Archive for the Roger Yuan Category

Review: Blindsided (2017)

Posted in Clayton Barber, David No, Eric Jacobus, Roger Yuan on February 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Eric Jacobus, Roger Yuan, Nicolas Verdi, Brett Sheerin, Khalid Ghajji

Fight Choreography by Roger Yuan

Directed by Clayton Barber

I’ve been gleefully awaiting anything from Eric Jacobus ever since we saw him in Rope-A-Dope 2, and now this filmmaking/martial arts/stuntman badass returns in a film that pays great homage to all of the blind martial arts onscreen fighters over the years, so how does his newest short hold up to everything including his own work?

In short: this is Mr. Jacobus’ best film yet. And that’s really, REALLY saying something.

The film opens as we meet Walter, a blind man with a bit of a problem: he needs milk to go with his apple pie (which looks like the best apple pie I’ve seen in a long time), and goes to his corner market. While shopping there the shop owner (played by the great Roger Yuan!!!) is accosted by a group of thugs, and well, you can probably guess what happens next. I’m not giving it away!

Eric, as always, shows that comedy is his strong suit, and proves it again here, not so much with the character himself, but with the early part of the fight scenes, which remind me of some of Jackie Chan’s best fight scenes using a prop, which in this case is his cane. Roger Yuan looks like he’s having a blast watching the proceedings, and since he’s also the fight choreographer, isn’t that an awesome thing?! The direction by Clayton Barber is spot on, and everyone does a great job packing a lot of character into a very short amount of time. The production values are fantastic as they aways are with Eric’s work, and the fights!

Let’s have a word about that.

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There is only one fight scene in the film, but covers a lot and since weapons are involved it looks technically difficult to shoot, but the quality is there as we see some amazing movements, parries, blocks and strikes are fast and furious, but the excellent camerawork makes sure you know what’s what and who is where at all times.

If I had any real issue with the film is that I wanted more of everything! But that’s for a sequel, isn’t it? And be sure to stick through the credits as you see what training Eric went through to accurately portray a blind gentlemen. Dedication to craft, everybody!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9.5

Eric knocks this one out of the park–again–and Roger Yuan’s fight choreography is on point! This film comes on Youtube March 1st, and I HIGHLY suggest you watch it! So where’s my feature film with Walter? 

You can watch the film March 1st here.

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Finally! Here is the Trailer for Dustin Nguyen’s Buddha Fire!

Posted in Dustin Nguyen, Roger Yuan, Veronica Ngo with tags on February 3, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Been waiting to see what Dustin was cooking up ever since I reported about this film. Now we get trailer that looks like all kinds of crazy. A weird amalgam of modern days versus fantasy, and I have to say this looks promising! But check out the trailer for yourself and decide! 2013 just looks to get better and better. I think Buddha Fire is still the name, but I’d be happy if anyone can translate the title from the trailer and let me know! Roger Yuan and the great Veronica Ngo round out the cast!

 

Dustin Nguyen begins production on Monk on Fire (Buddha Fire) with Roger Yuan, Jason Ninh Cao and Veronica Ngo!

Posted in Dustin Nguyen, Jason Ninh Cao, Roger Yuan, Uncategorized, Veronica Ngo with tags on October 22, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

While waiting for things to get going on Iron Monk, Jason Nihn Cao has started working on Monk on Fire, a film that has been in development for a while, a project being directed by 21 Jumpstreet’s Dustin Nguyen (That will be the final time I associate his name with that show on this site) who scored a hit with the Vietnam martial arts epic The Rebel. Now things have gotten going, as the fight rehearsals have started. The film stars Dustin Nguyen, Roger Yuan, Veronica Ngo (Clash) and Jason Ninh Cao. Roger Yuan is also reported to be doing the fight choreography.

Information on the story is thin at the moment, but what is known is that it’s a fantasy martial arts story that revolves around a rivalry between two buddhist warriors (Nguyen and Yuan respectively).

I’ll get in touch with Jason Ninh Cao to see if he can give any more details. More to come!

Roger Yuan

Veronica Ngo

Jason Ninh Cao

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!

Review: Black Dynamite (2010)

Posted in Michael Jai White, Roger Yuan, Ron Yuan with tags , , on January 11, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Tommy Davison, Arsenio Hall, Phil Morris, Roger Yuan and James McManus

Fight Choreography by Ron and Roger Yuan

Directed by Scott Sanders

“ Who the HELL is interruptin’ my Kung Fu?”

“Donuts don’t wear alligator shoes.”

“First lady, I’m sorry I pimp-slapped you into that china cabinet.”

There is so many quotable lines I could spend the entire review listing them. Suffice to say that Black Dynamite, the brain child of Michael Jai White, was royally screwed by Sony Pictures Classics, which picked up the film after it built up buzz on the festival circuit. The biggest crime was perpetrated by giving this film a limited released before kicking straight to video, but thanks to the Cartoon Network not all is lost…

Black Dynamite kicks off with his brother Tommy (speaking with a Shakespearean stage voice) getting killed during a drug buy as he is outed as being an informant. Black Dynamite (MJW) finds out, and vows to get his revenge on all those involved in his death. He gets his best friend, the always rhyming Bullhorn (Minns) and a local pimp named Cream Corn (Davison) to help him on a crusade that begins with revenge but then becomes a race against time to stop Fiendish Dr. Wu (Yuan) from hatching his scheme to…and I’ll leave it at that. I won’t spoil the fun surprises that await you, and there are some crazy surprises as the film goes to 10 and then dials up the insanity to a 12.

The story is absolutely crazy, going from what seems like a simple street revenge story to something completely insane, but how it gets to that point is perfectly believable as the story builds to a point that anything less would’ve been disappointing. The dialog is fantastic, even as some of it calls for the actors to literally “read” the script. You’ll see what I mean. The pimps, bad guys and others are fantastically realized, with names such as Tasty Freeze, Chocolate Giddyup, Mo’ Bitches, and Chicago Wind. Don’t forget Captain Kangaroo pimp. I can’t believe I just said that.

The heart of the film rests with the direction and actors. Scott Sanders does a masterful job of realizing the script, which is a love letter to blaxploitation films, which in the hands of a lazier director would be simply an Airplane-style spoof. Sanders set out to make a film that showed all of the low budget mistakes that made those films special. The microphone seen just above the actors head, terrible acting (in many blaxploitation films they literally had to get people off the street to act, and it shows) Perhaps the best written scene in the film is when Black Dynamite and his friends figure out the villain’s plans on a chalkboard at a pancake house.The film grain, edits, sets, costumes and music are so authentically 70’s that if you showed this film to someone that didn’t know any better they would think this were an actual 70‘s blaxploitation film.

Michael Jai White is perfect as Black Dynamite, a complete badass who romances the ladies when he isn’t kicking ass, he sells it the entire way, no matter how ridiculous things get. He yells his kiai like Jim Kelly does when he fights. Byron Minns does a fantastic Dolemite impersonation, and Roger Yuan plays an over the top Fiendish Dr. Wu, and he would’ve been perfect in a James Bond film. You can tell everyone had a blast playing their characters, especially Tommy Davidson as Cream Corn, and James McManus as…well, you’ll see who he is, and he plays his character perfectly in the most insane moment of the film.

The fights are fantastically done. They reflect the time period, but even though they should normally look bad like a Dolemite film, well this is MJW and that ain’t happening, ya dig? MJW’s fight scenes are all well done, from the first fight in his home to his battle versus Dr. Wu and then the final fight that has to be seen to be believed. They reflect the 70’s style of fight choreography and Ron and Roger Yuan pull it off perfectly. Each fight escalates perfectly from the fight that came before.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The fight choreography fits perfectly with the time period and are both cheesy and complex at the same time. Ron and Roger Yuan do a great job of pulling it off and keeping both cheesy and exciting. And yes, in this world Abraham Lincoln knew Kung-Fu.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stuntmen overreact when they are hit or shot, and take unrealistic spills for the hits they are given. In other words, they were note perfect with the time period. It can sometimes take more effort to overact these kinds of scenes than you may think.

STAR POWER: (9) MJW, Tommy Davison, Arsenio Hall, Roger Yuan and Nicole Sullivan all do a great job, but this is MJW’s film through and through.

FINAL GRADE: (9) Black Dynamite is a fantastic ode to 70’s blaxpoitation films that celebrates what made those films fun and empowering at the same time. A terrific film you’ll be quoting long after you watch it. Can you dig it?

Review: Shanghai Noon (2000)

Posted in Jackie Chan, Roger Yuan, Yu Rong Guang, Yuen Biao with tags , on April 1, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Lui, Roger Yuan, Walter Goggins, Yu Rong Guang

Fight Choreography by Yuen Biao

Directed by Tom Dey

After the success of Rush Hour Hollywood was eager to get Jackie Chan back on the big screen. Of course since they deemed his english wasn’t good he needed to be teamed up with another English-speaking actor (Jackie’s english is just fine), and Jackie  had an idea about doing an american western for a while, which there is some debate about, since Sammo Hung claims he came up with the idea first, which would result in Once Upon A Time in China part 6. It was simply a question of who would reach the finish line first. The producers of Rush Hour liked Jackie’s idea and brought in Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (creators of Smallville), brought in a relatively unknown director in Tom Dey, and at that time a rising star in Owen Wilson. Would this be another Rush Hour film?

Thankfully, the answer to that is hell no.

The film begins in the Forbidden City, circa 1881, as Princess Pei Pei (Liu) arrives in what will be an arranged marriage to a local lord, so of course he looks more like an Asian John Candy , so you know that ain’t gonna work for girlfriend, and so, with the help of her english teacher, she runs away to the USA. The only one to see her is a lowly Imperial guard named Chon Wang (Chan) who dreams of being more than what he is, which is a shitty guard since he lets Princess Pei Pei escape. The Imperial magistrate receives a ransom demand for the return of the princess, and sends the ransom gold along with Chon, his uncle, and three other imperial guards. Fast forward to seven weeks later, and the guards are on a train heading toward Carson City Nevada, where the gold is to be delivered, and the audience really gets a taste of the rich cinematography that will permeate the entire film.

Soon the train is boarded by bandits led by Roy O’Bannon (Wilson) a carefree hippie bandit who is more in love with the romance of being a bandit than actually being one. Things go wrong when his newest gang member Wallace (Goggins) shoots Chon’s Uncle. Chon goes after Roy and his gang, and foils their plan to steal a safe full of money, and finds himself in the middle of nowhere after he separates the train car, and Roy finds himself in more trouble when Wallace double-crosses Roy and takes over the gang.

Meanwhile, Princess Pei Pei arrives at a rock mill, and her teacher delivers her to Lo Fong (Yuan), a traitor who used to be an imperial guard. Of course the greedy teacher wants more money, and you would think that after thousands of films made these guys would just learn to take the damn money and go, but not this douchebag. And of course, right from the Villain’s Handbook Fong quickly dispatches the teacher, and reveals to Princess Pei Pei that she is being held ransom for gold.

Soon Chon finds himself in the American wilderness, and his first real fight is a doozy against a band of Native Americans, which starts seriously but becomes comedic halfway through, which is appropriate in the terms of the fight scene. After Chon gains a wife in a hilarious scene right out of a Mel Brooks film, he travels to a nearby town and meets Roy O’Bannon again, and an old fashioned bar fight ensues, put through a Jackie Chan blender of great fight choreography. Soon Roy and Chon become allies for difference reasons to save the Princess and stop Lo Fong and his hired goons from winning the day, and discover what their true calling in life is…

Okay, this may be somewhat of a mini-rant I promised back in my review from Rush Hour, but what the hey. This movie is the anti-Rush Hour for so many reasons. For one, this is an actual Jackie Chan film, through and through. He’s the center of everything, and Owen Wilson, unlike Chris Tucker, is content to share the screen with Jackie, not trying to steal away every scene. Of course, it helps when the director doesn’t have an agenda other than to make a good Jackie Chan film (Yeah, that’s at you, Ratner. You’ve done nothing more than to make Jackie second fiddle in his own film to promote your boy Tucker.) Ratner used Jackie to get himself and Tucker into the big time, and  Jackie became more and more a secondary character as the Rush Hour films go on.

Also unlike Rush Hour there is Jackie Chan-style action galore here, and moves in cadence with many of Jackie’s HK films. The best fights being the fight versus the Native Americans, the bar room brawl, and the next-to-last fight, which actually gives us what real JC fans want, a martial arts fight of Jackie Chan versus the Iron Monkey himself, Yu Rong Guang. Rush Hour’s martial arts finale? Jackie trying to hold a vase upright, which was fun, but please. You can easily see that director Tom Dey actually understands what a Jackie Chan movie actually is, which is comedy mixed with serious scenes, great stunts, and fantastic JC fight choreography, cadenced at the opening, middle, and end of the film. It’s apparent that despite the films he’s claimed to have seen, Ratner doesn’t know a damn thing about a Jackie Chan film. End of rant. At least until I get to review Rush Hour 2 and 3. Then I go nuts. I may need blood pressure pills for those.

The film is also full of veterans of martial arts films, especially Roger Yuan, a favorite actor in many Jet Li films, and funny enough he’s also in Jet’s competing east meets western, OUATIC part 6. He makes a great villain, and his two fight scenes with Jackie are good enough to show that he’s a threat that could actually beat Chon Wang. Lucy Lui does a good job as the Princess, and shows a great inner strength as the film progresses. Wilson also does a great job being, really, Jackie’s sidekick, which actually gets made fun of throughout the film. Jackie and Owen have a natural chemistry that seems forced in the Rush Hour films. Yuen Biao does a great job with the fight choreography, and look for him onscreen as a servant who loads rocks into Pei Pei’s basket.

Yu Rong Guang doesn’t get to do much, but his final fight with Jackie is a showpiece of weapon forms. Of course last but not least is Jackie himself, who does a great acting job as Chon Wang, his fight scenes are as good as ever, but what you’ll really note is how comfortable Jackie looks onscreen. He’s more confident here than he ever was in Rush Hour. I give a lot of credit of that to the writers and the director.

Shanghai Noon is a great Jackie Chan film that really encapsulates everything that makes JC so great, and is just a fun western to boot. Except for having an Uncle Cracker song, no wrong notes on this one. With the exception of one other film, this is the best of Jackie’s American output.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Yuen Biao does a great job mixing the western aesthetics with with the staples of a Jackie Chan fight scene. Roger Yuan does a great job with his fight scenes as does Yu Rong Guang. The fight vs the native americans is great.

STUNTWORK: (9) Jackie Chan speaks for himself, but the other stunt performers not part of the JC stunt team really sells everything, especially in the bar room brawl, and the escape from the gallows.

STAR POWER: (9) Jackie’s finally made a Jackie Chan movie in America, and Owen Wilson would go on to more hit films, Lucy Liu would go on to do Charlie’s Angels, and Walter Goggins is one of the stars of the TV series Justified.

FINAL GRADE: (9) An American film that can truly be called a Jackie Chan film at last. A classic western in its own right, with a fun, relatable story and great characters in Chon Wang and Roy O’Bannon.