Brandon Routh dies hard in Vincent Zhou’s ‘Lost in the Pacific’

"Lost In The Pacific" Chinese Teaser Poster

"Lost In The Pacific" Chinese Teaser Poster

Director Vincent Zhou (not to be confused with the martial arts star) seems to have an obsession for “flight disaster” movies. Last year, he brought us the similarly-themed Last Flight. Now, he’s back with yet another catastrophic flick titled Lost in the Pacific (its working title was Last Flight II: Lost in the Pacific, which makes perfect sense).

Like Zhou’s Last Flight, the film is shot in English and features talents from around the globe, such as Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), Zhang Yuqi (CJ7), Russell Wong (The Sanctuary), Bernice Liu (King of Triads) and Mengjie Jiang (Kung Fu Hero).

The story takes place in 2020 when a group of international elite passengers embark on an inaugural luxury and transoceanic flight (regarded as “the Titanic in the sky”) that later gets into some serious trouble.

Described as “the first Chinese 3D sci-fi adventure film,” Lost in the Pacific has made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Judging from the trailer, can easily be taken as another “Die Hard on a plane,” considering Routh seems to be kicking some mid-air butt.

Back in May at the Festival de Cannes 2015, the film started the first round of sales and has garnered theatrical release deals from distributors all over the world, including India, Turkey, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia. The film is set for a worldwide release at the end of 2015. Until then, check out the film’s teaser trailer!

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Luc Besson is bringing a ‘Taken’ prequel to NBC

"Taken 3" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Taken 3" Korean Theatrical Poster

Luc Besson (Lucy), who co-wrote and produced all three of the Taken movies, is producing a Taken TV series for NBC.

According to Deadline, the series will be a prequel to the movies and will reference Bryan Mills’ “particular set of skills” that he “acquired over a very long career.” Since the series is an origin story, we assume that Liam Neeson will not be reprising his role as Mills.

The upcoming Taken series is not the first time a Besson production made its way to the small screen. In the past, Besson’s La Femme Nikita (1990) and Transporter (2002), were also adapted to TV.

We’ll keep you posted as we hear more.

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Andy Lau’s ‘Saving Mr. Wu’ gets a U.S. release date!

"Saving Mr. Wu" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Saving Mr. Wu" Chinese Theatrical Poster

From Ding Sheng, the director of Jackie Chan’s Little Big Solider and Police Story 2013, comes Saving Mr. Wu (aka The Strongest Competitor).

In this suspenseful crime thriller, Mr. Wu (Andy Lau), a Hong Kong movie star, is kidnapped by six criminals disguised as police officers. The story is based on the 2004 real-life celebrity kidnapping case in China.

Saving Mr. Wu also stars Liu Ye (Police Story 2013), Wang Qingyuan (Brotherhood of the Blades), Vivien Li (A Touch of Sin) and the actual “Mr. Wu” himself, Wu Ruofu.

The film opens in Chinese theaters on September 30th 2015. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the film’s trailer.

Updates: UEP North America is giving Saving Mr. Wu a limited theatrical run on October 2nd. For availability around your area, check your local listings. For now, enjoy the latest trailer!

Posted in News | 2 Comments’s ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ Blu-ray Giveaway – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Black Coal, Thin Ice | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Black Coal, Thin Ice | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA) and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of Black Coal, Thin Ice (read our review) to three lucky Cityonfire visitors. To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, this video (Warning: Explicit Content).

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

The Blu-ray & DVD for Black Coal, Thin Ice will be officially released on September 29, 2015. We will announce the 3 winners on that day.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by September 29, 2015 to qualify. U.S. residents only please. We sincerely apologize to our non-U.S. visitors. Winners must respond with their mailing address within 48 hours, otherwise you will automatically be disqualified. No exceptions. Contest is subject to change without notice.

WINNERS: Ben, Nadine M., and Ian J.

Posted in News | Tagged | 21 Comments

Jason Statham hits the small screen with ‘Viva La Madness’

"The Mechanic" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Mechanic" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Jason Statham is coming straight to your living room! In 2013, Statham (Crank 2) acquired rights to J.J. Connolly’s novel Viva La Madness (follow-up to Layer Cake). The project, which was expected to be a motion picture starring Statham, remained in limbo for nearly 2 years; but as of today, THR announced that Viva will now be a TV series. Statham is still the star (filling in Daniel Craig’s shoes). No network is currently attached.

So what can we expect from it? Here’s the rub, via Amazon: Viva la Madness moves to international crime with trans-Atlantic drug deals, money laundering and high-tech electronic fraud, portrayed with the same uncanny believability. The anonymous hero of Layer Cake is pulled back into the drug game before he can escape to a sunny retirement.

Expect more updates from Viva La Madness in the future!

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Undeclared War (1990) Review

"Undeclared War" Chinese DVD Cover

"Undeclared War" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Ringo Lam
Producer: Ringo Lam
Cast: Danny Lee Sau Yin, Tommy Wong Kwong Leung, Peter Liapis, Vernon Wells, Olivia Hussey, Rosamund Kwan, Louis Roth, Dean Harrington, Victor Hon Kwan, Mars, Jonathan Isgar, Brad Kerner, Mark King, Jameson Lam, Ernest Mauser, Stuart Smith, Suen Kwok Ming
Running Time: 103 min.

By Paul Bramhall

In 1990 it seemed Ringo Lam could do no wrong. Having established himself as a director of realistic and gritty action thrillers with his …on Fire series (City on Fire and Prison on Fire were both released in 1987, followed by School on Fire in 1988), the production company Cinema City decided to put their money where their mouth is. Armed with a sizable budget, Lam was tasked with helming the action movie Undeclared War, with the intention of breaking the international market.

Shot almost entirely in English, on release the movie tanked both critically and financially. Much like Kirk Wong’s Taking Manhattan made a couple of years later, it seemed Hong Kong audiences simply weren’t ready to go and watch a local movie where they’d have to read subtitles, and the result was a box office bomb. Internationally it didn’t fare any better. Up against action flicks like Die Hard 2, what was considered a big budget production in Hong Kong still didn’t stand a chance when compared alongside Hollywood blockbusters in the same vein.

The result was Undeclared War quickly became forgotten, destined to become an entry in Lam’s filmography that would either be overlooked or glazed over whenever discussing his work. Watching the movie 25 years on from when it was first released though, it’s fair to say that there’s a lot to enjoy. The grittiness that Lam had become known for is arguably present and accounted for, while the flair for action that he’d cement with Full Contact in 1992, is here clearly a work in progress, but still solid nevertheless.

Despite having a cast which has many central characters played by gweilos, a fact which hardly inspires confidence from a 1990 Hong Kong movie, surprisingly all involved turn in serviceable performances. Beginning in Warsaw, a CIA agent played by Peter Lapis witnesses the brutal murder of the U.S. ambassador, including his wife and child, at the hands of a terrorist played by Vernon Wells. Many will probably recognize Wells as the apocalyptic gang leader pursuing Mel Gibson from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The Australian actor also famously played Bennett, the memorable villain from the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando. After tracking Wells to Hong Kong, Lapis is reigned in by the local law enforcement, played by Danny Lee, of The Killer and Tiger on the Beat 2 fame (which was made the same year). Eventually of course, Lapis and Lee end up putting aside their differences and team up to take Wells down.

There are plenty of other familiar faces in the mix as well, from Rosamund Kwan, playing a news reporter and Lee’s girlfriend, to Mars, here in a rare bad guy role playing one of Wells’ lackeys. It’s a mix that almost certainly shouldn’t come together, but perhaps due to having a talent like Lam in the directors chair, and a script that avoids being hokey, Undeclared War succeeds at being a tight little action flick. It may not be the big budget effort it was aiming to be, but with expectations lowered, it’s definitely a unique entry into the genre and keeps up a brisk pace throughout.

The script was penned by multiple writers, and amongst them is Louis Roth, who is probably the reason why the English lines hold together so well. Roth is one of those actors who’s in the background of so many Hong Kong movies of the era, perhaps most famously as the customer on the receiving end of Chow Yun Fat’s “You don’t like my rice!?” line from A Better Tomorrow 2. Here he also takes on the role of a character vital to the plot, however I’m sure his biggest contribution, considering what many English language exchanges are like in HK movies of the era, must be his work on the dialogue. Both Danny Lee and Rosamund Kwan’s lines are almost all in English, and they deliver them with aplomb, with no unintentional moments of humor in sight.

For fans of Hong Kong action and Lam’s realistically gritty style of film making, both are present and accounted for, although perhaps in a different way than audiences at the time were hoping for. The assassination of the U.S. ambassador takes place before the movies title has even appeared on screen, and throws in machine gun totting nuns, explosions, and a helicopter for good measure. The type of blood squib in use also has a unique look to it, similar to the style used in Johnnie To movies like Exiled, when someone gets shot a cloud of red mist erupts from the victim. It’s just as unrealistic as the gallons of blood erupting from a gun shot wound, but it’s definitely visually arresting, and gives the violence a different feel from many movies of the same elk.

Lapis also shows a welcome abandon in his action scenes, seemingly not afraid to get thrown around and take some falls. An exciting foot chase that has him in pursuit of Wells ultimately ends up in a confrontation with Mars, which has them falling down stairs and going at each other on a bridge with anything they can get their hands on. Another scene has him get into a fight with Lee, which sees the both of them scrapping it out in a brawl on the street that doesn’t pull any punches. In many ways it’s Lapis’ lack of gracefulness which makes the action more exciting, as it makes it more relatable, especially in a speed boat chase sequence were you can see he’s visibly clinging on for dear life.

The fact that Lee and Lapis spend almost half of the movie locking heads with each other also makes the respect that eventually forms between them seem more believable. They both bring a down to earth type quality to their characters, and by the time they team up, a lot of their banter is genuinely funny and believable. What’s especially refreshing about ‘Undeclared War’ is the way Lapis is the butt of many HK situational jokes. In an era where we’ve seen Jackie Chan play the fish-out-of-water in an endless stream of Hollywood movies, whether it be paired with Chris Rock, Owen Wilson, or whoever else, it’s nice to see a movie that puts the shoe on the other foot. Lee is the one calling the shots as the Hong Kong local, and Lapis is the American on foreign soil who has to try and fit in, and it remains that way throughout.

In fact the whole movie does well to play off the tensions between the local HK police force, the British authorities in charge, and the American CIA trying to call the shots. The political subtexts and character relationships aside though, Undeclared War was made as an action flick, and on that basis it delivers. During its 103 minute run time there should be enough gun shots, grenades, explosions, and chase sequences to keep any fan of Hong Kong cinema happy. It may not be Ringo Lam’s best work, and there are a couple of glaring plot holes (look out for Lee getting shot in the arm, then in the next scene miraculously seeming to be completely fine!), but for a slice of HK action from the territories golden era, you can do a lot worse.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7/10

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Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson sold by a ‘China Salesman’?

"Today You Die" Japanese DVD Cover

"Today You Die" Japanese DVD Cover

Looks like Ip Man 3 isn’t the only Chinese production Mike Tyson is a part of. The former heavyweight champ will be appearing in China Salesman, an action film written and directed by Tan Bing (aka Geng Weiguo).

Also appearing is Steven Seagal (Nico), who has so many projects under his belt that we officially lost count (read about it here). Hong Kong legend Ching Siu Ting (Dragon Inn), who worked with Seagal on 2003′s Belly of the Beast, is rumored to be involved. Norwegian actress Janicke Askevold (My Way) also stars.

Currently, no other details are known about China Salesman, but some raw behind-the-scenes footage recently made its way on online. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

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The Eliminators/The Dungeonmaster | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

The Eliminators & The Dungeonmaster | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

The Eliminators & The Dungeonmaster | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray Double Feature for 1986′s The Eliminators and 1984′s The Dungeonmaster (aka Ragewar).

In The Eliminators (watch the trailer), a former pilot (Andrew Prine) rebels against his creator, teaming up with a scientist, a pet robot Spot, a riverboat guide, and a martial arts warrior (Hong Kong’s Conan Lee). In The Dungeonmaster (watch the trailer), a demonic wizard challenges a computer programmer to a battle of technology vs. sorcery!

Pre-order The Eliminators/The Dungeonmaster from today!

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Two-Face, move over… Takeshi Kitano kills in ‘Mozu’!

"Mozu" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Mozu" Japanese Theatrical Poster

No plot description is needed for Mozu, the latest Japanese crime-thriller from Eiichiro Hasumi (Assassination Classroom). The film’s trailer speaks for itself – it’s loud, brutal, action packed and Takeshi Kitano (Beyond Outrage) plays the villain – sold yet?

Mozu also stars Hidetoshi Nishijima (Casshern), Teruyuki Kagawa (20th Century Boys: Chapter 1: The Beginning of the End), Yusuke Iseya (Sukiyaki Western Django) and Tori Matsuzaka (Gatchaman).

According to FCS, Mozu hits the screens in Japan on November 7. Given Kitano’s international star-power, we’re pretty sure a North American distributor has their eyes on this one. Don’t miss the trailer!

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Dante Lam and Eddie Peng re-unite for ‘Operation Mekong’!

"Unbeatable" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Unbeatable" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Production has begun on Operation Mekong, a new actioner from director Dante Lam (Unbeatable). The upcoming film stars Lam’s frequent collaborator Eddie Peng (Rise of the Legend), Zhang Han Yu (Special ID) and Joyce Feng. Louis Koo (SPL II) was previously attached, but was replace by Peng, due to scheduling conflicts.

According to JS, Set in Thailand, Operation Mekong tells the true story of the Mekong River massacre that occurred on October 5, 2011, during which two Chinese cargo ships were attacked by gunmen. All 13 crew members were killed, and their bodies were dumped into the river.

Operation Mekong is set to be released in 2015. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more!

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2nd trailer for ‘Creed’ hints Rocky’s deteriorating health

"Creed" Theatrical Poster

"Creed" Theatrical Poster

A Rocky spinoff called Creed is currently in post-production. Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) is playing the grandson of Apollo Creed (portrayed by Carl Weathers in the Rocky films). Sylvester Stallone will reprise his role as Rocky Balboa, who is now a retired fighter-turned-trainer. Ryan Coogler, the director of the critically-acclaimed Fruitvale Station, is helming Creed.

Creed will revolve around the grandson of Apollo Creed, who follows his grandfather’s footsteps when he learns he has the natural gift and potential that made his grandfather a heavyweight champion. The film opens on November 25, 2015.

Updates: According to an interview with Badtaste, Sylvester Stallone had this to say: “…No Rocky VII, I’m done with that series. However, I will take part in Creed, the Ryan Coogler film about the son of Apollo. We start shooting in February. But it really is a completely different film, it’s dramatic.” | First trailer for Creed.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the 2nd trailer for Creed.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

1st trailer for ‘Navy Seals vs. Zombies’ with Michael Dudikoff!

"Navy Seals vs. Zombies" Poster

"Navy Seals vs. Zombies" Poster

Whether you want another zombie flick or not, here’s the scoop on Navy Seals vs. Zombies, the upcoming directorial debut of NASCAR driver/stuntman Stanton Barrett, whose stunt credits include Looper and Terminator Genisys.

A city is under siege by hordes of fast moving, flesh eating undead. The infection is spreading. Urban warfare has been unleashed. With no cure in sight and time running out, can an elite unit of badass warriors now survive their most horrific mission of all? Ed Quinn (Revenge), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), pro wrestling champion Chad Gunner Lail, Molly Hagan (iZombie), Olympian Lolo Jones and NBA legend Rick Fox star in this explosive military shocker filmed with the participation of former U.S. Navy SEALS.

UpdatesNavy Seals vs. Zombies is coming to Blu-ray & DVD on October 6, 2015 (pre-order today). And of course, don’t miss the film’s new trailer!

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Deal on Fire! Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray | Only $9.99 – Expires soon!

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray (Universal)

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray (Universal)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 1993′s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious). Jason Scott Lee stars in this unforgettable glimpse into the life of the legendary Bruce Lee.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is presented in 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. Features include: Commentary with Rob Cohen, Archival Introduction, The Making of Featurette, Behind-the-Scenes Reel, Jason Scott Lee Screen Test, Bruce Lee Interview/Photographs, Storyboards, Production Photographs and Theatrical Trailers. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story from today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 1 Comment

Warner’s live-action ‘Akira’ is back from the apocalypse!

"Akira" U.S. Theatrical Poster

"Akira" U.S. Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop. A big screen adaptation of Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s popular anime Akira has been stuck in development hell for some time. Read the updates below for details.

Updates: Keanu Reeves, James Franco, Garrett Hedlund, Robert Pattinson, James McAvoy, Andrew Garfield, Chris Pine, Michael Fassbender, Justin Timerlake, Joaquin Phoenix, Keira Knightley, Kristen Stewart, Ezra Miller, Alden Eherenreich, D.J. Cotrona, Logan Marshal Green, Toby Kebbell, Richard Madden, Rami Malek, Michael Pitt, Paul Dano, Alden Ehrenreich and Ken Watanabe have all been considered for roles. Some have dropped out, others are still attached.

Variety reports that Warner will rework the script and then decide whether or not to continue. | Chris Nolan’s brother Jonathan is attached to a rewrite. | Leonardo DiCaprio (Growing Pains) is producing, along with Jennifer Davisson Killoran (Orphan) and Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex). | Due to creative differences, Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) left the project.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra is now attached to direct with hopes that it will be his next film after wrapping up Run All Night. Now that he has done Unknown and Non-Stop, he says: “the powers that be are interested.” | Marco J. Ramirez, the scribe who will be co-showrunning the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil, will write Akira, the Warner Bros. long-in-the-works adaptation of the Japanese manga classic.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Collider (via DOG), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) will be somewhat involved with Akira, which is reportedly now planned as a “trilogy”. This should come as no surprise, considering Nolan’s brother, Jonathan, was hired earlier on to re-write the script.

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1st trailer for the Sharlto Copley POV actioner ‘Hardcore’!

"Hardcore" Teaser Poster

"Hardcore" Teaser Poster

Ever since his POV-style music video for Biting Elbows’ “Bad Motherf-cker” went viral, Russian filmmaker Ilya Naishuller has been busy applying the concept to an upcoming feature film titled Hardcore, which is dubbed the “The World’s First Action POV Film.”

Here’s the film’s official description: Hardcore is a modern, action Sci-Fi story about Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator Estelle (Haley Bennet) from the clutches of a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day.”

Following Harcore’s amazing, action-packed promotional footage from last year, the film is finally making its debut at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. And just recently, the film’s first official trailer has hit the net. Don’t miss it!

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The Golden Cane Warrior | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Golden Cane Warrior | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Golden Cane Warrior | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: November 3, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-rayDVD for the Indonesian Wu Xia epic, The Golden Cane Warrior, featuring martial arts choreography by Hong Kong’s Hung Yan Yan (Shaolin, Coweb, Time & Tide).

The film stars some of Indonesia’s most popular talents, including Christine Hakim, Nicholas Saputra, Reza Rahadian, Slamet Rahardjo, Prisia Nasution, Eva Celia and Tara Basro. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Golden Cane Warrior from today!

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

A ‘King Kong vs Godzilla’ remake is in the works!

"King Kong vs Godzilla" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"King Kong vs Godzilla" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island (reboot of the King Kong franchise) and Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla sequel are currently in early stages of development, releasing in 2017 and 2018, respectively – but this hasn’t stopped Legendary and Warner from moving forward with a “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (via Deadline) mash-up soon after; in ther words, an essential remake of 1962′s King Kong vs Godzilla.

With Anno Hideaki’s Godzilla remake (Toho’s Japanese production that’s in a separate universe from Legendary’s 2014 film) and Guillermo del Toro Pacific Rim: Maelstrom on the radar, it’s safe to assume that the Kaiju (or giant monster) subgenre will be alive and kicking for many years to come.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more. For now, we leave you with Toho’s 1962 trailer to the original.

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Ryoo Seung-Wan’s ‘Veteran’ gets a U.S. release date!

"Veteran" Theatrical Poster

"Veteran" Theatrical Poster

Korean filmmaker Ryoo Seung-wan has carved a memorable path through genre cinema, earning the attention and acclaim of action fans worldwide. Early works, such as the special effects-heavy superhero film Arahan and the Tarantino-esque City of Violence, featured a one-two punch of humor and martial arts action.

Since then, the director’s films have struck a decidedly more serious tone. 2010′s police action/thriller The Unjust took an unforgiving look at Korea’s capitalist society. 2013′s The Berlin File was globe-hopping espionage thriller in the Bourne vein.

Now the director is clashing comedy with action in Veteran, an upcoming film starring Hwang Jung-Min (The Unjust), Oh Dal-Su (The Pirates), Yu Hae-Jin (The Flu), Jeong Man-Sik (Kundo), Yoo Ah-In (Punch) and Jung Woong-In (The Quiet Family).

Update: CJ Entertainment has announced that Veteran – one of South Korea’s highest grossing films of all time – will open across North American theaters on Septempber 18th. Don’t miss the film’s trailer.

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‘The Rebel’ and ‘Bay Rong’ star has an ‘Untold Story’ to tell

"Once Upon A Time in Vietnam" Vietnamese Poster

"Once Upon A Time in Vietnam" Vietnamese Poster

Vietnamese actress/model Veronica Ngo – best known for her martial arts action roles in Lua Phat, Bay Rong and The Rebel – is currently hard-at-work with her directorial debut Tam Cam: The Untold Story.

This upcoming fantasy-adventure is based on the Vietnamese fairy tale The Story of Tam and Cam (Vietnam’s take on Cinderella) – but if you’re expecting nothing but a family-fun flick with magic wands and talking mice, this behind-the-scenes featurette (via Lee Mason) may prove you wrong.

Tam Cam: The Untold Story will hit Vietnamese theaters in the Summer of 2016. Until then, be sure to catch Ngo in the highly-anticipated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II, which will be premiering simultaneously on both Netflix and theaters on the first quarter of 2016.

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‘The Raid 2′ director pops his ‘Blister’ in early 2016!

"The Raid" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Raid" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Back in March of 2014, director Gareth Evans (The Raid 2) told Crave: “I don’t have any plans to do The Raid 3 within the next two or three years so I’m going to take a break from that franchise for a bit… I want to do some some things outside of Indonesia for like two films, then come back to Indonesia and shoot The Raid 3. I have another one I want to shoot with him first. Still in the action genre and it’s something that [Uwais] needs to train for for a fair amount of time.”

There’s a possibility that Evans is talking about Blister, a film with Raid 2 stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, that’s apparently in pre-production phase, as hinted by his latest tweet.

Evans describes Blister as his take on “the contemporary American gangster story with echoes of The Wild Bunch.” This remark should come as no surprise, since Evans expressed his love for the Sam Peckinpah classic in our interview with him back in December of 2013: “Peckinpah invented action cinema, the editing style, cinematography, fluidity – everything I’ve stolen has been from him,” said Evans. Along with Wild Bunch, Evans cites Jackie Chan’s Armor of God and John Woo’s Hard Boiled as the three movies that have have influenced him the most.

Updates: According to Evans’ latest tweet, the screenplay for Blister is almost complete and may start shooting early next year. We’ll keep you updated on Blister as we hear more. Stay tuned!

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Kick Boxer | aka Once Upon a Chinese Hero (1993) Review

"Kick Boxer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Kick Boxer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Wu Ma
Writer: Lee Man Choi
Producer: Yuen Biao
Cast: Yuen Biao, Shirley Lui Sau Ling, Yuen Wah, Yen Shi Kwan, Sheila Chan Suk Lan, Wu Ma, Gam Sap Yee, Chen Shan, Tai Bo, Anthony Carpio, Chu Tau, Louis Roth, Yuen Mao, Corey Yuen Kwai, Max Kasimsky
Running Time: 92 min.

By Paul Bramhall

There aren’t many people out there who would disagree that Jet Li being cast as Wong Fei Hung was an inspired choice. In 1991 director Tsui Hark revived the Wong Fei Hung character with Once Upon a Time in China, and Li went on to play Hung in 3 official sequels and 1 unofficial entry into the series. However something always bothered me about Once Upon a Time in China, and that was the fact that it had one of the greatest kung fu stars in the history of the genre, Yuen Biao, in merely a supporting role. The star of such classics as Prodigal Son and Righting Wrongs in a supporting role!? It just didn’t seem right.

For fans of Biao, it must have come as a great relief that just a couple of years later, Kick Boxer was released. Made almost as if to specifically alleviate the frustrations of those who wanted to see him front and center in a Wong Fei Hung tale, the production brings with it plenty of familiar faces from Once Upon a Time in China. Wu Ma steps into the directors chair as well as co-starring, the villain from Once Upon a Time in China, Yen Shi Kwan, here plays an incorruptible police captain, and Anthony Carpio takes on assistant action direction duties on top of appearing in front of camera.

Biao produced the movie (even having his Yuen Biao Films logo in the opening credits), and here plays a mischievous rascal called Lau Zhai, who’s trying to be taken on as a student of Wong Fei Hung. In 1993 the prospect of anyone other than Jet Li playing Fei Hung would be considered preposterous, so the script wisely sidesteps the whole issue, by having the character be absent from proceedings due to ‘traveling in Asia’. Biao and his friend, played by Wu Ma, have been in Hong Kong where they’ve picked up some herbs for the Po Chi Lam clinic. However unbeknownst to them, opium has been hidden in the packages they’re carrying, which ultimately leads to Biao being framed, and subsequently embarking on a mission to clear his name and redeem his reputation.

Both Wu Ma and Biao’s careers were often wildly uneven during the 90’s. While Ma continued to act in several movies per year, his directorial efforts around the same period, namely the likes of Exorcist Master and Circus Kids (which also featured Biao), were only average at best. Biao on the other hand seemed to be having a go at everything, from new wave wuxia like The Sword Stained with Royal Blood, to Filipino action cheapies like Tough Beauty and Sloppy Slop, to trying his hand at directing with A Kid from Tibet. As uneven as a lot of their output was though, for Kick Boxer their collaboration was one that would reap rewards for fans of Biao in action.

Apart from the cast members already mentioned, Kick Boxer deserves extra points for its villains, which come in the form of Yuen Wah and Chang Shan. The prospect of seeing Biao face off against either of them would be enough to warrant a watch, however with both of them onboard, expectations are understandably raised. Biao and Wah faced off against each other several times over the years, from Eastern Condors to The Iceman Cometh, and Biao must have recognized how much he works well paired with Wah, as he also brought him on board for The Kid from Tibet. Kick Boxer sadly marked the last time they’d go at it, so in many ways acts as a footnote to one of Hong Kong cinemas greatest kung fu pairings.

Everyone in the cast performs well though, especially Yen Shi Kwan as the gold shoe wearing police officer. Shi Kwan has one of the most recognizable faces in kung fu cinema, usually playing a memorable villain whether it be in old school classics like The Master Strikes, to new wave classics like Iron Monkey, also made in 1993. In Kick Boxer he gets to take a break from playing the villain, taking on the role of an upright police captain, and father to a female newspaper editor that Biao takes a liking to. Notably he’s also an asthmatic, which could well be a nod to Lam Ching Ying’s character in The Prodigal Son. Unfortunately playing a good guy doesn’t mean he gets any less of a painful demise, with a confrontation against Wah ending on a particularly cruel note.

While Kick Boxer clearly doesn’t have the same budget behind it as the likes of Once Upon a Time in China, it more than makes up for it with the action and creativity on display. At one point Biao and Shi Kwan engage in a game of chess on a human sized playing board, which sees them flipping and kicking chess pieces at each other set to an electric guitar rendition of the famous Wong Fei Hung theme. It’s random, but it keeps things entertaining. The movie also utilizes the bullet point of view shot that Ringo Lam created for his movie Full Contact, made the year prior, only instead of it being Chow Yun Fat against Simon Yam, its Yuen Wah against Yuen Biao. It’s these small touches and flourishes that help to elevate Kick Boxer above many of the similarly themed new wave movies that were coming out around the same time.

Of course the most important part in any kung fu movie starring Yuen Biao is how the action measures up. Thankfully he gets plenty of opportunities to shine, from an initial fight on a cruise liner against a group of angry waiters, to the finale, which sees him go on a one man rampage in the mansion where Wah resides. His physical dexterity is on display front and center, throwing out some kicks which seem to come from impossible angles. The promise of having Yuen Wah and Chang Shan as the villains also isn’t squandered when, having disposed of several of their lackeys, Biao gets to first take on Shan, decked in a sharp black suit and armed with a dagger, and then Wah.

Both fights feature some painful looking falls, and Wah’s fight in particular is entertaining, as every time he strikes a pose it’s accompanied by the sound effect of an eagles cry. Like any new wave movie of the era, there is wirework, however it’s used sparingly, and mostly to enhance impacts. Biao choreographed the action himself, along with another of the Seven Little Fortunes, Yuen Mao, who worked with Biao again on Circus Kids. It would have been great to see a series of Lau Zhai movies, but it apparently wasn’t to be. Biao wouldn’t take on action director duties again until several years later, and he never really went back to the type of mischievous character with a heart of gold that he portrayed so well in the likes of Prodigal Son and Dreadnaught.

As it stands though, Kick Boxer is a worthy entry into both Biao’s filmography and as a new wave kung fu movie. With the recent reboot of Wong Fei Hung in 2014’s Rise of the Legend, which seemed to do away with everything that makes these tales so entertaining in the first place, Kick Boxer is well worth seeking out as a reminder of why Hong Kong cinema was so great.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7.5/10

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

"Iceman" Blu-ray Cover

"Iceman" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Law Wing Cheong’s Iceman, starring International martial arts icon Donnie Yen (Special ID). A remake of the 1989 film Iceman Cometh, Yen plays a Ming era warrior who, along with his three traitorous childhood friends, are accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years later, they are defrosted and continue their battle in modern times where they left off.

Iceman also stars Eva Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), Wang Baoqiang (Lost in Thailand) and Simon Yam (The Thieves). Don’t miss our review!

Order Iceman from today!

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Gosei Sentai Dairanger: The Complete Series | DVD (Shout! Factory)

Gosei Sentai Dairanger: The Complete Series | DVD (Shout! Factory)

Gosei Sentai Dairanger: The Complete Series | DVD (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: November 10, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Gosei Sentai Dairanger: The Complete Series. Produced by Toei and Bandai, Super Sentai Zyuranger aired in Japan on February 19, 1993 to February 11, 1994, with a total of 50 episodes. It was later adapted into the 2nd Season of American TV’s Power Rangers series!

For the first time, Shout! Factory is delivering the entire Gosei Sentai Dairanger series in its original Japanese language, uncut and subtitled, in this 10-disc DVD set! The series stars Keiichi Wada, Tatsuya Nōmi, Ei Hamura, Keisuke Tsuchiya, Natsuki Takahashi and Hisashi Sakai. Watch the TV show’s original opening.

Pre-order Gosei Sentai Dairanger: The Complete Series from today!

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Donate to see Cynthia Rothrock in an uncensored ‘Bitchfight’

"No Retreat, No Surrender 2" American VHS Cover

"No Retreat, No Surrender 2" American VHS Cover

Action star Cynthia Rothrock (Shanghai Express) is reuniting with her No Retreat, No Surrender II co-star, Max Thayer, for a Grindhouse-style, Tarantino-esque martial arts flick titled Bitchfight, directed by UK filmmaker and cult movie historian, Dean Meadows.

According to a press release (via FCS), “Bitchfight harks back to the glory days of the 80’s and early 90’s when video stores where lined with low budget action classics from the likes of Golan/Globus, Roger Corman and Cirio Santiago.”

Meadows stated, “We’re making this movie for all those fans who remember the excitement of going into the video store and anticipating the next release from companies such as Cannon, you know the old-school stuff starring guys like Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff and Steve James…”

Bitchfight is set to start shooting in the Spring of 2015. Stay tuned!

Update: The filmmakers have unveiled a 30-day Kickstarter campaign in which supporters will gain access to an exclusive, uncut version of the film. This raw and uncensored cut will feature 25 minutes of footage not available anywhere else!

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Well Go USA brings home Indonesia’s ‘Golden Cane Warrior’!

"Golden Cane Warrior" Theatrical Poster

"Golden Cane Warrior" Theatrical Poster

This November, Well Go USA is bringing home Ifa Isfansyah’s The Golden Cane Warrior, an Indonesian Wu Xia epic, featuring martial arts choreography by Hong Kong’s Hung Yan Yan (Shaolin, Coweb, Time & Tide).

The film stars some of Indonesia’s most popular talents, including Christine Hakim, Nicholas Saputra, Reza Rahadian, Slamet Rahardjo, Prisia Nasution, Eva Celia and Tara Basro.

Official Plot: The Golden Cane: a relic of incomparable force, coveted by all. And with it, the training of a technique so unrivaled, it vanquishes all who dare oppose its power.

As Master Cempaka and her four disciples – orphans of her enemies, now heirs to the Cane – prepare for the new warrior guardian to ascend, an act of villainous betrayal threatens to destroy the clan and destabilize the realm. Their only hope to restore order lies in finding the elusive White Dragon, the only remaining pupil still equipped to unlock the mysteries of the Golden Cane.

The Golden Cane Warrior doesn’t hit shelves until November 3, 2015, but it’s currently available for pre-order on Blu-ray & DVD. If you haven’t already, check out the film’s trailer!

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Northern Limit Line | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Northern Limit Line | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Northern Limit Line | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: October 20, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Kim Hak-Soon’s Northern Limit Line (aka Battle of Yeonpyeong). This box office hit stars Kim Moo-Yul, Jin Goo, Lee Hyun-Woo, Lee Wan and Lee Chung-Ah.

June 29th, 2002. As the citizens of South Korea celebrate the FIFA World Cup, the North Korean navy sends two patrol boats to a disputed border in the Yellow Sea. The surprise attack on Battleship 357, now remembered as the Battle of Yeonpyeong, honors the men who bravely fought for freedom – on the Northern Limit Line. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Northern Limit Line from today!

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Yuen Woo-Ping’s ‘Vigilantes’ to be released in 2016?

"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 and TFC both state that the movie is “In Development,” with a U.S. release date set for 2016. Considering Yuen Woo-Ping has wrapped up Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, and has his hands full with Eight & a Half, a 2016 release for Vigilantes sounds feasible. We’ll see…

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Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 (1971) Review‏

"Stray Cat Rock: Beat '71" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Stray Cat Rock: Beat '71" Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Alleycat Rock: Crazy Riders ’71
Director: Toshiya Fujita
Writer: Tatsuya Asai, Hideichi Nagahara
Cast: Meiko Kaji, Takeo Chii, Tatsuya Fuji, Yoshio Harada, Takeo Chii, Yoshio Inaba, Bunjaku Han, Michiko Tsukasa
Running Time: 87 min.

By Kyle Warner

Director Toshiya Fujita returns to the Stray Cat Rock series for the fifth and final installment, Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 (aka Stray Cat Rock: Crazy Rider ’71). While I thought that the previous film signaled that the series was running out of steam, Fujita successfully livens things up and lets the series go out with a bang (literally and otherwise).

In Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo, Fujita broke away from the delinquent girl gang stuff that the series is generally known for, and he moves even further away from that sort of movie with Beat ’71. The final Stray Cat Rock film isn’t about cool, good-looking young people hanging out in clubs and getting into altercations with their rivals, instead it’s about homeless hippies and a society that doesn’t see a use for them.

Meiko Kaji plays Furiko, a hippie that lives with her friends in a broken down bus. She’s in love with Ryumei (Takeo Chii), a rich young man that’s given up his life of luxury for love. However, Ryumei’s dad doesn’t accept this, so he sends a biker gang to retrieve Ryumei and get him away from Furiko. Ryumei kills one of the bikers but he is abducted anyway – and what’s worse, Furiko is blamed for the biker’s murder. It’s not long before the hopelessly romantic Furiko breaks out of prison, skips town, and tracks down her lover. Her hippie friends hear about her escape and are originally against chasing after her, but when one of their own dies while masturbating with a jackhammer, they figure ‘what the hell?’ and begin a road trip to find their fugitive friend.

This is such a fun, weird movie. Easily one of my favorites of the series. Fujita’s style is very carefree and he encouraged improvisation from his actors. You can tell that the cast is having a good time. And though there are many laugh out loud moments to the film, Beat ’71 is not without its dramatic tension and political commentary.

When the hippies arrive in town looking for their friend, they’re met with general hostility by the townsfolk who just want them to leave. The hippies go to a grocery store and are told that they can’t buy anything. To which the hippies smile and say that they weren’t planning to pay anyway, they’re just taking what they want. By the end of the film, the bad guys and general townsfolk alike have all taken up arms and rallied against the hippies who refuse to leave their town.

Perhaps the most amusing part surrounding the hippie lifestyle comes early in the film when a magazine writer and photographer go to the hippie bus for interviews and photos. The hippies do their best to play the part that society expects from them, sniffing glue, playing with guns, and engaging in group sex for their guest’s entertainment. After they’ve been paid, the hippies drop the act and return to their usual activities.

Beat ’71 brings back many familiar Stray Cat Rock faces for the finale film. Takeo Chii, previously seen in Wild Jumbo, convincing plays Ryumei as a man lost between two worlds. Chii’s Wild Jumbo co-star Soichiro Maeno has a small part as a bad guy. Eiji Go once again plays the leader of an evil biker gang. Rikiya Yasuoka, the ‘cross-breed’ hero of Sex Hunter, makes a cameo appearance as a biker. And Bunjaku Han, who only missed out on one of the Stray Cat Rock films, also appears in a small role.

If there’s one major thing to hold against Beat ’71, it’s that it almost completely wastes series star Meiko Kaji. In the original film, Delinquent Girl Boss, Kaji was not the lead but she was definitely the most interesting performer of the cast. In Beat ’71 she’s relegated to a supporting part despite her star billing. Once her character Furiko busts out of jail and goes in search of Ryumei, she’s only seen sporadically until the finale. In her absence, the hippies take over the film, particularly the leaders of the troupe played by series regular Tatsuya Fuji and newcomer Yoshio Harada. Fuji and Harada are good enough to hold the film together while Kaji isn’t around, but the series star is missed.

Yoshio Harada’s one of my favorite actors and it was cool to see him in this, one of his earliest film roles. In his youth Harada was known for playing antiheroes and was one of Japanese cinema’s best tough guy leading men in the 70s and 80s. Later in his career, Harada became more of a character actor and would impress in both dramatic and comedic roles in films like Rokuro Mochizuki’s Onibi: The Fire Within, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Still Walking, and Katsuhito Ishii’s Party 7. If Harada had been around about ten to fifteen years earlier his name might be mentioned in the same breath as Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, and Shintaro Katsu. Alas, he was a generation behind those cinema giants and entered film during the 70s, just as the studio system started to die, with the Japanese film industry never fully recovering. In Harada’s own words, “I got on the last carriage of the last train.” Still, Harada gave us many great films, and his presence is very welcome in the Stray Cat Rock series. In his role as the hippie leader Piranha, Harada showcases a bit of everything he’d come to be known for, including great comedic timing and a cool tough guy swagger.

Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 was more than just the end of a series. Nikkatsu, the studio behind Stray Cat Rock and many of Japan’s most popular action movies, would soon shift towards producing pink films in order to stay afloat. Many actors that Nikkatsu had long been grooming quickly jumped ship, including Meiko Kaji. Beat ’71 and other films made by the studio around the same time mark the end of an era.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Stray Cat Rock series and I’m kind of sad that I’ve now reached the end. I’m trying to think of another series that’s like this one and I just can’t at the moment. It’s a strange series of films. They use many of the same actors from film to film, but never playing the same characters. Sometimes a Stray Cat Rock film is a gritty crime drama, other times it’s a youth comedy. One film deals with the subject of racism, another film has a dude dying from sexual excitement while using a jackhammer. And though the films are often funny and wildly different, they all invariably end in shocking, downbeat fashion. The Stray Cat Rock series is part Nikkatsu action movie, part Easy Rider, part counterculture comedy, and 100% 1970s.

Beat ’71 may not be the most polished of the bunch but it is one of the funniest. In general, Yasuharu Hasebe’s entries are the more dramatic and thought-provoking, but I think I’ll return to Fujita’s films more often. Wild Jumbo and Beat ’71 are cool, fun, and wild. I’m giving this film – and this series – a strong recommendation to fans of Japanese cinema.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Zoë Bell reunites with ‘Raze’ director for ‘Camino’

"Raze" Theatrical Poster

"Raze" Theatrical Poster

XLrator Media (Close Range) announced the U.S. release of the action-thriller Camino starring Zoë Bell (The Hateful Eight, Death Proof) and Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Open Windows) in a rare acting role. Fully financed and produced by Bleiberg Entertainment, the film will be released in early 2016 on XLrator’s “Turbo” action label.

Camino is directed by Josh C. Waller, who previously collaborated with Bell on Raze, written by Daniel Noah (Max Rose), and produced by Waller, Noah, and Ehud Bleiberg (The Iceman). Nicholas Donnermeyer and Barry Gordon executive produce along with Bell and Vigalondo. Bleiberg Entertainment and Red Granite International subsidiary Blue Box International are handling international sales at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Set in 1985, war photographer Avery Taggert (Zoë Bell) has built a solid career with her stark and honest imagery, all the while remaining emotionally distant from her subjects. When she embeds in the jungles of Colombia with a squad of missionaries led by a beloved and charismatic Spaniard known as “El Guero” (Nacho Vigalondo), she finds herself in the middle of a conflict as violent as any she’s photographed. One night, she happens upon El Guero committing a heinous atrocity, capturing the vile act on film, an image with the potential to discredit and destroy El Guero. Knowing this brilliant psychopath will employ every tactic at his disposal to destroy that photograph – and the photographer who took it – Avery flees into the harsh jungle with nothing but the camera hanging around her neck to escape from missionaries twisted into violent guerrillas by the madman intent on destroying all enemies.

“It was important after Raze and McCanick and especially after the past few years of our work within SpectreVision for me to make a film that ‘came from the gut.’ Something that felt true to myself and to the artists we surround ourselves with. I think we did it. We’ve made our own little ‘Electro-Jungle-Western.’ Plus, to be able to piece together a film almost entirely with our friends, that’s what it’s all about. Thanks goodness the folks at XLrator Media share that vision as well,” said director Josh C. Waller.

“It was great working with Josh and Daniel again. The film is filled with tension and there are so many great sequences. I can’t wait for people to see it,” said producer Ehud Bleiberg.

“Zoë Bell is a multitalented actress, martial artist and stuntwoman, having shown her incredible physical skills in Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, Raze, Django Unchained and her upcoming roles in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and our own film Paradox. Action fans will embrace her starring role in Camino where she gets to show her full range of talents,” said XLrator Media CEO Barry Gordon. received the above press release from XLrator Media (via Katrina Wan PR)

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Steven Seagal, Georges St. Pierre and Luke Goss battle drug dealers in Keoni Waxman’s ‘Killing Salazar’

"Killing Salazar" Teaser Poster

"Killing Salazar" Teaser Poster

At this point, we’re pretty sure Steven Seagal holds the record for having the most action films on his to-do/in-progress list. Director and frequent Seagal-collaborator Keoni Waxman (Absolution, Force of Execution) is currently on post-production phase for an upcoming flick titled Killing Salazar.

The film also stars MMA’s Georges St Pierre (Kickboxer: Vengeance) and Luke Goss (Tekken). Seagal’s role is rumored to be more of an extended cameo than the lead role, which doesn’t surprise us considering the bundle of products he has on his plate.

Here’s what you can expect from its plot: An elite team of DEA agents are assigned to protect a dangerous drug lord and take refuge in a luxury hotel while they await extraction. They soon find themselves at the center of an ambush as the drug lord’s former associates launch an explosive assault on the hotel.

Other Seagal film in the works include Code of Honor, Under Siege 3, Cypher, Perfect Weapon, The Asian ConnectionEnd of a Gun and Four Towers. As for Killing Salazar – we’ll keep you updated as we hear more. Stay tuned!

Updates: Added the film’s promotional poster.

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