Lady General Hua Mulan (1964) Review

"Lady General Hua Mulan" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Lady General Hua Mulan" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Lady General Hua Mu-lan
Director: Griffin Yueh Feng
Writer: Ko Jui Fen, Dung Chin Lee
Producer: Run Run Shaw
Cast: Ivy Ling Po, Chin Han, Chen Yan Yan, Cheung Kwong Chiu, Yeung Chi Hing, Wu Ma, Lee Kwan, Kok Lee Yan, Cheng Miu, Lee Wan Chung, Feng Yi, Han Ying Chieh
Running Time: 106 min.

By JJ Hatfield

When the Mongols banded together with other nomadic tribes, they invaded China, beginning with the outlying border towns. The edict went out from the Emperor, reaching every family in the land, to send forth one male – of fighting age – to protect the country from the marauding hordes. Master Hua intended to honor the call to duty; however, he was no longer a young man fit for battle. Concerned for his safety, his daughter, Mu-lan, convinces Master Hua that he need not sacrifice himself in order to uphold the family honor.

The story of Hua Mu-lan (or Mulan) – which originated as a brief poem from the 6th century Northern Wei Dynasty – was so stirring, it not only survived, but grew in length over generations; it was eventually written as a full book by the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The story of Mu-lan is an old and cherished one for the Chinese, but many people will recognize the name from the animated Disney film version or from one of the numerous other movies, plays, operas and books.

Lady General Hua Mu-lan smoothly melds traditional Huangmei Opera with the cinematic touch of the Shaw Brothers Studio. Huangmei Opera was developed in the mid-1800′s, in the tea-producing, Huangmei region of China. Initially created of folk songs, people would sing while collecting and preparing tea. The operas became incredibly popular, not only around Huangmei, but across China and beyond.

A 24-year-old Ivy Ling Po touched a nation when she starred in the The Love Eterne (1963), a film that helped bring Huangmei Opera to the big screen. Her brilliant performance in that film led to the title role in Lady General Hua Mu-lan.

Ling Po’s film career began at the age of 12, but even as a very young child, she was immersed in Huangmei Opera. Known for her beautiful voice and acting ability, she often dubbed the songs for other actresses in films and operas.

Ling Po has an incredible gift of connecting with audiences, and Lady General Hua Mu-lan is no exception. Her expressive face, fluid movements and fighting skills are superb. She demonstrates an excellent stage presence and is amazingly adept at portraying both male and female roles. Make no mistake, Lady General Hua Mu-lan suceeds because of Ling Po, which explains why she received the Best Actress award for her powerful role.

Yueh Feng (The Bells of Death) directed and co-wrote the lively script for Lady General Hua Mu-lan. He is quite experienced in the genre, directing for the Shaw Brothers for over a dozen years, and the Great Wall Company, before that.

As with many of the earlier Shaw movies involving war, there are numerous action choreographers, but none are specifically credited (Hong Kong Cinemagic lists Han Ying Chieh as one of them). It appears that in some of the big battle scenes, the actors/fighters on the periphery were not given much direction on what they were supposed to be doing. The lack of experience, or care, in lensing some of the scenes, is frustrating.

In China- and other countries in southeast Asia – it has been only in recent times that women were able to act in theater or operas. Lady General Hua Mu-lan is one of a very few Chinese stories that even suggests gender equity, which was extremely rare, especially in literature that has survived the ages. Although women in China have always fought to defend their family or land, never has a woman, posing as a male, risen to the rank of general.

Even if you think you know the story of Mu-lan, you haven’t experienced it like this before. This is a wonderful historic version, and as far as I am concerned, the best at portraying all of the primary characters, especially the title character.

Lady General Hua Mu-lan is more intense and darker than modern remakes, especially the wretched, mixed up mess of Disney’s cutesy cartoon, Mulan. The Disney version was a huge commercial success (it sold lots of dolls, DVDs, CDs, backpacks, school supplies and…), but it bears no resemblance to the original story, other than in name. This version is far superior and stays true to the original adventure of Mu-lan.

Lady General Hua Mu-lan is an excellent film that everyone will enjoy.

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 9/10

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Falcon Rising | DVD (Anderson Merchandisers)

"Falcon Rising" Theatrical Poster

"Falcon Rising" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

Anderson Merchandisers presents the DVD for Falcon Rising, directed by Ernie Barbarash (Assassination Games) and starring Michael Jai White (Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite).

Also known as Favela or Codename Falcon 1, Falcon Rising follows an anti-hero named John “Falcon” Chapman (White) who travels to Brazil to find his sister’s killer. Along the way, he uncovers an underworld of vice and corruption, presided over by the Japanese mafia of all people.

Pre-order Falcon Rising from Amazon.com today!

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

It’s a lovely day for the first ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ poster…

"Mad Max Fury Road" Teaser Poster

"Mad Max Fury Road" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: George Miller (Mad Max Trilogy) returns to the post-apocalyptic-action franchise that put him on the map. Tom Hardy is taking over the role of Max Rockatansky, formerly played by Mel Gibson. Also starring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough and Hugh Keays-Byrne. Note: this will be the first Mad Max to incorporate CG elements.

Updates: Batch of set photos. | Collider reports that Megan Gale – who almost played Wonder Woman in Miller’s cancelled Justice League film – will finally get to team up with the director in Mad Max 4: Fury Road.

Director George Miller finally revealed something of a summary via this official press release. Quote: “Mad Max (Tom Hardy) is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by the Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). This movie is an account of the Road War which follows.” | New set photos. | The first look at Tom Hardy as Max. | Production video| The Playlist reports that Dutch electronic composer and producer Junkie XL (aka Tom Holkenborg) will be doing the soundtrack.

Dark Horizons reports that Tom Hardy is going back for more filming. Here’s what he told Flicks and the City: ”[The movie]‘s great. It’s a big old piece; it’s a behemoth of a piece. I’m off there next week to do some reshoots, well not reshoots actually, but doing more. We’re building, building more Mad Maxes, even more spectacular and cool stuff.”

According to EW, Mad Max 4: Fury Road is set to hit theaters on May 15, 2015. The new theatrical date makes it 30 years since Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome was released. Let’s hope it’ll be worth the wait. | New photo of Tom Hardy as Mad Max.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently interviewed George Miller where he debunked rumors of a Mel Gibon cameo. However, he did mention that Max’s famous Interceptor will appear. As far as the movie, here’s what Miller said: ”Our film, luckily after a ridiculous amount of work, is testing extremely well…We’re very happy. There has been a lot of doubt about it, [people saying] ‘it took so long’, but Warners have delayed it until 2015 to go into the top weekend of the year.”

Collider has collected a pack of audience reactions from a Mad Max: Fury Road test screening. Here a few of them: Reaction 1: “…Mad Max II/The Road Warrior on steroids, go-big-or-go-home, bug-nuts crazy, toss-you-in-the-deep-end mythology… this movie feels like thirty years of Miller holding in passion for a world that he built so long ago, exploding on the screen.” Reaction 2: “Weird to not see Gibson as Max but Tom Hardy holds it down just fine. Great action sequences and amazing post-apocalyptic vehicles and costuming with awesome makeup.” Reaction 3: “I can’t say much about it but let’s just hope they do tons of re-shoots before it’s released next year, or start again from scratch. Also Tom Hardy can’t stop doing the Bane voice. So annoying.”

Updates: Director George Miller told EW that the film has very few digital effects, intense action, linear story, very little dialogue and “a chase that starts as the movie begins and continues for 110 minutes.” Check out the latest cover of Entertainment Weekly for a Mad Max: Fury Road image, courtesy of EW (via Collider). | New photos from George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

BREAKING NEWS: First poster is here! In addition, here’s the newest official image of Max.

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Zoë Bell is ‘Expendable’ in the new ‘Mercenaries’ trailer!

Mercenaries | Blu-ray & DVD (The Asylum)

Mercenaries | Blu-ray & DVD (The Asylum)

From Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray, the director of straight-to-video oddities such as 2-Headed Shark Attack and Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, comes an action flick called Mercenaries (aka Prison Raid).

Judging from its cast, Prison Raid might be the first incarnation of the “female Expendables” flicks (see: Gina Carano’s take, as well as The ExpendaBelles).

In Mercenaries, a diplomatic official is captured and imprisoned while touring a war zone, so a team of elite female commandoes is assembled to infiltrate a women’s prison for a daring rescue.

Mercenaries stars Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Vol. 1), Zoë Bell (Death Proof), Nicole Bilderback (Sideliners), Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja) and Cynthia Rothrock (Raging Thunder).

Mercenaries has a DVD and Blu-ray release date set for October 14, 2014 (available for pre-order), so a trailer should be hitting soon. Until then, here’s a couple of production photos from the film. Judging from that photo alone, looks like it’s riding off the success of Kill Bill.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the trailer, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

The ‘One-Armed Swordsman’ himself returns with a lot of ‘Soul’

"Soul" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Soul" Chinese Theatrical Poster

DDDhouse.com now has the festival favorite, Soul, for pre-order on DVD. This bone-chilling, psychological thriller runs along the same vein as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Ringo Lam’s The Victim, with an art house-style execution by director Chung Mong-hong (The Fourth Portrait).

Old school Hong Kong cinema fans will welcome the inclusion of Shaw Brothers veteran, Jimmy Wang Yu (One Armed Swordsman, The Man Called Tiger). Although the Wang Yu has been active in a string of recent titles – including Tai Chi 0, Let’s Go and Wu XiaSoul showcases the legend in a different light. The film also stars Joseph Chang, Tsai Ming-liang and Leon Dai. Don’t miss the trailer!

Keep in mind that the DVD version is Region 3 coded, so you will need a multi-region DVD player to view the movie.

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First trailer for Kane Kosugi’s ‘Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge’!

"Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge" International Teaser Poster

"Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge" International Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: Kane Kosugi (Choy Lee Fut, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear) stars in Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge (aka Tekken: A Man Called X), a prequel to 2010′s Tekken. Joining Kosugi is Kelly Wenham (Dying Light), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Tekken), Gary Daniels (Skin Traffik), Biljana Misic (Zigosana), Charlotte Kirk (Non-Stop) and Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?).

The director of Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge is currently unknown. Contrary to our previous reports, Wych Kaosayananda (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) is NOT the director; he is however, the director of photography.

Kosugi is known for 2002′s Muscle Heat (aka Blood Heat), but he’s perhaps best known to North American audiences for being the son of Sho Kosugi, who had a string of successful ninja films for The Cannon Group, including 1983′s Revenge of the Ninja and 1984′s Ninja III: The Domination. Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge will be Kosugi’s first lead role in a Hollywood feature.

Updates: There were false reports that the then-titled A Man Called X was NOT a Tekken movie; as it turns out, it was a Tekken movie all along. Producers were forced to plant some backpedaling after the movie was prematurely revealed on the internet.

Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on August 12, 2014. You can pre-order the title at Amazon.com. | First clip!

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the first trailer, courtesy of KFC.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Evil Feed | DVD (Screen Media)

Evil Feed | DVD (Screen Media)

Evil Feed | DVD (Screen Media)

RELEASE DATE: September 16, 2014

Screen Media presents the DVD for Kimani Ray Smith’s Evil Feed. A group of young martial artists infiltrate an underground pit fighting ring where the loser is chopped up and served in a Chinese restaurant called The Long Pig… two men enter, one course leaves! If you tap out, you’re take out! Watch the trailer.

Starring Terry Chen, Laci J Mailey, Alain Chanoine, Alyson Bath, Derek Gilroy, Bishop Brigante, Curtis Lum, Sebastian Gacki, David Milchard, Carrie Genzel and Johnson Phan.

Pre-order Evil Feed from Amazon.com today!

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

Brosnan is pretty much 007 in the new ‘November Man’ trailer

"The November Man" Theatrical Poster

"The November Man" Theatrical Poster

If you want Pierce Brosnan to be back as James Bond, here’s the closest you’ll get: Brosnan (Goldeneye) is teaming up with Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) for an action-thriller titled November Man, directed by Roger Donaldson (The Bank Job, Species). The film also stars Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation).

Sure, it may not feature shaken Martinis or artillery-equipped Aston Martins, but with two former Bond stars, it’s hard not to think about Brosnan as the famous super spy.

In November Man, an ex-CIA operative (Brosnan) is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect. Based on the novel of the same name by Bill Granger, and written for the screen by Michael Finch (Predators) and Karl Gajdusek (Oblivion). Check out the first promotional image from the film.

November Man is expected to be released on November 13, 2014. | Watch the trailer! | New poster has been released. Welcome back , Brosnan!

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the latest trailer.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Jason Scott Lee to join Donnie Yen in ‘Crouching Tiger’ sequel?

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" Theatrical Poster

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" Theatrical Poster

The Weinstein Company will start production on a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon later this year titled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny. Yuen Woo-ping (True Legend) is directing, with a script by John Fusco (The Forbidden Kingdom), which will be based off the fifth book in Wang Du Lu’s Crane-Iron Pentalogy, which is same source material Ang Lee used for the original film.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny will star Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh and Nicholas Tse. Zhang Ziyi is rumored to return.

The sequel will continue to revolve around Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). “This was an opportunity to explore a lifelong passion I’ve had for Wu Xia, and if there wasn’t continuing source material, I would never have gotten involved,” says Fusco.

Updates: According to EW, Zhang Ziyi is in talks to reprise her role as Jen Yu for flashback sequences. | According to Deadline, Donnie Yen has signed with Los Angeles-based CAA (Creative Artists Agency), and his new reps just closed his deal to star in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny.

Charlie Nguyen, the writer and director of The Rebel, will take over fight choreography duties for Yuen Woo-Ping, so the latter can concentrate on directing. Worried Nguyen’s work won’t hold up against Yuen’s? Read our review for The Rebel and gain some confidence.

Turns out, Charlie Nguyen will NOT be the action choreographer for Crouching Tiger 2. Here’s what he wrote in his facebook: “Location Scouting For Crouching Tiger in Aukland – NZ. Correction: I’ll be there mainly as a co-producer and 2nd unit director. Not the action director!!” So now, the question remains: Who is the film’s action choreographer? Cityonfire.com bets that Yuen Woo-ping will be handling the duty. It’s not like the guy never directed/choreographed a film before, right? | Photos of Donnie Yen preparing himself for the Crouching Tiger sequel, courtesy of Donne Yen’s facebook page.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Bey Logan’s Facebook page, Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) has a role in Crouching Tiger 2. – Thanks to DiP!

Posted in News | 24 Comments

Deal on Fire! New Police Story | Blu-ray | Only $6.86 – Expires soon!

"New Police Story" Blu-ray Cover

"New Police Story" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Benny Chan’s New Police Story (aka Police Story 5), starring Jackie Chan (Chinese Zodiac), Nicholas Tse (The Bullet Vanishes), Charlie Young (Fallen Angels) and Daniel Wu (That Demon Within).

A hero cop (Chan) accidentally leads his team into a trap from which he is the only survivor. Drowning his guilt in booze, he is eventually assigned a new younger partner (Tse) who turns out to have his own secrets.

Order New Police Story from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | Leave a comment

Suspect, The (2013) Review

"The Suspect" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Suspect" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Won Shin-Yeon
Writer: Lim Sang-Yoon
Producer: Shin Chang-hwan
Cast: Gong Yoo, Park Hee-Soon, You Da-In, Cho Seong-Ha, Jo Jae-Yun, Kim Sung-Kyun, Park Ji-Il
Running Time: 137 min.

By HKFanatic

When The Bourne Supremacy first hit theaters back in 2005, the close-quarters handheld camerawork and rapid editing during action sequences had some film-goers claiming they experienced motion sickness rather than popcorn thrills. Soon afterwards, the term ‘shaky cam’ began popping up in critical reviews, and became something of a kiss of death for any martial arts film that wanted to be taken seriously by fans. Many wondered what had become of the wide shots and more classical editing style favored by the great Hong Kong movies of yesteryear.

Fast forward to 2014 and shaky-cam has persisted long enough to become something like its own genre; the technique even gained some legitimacy when it was utilized in a James Bond movie (Quantum of Solace). Thus, it’s safe to conclude that shaky-cam is here to stay, whether some fans want it to or not. It’s a style, and like any style it can be utilized well or poorly by filmmakers. It’s how you use it.

All of this to say: if you don’t like ‘shaky cam,’ then the 2013 Korean action/thriller The Suspect is not a movie that will change your mind. While the film is loaded to the gills with plenty of hand-to-hand combat and car chases, they’re delivered in a somewhat claustrophobic, quick-cut style that harkens back to movies like The Bourne Ultimatum and that other recent Korean spy vehicle, The Berlin File.

While this chaotic style may not do the best job of adequately conveying all the time and effort that the fight choreographers no doubt put into the film, the photography and editing in The Suspect certainly do communicate the adrenaline and disorientation the characters must be experiencing – as though the viewers themselves are hurtling over a rooftop alongside lead actor Gong Yoo in one of the film’s many chase sequences

Speaking of Gong Yoo, the actor was greeted with suspicion (no pun intended) upon being cast in the film. As Yoo is considered more of a romantic and comedic leading man, some audience audience members expressed doubt that he was suited for the role of a super serious spy. If this is your first introduction to Gong Yoo, I don’t think you’ll raise an eyebrow; the actor acquits himself nicely by looking as intense as required during dramatic scenes, and suitably ripped for his shirtless torture sequences.

In The Suspect, he plays a North Korean spy who years ago was betrayed by his government handlers. Concealing the deep wounds of his past, his now spends his day as a high-end chauffeur in the South – until a massive political conspiracy puts him in the crosshairs and sends him back into action. From there, The Suspect rarely slows down, as Gong Yoo works to uncover those pulling the strings and stay one step ahead of the government goons and sleeper agents out to silence him.

The Suspect may not exactly innovate this well-worn formula, but it certainly manages to deliver more thrills than, say, 2012′s Damon-less The Bourne Legacy. It’s only during the final act that the film truly falters, as the story keeps going…and going, right as the credits should have rolled. It’s also a shame that the second half of the film finds so little to do for actor Park Hee-soon, who plays the grizzled bad-ass out to catch Gong Yoo – he’s the Tommy Lee Jones to Gong’s The Fugitive, if you will. Unfortunately, the actor is almost too good at his job; about halfway through the picture, it’s as though the filmmakers sensed Hee-soon was stealing the spotlight from their leading man Gong Yoo and decided to sideline him for the remainder of the movie.

Still, for the majority of its runtime, The Suspect is a damn entertaining time at the movies. If it doesn’t reach the heights of some of the other movies of its kind – for instance, the modern Korean classics The Yellow Sea or The Man From Nowhere - it’s likely the fact that it’s a bit too derivative for its own good; even the soundtrack sounds like a riff on John Powell’s score for The Bourne Identity.

And it must be said: sure, the frantic camerawork and editing are all well and good at connoting the hyper-kinetic situations our hero finds himself in…but at the end of the day, us martial arts buffs would rather be able to catch every single blow. Don’t blame us: it’s just the way we’re wired.

HKFanatic’s Rating: 7/10

Posted in Korean, News, Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Himizu | Blu-ray & DVD (Olive Films)

Himizu | Blu-ray & DVD (Olive Films)

Himizu | Blu-ray & DVD (Olive Films)

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014

Olive Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 2011′s Himizu, directed by Sion Sono (Cold Fish, Love Exposure).

Based on Minoru Furuya’s best selling manga of the same name, Himizu follows two teenagers (Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido) living a dystopian existence in post-tsunami Japan who embark on a campaign of violence against evil wrong doers. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Himizu from Amazon.com today!

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

First killer trailer for Donnie Yen’s ‘Kung Fu Jungle’

"Kung Fu Jungle" Theatrical Poster

"Kung Fu Jungle" Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Kung Fu Jungle (aka Kung Fu KillerOne Person’s Martial Arts Circle; or The Last of the Best) is the title of an upcoming project from martial art sensation Donnie Yen. This high-octane action thriller will reunite Donnie Yen with his Bodyguards & Assassins director Teddy Chen as well as his Iceman Cometh 3D co-star Wang Baoqiang.

Plotwise, the movie follows Donnie Yen as a top-notch martial arts instructor at the Hong Kong Police Academy who is imprisoned for accidentally killing a man. Yen may not be able to stay behind bars for long as shortly after his arrest, a deranged killer (Wang Baoqiang) begins targeting the best and brightest martial arts fighters in Hong Kong.

The premise sounds ripe for yet another rip-roaring Donnie Yen picture in the vein of Flash Point. Color us excited!

Update: Here’s the first teaser poster (then-titled Last of the Best) for the film to celebrate the fact that the movie has entered principal photography while Donnie is on a break from shooting Iceman Cometh. | Head over to HKSAR for a pack of photos of Donnie Yen in action. | Promotional poster.  | In addition to Yuen Bun (Legend of Zu, The Blade) serving as co-action choreographer with Donnie Yen, it’s been announced that Fan Siu-wong (Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, Ip Man) and Xing Yu (Wrath of Vajra, Flash Point) will be making special appearances. | Kung Fu Jungle’s official plot, click here!

Guess who’ll have a fight with Donnie Yen? The answer: Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan (writer of Yen’s 1998 film Ballistic Kiss). In fact, as Matt Oldham and DiP pointed out, this marks the 3rd time Logan and Yen will go toe-to-toe in a movie. Their first onscreen encounter was in 1994′s Circus Kids, then they went at it again in the last episode of 1995′s Fist of Fury TV series. Here’s a behind-the-scenes photo of Logan getting tatted up.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the 1st trailer! Also, the film’s release date has now been set to October 31. – Thanks to DiP!

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Tony Jaa to join Stephen Fung’s ‘Kickboxer’ remake?

"Kickboxer" Japanese DVD Cover

"Kickboxer" Japanese DVD Cover

THE MOVIE: Radar Pictures is rebooting 1990′s Kickboxer with Hong Kong action director Stephen Fung (Tai Chi Zero) at the helm. The original - which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michel Qissi - was directed by Mark DiSalle (The Perfect Weapon) and David Worth (Lady Dragon).

Newcomer Alain Moussi (see his photo) will be the film’s lead. In addition, WWE star Dave Bautista (The Man with the Iron Fists) and UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) have also joined the cast. The film is being written by Jim McGrath (1990′s Elvis TV series) and Dimitri Logothetis (Wings of the Dragon).

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.

Update: In a recent interview with Timeout.com.hk (via M.A.A.C.), Stephen Fung has spilled some details about his upcoming Kickboxer remake. Much like the original, Fung’s movie will be called Kickboxer, be shot in English, and take place in Thailand. If you’re holding your breath for a Van Damme cameo… you may be in luck (when asked about a Van Damme cameo, Fung replied: “Maybe… nothing is confirmed just quite yet.”). | Photo of Alain Moussi, with fight choreographer Larnell Stovall, preparing for his role. Also in the photo, is his Kickboxer promo pack from the Cannes film festival.

BREAKING NEWS: Film Combat Syndicate reports that Tony Jaa has been offered the role of the master who trains Kurt Sloan. In the 1989 original, the character was portrayed by Dennis Chan.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Deal on Fire! All Men Are Brothers | Blu-ray | Only $9.96 – Expires soon!

"All Men Are Brothers" Blu-ray Cover

"All Men Are Brothers" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 1975′s All Men Are Brothers (aka Seven Soldiers of Kung Fu), directed by Chang Cheh (Five Element Ninjas).

This sequel to the The Water Margin sports an all-star cast that includes David Chiang (Taxi Driver), Ti Lung (Five Shaolin Masters), Chen Kuan Tai (Young People), Danny Lee (I Love You, Bruce Lee), Michael Chan and many more! If you want a blood-drenched classic by one of the best filmmakers that ever lived, seek this out.

Order All Men Are Brothers from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | Leave a comment

R.I.P. Panna Rittikrai, action choreographer, director

1984's "Born to Fight" Poster

1984's "Born to Fight" Poster

Media outlets are reporting the death of Panna Rittikrai, who left behind an impressive film resume, most notable, his groundbreaking choreography work in Ong-Bak (2003), which is considered one of the finest martial arts movies of all time. According to sources, Rittikrai passed away, due to an unnamed disease, including liver failure, on July 19, 2014, at the age of 53.

During his integral contribution to the Thai film industry, Rittikrai staged the action in films like Born to Fight (2004) and Chocolate (2008); acted in the original Born to Fight (1984) and Dynamite Warrior (2006); and even helmed Bangkok Knockout, as well as co-directing Ong-Bak 2 (2008) and Ong-Bak 3 (2010), with Tony Jaa.

Our condolences go out to Rittikrai’s family and friends.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist | Blu-ray & DVD (Funimation)

"Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist" Film Poster

"Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist" Film Poster

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

Funimation presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist. Watch Ken, Ryu, Akuma and many other of your favorite characters from Capcom’s Street Fighter video game come to life! Originally released as a 12-episode web series by Machinima, Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist will now be showcased as a 143 minute, full length film, with 13 minutes of bonus footage not seen in the web series.

Why watch the series on your computer screen, when you can watch it in full HD and without interruptions? Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles | 2 Comments

The Constable (2013) Review

"The Constable" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Constable" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Dennis Law
Writer: Dennis Law
Producer: Dennis Law
Cast: Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Maggie Siu, Sam Lee, Lo Hoi Pang, Ken Lo, Niu Meng Meng, Maggie Li, Nick Zy Yi, Mia Chan Jing Yi, Eddie Cheung Siu Fai
Running Time: 96 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Everyone who’s a Hong Kong movie fan remembers the golden age of the 1980s. The decade was almost like a storm in a teacup, a relatively small area of land in China which was under British rule, somehow capable of churning out a seemingly unending amount of movies spanning everything from hard hitting action, to spooky horror, to triad dramas. Most of the post-2000 era has been spent with the fans of these movies wistfully hoping that one day that quality, even if it’s not quantity, of movie will return, and that same sentiment also happens to be shared by property investor turned film director Dennis Law.

Law felt that since the post-1997 handover of Hong Kong back to China, Hong Kong movies were losing their sense of identity. So with the best laid intentions, he essentially went on a one-man mission to make movies that bring it back. His filmography reads like a checklist of HK genre favorites – Fatal Contact and Bad Blood provide the straight up modern day kung-fu fix, Womb Ghosts dishes out the black magic horror tropes, ‘Fatal Move’ is the violent triad epic, and Vampire Warriors is the kung-fu horror comedy. Or at least, that’s what they’re all supposed to be.

The main problem with Law, both as a director and a writer, is that he’s not particularly good at either. His scripts are clunky and laden with unnecessary exposition, and his direction is usually flat and lifeless. Thankfully in most cases though, the subject matter is just enough to override the technical incompetence, with an impressive fight scene or an undead baby never too far away to distract us from the fact that what we’re watching is, in fact, pretty bad.

Law had his hand in making movies back to back from 2005 to 2010, however after that things went quiet, until 3 years later he re-emerged with his latest effort – The Constable. Once again Law is both writer and director, and as with his previous efforts, he fills the cast with plenty of familiar HK faces. Simon Yam plays the title of the piece, backed up by the likes of Lam Suet, Sam Lee, and Ken Lo. Surprisingly, The Constable, despite its title, is neither an action movie nor a triad thriller. Instead, we get a HK cop drama, following the life of Yam’s constable as he balances his daily routine of being a single father looking after a son who has downs syndrome (plus a hole in his heart, just for good measure), with his duties as a cop in the transportation department.

This might not sound particularly engrossing, but then, have you ever tried to sell a movie like Chungking Express to someone by describing the plot? Probably not, and many consider it to be the best HK movie ever made. The secret to a good drama is the execution, but of course no one is ever going to confuse Dennis Law with Wong Kar Wai, and this becomes evident very quickly with The Constable. Very, very quickly. Despite having Yam in the titular role, the idea of Law directing a drama he wrote himself was always going to be a losing battle, a bit like asking a 5 year old to compose a classical masterpiece. Sure enough at the end of the first half hour not much has happened except for a series of drawn out shots involving Yam catching a bus, sitting on the bus, getting off the bus, preparing a meal for his son (that involves a series of never ending static shots watching him chop up vegetables), brushing his sons teeth etc. etc. It goes on and on.

This plotless meandering can be pulled off under the skillful direction of someone like Wong Kar Wai or Ann Hui, but here the details are dull and meaningless, the lack of anything really being said by the scenes only drawing more attention to the lack of talent behind them. Somewhere in-between an attempt at a flimsy plot is introduced, the carer who looks after Yam’s son has a boyfriend, played by Sam Lee, who gets caught up with some gangsters led by Ken Lo, who turn out to be planning (surprise, surprise) a bank heist. Of course Yam gets involved somewhere along the way, and things plod lifelessly towards one of the most unexciting shootouts committed to film in recent years.

Throughout the movie Yam’s character is unwaveringly perfect, to the point where a more fitting title would have been The Saint. Cops on the beat stop in awe when he prevents a girl from being mugged, proclaiming “Could a traffic cop be that brave?” Not soon after this incident, he walks into a public toilet and stumbles upon yet another crime in progress, giving him another chance to do good and pull off some sub-par HK style choreography. It’s like crime simply finds Yam’s character of the constable, or it could just be that lazy scripts have a tendency to find Yam the actor. In another example of poor execution, a junior cop watches Yam running around a track to get fit and shooting off some rounds. In the next scene, the junior cop is doing exactly the same in almost identical shots. We get it, he’s been inspired by Yam’s shining determination to be the best cop he can be, but does it really need to be this blatant?

The brief sudden bursts of action only serve to drive home what a misguided effort The Constable is. Mid-way though there’s a foot chase involving Yam & Suet in pursuit of a thief and what’s believed to be the thief’s victim. The chase ends up on the edge of a rooftop for no conceivable reason other than for Yam to prove how far his character is willing to go in pursuit, while amusingly the hefty Suet is given an elevator fight scene with a woman in high heels. While the outcome of both Yam and Suet’s scenes point to something interesting being developed for the story, especially with the appearance of a bag filled with cash, as soon as the scene finishes it’s never touched on again and seemingly forgotten about.

There’s really not a lot to recommend The Constable. It gets points for being a Cantonese spoken movie in the ever increasing Mandarin mainland market, and its setting of Shenzhen, out near the borders of the New Territories, give the movie a refreshing look over the countless HK central set action movies that seem to dominate the big releases these days. However these are small glimmers of light in an otherwise painfully dull 100 minutes, and ultimately if Law is going to keep on making movies, he’d be better off filling them with fight scenes and hopping vampires, which while not particularly high brow, are at least entertaining.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 3/10

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Deal on Fire! Romeo Must Die | Blu-ray | Only $8.48 – Expires soon!

"Romeo Must Die" Blu-ray Cover

"Romeo Must Die" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 2000′s Romeo Must Die, starring Jet Li, Aaliyah, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong and Delroy Lindo.

Romeo Must Die is not only Jet Li’s first starring role in a Hollywood movie (after portraying the impressive portrayal of villain Wah Sing Ku in 1998′s Lethal Weapon 4), it’s also Andrzej Bartkowiak’s (Exit Wounds) directorial debut, who is mostly known for his cinematography work in films such as 1981′s Prince of the City and 1994′s Speed.

Order Romeo Must Die from Amazon.com today!

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New poster and pack of kickass photos of Tony Jaa in ‘Sha Po Lang 2′

"SPL 2" Promotional Poster

THE MOVIE: A $23 million sequel to SPL or Sha Po Lang, is in pre-production. The martial arts film was released in North America under the title Kill Zone and helped provide a boost to Donnie Yen’s and Sammo Hung’s popularity, before they collaborated again three years later on 2008′s Ip Man.

Despite a Category III rating (essentially the Chinese equivalent of the NC-17), SPL proved successful in Hong Kong theaters.

Updates: Film Business Asia reports that SPL 2 has been granted a greenlight by the Chinese film board. The film is now allowed to enter production. All that’s known is that the movie is a ‘thematic sequel.’

Donnie Yen will no longer be in SPL 2. The movie is now also being helmed by Soi Cheang (Motorway) with Wilson Yip (Ip Man) serving as producer. For now, Sammo Hung, Wu Jing, Andy On and Francis Ng may still be onboard.

Twitch reports that SPL 2 will star Tony Jaa opposite Wu Jing. Dion Lam (Red Cliff) will be involved in the stunt work and Terrence Cheung (taking over for Soi Cheang) will be directing the feature with Wilson Yip’s involvement. Shooting begins in Thailand, China and Hong Kong in early Spring of 2014. Film Combat Syndicate has a video with Jaa having fun with the SPL 2 team.

According to Film Business Asia’s Kevin Ma, SPL 2′s plot involves “a Thai prison guard who needs to free an undercover cop who can save his daughter’s life.” | Simon Yam will be back as the same character from the first film. John Zhang Jin (The Grandmaster) has also been added to the cast. | SPL 2 is expected to start principal photography in the beginning of May in Hong Kong. | Set photo of Tony Jaa in uniform. | 2nd promotional poster, thanks to Keung.

According to THL, the full title of SPL 2 will be SPL 2: A Time For Consequences. Here’s the main cast that was showcased during a recent press conference: Tony Jaa (Tom Yum Goong 2), Louis Koo (Flash Point), Wu Jing (SPL), Simon Yam (Fatal Move), Zhang Jin (The Grandmaster) and Babyjohn Choi (Black and White). Click here to see press release photo. - Thanks to hktopten

BREAKING NEWS: Actor Wu Jing recently tweeted this new poster for the film. | Also, you can enjoy a pack of new photos of Tony Jaa from Sha Po Lang 2, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate.

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Krull | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Krull | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Krull | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2014

Mill Creek Entertainment presents the Blu-ray for 1983′s Krull, directed by Peter Yates (Bullitt). This British-American, fantasy-science fiction film follows a prince and a fellowship of companions who set out to rescue his bride from a fortress of alien invaders who have arrived on their home planet.

Krull stars Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones and an early appearance by Taken’s Liam Neeson. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Krull from Amazon.com today!

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Gary Daniels’ ‘Bullpen Fight Club’ is now called ‘Rumble’

"Bloodmoon" DVD Cover

"Bloodmoon" DVD Cover

Gary Daniels (Tekken) fanatics must be creaming their pants by now. The martial star has a string of upcoming films that include Tekken: Kazuya’s RevengeSkin Traffik, Zero Tolerance and Misfire. Today, we announce yet another action film titled Bullpen Fight Club.

Bullpen Fight Club revolves around an aging and injured former MMA champ (Daniels) who is forced back into a deadly Mexican underground fight circuit to save is girlfriend who is kidnapped by a mysterious cartel leader and criminal mastermind. Watch the teaser trailer.

Update: The film is now called Rumble, thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

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Blue Thunder | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Blue Thunder | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Blue Thunder | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2014

Mill Creek Entertainment presents the Blu-ray for 1983′s Blue Thunder, directed by John Badham (War Games). Roy Scheider stars in this action thriller as a police officer pilot battling government fanatics planning to misuse an experimental attack helicopter (a high-speed, high-tech chopper that can see through walls, record a whisper or level a city block).

Blue Thunder would later inspire a 1984 TV series of the same name. The film stars Roy Scheider, Warren Oates, Candy Clark, Daniel Stern, Paul Roebling and Malcolm McDowell. Watch the trailer!

Pre-order Blue Thunder from Amazon.com today!

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The Naked Face | Blu-ray & DVD (Kino Video)

"The Naked Face" Japanese VHS Cover

"The Naked Face" Japanese VHS Cover

RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2014

Kino Video presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1984′s The Naked Face, directed by Bryan Forbes (1975′s The Stepford Wives). For some inexplicable reason, a Chicago psychiatrist (Roger Moore) is the target of a gang of sinister killers. As his assailants move in for the kill, the doctor finds that he must face his adversaries alone in a deadly final showdown.

In between Octopussy and A View to a Kill, Moore took a break from the James Bond franchise to star in this violent murder mystery from Cannon Films Group. Watch the trailer.

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

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Teens turns to violence in Han Yun Sun’s ’18: Eighteen Noir’

"18: Eighteen Noir" Korean Teaser Poster

"18: Eighteen Noir" Korean Teaser Poster

For those who enjoy gritty adolescent films like Friend and Crows Zero should take note of an upcoming South Korean flick titled 18: Eighteen Noir, helmed by first time director/writer, Han Yun Sun.

18: Eighteen Noir follows a high school student named Dong Do (Lee Jae-eung of The Host) who befriends Hyun Seung (Cha Yeop) and his gang of bullies. Their knack for rebellion and violence attracts him, but things get ugly for Dong Do when he falls for Yeon Hee (Seo Joo-ah), a beautiful female that’s claimed by the clique.

18: Eighteen Noir opens domestically in August 2014. We’ll be on the lookout for the trailer! - Thanks to Han Cinema

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Batman: The Complete TV Series | Blu-ray (Warner)

Batman: The Complete TV Series | Blu-ray (Warner)

Batman: The Complete TV Series | Blu-ray (Warner)

RELEASE DATE: November 2014

Warner presents the Batman: The Complete TV Series (1966–1968) on Blu-ray! Wealthy entrepreneur Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his ward Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) lead a double life: they are actually the crime fighting duo Batman and Robin. A secret Batpole in the Wayne mansion leads to the Batcave, where Police Commissioner Gordon often calls the Bat-duo with the latest emergency threatening Gotham City!

Also included are the Batman/The Green Hornet cross-over episodes, featuring Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon) and Van Williams!

Pre-order the Batman: The Complete TV Series from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Other Notable Titles | Tagged | 9 Comments

Don’t get bitten by a pig in Kim Seok-jung’s ‘Zombie School’

"Dawn of the Dead" Japanese Poster

"Dawn of the Dead" Japanese Poster

With upcoming titles like Maggie, Life After Beth and a possible World War Z sequel, the zombie genre is alive and well. Now, a South Korean zombie flick is on the verge of being released… George Romero, move over! Get ready for Kim Seok-Jung’s Zombie School!

Here’s the plot: Jung-sik (Baek Seo-bin) is a troublemaker and a bully, so he’s transferred to reformatory school, located on a lonely island where diseased pigs are buried alive. But when one of the pigs escapes a pit and rage fully attacks the teachers, the school becomes a zombie union! Now, Jung-sik and his friends have to survive or become zombies themselves! - Thanks to Kobiz

Stay tuned for a release date and a trailer. Until then, here’s a pack of photos, courtesy of Han Cinema.

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Meteor | Blu-ray & DVD (Kino Lorber)

Meteor | Blu-ray & DVD (Kino Lorber)

Meteor | Blu-ray & DVD (Kino Lorber)

RELEASE DATE: September 16, 2014

Kino Lorber presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1979′s Meteor, directed by Ronald Neame (The Poseidon Adventure). Sean Connery (Goldfinger) leads a team of asteroid-battling astronomers in Meteor, one of the last and most unusual examples of the disaster movie craze of the 70s. In this one, a killer asteroid named Orpheus threatens to collide with the Earth, and Connery must come up with a plan to stop it.

Meteor also stars Karl Malden, Martin Landau, Natalie Wood, Richard Dysart, Henry Fonda, Hank Fonda and Trevor Howard. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Meteor from Amazon.com today!

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Cityonfire.com’s ‘Dragonwolf’ Blu-ray Giveaway!

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

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

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of Patrick Kazu Tang’s Dragonwolf to three lucky Cityonfire visitors.

To enter, simply add a comment to this post with your answer to the following question: In your opinion, what’s the most overrated martial arts movie of all time? Please explain. 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 cityonfire.com’s Facebook by clicking here.

The Blu-ray & DVD for Dragonwolf will be officially released on July 29, 2014, so we will announce the 3 winners on this date and ship out the prizes immediately.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by July 28, 2014 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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‘Death Race 2′ director helms RZA’s ‘Man with the Iron Fists 2′

"Man with the Iron Fists" Japanese DVD Cover

"Man with the Iron Fists" Japanese DVD Cover

RZA’s long-in-the-making kung fu homage The Man With the Iron Fists was a divisive film for action buffs, to say the least. Needless to say the general consensus is that the movie did not live up to its potential – and RZA is a better director than he his actor.

If you thought that RZA showed potential as a filmmaker, you may be in luck. Impact suggests that Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand sales on the movie have been solid, despite a poor performance in theaters. This has re-ignited Universal Pictures’ hopes for a possible direct-to-DVD (and On Demand) sequel, which the ending of the first film certainly left room for.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Impact (via KFC), a sequel titled Man with the Iron Fists 2: The Sting of the Scorpion has been shot. RZA is back as the star and scriptwriter, but this time around, Roel Reine (Death Race 2) is taking over the director’s chair. Dustin Nguyen (Once Upon a Time in Vietnam), Cary Tagawa (Tekken), Carl Ng (The Viral Factor), Ocean Hou (Man of Tai Chi) and Simon Yin (Supercapitalist) all have roles. Andrew Lin and Grace Huang are returning as the “Gemini Twins” from the original The Man With the Iron FistsMan with the Iron Fists 2: The Sting of the Scorpion is set to be released at the end of the year. We’ll keep you updated!

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