From Asia With Lust Volume 1: Camp & Hitchhike | DVD (Troma)

From Asia With Lust: Volume 1 | DVD (Troma)

From Asia With Lust: Volume 1 | DVD (Troma)

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Troma presents the DVD for From Asia With Lust Volume 1: Camp & Hitchhike, a double feature directed by Ainosuke Shibata and starring Miyuki Yokoyama.

In Camp (trailer), a camping trip turns into a nightmare for two sisters when they become trapped by five dangerous men. One sister is brutally murdered, the other escapes. Now, it’s time for revenge! In Hitchhike (trailer), a couple are on a road trip, but when they pick up a hitch hiker along the way, all hell breaks loose!

Pre-order From Asia With Lust: Volume 1 from Amazon.com today!

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Zoe Bell joins Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’

"The Hateful Eight" Teaser Poster

"The Hateful Eight" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight revolves around Bounty hunters who seek shelter from a raging blizzard and get caught up in a plot of betrayal and deception. The film will star Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, James Remar, Amber Tamblyn, Walton Goggins and Zoe Bell.

Updates: Deadline reports that Tarantino has shelved The Hateful Eight, due to script leakage. Allegedly, the script was hosted and distributed by a website called Gawker. Deadline reports that Tarantino has filed a legal complaint against Gawker, charging the website copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement. Apparently, Gawker is was blaming Tarantino for making his script a ‘frenzy.’

During a recent live-reading of the “leaked” The Hateful Eight script (featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth and Bruce Dern), Tarantino announced that he may be filming The Hateful Eight next winter, and it will be based off a newly revised script with a totally new final chapter.

The Hateful Eight starts filming in January of 2015. The announced cast includes Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, James Remar, Amber Tamblyn and Walton Goggins. Although Christoph Waltz and Tim Roth performed at the film’s live-reading, they’re not officially tied to the “movie” version.

There’s also some talk (Indiewire, via FCS) about a theatrical release of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair – a combined, extended cut of Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 – which may also hit in 2015. | Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) is in talks to join the cast. | Jennifer Jason Leigh has landed the female lead.

According to Collider, Channing Tatum has officially joined The Hateful Eight. In addition, Demian Bichir (Machete Kills) has also stepping in. For the official plot synopsis, click here (beware of minor spoilers). In case you haven’t watched it yet, here’s the “leaked” teaser trailer. | Behind-the-scenes photos for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight, courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson.

BREAKING NEWS: Collider (via TW) reports that stunt woman/actress Zoe Bell (Kill Bill, Death Proof, Raze) is officially part of the Hateful Eight cast. Other cast additions include James Parks, Gene Jones, Dana Gourrier, Keith Jefferson, Lee Horsley, Craig Stark and Belinda Owino.

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R.I.P. Darren Shahlavi, actor and martial artist *updated*

"Zambo Dende" Promotional Poster

"Zambo Dende" Promotional Poster

Media outlets are reporting the death of English actor and martial artist Darren Shahlavi, who died at the age of 42 on January 14th.

According to Shahlavi’s brother, Bobby: “Darren died peacefully in his sleep. More details are still coming out. Thanks for all of your support. Please feel free to post your thoughts and memories of Darren Shahlavi as this is of great support and comfort to all of Darren’s family, friends and fans.”

Shahlavi has left behind a two decade-long body of work, including Tai Chi II (1996), Bloodmoon (1997), Beyond the Limits (2003), Tactical Force (2022), Mortal Kombat Legacy (2011), but he is perhaps best known to most audiences for co-starring in Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 2 (2011).

At the time of his death, Shahlavi was working on Kickboxer: Vengeance (2015) and a short film titled Zambo Dende (2015). His last completed films are the upcoming Pound of Flesh (2015), as well as a brief appearance in Tomorrowland (2015).

Our condolences go out to Shahlavi’s family and friends. If you would like to contribute to the Darren Shahlavi memorial fund, click here.

Update 1: Regarding the mysterious passing of Darren Shahlavi, Mike Leeder – film producer, co-star and friend of Shahlavi – wrote the following on his Facebook: “Even on Pound of Flesh, a few times Darren spoke of issues with a hip injury that had never fully healed but he continued to deliver the action required of him. Unfortunately he was recently prescribed a painkiller for his hip that he wasn’t used to, and a toxic reaction to it, has sadly taken him from us. His passing leaves an huge gap many of our hearts and in the industry, as his full potential had only just began to be explored. He leaves us a legacy with his film work, to enjoy, to learn from and to be inspired by, and lets remember the man and the way he lived…”

Update 2: After Donnie Yen learned about Shahlavi’s passing, he had this to say (via Weibo): “When we worked on that final scene, my co-star suddenly told me that actually we have already met at a martial art forum in England! At the time he was only 15. He said that from that day on he swore to become an actor. Gone too soon!” Here’s a photo of their first meeting in 1988, then again in 2011, on the set of Ip Man 2.

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A Stranger in Paradise | DVD (Freestyle)

A Stranger in Paradise | DVD (Freestyle)

A Stranger in Paradise | DVD (Freestyle)

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2015

Freestyle presents the DVD for A Stranger in Paradise, starring Colin Egglesfield, Byron Mann (The Corruptor), Gary Daniels (Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge), Catalina Sandino Moreno and Stuart Townsend.

On the verge of making partner at a multi-billion dollar hedge fund, Josh’s (Egglesfield) life is turned upside down when the SEC investigates the head of the company for insider trading. Forced into a well-timed vacation he never asked for, Josh soon finds himself in Bangkok with a price put on his head, courtesy of the Thai Mafia. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order A Stranger in Paradise from Amazon.com today!

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Revenge of the Green Dragons (2014) Review

"Revenge of the Green Dragons" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Revenge of the Green Dragons" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Andrew Lau, Andrew Loo
Writer: Andrew Loo, Michael Di Jiacomo
Cast: Ray Liotta, Justin Chon, Shuya Chang, Harry Shum, Jr., Kevin Wu, Billy Magnussen, Eugenia Yuan, Jin Auyeung, Joanna P. Adler, Alysia Reiner, Linda Wang, Jim Ford, Ron Yuan, Jon Kit Lee
Running Time: 95 min.

By oneleaf

Revenge of the Green Dragons is a Hong Kong/US co-production based on “true events” sourced from Fredric Dannen’s 1992 The New Yorker article of the same name. The piece explores the Green Dragons, a Chinese triad operating out of Queens, New York that terrorized the neighborhood in the ’80s. They specialized in human smuggling, extortion and drugs.

The film focuses on the rise and fall of two sworn brothers thrown together by fate. Young Sonny Tan (Alex Fox) and Steven Wan (Michael Gregory Fung) are both illegal immigrants who land on Ellis Island, New York. Because Sonny’s mother did not make the perilous journey to America, the smugglers force Mrs. Wan to take him in as her own and care for him.

Not long after their arrival, the Green Dragons forcefully enlist Steven using their usual tactic of “beating” potential recruits into submission. Sonny soon follows and they both leave the care of Mrs. Wan and join the family of Paul Wong (Harry Shum Jr. of Glee), their charismatic leader. In Wong, Sonny and Steven find a surrogate dailo (or “big brother”), thus begins their fateful lives into the dark side.

Justin Chon (The Twilight Saga), the adult Sonny, provides the narration. Chon’s monotonous voice needs work. There is almost no intonation in his delivery to liven up what is reflected on the screen. At times, he sounds bored. A more authoritative semi-baritone cadence would have served the film better. As far as screen acting, Chon does a passable job.

Frequent YouTube users will be familiar with Kevin Wu, better known by his stage name, KevJumba. He’s built quite a following for some of his unusual, comedic clips throughout the years. Wu’s portrayal of the adult Steven is unconvincing and wooden. He’s given the chance to dramatically personify his character after a near death experience. Unfortunately, he’s only able to exhibit little or no change in his demeanor in his subsequent scenes.

Fox, as the young Sonny, is a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t appear intimidated by the other adult co-stars in his presence. He’s able to emote with his eyes and facial expressions on point. The same can’t be said of Fung, portraying the young Wan, who basically spends the entire time looking bewildered and disengaged.

Other than Fox and Shum, none of the actors are “realistic.” Most, if not all, of the triad members over-act with over the top glares, screams, and posturing that don’t add any substance to the film. Shum’s character wasn’t given much to do except for popping in and out, barking orders and pseudo-philosophizing in front of his men. Shum definitely deserved more screen time. Chon and Wu were not household names, so casting them as leads for the film were most likely due to budgetary constraints (the movie has an estimated budget of only $5M).

Two directors on board – Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo – for such a simplistic movie is somewhat puzzling. I can only surmise that due to Loo’s inexperience as a director, Lau was brought in to “help” out with the project. Lau, who has made a name for himself in Hong Kong – having worked with A-listers such as Andy Lau, Leon Lai and Tony Leung – has misfired. Or was it Loo, his co-director, to blame?

Having Martin Scorsese (Casino) as executive producer didn’t help either. Other than lending his name – emblazoned in big bold letters – on the movie’s poster, his participation was obviously minimal. There isn’t a single hint of grit, taut or an engrossing story we would expect from Scorsese being involved. Even Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) couldn’t salvage this mess. Rumor has it that Scorsese’s involvement was merely a favor to Lau for his support in his film, The Departed, the American remake of Lau’s blockbuster, Infernal Affairs.

Revenge of the Green Dragons’ inane, generic script could have been lifted from any triad flick from the 90s. I found myself unable to identify with any of its underdeveloped characters. I also found it difficult to get through the movie in general.  It’s such a pity that its a weak adaptation of Dannen’s fascinating New Yorker article.

Not recommended.

oneleaf’s Rating: 3/10

Posted in Asian Related, Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Gareth Evans will return for ‘The Raid 3′ in 2018 or 2019

"The Raid 2" International Theatrical Poster

"The Raid 2" International Theatrical Poster

If 2009′s Merauntau hinted that director Gareth Evans was on to something special, then 2011′s The Raid proved our point. With 2014′s The Raid 2: Berandal, expectations were not only met, they were drastically surpassed.

Fact is, in such a short amount of time, Evans is an ingenious filmmaker who is on one hell of a creative peak; funny thing is, something tells us the guy hasn’t even reached his peak yet. Using The Beatles as analogy: If Merauntau is “Meet the Beatles,” then The Raid is “Rubber Soul;” If The Raid 2 is “Revolver,” then perhaps The Raid 3 will be “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”?

With Hollywood remaking The Raid, and Stallone trying to top its excessive, yet inventive string of violence, Evans has made his mark as one of the hottest action directors working in film today. And he does it with a limited budget, a foreign language and no big names or stars (which has obviously changed for Iko Uwais).

In celebration of Evans’ cinematic victory, we decided to jump the gun on The Raid 3. You can count on us to keep this article updated with the latest news and developments.

So far, here’s what we know about The Raid 3:

“If The Raid 2 starts two hours after the first film, The Raid 3 will start three hours before The Raid 2 finishes. We’ll go back in time a little, and then we’ll branch off. So for me – without giving too much away – I want to try a different landscape. I want to try to shoot something that’s very, very different from the first and the second one. So visually it’ll look completely different, tone-wise it’ll be very different. So there’s a lot going on there, a lot of ideas going around in my head, it’s just a case of putting them down on paper. We’re in the process of developing it for maybe two years down the line,” says Evans. Source: Denofgeek.com

“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. You have to make good with some weaponry, my friend,” says Evans. Source: Craveonline.com

Evans is currently developing other projects, including gangster action film Blister. He is also planning on another martial arts film with Uwais, potentially shooting that and The Raid 3 back-to-back in Indonesia. Source: Screendaily.com

Evans has brought up Scott Adkins on numerous occasions, so you can’t deny that Adkins has a chance of appearing in The Raid 3. Even Adkins himself has tweeted: “I’m officially stating it NOW!! @ghuwevans better me put in The Raid 3!! Here’s what Evans had to say about him: ”Scott Adkins I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on a few occasions. He’s ridiculously talented with an all round skillset that combines fight techniques with athleticism and acrobatics. I’m looking for the right project, once I do I would love to work with him on something.” Source: cityonfire.com

According to imdb.com, martial arts super star Tony Jaa (Ong Bak) may be joining the cast of The Raid 3. Although imdb’s information may or may not be accurate, it’s definitely a 50/50 scenario. Here’s what Evans had to say about Jaa: 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. Of course there’s been a fair amount of mud thrown around regarding the situation between artist and production company but that’s not for us to know nor is it in any way something that takes anything away from his all round talents. With the right script, the right role and please God no elephants.” Source: cityonfire.com

We received a reply from Evans himself regarding Tony Jaa’s appearance in The Raid 3. Here’s what he had to say: “That’s just someone posting it up on imdb.com. I have a huge amount of respect for Tony, but I haven’t even put pen to paper on The Raid 3 yet, and it won’t happen for a couple of years.”

Updates: Evans took to Twitter to give us an update (or lack thereof) for the 3rd chapter of The Raid series: “The Raid 3 isn’t going to be happening anytime soon. Ideas in my head. Nothing written. No set date. 2018/19 possibly.”

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Metal Hurlant Chronicles | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

Metal Hurlant Chronicles | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

Metal Hurlant Chronicles | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2015

Shout Factory presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Metal Hurlant Chronicles: The Complete Series.

Metal Hurlant Chronicles features fan favorite and martial artist Scott Adkins (Assassination Games), Michael Jai White (Falcon Rising, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown), Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2) and Matt Mullins (Blood and Bone). The show is based off a popular comic book anthology of science fiction and fantasy by legendary artist Moebius, which was published in the US as Heavy Metal.

Pre-order Metal Hurlant Chronicles from Amazon.com today!

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Deal on Fire! Bruce Lee Premiere Collection | Blu-ray | Only $14.99 – Expires soon!

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

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

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

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

Order the Bruce Lee Premier Collection from Amazon.com today!

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Falcon Rising (2014) Review

"Falcon Rising" Theatrical Poster

"Falcon Rising" Theatrical Poster

AKA: Favela
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Y.T. Parazi
Producer: Shahar Stroh, Etchie Stroh
Cast: Michael Jai White, Neal McDonough, Laila Ali, Lateef Crowder, Hazuki Kato, Millie Ruperto, Masashi Odate, Jimmy Navarro, Jazmín Caratini, Daniel Cardona, Arzoris Perez
Running Time: 100 min.

By HKFanatic

Back in May of 2013, the producers of Falcon Rising boldly announced that the film – which hadn’t released a single image yet – would be the beginning of a series of action movies, with 1-2 entries planned for release every year. The lead character of John Falcon, to be played by Michael Jai White, was billed as America’s next action hero: a new hero for a new age.

To say that the producers behind Falcon Rising were ambitious would be an understatement. It was impossible to predict whether the film would strike a chord with audiences – all they really had to bank on was the marketability of leading man Michael Jai White, who was admittedly beloved by action fans for movies like Undisputed II and Black Dynamite. But was White’s star power enough to base an entire movie franchise around?

Apparently, yes. Here we are, over a year since the film was first announced, and Falcon Rising has finally arrived on DVD as well as Netflix’s streaming service. And after watching it, I have to admit…hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel.

Of course, as Falcon Rising opens, the character of John ‘Falcon’ Chapman is in no shape to be a hero. He’s a suicidal ex-marine suffering from a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A few minutes into the movie, Michael Jai White encounters a convenience store robbery – and actually begs the armed robbers to shoot him in the head before he takes them down. Now how’s that for a twist on the kind of scene you see in every Steven Seagal movie?

But as alone as he is, Chapman still has someone he cares about: his younger sister. A kind soul, she’s off doing volunteer work in the crime-ridden favelas of Rio de Janeiro. When his sister is viciously attacked and left for dead, Chapman boards the soonest flight to Brazil in order to track down her mysterious assailants. Along the way, Chapman is bound to draw police attention and crack a few skulls, but he might also find the very thing he so desperately needs in life: a new mission.

I was a bit worried when the movie started and I saw the credit ‘directed by Ernie Barbarash.’ Barbarash can be a hit-and-miss kind of filmmaker. While his most recent effort with Jean-Claude Van Damme, the respectable 6 Bullets, somewhat redeemed him in my eyes, I hold a bit of a grudge that he united two action stars as great as Van Damme and Scott Adkins and still delivered a movie as dull and action-less as Assassination Games.

A part of me wondered which Barbarash was behind the camera for Falcon Rising, and the first 30 minutes or so did little to ease my fears. There’s very little in the way of action during the opening act, which seems something of a crime when you have a leading man as buff and formidable as Michael Jai White (seriously, the guy is as big as the Hulk in this movie). While it’s admittedly interesting to see White play against type – we rarely see him portray a character as troubled and despair-ridden as John Chapman is at the beginning of the movie – viewers are likely more interested in watching White display his karate chops than his acting chops. At least when Falcon Rising is promising to launch America’s next great action hero.

But I’m pleased to say that once the story does get rolling, Falcon Rising gains momentum in a big way and the final thirty minutes deliver plenty of well-shot fight scenes. Michael Jai White is once again reunited with action choreographer Larnell Stovall (Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown), and the dynamic duo do not disappoint. During his fight scenes, White moves with the confidence and stopping force of a bulldozer; like any great action star, White displays a fighting style that’s all his own. At this point in his career, Michael Jai White deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Donnie Yen as one of the greatest martial artists working today.

Being a low-budget production, Falcon Rising is not without its flaws. The nonstop action in the third act is something of a double-edged sword: as soon as the violence picks up, White’s character loses a lot of what made him interesting – the inner turmoil, the suicidal behavior – as Falcon Rising begins to resemble your standard revenge movie. And I’m convinced Ernie Barbarash could have lobbed off a good 10 minutes of scene padding, easily, and resulted in much faster-paced and more exciting movie overall. There are also a few weak performances, and Barbarash continues his trend of using garish color coding. The visual palette in this movie is super-saturated, likely to emphasize the hot temperatures of its Brazilian setting, but it has the unfortunate result of making poor Neal McDonough look like an Albino.

Still, Falcon Rising offers enough to recommend for those in the mood for the simple pleasures of a solid direct-to-DVD action movie. Much like eating fast food, you may slightly regret watching it after the fact, but you’ll definitely enjoy yourself while it’s in front of you. Even if Falcon Rising doesn’t offer as much blistering action as Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear or boast the artistic aspirations of Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, the movie does feature Michael Jai White doing what he does best – which is its own reward.

HKFanatic’s Rating: 6/10

Posted in Asian Related, News, Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Bruce’s Deadly Fingers (1976) Review

"Bruce's Deadly Fingers" Chinese Poster

"Bruce's Deadly Fingers" Chinese Poster

AKA: Bruce’s Fingers
Director: Joseph Kong
Writer: Joseph Kong
Cast: Bruce Le, Michael Chan Wai Man, Lo Lieh, Nora Miao Ke Hsiu, Cheung Lik, Chu Chi Ling, Bolo Yeung Tze, Kong Do, Tong Tin Hei, Li Chao, Kok Lee Yan
Running Time: 90 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

The “MacGuffin” or “suspension of disbelief” (a reference term coined by Sharon Stone’s femme fatale character from Basic Instinct) has neither been a celluloid problem for the Bruce-exploitation cinema: in fact, while the component of “suspense” will always be obviously absent, “disbelief” otherwise is hardly an amiable or befitting word to describe this trashy genre once purposely formulated to capitalize on Bruce Lee’s star attraction. Although financiers undoubtedly earned substantial amounts from box office receipts, it was the performers who had too contend with harsh criticism, typecasting and generally bad working conditions churning out utter rubbish, and catering to the demands of over-zealous directors knowing full well that their film contributions would not only symbolize an unflattering legacy; but, they – themselves would also become objects of derision.

The passage of time, however, has been somewhat a little magnanimous in respect to all, but, a handful of these performers – formerly monickered as “pseudo androids,” whose signature onscreen idiosyncrasies transpired to be negligible to say the least; yet astonishingly withstood conventional disparity by being socially relabeled as “tribute entertainers” replete with facsimile hairstyles, oversized tinted sunglasses and the obligatory Game of Death jumpsuit: all trademark accountrements enough to assault or insult viewers’ senses.

Incredulous as this may appear, the masses indeed continually laugh on, howling at the absurd perversity of such schlock material as Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave (1976) or The Clones of Bruce Lee (1977) for alternative visual recreation. Why? And what was the need?! How can anyone justify the psychology behind the deeper aspects of such a grotesque premise(s): cloning Bruce Lee to combat a multitude of nefarious, badly dressed drug peddlers; or resurrecting Bruce Lee in a martial arts struggle against Satan himself as epitomized by a lanky black dude in a red cape. C’mon!

In any event, misappropriation of scientific genetics or esoteric occultism do not interbreed with the extant philosophies of Bruce Lee or the martial arts in general! However, production aesthetics nonwithstanding, it was almost as if there was an internalized shame (collectively) projected towards Lee’s passing, and these films were a metaphor for (an) emotional purging, designed simultaneously to lift audiences out of despondency while striking below the belt, virtually endorsing the paranoid whims of conspiracy theorists – at least that’s how it was in the beginning with the likes of Ho Chung Tao (aka Bruce Li ), a former P.E. instructor/ stuntman who reluctantly excepted ‘The Bruce Lee’ mantle and fought very hard to reclaim his identity.

One can understand, even sympathize with the administrative conventions of Tao’s decade long career having too persistently vie for superior scripts to match his own distinctive qualities, unlike other emulators’ who usurped opportunity through perfunctory means, eagerly surfing head-on towards the heart of a tsunami instead of riding the break to cult stardom.

Heung Kim Lung (aka Bruce Le ) was in the calibre of the former. With a vague resemblance to the late maestro, Heung was an excellent martial arts tactician, but rarely took advantage of his full range. Although lithe and physically chisled, his onscreen fighting style tended to be very rigid and paced to a timed response with each opponent throwing out a repeititive stream of basic techniques: an old school approach which in comparative terms evinced a type of singular artificiality not conspicuous in Tao’s work.

Indeed Tao’s choreography was probably more structurally realistic, whereas Heung’s arrangements – though powerful in application – bordered on theatricalism in lieu of grace or fluidity.

Many feel Heung had no personal qualms about being tagged as “an imitator,” unlike Tao – who has publically denounced his former profession. Heung, on the other hand has neither spoken – at least in the west – in any forum about his questionable film choices; whether in self criticism, promotion or even his own thoughts on Bruce Lee! What is surprising, even shocking in some instances was the sheer volume of actual ‘Bruce Lee’ co-stars, friends or colleagues willing too appear in these obtuse, artless forms of oriental expressionism: Bolo Yeung, Nora Miao, Jon T. Benn, Shek Kien, Lo Lieh, Carter Wong and Chan Wei Man by example – all manifest with embarassing regularity, especially Bolo who has inordinately wrestled against Heung for the duration of a moderate career spent in the shadows of others before his own untimely confinement (in)to obscurity.

Armed with one of the most irritating swaggers in cinema history, as well as an effectation for extremely tight vests/oversized sunglasses and incongruous facial mannerisms far exceeding the need to advertise constipation. From the outset, Heung was a walking travesty, and in a manner of speaking deserved to be ridiculed for abusing his inherent talent to the level where even he eventually outstayed his welcome; yet in that brief period achieved something (?) quite marginal before excepting an unwise career relocation to the Philippines, destroying what, if any, credibility he had remaining by attaching his name to dire oddities such as: Bruce: The Super Hero (1979), Bruce: The King of Kung Fu (1981 ), Bruce and the Shaolin Bronzmen (1981) and so forth. How it came to this is an enigma in itself?!

Born (and educated) in Ragoon to a Burmese mother and Chinese father, Heung – at the tender age of eleven – had familiarized himself with the harsh disciplines of white crane kung fu, Hong Quan and numerous styles of Karate prior to inaugurating his own martial arts kwoon in Macao. It was here under (the) Portuguese administration he was first introduced to studio director, Wang Feng – a Shaw brothers alumni who was scouting for new talent from authentic martial arts backgrounds.

After an impromptu demostration, Feng immediately requested him to attend a screentest for the Shaws in Hong Kong. Hestitant at first, he obliged and was soon awarded minor support roles, varying from contemporary productions (Hong Kong 73, The Teahouse, Big Brother Cheng, Super lnframan) to one traditional feature (Rivals of Kung Fu) before being offered his debut lead as Cheng Chao Ah in The Big Boss Part 2 – a direct sequel which continues the exploits of our protagonist following his prison release.

In stark contrast, Bruce’s Deadly Fingers was altogether a different animal, that; although produced the same year as Ho Chung Tao’s superior Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger, marked the beginning of Heung’s decline into anarchic repugnance. Firstly, the script was so utterly forgettable; it actually made the cinematography look stylishly gritty, showcasing familiar Hong Kong locales – infamously blighted by destitution, economic squalor and congestion. Unsurprisingly, photographing poverty stricken ghettos or shooting in less than desirable exteriors: trashy nightclub dives or recreational parks, etc. became something of a recurring blueprint for Heung’s (then) prospective film additions. However, instead of Hong Kong, Bangkok/Manila again became regular haunts for Heung to grimace and over exaggerate his snake fist style under the prosaic direction of Joseph Kong (aka Joe Velasco).

Despite flagrant imagery of degradation, torture and brutality – Bruce’s Deadly Fingers was an audacious move, creeping into darker avenues of exploitation where even Ho Chung Tao refused to venture, with exception of his first lead in Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story (1974). The world on offer here, stringent and morose, opens to some very impressive psychedelic visuals – backed by the twangs of a Spaggetti Western-type soundtrack. It probably was (I), as Hong Kong cinema was once famous for appropriating other musical scores for added dramatic tension: i.e. John Williams’ Star Wars theme was unconvincingly overdubbed on a print of Jackie Chan’s Magnificent Bodyguards (1977).

In this case, recognizing hybridized cultural references is the least of critics’ anxieties, particularly as film buffs are woefully subjected to the eponymous Bruce Wong’s (Heung Kim Lung) return to Hong Kong on a single minded quest to discover the truth of his late mentor (Bruce Lee), who passed away under super-extraordinary conditions… sounds familiar! An insipid subplot involving Wong’s missing sister throws a proverbial spanner in the works as the remainder of the storyline initially preocuppies itself with the search for an alleged manual written by Bruce Lee before his untimely exit.

In spite of sparse production values/budgetary limitations and capriciously, it’s a race against time with customary nemesis Lo Lieh and interpol agent Chan Wei Man – both fading in and out of each scene with distinct flamboyance. Naturally, their goals coincide. Meantime, Wong hopelessly stumbles from one situation to another contending with inept kidnappings, murder, incarceration, liberation – though conceptually vacant – and finally prolonged training sequences where suspended mannequins are unflatteringly jabbed and prodded in typical robotic Heung Kim Lung mode. What ensues – after demostrating his inner techniques on a Wing Chun wooden dummy – is nearly twenty minutes of incremental punching, varied kicks, grappling and some dynamic nunchaku encounters against a battallion of ineffectual bodyguards, climaxing with Heung’s furious implementation of iron finger kung fu to the synthesized bass rifts of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Verdict: Between frenetic pacing, as well as a dismal catalogue of sour dialogue pertaining to ridiculous discussions about rice bowls, which is neither inspirational or philosophical enough to warrant appreciation; especially as this verbal exchange features Bruce Lee’s former real-life wing chun sifu, Wong Shum Leung: veritably, one could ponder as too his intentions for appearing in such total nonsense. The same should apply to Nora Miao, who exhibits an aura of discomfort throughout. However, Chan Wei Man otherwise looks sedate under a great maine of hair until decisively venting a flurry of idiosyncratic strikes on the obligatory man mountain that is Bolo, while the King Boxer himself, Lo Lieh, embellishes his role with a kind of demonic gusto that only he was privvy and qualified to express.

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 5/10

Posted in Bruceploitation, Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

New trailer for live action adaptation of Japan’s ‘Patlabor’

The Next Generation: Patlabor" Promotional Poster

The Next Generation: Patlabor" Promotional Poster

In Hollywood, live-action films based on comic books and cartoons are definitely the in-thing, but Hollywood isn’t the only place that’s bringing giant robots and super heroes to the big screen.

A live-action series adaptation of Mamoru Oshii’s Patlabor – titled The Next Generation: Patlabor – will be making its April premier in Japan. The 7-part series, which revolves around a police robot pilot squad in a futuristic Tokyo, will be followed by a feature-length film that will open in 2015.

Updates: Teaser trailer. | Full length trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: New trailer for the feature film, which will be releasing in Japan on May 1, 2015. Thanks to SFJ (via FCS).

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Deal on Fire! Missing in Action: Double Feature | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

Missing in Action: Double Feature | Blu-ray (MGM)

Missing in Action: Double Feature | Blu-ray (MGM)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for the Missing in Action: Double Feature, which includes Joseph Zito’s Missing in Action (1984) and Lance Hool’s Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1984/1985).

Fun Trivia: Missing in Action was originally intended to be a sequel to Missing in Action 2 (which was actually filmed before Missing in Action), but when producers realized Missing in Action was the stronger of the two, they swapped the release dates, as well as the titles.

Order the Missing in Action: Double Feature from Amazon.com today!

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Divine Move, The (2014) Review

"The Divine Move" Korean Theatrical Poster

"The Divine Move" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Jo Beom-Goo
Writer: Yu Seong-Hyeop
Producer: Seo Gang-Ho
Cast: Jeong Woo-Sung, Lee Bum-Soo, Ahn Seong-Gi, Kim In-Kwon, Lee Si-Young, Ahn Gil-Gang, Lee Do-Kyung, Choi Jin-Hyuk, Jeong Hae-Gyun, Ahn Seo-Hyun, Kim Myung-Su, Hwang Chun-Ha
Running Time: 118 min.

By Paul Bramhall

The gambling genre seems to come in and out of fashion in Asian cinema. The early 80’s gave us Shaw Brothers gambling flicks such as Challenge of the Gamesters, by the early 90’s we had Chow Yun Fat doing his thing in the God of Gamblers movies, and in recent years it seems the genre is back on the scene. Hong Kong gave us From Vegas to Macau and its sequel, and in 2014 Korea gave us The Divine Move.

Helmed by Jo Beom-goo, the director who gave us the Korean version of Speed on a motorbike with the 2011 action comedy Quick, The Divine Move revolves around the game of Go. Go involves placing black and white stones on a chequered playing board, the idea being for the players to outwit each other by surrounding the opposing players stones with their own. By the time the board is full, whoever has surrounded the most of the opposing players stones is the winner. Of course, there are countless nuances and intricacies outside of the above explanation, but that’s the basic concept.

The movies kicks off by introducing us to a pair of brothers, the younger of whom is played by Jeong Woo-seong, barely recognizable under a thick mop of hair and glasses, that are on their way to attend a game of Go. It quickly become clear that things are not quite right when the older brother explains he wants his younger sibling to stay back, guiding the game from their vehicle, thanks to a hidden camera and ear piece he’ll be wearing. Woo-seong reluctantly agrees, however when a storm knocks out the connection between them, the older brother is left to figure things out for himself against a superior opponent. Things go wrong, the price of losing is a slashed throat, and after Woo-seong attempts to save his brother, he’s ultimately caught by the police and jailed.

These events are what kick off The Divine Move, which declare what kind of movie it’s going to be from those very first minutes – Jailed younger brother is going to avenge his older brother’s death at the hands of Go playing gangsters. Just like director Beom-goo’s previous effort Quick, it’s an unashamedly straight forward plot device, only instead of being used for motorbike chases and explosions, here it’s used for tension filled games of Go and fist fights. Also like in Quick, the simplicity of the plot works as much in the movies favor as it does against it, but we’ll get into that more later.

The always reliable Woo-seong does a great job in his role. Most well known amongst action fans for his roles in movies like The Good, The Bad, The Weird, Cold Eyes, and Reign of Assassins, soon his character is playing Go with the chief of the prison, as well as being trained how to fight by a fellow inmate. This is the type of movie were you can have a one vs. many brawl in a prison yard in the middle of the night, and not a single guard will be around to see it. Scenes like this make The Divine Move play out more like an exaggerated comic rather than something that’s grounded in reality, and perhaps in recognition of this, the opening titles are also designed in a comic book style.

By the time Woo-seong is released from prison and ready to start bringing on the pain and, well, playing Go (not necessarily in that order), the movies biggest problem becomes apparent – we still don’t really know a single thing about him. Beom-goo seems to have been so pre-occupied with creating cool scenes of characters playing Go and beating each other up, that character development seems to have been left by the wayside. We know his brother was murdered, but why were they there in the first place, what’s their background? It’s something which is never explored, which makes everything feel very one dimensional, and dare I say flat.

The character development issue spills over into every other character in the movie – Woo-seong enlists the help of a down and out homeless Go master (who is also blind just for good measure) played by Ahn Seong-gi, but again we find out nothing about him and how he ended up the way he is, other than he had some past association with the same gangsters that murdered Woo-seong’s brother. The gangsters have a female master amongst them played by Lee Si-yeong, who looks like she doesn’t really enjoy working for them, and it’s mentioned in passing that she won a national Go competition when she was 20 then disappeared. Again, this is all we find out about her, even though she becomes a crucial character to the plot. Most glaringly of all though, is a Chinese child who the gangsters seem to be keeping captive due to her incredible Go playing ability, but who is given no back-story or explanation as to how she got there.

What this ultimately means for the viewer is that we’re left with a bunch of characters who we don’t really know anything about, so therefore have no connection with. What we do get though, is an abundance of scenes with characters playing Go, and then beating the living daylights out of each other, sometimes they play Go and beat each other up at the same time. One scene, which also seems to have come straight out of a comic book, has Woo-seong lock himself and one of gangsters in a freezer room, in which he’s set up a Go board in the middle of the floor and proceeds to turn the temperature down to -35. It’s all rather absurd that each of the gangsters he comes across seems happy to have a sit-down game of Go with him before getting down to the violence, but somehow The Divine Move exists in a world were playing Go seems to be the equivalent of boxers tapping their gloves together before a fight.

By the end of the movie the games of Go have also become one of its flaws, as there are simply too many of them. While Beom-goo does manage to infuse most of them with a sense of tension, there are a couple too many, which just end up feeling like a chore to watch. Thankfully the plot attempts to go out with a bang thanks to a bloody finish, in a year which seems to have brought back the brutal knife fight with a vengeance (see also No Tears for the Dead and Man on High Heels), Woo-seong and his blade also deliver an effectively wince worthy final showdown against those he’s seeking vengeance against.

All in all The Divine Move would perhaps be better titled Go and Violence, as that’s essentially what it amounts to. The 2006 Korean movie Tazza: The High Rollers took a similar concept, except instead of Go it was Flower Cards, and pulled it off with much more feeling, thanks to giving us characters that we cared about and a decent back-story. While Tazza had the likes of Kim Yoon-seok and Kim Hye-soo amongst its cast, actors like Woo-seong and Seong-gi are more than capable of giving equally charismatic performances, which leaves the finger pointed squarely at director Beom-goo. For his next movie, here’s hoping he keeps the fist fights, and exchanges the games of Go for some scenes were we can get to know the characters that we’re about to spend 2 hours with.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6.5/10

Posted in Korean, News, Reviews | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Hero and the Terror | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

Hero and the Terror | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

Hero and the Terror | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

RELEASE DATE: June 2015

Kino Lobber presents the Blu-ray for 1988′s Hero and the Terror, directed by William Tannen (Flashpoint) and starring Chuck Norris (Slaughter in San Francisco), Brynn Thayer, Steve James (American Ninja) and Jack O’Halloran.

A notorious killer is back to terrorize Los Angeles, and only one man can stop him. Martial arts superstar Chuck Norris packs a powerful punch in this “exciting” (Variety) action-thriller about a tough L.A. cop’s pursuit of a savage villain from his past. Watch the trailer.

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles | Tagged | 3 Comments

Justin Lin takes on season two of ‘True Detective’

"Finishing the Game" Theatrical Poster

"Finishing the Game" Theatrical Poster

If you have not seen the first series of the superb True Detective, stop what you are doing and stream it now. Nic Pizzolatto’s masterpiece was everything that good television should be. Gripping from the get go, turns at every occasion, a realism not seen in TV since the days of The Wire - just don’t mention series five – and stellar acting from Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan and a star turn from Matthew McConaughey.

That was series one, so why should you be excited and tuning in for series two?

1. Justin Lin

Taiwanese director Justin Lin is sitting in the director chair for the first two episodes. The director, who shot to universal fame with the hugely popular Fast and Furious movie franchise, has proven he has the chops to handle the medium of television. His handling of Community is evidence of this.

What makes Lin a reason to watch True Detective is his filmography background. He knows how to do action extremely well, but he is one of the rare few who can mix it with emotive sentiment. His Bruce Lee mockumentary, Finishing the Game, really showcased the director’s ability to do serious filming as well. - esharki

The only criticism that one could have from the first season of True Detective is that it was slightly devoid of action. Lin will be able to weave action into the fabric of a realistic story.

Lin, who will also be directing Star Trek 3, has all the makings of a great director and soon his efforts will be rewarded in the shape of awards and acclaim.

2. Cast

You would be hard-pressed to find a more star-studded cast than the second series of True Detective. It is staggering, but also testament to the quality of Pizzolatto’s work, that so many genuine Hollywood A-listers would sign on.

The first name was impeccable Irish actor Colin Farrell. Long gone are his wild-boy antics. Instead, the 39-year-old now devotes all of himself to his craft; unsurprisingly his stock has gone up significantly in recent years. Farrell, who started out as your generic action hero, has now proven that he can do serious acting. In Bruges, Saving Mr Banks, and Seven Psychopaths are just three of his best. In Farrell, much like Lin, you have an actor capable of action – realistic and comedic action. We know that Farrell will be playing the role of Ray Velcoro, the detective of the series. If Farrell can find the perfect melange of his acting skills then Velcoro has the potential to be better than McConaughey’s Rust Cohle.

Vince Vaughn was the second man to be announced. He will be playing the role of Frank Seymon, someone who is in with the mob. It is great to see that Vaughn is not typecast in a comedic role; this really is an opportunity to show Hollywood’s directors that he is capable of serious. Expect him to take the bull by the horns. It will be interesting to see if sport is incorporated into the character of Vaughn, who is an avid hockey fan and a season ticket holder to annual ice hockey betting favourites the Chicago Blackhawks – as well as following numerous other sports franchises – as it is a strength that he possesses. - david shankbone

Rachel McAdams of The Notebook, Sherlock Holmes and Midnight In Paris will play the female lead, while Taylor Kitsch, recognisable to many as Gambit from X-Men Origins, is also involved in some capacity.

Now, when you look at that cast it really does just scream talent. If all four of these stars were sharing the big screen together you would call it an A-List movie cast. We know how good these guys are in cinema, but can you imagine how good their acting and character development will be when they have a story arch that totals eight hours rather than the two hours they get in movies?

3. Location

The backwaters of Louisiana was the setting for the first series – drawing inspiration from the heinous crimes of the Hosanna Church, and it was brilliant. By bringing light to an undocumented part of the States all viewers were looking at a location that had no real comparison in regards to television.

This season will be no different. Pizzolatto has stated that the series will be based in California, but it will not be in one of the big cities of the state. Again he is showing the viewer a new part of America, a part where the “American Dream” simply does not exist.

4. Pizzolatto

Pizzolatto himself is a reason to get involved with the series. The 39-year-old is very much a wordsmith, and this is his magnum opus. He rightly takes great pride in his work and does not want to do anything that will tarnish the reputation of his legacy. So, if anything, expect him to outdo himself with his second attempt.

With a fantastic director in Justin Lin, combined with an awesome cast and a sublime writer, you just know that True Detective is going to be a barnstormer.

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An Eye for an Eye | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

An Eye for an Eye | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

An Eye for an Eye | Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

RELEASE DATE: June 2015

Kino Lorber presents the Blu-ray for 1981′s An Eye for an Eye starring Chuck Norris (Slaughter in San Francisco). The Blu-ray features a commentary with director Steve Carver (Lone Wolf McQuade).

When Norris’ partner is brutally murdered, he quits the force and goes beyond the law to seek vengeance against the ones responsible. The film also stars Christopher Lee (The Man with the Golden Gun), Richard Roundtree (Shaft), Mako (The Big Brawl) and Mel Novak (Game of Death). Watch the trailer.

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Massacre Gun | Blu-ray & DVD (Arrow Video)

Massacre Gun | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Massacre Gun | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2015

Arrow Video presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1967′s Massacre Gun. Jo Shishido (Branded to Kill) stars in this violent yakuza flick from Seijun Suzuki’s (Tokyo Drifer) former assistant, Yasuharu Hasebe (Assault! Jack the Ripper).

Kuroda (Shishido) is a mob hitman who turns on his employers after being forced to execute his lover. He joins forces with Eiji (Tatsuya Fuji from In the Realm of the Senses) and Saburo (Jiro Okazaki from Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter). Together, the trio escalate their mob retaliation to all-out turf war! Watch the trailer!

Pre-order Massacre Gun from Amazon.com today!

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

The Raid 2′s Hammer Girl joins Albert Pyun’s ‘Kickboxer’

"Kickboxer 2" Theatrical Poster

"Kickboxer 2" Theatrical Poster

1989′s Kickboxer was just another stepping stone on a young Jean-Claude Van Damme’s path to stardom. The movie was little more than a remake of Bloodsport, this time transported to the world of Thai kickboxing, but the film was successful enough to spawn a number of sequels, and an upcoming reboot in 2015 by John Stockwell (In the Blood).

The first sequel saw Cyborg director Albert Pyun team up with actor Sasha Mitchell for Kickboxer 2: The Road Back. This film actually received a limited theatrical release in 1991. Mitchell, who would later achieve fame as a co-star on the 90′s TV sitcom Step by Step, was supposedly playing the brother of Van Damme’s character from the original.

The formula must have worked as Sasha Mitchell stuck around for two direct-to-video sequels, Kickboxer 3: The Art of War and Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor, before domestic problems temporarily derailed his career.

Now, looks like Pyun is bringing Mitchell back for a new Kickboxer project (not to be confused with Kickboxer: Vengeance with Alain Moussi). Here’s the scoop from Pyun himself (via Facebook): I was committed to making the Algiers screenplay in January/February. Our foreign distributor took the project out at the American Film Market, which is going on right now, until tomorrow. Well, a couple of shifts in the project. Turns out they would really prefer a Kickboxing film starring Sasha more than an Algiers. So quickly, Algiers became The Kickboxer and that shoots for 6 weeks in January and February… The plan is too shoot 3 weeks in LA and 3 weeks in Nevada.” Click here to see the promotional artwork for Pyun’s upcoming The Kickboxer, which also stars Michael Tushaus, Kevin Sorbo, Norbert Weisser and Scott Paulin.

Updates: Pyun announced that Dennis Chan (Kickboxer 1-3) is reprising his role as mentor, Xian Chow. Also, Michel Qissi (Kickboxer 1-2, Bloodsport), who played the original Tong Po in the series, will be appearing as a different character named Said Ali. In addition – and this should be taken with a grain of salt – there is also some talk about Mark Dacascos (Drive) and Michael Dudikoff (Americna Ninja) joining…

From the words of Pyun himself regarding the newly titled Kickboxer: City of Blood: ”Its the biggest action movie I’ve ever attempted. Bigger than Nemesis or Cyborg.” In addition, Mike Leeder (Pound of Flesh) is now co-producing an will be handling casting in Guangzhou, China, where the film starts shooting on February 26th 2015.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Albert Pyun’s Facebook (via FCS), producer Mike Leeder has connected the director with Indonesian actress Julie Estelle (Macabre), who’s mostly known for playing Hammer Girl in The Raid 2. She’ll be appearing in Kickboxer: City of Blood as Tun, a secret police agent.

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

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

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

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of the Award-winning South Korean crime thriller The Pirates to three lucky Cityonfire visitors. If you’re not familiar with the film, you’ll want to watch the trailer!

To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, this clip (we apologize in advance regarding 0:49 to 1:10).

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 Pirates will be officially released on January 20, 2015. We will announce the 3 winners on January 21, 2015 and ship out the prizes immediately.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by January 20, 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: Congratulations to Lee G, Josh B and Ronald O. You have all been notified via email!

Posted in News | Tagged | 12 Comments

Hong Kong’s greatest filmmakers team up for an epic film!

"Hard Boiled" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Hard Boiled" Japanese Theatrical Poster

What do Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, John Woo, Ringo Lam, Anne Hui, Sammo Hung, Yuen Woo-ping and Patrick Tam have in common? I’ll answer that. They’re some of the best filmmakers Hong Kong has to offer and they’re all teaming up for Eight & A Half, an eight-part anthology film about the history of Hong Kong, which will span from the 1940s to present time.

There’s no word on whether Eight & A Half will be action, drama or comedy, but with names like Johnnie To, Tsui Hark, John Woo, Ringo Lam, Sammo Hung and Yuen Woo-ping  in the mix – I’d say it’ll be a mix of every genre!

This news comes from Twitch’s Todd Brown (via DiP), who additionally reported about To’s next film, Three on the Road, a crime thriller starring Louis Koo and Wallace Cheung. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more!

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Deal on Fire! Flash Point | Blu-ray | Only $9.95 – Expires soon!

"Flash Point" Blu-ray Cover

"Flash Point" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Flash Point, directed by Wilson Yip and starring Donnie Yen – the talented duo who brought us the legendary Ip Man and Kill Zone.

A hot-headed inspector (Yen) takes on a small but powerful Vietnamese-Chinese gang, after a series of crimes and murder attempts committed and putting an undercover cop and his girlfriend in great danger.

Flash Point also stars Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Lui Leung-Wai, Fan Bingbing and Xing Yu.

Order Flash Point from Amazon.com today!

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Ninja 1 & 2 Double Feature | Blu-ray (Millennium)

Ninja 1 & 2 Double Feature | Blu-ray (Millennium)

Ninja 1 & 2 Double Feature | Blu-ray (Millennium)

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Millennium presents the Ninja 1 & 2 Double Feature Blu-ray set, directed by Isaac Florentine (U.S. Seals II) and starring Scott Adkins (Assassination Games), Kane Kosugi (Tekken 2), Mika Hijii and Tsuyoshi Ihara.

In 2009′s Ninja, a westerner named Casey (Adkins), studying Ninjutsu in Japan, is asked by the Sensei to return to New York to protect the legendary Yoroi Bitsu, an armored chest that contains the weapons of the last Koga Ninja. In 2013′s Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, Casey is out for revenge when a loved one is murdered!

Pre-order the Ninja 1 & 2 from Amazon.com today!

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

Get instant cult ‘n exploitation with VinegarSyndrome.tv!

"Raw Force" Blu-ray Cover

"Raw Force" Blu-ray Cover

For much of the past year, Vinegar Syndrome has been promoting a streaming site with the name Skinaflix. In the early development stage, they decided that as wonderful as the Skinaflix concept was, it seemed a mistake to limit it only to sexploitation. With that in mind, they have revamped the concept into VinegarSyndrome.tv, a more diverse streaming service with the inclusion of ALL genres distributed by Vinegar Syndrome and our new label, Etiquette Pictures.

Launching with over 200 titles presented in HD, VinegarSyndrome.tv promises to be a streaming powerhouse for all things exploitation and sleaze (*cough* Raw Force), from G rated to full hardcore. Including informative blogs, exclusive titles, and special discounts on DVDs and Blu-rays.

To help speed up the development process and add features such as Roku, iOS and Android apps, they’re launching an Indiegogo campaign. If their goal is met, the site will go live on May 1st. Much of the legwork has already been done, but with a successful campaign, the process could be sped up exponentially. Please give what you can, and if not please promote the campaign and spread the word in any way possible.

For more information and to view the Indiegogo campaign, visit VinegarSyndrome.tv.

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Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (2014) Review

"Tekken 2: Kazuya's Revenge" International DVD Cover

"Tekken 2: Kazuya's Revenge" International DVD Cover

AKA: Tekken: A Man Called X
Director: Wych Kaosayananda
Writer: Nicole Jones, Steven Paul
Producer: Steven Paul, Pimol Srivikorn
Cast: Kane Kosugi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rade Serbedzija, Gary Daniels, Kelly Wenham, Ron Smoorenburg, Paige Lindquist, Charlotte Kirk, Biljana Misic, Sahajak Boonthanakit
Running Time: 88 min.

By Kyle Warner

2010’s Tekken came and went without many people taking notice. Well, I’m going to be honest: I kind of liked the film. I mean, make no mistake, I would never call it a good movie, but it’s fun in a stupid sort of way. Drink a few beers, have a sense of humor about things, and it makes for some silly entertainment. The least you can say is that at least the filmmakers went all out with their limited budget, making the film look like a videogame come to life, complete with goofy costumes, goofy dialogue, and just enough competent action to satisfy the fans.

And while the original Tekken failed to find an audience, I think the makers of 2014’s Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge might secretly wish audiences would just ignore their film and move on. This is a lame, half-hearted effort from start to finish. Even the sound effects, music, and end credits feel like they were patched on at a moment’s notice. Really, I’d like to begin and end this review right here by telling you that this movie sucks, that it’s not worth your time, and that you should just find another way to waste 90 minutes in your day… but I expect you’d like to know why.

Despite that pesky 2 in the title, Tekken 2 actually serves as a prequel to the first film. Kane Kosugi plays Kazuya (originally played by Ian Anthony Dale), and Gary Daniels and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa return as Bryan Fury and Heihachi, respectively. Really though, these feel like completely different characters. Kazuya is an amnesiac, Heihachi is lacking his signature hairdo that makes him look like a balding Wolverine, and Fury never once reminded me of his original iteration. Tekken 2 has very little in common with the original film or the game that inspired it. And based on production rumors and misinformation – Kosugi’s site claimed he was not making a Tekken movie, and the film supposedly went through multiple titles like Agent X and A Man Called X – I kind of think Kazuya’s Revenge became a Tekken film very late in the game. Whatever the case may be, you get the sense that the producers just didn’t care. The original Tekken was cheap and silly but at least it tried. This film seems almost like it wants to brush the Tekken parts of its story underneath the rug.

The movie begins with Kane Kosugi waking up with no memory of who he is or what’s going on. After surviving a fight with armed men, thus learning he must’ve been some kind of badass before losing his memory, Kosugi is taken hostage by a group of assassins led by the mysterious Minister (Rade Serbedzija). Since he has no memory of who he is, the Minister decides to name our hero K. The Minister trains his people to be killers so that he may send them out into the world to assassinate enemies of peace, and he wants K to be his next assassin. There seems to be a cult-like relationship between the Minister and his followers, but this aspect of the story is largely left unexplored.

K is one of the most passive heroes I’ve ever seen in an action film. Here’s a man that should have an endless amount of questions – just for starters, who am I? – but he seems perfectly fine wasting the day away in bed or walking in slow motion across the city. Most of these introspective moments are filled with flashbacks, some of which remind us of events that just happened, and others look like clips taken from the original film (I may be wrong), which is very puzzling since those moments haven’t happened yet. K doesn’t really seem too bothered by the fact that he’s a man without a past or that he’s killing people for a man that’s holding him hostage, as he never asks enough questions or makes much of an attempt to escape.

In the finale, the “twist” is revealed and K learns he’s actually Kazuya Mishima, which comes as a total shock to the audience because the film is called Kazuya’s Revenge. He also learns his father is Heihachi Mishima, which again all videogame fans already knew. What’s puzzling is why this matters and why it counts as a revelation in the plot. Heihachi is a non-character throughout 95% of the film. If you didn’t know the game, you wouldn’t know he was important, and nor would you understand his complicated relationship with his son. The plot and all of its twists are so flat they barely register at all.

The only actor who impresses in any way is Kelly Wenham, who plays Rhona, K’s handler. Rhona’s the most complex character in the film and Wenham plays her well. While I would normally welcome the appearance of character actors Rade Serbedzija and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in almost any film, neither one of them seems into the material. I can’t blame them, though. Kane Kosugi, who I usually like, fails to impress in the lead role. Sure, the character is poorly written, but his performance is wooden, only truly coming to life in the action scenes.

I’m really having a hard time thinking of something good to say about this movie… The fight scenes are fairly well choreographed and the performers are not without skill, but most of these scenes are shot devoid of style or rhythm. The only exciting fight is the last one, but by then I expect most audience members will have already checked out. The film, directed by Wych Kaos (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever), never manages to rise above its minimal budget, and often looks cheaper than you would imagine.

At one point, director Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak) was slated to direct Tekken 2, which was then supposedly titled Tekken: Rise of the Tournament. Things obviously fell apart. Whether Pinkaew’s Tekken film was going to feature pretty much the plot same as Kazuya’s Revenge is unclear. In some alternate universe perhaps we got a really cool Tekken 2 movie… But our universe sucks and so does Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge.

Tekken 2 belongs alongside Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Alone in the Dark, and Double Dragon as one of the worst videogame movies of all time, and would feel right at home in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Avoid this one at all costs.

I’m giving this a 2 instead of a 1. It’s an awful film, but compared to other crap movies on the same spectrum at least I didn’t need to take a shower after watching it, and nor did I seriously contemplate suicide. So, that’s a plus. I reserve my 1’s for crimes against humanity. You know, like Manos: The Hands of Fate or Adam Sandler movies. Ah ha! I figured out a compliment for Tekken 2. It’s terrible but at least it doesn’t have Adam Sandler in it.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 2/10

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Move over Arnold… George Tan’s ‘Conan’ movie is coming!

"Conan the Barbarian" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Conan the Barbarian" Japanese Theatrical Poster

There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of competition, right? Much like the two Kickboxer films currently facing off in production (Kickboxer: City of Blood and Kickboxer: Vengeance), there are two Conan movies that may also clash – or not. One has practically completed filming.

Everyone already knows about Legend of Conan (aka King Conan), which has been on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s to-do list for about 2 years. The other called Iron Shadows – a Thailand-produced film by renowned Bruce Lee historian, George Tan (Cinema of Vengeance) – is apparently in post-production phase and set for a 2015 release.

Iron Shadows is helmed by Kit Mallet (known for his stunt work in films like Man of Steel and I, Robot) and stars actor/bodybuilder Pasi Schalin (Trainers TV series) as Conan the Cimmerian. The film also stars Andrea Stefancikova (Dark Harvest), Ron Smoorenburg (Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?), Esteban Cueto (Supah Ninjas) and Toby Russell (White Tiger, Top Fighter).

With a $2 million budget, which can go a long way in Thailand, it’s obvious Iron Shadows – a title taken from one of Robert E. Howard’s Conan short stories – will be a straight-to-video release. It’s actually pretty surprising that the producers were able to secure rights to Howard’s creation, but more power to them.

We expect a trailer to be hitting soon. Until then, here’s some promotional images ( 1 | 2 ) for Iron Shadows. Enjoy!

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Deal on Fire! Protector & Crime Story | Blu-ray | Only $13.29 – Expires soon!

"Protector & Crime Story" Blu-ray Cover

"Protector & Crime Story" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray Double Feature for 1985′s The Protector & 1993′s Crime Story.

The Protector is noteworthy for James Glickenhaus’ (The Exterminator) attempt to make Jackie Chan a Charles Bronson/Clint Eastwood-type hero. As a result, the film is filled with R-Rated violence, harsh language and gratuitous nudity.

Kirk Wong’s (The Big HitCrime Story is yet another “serious” outting for Jackie, but unlike The Protector, many  consider it one of his finest films.

Order Protector & Crime Story from Amazon.com today!

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Donnie Yen to tackle ‘Wesley’ and ‘The Seven Weapons’?

"Flash Point" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Flash Point" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Ip Man 3 doesn’t start shooting ’til March, but that hasn’t stopped Donnie Yen (Kung Fu Jungle, Flash Point) from making plans for a couple more projects. According to Jaynestars (via DiP), Pegasus Entertainment boss, Raymond Wong Pak Ming, announced that he will be partnering up with Donnie Yen’s Super Hero Films Company for two more movies: Wesley and The Seven Weapons.

Wesley (or Wisely) will be based on the fictional character of the same name created by legendary Chinese novelist/screenwriter Ni Kuang. Wesley’s adventures have been covered in many novels, comic books and movies, including 1986′s The Seventh Curse with Chow Yun Fat and 1987′s The Legend of the Wisley with Sam Hui.

The Seven Weapons, originally a 2010 Wuxia TV series by Gu Long, which, according to FCS, will focus on seven interconnected stories with individual weapons as the respective themes.

In addition to Ip Man 3, here’s a list of titles Yen is currently working on: Iceman 2 (post-production), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 (post-production), The Master (pre-production), Dragon City (pre-production), and Noodle Man (pre-production). As always, we’ll keep you in the loop!

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Paramount has their ‘Eagle Eye’ on a director for ‘G.I. Joe 3′

"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" Korean Theatrical Poster

Fan reception to G.I. Joe: Retaliation was somewhat mixed but it seems Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson’s box office prowess carried the movie to global success. Now, Paramount is on a mission to bring the popular franchise back on the big screen once again.

First, director Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Justin Bieber’s Believe) was in talks to helm the third installment. Then Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale) came and went. Now, THR reports that D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) is in talks to direct G.I. Joe 3.

No other actors from the last two films have committed themselves to G.I. Joe 3, but it’s safe to assume that The Rock will return as Roadblock. Stay tuned!

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Jino Kang is the ‘Weapon of Choice’ for a perfect kill!

"Weapon of Choice" DVD Cover

"Weapon of Choice" DVD Cover

Director. Producer. Writer. Stuntman. Oh yeah, he also holds a black belt in Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do and Kyokoshin-Kai Karate. The man I speak of is Jino Kang (Blade Warrior) and he’s back with another action-packed, independent martial arts thriller titled Weapon of Choice, also known as Fist 2 Fist 2 – a sequel by name only to 2011′s Fist 2 Fist (click here for our review).

Retired assassin, Jack Lee (Kang), walked away from his violent past to raise his dead brother’s daughter, Jaime, as his own. When a crime lord kidnaps Jaime, Jack brings his deadly skills out of retirement and the streets of San Francisco become a battleground for a one-man killing machine!

Don’t miss the trailer for Weapon of Choice.

Updates: Enjoy a fight clip from the movie. The DVD for Weapon of Choice hits online retailers and VOD on January 13th.

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