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After Dark Action announces theatrical date for DRAGON EYES and 4 others

tn_elgringoAFTER DARK ACTION (that new low budget action company I wrote about here) put up their websight today and announced their schedule. In the tradition of the same company’s AFTER DARK HORROR-FEST they’re gonna be unleashing 5 new action movies in select theaters and on video-on-demand on May 11th. So far Seattle is not on the list of cities, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Not literally, that would be stupid.

All five of the movies sound like something I would watch, some more than others. Among their casts are two of our favorite ’80s/’90s action icons, 2 of our favorites from the 2000s, one star of a STEP UP sequel, my favorite Justified villain, and Christian Slater.

mp_afterdarkactionThe movies are (in reverse-anticipation order)


is something about an ex-con/former NCAA wrestler having to throw a match in a cage fighting tournament to save a friend’s life, or something like that. It stars Wes Chatham (THE HELP), Devon Sawa (FINAL DESTINATION), Jennifer Butler (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake) and the great Neal McDonough (Robert Quarles on this season of Justified), possibly as some sort of coach. Michael Jai White is in it, but listed real low down on the cast. The director is Sean Connery’s son Jason.


A family who are having trouble getting along go on a family trip and get terrorized by bank robbers. The star is Jim Caviezel, who has a thing for under-the-radar b-movies if you take a look at NATURE’S GRAVE (remake of LONG WEEKEND), OUTLANDER and especially HIGHWAYMEN. This also stars Diora Baird (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING), James Frain (TITUS) and Harold Perrineau (MATRIX sequels).


A young couple (Sean Faris, the Tom Cruise lookalike star of NEVER BACK DOWN 1, and Briana Evigan, cute tomboy star of STEP UP 2 THE STREETS) get a great deal on a house, then realize there might be a catch when they find a bunch of drugs hidden in the walls. Also their neighbor (Dolph Motherfuckin Lundgren) shows up with a gun.


This is exciting because it’s the first (somewhat) theatrically released Scott Adkins vehicle. He plays the titular white man in Mexico with $2 million “and a bloody past.” Christian Slater is the bad guy. Unless IMDb is wrong, Michael Jai White, Darren Shahlavi and Matt Mullins are also in the cast, and Isaac Florentine is one of the many producers. Other good signs: cinematographer Yaron Levy did NEVER BACK DOWN 2 and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: A NEW DIMENSION. Stunt coordinator Borislav Iliev did UNDISPUTED III and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION.

Director Eduardo Rodriguez also did STASH HOUSE, so hopefully he knows what he’s doing.

And of course the one I’m most excited about is


which I wrote about here. It’s our first John Hyams directorial work since UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, it’s a moder day YOJIMBO/FISTFUL OF DOLLARS/LAST MAN STANDING reworking starring Strikeforce-turned-UFC fighter Cung Le, with Jean-Claude Van Damme as the guy who teaches him how to fight in prison. I got a PAL code 2 version on pre-order but if it’s as good as I’m hoping I’ll probly want to see it on the big screen too.

Anyway, I look forward to these movies and I’m glad somebody is taking a shot at the sort of thing we’ve been saying somebody should do for years. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed (literally this time, what the hell?) for no shakycam.

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59 Responses to “After Dark Action announces theatrical date for DRAGON EYES and 4 others”

  1. These actually all sound pretty cool. Even if only one or to are that’s a win. Better than their horror label.

  2. did anyone see Christian Slater recently on Conan? he came off as if he was stoned out of his mind

  3. So Jason Connery is now a low budget action director? Wow, I remember him from that old Robin Hood show from the 80’s. (He was the 2nd Robin.)

  4. There’s a trailer up for The Philly Kid now. It looks awful.


    The other four look kind of interesting, though. Especially DE.

  5. I understand keeping your rabid fanbase all atwitter in anticipation with your “The Raid” review, but now you’ve got the burden of expectations going against you. I’m now expecting at least 10,000 words, of which 500-1,000 being synonyms and neologisms for epic, badass, filmic, chutzpah, auteur, set-piece, awe, shock, gasp, wow, damn, shitsnacks, editing, and fuck.

    I had a shit-eating Cheshire Cat grin/grimace for at least half the run time, led out a cuntgaggle of whoops/cheers/hollers, and had the best damn time I’ve had at an action film in ages.

    And don’t get me started on the homages to other astounding badass films, or on the simple yet utterly effective story and character introductions, on the different styles of action, on the tension/release, on the brilliant choreography.

    So rare for a movie to not only live up to the hype, but shove a shard of halogen glass into said hype and slowly linger over it’s corpse.

  6. El Gringo isn’t the first time Scott Adkins has starred in a theatrical movie. Assassination Games, the one he did alongside Van Damme was also a limited release in US cinemas.
    Also, good to see Van Damme, Adkins, Lundgren getting back into cinemas outside of The Expendables movies.

  7. Chopper Sullivan

    April 3rd, 2012 at 4:38 am

    You like Quarles better than Mags Bennett?

  8. Maximillian – When those cats had to go all Double Dragon on Indonessian Al Leong during the last fight I freaking lost it. I loved how Evans kept the escalation going logically (if one badass couldn’t take on this guy earlier in the movie the smart thing is to throw 2 of them at him later). I’m going to go see it for the third time sometime this weekend for sure. I’m hooked on that flick like crack and showing it to anybody who cares (awesome people).

    If this festival comes to NYC I’ll support it cause as Vern says it’s something that’s been in the back of everybody’s minds here for a long ass time. Mel Gibson’s Jesus is a good actor and I will watch anything with Michael Jai White anyway so two of the other movies aside from DRAGON EYES have that going for it. Truthfully though I’m mostly going for DRAGON EYES. I’m so glad it’s getting a theatrical release it’s not even funny. Great news.

  9. Oh and Scott Adkins vs. Nicholson Light should be a funny one sided fight if they decide to have them face off mano y mano.

  10. I don’t think The Raid is playing anywhere near me, so I’ll have to wait for blu ray for that one

  11. Chopper: I was hoping it was going to be a vigilante movie with Mags as a recent widow with nothing better to do than blow away the scum that had infected her neighborhood.

    Were any of those After Dark horror movies any good? There were like a million of those things and nobody ever talks about them. There must have been at least one gem, right?

  12. I too have seen The Raid three times. It’s better than Universal Solder: Regeneration and pretty much any Isaac Florentine film and I love all those a lot. I kind of worry we’ve gotten Vern so excited he’s going to not understand the hype like he did for that one UK cult hitman movie

  13. For the record, The Raid is playing Seattle so Vern has gots to have seen it by now.

  14. You motherfuckers talking about SAW being better than TEXAS CHAINSAW probably sent Vern into a tailspin of righteous rage, forcing him to put aside his RAID review to craft the most epic rebuttal ever transmitted on ye interwebz.

    I hope you’re happy.

  15. “Also their neighbor (Dolph Motherfuckin Lundgren) shows up with a gun.”
    Any chance he plays himself a la Lou Ferrigno in King of Queens?
    Chopper- I thought Mags was good too, but whenever her and Arlo shared a scene I kept expecting this:

  16. @ Broddie – “Indonesian Al Leong”…get out of my mind! I thought he looked uncannily like him as well. I’m guessing you also noticed that IAL was a shout-out to “Hard Boiled” – once they said his name I should’ve guessed he would fight two ultimate badasses at once!

    Vern mentioned on Twitter that he saw it, hence my maybe too subtle “atwitter” comment. Also said the crowd he saw it with was, and I’m paraphrasing here, jacked up about the film, which I take to mean they had the same visceral and audible experience that I had while watching it.

  17. Maximilian – I loved that he even recreated one of the more famous movie moments by the real Al Leong (Martin Riggs torture scene) but without the electrocution and just straight up fists. Cause of his “weapons are no fun because they’re just short cuts philosophy”.

    Good to hear that Vern did get a chance to see it. Been looking forward to reading his take on it for a while. My show rooms were surprisingly packed too and there was a lot of hooting and hollering and clapping throughout during every show. Especially notable during that scene when one dude gets kicked through a door frame and lands back first on a concrete barrier; every single person went “OOOOOOOHHHHH SHIT” when that happened.

  18. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 3rd, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Vern – while I’m certainly not dissing “Dragon Eyes” and am looking forward to some more Hyams after “Unisol: Regen”, it’s the talent in “El Gringo” that has me rubbing my hands in anticipation. Teaming Michael Jay White, Matt Mullins and Scott Adkins (especially the first two after “Blood and Bone”, which pretty much blew me away from start to finish)? FUCK YES.

    I don’t think there’s room in the world for more than one Al Leong. Although he’s not exactly a big guy, he’s big enough. Metaphorically speaking, if you know what I mean, etc.

    Also, Vern, I have a complaint. If you’re going to bring up Briana Evigan’s past work, is “Step Up 2” really the best you can come up with? You should whet our appetites by using the most critically-lauded “legitimate” classic movie that will be remembered through the ages. I refer, of course, to the Platinum Dunes remake of “Sorority Row”. Better references next time please!

  19. Man, every time somebody brings up BLOOD AND BONE, I feel guilty as hell because I just didn’t like it as much as I feel like I’m supposed to. Everybody else seems to put it in the upper echelon of DTV action and I just think it’s okay. MJW is great and the fights are good but the movie as a whole is pretty cheesy, with lots of bad acting and mediocre filmatism. It feels old school straight-to-video, as in “not 100% a real movie.” It has to be graded on a curve, which, say, UNISOL:REGEN or the UNDISPUTEDs don’t have to be. I still like it, but I’d never put it in the conversation if I’m trying to convince somebody that DTV action is better than theatrical action.

  20. Has there been ANY talke of a Blood and Bone 2, by the way? Because remember, at the end, he had “some business to take care of”, didn’t he?

  21. I believe SORORITY ROW is one remake Platinum Dunes had nothing to do with. That’s probably why it’s kind of fun and a little bit smart.

  22. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 4th, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Fred – darn. I should be more careful about things like that.

    I kinda had fun with “Sorority Row” as well. It lost me at the end though, when there turned out to be no murderous sorority girls involved. How can you make a film like this and not include murderous sorority girls?

  23. Dontgetnastybro

    April 4th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Didn’t Ninja (2009) was released theatrically? at least outside the States? I saw it in Malaysia.

  24. Yay I will be seeing DRAGON EYES at Actionfest!

  25. Yeah I saw Florentine’s NINJA on the big screen too but that was in the DR.

  26. Hey, where’s Mouth? We need to make plans for Asheville, NC.

  27. Boy am I glad I got that Actionfest badge. Not only will Cung Le be there to promote Dragon Eyes, but now Tom Berenger(!) will be there as well to promote Sinners and Saints! (And just like that, immediately Gina Carano falls to the 3rd most interesting guest there)

  28. Alright people, I got a little suntan, I got a girl going to ActionFest with me who demands to see True Romance on the big screen, I got plans to shake Fred Topel’s hand, maybe festival badge it up in the VIP lounge with Neal2Zod, I got my dvd of BLOOD & BONE ready to be autographed by JJ Perry & Gina Carano, I don’t have a legitimate copy of FEAR CITY or MAJOR LEAGUE for Tom Berenger’s autograph, sadly, but whatever, he should be the one asking me for my signature, who does he think he is anyway, fuck that guy.

    What’s good, Fred? I’ll be up there Thursday evening, I reckon.


    I’m formulating my hour-by-hour schedule for the weekend right now. Obviously, showtimes for DRAGON EYES and THE RAID:PORT OF CALL ROGER EBERT’S DOGHOUSE are necessary. That Bobcat Goldthwait thing looks interesting as well, maybe this year’s SUPER.

    I’m pretty sure I maximized ActionFest 2011 for total immersion in screenings & panels, with just a little time spent between movies on the iPhone/iPad or in conversation with the Canadian guys who organized everything, yet I still had no choice but to miss a couple of good ones. (Thankfully, I put off the odious BELLFLOWER until the dvd, where my confused scowl & angry grumbling wouldn’t ruin the experience for the theatrical audience, and more thankfully I was able to see 13 ASSASSINS totally massacre on a big screen last year.)

    So I’m looking to replicate that experience, with the addition of any nightlife my fellow OutlawVerners here want to enjoy in the beautiful city of Asheville. I’m staying downtown, got a couple local ladies there who might meet me out on one or 2 or 3 nights this weekend unless they’re working or something, whatever, and I got my car. I’m just getting back from a fairly grueling, no fun work assignment that’s consumed my life the past few weeks, so I’ll be in full vacation mode starting Thursday afternoon. It’s good to be back.

    Other developments that please me:

    -I see in the internet browser history my co-workers have been occasionally reading this website. Or maybe it just looks that way because I had set it as the home page for one of the connections.

    -My copy of THE NEW CHRONICLES OF SEAGALOGY is due in the mailbox possibly tomorrow.

    -My housesitter chica had the brilliant foresight to record for me the new TRUE JUSTICE episodes and a half-hour Seagal special on Reelz, a channel I didn’t know existed until today.

  29. Wonder what Vern will make of Dragon Eyes. I saw it yesterday (region 2 dvd) and was pretty disappointed. There’s a few decent fights and spectacular moves but nothing you haven’t seen before, and this Cung Le guy just doesn’t have a whole lot of charisma. Would it kill him to unbutton just the top button of that damn jacket, jesus. Also what’s up with the overuse of slo-mo? The final batch of fights had so much of it I was tempted to set the dvd playing speed to 2x.

    Van Damme was cool as the teacher dude though. I love the way that guy has aged, he’s got a different presence now than when he was young but is as cool as ever, if not cooler. I’m even still kind of looking forward to Ex2, just because of his villain role.

  30. Mike A. – I also saw this yesterday and have to agree with you somewhat. There are some decent fights, well edited and no shaky-cam (although lots of slo-mo). However the ending kind of just fizzles out with no real big climax. Van Damme was very good, but Peter Weller steals the film from everybody. His Mr V is just a classic boss badguy.

  31. Ah yes, I should have mentioned Weller. He was pretty great in this.

  32. Yeah, his interrogation/dominatrix instruction scene was brilliant. Wish he’d put that collapsible baton to more use though.

  33. Just caught ENTER THE DRAGON EYES and I concur with you cats: it’s good, well made, lean as fuck – but it just doesn’t go the full distance.

    The pro’s way outweigh the con’s for me, though: Van Damme is great (I liked his “two tigers” speech), Cung Le was a decent presence (he really does remind me of Bolo), Peter Weller was fucking great, the fights were very well done, and it looks good. And it reminded me of BLOOD AND BONE. No bad thing at all.

    And Hyams’ direction was on the money. I am officially a big John Hyams fan now. After UNIVERSAL SOLDER: THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY OF RECKONING and this, the cat can direct anything and I’ll watch it.

    But yeah, it felt rushed in many parts – especially the final act. The film felt at least ten minutes too short.

  34. Mouth – looking forward to chilling w/ you and Fred and any other outlawverners there too. I’m still a bit confused as to the layout of actionfest (I’m not sure how many theaters are in the building) and it looks like (as with any good festival) there will be a lot of tough choices to make. Like is it possible to go to the Actionfest Awards at 8pm Saturday and still be able to get into the 9:15pm showing of Dragon Eyes? I couldn’t imagine missing either one of them.

  35. I’m jealous that I won’t be able to make it to ActionFiesta, if only because I want to see what Mouth is like on his home turf after watching him dominate New York City like it wasn’t telling him where to find Richie.

  36. Won’t be a problem — those panels & the awards show last year were less than an hour long.

    And it was easy to get a seat near the front row, or a really close aisle seat like when I became close personal friends with Michael Jai White by sharing a fistbump (“terrorist” fistbump, that is, a bro-y high-five substitute, not slang for an oversize quantity of cocaine) as he arrived to present his directational debut.

    I’m gonna youtube some Cung Le now to study his weaknesses, just in case he wants to tangle.

  37. It should be illegal the amount of fun I had compressed in a few short days in The City last August.

    Hurricane Irene probably helped me, giving me a breather in the midst of constant partying with various enablers who obviously had no reason to be sober the next morning. Almost everybody I met there was going 100 mph the whole time, bending over backward to show me a good time. Southern hospitality is bullshit. NYC knows how to make a guy feel welcome.

  38. Mouth, I’ll be in thurs night too. See you at SOLOMON KANE. How will I identify you?

    Finally, someone to discuss TRUE JUSTICE around here.

    True story about Reelz. I was covering an event honoring Sielberg. They played the Indiana Jones theme as he took to the stage and the Reelz reporter leaned over to me and she asked, “What’s this from?”

  39. Fred, I’ve always feared the day that today’s youth wouldn’t be able to recognize the theme from Jaws or Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I guess that day has come.

    Well, I’m off to Actionfest, I’ll be the Asian kid in glasses wearing the Appetite for Destruction Tshirt at Solomon Kane if anyone here wants to say hi.

  40. Outstanding. I’ll be there for SOLOMON KANE as well, or maybe even a tad earlier to see the opening festivities and to jive with Fred about how he holds down 19 jobs simultaneously, probably wearing a tan ensemble with an aqua button-down and possibly a flower in my lapel and a pint of local suds in my left hand. No pics or autographs, please.

  41. Think Jimmy Olsen crossed with Tom Wolfe crossed with Jason Bourne and you will recognize Mouth in a crowd every time.

  42. Arrived too late to see rocketman in action, and just barely too late to pre-mingle with Neal & Fred, apparently, but still a fine fest so far. SOLOMON KANE is a solid B/B-.

    More importantly, my girl & I left to bar hop, went to the arcade afterparty thing, went straight upstairs, and she managed to be the first person to get a plate from the VIP Indian BBQ catering platter. I got a table; she got us beer & food. What a catch.

  43. Mouth – don’t worry, I *think* i got a good video of Rocketman, I’ll try to post to youtube later. I must have missed you too – I was looking for someone vaguely Jimmy Olsen-like per Majestyk, but I wasn’t quite sure if he meant Richard Donner-era Jimmy Olsen or the Superman Returns Olsen. Or Lois & Clark Olsen.

    Anyways, I enjoyed Solomon Kane way more than I thought i would (i’ll put more thoughts in that post), and I wish I knew there was VIP Indian BBQ at the afterparty. As I’m operating on 3 hours sleep, me and my badge went home to the Super 8 in defeat where I’m currently eating a Doritos Loco Taco. Hope to catch you and Fred at some shows tomorrow. (Most likely going to see Goon)

  44. Here’s Rocketman – sorry about the post-action camerawork, that jetpack was LOUD.


  45. It appears the woman & I will be at TRANSIT tonight at 9:45, then MANBORG for certain at 11:45.

    I’m rocking a pink button-down with a dark gray, light wool sweater preppie-tied around my shoulders.

    While watching THE WILD BUNCH just now I could feel thick patches of hair sprout forth from my chest. That movie’s amazing manliness spreads to its audience like that.

  46. I finally met the wonderful Fred Topel at Transit, but couldn’t find Mouth for the life of me. This guy walks through the raindrops.

    Transit was a bit of a disappointment. The audience seemed to have a lot of unintentional laughter, but it wasn’t really that bad. It suffers from the same formula tropes that most family-in-peril movies do – marital problems, rebellious teenagers, infighting among the criminals, thwarted escapes, bargaining chips, leverage, etc… Even though this is much more successful and not quite as tedious as Trespass, I’m beginning to think there should be a moratorium on these kinds of movies for a little bit. At least the hot female of the gang is fairly normal and not all drugged out, and there’s no “I thought nobody was going to get hurt!” guy in the gang this time.

  47. Operation Meet Neal2Zod was a success but Mouth is going to really have to step up his identification factors. I was at both THE WILD BUNCH and TRANSIT and could not see anyone in pink

    Mouth, if we don’t meet at the 12:30 panel tomorrow, I’m going to start wandering around the stunt show shouting, “Mouth! Mouth!” I’m about to totally blow your cover.

    I liked TRANSIT more than Neal2Zod. It went to some grindhousey places that a movie with a budget would not. Disappointed WILD BUNCH was shown on DVD.

  48. Mouth & woman are wearing black heelys, the shoes with wheels on the bottom. I’m wearing a blue v-neck sweater on a white button-down.

    We’ll be at THE RAID IN 20 minutes, then outside for the stunt show, then TRUE ROMANCE, then maybe AGGRESSION SCALE and definitely DRAGON EYES and maybe COMIN AT YA 3D.

  49. I’m in orange shirt, gray slacks, black 3/4 length jacket if it gets cold or windy. I have a beard and the most piercing blue eyes you’ve ever seen.

  50. Got to see Gina Carano up close as she introduced her favorite action movie, TRUE ROMANCE.

    My woman’s reaction: “I would go gay for her.”


    Fucking great movie, by the way, in case y’all forgot.

  51. I met Mouth today. He is the best dressed man in Asheville. Vern, you have brought us all together.

    I became close personal friends with Gina Carano when she gave me a hug after the fight choreographers panel. Hopefully we can double date with Mouth and Michael Jai White.

  52. Fred be crackin jokes.

  53. Mouth is going with the vanessa hudgen’s love, its about time.

  54. Good for him. And all of us.

  55. Well, finally got back from Asheville after a wonderful weekend at Actionfest w/ Mouth and Fred Topel. Truly awesome, classy guys, and a big thank you to Vern for “introducing” us in the first place.

    As for the movies, my favorite would probably be Sleepless Night, (the Secret Screening). I could feel an air of disappointment as it was a small budget French movie and not Expendables 2 or anything, but it was outstanding. Even though it’s been called “Die Hard in a nightclub”, I’d say it’s more like Bad Lieutenant: POCNO + After Hours. Not too much “action”, per se, but the filmatism, acting and story made it the most exciting movie there.

    Least favorite movie unfortunately goes to Dragon Eyes. Cung Le seems like a great guy in real life, but the movie was a drag – slow and cheap-looking, and needlessly complicated. Not sure what the point is of doing another Yojimbo remake but then adding TWO other factions to muddle things up. Despite the novelty of Van Damme playing mentor, he kinda seemed like he was phoning it in, and his one big action scene was a letdown. This really doesn’t seem like it was made from the same guy who showed such mastery behind the camera in Universal Soldier Regeneration.

    Oh and the less said about the special “preview” of Universal Soldier 4 (6?) the better. I really don’t know what to make of it.

  56. What was the special “preview” for Universal Soldier: Regeneration and what was weird about it?

  57. Sternshein – can’t believe that was 5 years ago! Basically they said they were going to have a preview of Unisol: Day of Reckoning and they played the opening POV sequence. Which doesn’t sound bad now that we’ve all seen how great the movie ended up being, but you have to understand at the time, a POV home invasion/torture porn mini horror movie with JCVD as the bad guy was not really what I expected or wanted to follow up the incredible action of Regeneration. The rest of Day of Reckoning of course explains the opening and puts it in a pretty cool context, but I remember the air totally went out of the room when the preview was over, like “what the hell did we just watch?”

  58. Thanks! I got the subtitles mixed up in my head.

  59. I still can’t believe there were people who actually gave a shit about the integrity of Luc Deveraux. He’s a hero, he’s a victim, he’s a cypher, he’s a father, he’s whatever the plot needs him to be to make the cyborging happen.

    Now, they start fucking with Chance Boudreaux, we’re gonna have words.

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