EXTREME CHALLENGE (2001) is a movie that didn’t come up in any of my extensive internet searches for fighting tournament movies, but I happened to come across it in the Hong Kong section of the video store. Another victory for human browsing. This is a Hong Kong production, a Golden Harvest presentation even, but it’s in English (non sync). Director Tung Wei was usually more of a stuntman and choreographer. He did action direction for HERO and appeared onscreen in HARD BOILED (which character is “Foxy”?) (read the rest of this shit…)
Archive for July, 2013
Round 2, Bout 2, Red Fist Club vs. The Men From Hong Kong
When I started The Super-Kumite I was alot greener than I realized, a soft-handed hayseed fresh off the turnip truck, walking through the streets of Manila wearing my Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt, just askin to get my bag stolen. It was naive, but I assumed at least this BLOODFIST series, which always impressed me by having 8 installments on the shelf, was gonna stick with being about fighting tournaments. They have this whole mythology of the Red Fist Club and their Ta-Chang tournament, they have a star who was a real life kickboxing champion, of course they’re gonna keep exploring that, is what I figured. But that’s not how it works in the real world.
BLOODFIST 2 (which I will review separately) continues the story of Jake and his treacherous mentor (or actually the same guy playing basically the same character but with a different name because I think maybe he died at the end of part 1), and it has a great premise where the best fighters of various styles are tricked into coming to Manila, then abducted and forced to fight on an exotic private island. It should be a tournament – his own reworking of the Ta-Chang – but instead it’s just gladiator-style matches. Fun movie, but not eligible for The Super-Kumite. And from what I’ve read it looks like none of the other BLOODFISTs have tournaments until the last one, the Dragon-less BLOODFIST 2050. So that’ll be the round 3 movie if we get that far. In searching for a round 2 substitute I found out that in 1993 director Rick Jacobson (BLOODFIST VI and VIII) directed two different BLOODFIST rehashes (both using basically the same script?). I ordered the one starring Jerry Trimble (FULL CONTACT) but it hasn’t shown up yet, and I was able to rent the other one, DRAGON FIRE. (read the rest of this shit…)
THE SUPER-KUMITE continues to be a rewarding viewing experience. In this battle between TEAM BOLO and THE WOMEN I was able to see two fairly ridiculous movies, both loosely based on the BLOODFIST template, and by watching them in such proximity I’m really able to properly appreciate them as valid variations on an American-ish artform. So which will it be: the MBA who goes to Hong Kong and enters a tournament after his brother dies of a drug overdose, or the cop who goes to Manila and enters a tournament after her sister is killed for knowing too much about an assassination?
Round 2, Bout 1
Team Bolo vs. The Women
ANGELFIST is kind of a rehash of FIRECRACKER, an earlier Cirio H. Santiago joint I tried to use for the Super-Kumite, but this one has an actual tournament in it, so I didn’t have to disqualify it. It’s also kind of the same plot as BLOODFIST, but with ladies. A competitive martial artist in Manila (Cat Sassoon) gets murdered. Her sister Kat in L.A. (also Cat Sassoon) gets the news, flies in and joins the Kubate International Women’s World Karate Championship tournament in order to get closer to everybody and figure out who did it. The guy who vouches for her, stickfight-spars with her and acts as her cornerman (Roland Dantes) is not as intimately involved in her training as Xian in BLOODFIST, but ends up having the same purpose in the story if you know what I mean, spoiler spoiler. (read the rest of this shit…)
Remember Darren Aranofsky was gonna do this new Wolverine movie? He’d done THE WRESTLER and he was the original director on THE FIGHTER and then he named it THE WOLVERINE, but he had to drop out to deal with The Child Custody. From the roll he was on I bet he would’ve made a hell of a movie, but his replacement James Mangold (COPLAND, 3:10 TO YUMA) came up with something pretty interesting too. For his movie the title is representative of the whole approach: strip away the convoluted series-connecting business indicated in the title of the last one (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) and just focus everything on this character, this Wolverine. The Wolverine.
(read the rest of this shit…)
Round 2, Bout 1: Team Bolo vs. The Women
Jalal Merhi (who we previously saw in the similarly animal-titled TALONS OF THE EAGLE) stars as Lyle Camille, a dorky Canadian martial artist who chooses to go into business instead of pursuing life as a true warrior. He’s just graduated with his MBA, he’s engaged to get married to Ashley (model Monika Schnarre) and his dad (Jamie Farr!) got him a job as VP at his credit card company. This moment of achievement and potential could set him up to get the Goose-in-TOP-GUN treatment, the ol’ one-last-job-before-I-retire curse. Instead it’s his brother Lance (Laurent Hazout, whose only other role is “Interzone Boy” in NAKED LUNCH) who bites it, overdosing on a new opium-based “more addictive than crack” drug called “fish food” or “nirvana” (often pronounced “ner-VAN-uh.”) (read the rest of this shit…)
I’m always reading the movie news but only every once in a while is there a convergence of action and tough guy related news large enough to make me feel like I gotta line it all up and make sure everybody here knows about them. Right now is one of those times, though. Click through to see a few noteworthy new developments. Out of kindness I’m even gonna start with the biggest one and it’s the one that involves a descendent of a character killed by another character played by Dolph Lundgren. (read the rest of this shit…)
For ONLY GOD FORGIVES, the latest from writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE, VALHALLA RISING, etc.), Ryan Gosling trained in Thai boxing to play a quiet American running a Muay Thai gym in Bangkok. That lady who sued DRIVE for not being like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is gonna have to sue this one for not being like BLOODSPORT.
Or for not being like DRIVE, for that matter! This is not a commercial movie at all. It’s all mood and ambience. Slow, deliberate camera moves down hallways, precise, Kubrickian compositions, men introduced standing in poses rather than walking into rooms, not alot of dialogue, credits in Thai. It doesn’t explain much and leaves alot of weirdness lying around to either interpret, enjoy as surrealism, or get frustrated by. Of course I like to read a little symbolism into some of it, but I think it also works taken literally. This is a foreign, dangerous world that people like us wouldn’t understand. Not just because it’s Bangkok, either. The Bangkok you live in is just a sugar coated topping. (read the rest of this shit…)
If I were to tell you I watched a movie with characters named Flik Royale, Chazz Morningstar, Blessing Rowe, Deacon Zee, Mother Darling and Bishop Enoch, what would that tell you? That’s right – it was a Spike Lee movie.
(Later we find out that Flik is a nickname and Enoch is an assumed name. Gator Purify didn’t have that luxury.)
RED HOOK SUMMER is the low budget indie movie Lee put out last year, kind of a return to his roots after a couple bigger studio movies, INSIDE MAN and MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA. Spike says it came about when he was talking to James McBride, author of the St. Anna novel, about what they saw as the dire state of black cinema. (I take that to mean “complaining about Tyler Perry movies.”) He had recently bought a digital camera so he asked McBride to write something and they would make it. Together they came up with a story about a middle class Atlanta Kid, maybe 13-14, coming to stay with his estranged grandpa in the Red Hook housing projects of Brooklyn.
(read the rest of this shit…)