Vigilante (1983) Review

"Vigilante" Theatrical Poster

"Vigilante" Theatrical Poster

AKA: Street Gang
Director: William Lustig
Writer: Richard Vetere
Producer: Andrew W. Garroni, William Lustig
Cast: Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Don Blakely, Joseph Carberry, Willie Colón, Joe Spinell, Carol Lynley, Frank Pesce, Steve James, Woody Strode
Running Time: 90 min.

By HKFanatic

Vigilante opens with a scene of Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn, the original Inglorious Bastards) addressing a ‘neighborhood watch’-style meeting but more or less pointing his finger at the camera, as he explains how the streets have been taken over by gangs and it’s high time the community did something about it. If the police and the legal system can’t protect us, he argues, we’ve got to protect ourselves – by any means necessary. His speech is intercut with shots of concerned citizens practicing their aim at a firing range. This scene is completely awesome… and yet it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Despite his considerable oratorical skills, Fred Williamson doesn’t seem to get his neighbors too excited about fighting crime. Vigilante is really concerned with Robert Forster’s character and his journey to take criminal punishment into his own hands. It’s a plot that will feel familiar to anyone who’s seen a Death Wish movie. Forster plays a factory worker who lives in a not-so-good neighborhood of New York but remains fairly ignorant to the violence that goes on outside his front door. All that changes until his wife and son are targeted by a vicious street gang. A lot of bad shit goes down and Forster eventually ends up in prison. It’s a short stay and once he’s back on the streets, he remembers Fred Williamson’s words and decides it’s high time for some vigilante-style justice.

Director William Lustig was famous in the 80′s for making squalid and gritty films set in the worst parts of New York City. In 1980, he unleashed Maniac on the world – one of the sleaziest horror films ever made, starring the great Joe Spinell (The Godfather: Part II, Rocky) in the lead role. Spinell has a short appearance in Vigilante, which Lustig made before embarking on the Maniac Cop series.

There are a few films from the 70′s and 80′s that make New York City during that era look like one of the worst places in America to live. Vigilante is one of them. The sky is gray, the streets are dirty, muggers and rapists lurk around every corner. There are only 2 cop cars on patrol on nights when the city needs 10. The legal system can’t do jack because of slimy lawyers and holier-than-thou judges. Watch Vigilante, and you start feeling the self-righteous anger of a concerned citizen – you really want to see Fred Williamson take out the trash. We are clearly in exploitation movie territory here. And you know what? It feels good!

The only thing that holds Vigilante back is the performances. Fred Williamson is great – it’s probably the most impressive performance of his career – but most everyone else in the cast is way too low-key. I know this isn’t exactly an Oscar-nomiated, A-grade film but come on: if your movie features little kids being shot down like animals, I want to see some intensity! Robert Forster and the actress who play his wife just don’t “bring it” during their dramatic scenes. When Forster is nearly assaulted in the prison showers by an inmate the size of a mountain, he fails to communicate the fear and trauma you would feel in such a situation.

During its last act, Vigilante becomes a nearly wordless action picture so I suppose the performances become less of an issue. There’s a car chase through the streets of Brooklyn that’s really quite spectacular considering the low-budget origins of the film. I doubt Lustig had permission to close off city blocks to shoot the chase but the filmmakers did a good job through careful editing. Nothing beats an old-school chase where the bottoms of cars are literally slamming against the pavement. One of my favorite moments of the film comes when Forster finally corrals the guy who killed his son and threatens to toss him from a great height to his death. “Go ahead, man!” the punk yells in Forster’s face. “It don’t mean shit to me!” Whoa. That’s some intense, nihilistic stuff right there.

Vigilante features great direction from William Lustig and a well-paced script full of memorable dialogue. The score by Jay Chattaway (Missing in Action, Silver Bullet) is funky and melodic; a good fit for the film. I just wanted more authenticity from some of the cast members. Even if it’s not a prestige picture, you need actors to sell the drama of the story. When characters remained unphased by even the most brutal of happenings, it just takes me out of the movie. Thankfully, Fred Williamson brought his A-game to this picture. He’s off the charts on the bad-ass scale, so I can at least recommend Vigilante if you like exploitative revenge movies (Death Wish, etc.). The video transfer on Blue Underground’s blu-ray release of the film is exceptional, as is always the case for Blue Underground.

HKFanatic’s Rating: 6.5/10

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Blood Factor | DVD (Bayview Entertainment)

Blood Factor | DVD (Bayview Entertainment)

Blood Factor | DVD (Bayview Entertainment)

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Bayview Entertainment presents the DVD for the acclaimed indie actioner, Blood Factor (aka Blood Ties), directed by and starring Kely McClung (American Ninja 4: The Annihilation).

Black Operative Jack Davis is forced back into the game when his brother is kidnapped while working for a foreign embassy. From the shadow of the Washington Monument to the exotic streets of Bangkok, Jack uses his lethal skills to bring his brother back home. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Blood Factor from Amazon.com today!

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‘Kickboxer’ reboot now titled ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’?

"Kickboxer" Japanese DVD Cover

"Kickboxer" Japanese DVD Cover

Radar Pictures is rebooting 1990′s Kickboxer with John Stockwell (In the Blood) at the helm. The film is being written by Jim McGrath (1990′s Elvis TV series) and Dimitri Logothetis (Wings of the Dragon). Newcomer Alain Moussi (click here to read our interview with him) will take on the role of Kurt Sloan, the film’s main character.

Other stars include WWE star Dave Bautista (The Man with the Iron Fists), UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Gina Carano (Haywire), Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Kickboxer), T.J. Storm (Punisher: War Zone), Matthew Ziff (The Martial Arts Kid) and Sara Malakul Lane.

The Kickboxer reboot tells the story of David and Kurt Sloan, the descendants of a well-known Venice, Calif., fighting dynasty. When David wins the Karate World Championship, a promoter lures him to Hong Kong, despite his brother’s protestations that the man is a crook. When Kurt travels to Thailand to meet his brother, he discovers he has died, and seeks his revenge.

Updates: According to Paul Bramhall: During a Q&A session at the recent Seni Event, Adkins confirmed that he won’t be in the Kickboxer remake. He was offered the role of the brother, but explained that after reading the script and realizing just how much of a small role it was, with very little action involved, he didn’t feel like it was a role which would suit either him or his fanbase, so decided to turn it down.

Tony Jaa has dropped out. According to Jaa’s manager, Mike Selby, the actor has officially withdrawn from the production, stating “The production changed schedule to a period where Jaa would not be available. | Hong Kong’s Stephen Fung (Tai Chi Hero) is no longer directing the film. Instead, American filmmaker John Stockwell (In the Blood, Into the Blue) is taking over directing duties.

THR reports that Jean-Claude Van Damme will be playing Alain Moussi’s “mentor” in Kickboxer. Here’s what Radar Films’ Ted Field had to say: “We are so excited to have Kickboxer roll into production and to have JCVD in the role of Master Chow, passing the torch to Alain, to have him lead the franchise to a new generation.” The film begins shooting this week in New Orleans and will also have a later shoot in Thailand.

BREAKING NEWS: According to the film’s official Facebook page, Kickboxer is now called Kickboxer: Vengeance (most likely to differentiate the film from Albert Pyun’s upcoming Kickboxer title). Also, new details have emerged about some of the cast members: Gina Carano’s character is a “sneaky and dangerous temptress, a boa constrictor of this fighting jungle,” and JCVD’s actual character is named Master Durand (not Master Chow, as previously reported when Tony Jaa was attached). Stay tuned for more updates!

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Don “The Dragon” Wilson takes on horror in the ‘The Horde’

"Out for Blood" Promotional Poster

"Out for Blood" Promotional Poster

Next year, horror and action will collide in Jared Cohn’s thriller, The Horde (not to be confused with the 2009 French film of the same name). The upcoming film follows a group of innocent people whose camping trip is cut short when they’re targeted by a swarm of mutated killers. Fortunately, their odds for survival are evened up when an ex-Navy Seal gets thrown into the mix.

The Horde stars martial artist Paul Logan (Ballistica), Costas Mandylor (Saw IV, Fist of the North Star), Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), Vernon Wells (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior), Nestor Serrano, Tiffany Brouwer, Sydney Sweeney, Nils Allen Stewart, Frankie Ray and Bobby C. King.

On a special note, be on the lookout for 11-time World Kickboxing Champion, Don “The Dragon” Wilson (Blood Fist). The martial arts Hall of Famer told cityonfire.com that he will have short, but memorable appearance in the film (click here for a set photo of Wilson with producer Gabriel Campisi).

Along with the Dragon’s The Martial Arts Kid and White TigerThe Horde is scheduled to be released in 2015. We expect a trailer to hit soon. Stay tuned!

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The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

"The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom" Theatrical Poster

"The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Jacob Cheung’s The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom.

This wuxia-fantasy revolves around a pair of lovers – a devilish outlaw (Fan Bingbing) and the righteous Taoist leader Huang Xiaoming), and their love that could change the fate of the nation.

The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom also stars Vincent Zhao (True Legend), Wang Xuebing, Yan Kuan, Du Yiheng and Nicholas Tse. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom from Amazon.com today!

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Daniel Wu to play kung fu badass in AMC’s series ‘Badlands’

"Purple Storm" Japanese DVD Cover

"Purple Storm" Japanese DVD Cover

Hong Kong film star Daniel Wu (Purple Storm) is set to play the lead in AMC’s upcoming martial arts series, Badlands. According to Variety, the series is based on the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West, which follows a ruthless warrior (Wu) and a young boy who take a dangerous journey together to find enlightenment.

In addition to starring, Wu, along with long time friend and partner, Stephen Fung (Tai Chi Hero), will also serve as an executive producer. The series – created by Al Gough and Miles Millar (Shanghai Noon) – will be directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers).

Badlands is currently in pre-production with an expected premiere in late 2015/early 2016. We’ll keep you posted, so stay tuned!

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Deal on Fire! Alien Anthology + Prometheus | Blu-ray | Only $19.98 – Expires soon!

"Alien Anthology + Prometheus" Blu-ray Covers

"Alien Anthology + Prometheus" Blu-ray Covers

Today’s Deal on Fire is for the Alien Anthology 6-Disc Blu-ray set, which includes Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection plus a log pile of extra features. In addition, you’ll also get the Prometheus Blu-ray! For about $4 a movie, this is one deal you don’t want to be alienated from!

Order the Alien Anthology + Prometheus Bundle from Amazon.com today!

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‘New World’ director reunites with Choi Min-shik for ‘Big Tiger’

"Crying Fist" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Crying Fist" Korean Theatrical Poster

Earlier this month, production began on Big Tiger, an upcoming South Korean film directed by Park Hoon-jung (New World). According to FBA, Big Tiger is a period drama about a hunter who is enlisted to catch the last surviving tiger in the Korean peninsula during the Japanese occupation.

Park, who’s also known for writing the screenplays for Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil and Ryu Seung-Wan’s The Unjust, reunites with acting sensation Choi Min-shik (Old Boy, Crying Fist), who plays the lead to co-stars Jeong Man-Sik (Kundo), Kim Sang-Ho (Moss), Sung Yoo-Bin (Manhole) and Ren Osugi (Yellow Elephant).

Big Tiger is due for release mid-2015 release. Stay tuned for more updates!

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Dangerously Close | Blu-ray & DVD (Olive Films)

Dangerously Close | Blu-ray & DVD (Olive Films)

Dangerously Close | Blu-ray & DVD (Olive Films)

RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2015

Olive Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1986′s Dangerously Close, directed by Albert Pyun (Cyborg).

A group of high school students who call themselves “The Sentinels” begin terrorizing classmates. Soon, one of their targets ends up brutally murdered. An editor of the school paper begins to investigate and “The Sentinels” become even more ruthless!

This cult favorite stars John Stockwell (director of the upcoming Kickboxer reboot), J. Eddie Peck (Blind Heat), Carey Lowell (License to Kill). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Dangerously Close from Amazon.com today!

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

1st image from Guy Ritchie’s ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’ remake

"The Man from UNCLE: One Spy Too Many" Japanese Poster

"The Man from UNCLE: One Spy Too Many" Japanese Poster

Due for release in 2015 is Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake, which is based on the hugely popular 1960s television series of the same name. Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) stars as Napoleon Solo opposite Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as Illya Kuryakin. The upcoming film also stars Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and Jared Harris.

Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.

The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

Updates: According to Cinema Blend, The Lone Ranger’s Armie Hammer is attached to star alongside Tom Cruise. | Deadline reports that Tom Cruise has exited as the lead in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but he has stepped out to focus on producing and starring in Mission: Impossible 5. | Collider reports that Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill may be Cruise’s replacement. | Deadline reports that Hugh Grant is joining the cast.

BREAKING NEWS: Here’s the first image from Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake, featuring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer.

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Latest training footage for Tak Sakaguchi’s action film ‘Re:Born’

"Versus" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Versus" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Tak Sakaguchi rose to fame with the 2001 cult favorite Versus, a movie that managed to combine the low-budget charms of Evil Dead-like horror with blistering martial arts and gunplay. The actor later scored another cult hit with Battlefield Baseball, but has most recently hitched his wagon to the Sushi Typhoon production company.

In April of 2013, new broke out that Tak was retiring from acting, which left an unknown fate for his recently announced role in Death Trance II, not to mention a long-rumored sequel to Versus.

Cityonfire.com was recently contacted by director Yuji Shimomura (Death Trance) with breaking news that Tak was out of retirement to make Re:Born, which the actor calls his “very last” and “most superb” action movie:

“After I retired, I found myself having a passion for action that was still smoldering inside of me. After a conversation with action director Yuji Shimomura, I wanted to thrive one more time and create the very last and most superb action movie with my utmost power and passion for the sake of a closure to my entire career. I am convinced that I have to give my very best one last time. That is how I feel about this project. I didn’t realize how many people chose to support a person like myself until after I retired. I hope this movie will be satisfying enough for them to feel absolutely alright for me to go. This is for them.”

Re:Born doesn’t start shooting until 2015. Until then, Shimomura provided us with an “audition” video (Part 1) for Re:Born featuring Tak in some intense sparring action. Enjoy!

Updates: Footage (Part 2) of Sakaguchi getting in shape for Re:Born. | 3rd chapter of promo footage (Part 3) for Tak Sakaguchi’s “Ultimate Action Movie” Re:Born.

BREAKING NEWS: New “training” footage (Part 3.5) has just been sent to us by director Yuji Shimomura. This new video features supervision from Tak’s one and only master, Yoshitaka Inagawa, who has established the “Zero Range Combat” technique. ”Tak mastered it in months when one does in years,” says Inagawa, who will be handling the film’s action choreography. Re:Born will start shooting in the Spring of 2015.

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R100 | Blu-ray & DVD (Drafthouse Films)

"R100" Theatrical Poster

"R100" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Draft House Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Hitoshi Matsumoto’s (Big Man Japan) R100. The title of the film is a play on the Japanese rating system (R18 is equivalent to our NC-17), so “R100″ should give you an idea of what to expect.

In this audaciously kinky, meta-comedic thriller, a lonely father with a secret taste for S&M (Nao Ohmori, best known for his titular turn in Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer) finds himself pursued by a gang of ruthless dominatrices. Don’t miss the trailer.

Pre-order R100 from Amazon.com today!

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Robert Rodriguez to conquer Live-action ‘Fire and Ice’

"Fire and Ice" Theatrical Poster

"Fire and Ice" Theatrical Poster

Looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Legend of Conan may have some tough competition. According to Deadline, Robert Rodriguez (Machete) will be directing a Live-action version of Ralph Bakshi’s 1983 animated cult classic, Fire And Ice.

The original – based on characters created by legendary fiction artist Frank Frazetta – is a fantasy tale that took place during a time where savage warriors, horrific monsters and luscious maidens battled for the soul of a civilization. The feature was produced using rotoscoping, a process where scenes were shot in live action and then traced onto animation cels, giving the animation a seamless, life-like motion.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more about Fire and Ice. Stay tuned!

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Mark Dacascos to direct star-filled flick ‘Showdown in Manila’

"Drive" UK DVD Cover

"Drive" UK DVD Cover

According to KFC, martial arts star Mark Dacascos (Drive) is set to direct Showdown in Manila, an upcoming Expendables-esque movie that will feature an ensemble cast that includes Dacascos himself, Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Matthias Hues (No Retreat, No Surrender II), Cynthia Rothrock (Shanghai Express), Olivier Gruner (Nemesis), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Perfect Weapon), Monsour del Rosario (Bloodfist 2050), Don “The Dragon” Wilson (White Tiger) and Alexander Nevsky (Black Rose).

Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die), who worked with Dacascos in 2003′s Cradle 2 the Grave, will be producing. Showdown in Manila marks the second directorial project for Dacascos, following his unreleased, Russian-produced debut feature, Changing Lives.

In addition to Showdown in Manila, Dacascos has several projects in pre-production/post-production status, including Ultimate Justice, The Extendables, Operation Rogue, Beyond the Game, Mortal Kombat Legacy: Season 3 and Garuda 7.

Showdown in Manila is scheduled to begin shooting in February. Stay tuned for more details!

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Traffickers (2012) Review

"Traffickers" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Traffickers" Korean Theatrical Poster

AKA: Traffikers
Director: Kim Hong-Sun
Writer: Kim Hong-Sun, Kim Sang-Myun
Producer: Won Hyun-Jae
Cast: Im Chang-Jung, Daniel Choi, Jo Yoon-Hee, Oh Dal-Su, Jo Dal-Hwan, Jung Ji-Yoon, Lee Young-Hoon and Choi Il-Hwa
Running Time: 111 min.

By Kyle Warner

They say that truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. What they left out is that films based on a true story also have to make sense, regardless of whether that ruins the truthiness of the tale (my spellcheck didn’t even blink at the word ‘truthiness’ – a sign of the coming Apocalypse, I’m sure). To make a true story more understandable or presentable, it’s not uncommon to add a bit of dramatization. I’m not going to pretend to be familiar with the true story that inspired the film Traffickers, however I feel it’s pretty safe to assume that writer/director Hong-seon Kim and co. added their fair share of fictional drama to the story. What’s interesting is that they managed to put much of this theatrical drama in all the wrong places. I’d bet the headlines that detailed the true account were already difficult to believe, but all the filmmakers did was make the pill even harder to swallow.

The film is about organ traffickers. A young woman named Yoo-ri (played by Yun-hie Jo) is trying to save her father but the hospitals aren’t helping, so she turns to the black market. She’s told to take a boat to China where her father’s new organs will be waiting for him and doctors will be prepped for surgery. Meanwhile, on the same boat ride, the organ traffickers abduct a woman in a wheelchair and bring her to a vacant sauna to remove her organs.

There are so many twists along the way, most of which seemed rather absurd, so describing anymore of the plot would be a wasted effort. In many ways, that’s what the whole film feels like: a wasted effort. There are good performances here, there’s a nasty backbone for a story, and a few interesting new ideas, but it all amounts to so very little.

This is the sort of the film that says, Here, this is our plot, but don’t get too attached because it’s gonna change in a couple minutes anyway. A new, improbable twist is added every five or ten minutes. Instead of making the film complex it only manages to make things confusing and/or silly. Some twists just do not work and one wishes director Kim had played it straight and made a gritty thriller instead of… whatever this is.

It would help if there was a single character that I felt something for. Yoo-ri, the woman who’s trying to save her father, knows she’s doing something wrong but she only cares about her father’s life and not the victim. I can’t exactly root for her. I expect the film wants us to get behind the leader of the organ traffickers Young-gyu (played by Chang Jung Lim, who gives a strong performance). Before the end of the film Young-gyu does his best to do the right things, but his chosen profession still makes him a horrible human being. Even if we can get beyond the fact that Young-gyu regularly smuggles organs and other contraband, his personal life is also bothersome. In one of the film’s more puzzling sub-plots, Young-gyu is in love with Yoo-ri. But it’s not a casual attraction – he’s basically her stalker. Because she smiled at him, he assumes she’s leading him on. What’s more, when she repeatedly tells him to buzz off, he gets angry and demands an apology, one she repeatedly feels she has to give. Ugly, stupid people.

Dal-su Oh plays one of the film’s most despicable characters, the doctor whose job it is to extract the organs from the team’s victims. Despite how repulsive the surgeon is, I found he was the closest thing to a complete character in the movie. He’s a monster, but he knows he’s a monster, and the film doesn’t expect you to think he’s anything more. It’s the only true character in the whole film and another good performance from a talented actor.

There is a sequence in the film where Yoo-ri is on the boat and finds herself unknowingly helping the husband of the woman who’s been abducted search for his lost wife. However contrived that sounds, it’s actually the closest the movie comes to having some real tension. Yoo-ri wants to save her father and she also wants to save this woman and she doesn’t know that one could cancel out the other. Instead of mining the sequence for all it’s worth the filmmakers allow it to fizzle out before the suspense ever really kicks in.

This is a movie that repeatedly fails to recognize the potential in its own ideas and jumps onto the next one before finishing with the last one. Wasted potential… and a waste of time.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 3/10

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Well Go USA grabs Tsui Hark’s ‘The Taking of Tiger Mountain’

"The Taking of Tiger Mountain" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Taking of Tiger Mountain" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Tsui Hark’s latest action film The Taking of Tiger Mountain will be premiering at this year’s Marché du Film Cannes Festival. The film is based on the real life story of an incident in 1946 during the Chinese Civil War, involving a communist reconnaissance team soldier Yang Zirong who disguised himself as a bandit to infiltrate a local gang of bandits, eventually helping the main communist force to destroy the bandits.

The Taking of Tiger Mountain stars Zhang Hanyu (Bodyguards and Assassins), Zhou Dongyu (My Old Classmate), Gao Hu (The Man From Macau), Tong Liya (Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons), Kenny Lin (Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon) and newcomer Han Geng. The film is getting a domestic release on December 24, 2014.

Updates: Promotional photo from The Taking of Tiger Mountain. | New teaser trailer. | Latest trailer and 8 new posters ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 ). | Epic new poster for Tsui Hark’s The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

BREAKING NEWS: Well Go USA has announced the acquisition of US and Canadian distribution rights to The Taking of Tiger Mountain, Tsui Hark’s highly-anticipated adaptation of Qu Bo’s beloved adventure novel, Tracks In The Snowy Forest. The film releases in China on Christmas Eve, and Well Go USA will be releasing the film in theaters one week later, on January 2nd. Also, don’t miss their new trailer!

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Lionsgate gives Stallone, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and Lundgren a Blu-ray cover makeover!

Stallone, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and Lundgren get a makeover.

Stallone, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and Lundgren get a makeover.

On February 24th, Lionsgate Home Entertainment is re-releasing the Blu-rays for 1982′s First Blood, 1990′s Total Recall, and 1992′s Universal Solider. All three titles will also come equipped with Digital HD versions for your portable devices.

Pop art enthusiasts will notice the new packaging, which feature semi-original artwork from their iconic theatrical posters. We’re assuming that it’s only the covers that have changed, so expect the same AV quality if you already own these titles.

Are more makeovers like these going to happen? Stay tuned to find out. Until then, these titles are currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

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Deal on Fire! Gamera: Ultimate Collections | Blu-ray | Only $8.99 – Expires soon!

Gamera: Ultimate Collections | Blu-ray (Mill Creek)

Gamera: Ultimate Collections | Blu-ray (Mill Creek)

RELEASE DATE: April 29, 2014

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray set for the Gamera: Ultimate Collection Vol. 1, which features Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965), Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967) and Gamera vs. Viras (1968).

Also on sale is the Blu-ray set for the Gamera: Ultimate Collection Vol. 2, which includes Gamera vs. Guiron (1969), Gamera vs. Jiger (1970), Gamera vs. Zigra (1971) and Gamera: Super Monster (1980).

Order the Gamera: Ultimate Collections from Amazon.com today!

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Charlene Choi bares all for Herman Yau’s Cat III flick ‘Sara’

"Sara" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Sara" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Herman Yau (Taxi Hunter, Untold Story, The Legend Is Born: Ip Man) is returning to his Category III roots with a new psychological thriller titled Sara. In the film, Charlene Choi (Kung Fu Dunk) plays a woman whose dark past comes back to haunt her when she encounters an underage prostitute in Thailand.

According to Jaynestars, the film’s poster – which shows Choi’s nude body resting in a bathtub full of bloody water – was shot while the movie was being filmed: “The photographer snapped photos candidly, so it appeared more natural. We did not purposely do a photo shoot just for the movie poster. The results were good, as the mood of the photos really matched the sentiment of the movie,” said Choi.

Sara also stars Simon Yam (As the Light Goes Out) and is produced by Chaptan To (Infernal Affairs 2). The film will get its Chinese domestic release in April of 2015. We’ll be on the lookout for its trailer, so stay tuned!

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The Corrupter | Blu-ray (Warner)

The Corrupter | Blu-ray (Warner)

The Corrupter | Blu-ray (Warner)

RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2015

Warner presents the long-awaited Blu-ray for 1999′s The Corrupter directed by James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross). This gritty action-drama stars Chow Yun-fat (The Killer), Mark Wahlberg (The Big Hit), Ric Young (Kiss of the Dragon), Jon Kit Lee (Romeo Must Die), Brian Cox (Braveheart) and Byron Mann (The Man with the Iron Fists).

With the aid from a NYC policeman (Wahlberg), a top immigrant cop (Chow) tries to stop corruption by immigrant Chinese Triads, but things complicate when the Triads try to bribe the policeman. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Corruptor from Amazon.com today!

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

Lupin the Third (2014) Review

"Lupin the Third" International Theatrical Poster

"Lupin the Third" International Theatrical Poster

AKA: Lupin III
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writer: Mataichiro Yamamoto, Monkey Punch
Cast: Shun Oguri, Meisa Kuroki, Gou Ayano, Tadanobu Asano, Tetsuji Tamayama, Vithaya Pansringarm, Rhatha Phongam, Thanayong Wongtrakul, Kim Jun, Jerry Yan, Nirut Sirichanya, Nick Tate, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi, Yuka Nakayama
Running Time: 133 min.

By Paul Bramhall

When director Ryuhei Kitamura hit the scene in 2000 with his low budget zombie kung fu hybrid, Versus, critics were quick to announce the arrival of a new talent on the Japanese movie scene, and it was easy to see why. Versus had a certain energy about it that belied its humble budget, and it was great to see Japan once again returning to the fight movies that guys like Sonny Chiba and Yasuaki Kurata had made famous during the 70’s.

However, given access to bigger budgets and brought into the fold of the Japanese studio system, Kitamura seemed to lose his creative voice in the movies that came out after, whether it be mis-fires like Alive, or trying to put his own spin on one of Japan’s most recognizable icons with Godzilla: Final Wars. In the late 2000’s he decided to leave Japanese shores and head to the US, during which time he made Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives, both serviceable horror thrillers, before finally returning once again to Japan with the 2014 release of Lupin the Third.

Lupin the Third is one of Japan’s most enduring and well known Manga characters, a half French half Japanese thief who robs from the rich, his zany adventures have been entertaining audiences for close to 50 years. Bringing the character to the screen in a live-action movie was no doubt always going to be a challenge, but if anyone would be up to the task, it makes sense that the responsibility was given to Kitamura. It’s a shame then, that instead of plugging into the Manga and trying to bring it to life, the final product comes across as a poorly executed retread of the 2012 Korean blockbuster The Thieves.

It would probably take up the rest of the review to list all of the identical similarities that exist both in the plot and the characters, from the pan-Asian cast to whole plot revelations (most glaringly, a character who we believe to be a bad guy is eventually revealed to be not what he seems, and ends up teaming up with his former cohorts to take on a bigger threat who was responsible for his fathers death many years ago). It’s ironic that a movie about thieves would steal so many ideas from another, but this is the least of Kitamura’s problems.

The plot is ridiculously convoluted, but goes something like this. Lupin, played by Shun Oguri of Crows Zero fame, is part of a group of thieves called The Works. Other members are played by sassy cat burglar Kuroki Meisa, and Shuichi Yamaguchi. For the sake of appealing to Korean and Chinese audiences as well, we also have Kim Joon, most well known for his role in the Boys Over Flowers K-drama, and Jerry Yan from Chinese boyband F4, thrown into the mix. Oh, and a samurai character called Goemon joins them somewhere along the way, played by Go Ayano, for no other reason than he’s obviously also from the Manga.

They decide to steal a priceless piece of jewelry, but Yan betrays the group, killing the father figure of The Works, and reveals his plan to sell it to an evil Thai antique collector played by Nirut Sirichanya. He’s protected by a couple of Asian cinemas recent bad guy recruits – Thanayong Wongtrakul, who is instantly recognizable as the Vietnamese knife fighter from A Man from Nowhere, and Rhatha Phongam, who played the scantily clad fighter No. 20 in Tom Yum Goong 2. On top of all this, you have Tadanobu Asano playing the Japanese inspector on the tail of Lupin the Third, who teams up with a Thai colonel played by Vithaya Pansringarm, fresh from playing roles in both Benny Chan’s The White Storm and Isaac Florentine’s Ninja: Shadow of a Tear.

Nothing really makes any sense, with the nonsensical nature of the plot climaxing when the stolen item is put up for official public auction in front of a large audience (!?). But at 133 minutes, the plodding script certainly tries to make things seem cohesive through several needlessly lengthy scenes of characters explaining what’s going on to each other. It’s almost like Kitamura forgot he’s working in a visual medium, and that he could actually explain events that are going on by showing us them, rather than watching two characters sit across a table talking to each other in scenes which lack any kind of tension or immediacy.

Another big issue with having characters constantly explaining the plot to each other is that, for reasons unknown, over 90% of the movies dialogue is spoken in English. While I have nothing but admiration for non-native English speakers completing a whole movie in a language not their own, unfortunately there are too many times when it just doesn’t work. The intonation of words is off on more than one occasion, sometimes the punctuation of sentences is missing all together, and most of all, too often the actors look like they’re concentrating on getting their lines correct, rather than delivering the emotion that’s behind them. Of everyone, it’s Jerry Yan who comes off the worse, at one point delivering a particularly important line by splitting it up into three disastrous stop – start sentences, which makes the whole scene laughably bad.

Lupin the Third crams in a lot of action into its bloated runtime, as it should, but again it’s all poorly recycled from other sources. The need for many of Japan’s mainstream movies to be TV friendly, so that they can be shown as holiday specials for all the family on the studio owned TV channels, further proving to be a detriment to a once great movie industry. The result here is that we’re essentially left with the Hallmark Channel versions of the back seat car fight from The Raid 2, the Donnie Yen vs. Wu Jing fight from Sha Po Lang, and the car chase from The Matrix Reloaded. There’s barely a drop of blood, or indeed a single ounce of anger, on display anywhere. It’s a shame that Japan’s mainstream output has become so diluted that it’s now just a limp wristed reflection of what it once was.

Still, even without the need to remain as safe as possible, Kitamura make some mistakes of his own. At one point he takes separate fight scenes involving two characters taking on multiple attackers, and plays them out split-screen. Which one are you supposed to look at!? Thankfully you wouldn’t be missing much if you decided not to look at either, but it’s this kind of bad film making which proves that Kitamura seems to have lost touch with what makes a good movie. Top all this off with a completely mis-placed mellow jazz soundtrack, that even plays over some of the action scenes, and ultimately what’s supposed to be an exciting live action version of a fast paced and eclectic Manga, is yet another watered down, overly drawn out, damp squib of wasted time and talent from Japan.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 3/10

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New ‘Taken 3′ trailer shows Liam Neeson kicking Holiday A$$!

"Taken 3" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Taken 3" Korean Theatrical Poster

Shortly after the release of Taken 2, Liam Neeson doubted a Taken 3 would happen: “I don’t think it’s going to happen. I really don’t. I can’t see a possible scenario where audiences wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, come on…! She’s taken again?’ Turns out, Taken 3 is hitting theaters soon.

Olivier Megaton (Taken 2) is back in the director’s chair. Neeson and Maggie Grace are reprising their roles and Forest Whitaker (Bloodsport) is currently in negotiations to join the cast. Although there are no plot details, the script for Taken 3, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, is complete.

Updates: Collider reports (via Bleeding Cool) that Neeson is promising a “really, really good story.” He’s also quoted as saying that when he received the phone call to do Taken 3, he said: “I’ll do it… but only as long as nobody gets Taken.” | According to Collider, both Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace will return for Taken 3.

During a recent interview with Collider, Luc Besson, writer/producer of Taken 3 says: “The third film is another story that has nothing to do with him and his family. No one is taken. The dog is not taken. It’s another story with the same characters. It’s different, but it’s very good. It’s probably the best of the three for me, in terms of the script.” Taken 3 is current filming and has a target release date for January 9, 2015. | Frst images from Tak3n. | International poster for Tak3n.  | First trailer for Tak3n. In addition, also check out the new poster. | New international poster. | Korean theatrical poster.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the newest trailer, complete with Christmas carol!

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Red Band trailer for the Godfather-esque ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’

"Gangs of Wasseypur" Theatrical Poster

"Gangs of Wasseypur" Theatrical Poster

If you’re looking for singin’ and dancin,’ look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for killin,’ don’t miss the Red Band trailer for Gangs of Wasseypur, an Indian-made crime saga written and directed by Anurag Kashyap (Satya), who is considered the “Poster Boy” of Bollywood’s new wave of cinema.

This controversial two-part film, which is being described as India’s answer to The Godfather, follows a bloody feud between two families that begins in the early 1940s and lasts until the mid-1990s.

Thanks to the film’s presenter, Adi Shankar (The Grey, Lone Survivor), Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1 and 2 will be getting a limited theatrical release on January 16th, and available On Demand on April 17th. And yes, there will be blood.

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Deal on Fire! Legend of the Fist | Blu-ray | Only $8.63 – Expires soon!

"Legend of the Fist" Blu-ray Cover

"Legend of the Fist" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Donnie Yen’s Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, directed by Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs).

In Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, Donnie Yen plays Chen Zhen, a role made famous by Bruce Lee in the 1972 film Fist of Fury. It’s set in Shanghai International Settlement, seven years after the events of the Bruce Lee classic!

Legend of the Fist also stars Shu Qi (Storm Riders), Anthony Wong (Punished) and Shawn Yue (Motorway).

Order Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen from Amazon.com today!

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Steven Seagal’s ‘Cypher’ to get a theatrical release?

"A Good Man" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"A Good Man" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Looks like Steven Seagal’s days of snapping necks, breaking bones and busting caps are far from over. It was recently announced at the American Film Market that the Aikido master has a $25 million dollar action thriller in the works titled Cypher.

According to Variety, Seagal will portray a special forces operative who – frustrated with the bureaucracy of war – goes rogue and tries to exterminate terrorists being protected by the government.

Cypher is based on an original script written by Seagal himself. There are currently no other stars or directors attached, but we’ll be sure to keep you informed.

Until then, you can catch Seagal in his latest film, Gutshot Straight, as well as the upcoming Mercenary Absolution.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Dark Horizons (via EP.com), producers are planning a theatrical release for Cypher, which will mark the first time a Steven Seagal movie won’t be straight-to-video since 2002′s Half Past Dead. Of course, 2012′s Machete doesn’t count, considering Seagal only had a limited starring role.

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Green Street Hooligans: Underground | DVD (Lionsgate)

Green Street Hooligans: Underground | DVD (Lionsgate)

Green Street Hooligans: Underground | DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2015

Lionsgate presents the DVD for Green Street Hooligans: Underground (aka Green Street 3: Never Back Down), starring Scott Adkins (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) and directed by James Nunn, the filmmaker behind Fantastic Fest ’12′s breakout hit Tower Block.

In Green Street Hooligans: Underground, an old firm leader returns to Green Street for revenge after receiving a call that his little brother was killed. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Green Street Hooligans: Underground from Amazon.com today!

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No Tears for the Dead (2014) Review

"No Tears for the Dead" Korean Theatrical Poster

"No Tears for the Dead" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Lee Jeong-beom
Writer: Lee Jeong-beom
Producer: Kim Seong-Woo, Baek Hyeon-Ik
Cast: Jang Dong-Gun, Kim Min-Hee, Kim Hee-Won, Kim Jun-Sung, Go Woo-Lim, Ju Young-Ho, Jang In-Seop, Lee Seung-Chan, Park Sang-Hun, Brian Tee
Running Time: 116 min.

By Paul Bramhaull

Director and writer Lee Jeong-beom quickly came to the attention of action movie aficionado’s in 2010 with the release of The Man from Nowhere. A Korean movie starring Won Bin as a mopish pawn shop attendant with a tragic and violent past, brought back to life by the kidnapping of a child, it delivered some surprisingly well put together action sequences, which included a particularly well staged knife fight. Although it wasn’t a movie without its flaws, particularly in the bad guys being very one dimensional, it was enough for many people to start asking what was next for Jeong-beom.

Three years later, and that question is answered by No Tears for the Dead. Replacing Won Bin as the lead is veteran actor Jang Dong-gun. Dong-gun is arguably one of the most recognizable faces in Korean cinema, having starred in various movies that have gained popularity on an international level – from Nowhere to Hide to Friend to Taegukgi, a movie in which he and Won Bin play brothers. Here he plays an assassin who’s been raised in the U.S., however on his most recent hit he accidentally kills a little girl, which throws him into a state of alcohol fuelled depression.

It turns out that’s only the beginning of his problems though. His hit was actually the girl’s father, who was believed to have a USB containing a set of codes to various bank accounts being used to store Triad money. When it comes to light that the father doesn’t have the USB, Dong-gun is told to get on a plane to Korea and kill the mother as well. Unsurprisingly, due to the issues Dong-gun had himself as a child with his own mother, he finds himself unable to go through with it, and we all know that when this happens in a movie, it’s going to lead to some serious trouble.

While the plot differs considerably from that of The Man from Nowhere, there are a number of familiar factors in No Tears for the Dead that anyone who’s seen the former will immediately recognize. Once again it’s a little girl that’s used to trigger the crux of the plot, again we have an English speaking assassin from South East Asia who has a kind of unspoken bromance going on with the main character, and there’s even an almost identical scene in which Dong-gun holds his phone up to an exploding building. Jeong-beom clearly loved these elements enough from The Man from Nowhere that he felt comfortable to use them again here, and thankfully they all work.

There are elements of No Tears for the Dead which definitely don’t work though. The grieving mother is effectively played by Kim Min-hee, having lost both her husband and daughter at the same time, her character immerses herself in her job and by looking after her hospitalized mother. The problem is though elements like her sick mother never have any meaning attached to them, making it difficult for the audience to attach any connection to the scenes they share together. By the end of the movie, she still has a sick mother, and that’s it. If the intention behind the mother’s character was to reveal that Min-hee still has a softer side, after revealing her rather cold hearted nature in the office, then they miss the mark.

Speaking of sharing scenes, another issue that arises is that Min-hee and Dong-gun, despite playing the two central characters which all the events hinge upon, don’t have a single face to face conversation. While this could easily be argued as being an important detail in the events which unfold, as the fact that Min-hee has never had a good look at Dong-gun plays a vital part in the finale, it sadly doesn’t help to create any kind of connection between them during the rest of the movie. Whereas in The Man from Nowhere the audience is clearly invested in the relationship between Won Bin and the kidnapped girl, No Tears for the Dead misses out on that connection, and you never truly care that much about Dong-gun being able to save Min-hee from being killed.

This could have worked if Jeong-beom is able to clearly telegraph exactly why Dong-gun decides to not kill Min-hee and become her protector, but again his reasons are conveyed in quite a muddled way. Thanks to a flashback scene to his childhood we know that the mother of Dong-gun’s character didn’t care about him, and tried to dump him in the dessert, revealing what was a loveless upbringing. However the connectivity isn’t made as to how this links back to the decisions he’s making in the present day with Min-hee, we’re just left to presume he’s a tortured soul who decides not to kill her because, well, maybe she’s the good mother than his wasn’t? It’s all guess work.

Still, all of these convoluted plot niggles could of course likely be forgiven if the action delivers. Thankfully, it does. While not overflowing with action, what’s there is a joy to watch. Jeong-beom crafts together 3 impressive set pieces, from the first brief assassination attempt in a bar, which has Dong-gun taking aim while the barrel of the gun is lodged in someone’s mouth, to an awesome 10 minute shoot out mid-way through which plays out like a mix of The Man from Nowhere meets Heat. This set piece is actually the highlight of the movie, as a gun fight erupts between two adjacent apartment buildings, it delivers knife fighting, bullets, grenades, and several liters of fake blood.

Full credit has to be given to Jeong-beom for what appears to be the use of no CGI whatsoever. If it’s there, you won’t notice. Instead we have a ferocious knife fight against 3 assailants which is remarkably brutal with blood spraying onto the walls, across the floor, and even over the camera lens. It’s the type of scene which makes you wish CGI blood had never been invented. Similarly the finale sees Dong-gun in a locked down office building, which has him running around like a cross between John McClane and Casey Ryback, as he takes on his former employees and looks to protect Min-hee at the same time.

If anything, No Tears for the Dead is worth a watch purely for the action. It may be sporadic, but it’s worth the wait when it comes around. While the movie itself is hardly happy viewing – both Dong-gun as the murderer of the husband and child of the woman he’s trying to protect, and Min-hee as the grieving widow and mother trying to stay alive – are characters residing in some very dark places. But it’s not a movie which shies away from the darkness, it’s just one which could perhaps have put a little more focus on connecting the dots contained within it.

Paul Bramhaull’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Deal on Fire! Snowpiercer | Blu-ray | Only $9.99 – Expires soon!

Snowpiercer | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

Snowpiercer | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Snowpiercer (read our review), directed by Bong Joon-Ho (The Host) and produced by Park Chan-Wook (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance).

A post-apocalyptic ice age forces humanity’s last survivors aboard a globe-spanning super train. One man (Chris Evans) will risk everything to lead a revolt for control of the engine and the future of the world.

Snowpiercer also stars Ed Harris, Chris Evans, Song Kang-Ho, Ko Ah-Sung, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton.

Order Snowpiercer from Amazon.com today!

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First unofficial footage of Daniel Craig as Bond in ‘SPECTRE’

"Spectre" Teaser Poster

"Spectre" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: 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 and Monica Bellucci.

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. | New Bond car (Aston Martin DB10) and the teaser poster.

BREAKING NEWS: Here’s the first candid footage of Craig riding in a boat along the River Thames, courtesy of Collider.

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John Wick | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

John Wick | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

John Wick | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2015

Lionsgate presents the Blu-ray & DVD for David Leitch and Chad Stahelski’s John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves. 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. Read our review.

The Blu-ray for John Wick includes the follow extras: Audio Commentary, Featurettes: Don’t F^#% with John Wick, Calling in the Calvalry, Destiny of A Collective, Assassin’s Code, Red Circle and NYC Noir.

Pre-order John Wick from Amazon.com today!

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