Snowpiercer (2013) Review

"Snowpiercer" Theatrical Poster

"Snowpiercer" Theatrical Poster

Director: Bong Joon-ho
Writer: Kelly Masterson, Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Ah-sung Ko
Running Time: 126 min.

By Kyle Warner

In 2013, three of South Korea’s top directors stepped onto a bigger stage with their English-language feature film debuts. Jee-woon Kim (I Saw the Devil) went the big studio route with the Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback actioner The Last Stand. Enjoyable but immediately forgettable, the film barely showed any of the style or verve we’ve come to expect from Kim’s films. Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) went the independent route with the dark drama Stoker. It’s far from one of Park’s best films, but every scene and every frame is unmistakably Chan-wook Park. My favorite of the three, Joon-ho Bong (The Host), didn’t go far from home, as his film Snowpiercer was produced by CJ Entertainment, allowing him more flexibility to make his movie his way outside of the Hollywood system… It was only when the film was ready to make its US debut that it ran into problems.

The Weinstein Company bought the US rights back before the film was finished. When Bong showed them the final product, TWC was suddenly hesitant. It’s a dark, violent, satirical film and it possesses a strangeness to it that apparently TWC felt was difficult to sell. Widely published and almost as widely disputed reports suggested that TWC was afraid the film wouldn’t be understood by the people of Idaho and Oklahoma. They wanted to trim approximately 20 minutes from the runtime in order to make a film that was easier for general audiences to digest. Bong fought for his movie, which was making big bucks overseas, and soon the 2013 US release date was made impossible. They settled on a compromise: the film would go to US theaters intact in 2014 but it would not receive the wide release they’d originally envisioned.

And though it’s a shame that Snowpiercer did not go wide and make a bigger impact on US box offices, I believe this tradeoff was worth it so that we could get the movie as Bong intended.

And what a movie.

Snowpiercer is adapted from the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. It tells the story of a world frozen by man’s attempts to combat global warming. The last of the human race survive by riding the ‘rattling ark’, a train in constant motion with an engine that can never die.

The train is split into two sections: the elite who live in luxury at the front, and the dirty, desperate ‘little people’ who ride in the tail. The two sides are in constant conflict. The people at the tail want more food and more room, but the people at the front rule over the train with an iron fist, physically maiming those who do not get in line. But the people at the back have had enough. A revolution is ignited under the watchful eye of the elder Gilliam (John Hurt) and his commander Curtis (Chris Evans). They break out of their section and begin their long, bloody march to the front in an attempt to make things better for their people.

Equipped with a bullhorn and an army of thugs, Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton) is tasked with putting an end to the rebellion. Tilda Swinton owns this movie. Her performance is so wonderfully batty that she steals the movie out from under the star Chris Evans. There are so many ideas to her performance, many of which could not have been found on the script’s pages. Swinton becomes one of the best, weirdest things you’ll likely see in all of 2014’s new films.

Snowpiercer is a weird little movie. The setting is oppressive. It’s filmed with dark, moody lighting and the sets are claustrophobic. However, instead of being yet another dank, dreary film about the apocalypse, Snowpiercer is wildly inventive and wickedly funny. If you’ve seen any of Bong’s previous films you know that he is adept at mixing comedy into some incredibly dark situations. His serial killer thriller Memories of Murder reminded me of the Coen Bros. with the way he effortlessly mixed drama and humor, and his monster movie The Host slipped in plenty of laughs amidst the horror and action.

Snowpiercer shows Bong at his most imaginative. The tail section of the train is a slum, but it’s a slum full of character and wonder, looking a bit like how Terry Gilliam might envision Neverland (I would be willing to bet that John Hurt’s character Gilliam is named after the director). The fight sequences are violent, pitting the front against the back in brawls with axes and knives, but they’re so full of black humor and weird visuals (most notably Tilda Swinton standing on a stool with binoculars, smiling while she watches the bloodshed) that the fights manage to feel fresh and – dare I say it – fun.

When you set a film in a dystopian future you’re able to say something about the present without getting preachy. Snowpiercer’s tale about the elite with their boots on the necks of the poor could’ve easily gone wrong. The message is obvious, its parallels are clear. But Bong doesn’t hammer it down. He lets the viewers figure it out. He trusts the audience – an increasingly rare thing in modern film. If you want to analyze the film – and I believe that people will – you’re bound to find even more messages. But you should understand that this is not a message movie. It’s a movie with brains. There’s a difference. There’s meaning, but its delivered with humor, wit, and buckets of blood. And if you want, you can just sit back and enjoy it as an original piece of science fiction and nothing more. It works both ways.

Chris Evans does a good job playing the haunted leader of the armed resistance. It’s a darker, more brooding role than we’re used to from Evans at this point in his career. Second-billed behind Captain America himself is Korean superstar and frequent Bong collaborator Kang-ho Song. Song plays a man who helped design the doors that separate the train cars and thus can help the resistance in their quest to reach the front. He doesn’t go willingly, however, and they must buy his services with drugs made from toxic waste. His daughter comes along for the ride. She’s played by Ah-sung Ko, who also played Song’s daughter in The Host.

The way in which the American cast and the Korean stars interact is interesting. Instead of asking Song to speak broken English or asking Evans to speak muddled Korean, the characters use sci-fi tech to translate their words to each other. It’s a fine solution, allowing both Evans and Song to deliver their lines in a way that’s most comfortable to them.

If there are issues to be found in the film, they can all be found in the first half hour. It’s not long before the film settles into its groove, but I do think the beginning is more cluttered than it should’ve been. And while there are some very fine performances in the film – again, Tilda Swinton is the best of them all – Jamie Bell fails to impress. He’s essentially playing the same character he played in Peter Jackson’s King Kong but he looks uncomfortable here and gives some really bad line deliveries. Bell hurts the film.

Despite some flaws, I think that Snowpiercer is one of the best films of the year. Beyond being an excellent film, Snowpiercer also exists as an interesting example of how Hollywood does things, and how too much originality makes studio execs anxious. TWC thought they had acquired a cool summer movie starring a bankable cast, but they got something a little bit deeper and a whole lot stranger than anticipated. In response, they wanted to suck the brains out of the movie. Thankfully, The Weinstein Company did the right thing in the end, releasing the film in its original form.

One hopes that instead of being afraid of strange new visions, the studios would embrace them. We need more movies like Snowpiercer. Despite the overcrowded dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres in movies today, Snowpiercer manages to feel like a breath of fresh air. It’s a bold film. Flawed and sometimes messy, but brilliant just the same.

I think that people are going to be watching and rewatching this movie for many years to come.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 8.5/10

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

"Iceman" Blu-ray Cover

"Iceman" Blu-ray Cover

RELEASE DATE: 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.

Pre-order Iceman from Amazon.com today!

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Louis Koo to star in movie version crime series ‘Line Walker’?

"Drug War" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Drug War" Japanese Theatrical Poster

According to Jaynestars, TVB is developing a movie version of the series Line Walker, a crime saga which revolves around a group of undercover police agents that live a deadly double life. The successful TV series – which aired on August 25 and ended on October 3, 2014 – starred Michael Miu, Charmaine Sheh, Raymond Lam and Benz Hui.

The movie version of Line Walker will explore the background of Foon Hei Gor, portrayed by Hui. The big news is the possible addition of Louis Koo (Accident, Drug War) and Guo Tao (Million Dollar Crocodile), who are currently being approached to sign onto the film as new major characters.

We’ll keep you updated on Line Walker as we hear more. Stay tuned!

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Steven Seagal kills crazy in the ‘Mercenary: Absolution’ trailer

"True Justice 4" Japanese DVD Cover

"True Justice 4" Japanese DVD Cover

Steven Seagal’s upcoming film, The Mercenary: Absolution (aka Absolution), will officially mark the 6th time Seagal is working with director/producer Keoni Waxman (Force of Execution). The film is a sequel to A Good Man (2014), which was recently released on DVDThe Mercenary: Absolution also stars Byron Mann (The Corrupter) and Vinnie Jones (Escape Plan).

Plot: When an ex-operative is recruited by his old boss to assassinate an Afghan drug dealer, he begins to suspect a link between a drug smuggling operation, a sex trafficking ring and the US Government.

Updates: Watch the trailer for The Mercenary: Absolution.

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Deal on Fire! The Host | Blu-ray | Only $8.99 – Expires soon!

"The Host" Blu-ray Cover

"The Host" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Host, directed by Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer). This South Korean Blockbuster won several awards including Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and at the Blue Dragon Film Awards.

A creature plunges from the Han River Bridge into the river emerging on its shores for a feeding frenzy upon onlookers. When a young girl (Ah-sung Ko) is snatched in the melee, her family (headed by Song Kang-ho and Bae Doona) set off to recover her from the monster that the government claims to be a host of an unidentified virus.

Order The Host from Amazon.com today!

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First trailer for Cannon Films documentary ‘Electric Boogaloo’

"Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" Teaser Poster

"Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: From cult film documentarian Mark Hartley (Machete Maidens Unleashed!) comes Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, an upcoming documentary that focuses on Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the two head honchos of The Cannon Film Group.

These two Israeli-born, movie-obsessed cousins launched an indie studio that would produce over 120 exploitation films (from Breakin’ to Kickboxer) from 1979-1989. Their passion for cinema changed the way movies were made and marketed. Unfortunately, that same passion ultimately led to the demise of the company they built together.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is expected to be released in 2014. Until then, if you haven’t seen Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! or Machete Maidens Unleashed!, cityonfire.com urges you to do so!

Updates: The documentary’s official Facebook page teases new interviews with Franco Nero (Enter the Ninja), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), Albert Pyun (Cyborg), Sheldon Lettich (writer of Rambo III and Bloodsport), Robert Forster (Delta Force), Lucinda Dickey (Ninja III: The Domination, Breakin’), Michael Chambers (Turbo from Breakin’), Alex Winter (Death Wish 3) and many, many more.

According to the documentary’s official Facebook page, Electric Boogaloo will make its World Premiere on August 2nd 2014, at The Melbourne International Film Festival.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the trailer for Electric Boogaloo.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Deal on Fire! Mortal Kombat: Legacy | Blu-ray | Only $6.99 – Expires soon!

Mortal Kombat: Legacy Blu-ray (Warner)

Mortal Kombat: Legacy Blu-ray (Warner)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Kevin Tancharoen’s Mortal Kombat: Legacy.

This action-packed adaptation of the Mortal Kombat video game franchise stars Michael Jai White (Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite), Jeri Ryan (Dracula 2000), Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2), Matt Mullins (Blood and Bone) and many more.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy also features ace fight choreography by Larnell Stovall (Falcon Rising). Be sure and check out our review.

Order Mortal Kombat: Legacy from Amazon.com today!

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Zombie 108 (2012) Review

"Zombie 108" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Zombie 108" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Z-108
Director: Joe Chien
Writer: Joe Chien
Producer: Joe Chien
Cast: Yung Cheung, Yvonne Yao, Tai Bo, Jack Kao Jie, Dennis To, Lena Lam, Cica Zhou

By Paul Bramhall

“The first genre movie combining apocalypse and zombie in Chinese film history” the tag-line for Zombie 108 proudly declares. Well, who doesn’t love a bit of zombie? And if it’s history making zombie, well, even better. The movie is the sophomore feature from Taiwanese director and writer Joe Chien, created thanks in part to a bunch of enthusiastic fans contributing their dollars via various crowd funding initiatives.

Chien certainly doesn’t waste any time getting down to business, with the movie immediately kicking off with a woman waking up at the wheel of her car, crashed in the middle of Taipei. As she comes to, it becomes clear that something isn’t quite right, the streets are deserted, her husband is still unconscious next to her, and her daughter who was in the backseat is missing. It’s an engaging start, and it had my undivided attention, as clichéd as it may be. However then something strange happens, the woman, played by Taiwanese model Yvonne Yao, gets out of the car, and the camera slowly pans back to reveal she’s wearing a pair of denim hot pants and a vest, which the shot lingers on long enough to ensure we realise there’s no sign of a bra underneath it.

In the space of a split second the tone changes from worried mother realising her child is missing, to ‘check out this hot chick, from various angles!’ It may come as no surprise then when I say that the rest of the movie maintains the tone of the latter, unashamedly declaring its intentions from (almost) the word go. It takes a whole 6 minutes for the zombies to appear, and you only have to wait until the 10 minute mark to enjoy some gratuitous topless nudity. A grossly overweight gang boss is surrounded by scantily clad women in the office of a nightclub, a scene which serves the sole purpose of introducing his character and that of his lackey. When he leaves the room, the scene should come to its natural close, but instead it doesn’t, with the camera lingering on purely for the purpose of watching two of the topless women kissing each other. No other reason at all.

So we’re basically setup for a throwback to the trashy Category III flicks of Hong Kong’s yesteryear, only in Taiwanese form. Except for the fact that somehow Chien manages to make a relatively simple setup seem incomprehensibly muddled and confusing. He throws in a couple of American guys, who are in debt to the gang boss for stealing drugs off them; there’s also a SWAT team who are going to raid the gang boss, but then reveal the gang boss was never their target; there’s a Japanese couple who are hiding a dark secret, and someone in the SWAT team recognizes them, but it doesn’t mean anything whatsoever; and most bizarre of all is the character of a deranged pervert.

The pervert character is of particular note (and this is exactly how he’s billed in the credits – ‘Pervert’), as not only is he played by Chien himself, but his scenes are basically separate to the rest of the movie. Seemingly coming to the rescue of Yvonne Yao and her daughter by picking them up in his car as they’re being chased by a horde of zombies, as soon as he’s back in his apartment it’s revealed that he’s a sadistic monster. Wearing a grotesque skin coloured latex mask and a leg brace, he falls somewhere between being a twisted cross between Leather Face from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Choi Min-sik’s monstrous serial killer from I Saw the Devil. His apartment contains a secret basement containing a group of kidnapped women in various states of undress – either chained up or in cages, some with bags over their heads – and all subject to being raped at his will.

These scenes are particularly unpleasant to watch, and are not enjoyable whatsoever. The fact that Chien wrote the part, and decided to have himself play the role, only adds to the repulsive nature of them. The women get slapped around, verbally abused, and put through all manner of degradation, with the only connection they have to the rest of the movie being that it’s the pervert’s apartment where the surviving members of the gang and SWAT team end up hiding out. Speaking of which, it’s these members who come to resemble the main characters of the movie, as in, the characters who we’re supposed to be rooting for, even though we know absolutely zero about them, to the point were none of them are even given names.

The SWAT team at least deserves a mention as its led by Tai Bo, who had small roles in many of Jackie Chan’s 80’s classics, as well as being one of Ohara’s crew in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Dennis To is also a member of the team, so you’d think we could at least get some young Ip Man vs. zombies action at some point. Sadly this never comes to fruition, with the action scenes being embarrassingly bad. At one point they’re standing on the back of a pickup truck, and as it’s surrounded by zombies the SWAT members fend them off by throwing empty cardboard boxes at them. Have you ever seen a movie before in which zombies are fended off by throwing empty cardboard boxes at them? Of course you haven’t, because it’s a stupid idea.

One of the American guys can also do Parkour, because it probably sounded like a good idea to have someone doing Parkour to escape the zombie hordes. Now this actually is a decent concept, but watching him jump around a room it quickly becomes clear that he’s really not that talented at it. To make things worse, it seems the intention was to make him something of a wisecracking character, so as he clumsily leaps over a couch to avoid a female zombie, we have to listen to him yell out such comedy clangers as, “I told you I’m not giving you my number bitch!” The whole situation quickly becomes fist clenchingly annoying.

Zombie 108 commits several crimes against cinema. Not only is it poorly acted and played out, but its sheer lack of being anything close to coherent push it into the realms of being beyond awful. A Japanese reporter screams at the Taiwanese army to let her know what’s going on, when they don’t answer she becomes even more frantic and starts screaming asking why they’re not answering her. Hmmm, couldn’t it be that they don’t understand Japanese? The script seems like it probably wasn’t finished before they started filming, and randomly interchanges between Mandarin, English, and Japanese, with none of the lines in any language being delivered in a close to believable manner.

Of course no review of a zombie movie would be complete without mentioning the zombies themselves. Chien seems to have applied a rule that none of them could be filmed for more than 1 second at a time, so even if it’s just a shot of a zombie standing still, after one second it cuts…. to a shot of the same zombie still standing there, with the camera now moved a centimetre to the left. Perhaps this was to try and disguise the poor makeup effects, but it ends up being more distracting than anything. There are some brief glimmers of hope here and there, such as towards the end it looks like the gang boss is going to undergo a Story of Ricky-type transformation, however it appears the budget only stretched far enough to buy prosthetics for one arm, which he amusingly uses to swat away a bunch of other zombies by swinging it back and forth, obviously unable to perform any other movement.

Zombie 108 may well be “The first genre movie combining apocalypse and zombie in Chinese film history”, however if it’s Chien who’s going to be the driving force behind them, then hopefully it’ll be the last.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 3/10

Posted in Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Physical media dead? Yeah right! Just look at our October list…

Mystic Blade | DVD (Indican Pictures)

Mystic Blade | DVD (Indican Pictures)

Get ready for the latest roll of new Blu-ray & DVD releases handpicked by cityonfire.com. We have to warn you, it’s one heckuva list…

The spooky month of October brings Asian, action, horror, cult, martial arts, new school, old school and even some Italian westerns! It’s definitely our longest list yet! (And they say physical media is dead? Yeah right…)

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.

Raw Force: October 7, 2014

Vinegar Syndrome presents the Blu-ray & DVD for the 1982 cult classic, Raw Force (aka Kung Fu Cannibals or Shogun Island). Raw Force is a U.S./Filipino martial arts action film directed by Edward D. Murphy (Heated Vengeance) and starring John Dresden (Final Mission), Geoffrey Binney (Hot Potato), Jewel Shepard (Return of the Living Dead) and Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave).

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1: October 7, 2014

Pallisades Tartan presents the DVD for Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1: South Korean Horror Films. This 3-disc set includes the following titles: Kong Su-Chang’s R Point (2014), Yoo Sang-Gon’s Face (2004) and Kim Yong-Kyoon’s Red Shoes (2005).

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2: October 7, 2014

Pallisades Tartan presents the DVD for Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2: Japanese Horror Films. This 3-disc set includes the following titles: Shinya Tsukamoto’s Snake of June (2003), Yuichi Sato’s Pray (2005) and Shinya Tsukamoto’s Vital (2004).

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 3: October 7, 2014

Pallisades Tartan presents the DVD for Asia Extreme Collection Volume 3: Thai Horror Films. This 3-disc set includes the following titles: Mark Duffield’s Ghost of Mae Nak (2005), Monthon Arayangkoon’s The Victim (2006) and Paul Spurrier’s P (2005).

Jean-Claude Van Damme Triple Feature: October 7, 2014

MGM presents the Jean-Claude Van Damme Triple Feature Blu-ray set, which includes Albert Pyun’s Cyborg (1989), Sheldon Lettich’s Double Impact (1991) and Deran Sarafian’s Death Warrant (1990), written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Justice League).

Bruce Lee Action Pack: October 7, 2014

Echo Bridge presents the Bruce Lee Action Pack DVD set. This 2 disc collection includes the following titles: One Down Two to Go (1976), starring Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Jim Kelly; L.A. Street Fighters (1985) aka Ninja Turf, starring Phillip Rhee; Laser Mission (1989) starring Brandon Lee, Terminal Rush (1996), starring Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Roddy Piper; Fist of Fear, Touch of Death (1980), starring Fred Williamson and Ron Van Clief; Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave (1976); and Blind Fist of Bruce (1979) and The Image of Bruce Lee (1978), both starring Bruce Li.

Talk to the Dead: October 7, 2014

Pathfinder Entertainment presents the DVD for for Norio Tsuruta’s Talk to the Dead. From the Producer of The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Waters comes a dark tale of tragedy revolving around Yuri and her troubled family. But it when Yuri discovers a mysterious mobile app that is rumored to enable its user to talk to the dead, things get deadly! What VHS tapes did for The Ring, mobile apps will do for Talk to the Dead! The film stars Kazuki Kato, Ayaka Komatsu and Chihiro Ohtsuka.

Cult: October 7, 2014

Pathfinder Entertainment presents the DVD for Koji Shiraishi’s Cult. From the producer of The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Water, comes the chilling tale of pop idols who play themselves as they appear on a paranormal television show to investigate the exorcism of the Kaneda family. The supernatural events in the Kaneda household are recorded by the documentary team. A mysterious shaman seems to be the only hope of salvation not only for the family, but for the investigators as well. Cult stars Yaeko Kiyose, Ryosuke Miura, Mari Iriki, Yu Abiru and Mayuko Iwasa.

Missing in Action: Double Feature: October 7, 2014

MGM presents the Blu-ray for the Missing in Action: Double Feature, which includes Joseph Zito’s Missing in Action (1984) and Lance Hool’s Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1984/1985). Norris ‘n ‘Nam? A match made in heaven!

Chuck Norris Total Attack Pack: October 7, 2014

MGM presents the Chuck Norris Total Attack Pack Blu-ray set. This 3 disc collection includes three of Norris’ most acclaimed films, including an early one by filmmaker Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Under Siege): Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), starring David Carradine; Code of Silence (1985), starring Henry Silva; and The Delta Force (1986), starring Lee Marvin and Robert Forster.

Duck, You Sucker: October 7, 2014

MGM presents the Blu-ray for 1971′s Duck, You Sucker (aka A Fistful of Dynamite), directed by Sergio Leone (Once Upon A Time in the West). When an IRA explosives expert meets up with a revolutionary bandit in Mexico, he is persuaded to join their cause. Available for the first time on Blu-ray! Duck, You Sucker stars Rod Steiger, James Coburn and Romolo Valli, with another excellent soundtrack by prolific composer, Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).

Good Guys Wear Black & Force of One: Remastered: 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. 

Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack: 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 Last Supper: October 14, 2014

Random Media presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Lu Chuan’s The Last Supper. The story focuses on the famous Hongmen Banquet, which was held in 206 B.C. by one warlord with the express purpose of assassinating his rival. The Last Supper features an impressive cast, including Yu Liu (Curse of the Golden Flower), Daniel Wu (New Police Story), and Chen Chang (Crouching Tigger, Hidden Dragon).

Mercenaries: October 14, 2014

Asylum Home Entertainment presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Mercenaries (aka Prison Raid). A diplomatic official is captured and imprisoned while touring a war zone, so a team of elite female commandoes is assembled to infiltrate a women’s prison for a daring rescue. Mercenaries stars Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Vol. 1), Zoë Bell (Death Proof), Nicole Bilderback (Sideliners), Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja) and Cynthia Rothrock (Raging Thunder).

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II: October 14, 2014

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

Penance: October 18, 2014

Music Box Films presents the Blu-ray for Season 1 of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Penance (aka Shokuzai), an eerie, intense psychological thriller. When a mysterious stranger approaches a group of young friends, one of them is kidnapped and brutally murdered. Wracked with grief, the victim’s unhinged mother (Kyoko Koizumi) demands that the shaken survivors identify the killer or face a penance of her choosing.

Mystic Blade: October 21, 2014

Indican Pictures presents the DVD for 2013′s Mystic Blade, an English language, Thai martial arts flick, directed by David Ismalone (Ong Bak, Tom Yum Goong 2). Sam (Don Ferguson of Tom Yum Goong) is a killer by trade, one of a group of merciless men known as the Shadow Syndicate, whose business is delivering fate for a price. But when Sam is asked to erase the line between honor and evil, he turns his back on the Shadows. Now, they want him dead.

Misfire: October 21, 2014

Image Entertainment presents the DVD for Misfire. Martial arts star Gary Daniels (The Expendables) is back with a new action film called Misfire. Directed by R. Ellis Frazier (Dead Drop), the official plot of Misfire centers arounds a hardened DEA agent names Cole (Daniels), who descends into the dangerous underworld of Tijuana, Mexico in search of his journalist ex-wife who he believes has been abducted by a charismatic Cartel boss with aspirations for public office.

Kundo: Age of the Rampant: 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). 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.

The Squad: October 21, 2014

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

Snowpiercer: October 21, 2014

Anchor Bay presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon-Ho (The Host) and produced by Park Chan-Wook (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). A post-apocalyptic ice age forces humanity’s last survivors aboard a globe-spanning super train. One man (Evans) will risk everything to lead a revolt for control of the engine and the future of the world. Snowpiercer stars Ed Harris, Chris Evans, Song Kang-Ho, Ko Ah-Sung, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton.

Guardian: October 21, 2014

Millennium presents the DVD for the Indonesian action thriller, Guardian. If you’re a fan of Merantau, The Raid or The Raid 2, then Guardian might be your cup of tea. Just keep in mind, this is definitely an action flick where guys take the back seat! Written and directed by Helfi Kardit (Suster Keramas), Guardian stars Sarah Carter (DOA: Dead or Alive), Dominique Diyose (Love for Share), Belinda Camesi (Laskar Cilia) and Tio Pakusadewo (The Raid 2: Berandal).

Himizu: October 14, 2014

Olive Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 2011′s Himizu, directed by Sion Sono (Cold Fish, Love Exposure). Based on Minoru Furuya’s best selling manga of the same name, Himizu follows two teenagers (Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido) living a dystopian existence in post-tsunami Japan who embark on a campaign of violence against evil wrong doers.

4 Film Favorites: Blades & Battles Collection: October 28, 2014

Warner presents the Blu-ray set for the 4 Film Favorites: Blades & Battles Collection. This 4 disc set includes 1995′s Mortal Kombat, 1997′s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, 2011′s Mortal Kombat: Legacy and 1997′s Spawn. The above films feature the following stars: Michael Jai White, Matt Mullins, Darren Shahlavi, Robin Shou, Christopher Lambert, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, John Leguizamo and Martin Sheen.

Moebius: October 28, 2014

RAM Releasing presents the DVD for Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius. A father driven into desire, a son coveting that of his father’s, and the sorrowful maternity that hovers them into tragedy. Moebius stars Jo Jae-hyun (The Isle), Seo Young-joo (Juvenile Offender) and Lee Eun-woo (A Ghosts Story). Be sure to read our review!

009-1: The End of the Beginning: October 28, 2014

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for 2013′s 009-1: The End of the Beginning, directed by Koichi Sakamoto (Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Everyone, Space Is Here!). Marking the 75th anniversary of his birth, Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic spy heroine manga, 009-1, has been adapted into a live-action motion picture. The story concerns a female cyborg who works as a secret agent. 009-1: The End of the Beginning stars Mayuko Iwasa, Minehiro Kinomoto, Nao Nagasawa, Mao Ichimichi, Shizuka Midorikawa, Naoto Takenaka and Aya Sugimoto.

Shogun Assassin: October 28, 2014

Animeigo presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Shogun Assassin, starring the legendary Tomisaburo Wakayama (Black Rain). Shogun Assassin is perhaps the most famous – and bloodiest – samurai film in the Western world. Unlike the currently released Shogun Assassin: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, this new version contains both the Blu-ray & DVD discs.

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist: 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.

Companeros: October 28, 2014

Blue Underground presents the Blu-ray for Companeros, written and directed by the legendary Sergio Corbucci (Django), 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).

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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Deal on Fire! King Kong vs. Godzilla | Blu-ray | Only $8.49 – Expires soon!

"King Kong vs. Godzilla" Blu-ray Cover

"King Kong vs. Godzilla" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 1962′s King Kong vs. Godzilla, directed by Inoshiro Honda (Godzilla).

When both destructive monsters descend on Tokyo, it’s a fight that holds the future of mankind in the balance in this knock-out film that was the first theatrical release to bring its larger-than-life contenders to the big screen in glorious color.

Kong vs. Godzilla stars Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Yu Fujiki and Ichirō Arishim.

Order King Kong vs. Godzilla from Amazon.com today!

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Bruce Le and Hwang Jang Lee to reunite for a kung fu movie?

"Enter the Game of Death" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Enter the Game of Death" Korean Theatrical Poster

According to Impact, Huang Kin Long (better known as Bruce Le or Huang Kin Long) – star of the Bruceploitation classics Enter the Game of Death and Clones of Bruce Leehas just wrapped up a redux of a movie he directed in 1992 called Comfort Women. The upcoming film stars Cheng Pei-pei (Golden Swallow, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and her daughter Marsha Yuen.

In even better news, while Le visited the set of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Pound of Flesh, Le told Impact’s Mike Leeder that he has plans to return to the international arena with a new action martial arts project. If this is true, then old school kung fu cinema fans will have one hell of a field day! So what does Le look like today? Well, here’s a photo of him with Mike Leeder, Darren Shahlavi and Mike Moller on the set of Pound of Flesh. Simply amazing!

Updates: During a Q&A session at the SENI Strength & Combat Event in London, Hwang Jang Lee (Secret Ninja Roaring Tiger, Tower of Death) mentions the possibility of reuniting with Challenge of the Tiger co-star Bruce Le: “We made a few movies together in Europe. Actually he called me just last month, he asked if I want to be in a new movie with him. I said, sure, let’s see.” If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our exclusive interview with master Hwang!

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Albert Pyun’s ‘Cyborg Nemesis’ to sneak peek October 16th

"Cyborgs Nemesis: Dark Rift" Teaser Poster

"Cyborgs Nemesis: Dark Rift" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: Albert Pyun’s Cyborg Nemesis (aka Cyborgs: Rise of the Slingers or Red Moon) is a prequel to his 1989 film Cyborg, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme. According to Impact, the upcoming movie will be a blend of “steam, cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic vampire horror”.

The film stars Kevin Sorbo (The Extendables), Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers), Sasha Mitchell (Kickboxer 2), Michael Paré (Streets of Fire) and Natassia Malthe (DOA). Vince Klyn and Terrie Batson are rumored to reprise their characters from the original Cyborg.

In Cyborg Nemesis, a U.S. Marine special ops team awakens from a hypersleep in a locked-down underground laboratory complex with no memory of who they are and why they are there. They realize that something’s wrong since the complex is abandoned. The team is forced to learn who put them to sleep ten years earlier and why – as they discover a creature has infiltrated the complex.

Updates: Beyond Hollywood has a 2-minute and 23-second long promotional teaser. Actor Michael Pare claims that the film “feels like a sci-fi Expendables.” | The 2nd teaser. | Latest teaser. | If you’re a die hard fan of Cyborg and you want to get your hands on Slinger (Albert Pyun’s Director’s Cut of Cyborg), it’s available through Amazon’s German website on Blu-ray & DVD. It appears to have english audio, but please be sure you have a multi-region Blu-ray/DVD player if you decide to order it.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Pyun’s Facebook, Cyborg Nemesis will be sneak peeked to prospective distributors on October 16th. In regards to the early teaser, which featured underwhelming digital effects, Pyun had this to say: “It was an early teaser….but hopefully you will all like the finished film.”

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UK’s Arrow Films is coming to North America in 2015!

"Delinquent Girl Boss" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Delinquent Girl Boss" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Arrow Films – a UK distributor known for acquiring cult, exploitation and action titles – will be releasing five classic Meiko Kaji films on Blu-ray later this year. The “Stray Cat Rock” line up includes: Delinquent Girl Boss, Wild Jumbo, Sex Hunter, Machine Animal and Wild Measures ’71.

Arrow Films has received critical praise for their high quality presentations, creative packaging and supplemental extras. With titles like The Exterminator, Foxy Brown, Jaguar Lives and Battle Royale under their belt, it’s no wonder why the company is praised by fans and collectors all over the world.

Since Arrow is a UK company, keep in mind that their titles may or may not be region-free, so be sure you have the necessary hardware before purchasing.

BREAKING NEWS: Great news for collectors of genre flicks: UK’s Arrow Video announced that they will expand its label into North America early in 2015. Watch their U.S. promotional video for more information.

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Trailer for Mamoru Oshii’s live-action English film ‘Garm Wars’

"Garm Wars: The Last Druid" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Garm Wars: The Last Druid" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Mamoru Oshii’s (Ghost in the Shell) first English-language film, Garm Wars: The Last Druid, will premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October. This live-action film stars Lance Henriksen, Kevin Durand, Melanie St-Pierre, Andrew Gillies, Dawn Ford and Patrizio Sanzari.

Garm Wars: The Last Druid takes place in a world where clone soldiers from three military tribes are locked in a perpetual battle of air, land and technology. One clone is separated from the battle and finds herself on the run with a group of unlikely companions.

Even though Oshii is known for his Anime projects, he’s no stranger to live-action. He’s made four live-action movies, including The Red Spectacles (1987), Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (1991), Talking Head (1992) and the Japanese-Polish film Avalon (2001).

Update: Watch the trailer for Garm Wars: The Last Druid.

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Shout! Factory sends ‘Class of 1984′ to Blu-ray in early 2015

"Class of 1984" Theatrical Poster

"Class of 1984" Theatrical Poster

In addition to upcoming special editions of George Miller’s Mad Max and John Carpenter‘s Escape from New York, Shout! Factory/Scream Factory is prepping a Blu-ray release for the 1982 cult classic flick, Class of 1984.

Directed by Mark Lester (Commando, Showdown in Little Tokyo), Class of 1984 caused a stir during its original release (it was banned in some countries due to its vulgar content). The film revolves around a newly hired music teacher at a troubled high school, where students have to pass through a metal detector due to problems with gangs, drugs and violence.

Class of 1984 stars Timothy Van Patten, Roddy McDowall, Stefan Arngrim, Lisa Langlois, Keith Knight, Neil Clifford and Michael J. Fox. Look for it on Blu-ray in early 2015.

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Falcon Rising | DVD (Anderson Merchandisers)

"Falcon Rising" Theatrical Poster

"Falcon Rising" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: January 27, 2015

Anderson Merchandisers presents the DVD for Falcon Rising, directed by Ernie Barbarash (Assassination Games) and starring Michael Jai White (Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite).

Also known as Favela or Codename Falcon 1, Falcon Rising follows an anti-hero named John “Falcon” Chapman (White) who travels to Brazil to find his sister’s killer. Along the way, he uncovers an underworld of vice and corruption, presided over by the Japanese mafia of all people.

Pre-order Falcon Rising from Amazon.com today!

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Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

"Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi" DVD Cover

"Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi" DVD Cover

RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2015

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.

Pre-order Eko Eko Azarak: The First Episode of Misa Kuroi from Amazon.com today!

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

Horror Mansion: The Blind | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Horror Mansion: The Blind | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Horror Mansion: The Blind | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2015

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

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

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No news on ‘Rush Hour 4,’ but a TV series is coming…

"Rush Hour 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Rush Hour 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Producer Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour 1-3) has confirmed that Rush Hour 4 is currently in early stages of development with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. So far, there’s no word if Brett Ratner will return to the director’s chair, but the producer is aiming for a new direction.

According to Crave Online, Sarkissian mentions: “I’m trying to do it closer to how I did Rush Hour 1, more down to earth, more gritty, introduce two new characters and make it real the way the first one was. I personally was not happy with the third one. I thought 1 and 2 were very good. I think 3 got out of hand a little bit. It’s not a matter of just bringing them back to do another segment of that or a sequel to it by putting them in another city and having them bicker. I don’t want that. I want something new.”

Updates: THR has an interview with Jackie Chan where the action star reveals why he turned down The Expendables 2 and why he dislikes the Rush Hour movies.

In an interview with Singapore’s Cinema Online, Jackie Chan discusses his recent meeting with co-star Chris Tucker and two writers. Here’s what he sad to say: “We just finished meeting last month in L.A. with Chris Tucker and two writers. The first draft, I don’t really like it. It’s just boring. Nothing is exciting anymore. I know Warner Bros. really wanted to do Rush Hour 4. Both Chris Tucker and I agreed to do another one, but we need to see the script first. So far, it’s Jackie goes to Hong Kong, no, Jackie goes to America… Chris Tucker goes to Hong Kong. Then we go to Paris. What’s next? It’s difficult.”

BREAKING NEWS: According to Deadline, Warner has closed the deal to make Rush Hour into a TV series. Brett Ratner (director of the original franchise) and Arthur Sarkissian will serve as executive producers, while Cougar Town’s Bill Lawrence will co-write along with Blake McCormick. No stars, including Chris Tucker or Jackie Chan, are currently attached. Stay tuned for updates!

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Deal on Fire! War of the Arrows | Blu-ray | Only $8.75 – Expires soon!

"War of the Arrows" Blu-ray Cover

"War of the Arrows" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for War of the Arrows (aka Arrow: The Ultimate Weapon), directed by Kim Han-min (director of the upcoming The Admiral: Roaring Currents).

This South Korean box office smash is about a archer (Park Hae-il of Moss) who risks his life to save his sister from slavery under Prince Dorgan’s rule.

War of the Arrows won four awards in 48th Daejong Awards to Best Actor for Park Hae-il and Best New Actress for Moon Chae-won.

Order War of the Arrows from Amazon.com today!

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Keanu Reeves is out for blood in the 2nd trailer for ‘John Wick’

"John Wick" International Theatrical Poster

"John Wick" International Theatrical Poster

Keanu Reeves is back in action with John Wick, the film debut of Chad Stahelski, better known as an action director/stuntman for titles such as Safe and Killer Elite; he’s also choreographed martial arts scenes for Man of Tai Chi and Ninja Assassin.

Here’s the official plot: An ex-hitman (Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

John Wick also stars Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, Jason Isaacs, Alfie Allen, Lance Reddick, John Leguizamo and Michael Nyqvist.

John Wick hits theaters on October 24th. Until then, don’t miss its action packed trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the 2nd trailer!

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New trailer for Vincent Zhao and Liu Ye’s ‘The Boundary’

"The Boundary" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Boundary" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Vincent Zhao (Wu Dang, True Legend), the martial arts star who made headlines back in 2013 when he dropped out of Donnie Yen’s action movie Special Identity, is back with a new film titled The Boundary (aka The Boundary Line). This upcoming crime tale also stars Liu Ye (The Last Supper), Choo Ja-Hyun, Gulnazar, Ma Yuke, Hui Can, Xue Haowen and Vianna Wu.

We hope we’re wrong, but judging from the trailer, The Boundary seems to rely more on drama, than action or martial arts; so if you’re expecting wall-to-wall destruction, you may end up disappointed.

The Boundary gets its domestic release on November 2014. Be sure to check out the trailer. – Thanks to DiP for the scoop!

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Albert Pyun in talks to remake ‘Lionheart’ with Van Damme?

"Lionheart" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Lionheart" Japanese Theatrical Poster

During the 80s and 90s, American Albert Pyun had an impressive run of films that, while not exactly considered classics, did manage to develop a cult following among genre movie lovers. Such films include 1989′s Cyborg, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in post-apocalyptic sci-fi mode; 1990′s low, low-budget rendering of Marvel Comics’ superhero Captain America; the 1992 cyber-punk thriller Nemesis, which many consider to be Pyun’s finest hour; and the 1997 pairing of Christopher Lambert and Ice-T in Mean Guns.

Now Pyun may be teaming up with Van Damme once again in a remake of 1990′s Lionheart.

According to Pyun himself (via his Facebook), here’s the scoop: “I’ve been approached about directing a remake of Van Damme’s Lionheart with Van Damme by the rights holding distributor. Not sure if I will do this as it doesn’t seem to be a film needing a remake. I guess I’d changed the Los Angeles setting to Hong Kong, but I am not sure it fits in with what I do. But I told the rights holder I will consider it depending on how excited JCVD is about it. And if I can make it with my vision of it.”

In addition to Lionheart, many of Van Damme’s other titles – such as Bloodsport, Timecop and Kickboxer (which is in the can), are currently being developed for a remake/reboot. If true, the proposed Lionheart remake will mark the first time Van Damme will be starring in a remake of one of his own films.

Pyun is also tied to write and direct a biopic about Napoleon, which he calls his “most ambitious film I’ve ever attempted to make.” According to Sources, Pyun was hoping to nab Van Damme to play the title role.

We’ll keep you updated on both of these projects as we hear more. Until then, definitely take this news with a grain of salt. Stay tuned! - Thanks to Serij for the news!

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Deal on Fire! Blood: The Last Vampire | Blu-ray | Only $7.35 – Expires soon!

"Blood: The Last Vampire" Blu-ray Cover

"Blood: The Last Vampire" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Blood: The Last Vampire, starring Jun Ji-Hyun (My Sassy Girl, The Thieves), directed by Chris Nahon (Kiss of the Dragon) and produced by Ronny Yu (The Bride of White Hair).

Demons have infested Earth, and only one warrior stands between the dark and the light: Saya (Jun), a half-human, half-vampire samurai who preys on those who feast on human blood. Joining forces with the shadowy society known as the Council, Saya is dispatched to an American military base, where an intense series of swordfights leads her to the deadliest vampire of all. Read our review.

Order Blood: The Last Vampire from Amazon.com today!

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Sammo Hung’s ‘The Bodyguard’ wraps up filming

"Mr. Nice Guy" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Mr. Nice Guy" Chinese Theatrical Poster

It has been 17 long years since Sammo Hung has directed a movie (1997′s Once Upon A Time in China and America), but now, the Hong Kong legend is back in the director’s chair with Old Soldier, an action film about a thief (Firestorm’s Andy Lau) who finds himself wanted by U.S. and Russian law enforcements. Starring alongside Lau is Sammo Hung himself, Yuen Qiu, Karl Maka, Dean Shek, Yuen Wah and Tsui Hark.

Old Soldier’s lead role was recently linked to Jackie Chan, but due to scheduling conflicts (and his son’s recent drug arrest), he declined and Lau stepped in. Old Soldier would have been the first time Hung would be directing Chan since 1997′s Mr. Nice Guy.

Updates: Due to cast changes, looks like Old Soldier now has a new title, a different plot and a starring role by Sammo Hung himself. Here’s the scoop according to Film Combat Syndicate: The film is now titled The Bodyguard and its story follows a retired bodyguard (Hung) who has settled in the dark and unknown corner of the world where China, Russia and North Korea meet. Suffering from the beginnings of dementia, the bodyguard is befriended by a young girl whose life is threatened when her father (Andy Lau) falls in with the local crime world. When the girl and her father disappear, the bodyguard must call upon his long forgotten skills to save the life of his young friend.

BREAKING NEWS: Filming for Sammo Hung’s The Bodyguard has wrapped up, thanks to the Sammo Hung: Action Movie Legend blog (via Film Combat Syndicate) for the scoop. The film has a possible release date for summer 2015.

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Exclusive: Interview with Hwang Jang Lee

Four decades ago, Hwang Jang Lee burst onto kung fu movie screens with his thunderous kicks, and for the next 20 years he didn’t stop kicking. There’s not too many Hong Kong legends that haven’t been on the receiving end of his boot at one point or another, and he himself is rightly considered a legend in the world of kung fu cinema, dubbed the King of Leg Fighters.

"Snake in The Eagle's Shadow" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Snake in The Eagle's Shadow" Chinese Theatrical Poster

In September 2014, thanks to the efforts of Ricky Baker and Toby Russell, Hwang headed to the UK for the first time to attend the SENI Strength & Combat Event in London. During his brief visit, I was able to land a private one-on-one interview with the master himself.

Dressed in a sharp black suite, at the age of 70, Hwang exuded an effortless cool, and looks at least 20 years younger. The interview was a very enjoyable and relaxed affair, and hopefully I’m correct when I sensed he was enjoying it as much as I was. Armed with a gravely voice and an ability to switch between both Korean and English, which he regularly did, Hwang in real life is the opposite of his villainous onscreen persona. That being said, he has an undeniable presence of authority about him, no doubt ingrained into his character through years of Taekwondo training, and the time I spent with him was an unforgettable experience.


Note: Unless it states otherwise, the interview was conducted with myself speaking English and Hwang speaking Korean. If at any point Hwang started talking in English and finished in Korean, I’ve entered a space to indicate this.

Preparing Hwang Jang Lee for the media.

Preparing Hwang Jang Lee for the media.

PAUL BRAMHALL: (speaking in Korean) Hi Master Hwang, nice to meet you, and welcome to the UK. You’ve been here since Thursday, what’s your impression of the country so far?

HWANG JANG LEE: *laughter* I like the UK, but since I arrived my schedule has been full of interviews with journalists every day!

PB: I see, too many interviews, and now you have another one!

(HJL laughs)

So I wanted to start by asking you, 30 years ago it was always Hong Kong and Japanese movies which were very popular. However since the late 90’s, the Korean movie scene has really broken out into the mainstream. Do you have any particular favorite Korean movie?

HJL: I like Korean movies a lot, however these days many of the movies coming out of Korea are period pieces, or dramas, so I’m not so interested in these types of genre. If it was a movie that featured martial arts, I’d watch it, but there are not so many of those these days.

Hwang Jang Lee getting the best of Jackie Chan in "Drunken Master."

Hwang Jang Lee getting the best of Jackie Chan in "Drunken Master."

PB: How about City of Violence or The Man from Nowhere?

HJL: I’ve heard of these movies, and especially Won Bin is a very popular actor, but I haven’t seen them yet.

PB: Do you have any particular Korean actor you’d like to work with if you were to make another movie?

HJL*laughter* The movie stars these days are so young, they’re like children! I think I’m too old to work with them, we’re not compatible anymore!

PB: How about Ahn Seong-gi!?

HJL: Sure! But he’s still so young as well!

"The Secret Rivals" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Secret Rivals" Chinese Theatrical Poster

PB: *laughter* Going back just 20 years, nobody really knew about Korea, let alone its movie scene. However these days with the Hallyu Wave we have things like K-pop, Korean food, and of course Korean movies, which have given Korea an international exposure which it’s never experienced before. How do you feel now that Korean culture has become so popular on a global scale?

HJL: I’m really thankful that my country has now become so popular throughout the world. Now Korea and Korean brands are advertised and popular in many countries, so it’s a good thing that so many people now know about Korea.

PB: I agree! Now, I read that you used to be a trainer in the Korean army. Of course even today it’s still mandatory that every Korean male has to complete a minimum of 2 years service in the army. Do you agree with this policy, or do you think it’s no longer needed in these times?

HJL: Absolutely, I think it’s essential that every Korean guy goes to the army for that time. It’s very important for our country.

PB: And what do you think of the Korean army training now? Do you think it’s very different from when you were there, or is it still similar?

HJL: Hmmm, basically it’s the same, however when I was there the training regimes were much more strict and tough. Back then they would be really tough on every individual, however now there is more of a group focus.

Hwang Jang Lee, Jiyeon Kim (translator) and Paul Bramhall.

Hwang Jang Lee, Jiyeon Kim (translator) and Paul Bramhall.

PB: I see. Obviously you’re very passionate about Korea, so I wanted to ask about your acting days in Hong Kong. You predominantly worked in Hong Kong all the way up to the late 1980’s, before I read that you moved back to Korea. Was there any particular reason which made you decide to move back there?

HJL: One time when I was visiting Seoul, my wife, who was living in Hong Kong at the time, called me and said “Husband, I’ve decided, I want to live in Korea from now on!” So I said, “OK!” *laughter* So we lived in Korea for a while, and then after a few years we planned to move back to Hong Kong. However when I moved back, there was nothing! The martial arts film had finished. So then, we moved back to Korea again *laughter*.

Speaking in English: I thought it was a joke, you know!? I thought this is so easy, just say “OK!”

PB*laughter* So you’re not the big boss, your wife is the big boss!

HJL: Speaking in English: That’s right!

"Tower of Death" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Tower of Death" Japanese Theatrical Poster

PB: So when you decided to return to Korea to settle down, did you still want to carry on making movies there, or what did you find yourself doing?

HJL: When I first moved back to Korea, there were a lot of people who were asking me to be involved in their movie, so for the first few years I made a couple of movies. After that, I owned a hotel and decided to give up acting for the time being.

PB: Actually I remember reading on the internet maybe 10 years ago now, that you were the owner of a golf factory. Was there any truth to this?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Ahhh, yeah, I did, but this wasn’t in Korea, it was while I was living in Hong Kong. It was a golf-tee factory that I was the owner of, and the factory was in the Philippines. A golf company based in the USA asked me to make golf-tee’s for them, so I made it for them.

PB: So you can say you’ve been a Taekwondo master, an actor, a hotel manager, and a golf-tee factory owner!

HJL: (Speaking in English) *laughter* Yes, so many!

Paul Bramhall and Hwang Jang Lee emulating a trademark style.

Paul Bramhall and Hwang Jang Lee emulating a trademark style.

PB: Now in 2009 you returned to Korean TV screens playing Miyamato Musashi in the drama The Return of Iljimae, what made you decide to briefly return to acting?

HJL: Ah, yes, the broadcaster asked me if I’d like to be in the series. So I spoke with the director and the crew of the series, and the situation seemed good, so I agreed to play the part.

PB: Now, we may have touched on this earlier – back in Hong Kong you made so many kung fu movies that everyone knows and loves, but I wanted to ask, are you yourself a fan of kung fu movies, or you just liked to act in them?

HJL: (Speaking in English) *laughter* Oh yeah, I like them! Of course!

PB: Great! Which ones do you like the best, the old-school movies or the newer ones?

HJL: (Speaking in English) I like all of them!

PB: I saw that you recently met with another famous Korean kung fu movie star, Casanova Wong. If you guys had a chance to make a reunion movie together, would you be happy to make it?

HJL: Yeah, I want to! But now so many Korean movies are historical battle movies or dramas, it’s difficult to make an original martial arts movie.

Yasuaki Kurata, Hwang Jang Lee and Yukari Oshima in "Shanghai Express."

Yasuaki Kurata, Hwang Jang Lee and Yukari Oshima in "Shanghai Express."

PB: Right, that’s true for everywhere at the moment. Speaking of Casanova Wong, I always wondered when you were living in Hong Kong, there were many Koreans working there at the same time – aside from you and Casanova there was Kwan Young-moon, Kim Tai-jung, and a few others – was there like a Korean community of martial arts actors in Hong Kong and you all used to hang out together?

HJL: Around the period that I was living in Hong Kong and there were other Korean actors working there, I’d already been acting for quite a long time, and many of the others were just starting out. I assumed that maybe they were experiencing some problems settling in or they were bored, so I wanted to help them. But we were all always so busy, so a Korean community never really formed.

PB: I see, and what would you say is your favorite memory of living in Hong Kong?

HJL: You know when I was living in Hong Kong, I couldn’t really enjoy it, because I was working on some movie every single day. So when I would finish my work for the day, I would just go home and take a rest.

"Hitman in the Hand of Buddha" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Hitman in the Hand of Buddha" Korean Theatrical Poster

PB: On the internet you’ll often see polls on kung fu movie sites which debate about who is the best kicker of all time. Of course in these polls, you are always number 1! So I wanted to ask, if Hwang Jang-lee was to make his poll of top kung-fu fighters, who would be your top 5?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Ok! 1. Jackie Chan; 2. Yuen Biao, and then, ummm,; 3. Lo Lieh,; 4. Ti Lung, and, ummmm; 5. Sammo Hung

PB*laughter* No John Liu? He’s Number 6?

HJL*laughter* I would rank John Liu much lower.

* This comment was made due to the previous interview conducted by a Spanish couple, who were making a documentary on John Liu. When asked about Liu’s onscreen fighting technique, HJL responded that Liu’s timing was not good, and often he would move in too close when they were filming a fight scene, which resulted in HJL frequently kicking or punching Liu full force by accident. He went on to explain that at the end of filming, Liu would often be covered in bruises!

PB: I saw an interview with Casanova Wong in which he explained how grateful he was to Sammo Hung, as when he first came to Hong Kong, Sammo acted as a kind of mentor as to how the Hong Kong movie industry works and how to perform onscreen fighting. I wanted to ask if you had any similar relationship like Casanova had with Sammo when you first came to Hong Kong?

Hwang Jang Lee still has it.

Hwang Jang Lee still has it.

HJL: When I first came to Hong Kong I was already set up to start working on movies straight away, so I was always so busy even from the very first day. In that way I was different from Casanova, as I never had the time to take a break and have that relationship. In that way you could say that I taught myself.

PB: Ok, so I have to ask, out of all of the movies you’ve made both in Hong Kong and Korea, or anywhere else, which one would you say is your number 1 personal favorite?

HJL: Hmmm, it’s a tough question, at the time that I was working in Hong Kong, the quality of the martial arts movie was so high, and we were making so many compared to present day. But if I have to choose one, I think I would have to say Drunken Master is the favorite of my movies. For me, even now it is one of the best martial arts movies in the world.

PB: I agree! While we’re on Drunken Master, it seemed that you’d almost always play the bad guy in the movies that you were in. Was that a conscious decision by you, or just the types of roles that you were offered?

HJL*laughter* You know I was always too powerful, so every time I made a movie, I had to be the bad guy. I wanted to be the good guy, but the audience couldn’t accept it, because of my power, nobody wanted a good guy who was too powerful. So I would always be asked to play the bad guy.

"The Invincible Armour" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Invincible Armour" Chinese Theatrical Poster

PB: Now, both in Hong Kong and Korea there were a few movies in which you tried your hand at directing – Hitman in the Hand of Buddha, Canton Viper, Emperor of the Underworld. Did you enjoy directing, or did you prefer just to stick to acting?

HJL: (Speaking in English) I like acting, but as an actor, any actor, can be dreaming that they want to be a director. At the time I had some power and money, so I used my money to control my directing, so for example I went back to Korea and made Canton Viper.

PB: Right, I see. In 1981 as well as directing Hitman in the Hand of Buddha, you also made the Taekwondo instructional film The Art of High Impact Kicking. What made you decide to make this?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Ah, you know Roy Horan?

PB: Yes, I do.

HJL: (Speaking in English) I talked to Roy Horan, so we were discussing it together. But Roy Horan, he is thinking too much! He said “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a good idea!” So we asked Ng See Yuen….do you know Ng See Yuen?

PB: Sure, the producer?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Yes, so Ng See Yuen, he came to see me and said “Ok, make it!” *laughter* And you know this one, it did good business across the whole world!

A few tips from the master.

A few tips from the master.

PB: Right right, even now it’s still popular.

HJL: (Speaking in English) Yeah yeah. When you watch it very closely and concentrate, I show you everything in detail. So you can learn from me very easily, you can do everything I do by yourself. *laughter* Just with this documentary, it’s easy to be like me.

PB*laughter* I don’t think it’s so easy, but I’m pretty sure it would be so painful! And was it true that you also taught your style to Roy Horan?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Yes that’s true. He was very good, that guy was very smart.

PB: One thing I love about kung fu movies are the stories that you hear about making them. Often you’ll hear that this person was very powerful, this person was the real deal, Hwang Jang-lee’s kicks are so powerful!

(HJL laughs)

Was there anyone that stood out for you that you worked with, who when you were filming a fight scene you thought, yeah, this guy is the real deal and knows how to fight?

"Lackey and the Lady Tiger" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Lackey and the Lady Tiger" Chinese Theatrical Poster

HJL: Sammo, I believed that Sammo was very powerful. Even though he was really big, he was still really fast. During the filming of the finale in ‘Where’s Officer Tuba’, we were pretending to fight, like sparring, off camera, and we were both so fast that all of the crew was very surprised. Then, I accidentally hit Sammo in the nose and knocked him down, he waved his arms and said “Wait!” *laughter*. I asked him “Are you ok?”

PB*laughter* So when you were working in Hong Kong, did you ever have any difficulties due to the language differences?

HJL: (Speaking in English) No, I learned Mandarin, and then I realized that I liked it there, so I learnt Cantonese.

PB: Ok, so out of the new martial arts movies that are being released these days, is there anyone who you feel is an exceptionally good martial artist?

HJL: I haven’t really watched any of the newer movies. I feel like these days, compared to the past, the movies aren’t really very good, so I haven’t seen them.

(Speaking in English) Maybe now if you’re a good martial artist and you can make a martial arts movie, it would do very good business.

Hwang Jang Lee signing memorabilia for fans.

Hwang Jang Lee signing memorabilia for fans.

PB: Ok. You’ve had such an interesting life, have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

HJL: Ahhh, many people have also asked me this question before, and also I’m thinking to make a movie about my life could be good as well. But at the moment, I haven’t given it too much thought. I have many many ideas though.

PB: You should, it would be a bestseller! & if there was to be a movie made about your life, which actor would you want to play you?

HJL: (Speaking in English*laughter* I don’t know who, I have to try and looking for someone, or maybe if I shoot my story, I can play me, I’m not acting! Then I can control my picture, you know?

PB: Count me in, I’ll watch it! Well you’ve been living back in Korea a long time now, what would you say is your favorite place in Korea?

HJL: Anywhere I can play golf!

PB*laughter* I know now you’re living in Seoul, but was it true that you used to live on Jeju Island?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Yes, that’s true, but now I don’t live there anymore. When I mentioned earlier that I owned a hotel, this was on Jeju Island, but since then I’ve sold it and now I don’t go there anymore.

Young and dangerous.

Young and dangerous.

PB: So now you would say that you’re mainly a Taekwondo teacher?

HJL: (Speaking in English)  I wouldn’t say it’s like my main job, just you know, someone like me, I don’t teach groups, not just anybody, but I’ll teach one by one. Are you good, or not? & a really good teacher, they’ll be very hard, very strict. I have one story – there was a woman, she was 44 years old, and she liked me very much. She asked me, “Can you teach me?” So I said, “Yeah.” So the next day, she came again, and she asked me, “When will you start teaching me?” So I said to her, “Any time, any time you want.” “Ok.” She said, “So let’s start tomorrow.” Oh, tomorrow! *laughter* She had a job working for the government, but she was already retired, so I was so surprised, tomorrow start ok! So then I talked to her and told her if she wants to learn, it’s every day 4 hours, can you do that? “Yes, of course.” Ok, let’s try, and every day I taught her for 4 hours. After 6 months, she was a 5th degree black belt, she passed already. I taught her everything, and she got the qualification to open a Taekwondo school. Now she’s living in Germany, and right now she’s preparing to open a Taekwondo school there.

PB: Wow, and she was 44?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Yeah.

PB: So do you think it’s possible for someone of any age to learn martial arts?

HJL: (Speaking in English) Yeah, no problem, I have many experiences, so even if you’re 4, no problem, even if you’re 80, no problem. It’s all in the mind, will you do it, or not? You do it, ok, let’s do it. Maybe you’ll stop, maybe you’ll carry on. But if you have a strong mind, it’s ok.

PB: A strong mind, and after that, a strong body!

"Canton Viper" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Canton Viper" Korean Theatrical Poster

HJL: (Speaking in English) It’s all easy you know, all the movement, it’s all easy. It’s all in your mind.

PB: Wow, it’s very easy!?

HJL: When I started to learn martial arts, nobody taught me, but now I can teach other people, so it’s easy to learn.

PB: Ok, I’m going to have to start learning. *laughter* That wraps up all of my questions.

(Speaking in Korean): Thank you so much!

HJL: (Speaking in English) You’re welcome, good job!

With that, the interview came to a close. While the questions might have been over, seemingly invigorated by all the kung-fu movie talk, Hwang took the time to bust out a few classic kung fu stances, and for a moment we were transported into a real life old-school kung fu movie, as he preceded each pose by announcing “Tiger!”, “Snake!”, “Crane!”.  Of course in the movies, Hwang was almost always defeated in some unlikely manner by the underdog hero, but today, he got to stand his ground, and I left the room with nothing but respect for someone who is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable faces in the world of kung fu cinema.

Bonus: Best of the Rest!
The best questions from an audience Q&A on 14th September

* HJL answered all of the questions in English

Audience member: How do you condition your legs?

HJL: You know my legs are just normal, there’s nothing special about them. When I train I always use my hips, use the circular motion (HJL starts to sway his hips not entirely unlike a hula dancer!), the hips is where the power comes from. Then I kick like this (busts out a side kick), and like this (busts out a front kick – audience goes crazy), it’s all coming from the hips.

Hwang Jang Lee gives it to Cynthia Rothrock in "No Retreat, No Surrender II: Raging Thunder"

Hwang Jang Lee gives it to Cynthia Rothrock in "No Retreat, No Surrender II: Raging Thunder"

Audience member: You’re a master of Taekwondo, but how did you learn all of the other kung-fu styles that you use in the movies?

HJL: You know they’d just show me on the set, so this is how you do Eagle Claw (breaks out an Eagle Claw pose, audience goes crazy), this is how you do Snake Fist (breaks out a Snake Fist pose, audience goes crazy), so yeah, this is how I learnt, just make them up.

Audience member: You were in quite a few of the Bruceploitation movies, are you still in contact with any of the people you worked with on these movies?

HJL: Yeah, you know Bruce Le? We made a few movies together in Europe. Actually he called me just last month, he asked if I want to be in a new movie with him. I said, sure, let’s see.

Audience member: Obviously you learnt a very real form of Taekwondo, but what’s your opinion of Olympic Taekwondo?

Paul Bramhall and Hwang Jang Lee.

Paul Bramhall and Hwang Jang Lee.

HJL: You know this is very different, Taekwondo, you know, it’s for killing people. (Audience laughs, before quickly realizing he’s being deadly serious) Taekwondo in the Olympics, it’s a sport, you know, it’s not a martial arts, so I don’t really like this style. For me Taekwondo is a martial art.

Special thanks to Jiyeon Kim who was on translation duties, and went the extra mile by taking the time to acquire Hwang’s business card for me!  Next time I’m in Korea, I know who I’ll be texting!

Posted in Features, Interviews, News | 6 Comments

Deal on Fire! Shaolin | Blu-ray | Only $8 – Expires soon!

"Shaolin" Blu-ray Cover

"Shaolin" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Benny Chan’s Shaolin, starring Andy Lau. After unscrupulously killing a wounded enemy, Hou Jie (Lau) pays a terrible price for his actions and is forced to seek refuge in the same Shaolin Monastery he blatantly disrespected.

Also stars Nicholas Tse (The Bullet Vanishes), Fan Bing Bing (Flash Point), Jacky Wu (Kill Zone) and a special cameo by the legendary Jackie Chan. Some call Shaolin the best martial arts film sinces Ip Man. You be the judge!

Order Shaolin from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 1 Comment

Wachowskis’ ‘Jupiter Ascending’ gets a new trailer!

"Jupiter Ascending" Theatrical Poster

"Jupiter Ascending" Theatrical Poster

The Wachowskis, the sibling filmmakers responsible for The Matrix trilogy and the live-action Speed Racer film, are back with a new blockbuster!

Jupiter Ascending is a science-fiction action/epic starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. Kunis’ character believes she is just a lowly janitor on Earth but, in fact, her DNA holds grand secrets to the universe – as long as Tatum’s space soldier can keep her from falling into enemy hands.

Jupiter Ascending is actually the Wachowskis pop sci-fi take on the Snow White fairy tale, but don’t take our word for it.

Updates: The visually stunning first trailer is online now for your viewing pleasure. | New Japanese trailer. | Newest trailer. | International trailer. | According to Variety, Jupiter Ascending is being delayed. Its original July 18 2014 release date as been pushed to February 6, 2015. According to the report, the Wachowskis needed more time to complete over 2,000 special effects shots.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new trailer.

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Gamera 11-Film Collection | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

"Gamera 11-Film Collection" Blu-ray Box

"Gamera 11-Film Collection" Blu-ray Box

RELEASE DATE: 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)

Pre-order The Gamera 11-Film Collection from Amazon.com today!

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

As The Lights Go Out | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

"As The Lights Go Out" Blu-ray Cover

"As The Lights Go Out" Blu-ray Cover

RELEASE DATE: 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). Don’t miss the original trailer.

Pre-order As The Lights Go Out from Amazon.com today!

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