So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘Simon Yam’

Kill Zone 2 (SPL 2: A Time For Consequences)

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

tn_spl2btislSPL 2: A TIME FOR CONSEQUENCES (or KILL ZONE 2 in the U.S.) is not truly a sequel to SPL/KILL ZONE, the great 2005 martial arts/police thriller that Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and director Wilson Yip did together before the IP MAN movies. Instead it’s an even better movie with Tony Jaa (THE PROTECTOR), Louis Koo (DRUG WAR) as the villain and Zhang Jin (THE GRANDMASTER) as the main henchman. Wu Jing (WOLF WARRIOR) and Simon Yam (MAN OF TAI CHI) both return in lead roles, but not as the same characters from the first one.

Director Cheang Pou-soi (DOG BITE DOG, MOTORWAY, THE MONKEY KING) and action director Li Chung-chi (team leader of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team who also choreographed GEN-X COPS 2, VENGEANCE and IP MAN: FINAL FIGHT) have come up with some next level shit that’s pretty much everything I could hope for in a serious Hong Kong action movie: an intense, involving story with a strong, dramatic tone, building carefully to powerful explosions of violence including large scale shootouts and vehicle mayhem but primarily martial arts with a wide variety of styles that express things about the characters and situations. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Man of Tai Chi

Monday, November 4th, 2013

tn_manoftaichibtislMAN OF TAI CHI is a finely tuned new take on my beloved underground fighting subgenre. It’s the directational debut of POINT BREAK’s Keanu Reeves, who gets extra cool-points for starting his directing career just to make a vehicle for a stuntman he met on the MATRIX sequels, Tiger Hu Chen. Reeves brings along MATRIX fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping and, even better, plays the villain. It’s a Chinese production, set and filmed in Beijing, only partly in English. I guess that’s why I’ve never seen an ad for it and almost missed the fact that it was playing in theaters (it’s been available on VOD and iTunes for about a month).
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Summer Movie Flashback: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

tn_cradleoflifesmf2003As you know I am a scholar of the Big Summer Popcorn Movie, or whatever you want to call it. And I not only like to review the new ones but I like to look back at the old ones and figure out what’s what. We’re getting to the end of the summer movie season (which I consider to be May through August) but now that I’ve finished The Super-Kumite I think it’s time to start a new summer movie project. Fuck you, September. You don’t scare me.

This is what I’m gonna do. For each summer from 2003 until last year I’m gonna pick two movies to review: one that I never saw before, one that I’m revisiting. And as you can see I’m starting with THE CRADLE OF LIFE as the one I never saw before.

release date: July 25, 2003

It turns out I dig these LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER movies. Maybe if I’d seen them at the time, on the big screen, as if they were gonna compete with the A-list summer blockbuster type movies, I would’ve been more critical of them. But ignoring them for ten years and then deciding to watch them out of curiosity really pays off I think. Sometimes you gotta let these things age in the cellar for a while. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Super-Kumite: Bloodfight

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

tn_bloodfightROUND 1, FIRST BOUT, BLOODSPORT SEQUELS VS. TEAM BOLO

aka FINAL FIGHT

“Stop him! You mustn’t let him keep practicing martial arts! Please! Please! Ryu is not a fighter. He’s a warm and caring person!”

BLOODFIGHT is from Japanese director Shuji Goto (FIGHTING BLACK KINGS) and star Yasuaki Kurata (HEROES OF THE EAST, EASTERN CONDORS, FIST OF LEGEND) but it’s a Hong Kong production featuring Bolo Yeung and Simon Yam. I rented it on a triple feature called Great Martial Arts Movies, and it had a warning about the picture quality not being up to modern standards, so I expected the worst. But other than being cropped it looked fine.

I also thought it might be dubbed, and there’s not any dialogue for the first ten minutes or more, so I was in suspense. Turns out it’s one of the rare Hong Kong movies that was actually filmed in English. Some of the actors sound like they’re just repeating it phonetically, so it’s hard to understand some of it. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Bullet in the Head

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

I don’t think I’ve seen John Woo’s BULLET IN THE HEAD since the early ’90s. It was a double feature with HARD BOILED, and I remember seeing a guy walk out during a scene involving American P.O.W.s. I thought it was crazy that after the unparalleled gun violence of HARD BOILED there would be violence in the next movie that somebody couldn’t take. But obviously with the historical context it cuts a little closer to the bone, especially if that guy was a vet. That’s what’s amazing about this movie: made after THE KILLER but before HARD BOILED, it has the fun, brotherhood and crazy action of the best Woo while feeling more personal, more emotional than any of them.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Kill Zone (SPL: Sha Po Lang)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

tn_killzoneBefore Wilson Yip directed Donnie Yen in the IP MAN series the two had already done a bunch of movies together. Their first collaboration was the 2005 crime movie SPL: SHA PO LANG. The title has to do with Chinese mythology and every man’s capacity for both good and evil. That’s hard to translate for Americans so the Weinsteins called it KILL ZONE. It’s about a zone of killing.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Exiled

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

tn_exiledAfter VENGEANCE heroically bloodshedded me in the face it was obviously time to check out some of these Johnnie To movies that I’ve been ignoring even though everybody and their blood brother has been recommending them to me over the years. It’s nice to see that while Hong Kong action cinema has lost the worldwide attention it had in the ’90s there’s still been some people keeping it alive. Mr. To definitely has a modern take on the types of emotions and style we love from that era. So here’s another one of his more recent ones, 2006’s EXILED.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Vengeance

Monday, February 7th, 2011

tn_vengeanceIf a revenge movie is just called VENGEANCE, somebody might assume it’s gonna be obvious and unimaginative. In the case of Johnnie To’s VENGEANCE they’d be wrong – it’s elegant and poetically simple is what it is. Like a haiku with exit wounds. At this time I would like to ask that hypothetical somebody to admit that they would’ve been wrong.

In the opening scene a family is gunned down by three hitmen. Only the mother survives, and just barely. Her father, just known as Costello (Johnny Hallyday), comes to the hospital, vows to avenge her and gets minor details about the attackers by having her point at words in a newspaper. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Ip Man 2

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

tn_ipman2Ever since the runaway Hong-Kong-equivalent-of-best-picture-Oscar success of the Donnie-Yen-starring biopic IP MAN in 2008, Ip-Mania has swept the globe. In the U.S. it’s quickly become one of the most popular martial arts imports since ONG BAK, and this year will have its own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (at least I assume so. I sent them several letters demanding that). in Hong Kong it already has a (unrelated?) prequel and this very good sequel from returning director Wilson Yip.

IP MAN was very episodic and ended early in Ip Man’s life, so there was a natural opening to continue the story. But the movie had such a perfect blend of character drama and martial arts action that it’s alot to live up to. And in recent years the sequels to the international action phenomenons have been pretty iffy. I enjoyed ONG BAK 2, but it’s a big mess that lost alot of people, and I ahven’t heard anything good about part 3 yet. DISTRICT B13 ULTIMATUM was watchable but completely underwhelming. So this was far from a sure thing. There’s curses to overcome.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Ip Man

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Donny Yen plays Ip Man, the grand master martial artist who I guess was the first to openly teach the Wing Chun style of kung fu. If you’ve heard of him it’s probaly because he was Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun master, although that’s only mentioned in the text at the end of the movie.

Like Ronny Yu’s JET LI’S FEARLESS, IP MAN is a prestige martial arts picture, a fictionalized take on a historical figure, a beautifully shot period piece (in this case the ’30s) mixing drama and inspirational nationalism with topnotch martial arts choreography. The look is a little more timeless than FEARLESS though – I didn’t notice any digital shots, and only a couple wire-assisted moves. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.