Kung Fu Zombie (1981) Review

"Kung Fu Zombie" Theatrical Poster

"Kung Fu Zombie" Theatrical Poster

AKA: Kung Fu Zombies
Director: Wa Yat Wang
Writer: Wa Yat Wang
Cast: Billy Chong Chun Lai (aka Willy Dozan), Kong Do, Kwan Yung Moon, Cheng Hong Yip, Chan Lau, Pak Sha Lik, Jeng Kei Ying, Woo Wai, Wong Yu
Running Time: 80 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Thanks to the success of recent movies such as The Raid and its sequel, Indonesian action stars like Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian have quickly become familiar to fans of the martial arts genre. However, the first Indonesian star that made a significant impact on the kung fu cinema scene came a whole 35 years before, in the form of Billy Chong. Chong shone briefly and brightly over a period of around 5 years from the late 70’s through to the early 80’s, before he returned to his native Indonesia and became a local star in his homeland.

As it happens, Chong, who now goes by the name of Willy Dozan and is in his mid 50s, is currently having a career renaissance of sorts, with his movies Duel – The Last Choice, in which he stars with his son, and Garuda 7, best described as an Indonesian version of The Expendables, soon to be hitting local cinema screens. With both Indonesia and Chong back on the action genre radar, I decided to visit one of the movies that originally grabbed people’s attention, the wonderfully titled Kung Fu Zombie.

It’s no secret that enjoying the old school kung fu genre is rather like navigating a minefield. For every classic that reminds you how much you love watching people kick the living day lights out of each other, there’ll be 10 duds waiting in the wings full of teeth gratingly bad comedy, sloppy fight scenes, and dubbing that makes your ears bleed. Titles can be deceptive things, so I find myself always erring on the side of caution. Yes, Kung Fu Zombie sounds fantastic, but then so did Deadly Snail vs. Kung Fu Killers, and you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered there wasn’t a single deadly snail to be found it its entire run time.

So, my cautious viewing began. First up Kung Fu Zombie is that rare form of Hong Kong kung fu movie in that the two principal cast members are both non-HK natives. Apart from Chong who takes on the lead, he’s given an opponent in the form of Korean boot master Kwan Yung-moon. Kwan, who affectionately became known in the kung fu community as the ‘Crazy Korean,’ for his trademark moustache and wild eye brows,  is another performer who left his mark in kung fu cinema history, due to his ferocious kicks and villainous demeanor.

Thankfully, Kung Fu Zombie turned out to be one of those diamonds in the rough. The influence of Encounters of the Spooky Kind – a movie directed by and starring Sammo Hung, which essentially kicked off the whole kung fu/comedy/horror hybrid made just a year earlier – is clear to see; from the wacky rituals performed by the Taoist priest to the presence of hopping vampires. However, while clearly operating a tier under the work of Sammo, director Wa Ya Wang seems determined to entertain us by having proceedings move at a breakneck speed, which almost makes Encounters pf The Spooky Kind seem slow in comparison.

The story revolves around the character of Chong, who lives at home with his strict father, and who also happened to foil a bank robbery several years earlier. When the thieves are released, they come to seek out Chong to get their revenge, but it quickly becomes clear they’re not his match and the head of the thieves is killed. When Chong’s father has a heart attack and dies, the ghost of the thief asks a Taoist priest to reincarnate him in the father’s body, so he can take the ultimate revenge on Chong by killing him using the hands of his own father.

The above description actually makes it sound much more deep and meaningful than it really is, mainly due to the fact that despite being the crux of the plot which everything revolves around, more time is spent of Kwan Yung-moon. So, I need to make sure I explain this clearly – early on the Taoist priest is roaming through a morgue with the ghost of the thief in an initial attempt to find him a new body to reincarnate into. While there, they stumble across Kwan Yung-moon, who is sleeping in a coffin, because, well, he’s a vampire. There’s some nonsense about the vampire holding a long time grudge against Chong’s father, but it’s mentioned almost in passing.

So then Kwan’s character of the vampire becomes the primary threat to everyone, and Kung Fu Zombie is fantastic for it.. In an age which is obsessed with providing the origin story of every character we come across, it’s refreshing to have a movie which features a kung fu fighting vampire with no other explanation except that it’s just a damn cool idea. True to his nickname of the ‘Crazy Korean,’ Kwan spends more of his screen time yelling out battle cries as he tries to kick someone to death than he has actual lines. But when he does speak, it’s almost always something worth saying, such as this gem – “I have made many ghosts from the living, and I will make more!”

If he’s not kicking some poor saps head off and enthusiastically drinking the blood from the spurting stump of the corpse’s neck, chances are Kwan is in a fight scene with Chong. Chong also does a lot of yelling, and so whenever they fight, it’s best to have the volume turned down, or said scenes may give your neighbors the impression there’s some serious domestic violence going down. The fight scenes between these two guys are kung fu cinema gold: both can bust out some very impressive kicking, and the fights are under cranked just enough to make them look like they’re moving scarily fast, but not enough to no longer be able to appreciate the choreography.

Watching Chong in action makes you wish he’d made more movies in Hong Kong, as he clearly had the rare combination of being able to bust out some serious moves, with a likeable screen presence and charm. For the first time in a long time, the fights had me glued to the screen. The finale is a great mix of fists, feet, and some supernatural action as Chong and Kwan go at each other so aggressively that the fight reaches cartoon levels of hyper violence. At one point, Kwan has both his fists and his feet set ablaze, and they still go at each other, before things culminate in one of the most OTT death scenes I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. It’s a joy to watch.

At just short of 80 minutes, it’s almost impossible for Kung Fu Zombie to outstay its welcome, although some of the original movie definitely appears to be edited out of the English dub. There’s one scene involving a group of characters having a conversation, and then suddenly it cuts to Chong throwing down against some Asian guy with an afro who we’ve never seen before up until this point. Amusingly, once the fight finishes, it cuts to another scene, and the first character to speak says “This doesn’t make any sense.” Indeed, it doesn’t, but it’s a whole lot of fun.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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Charlie Hunnam leads Thai boxing flick ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’

Billy Moore's "A Prayer Before Dawn"

Billy Moore's "A Prayer Before Dawn"

For those of you who wanted more action – and less symbolism – from Nicolas Refn’s Only God Forgives, brace yourself for some good news: Production for Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s (Johnny Mad Dog) Thai boxing thriller A Prayer Before Dawn starts shooting in the Summer of 2015.

The upcoming film is based on Billy Moore’s acclaimed autobiography of the same name about “the true story of one man’s unbelievable journey, from recovering heroin addict in the UK to professional competitor in the devastating martial art of Muay Thai boxing in Thailand,” according to Amazon.com’s book description.

Screen Daily describes A Prayer Before Dawn as being “crossover genre fare in the vein of Drive and The Raid.” Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim), who will be playing Moore, is currently taking up Muay Thai training for the film’s action sequences.

We’ll keep you updated on this project as we hear more.

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‘The Crow’ remake to be John Woo meets Taxi Driver?

"The Crow" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Crow" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Relativity Media has been trying to get a remake of Alex Proyas’ 1994 cult classic The Crow off the ground for what feels like years now. The project has burned through directors and actors on a frequent basis. 28 Weeks Later filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo came and went, while Hollywood big timers Bradley Cooper and Mark Wahlberg were once in consideration for the role.

Now that Spanish filmmaker F. Javier Gutiérrez (2008′s Before the Fall) is at the helm, AICN reports that the film is inching its way towards finalizing a lead. The top contendor as of right now? X-Men: First Class and Wanted actor James McAvoy. Of course, many fans of the original film who still mourn the tragic loss of star Brandon Lee feel that this is a franchise best left in our memories.

Updates: The Wrap reports that Tom Hiddleston (who plays Loki in The Avengers and Thor) is in talks to play the lead.

According to Deadline, Tom Hiddleston’s involvement has been blown way out of proportion, stemming from a “simple conversation.” However, Deadline does note that True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard is being looked at, though no formal offer has been sent yet. “It sounds to me like it’s Skarsgard’s role if he wants it in the F. Javier Gutierrez-directed film series relaunch.” | Deadline reports that the new Eric Draven will be Fast & Furious 6′s Luke Evans.

Variety reports that James O’Barr, creator of the original The Crow graphic novel, is on board as a consultant for the reboot. “I believe that this movie will stand alongside Brandon and his film as a valid work of art, and I look forward to collaborating on the project,” said O’Barr.

Deadline reports that producer Jeff Most (The Crow) – who is also working on the remake — is suing Relativity Media and fellow producer Edward R. Pressman for breach of contract and good faith, fraud, deceit and contractual interference. See the actual filed complaint here.

In an interview with Shock Till You Drop, Javier Gutierrez says that The Crow begins prepping in October. He also says that it’s not a remake, it’s a new interpretation. To read the full interview and to check out the Comic Con promotional poster, visit Shock Till You Drop.

James O’Barr chats with Total Film in their latest issue: Here’s an excerpt: “It was his [Javier Gutierrez] idea to go right back to the source material and essentially shoot it shot-for-shot, as in the book, but with a little more backstory for some of the characters,” says O’Barr. O’barr also states that Gutierrez wants to be “as faithful as possible, even down to all the visual metaphors of trains and horses.”

The Playlist reports that Normal Reedus (The Walking Dead) is being approached for a role as “James.” In addition Luke Evans, who is playing Eric Draven, tweeted: “First day of my intense training for The Crow is done!” Also, Kristen Stewart was supposedly ruled out for the role of “Shelly.”

According to THR, producer Ed Pressman (the original Crow) has revealed that The Crow remake may start shooting in Spring of 2015.

BREAKING NEWS: According to a recent interview with creator James O’Barr, The Crow remake will be closer to a John Woo film. Here are more details: “We’re not remaking the movie, we’re readapting the book. My metaphor is that there is a Bela Lugosi Dracula and there’s a Francis Ford Coppola Dracula, they use the same material, but you still got two entirely different films. This one’s going to be closer to Taxi Driver or a John Woo film, and I think there’s room for both of them – part of the appeal of the Crow comics after all is that they can tell very different stories after all.”

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Once Upon A Time in Shanghai | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Once Upon A Time in Shanghai | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Once Upon A Time in Shanghai | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, a martial arts film directed by Wong Ching Po (Let’s Go!) with action choreography from the legendary Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix).

The plot involves a laborer who moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich, but ends up using his kung fu skills to survive. The cast includes Phillip Ng (Bodyguards & Assassins), Andy On (Special Identity), Luxia Jiang (True Legend) and Sammo Hung (Kill Zone). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Once Upon A Time in Shanghai from Amazon.com today!

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Shooting for ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ gets delayed ’til 2015

"Rambo III" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Rambo III" Japanese Theatrical Poster

In the time since 2008′s Rambo, there have been numerous ideas for the next Rambo film, most of which were generated by Sylvester Stallone himself. You may recall Rambo V: The Last Stand, which pitted Rambo against experimental Universal Soldier-like enemies; there was also Rambo V: The Savage Hunt, in which Rambo was out to rescue a kidnapped girl from sex traffickers and drug dealers near the Mexican border; and later still came the idea of adapting James Byron Huggin’s 1999 novel Hunter into Rambo V.

That plot involved the hunt for a killer beast born from an illegal genetic experiment gone wrong – fans were not entirely enthused about the idea of the Rambo franchise taking a sudden detour into sci-fi.

Now, word arrives that Entertainment One and producer Avi Lerner are conspiring to turn Rambo into a TV series. Even better, it appears likely that Sylvester Stallone will reprise his role as John Rambo for television. While it’s difficult to imagine Stallone committing to a 22-episode season when he’s busy making movies like The Expendables 3, perhaps the Rambo show could be a mini-series or simply offer Stallone the occasional cameo appearance. What say you – are you excited about the idea of Rambo on the small screen or should Stallone stick to his chosen medium of film?

Updates: According to this interview with Jason Statham, the script for Homefront, which was written by Sylvester Stallone in 2008, was originally intended to be Rambo V.

During Sylvester Stallone’s live Q&A event in London’s Palladium, the subject of Rambo was briefly brought up. Stallone jokingly replied: “I’d love to do another Rambo, but maybe if he works in Las Vegas,” followed by “Maybe it’s run its course.”

According to comingsoon.net (via Film Combat Syndiate): A company called Splendid Film has bought the rights to the next film. Here’s what their release said: “With Rambo V Sylvester Stallone returns in his iconic role. This time he goes up against a Mexican cartel. Stallone, who has also written the screenplay, describes the new Rambo as his version of No Country for Old Men. Like the last film, Rambo V is produced by Avi Lerner (The Expendables 1-3).

According to Manlymovie.net (via Millennium Studios), Rambo V shoots in Louisiana later this year. Here’s some words from from Sly himself: “First I will make a new Rambo, darker, in the style of No Country for Old Men. Then Scarpa, the story of a very famous gangster.” | Although details are still pending, there’s a possibility that Tom Hiddleston (“Loki” from The Avengers) may join Rambo V. | According to Expendables PremiereRambo 5 is set to begin shooting in Louisiana late October.

Coming Soon reports that Stallone’s Rambo V will be titled Rambo: Last Blood, a full circle nod to 1982′s First Blood.

BREAKING NEWS: Rambo: Last Blood, which was previously said to begin filming in late October, has now been pushed back until January 2015, according to The Times Picayune (via EP.com).

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A pack of new posters for Jackie Chan’s ‘Dragon Blade’

"Dragon Blade" Teaser Poster

"Dragon Blade" Teaser Poster

Currently in post-production is Jackie Chan’s Dragon Blade, a period piece that sees a Roman Legion getting caught up in an adventure in China where they cross paths with a Chinese hero played by Chan. They are forced to join forces to battle an even greater foe that threatens the whole world.

Dragon Blade will be helmed by Daniel Lee, a veteran Hong Kong filmmaker, mostly known for 1994’s What Price Survival, 1996’s Black Mask, 2010’s 14 Blades, and most recently, 2011’s White Vengeance.

According to Super Chan’s Jackie Chan Blog (via Film Combat Syndicate), Dragon Blade has officially started filming: “Dragon Blade officially got underway today in Hengdian with some battle scenes. Filming conditions were difficult, as a combination of heat, heavy costumes and a long day took their toll on cast, crew and extras alike.”

A new promotional poster for Dragon Blade has hit the net. There have been numerous reports that Mel Gibson is co-starring, but judging from this newly released poster, we’re not sure if it’s official.

Updates: According to Impact, Mel Gibson isn’t in Dragon Blade after all. Instead, we have news that Adrien Brody and John Cusack are joining Chan. There’s also some speculation that Benny “the Jet” Urquidez (Dragons Forever, Wheels on Meals) might be attached as well. We’ll keep you updated. | Set photos of Jackie Chan in Dragon Blade. New photos of Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody and John Cusack, thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

New press photo featuring the cast and director: Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Lin Peng, Amanda Wang and filmmaker, Daniel Lee. Also, some new plot details have emerged. According to Film Business Asia: “Cusack plays a Roman General who teams up with a former military commander (played by Chan) to protect the western border; Brody plays the villain who is in pursuit of Cusack’s character.”

BREAKING NEWS: Check out a pack of new posters ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 ), thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

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The Pirates | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Pirates | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Pirates | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Lee Suk-Hoon’s The Pirates, an action/adventure that tells the story of rival pirates who have the common goal of capturing a gray whale that has swallowed a precious royal stamp.

The Pirates stars Kim Nam-Gil (Public Enemy Returns), Son Ye-Jin (The Tower), Sulli (Punch Lady), Lee Kyoung-Young (A Company Man), Yu Hae-Jin (The Unjust) and Oh Dal-Su (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). Watch the  trailer!

Pre-order The Pirates from Amazon.com today!

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First official look at Schwarzenegger in ‘Terminator Genisys’

"Terminator Genisys" Entertainment Weekly Cover

"Terminator Genisys" Entertainment Weekly Cover

THE MOVIE: Skydance Productions, Annapurna Pictures and Paramount Pictures 5th Terminator movie, titled Terminator: Genesis, is currently in post-production phase. The film is directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty). Catch it in theaters on July 1st, 2015.

Updates: According to Empire’s sources, the Terminator: Genesis story bears comparison to Back To The Future 2, which you’ll recall partly involves our heroes rushing ingeniously around and within the events of the first film.

In an interview with Collider, Arnold Schwarzenegger says he’s “honored” that studios have called him back to reprise his iconic roles in movies like Terminator, Legend of Conan and Twins 2. Especially in a world where characters are constantly replaced by new actors (i.e. James Bond, Spider-man). He also says that the new Terminator movie “has the same feel” as Terminator 2 (he’s obviously judging by its script).

According to Metro (via expendablespremier.com), after the first film of the new Terminator trilogy is complete, parts 2 and 3 will be filmed back-to-back in a period of over 9 months. In addition, Dayo Okeniyi (Hunger Games) has signed on to play the role of Miles Dyson (previously played by Joe Morton in T2).

Collider reports that Byung-hun Lee (I Saw the Devil) will play the T-1000. Also, Michael Gladis (Knights of Badassdom) and Sandrine Holt (Once a Thief TV series) have joined the cast. | A couple of photos of Schwarzenegger on the set of the new Terminator movie in costume (well, sorta), courtesy of The Arnold Fans. | Here’s a few set photos from a scene that takes place in 1984, judging from the cars. | New photos of Schwarzenegger as the T-800. | More photos of a battle-scarred Schwarzenegger.

Terminator Genesis has now been retitled to Terminator Genisys (a play on “Genocide” and “Cyberdyne Systems” perhaps?). Click here for a “teaser” photo, courtesy of the film’s official Twitter page.

The latest issue(s) of Entertainment Weekly provides some of the first official cast images (see: Cover 1 | Cover 2) from Terminator Genisys, plus a revealing plot teaser: “Sarah Connor isn’t the innocent she was when Linda Hamilton first sported feathered hair and acid-washed jeans in the role. Nor is she Hamilton’s steely zero body-fat warrior in 1991’s T2. Rather, the mother of humanity’s messiah was orphaned by a Terminator at age 9. Since then, she’s been raised by (brace yourself) Schwarzenegger’s Terminator—an older T-800 she calls “Pops”—who is programmed to guard rather than to kill. As a result, Sarah is a highly trained antisocial recluse who’s great with a sniper rifle but not so skilled at the nuances of human emotion. - Thanks to Entertainment Weekly (via Collider)

BREAKING NEWS: Here’s the first official look at Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys, thanks to Entertainment Weekly (via Collider)

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Deal on Fire! The Good, the Bad, the Weird | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

"The Good, the Bad, the Weird" Blu-ray Cover

"The Good, the Bad, the Weird" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Good, the Bad, the Weird, directed by Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil).

The Good, the Bad, the Weird is the story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.

Part Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly; part George Miller’s Mad Max; all the inventive genius of filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon. Starring Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Song Kang-ho (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) and Jung Woo-sung (Musa).

Pre-order The Good, the Bad, the Weird from Amazon.com today!

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Van Damme gets bloody in the first ‘Pound of Flesh’ poster!

"Pound of Flesh" Teaser Poster

"Pound of Flesh" Teaser Poster

Production has wrapped on a Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick titled Pound of Flesh. The film re-teams Van Damme with Ernie Barbarash (Favela), the director behind 2011′s Assassination Games and 2012′s 6 Bullets. Van Damme’s son, Kristopher Van Varenberg (Enemies Closer), and Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2) are co-starring. Pound of Flesh is being produced by Kirk Shaw (Driven To Kill, Hardwired).

The plot line of Pound of Flesh is reminiscent of Park Chan-wook’s 2002 thriller, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance:

In China to donate his kidney to his dying niece, Deacon (Van damme), an former black-ops agent, awakes the day before the operation to find he is the latest victim of organ theft. Stitched up and pissed-off, Deacon descends from his opulent hotel in search of his stolen kidney and carves a blood-soaked path through the darkest corners of the city – brothels, fight clubs, back-alley black markets, and elite billionaire estates. The clock is ticking for his niece and with each step he loses blood.

We’ll keep you updated on Pound of Flesh as we hear more.

Updates: Via the Hollywood Reporter, Pound of Flesh will feature fight scenes coordinated by veteran choreographer and stuntman John Salvetti (Donnie Yen’s Flash Point, Special Identity). | John Ralston (Degrassi The Next Generation), William B Davis (The X-Files) and Charlotte Peters have joined Pound of Flesh. | First photo of Van Damme in Pound of Flesh. | On-the-set photo of Van damme with a few fans, courtesy of the folks at vandammefan.net. | Photo of Van Damme on the set, courtesy of Van Damme. | Photo of Darren Shahlavi on the set of Pound of Flesh.

Ernie Barbarash, the director of Pound of Flesh, spills some details about his upcoming film in this video. He mentions that it is an “action movie that’s very character driven.” Also making a cameo in the movie is the popular Chinese “boy band” TF Boys (click here for a photo of them with Van Damme). | Another set photo of a shirtless Van Damme.

New set photo of Van Damme, courtesy of jcvd-online. Also, Bruceploitation actor Huang Kin Long (aka Bruce Le) recently visited the set. So what does Le look like today? Well, here’s a photo (courtesy of Impact) of him with Mike Leeder, Darren Shahlavi and Mike Moller on the set of Pound of Flesh. Simply amazing! Click here to read about it. | Shahlavi has posted a new set photo. | An extremely short fight clip of Van Damme vs. Shahlavi! | Photos from Pound of Flesh| Pack new stills/photos.

BREAKING NEWS: Check out the AMF poster (other version). They’re small, but hopefully some higher resolution/quality versions will pop up soon. Thanks to the folks at vandammefan.net.

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Well Go USA smuggles Korean crime thriller ‘Traffickers’

The Traffickers | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Traffickers | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The award-winning, action-packed South Korean crime thriller Traffickers debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital December 23rd from Well Go USA Entertainment. The film takes place over six hours on a passenger boat with an ongoing black-market organ-trafficking operation, and a desperate husband out to find his missing wife.

Directed by first time feature film director Kim Hong-sun, Traffickers stars Im Chang-jung (Twilight Gangsters), Daniel Choi (Cyrano Agency), Oh Dal-soo (Oldboy), Cho Youn-hee (Doomsday Book), Cho Dal-hwan (The Pirates), Jeong Ji-yoon (I Saw the Devil). Don’t miss the trailer.

Synopsis: Young-Gyu was the best. He was an organ dealer, smuggling body parts for sale to the highest bidder. His crew was the best – an organized team of professionals with top skills and no conscience. But when one of them dies on the job, the crew scatters. Now he fronts stolen goods, and has fallen in love with Yoo-Ri, a ticket agent at the port terminal. Her father is dying, and when she turns to a ruthless loan shark for help, Young-Gyu goes on a search to find his old partners for one last job. Pre-order Traffickers from Amazon.com today!

Cityonfire.com received the above press release from Well Go USA/MPRM Communications.

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Watch the action packed trailer for Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’

"Marco Polo" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Marco Polo" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Netflix’s first 10-episode season of Marco Polo will soon be streaming on a TV or device near you. Judging from its new trailerMarco Polo promises the whole package: history, romance, drama, sex, swordplay and even some martial arts!

The series is written by John Fusco (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend) and the first episode is directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales).

The series stars Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Chin Han, Zhu Zhu, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Mahesh Jadu, Tom Wu, Remy Hii, Uli Latukefu, and Rick Yune.

In addition to Netflix’s Marco Polo, Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) has signed on to helm his own version of Marco Polo, which will be a 3D fantasy/action take on the story. There have also been additional reports that Cohen is considering his Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor leading man Jet Li (Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate) for a role.

Countless projects about the Venetian adventurer have been made in the past, but the obvious one that comes to our mind is 1975′s Marco Polo (aka Four Assassins), a Chang Cheh-directed Shaw Brothers film starring Richard Harrison, Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun, Gordon Liu, Leung Kar Yan and Shih Szu.

Catch Netflix’s Marco Polo on December 12th. Until then, don’t miss the first trailer!

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Pacino and De Niro to join Donnie Yen in ‘Noodle Man’?

"Flash Point" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Flash Point" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Don’t let the silly title fool you: an upcoming film called Noodle Man might just represent Donnie Yen’s return to Hollywood cinema. Action fans are more than likely aware that Donnie made inroads into the American movie industry back in the early 2000′s, lending his talent as an action choreographer to pictures such as 2000′s Highlander: Endgame and 2002′s Blade II.

Yen was also supporting actor in those films, as well as a few others such as Shanghai Knights, before he returned to his roots and re-ignited his Hong Kong acting career with 2005′s S.P.L. (AKA Kill Zone). With Yen more popular than ever as both a performer and action director, many American fans have asked the question: will Donnie Yen ever return to Hollywood before he becomes too old to be a viable screen star?

With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend revealed to be an English-language production, as well as premiering straight to Netflix, the answer appeared to be “yeah, sort of.” But now Hollywood Reporter is reporting on a new Hollywood film called Noodle Man. The movie is set to arrive from actor-turned-director Daming Chen, who helmed the 2011 Chinese remake of What Women Want, and will star Yen in the role of a former Chinese cop who retires to New York City after his partner is murdered and opens his own noodle shop. Fifteen years later, the very same same drug kingpin who killed Yen’s partner walks into his Chinatown noodle shop…and the quest for revenge begins.

BREAKING NEWS: According to HK Top Ten, the Noodle Man may start shooting in Spring 2015, and Robert De Niro (Goodfellas) and Al Pacino (The Godfather) are attached as co-stars. - Thanks to DiP!

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My Rebellious Son (1982) Review

"My Rebellious Son" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"My Rebellious Son" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Sun Chung
Writer: Ni Kuang, Sun Chung
Producer: Mona Fong
Cast: Alexander Fu Sheng, Ku Feng, Cecilia Wong, Michael Chan Wai Man, John Ladalski, Johnny Wang Lung Wei, Ngaai Fei, Tang Ching, Walter Tso Tat Wah, Tin Ching, Yuen Bun, Yuen Wah
Running Time: 93 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

It’s difficult to embrace that it has been well over three decades since box office idol Alexander Fu Sheng’s tragic death. In just ten years, this affable and complex star made over thirty five films ranking from a succession of ‘Shaolin’ orientated retrospectives to light hearted; occasionally inane kung fu comedies where his natural physical versatility – as well as his mischievous persona – were put to good use in a variety of situations; some implausible, but usually with vivacious consequences. His ‘Shaolin’ workload, though, tended to be emotionally streamlined favoring exact kung fu depictions as in, by example, New Shaolin Boxer (1976), a semi referential premise that heralds the intricate style of Choy Li Fatt, itself a center piece to the storyline about a rickshaw attendant who opposes a malicious street gang led by dependable screen villain, Wang Lung Wei.

Although few would disagree, in some respects Fu Sheng was an instrumental precursor to Jackie Chan’s eventual screen brand of integrating canto-vernacular expressionism with that of slapstick athleticism. Indeed, one can detect these juxtapositions even though Chan maintains his direct inspirational links were silent icons: Charley Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd; yet from a historic point of view, Fu Sheng was really the first action-comedian to fractionally instigate this genre from which he never received credit for: in fact, Fu Sheng was Yuen Woo Ping’s premier choice to play the abused orphan ‘Ting Fu’ for Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1977). However, contractual legalities prevented him from starring in may what have been arguably superior entries to Sheng’s already established filmography.

Educated in Hawaii, where his preferred interests focused on learning karate and Judo, Fu Sheng was originally born in Hong Kong 1954 to an affluent family who expected him to follow tradition, and become a major entrepreneur. Allegedly, Sheng had something by way of a troubled youth. Torn between family obligations and his own passions for movies and music (he later married singer/actress, Jenny Tseng), at sixteen he joined the Shaw Brothers’ training academy where, much to his parents’ disapproval, he excelled in drama expositions and the rudiments of kung fu. With an inherent flare for performance, handsome looks and (a) charisma far above his contemporaries, everyone soon became aware of his qualifications – most notably esteemed studio director, Chang Cheh, who at the time was grooming newcomer, Chen Kwan Tai, for his lead debut in The Boxer from Shantung (1972).

Typically, Sheng was offered the opportunity of an uncredited stuntman appearance at the picture’s finale, although one has too observe extremely carefully. From there, minor roles were afforded too him such as Cheh’s underrated experimental pieces: The Generation Gap (1973), Police Force (1973) and Friends (1973) before winning significant acclaim (for) portraying folkhero ‘Fan Shih Yue’ (aka Fong Sai Yuk) in a trilogy of films that highlight brotherhood, patriotism and sacrifice. Fan Shih Yue, of course, was a legendary ‘Han’ freedom fighter, who invariably fought alongwith his mentor and comrade, Hung Xi Kwan. History purports that from a young age Fan Shih Yue’s mother soaked his entire body in a giant ceramic pot filled with herbal wine. After many months of discomfort, it was documented his skin became impervious to impalement, earning him the distinctive monicker of “Iron Vest Fan.” His weak spot, however, was his anus.

Fu Sheng indeed revelled in the role: his cocksure attitude mirrored a believability that would make other actors’ appear staid and artificial. Yet, Sheng approached all of his roles with an inbred sense of eccentricity, whether straight-laced, comical or completely absent of intellect as in Five Shaolin Masters (1974); whereby his character’s obvious lack of common sense is overshadowed by an ingrained fighting proficiency. After that he never looked back.

As his fandom escalated in leaps and bounds, Sheng worried deeply about becoming typecast in an industry that was both taxing and dangerous; personal liability was not an optional inclusion to any Shaw Brothers contract. Nevertheless, besides joint-starring with Chi Kuan Chun for celebrated classics: Shaolin Martial Arts (1974), Marco Polo (1975), and his career defining picture Disciples from Shaolin (1976); Sheng often tried too diversify his performances by collaborating with other studio directors: i.e. Chu Yuan, Sun Chung and Liu Chia Liang.

According to sources, Sheng’s working relationship with Liang became temporarily strained following an artistic episode involving the first time director’s choice to replace the rising star with the late Wong Yue for the lead in The Spiritual Boxer (1976); a part Sheng originally coveted. However, protracted tensions between Cheh and Liang ‘then’ over creative differences during production of The Boxer Rebellion (1975) meant Cheh retained seniority over casting, which is why Wong Yue was immediately decided upon, while Sheng’s presence (indirectly) may have been perceived as an internal catalyst for further rivalry.

Question is: would The Spiritual Boxer have benefited moreso – commercially, if Sheng had taken up the role of the charlatan magician? Either way, it didn’t matter. As Wong Yue progressed through an echelon of pedestrian swordplay affairs to cult favourites; generally in tandem with Gordon Liu, Sheng’s star attraction had dramatically increased. Amazingly, he was contracted to four,even five films per year; few were even shot simultaneously like the epic Shaolin Temple (1976) and the contemporary tragic-drama The Chinatown Kid (1977). Naturally release dates vary.

It was these productions where nuances of pathos were slowly creeping into Sheng’s repertoire, even though from the outset his performances consisted of a buoyant, cheeky exterior. Seriousness of character did not always manifest until set against the backdrop of a grim inevitability. Shaolin Temple, for instance was a film riddled with expectant scenes that fluctuated between habitual tension and ritualized serenity, using Sheng as a comic foil to bridge the two contradictions. It was almost bathetic in design right up to its violent and lengthy conclusion.

The Chinatown Kid on the other hand contained analogies to Cheh’s previous masterworks: The Boxer from Shantung and Disciples from Shaolin. The universal message of these (three) movies was the timeless adage of “Power” and its ability to corrupt even the most well intentioned individual. In Cheh’s case, the catalyst of each characters’ downfall was their material fixation on a particular object, as well as their instinctive desires for wealth and reputation. It was this sense of poetic obsession that caught the eye of Hollywood, partly because of Sheng’s blistering performance as the not-too-bright “Kid” who only really cared about owning a flash suit and a digital wristwatch.

Indeed, negotiations were eminent between the Shaws and Warner Brothers about a potential co-production which would best serve Sheng’s acting/martial arts fortitude. The opportunity was there, but a serious accident (during filming) that temporarily crippled him, suspended further investment.

Contending with a possible disability, Sheng recuperated slowly, and within six months he’d miraculously regained enough flexibility and strength to cameo in Liang’s Legendary Weapons of Kung Fu before excepting a non-physical role in Lau Kar Wing’s screwball horror-comedy The Fake Ghost Catchers (1982). He reunited with Liang twice for Cat vs. Rat (1982) and The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984). Sadly, the latter had too be re-written and finalized without Sheng’s participation due an unfortunate and uncanny road accident which claimed the life of the twenty-nine year old.

Today, some Hong Kong folk still believe Sheng’s death, like Bruce Lee’s, is attributed to bad Feng Shui. Parallels are indeed evident: in addition to a ten year time differential between each stars’ passing, neither completed their ‘current’ projects, and despite cryptic warnings, Sheng bought Lee’s former mansion in Kowloon. All these similarities – whether co-incidental or otherwise – echo an eerie familiarity seldom seen outside the realms of Tinseltown, let alone Asia.

In recent years, Fu Sheng’s extensive filmography has been gradually re-released (on DVD) through reputable distributors such as Celestial, Dragon Dynasty, Well Go USA and Tokyo Shock. Although annoyingly limited in the western hemisphere for those who do not possess the luxury of a multi-region DVD player, these titles do not represent, nor embody Sheng’s comprehensive back catalog: important, yes! But, by far, not his most memorable in terms of storyline, characterization or action choreography – bar exception Disciples from Shaolin (1975), Heroes Two (1974) and Avenging Eagle (1978). For some fans it has always been about The Brave Archer (1977) quadrilogy that best defines Fu Sheng’s allure; others’ passionately argue The Treasure Hunters (1981) or Deadly Breaking Sword (1979), yet the majority feel My Rebellious Son encapsulates the true persona of perhaps one of the most underrated celebrities of the Shaw pantheon.

This was Fu Sheng’s third and final collaboration with (the) legendary, elusive film-maker, Sun Chung – known for his Kubrick-like devotion for precision continuity and an unfailing approach for numerous (re)takes. Sun Chung was also lauded for his outrageous quick-editing style and uncompromising camera angles – subsequently adopted by John Woo (Last Hurrah for Chivalry), Tsui Hark (Zu: Warriors From Magic Mountain) and a torrent of other prospective celluloid aluminaries. The realms of comedy, no less, was an unusual divergence for Chung. Normally, he commonly explored the darker aspects of the human condition: corruption, violent impulse and motivational sadism were just three areas back lit and imbued in Chung’s trademark moody, sometimes romanticized gothicism.

In reflection, however, My Rebellious Son was, surface wise, a concept possibly developed in the wake of Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master (1978) and Billy Chong’s The Crystal Fist (1979), but on closer examination, it actually veers towards anti-Thatcherism in a thinly disguised meditation which, observably, celebrates national identity and traditional values by firmly sticking two fingers up at colonialism and any other would-be political interlopers.

As the titles suggests, Sheng is in formidable comedic overdrive: energetic, youthful and utterly personable as Tai, the wayward and cunning son to revered herbalist Chang Siu (Ku Feng). By day, Tai forcibly labors at his father’s popular clinic: grinding, chopping and boiling various nondescript roots, insects and animal inards for eccentric, overly wealthy customers. Frustrated with his routine lifestyle, he seeks recreational thrills at the expense of his father’s reputation. This ongoing and perfectly executed interplay – between Sheng, the rebel and Feng’s autocratic and exhortative personality – sets the tone for further spirited activities involving Tai’s deliberate imprudence towards local Manchu bullies, westernized converts and foreign imperialists adamant about owning rare Chinese Objet d’art.

It is these latter antagonists that, understandably, spur xenophobic disapproval from not only Feng, but members of a town committee, whom unlike the converts – a team led by the obligatory Wang Lung Wei – wish too preserve the heritage of their forebears and not fall foul to capitalistic endeavours, modernization or the shallow mindset of greedy socialites devoid of respect for the intrinsic values of others’ culture. Between Sheng’s humorous scenes at dancing – English style, attired in a traditional Chinese long gown and recovering stolen antiques in a subplot akined to Jackie Chan’s Dragon Lord (1981) – all these premise units surprisingly connect, precipitating an extensive well staged tournament showdown pitting Sheng’s multifacted expertise (Mantis Fist, Butterfly Sabres and 3 sectional staff, etc.) against the likes of agile slugger (John Ladaski) and a crafty bemused Samurai/Ninja (Chan Wai Man).

Verdict: Although flawless in execution, in today’s current attitudes My Rebellious Son could be deemed as “politically incorrect,” considering the amount of depicted undesirables on offer: from pompous Brits to homegrown opportunists, to apparent honourless Japanese. However, re-examining how China/Hong Kong’s turbulent history has been shaped by foreign incursions, exploitation and outside influences, these caricatures are perfectly realized, allowing the protagonist(s) to vanquish the situation – entertainment wise; yet in reality could not due to overwhelming political and military odds. Needless to say, My Rebellious Son now acts as a befitting tribute to Fu Sheng’s memory and career, bonused by a superior visual polish, seldom appreciated in Hong Kong Cinema.

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 9/10

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Deal on Fire! Little Big Soldier | Blu-ray | Only $6.81 – Expires soon!

"Little Big Soldier" Blu-ray Cover

"Little Big Soldier" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Little Big Soldier, starring the legendary Jackie Chan (Armour of God III: Chinese Zodiac) and Leehom Wang (Lust, Caution and Michael Mann’s upcoming Blackhat).

Directed and written by Ding Sheng, Litte Big Soldier (read our review) is definitely one of the best Jackie Chan flicks of the last 10 years. I know we’re all sick of period films (especially one titled Little Big Solider), but trust me, this is one movie you don’t want to miss.

Order Little Big Solider from Amazon.com today!

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90′s action stars break bad in ‘The Chemist’ trailer!

"Nemesis" Theatrical Poster

"Nemesis" Theatrical Poster

What do you get when you gather up Olivier Gruner (Nemesis), Patrick Kilpatrick (Death Warrant), Martin Kove (Rambo, The Karate Kid), Richard Grieco (If Looks Could Kill), Sasha Mitchell (Kickboxer 2) and Eric Lee (Ring of Fire); then cook ‘em up to a crisp with some action direction by Art Camacho (Half Past Dead 2, To Be the Best 2)?

The Answer: The Chemist, “a gritty, action packed thriller about an aging assassin (Gruner) who is double crossed by his employer when he refuses to assassinate a woman he just met.”

Check out hew newly released trailer for The Chemist, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate. The film is currently in post-production phase, so stay tuned for its official release date!

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Jackie Chan’s ‘Civilian’ is ‘Die Hard in a weapons convention’

"Polce Story 2013" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Polce Story 2013" Japanese Theatrical Poster

In addition to Dragon Blade (which is currently filming), Skiptrace, and the possibility of The Karate Kid 2 and Rush Hour 4, Jackie Chan (Armour of God III: CZ12) has added an English-language thriller titled Civilian, to his to-do list.

According to Variety, Civilian “follows a salesman who finds himself in the middle of a terror attack at an arms convention.” Chances are, the film will be a light-hearted action flick, considering it’s being helmed by Peter Segal (Get Smart, Grudge Match), a director known for his family-friendly output.

Update: Looks like Civilian will follow the Die Hard mold. According to Collider, producer Basil Iwanyk (John Wick) describes it as “Die Hard in a weapons convention.” Filming begins early 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Day of Anger | aka Gunlaw | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Day of Anger | aka Gunlaw | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Day of Anger | aka Gunlaw | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

RELEASE DATE: February 2015

Arrow Video USA presents the Blu-ray for 1967′s Day of Anger (aka Day of Wrath, I giorni dell’ira), directed by Tonino Valerii (My Name Is Nobody).

Amiable, unassertive Scott Mary (Giuliano Gemma) picks up the trash, cleans the toilets and sweeps the floors in the town of Clifton. Then a gunfighter (Lee Van Cleef) comes to town. He offers advice and guidance to Scott, who quickly begins to toughen and mature, thus upsetting the balance of power in the town. Watch the trailer.

Day of Anger is one of the first North American releases from Arrow Video! Stay tuned for pre-order information.

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Dolph Lundgren teams up with some killer Jaws in ‘Shark Lake’

"Shark Lake" Teaser Poster

"Shark Lake" Teaser Poster

Action legend Dolph Lundgren is getting his bait ‘n tackle box ready for a Jaws-like thriller titled Shark Lake (formerly titled The Lake). We’re crossing our fingers that this upcoming film is a step above the recent wave of shlockbusters (i.e. Sharknado, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus), but only time will tell.

Here’s the official plot: Fiercely protective single-mom Meredith Hendricks happens to also be the best cop in her quiet town on Lake Tahoe. When a black-market exotic species dealer named Clint, is paroled from prison, something he let loose begins to make its presence known. Swimmers and land-lovers alike begin to become part of the food chain at an unbelievable rate.

Shark Lake is directed by Jerry Dugan (Between Grass and Sky) and also stars Jen Oda, Ben Maccabee and James Chalke. There’s no word on who or what Lundgren will be playing (maybe he’s playing the shark?). Despite the early poster’s design, there has been some speculation that his role may be a glorified cameo. Again, only time will tell.

Shark Lake starts shooting at the end of the this year. Until then, the Lundgren/Tony Jaa actioner Skin Trade - and hopefully the delayed A Man Will Rise – is just around the corner. Lundgren is also currently busy with War Pigs (with Mickey Rourke) as well as Four Towers (with Scott Adkins), which is currently in pre-production. – Thanks to dolph-ultimate.com

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From a co-star of ‘Merantau’ comes martial arts film ‘Die Fighting’

"Die Fighting" Poster

Recently, Twitch reported on a new film that martial arts buffs might be interested in. You’ll likely recall actor Laurent Buson as one of the two ‘evil white guys’ that Iko Uwais fought at the same time at the end of Merantau – Buson was the one with glasses. Well, the highly trained martial artist also belongs to a group of stunt people known as the Z Team. Their latest project together is a new fight movie called The Price of Success.

The premise is more than a little similar to the Thai movie BK: Bangkok Knockout, in which a bunch of highly trained fighters wake up after being drugged and are forced to fight each other for the whims of madman. However, the advertising for The Price of Success in particular goes out of its way to state that the filmmakers use no wires or computer effects for their action sequences. Don’t believe them? Just watch the trailer.

Update: The film has been retitled Die Fighting and is set to arrive via On Demand services this November 4th. In the meantime, check out the rebranded trailer.

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Deal on Fire! City Hunter & Battle Creek Brawl | Blu-ray | Only $13.29 – Expires soon!

"Jackie Chan Double Feature" Blu-ray Cover

"Jackie Chan Double Feature" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray Double Feature for 1980′s Battle Creek Brawl (aka The Big Brawl) & 1993′s City Hunter.

Battle Creek Brawl is noteworthy for not only being directed by Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon), but for also being Jackie Chan’s first English-language attempt at making a name for himself in America. Based on the famous Manga of the same name,

Wong Jing’s City Hunter is practically a campy “Die Hard on a Cruise Ship,” which also contains the famous Street Fighter parody.

Order City Hunter & Battle Creek Brawl from Amazon.com today!

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Kundo: Age of the Rampant (2014) Review

"Kundo: Age of the Rampant" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Kundo: Age of the Rampant" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Yun Jong-Bin
Writer: Jeon Cheol-Hong, Yun Jong-Bin
Cast: Ha Jung-Woo, Kang Dong-Won, Lee Kyung-Young, Lee Sung-Min, Jo Jin-Woong, Ma Dong-Seok, Yun Ji-Hye, Ju Jin-Mo, Song Young-Chang, Jeong Man-Sik, Kim Byung-Ok, Kim Jong-Gu, Kim Seong-Gyun
Running Time: 137 min.

By Kyle Warner

I went into Kundo: Age of the Rampant expecting something like a Korean take on the Robin Hood tale. What I got was a Tarantino-infused post-modern historical action movie that tries to be both a martial arts film and a spaghetti western at the same time. There’s a whole lotta movie in Kundo’s 137 minutes.

The film opens on bodies left to rot in the fields. Birds and dogs dine on the carcasses. Decapitated heads are left on pikes. It’s a time of famine and oppression. The poor are left to beg for the smallest favors from the corrupt and cruel nobility. But there is a resistance. A Robin Hood-like gang of bandits called the Kundo put the corrupt on trial, take their riches and redistribute them among the poor.

The lowest of the low is the foolish butcher Dochi (Jung-woo Ha). Barely scraping by, Dochi is tempted by a big payday when a nobleman named Jo-yoon asks him to assassinate a whore. “She’s little different than a pig,” reasons Jo-yoon. But when Dochi backs out of the deal, he angers the nobleman and is sentenced to death. Moments before his execution, Dochi is rescued by the Kundo and is given the opportunity of joining the gang so that he may one day have his revenge.

When Dochi joins the Kundo, he transforms from the lowly butcher into an infamous fighter. Jung-woo Ha is one of Korea’s finest actors and he disappears into the character. Admittedly Dochi is not one of Ha’s most complex roles, but after this and other great performances in The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, I am convinced that Jung-woo Ha can play basically anybody.

Despite Ha’s notable screen presence, I believe the film belongs to the villain Jo-yoon as played by Dong-won Kang. I’ve never been terribly impressed by Kang in the past, but here Kang is in complete control, bringing a cool detachment to a villain that could have easily gone over the top. His villain can do more with a single cold stare than other lesser villains could do with a three page monologue.

Period pieces are all the rage in Asia right now. Some have a difficult time finding fans in the West because they focus too much on history and politics, and not enough on action. And though the plot of Kundo may make it sound like a dense retelling of Korea’s history, one full of backstabbing noblemen and political strife, Kundo’s much more focused on having a good time.

The film is self-aware, but never in an annoying way. An Ennio Morricone inspired score dominates the film. The major characters are introduced in flickering freeze frames (one is simply named ‘The Vicious Monk’). The screenplay is full of humor and the characters have a tendency of dropping some ‘motherf-ckers’ and other modern lingo to make themselves understood (one such line goes something like, “Attain your f-cking Buddhahood!”). I think that director Jong-bin Yun (Nameless Gangster) is clearly a fan of Quentin Tarantino, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say his movie is a rip-off of Tarantino’s style. Like Tarantino is fond of doing for the directors who have influenced him, Kundo: Age of the Rampant plays like a love letter to Tarantino’s films and his particular style of movie making.

Kundo: Age of the Rampant is a movie that knows it’s a movie. Now, that’s going to turn some people off who will wonder why they couldn’t just play it straight, which is a reasonable question. Personally, I like this stylistic choice as it sets Kundo apart from the rest of the historical actioners, making it a rather unique film.

On top of the surplus of style, we also get a heavy dose of well-done action. Director Yun shoots the large scale battles and the duels with equal skill. The swordplay is fast-paced and in your face, but it’s easy to follow and we never lose the characters in the action. Jung-woo Ha has an interesting fighting style as he swaggers onto the battlefield with some serious meat cleavers in either hand. And Dong-won Kang makes one believe that he is the unbeatable fighter his character requires him to be.

The film does feel a bit crowded at times. There are a lot of characters and many are not as defined as one would like them to be. It also takes a long time for Dochi to announce himself as the hero of the story. And one could argue that Jong-bin Yun would’ve been better off coming up with his own particular style instead of so openly mimicking others. Overall though, the movie works. It’s often dark and violent but it’s a lot of fun thanks to its playful style and an awesome villain.

I’ve read that when Kundo debuted in South Korea it broke the opening weekend box office record… only to have its record beaten in the very next week. Whether that says anything about the movie—like does it have staying power and will we remember it a year from now?—I have no idea. One thing it helps make clear is that this is an important time in South Korean film. The South Korean film industry is cranking out great, stylish movies made by some truly gifted filmmakers and the audiences are showing up. Kundo: Age of the Rampant may have clearly been inspired by international cinema, but it makes for an interesting addition to Korea’s ever-expanding list of quality films.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 7/10

Posted in Korean, News, Reviews | Tagged , | 4 Comments

New posters for ‘Wolf Warriors’ with Jacky Wu and Scott Adkins

"Wolf Warriors" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Wolf Warriors" Chinese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Special Force: Wolf Warrior (aka Wolf WarWolf or Warg) is Wu Jing’s second directorial project. You’ll likely recall Jing (also known as Jacky Wu) from recent movies like Sha Po Lang aka Killzone, in which he fought against Donnie Yen, as well as Legendary Assassin, which he also directed. No plot details or release dates have been set.

Special Force: Wolf Warrior also stars Scott Adkins (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), Kevin Lee (Pound of Flesh), Vincent Zhao (True Legend) Deng Ziyi (Pay Back), Sona Eyambe (Zombie 108), Kyle Shapiro (Dragon Blade), Samuel Thivierge (In the End) and Nan Yu (The Expendables 2).

Updates: The official Scott Adkins Facebook page has unveiled some new set photos from the upcoming Wolf Warriors, featuring Adkins and Jacky Wu. | First teaser trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Check out the film’s series of new posters. Thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

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DDDHouse.com now has ‘Overheard 3′ available for Pre-order

"Overheard 3" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Overheard 3" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Are you ready for another dose of surveillance action from three of Hong Kong’s most popular actors? Louis Koo (Flash Point), Daniel Wu (Shinjuku Incident) and Lau Ching-Wan (The Bullet Vanishes) are back in Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s Overheard 3.

DDDHouse.com now has Blu-ray & DVD versions available for an October 28th pre-order. Keep in mind that the DVD versions are Region 3 coded, so you will need a multi-region DVD player to view the movie. Fortunately, the Blu-ray version is coded for region A, so they’re good to go on your current North American Blu-ray hardware.

Be sure to check out the trailer for Overheard 3.

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Revenge of the Green Dragons | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

"Revenge of the Green Dragons" Theatrical Poster

"Revenge of the Green Dragons" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: February 2015

Lionsgate presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Revenge of the Green Dragons, an action-drama about Chinese gangs in New York, directed by Hong Kong filmmakers Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Andrew Loo (It Had To Be You!); and produced by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street).

Revenge of the Green Dragons stars Justin Chon (21 & Over), Kevin Wu (YouTube’s KevJumba), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), Ron Yuan (Girl from the Naked Eye), and Eugenia Yuan (daughter of Come Drink With Me’s Cheng Pei-Pei), Jon Kit Lee (The Corruptor) and Ray Liotta (Goodfellas). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Revenge of the Green Dragons from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Other Notable Titles | Tagged | Leave a comment

Poster for newly titled ‘Furious 7′ + Trailer on November 1st

"Furious 7" Teaser Poster

"Furious 7" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: Director Justin Lin is stepping down from his post for now and is passing the baton to Saw and Insidious filmmaker James Wan, who will supposedly put a “gritty, ’70s revenge thriller” vibe on the next installment. Here’s an official plot tidbit: After Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew helped take down Owen Shaw, his brother Ian Shaw (Jason Statham) now wants revenge. Furious 7 (aka Fast and Furious 7) has a new release date set for April 3, 2015

In addition to Vin Diesel and Jason Statham, Furious 7 stars Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa and Djimon Hounsou.

Updates: In honor of Paul Walker, Universal will donate some of the proceeds from the upcoming Fast & Furious 6 Blu-ray & DVD release to Walker’s charity Reach Out WorldWide. As far as the future of Furious 7, there has been some talk about scrapping the current storyline and moving the plot into a completely new direction.

THR reports that Chris Morgan, Furious 7′s screenwriter, is revising the script that could make use of scenes that were shot before Walker’s death. If the plan works, production may resume by late January. | THR (via Collider) reports that Walker’s character Brian O’Conner will not be killed off in Furious 7, but will instead be retired “in a way that the studio hopes will satisfy fans of the franchise and make use of the exciting footage of Walker.”

According to an official statement from F7′s Facebook page, Paul Walker’s real life brothers will step in as doubles for the late actor; there are several reports that Cody Walker (one of Walker’s real brothers) may be joining future installments of Fast and Furious as Brian O’Connor’s (Paul Walker) younger brother.

BREAKING NEWS: Furious 7 (formerly known as Fast and Furious 7) has a new promotional poster. Also, in  7 days (November 1st), Universal will reveal the film’s first trailer at The Road to Furious 7: Trailer Launch Event at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

Cityonfire.com is hoping you can take a minute to check out www.FrankandBeanz.com, a doggie apparel website that has just released their Fast & the Furrious clothing line. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Paul Walker’s charity, Reach Out World Wide (ROWW).

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Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman | DVD (Screen Media)

"Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman" Theatrical Poster

"Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2015

Screen Media presents the DVD for Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman, directed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, the Chilean action filmmaker responsible for Marko Zaror’s Mandrill, Mirageman, Kiltro and the upcoming Redeemer.

Timid, video game-loving DJ Santiago (Matías Oviedo) seemingly digs his own grave when he agrees to bring a violent criminal kingpin the head of Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman from Amazon.com today!

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John Wick (2014) Review

"John Wick" International Theatrical Poster

"John Wick" International Theatrical Poster

Director: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Writers: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Bernhardt
Running Time: 96 min.

By Jeff Bona

If there’s one Hollywood superstar who has maintained a solid connection with the martial arts film genre, it’s Keanu Reeves.

Reeves first made this connection in 1999/2003 with the Matrix trilogy, where he “learned” a great deal of on-screen fighting from legendary Hong Kong choreographer Yuen Woo Ping; in 2013, he starred in the samurai epic 47 Ronin, where he worked with Zhang Peng (choreographer of The Wrath of Vajra); that same year, he reunited with Yuen for the Chinese/U.S. co-production Man of Tai Chi, a kung fu flick he not only starred in, but also directed.

With a resume as physically demanding and cultured as his is, it should come as no surprise that Reeves is still kicking some serious ass in his latest film, John Wick.

John Wick marks the directorial debut of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, founders of the 87Eleven Stunt Team. They’re obviously known for staging stunt work and fight choreography in films like 300 (2006), Tron: Legacy (2010) and Safe (2012). Now, if Stahelski’s choreography work in Safe alone isn’t enough of a credential to get you excited about seeing John Wick, then you obviously haven’t seen Safe. Let’s put it this way: I like Reeves, but I’m not exactly watching John Wick for him, if you catch my drift.

John Wick is written by Derek Kolstad, who penned the straight-to-DVD actioners One in the Chamber and The Package (both star Dolph Lundgren, just to give you an idea of what kind of films these are). So, what we have with John Wick is essentially a “B-movie” with a moderate budget, a big star, and a couple of first-time directors who probably had one common goal: To make a brainless action flick for people who love excessive violence. Given this context, John Wick succeeds.

Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, an infamous, retired assassin who now leads a peaceful lifestyle. But when a series of unfortunate events distort his daily routine, Wick has no choice but to revisit his sinister past and go on one hell of a kill crazy rampage.

John Wick truly delivers during its amazingly staged action sequences. The majority of them involve brutal gun battles, which are stylishly choreographed with a dance-like rhythm; think a less exaggerated, more grittier take on Gun Kata, the fictional gun-wielding martial art style in Kurt Wimmer’s Equilibrium (2002). It’s a whole lotta fun watching Wick plow through hordes of enemies, sometimes shooting them 3 or 4 times a piece – aiming at various body parts – from a number of neat angles and distances.

The firefights are accented with hand-to-hand combat scenes, placed randomly between the endless rain of bullets. There will be those who complain that they’re filmed to close, or are too darkly lit, etc. This may be true, but the rest of the film’s savagery is the trade off. Although there wasn’t as many physical fight scenes as I’d like there to be, they’re at least done without the typical shaky cam approach.

The style doesn’t stop at the action. You might be amused by the treatment of playful on-screen text – and reoccurring subtitles – which were scattered across the screen using colored fonts, instead of the typical generic white text at the bottom of the screen. If you’re a muscle car enthusiast, the film showcases a number of beastly automobiles for your eyes (and ears) to appreciate.

What’s disappointing about John Wick is the lack of a competitive adversary to the title character. I felt the film was just begging for an enemy that can hold their own against Wick. The closest we get is an annoying femme fatale (Adrianne Palicki) who would be more suitable in a Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond flick. Equally as bad is a non-threatening, over-the-hill gangster (Michael Nyqvist) who ultimately becomes Wick’s main opponent during the film’s anticlimactic finale.

Then, there’s the film’s music. At times, I felt it was overused. From what I remember, almost every time any type of action kicked in, it was accompanied by an uptempo soundtrack; sometimes it worked, sometimes it was overkill. There are some other questionable hiccups throughout John Wick, but you have to remind yourself that you’re watching a B-movie masked by the star of Speed (1994), so these flaws should be easily dismissed and forgiven.

Overall, not a bad directorial debut for Leitch and Stahelski. They certainly have a good sense of pacing, and without doubt, they’re the real deal when it comes to creating some hard-hitting action pieces. With a little less aerial shots (someone went a little stock footage crazy), and some worthy baddies worked into the script, the Leitch/Stahelski duo may one day make an action flick that I can fully recommend. As for John Wick? It’s definitely worth a watch, but if you’re wise, you’ll wait ’til it appears on Netflix.

Jeff Bona’s Rating: 6.5/10

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Awesome new poster for ‘Skin Traffik’ starring Gary Daniels and Mickey Rourke

"Skin Traffik" Theatrical Poster

"Skin Traffik" Theatrical Poster

The multi-talented Ara Paiaya (director, writer, producer, cinematographer, editor, action coordinator and actor) is launching his first “professional” directorial debut with Skin Traffik (not to be confused with Skin Trade, starring Dolph Lundgren and Tony Jaa).

The film stars Gary Daniels, Daryl Hannah, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Michael Madsen, Dominique Swain, Jeff Fahey, Ron Smoorenburg, as well as Ara Paiaya himself.

In Skin Traffik, a jaded hit man (Daniels) regains his humanity in this dark tale of redemption and sacrifice, set amidst a brutal underworld in which daily survival is not so much a skill but an instinct. Watch the trailer.

Updates: Check out the newest poster.

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Destroyer | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

"Destroyer" Theatrical Poster

"Destroyer" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: Summer 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1988′s Destroyer, directed by Robert Kirk (Christmas at War) and starring NFL legend, Lyle Alzado (Shocktroop).

In Destroyer, an execution day for a serial killer sparks a prison riot, leaving prison officials to assume he was successfully electrocuted. A year later, a film crew using the prison as a set discover the truth.

Destroyer also stars Deborah Foreman, Anthony Perkins, Clayton Rohner, Jim Turner, and Lannie Garrett. Don’t miss the trailer!

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Other Notable Titles | Tagged | 2 Comments