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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (2014) Review

"Once Upon a Time in Shanghai" International Poster

"Once Upon a Time in Shanghai" International Poster

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

By Paul Bramhall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6/10

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

Schwarzenegger to kill zombies and save ‘Maggie’

"The Last Stand" Japanese DVD Cover

"The Last Stand" Japanese DVD Cover

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

XYZ Films nabs North American rights to Sono’s ‘Tokyo Tribe’

"Tokyo Tribe" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Tokyo Tribe" Japanese Theatrical Poster

XYZ Films (The Raid 2) has picked up North American rights to Tokyo Tribe, an upcoming action-sci-fi flick, directed by cult Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono (Cold Fish, Love Exposure, Guilty of Romance).

Plot: Tokyo Tribe is the first live-action adaptation of the best-selling manga series Tokyo Tribe 2, by Santa Inoue, which has sold 2 million copies and has been published in Asia and even the west to great popularity.

In addition to Tokyo Tribe, XYZ Films has also nabbed rights to Takashi Miike’s Yakuza Apocalypse. As always, we’ll keep you posted on release dates! Until then, don’t miss the trailer for Tokyo Tribe.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

The Prince | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Prince | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Prince | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

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

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

Pre-order The Prince from Amazon.com today!

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

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

"The Raid" Theatrical Poster

"The Raid" Theatrical Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in News | 2 Comments

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

"Brothers Five" Blu-ray Cover

"Brothers Five" Blu-ray Cover

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

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

Order Brother Five from Amazon.com today!

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

Companeros | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Companeros | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Companeros | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

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

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

Pre-order Companeros from Amazon.com today!

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

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

"Samurai Cop" Theatrical Poster

"Samurai Cop" Theatrical Poster

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

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

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

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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

Moebius (2013) Review

"Moebius" International Theatrical Poster

"Moebius" International Theatrical Poster

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

By Paul Bramhall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

Join Liam Neeson for ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" Theatrical Poster

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" Theatrical Poster

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

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

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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: November 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ninja Apocalypse: August 5, 2014

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

Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge: August 12, 2014

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

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

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

Swelter: August 12, 2014

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

Seed of Darkness: August 12, 2014

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

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

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

A Good Man: August 19, 2014

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

Joker: August 19, 2014

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

Rampage: Capital Punishment: August 19, 2014

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

Triad: August 26, 2014

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

Vengeance Is Mine: August 26, 2014

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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

‘Terminator Genesis’ now retitled to ‘Terminator Genisys’

"Terminator" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Terminator" Japanese Theatrical Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in News | 17 Comments

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 1 Comment

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

"Yellow Faced Tiger" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Yellow Faced Tiger" Chinese Theatrical Poster

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

By Jeff Bona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 6/10

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

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: October 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

Newest trailer for Gordon Chan’s ‘Four 3D’!

"Four 3D" Theatrical Poster

"Four 3D" Theatrical Poster

All the way back when Gordon Chan’s 2012 wuxia picture The Four was announced, the producers were not shy about declaring their plans for a trilogy. Following their delivery of 2013′s The Four 2, Hong Kong cinema buffs should be pleased to hear that they kept their promise!

A new trailer for The Four 3D, the third and final installment of the series – starring Deng Chao, Collin Chou, Ronald Cheng, Anthony Wong and Crystal Liu – is now available to watch!

Film Combat Syndicate has the plot: The reputation of the Four constables survives, but since Emotionless’s departure, there have been changes at the Divine Constabulary. The four Coldblood, Iron Hands, Life Snatcher, rescue Zhuge Zhengwo from An Yunshan’s mountain fortress, then with the Emperor and Di armies, they attack. But An Yunshan absorbs their power, which means the constables and their allies now face their most lethal opponent yet, a nearly invincible kung fu master who won’t stop until he has absolute power…

The Four 3D is getting a domestic release on August 22, 2014.

Updates: Watch the newest trailer, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Shock Waves | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Shock Waves | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Shock Waves | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

RELEASE DATE: November 25, 2014

Blue Underground presents the Blu-ray for 1977′s Shock Waves, direct by Ken Wiederhorn (Return of the Living Dead II). In World War II, the Nazi High Command ordered its scientists to create a top secret race of indestructible zombie storm troopers. No member of this horrific SS unit was ever captured by the Allied Forces and, somewhere off the coast of Florida, they have survived.

Shock Waves (aka Almost Human or Death Corps) stars Peter Cushing, Brooke Adams and John Carradine. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Shock Waves from Amazon.com today!

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

Korea & Kung Fu: A Retrospective on Fire!

"King Boxer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"King Boxer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

In popular opinion, it seems to have become a common fact that it was Bruce Lee that led to the kung fu movie becoming a massive hit in the US, with his 1973 movie Enter the Dragon. While its influence can’t be doubted, what is often overlooked is that there was a movie released a full year before in 1972 which had already captured the publics’ imagination, filling out grind-house cinemas around the country, and that was King Boxer, or as it was re-titled for its US release, Five Fingers of Death.

Made by the mighty Shaw Brothers studios, even today it’s easy to see why it was a hit, with liberal use of fake blood, eye gauging, head splitting karate chops, beheadings, and people being smashed through tables what seems like every few minutes, it spoke the universal language of action. However far from being made by a Chinese director, the man behind the movie was actually a Korean by the name of Cheng Chang-ho. Having worked in the Korean movie industry since 1951, in the late 1960s he began collaborating with studios in Hong Kong, before in 1968 he was signed up by the Shaw Brothers.

"The Association" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Association" Chinese Theatrical Poster

He stayed in Hong Kong for 5 years, and on top of King Boxer went on to direct well respected kung-fu classics like Broken Oath (1977), to what many people describe as “the first kung-fu soft-core porn” with The Association (1975). Meanwhile during the same period Korea itself was producing a steady stream of its own kung-fu movies. While most were aimed at the Chinese market, some of them did manage to retain a distinctly Korean flavour, such as Black Dragon River (aka Martial Mates) (1976), which tells the story of a Korean martial arts school defending itself against the Japanese. This movie in particular stars three Korean performers who within a couple of years would be household names in the Hong Kong movie scene – Hwang Jang-lee, Casanova Wong and Elton Chong.

Another star of the time was Hwang In-shik, a Hapkido grandmaster who was visited in Seoul by Hong Kong film-maker Huang Feng in 1972. Feng brought along with him rising stars Sammo Hung, Angela Mao, and a young Jackie Chan to train in the art of Hapkido, and he ended up being so impressed with In-shik’s ability that he invited him to come to Hong Kong and star in a movie based around the art itself. Now, Hapkido (aka Lady Kung-fu) (1972) is considered a classic of the genre, and essentially has In-shik playing himself. He went on to star in a number of Hong Kong movies (including The Association!), and had been in discussions with Bruce Lee to play an opponent in what was to be Lee’s masterpiece, Game of Death (release posthumously in 1978), only for Lee to pass away later that same week.

"The Young Master" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Young Master" Japanese Theatrical Poster

In-shik went back to Korea and starred in a number of movies there, before immigrating to Canada with the purpose of opening up a Hapkido school, which he successfully did. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that, having received a beating from Hwang Jang-lee in his first couple of breakout movies, Jackie Chan contacted In-shik to try and coax him out of retirement, with the intent of him playing Chan’s main opponent in the stars first couple of self-directed outings, The Young Master (1980) and Dragon Lord (1982). Chan must have been convincing, as In-shik agreed, and the fifteen minute long fight between him & Chan that closes out The Young Master is considered one of the best fights ever filmed.

On the subject of Bruce Lee, his passing left a huge void in the kung-fu movie world, of which the movie making industry attempted to fill by finding Bruce Lee look-alikes, and carried on making movies while attempting to pass them off as the real deal. Hence the era of ‘Bruceploitation’ was born. There Was Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Bruce Liang, Bruce Ly, Bruce Lei, and the list goes on, even Jackie Chan was originally attempted to be cast in the mould of a Bruce clone. Korea threw their hat into the ring with Dragon Lee, arguably one of the worse Bruce Lee imitators based on the fact that his build was completely different to that of Bruce, being quite stocky and muscular. Nevertheless, Dragon Lee seemed on a mission to overcompensate for his lack of physical resemblance by aping Bruce Lee’s mannerisms with great exaggeration, usually howling and enthusiastically shaking his head from side to side in every movie he was in.

"Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave" US Theatrical Poster

"Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave" US Theatrical Poster

Korea even attempted to make their own Bruceploitation movie, with Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave (1976). Bizarrely, this isn’t really a Bruceploitation movie at all, but the tale of a man who travels to America to try and unravel the mystery of his brothers’ death. So what’s the connection to Bruce Lee? The movie opens with a shot of Bruce Lee’s grave, presumably filmed and tagged on to the existing movie, which is then hit by lightening, causing an unidentified Bruce Lee look-alike to spring out of the ground alive and well, cue the titles. Yes, that’s it.

In 1978, when American director Robert Clouse decided to try and finish Bruce Lee’s last movie, Game of Death, by using the footage already filmed and creating a new storyline to Lee’s original version, it was Korean martial artist Kim Tai-jung who was picked to be the Bruce Lee stand-in for the necessary additional scenes. While the finished movie is a mess, sometimes even using a cardboard cut out of Bruce Lee’s face superimposed onto an actor, Tai-jung’s skills were certainly recognized. So much so that in 1981, when the studio Golden Harvest decided to go ahead and make a sequel to Game of Death, entitled Tower of Death, they cast Tai-jung in the lead. Under the direction of Ng See Yuen, Tai-jung was pitted against fellow Korean super kicker Hwang Jang-lee, and today the movie is considered a camp classic of the genre.

"No Retreat, No Surrender 2" American VHS Cover

"No Retreat, No Surrender 2" American VHS Cover

By the mid 1980s Ng See Yuen was working as a producer with Seasonal Film Corporation, and they signed a deal to make a handful of Hong Kong / American co-productions. Two movies that came as a result of this deal were the Corey Yuen directed No Retreat, No Surrender (1985) and No Retreat, No Surrender 2: Raging Thunder (1989). These movies came to represent the end of an era for the Korean influence in kung-fu movies.

In No Retreat, No Surrender, actor Kurt McKinney plays a teenager who’s family relocates to Seattle, after a bunch of karate fighting gangsters drive them out of their home town. Unable to fit in and with a father who disapproves of his obsession with all things Bruce Lee (including speaking to Bruce at his grave!), McKinney almost has a hilariously acted mental breakdown, only to be visited by the ghost of Bruce Lee. The ghost is played by Tai-jung, and would mark his final film role before he returned to Korea and became a businessman. What was the end for Tai-jung, was the start for a certain Jean Claude Van-Damme, as the movie marks the debut of the Muscles from Brussels, playing the evil Russian out to take over all the karate dojos in America. Tai-jung teaches McKinney how to defeat Van Damme, and the stage is set for a final showdown in the ring.

"Armour of God III: CZ12" Japanese DVD Cover

"Armour of God III: CZ12" Japanese DVD Cover

Both McKinney and Van Damme signed a three picture deal, but after the first movie Van Damme decided to break his contract, and convinced McKinney to do the same, which lead to them rather ungraciously not showing up on the first day of filming for the second installment. Loren Avendon took over in the role McKinney was supposed to play, and Matthias Hues fills in for Van Damme. The story is actually unrelated to the original, this time revolving around the hunt to find the kidnapped Thai finance of Avendon’s character in the jungle of Thailand and Cambodia, while fighting against a Vietcong terrorist group. The leader of the Vietcong is none other than Hwang Jang-lee, but in the movie he’s given little to do, with his one brief fight scene against Cynthia Rothrock having him being embarrassingly kicked around. 1989 would mark Jang-lee’s last year working in the Hong Kong movie industry, before he too moved back to Korea.

While Korea’s influence on the kung-fu movie scene of old is undeniable, even today there still seems to be a place for Korean talent in crossover productions. Most recently Jeong Woo-seong starred in the John Woo directed Reign of Assassins (2010), Jang Dong-gun in Dangerous Liaisons (2012), and Kwon Sang-woo featured in Jackie Chan’s last action hurrah, CZ12: Chinese Zodiac (2012). While the Korean Wave is clearly still going very strong, perhaps it’s not so well known just quite how long it’s been going for.

Posted in Features, News | 4 Comments

The all-female ‘ExpendaBelles’ to start shooting early 2015

"The Expendables" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Expendables" Japanese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: The Expendables universe has a new team. An elite group of highly trained female mercenaries are brought together for a covert hostage rescue mission. Once they are behind enemy lines, the women discover that they will also need to topple an evil dictator bent on world domination. The Expendabelles is the ultimate story of female empowerment and kick-ass teamwork.

Robert Luketic (21, Killers) is directing The ExpendaBelles, an all-female, unofficial take on Sylvester Stallone’s successful franchise, The Expendables. The screenplay is being penned by Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah (Legally Blonde). It should be noted that Stallone is producing which essentially makes The ExpendaBelles an official spin-off.

An all-female ‘Expendables’ isn’t the only Expendables-type project that’s been floating around. Don “The Dragon” Wilson has been trying to put together his version of The Expendables with the working title, The B-Team, which would star fellow B-movie action stars like Cynthia Rothrock, Michael Dudikoff and Loren Avedon. However, in our recent interview with Wilson, he stated that The B-Team is in political limbo, and he has shifted gears towards a movie called Blood Raid, which will utilize many of his “B” movie star friends.

Updates: Collider reports: At a recent press day for The Expendables 3, producer Avi Lerner provided an update on the upcoming The ExpendaBelles: “We are working on the script. We’ve got lots of ideas about who’s going to be the action movie star. We plan to start shooting at the beginning of next year. And that’s all I can say about this movie right now.” In the meantime, the other “all-female” Expendables-type flick, Mercenaries (with Kristanna Loken, Vivica A. Fox, Zoë Bell, Nicole Bilderback, Brigitte Nielsen and Cynthia Rothrock), is hitting Blu-ray & DVD on October 14, 2014.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

New teaser for Tsui Hark’s ‘The Taking of Tiger Mountain’

"The Taking of Tiger Mountain" Promotional Poster

"The Taking of Tiger Mountain" Promotional Poster

Tsui Hark’s latest action film The Taking of Tiger Mountain will be premiering at this year’s Marché du Film Cannes Festival. According to Film Combat Syndicate, “the film is based on late author Qu Bo’s first book, the 1957 novel publication titled Tracks In The Snowy Mountain, which centers on the true story of Yang Ziron, a communist soldier who infiltrates a gang of bandits.”

The Taking of Tiger Mountain stars Zhang Hanyu (Bodyguards and Assassins), Zhou Dongyu (My Old Classmate), Gao Hu (The Man From Macau), Tong Liya (Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons), Kenny Lin (Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon) and newcomer Han Geng.

Updates: Promotional photo from The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new teaser trailer, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate (via Twitch).

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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

"18: Eighteen Noir" Korean Theatrical Poster

"18: Eighteen Noir" Korean Theatrical Poster

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

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

Updates: Watch the first trailer. 18: Eighteen Noir opens domestically in August 2014.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Good Guys Wear Black & Force of One: Remastered | DVD (American Cinema)

Good Guys Wear Black & Force of One: Remastered | DVD (American Cinema)

Good Guys Wear Black & Force of One: Remastered | DVD (American Cinema)

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014

American Cinema presents the DVD Double Feature for Chuck Norris’ Good Guys Wear Black & Force of One: Remastered. In 1978′s Good Guys Wear Black, an ex-US Army commando (Norris) must find the reason why his comrades from his unit are being systematically murdered before he is next. In 1979′s A Force of One, when the detectives of an undercover police unit are being mysteriously killed by a martial artist, a professional kick boxer (Norris) is hired to assist them. This Double Feature also contains over 2 hours of bonus material. Trailers: A Force of One | Good Guys Wear Black

Pre-order Good Guys Wear Black & Force of One: Remastered from Amazon.com today!

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

Deal on Fire! Battle Royale: Complete Collection | Blu-ray | Only $12.99 – Expires soon!

"Battle Royale: Complete Collection" Blu-ray Cover

"Battle Royale: Complete Collection" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is Blu-ray for the Battle Royale: The Complete Collection. With the Japanese currently leading the way in thought-provoking cinematic violence, it’s only fitting that Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale is being touted as A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century!

Battle Royale: Complete Collection is a 4-disc collection that includes Battle Royale (Theatrical and Director’s Cut), Battle Royale 2, The Making of Battle Royale, Battle Royale press conference, Instructional Video: Birthday Version, audition, rehearsal footage and much more!

Order Battle Royale: Complete Collection from Amazon.com today!

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

Alien: 35th Anniversary Edition | Blu-ray (Fox)

Alien: 35th Anniversary Edition | Blu-ray (Fox)

Alien: 35th Anniversary Edition | Blu-ray (Fox)

RELEASE DATE: October 7, 2014

Fox presents the Blu-ray for Alien: 35th Anniversary Edition, which will contain two different cuts of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic! The terror begins when the crew of a spaceship investigates a transmission from a desolate planet, and discovers a life form that is perfectly evolved to annihilate mankind.

Alien stars Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Alien: 35th Anniversary Edition from Amazon.com today!

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

New North American trailer for Donnie Yen’s ’14 Blades’

14 Blades | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

14 Blades | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

Get ready for the North American debut release of 2010′s 14 Blades, starring Donnie Yen (The Monkey King) and directed by Daniel Lee (White Vengeance).

14 Blades is a kung fu thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and centered on a secret service agent (Yen) in the emperor’s court who is betrayed and then hunted by his colleagues. The film also stars Zhao Wei (Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection), Wu Chun (Assassin’s Blade), Kate Tsui (Eye in the Sky) and Qi Yuwu (The Founding of a Party).

Plot: Trained in clandestine combat from childhood, the Jinyiwei were masters of the 14 Blades. Above the law and with a license to kill, they devoted their lives and lethal prowess to the service of the Emperor alone.

When the Imperial Court is taken over by evil eunuch JIA, the best of the Jinyiwei, Qinglong is assigned to steal a list identifying those still loyal to the Emperor. Unbeknownst to Qinglong, the Jinyiwei have fallen under the control of Jia, and during the mission he’s betrayed and barely escapes with his life.

Now the most wanted man in the land Qinglong must seek out and rally the loyalists to rise against Jia and restore the Emperor to power. In his way are the deadliest assassins in the land, his former brethren, the Jinyiwei.

14 Blades hits theaters & On Demand on August 22nd, followed by a September 2nd Blu-ray & DVD release, which is currently available for pre-order. Don’t miss the new North American trailer!

Posted in News | 1 Comment