Archive for the Mark Dacascos Category

Review: Showdown in Manila (2018)

Posted in Alexander Nevsky, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Cynthia Rothrock, Don"The Dragon" Wilson, Mark Dacascos, Matthias Hues, Olivier Gruner with tags , , , on January 19, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Alexander Nevsky, Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Mark Dacascos, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Matthias Hues, Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, Don ” The Dragon” Wilson

Fight Choreography by Al Dacascos

Directed by Mark Dacascos

After years of watching Marc Dacascos on the big and small screen, he finally steps behind the camera for his first film, produced and starring 3-time Mr. Universe Alexander Nevsky and a whole horde of b-movie stars. So how did his first venture do?

It has moments that aren’t as good as it could have been, but this movie…

… is a LOT of fun.

Alexander Nevsky stars as Nick Peyton, a disgraced Thailand cop who now works as a private detective after he his whole team is killed in a botched raid on a drug den owned by a man known as The Wrath (the CHT!). Two years later Nick and his sex-crazed partner Charlie (Van Dien) are hired by a police sketch artist (Carrere) whose husband, a secret agent, is killed by The Wrath right in front of her. She pays them to bring him to her…alive. Now working in Manila, Nick has a second chance to get revenge for his fallen comrades, but he’ll need some high-powered help to finish the job…

The film, despite the Raid-like opening moves a little slow at the beginning, but picks up steam as the film goes on. While Alexander Nevsky is a little wooden in his acting, which may be a lot better had he spoken in his native Russian dialect, he is aided well by the presence of his co-star Casper Van Dien. They have a good on-screen chemistry with each other that more than makes up for a few weak acting moments from Nevsky, who is a large presence in the film, and the Dacascos family had the good sense to use that largeness for maximum effect. Van Dien does well bringing in the comedy aspects of the film, which helps keep things light and helps propel the film forward in its slower moments. The CHT is as a good a villain as always, but I wish he had been in the film more, but we do get some villainy from the always great Matthias Hues, but here again, I wish we had more of him. The directing by Mark is confident, even in the slower scenes, which I think could have been slightly better with just a little more editing down, but that’s a minor nitpick for the treasure of goods this film delivers, which comes in the form of a boat ride that brings in some of Nick’s friends during the climax of the film: Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, and Don ” The Dragon” Wilson.

That’s right, ya’ll. China O’Brien, Nemesis, and Bloodfist show up to kick all kinds of ass 90’s style.

So let’s get into the action side of things, shall we? Early on we get a quick fight scene with Mark Dacascos that shows that the man can still kick all kinds of ass, and we need to see him back in a movie doing so pronto! His fight scene is really quick and far too short, but it looks good and is shot well. Fast forward to the big action finale, and I was transported back to 1992, ya’ll. At first there is a lot of gun play, and while I loved seeing everyone, I came to terms with the fact that they may all be too old to actually do a fight scene anymore, and that seeing them shooting folks will just have to do.

Silly rabbit. I should’ve had more faith in the film’s director. He knows what true fans want to see…

…and eventually the bullets run out.

What follows is an orgasmic cavalcade of action goodness, with Cynthia Rothrock going knives-out, and punching and kicking foes like the good ol’ days! ( Now I want to see what China O’Brien has been up to this past decade!) Don ” The Dragon” Wilson also gets a scene where he gets to show he can still kick with the best of them, and no one looks like they can take a hit and keep fighting like Don, and Olivier looks more brutal than I’ve ever seen him in an action scene. The fights are shot well, showing us the FULL action of what’s happening without quick-cut edits…because what we see on screen is real martial artists doing onscreen what they’ve been doing for decades. Kudos to Al Dacascos for making sure each action scene plays to the strengths of each fighter. I wish we could have had a bigger hand to hand combat scene for Nevsky, but there is so much other cool action happening I didn’t mind this time, but he does mix it up a little with Matthias Hues, and I wish THAT fight had been bigger, but maybe next time?

 

Look, this film isn’t for everyone. If you want something on the order of Tony Jaa or Iko Uwais, you won’t get that kind of wild action here. But for those of us who grew up on these kinds of films, it’s mana from heaven. Alexander Nevsky and Mark Dacascos did what The Expendables couldn’t do: provide a film that truly showcases what these action stars can still do, and make them look great at doing it. 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade : 8.5

A really fun film that kicks you in the face with nostalgia, and the only thing that’s missing are four people: Jalal Merhi, Billy Blanks, Richard Norton, and the greatness himself, Al Leong. Showdown in Manila 2, perhaps? 

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Old School Action: A talk with Alexander Nevsky!

Posted in Alexander Nevsky, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Cynthia Rothrock, Don"The Dragon" Wilson, Mark Dacascos on January 17, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Friday January 19th will see the limited release of Showdown in Manila, marking the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos (Only the Strong, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Drive) and marks the meeting of some 80’s and 90’s badasses: Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa (the CHT!), Cynthia Rothrock, Don ” The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, Matthias Hues, as well as Casper Van Dien and Tia Carrera. I had a talk with producer and 3-time Mr. Universe star Alexander Nevsky about the film. We had a LOT of fun talking about the film and the stars involved. I hope you all enjoy this!

M: You’ve taken your career into your hands as both the producer and star. What was it like wearing both of those hats on set?

A: First of all let me explain to you why I do this. I really believe that if you want to achieve something you shouldn’t wait; you should do it yourself. Unfortunately right now, when you talk about old fashioned action movies, they don’t make them much anymore. And what of Showdown in Manila? All of those guys, they’re still in great shape: Cynthia Rothrock, Don the Dragon Wilson, Olivier Gruner, Dacascos himself, Casper Van Dien. They’re all in great shape. Right now, what’s going on in international cinema, even at a studio it’s hard to move forward with a movie (like this) . That’s why I make movies which I want to see; I’m a huge fan of each and every one of them. I love Dacascos’ movies, Tagawa’s movies, all of them. So I always wanted to get involved not just as an actor but a producer.

It’s not easy but as a producer you have more control. And if your a good producer you can make sure your film is finished and released everywhere.

M: The scene where you call for your friends and they arrive on the boat: Cynthia, Don, and Olivier, and I nearly jumped out of my chair, because I loved all of them! That final action scenes reminded me of 80’s action films like Commando and Missing in Action. Was that what you were going for?

A: Exactly. I’m just as excited as you are hearing you talk about it! I was excited as I was dreaming the film, shooting the film, promoting the film. I’m as excited as you are about the film! And Oliver Gruner, I love him in Nemesis!

**Okay, ya’ll have to forgive me. Things had to grind to a halt as we extolled our mutual love for the film Nemesis. If you haven’t see it, get on that

We went from an epic discussion of Nemesis, to talking about old school action films, and what it takes to get one made nowadays:**

A: Times change, and I think when a studio like Lionsgate produces John Wick, and it’s also a great film, and Keanu Reeves doing great things, and in every  John Wick they had four months of preparation, and its him fighting and everything, but you can’t compare him to Oliver Gruner, or Don the Dragon Wilson, or Cynthia Rothrock, as they are all martial artists, with all due respect to Keanu as he’s a great guy and artist. With Showdown in Manila, Mark’s father Al Dacascos even went to Manila to support Mark and choreograph all of the fights. So we had many real people on set, and the set we used for Manila is the same set used in Apocalypse Now.

M: How much training did you all have to do for the fight scenes?

A: That’s another thing, even in a movie like John Wick where Keanu had 4 months to prepare, of course we didn’t have that with Showdown for Manila. We just had a couple of weeks. We spent about five weeks shooting it, and then another month in post production. So for the action we trained for a couple of weeks on that, but because we had people like Oliver Gruner, Cynthia Rothrock, Al Dacascos, Mark Dacascos, Don the Dragon Wilson, they all continue to train and are in great shape, also Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, so it wasn’t hard for us to do it all. As for me, I was a boxer before. I did some kickboxing before, but I was a boxer before I started bodybuilding.

Marc as the director gave everyone some screen time, especially at the end in the jungle so you can enjoy Cynthia Rothrock doing martial arts, and Olivier Gruner and the Don the Dragon. It was much easier and everyone knows what to do. It was all real, and I hope it felt real when you watched it. It was tough but it was huge fun.

M: Alexander, I had a lot of fun talking to you! It’s great that your doing it with the love and care your doing it! I wish you great success and I can’t wait to talk with you about Maximum Impact!

A:  Thank you very much, and thank you for your support! Me and you are fans of this genre, and fans of these action stars, so thank you for your support! I’m glad you enjoyed the film!

Talk to you soon I hope!

 

We had a really great talk, much longer than what you have here! We went to town on all kinds of cool action movies.  Maybe someday I’ll post the audio from the entire interview! Bug me enough and I’ll do it! Look for the the film in limited release stateside this Friday, and look for it Digital HD and VOD on January 23rd. My review will be up Friday!

Review: Only The Strong (1993)

Posted in Frank Dux, Mark Dacascos with tags , on January 21, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

 

Only The Strong

Starring: Mark Dacascos, Stacey Travis, Geoffrey Lewis, Paco Christian Prieto, Frank Dux

 

Fight Choreography by Frank Dux and Paco Christian Prieto

 

Directed by Sheldon Lettich

 

Some of the best martial arts films out there are the ones that center around a particular style like Drunken Master, Ip Man, Hapkido, and the Master of Ballroom Dancing (Just kidding ). The dynamic style of Brazilian Capoeira is so awesome to see on screen that surely someone would have made it into a film. Well, thanks to Sheldon Lettich (Double Impact, Lionheart) we have that, and a proper introduction to one Mark Dacascos. So how does the film hold up?

 

Pretty damn good, I’m actually sad to say, but more on that later.

 

Mark plays Louis Stevens, an ex-marine skilled in the art of Capoeira, returns to him home in Miami and to the school he graduated from to find that gangs are as bad as ever, and the kids are going downhill fast. He teams up with his friend and former mentor Kerrigan (Lewis) and creates a program to teach the worst kids in the school the martial art of Capoeira. Louis is even able to reconnect with an old girlfriend, Dianna, who now teaches at the school. Louis has trouble with the kids at first, but then begins to get through to them, but this brings Louis head to head with Silverio (Prieto), the marble-mouthed leader of a local Brazilian drug gang, whose nephew is one of Louis’ students. Silverio is an expert in Capoeira, and before long Louis must save his friends and the neighborhood from Silverio once and for all…

Only The Strong3

 

The basic story of the film isn’t much different from films like The Principal, The Substitute and Dangerous Minds, with a group of thugs turned into good kids by a traveling hero who must reconcile a past relationship, and of course one of the more sympathetic kids must get killed so the hero and the other kids and rally at the end for the finale. This in no way hampers the fun. Mark Dacascos is great as Louis, and has the right amount of naiveté and heart. Prieto, whom I found hard to understand, did a great job as Silverio, bringing a lot of menace to the screen. The kids were decent, and ranged from ok to pretty good. The music used, is just all kinds of awesome, and I find myself humming some of them, especially the “remix” of the tune Louis brings with him.

Only The Strong2

 

The fight choreography is actually pretty good, with the fights brought to us by Frank Dux, he of Bloodsport (he’s in the film as the helmeted fighter in the garage fight scene), and Prieto, and their combination gives some really great Capoeira fights (the beginning and end displays are awesome) and the fight between Silverio and Louis is done fairly well. The camerawork is plain and the editing is basic, in the style of all late 80’s-early 90’s American martial art films, but that can sometimes help as it’s far better than the MTV-style edited-to-hell-and-back fight scenes that come down the pike in the late 90‘s to this day.

 

The sadness I mentioned earlier is that no one has really made a better Capoeira film than Only The Strong. It’s still the best!

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

 

 Mark Dacascos in his first starring role does a great job, and successfully showcases the exciting art of Brazilian Capoeira! 

 

 

NEXT: They killed WHO? Scott Adkins returns in Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear!

 

Review: Mortal Kombat Legacy Season 2

Posted in Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Eric Jacobus, Larnell Stovall, Mark Dacascos, Michelle Lee, Samantha Jo with tags , , , , on October 7, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Mk S2 Kitana

Starring Mark Dacascos, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Michelle Lee, Eric Jacobus, Casper Van Dien, Ian Anthony Dale, David Lee McInnis, Samantha Jo, Dan Southworth, Eric Steinburg, Brian Tee

Fight Choreography by Larnell Stovall

Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Kevin Tancharoen took the internet by storm several years ago when he made a low budget short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth and starred Michael Jai White, Matt Mullins, and Lateef Crowder that rebooted the Mortal Kombat series into a much darker, more violent property than the feature films ever were. The short film was a success, finally displaying a good martial arts fight scene and still retaining what made Mortal Kombat great. The powers that be at the WB were impressed, and rightly so. They gave Tancharoen the funds and resources to make a Mortal Kombat webseries. Bringing back Michael Jai White and Matt Mullins, along with Jeri Ryan and Darren Shalavi as Kano, matched together with the fight choreography of Larnell Stovall, and they had an online hit. The Mortal Kombat universe was successfully rebooted for a new generation.

So now we have Season 2. How did it fare this time around?

Mk S2 Lui Kang

The answer is…not nearly as good.

The series starts with the first appearance in the series of Liu Kang (Tee), the hero of the last tournament, now a violent drifter after the death of his fiancee at the hands of a group of thugs. His brother Kung Lao (Dacascos) comes to tell him that he will fight in the tournament, but Liu Kang, his soul darkened by revenge, wants nothing to do with the tournament or his brother. Meanwhile, Princess Kitana (Jo) is coming to terms with the revelations she discovered from last season about her true heritage, while Sub-Zero tries to reason with Skorpion about the attack on his family from last season. All of this at the backdrop of the tournament itself….

MK Season 2 Skorpion

So, let’s first get to the things I didn’t like. The stories overall were ok, but not nearly as good as last season, especially since Michael Jai White, Jeri Ryan, or Darren Shahlavi and their characters are absent, as we get an entire new group whose stories I could care less about, especially that of Kenshi. The story of how he got his sword is weak, and I could’ve done without knowing anything about him. Casper Van Dien doesn’t bring much of anything to the role that Matt Mullins couldn’t have done, and his fight scenes were unconvincing, unlike with Matt, who is a real martial artist. The Mileena/Kitana storyline didn’t follow through from last season with any real weight. The biggest disappointment I had with in regards to the Sub-Zero/Skorpion storyline, arguably the best of season 1, and it is here that I send a criticism straight to Kevin Tancharoen for not standing on the table and keeping their story in Japanese with English subtitles (maybe he did try to argue for it), which completely took me out of the scenes in Japan. I would ask anyone to watch the Season 1 Episodes and Season 2 and tell me a large piece of authenticity wasn’t lost. Tack onto that how their story ends this season, and it was infuriating, especially if you’re a Sub-Zero fan.

MK S2 Shang Tsung

Now for what I liked. Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as Shang Tsung. CHT is always great, and even more so here, once again playing the badass of the MK universe, and his line readings are as awesome as ever. Mark Dacascos was also cool as Kung Lao, even if he didn’t get much to do in this season. I liked the Liu Kang story more than I thought I would, and it was a refreshing new take on the hero of earth realm. I won’t ruin the surprise the final episode has in story for Liu Kang fans, but it will make Season 3 really interesting. Also, and this goes into the like and dislike category, Eric Jacobus as Stryker. I thought he did a great acting job, much better than many of the other stars, and his fight with Liu Kang was short, but very good. What I didn’t like was that he didn’t get an episode establishing his character, unlike virtually everyone else. Hopefully next season will fix this (and they keep Eric in the part, and not try to replace him like they did with Mullins. You listening, Warner Brothers?)

The fight scenes were pretty good, the best being Kenshi versus Ermac and Kitana versus Mileena. Everyone did a fantastic job here. I was a bit disappointed in the Skorpion/Sub Zero fight. I can’t put my finger on it, but it wasn’t as good to be as the Season 1 meeting between the two ( I realize Sub-Zero was Quan Chi in season 1, but still…)

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

It was hard to care with so many cast members from Season 1 gone, and the Skorpion/Sub-Zero story was disappointing. I think there are some good seeds planted for Season 3, but it’ll require better storytelling that what’s on hand here. The fights kept this score from being lower.

 

Kiai-Kick All-Star #2: Marc Dacascos!

Posted in Mark Dacascos on June 9, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

And so we come to Kiai-Kick All-Star #2: Marc Dacascos! Click on the picture below to see what put him on the list!

drive

Review: Double Dragon (1994)

Posted in Al Leong, Jeff Imada, Mark Dacascos, Roger Yuan, Ron Yuan with tags , on September 27, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Marc Dacascos, Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, Robert Patrick, Jeff Imada and Al Leong, Roger Yuan, Ron Yuan, and Julia Nickson

Fight Choreography by Jeff Imada

Directed by James Yukich

During the early 90’s video games were thought to be the newest well that Hollywood could mine, but as it turned out they would be the start of one Hollywood failure after another, and along with Super Mario Brothers, Double Dragon earns a spot as one of the worst adaptations of all time. And, to be truthful, it is, but there was the spark of a good film, if not for one glaring mistake, one that started a cascade of mistakes that doomed this film.

The film takes place in New Angles 2007, after a giant earthquake that leveled half of the city, which now resembles something between Blade Runner and The Warriors (this will not be the last reference I make to The Warriors) in which the gangs control the city at night, with the police only seen during the day. In this world exist teenage brothers Jimmy (Dacascos) and Billy Lee (Wolf), even though it is never explained why both brothers are of two different ethnic backgrounds. They are underground fighters who are trained and looked after by Satori (Nickson), a woman who worked with the boy’s deceased father, who found one half of the Double Dragon, a pendant kept safe by monks which grants power to the user. Satori has half of it, and the other half found by the villanous Koga Shuko (Patrick) who runs the city, and look for the other half so he can have the ultimate power. He soon finds the second half of the Double Dragon, and in the ensuing fight to take it kills Satori. The Lee brothers, along with tag along and leader of a local good gang Marian (Milano) attempt to revenge Satori and defeat Koga Shuko…

This is a silly film. So silly I think children watching it will be insulted by it. The writing, some of it shockingly by Paul Dini (Batman the Animated Series, Arkham Asylum) is chock full of terrible dialogue, and actions that don’t make any sense. Marc Dacascos is woefully underused, and Scott Wolf is used too damn much. Robert Patrick isn’t bad, but isn’t very good either. Milano is great eye candy but doesn’t really bring much to the role, except for that. The special effects aren’t very special and the bottom line is this: If the film had tried to actually live up to the convictions of the video game, it would have been a harder PG-13, and could have been really good, like Escape from New York or The Warriors with martial arts of the material took the audience seriously, instead of pandering to children, without realizing that adults played these games as well.

The martial arts fights are barely worth a mention, except for the stick fighting between Marc Dacascos and Al Leong during the home invasion, which was fun to watch, and should have been emulated throughout the film. There is a fight between the brothers a group of gangs in a junk yard that also had its moments, and gave Dacascos some good moments, but for this film that’s about it.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 3

A terrible film even by children’s standards that butchers the video game it is based on, that really shouldn’t have made for kids at all. A waste of the talent that participated. 

NEXT: Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off with Michelle Yeoh in Butterfly Sword!