Archive for the Xing Yu Category

Review: Kung Fu Killer (Kung Fu Jungle) (2014)

Posted in Baoqiang Wang, Bey Logan, Bruce Lee, David Chiang, Donnie Yen, Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), Shaw Brothers, Simon Yuen, Xing Yu with tags , on April 23, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang, Louis Fan, Xing Yu, Michelle Bai, David Chiang, Raymond Chow, Yuen Cheung-yan, also with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen, Andrew Lau, Bruce Law, Bey Logan, Kirk Wong,Teddy Chan, Dante Lam, Billy Chan, and Enoch Chan

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Teddy Chan

Let me start by saying this: Kung Fu Jungle is the best film Donnie Yen has made since any film not named Ip Man and Flashpoint.  Donnie Yen’s output since Ip Man 2 has been a bit underwhelming, but he fires back on all cylinders with this film. A second/third wind to his career? I think this film may be part of the reason he’s on the verge of retirement, and I’ll elaborate my theory on this later in the review.

The film starts as we meet Hahao Mo (Yen) a kung fu master and sometimes police martial arts trainer. He is bloody, and has just been in a fight to prove how good he is, but wound up killing his opponent (Logan) and turns himself into the police. Three years later, Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (Yeung) finds herself on a case involving serial killer Fung Yu-Sau (Wang) who is targeting kung fu masters across the city. Hahao Mo is released early from prison in order to help the police track down this killer, but Hahao knows more than he lets on, and the police increasingly wonder if they can actually trust him, but the bodies left in Fung’s wake start to pile up…

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Kung Fu Jungle is a fantastic action film, and more than that its Donnie Yen and Teddy Chan’s love letter to all the kung fu films that inspired them. Just look at the starring credits above. Jackie Chan is onscreen as Hahao is watching Drunken Master in one scene. In fact, he’s specifically watching the scene where JC goes through the form, one of the best scenes of its kind ever filmed. Then you get to Shaw Brothers favorite David Chiang in a cameo appearance, and then, Raymond Chow appears! The list goes on and on, and I’m sure I missed someone. In fact, the only criticism I have is that some folks were left out. Where was the Greatness (Gordon Liu), and where was Sammo Hung? Jet Li? I suppose in Jet’s case he’s more a contemporary for Yen, so there could be that.

As for the story itself, and this is the genius of the film, is that it’s an homage to dozens of  old school kung fu films where a great kung fu master travels around fighting different schools and killing their masters for the sole purpose of being the best. Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, Knockabout, Prodigal Son, and so many dozens more have used this same story conceit, and director Teddy Chan brings that same story to the modern day successfully. Donnie Yen is excellent as Hahao, a man who had paid the price and damaged his own soul trying to be the best. Baoqiang is equally good as the killer, whose reasons go beyond just wanting to be the greatest of all. Charlie Yeung also does a great job here, but I kinda think this film missed out in respect to her casting, and I thought Michelle Yeoh may have been the better play here, given the spirit of the movie, but Michelle Bai does the spirit of female action heroes well as Haoho’s love interest, Sinn Ying, and she proves to give Baoqiang a greater challenge than he suspects.

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Louis Fan and Xing Yu are in the film more as extended cameos, and while I enjoyed their presence, I had wished they would have appeared in the film longer.

The fights here are some of the best choreographed fights Yen has put out in some time. The first fight in the prison is terrific, as are all of the fights Baoqiang gets into with his various opponents, but the climactic battle on a busy street between Yen and Baoqiang is truly great and hard hitting, with fantastic movement and speed. THIS is the Donnie Yen of SPL and Flashpoint that had been missing for a little while.

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I said that this film may be contributing to Donnie Yen retiring. I say that because Donnie recently stated that he really has nothing more to say on camera regarding kung fu films. This film expresses his love for the genre and the career its given him as he pays his respects to those that came before him. After Ip Man 3 and this, I’m of the mind that he may be right. His filmography spans just about every type of martial arts film, and I’m not sure there anything else he can make that would be cool without simply spinning his wheels.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Kung Fu Jungle (called Kung Fu Killer by WellGOUSA) is a great piece of entertainment that shows Donnie Yen at his absolute best and writes a thrilling love letter to all martial arts films! You do NOT want to miss this!

Kung Fu Killer will be out in North America tomorrow in select theaters!

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Review: The Wrath of Vajra (2014)

Posted in Matt Mullins, Steve Yoo, Xing Yu, Yasuaki Kurata with tags , on March 18, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Xing Yu, Steve Yoo, Ya Mei, Matt Mullins, Yasuaki Kurata

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung and Zhang Peng

Directed by Law Wing Cheong

Xing Yu is an actual 32nd Generation Shaolin monk who has co-starred in many great films like Kung Fu Hustle, Flashpoint and Ip Man, and has played second fiddle to other action stars. I thought he had enough screen charisma and martial arts talent to actually star in a film, and wondered if he would ever get his shot at the big time.

Well, he has now received his shot. And I was right! He’s got what it takes to be a star.

The Wrath of Vajra begins as we learn about the Hades sect under the leadership of Amano Kawao (Kurata), a Japanese martial arts organization that aided the Japanese armies during their attempted conquest of China, but were disbanded once their goals clashed with that of the military. The Chinese people are now revolting in the provinces that Japan controls, and needs the Hades sect to return to help quell the revolutions. To do this, Kawao, from jail, reinstates his lead student Kurashige to restart the Hades sect, by stealing children and forcing them to learn martial arts and become killing machines. Soon this comes to the attention of K-29 (Xing Yu), now practicing as a Shaolin monk after escaping the Hades sect. He was one of their greatest students, and they want him back, for either the purposes of joining them or being killed by them. At the same time a group of Chinese fighters consisting of a few Americans, particularly Bill (Mullins) are take prisoner and forced to fight until they die or join the Hades group. As the story unfolds you’ll find that Bill and a few others are well familiar with what Hades has to offer. K-29 finds that one of the Shaolin children has been taken by the sect, and he returns to Hades base/arena to fight his way to destroying them once and for all.  Can he use his lessons as a Monk to save the child, the rebels, and himself once he enters the darkness of Hades?

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I really enjoyed this film immensely. Xing Yu very much has the determined hero look down pat, but he also does a good job as showing his conflicted emotions at certain moments. Matt Mullins does a great job as Bill, but I wish there had been more scenes with him and Xing Yu, to examine their relationship since they both escaped from Hades. Yasuaki Kurata doesn’t get to fight in this one, but exudes menace as Kawao.

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Steve Yoo is great as Kurashige, and plays him perfectly as a man who doesn’t believe that what he’s doing is evil as its all he’s ever known, and feels betrayed by K-29 for choosing to stand against him. Especially at the end, when he gazes out and sees Hades falling apart, and the disbelief on his face, is just well done by Yoo. The story itself is well told, and each character has a fitting, even somewhat operatic ending. I thought for sure this would be a Heroic Bloodshed film, and was actually surprised that it wasn’t, but in no way disappointed in that. That would have been an easy way to end the story. I’m glad they didn’t take it.

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The fights in this film were a joy to watch. Since Sammo choreographed it, I would expect nothing less! It was all well-shot, with a mixture of traditional kung-fu and a little bit of wirework, but nothing that distracted or took away from the performers. My favorite fight is when K-29 fights Crazy Monkey, a crazy kung-fu fighter who uses an array of styles and parkour to evade and attack. The fight starts on the ground, then on a bridge, and then to the top of the concrete bridge arches, and down, and back up, and then into the water. The music here is also good, and I hope more films follow it musically. There is a Xing Yu versus Matt Mullins fight that I wish had been a lot longer, but Mullins gets his moments during the final scrum at the climax of the film (in fact, some of it reminds me of Enter The Dragon in a strange way). The final fight itself in the rain between Xing Yu and Steve Yoo is gorgeous to look at and is well done. Their fight really displays the powerful strikes within the karate and kung-fu disciplines. The scenes switch between their fight and the soldiers fighting the Hades disciples, and it all comes together beautifully.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

I really had a great time with this movie, and I’d like to introduce everyone to Xing Yu: Kung Fu Star. His time has finally come in a film that properly introduces audiences to a man who may very well be the next big thing!

The Wrath of Vajra was released today on DVD and Blu-Ray from WellGO USA (Good Job, Ya’ll!) . I HIGHLY recommend you pick this one up!

Xing Yu finally gets his shot at the big time! Wrath of Vajra Trailer!!

Posted in Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Xing Yu, Yasuaki Kurata with tags , , on June 24, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Former monk Xing Yu has been playing sidekicks to Jet Li and Donnie Yen and more for what seems like years now, and it’s about damn time he gets his own vehicle. So far this looks great, add Yasuaki Kurata and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (Ip Man) to the mix, along with fantastic special effects, and this looks like a winner. Just like Xing Yu. Maybe he’s the next big Chinese kung-fu star we’ve been waiting for? Just in time to talk about him in my next podcast concerning the state of Hong Kong kung-fu cinema.

Thanks to the good folks at Far East Films for the trailer.

Review: Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Posted in Fung Hak-On, Sammo Hung, Stephen Chow, Sui-Lung Leung, Xing Yu, Yuen Qiu, Yuen Wah with tags , on April 15, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu, Xing Yu, Chi Ling Chiu, Fung Hak-on, Leung Siu-Lung

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung

Directed by Stephen Chow

Hot off of Shaolin Soccer, funnyman Stephen Chow  was just getting warmed up for what may be the crowning achievement of his career, a film that pays homage to cinema in general and kung fu movies in particular. Part kung-fu, part cartoon, Kung Fu Hustle raises the kung fu comedy bar to new heights.

Stephen Chow stars as Sing, a complete loser who, with his oafish friend Bone attempt to pull off scams on any sucker they can find. They make the mistake of going to Pig Sty Alley and trying to screw a barber out of paying for a haircut, pretending to be Axe Gang members. After being “attacked” by the people living in the complex Sing aligns himself with the real Axe Gang, who just happened to arrived. Sing unknowingly sets off a chain of events that finds the Axe Gang leader killed and replaced by his even worse second in command Brother Sum, who vows to destroy the inhabitants of the building. As it turns out the building is home to some of the greatest martial arts heroes of all time, and The Axe gang suffers defeat after defeat, but with Sing’s help they are able to find help from the greatest kung fu killer of all time. Sing believes that only the bad guys ever win, but can his eyes open to the truth about himself in time to save the people of Pig Sty?

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There isn’t a comedy stone left unturned here, and it all starts with Stephen Chow the actor, who does a great job as the hapless Sing. In many ways he plays a straight man to some of the most ridiculous moments of the film, and that’s a good thing. And, and as always, Yuen Wah brings his A-game to this part as the lecherous landlord, and Yuen Qiu stole the show as the tough as nails landlady. Seeing so many greats of the Shaw Brothers and early Sammo Hung era kung fu fighters was simply a treat. The story itself is well told, and the more out-there moments, like the chase between Landlady and Sing are just laugh-out-loud funny, even if it makes no real sense, and the slapstick comedy, such as the knife throwing scene (one of my favs) are just hilarious.

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Sammo Hung did a fantastic job choreographing the fights here (when isn’t Sammo great at this?) and it all escalates exactly as it should. The first fight in the courtyard is great, and Sammo lets the featured martial artists look great. My favorite fight, from every compositional standpoint, is the fight versus the Harpist assassins. Their harp served the dual purpose of being both a deadly weapon and providing the music for the fight scene, which is brilliant. The wire work was well done, and is used to very good effect and doesn’t shadow the actual martial arts being done. The final fight is great and Stephen Chow gets to show off what he can do, and Leung Sui-Lung (Gallants) gives Chow a run for his money here. The fight at the Axe Gang’s casino also deserves a mention, a fantastic blend of martial arts, wirework and special effects that allows Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu the chance to show they’ve still got it!

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10 

Stephen Chow made what may very well be the best kung fu comedy of all time! A brilliant mix of kung fu, comedy and special effects. Rarely does it mesh so well, but Chow pulls if off with gusto!

Review: Shaolin (2011)

Posted in Andy Lau, Jackie Chan, Jacky Wu Jing, Nicolas Tse, Xing Yu, Yu Hai with tags , on September 10, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Andy Lau, Jacky Wu Jing, Nicolas Tse, Jackie Chan, Xing Yu, Fan Bing Bing, Yu Hai

Fight Choreography by Corey Yuen

Directed by Benny Chan

Years ago the Shaolin temple teamed with a film production company to bring an awareness of Shaolin to the masses, and made the film Shaolin Temple, which turned little know wushu star Jet Li into a star. Fast forward to 2011, and the Shaolin have once again opened their doors to a large scale production that many call a remake of Shaolin temple, but it is really more of a reimagining. An all star cast jumps aboard, along with Corey Yuen and director Benny Chan (Who am I? and New Police Story) and a $200 million dollar budget to tell the story of the destruction of the Shaolin temple…

The film opens as we find China in the midst of a war where warlords feud against each other, and after a brutal battle the lord of the province is taken in by the Shaolin monks, who try to tend his wounds, but the beaten lord is found by Hao Jie (Lau) and his right hand man Cao Man (Tse). Lao is a brutal and evil man who shows no mercy and kills the lord. Hao takes DengFeng City, the city nearest the temple, and is not too thrilled that he has to share it with his wife’s uncle Commander Song, who wants to marry his son with Hao’s daughter, but Hao has other plans, and plots to kill Song. During the night of the attempted assassination Hao finds the tables turned on him and his family as Cao Man betrays him, and Hao must flee, and is taken in by the Shaolin temple, where Hao must face the consequences of his actions against others, and with the help of the cook (Chan) and the head instructor Jing Neng (Wu Jing) Hao must save the prisoners Cao Man has taken and help the Shaolin monks repel an army bent on destroying what’s left of the villagers…

Shaolin is a great film, but be warned it is really more of a drama that has martial arts in it than the other way around, but for this story that’s fine. Toward the end there is still enough martial arts to satiate the palette of the most discerning martial arts film fan, or to put it bluntly plenty of asses get kicked. Corey Yuen’s fight choreography is well done here, and is staged perfectly. The only caveat is that there is just a bit more wirework than I would’ve wanted, but that’s more of a personal issue for me. Shaolin is also a beautiful film, and the first thing you’ll notice is the fantastic cinematography. The scenes are staged so that the sets and backgrounds can be seen in all their glory. The destruction of the temple toward the end of the film is nothing short of spectacular.

All of the actors involved do a fantastic job, starting with Andy Lau, who is great as Hao, and is convincing in his transformation from confident evil warlord to repentant monk. Nicolas Tse is also good as Cao Man, a man more ruthless than Hao, and his story arc and conclusion is satisfying and appropriate. Jacky Wu Jing is also good as the head instructor, but isn’t as memorable as his character should’ve been(this may have been due to the interpretation of the character within the script). His fights were excellent, however. One other possible reason why he’s not as great as he should’ve been was because of the work of Xing Yu as his second, and this is an actor who has been in many martial arts films (Ip Man and Flashpoint come to mind) and dang it, he needs to get a starring role in something. He’s got a great on-screen presence, and his kung fu is pretty darn good as well. He outshines Wu Jing in every scene they have together. Jackie Chan is also good as the Shaolin cook Wu Dao who isn’t disciplined enough to be a monk, and the Abbot is trying to get Dao to see the world, but he’s too scared to leave. He gets a good fight scene that isn’t classic Chan, but close enough to see he has one last good/great fight scene left in him.

One great bit of casting is bringing back Yu Hai, who played the original head instructor in Jet Li’s Shaolin Temple, now plays the Abbot in this film, and shows that he’s still got a few fighting moves left in him! If you are a fan of Shaolin Temple, you’ll be tickled pink to see him again. It’s an extra bonus to an already good film.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The fights are really good, and there could’ve been more, but this is a drama first before an action film, but Corey Yuen does a great job here. Wu Jing’s final fight is great, but Xing Yu really steals the show here, especially at the end. Nicolas Tse versus Jacky Wu Jing toward the beginning is also a highlight.

STUNTWORK: (9) They really went all out for this, and the fall of the temple was impressive, especially since the explosions take place so close to the stuntmen. Andy Lau did some impressive stunts himself.

STAR POWER: (10) Heavens, just read the cast list. ‘nuff said.

FINAL GRADE: (9) Shaolin is a great film, that explores one man’s spiritual transformation amidst the backdrop of the spectacular fall of the Shaolin temple.

Review: Flashpoint (2007)

Posted in Collin Chou, Donnie Yen, Wilson Yip, Xing Yu with tags , , on August 28, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Collin Chou, Louis Koo, Xing Yu, Fan Bing Bing

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

 Directed by Wilson Yip

Killzone finally showed that Donnie Yen was ready to take that next step up in the HK martial arts film hierarchy to have his name placed up there with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, thanks to a fantastic fight in that film with Jacky Wu Jing and Sammo Hung. Wilson Yip has a good camera eye for showcasing martial arts moves, so of course the two would team up again for a follow up. The question was whether or not they could achieve the same success again.

*There is something many may not know about the film. In many respects it is loosely a prequel to Killzone. What happened was Sammo Hung had an idea of what he wanted it to be, and Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip had a different idea. Sammo took his idea and made Fatal Move, while Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen took their idea and with it we have Flashpoint.

 

The film follows Detective Ma (Yen) and his team, who look to bust a drug and weapon smuggling ring gang led by the notorious Tony (Chou), his brother, and their crazy enforcer Tiger (Yu). What Tony doesn’t know is that one of his guys, Wilson (Koo) is actually an undercover cop, and is also Ma’s partner. Wilson is having doubts about what he’s doing, and wants to get out, but after Tony gets retribution on a former associate, things start to go downhill fast as Tony’s brother is picked up by the police, and Tony suspects an inside man in their group, and immediately accuses Wilson, and of course he’s right, and Wilson escapes with his life. Now Tony knows who he is, and will use anything he can to get Wilson to acquit his brother on the witness stand. Even if that means killing cops and even kidnapping Wilson’s girlfriend Julie (Bing bing), and Ma will have a fight to the finish to get revenge for his fallen team mates and save his friend’s life and any happiness Wilson may have left…

Flashpoint is a balls out great “ kung-fu cops” film, with enough tension as the story wisely spends as much time following Wilson’s plight as it does Ma’s. The story itself is taunt and rarely lets up, and it’s the stars of the film that have as much, if not more to do with this than the story. Donnie Yen plays Ma pretty much as he did in Killzone, as in Ma doesn’t have much of a personality except that he’s a dedicated cop who suffers from too much red tape, but that’s okay, because Louis Koo really carries the film as Wilson. He plays him perfectly as a man whose chosen profession leads to doubt as he remains undercover for far too long, and one look at Koo’s expressions and you can literally feel the danger closing in on Wilson just as he feels it. As the instigator of this danger Collin Chou hits a home run as Tony, one part fearless nut job and one part criminal mastermind, you always feel the threat of danger when Tony is on screen. It kills me that all Collin Chou could get from a hollywood film was playing Seraph in the Matrix films (He would’ve made a great Neo, or even Agent Smith). Xing Yu also does a good job as Tiger, Tony’s insane right hand man, one who isn’t afraid to kill cops or endanger children to meet his own ends.

The fight choreography and stunts are an evolution of what Donnie Yen started with Killzone, which is to take the popular martial arts and movements of the time, in this case mixed martial arts and Parkour, and to merge them with kung fu fight choreography, and in this film it works brilliantly, particularly the final fight between Chou and Yen, which is is well choreographed and looks more natural and brutal than you would see in many HK kung fu films made today. Without a doubt it’s one of the greatest martial arts fight scenes ever captured on film. Yip does a great job once again making sure the camera is in the best places to capture the fights, and the editing put it together flawlessly.

 

Flashpoint is a fun cops and robbers film that really shows that Donnie Yen is here to stay, and from the acting to the excellent production values and the fantastic final fight, this is marital arts film that will have you rewinding the fight scenes over and over.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) The majority of this grade goes to the final fight, which Chou and Yen pull off flawlessly. You’ll be burning a hole in your DVD player watching this scene again and again. Yen has successfully melded mixed martial arts and kung fu on screen.

STUNTWORK: (8) Great work done here by all involved, and Donnie Yen pulls off some really good parkour sequences.

STAR POWER: (9) Donnie Yen’s star has gone into the stratosphere, and Collin Chou is rising as well, and Louis Koo and Fan Bing Bing carry the emotional weight of the film. Xing Yu continues to shine as he did in Kung Fu Hustle and Ip Man.

FINAL GRADE: (9) A great film that continues to showcase Donnie Yen’s excellent fight choreography and moves, and all of the actors shine in a snap cracker of a crime film. Not to be missed.