have the police, Irene’s father’s goons, and the man they owe the money to all trying to kill them, and in the end they’ll have to fight their way out of a dangerous situation…

This film is low budget, or at least looks that way, maybe because of the high def cameras they used, which I am still not used to in regards to martial arts films. The film also has some odd editing especially in the transitions between scenes. The acting varies between okay and terrible,but none are worse than the guy playing Irene’s dad, who overacts every scene he’s in. His two main henchmen are actually better actors and more interesting characters than he was. The main leads themselves are adequate, O’Neill probably being the best. Where the story does shine is with the comedic moments, of which there are many, and they mostly work. There is one scene toward the end that gets turned on its head involving the “rescue” team that comes to save everyone that had me laugh out loud.

The fight choreography is good, but nothing different if you’ve seen any Panna Rittikrai films of the last few years. Huber and O’Neill get the lion’s share of the fighting as they are the martial artists of the film. The warehouse fight is well done, and really allows O’Neill a chance to strut his stuff. Huber does well, but isn’t as showy as O’Neill. What is great was a chase/fight sequence through a market between O’Neill and thugs led by Kazu Tang (Raging Phoenix, Bangkok Knockout). The fight with Kazu was small but good, and I wish a talent like Tang was in the film more. He exuded an onscreen presence no one else had.

Daniel O’Neill has become a stuntman for a few Jackie Chan and Panna Rittikrai films, and wants to do more, and he certainly has the talent and good looks. His acting can use more work, but that takes time. He looked impressive in all of his fight scenes, but once again the fights were Rittikrai-lite and doesn’t seem to have much of a voice that differentiates it from Panna’s lesser film work. I would like to see O’Neill branch off into more films so he can find a place for himself in martial arts cinema.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (7) The best fight was O’Neill versus Kazu Tang, which was great. The finale in the winery was really well done, but in the end there wasn’t a lot of originality to the fights. O’Neill used what he’s learned with Panna and Jackie, but now needs to merge it with a style of his own.

STUNTWORK: (8) Pretty good stunt work by all involved. Nothing beyond the normal crazy Thai stunts, but it was good stuff that was well staged.

STAR POWER: (5) No one of note outside of Kazu Tang. Daniel O’Neill has a chance to become something, but what that will be is unknown at this point.

FINAL GRADE: (7) A fun low budget romp that has some decent fight scenes and lot of fun moments.