Samurai Cop | Blu-ray (Cinema Epoch)

Samurai Cop | Blu-ray (Cinema Epoch)

Samurai Cop | Blu-ray (Cinema Epoch)

RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2014

Cinema Epoch presents the Blu-ray for 1991′s Samurai Cop. Detective Frank Washington (Mark Frazer) and Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) team up to take on the Yakuza in this 1991 cult classic. Watch the trailer.

Directed by the late Amir Shervan (Killing American Style), Samurai Cop found a whole new audience during its midnight theatrical circuit and film festival re-release. Its resurgence prompted producers Rich Mallery and Gregory Hatanaka to start production on an upcoming sequel, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance.

Pre-order Samurai Cop from Amazon.com today!

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Pre-order David Lam’s ‘Z-Storm’ at DDDhouse.com

"Z Storm" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Z Storm" Chinese Theatrical Poster

DDDHouse.com now has David Lam’s Z-Storm on Blu-ray & DVD for an August 21st pre-order. The film stars Louis Koo (Accident), Lo Hoi-pang (Dream Home), Michael Wong (Nightfall), Gordon Lam (Triad Election) and Liu Kai-chi (The Stool Pigeon).

Directed by veteran Hong Kong filmmaker David Lam (Magnificent Team), Z Storm involves the ICAC, Hong Kong’s 40-year-old anti-corruption body, in a three-way conflict among the police and the government. Producer John Chong compares the film to Fox’s TV series 24, while others are comparing it to Infernal Affairs.

Be sure to check out the film’s trailer.

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Dragonwolf (2013) Review

"Dragonwolf" International Theatrical Poster

"Dragonwolf" International Theatrical Poster

Director: Raimund Huber
Writer: Raimund Huber, Johan Kirsten
Producer: Chariyawan Tavoranon
Cast: Kazu Patrick Tang, Johan Kirsten, Macha Polivka, David Winters, Guk Srisawat, Stephen Thomas, Bonnie Zellerbach, Sunanta Yousagoon, Janissa Charoenrach, Vincent Kinne
Running Time: 120 min.

By Dirac

From Raimund Huber – the director of Kill ‘Em All (2012) and Bangkok Adrenaline (2009) – comes Dragonwolf, a Thai-produced, English language martial arts film about two friends who meet on the street as kids, and work their way up the ranks of a local criminal empire in a fictional city known as Devil’s Cauldron.

Julius (Johan Kirsten) befriends Mozart (Kazu Patrick Tang, who also served as fight choreographer and stunt coordinator) and takes him under his wing. Julius teaches Mozart self defense, as well as the use of weapons. The two soon make a name for themselves as effective enforcers. However, trouble ensues when they begin vying for the hand of the same woman.

Weird dubbing: ✓
Occasionally confusing continuity: ✓
Decent soundtrack: ✓

Pretty standard stuff, but there are a few things that bothered me. I know that it’s a Thai production, but the fact that EVERY character was dubbed made the dialog delivery seem awkward. As far as I can tell, the actors originally delivered their lines in English, but everyone was still dubbed. For example: in one scene, Julius’ tall and slender lackey (I think his name was Brutus) was obviously overacting his lines, and the dubbing of the voice made the overacting even more pronounced! The result is pretty hilarious, which I doubt was intentional.

The action choreography was shabby and inconsistent. For instance, Mozart seems to be capable of battling waves of bad guys and comes out the other side more or less intact; at other times, he’ll sustain a seemingly trivial flesh wound that would knock him out. I suppose one could say the same thing about Special ID (2013), but Dragonwolf takes the concept to new level.

I’m hesitant to use the word ‘copied,’ but at the very least, some fight scenes were inspired by Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). Aside from the hordes of stock bad guys, Mozart would occasionally fight unique villains that actually had speaking lines (the two Russian guys, for instance), but the dialog was so silly that it got tiresome quickly. The ‘fight hordes of bad guys’ formula works really well in films like The Raid 2 (2014), but that movie had good writing, direction, cinematography, and editing on its side.

In terms of continuity, some things felt like they were tacked on; I won’t give away these plot points, but toward the end of the film, there’s a Deus Ex Machina plot device, as well as a twist that left me shaking my head. They could’ve been trying too hard or taking themselves too seriously, but these moments had a jarring effect that made me wonder: what went on during writing and pre-production? Also, it helps to be careful when using flashbacks liberally. I’m no filmmaker, but isn’t there a right and wrong way to intersperse flashbacks? At times, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a flashback or not.

I won’t criticize this film because it had a small budget, but the sets mostly consist of dilapidated buildings. If I didn’t already know the film was shot in Thailand, I would’ve guessed that the production crew chose a series of abandoned auto factories in Detroit. Maybe heavy industry in Devil’s Cauldron had fallen on hard times, due to an economic downturn or something? But, I digress. I did like the ambient soundtrack; I thought that its application per scene fit well, and didn’t feel discontinuous like the plot did at times.

I’ll wrap it up by saying that with a little more time and TLC, this film could’ve been better. I can see that the writer and director probably put considerable effort into it, but with odd post-production choices (dubbing!) and sloppy writing, Dragonwolf fell flat.

Dirac’s Rating: 4/10

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Denzel f*cks sh*t up in the new TV Spot for ‘The Equalizer’

"The Equalizer" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Equalizer" Japanese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Replacement Killers), The Equalizer will be loosely based on the 1980′s TV show about a sophisticated former government agent (Denzel Washington) atoning for the sins of his past by righting the wrongs of a flawed legal system. The script is written by Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2). Catch The Equalizer in theaters on September 26, 2014.

Updates: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) were attached to direct, but both dropped out due to scheduling and creative conflicts. | Collider reports that Carrie’s Chloe Grace Moretz has landed the female lead opposite Denzel Washington. | Teaser poster. | 1st trailer. | 2nd trailer. | Japanese poster.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new TV Spot.

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Lucy (2014) Review

"Lucy" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Lucy" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Producer: Virginie Silla
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpheth
Running Time: 89 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Back in the 1990’s Luc Besson was considered to be in the top tier of action directors, infusing his movies like La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element with a distinctive European style and intelligence, while also delivering a unique action aesthetic. It was in the post-2000 era though that Besson really caught the attention of martial arts movie fans, not as a director, but as the guy who wrote and produced some of the best western martial arts movies of the time.

It was Besson that gave us Jason Statham in The Transporter and its sequels, marking the Brit as the go-to man for no nonsense action movies that he still carries the flag for even now. It was Besson that gave us Jet Li’s best English language movies with Kiss of the Dragon and Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog). It was Besson that introduced the world to Parkour in the movie District B13, and it was Besson that convinced us all that Liam Neeson could be a man with “a very specific set of skills” in Taken.

Besson continued to also direct, including the 2011 biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, which saw Michelle Yeoh stepping into the role of Burma’s inspirational fighter for democracy. However it was arguably the movies that he was indirectly involved with rather than his own that received the most attention internationally. So, with the news that he would be both writing and directing Lucy, the tale of an American female living in Taiwan, who’s forced to become a drug mule by having packets of a dangerous new substance surgically planted in her stomach, only to fight back, he had our attention.

Scarlett Johansson would be playing the pivotal role of Lucy, having recently got to flex her action muscles as the Black Widow in both The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. She’d be ably backed up by Morgan Freeman, who himself had starred in the Luc Besson scripted Jet Li movie Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog), and the most exciting news for fans of Asian cinema was that Korean actor Choi Min-sik would be playing the villain of the piece. Min-sik will be most recognizable to western audiences as the main character from 2003’s Oldboy, however he essentially makes any movie he’s in worth watching, most recently as the legendary Korean admiral Yi Sunshin in the period epic The Admiral: Roaring Currents.

So, all the ingredients are there for 90 minutes of vintage Besson – the strong female lead which promised to echo the likes of Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita. The gritty urban setting of Leon: The Professional mixed with the sci-fi concepts in The Fifth Element. All topped off with the Asian influence that Besson has clearly shown a strong love for over the past decade.

The story of Lucy is as initially simple as previously mentioned. She’s an American living in Taiwan, and after the boyfriend she’s only been dating for a week convinces her to drop off a mysterious suitcase to Mr. Jang, played by Min-sik, she’s sedated and wakes up to be told she has a packet of a new drug called CPH4 planted in her stomach. She’s given her passport and told to go back to the US, where she’ll be picked up by some of Min-sik’s lackeys and have the packet removed, at which point she’ll be free to go. Along the way though, things go wrong when she’s assaulted by a pair of thugs, and after a violent confrontation the packet tears inside her, unleashing the drug into the bloodstream, which leads to her being the first human to be able to utilize 100% of their brain capacity.

It’s the stuff of B-movie goodness, but it becomes clear from the start the Besson is aiming much higher than a run of the mill action flick. After a 2001: A Space Odyssey style opening, the whole scene of Lucy being taken is juxtaposed with a deer being hunted by a leopard. It’s obviously supposed to be very symbolic, but the imagery comes across as a little goofy. Depending on how much you buy into the movies concept of how time and evolution is all connected (or something like that) will largely determine how you enjoy the rest of it. I say this because you also have an awful lot of Morgan Freeman lecturing on the human brain capacity and the history of humankind, which treats us to more symbolic juxtaposition of erupting volcanoes, rocket launches, and animals humping each other.

Thankfully for those who are a little lost, it regularly flashes across the screen the exact percentage of how much of Lucy’s brain capacity has been utilized, kind of like an idiots guide to all the philosophical mumbling. Lucy of course eventually realizes that something unique is happening to her, and as she strolls into a Taiwan hospital with gun in hand, something which not a single person seems to notice, she orders the doctors to take the drugs out of her. In one of many scenes which threaten to be laughable, she proceeds to call her mother in the US while the surgeon slices open her stomach, and gives a rather bizarre speech about how she can remember the taste of her mother’s breast milk and the feeling of her bones growing. Luckily just like all of the people who have just witnessed Lucy strolling through the hospital with a gun, her mother is remarkably unfazed by all of these revelations.

I guess it was at this point that I kind of gave up on Lucy. It’s an extremely silly movie, which could well be enjoyed, but the silliness is handled in such a heavy handed and serious way that it sucks all the fun out of it. Lucy herself is not a particularly likeable character, she’s been dating a guy who’s obviously an idiot, she shoots a poor taxi driver in the leg just for saying he doesn’t speak English (in the middle of Taiwan!), and even kills a hospital patient, which she justifies by saying he had a brain tumor which he wouldn’t have survived anyway. This kind of stuff could have come across as darkly comical, but here it just comes across as unpleasant.

Min-sik also isn’t given a lot to do except scowl and have his hands stabbed, a brutal experience for anyone to go through, but one which he seems to have recovered from in the very next scene he appears in. Most interesting of all though is the direction Lucy takes in its final third, in which instead of making her an unstoppable force of nature, the ending goes for a mix of 2001: A Space Odyssey combined with elements of Akira, as she reaches 100% capacity and we’re treated to all sorts of time travel and CGI assisted silliness. At one point she’s almost eaten by a velociraptor, no joke.

All in all Lucy should have been a breezy 90 minutes of sci-fi B-movie silliness and action. However Besson’s seeming insistence that he was making a bold statement about the nature of humanity too often see it get bogged down in heavy handed exposition and scenes that make little sense, which only stand out more due to its deadly serious tone. While everyone hoped that Lucy would see Besson utilizing 100% of his directing capacity, sadly the final product only looks like he reached 50% at best.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 5/10

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Deal on Fire! The Last Stand | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

The Last Stand Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Last Stand Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for for Kim Jee-Woon’s (I Saw The Devil) The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville.

The leader of a drug cartel (Eduardo Noriega) busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff (Schwarzenegger) and his inexperienced staff. The director of A Bittersweet Life directing the legendary star of Predator? What’s not to love?

Order The Last Stand from Amazon.com today!

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Ron Perlman hopes Stallone taps him for ‘Expendables 4’!

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" Japanese DVD Cover

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" Japanese DVD Cover

With The Expendables 3 currently exploding in theaters, we decided to get going on updates regarding talent (actors, directors, writers, etc.) that have reportedly been approached or have stated interest in being a part of The Expendables 4 or any future installment of the popular action franchise:

Updates: Jean-Claude Van Damme chatted with Expendables Premiere about The Expendables 4. Van Damme openly states that he’s interested, but that it’s ultimately up to Sylvester Stallone if it happens.

Here’s his exact words: “Dear Trevor and the Expendables Premiere fans, I had a great time shooting The Expendables 2 with Mr. Stallone and other big action stars. Mr. Stallone is an inventive man. He may even create a stronger character than Claude Vilain, the twin brother of Jean Vilain. Some fans ask me if the next Vilain – if there’s next– is going to be a good or a bad guy. I would leave it to Mr. Stallone to decide, as I trust his way of imagination. Thank you. – JCVD”

Expendables Premiere notes (via sources from slyitalian.com) that Steven Seagal is close to signing on as the main antagonist. According to the article, Sylvester Stallone is trying to convinced producer Avi Lerner to let bygones be bygones (apparently, Seagal and Lerner had a business disagreement and they haven’t been in good terms ever since; hence, Seagal’s lack of participitation The Expendables 2 or 3). In Addition, Stallone and Lerner will try to convince Jackie Chan to participate in a minor role, hoping that the Chinese actor will put aside his big ego. This is all definitely rumor material, but you never know!

In a recent interview with Shortlist.com (via Expendables Premiere), Pierce Brosnan said: “The offer has come in for the next Expendables. I just worked over in Bulgaria with Avi Lerner who makes them. He said ‘Would you like to be in The Expendables? I’d love to have you’, and I said ‘Why not?’. So we’ll see.” The former James Bond actor added: ”I have no idea which one it would be, I just said ‘Yes’. It could be Expendables 7!”

According to a Collider interview with Stallone, both Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson were both considered: “Well, you know Clint is so involved with what he’s doing, so that’s kind of a pipe dream. I was going to go up to Jack Nicholson and we just got there a little too late cause actually he had said he might be interested in it, so there are still interesting avenues out there. I want to get, if possible, the most unique actors from the past and just put ‘em on there once and for all, if we can. It just seems like an interesting quest to do that, because I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen again; we’re certainly not getting any younger. So we’re very lucky and we’re going to keep going, and it doesn’t automatically mean you have to be an action guy.”

Expendables Premiere reports (via Bulgaria’s Blitz.bg) that Hulk Hogan has joined The Expendables 4. According to the article, Hogan is expected to visit Bulgaria in the autumn to start filming. Considering The Expendables 3 hasn’t even been released yet, we doubt that this news is official. However, it’s not exactly out of the question; after all, Hogan and Sylvester Stallone have remained close friends since 1982, where the two appeared alongside each other in Rocky III. Well, only time will tell…

Thanks to manlymovie.net, we have this info about original Die Hard/Predator director John McTiernan: Empire asked him if he’d be willing to direct another Die Hard movie and/or an Expendables movie. His answer? Yes! “Though in theory he’d be up for doing another Die Hard movie, or an Expendables movie, he hasn’t got time for another dud: DEA versus drug lords actioner Red Squad, which is being reported as his comeback movie, has stalled because he views the current draft as offensive.

During a recent Reddit AMA, here’s what Dwayne Johnson had to say about appearing in an Expendables movie: ”I don’t want to be on their team and be buddies with them… F*ck that noise. I want to hunt every single one of them down and tell them to ‘send your soul to heaven cause your ass is mine.” After hearing what Johnson said, Sylvester Stallone had this to say: “Bring It On.”

According to Expendables Premiere (roughly translated), Sly expressed interest in casting both Christopher Lambert (Highlander) and Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional) for Expendables 4: “I would like Christopher Lambert in Expendables 4 as a good guy. Actually, I thought about it for 3, but there was no more space. Why not Jean Reno to play the villain?”

During a press conference for Expendables 3, a reporter asked Stallone if he planned on continuing to add Asian actors to the cast in future Expendables sequels. Stallone reply: “YES!” He also added that he wanted Jackie Chan to be a part of the third film’s cast, but unfortunately, Chan’s schedule was booked, but he will try again for Part 4.” The next morning, Sly’s words got back to Jackie: “I said, ‘Okay.’ Because they already asked me to be in 2 and 3, but I refused. Well, I didn’t refuse, but I said, ‘Sly, can’t we just do you and me? Not just a bunch of people and me only coming out for five minutes.’ Because then the audience is, ‘Oh!’ And then I’m gone.” - Thanks to Expendables Premiere

BREAKING NEWS: In a recent video posted by Expendables Premiere, Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy) had this to say: ”I’m hoping Stallone taps me on the shoulder one day and says: Okay Ron, you’re 65, why don’t you be in one of these?”

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Chuck Norris: Total Attack Pack | Blu-ray (MGM)

Chuck Norris Total Attack Pack | Blu-ray (MGM)

Chuck Norris Total Attack Pack | Blu-ray (MGM)

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 2014

MGM presents the Chuck Norris: Total Attack Pack Blu-ray set. This 4 disc collection includes some of the best titles of the Norris film catalog:

Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), starring David Carradine and; Missing in Action (1984), starring James Hong; Code of Silence (1985), starring Henry Silva; and The Delta Force (1986), starring Lee Marvin and Robert Forster. All that’s missing is Slaughter in San Francsico (1974)!

Pre-order the Chuck Norris: Total Attack Pack from Amazon.com today!

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Bruce Lee Action Pack | DVD (Echo Bridge)

Bruce Lee Action Pack | DVD (Echo Bridge)

Bruce Lee Action Pack | DVD (Echo Bridge)

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 2014

Echo Bridge presents the Bruce Lee Action Pack DVD set. This 2 disc collection includes the following titles: One Down Two to Go (1976), starring Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly; L.A. Street Fighters (1985) aka Ninja Turf, starring Phillip Rhee; Laser Mission (1989) starring Brandon Lee, Terminal Rush (1996), starring Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Roddy Piper; Fist of Fear, Touch of Death (1980), starring Fred Williamson and Ron Van Clief; Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave (1976); and Blind Fist of Bruce (1979) and The Image of Bruce Lee (1978), both starring Bruce Li.

Pre-order the Bruce Lee Action Pack from Amazon.com today!

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First trailer for Andrew Lau’s ‘Revenge of the Green Dragons’

"Revenge of the Green Dragons" Theatrical Poster

"Revenge of the Green Dragons" Theatrical Poster

Hong Kong filmmakers Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Andrew Loo (It Had To Be You!) have finished filming their first Hollywood film together titled Revenge of the Green Dragons, an upcoming action-drama about Chinese gangs in New York.

It should be noted that Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) is the film’s producer, which is most likely a returned favor from Scorsese to Lau, which goes back to Lau’s 2002′s Infernal Affairs being remade into Scorsese’s 2006′s The Departed.

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

Revenge of the Green Dragons takes place in the 1980s/early 1990s and follows two immigrant brothers who join the Green Dragons gang and quickly rise up the ranks, becoming notorious to the city’s police. When an ill-fated love affair pits one of the brothers against the gang leader, he sets out for revenge on the group. The film is based on a true story, as chronicled by the New Yorker in 1992.

The film is currently in post production with a 2014 target release date. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing a full trailer soon; until then, here’s some set photos as well as a press conference, featuring the directors, actors and other crew members. At the 18:00 mark, there’s a nice little teaser trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the first trailer! According to Collider, Revenge of the Green Dragons will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be available exclusively on DirecTV starting September 11th, followed by a theatrical release in October.

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Edge of Tomorrow | Blu-ray + Blu-ray 3D & DVD (Warner)

Edge of Tomorrow | Blu-ray + Blu-ray 3D & DVD (Warner)

Edge of Tomorrow | Blu-ray + Blu-ray 3D & DVD (Warner)

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 2014

Warner presents the Blu-ray + Blu-ray 3D & DVD for Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow. An officer (Tom Cruise) finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior (Emily Blunt) gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.

The film is based on All You Need Is Kill, a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Edge of Tomorrow from Amazon.com today!

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Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (2014) Review

"Once Upon a Time in Shanghai" International Poster

"Once Upon a Time in Shanghai" International Poster

Director: Wong Ching Po
Writer: Angela Wong
Producer: Wong Jing
Cast: Philip Ng Wan Lung, Andy On Chi Kit, Mao Jun Jie, Sammo Hung Kam Bo, Jiang Lu Xia, Chen Kuan Tai, Yuen Cheung Yan, Fung Hak On, Yolanda Yuan Quan
Running Time: 95 min.

By Paul Bramhall

In a Hong Kong which continues to be starved of performers who can deliver screen presence, charisma, and kung-fu skills, the trend over recent years seem to be to push the talented martial artists that usually take on supporting roles to the fore, making them front and centre and hoping for the best. Wu Jing pulled off directing and leading man duties in 2008’s Legendary Assassin, with only lukewarm results; Xing Yu took top billing in 2013’s Wrath of Vajra, displaying all the screen presence of a rock; and in 2014, Philip Ng was pushed to the forefront for Once Upon A Time in Shanghai.

Just like Wu Jing and Xing Yu, Ng has consistently shone brightly and briefly in his many supporting roles. However, also just like Wu Jing and Xing Yu, the real question here is can he carry a whole movie by himself? Thankfully in Once Upon A Time in Shanghai, he gets to share the screen with a high caliber of Hong Kong talent, both new and old. In many ways the cast is like a roll call of Hong Kong fighting talent – Andy On, Jiang Luxia, Sammo Hung, Chen Kuan Tai, Fung Hak On and Yuen Cheung Yan (who bizarrely sounds like Darth Vader here) are all in the mix, reading like a kung fu fan’s dream.

The story is also reminiscent of the Hong Kong movie industries glory days, as it tells the tale of Ma Wing-Jing, a country bumpkin who comes to 1930’s Shanghai in the hopes of living the big city life in a virtuous and honest manner. The tale has been told in many different formats, including the 1972 Shaw Brothers movie The Boxer From Shantung, in which Wang-Jing is played by Chen Kuan Tai (who also appears in this version), and again in 1997’s Hero, in which the role is taken on by Takeshi Kaneshiro. Both Kuan Tai and Kaneshiro have strong onscreen personas, so Ng has been left with some big shoes to fill, and understandably, he somewhat falters.

The story goes that Ma Wang-Jing comes to Shanghai as an innocent country bumpkin, who eventually falls in with some local gangsters and begins to be corrupted by power, a change which is important to convey in any version of the tale. However here that change isn’t conveyed at all, but this isn’t due to Ng’s acting, we’ll return to that point later. What Ng does convey is a sense of awe at the bright lights of Shanghai, but unfortunately, he seems to confuse acting like a gape jawed idiot as a look which conveys innocence. It doesn’t.

Speaking of the bright city lights, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re not that bright at all, because the movie’s color palette is so washed out that it’s essentially black and white, with only the slightest splashes of color, such as Ng’s jade bracelet or some red lipstick. This color scheme worked in movies like Sin City, but here it just looks a little off, like they should either make it full color or make it completely black and white. On a side note, the original publicity poster which was distributed reflected this color scheme; however, as it neared release, all of the new publicity shots that came out were shown in full color, which was somewhat misleading whichever way you look at it.

This decision was probably a choice of director Wong Ching Po, who’s known for his quirky movies such as Let’s Go! and Revenge: A Love Story. There are times when it does work, and the movie starts off strongly, with Ng displaying his fighting prowess on a boat, and then his first interactions when he arrives in Shanghai. However, the movie is also scripted by Wong Jing, Hong Kong’s master of low brow entertainment. Wong can deliver when he wants to, and in fact some of the sets here look to be the same used on 2013’s excellent The Last Tycoon, which he wrote and directed, however here the story shows signs that he probably wasn’t putting a lot of effort in.

A disturbing amount of randomness seems to enter the movie at various inappropriate moments, most of which involve poor Andy On. A scene suddenly cuts away to him sitting in his living room with a live tiger prowling around, in a moment of manly bonding with Ng, he explains the origin of a hotdog and how the sausage was too slippery to hold bare handed; and to top it all off, he has to frequently break out of character to deliver hysterically fake evil laughter. It’s all very unintentionally funny, and you have to frequently remind yourself that it’s supposed to be a serious movie whenever these moments occur.

Thankfully, unlike some recent movies like The Viral Factor and Naked Soldier, On gets to unleash his fists and feet at regular intervals, here under the choreography of Yuen Woo Ping, the second time they’ve worked together after 2009’s True Legend. On is probably the closest thing Hong Kong has right now to the perfect thespian: he has the looks, the screen presence, and the moves, topped off with perfect English. Ng is the star of the show of course, and he gets plenty of opportunities to also bust out the moves, his mid-film fight with On being a highlight. The choice of camera work is not always the best in the fight scenes, but thankfully, there is a lack of the dreaded shaky-cam, and we get to see that Ng’s skills are undoubtedly the real deal.

There are aspects of the action which will frustrate though, or more specifically, the absence of action by some performers. Jiang Luxia, once heralded as the next Yukari Oshima, continues her decline of being in movies in which she has virtually no lines and even less action. I don’t know why she was even here, as she’s basically a glorified extra. I confess to harboring a secret desire to see a Sammo Hung vs. Chen Kuan Tai match, but it didn’t happen. Without giving too much away, I also found the finishing move Ng pulls off against the first Japanese fighter in the finale to be laugh out loud funny, rather than the ‘wow, that was cool’ reaction it was probably going for.

While on the subject of the Japanese, it brings me back to my point regarding Wang-Jing’s corruption by wealth and power. As I mentioned this part is a crucial change for the character, but of course both The Boxer of Shantung and Hero were made before Hong Kong’s handover back to China, so didn’t need to worry about such things as appeasing the China censorship board. In Once Upon A Time in Shanghai the character Ng portrays is much more two dimensional, and dare I say dull, compared to previous depictions. So instead of being corrupted by power and taking on his own country men in the form of the axe gang, Ng is left stuck with a plot which pits him against, you guessed it – the Japanese! Jet Li fought them in Fearless; Donnie Yen fought them in Legend of the Fist and Ip Man; and Xing Yu fought them in The Wrath of Vajra; but hey, clearly not enough mileage has been traveled with the Japanese villains plot device yet.

While of course this was also par of the course in many of the 1970’s kung fu movies, the in your face nationalism that seems to come packaged with it these days definitely wasn’t, and here once again it’s On who is given the embarrassingly cringe worthy line of yelling out how he’ll never let China be ruled by Westerners or the Japanese. For a simple story of a country bumpkin who comes to make a living in the big city, the jarring but predictable turn of events that make it all about the unwavering Chinese spirit against the Japanese will likely induce a yawn. How much you enjoy the movie will probably come down to balancing a love of fight scenes with a high level of patience. You’ve been warned.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6/10

Posted in Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Schwarzenegger to kill zombies and save ‘Maggie’

"The Last Stand" Japanese DVD Cover

"The Last Stand" Japanese DVD Cover

THE MOVIE: Arnold Schwarzenegger is boarding the zombie genre in a movie called Maggie, which is currently in post-production. Henry Hobson, director of the The Bureau: XCOM Declassified video game trailer, is set to direct from a Black List script by John Scott 3.

According to Variety, Maggie is set in a time when a “walking dead” virus has spread across the country. Schwarzenegger will portray “a father on a journey to help his daughter come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a zombie.”

Kick Ass 2′s Chloe Moretz was in negotiations to play Schwarzenegger’s daughter, but has dropped out, due to her busy schedule.

Updates: THR reports that Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) will be playing Schwarzenegger’s daughter. | Expendables Premiere has some great set photos.

BREAKING NEWS: Collider has a pack of new photos, featuring Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin.

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First trailer for Wong Fei-hung flick ‘Rise of the Legend’

"Rise of the Legend" Teaser Poster

"Rise of the Legend" Teaser Poster

A Chinese martial arts film called Rise of the Legend, is currently wrapping up production. Roy Chow (Nightfall) is directing and Christine To, who co-wrote Jet Li’s Fearless and Vincent Zhao’s True Legend, is listed as a scriptwriter. Rise of the Legend will reportedly focus on a younger rendition of real-life folk hero, Wong Fei-hung, played by Eddie Peng (Tai Chi 0).

Throughout many decades in Chinese cinema, Wong Fei-hung – martial artist, physician and revolutionary - has been portrayed by various stars: Kwan Tak-hing played him in dozens of films between 1940 and 1980; Gordon Liu played him in 1976′s Challenge of the Masters and 1981′s Martial Club; Jackie Chan played him Drunken Master Drunken Master 2; and both Jet Li and Vincent Zhao played him in the Once Upon A Time In China series from 1991-1997.

Updates: Two Hong Kong legends have signed on to the film! None other than Sammo Hung (Pedicap Driver) will portray Wong Fei-hung’s mentor, while Corey Yuen (Righting Wrongs) will handle action choreography.

We’ve got your first look at Eddie Peng in the role of Wong Fei-hung, as well as news that Hollywood actor Byron Mann (Ryu in the 90′s Street Fighter movie) will have a role in the picture. | Promotional image from Rise of a Legend has been released, courtesy of Chinatimes.com.

According to Deadline, Universal Pictures International will co-produce Rise of the Legend. They have also acquired all international rights, including North America and excluding Asia. Also, here’s a recent promotional poster.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new film’s new trailer, courtesy of rdenn/dip.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

The Prince | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Prince | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Prince | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

Lionsgate presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Prince. Bruce Willis, John Cusack and Jason Patric face off in this action-packed thriller. A mechanic – and retired assassin – with ties to the underworld is drawn back into the life he gave up when his daughter is kidnapped. To rescue her, he must confront his former rival.

The Prince also stars Jessica Lowndes, Jung Ji-Hoon (aka Rain from R2B and Ninja Assassin), Gia Mantegna, Jonathon Schaech and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Prince from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Other Notable Titles | 3 Comments

Scott Adkins for Patrick Hughes’ ‘The Raid’ remake?

"The Raid" Theatrical Poster

"The Raid" Theatrical Poster

Director Patrick Hughes, who is currently putting finishing touches on The Expendables 3, is set to remake the 2011 Indonesian action film, The Raid.

According to Variety: “While the film may not have the same martial art fighting styles included in this film, Hughes’ background with heavy action should  should satisfy both fans of the originals and auds not familiar with the original films.”

Interestingly enough, while starting production on The Expendables 3 last year, Sylvester Stallone tweeted: “We believe we can do better than the The Raid, which was an excellent film… Raising the bar…”

Gareth Evans, the director of The Raid, commented on Stallone’s tweet in our recent interview with him. Here’s what he had to say: “I prefer to focus on the fact that he praised the film and by singling it out as something he wants to compete with is a major compliment to what we achieved with so little. Sure it’s possible they will succeed, likewise we’re setting out to top the first film with The Raid 2 – and watching the edit, I think we have. None of this is nor should be a competition between filmmakers – when I go out and watch an action movie I hope it’s well made, entertaining and also inspiring to give us ideas on how we can improve our own game. I wish them and anyone else out there making an action film every success, I know personally how f–king hard it is to make these films. So yeah, it’s all good spirited.”

According to The Wrap, Chris and Liam Hemsworth are being eyed for the remake. | For the remake, Hughes has the best wingmen money can buy: Gareth Evans, the director of the original, will serve as executive producer; and its stars and key martial arts choreographers, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, will be staging the hand-to-hand action.

In a recent interview with Crave, Gareth Evans shared his ideas on the remake: “Me on a personal level, I’d f*cking love to see them put Scott Adkins in there. I’m just going to say that right off because I just think he’s great and I’ve wanted to work with him before. For him to be able to get a real, good fucking solid role like that in a studio film where it’s all about gearing up towards martial arts, something that he’s fully capable of, it’d be great. Michael Jai White would be great as well, all these guys. I could geek out about all the guys I want to see in these films and hopefully they get a chance.”

Director Patrick Hughes has opened up about “his take” on his upcoming The Raid remake: “The thing that blew my mind with that film was the aesthetics and the fight sequences but also the simplicity of the premise, and there’s so much you can do with that. So our take on it is really interesting and I feel like if anything what I want to do is elevate the emotional aspect of it…”. In addition, Hughes also talks about the remake’s premise, which will follow a DEA task team that goes on secret Navy SEAL-style missions who work across borders.

Several days ago, Collider (via deadline) reported that The Raid 2 remake would start filming in September. Today, Variety reports that production for the remake has been delayed until the first quarter of 2015. Also, in addition to the rumor of Chris and Liam Hemsworth leading the cast, the following names are now unofficially tied to the project as well: Luke Evans, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo and Ethan Hawke.

Updates: Looks like Frank Grillo (The Grey) is one of the three main stars “officially” attached to The Raid remake. Here’s what Grillo told Collider: “We were officially offered the film, and so that was gonna go in September and now that doesn’t go until January. So, you know, that’s the way the movie business is. You’re officially attached until there is no more movie, you know? But yeah, this is something that I’m planning on doing. Yeah… I’m one of the three main characters and, you know, I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to actually go do it because it’s gonna be Americanized, but not overtly Americanized. It’s really gonna keep a lot of what made the first Raid so great.”

Film Combat Syndicate (via The Wrap) reports that Taylor Kitsch (Battleship) has been offered the lead role in The Raid remake.

BREAKING NEWS: In an interview with The Action Elite (via Film Combat Syndicate), here’s what Patrick Hughes had to say about Scott Adkins appearing in The Raid remake: “Actually, I met with Scott when I was out in Bulgaria doing early pre-production; he was there at the same studio shooting Hercules. I hung with him quite a bit and he’s really an awesome guy. He’s definitely in the mix and we’re in the process of casting now…”

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Deal on Fire! Brothers Five | Blu-ray | Only $9 – Expires soon!

"Brothers Five" Blu-ray Cover

"Brothers Five" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 1970′s Brothers Five, directed by Lo Wei (The Big Boss). This 1970 Shaw Brothers classic stars Cheng Pei-pei (Come Drink With Me), a woman who must reunite the Kao brothers to rid the Teng Lung Manor of killers whilst avenging the murder of their father.

Brothers Five also stars Lo Lieh (Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind), Chang Yi (The Victim), Yueh Hua (Vengeance is a Golden Blade), Kao Yuan (Edge of Fury), Tien Feng (Man Called Tiger), Unicorn Chan (Way of the Dragon) and many more! Get it while it’s cheap!

Order Brother Five from Amazon.com today!

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Companeros | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Companeros | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Companeros | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

Blue Underground presents the Blu-ray for Companeros, written and directed by the legendary Sergio Corbucci (Django, The Great Silence), Companeros is a once-in-a-lifetime teaming of the two greatest European stars in `Spaghetti Western’ history.

Franco Nero (Django), Tomas Milian, Jack Palance and Fernando Rey star in this action-packed comedy classic that also features a remarkable score by Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Companeros from Amazon.com today!

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

Matt Hannon returns in ‘Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance’

"Samurai Cop" Theatrical Poster

"Samurai Cop" Theatrical Poster

25 years ago, they joined forces to take on the Yakuza in Samurai Cop (1991), now Detective Frank Washington (Mark Frazer) and Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) are teaming up once again in Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance! This time their mission is to solve a series of assassinations being committed by a secret group of female vigilante killers.

The original Samurai Cop (1991), directed by the late Amir Shervan (Killing American Style), is a cult classic that found a whole new audience during its midnight theatrical circuit and film festival re-release. Its resurgence prompted producers Rich Mallery and Gregory Hatanaka to start production on a sequel!

In addition to its returning stars (including Gerald Okamura), Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance will also include appearances by George Lazenby (Stoner, On Her Majesties Secret Service), Seymour Cassel (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie), Kristine DeBell (The Big Brawl), Nicole Bailey and adult film stars, Kayden Kross and Lexi Belle.

Although a good portion of Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance’s budget is already in place, additional funding is currently being accepted via the film’s Kickstarter page. Be a part of the production and contribute today! - Thanks to kungfucinema

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Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack | Blu-ray (Universal)

Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack | Blu-ray (Universal)

Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack | Blu-ray (Universal)

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014

Universal presents the Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack Blu-ray set, which includes John Woo’s Hard Target (1993), Jean-Claude Van Damme’s The Quest (1996), Steven E. de Souza’s Street Fighter (1994), Peter Hyams’ Sudden Death (1995) and for the first time on Blu-ray, Sheldon Lettich’s Lionheart (1990).

The Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack is a 5-Disc set, which also contains the Digital Copy of each movie.

Pre-order The Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles | Tagged | 4 Comments

Moebius (2013) Review

"Moebius" International Theatrical Poster

"Moebius" International Theatrical Poster

Director: Kim Ki-Duk
Writer: Kim Ki-Duk
Producer: Kim Ki-Duk, Kim Woo-Taek, Kim Soon-Mo
Cast: Cho Jae-Hyu, Seo Young-Joo, Lee Eun-Woo, Lee Eun-Woo, Kim Jae-Rok and Kim Jae-Hong
Running Time: 88 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Kim Ki-duk has remained one of Korea’s most discussed and controversial directors over the last 15 years. His movies usually portray the dark side of human nature with tales dictated by the sex and violence that permeates through them, often taking on subject matter even the most open minded individual would shy away from.

Ki-duk cranked out a movie every year since his debut with Crocodile in 1996, sometimes even two, however things took an unexpected turn for the worse in 2008 when, while filming Dream, actress Lee Na-young nearly died while filming a scene in which she had to hang herself. On top of this, the distributor for the movie which he wrote and produced, Rough Cut, went bankrupt, which resulted in him not making a single dollar from it.

The combination of his guilt over Na-young’s near death combined with the unexpected blow to his finances sent Ki-duk into a 3 year exile. It was an exile which he wouldn’t return from until 2011, with the autobiographical piece Arirang, a documentary in which Ki-duk plays both the interviewer and interviewee, holed up by himself in a log cabin, in his own attempt to come to terms with the time that had passed. Arirang must have served its purpose, because in 2012 he returned with Pieta, which won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival of the same year, a brutal work which follows a ruthless debt collector who is visited by a mysterious woman claiming to be his mother, who abandoned him as a child.

In 2013 Ki-duk followed up Pieta with Moebius, and even before the movie was given a release date, it seemed that the controversy which he became known for with movies like The Isle and Samaria was back front and center. Upon submitting the movie to the Korea Media Ratings Board, it was given a ‘Restricted’ rating for harmful content. While a movie being given an R rating in the US is not such a big deal, in Korea only specific cinemas can show ‘Restricted’ movies, and at the time of writing there are currently none in the whole country, which effectively made it banned on its home soil. Ki-duk found himself in a dilemma, and in interviews openly expressed that he’d do whatever it takes to get the movie released, not least because the cast and crew would only get paid based on the returns the movie received.

In July 2013, Ki-duk wrote a letter to the board in which he explained how the scenes that were being described as harmful played an essential part of the story, and that in the context of which they’re taking place, make sense. In the letter he explained that if the board still refused to tone down the rating, he would pay the cast and crew himself. While it was never made clear if the second time he re-submitted the movie there were any changes or cuts made to it, the presumption is that it remains the original version, and it appears that Ki-duk must have quite a way with words, as Moebius was indeed granted a release domestically.

So, with all this drama playing out behind the scenes, what of the actual movie itself? The plot of Moebius will probably be enough to turn a lot of people off from the word go. It revolves around the family unit of a father, mother, and son. When the mother captures the father cheating on her one evening, something she’d long suspected, enraged she storms into the bedroom where the father is sleeping and tried to castrate him with a knife. He wakes up just in time to foil her attempt, but while he’s recovering from the (understandable) shock, the still enraged mother barges into the son’s bedroom, and castrates him instead. This is all within the first 15 minutes, and really to say anything more about the remaining 75 would be to spoil the experience.

Another crucial thing to mention about Moebius is that it doesn’t contain a single line of dialogue, there’s not a single word spoken during the whole run time. This may sound remarkably grim and depressing, and there’s no doubt that it is, however Ki-duk seems to realise this, and by putting the most shocking events that take place in the first 15 minutes, the rest of the movie takes us into some surprising, and sometimes even touching, situations. For me Ki-duk’s movies are to a degree hit and miss, when he gets it right his movies are remarkably effecting and unsettling, but on more than one occasion I’ve been of the opinion that he can be rather clumsy when it comes to characters dialogue and interactions with each other. He’s a director that works best when he’s using symbolism, and it should come as no surprise that many consider another one of his best movies to also have minimum dialogue, 2004’s 3-Iron.

So to some extent, Moebius represents Ki-duk embracing his strengths in a way he never has before, by doing away with dialogue all together. It’s amazing then, that while watching the movie this isn’t an issue at all, and in fact it’s one of the contributing factors to the brilliance of Moebius, while never being a gimmick or a distraction. The characters interactions with each other, driven by expressions and glances along with the situations which unfold, all happen naturally, and there’s never any scene which feels like words are needed. Remarkably for a Ki-duk movie, and even more so for the subject matter being dealt with, there’s also a degree of black humor running through various scenes. Despite the desperation of the situation, you can’t help but smile at the scenes when the bond between father and son seems to be growing stronger while they browse through penis transplant websites together. It’s absurd, and it’s that absurdity which the movie doesn’t shy away from which makes it such an achievement.

The two actors and actress who make up the main characters of Moebius deserve kudos for their amazing performances. Jo Jae-hyeon as the father is a world away from his role as the father in 2010’s Thai-Korean co-production The Kick. Jae-hyeon frequently collaborated with Ki-duk on his early movies, however this is the first time they’ve worked together since 2002’s Bad Guy. Lee Eun-woo deserves special mention as she not only plays the mother, but she also plays the part of the woman whom the father is having an affair with, and goes on to play a significant character in the story. She is amazing here, coming across as both dangerous and vulnerable, and Moebius is worth a recommendation for her performance alone. It’s Seo Yeong-joo as the son who steals the show though, after capturing people’s attention in 2012’s Juvenile Offender, here he really makes his mark, and delivers an entirely believable, and very brave, performance, all being just 16 years old.

While the subject matter may put a lot of people off Moebius, it would be a shame because it means they would be missing an amazing movie. There is much more going on than just sex and violence here, which no doubt there is a lot of, but to go into it in any detail is a conversation best saved for after viewing rather than before. It’s best to say that rest assured, Ki-duk has created what is arguably his best movie to date in my opinion, and one that is worth watching by anyone who class themselves as a fan of cinema.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

Posted in Korean, News, Reviews | Tagged | 1 Comment

Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection | DVD (Shout! Factory)

Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection | DVD (Shout! Factory)

Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection | DVD (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the DVD set for The Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection. This 4 film, 2 disc set includes One-Armed Boxer (1972), The Tattooed Dragon (1973), Beach of the War Gods (1973) and Man Called Tiger (1973).

The Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection also features James Tien (Fist of Fury), Lung Fei (Master of the Flying Guillotine), Sylvia Chang (Slaughter in San Francisco), Feng Tien (A Better Tomorrow) and Maria Yi (The Big Boss).

Pre-order The Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection from Amazon.com today!

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

Join Liam Neeson for ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" Theatrical Poster

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" Theatrical Poster

Liam Neeson is back in the kind of mode that audiences have come to love him in: playing a gravelly-voiced tough guy with ‘a particular set of skills.’ This September, Neeson is going for A Walk Among the Tombstones. Despite the Steven Seagal-esque title, this gritty thriller is the latest movie to bring author Lawrence Block’s private detective Matthew Scudder to life. The last Scudder film was 1986′s 8 Million Ways to Die, featuring Jeff Bridges in the role.

Here’s your last bit of trivia: this particular story was almost brought to the silver screen back in 2002 with Harrison Ford in the lead. But the first trailer for A Walk Among the Tombstones is here and it promises plenty of intrigue and atmosphere, which should please Liam Neeson fans who are enjoying the actor’s current renaissance as a man of action. What can we say? Neeson clearly knows how to handle himself in a fight scene.

Updates: Check out the film’s latest poster. It’s sorta like the first poster, only front view.

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Bruce Lee Premiere Collection | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Bruce Lee Premiere Collection | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Bruce Lee Premiere Collection | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: November 11, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray set for the Bruce Lee Premiere Collection, which includes the following four films: The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury (1972), Way Of the Dragon (1972) and Game of Death (1978). Also included are extra features for each individual title.

Please note: This new set includes only the films mentioned above. If you’re interested in the collector’s book, the documentaries and the Bonus Feature DVD, the Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection is still available.

Pre-order The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection from Amazon.com today!

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

August brings Ninjas, Van Damme, Seagal and Asian classics!

Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge | Blu-ray & DVD (ANconnect)

Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge | Blu-ray & DVD (ANconnect)

For those of you looking to expand your Blu-ray & DVD collection, get ready for our latest roll of new releases handpicked by cityonfire.com!

For the month of August, we have an exceptional list of action, martial arts, old school kung fu and Asian horror titles: Ninjas, Van Damme, Seagal, Kosugi, Japanese horror, old school Hong Kong… they’re all here!

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the titles, we’re hoping you’ll click on our Amazon.com links to show your support towards cityonfire.com.

Ninja Apocalypse: August 5, 2014

Millennium Entertainment presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Ninja Apocalypse.  From visual effects director Lloyd Lee Barnett – known for his digital work in films like Avatar, Speed Racer and Spider-man – comes Ninja Apocalypse. This upcoming martial arts film sports an impressive cast that includes Christian Oliver (The Three Musketeers), Ernie Reyes Jr. (The Rundown), Les Brandt, West Liang, Kaiwi Lyman, Tara Macken, Isaac C. Singleton Jr., Antoinette Kalaj, Mark Heidelberger and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat).

Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge: August 12, 2014

ANconnect presents the Blu-ray and DVD for Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge. Kane Kosugi (Choy Lee Fut, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear) stars in this prequel to 2010′s Tekken. Joining Kosugi is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Tekken), Gary Daniels (Skin Traffik) and Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?). Like its predecessor, Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (aka Tekken: A Man Called X) is based on the popular Namco fighting game of the same name.

Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi: August 12, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for 2011′s Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi. A crisis occurs at a High School when the students fall prey to black magic. A student named Misa (Maeda Nozomi) attempts to help them by battling the dark forces with magic that has been passed down in her family for generations. Based on legendary horror manga Eko Eko Azarak and directed by original author, Shinichi Koga.

Swelter: August 12, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Keith Parmer’s action-thriller Swelter, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Van Damme plays a member of a bank robbing gang that manages to steal a cool $100 million before some of them are apprehended by the police. Swelter also stars Josh Henderson, Brad Carter, Alfred Molina and Lennie James.

Seed of Darkness: August 12, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for the 2006 Malaysian-Chinese film Seed of Darkness (aka Nephesh Seed), directed by Michael Chuah (Fist of Dragon). In the tradition of Japanese horror classics The Ring and The Grudge! A woman decides to undergo an “in-vitro fertilization process” in Singapore to have a child of her own. 7 years later, after moving to anew apartment, the child begins to behave oddly and insists she can see the “non-existent” father. Starring Amber Chia, Juin Juin Leong, Vick Teo, Alvin Wong, Sze Sen Wong and Zun Yap.

Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 2: August 19, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the DVD for the Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 2, which contains four classic Golden Harvest movies on two discs. This set includes 1973′s The Fate of Lee Khan with Li Hua Li, Roy Chiao, Feng Hsu, Ying Bai, Feng Tien and Angela Mao; 1974′s The Shaolin Boxers with James Yien; 1977′s The Shaolin Plot with Chan Sing, Cheung Ging Boh and Sammo Hung Kam Bo; and 1975′s The Young Dragons with Cheng Lui, Chiang Nan and Chin Yuet Sang – directed by John Woo!

A Good Man: August 19, 2014

Lionsgate presents the DVD for A Good Man. Steven Seagal re-teams with director/producer Keoni Waxman (Force of Execution) for the 5th time. After an illustrious special ops career ends in disaster, Alexander (Seagal) goes off the grid and attempts to lead a quiet life as a handyman at an apartment complex. But when one of his tenants and her family fall under the thumb of a Russian gangster, Alexander is dragged into an all-out war between rival Chinese and Russian gangs. Tzi Ma (Rapid Fire, Rush Hour, Dark Vengeance), Victor Webster and Massimo Dobrovic also star.

Joker: August 19, 2014

Action Slate presents the DVD for the Kazakh revenge thriller Joker. A man avenges his brother’s death with the help of an otherworldly monk who teaches him the skills to destroy his enemies. Joker stars Vitalij Kischenko, Denis Lituyev and Yerbolat Toguzakov.

Rampage: Capital Punishment: August 19, 2014

Phase 4 Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Uwe Boll’s Rampage: Capital Punishment (aka Rampage 2). It’s the return of violent anti-hero Bill Williamson (Brendan Fletcher). This time he has plans to change the world by exacting vengeance on the rich, and ripping Washington apart! Boll has definitely made some horrible movies in the past, but if you’ve seen 2009′s Rampage or 2013′s Assault on Wall Street, Boll has proven himself to be a competent filmmaker. If Martin Scorsese is the master of gangster film, then Boll is the master of making flicks about people goin’ postal!

Triad: August 26, 2014

Well Go USA presents the DVD for 2012′s Triad, directed by Daniel Chan (Young and Dangerous: Reloaded). Triad follows a college-educated young man (William Chan) who decides to give up the straight and narrow for a life in the Triads. He very quickly ascends the ranks, even as he offends his elders by operating extra-circular businesses. But his entire house of cards might come toppling down when he realizes someone close has betrayed him. Triad also stars Michelle Wai (Girl$), Patrick Tam (Beast Cops), Irene Wan and Derek Tsang (The Thieves).

Vengeance Is Mine: August 26, 2014

Criterion Collection presents the Blu-ray for 1979′s Vengeance Is Mine, directed by Shohei Imamura (Black Rain). A thief, a murderer, and a charming lady-killer, Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) is on the run from the police. Director Imamura turns this fact-based story—about the seventy-eight-day killing spree of a remorseless man from a devoutly Catholic family—into a cold, perverse, and at times diabolically funny examination of the primitive coexisting with the modern. More than just a true-crime tale, Vengeance Is Mine bares humanity’s snarling id.

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‘Terminator Genesis’ now retitled to ‘Terminator Genisys’

"Terminator" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Terminator" Japanese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Skydance Productions, Annapurna Pictures and Paramount Pictures are currently filming a 5th Terminator movie called Terminator: Genesis. The upcoming movie will be directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty).

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

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

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

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

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

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Kundo: Age of the Rampant | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

 Kundo: Age of the Rampant | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Kundo: Age of the Rampant | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray and DVD for the South Korean film Kundo: Age of the Rampant (aka Band of Thieves) on October 21, 2014. This 19th century period action/martial arts film stars Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser) and Kang Dong-won (The X), and directed by Yoon Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster).

Kundo: Age of the Rampant revolves around a group of righteous thieves who steal from corrupt public officials and give to the poor. But things get deadly when the thieves come across a powerful figure. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Kundo: Age of the Rampant from Amazon.com today!

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

Deal on Fire! The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut | Blu-ray | Only $7.88 – Expires soon!

"The Expendables: Extended Director's Cut" Blu-ray Cover

"The Expendables: Extended Director's Cut" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut, which features over 10 minutes of footage not seen in the theatrical version. Read our review.

Sylvester Stallone stars as Barney Ross, leader of The Expendables, a tight-knit team of skilled combat vets turned mercenaries. Hired by a powerful covert operator, the team jets off to a small South American country to overthrow a ruthless dictator. Also starring, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Mickey Rourke.

Order The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 1 Comment

Yellow Faced Tiger | aka Slaughter in San Francisco (1974) Review

"Yellow Faced Tiger" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Yellow Faced Tiger" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Slaughter in San Francisco, Karate Cop
Director: Lo Wei
Writer: Cheung Wing Cheung, Lo Wei
Producer: Leonard Ho, Lo Wei
Cast: Don Wong Tao, Sylvia Chang, Chuck Norris, Chin Yuet Sang, Wong Sam, Yee Kwan, Lam Ching Ying
Running Time: 100 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Despite of the fact that Lo Wei’s Yellow Faced Tiger was produced in 1974, the film’s origin dates back to 1972, when it was originally planned to be Bruce Lee’s 3rd project following Fist of Fury (1972). However, due to Lee’s much-publicized squabble with Wei, the two went separate ways and Yellow Faced Tiger was indefinitely shelved.

Some believe that Lee refused to work with Wei for a number of reasons. One may have been that Wei, who dubbed himself “Hong Kong’s First Millionair Director,” publicly took full credit for the success of both The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972). Wei even went as far as saying he was responsible for teaching Lee how to fight on camera, which obviously made Lee furious.

Another reason is the two rarely saw eye to eye. During shooting, Lee would often clash with Wei, criticizing him for spending more time in his trailer or off set, and less time overseeing the progress and quality of his productions. When instances like this occurred, it was Lee who took charge and became an informal co-director.

Then there are the rumors: George Tan, a noted Bruce Lee Historian, has said the following about the Wei/Lee feud: “The REAL reason behind the feud was Raymond Chow (founder of Golden Harvest Studios). Chow is the master of divide and conquer. Chow was sleeping with Wei’s wife at the time. Imagine what would have happened if Wei found out at that critical point. What if he told Lee to split and form a new company away from Chow? Chow was/is a true master. Lee was a novice in that arena.”

Whatever the truth may be, anyone who has seen Wei’s non-Bruce Lee films can’t deny that Lee’s presence – both on screen and off – is what made the The Big Boss and Fist of Fury the classics that they’re known as today. The same scenario can be applied to Robert Clouse - just watch any movie he directed after Enter the Dragon (1973).

In 1974, a year after Lee’s passing shook the entire Hong Kong film industry, Chow finally decided to unshelve Yellow Faced Tiger. Determined to find someone to fill Lee’s shoes, Golden Harvest held a talent search in New York where they discovered Don Wong Tao, an avid Taekwondo practitioner who slightly resembled Lee. Impressed with both his looks and his physical ability, Golden Harvest immediately signed Wong Tao for a multi-picture deal.

Golden Harvest also brought back American Karate Champion, Chuck Norris, as the film’s ruthless villain. Norris, who was previously handpicked by Lee for Way of the Dragon (1972), was approached by Wei for the film’s main baddie. According to Norris’ 2004 autobiography, Against All Odds My Story: “When Lo Wei, a Chinese director, asked me to play a role in a low-budget karate movie called Yellow Faced Tiger that he was making in San Francisco, I said, “Sure, why not?” Lo Wei said the movie would be shown only in Asia. I didn’t care; I needed the money.”

Considering Yellow Faced Tiger was shot in San Francisco, California – with a cast consisting of many Caucasian and African American talent - many assume that the film was intended for Western audiences a la Enter the Dragon. Contrary to that belief, the film wouldn’t make its way into America until 1981 for one particular reason (more on that later).

In a nutshell, Yellow Faced Tiger revolves around a Chinese cop named officer Wong (Wong Tao) who’s having a really bad week. After Wong saves his buddy (Robert Jones) from being beaten to death by a gang, he gets kicked off the force for accidentally killing one of the thugs. Wong then takes a job at a Chinese restaurant where he comes across a crime syndicate boss (Norris) who wants to recruit him because of his fighting skills. When Wong refuses, the syndicate makes his life a living hell.

Like many post-Lee, early 70s Golden Harvest films, Yellow Faced Tiger is one dodgy production. It’s what you would expect from Wei: Shaky cameras (unintentionally, not artistically), rushed shots and horrendous acting. But make no mistake, its hilarious imperfections make it a riot to watch. Without doubt, it falls under the cliché ”so bad, it’s good” category.

The film is definitely action-packed, courtesy of veteran fight choreographer Han Ying Chieh (better known as the guy who plays “The Boss” in The Big Boss). If you’re aware of the non-Lee fights Chieh staged for The Big Boss, then you should have a solid idea of what Yellow Faced Tiger has to offer. Let’s just say that the choreography was the typical early 70s, basher-type fights, which were bland, especially compared to the grace and fluidity that Lee had to offer.

Nonetheless, it’s apparent that Wong Tao was choreographed with Bruce Lee’s fighting-style in mind. Lee’s trademark clenched-fist pauses, intense facial features and one punch/kick knockdowns are all here; only problem is Wong Tao isn’t Lee, so the carbon copied movements come across as forced and out of place. Like Lee, Wong Tao is often shirtless and sports a similar hair style. That said, Yellow Faced Tiger should be classified as a Bruceploitation flick.

Unfortunately, after Yellow Faced Tiger failed to bring in box office numbers, Golden Harvest came to the conclusion that Wong Tao wasn’t a bankable star, so after two movies – the other, a partial role in Chinatown Capers (1974) – Wong Tao and Golden Harvest parted ways.

A couple years later, Wong Tao ultimately found glory when he hooked up with Seasonal Films’ Ng See Yuen to appear in a new film, opposite Hwang Jang Lee and John Liu. Instead of trying to make him another “new Bruce Lee,” Yuen was able to showcase Wong Tao in a different light. The result: The Secret Rivals (1976), which ended up being a major hit and has remained a cult classic to this very day.

Also of note in Yellow Faced Tiger is an early appearance of actress, Sylvia Chang (The Lady Killer). Despite her raunchy role (in one fully clothed scene, she gets off by pretending to be raped by two men), Chang went on to become one of the most successful Hong Hong stars, reaching critical acclaim for her acting, writing and directing skills. You have to start somewhere, right?

The bottom line: Yellow Faced Tiger is one of the worst films in the Golden Harvest catalog, but like The Man Called Tiger (1973) and Stoner (1974), it’s highly entertaining because of its flaws and interesting for its historical connection with Bruce Lee.

Footnote: In 1981, during the height of Norris’ Hollywood career, Yellow Faced Tiger was to be re-released as Slaughter in San Francisco to capitalize on his success. Upon hearing of the film being marketed as “a brand new movie starring Chuck Norris,” Norris took legal action and tried to stop it from being released. After all, he didn’t want to ruin is squeaky clean, Good Guys Wear Black (1978) image with a low budget, badly dubbed, Chinese production where he plays a sleazy villain. Clearly, Norris lost this battle.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 6/10

Posted in Bruceploitation, Chinese, Golden Harvest, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

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

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

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

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