Mark Dacascos gears up for war in ‘Garrison 7: The Fallen’

"Garrison 7: The Fallen" Teaser Poster

"Garrison 7: The Fallen" Teaser Poster

Australian filmmaker, Scott Brewer – known for his stuntwork in films like The Matrix and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – is in pre-produciton phase for his upcoming Garrison 7 series, which has martial arts star Mark Dacascos (Drive) and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) attached as leads, not to mention, Brewer himself.

So far, two, very slick concept posters have been released for Garrison 7: The Fallen and Garrison 7 (click here to view), both due for release in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

In the meantime, Garrison 7: The Hunt (aka G7: The Hunt), an action-short, which the future films will be based on, should be seeing the light of day any time. Until then, don’t miss its impressive teaser.

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The Guardsman | aka Imperial Bodyguard | DVD (Lionsgate)

The Guardsman | DVD (Lionsgate)

The Guardsman | DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2015

Lionsgate has presents the DVD for The Guardsman (aka Imperial Bodyguard), a 2011 Chinese martial arts film starring Yan Jie (Young Detective Dee), Yuen Biao (Knockabout), Cheng Pei-pei (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Wu Ma (Once Upon A Chinese Hero).

Official plot: When the Emperor travels in disguise to understand the problems that his people face, his enemies discover his identity and team up with Japanese pirates to assassinate him. Now, it is up to a group of loyal warriors to protect the Emperor and bring peace to the kingdom. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Guardsman from Amazon.com today!

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

Olga Kurylenko gains ‘Momentum’ as a female action star!

"Momentum" Theatrical Poster

"Momentum" Theatrical Poster

With two video game adaptations, a Bond flick and a handful of other action packed titles under her belt – actress/model and former Bond Girl – Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) is officially an action star. We furthermore rest our case with the newly released trailer for Momentum, the debut thriller from Stephen S. Campanelli, which also stars James Purefoy (The Following).

When an infiltration expert with a secret past accidentally reveals her identity during what should have been a routine heist, she quickly finds herself mixed up in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a master assassin and his team of killers. Armed with her own set of lethal skills, she’s out for revenge!

Look for it in theaters on October 16th, 2015. Don’t miss the trailer!

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Private Eyes, The | aka Mr. Boo (1976) Review

"The Private Eyes" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Private Eyes" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Michael Hui, John Woo
Writer: Michael Hui
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Michael Hui, Sam Hui, Ricky Hui, Stanley Hui, Shih Kien, Angie Chiu, Chen Hung Lieh, Huang Ha, Tsang Choh Lam, Richard Ng, Billy Chan, Chan Laap Ban, Cheng Siu Ping, Mars, Melvin Wong Gam San, Siu Gam, Zhu Mu, Ng Git Keung
Running Time: 94 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

Hong Kong comedy veteran, Michael Hui, has, for veritable reasons, seemed to excel both artisitcally and commercially whenever he’s temporarily halted, taken stock and examined his lively career with honest conviction: afterall, comedy in all of its unique and vivacious forms is a far more complex discipline to reproduce, even sustain, compared to, say, the traditionalism of the bard. However since the early 70′s, Hui has perpetually strived to reinvent himself, often employing a symbolic blank canvas to draw inspiration from.

With this uncommon approach, Hui has ably maintained an array of conciously realized and distinguishable characters, each retaining singular quirks and visual nuances befitting of any superstar of Hui’s worth: if it isn’t outrageous disguises or goofy gimmicks, his sardonic verbal dexterity is an equal strength not to be overlooked; in fact, Hui’s repertoire – which could be directly matched with the late, great Peter Sellers – is so multi-faceted and perfectly delivered he’s even funnier when his personas act in a laconic manner, exhibiting wry (facial) expressions or gestures of bemusement – sometimes at the expense of physical discomfort. A craft that deservedly warrants appreciation.

A former English teacher, Micheal Hui (aka Hui Kune-Man) made an extraordinary debut as a game show host on HKTVB in 1971. Following on from his extensive, needless to say, highly animated television work, Hui co-partnered with his younger brother, Sam, to present The Hui Brothers Show – a weekly airing that was constructed around reciprocal banter, jovial songs (from Sam) and short, intelligently devised sketches. Again risible and idiosyncratic, yet pleasingly, family orientated without the slightest suggestion of profanity or crass dialogue, The Hui Brothers Show swiftly catapulted both Michael and Sam into film stardom; though initially with rival production studios, while middle brother, Ricky eventually graced the kinetic proceedings as a daffy addition, tantamount to enunciating deadpan retorts, cock-tailed with either coy embarassment or blank faced stupidity.

Prior to the Hui’s triumvirate collaborations throughout the mid to late 70′s/early 80′s with unsurpassed classics such as: Games Gamblers Play (1974), The Last Message (1975) and Security Unlimited (1981), the monopolistic force of the renowned Shaw Brothers were duly impressed with Micheal’s brand of infectious genius to the point of contracting the elder Hui to spearhead a series of comedy slanted features (a genre the Shaws’ hadn’t really delved too much into beforehand!). The first, The Warlord (1972) was for its era, sharply tongued and irrepressibly funny, despite containing mildly controversial sub-themes. A huge box office sensation that almost went toe to toe with Bruce Lee’s The Way of the Dragon (1972), expeditiously the Shaws’, undoubtedly gratified, injected further time and sponsorship into Hui’s ballooning popularity: what annually suceeded was The Happiest Moment (1973), Scandal (1974) and Sinful Confessions (also 1974) until – like the majority of contractees – Hui objected against the financial restrictions imposed by the Shaws’ then-apparent ravenous preoccupation with wealth.

By then, the balloon had burst, and pastures new beckoned in the form of Golden Harvest, home to numerous ex-clear water bay refugees: Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Wei and Huang Feng for example. Happily, Hui was permitted to establish ‘The Hui Brothers Film Company’ in association with Golden Harvest president, Raymond Chow and his business counterpart, Leonard Ho. Together with his sibblings, and an almost carte blanche arrangement, Hui began developing scripts which in comparative terms were innovative and fresh, yet not all critics were receptive or enthused with the content. However that all changed in 1976 with the highly anticipated release of The Private Eyes.

Hailed as one of the funniest films – by Hong Kong standards – of the 70′s to emerge in consequence to a flagging industry still (though temporarily) fixated with Bruce Lee’s commercial absense. Hui, instead, ingeniously and mirthfully takes centre stage as Joseph Wong Yeuk-Sze, a parsimonious, uber conceited and utterly inept private eye, who is more attentive too his social status and bank balance than investigating the likes of amorous philanderers, fraudsters, a mad bomber and/or predictable shoplifters.

Plot-wise, Private Eyes on first viewing could appear as a rootless exercise into the profit margin, anchored only by witty dialogue and situational slapstick as Hui’s script/direction more than counterbalances for what could be perceived as (a) deliberate incoherence. Antagonists and protagonists (Shek Kien and Richard Ng, respectively) alike drift into the activiities and disappear with frequent regularity only to reconvene at the picture’s finale, staged in a local cinema during the projection of A Queen’s Ransom (1976). But on further inspection, Hui has constructed this masterpiece like a gliding sequence of interlinking mini-sketches scaffolded by co-stars, Ricky and Sam Hui, as fledging assistants, Puffy and Lee Kwok Kit – each as wacky in their approach to surveillance as Michael/Wong is to displaying (in)effective hand-to-hand combat. This was highlighted in a 1990 documentary entitled The Best of Martial Arts (aka The Most Deadiest Art). Famously, it is a scene in which Wong believes his wallet has been lifted by an opportunistic pickpocket. He pursues his suspect into a hotel kitchen where a ludicrous duel ensues as cooking implements, a pair of footlong sausages (substituted as Nunchakus) and a wok are all dynamically employed under the careful arrangements of Sammo Hung Kim Po.

To divulge more, specifically pertaining to Hui’s spirited Bugs Bunny visage or impromptu flatulence as a result of eating too many carrots, or demonstrating aerobics with an uncooked chicken would be considered an unsolicited grievance, especially to latent audiences interested in rediscovering cult retrospectives. Nevertheless Private Eyes is a film that, if nothing else, assuredly justifies acclaim. There are no enigmatic complexities, spiritual metaphors or Taoist philosophies contained therein: it’s simply an irresistible treat!

(This review is dedicated to Michelle Capps: an angel who walks in the light).

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 9/10

Posted in All, Chinese, Golden Harvest, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lionsgate’s new U.S. trailer for ‘Zero Tolerance’ starring Adkins, Nguyen, Daniels and Kosugi – plus DVD release date!

"Zero Tolerance" Theatrical Poster

"Zero Tolerance" Theatrical Poster

Over a year ago, we filled you in on a Thai action movie called Angels, which starred Sahajak Boonthanakit (Streetfighter: Legend of Chun Li), Dustin Nguyen (The Rebel), Gary Daniels (City Hunter) and Ammy Chanicha (The Hangover 2).

Sadly, Angels was never released anywhere, except Vietnam. But now, after a series of re-shoots, re-edits, newly added star power – and even a fresh movie title – Angels will be seen by the rest of world in the form of Zero Tolerance.

In Zero Tolerance, two former para-military operatives, Johnny and his police detective friend Peter, search Bangkok to find the killers of Johnny’s beautiful daughter Angel – Leaving carnage and retribution throughout city.

Angels filmmaker Wych Kaosayananda (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) had this to say about the Angels/Zero Tolerance makeover: “Angels has undergone some pretty radical changes since the start of 2014, we’ve done some additional shooting and added Scott Adkins to the cast and it should be released sometime this year under the new name, Zero Tolerance.”

In addition to Adkins being added to the cast, Kane Kosugi (Choy Lee Fut, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear) will also be appearing in Zero Tolerance. We haven’t seen a splice job like this since Jackie Chan’s The Protector. Regardless, having Nguyen, Adkins, Daniels and Kosugi in one movie makes up for any questionable production tactics. | Watch the trailer.

Updates: Lionsgate is releasing the DVD for Zero Tolerance (read our review) on December 1, 2015 (Pre-order at Amazon.com). Watch the official North American trailer right now!

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Cynthia Rothrock, Gary Daniels, Daniel Bernhardt, Kathy Long and Chris Mitchum team up for ‘Action Star Christmas’!

"Action Star Christmas" DVD Cover

"Action Star Christmas" DVD Cover

Get in the holiday spirit for Action Star Christmas, an upcoming film starring Cynthia Rothrock (Righting WrongsNo Retreat, No Surrender II), Gary Daniels (Tekken, City Hunter), Daniel Bernhardt (Matrix Reloaded, Bloodsport 2), Kathy Long (Knights) and Chris Mitchum (Master Samurai, Chinese Commandos).

Think of it as a Christmas B movie meets The Expendables minus the violence. Whatever the case, it’s a perfect gag gift stocking stuffer for fans who love low-budget action flicks of the 90s and 70s.

Action Star Christmas (formerly known as Santa’s Summer House) hits DVD on November 3, 2015 (pre-order at Amazon). Until then, we leave you with the trailer for Master Samurai, a Filipino action classic starring Chris Mitchum. Enjoy!

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New trailer for Mark Dacascos’ all-star ‘Showdown in Manila’!

"Showdown in Manila" Theatrical Poster

"Showdown in Manila" Theatrical Poster

Martial arts star Mark Dacascos (Drive) is putting finishing touches on Showdown in Manila, an Expendables-esque movie that he not only stars in, but also directs. The upcoming film marks the second directorial project for Dacascos, following his unreleased, Russian-produced debut feature, Changing Lives. Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die), who worked with Dacascos in 2003′s Cradle 2 the Grave, is producing.

The film also stars 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), Alexander Nevsky (Black Rose), Tia Carrere (Showdown in Little Tokyo), Iza Calzado and Monsour del Rosario.

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

Updates: Video footage ( 1 | 2 ) from the film’s press event, which features interviews with Iza Calzado, Cynthia Rothrock, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa and Casper Van Dien and more | Promotional shot.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the new English trailer for Showdown in Manila (via FCS). The film’s release date is pending. Stay tuned!

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Deal on Fire! Bloodsport/Timecop | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

"Bloodsport & Timecop" Blu-ray Cover

"Bloodsport & Timecop" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for the Action Double Feature, featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport & Timecop.

Van Damme makes his screen debut in 1988′s Bloodsport, the stirring brawlfest about the first Westerner ever to win the Kumite, Hong Kong’s fierce, full-contact fighting competition.

In Timecop, a traveling politico (Ron Silver) sets out to change the past so he can pave his career path to the White House. But a Time Enforcement Commission cop (Van Damme) is on his trail.

Order this Action Double Feature from Amazon.com today!

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Keanu Reeves to take a page from Jackie Chan in ‘Rally Car’

"John Wick" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"John Wick" Japanese Theatrical Poster

If nothing else, the 1980′s Cannonball Run films – which focused on a wacky cross-country race with a plethora of celebrity cameos – are remembered as one of Jackie Chan’s first forays into Hollywood cinema. Now it looks as though Keanu Reeves (John Wick) is taking a page from Jackie Chan’s playbook by heading to China for a little racing action of his own in Rally Car. The project, to be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is a Chinese/American co-production centered around a race across China.

Of course, Keanu Reeves is no stranger to Chinese cinema. His directorial debut Man of Tai Chi featured a bevy of Hong Kong talent, including Karen Mok (Black Mask) and Simon Yam (SPL II), and was shot in cities like Macau and Beijing. Thus, the actor seems like a natural fit to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the East in Rally Car.

The producers are still seeking a director but word is that the film could begin shooting soon, even as Keanu Reeves preps for another movie highly anticipated by action fans: John Wick 2. Thanks to AICN for the story.

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Zero Tolerance | aka Angel | DVD (Lionsgate)

Zero Tolerance | DVD (Lionsgate)

Zero Tolerance | DVD (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2015

Lionsgate presents the DVD for Wych Kaosayananda’s Zero Tolerance (read our review) starring Scott Adkins (Wolf Warrior), Dustin Nguyen (The Rebel), Gary Daniels (City Hunter), Ammy Chanicha (The Hangover 2), Kane Kosugi (Choy Lee Fut) and Sahajak Boonthanakit (Streetfighter: Legend of Chun Li).

In Zero Tolerance, two former para-military operatives, Johnny and his police detective friend Peter, search Bangkok to find the killers of Johnny’s beautiful daughter Angel – Leaving carnage and retribution throughout city. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order Zero Tolerance from Amazon.com today!

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

Luc Besson is bringing a ‘Taken’ prequel to NBC

"Taken 3" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Taken 3" Korean Theatrical Poster

Luc Besson (Lucy), who co-wrote and produced all three of the Taken movies, is producing a Taken TV series for NBC.

According to Deadline, the series will be a prequel to the movies and will reference Bryan Mills’ “particular set of skills” that he “acquired over a very long career.” Since the series is an origin story, we assume that Liam Neeson will not be reprising his role as Mills.

The upcoming Taken series is not the first time a Besson production made its way to the small screen. In the past, Besson’s La Femme Nikita (1990) and Transporter (2002), were also adapted to TV.

We’ll keep you posted as we hear more.

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Andy Lau’s ‘Saving Mr. Wu’ gets a U.S. release date!

"Saving Mr. Wu" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Saving Mr. Wu" Chinese Theatrical Poster

From Ding Sheng, the director of Jackie Chan’s Little Big Solider and Police Story 2013, comes Saving Mr. Wu (aka The Strongest Competitor).

In this suspenseful crime thriller, Mr. Wu (Andy Lau), a Hong Kong movie star, is kidnapped by six criminals disguised as police officers. The story is based on the 2004 real-life celebrity kidnapping case in China.

Saving Mr. Wu also stars Liu Ye (Police Story 2013), Wang Qingyuan (Brotherhood of the Blades), Vivien Li (A Touch of Sin) and the actual “Mr. Wu” himself, Wu Ruofu.

The film opens in Chinese theaters on September 30th 2015. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the film’s trailer.

Updates: United Entertainment Partners (UEP) North America is giving Saving Mr. Wu a limited theatrical run on October 2nd. For availability around your area, check your local listings. For now, enjoy the latest trailer!

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Cityonfire.com’s ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ Blu-ray Giveaway – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Black Coal, Thin Ice | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Black Coal, Thin Ice | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of Black Coal, Thin Ice (read our review) to three lucky Cityonfire visitors. To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, this video (Warning: Explicit Content).

We will be selecting a winner at random. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you for your home address. Additionally, you must ‘Like Us‘ on cityonfire.com’s Facebook by clicking here.

The Blu-ray & DVD for Black Coal, Thin Ice will be officially released on September 29, 2015. We will announce the 3 winners on that day.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by September 29, 2015 to qualify. U.S. residents only please. We sincerely apologize to our non-U.S. visitors. Winners must respond with their mailing address within 48 hours, otherwise you will automatically be disqualified. No exceptions. Contest is subject to change without notice.

WINNERS: Ben, Nadine M., and Ian J.

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Jason Statham hits the small screen with ‘Viva La Madness’

"The Mechanic" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Mechanic" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Jason Statham is coming straight to your living room! In 2013, Statham (Crank 2) acquired rights to J.J. Connolly’s novel Viva La Madness (follow-up to Layer Cake). The project, which was expected to be a motion picture starring Statham, remained in limbo for nearly 2 years; but as of today, THR announced that Viva will now be a TV series. Statham is still the star (filling in Daniel Craig’s shoes). No network is currently attached.

So what can we expect from it? Here’s the rub, via Amazon: Viva la Madness moves to international crime with trans-Atlantic drug deals, money laundering and high-tech electronic fraud, portrayed with the same uncanny believability. The anonymous hero of Layer Cake is pulled back into the drug game before he can escape to a sunny retirement.

Expect more updates from Viva La Madness in the future!

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Undeclared War (1990) Review

"Undeclared War" Chinese DVD Cover

"Undeclared War" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Ringo Lam
Producer: Ringo Lam
Cast: Danny Lee Sau Yin, Tommy Wong Kwong Leung, Peter Liapis, Vernon Wells, Olivia Hussey, Rosamund Kwan, Louis Roth, Dean Harrington, Victor Hon Kwan, Mars, Jonathan Isgar, Brad Kerner, Mark King, Jameson Lam, Ernest Mauser, Stuart Smith, Suen Kwok Ming
Running Time: 103 min.

By Paul Bramhall

In 1990 it seemed Ringo Lam could do no wrong. Having established himself as a director of realistic and gritty action thrillers with his …on Fire series (City on Fire and Prison on Fire were both released in 1987, followed by School on Fire in 1988), the production company Cinema City decided to put their money where their mouth is. Armed with a sizable budget, Lam was tasked with helming the action movie Undeclared War, with the intention of breaking the international market.

Shot almost entirely in English, on release the movie tanked both critically and financially. Much like Kirk Wong’s Taking Manhattan made a couple of years later, it seemed Hong Kong audiences simply weren’t ready to go and watch a local movie where they’d have to read subtitles, and the result was a box office bomb. Internationally it didn’t fare any better. Up against action flicks like Die Hard 2, what was considered a big budget production in Hong Kong still didn’t stand a chance when compared alongside Hollywood blockbusters in the same vein.

The result was Undeclared War quickly became forgotten, destined to become an entry in Lam’s filmography that would either be overlooked or glazed over whenever discussing his work. Watching the movie 25 years on from when it was first released though, it’s fair to say that there’s a lot to enjoy. The grittiness that Lam had become known for is arguably present and accounted for, while the flair for action that he’d cement with Full Contact in 1992, is here clearly a work in progress, but still solid nevertheless.

Despite having a cast which has many central characters played by gweilos, a fact which hardly inspires confidence from a 1990 Hong Kong movie, surprisingly all involved turn in serviceable performances. Beginning in Warsaw, a CIA agent played by Peter Lapis witnesses the brutal murder of the U.S. ambassador, including his wife and child, at the hands of a terrorist played by Vernon Wells. Many will probably recognize Wells as the apocalyptic gang leader pursuing Mel Gibson from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The Australian actor also famously played Bennett, the memorable villain from the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando. After tracking Wells to Hong Kong, Lapis is reigned in by the local law enforcement, played by Danny Lee, of The Killer and Tiger on the Beat 2 fame (which was made the same year). Eventually of course, Lapis and Lee end up putting aside their differences and team up to take Wells down.

There are plenty of other familiar faces in the mix as well, from Rosamund Kwan, playing a news reporter and Lee’s girlfriend, to Mars, here in a rare bad guy role playing one of Wells’ lackeys. It’s a mix that almost certainly shouldn’t come together, but perhaps due to having a talent like Lam in the directors chair, and a script that avoids being hokey, Undeclared War succeeds at being a tight little action flick. It may not be the big budget effort it was aiming to be, but with expectations lowered, it’s definitely a unique entry into the genre and keeps up a brisk pace throughout.

The script was penned by multiple writers, and amongst them is Louis Roth, who is probably the reason why the English lines hold together so well. Roth is one of those actors who’s in the background of so many Hong Kong movies of the era, perhaps most famously as the customer on the receiving end of Chow Yun Fat’s “You don’t like my rice!?” line from A Better Tomorrow 2. Here he also takes on the role of a character vital to the plot, however I’m sure his biggest contribution, considering what many English language exchanges are like in HK movies of the era, must be his work on the dialogue. Both Danny Lee and Rosamund Kwan’s lines are almost all in English, and they deliver them with aplomb, with no unintentional moments of humor in sight.

For fans of Hong Kong action and Lam’s realistically gritty style of film making, both are present and accounted for, although perhaps in a different way than audiences at the time were hoping for. The assassination of the U.S. ambassador takes place before the movies title has even appeared on screen, and throws in machine gun totting nuns, explosions, and a helicopter for good measure. The type of blood squib in use also has a unique look to it, similar to the style used in Johnnie To movies like Exiled, when someone gets shot a cloud of red mist erupts from the victim. It’s just as unrealistic as the gallons of blood erupting from a gun shot wound, but it’s definitely visually arresting, and gives the violence a different feel from many movies of the same elk.

Lapis also shows a welcome abandon in his action scenes, seemingly not afraid to get thrown around and take some falls. An exciting foot chase that has him in pursuit of Wells ultimately ends up in a confrontation with Mars, which has them falling down stairs and going at each other on a bridge with anything they can get their hands on. Another scene has him get into a fight with Lee, which sees the both of them scrapping it out in a brawl on the street that doesn’t pull any punches. In many ways it’s Lapis’ lack of gracefulness which makes the action more exciting, as it makes it more relatable, especially in a speed boat chase sequence were you can see he’s visibly clinging on for dear life.

The fact that Lee and Lapis spend almost half of the movie locking heads with each other also makes the respect that eventually forms between them seem more believable. They both bring a down to earth type quality to their characters, and by the time they team up, a lot of their banter is genuinely funny and believable. What’s especially refreshing about ‘Undeclared War’ is the way Lapis is the butt of many HK situational jokes. In an era where we’ve seen Jackie Chan play the fish-out-of-water in an endless stream of Hollywood movies, whether it be paired with Chris Rock, Owen Wilson, or whoever else, it’s nice to see a movie that puts the shoe on the other foot. Lee is the one calling the shots as the Hong Kong local, and Lapis is the American on foreign soil who has to try and fit in, and it remains that way throughout.

In fact the whole movie does well to play off the tensions between the local HK police force, the British authorities in charge, and the American CIA trying to call the shots. The political subtexts and character relationships aside though, Undeclared War was made as an action flick, and on that basis it delivers. During its 103 minute run time there should be enough gun shots, grenades, explosions, and chase sequences to keep any fan of Hong Kong cinema happy. It may not be Ringo Lam’s best work, and there are a couple of glaring plot holes (look out for Lee getting shot in the arm, then in the next scene miraculously seeming to be completely fine!), but for a slice of HK action from the territories golden era, you can do a lot worse.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7/10

Posted in All, Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson sold by a ‘China Salesman’?

"Today You Die" Japanese DVD Cover

"Today You Die" Japanese DVD Cover

Looks like Ip Man 3 isn’t the only Chinese production Mike Tyson is a part of. The former heavyweight champ will be appearing in China Salesman, an action film written and directed by Tan Bing (aka Geng Weiguo).

Also appearing is Steven Seagal (Nico), who has so many projects under his belt that we officially lost count (read about it here). Hong Kong legend Ching Siu Ting (Dragon Inn), who worked with Seagal on 2003′s Belly of the Beast, is rumored to be involved. Norwegian actress Janicke Askevold (My Way) also stars.

Currently, no other details are known about China Salesman, but some raw behind-the-scenes footage recently made its way on online. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.

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The Eliminators/The Dungeonmaster | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

The Eliminators & The Dungeonmaster | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

The Eliminators & The Dungeonmaster | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2015

Shout! Factory presents the Blu-ray Double Feature for 1986′s The Eliminators and 1984′s The Dungeonmaster (aka Ragewar).

In The Eliminators (watch the trailer), a former pilot (Andrew Prine) rebels against his creator, teaming up with a scientist, a pet robot Spot, a riverboat guide, and a martial arts warrior (Hong Kong’s Conan Lee). In The Dungeonmaster (watch the trailer), a demonic wizard challenges a computer programmer to a battle of technology vs. sorcery!

Pre-order The Eliminators/The Dungeonmaster from Amazon.com today!

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

Two-Face, move over… Takeshi Kitano kills in ‘Mozu’!

"Mozu" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Mozu" Japanese Theatrical Poster

No plot description is needed for Mozu, the latest Japanese crime-thriller from Eiichiro Hasumi (Assassination Classroom). The film’s trailer speaks for itself – it’s loud, brutal, action packed and Takeshi Kitano (Beyond Outrage) plays the villain – sold yet?

Mozu also stars Hidetoshi Nishijima (Casshern), Teruyuki Kagawa (20th Century Boys: Chapter 1: The Beginning of the End), Yusuke Iseya (Sukiyaki Western Django) and Tori Matsuzaka (Gatchaman).

According to FCS, Mozu hits the screens in Japan on November 7. Given Kitano’s international star-power, we’re pretty sure a North American distributor has their eyes on this one. Don’t miss the trailer!

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Dante Lam and Eddie Peng re-unite for ‘Operation Mekong’!

"Unbeatable" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Unbeatable" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Production has begun on Operation Mekong, a new actioner from director Dante Lam (Unbeatable). The upcoming film stars Lam’s frequent collaborator Eddie Peng (Rise of the Legend), Zhang Han Yu (Special ID) and Joyce Feng. Louis Koo (SPL II) was previously attached, but was replace by Peng, due to scheduling conflicts.

According to JS, Set in Thailand, Operation Mekong tells the true story of the Mekong River massacre that occurred on October 5, 2011, during which two Chinese cargo ships were attacked by gunmen. All 13 crew members were killed, and their bodies were dumped into the river.

Operation Mekong is set to be released in 2015. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more!

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2nd trailer for ‘Creed’ hints Rocky’s deteriorating health

"Creed" Theatrical Poster

"Creed" Theatrical Poster

A Rocky spinoff called Creed is currently in post-production. Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) is playing the grandson of Apollo Creed (portrayed by Carl Weathers in the Rocky films). Sylvester Stallone will reprise his role as Rocky Balboa, who is now a retired fighter-turned-trainer. Ryan Coogler, the director of the critically-acclaimed Fruitvale Station, is helming Creed.

Creed will revolve around the grandson of Apollo Creed, who follows his grandfather’s footsteps when he learns he has the natural gift and potential that made his grandfather a heavyweight champion. The film opens on November 25, 2015.

Updates: According to an interview with Badtaste, Sylvester Stallone had this to say: “…No Rocky VII, I’m done with that series. However, I will take part in Creed, the Ryan Coogler film about the son of Apollo. We start shooting in February. But it really is a completely different film, it’s dramatic.” | First trailer for Creed.

BREAKING NEWS: Watch the 2nd trailer for Creed.

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1st trailer for ‘Navy Seals vs. Zombies’ with Michael Dudikoff!

"Navy Seals vs. Zombies" Poster

"Navy Seals vs. Zombies" Poster

Whether you want another zombie flick or not, here’s the scoop on Navy Seals vs. Zombies, the upcoming directorial debut of NASCAR driver/stuntman Stanton Barrett, whose stunt credits include Looper and Terminator Genisys.

A city is under siege by hordes of fast moving, flesh eating undead. The infection is spreading. Urban warfare has been unleashed. With no cure in sight and time running out, can an elite unit of badass warriors now survive their most horrific mission of all? Ed Quinn (Revenge), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), pro wrestling champion Chad Gunner Lail, Molly Hagan (iZombie), Olympian Lolo Jones and NBA legend Rick Fox star in this explosive military shocker filmed with the participation of former U.S. Navy SEALS.

UpdatesNavy Seals vs. Zombies is coming to Blu-ray & DVD on October 6, 2015 (pre-order today). And of course, don’t miss the film’s new trailer!

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Deal on Fire! Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story | Blu-ray | Only $9.99 – Expires soon!

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

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

Today’s Deal on Fire is 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. | Watch the trailer.

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

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Warner’s live-action ‘Akira’ is back from the apocalypse!

"Akira" U.S. Theatrical Poster

"Akira" U.S. Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop. A big screen adaptation of Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s popular anime Akira has been stuck in development hell for some time. Read the updates below for details.

Updates: Keanu Reeves, James Franco, Garrett Hedlund, Robert Pattinson, James McAvoy, Andrew Garfield, Chris Pine, Michael Fassbender, Justin Timerlake, Joaquin Phoenix, Keira Knightley, Kristen Stewart, Ezra Miller, Alden Eherenreich, D.J. Cotrona, Logan Marshal Green, Toby Kebbell, Richard Madden, Rami Malek, Michael Pitt, Paul Dano, Alden Ehrenreich and Ken Watanabe have all been considered for roles. Some have dropped out, others are still attached.

Variety reports that Warner will rework the script and then decide whether or not to continue. | Chris Nolan’s brother Jonathan is attached to a rewrite. | Leonardo DiCaprio (Growing Pains) is producing, along with Jennifer Davisson Killoran (Orphan) and Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex). | Due to creative differences, Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) left the project.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra is now attached to direct with hopes that it will be his next film after wrapping up Run All Night. Now that he has done Unknown and Non-Stop, he says: “the powers that be are interested.” | Marco J. Ramirez, the scribe who will be co-showrunning the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil, will write Akira, the Warner Bros. long-in-the-works adaptation of the Japanese manga classic.

BREAKING NEWS: According to Collider (via DOG), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) will be somewhat involved with Akira, which is reportedly now planned as a “trilogy”. This should come as no surprise, considering Nolan’s brother, Jonathan, was hired earlier on to re-write the script.

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1st trailer for the Sharlto Copley POV actioner ‘Hardcore’!

"Hardcore" Teaser Poster

"Hardcore" Teaser Poster

Ever since his POV-style music video for Biting Elbows’ “Bad Motherf-cker” went viral, Russian filmmaker Ilya Naishuller has been busy applying the concept to an upcoming feature film titled Hardcore Henry, which is dubbed the “The World’s First Action POV Film.”

Here’s the film’s official description: Hardcore Henry is a modern, action Sci-Fi story about Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator Estelle (Haley Bennet) from the clutches of a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day.”

Following Harcore’s amazing, action-packed promotional footage from last year, the film is finally making its debut at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. And just recently, the film’s first official trailer has hit the net. Don’t miss it!

Hardcore Henry hits theaters on April 8, 2016!

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The Golden Cane Warrior | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Golden Cane Warrior | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Golden Cane Warrior | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: November 3, 2015

Well Go USA presents the Blu-rayDVD for the Indonesian Wu Xia epic, The Golden Cane Warrior, featuring martial arts choreography by Hong Kong’s Hung Yan Yan (Shaolin, Coweb, Time & Tide).

The film stars some of Indonesia’s most popular talents, including Christine Hakim, Nicholas Saputra, Reza Rahadian, Slamet Rahardjo, Prisia Nasution, Eva Celia and Tara Basro. | Watch the trailer.

Pre-order The Golden Cane Warrior from Amazon.com today!

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A ‘King Kong vs Godzilla’ remake is in the works!

"King Kong vs Godzilla" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"King Kong vs Godzilla" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island (reboot of the King Kong franchise) and Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla sequel are currently in early stages of development, releasing in 2017 and 2018, respectively – but this hasn’t stopped Legendary and Warner from moving forward with a “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (via Deadline) mash-up soon after; in ther words, an essential remake of 1962′s King Kong vs Godzilla.

With Anno Hideaki’s Godzilla remake (Toho’s Japanese production that’s in a separate universe from Legendary’s 2014 film) and Guillermo del Toro Pacific Rim: Maelstrom on the radar, it’s safe to assume that the Kaiju (or giant monster) subgenre will be alive and kicking for many years to come.

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more. For now, we leave you with Toho’s 1962 trailer to the original.

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‘The Rebel’ and ‘Bay Rong’ star has an ‘Untold Story’ to tell

"Once Upon A Time in Vietnam" Vietnamese Poster

"Once Upon A Time in Vietnam" Vietnamese Poster

Vietnamese actress/model Veronica Ngo – best known for her martial arts action roles in Lua Phat, Bay Rong and The Rebel – is currently hard-at-work with her directorial debut Tam Cam: The Untold Story.

This upcoming fantasy-adventure is based on the Vietnamese fairy tale The Story of Tam and Cam (Vietnam’s take on Cinderella) – but if you’re expecting nothing but a family-fun flick with magic wands and talking mice, this behind-the-scenes featurette (via Lee Mason) may prove you wrong.

Tam Cam: The Untold Story will hit Vietnamese theaters in the Summer of 2016. Until then, be sure to catch Ngo in the highly-anticipated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II, which will be premiering simultaneously on both Netflix and theaters on the first quarter of 2016.

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‘The Raid 2′ director pops his ‘Blister’ in early 2016!

"The Raid" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Raid" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Back in March of 2014, director Gareth Evans (The Raid 2) told Crave: “I don’t have any plans to do The Raid 3 within the next two or three years so I’m going to take a break from that franchise for a bit… I want to do some some things outside of Indonesia for like two films, then come back to Indonesia and shoot The Raid 3. I have another one I want to shoot with him first. Still in the action genre and it’s something that [Uwais] needs to train for for a fair amount of time.”

There’s a possibility that Evans is talking about Blister, a film with Raid 2 stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, that’s apparently in pre-production phase, as hinted by his latest tweet.

Evans describes Blister as his take on “the contemporary American gangster story with echoes of The Wild Bunch.” This remark should come as no surprise, since Evans expressed his love for the Sam Peckinpah classic in our interview with him back in December of 2013: “Peckinpah invented action cinema, the editing style, cinematography, fluidity – everything I’ve stolen has been from him,” said Evans. Along with Wild Bunch, Evans cites Jackie Chan’s Armor of God and John Woo’s Hard Boiled as the three movies that have have influenced him the most.

Updates: According to Evans’ latest tweet, the screenplay for Blister is almost complete and may start shooting early next year. We’ll keep you updated on Blister as we hear more. Stay tuned!

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Kick Boxer | aka Once Upon a Chinese Hero (1993) Review

"Kick Boxer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Kick Boxer" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Wu Ma
Writer: Lee Man Choi
Producer: Yuen Biao
Cast: Yuen Biao, Shirley Lui Sau Ling, Yuen Wah, Yen Shi Kwan, Sheila Chan Suk Lan, Wu Ma, Gam Sap Yee, Chen Shan, Tai Bo, Anthony Carpio, Chu Tau, Louis Roth, Yuen Mao, Corey Yuen Kwai, Max Kasimsky
Running Time: 92 min.

By Paul Bramhall

There aren’t many people out there who would disagree that Jet Li being cast as Wong Fei Hung was an inspired choice. In 1991 director Tsui Hark revived the Wong Fei Hung character with Once Upon a Time in China, and Li went on to play Hung in 3 official sequels and 1 unofficial entry into the series. However something always bothered me about Once Upon a Time in China, and that was the fact that it had one of the greatest kung fu stars in the history of the genre, Yuen Biao, in merely a supporting role. The star of such classics as Prodigal Son and Righting Wrongs in a supporting role!? It just didn’t seem right.

For fans of Biao, it must have come as a great relief that just a couple of years later, Kick Boxer was released. Made almost as if to specifically alleviate the frustrations of those who wanted to see him front and center in a Wong Fei Hung tale, the production brings with it plenty of familiar faces from Once Upon a Time in China. Wu Ma steps into the directors chair as well as co-starring, the villain from Once Upon a Time in China, Yen Shi Kwan, here plays an incorruptible police captain, and Anthony Carpio takes on assistant action direction duties on top of appearing in front of camera.

Biao produced the movie (even having his Yuen Biao Films logo in the opening credits), and here plays a mischievous rascal called Lau Zhai, who’s trying to be taken on as a student of Wong Fei Hung. In 1993 the prospect of anyone other than Jet Li playing Fei Hung would be considered preposterous, so the script wisely sidesteps the whole issue, by having the character be absent from proceedings due to ‘traveling in Asia’. Biao and his friend, played by Wu Ma, have been in Hong Kong where they’ve picked up some herbs for the Po Chi Lam clinic. However unbeknownst to them, opium has been hidden in the packages they’re carrying, which ultimately leads to Biao being framed, and subsequently embarking on a mission to clear his name and redeem his reputation.

Both Wu Ma and Biao’s careers were often wildly uneven during the 90’s. While Ma continued to act in several movies per year, his directorial efforts around the same period, namely the likes of Exorcist Master and Circus Kids (which also featured Biao), were only average at best. Biao on the other hand seemed to be having a go at everything, from new wave wuxia like The Sword Stained with Royal Blood, to Filipino action cheapies like Tough Beauty and Sloppy Slop, to trying his hand at directing with A Kid from Tibet. As uneven as a lot of their output was though, for Kick Boxer their collaboration was one that would reap rewards for fans of Biao in action.

Apart from the cast members already mentioned, Kick Boxer deserves extra points for its villains, which come in the form of Yuen Wah and Chang Shan. The prospect of seeing Biao face off against either of them would be enough to warrant a watch, however with both of them onboard, expectations are understandably raised. Biao and Wah faced off against each other several times over the years, from Eastern Condors to The Iceman Cometh, and Biao must have recognized how much he works well paired with Wah, as he also brought him on board for The Kid from Tibet. Kick Boxer sadly marked the last time they’d go at it, so in many ways acts as a footnote to one of Hong Kong cinemas greatest kung fu pairings.

Everyone in the cast performs well though, especially Yen Shi Kwan as the gold shoe wearing police officer. Shi Kwan has one of the most recognizable faces in kung fu cinema, usually playing a memorable villain whether it be in old school classics like The Master Strikes, to new wave classics like Iron Monkey, also made in 1993. In Kick Boxer he gets to take a break from playing the villain, taking on the role of an upright police captain, and father to a female newspaper editor that Biao takes a liking to. Notably he’s also an asthmatic, which could well be a nod to Lam Ching Ying’s character in The Prodigal Son. Unfortunately playing a good guy doesn’t mean he gets any less of a painful demise, with a confrontation against Wah ending on a particularly cruel note.

While Kick Boxer clearly doesn’t have the same budget behind it as the likes of Once Upon a Time in China, it more than makes up for it with the action and creativity on display. At one point Biao and Shi Kwan engage in a game of chess on a human sized playing board, which sees them flipping and kicking chess pieces at each other set to an electric guitar rendition of the famous Wong Fei Hung theme. It’s random, but it keeps things entertaining. The movie also utilizes the bullet point of view shot that Ringo Lam created for his movie Full Contact, made the year prior, only instead of it being Chow Yun Fat against Simon Yam, its Yuen Wah against Yuen Biao. It’s these small touches and flourishes that help to elevate Kick Boxer above many of the similarly themed new wave movies that were coming out around the same time.

Of course the most important part in any kung fu movie starring Yuen Biao is how the action measures up. Thankfully he gets plenty of opportunities to shine, from an initial fight on a cruise liner against a group of angry waiters, to the finale, which sees him go on a one man rampage in the mansion where Wah resides. His physical dexterity is on display front and center, throwing out some kicks which seem to come from impossible angles. The promise of having Yuen Wah and Chang Shan as the villains also isn’t squandered when, having disposed of several of their lackeys, Biao gets to first take on Shan, decked in a sharp black suit and armed with a dagger, and then Wah.

Both fights feature some painful looking falls, and Wah’s fight in particular is entertaining, as every time he strikes a pose it’s accompanied by the sound effect of an eagles cry. Like any new wave movie of the era, there is wirework, however it’s used sparingly, and mostly to enhance impacts. Biao choreographed the action himself, along with another of the Seven Little Fortunes, Yuen Mao, who worked with Biao again on Circus Kids. It would have been great to see a series of Lau Zhai movies, but it apparently wasn’t to be. Biao wouldn’t take on action director duties again until several years later, and he never really went back to the type of mischievous character with a heart of gold that he portrayed so well in the likes of Prodigal Son and Dreadnaught.

As it stands though, Kick Boxer is a worthy entry into both Biao’s filmography and as a new wave kung fu movie. With the recent reboot of Wong Fei Hung in 2014’s Rise of the Legend, which seemed to do away with everything that makes these tales so entertaining in the first place, Kick Boxer is well worth seeking out as a reminder of why Hong Kong cinema was so great.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Deal on Fire! Iceman | Blu-ray | Only $9.96 – Expires soon!

"Iceman" Blu-ray Cover

"Iceman" Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Law Wing Cheong’s Iceman, starring International martial arts icon Donnie Yen (Special ID). A remake of the 1989 film Iceman Cometh, Yen plays a Ming era warrior who, along with his three traitorous childhood friends, are accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years later, they are defrosted and continue their battle in modern times where they left off.

Iceman also stars Eva Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), Wang Baoqiang (Lost in Thailand) and Simon Yam (The Thieves). Don’t miss our review!

Order Iceman from Amazon.com today!

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