Archive for the Marko Zaror Category

Review: Savage Dog (2017)

Posted in Cung Le, David No, JuJu Chan, Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins, Uncategorized with tags on August 29, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror have a really, really bloody rematch! And Keith David!!

 

Starring Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Cung Le, Keith David, Juju Chan

Fight Choreography by Luke LaFontaine

Directed By Jesse V Johnson

Savage Dog is a period film set shortly after the French Indochina War in 1959 tells the story of Martin Tillman, an Irishman and displaced soldier, spending his days as a prisoner of Von Steiner, a sadistic jailer who pits Tillman into a series of martial arts fights with various opponents for money. When not fighting, Tillman spends his time in prison being visited by a local flower girl, Isabelle(Chan). When pressured by a British government official, Steiner releases Tillman, but since Tillman is still a wanted man, he chooses to hide out at a local bar run by Valentine(David) and also the home of the flower girl, where a romance blossoms, but as it happens in action films, Steiner brings Tillman back, but when Steiner and his henchmen go after his love, Tillman goes on a rampage to ensure Steiner never bothers anyone ever again…

It’s nice to see Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror leave their comfort zones and do a period film, and the production values looked great on what had to be a small budget. The story is well done, with, for a change, the villain Steiner being a more well rounded character, with his own motivations, and surprisingly, regrets. Scott Adkins is good here, but, from an acting standpoint, isn’t much of a stretch from most of the characters he plays. The same goes for Marko Zaror, but he is actually a more chilling villain here than in his other bad guy roles. He’s a real bastard here, and I want to see more of him in this mode. Keith David is KEITH MOTHERFU&@!ing DAVID! He’s the spice that makes ANY film better, and he brings his patented coolness here as both the star and narrator. He’s so cool he gets to dispense with a solid rule of cinema that isn’t supposed to be broken. But he can do that, ’cause he’s Keith Motherf&%^!ing David. Cung Le is okay here, but his character gets to real development until his final lines in his fight with Adkins. It made me wish the film had done more than mention his viscous general’s backstory.

The fights here…Let’s get to that.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s brutal. Like they watched the The Raid 2 and said “Hold my beer.”

The blood flows like a river in this film, and I have to admit I’ve never seen the like. You know, like watching a guy get shot with a shotgun in the face point blank. Twice. Or even what Scott Adkins does to Marko Zaror at the end…I can safely say I’ve never seen an action star at ANY level do what he does! It was shocking, but really hearkens back to the title of the film.

The fights are technically well done toward the beginning, but with the exception of a quick fight with stuntman/actor David No, I was really marking time until we get to the main event: Scott Adkins versus Cung Le and Marko Zaror. The Cung Le fight is short, but Le acquits himself well here as the choreography matches his strengths as a martial artist but not at the expense of having Adkins take the petal off the gas, so to speak. It’s a good fight that’s only marred by how cheaply the film ends it, but now we come to the true event, the Undisputed 3 rematch between Adkins and Zaror, and it’s great. First with weapons, both men show why they are awesome, moving fast but their movements are precise, and that knife Marko had…I would NOT want to get stabbed with that sucker. But then the weapons go away.

And then it gets REAL.

The director knows what you want. The fight choreographer knows what you want. Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror sure as HELL know what you want. And they made sure you get it! The fight is everything I was wanting it to be. So help me they put on a clinic in beautiful kicking of every kind. And the music with the furious violin playing during it? Holy hell they hit the sweet spot. The fist work was well done, and the fight lasted exactly as long as it needed to given the story and characters.

Bravo, Jesse V Johnson. Bravo. Now do it again!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

One of Scott Adkins’ best films. Marko Zaror establishes himself as a great villain, and Keith David does Keith David things. Bring on the sequel!

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Scott Adkins + Marko Zaror+Cung Le = Savage Dog Trailer! (2017)

Posted in Cung Le, Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins on January 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Oh yeah. This is my jam! Scott Adkins in a period piece? Yes! Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror in a Undisputed rematch! Yes!  One of them vs. Cung Le? Yes! Keith David? Oh hell yes! I don’t know much about fight choreographer Luke LaFontaine, but here’s hoping he brings the goods. I have a few worries about martial arts films in 2017, but this makes me optimistic. Check out the trailer below, and let me know what you think! By the way, Keith David makes anything better.

Danny Trejo, Marko Zaror, and Michelle Lee…The Green Ghost!

Posted in Arnold Chon, Freddie Poole, Marko Zaror, Michelle Lee with tags on January 6, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Filming near Austin, Texas right now is the latest film with Danny Trejo, and it looks to be really, really something. For starters, Michelle Lee (Mileena from Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Pacific Rim, Clandestine) is in it:

2015-01-03 15.35.36

 

oh, and this guy:

2015-01-03 15.48.18

That’s right. The great Marko Zaror also stars, and the film also appears to have a bevy of martial and parkour artists. The fight choreography is by Arnold Chon (Pirates of The Carribbean, Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite) and Freddie Poole (Ride Along 2, Ant-Man, Argo, Rope-A-Dope 2) I don’t know what the story is about, who the good guy/bad guys are, but rest assured I’m gonna try to find out. IMBD has a synopsis of the story, but things can change, and it may be different now that what’s up there.

They’ll be hangin’ around the Austin area for a few weeks, so I hope to talk to some of the stars and crew more in depth as production gets underway!

PS. I’m not in the film. I would be probably be the coffee boy to the director. Or the guy to answer the question: Where the hell is Lockhart, Texas?!

 

Review: Mandrill (2009)

Posted in Marko Zaror, Miguel Angel De Luca with tags on February 24, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Marko Zaror, Miguel Angel De Luca, Tio Chone, Celine Reymond

Fight Choreography by Marko Zaror

Directed By Ernesto Diaz Espinoza

Marko Zaror broke out onto the scene with his first film Kiltro followed by Mirageman, and while both films had their problems, he showed that he has what it takes to be a major martial arts action star. This was cemented beyond reproach when he starred opposite Scott Adkins in the fantastic Undisputed 3, and now returns starring as Mandrill with his Kiltro and Mirageman director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. So how did their third collaboration go?

Marko Zaror plays Antonio Espinoza, aka Mandrill, who say his parents killed by a man known as the Cyclops (!) when he was a child, and just like Bruce Wayne adopts a new persona as the bounty hunter Mandrill, always taking jobs he thinks will get him closer to finding his parents’ killer. Soon Mandrill does get the job that leads him to his nemesis, but things don’t go as planned as he falls in love with the Cyclops’ daughter, Dominique. Things go from bad to worse to downright odd as his actions creates a chain reaction that finds him fighting Dominque herself for his life…

Kiltro was a damn odd film. It had too many flashbacks and odd moments that came from no where (especially the David Bowie moment, which has to be seen to be believed), and Mandrill has some of the same problems that Kiltro had, but unlike that film, this is a slick production, with great locations and a fantastic James Bond-style soundtrack. Marko Zaror plays morose very well, but this time he balances this with a sense of fun. He clearly loves playing this James Bond-style killer, and he really does a good job. His acting has improved a lot since Kiltro. Celine Reymond is smoldering as Dominque, and her transformation from a withdrawn heiress to vicious killer is fun to see.

I mentioned this film was odd, and it is. The constant flashbacks to his teen years learning the art of seduction from his Uncle was downright… well it was kinda creepy. There’s also a montage sequence of Mandrill and Dominque that comes at the midpoint of the film that’s just downright strange. It all starts with a dance sequence and it’s a WTF moment that gets odder from there (is odder even a word?). The ending of the film will leave you with a mix of ‘what the hell was that’ and ‘cool!’ In what is equally strange but yet my favorite scenes in the film are the sequences where we flashback to a fictional TV show called John Colt, about a latino super secret agent that Mandrill loved as a child and teenager, and emulates in his clothing and fighting. It’s a hilarious ode to that period of time in the 60’s and 70’s when those shows were prevalent. I wouldn’t mind an entire film based around the character.

The fight scenes are really top notch work. Marko has a great fight toward the beginning with Miguel Angel De Luca, who played the main villain in Kiltro, and their rematch is a much better shot fight in this film. My favorite fight involves, of all things, a dude who looks like an older security guard looking ripe for the cannon fodder chuck wagon, probably named “random old security guy #8”  but it was like he decided “Damn what the script says! I’m gonna bring the thunder!” and he does, giving Mandrill all kinds of trouble that was a nice change to see: a no-name guy just bringing a fantastic fight with absolutely no warning to Marko Zaror. What a great scene! The final three-on-one fight is great as well, and shows that Espinoza has really improved his camera work over time, just as Zaror has improved his fight choreography.

I won’t even get into the acrobatic moves Zaror pulls off throughout the film. For a man his size it shouldn’t be possible, but he’s simply amazing doing it.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Marko Zaror and the stuntmen do a great job in this film. The fights are plentiful and mixed in well with all the other goings-on. Once again, the fight with the security guard rocked, and the fight with the three final opponents was also great. Good to see De Luca onscreen again.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stuntmen really came to play in this film, and do great work here, taking some nasty falls and sold the hits really well, and were even able to bring a little “thunder” to their parts.

STAR POWER: (9) Marko Zaror is getting better and better with every film he does. A great new talent. I hope he appears in Undisputed 4. The sky is the limit for Zaror, and  so help me Hollywood, you better not screw this up! Get this man a big budget film!

FINAL GRADE: (9) Mandrill is a fun 60’s style secret agent romp with great martial-art fight scenes and a star-making performance by Marko Zaror!  So when do we get a sequel?

 

Review: Undisputed 3: Redemption (2010)

Posted in Isaac Florentine, Larnell Stovall, Lateef Crowder, Marko Zaror, Scott Adkins with tags , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Lateef Crowder, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Mark Ivanir

 Fight Choreography by Larnell Stovall

 Directed by Isaac Florentine

Undisputed 2 was one of those rare films that, even though it was a DTV film, was actually much better than the film it came from, and before you know it, the names Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins bounced to the forefront of DTV cinema. Both men have bided their time in smaller rolls, and this film announced that they were ready for bigger things. In the character of Yuri Boyka Scott Adkins created one of the best martial arts character in years. The question was whether or not Adkins could carry a film on his own.

The film picks up a few months after George Mason jacked up Boyka’s leg in Undisputed 2. Boyka has been disgraced ever since, and seems to be shadow of himself so much that even his former promoter Gaga (Ivanir) barely recognizes him. When it rains it pours for Boyka as he is turned down for parole and is told he can try again in 15 years. Boyka basically says to hell with this, and wants to enter a tournament where the winner is freed from prison. Boyka tears through Gaga’s new guy Psycho, and is sent to another prison where the fights will be held, and meets an assortment of people, including Turbo (Jenkins), an American boxer not unlike George Mason, with more attitude and cockiness. The big dog in the yard is a druggie nutjob named Raul Quinones, who is the reigning champion. Boyka must fight his way through various opponents, corrupt guards, and even the rules of the tournament itself in order to face Raul and win his freedom, or he will face his death. For Boyka it’s no problem because as he says:

“I am the most complete fighter in the world.”

Undisputed 3 once again is better than the film that came before it. Adkins does a great job as Boyka, a man who was a mysterious character in Undisputed 2, and remains so at the end of 3. They leave the speculations as to his character and why he was sent to prison in the first place in just the right places. Boyka isn’t an animal, nor is he a bad guy, which he really wasn’t in the previous film. He’s the same person here, and even shows that he does have a heart, and respects good fighters. Mykel Shannon Jenkins does a good job as Turbo. He has only one major fight, but he does well there. He exists in the plot to bring out the humanity that Boyka has, which isn’t much, but it’s there. Marko Zaror must have an affinity for playing kooks, as he plays another character who is a few french fries short of a happy meal just like his character in Kiltro, albeit much more deranged here, but to see Marko really cut loose in a way he hasn’t been able to so far…wow. No dude that big should be able to move like that. My favorite character in this series never fails to disappoint: Gaga. Yes, he’s a killer. Yes, he’s a bad guy, but damn it if he isn’t charming and funny at the same time. He always seems a step ahead of everyone else, and seems to know Boyka better than most. Mark Ivanir does a great job balancing Gaga’s funny side and his serious one, and yes, Gaga still loves his fast food, even though he has to live on carrots and celery now.

Isaac Florentine once again shows why he’s the top dog in DTV land when it comes to martial arts films. The camera placement and editing for the fight scenes are note-perfect, and he gets the most out of every fight, and even the slower scenes are directed well as he knows when to get out of the way and let the actors do their thing. Of course, none of this matters if the fights are good, and here is where the film truly shines. Larnell Stoval has become a very sought after fight choreographer, and after this film you’ll see why. The fights are really full of fast, complex movements that are really reminicent of late 80’s- early 90’s Sammo Hung films. The best fights are Adkins versus Lateef Crowder (can this guy ever win a fight against anyone of note in movies? Between this film, Tekken and Tony Jaa’s The Protector this dude seems to be the best fighter in the world to barely ever win a fight.) and the final fight between Adkins and Zaror, which is full of acrobatic WTF, and fantastic moves for each man. Stoval has the fight “conversation”of mid-80’s Honk Kong films down and it all looks both fast and pretty, and damn brutal.

Undisputed 3 is without a doubt a fantastic martial arts film, and Florentine and Adkins keep trucking along. Sooner or later Hollywood is going to figure out what these gentlemen truly have to offer. Whether they do or not, martial arts fans know exactly what we have in them. When it comes to English language martial arts films, they’re the top dogs. Just like Yuri Boyka.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) What a great way for Larnell Stoval to introduce himself to the world with. The fights have some MMA movements (not unlike what Donnie Yen has been working with in his modern-day films) but have some spectacular acrobatics and long sections of continuous fighting. The edits are perfect.

STUNTWORK: (8) Everyone does a great job, spinning and tossing themselves left and right. Nothing crazy, but some of these hits you KNOW these guys took were great. Reactions to hits are an art form unto themselves, and they it well here.

STAR POWER: (9) Scott Adkins’ star is climbing, and I think Marko Zaror’s not far behind him. Lateef does his normal awesome stuff.

FINAL GRADE: (9) Someone finally supplanted Bloodsport as the best tournament martial arts film ever made. Adkins’ Boyka is a fantastic character, but the real star here is Larnell Stoval and his fight choreography.

NEXT: Johnny Nguyen and Veronica Ngo are out to kick ass in Clash!

Review: Kiltro (2008)

Posted in Marko Zaror, Miguel Angel De Luca with tags , , on March 5, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Marko Zaror, Catarina Jadresic, and Miguel Angel De Luca

Fight Choreography by Marko Zaror

Directed by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza

Martial artist Marko Zaror makes his feature film debut in Kiltro, a film that has one of the slowest starts to any martial arts film I’ve ever seen, and gets better as the film goes on, but just as quickly crashes into WTF zone and never returns.

The film follows Zamir (Zaror) a young man who runs with a gang called the Kiltros who run around Chile evidently cheering Zamir on as he uses rough martial arts to beat up every jackass in town that dates Kim, and what makes this quite creepy is the fact that she isn’t his girlfriend. Not only that, but he’s been stalking her to the point that he beats the shit out of a dude for even dancing with her in a club! Meanwhile, we get glimpses of a midget running around wearing some sort of makeup looking like a super deformed Gandalf watching Zamir and whatever the hell else. You’ll be waiting until most of the way through this film before you know what he’s about. The first fight occurs when Zamir follows Kim home, and into her father’s dojo, who happens to be a Korean martial arts master, and Kim tries to get Zamir killed by mistranslating what her father is telling him and what he’s saying to him to get her father’s students to attack Zamir, who beats them all down. The fight is a good showcase of Zaror’s skills, but is stunted due to the skill level Zamir is supposed to have.  The editing here is good in some places and dodgy in others.

We come to find out that Zamir lives with his mother, and learned some martial arts from his father, who disappeared long ago without a trace. Zamir lives aimlessly, only wanting to get into random fights and hang out with the Kiltros. You’ll have to endure a lot of Zamir walking around hang-dog until he learns that Kim is dating one of the very dudes he beat the crap out of, which causes a depressed Zamir to walk the streets of Chile to a David Bowie song. I can’t even kid you about this.

The good thing is that when this scene ends, we are introduced to Max Kalba (De Luca), a martial artist who, with his two androgynous Asian sidekicks pay a visit to the local tailor, an Asian man who appears to know martial arts but is killed by Kalba too early to know how good he may have been. After this he pays a visit to the Korean master in his dojo, and beats up or kills most of his students. Of course Zamir goes in to help, and has his ass kicked out of a window. What was neat about this scene is that you see through Zamir’s eyes as he gets kicked and blacks out. You then see when he wakes up…outside. Now you know what it looks like from your perspective of getting kicked out of a window. The Kiltros come to help Zamir, but all they do is get killed, and his best buddy among them gets the worst of it when he tries to punch Kalba and Kalba uses his cane with a tiger claw hand at the end to de-testicle Zamir’s bro, and lets him lie on the ground in pain for a few seconds before finishing him off. Zamir is able to escape, thanks to that damn midget, now named Nik Nak, who is able to carry a six-foot five Chilean dude over a distance of at least a mile away to his hideout on the coast, and I  officially call bullshit on that one, because Max Kalba can’t find them, as if tracing a midget carrying a big six foot tall latin man with a mullet with red bangs on the ends on his back would be difficult!

Nik Nak sends Zamir off to find a martial arts master named Master Soto, who can teach Zamir the skills he needs to face Kalba and his men in one last battle, and learn the truth of who he really is, and why Kalba is killing off a group of martial arts masters.

This is a truly silly film that wants to be too much and in doing so becomes about nothing. They were trying to pattern the film using the plots from typical Shaw Brothers kung-fu films: Young man is raised not knowing where he gets his martial arts skills from, and is aimless until an enemy of his father’s runs around town killing off all martial arts masters, and said young man must go to the outskirts of town and learn martial arts from an old master who has unorthodox methods of teaching…and can usually be found in a seedy bar getting drunk. Once he learns he returns home to face the villain in one last battle.

Yeah, that accounts for many kung-fu films, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but the love story they tagged on was more creepy than anything else. One, the Korean girl looks all of 16 wearing that Japanese school girl outfit (!) and Marko looks to be in his twenties, and two, the way he follows her everywhere she goes. This and the fact that we have to spend the first 20 minutes of the film following this before the film actually get to the point.  Marko Zaror is a skilled fighter, and jeez, is he a big Latino!  He does show off his skills, and his acrobatics for someone his size is fantastic. His acting is fair, and he does as well as he can with the script, but the character of Zamir is not very compelling. He’s a sad sack the entire film, and Zaror never gets to show off any charm because of it.  The other actors do okay, but nothing worth mentioning.  The final series of fights are over far too quickly, but they do get to get Zaror really cut loose, but there is just not enough of it for what we had to put up with before. The final battle with Kalba barely registers as there isn’t much real fighting in it (I don’t think De Luca knows martial arts with the way they quick edit his fight scenes).

Kiltro introduces us to Marko Zaror, but isn’t the tour de force introduction that it should have been. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see Zaror going full-out.  In this case the direction really fails him. Too many scenes look like they were filmed on a soundstage, and some of it actually does look like it was filmed for more of a stage play than a movie. The story needed to be edited down more, and spends too much time bogged down in a creepy love story.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (5) It’s not horrible, but does look like a first-timer did this, which I believe Zaror was at the time. That, and there was too little of it for a martial arts film.

STUNTWORK:(8) The stuntmen came to work on this one, and took some real hits in some places.

STAR POWER: (6) Marko will go on to much better things, but other than him, there is no one else worth mentioning. It’s unknown judging by this film how much charisma he has because of the character he plays.

FINAL GRADE: (6) This is not a good film, and not the best debut, but Marko–and Director Ernesto Espinoza– will bounce back and go on to do far better films, but you want to steer clear of this one.