Review: SkinTrade (2014)

Posted in Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Dolph Lundgren, Michael Jai White, Tony Jaa, Uncategorized on January 15, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Selina Jade, Ron Perlman

Fight Choreography by Dain Hristov

Directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham

After the debacle that was Ong Bak 3 Tony Jaa started doing the Tony Jaa World Tour, and this was another film made while he is/was transitioning away from Prachya Pinkaew and legendary Panna Rittikrai, who had already passed away. Jaa joined this film with martial arts stars Michael Jai White and Dolph Lundgren, and one would expect an action packed fisticuffs classic. I’m sorry to say that doesn’t quite happen here.

Dolph Lundgren stars as Nick Cassidy, a New York cop who is hot on the heels of the Serbian mafia led by Viktor Dragovic (Perlman) and his sons. After Nick kills the youngest son of Viktor during a raid, Viktor attacks Nick and his family, killing his wife and presumably his teenage daughter. After Nick recovers from his injuries he seeks out Viktor and follows him to Thailand, with the somewhat help of FBI agent Reed (MJW) and runs afoul of Bangkok cops Tony and his partner Nung, the latter of whom is killed by an agent of Viktor and frames Nick, causing Tony to go after Nick with a vengeance, but both men discover a human smuggling operation run by Viktor and quickly put aside their differences in order to stop Viktor once and for all…

Human Trafficking of any kind is a touchy subject for even a serious film, and for an action film it HAS to get it just right, and this film really botches things here. Only women are shown being trafficked, and none of them even have much of a dialog in the film, and merely exist to give Lundgren and Jaa a reason to stop fighting each other and going after the bad guys.  Ron Perlman is grossly underused here, and not allowed to create a compelling character. Viktor is just another cackling villain here, which is a waste of his talents, which is sad, as there could have been something more there in relation to his sons. Dolph, is well, Dolph. He’s the requisite action star going out for revenge. Ditto the same for Tony Jaa. Michael Jai White is there but doesn’t really leave much of an impression. The film drives on, but there are no real standout scenes, either with characters or with cinematography or even action, which for a film like this is criminal.

The place where this film SHOULD shine is in the action scenes, but even here they drop the ball. The choreography is uninspiring, as the Dolph vs. Jaa fight is only slightly better than Dolph’s fight vs Jet Li in The Expendables. The fight that should have been the standout, Jaa vs MJW, isn’t as good as it could have been, but this is attributed to camerawork and editing. I’ll never understand why some directors feel the need to have the actions scenes chopped to hell, and editing in quick cuts. It NEVER makes the fight more exciting to watch, and doesn’t allow us the audience to marvel at the martial arts we are watching. MJW and Tony Jaa perform their fights just fine, and parts of it look terrific as one would expect, but the editing just slices and dices it up and doesn’t make the fight feel urgent, and after all of that it ends too quickly.

SkinTrade should have been a martial arts classic, but a number of poor directing and editorial decisions ruin the film. And with all the talent assembled that’s a crying shame.  It should’ve been an action classic.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

Such great talent is wasted in this film. I’ll hold out hope for a proper Tony Jaa/MJW film. Such a disappointment. 





Kickboxer: Retaliation Trailer!

Posted in Alain Moussi, Christopher Lambert, Jean-Claude Van Damme on January 5, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

I enjoyed Kickboxer: Vengeance well enough, but between that film and watching Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Review coming soon) I don’t see why we couldn’t have just continued with JCVD still playing Kurt Sloane. So here comes the sequel, once again starring Alain Moussi as Sloane and JCVD as his teacher Durant. Let’s see what they have us…


So Christopher Lambert and Mike Tyson are along for the ride on this one? That’s kinda cool. Yeah, its another final fight against a big man, but the rest of it looks like a lot of fun. Looking forward to seeing this one. Hopefully JCVD will have a bigger part! I’d still love for JCVD to take over his series (sorry Alain, but it will always be JCVD’s) for the final film in the trilogy. I liked Alain in the first film but wasn’t sure he had the onscreen presence to really make it all work. He looks better in this film, but as with all things, it remains to be seen.



Looking ahead to 2018!

Posted in Michael Moore on December 31, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

It’s been a really interesting 2017, hasn’t it? At least it has been for me, which is both full of blessings and a curse or two. I started my regular job as a video editor/photojournalist for a local TV station, which has been a wonderful experience, but it has come at a cost. Strange hours, no hours, and very little time to spend with family, and also with the El Gato Negro: Prey short film (more on that later), but it’s here, on this blogsite that it has hurt the most. I haven’t been able to post as many film reviews, interviews, and just general upkeep of the website, so for the readers I still have left, I apologize for not giving you the content you deserve! Now what will happen in 2018?

There are plans afoot for a major life change, that will affect everything in my life, but with the hopes that it will make everything better in the long term. That includes this website! I have many more films to review on the way, and I will be making a more concerted effort to review “older” films, in addition to the new stuff, and doing the new stuff in a more timely fashion. More interviews, more giveaways are coming soon!

For those who stuck around, you have my thanks and gratitude. For those who left, I can’t blame them too much. There are some amazing websites like Film Combat Syndicate and Kung-Fu Kingdom that are doing some great work and are well worth your time (in addition to this site of course), and I promise you’ll all see my El Gato Negro short film in 2018!

Kiai-Kick will fly faster and farther in 2018!

Thanks to all my supporters and friends: Carl Brezdin, Lee B. Golden, Brad Curran, Vlad Rimburg, Aaron Alexander, Dennis Ruel, Emmanuel Manzanares, Richard Dominguez, The El Gato Negro Film Team, and so many more but you all know who you are!

Review: Marked for Death (1990)

Posted in Steven Seagal on December 3, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Steven Seagal, Keith David, Basil Wallace

Fight Choreography by Steven Seagal

Directed by Dwight H. Little

With Marked for Death, aside from being yet another Steven Seagal Film with 3 syllables ( a film streak that wouldn’t be broken until Under Seige) we get a film that has a slightly (if not extremely stereotypical) different flavor, as Seagal takes on Jamaican Drug lords. But this film has something that none of his other film have ever had. A weapon of extreme power and can turn any film into gold bricks. A weapon that can take the most mundane film and turn it into something watchable, and turn a decent film into a pretty good one…


I should end my review here as you don’t need to know anything more than that, but someone told me that would be lazy, so…

Steven Seagal stars as John Hatcher, an undercover DEA agent who, after a drug bust that while successful, gets his partner fatally shot (never mind that Hatcher actually caused this himself by some boneheadedly stupid decisions) and thus is tride and true Seagal filsm, he’s now EX-DEA. He returns home to his family and finds out that he neighborhood has been overrun with drugs, primarily being sold to kids by the Jamaican drug dealer led by the infamous Screwface (Basil Wallace). After Hatcher’s niece is seriously injured in a drive-by Hatcher partners up with his pal Max (Keith David) and a local undercover Jamaican expert Charles,  Hatcher embarks on a mission to wipe out the Jamaican gangs once and for all…

Of course this is a silly premise, but it’s also cool, with crazy voodoo and a pretty good twist in the film revolving around Screwface, who turns out to be probably one of Seagal’s best onscreen villains. He holds to his belief system, but isn’t without his tricks once Hatcher seems to have the advantage over him. Basil Wallace does a great job as Screwface, oozing menace and has a weird yet cool charisma. Seagal is pretty much the same character he always is, acting with the same scowl he always has. Now, Keith David brings the real charisma, and I could see a different version of this film where he is the badass taking out Jamaican drug dealers, which just sounds so cool when you say that premise out loud. The film itself is directed…ok…but nothing special to acting or approach or cinematography.

The fights are shot well, and the choreography isn’t anything you haven’t already seen in any other Seagal film, but it’s clean and good for what it is. The final fight offers more than most Seagal films, as Screwface doesn’t get Seagaled like so many main baddies in his films. This time Basil Wallace is able to toss Seagal around a bit, and of course Seagal kills him like three times at the end, but Wallace is able to give as good as he gets…for a bit.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

One of my favorite Seagal films, after Above the Law, but it showed that the Seagal formula would need a quick upgrade, which for one film it got…but hell you have Keith David, so that’s enough to watch!

Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and Amy Johnston! The Trailer for Accident Man Is Here!

Posted in Amy Johnston, Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins on November 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

I had no idea this film was in production, so Shame. On. Me. However, we have been blessed with a trailer and hot damn does this look great! A Undisputed 2 rematch between Adkins and White? Amy Johnston vs. Adkins (she’s moving on up!). This is mana from heaven, folks, and I intend to be there eyes glued and popcorn ready! Here it is:


Does that not look badass? I just said “Hell Yeah!” as I watched this ten times. This film kicks its way right to your TV on February 6th, 2018! Here’s hoping we get a limited theater release beforehand!  Make it happen Sony!

Mark Dacascos makes his directorial debut! Showdown in Manila!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

I have to say it’s about time! Mark has been around film long enough, and I’m curious to see what he’s like as a film director, and how he chooses to film fight scenes! I’m looking forward to this one! Check out the press release below…



LOS ANGELES, CA – November 15, 2017 – ITN Distribution has acquired North American distribution rights to the action thriller SHOWDOWN IN MANILA starring international action star Alexander Nevsky (Black Rose). The film marks the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos (Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”,  “Hawaii Five-0”) with a screenplay by Craig Hamann (My Best Friend’s Birthday, Boogie Boy).  SHOWDOWN IN MANILA also includes Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow), Tia Carrere (True Lies, Wayne’s World) and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, Memoirs of a Geisha). ITN will release the film in theaters January 19, 2018, with a Digital and On Demand release to follow on January 23, 2018.

The film follows private detectives Nick (Alexander Nevsky) and Charlie (Casper Van Dien) who live and work in Manila. A murder investigation leads them to the jungle camp of an international terrorist called The Wrath. Not trusting the police, Nick and Charlie assembly a team of daredevils to walk straight into the Wrath’s lair and fight an army of his goons.

Nevsky is a former Mr. Universe and an established movie star in Russia. He is based in Los Angeles and his credits include Black Rose, Undisputed, Treasure Raiders, Somewhere and the upcoming film Maximum Impact. Nevsky represents Russia as a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

SHOWDOWN IN MANILA is produced by Nevsky through his production company Hollywood Storm and is executive produced by Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die) and Alexander Izotov (Moscow Heat).