2nd trailer for Michael Mann’s ‘Blackhat’ with Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth

"Blackhat" Theatrical Poster

"Blackhat" Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Blackhat (aka Cyber), directed by Michael Mann, is an upcoming cyber-thriller starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Red Dawn), Tang Wei (Wu Xia), Leehom Wang (Lust, Caution), and Andy On (Black Mask 2).

In Blackhat, a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta. The film hits theaters on January 16, 2015.

Updates: THR reports that that Tang and Wang will play a brother-and-sister duo. Tang also will be Hemsworth’s love interest. | Based on JayneStar’s new article, actress Tang Wei is having difficulty with some of her English dialogue. This is supposedly causing frustration for her co-star Chris Hemsworth.

Hemsworth revealed the plot: ”It’s based in the world of cyber terrorism. Basically, something similar to the Chicago Board of Trade is hacked into and it sets off a chain of events around the world, affecting the stock market. And the code that was used to hack into it, my character had written it years before and he happens to be in prison for cyber crime. He is pulled out and offered a deal if he works with a joint task force of the FBI and the Chinese goverment in trying to track this guy down. It starts off in Chicago and ends up in Kuala Lumpur, in Hong Kong and in Jakarta. It’s this sort of cat-and-mouse international heist-thriller.” | First trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the 2nd trailer, courtesy of yahoo.com.

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Deal on Fire! Spaghetti Western Double Feature: Grand Duel & Keoma | Blu-ray | Only $2.96 – Expires soon!

"Grand Duel & Keoma" Blu-ray Cover

"Grand Duel & Keoma" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Spaghetti Western Double Feature, featuring Lee Van Cleef in Giancarlo Santi’s The Grand Duel (aka The Big Showdown) and Franco Nero in Enzo G. Castellari’s Keoma.

In 1972′s The Grand Duel, a grizzled ex-sheriff helps a man framed for murder to confront the powerful trio of brothers who want him dead; In 1976′s Keoma, a half-breed gunfighter weary of killing as a way of life. But when he returns to his troubled childhood home, Keoma is caught in a savage battle between innocent settlers, sadistic bandits and his vengeful half-brothers.

Two classics for A Few Dollars… literally. Order from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 1 Comment

Choke on this new trailer for Hitoshi Matsumoto’s ‘R100′

"R100" Theatrical Poster

"R100" Theatrical Poster

Hitoshi Matsumoto’s (Big Man Japan) R100 hits Drafthouse theaters and VOD on Friday, January 23rd. As Collider points out, the title of the film is a play on the Japanese rating system (R18 is equivalent to our NC-17), so “R100″ should give you an idea of what to expect. Read on for the official plot synopsis…

In this audaciously kinky, meta-comedic thriller, a lonely father with a secret taste for S&M (Nao Ohmori, best known for his titular turn in Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer) hires a boutique dominatrix agency that specializes in guerilla acts of public degradation.

Although the rough treatment and humiliation Takafumi Katayama receives from these leather-clad women––in cafés and on the street––drives him to ecstatic pleasure, he soon finds himself over his head during a surprise house call by one of the mistresses. After a freak and fatal accident, Takafumi is forced into action with a slew of vengeful dominatrices chasing him down. With the help of his son, he’ll have to devise a plan to take on the relentless femmes fatales, who each possess a unique S&M talent by which to exact painful revenge.

Without further ado, here’s the trailer for R100. Enjoy!

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Van Damme co-stars in Da Peng’s Chinese film ‘Jian Bing Man’

"Enemies Closer" Japanese DVD Cover

"Enemies Closer" Japanese DVD Cover

There are currently 3 reasons why 2015 will be an exciting year for Jean-Claude Van Damme fans: 1) Pound of Flesh, 2) The Kickboxer reboot, and 3) The long awaited and constantly delayed, The Eagle Path – if anything, at least two of these films will be released next year.

To our surprise, there’s another project Van Damme is lending his name to called Jian Bing Man, a Chinese production starring Da Peng (who is also directing), Ada Liu (Badges of Fury) and Yuan Shanshan (One Day).

We’re not sure what the plot entails, but judging from this teaser poster and promotional shot, it looks like it’s some kind of “superhero” action-comedy. We do know that Van Damme is only co-starring, but who knows, maybe he has a beefy role as the film’s bad guy, a la Enemies Closer.

Jian Bing Man has a domestic release date in China set for July 17, 2015. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more. Stay tuned!

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Mortal Kombat: Conquest | DVD (Warner)

Mortal Kombat: Conquest | DVD (Warner)

Mortal Kombat: Conquest | DVD (Warner)

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015

Warner presents the DVD set for Mortal Kombat: Conquest. This TV series is based on the Mortal Kombat fighting game, which aired in 1998-1999. The set will include all 22 episodes on 5 discs.

Mortal Kombat: Conquest stars Paolo Montalbán, Daniel Bernhardt (Bloodsport II), Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3), Tracy Douglas, Bruce Locke, Jeffrey Meek, John Reilly, Sung Hi Lee, Jaime Pressly and Eva Mendes. - Thanks to FCS for the DVD artwork.

Pre-order Mortal Kombat: Conquest from Amazon.com today!

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Well Go USA’s ‘Defective Disc Replacement Program’ launches today for U.S. and Canadian customers! *Updated*

"Web of Death" Blu-ray Cover

"Web of Death" Blu-ray Cover

Last month, there was a recent discovery that a number of Blu-ray titles from Well Go USA have become defective, due to an error during the pressing of the actual discs. The defect consists of a bronze-like discoloration which forms on the play-side over time, and can potentially affect playback.

Today, Well Go USA contacted cityonfire.com regarding their “Defective Disc Replacement Program,” which has officially launched today for both their U.S. and Canadian customers.

Read on for a revised list of potentially affected Blu-ray titles and instructions on how to replace your defective discs:

Plano, TX (November 18, 2014) – Well Go USA has confirmed certain Blu-ray discs pressed at a replication facility used for a period between May 2010 – September 2011 may have a defective issue resulting in a bronze discoloration on the underside of the disc potentially leading to playback problems. We have confirmed this potential problem on 19 titles, though only small numbers of affected quantities.

Update: Well Go USA expects to have the new discs, without the defect, delivered to their offices around the second week of January. Once they receive them in, they’ll begin to fulfill and send out replacement discs, according to the order in which the discs were received.

The potentially affected Blu-ray titles are:

9TH COMPANY
ASSAULT GIRLS
BLOOD
BROTHERS FIVE
DELIGHTFUL FOREST, THE
DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, THE
FORK IN THE ROAD, A
HEROIC ONES, THE
IP MAN
IP MAN 2
KUNG FU DUNK
LEGEND OF THE FIST
MAN FROM NOWHERE, THE
SAMURAI PRINCESS
SHAOLIN
STOMP LIVE
STOOL PIGEON
WEB OF DEATH
WHITEWALL, THE

If you discover that your Blu-ray copy of one of the above titles has the bronze discoloration and will not play, please send the disc only (no packaging, please) to the following address for a replacement:

UNITED STATES:

Well Go USA Entertainment
ATTN: Defective Disc Replacement
1601 E. Plano Parkway
Suite 110
Plano, Texas 75074

CANADA:

Unidisc Music Inc.
ATTN: Defective Disc Replacement
57 b Hymus Blvd.
Pointe-Claire, QC
Canada, H9R 4T2

Please include only your discno packaging — along with the address to which you’d like us to mail your replacement. We will not be replacing or exchanging packaging. There is no need to email us in addition.

In the event any other titles are discovered with the same issue, they will be replaced accordingly. Thank you to our loyal fans and customers for your patience and understanding in this matter.

- Thanks to Well Go USA for their prompt reply and excellent customer service

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The possessed return in new trailer for ‘[REC] 4: Apocalypse’

"REC 4" Theatrical Poster

The 2007 Spanish-language horror film [REC] managed to set a bar for the genre, reinvigorating the zombie movie through the then-fresh ‘found footage’ approach. [REC] proved popular enough to inspire two sequels and now another is on the way. [REC]4: Apocalypse finds original director Jaume Balaguero returning to tell a new story ([REC]3 was actually something of a prequel. Confused yet?) about the sole survivor from the first film.

The trailer for the Apocalypse is online now and Balaguero appears to be dropping the found footage conceit to tell a visceral zombie tale, complete with a wet, grimy atmosphere a la Alien. The oil tanker setting may even remind some Asian film buffs of the 2011 Korean monster movie Sector 7, but it’s likely a mere coincidence.

Update: Enjoy the latest (and NSFW) trailer for the film!

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Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013) Review

"Why Don't You Play In Hell?" Theatrical Poster

"Why Don't You Play In Hell?" Theatrical Poster

Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Sion Sono
Cast: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Hiroki Hasegawa, Gen Hoshino, Tomochika, Tak Sakaguchi, Itsuji Itao, Hiroyuki Onoue, Tetsu Watanabe, Tasuku Nagaoka, Akihiro Kitamura, Megumi Kagurazaka, Motoki Fukami
Running Time: 129 min.

By Kyle Warner

Sion Sono is my kind of madman. In recent years Sono has made some of the zaniest, most singularly inventive films in the world. Love Exposure was a strangely lovable four hour epic about religion, perverts, and evil cults. Himizu, while difficult to really enjoy, is perhaps one of the angriest works of art I’ve ever seen. Sono even made a bizarre horror movie about haunted hair extensions called Exte – and it didn’t suck. With Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Sono has made what is perhaps his most mainstream work in years, a blend of gangster dramas and showbiz comedies. It’s a crazy, bloody, hilarious film that seems to have been created for those of us who not only enjoy movies but also admire the art of filmmaking and the people who devote their lives to the craft. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is a film for film lovers… and I loved it.

It begins with toothpaste. The daughter of yakuza boss Muto (Jun Kunimura) is gaining popularity as a child actress thanks to her catchy toothpaste commercial. When a rival family attacks the Muto household, they find the boss isn’t home and are greeted by Muto’s wife and a butcher knife instead. Muto’s wife kills the gangsters but goes to the extreme and lands herself a ten year stint in prison. What’s worse than the jail time is that her daughter’s commercial will be pulled off the air, derailing her promising acting career.

Fast forward a decade. Muto has promised his wife that he’ll do whatever he can to help their daughter become a star. Now he only has a little over a week to get his daughter (Fumi Nikaido) into a movie and have it finished by the time his wife gets released. Of course, there’s a problem: they’re yakuza, not filmmakers. So, in their desperation the Muto family turns to an underground film crew called the F— Bombers to help make their film a reality.

The storyline is fairly complex but it’s largely secondary to Sono’s crazy sense of humor, an ensemble of memorable characters played by enthusiastic actors, and a fantastic, action-packed finale.

By the end of the film, Muto figures that the best way to make his movie and crush his rivals is to basically film an actual raid on a rival’s headquarters. Yakuza battle it out with swords and machine guns while the camera crew run around filming it all and giving their bloody ‘actors’ instructions on how best to kill each other. It’s bloody mayhem played for laughs.

However, I suspect not everyone in the audience will be laughing. The gore and insanity may either offend or simply go over the heads of some people. For my part, the comedy connected with a high batting average, and I was either laughing my head off or staring with mouth agape for most the film’s runtime.

There is a short period in the middle of the movie where things get a bit too mean-spirited and the drama dirties things. The laughs stop coming, the violence isn’t funny, and the characters look uglier than before. I think it’s during this time that the F— Bombers fall to the background of the picture until the plot needs them again. Thankfully Sono comes back to them just in time. The film works best as a crazy piece of comedy and sometimes the gangster drama threatens to take over, making it into something it’s not. Also, while I found the bloody finale to be a complete blast, it did feature some lame CGI blood. At times it looked like a videogame. Still, it’s all in good fun, so realism wasn’t one of the primary concerns. If you can get past the CGI blood and the story’s brief identity crisis then Why Don’t You Play in Hell? makes for a wonderfully weird night at the movies.

Shinichi Tsutsumi (Unlucky Monkey) plays the rival yakuza boss Ikegami, who has become detached from reality. While I’ve seen Tsutsumi in some comedies before, nothing could’ve prepared me for his gonzo performance here. His gruff voice is reminiscent of Toshiro Mifune, but his rubber face rivals 90’s Jim Carrey. It’s a bold, shameless performance, and I kind of loved every minute he was on the screen. His biggest comic challenger comes from Hiroki Hasegawa, who plays Hirata, the leader of the F— Bombers. Hasegawa’s Hirata is a rambling, high-pitched maniac cinephile who prays to the movie gods that he may one day make a film worth remembering. When the yakuza come calling, he sees this as his destiny finally coming true. Whereas Shinichi Tsutsumi does most of his comedy with his face and eyes, Hasegawa chews the scenery with his breathless, overly enthusiastic dialogue. Both are brilliant.

Fan favorite Tak Sakaguchi has a supporting role as the F— Bombers’ wannabe Bruce Lee action star. Sakaguchi spends most the film in Bruce’s trademark yellow jumpsuit, swinging nunchucks at the bad guys and screaming at the top of his lungs. It’s not much of a part, but it is a lot of fun. In early 2013 Tak Sakaguchi revealed that he was retiring. Since then, he has come out of retirement for Yuji Shimomura’s upcoming action film Re:Born. I’m happy to hear it. While Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is a perfectly good film to end things on, perhaps it’s not a role that reminds Sakaguchi’s devotees why they became fans in the first place.

It’s impossible to think of how the film would’ve looked under a different director. Every scene is signature Sono… which might be enough to ward off some viewers, I realize. Sono is one of the most original talents in modern film but not everybody’s in love with his work. If you didn’t like Sono’s previous stuff, chances are you’re not going to find a whole lot to love here. However, if you’re a fan, you gotta check it out. Additionally, I would say that this might be one of the more accessible Sono films for viewers who are unfamiliar with his filmography. So, if you want to get an idea of what a Sion Sono film is like, you could start here and try out the nastier stuff afterwards.

With this review, I am intentionally leaving out some of my favorite parts of Why Don’t You Play in Hell? because I think they’re best experience firsthand. I’ll just finish this by saying that I think this is go-for-broke cinema at its finest. It’s a film you just have to watch.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 8.5/10

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Spend Christmas with Brandon Lee, The Shaw Bros, Michael Dudikoff, Cheng Pei Pei and some Assassins ‘n Traffickers…

7 Assassins | DVD (Lionsgate)

7 Assassins | DVD (Lionsgate)

So here we are again, my favorite time of year, Christmas!

It’s a magical time of Santa, toys, trees, tinsel, elves, Rudolph, carols and turkey. “It was the night before Christmas” still sends thrills of delight to my heart as I think of my childhood waiting for Santa to come down the chimney.

But now I’m a wise adult and I realize that sh*t isn’t going to happen. So, I’m going to face reality by treating myself to some of my favorite films – rather than eating that re-gifted fruitcake that gets passed around – which brings us to this month’s Blu-ray & DVD release list, handpicked by cityonfire.com!

The month of December brings Brandon Lee, Live-action Anime, Shaw Brothers Classics, a Michael Dudikoff gem, old school Cheng Pei Pei flicks, a gritty South Korean crime thriller and a handful of great Hong Kong legends – all under one tree!

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.

Cheng Pei Pei Double Feature: December 2, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the DVD for the Cheng Pei Pei Double Feature, which includes 1973′s Kung Fu Girl and 1974′s Whiplash. Directed by Lo Wei (Fists of Fury) and Ding Sin Saai (Furious Slaughter), respectively, these two Golden Harvest classics feature Cheng Pei Pei, who would gain mainstream recognition for her role as Jade Fox in 2000′s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Legacy of Rage: December 2, 2014

Shout! Factory presents the DVD for 1986′s Legacy of Rage, a Hong Kong revenge flick starring the late Brandon Lee (The Crow) and directed by Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair), who will be providing an informative audio commentary track. Legacy of Rage is more along the lines of a John Woo shoot ‘em up, than a martial arts movie. Nonetheless, it was one heck of a debut for Brandon!

The film also stars Michael Wong (Knock-Off), Chan Wai-Man (Bruce Lee the Invincible), Regina Kent (A Better Tomorrow II), Bolo Yeung (Enter Three Dragons) and Mang Hoi (Heart of the Dragon).

Kite: December 2, 2014

Anchor Bay presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Kite. When her cop father is killed, a young woman tracks the murder with the apparent help of his ex-partner. Kite is said to have more “modern” approach to the material (based on the Anime by Yasuomi Umetsu), using our current economic problems as a backdrop for the story. Ralph Ziman’s (Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema) Kite stars India Eisley, Callan McAuliffe, Cleo Rinkwest, Samuel L. Jackson and Russel Savadier.

Hickey & Boggs: December 2, 2014

Is Bill Cosby innocent or guilty? Who cares! Kino Video presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1972′s Hickey & Boggs, written by Walter Hill (The Warriors). I Spy stars, Cosby and Robert Culp (who also directed), are united again in this modern film noir about two detectives investigating a kidnapping and running into a gang of vicious criminals responsible for a string of murders. The film also stars James Woods (The Onion Field), Michael Moriarty (Q), Vincent Gardenia (Death Wish), Bill Hickman (Bullitt) and Ed Lauter (Breakheart Pass).

The Shadow Boxing: December 9, 2014

Well Go USA presents the DVD for 1979′s The Shadow Boxing (aka The Spiritual Boxer 2), not to be confused with 1974′s The Shadow Boxer, which was also released by Well Go USA in 2009. Now’s your chance to own this classic Shaw Brother’s gem! Directed by Lau Kar Leung (Drunken Master II), this kung fu “comedy” stars Wong Yu (Shaolin Executioner), Gordon Liu Chia Hui (Shaolin Mantis) and Lau Kar Wing (The Dragon Family).

Trail of the Broken Blade: December 9, 2014

Well Go USA presents the DVD for Trail of the Broken Blade, directed by Chang Cheng (Chinatown Kid, Five Element Ninjas), one of Shaw Brothers Studio’s best known and most prolific film directors! This 1967 classic stars Jimmy Wang Yu (Man Called Tiger), Chin Ping (Killer Darts), Lisa Chiao Chiao (Seven Warriors), Paul Wei Ping Ao (Way of the Dragon) and Wu Ma (White Vengeance).

Avenging Force: December 9, 2014

Kino Lorber presents the Blu-ray for 1986′s Avenging Force (aka Night Hunter), directed by Sam Firstenberg (Revenge of the Ninja) and starring Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja). Not many people are aware of this tidbit, but in this Cannon cult classic, Dudikoff portrays Matt Hunter, a character previously played by Chuck Norris in 1985′s Invasion U.S.A. So, Jack Ryan, eat your heart out! This newly remastered Blu-ray for Avenging Force will feature Audio commentary by Dudikoff and Firstenberg, plus interviews and the original theatrical trailer.

The Traffickers: December 23, 2014

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Kim Hong-sun’s The Traffickers. This Award-winning South Korean crime thriller takes place in six hours on a passenger boat with an ongoing black-market organ-trafficking operation, and a desperate husband out to find his missing wife. The film stars Im Chang-jung, Choi Daniel, Oh Dal-su and Jo Yoon-hee. Watch the trailer.

7 Assassins: December 23, 2014

Lionsgate is set to release the DVD for Eric Tsang’s 7 Assassins on December 23rd. The Canadian-American entertainment company is marketing the 2013 Hong Kong production as “The story of brotherhood, loyalty, and the rise of the underdog intersect in this epic movie in the vein of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and 47 Ronin.”

Directed by both Tsang (who also stars) and Hung Yan Yan (action director), 7 Assassins features an all-star cast of old school action stars such as: Felix Wong, Ray Lui, Guo Tao, Kara Hu, Well Lee, Michael Wong, Fung Hak On, Waise Lee, Leung Kar Yan, Ken Lo, Mars, Jason Pai Piao, Ti Lung, Dick Wei, Simon Yam, Yu Rong Guang and many others!

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

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

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

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

To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, what the main fighter (Loren Alvedon) is wearing in this clip from No Retreat, No Surrender II (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 The Traffickers will be officially released on December 23, 2014. We will announce the 3 winners on that day and ship out the prizes immediately.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by December 22, 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 David, Chris Lane and Sheila! You have all been notified via email!

Posted in News | Tagged | 14 Comments

Man, Pride and Vengeance | Blu-ray & DVD (Blue Underground)

Man, Pride and Vengeance | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

Man, Pride and Vengeance | Blu-ray (Blue Underground)

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2015

Blue Underground presents the Blu-ray & DVD for 1967′s Man, Pride and Vengeance, directed by Luigi Bazzoni (Brothers Blue) and starring Frank Nero (Django) and Klaus Kinski (For a Few Dollars More).

According to SpaghettiWestern.net, Man, Pride and Vengeance tells the story of a Spanish soldier (Nero), who falls in love with a gypsy (Tina Aumont) only to end up deserting the army and being chased into the border lands, where he joins the gypsy smugglers to rob money for a journey to America. But it turns out his love has a husband (Kinski) and is only using him again and again.

Order Man, Pride and Vengeance from Amazon.com today!

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Japan’s Toho to make their own ‘Godzilla’ movie in 2016

"Godzilla" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Godzilla" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Media outlets are reporting that Japan’s Toho Company is planning its own Japanese production of a new Godzilla film, which will obviously take place in a separate universe from Legendary’s U.S.-made 2014 film, which was directed by Gareth Edwards.

There are no details on whether the new Japanese movie will be a reboot, remake or sequel; they’re even deciding on whether to go CGI or the traditional man-in-suit route for the creature.

Toho, who hasn’t released a Godzilla film since 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars, had this to say, by way of Taichi Ueda, veteran producer of the franchise: “With the success of the Hollywood version of Godzilla, we decided on a new [domestic] production… The screenplay is currently in development and we plan to start shooting next summer. We cannot announce cast or staff selections at this time. And we’re still deliberating whether to bring Godzilla to life via CGI or man-in-suit,” said Ueda. “This resurrection will be the centerpiece for ’16, and this is the force of our words.”

We’ll keep you updated on the 2016 Japanese film as we hear more. In the meantime, Edwards’ sequel is still being planned for 2018. Stay tuned!

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Deal on Fire! Red Belt | Blu-ray | Only $6.40 – Expires soon!

"Red Belt" Blu-ray Cover

"Red Belt" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Red Belt, directed by David Mamet (Homicide) and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave). A fateful event leads to a job in the film business for top mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Though he refuses to participate in prize bouts, circumstances conspire to force him to consider entering such a competition.

Red Belt also stars Max Martini (Pacific Rim), Alice Braga (Predators), Randy Couture (The Expendables), Rodrigo Santoro (300), Joe Mantegna, Tim Allen and a special appearance by Dan Inosanto (Game of Death).

Order Red Belt from Amazon.com today!

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Deal on Fire! Tai Chi Master | Blu-ray | Only $4.99 – Expires soon!

"Tai Chi Master" Blu-ray Cover

"Tai Chi Master" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 1993′s Tai Chi Master, starring Jet Li (Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate) and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Two friends part ways as they brush with the ongoing rebellion against the government. The ambitious one rises up to be a powerful military commander, while the other resorts to learn the calm ways of Tai Chi. This epic martial arts film features staple choreography by director Yuen Woo Ping (The Matrix), one of the most successful and influential figures in Hong Kong action cinema.

Order Tai Chi Master from Amazon.com today!

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Death Squad | DVD (Phase 4 Films)

"Death Squad" Theatrical Poster

"Death Squad" Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2015

Phase 4 Films presents the DVD for Death Squad (aka 2047: Sights of Death) starring Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher) Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) and Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects).

If you didn’t like Expendables 3, maybe you’ll like Death Squad (plus, it’s actually R-Rated). In the year 2047, a rebel war agent is forced to go against an oppressive government to expose their war crimes. To avoid capture, he must face a vicious death squad of mercenaries who are prepared to sacrifice their lives! Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Death Squad from Amazon.com today!

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

Cyber Monday Deals are still going on…

Cyber Monday is still going on throughout the week, so Amazon is still offering some ridiculous deals on almost everything you can imagine. You’ll find movies for under $5, tons of video games for 50% off, 4K TVs for 30% off, flash drives for 50% off, and so much more. Don’t wait too long to purchase, because prices change all the time and the best deals usually sell out.

For your convenience, we’ve linked the hottest sections below.

Link to all the Cyber Monday Deals on Amazon
Blu-ray Movies $10 and Under
DVD Movies $5 and Under
CDs & Vinyl Deals $6.99 and Under
4K Ultra HD Televisions 30% Off or More
PlayStation 4 Games 40% off or more
Xbox One Games 40% off or more
External Hard Drives 40% off or more
Headphones 50% off
Flash Memory 50% off
Home Theater Systems 40% off or more
Star Wars toys up to 40% off
Transformers toys up to 35% off
Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB $79.00 ($20 off)
Fire HD 7, 7″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB $109.00 ($30 off)
Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi $49.00 ($30 off)
Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display $99.00 ($20 off)
Samsung Cyber Mondays Deals Up to 45% Off Select TVs

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

Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson goes ‘Expendable’ with ‘Blood Raid’

"Ring of Fire" VHS Cover

"Ring of Fire" VHS Cover

THE MOVIE: Ever since Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables brought back some of our favorite 80′s heroes to the big screen, action buffs have been dreaming about an Expendables-like film for the other video kings we looked up to long ago: stars like Jeff Speakman (The Perfect Weapon) and Mark Dacascos (Brotherhood of the Wolf).

Well, it sounds like Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson shares that dream as he and a group of producers are reportedly mounting a new project called The B-Team.

At present, it looks like Wilson (Ring of Fire) will be joined by Cynthia Rothrock (Yes, Madam) and Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja) for an action romp in the country of Papua New Guinea. Don promises there’s plenty of room in the screenplay for other notable action stars to make cameos too.

Possible contendors to join Wilson and co. include Richard Norton (Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars), Billy Blanks (The King of Kickboxers), Loren Avedon (No Retreat, No Surrender 2), and the aforementioned Speakman and Dacascos. Thanks to Impact Magazine for the scoop.

Updates: During a recent interview with Don “The Dragon” Wilson, he stated that due to political reasons, the production of The B-Team is “uncertain.” However, Wilson did say he is working on a movie called Blood Raid, which will utilize many of his “B” movie star friends. Click here for the full interview.

Looks like Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s “low budget Expendables” is still alive and kicking. It may or may not be the planned B-Team or Blood Raid, but it’s definitely close enough! In a recent interview with CMAC’s Debbie Goodman, here’s what Wilson had to say about the upcoming project: “I’m working right now on a film… it’s a cop actioner with a twist. And, umm, you know, I promised I wasn’t really going to use the word ‘Expendables,’ but it’s kind of a lower budget [version] of it, because we’re going to have all the B-movie action stars that you’ve seen. So, in that regards, it’s in action film and it will not have one star – because we each used to carry our own films – but now with all of this together, we’re hoping we’ll have the same success that they had with Expendables. With ours, we’ll have all the B-movie people that you’re used to… Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Michael Dudikoff… just on and on, as many of them as we can fit on the screen.”

BREAKING NEWS: So Blood Raid it is, and B-Team it’s not… During a recent interview with Ric Drasin, Don “The Dragon” Wilson had this to say: “I’m working pre-production on a movie called Blood Raid, which is my version of The Expendables. It’s gonna have all the B-movie guys – everybody who has ever said a word of dialogue!” On December 4th, Wilson gave us a quick description of what to expect from Blood Raid: “It’s a cop actioner with a vampire twist, ala Dusk til Dawn. It will be like The Raid and Die Hard in that the bulk of the action will be in one-building location.”

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Exterminators of the Year 3000 | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Exterminators of the Year 3000 | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Exterminators of the Year 3000 | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray for 1983′s Exterminators of the Year 3000, directed by Giuliano Carnimeo (The Case of the Bloody Iris).

Exterminators of the Year 3000 takes place in the post-apocalyptic future where the earth is a desert and water is the most precious substance of all, a band of survivors must turn to a mysterious stranger to battle a ruthless gang of motorcycle psychos for control of the wasteland and the water. Don’t miss the trailer!

Pre-order Exterminators of the Year 3000 from Amazon.com today!

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Chris Pratt to join Denzel in ‘Magnificent Seven’ remake?

"The Magnificent Seven" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Magnificent Seven" Japanese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: A remake of John Sturges 1960 classic, The Magnificent Seven is in the works. The original The Magnificent Seven – a remake itself of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai - starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, and Horst Buchholz. Read our review for the original film.

The plot involved seven American gunmen who are hired to protect a small village in Mexico from a group of Mexican bandits. Check out HKFanatic’s review for the original Magnificent Seven.

Updates: According to Collider, the remake will be penned by Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote a couple episodes of The Killing and the HBO drama, True

The Wrap reports that Tom Cruise has dropped out of the Magnificent Seven remake. Also, John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) has been hired to rewrite the script.

Deadline reports that Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer) is considering The Magnificent Seven remake. But he’s even closer to saying yes to helm Narco Sub, a drug smuggling-themed thriller. One project that’s in the can for Fuqua is a boxing film titled Southpaw.

Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington are in for the remake, which will mark the pair’s 3rd major team up.

BREAKING NEWS: Collider reports that Chris Pratt is in talks to join Denzel Washington for Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven remake.

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Prison Girl (2008) Review

"Prison Girl" DVD Cover

"Prison Girl" DVD Cover

Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Writer: Chisato Okawara
Producer: Masaru Ikeda
Cast: Asami, Yoko Satomi, Hiroaki Yanagi, Mari Yamaguchi, Yukiharu Inoue, Fumiaki Kato
Running Time: 60 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Out of all the Japanese sub-genres, the Pink Eiga movie is perhaps the most confusing to try and explain. Literally translated to English as Pink Movie, the genre is different to that of AV, standing for Adult Video, which is most easily described as Japanese porn. Pink Eiga on the other hand is a different kind of beast, having been around since the 1960’s, as one of the directors working in the industry perhaps best explains – Pink Eiga is an “art genre movie with sex scenes.”

This is actually a fairly accurate summary of what can be expected from a Pink Eiga flick, and there’s a certain old school romanticism to the way they’re made even today. Despite the revolution of digital filming, and regardless of the fact that the movies are always on very limited budgets and shooting schedules (3 days is normal), most Pink Eiga movies are still shot on 35mm and edited by hand. For the directors and performers of these movies it’s a serious business, and one that almost all are proud to be a part of. Directors like Yojiro Takita, who won the 2009 Foreign Language Oscar for his movie Departures, and Masayuki Suo, who directed the original Shall We Dance of which the 2004 Hollywood remake is based on, both started out in the Pink Eiga genre.

Skip forward to 2008, and a US based company by the name of Pink Eiga emerged, whose enthusiastic mission was to release some of these unseen movies onto western audiences. And yes, their name is the equivalent of a company calling themselves Romantic Comedy and only releasing Hugh Grant movies. A couple of years later though and the DVD market had all but dropped out, and the company switched to a VOD only format. Thankfully, after several fans requesting for a return to the days of being able to physically have the movies on DVD, the guys at Pink Eiga have duly obliged, and one of their first new releases is Prison Girl.

One of the joys of a Pink Eiga movie is having no idea exactly what you’re about to get yourself into, it’s a broad label, and the movies can cover everything from horror to thriller to science fiction. Ironically the nudity and sex scenes to be found in these movies are not always there for the purposes of titillation, sometimes they’re there because, well, it’s an art genre movie with sex scenes right?  Prison Girl stars Asami, a name that anyone even slightly familiar with the Japanese low budget splatter genre will be familiar with. The co-star of Machine Girl, made the same year as Prison Girl, Asami quickly became a fan favorite, and can be seen in some state of undress in almost every splatter movie that’s come out since then, most recently graduating to action star (and woman) in 2014’s Gun Woman.

In Prison Girl she plays Ayaka, a recently married housewife who longs to go back to work, but has bigger issues in that she has a recurring dream of being a prisoner in a woman-only jail, in which she’s sexually assaulted by the sadistic guards. Within the first 5 minutes Asami has been stripped and frisked by the prison guards, wakes up in a state of shock, and has her husband tell her that she should probably go to hospital for some psychotherapy. Things move fast in the world of Pink Eiga, and like most of these movies, Prison Girl clocks in at just 60 minutes, meaning there’s never any fear of things getting bogged down in exposition.

What’s surprising though is exactly how much director Naoyuki Tomomatsu crams into such a short runtime. Tomomatsu is most well known for the 2009 splatter movie Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, however he’s a director that’s largely stayed within the Pink Eiga genre, seemingly finding his niche with his Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead series (currently on its 5th installment!). If the title sounds offensive, well, don’t forget to check out the Groper Train series either. The titles certainly don’t shy away from trying to capture your attention.

It’s not long into Prison Girl that things actually get quite unsettling, sudden images flash onscreen of Asami being drenched in blood while laughing manically, juxtaposed with seemingly serene scenes of her preparing dinner for her husband. She begins to see a therapist to try and get to the bottom of why she’s having the dreams, but instead of helping they only seem to get more vivid – characters from her every day world also begin to appear in her dreams, and most disturbing is the discovery that she’s imprisoned for killing her husband. As she begins to question her sanity, at the same time we as the viewer are also asked to do the same – is she a bored housewife longing for some sexual excitement, or is she a murderer in prison daydreaming of having a normal life again?

Amongst the obligatory nudity and sex scenes, of which there are plenty (and which it’s also worth noting the other difference between Pink Eiga and AV – in Pink Eiga there’s no actual penetration, it’s all simulated), there are many nice touches that make you appreciate the level of craftsmanship put into making it. Shots like the sudden focus on a pool of blood forming on the carpet from a plastic shopping bag, due to a defrosting packet of mincemeat, are enough to make you feel suitably uneasy, and the final shot is one that also lingers in the memory. By the time an hour has passed what you think is going to be a bored housewife having erotic dreams for the next 60 minutes, has ended up being more of a psychological horror which goes into the darker corners of a woman bored by her sudden need to adhere to domestic life.

Asami won the New Actress Award at the Pink Eiga Grand Prix of the same year for Prison Girl, and it was an award well deserved. At times her performance is reminiscent of Meiko Kaji in Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, and also just like in that movie, there’s a scene when the other inmates make a chorus of whispering her name as she’s brought out to be punished by the guards. While the movies exist in two completely different worlds, it’s admirable that Tomomatsu shows the influence of the past masters.

It has to be said that the low grade film stock gives the movie a much older look than it actually is, combined with the fact that there’s not a single shot of a cell phone or computer during the whole runtime, Prison Girl could just as well have been made in 1978 as it could 2008. This is all part of the charm and mystique that is the world of Pink Eiga though, a genre which has regularly been close to vanishing, but somehow it always finds a way back, and with plenty more releases in the pipeline, Prison Girl should serve as a notable introduction to the genre.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6.5/10

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Brotherhood of Blades | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Brotherhood of Blades | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Brotherhood of Blades | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Lu Yang’s Brotherhood of Blades, which stars Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Cecilia Liu (Badges of Fury).

Brotherhood of Blades tells of three friends (Chen, Wang Qianyuan, and Li Dongxue) who serve as Jinyiwei guards. They are dispatched by a palace eunuch (Nie Yuan) to hunt down a eunuch politician (Jin Shijie) who had been forced to resign from his influential post and exiled from Beijing. The Jinyiwei brothers return successfully from their quest, only to find that their task was but the beginning of a strange conspiracy. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Brotherhood of Blades from Amazon.com today!

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Guest, The (2014) Review

"The Guest" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Guest" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Chase Williamson, Jesse Luken, Ethan Embry, Joel David Moore
Running Time: 99 min.

By Jeff Bona

“Don’t overrate someone, unless you want to harm him/her.” ― Abdullah Muhammad Farabi

When I think of You’re Next (2011), I think of the French film, Them (2006) and its “unofficial” U.S. remake, The Strangers (2008). It’s almost as if the You’re Next director watched both movies, then thought to himself: “Not bad, but they’re missing a twist and a resolution.” Little did he know, it was the lack of a conventional structure that made those two films so great. As it stands, You’re Next is an impressive copycat until it becomes absolutely unwatchable, due to its poorly executed twist and a sloppy second half. Good job, guys.

The guys I speak of are Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, director and writer, respectively, of You’re Next. The two return with yet another “home invasion” movie called The Guest, which I describe as a slasher flick meets Charles Whitman with a dash of Jason Bourne.

The Guest follows a stranger named David (played impressively by Dan Stevens), who makes an unannounced visit to a broken family – consisting of an alcoholic father, a grieving wife, a rebellious daughter and a bullied son. David claims to be a fellow soldier of their older son who had recently died while serving in Afghanistan. Because of David’s compassion and charm, the family welcomes him with open arms, but after they warm up to him, all bloody hell starts to break loose…

Although The Guest is an improvement over You’re Next, Wingard and Barrett, once again, overpower their smidge-sized brilliance with spotty storytelling and a handful of idiotic moments. It’s amazing how these guys are able to give Stevie B’s R&B ballad “Because I Love You” a purpose (clever), then they mess things up by setting the film’s climax in a haunted house (not so clever).

The Guest is sorta like those cheap All-in-One printers everyone keeps on purchasing: Great price, decent printing, but the scanner sucks and the copier breaks down before you even get a chance to use it. One minute, it’s John Hughes’ Uncle Buck (1989), the next minute, it’s a decent little action film; then out of the blue, it becomes a third-rate, straight-to-video horror flick. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself picking it apart due to its to its sheer stupidity, intentional or not.

Honestly, I don’t understand what the big deal is about Wingard and Barrett. Everyone seems to love their output. Sure, Wingard is a decent filmmaker who, as a bonus, lays down some great 80s-style synth tunes. And Barrett seems like a passable writer. They both have potential. But maybe the two should part ways and find someone new to collaborate with, because together, their creations seem to start off on the right track, but end up derailing in areas that matter most.

If you’re in it mainly for the brutality, The Guest should serve you well. After all, that’s what Wingard is good at: fusing horror with Steven Seagal-type action. The film is also the perfect opportunity to root for the bad guy, especially if there’s nothing else going on in your life.

All in all, if you have low expectations – or just bad taste – you might be pleased. Otherwise, The Guest is seriously overrated.

Jeff Bona’s Rating: 5/10

Posted in Cults & Classics, News, Reviews | Tagged | 2 Comments

R.I.P. Bunta Sugawara, Japanese actor

"Tattooed Hit Man" Theatrical Poster

"Tattooed Hit Man" Theatrical Poster

Media outlets are reporting the death of Japanese actor Bunta Sugawara, who died at the age of 81 on November 28th, due to liver cancer.

Sugawara has left behind an astonishing 200+ filmography, but he is perhaps best known to mainstream audiences for Tattooed Hit Man (1977), a Yakuza film that was imported by New Line Cinema the same year it was released in Japan.

Some of his most notable Japanese films include Kinji Fukasaku’s Without Honor and Humanity (1973) and the Truck Yaro films (1975 to 1979), which was a popular Toei series about a pair of truckers and their adventures in blinged out trucks. Sugawara also did Anime voice work for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) and most recently, Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children (2012).

Our condolences go out to Sugawara’s family and friends.

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Tomio | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Tomio | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

Tomio | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for 2011′s Tomio, a Japanese horror film directed by Junji Ito (writer of Uzumaki). Based on Ito’s manga franchise, Tomie, Yuki Furukawa plays a young man named Tomio who visits a fortune teller with his girlfriend. While there, he meets a sexy and mysterious older woman (Aya Kiguchi) who clouds his mind.

Tomio features creature effects and make up supervised by Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police).

Stay tuned for pre-order information.

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Weapon of Choice | DVD (Anderson Digital)

"Weapon of Choice" DVD Cover

"Weapon of Choice" DVD Cover

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2015

Anderson Digital presents the DVD for Weapon of Choice (aka Fist to Fist 2), starring Master Jino Kang, who holds a black belt in Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do, Kyokoshin-Kai Karate and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

The film follows (read our review) a retired assassin named Jack Lee (Kang) who must rescue his “daughter” (Kelly Lou Dennis) from a notorious crime boss (Douglas Olsson) and his crew of gangster hitmen. With a little help from a lovely rogue cop (Katherine Celio), Jack becomes a one-man kill squad who is determined to get his daughter back by any means necessary. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Weapon of Choice from Amazon.com today!

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New trailer for Jacky Wu’s ‘Wolf Warriors’ with Scott Adkins

"Wolf Warriors" Theatrical Poster

"Wolf Warriors" Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: Special Force: Wolf Warrior (aka Wolf WarWolf or Warg) is Wu Jing’s second directorial project. You’ll likely recall Jing (also known as Jacky Wu) from recent movies like Sha Po Lang aka Killzone, in which he fought against Donnie Yen, as well as Legendary Assassin, which he also directed. No plot details or release dates have been set.

Special Force: Wolf Warrior also stars Scott Adkins (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), Kevin Lee (Pound of Flesh), Vincent Zhao (True Legend) Deng Ziyi (Pay Back), Sona Eyambe (Zombie 108), Kyle Shapiro (Dragon Blade), Samuel Thivierge (In the End) and Nan Yu (The Expendables 2).

Updates: The official Scott Adkins Facebook page has unveiled some new set photos from the upcoming Wolf Warriors, featuring Adkins and Jacky Wu. | First teaser trailer. | Series of new posters. | Nan Yu posters.

BREAKING NEWS: Check out the new trailer and three new posters ( 1 | 2 | 3 ), thanks to Mtime (via Film Combat Syndicate).

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Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013) Review

"Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons" Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: New Chinese Odyssey
Director: Stephen Chow, Derek Kwok
Producer: Stephen Chow, Wang Zhonglei
Cast: Wen Zhang, Shu Qi, Huang Bo, Chrissie Chow, Lee Sheung Ching, Eddie Yeung Lun, Tong Liya, Xing Yu
Running Time: 110 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Hong Kong star Stephen Chow is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in the industry, having spent the decade that was the 90’s as the quintessential director, writer and star of countless Hong Kong comedy classics.

The new millennium looked to bring even more good fortune his way. Embracing the use of CGI and having the stroke of genius to combine kung fu with soccer, the movie Shaolin Soccer (2001) was not only a hit locally, but proved to be Chow’s breakout into the international market. Shaolin Soccer was followed by the even more successful Kung Fu Hustle (2004), a Looney Tunes-inspired tale of hidden kung fu masters and mystical inner strength.

Just when things couldn’t seem any better, rumors started flying around that Hollywood had hired Chow to not only star as Kato – the role Bruce Lee made famous, in a big screen re-make of the 1960’s US TV show The Green Hornet – but also that they’d signed him up to sit in the director’s chair as well. Stephen Chow directing and co-starring in a mainstream Hollywood comedy, it was too good to be true! And indeed it was: early on in the production the studio announced that it wasn’t confident in Chow’s vision, leading him to walk away not only as director, but also as a cast member, eventually having the role of Kato be filled by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou.

With the exception of directing CJ7 (2008), the first time he took a step back from being the star by putting himself in a supporting role, Chow went quiet for the next 5 years, until finally, he returned in 2013 with Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons.

Journey to the West is a well-known Chinese novel, and has been told several times over the years, from the 70’s TV show Monkey Magic, to Jeff Lau’s A Chinese Tall Story (2005), to Chow’s own A Chinese Odyssey and its sequel, both released in 1995. Even as Conquering the Demons was in production, another movie was also being made alongside it which covered a different chapter of the tale, eventually released as The Monkey King (2014), starring Donnie Yen.

From the perspective of being a Stephen Chow movie, many of his fans will be disappointed to hear that it’s the first time he decides to stay completely behind the camera. However as soon as the titles start rolling, it quickly becomes clear that while he may not be there physically, his mark is still firmly stamped all over it.

Proceedings open with a highly entertaining 20 minute set piece of a river demon which is terrorizing a small fishing village. Enter an innocent demon hunter played by a frazzle haired Wen Zhang, who believes he can turn demons to do good by reading them nursery rhymes, and what plays out is a fun mix of CGI, stunt work, laugh-out-loud comedy, and genuine peril as a baby is attempted to be rescued from the demons jaws. It shouldn’t come as a spoiler to say that nursery rhymes aren’t particularly effective, which allows the gorgeous Shu Qi to make an impressive entrance as, shall we say, a slightly more aggressive demon hunter.

While Zhang is still a relative newcomer to the movie scene, debuting in The Founding of a Republic (2009), Shu Qi has been around since her infamous early days in the Category III romps such as Viva Erotica and Sex & Zen 2 during the mid 90’s. Both are reliable performers, and it’s their relationship with each other which gives the movie its emotional core amongst all the fantastical elements. Qi, if anything, sometimes threatens to steal the show from under Zhang, as she beats the living day lights out of any demon they come across, while Zhang tries to calmly make them see the error of their ways. It’s a hilarious mix, and one which draws some of the biggest laughs of the movie, of which there are many.

I confess to personally not being familiar with the sprawling novel on which the events are based, however, for those that are I’m sure it’ll quickly become clear that the storyline is that of how the character Xuan Zang becomes the divine monk Tripitaka, and accepts the mischievous Monkey King as his disciple. This of course means that the Monkey King also make an appearance, although unlike the Donnie Yen movie of the same name the character is thankfully not the focus of the whole runtime.  That’s not the only thing we have to be thankful about, as unlike Yen’s teeth grindingly annoying version of the dirty damn ape, the Monkey King in Chasing the Demons is a ridiculously evil bastard of a beast.

Initially played in human form by the always watchable Huang Bo, after first being sought out to assist in capturing a particularly powerful pig demon, he’s able to manipulate the naïve Zhang into accidentally freeing him from his 500 year imprisonment. Once released the ugly, and actually rather scary looking, Monkey King takes on his traditional ape like appearance, and proceeds to go on a murderous rampage of anyone that tries to stop him, quickly making the pig demon that everyone’s spent most of the movie worrying about seem like a walk in the park.

If the events described in the last couple of paragraphs don’t exactly fit the bill of being a comedy, then it’s not entirely unexpected, as at times the story goes off into some surprisingly dark places, and when it does it does so effectively. However, like most of Chow’s best movies, he’s able to pull belly laugh inducing moments out of nowhere; whether it be from the numerous dry asides that certain characters deliver – or the expertly placed sight gags – you never go long without being reminded of Chow’s comic genius.

His visual flair is also still intact, and here just like in Kung Fu Hustle, there’s a heavy reliance on CGI. While the CGI is far from Hollywood standards, there appears to be a conscious decision to almost make the various demons and feats of magic seem like animation more than realistic beings. This decision works in the movie’s favor, helping to remind us that we’re watching a colorful Chinese folklore, not the next Lord of the Rings. The onscreen mayhem is orchestrated by action director Ku Huen Chiu, whose previous work includes collaborating with Jet Li on the likes of The Hitman and with Donnie Yen in the recent 14 Blades (2010). Here, he once again gets to work with some solid kung fu talent in the form of Xing Yu. For set pieces, Conquering the Demons certainly shouldn’t leave anyone wanting.

While 5 years might be the longest time Chow has gone without making a movie, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons thankfully proves that he hasn’t lost a step, and perhaps even more significantly, shows that he doesn’t need to be in front of the camera to still deliver his trademark hilarity. Now, let’s just hope we don’t have to wait for another 5 years for his next one.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

Posted in Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Bruce Liang joins ‘Fist of the Dragon,’ now titled ‘Death Mist’

"Fist of the Dragon" Theatrical Poster

"Fist of the Dragon" Theatrical Poster

Looks like Van Damme isn’t the only “Kickboxing” star getting his flicks remade (a reboot of BloodsportKickboxer and Timecop are in the works). 2000′s Moving Target, which starred 11-time World Kickboxing Champion Don “The Dragon” Wilson, has been redone in the form of Fist of the Dragon, which puts former Strikeforce World Lightweight Champion, Josh “The Punk” Thomson, in Wilson’s shoes.

Fist of the Dragon is directed by Antony Szeto (Wushu) and also stars Juju Chan, Maria Tran, Ellary Porterfield and Daniel Whyte. Roger Corman’s New Horizons Pictures is producing.

Here’s the official synopsis: Damon, an MMA fighter (Thomson) retires and goes to China to meet his new love, Meili. But things take an immediate turn when he inadvertently takes a package sought by an underground arms dealer. Now he must fight to save himself and his loved one.

The bad news is The Fist of the Dragon isn’t coming out until 2014/2015. The good news is the trailer is available and it looks amazing.

BREAKING NEWS: Impact’s Mike Leeder reports that the delayed Fist of the Dragon is now titled Death Mist, and some re-shoots are currently taking place in China. Also, the movie has two added cast members: Actor/singer Jonny Blu and the legendary Bruce Liang (aka Leung Siu-lung from The Invincible Eight and Gallants).

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Trailer for Indonesian martial arts flick ‘Golden Cane Warrior’

"The Golden Cane Warrior" Teaser Poster

"The Golden Cane Warrior" Teaser Poster

Ever since Gareth Evans (The Raid, The Raid 2) shook the world with his game-changing creativity, many of us have had a close eye on the rest of Indonesia’s film output. In addition to the titles we’ve reported – such as Yasmine, The Night Comes for Us, Killers, Duel: The Last Choice, Garuda 7 and The Guardian – we are pleased to spread the word about a film titled The Golden Cane Warrior.

Directed by Ifa Isfansyah, The Golden Cane Warrior is a period martial arts tale featuring action choreography by Hong Kong’s Xin Xin Xiong (best known for playing Clubfoot in Once Upon a Time in China III). It stars Nicholas Saputra, Eva, Celia, Reza Rahadian, Tara Basro and Christine Hakim.

The Golden Cane Warrior will be released domestically on December 18, 2014. You don’t want to miss the first trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the full, 2nd trailer, thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

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Deal on Fire! The Last Stand | Blu-ray | Only $5.99 – Expires soon!

The Last Stand Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Last Stand Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for for Kim Jee-Woon’s (I Saw The Devil) The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville.

The leader of a drug cartel (Eduardo Noriega) busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff (Schwarzenegger) and his inexperienced staff. The director of A Bittersweet Life directing the legendary star of Predator? What’s not to love?

Order The Last Stand from Amazon.com today!

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