Marko Zaror’s ‘Redeemer’ is coming to the U.S. – new trailer!

"Redeemer" Theatrical Poster

"Redeemer" Theatrical Poster

Chilean martial arts star Marko Zaror (Kiltro, Machete Kills) is reuniting with director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza (Kiltro) for the 4th time in a Spanish action film titled Redeemer. The upcoming movie is being produced by XYZ films (The Raid, The Night Comes For Us). Here’s an exclusive clip, courtesy of Twitch.

Here’s the official plot: Former hitman Nicky Pardo (Zaror) has made a deal with God. Pardo will begin every day by holding a gun to his own head and pulling the trigger. And every day he does not die he will take it as a sign that he is meant to continue hunting down the men he used to work for.

Updates: Dark Sky Films will be releasing Redeemer in the Summer of 2015. Also, we have its accompanying new trailer, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate.

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Deal on Fire! The Guillotines | Blu-ray | Only $5.88 – Expires soon!

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

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

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Guillotines, directed by Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs). The story revolves around an elite crime-fighting unit that relies on flying swords to defeat their enemies. The film is a homage to the classic Guillotine movies of the 70s (i.e. The Flying Guillotine, Master of the Flying Guillotine).

The Guillotines stars Huang Xiaoming (Ip Man 2), Ethan Juan (Wu Xia), Shawn Yue (Initial D), Li Yuchun (Bodyguards and Assassins) and Jimmy Wang Yu (Man from Hong Kong).

Order The Guillotines from Amazon.com today!

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Zhang Yimou’s ‘Great Wall’ to be shot in English? Bryan Cranston joining cast?

"House of Flying Daggers" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"House of Flying Daggers" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of the Flying Daggers) is preparing to direct Great Wall, a 15th century period flick revolving around the origin and construction of the Great Wall of China. For those expecting a bland historic lesson, think again. Great Wall is being described as a “fantasy epic,” as well as an “action blockbuster” by Zhang himself.

According to Variety, this is what Zhang had to say about Great Wall: “It is an action blockbuster…The story is very important, and I have to do a lot of preparation for the various cultural elements in the film. Then comes the visual effects and action, which I like a lot. It’s very different from my last film.”

Update: According to Deadline), Matt Damon will be starring in Zhang Yimou’s Great Wall.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Collider, The Great Wall will be Zhang Yimou’s first English-language film. The action epic, with a budget of $135 Million, is scheduled to start shooting in February 2015, with a potential 2016 release date. Also, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is in talks to join the cast.

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Brian De Palma and Al Pacino reunite for some ‘Retribution’!

"Scarface" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Scarface" Japanese Theatrical Poster

If you’re a fan of 1983′s Scarface and 1994′s Carlito’s Way, and you’ve been longing for another Brian De Palma/Al Pacino team up, then we have some exciting news for you.

The two are reuniting for a movie titled Retribution. According to The Playlist, it’s “Loosely based on the 2003 Belgian thriller The Memory of A Killer, which follows a cop and a hitman who work together to stop a child prostitution ring.”

Retribution may not be that return to gangster film for the duo, but its theme definitely fits De Palma’s knack for suspenseful “Hitchcockian” thrillers. And of course, Pacino at his side is a great thing.

As always, we’ll keep you in the loop as we hear more!

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Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, Jimmy Wang Yu and The Expendables are coming home for Thanksgiving!

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

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

It’s almost that time of year again – where we sit down to eat with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.

It’s a time for gratitude. It’s a time for celebration. It’s a time for peace. It’s a time for reflection. It’s also a time for to check out this month’s latest roll of new Blu-ray & DVD releases – handpicked by cityonfire.com!

The month of November brings Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, Jimmy Wang Yu, The Expendables, a Samurai Cop, a Giant Turtle, some Nazi Zombies, a group of Firefighters, an Interdimensional Police Force, a North Korean Spy and a whole lot more…

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.

Bruce Lee Premiere Collection: 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.

The Gamera Collection: November 11, 2014

Experience The Gamera Collection on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment. This boxed set includes the follow titles: Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965), Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967), Gamera vs. Viras (1968), Gamera vs. Guiron (1969), Gamera vs. Jiger (1970), Gamera vs. Zigra (1971), Gamera: Super Monster (1980), Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996) and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999)

Iceman: November 11, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Law Wing Cheong’s Iceman, starring International martial arts icon Donnie Yen (Special ID). A remake of the 1989 film Iceman Cometh, Yen plays a Ming era warrior who, along with his three traitorous childhood friends, are accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years later, they are defrosted and continue their battle in modern times where they left off. Iceman also stars Eva Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), Wang Baoqiang (Lost in Thailand) and Simon Yam (The Thieves). Watch the trailer.

Batman – The Complete TV Series: November 11, 2014

Warner presents the Batman: The Complete TV Series (1966–1968) on Blu-ray & DVD (see photo). Wealthy entrepreneur Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his ward Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) lead a double life: they are actually the crime fighting duo Batman and Robin. A secret Batpole in the Wayne mansion leads to the Batcave, where Police Commissioner Gordon often calls the Bat-duo with the latest emergency threatening Gotham City! Also included are the Batman/The Green Hornet cross-over episodes, featuring Bruce Lee and Van Williams (details here).

Covert Operation: November 11, 2014

Lionsgate presents the DVD for Covert Operation (aka The Borderland). Gabriel (played by 5-time World Karate Champion, Seydina Balde), a bounty hunter trapped in Asia, is promised his freedom in return for one final rescue mission. However, his mission takes a turn for the worst when he’s trapped between the border of China and North Korea. Covert Operation arrives from French director Mathieu Weschler and stars Seydina Balde (Danny The Dog, stunt performer in Casino Royale) in the lead role.

The Crone: November 18, 2014

Pathfinder Home Entertainment presents the DVD for Eisuke Naito’s The Crone. From the Producer of The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Water comes the macabre tale of three paranormal TV show hostesses Ayane, Nanami and Mayuko. These three girls are put to the test of ultimate fear when they challenge each other to visit an abandoned nursing home in the mountains. Determined to defeat each other, the girls stubbornly remain in the chilling location no matter what happens. The Crone stars Honoka Miki, Akiko Hoshino and Shiori Kitayama.

Travelers: Dimension Police: November 18, 2014

Pathfinder presents the DVD for Koichi Sakamoto’s Travelers: Dimension Police. From the director of Power Rangers, comes a sexy, aunthentic action movie, no questions asked. Actress/singer Nao Nagasawa, and actress/model Ayumi Kinoshita, star in a story of a beautiful female cop working for an interdimensional police force. She serendipitously crosses paths with her former partner-turned-enemy. They are forced to confront each other and their past, while investigating an multidimensional terrorist agency.

The Jimmy Wang Yu 4-Film Collection: 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).

As The Lights Go Out: November 18, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for As The Lights Go Out, an action-packed suspense drama written and directed by by Derek Kwok (Gallants). As The Lights Go Out stars Nicholas Tse (The Stool Pigeon), Shawn Yue (Legend of the Fist), Simon Yam (Iceman 3D), Hu Jun (Firestorm), William Chan (Triad), Bai Bing (The Viral Factor), Andy On (Special ID) and a cameo by the legendary Jackie Chan (CZ12).

The Expendables 3: November 25, 2014

Lionsgate presents the Blu-ray The Expendables 3, which will include the never-before-seen unrated edition of the film – featuring more action, more explosions, more fights – and a higher body count – everything fans have come to love in the franchise! Extras: Documentary; Featurettes: “New Blood: Stacked and Jacked” and “The Total Action Package”; Extended Scene; Gag Reel; Unrated Edition (131 minutes); and the Theatrical Version (126 minutes).

Samurai Cop: November 25, 2014

Cinema Epoch presents the Blu-ray for 1991′s Samurai Cop. Detective Frank Washington (Mark Frazer) and Joe Marshall (Matt Hannon) team up to take on the Yakuza in this 1991 cult classic. Watch the trailer. Directed by the late Amir Shervan (Killing American Style), Samurai Cop found a whole new audience during its midnight theatrical circuit and film festival re-release.

Shock Waves: 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.

Looking for new import releases?
If you’re looking for a new import release, please visit DDDhouse.com. The trusted retailer carries new and upcoming releases that are not yet available in North America.

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The Scorpion King 4 | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

"The Scorpion King 4" Blu-ray Cover

"The Scorpion King 4" Blu-ray Cover

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2015

Universal Presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, starring Victor Webster as Mathayus.

The Scorpion King 4 features a medley of  real-life fighters: Roy “Big Country” Nelson, Royce Gracie, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Eve Torres. The film also stars Rutger Hauer, Michael Biehn, Barry Bostwick, Lou Ferrigno, Ellen Hollman, M. Emmet Walsh, and Will Kemp. Don’t miss the trailer.

Pre-order The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power from Amazon.com today!

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Deal on Fire! Marked for Death | Blu-ray | Only $6.99 – Expires soon!

"Marked for Death" Blu-ray Cover

"Marked for Death" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Steven Seagal’s 1990 action flick, Marked for Death.

Hatcher (Seagal) returns to his hometown and quickly discovers that drugs have infiltrated his old neighborhood. Determined to drive the dealers out, Hatcher crosses paths with a ferocious Jamaican druglord who vows that hatcher and his family are now marked for death.

Directed by Dwight H. Little (Rapid Fire), Marked for Death was made during Seagal’s glory days. Back then, the idea of a “straight-to-video Seagal flick” was unthinkable. How the mighty have fallen…

Order Marked for Death from Amazon.com today!

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The Guest | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

The Guest | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

The Guest | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

RELEASE DATE: January 6, 2015

Universal presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Guest, directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next) and starring Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley and Maika Monroe.

A soldier (Stevens) introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

See for yourself why The Guest has received critical acclaim by both critics and audiences everywhere. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Guest from Amazon.com today!

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Cityonfire.com’s ‘As the Light Goes Out’ Blu-ray Giveaway! – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

"As The Lights Go Out" Blu-ray Cover

"As The Lights Go Out" Blu-ray Cover

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of As the Light Goes Out to three lucky Cityonfire visitors.

To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, this clip (yes, you read that right). 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 As the Light Goes Out will be officially released on November 18, 2014. We will announce the 3 winners on that day and ship out the prizes immediately.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by November 17, 2014 to qualify. U.S. residents only please. We sincerely apologize to our non-U.S. visitors. Winners must respond with their mailing address within 48 hours, otherwise you will automatically be disqualified. No exceptions. Contest is subject to change without notice.

WINNERS: Congratulations to Matt (Mattbmbowling), Alan T. and Dirty Gills! You have all been notified via email!

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Nicolas Cage’s China-based ‘Outcast’ to re-arrive early 2015

"Outcast 3D" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Outcast 3D" Chinese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: A mysterious warrior teams up with the daughter and son of a deposed Chinese Emperor to defeat their cruel Uncle, who seeks their deaths.

Outcast stars Nicolas Cage (Face/Off, Bangkok Dangerous), Hayden Christensen (Jumper, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith). Yifei Liu (The Forbidden Kingdom, The Assassins), Andy On (Special ID), Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?), Jawed El-Berni (Ninja: Shadow of a Tear), the Dasz Brothers (Iceman), Alaa Safi (Chinese Zodiac) and Fernando Chien (Bunraku).

The Holding’s James Dormer will be writing the script and stuntman Nick Powell (who worked on a number of titles including The Bourne Identity and Resident Evil: Retribution), will be directing for the first time.

Updates: Shooting for Outcast has wrapped up in China. THR has an interesting video interview with Nicolas Cage, where he not only talks about Outcast, but he also criticizes Hollywood’s lack of opportunities for male Asian actors. He mentions names like Bruce Lee, Tony Leung, John Woo and Chow Yun Fat. | New poster for Outcast.

Producer Jeremy Bolt (Pompeii) states there might be a sequel, considering its strong performance by “buyers” in the film market. Bolt also says that a worldwide release is planned, including “the US and China, in September and October this year.” – Thanks to Collider. | First trailer. | Second trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Outcast will finally be released in China and North America in January and February of 2015, respectively. This news comes about a month after China mysteriously cancelled its premiere last September. Update courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate.

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Revenge of the Green Dragons | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

Revenge of the Green Dragons | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

Revenge of the Green Dragons | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2015

Lionsgate presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Revenge of the Green Dragons, an action-drama about Chinese gangs in New York, directed by Hong Kong filmmakers Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Andrew Loo (It Had To Be You!); and produced by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street).

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

Pre-order Revenge of the Green Dragons from Amazon.com today!

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Sharlto Copley gets himself into some ‘Hardcore’ POV action!

"Hardcore" Teaser Poster

"Hardcore" Teaser Poster

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

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

Thanks to Film Combat Syndicate, we have some amazing, action-packed promotional footage. Hardcore is completely shot and is currently in post-production phase. Naishuller is currently crowdfunding for additional funds to “complete the film to the highest standard possible.” For as little as $1, you can help by clicking here.

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Kung Fu Jungle (2014) Review

"Kung Fu Jungle" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Kung Fu Jungle" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Teddy Chen
Writer: Lau Ho Leung, Mak Tin Sue
Producer: Albert Lee
Cast: Donnie Yen, Bai Bing, Charlie Young, Wang Baoqiang, David Chiang Da Wei, Alex Fong Chung Sun, Zhang Lan Xin, Stephen Tung Wei, Chin Kar Lok, Xing Yu, William Chan, Raymond Chow, Nicky Li, Deep Ng, Yuen Bun
Running Time: 100 min.

By Paul Bramhall

After initially being called Last of the Best, and then Kung Fu Killer, Donnie Yen’s fourth and final starring role of 2014 arrives in the form of Kung Fu Jungle. Ironically, both of the movies initial titles are more representative of what it’s about than the final choice, but as Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name?” Most kung fu cinema fans will be familiar with the 1997 Seasonal Films HK-US co-production Bloodmoon, in which Gary Daniels plays a cop on the tail of Darren Shahlavi, a serial killer going around challenging martial artists to death duels. While Bloodmoon was a simple kung fu flick with no higher ambitions, Kung Fu Jungle takes the same idea, and tries to incorporate extra meaning into it by adding in the concepts of martial arts philosophy and principals.

Yen always shines brightest when he’s working with a director who knows his stuff, and here he’s once again paired with Teddy Chen, who he collaborated with on 2009’s Bodyguards and Assassins. The pair make a good team, and Yen’s performance somewhat echoes that of his role in Wu Xia in that his character is one who’s turned away from fighting, rather than the hot headed roles he’s most famous for in his career.

In Kung Fu Jungle, he plays a prisoner who’s been jailed due to accidentally beating an opponent to death. When the news gets to him of a martial artist he once knew being murdered in mysterious circumstances, Yen insists that he knows who the killer is and that the police, led by Charlie Young, should let him out so that he can help to find the culprit. It should come as no surprise that before long, they agree to do just that, however what may come as a surprise is exactly how closely Yen sticks to only helping them out.

Kung Fu Jungle arguably marks the first time when he noticeably takes himself out of the action spotlight with, save for a couple of brief skirmishes, the only real fight he plays a significant part in being the finale, but we’ll get to that later. With Yen taking a sideline on the action front, it’s left to the kung fu serial killer to deliver what most of the audience for this type of movie will be checking in for – the fights. Thankfully this role is played by Wang Bao Qiang, here facing off against Yen for the second time in the same year after they both starred in Iceman 3D together.

Bao Qiang trained in the Shaolin Temple as it was his dream to be a kung fu movie star, and after his career has seen him starring in mostly non-martial arts roles, it seems that 2014 is the year that his dream is finally coming true.  His murderous rampage has him taking on kung fu masters using whatever martial arts they’re proficient in, which translates to a brief but intense kicking showdown with Xing Yu, a weapons duel with Fan Siu Wong, and of course a showdown with Yen himself. With his character having a handicap of being born with one leg shorter than the other and a tragic past, Bao Qiang plays an effectively menacing antagonist to Yen’s peace seeking prisoner, and the two roles play off each other well.

While the fight scenes do employ some wire work, it’s mostly used to accentuate falls rather than being used for any gravity defying kicks, and as a result its use is never particularly jarring. For the audience that like their fight scenes grounded, the good news is there’s nothing here that comes close to the absurdity of the fights in say, Legendary Assassin, for example. While Yen gained wide acclaim for successfully merging the flow of Hong Kong choreography with the grappling style of modern MMA for movies like Sha Po Lang (aka Kill Zone) and Flash Point, many felt that his work in Special ID moved too much towards the MMA style – a style which is particularly difficult to translate into something that looks exciting onscreen. For the final duel in Kung Fu Jungle, he fully rectifies this, ending the movie with a bang thanks to an impressively lengthy duel with Bao Qiang on a busy highway which throws in everything from fists, feet, grappling, and weapons. It’s so good that even a small dose of dodgy CGI doesn’t detract from the impact.

In many ways Kung Fu Jungle plays like a tribute to not just the Hong Kong movie industry of old, but also the current Hong Kong talent making movies now. Scattered throughout its run time is an almost endless list of cameos from talent both old and new: from Raymond Chow to Bruce Law (suitably playing a truck driver!); Derek Kwok to Andrew Lau; even Jackie Chan and Lau Kar Leung make appearances, albeit on the TV screen. Cameo spotting hasn’t been this much fun since Twin Dragons. Plenty of choreographers are in the mix as well: from old school hands like Yuen Bun and Stephen Tung Wei; to new school faces like Chin Kar Lok and Nicky Li, and I’ve no doubt they all contributed to the action along with Yen who acted as the principal action director.

Of course in true to form style for a Hong Kong movie, there’s also some unintentional goofiness on display that reminds us not to take anything too seriously. One scene has Bao Qiang using his phone in the middle of a steaming hot sauna, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world; another has us believe that the whole cast and crew of a film set would run away in order for two guys to fight each other to the death. My personal favorite moment came when Charlie Young asks Yen if he knows why the killer is committing the murders, and Yen responds back with a perfect poker face, “Because he’s a kung fu maniac!”

However, mixed in with these are enough homage’s to old school kung fu movies that the sum of all its parts equal to a highly enjoyable experience. Chen successfully transplants old kung fu movie tropes, such as Jimmy Wang Yu’s skin toughening technique in movies like Chinese Boxer, into a modern day setting, and the way in which it’s done can’t help but bring a smile to the face. Kung Fu Jungle is a smart movie, one which knows enough about the audience it needs to appeal to, as well as the audience that it wants to appeal to, and it’s a balancing act that not many recent movies have been able to pull off.

Things get effectively meta in the final moments, with Yen’s character delivering a coda that’s not only reminiscent of many of the Shaw Brothers wuxia pian movies, but by extension also seems to reflect his own beliefs of where he’s at in his career. It’s an excellent close to what comes close to being an excellent movie, thankfully washing away the memory of his cringe worthy jumping for joy moments that closed out Special ID at the beginning of 2014. It’ll be interesting to see the type of reviews Kung Fu Jungle receives a few years later when it can be looked at in the greater context of Yen’s filmography, but for now, the movie delivers a worthy high note for both his career and for Hong Kong cinema in a period when they’re few and far between.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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

Tom Cruise hangs from a plane 5,000 feet in the air in ‘M:I-5′

"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" Japanese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Audiences around the world enjoyed Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, to the tune of some $680 million dollars. That makes a sequel pretty much a given at this point. Although Paramount had been grooming Jeremy Renner to take the reins to the series, general response has been that Tom Cruise (and Tom Cruise doing ridiculous aerial stunts) remains the big reason why people go see these movies.

Updates: Great news for fans of the highly underrated crime movie The Way of the Gun. It appears that the writer/director on that film, Christopher McQuarrie, is in talks to direct the next Mission: Impossible film. McQuarrie rocketed to fame back in 1995 by penning the screenplay for The Usual Suspects, but he most recently worked with Tom Cruise on the forthcoming Jack Reacher movie. Both Cruise and the Paramount are reportedly happy with McQuarrie’s work on Reacher, so we can expect an announcement for M:I5 in the near future.

According to Deadline, Paramount and Skydance Productions have confirmed that Tom Cruise will be back for M:I 5. | Sherlock Holmes 3 and Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce has been given the assignment to write the screenplay. | Deadline reports that Christopher McQuarrie is officially directing Mission: Impossible 5. McQuarrie even Tweeted the message: “Mission: Accepted.”

According to Collider, Mission: Impossible 5 will be released on July 31st, 2015. In addition to Tom Cruise; Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton are rumored to return. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) has declined the female lead, but Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen) has stepped in. | First cast photo from MI:5, courtesy of Collider.

According to Variety (via Film Combat Syndicate), Zhang Jingchu (Beast Stalker, Seven Swords) has joined the cast and has a major role opposite Tom Cruise.

BREAKING NEWS: Here’s a video of Tom Cruise hanging from a plane 5,000 feet in the air in M:I-5, thanks to Collider.

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The first trailer for ‘Furious 7′ is definitely fast and furious!

"Furious 7" Teaser Poster

"Furious 7" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: Director Justin Lin is stepping down from his post for now and is passing the baton to Saw and Insidious filmmaker James Wan, who will supposedly put a “gritty, ’70s revenge thriller” vibe on the next installment. Here’s an official plot tidbit: After Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew helped take down Owen Shaw, his brother Ian Shaw (Jason Statham) now wants revenge. Furious 7 (aka Fast and Furious 7) has a new release date set for April 3, 2015

In addition to Vin Diesel and Jason Statham, Furious 7 stars Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Lucas Black, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa and Djimon Hounsou.

Updates: In honor of Paul Walker, Universal will donate some of the proceeds from the upcoming Fast & Furious 6 Blu-ray & DVD release to Walker’s charity Reach Out WorldWide. As far as the future of Furious 7, there has been some talk about scrapping the current storyline and moving the plot into a completely new direction.

THR reports that Chris Morgan, Furious 7′s screenwriter, is revising the script that could make use of scenes that were shot before Walker’s death. If the plan works, production may resume by late January. | THR (via Collider) reports that Walker’s character Brian O’Conner will not be killed off in Furious 7, but will instead be retired “in a way that the studio hopes will satisfy fans of the franchise and make use of the exciting footage of Walker.”

According to an official statement from F7′s Facebook page, Paul Walker’s real life brothers will step in as doubles for the late actor; there are several reports that Cody Walker (one of Walker’s real brothers) may be joining future installments of Fast and Furious as Brian O’Connor’s (Paul Walker) younger brother.

BREAKING NEWS: The first trailer for Furious 7 is now available watch!

Cityonfire.com is hoping you can take a minute to check out www.FrankandBeanz.com, a doggie apparel website that has just released their Fast & the Furrious clothing line. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Paul Walker’s charity, Reach Out World Wide (ROWW).

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Deal on Fire! Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame | Blu-ray | Only $6.99 – Expires soon!

"Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" Blu-ray Cover

"Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (read our review).

This award-winning action/adventure stars Andy Lau (Firestorm), Tony Leung Ka Fai (Bodyguards & Assassins), Carina Lau (Let the Bullets Fly), Richard Ng (Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars) and Teddy Robin Kwan (Twin Dragons).

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame also features fight choreography by the legendary Sammo Hung (Ip Man).

Order Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame from Amazon.com today!

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Charlie Hunnam leads Thai boxing flick ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’

Billy Moore's "A Prayer Before Dawn"

Billy Moore's "A Prayer Before Dawn"

For those of you who wanted more action – and less symbolism – from Nicolas Refn’s Only God Forgives, brace yourself for some good news: Production for Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s (Johnny Mad Dog) Thai boxing thriller A Prayer Before Dawn starts shooting in the Summer of 2015.

The upcoming film is based on Billy Moore’s acclaimed autobiography of the same name about “the true story of one man’s unbelievable journey, from recovering heroin addict in the UK to professional competitor in the devastating martial art of Muay Thai boxing in Thailand,” according to Amazon.com’s book description.

Screen Daily describes A Prayer Before Dawn as being “crossover genre fare in the vein of Drive and The Raid.” Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim), who will be playing Moore, is currently taking up Muay Thai training for the film’s action sequences.

We’ll keep you updated on this project as we hear more.

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Kung Fu Zombie (1981) Review

"Kung Fu Zombie" Theatrical Poster

"Kung Fu Zombie" Theatrical Poster

AKA: Kung Fu Zombies
Director: Wa Yat Wang
Writer: Wa Yat Wang
Cast: Billy Chong Chun Lai (aka Willy Dozan), Kong Do, Kwan Yung Moon, Cheng Hong Yip, Chan Lau, Pak Sha Lik, Jeng Kei Ying, Woo Wai, Wong Yu
Running Time: 80 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Thanks to the success of recent movies such as The Raid and its sequel, Indonesian action stars like Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian have quickly become familiar to fans of the martial arts genre. However, the first Indonesian star that made a significant impact on the kung fu cinema scene came a whole 35 years before, in the form of Billy Chong. Chong shone briefly and brightly over a period of around 5 years from the late 70’s through to the early 80’s, before he returned to his native Indonesia and became a local star in his homeland.

As it happens, Chong, who now goes by the name of Willy Dozan and is in his mid 50s, is currently having a career renaissance of sorts, with his movies Duel – The Last Choice, in which he stars with his son, and Garuda 7, best described as an Indonesian version of The Expendables, soon to be hitting local cinema screens. With both Indonesia and Chong back on the action genre radar, I decided to visit one of the movies that originally grabbed people’s attention, the wonderfully titled Kung Fu Zombie.

It’s no secret that enjoying the old school kung fu genre is rather like navigating a minefield. For every classic that reminds you how much you love watching people kick the living day lights out of each other, there’ll be 10 duds waiting in the wings full of teeth gratingly bad comedy, sloppy fight scenes, and dubbing that makes your ears bleed. Titles can be deceptive things, so I find myself always erring on the side of caution. Yes, Kung Fu Zombie sounds fantastic, but then so did Deadly Snail vs. Kung Fu Killers, and you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered there wasn’t a single deadly snail to be found it its entire run time.

So, my cautious viewing began. First up Kung Fu Zombie is that rare form of Hong Kong kung fu movie in that the two principal cast members are both non-HK natives. Apart from Chong who takes on the lead, he’s given an opponent in the form of Korean boot master Kwan Yung-moon. Kwan, who affectionately became known in the kung fu community as the ‘Crazy Korean,’ for his trademark moustache and wild eye brows,  is another performer who left his mark in kung fu cinema history, due to his ferocious kicks and villainous demeanor.

Thankfully, Kung Fu Zombie turned out to be one of those diamonds in the rough. The influence of Encounters of the Spooky Kind – a movie directed by and starring Sammo Hung, which essentially kicked off the whole kung fu/comedy/horror hybrid made just a year earlier – is clear to see; from the wacky rituals performed by the Taoist priest to the presence of hopping vampires. However, while clearly operating a tier under the work of Sammo, director Wa Ya Wang seems determined to entertain us by having proceedings move at a breakneck speed, which almost makes Encounters pf The Spooky Kind seem slow in comparison.

The story revolves around the character of Chong, who lives at home with his strict father, and who also happened to foil a bank robbery several years earlier. When the thieves are released, they come to seek out Chong to get their revenge, but it quickly becomes clear they’re not his match and the head of the thieves is killed. When Chong’s father has a heart attack and dies, the ghost of the thief asks a Taoist priest to reincarnate him in the father’s body, so he can take the ultimate revenge on Chong by killing him using the hands of his own father.

The above description actually makes it sound much more deep and meaningful than it really is, mainly due to the fact that despite being the crux of the plot which everything revolves around, more time is spent of Kwan Yung-moon. So, I need to make sure I explain this clearly – early on the Taoist priest is roaming through a morgue with the ghost of the thief in an initial attempt to find him a new body to reincarnate into. While there, they stumble across Kwan Yung-moon, who is sleeping in a coffin, because, well, he’s a vampire. There’s some nonsense about the vampire holding a long time grudge against Chong’s father, but it’s mentioned almost in passing.

So then Kwan’s character of the vampire becomes the primary threat to everyone, and Kung Fu Zombie is fantastic for it.. In an age which is obsessed with providing the origin story of every character we come across, it’s refreshing to have a movie which features a kung fu fighting vampire with no other explanation except that it’s just a damn cool idea. True to his nickname of the ‘Crazy Korean,’ Kwan spends more of his screen time yelling out battle cries as he tries to kick someone to death than he has actual lines. But when he does speak, it’s almost always something worth saying, such as this gem – “I have made many ghosts from the living, and I will make more!”

If he’s not kicking some poor saps head off and enthusiastically drinking the blood from the spurting stump of the corpse’s neck, chances are Kwan is in a fight scene with Chong. Chong also does a lot of yelling, and so whenever they fight, it’s best to have the volume turned down, or said scenes may give your neighbors the impression there’s some serious domestic violence going down. The fight scenes between these two guys are kung fu cinema gold: both can bust out some very impressive kicking, and the fights are under cranked just enough to make them look like they’re moving scarily fast, but not enough to no longer be able to appreciate the choreography.

Watching Chong in action makes you wish he’d made more movies in Hong Kong, as he clearly had the rare combination of being able to bust out some serious moves, with a likeable screen presence and charm. For the first time in a long time, the fights had me glued to the screen. The finale is a great mix of fists, feet, and some supernatural action as Chong and Kwan go at each other so aggressively that the fight reaches cartoon levels of hyper violence. At one point, Kwan has both his fists and his feet set ablaze, and they still go at each other, before things culminate in one of the most OTT death scenes I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. It’s a joy to watch.

At just short of 80 minutes, it’s almost impossible for Kung Fu Zombie to outstay its welcome, although some of the original movie definitely appears to be edited out of the English dub. There’s one scene involving a group of characters having a conversation, and then suddenly it cuts to Chong throwing down against some Asian guy with an afro who we’ve never seen before up until this point. Amusingly, once the fight finishes, it cuts to another scene, and the first character to speak says “This doesn’t make any sense.” Indeed, it doesn’t, but it’s a whole lot of fun.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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Once Upon A Time in Shanghai | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Once Upon A Time in Shanghai | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Once Upon A Time in Shanghai | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, a martial arts film directed by Wong Ching Po (Let’s Go!) with action choreography from the legendary Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix).

The plot involves a laborer who moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich, but ends up using his kung fu skills to survive. The cast includes Phillip Ng (Bodyguards & Assassins), Andy On (Special Identity), Luxia Jiang (True Legend) and Sammo Hung (Kill Zone). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Once Upon A Time in Shanghai from Amazon.com today!

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Shooting for ‘Rambo: Last Blood’ gets delayed ’til 2015

"Rambo III" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Rambo III" Japanese Theatrical Poster

In the time since 2008′s Rambo, there have been numerous ideas for the next Rambo film, most of which were generated by Sylvester Stallone himself. You may recall Rambo V: The Last Stand, which pitted Rambo against experimental Universal Soldier-like enemies; there was also Rambo V: The Savage Hunt, in which Rambo was out to rescue a kidnapped girl from sex traffickers and drug dealers near the Mexican border; and later still came the idea of adapting James Byron Huggin’s 1999 novel Hunter into Rambo V.

That plot involved the hunt for a killer beast born from an illegal genetic experiment gone wrong – fans were not entirely enthused about the idea of the Rambo franchise taking a sudden detour into sci-fi.

Now, word arrives that Entertainment One and producer Avi Lerner are conspiring to turn Rambo into a TV series. Even better, it appears likely that Sylvester Stallone will reprise his role as John Rambo for television. While it’s difficult to imagine Stallone committing to a 22-episode season when he’s busy making movies like The Expendables 3, perhaps the Rambo show could be a mini-series or simply offer Stallone the occasional cameo appearance. What say you – are you excited about the idea of Rambo on the small screen or should Stallone stick to his chosen medium of film?

Updates: According to this interview with Jason Statham, the script for Homefront, which was written by Sylvester Stallone in 2008, was originally intended to be Rambo V.

During Sylvester Stallone’s live Q&A event in London’s Palladium, the subject of Rambo was briefly brought up. Stallone jokingly replied: “I’d love to do another Rambo, but maybe if he works in Las Vegas,” followed by “Maybe it’s run its course.”

According to comingsoon.net (via Film Combat Syndiate): A company called Splendid Film has bought the rights to the next film. Here’s what their release said: “With Rambo V Sylvester Stallone returns in his iconic role. This time he goes up against a Mexican cartel. Stallone, who has also written the screenplay, describes the new Rambo as his version of No Country for Old Men. Like the last film, Rambo V is produced by Avi Lerner (The Expendables 1-3).

According to Manlymovie.net (via Millennium Studios), Rambo V shoots in Louisiana later this year. Here’s some words from from Sly himself: “First I will make a new Rambo, darker, in the style of No Country for Old Men. Then Scarpa, the story of a very famous gangster.” | Although details are still pending, there’s a possibility that Tom Hiddleston (“Loki” from The Avengers) may join Rambo V. | According to Expendables PremiereRambo 5 is set to begin shooting in Louisiana late October.

Coming Soon reports that Stallone’s Rambo V will be titled Rambo: Last Blood, a full circle nod to 1982′s First Blood.

BREAKING NEWS: Rambo: Last Blood, which was previously said to begin filming in late October, has now been pushed back until January 2015, according to The Times Picayune (via EP.com).

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Lee Suk-Hoon’s The Pirates, an action/adventure that tells the story of rival pirates who have the common goal of capturing a gray whale that has swallowed a precious royal stamp.

The Pirates stars Kim Nam-Gil (Public Enemy Returns), Son Ye-Jin (The Tower), Sulli (Punch Lady), Lee Kyoung-Young (A Company Man), Yu Hae-Jin (The Unjust) and Oh Dal-Su (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). Watch the  trailer!

Pre-order The Pirates from Amazon.com today!

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Well Go USA smuggles Korean crime thriller ‘Traffickers’

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

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

The award-winning, action-packed South Korean crime thriller Traffickers debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital December 23rd from Well Go USA Entertainment. The film takes place over six hours on a passenger boat with an ongoing black-market organ-trafficking operation, and a desperate husband out to find his missing wife.

Directed by first time feature film director Kim Hong-sun, Traffickers stars Im Chang-jung (Twilight Gangsters), Daniel Choi (Cyrano Agency), Oh Dal-soo (Oldboy), Cho Youn-hee (Doomsday Book), Cho Dal-hwan (The Pirates), Jeong Ji-yoon (I Saw the Devil). Don’t miss the trailer.

Synopsis: Young-Gyu was the best. He was an organ dealer, smuggling body parts for sale to the highest bidder. His crew was the best – an organized team of professionals with top skills and no conscience. But when one of them dies on the job, the crew scatters. Now he fronts stolen goods, and has fallen in love with Yoo-Ri, a ticket agent at the port terminal. Her father is dying, and when she turns to a ruthless loan shark for help, Young-Gyu goes on a search to find his old partners for one last job. Pre-order Traffickers from Amazon.com today!

Cityonfire.com received the above press release from Well Go USA/MPRM Communications.

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Pacino and De Niro to join Donnie Yen in ‘Noodle Man’?

"Flash Point" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Flash Point" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Don’t let the silly title fool you: an upcoming film called Noodle Man might just represent Donnie Yen’s return to Hollywood cinema. Action fans are more than likely aware that Donnie made inroads into the American movie industry back in the early 2000′s, lending his talent as an action choreographer to pictures such as 2000′s Highlander: Endgame and 2002′s Blade II.

Yen was also supporting actor in those films, as well as a few others such as Shanghai Knights, before he returned to his roots and re-ignited his Hong Kong acting career with 2005′s S.P.L. (AKA Kill Zone). With Yen more popular than ever as both a performer and action director, many American fans have asked the question: will Donnie Yen ever return to Hollywood before he becomes too old to be a viable screen star?

With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend revealed to be an English-language production, as well as premiering straight to Netflix, the answer appeared to be “yeah, sort of.” But now Hollywood Reporter is reporting on a new Hollywood film called Noodle Man. The movie is set to arrive from actor-turned-director Daming Chen, who helmed the 2011 Chinese remake of What Women Want, and will star Yen in the role of a former Chinese cop who retires to New York City after his partner is murdered and opens his own noodle shop. Fifteen years later, the very same same drug kingpin who killed Yen’s partner walks into his Chinatown noodle shop…and the quest for revenge begins.

BREAKING NEWS: According to HK Top Ten, the Noodle Man may start shooting in Spring 2015, and Robert De Niro (Goodfellas) and Al Pacino (The Godfather) are attached as co-stars. - Thanks to DiP!

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My Rebellious Son (1982) Review

"My Rebellious Son" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"My Rebellious Son" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Sun Chung
Writer: Ni Kuang, Sun Chung
Producer: Mona Fong
Cast: Alexander Fu Sheng, Ku Feng, Cecilia Wong, Michael Chan Wai Man, John Ladalski, Johnny Wang Lung Wei, Ngaai Fei, Tang Ching, Walter Tso Tat Wah, Tin Ching, Yuen Bun, Yuen Wah
Running Time: 93 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

It’s difficult to embrace that it has been well over three decades since box office idol Alexander Fu Sheng’s tragic death. In just ten years, this affable and complex star made over thirty five films ranking from a succession of ‘Shaolin’ orientated retrospectives to light hearted; occasionally inane kung fu comedies where his natural physical versatility – as well as his mischievous persona – were put to good use in a variety of situations; some implausible, but usually with vivacious consequences. His ‘Shaolin’ workload, though, tended to be emotionally streamlined favoring exact kung fu depictions as in, by example, New Shaolin Boxer (1976), a semi referential premise that heralds the intricate style of Choy Li Fatt, itself a center piece to the storyline about a rickshaw attendant who opposes a malicious street gang led by dependable screen villain, Wang Lung Wei.

Although few would disagree, in some respects Fu Sheng was an instrumental precursor to Jackie Chan’s eventual screen brand of integrating canto-vernacular expressionism with that of slapstick athleticism. Indeed, one can detect these juxtapositions even though Chan maintains his direct inspirational links were silent icons: Charley Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd; yet from a historic point of view, Fu Sheng was really the first action-comedian to fractionally instigate this genre from which he never received credit for: in fact, Fu Sheng was Yuen Woo Ping’s premier choice to play the abused orphan ‘Ting Fu’ for Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1977). However, contractual legalities prevented him from starring in may what have been arguably superior entries to Sheng’s already established filmography.

Educated in Hawaii, where his preferred interests focused on learning karate and Judo, Fu Sheng was originally born in Hong Kong 1954 to an affluent family who expected him to follow tradition, and become a major entrepreneur. Allegedly, Sheng had something by way of a troubled youth. Torn between family obligations and his own passions for movies and music (he later married singer/actress, Jenny Tseng), at sixteen he joined the Shaw Brothers’ training academy where, much to his parents’ disapproval, he excelled in drama expositions and the rudiments of kung fu. With an inherent flare for performance, handsome looks and (a) charisma far above his contemporaries, everyone soon became aware of his qualifications – most notably esteemed studio director, Chang Cheh, who at the time was grooming newcomer, Chen Kwan Tai, for his lead debut in The Boxer from Shantung (1972).

Typically, Sheng was offered the opportunity of an uncredited stuntman appearance at the picture’s finale, although one has too observe extremely carefully. From there, minor roles were afforded too him such as Cheh’s underrated experimental pieces: The Generation Gap (1973), Police Force (1973) and Friends (1973) before winning significant acclaim (for) portraying folkhero ‘Fan Shih Yue’ (aka Fong Sai Yuk) in a trilogy of films that highlight brotherhood, patriotism and sacrifice. Fan Shih Yue, of course, was a legendary ‘Han’ freedom fighter, who invariably fought alongwith his mentor and comrade, Hung Xi Kwan. History purports that from a young age Fan Shih Yue’s mother soaked his entire body in a giant ceramic pot filled with herbal wine. After many months of discomfort, it was documented his skin became impervious to impalement, earning him the distinctive monicker of “Iron Vest Fan.” His weak spot, however, was his anus.

Fu Sheng indeed revelled in the role: his cocksure attitude mirrored a believability that would make other actors’ appear staid and artificial. Yet, Sheng approached all of his roles with an inbred sense of eccentricity, whether straight-laced, comical or completely absent of intellect as in Five Shaolin Masters (1974); whereby his character’s obvious lack of common sense is overshadowed by an ingrained fighting proficiency. After that he never looked back.

As his fandom escalated in leaps and bounds, Sheng worried deeply about becoming typecast in an industry that was both taxing and dangerous; personal liability was not an optional inclusion to any Shaw Brothers contract. Nevertheless, besides joint-starring with Chi Kuan Chun for celebrated classics: Shaolin Martial Arts (1974), Marco Polo (1975), and his career defining picture Disciples from Shaolin (1976); Sheng often tried too diversify his performances by collaborating with other studio directors: i.e. Chu Yuan, Sun Chung and Liu Chia Liang.

According to sources, Sheng’s working relationship with Liang became temporarily strained following an artistic episode involving the first time director’s choice to replace the rising star with the late Wong Yue for the lead in The Spiritual Boxer (1976); a part Sheng originally coveted. However, protracted tensions between Cheh and Liang ‘then’ over creative differences during production of The Boxer Rebellion (1975) meant Cheh retained seniority over casting, which is why Wong Yue was immediately decided upon, while Sheng’s presence (indirectly) may have been perceived as an internal catalyst for further rivalry.

Question is: would The Spiritual Boxer have benefited moreso – commercially, if Sheng had taken up the role of the charlatan magician? Either way, it didn’t matter. As Wong Yue progressed through an echelon of pedestrian swordplay affairs to cult favourites; generally in tandem with Gordon Liu, Sheng’s star attraction had dramatically increased. Amazingly, he was contracted to four,even five films per year; few were even shot simultaneously like the epic Shaolin Temple (1976) and the contemporary tragic-drama The Chinatown Kid (1977). Naturally release dates vary.

It was these productions where nuances of pathos were slowly creeping into Sheng’s repertoire, even though from the outset his performances consisted of a buoyant, cheeky exterior. Seriousness of character did not always manifest until set against the backdrop of a grim inevitability. Shaolin Temple, for instance was a film riddled with expectant scenes that fluctuated between habitual tension and ritualized serenity, using Sheng as a comic foil to bridge the two contradictions. It was almost bathetic in design right up to its violent and lengthy conclusion.

The Chinatown Kid on the other hand contained analogies to Cheh’s previous masterworks: The Boxer from Shantung and Disciples from Shaolin. The universal message of these (three) movies was the timeless adage of “Power” and its ability to corrupt even the most well intentioned individual. In Cheh’s case, the catalyst of each characters’ downfall was their material fixation on a particular object, as well as their instinctive desires for wealth and reputation. It was this sense of poetic obsession that caught the eye of Hollywood, partly because of Sheng’s blistering performance as the not-too-bright “Kid” who only really cared about owning a flash suit and a digital wristwatch.

Indeed, negotiations were eminent between the Shaws and Warner Brothers about a potential co-production which would best serve Sheng’s acting/martial arts fortitude. The opportunity was there, but a serious accident (during filming) that temporarily crippled him, suspended further investment.

Contending with a possible disability, Sheng recuperated slowly, and within six months he’d miraculously regained enough flexibility and strength to cameo in Liang’s Legendary Weapons of Kung Fu before excepting a non-physical role in Lau Kar Wing’s screwball horror-comedy The Fake Ghost Catchers (1982). He reunited with Liang twice for Cat vs. Rat (1982) and The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984). Sadly, the latter had too be re-written and finalized without Sheng’s participation due an unfortunate and uncanny road accident which claimed the life of the twenty-nine year old.

Today, some Hong Kong folk still believe Sheng’s death, like Bruce Lee’s, is attributed to bad Feng Shui. Parallels are indeed evident: in addition to a ten year time differential between each stars’ passing, neither completed their ‘current’ projects, and despite cryptic warnings, Sheng bought Lee’s former mansion in Kowloon. All these similarities – whether co-incidental or otherwise – echo an eerie familiarity seldom seen outside the realms of Tinseltown, let alone Asia.

In recent years, Fu Sheng’s extensive filmography has been gradually re-released (on DVD) through reputable distributors such as Celestial, Dragon Dynasty, Well Go USA and Tokyo Shock. Although annoyingly limited in the western hemisphere for those who do not possess the luxury of a multi-region DVD player, these titles do not represent, nor embody Sheng’s comprehensive back catalog: important, yes! But, by far, not his most memorable in terms of storyline, characterization or action choreography – bar exception Disciples from Shaolin (1975), Heroes Two (1974) and Avenging Eagle (1978). For some fans it has always been about The Brave Archer (1977) quadrilogy that best defines Fu Sheng’s allure; others’ passionately argue The Treasure Hunters (1981) or Deadly Breaking Sword (1979), yet the majority feel My Rebellious Son encapsulates the true persona of perhaps one of the most underrated celebrities of the Shaw pantheon.

This was Fu Sheng’s third and final collaboration with (the) legendary, elusive film-maker, Sun Chung – known for his Kubrick-like devotion for precision continuity and an unfailing approach for numerous (re)takes. Sun Chung was also lauded for his outrageous quick-editing style and uncompromising camera angles – subsequently adopted by John Woo (Last Hurrah for Chivalry), Tsui Hark (Zu: Warriors From Magic Mountain) and a torrent of other prospective celluloid aluminaries. The realms of comedy, no less, was an unusual divergence for Chung. Normally, he commonly explored the darker aspects of the human condition: corruption, violent impulse and motivational sadism were just three areas back lit and imbued in Chung’s trademark moody, sometimes romanticized gothicism.

In reflection, however, My Rebellious Son was, surface wise, a concept possibly developed in the wake of Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master (1978) and Billy Chong’s The Crystal Fist (1979), but on closer examination, it actually veers towards anti-Thatcherism in a thinly disguised meditation which, observably, celebrates national identity and traditional values by firmly sticking two fingers up at colonialism and any other would-be political interlopers.

As the titles suggests, Sheng is in formidable comedic overdrive: energetic, youthful and utterly personable as Tai, the wayward and cunning son to revered herbalist Chang Siu (Ku Feng). By day, Tai forcibly labors at his father’s popular clinic: grinding, chopping and boiling various nondescript roots, insects and animal inards for eccentric, overly wealthy customers. Frustrated with his routine lifestyle, he seeks recreational thrills at the expense of his father’s reputation. This ongoing and perfectly executed interplay – between Sheng, the rebel and Feng’s autocratic and exhortative personality – sets the tone for further spirited activities involving Tai’s deliberate imprudence towards local Manchu bullies, westernized converts and foreign imperialists adamant about owning rare Chinese Objet d’art.

It is these latter antagonists that, understandably, spur xenophobic disapproval from not only Feng, but members of a town committee, whom unlike the converts – a team led by the obligatory Wang Lung Wei – wish too preserve the heritage of their forebears and not fall foul to capitalistic endeavours, modernization or the shallow mindset of greedy socialites devoid of respect for the intrinsic values of others’ culture. Between Sheng’s humorous scenes at dancing – English style, attired in a traditional Chinese long gown and recovering stolen antiques in a subplot akined to Jackie Chan’s Dragon Lord (1981) – all these premise units surprisingly connect, precipitating an extensive well staged tournament showdown pitting Sheng’s multifacted expertise (Mantis Fist, Butterfly Sabres and 3 sectional staff, etc.) against the likes of agile slugger (John Ladaski) and a crafty bemused Samurai/Ninja (Chan Wai Man).

Verdict: Although flawless in execution, in today’s current attitudes My Rebellious Son could be deemed as “politically incorrect,” considering the amount of depicted undesirables on offer: from pompous Brits to homegrown opportunists, to apparent honourless Japanese. However, re-examining how China/Hong Kong’s turbulent history has been shaped by foreign incursions, exploitation and outside influences, these caricatures are perfectly realized, allowing the protagonist(s) to vanquish the situation – entertainment wise; yet in reality could not due to overwhelming political and military odds. Needless to say, My Rebellious Son now acts as a befitting tribute to Fu Sheng’s memory and career, bonused by a superior visual polish, seldom appreciated in Hong Kong Cinema.

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 9/10

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

Deal on Fire! Little Big Soldier | Blu-ray | Only $6.81 – Expires soon!

"Little Big Soldier" Blu-ray Cover

"Little Big Soldier" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Little Big Soldier, starring the legendary Jackie Chan (Armour of God III: Chinese Zodiac) and Leehom Wang (Lust, Caution and Michael Mann’s upcoming Blackhat).

Directed and written by Ding Sheng, Litte Big Soldier (read our review) is definitely one of the best Jackie Chan flicks of the last 10 years. I know we’re all sick of period films (especially one titled Little Big Solider), but trust me, this is one movie you don’t want to miss.

Order Little Big Solider from Amazon.com today!

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90′s action stars break bad in ‘The Chemist’ trailer!

"Nemesis" Theatrical Poster

"Nemesis" Theatrical Poster

What do you get when you gather up Olivier Gruner (Nemesis), Patrick Kilpatrick (Death Warrant), Martin Kove (Rambo, The Karate Kid), Richard Grieco (If Looks Could Kill), Sasha Mitchell (Kickboxer 2) and Eric Lee (Ring of Fire); then cook ‘em up to a crisp with some action direction by Art Camacho (Half Past Dead 2, To Be the Best 2)?

The Answer: The Chemist, “a gritty, action packed thriller about an aging assassin (Gruner) who is double crossed by his employer when he refuses to assassinate a woman he just met.”

Check out hew newly released trailer for The Chemist, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate. The film is currently in post-production phase, so stay tuned for its official release date!

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Jackie Chan’s ‘Civilian’ is ‘Die Hard in a weapons convention’

"Polce Story 2013" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Polce Story 2013" Japanese Theatrical Poster

In addition to Dragon Blade (which is currently filming), Skiptrace, and the possibility of The Karate Kid 2 and Rush Hour 4, Jackie Chan (Armour of God III: CZ12) has added an English-language thriller titled Civilian, to his to-do list.

According to Variety, Civilian “follows a salesman who finds himself in the middle of a terror attack at an arms convention.” Chances are, the film will be a light-hearted action flick, considering it’s being helmed by Peter Segal (Get Smart, Grudge Match), a director known for his family-friendly output.

Update: Looks like Civilian will follow the Die Hard mold. According to Collider, producer Basil Iwanyk (John Wick) describes it as “Die Hard in a weapons convention.” Filming begins early 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Day of Anger | aka Gunlaw | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Day of Anger | aka Gunlaw | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Day of Anger | aka Gunlaw | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015

Arrow Video USA presents the Blu-ray for 1967′s Day of Anger (aka Day of Wrath, I giorni dell’ira), directed by Tonino Valerii (My Name Is Nobody).

Amiable, unassertive Scott Mary (Giuliano Gemma) picks up the trash, cleans the toilets and sweeps the floors in the town of Clifton. Then a gunfighter (Lee Van Cleef) comes to town. He offers advice and guidance to Scott, who quickly begins to toughen and mature, thus upsetting the balance of power in the town. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Day of Anger from Amazon.com today!

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

Dolph Lundgren teams up with some killer Jaws in ‘Shark Lake’

"Shark Lake" Teaser Poster

"Shark Lake" Teaser Poster

Action legend Dolph Lundgren is getting his bait ‘n tackle box ready for a Jaws-like thriller titled Shark Lake (formerly titled The Lake). We’re crossing our fingers that this upcoming film is a step above the recent wave of shlockbusters (i.e. Sharknado, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus), but only time will tell.

Here’s the official plot: Fiercely protective single-mom Meredith Hendricks happens to also be the best cop in her quiet town on Lake Tahoe. When a black-market exotic species dealer named Clint, is paroled from prison, something he let loose begins to make its presence known. Swimmers and land-lovers alike begin to become part of the food chain at an unbelievable rate.

Shark Lake is directed by Jerry Dugan (Between Grass and Sky) and also stars Jen Oda, Ben Maccabee and James Chalke. There’s no word on who or what Lundgren will be playing (maybe he’s playing the shark?). Despite the early poster’s design, there has been some speculation that his role may be a glorified cameo. Again, only time will tell.

Shark Lake starts shooting at the end of the this year. Until then, the Lundgren/Tony Jaa actioner Skin Trade - and hopefully the delayed A Man Will Rise – is just around the corner. Lundgren is also currently busy with War Pigs (with Mickey Rourke) as well as Four Towers (with Scott Adkins), which is currently in pre-production. – Thanks to dolph-ultimate.com

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From a co-star of ‘Merantau’ comes martial arts film ‘Die Fighting’

"Die Fighting" Poster

Recently, Twitch reported on a new film that martial arts buffs might be interested in. You’ll likely recall actor Laurent Buson as one of the two ‘evil white guys’ that Iko Uwais fought at the same time at the end of Merantau – Buson was the one with glasses. Well, the highly trained martial artist also belongs to a group of stunt people known as the Z Team. Their latest project together is a new fight movie called The Price of Success.

The premise is more than a little similar to the Thai movie BK: Bangkok Knockout, in which a bunch of highly trained fighters wake up after being drugged and are forced to fight each other for the whims of madman. However, the advertising for The Price of Success in particular goes out of its way to state that the filmmakers use no wires or computer effects for their action sequences. Don’t believe them? Just watch the trailer.

Update: The film has been retitled Die Fighting and is set to arrive via On Demand services this November 4th. In the meantime, check out the rebranded trailer.

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