Asian horror awaits for those who take a trip down the ‘Manhole’

"Manhole" Theatrical Poster

Fans of Asian horror will likely want to keep an eye on the upcoming Korean film Manhole. The movie, which opens just in time for Halloween next month, follows a young woman on the track of the dangerous serial killer who has abducted her sister. The catch? This particularly deranged fellow uses sewer manholes as a convenient way to travel around the city and snatch his unsuspecting victims.

Far East Films has the teaser trailer for Manhole, while a new trailer appeared online today. Both previews suggests plenty of thrills for fans of the macabre. The atmospheric cinematography promises that the film will be no slouch in the production values department either. Stay tuned for more info as the movie nears release…!

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Snowpiercer | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

Snowpiercer | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

Snowpiercer | Blu-ray & DVD (Anchor Bay)

RELEASE DATE: 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.

Pre-order Snowpiercer from Amazon.com today!

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Lionsgate trailer for Seydina Balde’s ‘Covert Operation’

"Covert Operation" DVD Cover

"Covert Operation" DVD Cover

Bey Logan has long been one of the most vocal Western supporters of Hong Kong cinema, routinely serving up informative commentary tracks on some of your favorite Dragon Dynasty releases. His recent forays into producing movies haven’t met with quite as much success – his 2005 effort Dragon Heat was rather dour despite the presence of both Sammo Hung and Aliens’ Michael Biehn in the cast – but it looks like Logan is learning from his mistakes.

His latest effort is called The Borderland and it’s about an elite agent who becomes trapped in a secret military bunker in North Korea. Think of it as ‘Die Hard in North Korea,’ if you will. The Borderland arrives from French director Mathieu Weschler and stars 5 time world karate champion Seydina Balde (Danny The Dog, stunt performer in Casino Royale) in the lead role.

If you’re still not convinced, check out the 1st trailer, which caught our attention with its stylish look and plenty of brutal hand-to-hand combat reminiscent of The Raid or Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. Now that The Raid and The Raid 2 proven you can make a kick-ass action movie on a minuscule budget as long as you have a dedicated and talented stunt team, it’s starting to look like other genre filmmakers around the globe are stepping up their game.

Updates: Watch the 2nd theatrical trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new trailer. Lionsgate will be releasing The Borderland under its new North American title, Covert Operation. The DVD hits on November 11, 2014. You can now pre-order the title at Amazon.com!

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Iceman 3D (2014) Review

"Ice Man" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Ice Man" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Law Wing Cheong
Producer: Stephen Shiu Jr., Stephen Shiu, Gao Jun
Writer: Mark Wu, Lam Fung, Shum Shek-yin
Cast: Donnie Yen, Wang Baoqiang, Eva Huang Sheng Yi, Simon Yam, Lo Hoi Pang, Jacqueline Chong Si Man, Lam Suet, Benny Chan Ho Man, Mark Wu You Fai, Hu Ming
Running Time: 104 min.

By Paul Bramhall

2014 has been a busy 12 months for Donnie Yen, with Special ID, The Monkey King, Kung Fu Jungle, and Iceman 3D all hitting cinema screens over the course of the year. This is on top of the movies he’s already started production on, which are due for release in 2015. So it’s fair to say the guy has a very full plate on his table. The question is of course, with such a packed schedule, is the quality of the productions being affected by working on so many movies at once?

While at the time of writing, Kung Fu Jungle has yet to be released, Special ID and The Monkey King both drew heavy doses of criticism, and while both had their supporters, it was fair to say that the majority seemed to give them a thumbs down. I myself was scarred by the experience of Special ID, and The Monkey King didn’t particularly appeal. For the purposes of this review, I’ll be completely transparent and say I didn’t have any intention of watching Iceman 3D, a remake of the 1989 movie The Iceman Cometh. While some fans hold the original in high regard, for me (with the exception of the final fight between Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah) it’s a largely forgettable piece of Hong Kong cinema.

So the news of a remake, which is being split into two parts no less – that gives us Donnie Yen in place of Yuen Biao, and Wang Bao Qiang in place of Yuen Wah – was hardly an attractive sell. Nevertheless, circumstances converged to find me watching Yen’s latest effort, so I was prepared to go in with an open mind. To my surprise, I found Iceman 3D to be an entertainingly dumb experience. It’s dumb on an epic scale, in a way which is best described as combining the genius/grating comedy of The Lucky Stars movies, with the big budget action of a Hollywood blockbuster, while still maintaining that certain level of charm that so many of Hong Kong’s 1980’s output had.

Within the first few minutes we’re subjected to Donnie’s rocket powered pissing power, as he relieves himself of several centuries worth of holding it in. This scene essentially acts like a calling card for the rest of the movie; kind of like a “This is what you’re letting yourself in for, if you don’t like it, turn off now.” Sure enough, the movie proceeds to deliver on the early promise shown in that first scene, with Yen at one point dispatching of a whole SWAT team through the use of a toilet filled with his exploding feces. Yes, you read that line correctly. He also gets fart jokes as well, so he’s basically given the chance to express the whole human digestive process through what we’re supposed to believe is comedy gold.

Of course, it isn’t. However, things move along briskly, and there’s a high level of energy throughout the proceedings, which somehow makes its stupidity somewhat charming. Iceman 3D also deviates form the original in that Yen has to deal with not just one frozen comrade from the past, but two. Wang Bao Qiang and Yu Kang play the thawed out soldiers pursuing Yen through modern Hong Kong, however compared to the raping and pillaging of Yuen Wah in the original, they surprisingly lack any real sense of villainy. Instead, we’re given a series of mildly amusing scenes in which they indulge in a variety of different curries, and there’s a genuinely amusing karaoke scene.

Instead of being a pair of villains for us to root against, Bao Qiang and Kang are actually rather likeable. This is backed up by the fact that the very reason they’re after Yen is for a crime he didn’t commit, as it becomes gradually clear through the flashbacks to the past that Yen has been framed by some higher power, no doubt to be revealed in Iceman 3D 2. What’s more surprising is that it’s actually Yen himself who gets the most brutal scene of the movie, were he dishes out some serious pain to Lam Suet that’s reminiscent of some of Yuen Wah’s scenes from the original. It’s moments like this which define the rather schizophrenic nature of the remake.

Being a Yen movie, many will go in with the expectation of wanting to see some kung fu action, and it’s probably the movie’s lack of this which has resulted in it drawing a lot of disdain from other reviewers. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have action, it does, and a decent amount of it, however, just like Yen’s exaggerated bowel movements, the action is equally exaggerated. From ancient warriors snowboarding down the side of a mountain, to the final confrontation on a traffic filled bridge, those looking for Yen to get his hands dirty will be left wanting, as there’s a lot of wire-work and CGI in the action scenes. Fans may be pacified by the nightclub fight, which does remain largely grounded, and features Yen’s trademark split second flurry of punches, but overall the action goes for fantastical rather than grounded.

That being said, the tone of the action scenes is perfectly aligned with the tone of the rest of the movie. Silliness is the order of the day here: Yen running around Hong Kong in possession of an ancient penis (note: not his own); Yen able to perfectly use a tablet less than 5 minutes after seeing one for the first time; Simon Yam’s exceptionally strange hair; and Eva Huang’s awkwardly staged English language scene.

Of course there are also downsides, which include the odd, not-so-subtle swipe at Hong Kong, which was no doubt inserted into the script for mainland appeal (in one scene, Huang explains to Yen how when she first arrived in Hong Kong and spoke Mandarin, everyone would look down on her, to which Yen cheesily responds, “We are weird xenophobic beings.”) However, these unintentionally amusing exchanges are still a lot more palatable than the usual in-your-face flag waving that these movies find themselves subject to these days.

Speaking of nationalistic undertones, Iceman 3D also deserves special mention in that it’s the only Hong Kong  kung fu movie I’ve seen in recent times which features a finale pitting Chinese vs. Chinese. Refreshingly, there is no sudden plot twist involving Japanese or Western villains being shoe horned into the plot (I’m looking at you True Legend). It’s simply a good old fashioned good guy vs. the bad guys. Of course as I mentioned, the story leaves on a cliffhanger to set us up for Iceman 3D 2, and I have to say the closing twist involving Simon Yam actually comes over as being quite smart. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say the twist may go a long way to explaining exactly why Bao Qiang and Kang aren’t portrayed as being particularly villainous; at the same time, there’s a hint that the whole thing could be wrapped up by the arrival of some evil Japanese again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t go down that path.

All in all, Iceman 3D probably isn’t what most Yen fans wanted, and it’s probably not the movie a lot of traditionally minded Hong Kong movie fans wanted either, but it is an unpretentious and, dare I say, fun, 100 minutes. Perhaps that’s enough.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7/10

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The latest on Troy Duffy’s ‘The Boondock Saints 3: Legion’

"The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Back in 2012, IFC chatted with Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, who starred in both of The Boondock Saints movies. Reedus mentioned that he met up with director Troy Duffy and co-star Sean Patrick Flanery to discuss The Boondock Saints 3. In short, this is a solid hint that a third part of the series is being developed.

Whenever the discussion of movies comes up – whether it’s at a bar or at work – I’ll always come across somebody who jumps out of their seat in pure joy when The Boondock Saints is mentioned; and usually, it’s someone who actually has good taste in film. Let’s get real here. The Boondock Saints is no Badlands. It’s no Reservoir Dogs. It’s not even Gymkata if you ask me. My point is: I don’t get its appeal.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a fan of The Boondock Saints or its sequel. Without getting too much into it, I find it to be one of the most overrated “cult favorites” out there. If Troy Duffy (he made both movies) has any talent as a writer or filmmaker, I’m hoping he’ll prove it one day. Don’t get me wrong, the original isn’t a bad movie by any means, but it’s definitely not a good one either. The sequel…let’s not go there.

Now, if you want to see a great film that has Troy Duffy’s name in the credits, check out  Overnight. It’s an extremely entertaining documentary about the rise and fall of Duffy himself – before, during and after – the making of The Boondock Saints. If any of you COF readers out there buy or rent this documentary and end up disliking it, I’ll personally refund your money. Just be sure and send me your unwanted copy.

Updates: According to Collider, the third film will focus on the McManus boys behind bars along with a cult of obtuse people outside the prison walls who take on their crime fighting mantle. In addition, the film will also look at the origins of the McManii (intertwined prequel/sequel, a la The Godfather 2?). But more or less, The Boondock Saints 3: Legion (working title) remains in development hell. Duffy (via Facebook/ The Flickering Myth) says the reason for the production gap between Part 2 and 3 is him: “It’s my fault. It’s taken awhile… it’s cause I want to get it right.”

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Raw Force | aka Kung Fu Cannibals | Blu-ray & DVD (Vinegar Syndrome)

"Raw Force" Blu-ray Cover

"Raw Force" Blu-ray Cover

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

Pre-order Raw Force from Amazon.com today!

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

John Travolta enlists in John McTiernan’s actioner ‘Warbirds’

"Die Hard" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Die Hard" Japanese Theatrical Poster

John McTiernan – the legendary director behind Die Hard, PredatorThe Hunt for Red October and Die Hard with A Vengeance – is ready for action, following his 10-month imprisonment for the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal.

Upon his release in February 25, 2014, he landed the duties of directing a mercenary thriller called Red Squad (which is currently in development hell), but now, he has another project in the works titled Warbirds.

According to THR, Warbirds is a Top Gun-like action flick, which will be incorporating heavy CGI: “it’s sort of the dog-fighting movie of all time they couldn’t make when they had the real airplanes because it’s too damn dangerous,” reveals McTiernan.

John Travolta (Face/Off) has signed up for the lead. Queen Latifah and Johnny Knoxville have been approached. According to McTiernan: “They are trying to put in Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it’s a bad idea. I have to convince them not to.” McTiernan plans to start shooting Warbirds this autumn. Stay tuned!

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Deal on Fire! District 13 Collection | Blu-ray | Only $11.49 – Expires soon!

"District 13 Collection" Blu-ray Cover

"District 13 Collection" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for the District 13 Collection, which includes 2004′s District B13 (aka Banlieue 13) and its sequel, 2009′s District 13: Ultimatum, starring David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli. The original is directed by Pierre Morel (Taken) and both films are written and produced by Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element).

Fun Fact: The first film was the subject of a Hollywood remake titled Brick Mansions, starring the late Paul Walker and RZA, with David Belle reprising his character.

Order the District 13 Collection from Amazon.com today!

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Gary Daniels’ ‘Misfire’ gets a brand new trailer

"Misfire" Theatrical Poster

"Misfire" Theatrical Poster

Martial arts star Gary Daniels (Bloodmoon, 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.

Judging from the available footage, Misfire is more of shoot ‘em up, with no signs of hand-to-hand combat; so those expecting to see Daniels in Bloodmoon-mode may be a little disappointed. But then again, it’s only a teaser trailer, so it’s probably too early to jump to conlusions.

Fans of Gary Daniels (Tekken) must be creaming their pants by now. The martial star has a string of upcoming films that include Tekken: Kazuya’s RevengeSkin TraffikZero Tolerance and Bullpen Fight Club. We assume that Daniels’ other two films – Blackwater and Soldier Girls – are dragging in development hell.

Updates: Misfire will be released on DVD by Image Entertainment. You can pre-order the DVD from Amazon.com, which will be released on October 21, 2014. Watch the new trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Enjoy a new trailer for the film!

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Wesley Snipes to make a sharp return in ‘Blade 4′?

"Blade: Trinity" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Blade: Trinity" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Fresh off Expendables 3, his first theatrical release since 2009′s Brooklyn’s Finest (due to his two and a half year prison sentence for tax evasion), Wesley Snipes may be reprising his role in Marvel’s Blade action franchise.

According to NY Daily News: “Wesley Snipes is set to reprise his lead role in Blade, the 1998 vampire thriller that made more than $130 million and generated two sequels. Sources close to Snipes tells us the 52-year-old actor’s comeback after being released from prison in April 2013 is ‘looking good’ and that he’ll make $3 million from this film, plus a cut of the profits.”

Nothing is official yet, but we’ll keep you in the loop. Considering the troubles regarding 2004′s Blade: Trinity (Wesley clashed with director David S. Goyer, due to creative differences; the film proved disappointing, both critically and commercially; and the fact that Marvel now holds live action film rights), we’ll be surprised if the series moves forward with Snipes. In this day and age, producers are more about rebooting franchises with hot young stars, and not with has-been actors who have recently had legal troubles. But, hey, we’re rooting for Wesley!

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Cityonfire.com’s ’14 Blades’ Blu-ray Giveaway! – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

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

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

Cityonfire.com and Anchor Bay are giving away 3 copies of Donnie Yen’s 14 Blades to three lucky Cityonfire visitors.

To enter, simply add a comment to this post with your answer to the following question: What’s your least favorite Donnie Yen film? Please explain. 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 14 Blades will be officially released on September 2, 2014, so we will announce the 3 winners on August 31, 2014 and ship out the prizes immediately.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by August 31, 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: Lee Golden, Akim and Sito. You have been notified via email!

Posted in News | Tagged | 27 Comments

Does the ‘Escape From New York’ remake have its new Snake Plissken?

"Escape From New York" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Escape From New York" Japanese Theatrical Poster

For a little while there, it looked like we were going to get a reboot of Escape From New York reboot from New Line Cinema with Breck Eisner (Sahara) in the director’s chair and Gerard Butler wearing the eyepatch originally made famous by Kurt Russell. The project eventually fell through and New Line let the rights to the franchise expire. Now Hollywood mega-producer Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon, Predator) has swooped in to secure the rights to the 1981 cult film directed by John Carpenter.

The plan? To turn Escape From New York into its own trilogy of films, supposedly modeled after the Planet of the Apes films. There are no directors or actors attached to this potential remake so for now it’s in the early, early stages. Considering that the original Escape was only able to spawn one universally-disliked sequel, though, it’ll be interesting to see how Joel Silver plans to turn this into a trilogy.

Updates: According to New York Daily News, Tom Hardy and Jason Statham are up for the role of Snake Plissken. | Producer Joel Silver spills details about the Escape From New York trilogy, courtesy of Collider. Apparently, Silver is influenced by Rocksteady’s Arkham City video game.

BREAKING NEWS: Collider reports that Silver Pictures and StudioCanal are making moves and have their eye on Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim), Jon Bernthal (TV’s The Walking DeadThe Wolf of Wall Street) and Dan Stevens (The Guest) to portray the new Snake Plissken. Stay tuned…

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Deal on Fire! Iron Monkey | Blu-ray | Only $5 – Expires soon!

"Iron Monkey" Blu-ray Cover

"Iron Monkey" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Yuen Woo-ping’s Iron Monkey, also known as Iron Monkey:The Young Wong Fei Hong

This 1993 martial arts film is a fictionalized account of folk hero Wong Fei-hung (Sze-Man Tsang), his father Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen of Special ID), and their encounter with Iron Monkey (Yu Rongguang of Champions).

Iron Monkey was ranked in Empire’s “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema” in 2010. So, what are you waiting for?

Order Iron Monkey from Amazon.com today!

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New North American trailer for Donnie Yen’s ‘The Iceman’

"Ice Man 2" Teaser Poster

"Ice Man 2" Teaser Poster

THE MOVIE: Donnie Yen is stepping into a role made famous by Yuen Biao with a 3D remake of the 1989 Hong Kong martial arts film The Iceman Cometh. Iceman is directed by Law Wing-cheung (Punished). Donnie Yen stars alongside Wang Baoqiang (Fire of Conscience), Simon Yam (Ip Man), and Eva Huang (The Sorcerer and the White Snake).

During production, it was decided that Iceman would be split into two films (ala Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2). Iceman was release on April 2014, while Iceman 2 will be released in December 2014. | Watch the Teaser trailer.

Updates: A new Iceman trailer has been released. | Watch music video for Iceman. | Newest trailer. | 2nd music video, this time in Cantonese with extended footage. | Three new behind-the-scenes featurettes. | New trailer for Iceman. | Final Iceman trailer has landed online! | Newest theatrical poster.

The first poster for Iceman 2 has been released. We should be seeing a trailer soon. - Thanks to DiP and Filmmash.

BREAKING NEWS: Enjoy a new North American trailer for The Iceman, courtesy of Well Go USA. You can look forward to the film’s limited theatrical release on September 19th, 2014.

Posted in News | 15 Comments

Mystic Blade | DVD (Indican Pictures)

Mystic Blade | DVD (Indican Pictures)

Mystic Blade | DVD (Indican Pictures)

RELEASE DATE: 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. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Mystic Blade from Amazon.com today!

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

Former 007 to team up with the worst filmmaker of all time

"A Good Day To Die Hard" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"A Good Day To Die Hard" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Collider reports that Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye, November Man) is teaming up with director John Moore (Max Payne) for an upcoming action flick titled I.T., which is about a publisher (Brosnan) who is tormented, via technology, when his relationship with a young I.T. consultant goes south.

Without getting too much into a bitchy rant, Moore is one of the worst – if not THE worst – filmmakers working today. He managed to ruin (understatement!) the tail end of one of the greatest, most consistent action franchises of all time with A Good Day To Die Hard (2013), a film I describe as soulless, bland, idiotic and an embarrassment to Bruce Willis’ career (I’ll easily sit through any of Willis’ recent straight-to-DVD titles over it any day!).

Can someone tell me why Moore gets work, while a talent like Mel Gibson (Braveheart) is still blacklisted from Hollywood? If you want to talk about “sin” or “disrespect,” watch A Good Day To Die Hard. Stay tuned for more updates regarding I.T. (too bad it’ll be train wreck).

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Bruce Lee: The Legend (1983) Review

"Bruce Lee: The Legend" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Bruce Lee: The Legend" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Writer: Russell Cawthorne
Producer: Raymond Chow, Leonard Ho
Narration: James B. Nicholson

Cast: Bruce Lee, Raymond Chow, Nora Miao, Linda Lee Cadwell, Hugh O’Brian, Betty Ting Pei, Gig Young, Chuck Norris, Robert Clouse, Chuck Norris, Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Andre Morgan, Fred Weintraub

By Matthew Le-feuvre

In 1973, still fresh from the trauma of Bruce Lee’s abrupt and unforeseen death, Golden Harvest decided to produce a full length documentary entitled Bruce Lee: The Man, The Legend. Although its aim at the time was an unbiased attempt too show the real personality behind the mythical iconography, unfortunately – admidst all the frantic hysteria; the obsessive behaviour and shallow superstitions – this tribute feature ended up fueling an inferno of controversy, rather than dispel the waging tongues of discontent – namely the media, whom quite drunk on sensationalism reviewed The Man, The Legend as “exploitive” and “capitalistic.”

Understandably, their argument was valid, particularly in regards to incorporating actual sequences of Linda Lee at the height of her grief, as well as extensive footage of Lee’s Hong Kong funeral service. On the other hand, it was a revealing glimpse of Bruce Lee’s humanity or immortality, via transcendence, but somehow Raymond Chow was targeted and pre-judged as an insincere man; an egocentric mogul determined too milk as much box office returns as possible from an all too eager public willing to exercise collective expenditure for the sake of their lost idol. The Same could be said of Lo Wei or the Shaw Brothers.

Sadly, Bruce Lee: The Man, The Legend intriguingly morphed into something by way of a double edged sword, an anaemic production that couldn’t really satisfy anyone at any conscious level, either with exclusive interviews, commentary or teasing wisps of ‘then’ unseen Game of Death footage or plot concepts for an unrealized philosophical treatise called The Southern Fist.

Various parts looked and felt as though they were hurriedly edited solely for padding without any significant continuity or explaination for insertion: Wong Shum Leung’s (Bruce Lee’s former second Wing Chun Sifu) Game of Death screen test, for example, is not entirely clarified on first viewing as it was predominantly staged on an interior Enter the Dragon set, featuring Wong and Lee’s adoptive brother, Wu Ng, sparring and performing close trapping techniques. Confusing as this may well be, if extra attention had been focused on proper narration and/or construct, perhaps critics would have been, moreover, receptive to this slightly muddled presentation.

Instead, for reasons of his own – be it creative, economic or financial – Raymond Chow decided to shelve The Man, The Legend indefinitely. However, a decade on, Golden Harvest executives again consigned themselves to remaking a broader, more in depth profile, albeit shortening the original title to just Bruce Lee: The Legend.

Freed from the convention of time and budget constraints, technical motifs of book-like chapter visuals and succinct, yet informative narration opens Bruce Lee: The Legend with a rousing musical score and a superb montage of Lee-action sequences. From there, it gently flows into a carefully edited kaleidoscopic gamut of ‘then’ rare footage, diversifying from Lee’s selected childhood filmography/U.S. television credentials to his subsequent Hong Kong film entries. Interspersed with unavailable stills/photographs and eye witness testimonies, personalities such as the aforementioned Raymond Chow and Nora Miao intimately discuss their friendship, as well as celluloid analogies between Lee’s life experiences and the pictures he made for Golden Harvest.

These absorbing insights not only celebrates Bruce Lee’s enduring legacy, but successfully differentiates the ‘Man’ from the illusion of ‘Star fodder’ – a commodity tagging or representation Lee personally found morose and superficial, as inferred to the late Pierre Burton.

Interestingly, all this mammoth responsibility fell into the capable hands of writer/producer, Russell Cawthorne (the very same man who cameoed in Game of Death ’78 as Billy Lo’s plastic surgeon), an introspective individual, who has often quoted that his associations with Lee were always one of electric.

Indeed, condensing a person’s life into a mere eighty minutes is understandably a challenging task to accomplish, yet Cawthorne’s enthusiasm and objectivity blooms within the context of this unique observation where latter biographies – obviously modeled on The Legend – seem mundane, paceless and absent of passion; bar exception is Toby Russell’s Death By Misadventure (1994), the extensive works of Walt Missingham and John Little’s A Warrior’s Journey (2005).

Today Bruce Lee: The Legend may appear dated and stylistically mechanical (no digital or CGI software here folks!), particularly for contemporary fans. Nevertheless, Cawthorne has left no stone unturned, especially when dealing with sensitive or controversial issues – Lee’s untimely passing or the unfinished Game of Death project: both ongoing and debatable subjects that emerge with regularity.

Still, despite the disadvantage of many alternative prints (some versions have omitted (A), Lee’s screentest; (B) certain Game of Death outtakes or (C) Enter the Dragon montage with revamped musical score.), nostalgically, Bruce Lee: The Legend is as ever a commendable examination into one of the most important, multi-faceted icons of the 20th century, brimming with edifying poise and (a) regality not found in current or extant documentaries produced on the “Little Dragon.”

Matthew Le-feuvre’r Rating: 10/10

Posted in Chinese, Documentary, Golden Harvest, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deal on Fire! Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman Collection | Blu-ray | Only $119.99 – Expires soon!

"Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman" Blu-ray Set

"Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman" Blu-ray Set

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray set for Criterion Collection’s Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman film collection. This deluxe set features a string of 25 Zatoichi films, made between 1962 and 1973, in one complete package. That’s about $4.80 a movie.

In addition, you also get a 1978 documentary about Shintaro Katsu, an interview with Asian-film critic Tony Rayns, trailers for all films, new English subtitle translations, plus a book featuring an essays, short stories and 25 new illustrations, not to mention DVD versions of all the films.

Order the Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman Collection from Amazon.com today!

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Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson’s low budget ‘Expendables’ is coming!

"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.

BREAKING NEWS: 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.”

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Deal on Fire! The Last Sentinel | Blu-ray | Only $4.92 – Expires soon!

"The Last Sentinel" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Last Sentinel" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Last Sentinal, directed by Jesse V. Johnson (The Package). Don “The Dragon” Wilson (11-time World Kickboxing Champion and star of the Bloodfist and Ring of Fire franchise) plays an electronically enhanced soldier who rescues a rebel beauty (Katee Sackhoff from TV’s Battlestar Galactica) from a failed resistance mission.

Fun Trivia: The Last Sentinel is the only Don “The Dragon” Wilson film where Wilson doesn’t use his moniker “Dragon” in the credits.

Order The Last Sentinal from Amazon.com today!

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Well Go USA’s new trailer for ‘Kundo: Age of the Rampant’

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

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

Kundo: Age of the Rampant (aka Band of Thieves) is a 19th century period action/martial arts film that stars Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser) and Kang Dong-won (The X).

Directed by Yoon Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster), the film 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.

Updates: Watch the new North American trailer, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate. And don’t forget, Well Go USA is releasing the Blu-ray and DVD on October 21, 2014.

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Shogun Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Animeigo)

Shogun Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Animeigo)

Shogun Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Animeigo)

RELEASE DATE: 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. Created by editing together the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films (1972′s Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance and Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx), this ridiculously violent adventure is an entertaining package!

Unlike the currently released Shogun Assassin: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, this new version contains both the Blu-ray & DVD discs.

Pre-order Shogun Assassin from Amazon.com today!

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Justin Lin’s ‘Shaolin Temple 3D’ gets an award-winning writer!

"Martial Arts of Shaolin" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Martial Arts of Shaolin" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Deadline reports that Justin Lin (Fast and the Furious franchise) will be directing a remake of Chang Hsin Yen‘s The Shaolin Temple, a 1982 Chinese martial arts film known for launching the film career of Jet Li. Troy Craig Poon, CEO of Perfect Storm Entertainment – and Lin’s business affiliate – says the plan is to hire “an A+ list Hollywood writer to tackle the story.” He adds “The aim is to make an unprecedented Chinese-based tentpole with story, style and scope that will resonate with global audiences as well.”

Deadline says that the film being “planned as a Mandarin-language effort, although an alternative-language version may be explored as well.” There are currently no cast details or target release date, but pre-production for the film may begin after Lin’s Bourne V feature, which is due for an April 2015 release. We’ll keep you posted.

BREAKING NEWS: Deadline reports that writer/director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James, Killing Them Soflty) will be writing the screenplay.

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Shane Black to bring ‘Remo Williams’ back to the big screen?

"Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Deadline reports that Shane Black (Iron Man 3) has been hired to direct an adaptation of Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir’s novel series, The Destroyer. The story revolves around Remo, a cop sentenced to a fake death by the government, then trained as an assassin to defend the country from enemies.

The Destroyer was also adapted into a comic book by Marvel, as well as a 1985 film titled Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, which was directed by Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger) and starred Fred Ward as the title character.

In the meantime, Black is has three other movies in the works, including The Nice Guys, a Predator sequel and a possible Doc Savage movie. Stay tuned!

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: 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).

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

Pre-order the Missing in Action: Double Feature from Amazon.com today!

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Chuck Norris: Triple Feature | Blu-ray (MGM)

Chuck Norris: Triple Feature | Blu-ray (MGM)

Chuck Norris: Triple Feature | Blu-ray (MGM)

RELEASE DATE: 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.

Pre-order the Chuck Norris: Triple Feature from Amazon.com today!

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Covert Operation | aka The Borderland | DVD (Lionsgate)

"Covert Operation" DVD Cover

"Covert Operation" DVD Cover

RELEASE DATE: November 11, 2014

Lionsgate presents the DVD for Covert Operation (aka The Borderland). Gabriel (played by 5-time World Karate Champion, Seydina Balde), a bounty hunter trapped in Asia, is promised his freedom in return for one final rescue mission. However, his mission takes a turn for the worst when he’s trapped between the border of China and North Korea.

Covert Operation arrives from French director Mathieu Weschler and stars Seydina Balde (Danny The Dog, stunt performer in Casino Royale) in the lead role.Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Covert Operation from Amazon.com today!

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Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1 | DVD (Pallisades Tartan)

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1 | DVD (Pallisades Tartan)

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1 | DVD (Pallisades Tartan)

RELEASE DATE: 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).

You might also be interested in the DVD sets for the Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2: Japanese Horror Films or Asia Extreme Collection Volume 3: Thai Horror Films.

Pre-order Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1 from Amazon.com today!

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Billy Chong returns with ‘Duel: The Last Choice’

"Duel: The Last Choice" Indonesian Theatrical Poster

"Duel: The Last Choice" Indonesian Theatrical Poster

If you think Iko Uwais (The Raid 2) was the first Indonesian action star to take the world by storm, think again! Old school Indonesian martial arts star Billy Chong (Kung Fu Zombie and the proposed Garuda 7) – who presently goes by the name Willy Dozan – is back with a new flick titled Duel: The Last Choice, which he also directs.

Chong continues the tradition of the “father and son films” like Ninja III: The Domination (Sho Kosugi and Kane) and Assassination Games (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kris) by teaming up with his son, Leon Dozan.

Duel: The Last Choice will be released domestically on September 18. Hopefully, we’ll see a North American release in some shape or form. Until then, here’s the trailer, courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate.

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Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2 | DVD (Pallisades Tartan)

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2 | DVD (Pallisades Tartan)

Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2 | DVD (Pallisades Tartan)

RELEASE DATE: 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).

You might also be interested in the DVD sets for the Asia Extreme Collection Volume 1: South Korean Horror Films or Asia Extreme Collection Volume 3: Thai Horror Films.

Pre-order the Asia Extreme Collection Volume 2 from Amazon.com today!

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