Behind Enemy Lines | Blu-ray (Olive Films)

Behind Enemy Lines | Blu-ray (Olive Films)

Behind Enemy Lines | Blu-ray (Olive Films)

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015

Olive Films presents the Blu-ray for 1997′s Behind Enemy Lines, starring Thomas Ian Griffith (The Karate Kid Part III, Hollow Point).

It’s Excessive Force meets Rambo: First Blood Part II! An ex-marine (Griffith) and his well trained crew, return to Vietnam, after he discovers a former colleague isn’t dead but being held by a sadistic Communist general.

Behind Enemy Lines also stars Chris Mulkey, Mark Carlton and Spanky Manikan. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Behind Enemy Lines from Amazon.com today!

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‘True Lies’ and ‘The Abyss’ finally coming to Blu-ray?

"True Lies" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"True Lies" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Tom Arnold has confirmed that he and the rest of the cast shot interview material for James Cameron’s True Lies: 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, which will be released in 2015.

In addition, Cameron’s The Abyss may also be getting a Blu-ray edition soon. An official release date should be announced by the studios soon. We’ll keep you posted.

Speaking of Tom Arnold: We’re looking forward to seeing him in Philip Rhee’s upcoming martial arts movie The Underdogs, which is currently in post production phase.

Update: As of 2/6/2015, there is still no official street date for the above titles. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

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Hard Day, A (2014) Review

"A Hard Day" Korean Theatrical Poster

"A Hard Day" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Kim Seong-Hun
Writer: Kim Seong-Hun
Producer: Cha Ji-hyeon, Jang Won-seok
Cast: Lee Seon-Gyun, Jo Jin-Woong, Shin Jeong-Geun, Jeong Man-Sik, Kim Gang-Hyun, Shin Dong-Mi,Jang In-Seop
Running Time: 111 min.

By oneleaf

Nothing is going right for ill-tempered, single parent Detective Go today. Driving to his mother’s funeral, he receives a call from a colleague informing him that the precinct is being raided by agents from Internal Affairs who are armed with ledgers of corrupt officers taking bribes.

Fazed and distracted by more calls from his sister, he accidentally runs into a pedestrian. Instead of reporting the accident, he hides the body in his trunk which he later disposes of. A few days later he receives yet another ominous call from someone who saw the accident and threatens to report the crime and starts to blackmail him. Go is certainly having A Hard Day

A Hard Day is a 2014 crime thriller directed and scripted by Kim Seong-hoon (How the Lack of Love Affects Two Men) and stars Lee Sun Yun (R-Point) and Cho Jin-Woong (Kundo: Age of the Rampant). The film debuted to excellent reviews at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in the Director’s Fortnight sidebar in May 2014 in South Korea. Its take was second only behind Hollywood blockbusters X-Men: Days of Future Past and Edge of Tomorrow for four consecutive weeks.

Lee is superb as Go. The range of emotions Lee goes through in the first 24 hours upon learning of the raid, the accident and the phone call are just mind boggling. Lee, through it all, is able to capture all these emotions with just his facial expressions of shock, despair, grief, anger and sheer terror. Not an easy task as the successive events that take place fairly quickly, one after the other.

Even before these unfortunate events, life wasn’t easy for Go. He shares an apartment with his sister, brother-in-law and young daughter and is the sole bread winner for the whole family. He’s a single father trying to raise his daughter while constantly being pestered by his sister to “provide for the family.”

A Hard Day is filled with dark humor and certain scenes are outright hilarious. Case in point is the scene between Go and a funeral director: inside the reposing room where his mother’s casket is, Go “requests” some private time with his mother. The activity that follows is humorous yet nail biting at the same time.

A Hard Day moves along frenetically but is not difficult to follow. The director seems to take great pleasure in heaping more and more unpleasant events into Go’s life as things slowly unravel – his directing is crisp and on-point without any wasted shots and the story moves along very nicely.

The soundtrack adds to the despair Go faces as the camera takes close-ups of his ever-terrified and perplexed psyche. The lighting for the most part is dark and moody, keeping with the thematic elements of the film.

The film is by no means an action vehicle, but rather a well scripted and acted crime drama that keeps the audience wanting more. Look out for a scene that features a death-by-heavy machinery inside a car that sounds distasteful and unnecessary, but actually adds to the callous and dark side of Park. With moments like this, Kim frequently catches the audience by surprise.

A Hard Day, however, is not totally without fault. The plot is simplistic and somewhat far-fetched. How could so many unfortunate events befall Go all within such a short period of time is hard to imagine. It does, nevertheless, make for one heck of a movie where cause and effect leads to a cascading cyclone of events that make for good cinema.

Another flaw in the film, for better or worse, is the revelation about a third into the film who is blackmailing Go. I would have liked to be kept in the dark about the caller’s identity just a while longer, perhaps maybe two-thirds into the film rather than so early on. Yet, the mood of the film isn’t any less sinister even when the audience realizes who the blackmailer is and what his motives are.

Shortcomings aside, A Hard Day is top-notch and keeps you at the edge of the seat. Definitely recommended.

oneleaf’s Rating: 8/10

Posted in Korean, News, Reviews | 2 Comments

Beyond Outrage (2012) Review

"Beyond Outrage" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Beyond Outrage" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writer: Takeshi Kitano
Cast: Beat Takeshi, Tomokazu Miura, Ryo Kase, Akira Nakao, Shigeru Koyama, Toshiyuki Nishida, Sansei Shiomi, Katsunori Takahashi, Fumiyo Kohinata, Yutaka Matsushige, Hideo Nakano, Kenta Kiritani, Hirofumi Arai, Tetsushi Tanaka, Ken Mitsuishi, Tatsuo Nadaka
Running Time: 112 min.

By HKFanatic

After delivering a modern update on the popular Zatoichi character in 2003, writer/director/actor Takeshi Kitano spent the rest of that decade on a detour into the world of avant garde cinema. Films like Glory to the Filmmaker! and Achilles and Tortoise had ostensibly little in common with the violent cop and Yakuza features that helped make Kitano an international sensation. Thus, it was viewed as something of a return to form when Kitano explored the Japanese criminal underworld once again with 2010′s Outrage.

Outrage was a brutal, brutal film – it felt like at least one character was beaten or murdered every ten minutes, and it did for dental offices what Jaws did for the beach. While most fans of Asian cinema were quite pleased with Kitano’s delivery of bloody Yakuza thrills, there was a vocal contingent of critics who felt that the filmmaker had lost the poetic and meditative quality that defined earlier works such as Sonatine and Fireworks.

Watching the 2012 sequel Beyond Outrage, it’s easy to suspect that perhaps Kitano felt the same way. In The Godfather Part II fashion, the movie picks up exactly where the first movie left off; however, the brutality is noticeably scaled back and there is a renewed focus on the backroom dealings and protracted schemes that make up the plot. As the film opens, Kato (Tomokazu Miura) is the President of the Sanno Yakuza faction, but there are many in clan who are not happy with his leadership style – and suspect that the mysterious death of their previous leader wasn’t so mysterious after all. An underboss named Tomita (Akira Nakao) travels all the way to Okinawa to visit the Hanabishi faction in order to solicit their leaders for help in deposing Kato. While Tomita’s bid doesn’t exactly play out the way he intended, it does set the stage for a deadly conflict which both factions may not survive. How does Takeshi Kitano’s character Otomo, who seemingly died of stab wounds at the end of the first Outrage, play into this? Well, I wouldn’t dare spoil that.

With such a setup, one might expect Beyond Outrage to quickly escalate into a bloodbath par excellence. But this time around, Kitano is out to skewer a corrupt society rather than build a higher body count. In the world of Beyond Outrage, police collusion with the Yakuza is viewed as almost a given; and the Yakuza are portrayed as something like the shadiest business in town – you might lose your life rather than your job after a bad quarter, but in the end these gangsters are still just another business in the cutthroat capitalistic world they occupy.

This isn’t to imply that Beyond Outrage is a bloodless affair: a batting cage sets the scene for the film’s most gruesome killing. But Kitano seems to consciously steer clear of the Grand Guignol of the original. This leads to a noticeably slower pace to Beyond Outrage, though the real disappointment is that the characterization of some of the characters often feels inconsistent with the first film. In particular, the snake-like Ishihara (Ryo Kase) betrays the calculating menace that made him such a threat in Outrage; while even President Kato has lost much of the cool and calm he displayed sitting on the throne in the final scene of Outrage. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, indeed.

Some have speculated that Takeshi Kitano is more or less ‘over’ the Yakuza genre – and the hyper-violence of Outrage was just his way of giving the movie-going public what they wanted. In truth, Kitano admitted in an interview that he hoped the sequel was a massive hit so producers would finance a film he “really wants to do.” Still, even if the Outrage series is just Kitano’s way of gaining the cache to greenlight his next passion project, we’ve gained two solidly entertaining movies out of the deal. While Beyond Outrage may not reach the heights of its predecessor, the performances, cinematography, and editing are all on par with the original. Here’s hoping Kitano returns for one final, bloody coda to the series.

HKFanatic’s Rating: 7/10

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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) Review

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

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

Director: Mark Hartley
Writer: Mark Hartley
Producer: Brett Ratner, Veronica Fury
Cast: Olivia d’Abo, John G. Avildsen, Martine Beswick, Richard Chamberlain, Bo Derek, Lucinda Dickey, Michael Dudikoff, Robert Forster, Elliott Gould, Tobe Hooper, Just Jaeckin, Dolph Lundgren, Franco Nero, Molly Ringwald, Robin Sherwood, Catherine Mary Stewart, Alex Winter, Franco Zeffirelli, Albert Pyun
Running Time: 107 min.

By Paul Bramhall

As a child growing up in the 80’s, I have fond memories of my early movie watching days. Often the TV would show commercials for late night movies to be shown way past my bedtime, and I would beg my parents to let me watch them. Over time a kind of pact was formed, my parents would record the movie on our recently bought VHS recorder, watch it themselves first, and if they thought it was suitable, they’d then let me watch it. However you should never underestimate a curious child. As these movies were almost always shown on a Friday night, I soon devised a plan which saw me waking up early on a Saturday morning, while my parents were still sound asleep. I would sneak quietly downstairs, close the living room door, and proceed to devour whatever had been shown a few hours earlier, long before my parents cautious eyes could cast their judgement.

Through these movies I encountered my first ninja, who came in the form of a possessed female yoga instructor, in what I would discover years later was Ninja 3: The Domination. Through these movies I was able to lay eyes for the first time on a fully naked female, a sexy alien who years later I would find out was Mathilda May in Lifeforce. And through these movies I learnt that the best way to deal with terrorists was to take a machine gun in each hand, and kill them like they’re going out of fashion, in what I would eventually realize was Invasion USA. While ninja possessed yoga instructors, sexy naked aliens, and Chuck Norris may not sound like they have a lot in common, the one thing these movies all share, is that they were made by the studio Cannon Films.

Cannon Films, responsible for corrupting my young innocent mind with images of sex and violence, also happens to be the topic of Australian film maker Mark Hartley’s latest documentary. Hartley, who gained international acclaim for his fantastic 2008 feature Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!, is an obvious choice to tell the tale of the late Menahem Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus, the men behind Cannon Films. While Not Quite Hollywood was a captivating watch, his follow up Machete Maidens Unleashed!, a look at the Filipino exploitation scene of yesteryear, was a disappointing letdown. For an industry that gave us such classics as Silip: Daughters of Eve, the midget action star Weng Weng, and not to mention the countless Filipino-Hong Kong co-productions featuring Bruce Lee lookalikes, the documentary bizarrely decided to focus purely on the US produced B-movie output championed by the likes of Roger Corman. Arguably the most uninteresting aspect of an industry filled with local tales and talent.

Thankfully, Hartley more than redeems himself with Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films. It’s an entertaining 1 hour 45 minute journey, which covers the beginnings of Cannon Films from when it was a fledgling company under its founders Dennis Friedland and Christopher Dewey, to when Golan and Globus took over, which is arguably were the fun starts. The cousins from Israel had already developed somewhat of a reputation for themselves on their home soil as dependable film makers, even scoring a few hits, but their dream had always been Hollywood. So in the early 80’s that’s exactly where they found themselves, and the rest as you could say, is history.

Hartley’s documentary takes the approach of using that history, and whirling through what was a highly chequered era by breaking it down film by film, which will surely make anyone who’s watching immediately want to give the movies in question another watch. Some of the most entertaining highlights focus on the studios decision to try and create a similar system to what the Shaw Brothers had, with actors contracted into making several movies under one contract, in order to try and raise their outputs bankability. The ‘stars’ in question became Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris, and as it’s explained, it got to a point in which a new bunch of scripts for action movies would be delivered to the studio, and the casting staff would simply be asked to split them 50/50, half would be Bronson flicks, and the other half would be Norris flicks.

The documentary is brimming over with clips from Cannon’s back catalogue, and in all fairness probably contains more explosions, nudity, punches, Chuck Norris, and moments of bad acting than any standalone movie could ever hope to achieve. Hartley’s also rounded up a cast of over 80 talking heads to narrate us through the studios schlock filled history, from Michael Dudikoff (who whimsically recalls how, after starring in American Ninja, Golan promised he was going to be the next big star, he just had to “be patient”) to the former chief of MGM, Frank Yablans. Yablans was in charge when MGM made a deal to distribute Cannon’s movies, and even now seems to get riled up at the mention of the studio, drily recalling how Cannon provided them with nothing but trash and more trash.

There are some faces who are still around that no doubt fans will be disappointed to see don’t make an appearance. Chuck Norris himself, who starred in Cannon’s Missing in Action series and the Delta Force movies, is nowhere to be found, although to compensate there is plentiful archive interview footage, some of which amusingly sees him attempting to defend the violence found in the likes of Invasion USA. Sho Kosugi, the star who featured in Cannon’s ninja movies Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, along with his son Kane Kosugi, are also both sadly missing from proceedings.  Most interestingly is an onscreen explanation at the end of the documentary that explains that both Golan and Globus were approached to appear but refused, instead going ahead and creating their own Cannon story in the form of Israeli director Hila Medalia’s The Go-Go Boys, which in typical Cannon style, arrived on screens before Hartley’s own could be completed.

Unlike their own version of events though, Hartley’s documentary successfully captures the fast paced nature of Cannon’s own output, creating a highly entertaining overview that manages to be both a love letter to the movies it produced, as well as maintaining a subjective view of the film industries opinion of the cousin’s infamous way or working. By the time the focus turns to Cannon’s demise, there’s almost a sense of melancholy as the studio tried to turn its fortunes around by buying the rights for the likes of the Superman franchise, and creating a sequel on half the budget they’d been advised would be required. Not to mention attempting to create an arm wrestling version of Rocky with Sylvester Stallone with Over the Top, and Dolph Lundgren also weighs in with his bemused memories of working on Masters of the Universe.

Above all though, Golan and Globus loved movies with an unwavering dedication, and no matter how bad their own were, there was never a moment when that love diminished. At one point a former Cannon staff member recalls telling Golan how things looked bleak, as they owed the bank 5 million dollars. He explains that Golan turned to him, furious, and began yelling, “Why do we owe the bank ONLY 5 million dollars!? We should owe the bank 100 million dollars, we need to make more movies!!!” While it was often misguided, the impression that’s left is one of the passion that went into Cannon’s output, and Hartley seems to have put an equal amount of passion into making Electric Boogaloo. If you’re a fan of Cannon Films, check it out, and if you’re not, give it a watch, and by the end of it you will be.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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

Escape from New York: Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

 Escape from New York: Collector's Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Escape from New York: Collector's Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Escape from New York: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. John Carpenter’s 1981 cult classic gets Shout’s “Collector’s Edition” treatment, so expect a load of brand new extra features!

In 1997, when the U.S. President (Donald Pleasence) crashes into Manhattan, which is now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber (Kurt Russell) is sent in for a rescue. Also starring Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes and Harry Dean Stanton. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Escape from New York from Amazon.com today!

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Firepower | Blu-ray (Scorpion Releasing)

 Firepower | Blu-ray (Scorpion Releasing)

Firepower | Blu-ray (Scorpion Releasing)

RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015

Scorpion Releasing presents the Limited Edition Blu-ray for 1979′s Firepower, directed by Michael Winner (Death Wish). In Firepower, a merc is hired by the FBI to track down a powerful recluse criminal. At the same time, a woman is also trying to track him down for her own personal vendetta.

Firepower stars James Coburn, O.J. Simpson, Sophia Loren, Eli Wallach, Anthony Franciosa, George Grizzard, Vincent Gardenia, Fred Stuthman, Richard Caldicot and Jake LaMotta. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Firepower from Amazon.com today!

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

Deal on Fire! The Art of War | Blu-ray | Only $8.69 – Expires soon!

The Art of War | Blu-ray (Warner)

The Art of War | Blu-ray (Warner)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Art of War, starring Wesley Snipes (The Blade Trilogy), Marie Matiko (The Corruptor), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat), Michael Biehn (Terminator), Donald Sutherland (Hunger Games), James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China), Glen Chin (Knock-Off) and Ron Yuan (The Girl from the Naked Eye).

Fun Fact: The Art of War was intended to be Jet Li’s first starring role in a Hollywood movie, but after he turned it down for Romeo Must Die, the lead role was given to Snipes.

Order The Art of War from Amazon.com today!

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Deal on Fire! Let the Bullets Fly | Blu-ray | Only $8.38 – Expires soon!

"Let the Bullets Fly" Blu-ray Cover

"Let the Bullets Fly" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Let the Bullets Fly, directed by and starring Jiang We (The Lost Bladesman) and Chow Yun-fat (Treasure HuntThe Corruptor).

This Chinese approximation of a spaghetti Western was a breakout hit at the Chinese box office and it also earned Wen a Best Director trophy at the Hong Kong Film Critic’s Society Awards. Read our review.

The film also stars Carina Lau (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon), Ge You (Sacrifice) and Jiang Wu (Wu Xia).

Order Let the Bullets Fly from Amazon.com today!

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Future Hunters | aka Deadly Quest (1986) Review

"Future Hunters" VHS Cover

"Future Hunters" VHS Cover

AKA: Spear of Destiny
Director: Cirio H. Santiago
Writer: Anthony Maharaj, J. Lee Thompson
Cast: Robert Patrick, Linda Carol, Ed Crick, Bob Schott, David Light, Paul Holmes, Peter Shilton, Ursula Marquez, Elizabeth Oropesa, Bruce Le (aka Huang Kin Long, Wong Kin Lung), Hwang Jang Lee, Richard Norton, Mike Abbott
Running Time: 96 min.

By Paul Bramhall

There are some movies which simple defy normal comprehension, and even before reading any sort of synopsis, just by looking at the cast you can tell Future Hunters is going to be one of them. Brought to the screen by the same team that would make Mission Terminate a year later, Future Hunters is helmed by Cirio H. Santiago, a somewhat legendary figure in the Filipino film industry. The son of Dr. Ciriaco Santiago, who founded the Premiere Productions studio in Manila way back in 1946, Cirio would go on to become one of the most recognized names in the world of B-movies, making everything from Blaxploitation, to low budget Vietnam war flicks, to kung fu movies.

Future Hunters somehow seems to escape fitting into any single genre, instead coming across as some kind of half baked version of The Terminator meets Mad Max meets Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I normally try to stay away from going into in-depth plot descriptions when I review, but in this case it’s the nature of the plot which essentially defines my opinion of the movie, so bear with me and we’ll see how things turn out.

Proceedings open in a barren desert landscape with one of the greatest voiceovers I’ve ever heard, which explains that the year is 2025 and the holocaust has wiped out all of mankind, leaving only the few to scavenge for what they can. However amongst the despair and desperation, there is one man who can put mankind back on track, that man’s name is – Matthew. For reasons never explained, the only way to get mankind back on track is to find the spear that pierced the body of Christ, which will allow whoever finds it to go back in time and stop the holocaust from ever happening.

Matthew, as it turns out, is played by everyone’s favorite Australian, Richard Norton. Yes long before he was in A-list Hong Kong productions facing off against the likes of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Cynthia Rothrock, Norton was making movies like this one. He bursts onto the screen looking like a bearded version of Mad Max, even driving an almost identical car, as a high speed car chase in the desert unfolds which eventually leads to Norton left with nothing more than his leather waistcoat and pants, oh, and his studded belt. Nothing says post-apocalyptic landscape like a studded belt.

Pursued by a small army of foot soldiers, a few tanks, and a fleet of cars, without saying a word Norton wipes out virtually a whole town full of bad guys using his fists, feet, and a machine gun, before thankfully stumbling across the spearhead in question, just before the whole building that he’s sheltering in is blown to smithereens. This whole sequence is the first 10 minutes, and the titles haven’t even rolled yet. Yes these types of movies are undeniably of the B variety, but you have to give them credit for fitting more action into the first 10 minutes than you find in a whole finale of an Expendables movie!

After the titles do roll, things go all Terminator-ish and Norton wakes up to find he’s in 1986, all be it in the exact same spot we last saw him. Displaying no signs of confusion whatsoever, he’s soon rescuing a young couple from a trio of rowdy bikers, with the couple in question being played by Linda Carol, you know, the actress from Carnal Crimes, and her boyfriend is none other than Robert Patrick. Yes, that Robert Patrick, as in the guy who 5 years into the future from this movie, would play the T-1000 in Terminator 2. Something strange is going on here. Back to Norton though, he’s no sooner appeared that he’s shot and mortally wounded, leaving him to deliver a completely incomprehensible speech thanks to his rather broad Aussie accent, but which we can assume is something along the lines of “Use the spear to stop the holocaust that wipes out mankind mate!”

Through some inconsequential exposition, the actress from Carnal Crimes and the T-1000 hightail it to Hong Kong, where they believe a professor resides who knows the secret to the spear. In this section of the movie things get really strange. The couple are picked up from the airport by a taxi driver, a taxi driver played by Bruce Le! Le explains to them some nonsense about how he may know someone that can help them called the Silver Fox who guards a temple. Wait, isn’t that the name of Hwang Jang Lee’s character in classic kung fu movies like The Secret Rivals? It is, but don’t worry about that as nothing much makes sense here anyway. Le also seems to have been dubbed by two different people, so half the conversation he sounds like the constipated Filipino that dubbed him in Mission Terminate, and the other half he sounds like a British gentleman with a stiff upper lip. It’s all a little disconcerting.

Soon they arrive at the temple, but when I say they, I just mean the T-1000 and Bruce Le, as the actress from Carnal Crimes has disappeared with no explanation. They meet the Silver Fox, and bizarrely, it is Hwang Jang Lee! He’s not so willing to give out information though, which leads to one of the most WTF moments in cinema history, as we’re treated to a 2-on-1 fight of the T-1000 paired up with a Bruce Lee imitator taking on the greatest kicker to have ever graced the kung fu movie world. Thankfully the fight is treated with a degree of reality, and the T-1000 is knocked out cold early on, leaving Hwang Jang Lee to unleash his kicks on Le, who, just like in reality, turns out to have a pair of nunchucks tucked away in one of his boots. Surprisingly, the fight is pretty good, Hwang unleashes his trademark triple flying kick, and there’s even a section which pits staff against nunchucks. It’s a definite highlight.

Somewhere in-between, it’s revealed that the person they’re after isn’t in Hong Kong at all, and that they need to seek out a place called the Venus Valley, which contains a race of “Amazonian female like warriors”, where they’ll find the staff which the spearhead belongs to. So after a brief car chase and an exploding car, it suddenly cuts to Manila Airport. It should also be mentioned that from this point Bruce Le and Hwang Jang Lee are never heard of again. Combined with Richard Norton, the movie just lost all of its genuine fighting talent at not even half way in! What we do get though, is an evil group of Nazis (is there any other type of Nazi?) who want to wipe out humanity and create a genetically engineered race of perfect humans.

Soon the Nazis are pursuing are heroes again (the actress from Carnal Crimes has now reappeared). After trying to trick them into meeting for a pleasant evening meal, the T-1000 senses something is wrong, and a foot chase gives way to a night time car chase. About a minute later, we can only assume they’ve been chasing each other for around 8 hours, as it’s inexplicably become daylight. A little later, a night time gun fight also suddenly becomes broad daylight, for no logical reason whatsoever. By the end of the movie it’s safe to assume that most of the characters haven’t slept for 48 hours straight.

By the final half hour, things have descended into Twilight Zone territory.  Captured by the Nazis, our fearless couple are held at their camp in the jungle, only to be attacked by a group of what look like post-apocalyptic Filipino bandits on horseback. The attack goes on for about 10 minutes, and at no point do we have any clue who the group that are attacking them are. It’s only when, after they escape, events end up in a cave which is home to a significant population of brown robe wearing dwarves. This kicks off a completely unnecessary sub-plot involving the dwarves. The T-1000 explains that in a private meeting with the head dwarf (that not even we got to witness), the dwarf told him they’re always getting attacked by the post-apocalyptic Filipino bandits, but they also know the location of Venus Valley. So, help them get rid of the bandits, they’ll reveal the location of the valley.

What this means is that, what was minutes earlier a movie with Bruce Le and Hwang Jang Lee, suddenly becomes about an army of hatchet wielding dwarves in brown robes, disguising themselves as walking cardboard boxes.  The boxes then proceed to attack the bandits, who’ve already just been involved in a lengthy action scene minutes before, with the only difference being that we now know who they are.  Worst of all, when they do attack, the actress from Carnal Crimes and the T-1000 hardly help at all!  They’re so useless that at one point one of the dwarves actually saves them from being attacked. The little guys should have just told them the location of Venus Valley to begin with and be done with it. But then we wouldn’t have a dwarf action scene.

Eventually the dwarves prevail, and they give them directions to the Venus Valley, which finally gives us a glimpse of those “Amazonian female like warriors”! What this translates to onscreen of course, is a large group of young well endowed Filipino females (I won’t say actresses) decked out in fur bikinis and bottoms. But the action isn’t over! The Queen Amazonian wants the T-1000 for her own lustful needs, so the actress from Carnal Crimes finally has her chance to shine when she has to fight above a crocodile pit with the tribe’s strongest fighter (strongest i.e. most well endowed). Needless to say, the scene ended with me being quite envious of those crocodiles.

Will they find the missing piece of the spear the pierced the body of Christ and save humanity, or will those pesky Nazis catch up and ruin everything? If it wasn’t clear already, Future Hunters is a truly bizarre slice of Filipino action cinema, one which isn’t afraid of using the likes of Bruce Le and Hwang Jang Lee in little more than extended cameos. However, if you’re a fan of the post-apocalyptic jungle warfare kung fu dwarf action Jesus related genre, then Future Hunters may just be the movie for you. Of course, it would be a real spoiler to give away the actual finale, so I’ll leave it at that.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6.5/10

Posted in Bruceploitation, Cults & Classics, Filipino, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blind Woman’s Curse | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Blind Woman’s Curse | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Blind Woman’s Curse | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2015

Arrow Video presents the Blu-ray for 1970′s Blind Woman’s Curse (aka Black Cat’s Revenge), directed by cult director Teruo Ishii (Shogun’s Joys of Torture).

Akemi (Meiko Kaji from Lady Snowblood) is a tattooed leader of the Tachibana Yakuza clan. In a duel with a rival gang, Akemi slashes the eyes of an opponent and a black cat appears, to lap the blood from the gushing wound. The cat, along with the eye-victim, go on to pursue Akemi’s gang in revenge, leaving a trail of dead Yakuza girls, their tattoos skinned from their bodies. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Blind Woman’s Curse from Amazon.com today!

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

Watch the hard-hitting trailer for R.L. Scott’s ‘Call Me King’

"Call Me King" Promotional Poster

"Call Me King" Promotional Poster

In the international world of gun running… loyalty, honor and discretion are valuable commodities, but nothing is more priceless than the bond of family.

Dark Energy and Shadow Motion Pictures presents Call Me King, an upcoming action movie written and directed by R.L. Scott (who also handled the fight choreography). Judging from newest trailer, there seems to be enough gunplay and gritty hand-to-hand combat to satisfy action junkies.

Call Me King stars Bai Ling (The Crow), Amin Joseph (The Expendables) Chris Mulkey (Boardwalk Empire), Alimi Ballard (Numbers), Lester Speight (Transformers), Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco), Bill Cobbs (Oz: The great and Powerful), Del Zamora (True Blood), Gabrielle Dennis (The Game) and Monyque Thompson Scott (Lie to Me).

Updates: Call Me King was originally scheduled to be released early 2014, but now has a new release date set around Spring of 2014. Watch the latest trailer for Call Me King, thanks to FCS.

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Arcana | DVD (Tokyo Shock)

"Arcana" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Arcana" Japanese Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2015

Tokyo Shock presents the DVD for Arcana, a 2013 Japanese suspense thriller directed by Yoshitaka Yamaguchi (Samurai Cat), and based on the manga of the same name by Yua Kotegawa.

In Arcana, a detective named Murakami teams up with an amnesiac hospital patient to stop a mass murderer. The film stars Tao Tsuchiya, Masataka Nakagauchi, Kaito, Takuya Uehara, Hajime Taniguchi, Masashi Taniguchi and Masahiro Noguchi. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Arcana from Amazon.com today!

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

Ninja: Immovable Heart | DVD (Uncork’d Entertainment)

Ninja: Immovable Heart | DVD (Peace Arch Trinity)

Ninja: Immovable Heart | DVD (Peace Arch Trinity)

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015

A ninja flick with the car from Mad Max? Uncork’d Entertainment presents the DVD for the 2014 Australian martial arts flick Ninja: Immovable Heart, directed by and starring Rob Baard with Roger Neave and Danny Glover.

Reeve (Baard) is a member of an elite covert group who is captured, beaten and brutally tortured by the very government he used to work for. With the help of his old mentor John Carpenter (Neave), Reeve must strip away, and rid himself of the emerging demons of his past, so that he may understand the core essence of Ninjutsu. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Ninja: Immovable Heart from Amazon.com today!

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

Our Top 15 Watched Movies of 2014

With 2014 coming to a close, it’s nice to look back and remember those moments that, especially for genre fans like ourselves, for every movie that made us bang our head against the nearest wall and accept that 2 hours of our lives have just been wasted, there’s also those movies that made us go, “Wow! What took me so long to watch this!?”, or if the movie is starring Shu Qi, perhaps just stare at the screen and smile.

For myself, there’s still a bunch of movies I want to watch that were made in 2014, and a seemingly endless list of ones from earlier, but I’m thankful to say I can end the year confidently declaring that I watched more good than bad. So, without further ado, below you can check out – listed in order of release – my top 15 watched movies of 2014.

Man on High Heels (2014, South Korea)

Every year we can be guaranteed a slice of superlative gangster violence from Korea, and 2014 was no exception. Both Man on High Heels and No Tears for the Dead were worthy additions to the much loved genre, however for me the former just pips the director of the Man from Nowhere’s latest to the post, thanks to a winning mix of transgender drama, liberal doses of OTT violence, and most of all a character whom the audience really cares about. For all of the blood that’s spilt over the course of its run time, and believe me there’s a lot of it, at its heart Man on High Heels is the story of a confused soul trying to find their way in a world which is all too easy to get lost.

Kung Fu Jungle (2014, Hong Kong)

A lot of criticism was heaped on Donnie Yen during 2014. Special ID was teeth gratingly annoying, The Monkey King was too childish, and Iceman 3D was too full of CGI and like a comic book. Thankfully, Yen’s final flick of the year saw him teaming up with the always reliable Teddy Chan, and Kung Fu Jungle saw him ending the year on a high note. Noticeably taking a step back from the action, Yen delivers a top notch performance in the tale of a kung-fu fighting serial killer wading his way through martial artists who are each proficient in a certain style. Wang Baoqiang takes center stage as the killer in question, and the final throwdown is a notable addition to Hong Kong cinemas great onscreen fights.

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist (2014, USA/UK)

Originally a web series, in 2014 the 12 episodes were brought together to make an epic 146 minute feature film, and somehow, everything worked. Focusing on the story of Ken, Ryu, Gouken and Akuma, Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist went were no live adaption of the video game had gone before, and created a compelling tale of rivalry and obsession based around the mastering of the Hadouken. Rather than treating the Hadouken as a hokey video game invention, the decision to make its effect on the characters similar to what the ring has on Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies was a winning one. Matched with some well choreographed fight scenes and special effects, the final version resulted in my biggest surprise of 2014.

The Raid 2 (2014, Indonesia)

The Raid crew returned with a vengeance in 2014, unleashing a 150 minute epic that not only matches the original, but in many ways surpasses it. Thrusting Iko Uwais’s character of Rama from the confines of a single building into the sprawling gangster underworld of Jakarta, the sequel is far from just being a flight flick, tipping its hat at influences as broad as The Godfather to Japan’s Nikkatsu noir movies of the 60s. With the inclusion of such characters like Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy, The Raid 2 cranks up the violence to deliciously bloody proportions, all wrapped up in some of the most impressively choreographed fights that have been seen for a long time.

Soul (2013, Taiwan)

The one and only One Armed Boxer, Jimmy Wang Yu, takes centre stage as a father living in remote countryside Taiwan, whose son is brought to him with no memories of who he is or what he’s doing there. This quietly unsettling psychological horror movie flew under most people’s radar, save for the few who caught it at the NYAFF were it played, but is well worth a look. Blending surreal images of nature with sudden bursts of violence, the audience is constantly asked to question if what we’re seeing onscreen is actually happening, or is it the product of a broken mind? Soul gives no clear answers, and is all the more powerful for it.

Snowpiercer (2013, South Korea)

Bong Joon-ho was last out of the gates with his English language debut compared to his peers Park Chan-wook and Kim Ji-woon, but the wait proved to be well worth it, as his adaptation of the French comic book was the most well received out of their efforts by some distance. Once watched, it’s easy to see why, as the post-apocalyptic tale of people living on a train which never stops in a frozen over Earth comes to the screen with all of Joon-ho’s visual flourishes and trademark style. Having the backing of the major Korean studio CJ Entertainment behind him, along with the ever reliable Song Kang-ho, turned out to be a major advantage for the director of The Host, and the result is a great sci-fi movie in a landscape in which they’re few and far between.

Moebius (2013, South Korea)

Auteur director Kim Ki-duk had plenty of controversy bringing his 2013 production Moebius to the screen. The tale of a mother who finds her husband cheating on her, when her husband wakes up just in time to foil her attempt to castrate him, she goes into her son’s bedroom and castrates him instead. What plays out is an entirely wordless tour de force of skilled film making – often touching, frequently laced with blacker than black humor, and never anything less than gripping, Ki-duk’s battle to bring the movie to the screen against a barrage of censorship issues was ultimately a worthy one.

Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon (2013, Hong Kong)

Tsui Hark has been dabbling with the wuxia genre for the last few years, beginning with Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, which was followed up with Detective Dee & the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, his latest is by far the most polished and entertaining of the three. A movie which seems to make peace with CGI, it successfully captures the crazy energy of the wire filled wuxia’s of the 90’s. Focusing on a younger version of the character Andy Lau played in Hark’s previous movie, Taiwanese actor Mark Chao does an amiable job of stepping into the HK megastars shoes, in a tale which thankfully doesn’t shy away from giving us exactly what it says in the title.

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013, Hong Kong)

Stephen Chow decided to go 100% behind the camera for the first time with Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, in his revisit to the tale that inspired his own Chinese Odyssey movies made almost a whole decade before. Here Wen Zhang takes the lead role as the meek demon hunter out to pacify the evils of the world with a book of nursery rhymes, who forms an uneasy friendship with a much more aggressive demon hunter played by Shu Qi. What follows is plenty of Chow’s trademark laughs, proving he doesn’t need to be in front of the camera to maintain his unique style of comedy, and a healthy dose of action to top everything off.

Treasure Hunt (1994, Hong Kong)

Middling reviews kept me away from Treasure Hunt for a long time, however after finally getting around to giving it a watch, I can safely say it was my loss. Chow Yun Fat anchors proceedings, as he always does, in a movie which wades through genres like they’re going out of fashion. From heroic bloodshed to children’s fantasy to romantic drama, it’s all here in completely uneven doses, but somehow it adds up to a charming whole. Oh, and bang in the middle there’s a pole fight between Shaw Brothers legends Gordon Liu and Philip Kwok, what more do you need!?

21 Red List (1994, Taiwan)

A movie that’s been on my ‘have to watch’ list for several years after seeing a clip on YouTube, 2014 was the year I finally got to see it. A Taiwanese effort starring Alexander Lo Rei as one of a group of siblings fighting the Japanese, while the plot may be nothing we haven’t heard of before, the fight scenes ensure it’s worthy of a watch. Aided by some creative use of wirework, every character is given superhuman like strength, a prime example of which has a couple of characters throwing down in the living room of a house, during which the pillars that are holding up the whole structure end up being wielded as weapons. Throw in some Matrix style gravity defying antics, and the absurdly over the top action makes 21 Red List a highly entertaining watch.

Sonatine (1993, Japan)

I have no idea why 2014 was the only the first time I got around to watching Sonatine, but whatever the reason, I’m glad I did. Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano crafts a deceptively calm tale of a group of yakuza that are sent to cool down in Okinawa, while a turf war has the potential to blow up in Tokyo. The characters spend most of the movie chilling out and larking around at a house on the beach, before it’s revealed there’s more going on than meets the eye. There’s barely any action in Sonatine at all, but Kitano creates an atmosphere which makes it impossible to take your eyes off the screen, as we witness his gangster slowly reveal himself through little more than facial expressions, showing someone who longs to be anywhere except where he is. A masterpiece of cinema.

The Bride with White Hair (1993, Hong Kong)

Another movie which makes me question why it took me so long to get around to watching it, Ronny Yu’s The Bride with White Hair is considered to be one of the quintessential movies of Hong Kong cinema, and once watched it’s easy to see why. Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung play the star crossed lovers whose fate dictates they can’t be together. Still, like any good romance, that doesn’t stop them from trying, and the result is one of the best wuxia tales that Hong Kong has produced thanks to a combination of fantastic cinematography, a haunting soundtrack, and standout performances from Lin and Cheung.

On the Run (1988, Hong Kong)

Described as a Hong Kong film noir, On the Run is exactly that, but instead of having the likes of Humphrey Bogart roam around the city in a trench coat, we have Yuen Biao, a legend of the kung-fu cinema screen. It might be disappointing to some that Biao would be in a movie that involves barely throwing a punch, but he does a fantastic job as the dishevelled and bearded cop forced to team up with his wife’s killer to go on the run from a bigger conspiracy. Director Alfred Chung maintains a high level of tension throughout, and the final scrappy fight predates the type of rough and tumble scraps that would become a trademark of Korean gangster movies by more than a decade.

Kung Fu Zombie (1981, Hong Kong)

Kung Fu Zombie provided me with my first taste of Billy Chong, whose movies up until that point had somehow escaped my viewing, and what an introduction it was. The movie is pure fun from start to finish, and Chong has a physical dexterity and level of power that should have seen him stay in Hong Kong for much longer than he did. Here he’s pitted against an evil vampire, and who better to play an evil vampire than Korean bad ass Kwan Yung-moon. Yung-moon has always looked like he could kick someone’s head off, and in Kung Fu Zombie, he does just that. Whenever the two of them square off, it’s a flurry of fists and feet that’s a joy to behold, with some highly entertaining over the top violence dished out throughout.

That wraps up my list for this year, here’s to a 2015 full of equally entertaining Asian movie goodness, and rest assured, that goodness will be covered by cityonfire. Have a happy and healthy year ahead, cheers!

Posted in Features, News | 6 Comments

Outcast | Blu-ray & DVD (Phase 4 Films)

Outcast | Blu-ray & DVD (Phase 4 Films)

Outcast | Blu-ray & DVD (Phase 4 Films)

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015

Phase 4 Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Outcast, starring Nicolas Cage (Face/Off) and Hayden Christensen (Star Wars: Episode III).

In Outcast, a mysterious warrior teams up with the daughter and son of a deposed Chinese Emperor to defeat their cruel Uncle, who seeks their deaths. The film also stars Yifei Liu (The Assassins), Andy On (Special ID), Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?), Jawed El-Berni (Ninja: Shadow of a Tear), the Dasz Brothers (Iceman), Alaa Safi (Chinese Zodiac) and Fernando Chien (Bunraku). Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Outcast from Amazon.com.

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

Deal on Fire! Van Damme 5-Movie Pack | Blu-ray | Only $35.49 – Expires soon!

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

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

Today’s Deal on Fire is for the Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack Blu-ray set, which has the following titles:

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

The Van Damme 5-Movie Action Pack is a 5-Disc set, which also includes the digital copy of each movie for your handheld devices. For about $7 a Blu-ray title, that’s a Damme good deal!

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

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Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘Grandmaster’ re-released/re-structured in 3D!

"The Grandmaster 3D" Theatrical Poster

"The Grandmaster 3D" Theatrical Poster

Wong Kar-Wai’s epic martial arts feature, The Grandmaster (read our review), will be re-released in China with a new 3D conversion. Despite a shorter runtime of 111 minutes (the original international cut was 11 minutes longer), the re-release features a “new structure and more streamlined storytelling,” according to The Playlist (via FCS).

The Grandmaster – starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Zhang Ziyi – is inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master, Ip Man, who mentored Bruce Lee.

The Grandmaster 3D opens in China on January 8th. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a North American release. Until then, here’s three new promos/trailers ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ) for the re-release.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

R.I.P. Chang Il Do (aka Bruce Lai), Korean actor, martial artist

"Enter Three Dragons" American Theatrical Poster

"Enter Three Dragons" American Theatrical Poster

KFC (via Toby Russell) has reported the death of Korean martial artist and actor, Chang Il Do, better known as Bruce Lai, who died at the age of 64 (not to be confused with Mun Kyong-sok, aka Dragon Lee).

Chang – who also goes by the names Chang Yi Dao, Philip Cheung or Cheung Yat Dao – is widely known for starring in a string of classic Bruceploitation movies. Some of his titles include Lau Kar Leung’s Return to the 36th Chamber (1980) and Godfrey Ho’s Enter three Dragons (1981).

Although Chang has long since retired from film, he has remained active in the Taekwondo community. He often showed up to public events with fellow martial artist, Hwang Jang Lee.

Our condolences go out to Chang Il Do’s family and friends.

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Our Blu-ray/DVD release list for January packs a mean punch!

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

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

A fresh New Year means new goals to pursue, new adventures to enjoy, new people to meet and new memories to create. Most importantly, it means adding some new titles to your Blu-ray & DVD collection – so let us help you with this priority!

The month of January is jam-packed with titles that every martial arts/Asian/Action film enthusiast will appreciate: The Sword of Doom, Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, Revenge of the Green Dragons, Falcon Rising, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and much more!

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

The Sword of Doom: January 6, 2015

Criterion presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Kihachi Okamoto’s The Sword of Doom. Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai) star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman plying his craft during the turbulent final days of shogunate rule in Japan, Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse or mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. Features: HD digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack (Blu-ray edition); commentary by historian Stephen Prince; trailer; essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

The Guest: January 6, 2015

Universal presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Guest, directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next) and starring Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley and Maika Monroe. A soldier (Stevens) introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence. See for yourself why The Guest has received critical acclaim by both critics and audiences everywhere (except us).

The Art of War: January 13, 2015

Warner presents the Blu-ray for The Art of War, starring Wesley Snipes (The Blade Trilogy), Marie Matiko (The Corruptor), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat), Michael Biehn (Terminator), Donald Sutherland (Hunger Games), James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China), Glen Chin (Knock-Off) and Ron Yuan (The Girl from the Naked Eye).

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power: January 13, 2015

Universal Presents the Blu-ray & DVD for The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, starring Victor Webster as Mathayus. The Scorpion King 4 features a medley of  real-life fighters: Roy “Big Country” Nelson, Royce Gracie, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Eve Torres. The film also stars Rutger Hauer, Michael Biehn, Barry Bostwick, Lou Ferrigno, Ellen Hollman, M. Emmet Walsh, and Will Kemp.

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai: January 13, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, a martial arts film directed by Wong Ching Po (Let’s Go!) with action choreography from the legendary Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix). The plot involves a laborer who moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich, but ends up using his kung fu skills to survive. The cast includes Phillip Ng (Bodyguards & Assassins), Andy On (Special Identity), Luxia Jiang (True Legend) and Sammo Hung (Kill Zone). Don’t miss our review.

Weapon of Choice: 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.

Revenge of the Green Dragons: January 13, 2015

Lionsgate presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Revenge of the Green Dragons, an action-drama about Chinese gangs in New York, directed by Hong Kong filmmakers Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Andrew Loo (It Had To Be You!); and produced by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street). Revenge of the Green Dragons stars Justin Chon (21 & Over), Kevin Wu (YouTube’s KevJumba), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), Ron Yuan (Girl from the Naked Eye), and Eugenia Yuan (daughter of Come Drink With Me’s Cheng Pei-Pei), Jon Kit Lee (The Corruptor) and Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman: January 20, 2015

Screen Media presents the DVD for Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman, directed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, the Chilean action filmmaker responsible for Marko Zaror’s Mandrill, Mirageman, Kiltro and the upcoming Redeemer. Timid, video game-loving DJ Santiago (Matías Oviedo) seemingly digs his own grave when he agrees to bring a violent criminal kingpin the head of Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola).

The Pirates: January 20, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Lee Suk-Hoon’s The Pirates, an action/adventure that tells the story of rival pirates who have the common goal of capturing a gray whale that has swallowed a precious royal stamp. The Pirates stars Kim Nam-Gil (Public Enemy Returns), Son Ye-Jin (The Tower), Sulli (Punch Lady), Lee Kyoung-Young (A Company Man), Yu Hae-Jin (The Unjust) and Oh Dal-Su (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance).

Falcon Rising: January 27, 2015

Anderson Merchandisers presents the DVD for Falcon Rising, directed by Ernie Barbarash (Assassination Games) and starring Michael Jai White (Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite). Also known as Favela or Codename Falcon 1, Falcon Rising follows an anti-hero named John “Falcon” Chapman (White) who travels to Brazil to find his sister’s killer. Along the way, he uncovers an underworld of vice and corruption, presided over by the Japanese mafia of all people.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?: January 27, 2015

Drafthouse Films presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (read our review), directed by Sion Sono, the controversial and prolific director behind such Japanese-language films as Cold Fish, Love Exposure and Guilty of Romance. Why Don’t You Play In Hell? is an over-the-top mix of martial arts, comedy and gore.

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.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Huggy Bear joins ‘Raid’ stars to fight aliens in ‘Beyond Skyline’

"Skyline" Japanese DVD Cover

"Skyline" Japanese DVD Cover

Ready for some bizarre news? The Raid badasses, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, will star alongside Frank Grillo (Purge: Anarchy) in Beyond Skyline, an upcoming sequel to Skyline.

For those of you who are not familiar with Skyline, it’s that 2010 alien invasion flick that hit the box office jackpot, despite its atrocious reviews from audiences and critics alike.

Visual effects artist Liam O’Donnell – and writer of the original Skyline – will be taking over directing duties for Greg and Colin Strause (aka The Brothers Strause). The sequel is said to take place at the same time of the events in the first Skyline.

No details on who (or what) Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian will be playing in Beyond Skyline, but let’s just hope they’re kicking ass in some way, shape, or form. According to Variety, producer Greg Strause said he tapped the Uwais and Ruhian because, “We’re showcasing a new kind of alien combat, so who better to collaborate with than the most innovative fight team in the world?”

It should also be noted that their co-star, Grillo, is one of the leading men of Patrick Hughes’ The Raid remake, which will feature fights choreographed by Uwais and Ruhian.

Beyond Skyline is either going to be really fun, or like the original, really “SyFy Channel” bad. Regardless, we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

Updates: Impact reports that Antonio Fargas (“Huggy Bear” from the original Starsky and Hutch TV series) and Singaporean actress, Pamelyn Chee (Point of Entry), have joined the cast of Beyond Skyline.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Order Joe Chien’s ‘Zombie Fight Club’ at DDDhouse.com

"Zombie Fight Club" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Zombie Fight Club" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Question: What do you get when you mix The Raid with George Romero, and add a dash of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel and David Fincher’s movie? Answer: Zombie Fight Club!

DDDHouse.com now has Zombie Fight Club on Blu-ray & DVD. Keep in mind that the DVD version is Region 3 coded, so you will need a multi-region DVD player to view the movie. Fortunately, the Blu-ray version is coded for region A, so it’s good to go on your current North American Blu-ray hardware.

This martial arts/zombie flick is directed by Joe Chien (Zombie 108) and stars Phillip Ng (Once Upon a Time in Shanghai), Andy On (Special ID), Jessica C. (Double Trouble), Jack Kao (Zombie 108), Michael Wong (Nightfall), Terence Yin (Firestorm), Derek Tsang (Dream Home) and Candy Yuen. Don’t miss the film’s trailer!

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The latest on Mark Dacascos’ star-filled flick ‘Showdown in Manila’

"Drive" UK DVD Cover

"Drive" UK DVD Cover

According to KFC, martial arts star Mark Dacascos (Drive) is set to direct Showdown in Manila, an upcoming Expendables-esque movie that will feature an ensemble cast that includes Dacascos himself, Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Matthias Hues (No Retreat, No Surrender II), Cynthia Rothrock (Shanghai Express), Olivier Gruner (Nemesis), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Perfect Weapon), Monsour del Rosario (Bloodfist 2), Don “The Dragon” Wilson (White Tiger) and Alexander Nevsky (Black Rose).

Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die), who worked with Dacascos in 2003′s Cradle 2 the Grave, will be producing. Showdown in Manila marks the second directorial project for Dacascos, following his unreleased, Russian-produced debut feature, Changing Lives.

In addition to Showdown in Manila, Dacascos has several projects in pre-production/post-production status, including Ultimate Justice, The Extendables, Operation Rogue, Beyond the Game, Mortal Kombat Legacy: Season 3 and Garuda 7.

Showdown in Manila is scheduled to begin shooting in February. Stay tuned for more details!

Updates: According to Alexander Nevsky (via KFC), James Lew (Big Trouble in Little China) and Tia Carrere (Showdown in Little Tokyo) are joining the cast of Showdown in Manila.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Man on High Heels (2014) Review

"Man on High Heels" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Man on High Heels" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Jang Jin
Writer: Jang Jin
Producer: Jang Jin
Cast: Cha Seung-Won, Oh Jeong-Se, Lee Som, Go Kyung-Pyo, Shin Sung-Hun, Jo Bok-Rae, Park Chang-Hee
Running Time: 125 min.

By Paul Bramhall

In many ways the gangster genre is to the Korean movie industry what the heroic bloodshed genre was to the Hong Kong movie industry of the 90’s. Ever since Korean cinema gained international recognition in the late 90’s, every year we can be guaranteed a hard hitting slice of gangster violence and bloody backstabbing. While for many this might be all that’s needed, for those who long for a slightly different angle, director and writer Jang Jin looks to be delivering just that with his latest offering – Man on High Heels.

Jin is a prolific director who’s worked in various genres, but to western audiences the title which will likely be most familiar is 2001’s Guns and Talks, which featured a young Won Bin in a quirky tale of four hitmen living together. With Man on High Heels, we get a typical tale of a cop on the tail of a pair of gangster brothers, however what’s not so typical, is that the cop in question secretly harbors the desire to be a woman.

The above description may sound like the setup for another quirky take on a well established genre, but surprisingly, Jin boldly decides to play the whole thing completely straight (no pun intended). The challenge of portraying such a character is given to Cha Seung-won, who rises up to the part with aplomb. We’re introduced to his character as the epitome of masculinity – he never uses a gun, his body is covered in scars, he has steel pins in his arms and legs, to his colleagues he’s a cyborg, to criminals he’s a legend – basically, someone who doesn’t have an ounce of femininity in him.

Within the first 10 minutes he’s single handedly raided a karaoke room, seating 11 armed gangsters, in a scene which will make you realize that the carcasses of recently eaten crabs and lobsters can make just as effective weapons as knives and daggers. It’s a brutally choreographed sequence, one which has blood spraying everywhere and a massive amount of pain being dished out, but it also establishes the almost hyper reality that the movie sets itself in.

Seung-won is essentially a one-man army, an army that even the gangsters admire. In another scene one of the gangster brothers dreamily recalls the first time he encountered him. In the flashback Seung-won stands in a rain drenched street holding an umbrella, as a horde of umbrella wielding attackers charge towards him, everyone dressed in sharp black suites. He takes them down one by one in a flurry of kicks and punches (and umbrellas) to the face, before the scene comes to an end and the gangster wistfully recalls that he didn’t get a single drop of rain on him.

These scenes are a joy to behold, sharply choreographed and violent to the point of being over the top, the transition to Seung-won’s woes over his identity crisis should be laughable against such a backdrop of machismo. Somehow though, they’re not, thanks to the combination of Jin’s assured direction and Seung-won’s committed performance. When his associate takes him to a transgender club to help find his look as a woman, it’s a scene which could potentially derail everything in a lesser talents hands, but here it all just fits into place.

Jin seems to be aiming at paying as much attention to the both the gangster storyline and Seung-won’s goal to have a sex-change operation, and he’s almost successful. Onscreen the gangster storyline is ultimately more prevalent than the transgender one, which if anything only makes the movie a more interesting beast. Should it be marketed as a transgender study, or a gangster flick? The decision to go for both is apparent even in the movies marketing, the Korean poster showing a roughed up Seung-won in a feminine blouse, easily making for one of the most unique viewing experiences in recent memory.

Jin deftly works in a healthy dose of black humor into proceedings. When Seung-won finally makes the decision to venture out into public in woman’s clothing, the elevator of his apartment breaks down, resulting in what he’d hoped would be a quiet ride having the small space gradually occupied by more and more passengers. As his phone rings and he answers with a male voice, causing everyone to turn around and stare, it may seem like a cheap laugh at people who choose to be transgender, but the look of hurt and embarrassment Seung-won portrays quickly gives the scene an unexpected poignancy.

It’s these moments, in which his expressions reveal a massive sense of vulnerability, and his body language an unmistakable femininity, that really make his performance stand out, as we’re suddenly witness to someone a world away from the one-man army image he’s built up of himself. An equally delicate touch is given to the flashback scenes of Seung-won’s childhood, in which he develops a same-sex relationship with another boy in his class, one which eventually leads to tragedy, but also ties into why he chooses to be seen as the epitome of masculinity. While a more scholarly reviewer may call foul on the presumption that being gay leads to transgender issues, or indeed vice versa, in the context of the story these elements all tie together.

Intended as a metaphor or not for the way people who are transgender constantly have to put aside their desire to fully transition to who they want to be, in the movie Seung-won finds that being a one-man army also brings with it a lot of grudges that aren’t easy to let go of, and needless to say for the finale those grudges come back with a vengeance. Traditionally in Asian cinema when a good guy enters the finale wearing white, whether it be Chow Yun Fat in The Killer, Jimmy Wang Yu in Golden Swallow, or any number of others, it means things are about to get bloody. It’s a credit to all involved that in the finale of Man on High Heels, the fact that the white Seung-won is wearing happens to be a ladies blouse couldn’t seem more appropriate, and what follows is one of the most bloody finale’s I’ve seen in a long time. For audiences who like their vengeance served without mercy, Man on High Heels delivers with an almost unapologetic delight.

Thankfully Jin respects the subject matter enough to not just forget about all that’s come before, and the final moments give a worthy emotional depth and respect to bring the movie to a close. All in all, Man on High Heels succeeds in its mission to blend a pair of unlikely storylines, and for that alone, it comes with a strong recommendation.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8/10

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Happy Holidays from Cityonfire.com!

Wishing you a beautiful holiday and a New Year of peace and happiness!

– From your friends at Cityonfire.com

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Deal on Fire! Chuck Norris Triple Feature | Blu-ray | Only $8.99 – Expires soon!

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

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

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray set for the Chuck Norris Total Attack Pack. 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.

Order the Chuck Norris: Triple Feature from Amazon.com today!

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Explosive trailer for Chow Yun-fat’s ‘From Vegas To Macau 2’

"From Vegas To Macau II" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"From Vegas To Macau II" Chinese Theatrical Poster

A sequel to Wong Jing’s From Vegas To Macau (aka God of Gamblers 4) is just around the corner. Chow Yun-fat return’s as Ko Chun, a world-famous gambler, so renowned and talented at winning various games of chance, that he is referred to as the “God of Gamblers.” The big news is the addition of Nick Cheung (Unbeatable) and Carina Lau (Let the Bullets Fly). Unfortunately, Nicholas Tse will not be returning due to scheduling conflicts.

According Jaynestars: “The production team is determined to impress this time around. From Vegas To Macau 2 reportedly has a budget of $150″

Update: Jaynestars reports that Shawn Yue (Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen) is taking Nicholas Tse’s place. | Watch the first trailer, which will be getting its domestic release on February 19, 2015.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the newest trailer!

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Deal on Fire! Yakuza Weapon | Blu-ray | Only $8.99 – Expires soon!

"Yakuza Weapon" Blu-ray Cover

"Yakuza Weapon" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Yakuza Weapon, written and directed by both Tak Sakaguchi (star of Versus) and Yudai Yamaguchi (Battlefield Baseball).

Based on the manga by the late Ken Ishikawa (Getter Robo), Yakuza Weapon revolves around Shozo Iwaki (Sakaguchi), who works as a mercenary in South America. Iwaki is informed of the death of his gang boss dad and discovers his former Yakuza henchman is involved in a double-cross. Now it’s revenge time!

Order Yakuza Weapon from Amazon.com today!

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Vigilante (1983) Review

"Vigilante" Theatrical Poster

"Vigilante" Theatrical Poster

AKA: Street Gang
Director: William Lustig
Writer: Richard Vetere
Producer: Andrew W. Garroni, William Lustig
Cast: Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Don Blakely, Joseph Carberry, Willie Colón, Joe Spinell, Carol Lynley, Frank Pesce, Steve James, Woody Strode
Running Time: 90 min.

By HKFanatic

Vigilante opens with a scene of Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn, the original Inglorious Bastards) addressing a ‘neighborhood watch’-style meeting but more or less pointing his finger at the camera, as he explains how the streets have been taken over by gangs and it’s high time the community did something about it. If the police and the legal system can’t protect us, he argues, we’ve got to protect ourselves – by any means necessary. His speech is intercut with shots of concerned citizens practicing their aim at a firing range. This scene is completely awesome… and yet it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Despite his considerable oratorical skills, Fred Williamson doesn’t seem to get his neighbors too excited about fighting crime. Vigilante is really concerned with Robert Forster’s character and his journey to take criminal punishment into his own hands. It’s a plot that will feel familiar to anyone who’s seen a Death Wish movie. Forster plays a factory worker who lives in a not-so-good neighborhood of New York but remains fairly ignorant to the violence that goes on outside his front door. All that changes until his wife and son are targeted by a vicious street gang. A lot of bad shit goes down and Forster eventually ends up in prison. It’s a short stay and once he’s back on the streets, he remembers Fred Williamson’s words and decides it’s high time for some vigilante-style justice.

Director William Lustig was famous in the 80′s for making squalid and gritty films set in the worst parts of New York City. In 1980, he unleashed Maniac on the world – one of the sleaziest horror films ever made, starring the great Joe Spinell (The Godfather: Part II, Rocky) in the lead role. Spinell has a short appearance in Vigilante, which Lustig made before embarking on the Maniac Cop series.

There are a few films from the 70′s and 80′s that make New York City during that era look like one of the worst places in America to live. Vigilante is one of them. The sky is gray, the streets are dirty, muggers and rapists lurk around every corner. There are only 2 cop cars on patrol on nights when the city needs 10. The legal system can’t do jack because of slimy lawyers and holier-than-thou judges. Watch Vigilante, and you start feeling the self-righteous anger of a concerned citizen – you really want to see Fred Williamson take out the trash. We are clearly in exploitation movie territory here. And you know what? It feels good!

The only thing that holds Vigilante back is the performances. Fred Williamson is great – it’s probably the most impressive performance of his career – but most everyone else in the cast is way too low-key. I know this isn’t exactly an Oscar-nomiated, A-grade film but come on: if your movie features little kids being shot down like animals, I want to see some intensity! Robert Forster and the actress who play his wife just don’t “bring it” during their dramatic scenes. When Forster is nearly assaulted in the prison showers by an inmate the size of a mountain, he fails to communicate the fear and trauma you would feel in such a situation.

During its last act, Vigilante becomes a nearly wordless action picture so I suppose the performances become less of an issue. There’s a car chase through the streets of Brooklyn that’s really quite spectacular considering the low-budget origins of the film. I doubt Lustig had permission to close off city blocks to shoot the chase but the filmmakers did a good job through careful editing. Nothing beats an old-school chase where the bottoms of cars are literally slamming against the pavement. One of my favorite moments of the film comes when Forster finally corrals the guy who killed his son and threatens to toss him from a great height to his death. “Go ahead, man!” the punk yells in Forster’s face. “It don’t mean shit to me!” Whoa. That’s some intense, nihilistic stuff right there.

Vigilante features great direction from William Lustig and a well-paced script full of memorable dialogue. The score by Jay Chattaway (Missing in Action, Silver Bullet) is funky and melodic; a good fit for the film. I just wanted more authenticity from some of the cast members. Even if it’s not a prestige picture, you need actors to sell the drama of the story. When characters remained unphased by even the most brutal of happenings, it just takes me out of the movie. Thankfully, Fred Williamson brought his A-game to this picture. He’s off the charts on the bad-ass scale, so I can at least recommend Vigilante if you like exploitative revenge movies (Death Wish, etc.). The video transfer on Blue Underground’s blu-ray release of the film is exceptional, as is always the case for Blue Underground.

HKFanatic’s Rating: 6.5/10

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Class of 1984 | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Class of 1984 | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

Class of 1984 | Blu-ray & DVD (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray for the 1982 cult classic flick, Class of 1984, directed by Mark Lester (Commando).

Class of 1984 revolves around a newly hired music teacher at a troubled high school, where students have to pass through a metal detector due to problems with gangs, drugs and violence. The film stars Timothy Van Patten, Roddy McDowall, Stefan Arngrim, Lisa Langlois, Keith Knight, Neil Clifford and Michael J. Fox. Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Class of 1984 from Amazon.com today!

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