Here comes a docu- martial arts competition TV series!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 23, 2017 by Michael S. Moore


Okay this is interesting. Not sure how it will do, but color me interested. Can we toss Kanye West in there without the gear? Press release as follows:

LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2017 – Bunim/Murray Productions, renowned world-wide for its hit reality series and Australian-based Company Chiron Global – the founder of combat sport Unified Weapons Master® (UWM) and leader in wearable technologies have joined forces, to develop the world’s first high-tech Martial Arts Experience docu-competition series, Unified Weapons Master: Calling All Contenders. 
Emmy® Award-winning producer Bunim/Murray Productions, best known for the long-running The Real World, Keeping up with the Kardashians and Project Runway, will marry its production expertise to UWM’s technology to create a revolutionary and innovative new entertainment experience for a global audience.

Combining Chiron Global’s advanced technology with traditional martial arts and ancient weaponry, UWM: Calling All Contenders has the features of a live video game, enabling the world’s best weapons martial artists to compete in full contact combat.

Chiron Global has adapted its proven world-first capabilities in building sensor technologies into highly protective body armor that will enable the world’s top skilled weapons martial artists from a wide range of martial arts and cultural backgrounds to face one another in battle for the first time with science judging the winner.

The real-time wearable sensor technology is linked to a medical database that measures the force and location of every strike. The Lorica armor and patented scoring system objectively measures the force and location of strikes to the weapons martial arts competitor in real time, and is able to display the damage that would have occurred to an unprotected competitor on a video screen.

“We believe that UWM has massive international appeal to a diverse audience because it combines so many exciting elements that are really on trend at the moment. It combines weapons martial arts combat and ancient weaponry with leading edge technology and live video gaming features,” said Bunim/Murray Productions CEO Gil Goldschein.

“In addition to the high level of protection offered by the protective Lorica armor, the ability to customize the suits, the CGI scoring system and the cultural backgrounds and histories of the competitors, will make for a rich viewer experience,” added Julie Pizzi, Co-President Entertainment and Development, Bunim/Murray Productions.

“This will be a tremendous opportunity for many of these grand masters to pit their skills and traditional weapons art against other equally historical styles. Imagine, for example, a Nordic Viking pitting himself against a Japanese Samurai. We can’t wait to see the outcome!”

The Lorica armor acts like an extreme form of games console providing actual engagement data on the force and damage from each impact and showing this on the scoring system a bit like a video game.

“One of the key differentiators of UWM is that through the Lorica’s advanced sensor tech, which is connected to a medical database, we are able to offer viewers a fully immersive data-rich experience,” says UWM CEO, Colin Blake.

“The data captured by our scoring system means we are able to show viewers the number of strikes, the force of individual strikes, and damage stats, all while keeping our competitors very safe. We are then able, through CGI, to represent this damage in all sorts of exciting ways including a real-time anatomical version of actual damage to the competitors. Nothing like this has ever been done before.”

Other technologies that are able to be incorporated into the armor include cameras inside the helmets, and two way microphones, to give viewers a first hand experience of what it’s like to compete wearing the Lorica.
 

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What happened to Generation Next?!

Posted in Amy Johnston, Gina Carano, Jeeja Yanin, Ziyi Zhang with tags , on May 5, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Michelle Yeoh has been the standard-bearer for successful female martial arts heroes for decades, followed closely by the likes of Cynthia Rothrock and names like the original hero Angela Mao, Yukari Oshima, Moon Lee, and Cynthia Khan. Year passed, and each one faded into cinema memories as time went on. With the exception of the Wuxia films, there was a noticeable dearth of female action films.

But then things began to change. We were introduced to a new crop of potential action stars: Stateside MMA fighter Gina Carano came out with her first film, Haywire, which was a modestly successful film, and she seemed to be the one to pick up the American mantle left by Ms. Rothrock. Overseas, renewed hope continued in the form of Jeeja Yanin in Chocolate, and Veronica NGO in The Rebel and Clash. Not to miss out we also had Zhang Ziyi making her mark in films like the House of Flying Daggers and The GrandMaster. Toss in Ronda Rousey making her debut in both a Fast and Furious film as well as The Expendables 3 and one would think that female martial arts action cinema would be in good hands.

Until it wasn’t.

Carano, as of this writing, did well with Deadpool but her acting is hampering her. Jeeja Yanin is suffering from two important things: her film choices and the absence of the great Panna Rittikrai as her fight choreographer. Zhang Ziyi was the best thing about The Grandmaster, but it was also Tony Leung’s star vehicle rather than hers. I’m not sure what became of Veronica Ngo, and Ronda Rousey, well, it’s hard to say.

So where do we go from here? Cinema seems to be taking care of it…to a point. Scarlett Johansson had Ghost In The Shell (not a very good film) and we have Wonder Woman coming out soon, as well as Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron, so women are progressing in action cinema to being more than a damsel in distress. But where are the martial arts stars at? Could Ni Ni pull off being an action badass in Enter The Warrior’s Gate? How about stunt woman Amy Johnston in her film debut Lady Bloodfight? Is she ready to take the next step? Charisma and charm are good, but martial arts skills need to be on point as well. Who else is out there in the world of female ass kickers ready to step up to the plate? We have plenty of male martial arts stars. But we need something more. We need kickass women. Action cinema needs kickass women.

We’re still waiting.

And that’s the problem.

Enter the Warriors Gate is now in theaters, VOD and Digital HD.

Review: Hard To Kill (1990)

Posted in Steven Seagal with tags , on April 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Steven Seagal, Kelly Le Brock, William Sadler, Frederick Coffin

Fight Choreography by Steven Seagal

Directed by Bruce Malmuth

Hard to Kill is the second film by at that time the newest action star on the scene (he really came around the same time as JCVD) Steven Seagal, in a film that would without a doubt set the precedent for his “urban” action film output, both for better and for worse.

Seagal plays Mason Storm ( you gotta love his action guy names), a do-it-yourself cop who works alone, who has just gotten a recording that implicates a young senator Vernon Trent (Sadler) making a deal with a local mob. Mason is able to get away, but not before he is seen. Later that night Mason and his family is attacked by a hit team sent by the Senator, and in the ensuing fight his wife is killed, and Mason is shot himself. Mason isn’t dead, though, and seven years later he wakes up from a coma to discover that his son is still alive, being cared for by his commanding officer. Together with a young nurse (LeBrock) Mason goes after everyone involved in his wife’s murder, all the way up to the senator himself…

As an action film Hard to Kill is serviceable but hardly memorable, and not nearly as good as his first film Above the Law. There is more gunplay scenes here but its filmed in an uninspiring way. The acting ranges from great to god-awful, with the always dependable William Sadler bringing the great acting to Kelly LeBrock being the awful one, serving as nothing more than a damsel in distress who needs Mason Storm to save her at every turn. Seagal, is, well, Seagal. He has about one expression on his face, which is a perpetual scowl. He tries to “emote” but really, it’s still a scowl. A very sad scowl.

The actual martial arts scenes here are a disappointment, with many moves taken from his first film, but with much more bone snapping, like this:

Bone-breaking would also become a hallmark of Seagal’s films, and he’s in bone snapping form here. They used a bunch of celery for this one! One of the worst things about Seagal’s films are their stereotypes. If you’re Black you listen to only rap music, and if you aren’t a cop then you’re a pimp. Or drug dealer/gangbanger. Or just some layabout. If you’re Italian you gotta have mob ties, right? And if you’re Hispanic your pretty much a gangster. And if you are his love interest you can’t take care of yourself, aren’t smart enough to handle one or two killers, and of course will fall for Seagal’s winning personality. And his Budda Belly (we’ll save that conversation for another time, but he does wear all black for a reason):

The camera’s not going any lower. This isn’t a Van Damme film, ya’ll!

Hard to Kill was modestly budgeted and is considered a hit, but is hardly a good film, and is much more indicative of the films that would comprise the second half of his career. Shoddy acting, a lackluster script and boring fight scenes doom this film to a one-watch-only experience.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 3

Regression is a hell of a thing. Worse still if it’s only your second film. Do yourself a favor and dust off that blu ray or DVD of Above the Law and watch it again.

Enter The Warrior’s Gate Trailer! (2017)

Posted in Dave Bautista on April 27, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

I gotta admit, I’m always interested in movies with Dave Bautista, who seems to have a penchant for doing films with a LOT of FX work, and his acting gets better and better. Here he plays a villain (something he does often in martial arts films ) and the story looks like a remake of Forbidden Kingdom, just without Jackie Chan and Jet Li. The fact that this kid is basically tossed into a live-action version of his video game may make this one a fun time, with magical monsters and the like. Also Starring Ni Ni and Francis Ng, with the story written by Luc Besson (whom I am also a sucker for). Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think!

 

Review: Swordmaster (2016)

Posted in Norman Chu, Tsui Hark with tags , on April 10, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Starring  Kenny Lin, Peter Ho, Norman Chu, Mengji Jiang

Fight Choreography by Dion Lam and Bun Yuen

Directed by Derek Yee

 

Director Derek Yee ( The ORIGINAL Third Master) returns to one of his classic Shaw Brothers films, this time not as an actor, but as the director of the remake. Toss in the great Norman Chu, as well as Tsui Hark producing, and you’d think this is a classic in the making.

Except it isn’t. Not even close.

The film (as did the original) tells the story of Hsieh Shao-Feng (Lin), also known as Third Master, one of the greatest swordsmen of all time, who seeks a life of anonymity and peace, which is immediately threatened by a former lover who wants revenge, the leaders of a local cult of thugs who harass the village he’s hiding in, and first and foremost the assassin Yen Shisan (Ho), another swordman who wishes to challenge Shao-Feng as the greatest swordsman of all time, but before they can fight, they may have to form an alliance to keep the village safe as well as Shao-Feng’s true love…

This plot sounds the same as the original, right? Not a chance. The story in this version is a gutless movie compared to the original, particularly the ending, which is maddening in its insistence of keeping thing bright so the hero can have a straightforward hollywood “happy” ending. That’s right: If you expect the ending of the original Death Duel, you are sorely mistaken. The film just doesn’t have the “bite” of the original, yet sticks too much to the original story to be its own thing. Derek Yee can’t seem to make up his mind what he wanted the remake to be: a straightforward remake, or just using the bones to tell a different kind of story. The actors do a fine job, but there is no standout–except for Norman Chu, who brings a regalness and sense of character to Shao-Feng’s father.

The story itself doesn’t take the time to garner real sympathy for any of the characters, nor does it develop the villain in any substantial way. When the enemy finally reveals themselves, it elicits more of a shrug than anything else, not to mention the film commits a cardinal sin: it has the villains dispatch each other rather than the hero having much to do with it. A film hero should be the lever that moves the action and plot, not standing by while the story resolves itself in front of them. The special effects are good in most places, but the problem is there is too many of them replacing practical sets and real locations, with the exception of two fight scenes: the one where Yen Shihan enters the brothel, which is fairly well done and shot, and toward the end, where Shao-Feng’s father and his guards ward off an initial attack from the main villains. Outside of that, the fights are typical Wuxia “meh”. It wants to be House of Flying Daggers or Hero but winds up being…a lot less.

Swordsman just disappoints on so many levels. The talent involved should have knocked this out of the park. Skip this film and watch the original Death Duel.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5.0

The Swordmaster needs to head back to school for more lessons in what the term “Heroic Bloodshed” means. The film commits the high-wire crime of being simply average and forgettable.

In fact, here is the trailer to the original. Your welcome.

 

ITN Distribution, Inc. has acquired North American rights to the action/thriller BLACK ROSE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 6, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

 

HOLLYWOOD, April 5, 2017 – ITN Distribution, Inc. has acquired North American rights to the action/thriller BLACK ROSE, starring international action star Alexander Nevsky  (Showdown in Manila). Written by Brent Huff (Chasing Beauty) and George Saunders (The Hunt for Red October), the film was also directed by Nevky. The cast includes Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), Adrian Paul (Highlander: Endgame), Robert Davi (Expendables 3) and Matthias Hues (Dark Angel).  ITN Distribution will be releasing BLACK ROSE in theaters on April 28, 2017.  ITN Distribution’s President Stuart Alson made the announcement today.

“We’re excited to bring this action-filled thriller to the big screen,” said Alson. “The film leads audiences to many twists and turns, sending them on a thrilling ride.”  

A Russian Police Major (Alexander Nevsky) is enlisted by the LAPD to help solve a series of gruesome murders perpetrated against young women by a sadistic sociopathic killer on the mean streets of Hollywood.

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

BLACK ROSE is produced by Nevsky through his production company Hollywood Storm and is executive produced by Sheldon Lettich (Max) and Robert Madrid (Half Past Dead 2).  

Alson negotiated the deal on behalf of ITN Distribution along with Nevsky on behalf of the filmmakers. BLACK ROSE is a theatrical box office hit in Russia. CIS, which has the film’s foreign sales rights, has sold BLACK ROSE to 22 countries already.

ABOUT ITN DISTRIBUTION

ITN Distribution, Inc. is a leading independent film distribution company that specializes in high-quality and star-driven independent films for the domestic and international TV, VOD, DVD and theatrical markets. ITN releases more than 24 films per year with ITN’s connection to all major retailers and rentals in North America, such as Redbox, NetFlix, Wal-Mart, Amazon Prime, Best Buy, iTunes and Video-On-Demand (VOD). ITN produces, distributes and acquires films worldwide.