New TV Spot for ‘Ninja Turtles’ reveals fresh footage!

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Theatrical Poster

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Aliens invade Earth and inadvertently spawn a quartet of mutated reptilian warriors, the Ninja Turtles, who rise up against them to defend the world. Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) is directing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The film stars Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Will Arnett and Whoopi Goldberg. Expect a August 8, 2014 release date.

Updates: AICN reports that Michael Bay has spoken after fans judged him for changing the origins of the turtles from radioactive Amphibians to an an alien race. | AICN has a quote from director Jonathan Liebesman, who states that the expansion of the story (changing the origins of the turtles from radioactive Amphibians) is not Michael Bay’s idea; it’s actually from creator Kevin Eastman’s head.

The title of the film has been shortened to Ninja Turtles. | Despite Paramount pulling out of the project, Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, recently told MTV: “From what I’ve seen, it’s easily the best Turtle movie yet, we’re talking Raid: Redemption-style fight scenes; we’re talking about epic Rise of the Planet of the Apes sort of effects.”

Collider has posted the first photos of Megan Fox as April O’Neil. | Film Combat Syndicate for some photos of the turtles in their pre-CGI renditions. | In an interview with Huffpost TV, William Fichtner revealed that he will be playing Shredder in the reboot.

In a story from Collider, William Fichtner says, “It’s not like any Mutant Ninja Turtles thing you’ve ever seen before. It’s freaky, they’re cool, and they’re mutants and they look awesome. It’s tough and it’s going to be really, really great.” | Want to see what the Turtles and Shredder will look like? Click here.

Sorry folks, nothing sexy, but here is the first image of Megan Fox as April O-Neil, together with and her cameraman, Vernon Fenwick, played by Will Arnett. | First trailer. | Set of teaser posters. | New TV spot, which features a glimpse of Splinter, courtesy of IGN. | Latest trailer. | New photos of Megan Fox and Will Arnett. | Head over to Collider for some new photos Shredder, Splinter, April O’Neil and more. |  5 new illustrated posters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 4 characters posters for Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael. Also watch the newest trailer!

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new TV Spot, which reveals fresh footage!

Posted in News | 7 Comments

Stunt Squad | aka Elimination Force (Raro Video USA)

Stunt Squad | aka Elimination Force (Raro Video USA)

Stunt Squad | aka Elimination Force (Raro Video USA)

RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2014

Raro Video USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1977′s Stunt Squad, directed by Domenico Paolella (Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon). Also known as Elimination Force or La polizia è sconfitta, this poliziottesco film stars Marcel Bozzuffi, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Riccardo Salvino and Claudia Giannotti. The character of Mezzogiorno is described as “perhaps the most gruesome and ruthless villain of the Italian crime cinema.” Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Stunt Squad from Amazon.com today!

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

The Squad | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

The Squad | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

The Squad | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Squad, a 2011 Colombian action-horror film directed by Jaime Osorio Marquez. When contact is lost with a military base set deep in the desolate plains of Colombia, a special high mountain command unit is sent to check things out. On arrival they find only one person alive and gradually the isolation and inability to communicate with the outside world takes its toll on their sanity. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Squad from Amazon.com today!

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

That Demon Within | aka Demon Cop (2013) Review

"That Demon Within" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"That Demon Within" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Dante Lam
Writer: Jack Ng, Dante Lam
Producer: Candy Leung, Albert Lee, Ren Yue
Cast: Nick Cheung Ka Fai, Daniel Wu, Andy On Chi Kit, Ken Wong Hup Hei, Deep Ng Ho Hong, Christie Chen Si-Xuan
Running Time: 111 min.

By oneleaf

Hong Kong action auteur, Dante Lam (Unbeatable), is back in the director’s chair with That Demon Within, which he also co-wrote. Very early on in the film, the audience is treated to an extended shootout sequence in the middle of the afternoon, between deity-masked wearing robbers and the Hong Kong police.

With his trademark ballet of bullets and slow motion close up shots, there is no mistaking this is a Dante Lam uber-violent action flick. That Demon Within, however, is not Lam’s usual action drama. It is a taut psychological crime drama that is very different from what we have come to expect from Lam.

Daniel Wu (The Last Supper), the Berkeley born Chinese-American architect turned mega-popular Hong actor, stars as Dave Wong. Wong is a psychologically imbalanced, self-flagellating beat cop wracked by guilt after inadvertently saving a hard core criminal Hon Kong (Nick Cheung of Nightfall).

Wu, normally a clean-cut, suave and dapper protagonist in most of his earlier films is drably attired and carries a dull demeanor throughout most of the film in keeping with his character. As Wong’s psyche slowly unravels, dark circles and a semi-menacing glare begins to appear as he crosses over from a straight and narrow, law enforcing police officer to a vigilante-mindset hell bent on justice at which time the lighting hue and mood turns dramatically darker.

Tormented by guilt and shunned by most of his colleagues as he slowly disintegrates psychologically. Wu’s catatonic-like characterization of Wong is believable, effective, and somewhat creepy. It is interesting to note that to date Wu (who does not read Chinese) has to have his whole script read to him in Cantonese by his assistant where he would practice enunciating and pronouncing some of the dialogue while making personal notes.

Cheung, as Hon Kong, is equally excellent as the soul-less antagonist to Wong. He is never better as the ever-smiling, charming, and sadistic criminal who kills at the slightest provocation. Lam, at a press conference for the film early this February in Berlin, called Cheung a “devil actor”. That was meant as a compliment as to why he casted Cheung, a frequent collaborator in many of his previous films. Cheung has the charisma and the “devilish” look of a villain, according to Lam, in reference to the non-handsome visage of Cheung. Cheung had previously worked with Lam way back in 2005 on The Beast Stalker and won his first Best Actor Award. Not a bad collaboration over the years for both parties!

The veteran supporting casts are also very good. Standouts are veterans Ka Chi Liu and Kuan-Chun Chi. Ka Chi Liu (The Viral Factor) portrays Broker, the conniving shady funeral home owner and criminal with no loyalty or conscience as he readily betrays friends or foes, is a joy to watch as he goes about his devious schemes.

The charismatic Kuan-Chuan Chi (Five Shaolin Masters), the Hung Gar martial arts expert and frequent collaborator with legendary Shaw Brothers director Chang Cheh in many classic kung fu films from the heydays of the 70s and 80s, does an excellent turn as Wong’s father. Chi, however, does not get to flex his muscles in this movie, but serves as a conscience barometer for the ever-vacillating and confused Wong.

And then there is the very busy and ubiquitous Andy On (Special ID) continuing his streak as a bad guy. On is spot on as the soft-spoken, innocent looking officer, always ready to lend a hand but he is not who he appears to be. Lam misfired here. On deserves more screen time.

Cinematographer Kenny Tse does an excellent job of making the film look very good. The lighting, sound, directing is top notch. The bright and colorful lighting changes, as the mood progressively got darker. Lam’s directing and pacing is good.

The script, however, at times gets very confusing and convoluted with the frequent use of flashbacks. The multi-layered film sometimes gets mired in too many details and Lam seems to be going off tangent trying to deal with too many elements and not being able to stay focused on the main plot and characters. A revision or two of the screenplay would have been nice. Plot and script weakness aside, Wu and Cheung’s acting makes up for it.

A Dante Lam movie wouldn’t be complete without the requisite pyrotechnics and explosions seen in the final sequence of the film. In spectacular fashion, several vehicles are engulfed in flames as a gas station blows up in smoke, taking along a couple of light poles with it.

That Demon Within is quite intense, dark and doesn’t let up until the last few frames of the movie. The violence is quite extreme and carnage depicted in the beginning sequence and may turn some people off, but it serves to set the mood for what is to follow. The audience is pulled into a quasi-parable of good vs. evil, yet ironically, good is a gradient of gray and not pure white as embodied by Wong, who possesses both virtues of good and the vice of evil as he succumbs to the dark side.

The film is highly entertaining if you are willing to overlook some plot holes and plausibility issues. Recommended.

oneleaf’s Rating: 7/10

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

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II | Blu-ray & DVD (Warner)

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II | Blu-ray & DVD (Warner)

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II | Blu-ray & DVD (Warner)

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014

Warner Bros. presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Kevin Tancharoen’s Mortal Kombat: Legacy II (aka Mortal Kombat: Legacy – Season 2). Featuring Casper Van Dien as Johnny Cage, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung, Eric Jacobus as Stryker, Michelle Lee as Mileena, David Lee McInnis as Raiden, Ian Anthony Dale as Scorpion, Samantha Tjhia as Kitana, Harry Shum, Jr. as Kuai Liang (Sub-Zero’s younger brother), Brian Tee as Liu Kang, Mark Dacascos as Kung Lao, Kim Do Nguyen as Ermac, and Daniel Southworth as Kenshi.

Pre-order Mortal Kombat: Legacy II from Amazon.com today!

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

Baby Blues | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Baby Blues | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Baby Blues | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Baby Blues, directed by Leong Po Chih (Hong Kong 1941). When a young couple moves into a home, they find a doll that changes their lives forever (and not in a good way). Originally released in 3D during its 2013 theatrical release, Baby Blues is bound to please The Ring and The Conjuring fans.

Baby Blues stars Raymond Lam (Saving General Yang), Kate Tsui (14 Blades), Karena Ng (Hotel Deluxe), Lo Hoi Pang (Rigor Mortis) and Janelle Sing Kwan (Z Storm). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Baby Blues from Amazon.com today!

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

Found | DVD (Xlrator)

Found | DVD (Xlrator)

Found | DVD (Xlrator)

RELEASE DATE: September 23, 2014

Xlrator presents the DVD for Scott Schirmer’s Found. Marty is the ideal fifth grader. He gets good grades, listens to his teachers, and doesn’t start trouble in class. But a darkness is beginning to fall over his life. Classmates won’t stop picking on him, his parents don’t understand him, and now Marty must grapple with a terrible secret that threatens to destroy life as he knows it — his big brother is a serial killer!  Found is known of its gore and disturbing subject matter. Nevertheless, it’s critically acclaimed for being a work of cinematic art! Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Found from Amazon.com today!

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

First poster for Alexandre Aja’s supernatural thriller ‘Horns’

"Horns" Theatrical Poster

"Horns" Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Alexandre Aja’s (Piranha 3-D, The Hills Have Eyes) Horns will be released in the UK on October 13, 2014 (a U.S. release date has yet to be announced). Based on Joe Hill’s novel of the same name, Horns is about a man (Daniel Radcliffe) who sprouts horns on his head soon after he is accused of raping and killing his girlfriend. Horns also stars Juno Temple, Sabrina Carpenter, Heather Graham, David Morse, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Max Minghella and Kathleen Quinlan.

Updates: Daniel Radcliffe is now the lead in Horns. Shia LaBeouf was originally attached to the role. | Watch the first clip. | Watch the trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Check out the new poster.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

You don’t want to miss our new Blu-ray/DVD list for July!!!

Once Upon a Time in Vietnam | DVD (Lionsgate)

Once Upon a Time in Vietnam | DVD (Lionsgate)

Summer is officially in full force! After a scorching long day in the sun, there’s no better way to cool off than to lounge on your sofa, switch on the A/C, and catch up on some new movies! For those of you looking to add a number of exciting Blu-ray & DVD titles to your collection, get ready for our latest list of new releases handpicked by cityonfire.com!

The month of July is one of the HOTTEST months ever for Asian action, Martial Arts, Kkaiju and other cult gems/classics that are just waiting to be discovered!

Titles include The Raid 2, Protector 2 aka Tom Yum Goong 2, The Suspect, Rigor Mortis, Destroy All Monsters, Deadly Eyes, Southern Comfort and many more! These titles are just the tip of the iceberg, so be sure to scroll down so you don’t miss anything!

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.

Once Upon a Time in Vietnam: July 1, 2014

Lionsgate presents the DVD for Once Upon a Time in Vietnam (aka Lua Phat), directed, written by and starring Dustin Nguyen (The Rebel). On a mission to retrieve fugitives from the Emperor in Vietnam, Dao, a commander in the Emperor’s army, is assigned to protect a peaceful small town from being taken over by a crime boss. Soon, Dao’s past catches up with him, threatening to destroy the town and the woman he has come to love. This vietnamese martial arts film also stars Thanh Van Ngo (Clash) and Roger Yuan (The Perfect Weapon).

Escape to Athena: July 1, 2014

Henstooth Video presents the DVD for 1979′s Escape to Athena, directed by George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II). Roger Moore took a break from the James Bond franchise (between 1977′s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979′s Moonraker) to film this action gem about a group of World War II POWs who plan to escape from their Nazi captors and retrieve valuable stolen art at the same time. Escape to Athena also stars Telly Savalas, Stefanie Powers, Claudia Cardinale, Richard Roundtree, Sonny Bono and Elliott Gould. Still not sold? Then watch the trailer!

Southern Comfort: July 8, 2014

Shout! Facory presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1981′s Southern Comfort, directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors). When nine National Guardsmen enter the Louisiana swamp for routine training, they come across some angry Cajuns who know the territory like the backs of their hands. Armed with a precious few bullets, and confused by the dimly lit, moss-covered maze into which they ve stumbled, the innocent guardsmen know they’ll be picked off one-by-one. Starring Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe and Peter Coyote.

Rigor Mortis: July 8, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Rigor Mortis, directed by Juno Mak (Dream Home). This atmospheric horror film from Hong Kong revolves around a public housing tenement that’s plunged into a dark storm of supernatural chaos. Rigor Mortis is a nod to the Mr. Vampire series. In fact, it features many actors from that classic title: Chin Siu-ho, Anthony Chan, Billy Lau and Richard Ng. The film also stars Chin Siu-ho, Anthony Chan, Kara Hui, Lo Hoi-pang and Paw Hee-ching.

The Raid 2: July 8, 2014

Sony Pictures presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2 (read our review). This action-packed martial arts epic will include the following bonus features: “Gang War” Deleted Scene, Ready for a Fight: On Location; Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography; English dub and original language version of the film, director commentary with Gareth Huw Evans; The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel; Cinefamily Foundation Q&A with Gareth Huw Evans, Iko Uwais and Joe Trapanese.

Deadly Eyes: July 15, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1982′s Deadly Eyes (aka The Rats), directed by Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon). Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest studios teams up with Warner Bros. to produce this cult thriller about a scientist who genetically alters a colony of super rats. As they breed and multiply, they must seek ever increasing amounts of food. They soon find a new source of nourishment – human flesh. Deadly Eyes features a memorable scene where the deadly rats attack a movie theater while a Bruce Lee film is being shown.

Action Adventure Movie Marathon: July 15, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the Action Adventure Movie Marathon. These sets bring back the good ol’ memories of going to a video rental store; only now you can see these obscure titles without adjusting your tracking. The Blu-ray version includes 1973′s I Escaped from Devil’s Island and 1982′s The Final Option (aka Who Dares Wins); in addition to the films just mentioned, the DVD version also includes 1959′s Shake Hands with the Devil and 1983′s Treasure of the Four Crowns. As the trailer states, it’s more groundbreaking than Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Arc combined.

James Clavell’s Shogun: July 22, 2014

Paramount Pictures presents the Blu-ray for James Clavell’s Shogun. This 1980 mini-series (on 6 Blu-ray discs) focuses on John Blackthorne (Richard Chamberlain), an English ship pilot, whose vessel wrecked upon the Japanese coast in the early 17th century. He is thrown in the midst of a war between Toranaga (Toshiro Mifune) and Ishido (Nobuo Kaneko), who struggle for the title of Shogun which will give ultimate power to the one who possesses it. By no means is Shogun a martial arts adventure, but it does have snippets of chanbara bloodshed within its beautiful plot structure!

Destroy All Monsters: July 22, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the Blu-ray for 1968′s Destroy All Monsters (aka Charge of the Monsters), the 9th in Toho Studios’ Godzilla series. Directed by Ishirō Honda with special effects by Sadamasa Arikawa (supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya). The plot involves aliens who take control of Earth’s monsters and begin using them to destroy the human race.

Godzilla vs. Megalon: July 22, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the Blu-ray for 1973′s Godzilla vs. Megalon, directed by Jun Fukuda (Godzilla vs. Gigan). Godzilla vs. Megalon is the first and only Godzilla film to feature Megalon and Jet Jaguar, star of the Godzilla video games. Considered the most elusive and sought-after Godzilla film. Features never-before-seen extras including trailer and gallery.

The Suspect: July 22, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Suspect. Directed by Won Shin-yun (Seven Days, A Bloody Aria), this high-octane Korean film follows a North Korean secret agent who is betrayed by his government. On a mission of revenge, he heads to the South and cuts a warpath through deadly assassins and rival agents, all the while trying to unravel the conspiracy he’s found himself in the middle of. The film stars Gong Yoo and Park Hee-soon.

Destroy All Monsters: July 22, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the Blu-ray for 1968′s Destroy All Monsters (aka Charge of the Monsters), the 9th in Toho Studios’ Godzilla series. Directed by Ishirō Honda with special effects by Sadamasa Arikawa (supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya). The plot involves aliens who take control of Earth’s monsters and begin using them to destroy the human race.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance: Ultimate Revenge Edition: July 22, 2014

Palisades Tartan presents the Blu-ray for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance: Ultimate Revenge Edition. Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is not an easy film to watch, but it’s well-crafted masterpiece! The film follows a recently laid off factory worker (Shin Ha-kyun) who kidnaps his former boss’ daughter, hoping to use the ransom money to pay for his sister’s kidney transplant. His plan goes haywire and unleashes a series of savage events. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance also stars Song Kang-ho (Snowpiercer) and Bae Doona (Cloud Atlas).

Ong-Bak Trilogy: July 29, 2014

Magnolia presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Tony Jaa’s Ong-Bak Trilogy. This collection includes 2003′s Ong-Bak, 2008′s Ong-Bak 2: The Beginning and 2010′s Ong-Bak 3. The original Ong-Bak broke new ground when it was released in 2003. According to filmmaker Garath Evans (The Raid 2): “Tony Jaa is a phenomenal talent. Ong Bak was a major announcement to the industry and to audiences that the martial arts genre was back.” Magnolia is also re-releasing the original Ong-Bak as a standalone Blu-ray or DVD.

Dragonwolf: July 29, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Dragonwolf, directed by Raimund Huber (Bangkok Adrenaline). The Devil’s Cauldron, a city where violence has forged a society in which only the lethal and can survive, two young men who possess the intellect and ferocity to flourish, carve a name for themselves as unstoppable hit men. But when a woman mysteriously enters their lives, she turns them against each other, resulting in a battle that threatens to bring the city to the brink of destruction. The film stars Kazu Patrick Tang, Johan Kirsten and Macha Polivka.

Protector 2 | aka Tom Yum Goong 2: July 29, 2014

Magnolia presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Prachya Pinkaew’s Protector 2 (aka Tom Yum Goong 2). Once again, Kham’s pet elephant (Tony Jaa) has been abducted and he must fight anyone in his way to find him. Protector 2 features amazing choreography by Panna Rittikrai (Ong Bak). Also starring is RZA (Man with the Iron Fists), Mum Jokmok (Ong Bak), Yanin Vismitananda (Chocolate), Petchtai Wongkamlao (The Protector), Marrese Crump (G.I. Joe: Battle for the Serpent Stone).

Legendary: Tomb of the Dragon: July 29, 2014

Lionsgate presents the DVD for Legendary (aka Legendary: Tomb of the Dragon). Travis Preston (Scott Adkins) assembles his team for an expedition to a remote region in China’s hinterland, where a wild animal that the locals believe to be a primeval monster they call the “Shocate” is said to roam free. Travis’s nemesis Jim Harker (Dolph Lundgren), a merciless trophy hunter, has already set up camp. A race against time ensues, and Travis and his team will have to pool all their resources if they want to capture this legendary creature alive. Note: Even though Adkins stars, be aware that this is not a martial arts movie.

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, News | Leave a comment

New U.S. trailer for Van Damme’s heist flick ‘Swelter’

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

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

THE MOVIE: In Keith Parmer’s (Mob Rules) action-thriller Swelter, Jean-Claude 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. In the vein of the brutal heist drama Reservoir Dogs, the modern crime thriller A History of ViolenceSwelter is a violent story of greed and retribution. Also starring Josh Henderson, Brad Carter, Alfred Molina and Lennie James.

Updates: Expendables Premiere once again has some official stills. In addition, they have an interview with the film’s writer/director Keith Parmer. Parmer suggests that one of his next projects could be a ‘Taken by way of Hitchcock’ movie with Van Damme, titled Remember Paris.

Scope out the new official poster for Swelter, which seems to confirm that Jean-Claude will plays a supporting role rather than a major one in the film. | Cew behind-the-scenes featurette. Thanks to Expendables Premiere for the heads up. | Well Go USA has acquired North American film rights for Swelter. | Watch the newly released French trailer for Swelter (beware of possible spoilers).

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new U.S. trailer, thanks to Film Combat Syndicate. And don’t forget, Amazon.com has an August 12, 2014 pre-order for the Blu-ray or DVD.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Association, The (1975) Review

"The Association" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Association" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Jeong Chang Hwa
Writer: Hui Gwok, Jeong Chang Hwa
Cast: Tien Ni, Yue Bing Lung, Angela Mao, Zhao Lei, Suen Lam, Chiang Nan, Fang Mien, Sammo Hung, Wang In Sik, Chiu Hung, Lee Kwan, Wilson Tong, Carter Wong, Simon Yuen, Yuen Wah
Running Time: 87 min.

By Paul Bramhall

The career of Korean director Cheng Chang-ho makes for an interesting read. Chang-ho made his directorial debut in 1951, and went on to make movies for several decades in his native Korea, including winning best director for the movie A Horizon. However on an international scale, most people only know his work from the nine year period spanning 1969 – 1977, when thanks to being signed up by the famous Shaw Brothers studio, he began making movies in Hong Kong.

During this relatively short period he cranked out a total of 11 movies, some of which would instantly become landmarks of the kung-fu cinema genre. In 1972 he made King Boxer with Lo Lieh, which is generally considered to be the first kung-fu movie to break out into the international market. In 1974 he directed The Skyhawk, which featured Kwan Tak Hing take on the role of Wong Fei Hung. Tak Hing had played Fei Hung in over 100 movies since the mid-1940s, before stepping down in 1970, however The Skyhawk proved so popular it became somewhat of a comeback vehicle, and he’d reprise the role of Fei Hung for several movies over the coming years. Chang-ho’s last movie in Hong Kong was Broken Oath, an Angela Mao starring re-telling of the Japanese movie Lady Snowblood, and the movie that a lot of Mao fans sight as her best.

Amongst all these classics, we have The Association, which is essentially the elephant in the room. Having switched from Shaw Brothers to fledging movie studio Golden Harvest, Chang-ho seemed to turn his attention to directing gritty crime thrillers, such as The Devil’s Treasure and The Double Crossers. The Association was made between these movies, and was originally intended to be a two part crime epic, teaming him up with his fellow countrymen Byong Yu and Hwang In-shik, both masters in the Korean art of Hapkido, as well as being shot in Korea.

Sadly, things went wrong along the way. The story, which focuses on a welfare agency for young women actually being a cover-up for a prostitution and abortion (not necessarily in that order) ring, features a fairly heavy dose of exploitation, which comes in the form of liberal helpings of female nudity. Byong Yu, who as it would turn out would make his first and last screen appearance in The Association, despite being the main character, wasn’t entirely comfortable with the more sleazy elements of the production, and ultimately would buy out what was planned to be the first part, preventing it from being released. So The Association is in fact the second part to what was originally a much bigger tale, patched together so that it runs as coherently as possible.

So, what exactly is left? Well, as the movie opens we’re given a credits sequence which features exploding skulls, so straight away it had my favor just for putting a smile on my face. Who wouldn’t want exploding skulls in the opening credits, especially when they have exactly zero relevance to the next 90 minutes. Before long we have Angela Mao and Byong Yu throwing down against each other, which happens to take place in the exact same patch of cleared forest Casanova Wong and Leung Kar Yan would square off 3 years later during the opening credits of Warriors Two.

Things aren’t as well as they seem though, Mao and Yu are actually a loved up couple, and the fight is just playful sparring, but alas it’s just a flashback. In present day, Yu, an upstanding police officer, has had to arrest Mao for killing an official, and we’re introduced to him tying her to a pole for execution via a death squad. Before going on her way, she is kind enough to confide in him that there’s no hard feelings, he did what he had to do, but she assures him that the official she killed was corrupt, and part of something much bigger. Yu, confident his girlfriend who he’s about to have shot is telling the truth, promises her he’ll get to the bottom of it, so at least her death won’t be in vain.

This somewhat bizarre tone permeates throughout the rest of the movie, as it becomes increasingly clear that The Association is in fact not a kung-fu movie at all, but rather it shares much more in common with the sleazy European exploitation movies of the same period. The only difference is this one just happens to have some A grade martial artists busting out the moves at infrequent intervals during its runtime. This is perhaps no more obvious than when Yu, sent on a mission to protect the wealthy Tien Ni who’s become a target for some marauding thieves, explains he’ll sleep in the closet of her bedroom for the next month until they decide to attack. Because in The Association, this type of thinking makes perfect sense. Taken with this approach, there is enjoyment to be found. It’s not enjoyment that the film-makers intended, and it’s certainly not enjoyment from the fights, however taken as a piece of “so bad it’s good” cinema, there are laughs to be had.

There’s probably no other movie out there which features martial arts legends Sammo Hung and Hwang In-shik sharing the same screen with a tied up woman being interrogated by having electric voltage conductors being pinched to her nipples. But The Association has it. There’s probably no other movie out there which features a dark and foreboding abortion ceremony, with a naked woman laying on a table surrounded by black hooded figures, in a scene which is juxtaposed by the camera constantly cutting away to so close their almost blurry shots of the woman’s breasts. But The Association has it. There’s probably no other movie out there that would dare to be so bold as to, in the exact same scene, suddenly change the soundtrack to a several minutes long (literally) go-go dance tune, and have the evil blonde haired western actress, adorned in see through lingerie, proceed to energetically dance around the naked patient for no reason whatsoever. But you guessed it, The Association has it.

It’s a movie filled with such scenes, each one of them generating an equal amount of head scratching and laughter, and complimented with some sort of alcoholic beverage, the movie is a lot of fun. On the flip side, for the martial arts fan, people expecting to see the amazing skill of Byong Yu in his only movie appearance, the ferocious kicks of Hwang In-shik, or the talents of Sammo Hung and Angela Mao, will probably be left reaching for an alcoholic beverage for entirely different reasons.

The Association is not without fight scenes, Yu and In-shik go toe-to-toe on a couple of occasions, and there’s a satisfying opening fight with Mao, which has some nice use of slow motion that captures the intensity of those famous facial expressions of hers in a way which I haven’t seen previously. However there’s nothing outstanding here, and it’s worth pointing out that the movie lacks any kind of final fight, in part due to the rather left of field exit of Yu’s character (it made me wonder if this was filmed after Yu bought out the first part, so was done as an act of revenge by Chang-ho). For some cheap thrills though, The Association is worth a look.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6/10

Posted in Chinese, Golden Harvest, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tomio | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Tomio | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Tomio | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

RELEASE DATE: September 9, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for 2011′s Tomio, a Japanese horror film directed by Junji Ito (writer of Uzumaki). Based on Ito’s manga franchise, Tomie, Yuki Furukawa plays a young man named Tomio who visits a fortune teller with his girlfriend. While there, he meets a sexy and mysterious older woman (Aya Kiguchi) who clouds his mind.

Tomio features creature effects and make up supervised by Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police).

Pre-order Tomio from Amazon.com!

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

Deal on Fire! Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome Blu-ray (Warner)

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome Blu-ray (Warner)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 1985′s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (aka Mad Max 3), directed by George Miller (Mad Max). A drifter (Mel Gibson) is rescued by a tribe of children when he is banished from a desert town and sent into the desert to die by the desert town’s evil queen (Tina Turner).

It’s the Return of the Jedi of the series (in other words, the least loved of the franchise), but it still has has enough going for it to be an integral part of the series. Revisiting the franchise is the perfect way to get ready for Mad Max: Fury Road!

Order Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome from Amazon.com today!

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

Horror Mansion: The Blind | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Horror Mansion: The Blind | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Horror Mansion: The Blind | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

RELEASE DATE: September 9, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for Ochazukenori’s Horror Mansion: The Blind, a 2011 Japanese horror flick. One night, Sakura (Aizawa Rina) witnesses a murder through the blinds of her apartment. However, she is unable to identify the killer because he’s masked. The more Sakura thinks about it, she begins to suspect her older sister’s boyfriend as the murderer! Horror Mansion: The Blind features creature effects and make up supervised by Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police).

Pre-order Horror Mansion: The Blind from Amazon.com today!

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

Mercenaries | Blu-ray & DVD (The Asylum)

Mercenaries | Blu-ray & DVD (The Asylum)

Mercenaries | Blu-ray & DVD (The Asylum)

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014

Asylum Home Entertainment presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Mercenaries (aka Prison Raid). 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). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Mercenaries from Amazon.com today!

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

90′s martial arts stars return for ‘To Be the Best’ sequel

"To Be The Best" DVD Cover

"To Be The Best" DVD Cover

Chris Ross of CNC Movie Factory announced on July 7, 2014 that he will be bringing back the martial arts film genre of the 90’s with the action film To Be the Best: The Road Back, a sequel to 1993′s To Be the Best.

To Be the Best: The Road Back will be helmed by award winning film director Art Camacho (Half Past Dead 2). Fight choreography will be directed by Camacho and UFC Champion Fabiano Iha. The cast will include Michael Worth (U.S. Seals II), Sasha Mitchell (Kickboxer 2), Martin Kove (The Karate Kid) and rising action star Steven Dell (Flawed). Camacho will also reprise his role in this sequel.

To Be the Best: The Road Back is currently being developed. Until then, be sure to catch the trailer to Camacho’s latest action short, Flawed. – Thanks to Art Camacho

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Triple Feature: Rebirth of Mothra I-III | Blu-ray (Sony)

Triple Feature: Rebirth of Mothra I-III | Blu-ray (Sony)

Triple Feature: Rebirth of Mothra I-III | Blu-ray (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: September 9, 2014

Sony presents the Blu-ray for the Mothra Triple Feature. In 1996′s Rebirth of Mothra, the three-headed Desghidorah begins to destroy Japan, so Mothra leaves her island paradise to help save it. In 1997′s Rebirth of Mothra II, two young kids unleash a giant sea creature. Mothra’s keepers, the tiny twins Moll and Lora, quickly rouse the gentle giant in order to combat this latest threat to peace. In 1998′s Rebirth of Mothra III, King Ghidorah returns to destroy the Earth. Now it’s up to Mothra to stop it!

Pre-order The Mothra Triple Feature from Amazon.com today!

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

Double Feature: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla & Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack | Blu-ray (Sony)

Double Feature: Godzilla | Blu-ray (Sony)

Double Feature: Godzilla | Blu-ray (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: September 9, 2014

Sony presents the Blu-ray for the Godzilla Double Feature, featuring 2002′s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and 2001′s Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. In Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla: After the appearance of a new Godzilla, the government builds a robotic Godzilla from the bones of the original monster that attacked in 1954. In Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, three ancient guardian beasts awaken to protect Japan against Godzilla.

Pre-order the Godzilla Double Feature from Amazon.com today!

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

Godzilla 2000: U.S. & Japanese Edition | Blu-ray (Sony)

Godzilla 2000 | Blu-ray (Sony)

Godzilla 2000 | Blu-ray (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: September 9, 2014

Sony presents the Blu-ray for 1999′s Godzilla 2000, which features both the 99 minute U.S. version 99 minutes, and the 107 minute Japanese version! The action heats up when a UFO reveals itself as a massive alien monster with awesome destructive powers. The alien monster heads straight for the behemoth Godzilla who’s just crushed the entire city for the battle of the millennium. But Godzilla’s furious heat beam may not be enough to destroy the death-dealing alien, and the future of humankind is in jeopardy.

Pre-order the Blu-ray for Godzilla 2000 from Amazon.com today!

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

Triad | DVD (Well Go USA)

Triad | DVD (Well Go USA)

Triad | DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: 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). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Triad from Amazon.com today!

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

Cityonfire.com’s ‘The Suspect’ Blu-ray Giveaway! – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

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

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

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of Won Shin-Yeon’s The Suspect to three lucky Cityonfire visitors.

To enter, simply add a comment to this post telling us what you love about cityonfire.com. 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 The Suspect will be officially released on July 22, 2014, so we will announce the 3 winners on this date and ship out the prizes immediately.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by July 21, 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.

WINNERS: Congratulations to Chris Lane, Kyle and Jeff. You have all been notified via email.

Posted in News | Tagged | 23 Comments

Popular Japanese survival-horror video game ‘Fatal Frame’ coming to theaters

"Fatal Frame" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Since its inception in 2002, the Japanese video game series Fatal Frame has been one of the most popular and enduring franchises in the ‘survival-horror’ genre. Known as Zero in Japan, the series typically follows plucky young women as they investigate ancient tragedies and defeat ghosts using a supernatural camera that has the ability to expel spirits.

Now Fatal Frame is coming to the big screen. A live-action adaptation of the series is in the works from writer/director Mari Asato (Ju-On: Black Ghost). The film follows a beleaguered high school student who becomes cursed and can’t escape her dormitory; meanwhile, her fellow classmates are plagued by ghostly apparitions. A teaser trailer is now online for your viewing pleasure. The film is slated for release in Japan this September 2014. Thanks to Far East Films for the news.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Friend 2: The Legacy | DVD (Inception Media)

Friend 2: The Legacy | DVD (Inception Media)

Friend 2: The Legacy | DVD (Inception Media)

RELEASE DATE: September 16, 2014

Inception Media presents the DVD for Friend 2: The Legacy. Directed by Kwak Kyung-taek, Friend 2 (aka Chingu 2) is an upcoming South Korean film about three generations of gangsters, starring Yu Oh-seong (Friend), Joo Jin-mo (A Better Tomorrow) and Kim Woo-bin (Runway Cop). It’s the sequel to the 2001 box-office hit Friend, which was also directed by Kwak Kyung-taek. Watch the trailer for Friend 2: The Legacy with english subtitles.

Pre-order Friend 2: The Legacy from Amazon.com today!

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

Watch the extended trailer for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Theatrical Poster

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. Directed by James Gunn (Super), Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters in August of 2014.

The cast includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro

Updates: According to the Hollywood Reporter, James Gunn was chosen for his “sensibility and his ability to mix comedy elements with action and horror.” Gunn is known for Dawn of the Dead, Slither and Super. | Collider reports that Gunn has confirmed that he will direct the film, and he will also rewrite Chris McCoy and Nicole Perlman‘s script. In addition, Thanos creator Jim Starlin confirms that the popular Marvel villain will play a big role in both Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2. | First official trailer is now online! | New trailer, courtesy of MTV. | New poster. | Teaser trailers: Teaser 1 | Teaser 2. | 2nd full trailer. | New character poster, featuring Zoe Saldana as Gamora. Also be sure to check out the Rocket Raccoon and Groot poster.

We have more character posters: Poster with Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer | Poster with Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord. | International trailer! | New poster. In case you missed it, here’s the latest TV Spot.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new extended trailer.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Deal on Fire! An Empress and the Warriors | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

"An Empress and the Warriors" Blu-ray Cover

"An Empress and the Warriors" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Ching Siu-tung’s An Empress and the Warriors, starring Ip Man’s Donnie Yen (Special ID), Kelly Chen (The Monkey King), Leon Lai (A Hero Never Dies) and Kou Zhenhai.

Based on Chinese history, An Empress and the Warriors is the story of a kingdom locked in a desperate battle for survival. These nicely-priced Dragon Dynasty Blu-rays are flying off inventory, so act fast!

Order An Empress and the Warriors from Amazon.com today!

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

Restless, The (2006) Review

"The Restless" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Restless" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Jo Dong-Oh
Producer: Jo Min-Hwan, Kim Sung-Soo
Writer: Jo Dong-Oh
Cast: Jung Woo-Sung, Kim Tae-Hee, Heo Jun-Ho, So E-Hyun, Park Sang-Wook, Kim Kwang-Il, Yu Ha-Jun
Running Time: 105 min.

By JJ Hatfield

In 984 AD, the Kingdom of the United Shilla fell into chaos and ruin due to the corruption of the royal family who indulged themselves in luxury and excess as the people suffered and starved. Violence spread, revolts and war swept the land. The royal demonslayers, the Chuyongdae, raised a rebellion for the citizens but ultimately failed. The people became thieves and refugees. In order to appease the demons, the people offered the living as sacrifices.

The Chuyongdae were once held in high esteem, respected by the people and feared by the demons. Now, there is but one left, and Yi Gwak is a hunted man. After destroying demons for a small village he is poisoned instead of paid. Using his considerable martial art skills to escape the treacherous villagers, Yi Gwak staggers out into the pouring rain. With his body beginning to succumb to the toxins, he stumbles into a strange small shrine. Watching as the written prayers sway in the wind, he draws his last ragged breath.

Yi Gwak finds himself in an alien, ethereal other-world. Totally disoriented, he slowly discovers that he is in Jungcheon – Midheaven, literally, a place all spirits are transported after death. Midheaven is beautiful and tranquil, between earth and heaven where the immediately deceased go for precisely 49 days to give them the opportunity to do good works before the spirit moves on to heaven, hell or reincarnation.

When Yi Gwak does not have the accouterments standard for everyone in Midheaven the inhabitants begin to realize that he is not dead. But only the dead can be in Midheaven, so if Yi Gwak is alive, how can he be there? Before this conundrum can be solved, there is a great commotion as riders on horseback race through the streets, emerald capes flying. Demons suddenly break through into Midheaven appearing from out of nowhere to destroy everything and everyone. They are met by the defenders of Midheaven, led by a beautiful young woman who is an exact likeness of Yi Gwak’s dead fiance.

Jung Woo-sung (The Good, The Bad, The Weird) is Yi Gwak, the last Chuyongdae. After awaking in Midheaven he walks around hunched slightly forward, leaning in, looking for all the world like a deer in the headlights. This is to show the audience he is confused and bewildered by everything he sees and hears. Fortunately, demons and evil guys show up forcing Yi Gwak to fight, thus saving the viewer from having to continue to watch him looking dazed.

The director seems to have taken Yi Gwak’s look from Musa only cheaper, loose indistinct clothing with very long seriously disheveled hair that is desperately in need of a good conditioner. Woo-sung manages to inject some authenticity in his character, at least the warrior aspect, but no one in this film could survive the vacuous script. Jung is a better actor and fighter than is evident from this movie.

TV’s Kim Tae-hee is So-wha the Chuneen, in charge of Midheaven. Her character is established early on as being unsure of her abilities to lead the guardians of Midheaven. Kim is young and pretty, but the talent just isn’t there, certainly not for a lead in film. It isn’t much of a stretch to believe she is not only inept, but a bit of a klutz as well. When a spear is thrown at her she turns her head away and knocks herself out obligating Yi Gwak to come charging to her rescue. This would be okay if it happened once or twice, but the scenario is repeated in various locations and with different villains far too many times.

Heo Jun-ho, known for Silmido, is Banchu, general of the Chuyongdae and a good friend to Yi Gwak in life. Now that he is dead, Banchu has different aspirations and sends legions of demons and the rest of the Chuyongdae into Midheaven to destroy the Chuneen and Midheaven itself. The Gates of Midheaven were closed to keep the demons out, but Banchu was able to transport them at will, killing the guardians of Midheaven leaving So-Hwa alone. Well, not quite alone. Yi Gwak is her constant companion, totally devoted to her and would face any evil that threatened though she feels nothing for him. Whether she remembers him or not, Yi Gwak will defend her to the death.

Billed as South Korea’s first action fantasy, cgi director and writer, Cho Dong-oh, used a wisp of a Chinese tale for the story. This seems bizarre as it is a Korean movie with a Korean director and Korean cast. However the film was shot in China with Chinese crew. South Korea has a rich history of it’s own with folklore and fables, so why use one from another country? Perhaps because there have been Chinese movies that first brought out the story of ghostly love and the accompanying difficulties.

This is Cho’s first director position though he has been an assistant director on a handful of films including Musa. I think he might benefit from some additional assisting. Cho stated in several interviews this was supposed to be more of a cgi action movie, but it is essentially a love story caught up in the battle of good and evil. It is a very old premise requiring a new element to be of interest. Yi Gwak relentlessly pursues So-wha believing he can make her remember their love as Yon-wha. So-hwa is adamant that she is not Yon-hwa, that he is wrong and she cannot feel anything for him. This conversation runs for virtually the entire movie.

The opening is too rushed. Yi Gwak is in Midheaven before seven minutes have passed, literally. More demons fighting Yi Gwak on a reasonable scale, say Yi Gwak against six or seven demons, would have added an element of authenticity to his truly awesome abilities and how the whole demon situation came into being. Where did they come from? How did they get here? Do they eat anything besides humans? A little time spent on the back story of the demons would have been time well spent. All we are given is visual. The demons are bipeds, quite powerful, great at jumping, move like fast zombies with a sort of shuffling gait, and have long matted hair around the face with long sharp nasty teeth. Look quick because you won’t be seeing much of those demons again. Damn shame.

Cho relies far too heavily on flash backs to tell the story. Keeping the audience in suspense is one thing. Feeding the audience chips of a plot using the same memories instead of telling the story is another. Most of the blame can be laid directly on Cho’s immature nonsensical script. There were subjects mentioned that seemed very important only to never be mentioned again. Characters change radically without any explanation, sometimes breaking a stated given in this other world. It happens more than once but once is too much suddenly Midheaven is showing some gaping discrepancies. When will directors learn that no matter how many effects you throw into a film you can’t break your own rules for the world you created? There still must be a real story on some level if you want to make a full film.

Jung Doo-hong directs the action for the actors and the cgi characters. Unfortunately, Jung’s style is masked by several serious problems including shots that are too tight and blurred due to the slow motion spinning. Cinematographer Kim Young-ho did a fine job of lensing lovely scenery, but falls short on the action side. There are more than a couple of just plain unusual shots that don’t qualify as innovative, only irritating, that miss the fighting.

The Restless is a physically beautiful film. Lush forests, sun drenched meadows, gorgeous surroundings and terrific care with the set dressing and props; they all work together to create a truly magnificent visual experience.

Great attention to detail is obvious in virtually every scene. The stunning costumes are the work of costume designer Emi Wada. Wonderful creations such as the formal Chuyongdae uniforms, and the richly embroidered green capes of the Midheaven defenders, are just some of the notable costumes. Wada has worked on a number of movies including Hero (Jet Li), House of Flying Daggers, Ran and Reign of Assassins.

The art directors, Han Zhong and Wu Ming, display considerable talent that helps to make Midheaven resplendent. The soundtrack by Shiro Sagisu keeps pace with the movie but is not much above mediocre.

There were instances that were poor imitations of the originals from The Lord of the Rings. Yi Gwak and So-Hwa hide in the same manner, but not nearly as well as the Hobbits with the Ring Wraith. Black birds are used by the enemy as spies and there is a cgi background near the end of the movie that reminds me more than a bit of one of the sets for Mt. Doom. But there were also a couple of Mortal Kombat moments, particularly during a major cgi fight scene in the forest, as Yi Gwak defends So-Hwa from his former Chuyongdae comrades.

Something about the soundtrack and snakish chains that slam into trees as well as bodies. The cgi is technically quite good, actually flawless at times, especially when transitioning from live to computer action. But the cgi is dreadfully unimaginative at times, as well as using bits of the same footage repeatedly. Every time Yi Gwak kills a demon or a dead former comrade – or anything really – they all die in the very same cgi way. Pretty cool the first thirty times you see it. By the finale fight, the combatants are all represented by cgi, with the exception of a few face shots. People, even with massive wirework, don’t move the same way cgi characters do in The Restless.

I really wanted to like this movie. Korea’s first action cgi. I wasn’t even concerned with the level of quality, as much as the creativity. I cannot deny there are some gorgeous scenes, but there is no “real” fighting, and most of the cgi is, well cgi. I expected more than pictures, no matter how lovely, but this picture is flat and one dimensional. Ultimately, I was frustrated because the film never made sense as a whole.

The Restless is for those who enjoy pretty sappy love stories, with enough threats for the male to repeatedly have to fight and rescue the female. If that’s what you’re looking for, The Restless will do you fine.

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 6 /10

Posted in Korean, Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Yuen Woo-Ping’s ‘Vigilantes’ to be released in 2014?

"Vigilantes" Teaser Poster

"Vigilantes" Teaser Poster

Acclaimed martial arts choreographer and filmmaker Yuen Woo-ping (True Legend) will tackle a three-part Chinese and Canadian co-production called Vigilantes. The first film in the series is titled Vigilantes: The Lost Order. It has been billed ‘The Matrix meets Wall Street.’ Now give your brain a moment to recover from imagining that crossover.

Vigilantes: The Lost Order follows a young female assassin who sets out to hunt down the villains that destroyed her family and along the way uncovers a global financial conspiracy ruling the world.

Interestingly enough, the Vigilantes movies will be shot in the English language. Yuen Woo-ping is, of course, no stranger to working on English-language productions but he has never actually directed a North American film himself.

While it might be a bit hasty to plan Vigilantes as a trilogy before the first film has even proven a hit, that’s production companies for you. The crucial role of Vigilantes’ leading lady has yet to be cast.

Updates: We’re not sure what’s going on with Vigilantes, which was first announced back in 2012. Birch Tree states that the movie is “In Development,” with a U.S. release date set for 2014. They even released a teaser poster. Considering Yuen Woo-Ping probably has his hands full with Donnie Yen’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, a 2014 release for Vigilantes is highly unlikely (we wouldn’t be surprised if the project has been scrapped completely).

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Joker | DVD (Action Slate)

Joker | DVD (Action Slate)

Joker | DVD (Action Slate)

RELEASE DATE: 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.

From Film Combat Syndicate: Joker began its inception in 2010, born out of the desire to create an intellectual film for a cult audience, with a story written with a noir comic book appeal, much like The Crow and Sin City films. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Joker from Amazon.com today!

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

Watch entire ‘Ultraman’ series right now… for FREE!

Watch "Ultraman" for FREE!

Watch "Ultraman" for FREE!

Mill Creek Entertainment’s Iron Fist TV is offering an unlimited viewing of the ENTIRE Ultraman series for FREE (for 4 days) starting today!

Here’s the plot synopsis for Eiji Tsuburaya’s classic 1966 series, Ultraman: When the world is threatened by alien invaders and giant prehistoric monsters, there is only one agency equipped to handle the situation, The Science Patrol, an ultra-sophisticated police force equipped with high-tech weaponry and space crafts.

You can access Iron Fist TV on your portable device, your computer, or even in the comfort your living room with a Roku player. Whichever you choose, many action-packed classics are ready to be discovered with a touch of a finger!

Iron Fist TV features an assortment of hard-to-find martial arts, monster films and TV shows from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, featuring selections from Flying Fists of Kung Fu, The Great Impersonators and When Monsters Attack. Also, watch episodes of Fight! Dragon, Iron King, Super Robot Red Baron and Ultraman. Plus, new content will be added regularly!

With Iron Fist TV, you have the option of watching these completely FREE – or – for a low fee of $4.99/month (100% ad-free). For more information, watch the trailer or visit www.IronFistTV.com.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Pirate, The (1974) Review

"The Pirate" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Pirate" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Chang Cheh
Co-Directors: Pao Hsueh Lieh, Wu Ma
Writer: Ni Kuang
Producer: Runme Shaw
Cast: Ti Lung, David Chiang, Fan Mei Sheng, Bruce Tong, Yuen Man Tzu, Dean Shek, Tin Ching, Lau Gong, Wu Chih Ching, Yue Fung, Alan Chan Kwok Kuen, Chan Dik Hak
Running Time: 96 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

Although Chang Cheh will be fondly remembered for his long association with the Shaw Brothers, there was always more to this film-making zeitgeist than geysering blood, decapitations, disembowelment or torturous imagery. In addition to his prolificacy, Cheh’s alternative meditations occasionally embraced social commentary, usually with concerns about modern youth or the impact of organised crime and how each reflected on urban domesticity: these issues were candidly explored in a handful of films like, The Generation Gap, Young People and The Singing Killer – all starring the iconic David Chiang. However overtly sandwiched between [these] historical romps and contemporary expositions, Cheh often delved into ‘escapist’ theatre, the idea being to steer audiences away from apathy at times when looming social or economic shifts threatened stability in south-east Asia, particularly in Hong Kong. In any case, this strategy worked; mellowing the masses and even inducing the most hardened of critics.

Economics aside, in the advent of Cheh’s most popular, though at intervals ‘ contrived ‘ masterpieces: The One Armed Swordsman, Have Sword Will Travel, Vengeance and The Duel by example, the premiere of The Pirate did not really stir much enthusiasm or controversy upon its initial release back in 1973. Understandably, the general populace were more interested about the circumstances behind Bruce Lee’s demise than in box office ratings or forthcoming attractions. In fact, it was considered something of a commercial distraction than a celebration which Hong Kong audiences widely perceive a movie should represent. Anyhow, retrospectively, The Pirate was a slightly pallid expression of high adventure, drawing inspiration no doubt from the familiar archetypes of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and The Buccaneers, cross-bred and extravagantly moulded to adhere with Cheh’s signature pastiche for male bonding, a raised fist against the establishment as well as the obligatory betrayer whom the central protagonist has too contend with. Although these components were laxed, there is still enough tension, brutality and innovation to an otherwise enjoyable and dazzling cult rediscovery that, to a point, doesn’t take itself too seriously; yet beneath the surface, Cheh’s palpable hatred of despotism is all too customary, even from the picture’s outset.

Featuring an explosive opening sea channel battle between British Imperialists and indigenous pirates, led by the debonair Chang Pao Chai (Ti Lung). The complex screenplay acts much like the ocean itself, unpredictable one minute and sedate in the next, echoing filmic parallels from Akira Kurosawa to Sam Peckinpah as our deeply flawed anti-hero begins an impromptu journey from the leaking bowels of his vessel to the nearby shoreline of southern china where – masquerading as a rich trader – he becomes unintentionally embroiled with a group of local villagers/ fishermen, whose struggle against exploitation and corruption has forced them into destitution. To quicken repairs, Pao Chai sympathetically agrees to expedite funds for the villagers using currency and jewels plundered from invading colonists.

Returning to his anchored ship/junk, Pao Chai discovers that a vengeful former crew member, Hue er-Dao (Fan Mei Sheng); an escaped convict, has appropriated not only his damaged vessel, but goods and an undisciplined crew. This situation compromises him to take refuge in a gambling house. There he collides with General Wu (David Chiang), a disillusioned loyalist dispatched to apprehend Pao Chai – dead or alive. However as their friendship develops, Wu becomes aware of Pao Chai’s chivalrous nature and, intermittently, begins to question his own moral servitude: what consequences will eventuate? Will Pao Chui retrieve his junk and capital to deliver the villagers from an uncertain fate? Or will Wu conform to his civic duty and arrest Pao Chai?

Verdict: In spite of its somewhat intoxicating artificiality, forty-one years on The Pirate remains a lesser recognized, yet interesting cinematic experience that doesn’t solely rely on political subtleties, trademark cinematography or protracted duels for personal entertainment. On the contrary, the defining novelty of both Ti Lung and David Chiang spearheading their eighteenth collaboration for an indelible saga of obligation, revenge and misguided loyalties, is itself a landmark achievement even by Hollywood conventions.

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 8/10

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