Trailer for Indonesian martial arts flick ‘Golden Cane Warrior’

"The Golden Cane Warrior" Teaser Poster

"The Golden Cane Warrior" Teaser Poster

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Stand Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

The Last Stand Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

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

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

Order The Last Stand from Amazon.com today!

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Die Fighting (2014) Review

"Die Fighting" Theatrical Poster

"Die Fighting" Theatrical Poster

AKA: The Price of Success
Director: Fabien Garcia
Writer: Fabien Garcia
Producer: Laurent Buson
Cast: Fabien Garcia, Laurent Buson, Didier Buson, Jess Allen, Dave Vescio, Adelyne Liu, Xin Sarith Wuku, Jose Rosete, Gray Michael Sallies, Davis Chong, Michael Antonio, Aoni Ma, Xango Henry, Marcus Natividad, Nico Johns
Running Time: 110 min.

By Kyle Warner

Found footage films quickly went from being the hot new idea to being the same old thing. This is largely thanks to filmmakers looking to duplicate the thrills found in earlier successful films instead of presenting new and intriguing takes on the concept. And while many others are willing to write it off as a gimmick that’s run its course, I still think there’s life to the sub-genre. What found footage films lack in cinematic flourishes they make up for with visceral thrills. So, when I heard that Die Fighting was something of a ‘found footage martial arts film,’ I was curious.

The film follows four friends who are trying to make it in Hollywood as martial artists. They’ve formed a group called the Z Team and they’re waiting for their big break… but making it in Hollywood is harder than any one of them expected. Worth noting is that the four lead actors are essentially playing dramatized versions of themselves and that the movie is produced by Z Team Films. Very meta, man.

The plot gets moving when Fabien Garcia (who also serves as Die Fighting’s writer, director, and editor) is told over the phone that his wife has been kidnapped. At first Fabien and his friends think it’s a prank, but when they see video of his wife tied to a chair they realize the threat is all too real. The man on the phone says that if they want to see her alive again they must perform a series of tasks. First: rob an armored truck. Of course the men are tortured with moral questions, but when the time comes they pull off the robbery and escape with the money.

The man on the phone is the mysterious Filmmaker and he’s tapped into hidden cameras spread out across the city. He’s decided to make Fabien the leading man of his new action movie that’s to be filmed on the streets of LA, with real blood and bullets. The Filmmaker puts his cast of heroes through one bloody test after another, leading them into encounters with the mob, karate dojos, and gangbangers.

Essentially, the film exists to be a sort of highlight reel for the Z Team’s martial arts skills. They move from one abandoned looking warehouse to the next, beat up the bad guys in extraordinary fashion, then rage against the man on the phone before moving to the next location to do it all over again.

The acting is pretty weak all around, but the basic dialogue doesn’t exactly give the actors much to work with. Whatever failings Fabian Garcia has as a dramatic actor and a writer, he largely makes up for with his skills shooting action. Behind the scenes, Garcia and cinematographer Tarina Reed put the camera in all the right places to best show off the cast’s skills, and manage to make the most of a modest budget.

The reason you’re going to consider watching the movie is because of the fights and I’m happy to say that Die Fighting has some very good ones. Garcia and co-stars Laurent Buson (Merantau), Didier Buson, and Jess Allen show off their considerable fighting skills throughout the film. A couple of the fights are some of the best ever filmed in an American martial arts flick. Excellent, jaw dropping stuff. And the shootouts aren’t half-bad either.

However, a collection of impressive fight sequences just aren’t enough to make Die Fighting a good movie. The plot is an assortment of borrowed ideas from a dozen better films. Because of the mysterious figure putting the men through acts of violence on an assortment of dank sets, the film feels sort of like a martial arts take on the original Saw, complete with a twist ending. However, unlike Saw, which featured a few decent performances and a compelling plot, Die Fighting has some great fight scenes but not much else. In that respect, it’s similar to the Saw sequels: all blood, no brains.

Is Die Fighting worth your time? It’s not a bad way to spend a couple hours. If you want to watch some good martial arts, you could do a whole lot worse. However, I don’t think you’ll remember the film for very long once the end credits roll.

The core members of the Z Team trained at the Shaolin Temple before receiving further tutelage at some of China’s finest martial arts institutions. Their first feature film as a team may be lacking in many places, but it’s impossible to deny the physical talent and martial arts prowess on display. There is potential here. With an improved script and some better acting, this could have really been something special. The Z Team’s background proves they are focused individuals and are willing to go big to improve their craft. I believe we’ll be seeing better things from them in the future.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 5.5/10

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Deal on Fire! The Raid | Blu-ray | Only $8.96 – Expires soon!

The Raid: Redemption Blu-ray & DVD (Sony Pictures)

The Raid: Redemption Blu-ray & DVD (Sony Pictures)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Raid: Redemption (aka The Raid).

You’ve seen The Raid 2: Berandal, now it’s time to revisit the original! It’s a rookie (Iko Uwais) and his special forces team vs. every killer, gangster and thief in a fifteen-story apartment block building. This groundbreaking martial arts spectacular is considered one of the best action movies of our time!

Read our reviews for both The Raid and The Raid 2, as well as our exclusive interview with the director behind the brilliant brutality, Gareth Evans!

Order the The Raid from Amazon.com today!

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Jackie Chan reunites with Stanley Tong for ‘Kung Fu Yoga’

"Police Story 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Police Story 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Jackie Chan is reuniting with noted Hong Kong director Stanley Tong for an upcoming action comedy titled Kung Fu Yoga. The duo created magic together in a string of some of Chan’s most loved films of the 90s, including: 1992′s Police Story 3: Supercop, 1995′s Rumble in the Bronx and 1996′s Police Story 4: First Strike. Kung Fu Yoga will mark their first feature together since 2005′s The Myth.

According to THR, Kung Fu Yoga is “an Indian joint venture of entertainment conglomerate Viacom, the project is considered the first under a recently signed India-China co-production treaty,” so in the upcoming months, we can expect some of the biggest stars from both China and India to be a part of the film.

Chan has just wrapped up Daniel Lee’s Dragon Blade and is currently putting finishing touches on Skiptrace for director Renny Harlin. As for Kung Fu Yoga, we’ll keep you in the loop as we hear more.

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Deal on Fire! Icons of Action Film Set | Blu-ray | Only $8.40 – Expires soon!

"Icons of Action" Blu-ray Cover

"Icons of Action" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for the Icons of Action feature film collection, which contains four films from the greatest actions stars of the millennium.

The set includes 2011′s Blitz starring Jason Statham; 2002′s Eye See You starring Sylvester Stallone; 2009′s Direct Contact starring Dolph Lundgren; and last but not least, 2003′s In Hell starring Jean Claude Van Damme and directed by acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker, Ringo Lam.

For about $2 bucks a title, this is an “un-Expendable” deal!

Order Icons of Action from Amazon.com today!

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Watch the trailer for the Johnnie To documentary ‘Boundless’

"The Mission" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Mission" Chinese Theatrical Poster

The trailer for Ferris Lin’s Boundless, a documentary about Johnnie To – one of Hong Kong most respected filmmakers – has just been released. Known for this prolific, genre-hopping body of work, To is often overshadowed by the likes of John Woo, Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam. But to a seasoned cinema fan, To’s legacy is just as celebrated.

Official description: As Hong Kong’s foremost filmmaker, Johnnie To himself becomes the protagonist of this painstaking documentary exploring him and his boundless world of film. Ferris Lin boldly approached To to document the master director. To agreed immediately and Lin’s camera closely followed him for over two years, capturing the man behind the movies and his heartfelt love for Hong Kong cinema.

Don’t miss the English-subtitled trailer, thanks to Twitch/Paul Bramhall.

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Mel Gibson’s next directing gig may involve a ‘Hacksaw’

"Get the Gringo" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Get the Gringo" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Mel Gibson is currently in talks to direct Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II action/drama, based on the true story of Desmond T. Doss, a soldier who achieved a Congressional Medal of Honor, despite his refusal to kill or carry weapons of any sort. In addition, Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider‑Man) is in negotiations to play Doss.

According to THR, “Doss made himself a legend when he saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa. He helped evacuate the wounded near enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers on the field, and in one overnight battle, was wounded by a grenade and later hit by a sniper while saving grunts. Doss also received two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts.”

If Gibson tackles Hacksaw Ridge, it will mark his first directorial gig since 2006’s Apocalypto. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

Gibson’s next film, Blood Father – a thriller about an ex-con who reunites with his estranged wayward 16-year old daughter to protect her from drug dealers who are trying to kill her – will be released in 2015.

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Lee Jung-Jae is a martial arts star forced to fight in ‘Big Match’

"Big Match" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Big Match" Korean Theatrical Poster

Releasing domestically in December is Big Match, a Korean martial arts flick from director Choi Ho (Bloody Tie). The film stars Lee Jung-Jae (The Thieves), Shin Ha-Kyun (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), Lee Sung-Min (The Unjust) and BoA (Girls on Top).

Plot from asianwiki: Choi Ik-Ho (Lee Jung-Jae) is a martial arts star with talent for action and humor. But one day, he is framed for murder. Ace (Shin Ha-Kyun ) is a game planner, who makes a game for the Korean upper class. He is a villain who makes a city into a big gameboard through technology. Ace and Choi Ik-Ho become adversaries as Choi Ik-Ho jumps into the game to save his brother.

Update: Watch the 1st trailer. | 2nd trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Click here for a fight scene that has Lee Jung-Jae taking an entire SWAT team. Thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

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Deal on Fire! Hard To Kill | Blu-ray | Only $4.88 – Expires soon!

Hard To Kill Blu-ray (Warner Brothers)

Hard To Kill Blu-ray (Warner Brothers)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Steven Seagal’s 1990 flick, Hard To Kill, directed by Bruce Malmuth (Nighthawks, Pentathlon)

Seagal plays a Detective who falls into a coma after being shot during a fire-fight that kills his wife and son. He reawakens 7 years later for revenge. Hard To Kill co-stars William Sadler (Die Hard 2) and Kelly LeBrock (Weird Science).

Fun Fact: The film was originally titled Seven Year Storm, but Warner thought the film would be more marketable with a more action-oriented title like Hard to Kill.

Order Hard To Kill from Amazon.com today!

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Legend of Wisely, The (1987) Review

"The Legend of Wisely" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Legend of Wisely" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Legend of the Golden Pearl
Director: Teddy Robin Kwan
Writer: Gerald Liu
Producer: Sam Hui
Cast: Sam Hui, Ti Lung, Joey Wong, Teddy Robin Kwan, Bruce Baron, Blacky Ko, Heidi Makinen, Alan Kuo Yau Lun, Alan Lee, Kim Fan
Running Time: 86 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

With an unambiguous career spanning back to the infant days of Golden Harvest, Sam Hui – younger brother of Michael and Ricky – is probably better known internationally for his lengthy partnership with fellow comedy director, Karl Maka. Indeed the outrageous thought of combining these unique, yet converse, talents resulted in an ambitious celebration which doubly furnished south-east (Asians) and trans Atlantic cine-patrons with the popular (and very funny!) Aces Goes Places movies that, throughout the eighties, playfully lampoon the likes of Mission: Impossible, Cannonball Run and James Bond; even the mechanical innovations of (pre-Hollywood) Transformers was not exempt from parody. Still, the wacky capers of King Kong and Kodiak became a box office force to be reckoned with, until, sadly, an inevitable downward spiral.

Singing accolades; a hit television sketch show in unison with his brother, Michael; and the opportunity of socializing/instruction by the late maestro himself, Bruce Lee; weren’t enough for Hui to penetrate the highly competitive ‘kung fu’ market in the manner Samo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, who were all able to collectively reinvent with kinetic realism, originality and passion.

Although he appeared in a support capacity for a couple of Lo Wei films –  Back Alley Princess (1972), starring Angela Mao Ying, and the Jimmy Wang Yu potboiler Tattooed Dragon (1974) – before achieving monumental acclaim as a novice gumshoe investigator in Private Eyes (1976), Hui was never really a skilled on-screen fighter (wire-work, minimal techniques and carefully paced editing were his secret methodology) unlike his contemporaries; whom often committed themselves to surreal acrobatic displays or complex stuntwork. Alternatively, he downplayed the traditional martial arts formats, and concentrated very hard on ‘promoting’ as well as ‘sustaining’ his comedic persona of the quintessential ladies’ man or a charming rogue. However, he never quite inherited or matched his elder brothers’ flare for deadpan delivery or wry expressionism.

As with most Hong Kong actors, Hui hankered for more effective control over his projects, especially in areas of production, finance, and casting. For direct advice he turned to his old friend, Maka – then, also – an active board member of Cinema City, the same company which invested in the Aces pictures.

Before long, inspiration came in the form of writers: Philip Cheng, Calvin Poon and Gerald Lin for an unusual script – by Hong Kong standards – entitled The Legend of Wisely (aka Legend of the Golden Pearl), a modern day action-fantasy; though, in essence integrates the panoply of science fiction by way of Chinese/Tibetan mythology. Ostensibly, the writers have modeled their concepts on a variety of stimulus: from Indiana Jones to The Golden Child to Jackie Chan’s own jet setting adventurer The Armor of God. In fact, one could say an eclectic stew of cultural references. Still, Hui was not dissuaded at all with the intended scope, quality or Hollywood comparisons of the screenplay which, in some instances, more or less acts like an expensive travelogue, than a studio-based production reliant on intricate set designs or blue screen technology.

Directed with neo-influenced zeal by Teddy Robin (who incidentally co-stars). Externally, The Legend of Wisely is a tightly packaged affair offering exquisite vistas of both the Himalayas and Egypt (specifically the pyramids), adrenalin-paced visuals, pyrotechnic extravaganzas and top notch choreography from Blackie Ho, whose dynamic arrangements equalize with the likes of Yuen Woo Ping and Ching Siu Tsung (A Chinese Ghost Story trilogy). The downside is the plotting, marred by formulaic dialogue and an editing continuity that flits between artistic grandeur and schizophrenia. However, the film’s core premise objectively concerns itself with the myth (or reality?!) of a magical pearl said to contain properties that expands human conciousness, senses and telepathy.

Enter Howard Hope (the late Bruce Baron), an enigmatic businessman who approaches novelist/playboy, Wisely – pronounced in Cantonese as “Wei-Say-Li” (Sam Hui) – with an inducement of tracking down his missing archeologist friend, David Ko (Teddy Robin); he declines. Out of interest, Wisely travels to the splendor of Nepal, Ko’s last known whereabouts. There, he discovers Ko has stolen the legendary pearl from its Tibetan keepers. It also transpires that Ko was secretly employed by a crime overlord named Pak Kei Wei (Ti Lung), who desires the pearl for himself.

After promising the Tibetans to recover the pearl for them, Wisely returns to Hong Kong and once more, Howard Hope reappears expressing an interest in Wisely’s findings, as well as those who actually retain the pearl. Following further confrontations – both physical and vehicular – Wisely persuades Pak Kei Wei’s sister, Sue Pak (Joey Wong), to unite with him and rescue Ko in perilous quest to solve the mystery of the golden pearl. Their journey ultimately takes the trio back to Nepal, via Egypt, with Pak Kei Wei in hot pursuit. Hidden agendas, concealed identities and labyrinth temple passages all await; but the biggest question remains: who is exactly Howard Hope? And what are his real intentions?!

Verdict: In addition to minor inconsistencies (to reveal more would inconvenience potential audiences into a conjectural debate over the complexity of the storyline which, to a point, coalesces with an almost elaborate formality), there are several loose ends that, despite fostering a need for clarity, never quite resolves itself. And to assert “a twist ending” would somehow advertise an intellectual falsity. Clever it is not! Intriguing, yes! But it’s all about spectacle before all else.

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Full trailer for John Woo’s romantic war film ‘The Crossing’

"The Crossing" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Crossing" Chinese Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: John Woo’s long-in-development movie The Crossing (aka Love and Let Love) is a lush period romance set during the Sino-Japanese War and was previously known under the title 1949. The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Masami Nagasawa, and Song Hye-kyo.

The Crossing may not be the action epic that many of John Woo’s fans were hoping he would do next, but it’s still encouraging to have the acclaimed director back in good health and ready to work.

Updates: The movie has so far been billed as a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story, Chang promises that the historical setting means John Woo will be recreating battles from World War II and the Chinese Civil War. Good thing the film has a budget of $30 million, then!

According to THR, The Crossing is being dubbed the “Chinese Titanic,” in which it “celebrates the power of love” during a difficult period in Chinese history.

Updates: Watch the first trailer.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the first full length trailer.

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Deal on Fire! A Better Tomorrow | Blu-ray | Only $9.99 – Expires soon!

"A Better Tomorrow" Blu-ray Cover

"A Better Tomorrow" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for 2010′s A Better Tomorrow, a Korean remake of the 1986 John Woo film of the same name.

In the treacherous world of the black-market weapons trade, honor and vengeance go hand in hand…

This new take on the Hong Kong gangster classic features an all-star cast including Kim Gang-Woo’s (Marine Boy), Joo Jin-Mo’s (Musa) and Jo Han-Seon. It’s directed by Song Hae-Seong (Failan) and produced by John Woo himself.

Order A Better Tomorrow from Amazon.com today!

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Will Schwarzenegger be back for a ‘Running Man’ sequel?

"The Running Man" Theatrical Poster

"The Running Man" Theatrical Poster

Arnold Schwarzenegger will already “be back” for another Terminator, a 3rd Conan and a new Twins (aka Triplets) sequel. Now, there’s another 80s title he may be revisiting: the 1987 Sci Fi action/thriller The Running Man.

During a Q&A event in London, Schwarzenegger had this to say: “It’s an honor to be asked back after all these years, back to the [Conan] franchise. This is really wild… They’re doing a Twins sequel, to be called Triplets. I’ve read the first draft. There’s rumblings of a new Running Man movie, so it’s a great honor to be asked back…”

The original Running Man was based on a story by Stephen King about a futuristic TV show, where condemned criminals are given a chance for freedom by running through a gauntlet of heavily armed killers known as “Stalkers”.

If a new Running Man movie is indeed in the works, we’ll be sure to keep the updates coming. - Thanks to EP.com for the story!

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R.I.P. Ken Takakura, Japanese actor

"Yakuza" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Yakuza" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Media outlets are reporting the death of acclaimed Japanese actor Ken Takakura, who died at the age of 83 on November 10th, due to lymphoma.

Takakura has left behind a memorable body of work, but he is perhaps best known to mainstream audiences for co-starring in Robert Aldrich’s Too Late the Hero (1970), Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza (1974), Ridley Scott’s Black Rain (1989) and the comedy, Mr. Baseball (1992), opposite Tom Selleck.

Takakura mostly played Yakuza-type characters, due to his brooding, but cool style. Some of his most notable Japanese films include Golgo 13 (1973), The Bullet Train (1975), The Yellow Handkerchief (1977), Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005), and his latest film, Dearest (2012).

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

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Watch the second trailer for Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’

"Marco Polo" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Marco Polo" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Netflix’s first 10-episode season of Marco Polo will soon be streaming on a TV or device near you. Judging from its new trailerMarco Polo promises the whole package: history, romance, drama, sex, swordplay and even some martial arts!

The series is written by John Fusco (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend) and the first episode is directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales).

The series stars Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Chin Han, Zhu Zhu, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Mahesh Jadu, Tom Wu, Remy Hii, Uli Latukefu, and Rick Yune.

In addition to Netflix’s Marco Polo, Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) has signed on to helm his own version of Marco Polo, which will be a 3D fantasy/action take on the story. There have also been additional reports that Cohen is considering his Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor leading man Jet Li (Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate) for a role.

Countless projects about the Venetian adventurer have been made in the past, but the obvious one that comes to our mind is 1975′s Marco Polo (aka Four Assassins), a Chang Cheh-directed Shaw Brothers film starring Richard Harrison, Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun, Gordon Liu, Leung Kar Yan and Shih Szu.

Catch Netflix’s Marco Polo on December 12th. Until then, don’t miss the first trailer!

Updates: The second full trailer has been released.

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Arrow delivers two killer Japanese classics for its U.S. debut!

"Massacre Gun" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Massacre Gun" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Good news for those looking to add some Japanese gangster classics to their collection. Arrow Films – a UK-based film distributor that recently announced the expansion of its label into North America – is releasing two Yasuharu Hasebe (Assault! Jack the Ripper) titles to their U.S. debut line up.

The first is Massacre Gun (1967), a thriller about Kuroda (Jo Shishido of Branded to Kill), a mob hitman who turns on his employers after being forced to execute his lover. The second is Retaliation (1968), a tale of gang warfare that also stars Shishido, along with Akira Kobayashi (Battles Without Honor) and Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood).

Along with the Italian Western flick, Day of Anger, these films are part of Arrow’s first wave of North American releases, all of which should hit retailers in early 2015. Stay tuned for pre-order information!

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Park Chan-wook to helm futuristic thriller ‘Second Born’

"Oldboy" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Oldboy" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Visionary director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) is set to direct Second Born, a U.S. made, sci-fi thriller based on a screenplay by David Jagernauth.

According to Variety, “Second Born takes place in a futuristic world in which neural microchip implants are used to store one’s consciousness, leading to black market body-swapping.”

Park is also attached to a South Korean film called Fingersmith, which revolves around a group of female thieves and their plan to swindle a heiress.

As always, we’ll keep you updated on both Second Born and Fingersmith as we hear more. Stay tuned!

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Order Gordon Chan’s ‘Four 3D’ from DDDhouse.com today!

"Four 3D" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Four 3D" Chinese Theatrical Poster

All the way back when Gordon Chan’s 2012 wuxia picture The Four was announced, the producers were not shy about declaring their plans for a trilogy. Following their delivery of 2013′s The Four 2, Hong Kong cinema buffs should be pleased to hear that they kept their promise with Four 3D.

Now, DDDHouse.com has Four 3D on Blu-ray & DVD. The Four 3D is the third and final installment of the series, starring Deng Chao, Collin Chou, Ronald Cheng, Anthony Wong and Crystal Liu.

To make this news even better, these releases are coded for all region, so they are fully compatible with your North American Blu-ray/DVD players – so play on, player!

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Raw Force | aka Kung Fu Cannibals (1982) Review

"Raw Force" Blu-ray Cover

"Raw Force" Blu-ray Cover

AKA: Shogun Island
Director: Edward D. Murphy
Writer: Edward D. Murphy
Producer: Frank E. Johnson, Lawrence Woolner
Cast: John Dresden, Cameron Mitchell, Hope Holiday, Jillian Kesner, Rey Malonzo, Geoffrey Binney, Jewel Shepard, Camille Keaton, Jennifer Holmes, Vic Diaz, Rolly Tan, Reymond King
Running Time: 86 min.

By Paul Bramhall

It’s almost become somewhat of a trend amongst genre fans in the US of late to unearth previously forgotten about, or in many cases considered lost, 80’s and 90’s B-movies. Not only are titles dug up out of obscurity, they’re usually given the full re-master treatment along with one-off cinema screenings, regardless of the questionable quality of the movies themselves. Recent examples have been Drafthouse Films’ release of the 1987 ninja flick Miami Connection, and Cinema Epoch also got in on the action with their release of the 1991 oddity Samurai Cop.

The appeal of these movies seem to be in their complete lack of awareness of all involved not realizing how poorly acted, shoddily filmed, and completely incoherent what they’re making really is. Hence, any reviews of said titles inevitably will have the expression “so bad it’s good” coined somewhere along the way. Such movies have to be viewed in a certain context; these titles aren’t the type of viewing experience you’ll watch when in the mood for a quiet night in alone, they’re movies to invite a bunch of friends around, have a fridge stocked full of beer, and leave your brain at the door.

The latest title to be brought kicking and screaming from the vaults, thanks to the guys at Vinegar Syndrome, is Raw Force, a 1982 production that is arguably raw in more ways than the title intended. The plot alone is the stuff B-movie dreams are made of. A couple of guys, who are introduced as being members of a karate club, take a cruise which is scheduled to visit the imaginatively named Warriors Island. Said island is, for reasons never mentioned, the resting place for various disgraced martial arts masters.

These days, the island is inhabited by a group of mysterious monks, who are known to have the power to bring the dead back to life, thanks to their diet of, ummm, young naked women. Barbequed young naked women. The remote island is supplied with these women thanks to a German gentleman sporting a Hitler moustache, who goes around abducting prostitutes while pretending to be a police officer along with his lackeys, and then transporting the scantily clad ladies in a bamboo cage.

That’s pretty much it, except for the small detail that despite only being 85 minutes in length, it takes 55 of these for our karate club members and their stragglers to actually arrive on the island. So what takes them so long? Well, for close to an hour proceedings are dedicated to various happenings on board the cruise ship. Of course it could also be due to the fact that during this time, it’s blatantly evident in every shot taken on the deck that the water is perfectly still. Still as in, the ship is completely stationery and not moving at all. So after 55 minutes of not seeing the ship move a single inch (unless you’re counting stock footage of ships from afar), I guess we should be happy they get there at all.

First time director Edward D. Murphy spends the time on the cruise ship clumsily trying to give the guys, and a couple of other male characters that they meet up with, love interests. Thankfully though, we’re not watching an episode of Love Boat, so what this really translates to in the B-movie world is various scenes of ladies getting naked. These scenes are no doubt supposed to act as moments of titillation for the viewer, however they’re filled with such cringe worthy lines that any chance of arousal is likely to be zero, kind of like when watching a porn and the guys making more noise than the girl. It just kills it.

There’s also a chef who happens to know kung fu and is styled to look and act like Bruce Lee. That’s right, a whole 10 years before Steven Seagal did his thing in Under Siege, a Filipino actor by the name of Rey Malonzo did the whole chef-on-a-boat-who-can-kick-ass routine. Kung fu fighting zombie ass to be precise, which makes Seagal taking on Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones seem dull in comparison. Speaking of the Philippines, Raw Force is another one of the countless Hollywood B-movies produced in the early 80s which was entirely shot there.

In a featurette on the DVD, director Murphy, who comes across as humorous and good natured, explains that he was trying to get a job in Hollywood, and finally after a couple of years, producer Lawrence Woolner agreed to meet him. At the time, zombie and kung fu movies were particularly popular, so Woolner had the idea to combine them both, and Murphy managed to convince him to get the green light and direct the feature, tentatively titled Kung Fu Zombies. As Murphy had shot a few movies in the Philippines before as an actor, he decided to go back there. Woolner had told him he needed to have some recognizable names attached to the production, so he managed to cast old school western star Cameron Mitchell as the ship’s captain, and as at the time Mitchell was in a relationship with actress Hope Holiday, they came as a package deal and she was cast as the manager of the ship.

Raw Force promises to deliver “zombies, cannibals, outrageous action, gore, and copious amounts of nudity,” and while it does deliver all of them in varying doses, for me it just missed out on lacking that special ingredient to push it into the higher echelons of the “so bad it’s good” genre. Raw Force is certainly bad, but it delivers its badness with an unaware charm which tends to bring more smiles than outright laughs. During the 85 minutes, we’re presented with more breasts than a nudist camp, a chef who fights off zombies using nunchucks, a thug whose choice of attire is a yellow plastic construction site helmet, and a group of zombies who are so inexperienced at acting that they self consciously look at the camera as they walk past it.

Which reminds me, I guess I should mention the zombies. It’s safe to say their acting is as bad as everyone else’s, and they only really appear for the final 20 minutes. Amusingly in one scene there are two zombies trying to attack one of the characters, and the zombie behind, clearly wanting the one in front to walk faster, keeps on pushing him in the back to propel him forward. Acting 101 this isn’t. If any of what’s been mentioned appeals to you, then chances are that there’s enjoyment to be had from Raw Force. As the movie comes to a close, the famous words “To Be Continued….” pop up on the screen, promising a second dose of cruise ship frolicking and disgraced martial arts zombies. However director Murphy, amongst much laughter, reveals that it was the producers who stuck that on there, and that there most definitely is no sequel. Depending on who you are, you’ll either be breathing a sigh of relief, or one of disappointment.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6/10

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From the director of ‘Blood and Bone’ comes ‘Black Salt’!

"Black Salt" Teaser Poster

"Black Salt" Teaser Poster

Writer/director Ben Ramsey – a talent predominantly known for penning Kirk Wong’s The Big Hit (1998) and directing Blood and Bone (2009) – is back with a new martial arts short titled Black Salt. Based on the indie comic book of the same name, the film stars Kinyumba Mutakabbir as an Interpol agent who is out to save mankind from a global threat!

Black Salt also stars James Lew (The Perfect Weapon), Michelle Lee (Mortal Kombat: Legacy), Arnold Chon (Cradle 2 the Grave), Panuvat Anthony Nanakornpanom (Warrior), Sheena Chou (Slumber Party Slaughter) and fight choreography by Ron Yuan (Black Dynamite). Don’t miss the trailer!

Updates: Watch the 2nd trailer, thanks to Film Combat Syndicate.

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Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray (Universal)

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray (Universal)

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray (Universal)

RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2015

Universal presents the Blu-ray for 1993′s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious). Jason Scott Lee stars in this unforgettable glimpse into the life of the legendary Bruce Lee.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is presented in 1080p with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. Features include: Commentary with Rob Cohen, Archival Introduction, The Making of Featurette, Behind-the-Scenes Reel, Jason Scott Lee Screen Test, Bruce Lee Interview/Photographs, Storyboards, Production Photographs and Theatrical Trailers.

Pre-order Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story from Amazon.com today!

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

Watch the trailer for Takeshi Kitano’s new Yakuza comedy!

"Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Following 2010′s Outrage and its 2012 sequel, Outrage Beyond, Takeshi Kitano is back for another round of Yakuza action. Only this time, it’s a comedy called Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen, which is a playful nod to Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

According to Film Business Asia, Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen is about a retired crime boss (Tatsuya Fuji) who calls up his old gang after he becomes the victim of a scam. The film also stars Masaomi Kondo, Akira Nakao, Akira Onodera, Toru Shinagawa, Ben Hiura, Yoshizumi Ito and Ken Yoshizawa.

Kitano wrote, directed and edited the film. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a solid role, but he does have a cameo appearance. Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen opens domestically on April 25th, 2015. Don’t miss the trailer.

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Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series | DVD (Shout! Factory)

Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series | DVD | Shout! Factory

Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series | DVD | Shout! Factory

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series. Produced by Toei and Bandai, Super Sentai Zyuranger aired in Japan on February 21, 1992 to February 12, 1993, with a total of 50 episodes. It was the first Sentai series to be adapted into an American TV show; in this case, the extremely popular Power Rangers series!

For the first time, Shout! Factory is delivering the entire Super Sentai Zyuranger series in its original Japanese language, uncut and subtitled, in this 10-disc DVD set! The series stars Yūta Mochizuki, Aohisa Takayasu, Hideki Fujiwara, Takumi Hashimoto, Reiko Chiba and Shiro Izumi. Watch the TV show’s original opening.

Pre-order Super Sentai Zyuranger: The Complete Series from Amazon.com today!

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Second trailer for Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson’s ‘Martial Arts Kid’

"The Martial Arts Kid" Theatrical Poster

"The Martial Arts Kid" Theatrical Poster

Martial arts stars Don “The Dragon” Wilson (Bloodfist) and Cynthia Rothrock’s (Shanghai ExpressMartial Arts Kid is just around the corner. The upcoming film is about a troubled teen (Jansen Panetierre) from Detroit who begins to learn martial arts when he moves to Florida to live with his aunt (Rothrock) and uncle (Wilson).

The Martial Arts Kid also stars newcomer Nassim Faras “Young Dragon” Lahrizi, T.J. Storm (Punisher: War Zone), Matthew Ziff (Six Gun Savior) and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace (The Protector).

Michael Baumgarten (The Guest House) is directing and co-writing along with Adam W. Marsh (Monster Mountain). James Lew (Big Trouble in Little China) will be choreographing the action. Producers include Cheryl Wheeler Duncan (Point of No Return) and James Wilson, former trainer and brother of Don.

Updates: Watch the teaser trailer.

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

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Kung Fu Grindhouse Theatre | DVD (World Wide Multi Media)

The Kung Fu Grindhouse Theatre | DVD (World Wide Multi Media)

The Kung Fu Grindhouse Theatre | DVD (World Wide Multi Media)

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2015

World Wide Multi Media presents the DVD for Kung Fu Grindhouse Theatre, which includes two untitled films.

In the 1st, an escaped convict is out to claim the Sword of Destiny for his own, in order to wield its power, he must defeat the 3 Blind Mice and the beautiful sirens: Dynamite and Butterfly!

In the 2nd, a female Ninja is banished when she opposes the execution of an innocent Ninja. She seeks revenge, but must first battle her way through the ninja’s hierarchy of assassins!

Pre-order Kung Fu Grindhouse Theatre from Amazon.com today!

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Matt Damon will be ‘Bourne’ again for Paul Greengrass in 2016

"The Bourne Legacy" Japanese DVD Cover

"The Bourne Legacy" Japanese DVD Cover

According to Variety, Universal is moving forward with a fifth movie in The Bourne Identity franchise and Jeremy Renner will be returning as Aaron Cross. Justin Lin (Fast & Furious franchise) is directing and Anthony Peckham (screenwriter of 2009′s Sherlock Holmes) has been approached to write the screenplay.

There has been some talk about Matt Damon (who portrayed Jason Bourne in the first three films) teaming up with Renner, but so far, it’s all just speculation. If the fifth movie will have the word “Bourne” in its title, a team up would make sense. Otherwise, they might as well just branch off into a new franchise (i.e. The Further Adventures of Aaron Cross).

Updates: Collider reports that Justin Lin (Fast & Furious franchise) is directing the fifth Bourne movie, which may be based on Eric Van Lustbader’s novel, The Bourne Betrayal. | Deadline reports that the film has an July 15, 2016 release date.

According to Collider, Universal Pictures is currently making deals with both Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass to return for another Bourne film. So what about Justin Lin’s Bourne film? Well, here’s the deal: Lin’s Bourne film will be a follow up to 2012′s The Bourne Legacy, and will star Renner. If Greengrass accepts Universal’s offer, then he will make his follow up to 2007′s The Bourne Ultimatum, which will star Damon. So yeah, two different Bourne films.

BREAKING NEWS: During an interview with E!, Damon confirmed another Bourne film: “Yes, we shoot next year. It’ll be in 2016 when the movie will actually come out. Director Paul Greengrass is going to do another one and that’s all I ever said. I just needed him to say yes.”

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Deal on Fire! True Legend | Blu-ray | Only $6.99 – Expires soon!

"True Legend" Blu-ray Cover

"True Legend" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Yuen Woo Ping’s drunken fighting-themed flick True Legend.

According to HKfanatic’s review, True Legend is full of excellent, wire-assisted martial arts battles. The emphasis here is on R-rated blows to the head and lethal stabbings rather than balletic, dance-like moves.”

True Legend stars Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), David Carradine (Kill Bill), Jay Chou (The Green Hornet), Cung Le (Dragon Eyes), and Vincent Zhao (Wu Dang).

Order True Legend from Amazon.com today!

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As the Light Goes Out (2014) Review

"As the Light Goes Out" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"As the Light Goes Out" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Derek Kwok
Writer: Derek Kwok, Leung Lai Yin
Producer: Albert Lee
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Simon Yam, Hu Jun, Patrick Tam, Liu Kai Chi, Andy On, Bai Bing, Michelle Wai, Deep Ng Ho Hong, Jackie Chan
Running Time: 116 min.

By Kyle Warner

There seems to be a shared belief among most filmgoers that firefighter dramas have nothing new to say or do. And while it’s true that As the Light Goes Out does occasionally tread on some familiar ground, it also proves that there are still new ideas for the fireman genre. Derek Kwok’s dreamlike visual style makes As the Light Goes Out a firefighter film unlike any other.

On one hot and steamy Christmas Eve, a Hong Kong firehouse responds to a warehouse inferno. They put out the flames, but their commander Sam (Nicholas Tse) is worried about the natural gas pipes nearby the structure. He’s about to order his men to secure the area when his superior, Yip (Andy On), arrives on scene and tells them not to bother. They’re expecting a visit from the higher-ups and Yip wants his men back at the firehouse to make a good impression.

Of course, the job left unfinished comes back to bite them. The fire reignites and it reaches the natural gas pipes, which lead to the city’s power station, eventually causing a massive blackout on one of the hottest nights of the year. Now Sam and his crew must rush to the power station where the fire rages and attempt to restore order to the city in darkness.

Director Derek Kwok (Gallants) infuses the movie with incredible visuals and a moody atmosphere. The debris and smoke swirls are abstract and the music is often eerie, lending the film an almost supernatural ambiance. The film opens with talk about how breathing in black smoke can lead to hallucinations and death. Occasionally, in the smokiest parts of the film, it’s like the characters are walking through a dreamscape while choking on death. It’s a frightening scenario, but it’s also kind of beautiful in a visual sense.

As the Light Goes Out also has a larger scope than most firefighter dramas. The stakes are high and the city itself feels the impact of the fires, not just those trapped in the building. It’s a big, loud film with some awesome sets and action sequences.

The script could’ve used a bit of work, though. While I responded to the band of brothers’ sacrifice and heroics, I felt the film tried too hard to add more and more drama where it wasn’t needed. One guy’s breaking up with his girlfriend on Christmas Eve, another guy’s dealing with a struggling marriage, and another man is haunted by memories of the son he couldn’t save from a fire. Most the drama between the leads originates from the film’s prologue. Something goes wrong on a call and a review board interrogates Yip, Sam, and the film’s other lead, Chill (Shawn Yue). It’s clear that somebody needs to take the fall for the screw up, so Chill tells the review board he was the one responsible for the mission going off course. A year later and it’s still a source of tension in the firehouse. A bit of conflict between our heroes is all well and good, but we get it in the form of an infodump so early on in the film. It never really connects with the viewer. Instead it stunts the drama, making the conflict between the characters feel more like a distraction than anything else.

Still, the actors do their best to make the strained character relations work. Nicholas Tse is great in a restrained performance as Sam, a man just trying to do the right thing. Shawn Yue is good as the conflicted Chill. Simon Yam plays an aging hero who feels challenged by the Mainland China import Ocean (Hu Jun). Yam’s great, playing the tough guy who’s well past his prime. But it’s Hu Jun who makes the biggest impression, bringing a steely resolve to a character that might’ve been difficult to believe in with a less capable actor. Jun’s Ocean may be the ultimate firefighter, what with his photographic memory of building blueprints, superman strength, and lone wolf survival skills. It’s a big character but Jun’s excellent in the role. Sadly, one can’t throw many compliments Andy On’s way, who fails to bring Yip to life. Andy On also frequently switches from Cantonese to English in the middle of multiple scenes, which I found distracting.

We also get an amusing cameo from Jackie Chan early in the film. He appears in a firefighter recruitment video with his Police Story theme song playing in the background. Jackie says, “The Fire Department needs you!” and the TV spot ends, leading one of the firemen to question the logic of casting Jackie Chan in the recruitment vid. “But isn’t Jackie Chan from Police Story?” It’s a brief but entertaining moment in an otherwise dark and somber film.

Though the character dynamics do not connect the way one might’ve wished, there’s enough beneath the surface to make the film work as more than just ‘style over substance.’ But make no mistake, the reason to see the movie is because of its visual flourishes.

When you get right down to it, As the Light Goes Out is just a cool movie. It doesn’t break any new ground (though, one can see the director was trying), it doesn’t have the deepest story or characters, and it may not unseat Backdraft or Hong Kong’s own Lifeline as the most popular firefighter film. But it’s an impressively made movie, full of suspense, cool special effects, and fast-paced action. I really liked it.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 7/10

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Cynthia Rothrock reunites with ‘No Retreat, No Surrender II’ co-star for a ‘Bitchfight’

"No Retreat, No Surrender 2" American VHS Cover

"No Retreat, No Surrender 2" American VHS Cover

Action star Cynthia Rothrock (Shanghai Express) is reuniting with her No Retreat, No Surrender II co-star, Max Thayer, for a Grindhouse-style, Tarantino-esque martial arts flick titled Bitchfight, directed by UK filmmaker and cult movie historian, Dean Meadows.

According to a press release (via Film Combat Syndicate), “Bitchfight harks back to the glory days of the 80’s and early 90’s when video stores where lined with low budget action classics from the likes of Golan/Globus, Roger Corman and Cirio Santiago.”

Meadows stated, “We’re making this movie for all those fans who remember the excitement of going into the video store and anticipating the next release from companies such as Cannon, you know the old-school stuff starring guys like Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff and Steve James…”

Bitchfight is set to start shooting in the Spring of 2015. Stay tuned!

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