Veteran (2015) Review

"Veteran" Theatrical Poster

"Veteran" Theatrical Poster

Director: Ryu Seung-Wan
Writer: Ryu Seung-Wan
Producer: Kang Hye-Jung
Cast: Hwang Jeong-Min, Yu A-In, Yu Hae-Jin, Oh Dal-Su, Jang Yun-Joo, Oh Dae-Hwan, Kim Si-Hu, Jeong Woong-In, Jeong Man-Sik, Cheon Ho-Jin, Song Young-Chang, Jin Kyung, Lee Dong-Hwi, Yu In-Young, Bae Sung-Woo
Running Time: 123 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Director Ryoo Seung-wan is a familiar name to fans of Korean action cinema, ever since his debut Die Bad in 2000, he’s consistently delivered a series of movies which combine action with a strong narrative. Since his riotous parody of old school Korean action movies with 2008’s Dachimawa Lee, the director has taken a decidedly darker approach, with both The Unjust and The Berlin File exploring the not so pleasant side of life. While both contained plenty of his trademarks, Seung-wan himself expressed a desire to move away from these darker tales, and get back to the type of action movies that he watched in his youth, those that existed in a brighter world where the good guy wins.

Veteran is that return, and is arguably his most successful production to date. At the time of writing, Seung-wan’s latest has surpassed US$1M at the US box office, which is no small feat for a Korean movie, and become the third most watched production of all time domestically. Pushing out Avatar, Korea’s top 3 most watched movies are now all domestic productions released between summer 2014 – summer 2015 (the first is The Admiral: Roaring Currents, and second Ode to My Father), perhaps indicating a new golden era for the Korean film industry.

On watching Veteran, it’s easy to see why. Seung-wan is once again paired with Korea’s best action choreographer and frequent collaborator, Jung Doo-hong, and together the end result is the director’s tightest movie to date. Hwang Jeong-min takes the lead role (also the star of Ode to My Father), and he gets plenty of chances to flex the action muscle which he showed a knack for in Fists of Legend and The New World. Playing an experienced detective, when one of his friends suspiciously attempts to commit suicide, all leads point to an arrogant corporate heir played by Yoo Ah-in. There are a whole bunch of supporting characters, on both sides of the law, however the story basically boils down to Jeong-min trying to get to the truth about what happened to his friend.

Jeong-min and Seung-wan have collaborated together before, when the actor played the lead in the 2010 thriller The Unjust. While in that movie he was also playing a detective, here his role couldn’t be any further away from the previous incarnation. Essentially playing the heart and soul of the movie, Jeong-min confidently swaggers his way though proceedings, never afraid to deliver a punch to the face of someone who deserves it, and thankfully the plot delivers a fair few that do. As the movie opens to the thumping soundtrack of ‘Heart of Glass’ by Blondie, he sets himself up to infiltrate a car smuggling ring, by hiding in the trunk of a vehicle set to be reconditioned. When events transpire that see him alone in a small garage against a group of angry gangsters, a fantastically choreographed scene plays out that displays more than a few nods to Jackie Chan, as various props are utilized in increasingly imaginative ways.

The Jackie Chan influence is also very visible in the way humor is incorporated into the action scenes, with several laugh out loud sight gags thrown in amongst the fists and feet. One aspect of the action which I felt really stuck out in Seung-wan’s previous effort, The Berlin File, was the understanding of how to convey a sense of impact onscreen. In that movie one scene has Ha Jeong-woo being knocked off his feet, landing awkwardly on a ventilation pipe jutting out from a building roof, and it’s filmed in such a way that you genuinely feel it. The sound design and camera angle is just perfect. Seung-wan and Doo-hong have successfully carried over that technique to Veteran, with some truly wince worthy blows and falls thrown into the mix.

Veteran also delivers a stellar cast, with plenty of familiar faces from Seung-wan’s previous movies turning up in various roles. Yoo Hae-jin, who starred alongside Jeong-min in The Unjust, here delivers a repulsive turn as Ah-in’s faithful assistant. Oh Dal-soo, a performer who could well be Korea’s busiest actor working today, turns up as Jeong-min’s closest team member, here hot off the heels from significant roles in both Assassination and opposite Jeong-min in Ode to my Father. Dal-soo also notably had a role in Seung-wan’s 2004 boxing drama Crying Fist.

Ah-in himself could be considered the newcomer of the bunch, and Veteran is by far the biggest production he’s worked on to date. At times his performance threatens to push his villainous upstart into territory which could be considered over the top, however he successfully manages to reel it in just as it’s teetering on the brink each time. His portrayal creates a character that’s easy to hate, which exactly fits the job description of his role, so no complaints.

Notably missing in action is the director’s brother, Ryoo Seung-beom, who usually turns up in some form or another in Seung-wan’s movies, marking the first time he hasn’t appeared since 2006’s City of Violence. Thankfully the movie doesn’t suffer from his absence, and despite a slight lag after a blistering opening third, things are brought back with a bang for the finale, that sees a car chase through the streets of Seoul which is refreshingly CGI free. Seung-wan has stated that a stuntman suffered an almost fatal injury on the set of Veteran, and while he didn’t go into the specifics of which stunt it happened on, watching a couple of impacts during said sequence, it’s probably a safe guess that it was during this scene.

After a container yard throwdown, a frenzied knife fight in a small apartment, a rooftop chase sequence, and a car park beatdown, Jeong-min breaks his fists out one more time to take on Ah-in, in a wonderfully messy knock down drag out street brawl that doesn’t disappoint. It even throws in a hilarious cameo from Ma Dong-seok just for good measure

Seung-wan has openly stated his love for the Lethal Weapon series, and approached Veteran with the series in mind. Stating in a recent interview how he particularly admired how the cast, director, and production staff remained the same for each movie, the director has confirmed that there’ll be two sequels to Veteran. While we won’t be seeing the next installment for at least a couple of years, if it’s anything like the first one, you can count me in.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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Chow Yun-fat joins Tony Leung and Aaron Kwok in ‘Cold War 2′

"Cold War" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Cold War" Chinese Theatrical Poster

First-time directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk scored a major hit a few years ago with their Hong Kong cop thriller Cold War. The relatively inexperienced duo managed to attract a big name cast, including Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Aaron Kwok, to the film based on the strength of their screenplay. Well, every good crime saga deserves a sequel, which is why Cold War 2 is currently in production.

Chow Yun-fat, who reportedly called Cold War one of the best Hong Kong films since Infernal Affairs, has officially joined Cold War 2 (via THR). His role is rumored to be a villain, who matches wits with Tony Leung Ka-Fai’s police commissioner.

Cold War 2 is slated for a July 2016 release.

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More Shaw Brothers titles invade Netflix with a vengeance!

"Five Element Ninjas" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Five Element Ninjas" Chinese Theatrical Poster

We have some great news for martial arts movie fans with a Netflix account. A couple of months ago, the popular streaming service added a pack of classic Shaw Brothers titles to their digital library – and just recently, they’ve added a fistful more!

The following is a full list of Shaw brothers titles that are currently streaming on Netflix. All movies are in Chinese with English subtitles:

Avenging Eagle (1978): Sun Chung’s Avenging Eagle proves that the Shaw Brothers were still at the top of their game, even toward the end of their movie-making empire. With its charismatic leading actors (Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng), witty rapport, hateful villains, and out-of-this-world weaponry, this one is a definite source of delight for the old-school kung fu fan.

Come Drink with Me (1966): Come Drink With Me is one entertaining film. King Hu’s direction is top notch. The cinematography is beautiful. The sets are visually lavish. Its innovation and influence reflects many popular martial arts movies of today. Cheng Pei Pei is the real deal – we’re not sure what it is about her, but she pulls off a believable kung fu fighting babe with grace and style!

NEW! Cripped Avengers (1987): This Chang Cheh flick is often considered the Venoms’ best movie: It has action, cool characters, crazy special effects, and intricate choreography. The skill and physical prowess of the performers will make you curse the day that “martial arts” movies decided to depend more on pretty faces, wires, and camera tricks than on genuine talent.

Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1985): Disciples Of The 36th Chamber is one of the all time best films of the genre! This was essentially the last of the fantastic films to come from director Lau Kar Leung and the amazing cast (Hsiao Ho, Gordon Liu and Lily Li Li Li just to name a few…) from the Shaw Brothers. If the time had to come to an end for the most talented cast, this film is an excellent way to say goodbye to the viewers.

Executioners From Shaolin (1977): Executioner From Shaolin is one of the quirkier Shaw Brothers movies. What begins as a tale of blood-thirsty revenge slows down to become at times a romantic comedy and domestic drama. But it still has the classic training sequences that you expect from director Lau Kar-leung and one of hell of a bad guy in Pai Mei (Lo Lieh). One of Chen Kuan Tai’s best!

Five Shaolin Masters (1974): Chang Cheh’s Five Shaolin Masters (David Chiang, Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun and Meng Fei) is action-packed from beginning to end. It features the occasional artsy dash, livens up the narrative by splitting up into different storylines, and features great choreography – all of which was overseen by Lau Kar Leung himself.

NEW! Five Deadly Venoms (1978): Director Chang Cheh hit upon an extremely successful formula for this landmark kung fu film featuring a very talented cast and a genuinely involving story that goes far beyond the threadbare “I must avenge Teacher” and “kill the Japs” stuff that gives the old school martial arts genre a bad name. In fact, the plot overshadows the action to a certain extent; fight scenes in this movie are not particularly long, intense, or numerous. As it is, it’s very good fun, and its impact on the genre is tremendous.

NEW! Five Element Ninjas (1982): No need to spend $100+ for the out-of-print Blu-ray on Ebay or Amazon. It’s on Netflix right now for you to drool over! Chang Cheh’s pacing of the narrative is perfect. You might think this is just a schlocky fight-fest, but there’s emotional content here. When it comes to Shaw flicks, Five Element Ninjas would rank in the number one position. That’s about the highest praise we can give it.

NEW! Hero (1997): Although it’s not “old school,” Corey Yuen’s (No Retreat No Surrender II) Hero is technically a Shaw Brothers movie. Hero is a great film worthy of great praise. There are a few slow spots but that just gives you time to take a breath before the next savage, take no prisoner fight. The film does wander a bit but the performers are interesting, the fighting is top notch, violent, bloody and fierce. Hero stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Yuen Biao, Valerie Chow, Yuen Wah, Yuen Tak, Jessica Hester and Corey Yuen himself.

Heroes of the East (1978): You can almost call it The War of the Roses meets Kung Fu with its silly, but smart, plot that revolves around a newlywed couple – a Japanese woman (Yuko Mizuno) and Chinese man (Gordon Liu) – who are constantly challenging each other to prove which is better: Chinese Kung Fu or Japanese Karate/Ninjitsu. A classic from Lau Kar Leung!

NEW! Invincible Shaolin (1978): Invincible Shaolin is a 90-minutes spectacle of deceit, annihilation and kung fu; and talk about a climax where all bloody hell breaks loose. In between the crisp choreography lies some great interaction between the fighters and their social surroundings. Unlike most kung fu movies, the characters (again, featuring the Venoms) are gleaming with personality. They’re smooth with women, honest to their friends, but naive when it comes to their enemies. To simply put it, Invincible Shaolin is one slick flick. You can thank Chang Cheh for this

Kid With The Golden Arm (1978): A fast-paced adventure from director Chang Cheh. There’s not a single dull minute. Insane plotting and many lead characters guarantee you’ll never know who’s going to be killed next, and by who. The spectacular battles are absolutely stunning, especially impressive being of course the final showdown between drunk master Hai To (Kuo Chui) and the high-kicking Iron Feet (not going to tell you who he is…).

Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986): Lau Kar Leung’s Martial Arts of Shaolin is worth a watch for Jet Li fans since you get to see the actor when he was first emerging as a star, fresh-faced and lightning fast. After about 30 minutes of training sequences, the excellently-choreographed battles kick in and rarely let up. Jet gives an earnest, wide-eyed performance and shows off his incredible martial arts skills.

NEW! Masked Avengers (1981): Another Venoms feature from the legendary Chang Cheh. If you’ve ever watched a Shaw Brothers kung fu film and found yourself thinking: “This flick is good and all, but what it REALLY needs is a bunch of blood-drinking, Satan-worshiping, mask-wearing villains and a whole lot more violence,” then Masked Avengers is the movie for you. This is a dark, dark movie, and those who require comedic antics with their kung fu need not apply.

NEW! Return to the 36th Chamber (1980): Also known as Return of the Master Killer, this innovative follow-up to the classice The 36th Chamber of Shaolin shows the Liu brothers at their lethal best, with director Liu Chia-liang transporting Gordon Liu Chia-hui back to the Ching Dynasty with some new kung fu tricks up his monk’s sleeve.

Shaolin Martial Arts (1974): In Chang Cheh’s Shaolin Martial Arts, two Shaolin practioners (Alexander Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan Chung) perfect their kung fu skills to seek revenge on the baddies responsible for wiping out their clan. One of Fu Sheng’s earliest projects for the Shaw Brothers!

We’ll do our best to keep this list updated as more Shaw Brothers titles are added. If you’re not subscribed to Netflix, what are you waiting for? You get all of these movies, plus more, for the monthly price of a Panda Express combo meal.

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Deal on Fire! Ip Man: The Final Fight | Blu-ray | Only $9.99 – Expires soon!

Ip Man: The Final Fight | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Ip Man: The Final Fight | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Ip Man: The Final Fight, directed by Herman Yau (The Untold Story) and starring Anthony Wong (Punished), Eric Tsang (Project S), Jordan Chan (Fox Hunter), Dennis To (Ip Man: Legend is Born), Hung Yan Yan (Shaolin) and Ken Lo (SPL 2).

In postwar Hong Kong, legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Wong) is reluctantly called into action once more. What began as simple challenges from rival kung fu schools soon finds him drawn into the dark and dangerous underworld of the Triads. Now, to defend life and honor, Ip Man has no choice but to fight – one last time.

Order Ip Man: The Final Fight from today!

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Raid, The (1990) Review

"The Raid" Theatrical Poster

"The Raid" Theatrical Poster

Director: Ching Siu Tung, Tsui Hark
Writer: Tsui Hark, Yuen Kai-Chi
Cast: Dean Shek Tien, Fennie Yuen, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung, Joyce Godenzi, Paul Chu Kong, Corey Yuen, Lau Siu Ming, Kei Gwong Hung, Chiu Man Yan, Liu Fan, Shut Mei Yee
Running Time: 100 min.

By Kyle Warner

Beyond a title that may confuse less-informed film fans interested in Asian cinema, The Raid has absolutely nothing in common with the Gareth Evans films of the same name. So, let’s get that out of the way right now. Instead, Tsui Hark’s The Raid has more in common with Hark’s most recent adventure, The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Like that film, The Raid is based on popular source material written in 1950s (a comic book, in this case), revolutionary soldiers are the good guys, Tony Leung Ka-fai plays an outrageously evil villain, big set pieces are the name of the game, and it skirts politics in favor of adventurous thrills at nearly every turn.

It’s a time of oppression in Manchuria during the 1930s, and Emperor Pu Yi has aligned himself with the cruel Japanese Commander Masa (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and Yoshiko Kawashima (Joyce Godenzi) to create weapons that will shake the world. One such weapon is a poison gas, which they intend to use to wipe out their opposition. Dr. Choy (Dean Shek), a retired soldier who now works as a village doctor, learns about the poison gas and tries to join the revolutionary soldiers in their attempts to locate and destroy Commander Masa’s weapons factory. Dr. Choy is told he’s too old, though, and is turned away. Driven by patriotism and annoyance at the younger generations, Dr. Choy goes off on his own, soon proving himself to be a hero of the resistance.

Along the way, Dr. Choy runs into a colorful assortment of characters, including idiotic gangsters Bobo Bear (Jacky Cheung) and Brother Big Nose (Corey Yuen). Shifting alliances and knowing who stands with whom is a big part of The Raid, but the film goes for humor in these situations instead of paranoia and dramatic tension. The comedy is actually funny, too, often based around elaborate misunderstandings. While things are kept light in the dialogue scenes, the action is often surprisingly violent and bloody. This shift of tone may throw some viewers, however those familiar with Hong Kong cinema’s particular styles and indulgences should feel right at home.

The Raid marks the final screen appearance of actor and producer Dean Shek (A Better Tomorrow II), who would retire after this film at the age of 42. Shek is really good here, acting as the story’s backbone. He’s assisted by a strong cast, with each performer giving amusing and charming performances. Jacky Cheung and Corey Yuen are especially likable as a pair of morally ambiguous thugs caught in the middle of the revolution.

As mentioned earlier, The Raid is based on a popular comic book from the 1950s. If you didn’t know that going in, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly as the film can’t help but remind you every 15 minutes. The film’s opening credits are done in an animated comic book style, which is cool, but I think the filmmakers kept it going a bit too long. Scene transitions frequently include the flipping of the page, like we’re going to the next chapter of the comic. Some of these transitions replace the actors with animated versions of themselves for a brief moment. The effect is reminiscent of an 80’s music video. It’s stylish but ultimately unnecessary and maybe a little bit much.

The Raid is co-directed by Tsui Hark and Ching Siu-tung (Duel to the Death) but this feels like a Tsui Hark film all the way. For fans of Hark, almost every scene reminds you of why you love the guy. For Hark’s detractors, The Raid isn’t going to help change your mind about the director. Tsui Hark’s stylish visuals, coupled with a goofy screenplay (attributed to Hark and Yuen Kai-chi) and some messy subtitles on the Well Go USA DVD make for an occasionally dizzying film experience.

The film is available on DVD in the US thanks to Well Go USA. While the print has some dirt on it, I thought that the picture quality was really good. For audio we get 5.1 and 2.0 Cantonese tracks. Sadly the subtitles could use some work, as they’re full of typos, which I think is rare for a Well Go USA release. The only special features are trailers.

The Raid is a crowd-pleasing adventure, one that’s funny and exciting in almost equal measure. It’s not particularly deep but it’s a whole lot of fun. Fans of Tsui Hark that missed the movie before are in for a treat.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 8/10

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Yonggary | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

Yonggary | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

Yonggary | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

RELEASE DATE January 5, 2016

Kino Lorber presents the Blu-ray for 1967′s Yonggary (aka Great Monster Yongary or Yongary, Monster From the Deep), directed by Kim Ki-duk (no relation to the Moebius filmmaker of the same name) and starring Oh Yeong-il and Nam Jeong-im.

Yongary, Korea’s first entry into the kaiju movie genre, revolves around a prehistoric, gasoline-eating reptile that soon goes on a rampage through Seoul. Essentially, this is Korea’s answer to Godzilla. | Watch the trailer.

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

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

‘Expendables 4′ to begin filming in 2016!

"Expendables 4" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Expendables 4" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Despite Expendables 3′s box office belly flop last year – due to the film’s online leakage, according to Lionsgate – Sylvester Stallone remains optimistic about the future of his popular action series. In fact, he’s already laying out plans for the 4th installment.

Here’s what Stallone told CCTV: “As we go on, we will continue to add more stars, more personalities, more athletes, more individuals around the world, not just Americans… hopefully, we’ll be able to film in Asia very soon.”

Stallone also mentions the possible addition of Jackie Chan, who has been linked to the franchise since the original Expendables: “We’ve always wanted to use Jackie Chan. The only reason we didn’t is because there really wasn’t a part big enough for him, because we had so many actors. But in the next one, we are going to reduce the actors, and let’s just say, expand the screen time of each star.”

In addition to Chan, other names – such as Dwayne Johnson, Hulk Hogan, Christopher Lambert, Jean Reno, Pierce Brosnan and Steven Seagal – have been considered for the franchise (see our updates regarding Expendables casting here).

Updates: Thanks to, we have a video where Stallone talks about the possibility of an Expendables 4. When asked if he’s going to do another one, he replies: “I don’t know. We got so ripped off. If I do another one it’s going to be a lot bloodier though…hardcore R.”

When asked if future installments of the franchise will be Rated R, this is what Stallone had to say: “Absolutely unequivocally yes. I believe it was a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience, but in doing such, diminish the violence that the audience expects. I’m quite certain it won’t happen again.” Stallone also hints that one of the main characters may actually be killed in a future installment. - Thanks to Crave.

According to Youth Health (via, Manny Pacquiao may have a role in The Expendables 4: “During Pacquiao’s match against Chris Algieri, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger went to Manny Pacquiao’s locker room to wish him good luck. But someone from Manny Pacquiao’s camp affirmed that something more came up, Stallone and Schwarzenegger recruited the Filipino boxer to join the cast of The Expendables 4! The Filipino champ allegedly accepted the offer and the two legends left the room with smiles on their faces.” Of course, nothing is official until it’s on paper, but only time will tell.

In an interview with Graham Walker Stallone revealed that he wants Jack Nicholson to play a villain in Expendables 4: “Is it gonna happen? Most likely not. Is it possible? Slightly.” He also mentions Clint Eastwood, but says the possibility of his involvement would be a “long shot.”

No news on Expendables 4, but Deadline reports that Expendables is getting the TV series treatment. Whereas the movie version united big screen action stars, the Expendables TV series will unite small screen action stars. Avi Lerner and Sylvester Stallone will serve as producer and executive producer, respectively. No cast members have been announced, but we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

In an interview with USAT, Schwarzenegger, who starred in all 3 Expendables films, had this to say: “I just think it’s a terrific franchise. I told Sly to write another one or have someone else write another one. A really terrific story. Because I think it’s a great idea to have an ensemble piece with that many action heroes in a movie. Especially if the comedy is really done well. It could be a great story. There’s definitely room for another one.”

From Sylvester Stallone made an appearance at the L.A premiere of Terminator Genisys. When being interviewed by the Chinese media, he revealed that both he, Jackie Chan, and most likely, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be filming a movie in China soon. No further details were given. There’s a strong possibility the project he’s talking about is The Expendables 4. After all, months ago, we reported (scroll up to the 2nd paragraph of this post) that the next Expendables flick would be filmed in Asia.

BREAKING NEWS: According to sources, Expendables 4 will start filming in 2016, following a deal with SP International Pictures on behalf of SSXH Beijing and Max Screen Film Distribution. No director or cast members have been officially announced, but that may change in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Posted in News | 15 Comments

Jackie Chan, Stanley Tong and a Lamborghini car chase reunite for ‘Kung Fu Yoga’

"Police Story 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Police Story 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Jackie Chan is reuniting with noted Hong Kong director Stanley Tong for an upcoming action comedy titled Kung Fu Yoga.

The duo created magic together in a string of some of Chan’s most loved films of the 90s, including: 1992′s Police Story 3: Supercop, 1995′s Rumble in the Bronx and 1996′s Police Story 4: First Strike. Kung Fu Yoga will mark their first feature together since 2005′s The Myth.

According to THR, Kung Fu Yoga is “an Indian joint venture of entertainment conglomerate Viacom, the project is considered the first under a recently signed India-China co-production treaty,” so in the upcoming months, we can expect some of the biggest stars from both China and India to be a part of the film.

Other projects Chan has in the works include Railroad Tigers, The Foreigner, The Civilian, Chinese Zodiac 2Karate Kid 2, Shanghai Dawn and Rush Hour 4. You can catch him next in Renny Harlin’s Skiptrace, which releases in December.

Updates: Jackie Chan is currently in Dubai filming Kung Fu Yoga. Some streets were closed to allow the shooting of a 3-car chase scene that involved a McLaren, a Lamborghini and a Bugatti Veyron.” (via Sam the Man)

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Donnie Yen to fight ‘Bruce Lee’ in ‘Ip Man 3′?

"Ip Man 3" Teaser Poster

"Ip Man 3" Teaser Poster

Ip Man 3 (aka Ip Man 3D) is finally hitting Chinese theaters this Christmas. Well Go USA has already picked up the rights to release the film, so hopefully a North American release date is right around the corner.

Donnie Yen (Kung Fu Jungle) returns in the titular role, alongside director Wilson Yip (Flash Point). This time around, fight choreography will be handled by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Yuen Woo Ping (the previous films were handled by Sammo Hung).

This time around, Ip Man’s most famous pupil – Bruce Lee – is set to have a much larger role in the story. “What is certain is that the film will begin with Bruce Lee becoming Ip Man’s disciple,” says screenwriter Edmond Wong.

Ip Man 3 also stars Lyn Hung (Ip Man), Zhang Han (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Max Zhang (The Grandmaster), Patrick Tam You Man (Purple Storm), Karena Ng (Kung Fu Angels), Kent Cheng (Flash Point), Louis Cheung (Legend is Born – Ip Man), Mike Tyson (The Hangover) and Leung Kar Yan (The Postman Strikes Back).

Updates: Here’s what Yen told Flicks and the City: “It’s [Ip Man 3] going to be my last time around playing Ip Man. I think the fans have been waiting for quite a few years. And I kind of didn’t want to take on this role again, and I was onto experimenting with different characters, different roles, until I’m ready. And now, I feel like I’m ready, so we’ll see. I’ll try do the best I can. And hopefully I can top the first two.”

Click here to watch the Tyson vs. Yen promo. And just when the Ip Man 3 updates couldn’t get any more interesting: the unnamed actor portraying Bruce Lee will be laced with CGI enhancements to bring Lee’s on-screen image alive.

Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC (BLE) is seeking to stop the icon’s image from appearing in Ip Man 3. BLE’s COO, Kris Storti, stated that the estate is “justifiably shocked” to learn that the image of Bruce Lee in Ip Man 3 is “completely unauthorized.” The producers of Ip Man 3 have the cooperation of Robert Lee, Bruce Lee’s brother; however, BLE contended that “Robert Lee does not own or control any intellectual property rights associated with Bruce Lee, including, without limitation, any rights to Bruce Lee’s name, likeness and image.” In the meantime, Ip Man 3 producer, Raymond Wong, says the matter will be handled by lawyers.

Here’s a Ip Man 3 set image (via HKTop10) of Donnie Yen, Mike Tyson and Yuen Woo Ping, along with a photo of Tyson’s finger, which was accidentally fractured by Yen during filming. *Update* Video news brief featuring Yen and Tyson on what appears to be the Ip Man 3 set. | Teaser poster. | Teaser Trailer.

According to Sam the Man, Magnum Films, the distributor of Ip Man 3 in Australia and New Zealand, has shared on their Weibo (the China-based microblogging service) that due to copyright issues, Ip Man 3 will not feature any CGI Bruce Lee, which, as you probably recall, was previously announced as a key feature of the film (see our “CGI Bruce Lee” coverage in this very article).

BREAKING NEWS: According to Sam the Man (via Weibo) Magnum Films has shared the news that Ip Man 3D will have a small part that features Ip Man fighting with Bruce Lee, with Lee being played by an actor rather than created by CG. In case you missed it, here’s the film’s first teaser trailer!

Posted in News | 28 Comments

Giant monsters attack! ‘Gamera’ to return to the big screen

"Gamera" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Gamera" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Poll just about anyone around the world and they’re likely to know who Godzilla is. The giant irradiated lizard has been crushing cities underfoot since 1954. Lesser known, however, is Gamera, the larger-than-life turtle who is a friend to all children. The lovable creature has starred in a host of his own movies, though he’s perhaps best remembered for the stellar trilogy of films that started with 1995′s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.

Because you can’t keep a prehistoric kaiju turtle down, Gamera is set to return next year with 2016′s simply titled Gamera. The film will arrive from director Katsuhito Ishii, an unlikely choice considering his resume of more adult-leaning titles such as Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl and Funky Forest.

An action-packed trailer for the movie recently premiered at the New York Comic Con and it looks like Gamera will be following in the grim ‘n gritty, color-drained look of contemporary monster features such as Cloverfield and Godzilla (2014). Stay tuned for more details as they develop…!

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Deal on Fire! Special ID | Blu-ray | Only $9.96 – Expires soon!

Special ID | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Special ID | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Clarence Fok’s Special ID (read our review) which stars Donnie Yen (Kung Fu Killer), Jing Tian (From Vegas to Macau), Andy On (Zombie Fight Club), Zhang Hanyu (White Vengeance), Ronald Cheng (Legendary Assassin) and Collin Chou (Flash Point).

A cop (Yen) and his team of comrades go undercover in one of China’s most ruthless underworld organizations to stop a gang leader, only to put themselves in great danger after being exposed one by one.

Order Special ID from today!

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Bruce Strikes Back | aka The Ninja Strikes Back (1982) Review

"Bruce Strikes Back" Theatrical Poster

"Bruce Strikes Back" Theatrical Poster

AKA: Eye of the Dragon, Bruce Le Fights Back
Director: Joseph Kong, Bruce Le, Jean-Marie Pallardy
Producer: André Koob, Dick Randall
Cast: Bruce Le (aka Huang Kin Long, Wong Kin Lung), Hwang Jang Lee, Casanova Wong, Harold Sakata, Bolo Yeung, Chick Norris, Fabienne Beze, Andre Koob, Monica Lam, Jean-Marie Pallardy, Dick Randall

By Paul Bramhall

American producer Dick Randall’s name is synonymous with the exploitation genre, having a career which spanned 3 decades, from the early 60’s to the early 90’s he made a slew of entertainingly low budget B-movies. Be it giallo thrillers, slasher flicks, soft-core sleaze, or mondo-documentaries, whatever was popular at the time, Randall got in on. The kung fu genre was no different, and in 1980 he somehow created the unlikely pairing of Bruce Lee imitator, Bruce Le, and Godfrey Ho’s favorite white guy ninja, Richard Harrison. The movie was Challenge of the Tiger, and in a plot to foil a terrorist group who’ve stolen a formula with the power to kill sperm (yes you read correctly), Le and Harrison head to Spain and battle through crazed bulls, Hwang Jang Lee, and other assorted bad guys.

A couple of years on, Randall and Le unite once more for Bruce Strikes Back. Several faces also return from their previous collaboration, including Hwang Jang Lee and Bolo. Notably Le seems to have dug up his wardrobe from Challenge of the Tiger, strutting around in the same white blazer jacket and oversized shades as he did a couple of years prior, but he wears them well so it’s forgivable. Bruce Strikes Back is also much bigger in scope, with Le globetrotting around Italy, France, Hong Kong, and Macau. While he’s lost his partner Harrison, who was probably off fighting the Ninja Empire at this time, Le does get temporarily paired up with a French cop, played by André Koob, and his partner, played by Randall’s wife Corliss Randall (hilariously credited as Chick Norris).

Much like Challenge of the Tiger, Bruce Le is again listed as the fight choreographer and co-director, this time paired with frequent collaborator Joseph Velasco. Velasco (usually credited as Joseph Kong) and Le worked on countless Bruceploitation pictures together, from My Name Called Bruce in 1978 through to Bruce’s Secret Kung Fu in 1988. True to form, in Bruce Strikes Back Le also gets to play a character imaginatively called, wait for it, Bruce. The plot is standard stuff – Le and Hwang Jang Lee play best of friends working for the Chinese mafia in Rome, however when an exchange goes wrong, Hwang gets away and Le is left to take the rap. After serving his jail time, Le’s seen the error of his ways and decides to go straight, however the mafia won’t have any of it. Soon he’s being pursued by Hwang Jang Lee and mob boss Sakata, who is played by Harold Sakata, better known as Odd Job from the 007 franchise !

Sakata even gets to wear the famous steel rimmed hat as he did in Goldfinger 18 years prior, and for good measure has a bronze hand cast that fits on his hand. The cast is the most ridiculous weapon I’ve ever seen, it’s literally just a cast, immobile in every way, like an overly heavy fly swatter. However it seems to do the job of striking fear into any one who questions his authority, as witnessed when he brings it out in front of Bolo, and with a quivery voice the muscle man is reduced to begging, “Please, put that away!” The pairing of Sakata and Bolo as the bad guys also matches with the whole Enter the Dragon meets ‘007’ theme that the movie appears to be stretching for. Musical cues from both movies are used throughout, and you’re never quite sure if the next scene is going to be influenced by Bruce Lee or James Bond.

Thankfully Bruce Strikes Back happily goes off in its own crazy direction more than enough during its compact 80 minute run time. Female nudity is prevalent throughout, and within the first 4 minutes we’ve already been introduced to the bad guy’s mansion, mainly through images of topless women frolicking around the pool. Not to mention the tigers. For the duration of the movie any scene taking place in the mansion comes with a gratuitous topless shot of some well endowed female. By far the most out there scene though comes during a chase sequence through Paris, of which it turns out the destination is an apartment in which a lesbian porno movie is being filmed, in 3D! At least that’s what the director shouts that he wants. The sequence spends more time on the two women, awkwardly fumbling about naked on top of each other, than it does the pursuit itself. When Le eventually gets there, it turns out it’s the wrong apartment! You have to love the exploitation genre.

Speaking of exploitation, the bad guy’s mansion also contains a Bob Wall imitator within its grounds, which possibly make this the first movie to feature a case of Bob Wallspolitation? The scene also deserves a special mention which has the French cop attempting to interrogate a subject by drowning him in a urinal. Somehow everyone working on the production failed to point out that, whose ever idea it was to modify the ‘head in the toilet bowl’ concept to a ‘head in a urinal’ one, the physics of it simply don’t work. But kudos to the actor suffering the interrogation, he does a great job of looking terrified as his face is pressed to the ceramic surface of the urinal, a small trickle of water streaming down his cheek every time the French cop hits the little flush button.

Eventually plot points transpire to propel the movie forward. The daughter of the US ambassador in Italy, played by Randall himself, has been kidnapped, and Le suspects it’s his old cohorts who are behind it. After running into a dead end in Paris, he follows a lead to Hong Kong, only to find his sister there has also been kidnapped. Le’s been spending most of the movie up until this point convincing his Italian girlfriend to come with him to Hong Kong, mostly set to panpipe versions of such classics as ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Morning Has Broken,’ however it would be a spoiler to say if she joins him or not. In an unexpected turn of events though, when he meets his sister’s boyfriend, the character is played by Casanova Wong.

This leads to an unexpectedly enjoyable scene of Le and Wong teaming up to take on a pair of ninjas in a cemetery, and it’s also worth mentioning an especially well put together scene of when Le goes solo against a disappearing ninja. The sequence has been cut in such a way that it looks like Le is seamlessly performing his choreography, and that whenever the ninja teleports to a different spot around him, his blows land on him perfectly. It would be easy to do with today effects (see Rain vs. Sho Kosugi in the finale of Ninja Assassin), but to see it in 1982, in what’s essentially an old school kung fu flick, it was entertaining to watch just how well it was executed.

As Le gets closer to the truth, events transpire to see him back where it all started, in Rome, Italy. He gets to square off against Sakata, which includes the use of the deadly hat that will be forever associated with Odd Job (and the brass hand cast gets some action as well), however a Bruceploitation flick with a finale set in Rome was only ever going to go one way, and Bruce Strikes Back doesn’t disappoint. Decked out all in black, Hwang Jang Lee awaits Le in the coliseum, and just like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris had their epic showdown 10 years earlier, the Korean super kicker and former Shaw Brothers actor go toe to toe in the legendary arena. Apart from the obligatory fists and kicks, the fight also comes with a healthy dose of eagle and tiger sound effects, x-ray vision bone breakages, and for anyone who ever wanted to see an animated version of Hwang Jang Lee’s heart, this movie has it.

Bruce Strikes Back may be Bruceploitation, and there’s little doubt that anyone would class it as anything other than a B-movie. But to see Bruce Le punching and kicking his way through Italy, France, and Hong Kong, with a cast that includes names like Hwang Jang Lee, Casanova Wong, and Bolo, for any discerning kung fu fan the movie should provide a good time. For everyone else, there’s gratuitous nudity and Odd Job, not necessarily in that order.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7.5/10

Posted in All, Bruceploitation, Chinese, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Assassination | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Assassination | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Assassination | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Assassination (read our review), directed by Choi Dong-hun (The Thieves).

A group of rebels are planning a hit on an Army Leader in Japanese-occupied Korea, but the only killer for the job is in prison. Now, the Resistance must devise a jailbreak, escape a hitman… and discover which of them is a traitor.

The film stars Jun Ji-Hyun (My Sassy Girl), Lee Jung-Jae (Il Mare), Oh Dal-su (Old Boy), Ha Jung-Woo (Yellow Sea), Cho Jin-woong (Spirit of JKD) and Lee Kyoung-young (A Better Tomorrow). | Trailer.

Pre-order Assassination from today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases | Tagged | 1 Comment

Gyllenhaal, Dano, Nighy and MacDonald to join Bong Joon-ho’s creature feature ‘Okja’?

"The Host" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Host" Korean Theatrical Poster

Bong Joon-ho, director of the 2006 Korean monster masterpiece The Host, will be making another creature feature as his next film. Titled Okja, the film is reported to feature a Korean female lead and a host of English-speaking supporting actors. Tilda Swinton, who worked with Bong in his last film The Snowpiercer, has already signed up for the project. Now Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Bill Nighy and Kelly MacDonald are all tipped to join the cast, according to The Wrap.

The news is particularly exciting as Gyllenhaal has starred in a string of acclaimed films in recent years and his collaboration with Bong, one of the best directors working in the world today, may result in a truly amazing film. Okja will begin shooting in April 2016.

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Amy Johnston and ‘The Raid’ star enter ‘The Gate’!

"The Raid 2: Berandal" Poster

"The Raid 2: Berandal" Poster

Kathryn Bigelow… move over! Kellie Madison (The Tank) is directing and producing a teaser pitch for a TV series called The Gate, a supernatural saga chronicling the epic battle between good and evil starring Amy Johnston (Lady Bloodsport), Yayan Ruhian (The Raid and The Raid 2), EMC Monkeys (stunt team), Malay Choeung Kim (Die Fighting) and Xin Sarith Wuku (Death Mist).

Madison has crafted a compelling tale of an angel that comes into her power to battle against the forces of darkness. Madison has an arsenal of credits that speak powerfully to her mastery of the craft, including Project Imagination’s The Caul and Open Road Films’ The Tank. “We have assembled a world-class team dedicated to the success of this series,” says Madison.

Madison’s team includes Amy Johnston (Unlucky Stars), a professional martial artist who was a prominent stunt performer in Captain America: The Winter Soldier; George Billinger, Director of Photography/Camera Operator well known for his stunning work in War of the Worlds, Terminator and many other blockbusters; and last but not least, the amazing Indonesian martial artist, Yayan Ruhian (Beyond Skyline).

Updates: The Gate’s Kickstarter campaign was a success! Here’s what Madison told us following the good news: “A huge thank you goes out to all of Team Gate for supporting our project and dreaming big with us! We are creating a series, building a brand… and not just your typical action series. This one is special. The Gate will allow talented martial artists to shine and actually carry the show as leads, not just stunt people. The world will also get to experience the beauty of the Indonesian culture and root for a powerful and complex female superhero. I am honored and blessed to bring this story to light!” We’ll keep you updated on The Gate as we hear more!

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COF Presents: Top 10 Worst Hong Kong Movie DVD Covers

Warning: This Article May Cause Discomfort for the Eyes

Marketing Hong Kong movies to a western audience has always been a tricky business, especially when it comes to DVD releases. Amongst the countless latest Hollywood titles fighting for your attention and shelf space, arguably the most important asset a DVD can have is an attention grabbing cover. Hong Kong movies in particular have been subjected to some ‘interesting’ design choices since the inception of the DVD format, and while plenty of titles have been released with artwork that captures the essence of the movie perfectly, those aren’t what this article is about. Instead, we’re going to take a look at some of the worst cover designs that the movies we love have been stuck with, whether it be questionable design choices, completely misleading images, or the just plain bizarre, take a look at the list below and see if you agree.

1. New Fist of Fury
Released by Beverly Wilshire in 2001

In 1976 Jackie Chan was still relatively unknown, and his contract under Lo Wei saw the director trying to style Chan as a character in the vein of Bruce Lee. What Lo Wei can never be accused of though, is attempting to style him as a Chinese version of Rambo (by pasting Jackie’s head on Stallone’s body from the First Blood poster), which is what seems to be the message being conveyed on the cover of this 2001 release of the movie. Sporting a legless (literally, not the drunken kind) Chan set against the backdrop of the Japanese Imperial Flag, the fact that he’s brandishing a huge machine gun, complete with a belt of bullets wrapped around his torso, gives no indication to the old-school kung fu movie behind the title. Still, the designer of the cover certainly can’t be accused of not being creative. Note: The artwork originally appeared on the film’s 1985 VHS release by All Seasons Entertainment.

2. Meltdown/Another Meltdown
aka High Risk/The Blacksheep Affair
Both released by Sony Pictures in 2001

Poor Jet Li and Vincent Zhao, not only do each of their respective movies here have nothing to do with each other, but they both had their heads poorly photoshopped onto the body of other Hong Kong stars. Clearly doing a Google search of ‘muscular Asian body’ wasn’t enough for Sony, so here we have Jet Li’s head stuck on top of Donnie Yen’s body, and Vincent Zhao’s head stuck on top of Bruce Lee’s body. Ironically Zhao doesn’t even get billing on the cover, instead having Shu Qi and Andrew Lin steal his limelight. As for Meltdown, a re-title of High Risk, the cover gives no allusion to the fact that the movie is in fact a zany mix of Die Hard meets a satire of Jackie Chan, with Jacky Cheung aping the stars claims to perform all his own stunts.

3. Infernal Affairs/Infernal Affairs 2
Released by Miramax in 2004/Tartan in 2005

With the original Infernal Affairs being a taut thriller played out between a cop working undercover as a triad, and a triad working as a mole in the cops, you would never guess from the cover Miramax decided to place on it. If anything, you would presume it’s about a love triangle between Andy Lau, Tony Leung, and a generic Asian female holding a gun. Generic Asian Female – 1, Integrity of the movie – 0.

The sequel to Infernal Affairs is unique in that it’s just as good as the original, however it’s certainly not an action flick. Thankfully proceedings play out in such a way that at one point, a minor character played by Chapman To, breaks out a pair of handguns and starts blasting away. It’s a brief flash of violence, but it gave Tartan Video the solution they needed. Take a screenshot of To in action, then awkwardly photoshop one of the movies main stars, Shawn Yue, onto his body for the DVD cover. The resulting composition has Yue seemingly with no neck, with Edison Chen menacingly feeling his butt from behind.

4. The Founding of a Republic
Released by Metrodome Group in 2011

This pompous overly long movie was commissioned by the Chinese government in 2009 to mark the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Telling the tale of how the Communist party rose to triumph, it was notable for having cameo appearances by just about every actor working in the Chinese/Hong Kong movie industry you can think of. Amongst those cameos were Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen. The resulting release by Metrodome Group sneakily saw them use the trio’s names as headlining stars, photoshopping them to wear matching white kung fu garments, with their images above a traditional Chinese landscape. Enticing as the cover may seem, it couldn’t misrepresent the movie anymore if it tried.

5. PTU: Police Tactical Unit
Released by Dragon Dynasty in 2008

Johnnie To’s quietly enthralling 2003 police thriller was released by the Weinstein’s Dragon Dynasty label 5 years later, and they’ll be damned if they’re going to believe anyone would be interested in buying such a movie. So instead of creating a cover which represents what PTU is actually about, we get a photoshopped Simon Yam brandishing a pistol in each hand, an exploding building behind him, and a helicopter that may or may not be the reason why the building is exploding (it is flying pretty low). Anyone wanting to find answers to the events playing out on the cover by watching the movie would be sourly disappointed, as none of them actually happen, but as the expression goes, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

6. Jackie Chan and his Black T-Shirt
Released by – too many to mention

The legend of Jackie Chan and his black t-shirt has many variations, the most popular one seems to be that at some point during the late 90’s/early 00’s, he did a photo shoot to promote his image as an action star in the States. Since then, images of Chan and that damn black t-shirt have appeared on so many of his movies DVD covers, that there’s enough to make a separate Top 10 all together. But we won’t. Instead, check out the thumb nails to flick through a fashion catalogue of Chan and his favorite t-shirt, being used on everything from Project A to Police Story. Possibly the most iconic piece of clothing since the white vest Bruce Willis wore in Die Hard?

7. Dragon Dynasty Shaw Brothers Releases
Released by Dragon Dynasty in 2011

While some of the Shaw Brothers movies that were put out on the Dragon Dynasty label sported perfectly suitable covers, others veered off into the bizarre. Take the cover of Five Shaolin Masters for example, who exactly is that in the centre of the cover!? Why is Fu Sheng brandishing nunchucks!? What’s Gordon Liu doing there!? Then you have Avenging Eagle. So Fu Sheng is fine to appear on the cover of Five Shaolin Masters, but here his sleeve blade wielding character has his face replaced by…who even is that!? It looks like some strange composite of several actors faces put together. The same strange characters seem to appear on both the covers for Flying Guillotine (Chen Kuan Tai after going through some Mickey Rourke style procedures?) and Executioner from Shaolin, which has someone that looks like Norman Chu destroying a dummy with a flaming fist. Great.

8. The Jet Li Collection
Released by Dimension in 2000

The only thing worse than the re-titled, cut up, dubbed, and newly scored versions of these movies which were put out by Dimension, were the covers that came with them. Featuring scenes from different movies (The Enforcer has a scene from Fists of Legend on its cover, while Twin Warriors features an image of Michelle Yeoh in Project S, re-positioned in what we’re supposed to believe is a flying kick). Burdened with tag lines that reference every cliché in the book, from Fists of Fury to my personal favorite – ‘Loyalty. Honor. Vengeance’. If anyone was foolhardy enough to pick up one of these DVD’s, they quickly learned that the only collection these releases deserved to be a part of, was the one pre-faced with the word ‘garbage’.

9. Ninja Masters
aka: Coweb
Released by Lions Gate in 2013

In 2008 a new female kung fu talent made her debut with Coweb, a tale of underground fight tournaments that are broadcast on the web, and featuring some solid kung fu talent in the form of opponents like Kane Kosugi and Mike Moller. The modern day set actioner was picked up by Lions Gate, and released in 2013 under the bizarre title of Ninja Masters. Featuring a DVD cover with a male dressed in full ninja garb, and a pagoda in the background, Coweb feature zero ninjas or pagodas, nor is it from Japan. Sporting the tagline ‘They are the Perfect Weapon’, to further mislead buyers, one can only wonder what someone who bought this would think, once they find it’s a tale of a tough femme fatale battling it out in modern day Hong Kong.

10. Kung Fu Master
aka: Looking for Jackie
Released by Phase 4 Films in 2010

Jackie Chan marks his fourth appearance on the list, this time for his 2009 Chinese family drama Looking for Jackie. The family friendly tale of a teenage boy who goes off to find Jackie Chan in Beijing, believing he’ll be able to learn kung fu from him, the movie is a torture to get through, and what’s more, features Chan for just a few mere minutes at the end. Undeterred by this, Phase 4 Films picked up the title in 2010 and released it under the name Kung Fu Master, featuring a gigantic Jackie Chan who’s about to kick a bunch of miniature sized battling soldiers and monks into oblivion. Needless to say, anyone who was expecting to see kung fu, Jackie Chan, or miniature sized soldiers and monks would be left feeling severely misled.

That wraps up the list, but we’d love to hear what some of your personal picks are for the worst DVD covers that Hong Kong movies have been subjected to? Who knows, perhaps we’ll get enough for a Part 2. Now, where did I leave my black t-shirt?

Posted in Features, News | 12 Comments

Will Smith says ‘Bad Boys 3′ is comin’ for you…soon!

"Bad Boys 2" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Bad Boys 2" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Fans of the Bad Boys franchise, rejoice! A month ago, it was reported that Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, The Grey) was in early talks to direct Bad Boys 3 – the outcome, who knows? What we do know (via Collider) is that Sony not only has Bad Boys 3 listed for February 2017; they have Bad Boys 4 scheduled for July 2019 as well!

For the Bad Boys 3 script, Sony has hired David Guggenheim (Safe House). Jerry Bruckheimer is returning as producer. At this time, there’s no word if Michael Bay, who directed 1995′s Bad Boys and 2003′s Bad Boys 2, will be involved in any way, shape or form. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence will most likely return.

The Bad Boys franchise revolves around two hip detectives who fight criminals in the mean streets of Florida. Hong Kong Cinema fans will always remember Bad Boys 2 for one of its key action scenes – involving automobiles driving down hill through a residential village – that was ”borrowed” from Jackie Chan’s Police Story (1985).

Updates: In an interview with Beats 1 studio (via Collider), Will Smith practically confirmed that Bad Boys 3 is on track for its scheduled February 17, 2017 release date: “There is a very, very, very strong possibility that you will be seeing a ‘Bad Boys’ within the next 12-16 months.” Stay tuned for more updates!

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Keanu Reeves spills non-spoiler details about ‘John Wick 2′

"John Wick" International Theatrical Poster

"John Wick" International Theatrical Poster

In addition to their planned John Rain TV series – based on Barry Eisler’s espionage novels about a half-Japanese, half-American assassin (to be played by Keanu Reeves) – David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the duo behind last year’s action-packed sleeper hit, John Wick, are filming John Wick 2 this fall.

This time around, Stahelski will be directing the film solo, while Leitch will stay on board as producer, so he can concentrate on his own solo directorial project, The Coldest City, which films in November.

Here’s what Stahelski had to say in a recent interview with “We have ideas for days and without blinking twice we know we can outdo the action from the original.”

John Wick (read our review) opened to both commercial and critical success and was noted for its amazingly staged action sequences, which makes perfect sense, since the two were known for staging stunt work and fight choreography in films like 300 (2006), Tron: Legacy (2010) and Safe (2012) long before their directorial debut feature.

Updates: Collider recently spoke to Keanu Reeves about the John Wick prequel. Here are some highlights: “It’s basically — to me there’s John Wick and then there’s John. You know, John is the married guy whose wife just died, and that five years of his life. Then there’s John Wick, who’s the mythical assassin. In this, John Wick’s past comes and infiltrates John’s life and John Wick, in a way, has to fight for John… we’re gonna do the same kind of thing in the sense of — what are the guiding principles? So it’s longer takes, know where you are on the space, who’s doing what, action with consequence. And then going to other levels of what the gun-Fu was, which was Jujitsu and Judo mixed with weapons and different styles of weapon training.”

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XLrator unleashes Sion Sono’s ‘Tokyo Tribe’ this October!

Tokyo Tribe | Blu-ray & DVD (XLrator)

Tokyo Tribe | Blu-ray & DVD (XLrator)

On October 23, 2015, XLrator Media will be releasing Tokyo Tribe in theaters, VOD and on iTunes! This modern day cult classic – based on the popular manga by Santa Inoue – is a one-of-a-kind experience that fuzes Yakuza violence with martial arts and music.

In a futuristic, alternate Tokyo made up of ghetto slums and nightclub playgrounds, territorial street gangs rule the city. The opposing factions – each with their own distinctive style – control different neighborhoods and crossing territorial lines leads to riots and rumbles. When a megalomaniacal gang leader tries to invade the other gangs’ turf, the city explodes into an all-out war.

Tokyo Tribe is written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play In Hell?Cold Fish, Love Exposure, Guilty of Romance). It stars Ryohei Suzuki, Young Dais, Nana Seino, Ryuta Sato, Shoko Nakagawa, Mika Kano, Yosuke Kubozuka, Riki Takeuchi and Takuya Ishida.

Click here to watch an exclusive clip. Also, don’t miss the film’s North American trailer.

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Updated: Rare footage from the unreleased ‘HK Superstars’

"Hong Kong Superstars" VHS Cover

"Hong Kong Superstars" VHS Cover

We are pleased to share extremely rare footage from the unreleased Hong Kong Superstars video, featuring revealing English interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with some of Hong Kong’s most popular action stars.

Hong Kong Superstars was a fan magazine from the UK focusing on Hong Kong Cinema (as edited by Chris Ducker). The video magazine was modeled on what Eastern Heroes had done by branching out into making videos.

Eastern Heroes were actually set to release the Hong Kong Superstars video in 2001 under the title of Cinema of Vengeance 2. For unknown reasons this never happened and the project was shelved.

With the exception of the Donnie Yen interview, which was featured on the UK DVD release of Drunken Tai Chi, the contents of the Hong Kong Superstars video has never been seen until now – and this is thanks to Lee Mason, who not only edited the videos, but also made them public on youtube.

Without further ado, here’s the first wave of footage: Anthony Wong’s UK visit in 1999 (click here to watch). |  Simon Yam’s UK visit in 1999 (click here to watch). | Behind-the-scenes footage from Johnnie To’s The Mission, featuring interviews with Simon Yam, Johnnie To and Francis Ng (click here to watch). | 1999 interview and dance demonstration by Moon Lee (click here to watch).

Updates: Behind-the-scenes footage from Purple Storm, featuring interviews with Daniel Wu and Teddy Chen, and on set footage of Josie Ho, Emil Chau and Gam Kwok-leung (click here to watch). | Interview with Shaw Legend Lo Meng (click here to watch) on set of Dru Hill’s music video in London 1999. Also includes footage of Bobby Samuels choreographing action for Dru Hill.

Interview footage of Daniel Wu and Stephen Fung promoting the release of Gen X-Cops in Hong Kong 1999 (click here to watch). | Interview with Darren Shahlavi shot in 1999, featuring behind-the-scenes footage from Tai Chi 2 (Tai Chi Boxer) and Bloodmoon (click here to watch). | Last but not least, HK Superstars’ opening (click here to watch) and closing credits/outtakes (click here to watch).

Rare interview with Donnie Yen, conducted by Andy Prior in Hong Kong 1999 (click here to watch). This interview was taken from the unreleased Hong Kong Superstars interview (although this footage was previously used on the UK DVD of Drunken Tai Chi from Eastern Heroes).

BREAKING NEWS: In 2000 Jet Li visited the UK to promote Romeo Must Die. While there he took time out of his busy schedule to meet his UK fan club at the Warner Brothers offices in London. Except for a few VHS copies that were produced in 2001, the following video documenting the event has rarely been seen until now (although some of the footage was included on the HKL DVD of Once Upon A Time in China 2). Due to copyright issues here on youtube, several film clips had to be edited out, resulting in some unfortunate jump cuts (click here to watch).

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Garm Wars: The Last Druid | DVD (Arc Entertainment)

Garm Wars: The Last Druid | DVD (Arc Entertainment)

Garm Wars: The Last Druid | DVD (Arc Entertainment)

RELEASE DATE: November 3, 2015

Arc Entertainments presents the DVD for Mamoru Oshii’s (Ghost in the Shell) first English-language film, Garm Wars: The Last Druid. This live-action film stars Lance Henriksen, Kevin Durand, Melanie St-Pierre, Andrew Gillies, Dawn Ford and Patrizio Sanzari.

Garm Wars: The Last Druid takes place in a world where clone soldiers from three military tribes are locked in a perpetual battle of air, land and technology. One clone is separated from the battle and finds herself on the run with a group of unlikely companions. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order from Garm Wars: The Last Druid today!

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

Steven Seagal and Rob Van Dam are held ‘Captive’

"True Justice" Japanese DVD Cover

"True Justice" Japanese DVD Cover

If Code of HonorCypher, Perfect Weapon, Asian Connection, Killing Salazar, Four TowersEnd of a Gun and China Salesman aren’t enough upcoming Steven Seagal flicks to keep you afloat for the next few years, read on…

Currently filming is yet another Seagal actioner titled Captive. This time, the Above the Law star teams up with pro-wrestler/actor Rob Van Dam (Black Mask II: City of Masks). At this time, plot details are unknown.

Captive is being helmed by the prolific Fred Olen Ray, a cult filmmaker responsible for countless B movies, including Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s 1997 martial arts flick, Inferno.

As always, we’ll keep you updated as we earn more!

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Arrow hits the bullseye with ‘Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol 1′

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol 1 | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol 1 | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

On January 26, 2016, Arrow Video will be releasing the Blu-ray collection for Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Vol 1, which includes 1958′s Voice Without a Shadow, directed by Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter); 1958′s Red Pier, directed by (Tora! Tora! Tora!); and 1959′s The Rambling Guitarist, directed by Buichi Saito (Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril) – all in this 3-disc Blu-ray collection!

Read on for the full details:

Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan, inaugurated a star system in the late 1950s, finding talent and contracting to their Diamond Line for a series of wild genre pictures. This collection celebrates these “Diamond Guys” with three classic films from directors Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill), Toshio Masuda (Rusty Knife) and Buichi Saito (Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril).

An old hand at tough guy action roles, Hideaki Nitani (Massacre Gun) stars in Suzuki’s Voice Without a Shadow. Asako, a former telephone operator once heard the voice of a murder suspect which has continued to haunt her. Years later her husband invites his boss, Hamazaki, over for dinner and she realises his voice is suspiciously like that of the killer. Before she can investigate further, Hamazaki is found dead and her husband becomes the prime suspect…

Next, 50s subculture icon Yujiro Ishihara (Crazed Fruit) stars in Masuda’s Red Pier as “Jiro the Lefty”, a killer with a natural talent. Shortly after arriving in Kobe, he witnesses a man die in a crane accident which turns out to be a cover-up for a murder. Jiro soon finds himself on the run, tailed by a determined cop…

Finally, in Saito’s The Rambling Guitarist, mega star Akira Koabyashi (Battles Without Honour and Humanity) stars as wandering street musician Shinji, who falls in with mob boss Akitsu after saving one of his henchmen in a bar fight. Tasked by Akitsu with evicting an offshore fishery, Shinji finds himself in the middle of a very unusual domestic dispute…

Presented on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in the West, these thrilling genre films feature Nikkatsu’s leading talent at their best.

Special Edition Contents

Limited Edition Blu-ray (3000 copies)
High Definition digital transfers from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
Original uncompressed mono audio
Newly translated English subtitles
Specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp on Diamond Guys Hideaki Nitani and Yujiro Ishihara
Original trailers for all three films and trailer preview for Diamond Guys Vol. 2
Extensive promotional image galleries for all three films
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Booklet featuring new essays on all three films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

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Watch the final (and best) ‘SPECTRE’ trailer…

"SPECTRE" Teaser Poster

"SPECTRE" Teaser Poster

Agent 007′s latest adventure, Skyfall, has gone on to become the most successful James Bond film of all time. With a final gross of over $1 billion worldwide, it’s no surprise that the Bond producers have asked Skyfall director Sam Mendes to return to helm Daniel Craig’s next outing as the super spy.

Bond 24 is officially titled SPECTRE (which stands for “Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion”). Returning cast members include Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, and Rory Kinnear. New cast members are as followed: Christoph Waltz (who is playing Oberhauser, not Blofeld, as previously rumored), Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci and Stephanie Sigman.

Also returning is Jesper Christensen, who played the Mr. White in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. SPECTRE hits theaters in the U.K. on October 23, 2015 and in the U.S. on November 6, 2015.

Updates: Latino Review reported that John Logan (Gladiator), one of four credited writers on Skyfall, has already been hired to write the next two films in the franchise. | During a Charlie Rose interview (via Collider), director Sam Mendes explains why he finally decided to return to the director’s chair for Bond 24: “I cast a new M, I cast a new Moneypenny, I cast a new Q, I cast a new Tanner… I felt there was a way to create the second part of a two-part story.” The director also states that it will feel like a continuation of Skyfall.

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar) is taking over duties for Roger Deakins (Skyfall). In addition, Mendes will be shooting Bond 24 on film, as opposed to digital. | Teaser posters ( 1 | 2 ). | 1st teaser trailer. | TV spot. | 2nd trailer! | New feature titled The Bond Women of SPECTRE.

It’s official: Sam Smith is the vocalist for the new SPECTRE theme. The upcoming track, ‘Writing’s On The Wall’, is co-written by Smith and fellow Grammy© Award winner Jimmy Napes (Smith’s “Stay with Me”) and it’s the first James Bond theme song recorded by a British male solo artist since 1965. Listen to it now!

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the final SPECTRE trailer.

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Close Range | Blu-ray & DVD (XLRator)

"Close Range" Theatrical Poster

"Close Range" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016

XLRator presents the Blu-rayDVD for Close Range, an action film by Isaac Florentine (Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear) starring Scott Adkins (Assassination Games).

A rogue soldier turned outlaw is thrust into a relentless fight with a corrupt sheriff, his obedient deputies, and a dangerous drug cartel in order to protect his sister and her young daughter. | Watch the trailer.

The film also stars Nick Chinlund (Supremacy), Caitlin Keats (Kill Bill: Vol. 2), Jake La Botz (Rambo 4), Tony Perez (Scarface), Madison Lawlor (Until Forever) and Javad Ramezani.

Pre-order Close Range from today!

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Won Jin kicks martial a$$ in ‘Kwon Bob: Chinatown’

"Kwon Bob: Chinatown" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Kwon Bob: Chinatown" Korean Theatrical Poster

The talented Park Sang-Hyun – who is part of a team responsible choreographing the action in films like Kundo: Age of the Rampant (2014) and For the Emperor (2014) – has made his directorial debut in a new Korean martial arts film called Kwon Bob: Chinatown (“Kwon Bob” means “martial arts”).

Kwon Bob: Chinatown stars Seo Joon-yeong (Bleak Night) as a detective who tries to take down a gang of martial arts fighters. The film also stars Ban So-yeong (The Princess’ Man), Won Jin (The Suspect), Oh Seung-yoon (Stalker), Lee Si-yoo (Traffickers) and Seo Beom-sik (Fists of Legend).

Updates: Even though the film opened in Korea on July 9, 2015, an online trailer is yet to be present. There is, however, an exciting fight clip, featuring the great Won Jin (Operation Scorpio aka The Scorpion King).

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A Look Inside: Arrow Video’s ‘Stray Cat Rock Collection’

After Roger Corman’s 1966 outlaw biker film The Wild Angels became a surprise hit in Japan, Japanese studios were quick to cash in and make similar films. One such popular film was Toei’s Delinquent Boss from 1968. The Nikkatsu film studio saw Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss as their way to jump in and compete with Toei’s product. Unlike most films with copy-cat origins, Delinquent Girl Boss successfully started a series that ran for five films (spread out over just two years) and is fondly remembered as one of the country’s best film series of the 1970s.

It’s a strange series. Directors Yasuharu Hasebe (Retaliation) and Toshiya Fujita (Lady Snowblood) split the series, with each director giving their films a particular style. Sometimes a Stray Cat Rock film is a gritty crime drama, other times it’s a youth comedy. One film deals with the subject of racism, another film has a dude dying from sexual excitement while using a jackhammer. The series used many of the same actors from film to film (including Meiko Kaji, Tatsuya Fuji, Eiji Go, and Rikiya Yasuoka), but the actors never played the same characters. And though the films are often funny and wildly different, they all invariably end in shocking, downbeat fashion. The Stray Cat Rock series is part Nikkatsu action movie, part Easy Rider, part counterculture comedy, and 100% 1970s.

For the longest time, only the third film of the series, Sex Hunter, was available on DVD in the US. That’s now changed as the complete series has received a Blu-ray/DVD release from Arrow Video. Over the past month, I’ve had a chance to go through the series to watch and review each film.

Delinquent Girl Boss (1970)

In Yasuharu Hasebe’s Delinquent Girl Boss, Nikkatsu basically took a bit of everything that was working for them at the time and threw it all together. We get a yakuza action movie plot infused with rock & roll, 70s counterculture, violent youth, girl power, and a dash of ‘pinky violence’ to top it all off. An entertaining mix. Read my full review.

Wild Jumbo (1970)

After the success of Delinquent Girl Boss, a follow-up film was rushed into production and released just three months later. Toshiya Fujita’s Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo is a messier, cheaper looking film than its predecessor, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter. While the first film played with audience expectations and genre clichés, this movie just wants to have fun. Read my full review.

Sex Hunter (1970)

Yasuharu Hasebe returns to the series he helped create after Toshiya Fujita stepped in for him on film 2. Under Hasebe’s direction, Sex Hunter leaves Wild Jumbo’s beaches behind and returns to the bloody city streets. Sex Hunter is not only the most well-known entry of the series but it’s also probably the best. Sex Hunter tackles political themes and racism in 1970s Japan, making for a darker, more thought-provoking film. Read my full review.

Machine Animal (1970)

Hasebe’s final film in the series borrows moments and themes from earlier Stray Cat Rock films, feeling like a blend of Delinquent Girl Boss and Sex Hunter. The least original of the bunch, Machine Animal is lacking something that keeps it from fully coming to life. Still, there are enough interesting scenes and entertaining performances to make it worthwhile for fans. Read my full review.

Beat ’71 (1971)

Director Toshiya Fujita returns to the Stray Cat Rock series for the fifth and final installment, Beat ’71. This may not be the most polished film in the series but it is one of the funniest. In Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo, Fujita broke away from the delinquent girl gang stuff that the series is generally known for, and he moves even further away from that sort of movie with Beat ’71. The final Stray Cat Rock film isn’t about cool, good-looking young people hanging out in clubs and getting into altercations with their rivals, instead it’s about homeless hippies and a society that doesn’t see a use for them. It’s a fun, weird movie. Read my full review.

"Stray Cat Rock: The Collection" Blu-ray Cover

"Stray Cat Rock: The Collection" Blu-ray Cover

About Arrow Video’s release:

The complete series has been released in a 5 disc DVD/Blu-ray set from Arrow Video. The set contains 2 Blu-rays and 3 DVDs. I did not have the DVD versions of the film to review, but as far as the Blu-ray presentation is concerned, the five films are packed onto the 2 Blu-ray discs.

Because the films are short and special features are minimal, I don’t think there are any compression issues. The picture quality of the films is good but not great, thanks to prints that do not appear to be in pristine condition. Some of the picture quality’s faults are also likely attributed to the filming techniques used, as dark scenes have a tendency to look very dark. Still, the films look good in high-definition, and Sex Hunter is a noticeable upgrade over the previous DVD release. I think Beat ’71 looks the best out of the bunch.

For special features we have trailers, a booklet containing writing on the films by Jasper Sharp, and a trio of 30 minute interviews with subjects Yasuharu Hasebe, Yoshio Harada, and Tatsuya Fuji. The interviews appear to have been conducted in 2006, before we sadly lost both Hasebe and Harada. I found the interviews to be both informative and entertaining.

Hasebe’s memory of shooting the series has gotten a bit fuzzy over the years but he shares a few interesting stories about the origin of the series, casting the actors, and questions about Sex Hunter’s strange ending. Yoshio Harada talks about his transition for a stage actor to film actor at a time when the Japanese film industry was starting to fall apart. Harada shares stories about Tatsuya Fuji and Meiko Kaji, saying that they were more than just co-stars, they were his teachers as he started work in film. Tatsuya Fuji has the sharpest recollection of what filming the series was like and shares many humorous stories about the guerilla-style filmmaking. Fuji it seems was good friends with Hasebe, but he couldn’t quite figure out what to make of Stray Cat Rock’s other director Toshiya Fujita.

Overall it’s a great collection. I do wish there were more special features, but the interviews are good. This set is a Limited Edition of only 3,000 copies. So, if you’re interested in picking up a copy, then you best not delay.

The Verdict:

Stray Cat Rock is crazy, violent, and frequently funny. I’m stumped at trying to pick out a similar series. I was happy to finally get a chance to see the entire series after having only seen Sex Hunter before. My opinion is that Sex Hunter is the best (and Machine Animal is my least favorite), but each entry has its own special something to offer, so everybody may have their own differing opinions on best and worst. It’s a strong series, one that allowed two very different filmmakers to go all-out and create some memorable films about the youth of the 70s. If you’re a fan of Japanese cinema, you should definitely give Stray Cat Rock a look.

Blu-ray screen shots courtesy of Please take a moment to read their coverage of Arrow Video’s Stray Cat Rock Collection by clicking here.

Posted in Features, News | Leave a comment’s ‘Avenging Fist’ DVD Giveaway!

The Avenging Fist | DVD (Well Go USA)

The Avenging Fist | DVD (Well Go USA) and Well Go USA are giving away 3 DVD copies of Avenging Fist to three lucky Cityonfire visitors. To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, this video.

We will be selecting a winner at random. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you for your home address. Additionally, you must ‘Like Us‘ on’s Facebook by clicking here.

The DVD for Avenging Fist will be officially released on October 13, 2015. We will announce the 3 winners on that day.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by October 13, 2015 to qualify. U.S. residents only please. We sincerely apologize to our non-U.S. visitors. Winners must respond with their mailing address within 48 hours, otherwise you will automatically be disqualified. No exceptions. Contest is subject to change without notice.

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Deal on Fire! Red Belt | Blu-ray | Only $8.99 – Expires soon!

"Red Belt" Blu-ray Cover

"Red Belt" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Red Belt, directed by David Mamet (Homicide) and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave). It’s a film that can’t recommend enough – read our review!

A fateful event leads to a job in the film business for top mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

Red Belt also stars Max Martini (Pacific Rim), Alice Braga (Predators), Randy Couture (The Expendables), Rodrigo Santoro (300), Joe Mantegna, Tim Allen and a special appearance by Dan Inosanto (Game of Death).

Order Red Belt from today!

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Iron Girl II | DVD (Switchblade Pictures)

Iron Girl II | DVD (Switchblade Pictures)

Iron Girl II | DVD (Switchblade Pictures)

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2015

Switchblade Pictures presents the DVD for Kenichi Fujiwara’s Iron Girl II (aka Iron Girl: Ultimate Weapon), the sequel to 2012′s Iron Girl.

It’s the same post-apocalyptic world and Chris, the mysterious bounty hunter better known as Iron Girl (Kirara Asuka), is still the deadliest fighter on the planet. Unfortunately, she also still has no memory of who she is or where she came from, and, in a land where knowledge is power that means her days could be numbered. Regardless, Iron Girl must take on an army of assassins and a renegade group of bandit militia called Sparti United. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Iron Girl II from today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles | Leave a comment