"If victory favors me, I will protect your child with my life."

"I ask you not to worry about that possibility. Because my son and I live on the Demon Way in Hell, we're prepared to descend into Hell through the Six Realms and Four Lives."

Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

Monday, April 15th, 2019

MASTER Z: THE IP MAN LEGACY is the new film directed by Yuen Woo-Ping, a spinoff of IP MAN 3, which he was the choreographer for. It will make sense even if you haven’t seen that or the rest of the IP MAN series, though you should see them anyway, because they’re great. Donnie Yen is a producer of this one, but doesn’t appear other than in brief black and white flashes to establish the backstory.

In the tradition of UNDISPUTED II and III, MASTER Z takes the antagonist from the previous film and makes him the hero. Max Zhang (the main henchman from KILL ZONE 2) returns as Cheung Tin Chi, which I guess must sometimes be translated as Zheung, otherwise I have no idea why this is called MASTER Z. He was a younger teacher who defeated the great Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man in a public challenge, became legendary himself, but got too big for his britches and was ultimately defeated in a private challenge. Now he’s left martial arts – including turning down what could be well paying gigs as an enforcer – and runs a small grocery store. (read the rest of this shit…)

Wing Chun

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

In WING CHUN, the 1994 Yuen Woo-Ping classic, the great Michelle Yeoh plays Yim Wing Chun, a legendary character who was supposedly the first disciple of the Shaolin nun who invented the Wing Chun style of kung fu after seeing a crane fight a snake. The movie’s not about that, but it’s a reworking of a famous story about Wing Chun using her skills to ward off an asshole trying to force her to marry him. I’m not sure, but I think it’s kind of like in western culture if you do a new version of Zorro, Dracula, Hansel and Gretel or whatever you’re probly not gonna directly adapt the version people know, you’re gonna try to take the famous elements and put a different spin or twist or perspective on them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dragon Blood

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

tn_dragonbloodDRAGON BLOOD (1982) is the third and final John Liu directorial work, and the only one where the American release doesn’t pretend it’s about ninjas. This one is a traditional period martial arts picture, so he can’t play Hong Kong movie star and creator of Zen Kwan Do John Liu. Or at least I don’t think so. But about halfway through he’s referred to by name for the first time, and it’s “John Liu.” Also, his co-star of all three films, Roger Paschy, plays “Paschy.” Maybe they’re older than they look. Or maybe they’re just such iconic characters they can be transported to different time periods, like Mickey Mouse.

This John Liu is the son of China’s best fighter. Dear old dad won that title and two small golden dragons from the Emperor. That was a curse, though, because he spent the rest of his life fighting off Chinese challengers to the title and western treasure seekers. He hated it. A total bummer. Never win the golden dragons, is my advice.

But on his last day he fights a guy who does not want the dragons, just the honor of challenging the greatest fighter, and as a fight connoisseur himself he’s cool with that. But then he gets jumped by another guy so he gives the dragons to the first guy and makes him promise to take care of his son. Personally I would be like, “Well, I mean, I’m flattered, but I wasn’t really looking for that type of a life time commitment here,” but this guy is more responsible so he becomes John Liu’s adoptive father. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ninja in the Claws of the C.I.A.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

tn_ninjacia“I see you’re running out of Oriental tricks.”

Director/star John Liu followed up his directational debut AVENGING NINJA/ZEN KWUN DO STRIKES IN PARIS with SHA SHOU YING, which has also been called MADE IN CHINA and according to some sources KUNG FU EMANUELLE, but that might be some confusion with the previous one which I have been told has an EMMANUELLE related title. Anyway, I rented it as NINJA IN THE CLAWS OF THE C.I.A., an appropriate followup to AVENGING NINJA since once again he is not playing a ninja. He does toss a throwing star into a guy’s hand, though. Still, a non-ninja movie like this being included in “The Ultimate Ninja Collection” DVD series seems questionable in my opinion just my two cents.

But at least it’s true that he’s in the claws of the C.I.A. So the title is based partly in truth. (read the rest of this shit…)

Avenging Ninja

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

tn_avengingninja“I don’t get it. Why do we have to fight?”

AVENGING NINJA is a movie with no ninjas, and no vengeance. And I don’t think it’s a metaphor, either. It’s just the marketable American video title for a Taiwanese/Hong Kong production that also goes by the more accurate title ZEN KWUN DO STRIKES PARIS.

The movie, which is produced by “John Liu’s (H.K.) Film Corp.”, stars John Liu, a Taiwanese martial artist who was in the SECRET RIVALS trilogy and INVINCIBLE ARMOUR, or “successor to the immortal Bruce Lee legacy,” as the oversized VHS box calls him. And he directs, writes and produces. Also he’s playing himself, John Liu, movie actor and founder of the Zwen Kwan Do fighting system, which he pits against various champions of different disciplines and nationalities. The credits list the championships of the five top-billed actors (“JOHN LIU 1964, 1967 World Karate Champion”). Also there are three names under the category “Top French Movies & TV Stars,” and somebody named “Brigitte Mannequin.” I’m not sure who that is, but I like her.

As the movie begins it’s in the news that John Liu, the disgraced martial arts teacher now working in the Hong Kong film industry, has been summoned to Paris to investigate the kidnapping of his father, a “well known American aerospace scientist.” He’s in no hurry though. He’s still filming a movie, and is told to slow down his moves so the camera can get them, something they used to say happened to Jet Li. But maybe they said that about everybody. (read the rest of this shit…)

Riding the Edge

Monday, April 1st, 2019

RIDING THE EDGE is an ’80s teen adventure I’de never heard of before stumbling across a VHS tape. From the box it sounded like IRON EAGLE with dirt bikes instead of fighter jets. I also noticed it had Catherine Mary Stewart, who I really liked in NIGHT OF THE COMET, and was directed by James Fargo, Clint Eastwood’s former a.d. who directed THE ENFORCER, EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE, and FORCED VENGEANCE. And VOYAGE OF THE ROCK ALIENS.

It begins in The Middle East, where an American scientist beloved by his staff and respected for his advancements in computer chip technology is kidnapped by a team of guerrillas led by a German mercenary (the original Simon Gruber). They rappel in and grab him to force his company to give them some of his chips. Because he has a photo of his son Matt (Raphael Sbarge, CARNOSAUR, THE HIDDEN II, the voice on the phone in MIRACLE MILE) at a dirt bike race in his wallet they demand that he be the courier. (read the rest of this shit…)

Fist of the North Star

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

FIST OF THE NORTH STAR is a straight-to-video live action manga adaptation post-apocalyptic white people martial arts b-movie that I’ve been meaning to watch for about 20 years even though everybody said it was garbage. And I’m sure if I knew the comics or the anime version I would hold it to different standards, but coming to it fresh I gotta tell you this one checks off alot of boxes of the type of shit I enjoy in a movie. I am here to tell you it has merit.

The villain is the head of the Southern Cross martial arts school, who rebuilds a city after World War III and becomes its dictator, and the hero is the last heir of the rival North Star school, whose powerful fighting style is the only thing that can defeat Southern Cross. And even though their names are Shin and Kenshiro they are played by two white dudes, Costas Mandylor (VIRTUOSITY) and Gary Daniels (COLD HARVEST).

Today this would be frowned upon as whitewashing, and fair enough. But I guess I’ve grown up fascinated with white adoptees of martial arts from the ’70s and ’80s kung fu, karate and ninja booms, and to me there’s something sort of awesomely stupid (in a good way) about these muscular dudes with mullets and leather vests without shirts being the last great martial arts warriors of the future. And I have no right to impose this policy on the outside world, but in my mind there’s a statute of limitations that says since he’s not pretending to be Asian in any way Gary Daniels is grandfathered in to be allowed to be named Kenshiro as he practices moves on the bones of western and/or eastern civilization.

One complaint: why no headbands? I have rarely seen two dudes more worthy of cool headbands. (read the rest of this shit…)

Triple Frontier

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

TRIPLE FRONTIER is last week’s straight-to-Netflix-no-theaters release from director J.C. Chandor (MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR). This one is higher profile than most such releases because it floated around various big name directors and studios before Netflix bought it with the bottomless money supply their CEO famously received by catching a magic fish, and it stars Oscar Isaac (SUCKER PUNCH), Ben Affleck (ELEKTRA, director’s cut only), Charlie Hunnam (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD), Garrett Hedlund (TRON LEGACY) Pedro Pascal (THE GREAT WALL) and Adria Arjona (PACIFIC RIM UPRISING). It’s such a big deal for the company that they made the uncharacteristic choice of promoting its existence!

Isaac plays Santiago “Pope” Garcia, an American advising the Colombian military in violent raids on drug gangs. His informant/sometime-girlfriend Yovanna (Arjona) claims to know the location of a jungle fortress where cartel boss Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos, MONKEY TROUBLE) hides out with all his money. So Pope goes back to the states to recruit some of his old retired spec ops buddies as a team to go in and do reconnaissance and pocket a percentage of the money the police ultimately seize.

At least that’s what he says until they get there, and then it becomes clear that the police don’t know anything about it yet. He wants his buddies to do a heist with him. Ah, shit, Pope. Are you kidding me with this shit? (read the rest of this shit…)

Timecop

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Recently when I ranked all the ’90s comic book movies for Polygon I rewatched TIMECOP for the first time since that decade. I decided to disqualify it when I read on the production notes extra that it was originally written as a script and then made into a Dark Horse Comics series, but I’m glad I watched it first, because it’s better than I remembered.

Jean-Claude Van Damme (BREAKIN’) plays Max Walker, a regular cop who’s about to be recruited to a new secret government agency that travels back in time to stop other time travelers from changing history. Knowing the future presents ample opportunities for get-rich-quick schemes (for example, in the opening a guy uses a futuristic machine gun to steal gold from the Confederate Army), but the government worries this could butterfly-effect shit up, so they try to control it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Triple Threat

Friday, March 15th, 2019

TRIPLE THREAT is the long-awaited international co-production that teams Tony Jaa (ONG BAK, THE PROTECTOR, KILL ZONE 2), Iko Uwais (THE RAID, HEADSHOT, THE NIGHT COMES FOR US) and Tiger Chen (MAN OF TAI CHI, KUNG FU TRAVELER). That in itself is an event, but wait until I tell you who plays the villains. Directed by Jesse V. Johnson (THE BUTCHER, SAVAGE DOG), it’s not an envelope-pusher like some of the modern classics each of those three have under their belts, but it’s a solid action romp with tons of clearly shot fighting, taking advantage of all the possible match-ups and varying martial arts styles.

Jaa is first billed and shown first, but Uwais is the protagonist and the one with the best hair*. Jaa and Chen play mercenaries duped into a “humanitarian mission” that’s actually an attack on a village in which Uwais’ character’s (very briefly glimpsed) wife and friends are killed. Seeking revenge, he tracks the two to their day jobs as underground fighters… and gets beat up. But they recognize him from the village, explain themselves and become his on again, off again allies as he uses them to try to lure out the criminal syndicate responsible. Meanwhile those two try not to be killed by the gang for knowing too much, as well as to protect a Chinese heiress (Celina Jade, LEGENDARY ASSASSIN, SKIN TRADE, WOLF WARRIOR 2) they discover is being targeted by them. (read the rest of this shit…)