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Posts Tagged ‘Larnell Stovall’

One Night in Miami…

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… is a very good straight-to-Amazon-Prime movie in that odd genre of “What if we got to see a bunch of familiar cultural and historical figures spend a night hanging out together?” In other words, it’s based on a play, in this case written by SOUL co-director Kemp Powers, who also wrote the screenplay for first-time-feature director Regina King. Of course we’ve known King as an actress since 227 and BOYZ N THE HOOD, and then she played Huey and Riley and got an Oscar for IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK and was a Watchman, but she’s also been directing TV since 2013. Her million dollar quartet here is made up of important Black Americans of the ‘60s who really were friends, but it’s a fictional story about them getting together at a hotel after Cassius Clay (Eli Goree, “PO No. 3,” GODZILLA)’s surprise victory over Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964.

In town for the fight are Clay’s spiritual advisor Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir, KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, THE COMMUTER), the singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr., RED TAILS) and NFL great Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE), there to do color commentary. After the fight they meet up at Malcolm’s humble hotel room, guarded by two Fruit of Islam, the very serious Kareem X (Lance Reddick, JOHN WICK) and young Brother Jamaal (Christian Magby), who does a really funny double take and star struck grin when he realizes the guy he’s letting into the room is Sam Cooke. (read the rest of this shit…)

Seized

Friday, October 16th, 2020

SEIZED is the long-awaited new one from DTV superteam Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine. Though lately Adkins has formed a strong actor/director partnership with Jesse V. Johnson, it was Florentine who first gave him a showcase in SPECIAL FORCES and then made him an icon with UNDISPUTED II and III, plus NINJA and NINJA II: SHADOW OF A TEAR. This is their first reteam in at least four years – I have my suspicions about 2016’s excellent BOYKA: UNDISPUTED (credited to another director), but officially Florentine’s last time directing Adkins was 2015’s CLOSE RANGE.

This one is closer to the latter – another story about a guy single-handedly taking on cartels to protect his family. This time it’s more like a Hollywood thriller, more emphasis on the high concept and complex action sequences than martial arts. He’s kind of a JOHN WICK, settled down as a widower raising his teenage son Taylor (Matthew Garbacz) and running a cyber security firm from a beautiful home in Mexico, when his secret past as an infamous CIA and/or MI5 commando called “Nero” comes roaring back. (read the rest of this shit…)

Welcome to Sudden Death

Monday, October 12th, 2020

WELCOME TO SUDDEN DEATH is Michael Jai White’s new… addition to the SUDDEN DEATH franchise? I had heard it was officially a sequel to the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme DIE-HARD-alike directed by Peter Hyams, but I didn’t notice any continuity connecting them. It’s just a rehash of the same premise. So you could call it a remake, but since it doesn’t use any of the same names I suppose it is in the spirit of rehash DTV sequels like HOLLOW MAN 2, THE MARINE 2, WILD THINGS 2, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2, KINDERGARTEN COP 2 and I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.

White plays Jesse Freeman, ex-special-ops guy who has a new job as a stadium security job after rehabilitating from some shrapnel he got after escaping torture and kung-fu-ing insurgents overseas. His wife (Sagine Sémajuste) thinks he’s away from the family too much, so he brings his worshipful daughter Mara (Nakai Takawira, Young Simone Biles, THE SIMONE BILES STORY: COURAGE TO SOAR) and unimpressed son Ryan (Lyric Justice) with him when he works the opening game for the Phoenix Falcons. You know, of the National Basketball League. (read the rest of this shit…)

Undisputed III: Redemption (revisit)

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Well, unlike my first reviews of UNDISPUTED and UNDISPUTED II: LAST MAN STANDING, I’m perfectly happy with what I wrote when UNDISPUTED III: REDEMPTION was first released. So you can follow that link for what the movie’s about and why it’s great, plus my attempt to sell circa 2010 Ain’t It Cool News readers on the works of Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine, and the concept of DTV action in general. Still, on the occasion of part 4 coming to American video tomorrow I wanted to revisit part III for further analysis and appreciation.

I’d never watched it back-to-back with part II before. That really emphasizes the differences. Though I praised the J.J. Perry fight choreography in II, Larnell Stovall’s work here is something to behold. More fights, longer takes with more consecutive moves, different styles (more throws and groundwork, and capoeira courtesy of Lateef Crowder). As much as I love and don’t want to take away from the classics like KICKBOXER and BLOODSPORT that inspired movies like the UNDISPUTEDs, I think it’s fair to say that the choreography and filming of martial arts sequences has gotten far more sophisticated since those days. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kickboxer: Vengeance

Monday, September 5th, 2016

tn_kickboxervengeanceIn this age of reboots one thing I didn’t see coming was a respectful attempt to resurrect the magic of KICKBOXER. Produced by Cannon when Jean-Claude Van Damme was still a new star, the original is a seminal film in the foundation of the western-star martial arts movie. Part of the beauty of the era it helped ignite was its disposability; there was such a hunger for this stuff on VHS that they kept churning out KICKBOXERs and BLOODSPORTs and BLOODFISTs with whatever Next Jean-Claude Van Damme they could get. And the combination of these basic story formulas and the appeal of seeing thick-accented martial artists try to act cool between flying kicks made for many enjoyable evenings for people all around the world.

Things have changed. Far fewer straight up action movies are made than in the ’80s and ’90s, and viewing them is not as common of a ritual for young people growing up. The fringe market of DTV has mostly shifted to VOD, a riskier business model since people actually have to watch the movies for them to make money. So, weirdly, this new KICKBOXER (released to VOD on Friday) was made with care, in hopes of people liking it. You can tell they’re genuinely trying to recapture what was fun about those movies, but in a modern context – by which I only mean it has nice digital cinematography of sunny Thailand and many of the opponents are played by famous UFC fighters. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kickboxer: Vengeance trailer

Friday, July 15th, 2016

I’m excited about this one. KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE is a remake of KICKBOXER, and it for sure is a new franchise because they’re about to start shooting a sequel called KICKBOXER: RETALIATION. In this one, Alan Moussi (stunt double for Henry Cavill in IMMORTALS, The Miz in THE MARINE 3, Jason Clarke in WHITE HOUSE DOWN, Hugh Jackman in X-MEN: APOCALYPSE and Jai Courtney in SUICIDE SQUAD) takes on the JCVD role of Kurt Sloan, whose brother (now played by the late Darren Shahlavi) is paralyzed (now killed I bet) in the ring by the vicious Thai fighter Tong Po, originally played by Van Damme’s friend Michel Qissi, now the great Dave Bautista (credited as David here, so it’s his serious actor role I think). (read the rest of this shit…)

Never Back Down: No Surrender

Monday, July 4th, 2016

tn_nbd3The world needs the NEVER BACK DOWN series. Why? Because we don’t have a currently running NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER series, or a BLOODSPORT series, or a BLOODFIST series. We will soon have more KICKBOXER, but that’s not enough.

If I had to guess I’d say your average citizen on or off the street doesn’t know what the fuck a NEVER BACK DOWN is, so I’m gonna explain it to everybody now. Part 1 was a slick theatrical release, a dumb movie with the admirably ridiculous premise of combining a teen romance type of story with an underground fighting tournament. They’re supposed to be these legendary illegal pitfighters but also they go to the same high school. The hero was Tom Cruise lookalike Sean Faris (STASH HOUSE), the villain was Cam Gigandet (IN THE BLOOD), the mentor was Academy Award nominee Djimon Honsou (ELEPHANT WHITE). Afterwards they all went their separate ways: director Jeff Wadlow went on to do KICK-ASS 2, comic relief nerd Evan Peters went on to become Quicksilver in the X-MEN pictures, love interest Amber Heard went on to become Amber Heard. And that could’ve been the end of never backing down. (read the rest of this shit…)

Falcon Rising

Monday, September 8th, 2014

tn_falconrisingI don’t think FALCON RISING is a new b-action classic like BLOOD AND BONE or UNDISPUTED II. It’s not as imaginative or expertly executed as those. But it is something I love that the world doesn’t get enough of these days: a solid meat and potatoes action movie molded entirely around the badassness of a martial artist, the great Michael Jai White.

Career-wise, MJW has diversified more than his golden age predecessors like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal (who he fought in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN and EXIT WOUNDS, respectively). He’s supplemented his many action credits with Tyler Perry movies and sitcoms (WHY DID I GET MARRIED 1-TOO, For Better or Worse) and with creating and writing BLACK DYNAMITE (both the movie and the animated series, soon in its second season). But one look at his cartoonishly inflated muscles or at one of his flying kicks and it’s clear that he was meant for an endless series of action vehicles, even if that’s not what Hollywood (or Sofia, or whoever) thinks they’re supposed to be making in this era. (read the rest of this shit…)

trailer for FALCON RISING starring MJW

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

We finally have a new Michael Jai White vehicle on the way, and here’s the trailer.

Falcon Rising – Trailer from Moonstone Entertainment on Vimeo.

Somehow MJW hasn’t had an action movie role since 2011 (when he co-starred in TACTICAL FORCE and NEVER BACK DOWN 2), and he hasn’t had a starring action role since his DTV classic BLOOD AND BONE in 2009. The producers of FALCON RISING recognize this problem so they are pre-planning this as a franchise. If they stick to the plan then White’s character John “Falcon” Chapman will doing flying kicks on motherfuckers in different exotic locations each year. This is of course the Brazil chapter.

It looks like Neal McDonough plays his boss, and his sister (who gets kidnapped, I think) is played by Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila. Not surprisingly considering the setting, Lateef Crowder (capoeira fighter who’s in THE PROTECTOR and UNDISPUTED III) is also in it. Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED III, NEVER BACK DOWN 2, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING) choreographed the fights. At one point I read that Isaac Florentine (where are you, man?) was gonna direct this, but it ended up being Ernie Barbarash. Not as much of a sure bet, but I remember thinking his Van Damme/Adkins team-up ASSASSINATION GAMES was pretty decent.

Allegedly this will have a theatrical release September 5th, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

PREVIOUSLY, ON UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: In 2009 John Hyams, fine sports documentarian and son of the director of OUTLAND, knocked the world of DTV flat on its ass with a grim and shockingly great part 3 (or part 5 including the made for cable 2 and 3). It is one of its decade’s best American action movies and a classic example of a hungry artist taking a disrespected medium far beyond its perceived limitations. Also Dolph Lundgren makes a hell of an impression with a small appearance, the Alec-Baldwin-in-GLENGARRY-GLEN-ROSS-of-DTV.

And now, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING.
(read the rest of this shit…)