Archive for the Ron Yuan Category

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!

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Review: The Girl From The Naked Eye (2012)

Posted in James Lew, Jason Yee, Lateef Crowder, Ron Yuan on June 8, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jason Yee, Ron Yuan, Lateef Crowder, Dominique Swain, Sasha Grey, James Lew, Samantha Streets

Fight choreography by Ron Yuan

Directed by David Ren

Every once in a while someone tries to do something different within the martial arts genre, and as someone who watches so many, I appreciate them when they come around, and it’s even better when we get more than one in a twelve month time span. Bunraku experimented with combining a samurai film with a western and tossing them into a blender with a box of crayons, and now we get a hard-boiled film noir story that introduces a new face to the world of martial arts stars. Jason Yee has been around in Hollywood, doing small films and getting small roles, but Jason, a U.S. San-Shou champion, now takes center stage to show off his stuff.

Yee stars as Jake, a bodyguard who works for glorified pimp Simon (Yuan) at a strip club called The Naked Eye. Jake’s job is to drive around Simon’s girls when they go out as escorts to make sure they stay safe and more importantly to make sure his clients pay up when their fun is over. The film opens as we find the dead body of one of them, a girl named Sandy (Streets) whom Jake finds murdered. As the film progresses we find out why he cares for this particular girl over all of the others while Jakes rampages across the city in an attempt to find her killer and take his revenge. As all things do in a film noir things go south quickly after Jake beats up Simon and takes his black book, which has the names of all of Simon’s clients. All kinds of hell begins to rain down on Simon, and he has to dodge Simon and his men, a kill crazy corrupt cop, and the men Jake owes a lot of money to, and try to survive the night long enough to solve the mystery of Sandy’s death….

The story has a good flow to it, and the cinematography and camera angles create a convincing film noir which actually falls in line with the look of many Korean thrillers coming out nowadays. I actually think this film could have worked well in black and white. The voice overs by Jake also lend to the “noir-ness” of the film, and David Ren gets a lot of things right. The script is fairly well written, and really show a seedy underworld that left me wanting to wash myself afterward, and more nudity than I’ve seen in a Hollywood film since the heyday of the 80’s. Jason Yee is convincing as the loser/fighter Jake, and brings the appropriate hard-boiled edge to him. Ron Yuan is fantastic as Simon, and has some of the funniest lines in the film, and he’s able to create a character you kinda like and despise all at once. Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience)  is in the film in what amounts to a glorified cameo, and the same goes for Dominque Swain (Face/Off).

The fight choreography is well done, keeping everything within the film noir spectrum and style, and all of the fights keep a realistic tone, but there are two standout moments: the first is the first fight between Jason Yee and Lateef Crowder in hotel hallway. The fighting is tight since the hallway is small, and it was interesting to see how Lateef uses his capoeira in such a tight space. The absolute best fight comes at the end of the film and begins with the rematch between Yee and Crowder, and then, in an ode to the film Oldboy .Jake takes on four or five police officers in a side-scrolling scene that is terrifically choreographed by Ron Yuan. I was giggling in entertainment glee the entire time as I watched this fight unfold, and the orchestral score that accompanied it is one of my favorites, “Bolero” as performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Ron Yuan does a great job of melding the martial arts fights into the film noir and darkness of the rest of the film, and once again, the final fight is absolutely great. All of the other fights were good, but the Lateef Crowder stuff is exceptionally well done.

STUNTWORK: (8) The stuntmen did a really good job, especially the one poor guy who fell on his head and he rolled down the balcony, and the stuntmen who fought during the  side scrolling fight did a fantastic job.

STAR POWER: (7) Jason Yee is a relative unknown, but I think he’ll be much better known after this film comes out. Ron Yuan is great as always, but Dominique Swain and Sasha Grey weren’t really in the film enough to really matter. Lateef’s record of being the best martial artist in films to have never won an onscreen fight continues untarnished!

FINAL GRADE: (8) A terrific martial arts film noir that brings a fresh voice to the world of martial arts films, and Jason Yee has the makings of a star, with bone crunching fights and a terrific finale that will leave martial arts film fans smiling.

The film’s release date is June 15th, 2012

 

NEXT: Jackie Chan returns as the Asian Hawk in Armor of God 2: Operation Condor!

 

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: Blood And Bone (2009)

Posted in Bob Sapp, JJ Perry, Kimbo Slice, Matt Mullins, Michael Jai White, Robert Wall, Ron Yuan with tags , , on April 28, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Michael Jai White, Eamonn Walker, Nona Gaye, Julian Sands,

Dante Basco, Bob Sapp, Kimbo Slice, Matt Mullins, Ron Yuan

Fight Choreography by JJ Perry and Fernando Chien

Directed by Ben Ramsey

Michael Jai White is one of those mysteries that Hollywood hasn’t figured out yet, but fans and martial arts enthusiasts have been waiting for “MJW” to finally star in a film of his own, and somewhere out the there martial arts gods were listening to us, and gave us Undisputed 2, which finally gave MJW the starring film he deserved. It was a huge success on DTV, and MJW follows it up with this film. Can he keep the momentum going?

To quote one random line from the film, “That Bones is the truth!”

The film tells the story of Bone (MJW), a man just released from prison, whom we know from the first fight at the beginning of the film that he’s a martial arts badass who can beat the tar out of Kimbo Slice and a group of unfortunate henchmen who weren’t aware that attacking Bone meant losing both their dignity–and their teeth.

He soon arrives at a boarding home, where he is taken in by Tamara (Gaye) and it’s apparent that he’s there for a reason that won’t be explained until much later. That night he attends an underground fight tournament where he sees a fighter named the Cowboy getting his butt whipped by the HammerMan (Sapp), and Bone uses the beat down to get Cowboy’s promotor Pinball (Basco) to get him into a fight, where Bone obliterates his opponent, and brings him , and after a few fights is brought to the attention of The Hammerman’s promotor James, a street kingpin who is looking to move up to a group called the Consortium, of which his boss Franklin McVeigh (Sands) is a member. And yes, they sound like James Bond villains, but never mind that. Of course, I always viewed Julian Sands as a Bond villain. Score one for MJW’s crew for figuring that one out first!

This is what Bone wants, although it will be midway through the film before we see why, which actually helps keep the story interesting. Bone is offered to join James, by fighting in a special bout financed by the Consortium against their best fighter, Pretty Boy Price (Mullins), considered to be the best in the world. Bone has other plans that involves James’s girl Angela, who has a secret connected with Bone that not even she is aware of until later.

Soon all of Bone’s plans come to fruition, and he had foreshadowed this to James earlier in the film when he quoted Genghis Khan:

I am the punishment of God. And if you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.

Now that is some badass shit to say, ‘cause Genghis Khan was the original badass who said it, and you better be one to use it. Unfortunately James didn’t really put this bit of logic together, else he would have retired early, say, to Siberia.

Bone finally faces off with Price, and James has one last confrontation with Bone, and the results are not what you might expect…

Blood and Bone is a fun film that somewhat hearkens back to the heights of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s popularity, and share some story beats with his own film Lionheart.  MJW owns this role, exuding a great deal of screen presence along with some well-acted scenes. He never portrays Bone as some sort of unstoppable badass, but as a very intelligent man who has a plan, and intends to keep his plan and his promise to a friend. He has a spirituality to himself that is shown in his martial arts, as he never applies more force than what’s necessary to defeat his opponent. In a great montage scene of his fights he also shows that he knows Tai Chi, and it is this form he uses to defeat James at the end. Eamonn Walker also does a fantastic job as James. He plays him as a sociopathic street kingpin with delusions of believing that he is above the thugs he employs, but in reality is a worse monster, and there are some really good moments where he states that he doesn’t curse because it makes man barbaric, but then curses a bunch toward the end when things start to unravel. He becomes what he thought he wasn’t. All of the rest of the cast, particularly Dante Basco as Pinball and Ron Yuan (yep, little brother of  Roger Yuan (Shanghai Noon)) add some hip-hop flavor to the proceedings.

The fights are stand out here. The first few fights show what is in Bone’s mind, how he sees his opponent, and his fight against the Hispanic gang that won’t pay up is fantastic. The 4-man jump kick was astounding. I don’t know how MJW does it. No one that big should be able to do that, but he can. His fight with Bob Sapp is also good, but quick, which is appropriate given the circumstances and his opponent, and holy crap is Bob Sapp scary! The final fight between MJW and Matt Mullins is fantastic, as each fighter sizes up the other, and the choreography is fluid and smooth, and really allows both men to shine.

Ben Ramsey does a great job staging the fights, keeping the camera at good angles so we can see the action, and not quick-cut editing the film to hell. The film also has some good references for those who love martial arts films. In the final fight look for Robert Wall (Enter the Dragon) as one of the Consortium members throwing MJW a sword as McVeigh yells out his name “O’Hara!” I actually laughed out loud at that scene. Sands does a great Shih Kein impersonation!

Blood and Bone is a fun martial arts film that finally allows MJW to cut loose and show us what he can do, and he puts it all together here, the acting, the fighting, the humor. It’s all there, and well worth watching. Also, watch the credits at the end to see James meet a fate that may be worse than death…

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) JJ Perry and Co do a great job staging these fights, and they have a good mix of MMA and traditional martial arts. The final fight between Bone and Price is fantastic. Matt Mullins and MJW really get a chance to show off  their stuff.

STUNTWORK: (8) Good stuff from everyone involved, especially the other fighters, whom I believe are all the real deal.

STAR POWER: (10) Michael Jai White really gets to put himself out there, and it works. Since then his slate has gotten really, really full, so good on him! Eamonn Walker, Bob Sapp  Matt Mullins, Dante Basco, Ron Yuan , Julian Sands and Kimbo Slice all give good contributions to a good film. Hey, so does Robert Wall!

FINAL GRADE: (9) MJW delivers another great martial arts film. I’m glad he’s taken his career into his own hands. Now how about a sequel? Bone did tell McVeigh he would see him later…