Archive for Kung-fu

Review: Showdown in Manila (2018)

Posted in Alexander Nevsky, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Cynthia Rothrock, Don"The Dragon" Wilson, Mark Dacascos, Matthias Hues, Olivier Gruner with tags , , , on January 19, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Alexander Nevsky, Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Mark Dacascos, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Matthias Hues, Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, Don ” The Dragon” Wilson

Fight Choreography by Al Dacascos

Directed by Mark Dacascos

After years of watching Marc Dacascos on the big and small screen, he finally steps behind the camera for his first film, produced and starring 3-time Mr. Universe Alexander Nevsky and a whole horde of b-movie stars. So how did his first venture do?

It has moments that aren’t as good as it could have been, but this movie…

… is a LOT of fun.

Alexander Nevsky stars as Nick Peyton, a disgraced Thailand cop who now works as a private detective after he his whole team is killed in a botched raid on a drug den owned by a man known as The Wrath (the CHT!). Two years later Nick and his sex-crazed partner Charlie (Van Dien) are hired by a police sketch artist (Carrere) whose husband, a secret agent, is killed by The Wrath right in front of her. She pays them to bring him to her…alive. Now working in Manila, Nick has a second chance to get revenge for his fallen comrades, but he’ll need some high-powered help to finish the job…

The film, despite the Raid-like opening moves a little slow at the beginning, but picks up steam as the film goes on. While Alexander Nevsky is a little wooden in his acting, which may be a lot better had he spoken in his native Russian dialect, he is aided well by the presence of his co-star Casper Van Dien. They have a good on-screen chemistry with each other that more than makes up for a few weak acting moments from Nevsky, who is a large presence in the film, and the Dacascos family had the good sense to use that largeness for maximum effect. Van Dien does well bringing in the comedy aspects of the film, which helps keep things light and helps propel the film forward in its slower moments. The CHT is as a good a villain as always, but I wish he had been in the film more, but we do get some villainy from the always great Matthias Hues, but here again, I wish we had more of him. The directing by Mark is confident, even in the slower scenes, which I think could have been slightly better with just a little more editing down, but that’s a minor nitpick for the treasure of goods this film delivers, which comes in the form of a boat ride that brings in some of Nick’s friends during the climax of the film: Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, and Don ” The Dragon” Wilson.

That’s right, ya’ll. China O’Brien, Nemesis, and Bloodfist show up to kick all kinds of ass 90’s style.

So let’s get into the action side of things, shall we? Early on we get a quick fight scene with Mark Dacascos that shows that the man can still kick all kinds of ass, and we need to see him back in a movie doing so pronto! His fight scene is really quick and far too short, but it looks good and is shot well. Fast forward to the big action finale, and I was transported back to 1992, ya’ll. At first there is a lot of gun play, and while I loved seeing everyone, I came to terms with the fact that they may all be too old to actually do a fight scene anymore, and that seeing them shooting folks will just have to do.

Silly rabbit. I should’ve had more faith in the film’s director. He knows what true fans want to see…

…and eventually the bullets run out.

What follows is an orgasmic cavalcade of action goodness, with Cynthia Rothrock going knives-out, and punching and kicking foes like the good ol’ days! ( Now I want to see what China O’Brien has been up to this past decade!) Don ” The Dragon” Wilson also gets a scene where he gets to show he can still kick with the best of them, and no one looks like they can take a hit and keep fighting like Don, and Olivier looks more brutal than I’ve ever seen him in an action scene. The fights are shot well, showing us the FULL action of what’s happening without quick-cut edits…because what we see on screen is real martial artists doing onscreen what they’ve been doing for decades. Kudos to Al Dacascos for making sure each action scene plays to the strengths of each fighter. I wish we could have had a bigger hand to hand combat scene for Nevsky, but there is so much other cool action happening I didn’t mind this time, but he does mix it up a little with Matthias Hues, and I wish THAT fight had been bigger, but maybe next time?

 

Look, this film isn’t for everyone. If you want something on the order of Tony Jaa or Iko Uwais, you won’t get that kind of wild action here. But for those of us who grew up on these kinds of films, it’s mana from heaven. Alexander Nevsky and Mark Dacascos did what The Expendables couldn’t do: provide a film that truly showcases what these action stars can still do, and make them look great at doing it. 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade : 8.5

A really fun film that kicks you in the face with nostalgia, and the only thing that’s missing are four people: Jalal Merhi, Billy Blanks, Richard Norton, and the greatness himself, Al Leong. Showdown in Manila 2, perhaps? 

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Review: Master Of The Drunken Fist: Beggar So (2016)

Posted in Cao Jun with tags , , on October 26, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Starring  Cao Jun, Wang Meiying, Chen Zhihui, Zhao Olusheng

Fight Choreography by

Directed by Jian Yong Guo

Last year HBO teamed up with China to create HBO Asia, an arm of HBO to create original content coming from China. This may well be in response to pretty much everything that Netflix is currently doing. First up, they decide to do a DTV film retelling of the original drunken master Beggar So.

I’m not really sure what I think if this film.

The story starts as we meet a vain and prideful So Chan, a scholar summoned to the Emperor to take over as a military advisor (not really sure why they’d want a scholar instead of someone like, say, a general) but after sneaking into the emperor’s private kitchen and doing battle with an intruder skilled in drunken boxing, eunuch Song Fok-Hoi frames So Chan for, I think, doing exactly what he DID do. So Chan is beaten, his family killed, and himself banished from the court. So Chan is taken in by the Beggar Sect, led by Lau Pak-Gwai, the very man he fought in the Emperor’s kitchen. Knowing that his life is still in danger from Song, So Chan starts to train in the art of Drunken Fist, and eventually becomes good enough to get his revenge for his family…

The story is simple, and the characters are drawn in broad strokes, but you don’t really get invested in any of them. It also hurts that this film is tremendously inferior to other films about drunken boxing like the Jackie Chan Drunken Master series, where Beggar So is played wonderfully by Simon Yuen, or True Legend, with Vincent Zhao. This film does have a TV budget, but it could have done a lot more with it than it did. I never got the feeling of the passage of time with this film, as it seemed as if his family is killed, and he trains for a few days and becomes a Drunken Fist master. That’s not the film’s intention, but that’s the feeling. Also, I couldn’t help laughing at the fact that close to the climax of the film, So Chan learns the final missing pieces of the style after GETTING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. That’s right. He gains drunken mastery the same damn way Barry Allen becomes The Flash. Not one bit of it is earned. The acting is okay but there are no standouts here. Competent is the best thing I can say for it.

 

The fight scenes are okay, and may even be good, but the camera work zooms in and out, shoots too closely, and the edits are too fast to truly appreciate the movements, and what’s maddening about that is I can feel the choreography is good if the camera would just STOP MOVING. And of course any film called Drunken-anything really can’t mess up one important scene: the training one. Drunken Master set a high bar and is in the running for best training scene ever, and this film doesn’t come anywhere near that. It starts well enough, but is far too short with no real story element added like comedy or even urgency. At the end if the film I’m not sure Beggar So is any different than he was at the beginning of the film. He’s no longer even a beggar.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

This is not a great or even good film, but there were some bones that HBO could set a better film on. Hopefully they have better films in the future. If not, this experiment won’t last long.

Birth of the Dragon Trailer (2017)

Posted in Philip Ng with tags , on July 30, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Okay, things have been crazy lately but it’s time to get caught up. First up, Birth of The Dragon. I showed a different trailer not long ago (the overseas version) and I’ve since heard not-so-good things about the film. One item I hear about is how the film almost treats Bruce Lee’s conflict with Wong Jack Man almost a side story to the Steve McQueen-style hero, which would be a shame. I’m hopeful for the film, but remember there are several other Bruce Lee biopics currently in development. I’m confident in Philip Ng and his ability, so there are positives even if the film doesn’t turn out to the be ideal Bruce Lee film. So far the trailer looks great! Fingers crossed for the film!

 

The second trailer for Lady Bloodfight is here!

Posted in Amy Johnston, Bey Logan with tags , on April 6, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

We now have the second trailer for Lady Bloodfight, starring Amy Johnston, an immensely talented woman who could very well join the badass ranks with Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins, and this trailer looks much better than the previous trailer, and the idea of a female kumite interests me greatly. If you’ve seen some of Amy’s previous works then you know she’s got the goods. Add to that Chris Nahon, who directed Jet Li’s best American film Kiss of the Dragon and I’m all in.  Check out the trailer below, and get ready for the DVD release in June! Hit the comments section below and let me know what you think!

LBP Stunts presents: Blind Date!

Posted in Amy Sturdivant, Emmanuel Manzanares with tags , on December 11, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

Emmanuel Manzanares directs Amy Sturdivant (Queen) and Thelkla Hutyrova in another great action short. Just watch rinse and repeat!

Review: Masked Avengers (1981)

Posted in Chiang Sheng, Chin Siu Ho, Philip Kwok with tags , on August 16, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

masked avengers 2

Starring Philip Kwok, Chin Sui-ho, Lu Feng, Wang Li, Chiang Sheng.

Fight Choreography: Philip Kwok, Sheng Chiang, Chu Ke

Directed by Chang Cheh

Masked Avengers begins as we meet an unfortunate bastard who runs into and is killed by a group of assassins known as the Mask Gang: a cult who kill for money but on top of that, for some odd reason that is never, ever explained or even gone back to later in the film, drink the blood of the men they kill. A group of warriors arrive in town to attempt to stop these killers and stay at a local inn, where they find themselves being spied on by the cook Gao (Kwok). They have a list of suspects, but Gao finds himself quickly moving to the top of their investigation (such as it is) as the top culprit to be one of the Mask Gang.

The warriors find themselves being picked off one by one as young Zeng (Sheng) Jun, one of their best fighters, befriends Gao, and together, begrudgingly, they get to the heart of the Mask Gang to find their leaders, but Gao holds a terrible secret, and even worse, one of the heroic warriors isn’t nearly as heroic as he appears to be…

Masked Avenger

Shaw Brothers silliness abounds, and that’s a really, really good thing. Philip Kwok is excellent as the mysterious Gao, and it won’t take long for anyone to figure out what he’s really up to. Chiang Sheng shows his normal comedy schtick, and does well with it, being youthfully exuberant and all Errol Flynn-like in the face of evil. Chin Sui-ho is great as the leader of the good guys, and I love the fact that the fan is far from the only weapon he carries, just the only one you see…The Mask Gang kills are treated like a horror film, and just like those movies there are some really good stealth kills, but c’mon, many warriors would have lived if they heeded this simple lesson:

“Don’t stand anywhere a goddamn trident can get thrown at you.”

There was one death that struck me as odd, when a captured Mask Gang member dies…by biting his own tongue out. Besides just being painful, I’m not sure how that kills you in mere seconds.

There is a second lesson this film tries to teach, and it’s actually pretty important:

“Showing off at the wrong moment will get your stupid ass killed.”

Oh yeah, and one last lesson that would’ve saved a couple of good guys:

“If you don’t see Gao move forward first, don’t be the first one to run ahead.”

In fact these guys are so “Star Trek Redshirts” that Gao pretty much just lets them run ahead of him, setting off whatever trap that Grants Painful Deaths. The final fights are the fast paced, acrobatic choreography you expect from the Shaw Brothers, and they do save the best for last. I have to admit, the leaders of the gang make their entrances like bosses:

Like. A. Boss.

Like. A. Boss.

The final boss fights are awesome, but really, the main baddie does mostly because he makes a really bad tactical decision that still has be baffled, but his death scene was really cool. Why oh why does everyone have to die with several tridents to the mid section in this film? Keeping in mind that Philip Kwok and other did the fight choreography is really impressive, and allows each of the main main characters a chance to strut their absolute best stuff, particularly with trident and fan work. Yeah, you gotta watch those dudes running around with fans…

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

A good Chang Cheh film that’s not his best but really comes close, and Philip Kwok really gets to shine here as a hero. A fun film from start to finish!