Major ‘Terminator’ franchise news coming this year…

"Terminator" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Terminator” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Despite backlash and lukewarm domestic box office returns, 2015’s Terminator Genisys performed well in international markets. In fact, here’s a tidbit you probably weren’t aware of: Terminator Genisys is the second-highest grossing film of the entire franchise (behind only T2: Judgment Day) on a global scale.

With that said, the following news from last January (via Deadline) shouldn’t have come as a surprise: “James Cameron, who regains certain rights to his prized creation The Terminator in 2019, is godfathering a new iteration of the film that might finally get it right in drawing a close in the battle between humans and Skynet. Sources said that Cameron, whose copyright reversion happens 35 years after the release of the 1984 classic, is in early talks with Deadpool director and VFX wiz Tim Miller to direct a reboot and conclusion of one of cinema’s great science fiction tales.”

We’re not sure what “reboot and conclusion” means, but our guess is the Cameron/Miller Terminator film will most-likely take place after T2 and will ignore the rest of them. And considering the near-flawless CGI going around these days, the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected.

Today, during a recent conversation with Collider, Skydance honcho David Ellison said that there will be a major announcement about the Terminator franchise coming in 2017:

“I will say we have resolved the future of the franchise and believe me its an incredibly bright future. I think where it’s going will be the continuation of what the fans really wanted since T2… We have something this year that we will be announcing for the franchise. It’s something we’re incredibly excited about and we think is the direction it needs to head.”

We’ll keep you updated on this story as we learned more. Stay tuned!

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Enter our ‘Sword Master’ Blu-ray Contest!

Sword Master | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Sword Master | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of Sword Master (read our review) to three lucky City on Fire visitors. To enter, simply add a comment to this post and describe, in your own words, the video below.

We will be selecting a winner at random. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you for your home address. Also, please ‘Like Us‘ on Cityonfire.com’s Facebook by clicking here.

Sword Master will officially be released on April 11, 2017. We will announce the 3 winners on that date.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by April 11, 2017 to qualify. U.S. residents only please. We sincerely apologize to our non-U.S. visitors. Winners must respond with their mailing address within 48 hours, otherwise you will automatically be disqualified. No exceptions. Contest is subject to change without notice.

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Payback Time Triple Feature | Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Payback Time Triple Feature | Blu-ray (Millcreek)

Payback Time Triple Feature | Blu-ray (Millcreek)

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017

On May 16, 2017, Mill Creek Entertainment will be releasing the Blu-ray for the Payback Time Triple Feature, which will include the following titles:

Blind Fury, a 1989 cult classic directed by Phillip Noyce (Dead Calm, Salt) and starring Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher), Terry O’Quinn (The Stepfather), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off), Meg Foster (Future Kick) and a special appearance by ninja superstar Sho Kosugi (9 Deaths of the Ninja).

In Blind Fury, Nick Parker (Hauer), an American soldier serving in the Vietnam War, is blinded by a mortar explosion, and soon after rescued by local villagers, who help him recover his health. He’s then trained as a sword fighter and finally comes to America to help to rescue the son of a fellow soldier. The film is a modernized remake of 1967’s Zatoichi Challenged.

Silent Rage, a 1982 action thriller directed by Michael Miller (Street Girls) and starring Chuck Norris (Yellow Face Tiger, Code of Silence), Ron Silver (Timecop), Brian Libby (The Shawshank Redemption) and Stephen Furst (Animal House).

In Silent Rage, a sheriff (Norris) tries to stop the killing spree of a mute maniacal murderer (Libby) who, as the result of years of medical experimentation, has the ability to self-heal.

And last but not least, White Line Fever, a 1975 flick directed by Jonathan Kaplan (Unlawful Entry) and starring Jan-Michael Vincent (Airwolf), Kay Lenz (Death Wish 4), Slim Pickens (The Getaway) and L.Q. Jones (Lone Wolf McQuade).

In White Line Fever, a young married man (Vincent) becomes an independent long-haul driver and he risks his life fighting the corruption in the local long-haul trucking industry.

Pre-order Payback Time from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News, Other Notable Titles | Tagged | 1 Comment

Andy Lau is explosive in the New Trailer for ‘Shock Wave’

"Shock Wave" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Shock Wave” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Herman Yau (Ebola Syndrome) is ready to detonate his latest thriller, Shock Wave, a $23 million dollar action movie that pairs the controversial Untold Story director up with Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau (Switch).

In the film, Lau plays an undercover explosive ordnance disposal bureau officer who becomes the protégé of a criminal specializing in bombs and then tries to capture him.

“The project is very much a Hong Kong-style action thriller, so I decided to produce and star in an important role in the film… previous films like Firestorm are the staple of Hong Kong cinema, belonging to one of the most important genres in our output. I hope to reach new heights with the Hong Kong action genre and the cops-and-robbers genre with this film,” Lau told THR.

Shock Wave explodes in Chinese theaters on March 28, 2017.

Updates: Watch the film’s latest Trailer below:

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‘The Matrix’ reboot rumored to be a Morpheus prequel

"The Matrix" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“The Matrix” Japanese Theatrical Poster

A reboot of the highly successful 1999 sci-fi film The Matrix is brewing at Warner Bros. According to THR, Zak Penn (Ready Player One) is in talks to pen the screenplay and the studio is eyeing Michael B. Jordan (Creed) for the lead role made popular by Keanu Reeves (John Wick 2). There are currently no directors attached.

“At this point, the Wachowski siblings, who wrote and directed the original and its two sequels, are not involved and the nature of their potential engagement with a new version has not been determined,” THR reported.

The Matrix centered around a computer hacker (Reeves) who learns about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers. The film spawned two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both of which were released in 2003.

The films were known for their originality, cutting edge special effects (origin of the slow-motion “bullet time” effect) and of course, their fast-paced martial arts sequences, which put choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (Dance of the Drunken Mantis) on the Hollywood map.

Updates: According to BMD, Warner is not interested in rebooting The Matrix, but rather in exploring expanded universe concepts. And according to two independent sources BMD has spoken with, one idea that’s gained a lot of support is a prequel film starring Michael B. Jordan as a young Morpheus.

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Review

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Peter Hunt
Writer: Richard Maibaum
Producer: Harry Saltzman, Albert R. Broccoli
Cast: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas, Bernard Lee, Gabriele Ferzetti, Ilse Steppat, Lois Maxwell, George Baker, Yuri Borienko, Bernard Horsfall, Desmond Llewelyn
Running Time: 140 min.

By Paul Bramhall

Ask any James Bond fan which entry in the series has the ‘Asian connection’, and many will likely say 1967’s You Only Live Twice, which has Sean Connery gallivanting around Japan while taking on ninjas and training in the bushido arts. But I’ll beg to differ and present the case for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, not so much for the content of the movie itself, but for the actor playing 007 – George Lazenby. The sixth entry in the series, and the one that closed out the 60’s, OHMSS (as I’ll refer to it from here on it) would be the first and last time Lazenby would take on the role of Bond in the official franchise.

The reasons behind Lazenby’s one-off tenure as the famous British agent are well documented – a mix of his own arrogance (which was what arguably got him the role in the first place), and his declaration that Bond was an obsolete character during its release, saw him quickly branded as being difficult to work with. These days he’s a much more affable fellow, and openly admits that he made mistakes during the initial years he spent in the film industry, but back then it was a different story. By 1973 he recalls being completely broke, and headed for Hong Kong to meet with Raymond Chow and Bruce Lee to discuss a role in Game of Death. Lazenby was booked to meet Lee for lunch on the day of the Little Dragons untimely passing, resulting in the collaboration never coming to pass, however Chow did sign Lazenby up for a 3 picture deal.

The result saw the one-time James Bond starring alongside the likes of Angela Mao and Hwang In-sik in Stoner (not to mention a sex scene with the actress whose bedroom Bruce Lee was found dead in – Betty Ting Pei), throwing down against Jimmy Wang Yu in The Man from Hong Kong, and mingling amongst such names as Dean Shek and Bolo in A Queen’s Ransom (which ironically saw him involved in a plot to kidnap the queen, rather than serving her). Quite the unusual career path for the Australian born actor, however maybe not completely unexpected. Members of the production on OHMSS recall Lazenby’s insistence to do all of his own fights and stunts, and he also contributed his own ideas for the action, suggesting the inclusion of a scene in which Bond would ski off the edge of a cliff with a parachute. Due to time constraints and resources the idea wasn’t feasible, however it was used 8 years later in the opening of The Spy Who Loved Me.

Watching OHMSS now, over 45 years since it was first released, it’s easy to appreciate just how ahead of its time it really was. Not only was it Lazenby’s acting debut, but it was also director Peter Hunt’s first time at helming a full length feature as well. Having worked as an editor on the first three entries in the 007 series, the producers believed he’d be up to the task of moving the franchise into a new and exciting direction. The case for them being right is a strong one, as in many ways OHMSS bears several similarities to the 007 reboot which would start with Casino Royale, a whole 37 years later. Hunt portrays Lazenby’s Bond as much more physical than Connery’s incarnation, gone is the focus on cars and gadgets, and in the first third there’s hardly a single gunshot fired, as Lazenby instead get involved in numerous fight scenes.

The way the fights are shot foreshadows the quick cut editing technique that Paul Greengrass would use in the Matt Damon starring Bourne sequels over three decades on, and delivers an effective sense of urgency and impact to the scenes. One particular fight that takes place within the confines of a hotel room is satisfyingly chaotic, with the whole room getting completely trashed in the process. It’s a template which would be used for many years to come, from Gina Carano vs Michael Fassbender in Haywire to Michelle Rodriguez vs Ronda Rousey in Furious 7. The fights are visibly undercranked, but for a 1969 British production, there’s a raw physicality to them that still feels fresh and immediate even now.

Also drawing on the similarities to Casino Royale, OHMSS flirts with shifting Bond into a darker direction. The opening sequence has Lazenby observing Avengers actress Diana Rigg from a distance, as she staggers around on a deserted beach. When it becomes evident that she is in fact trying to take her own life, he rushes out to save her. This opening pre-credit scene, as compact as it is, accurately represents all that’s good and bad with OHMSS. The dark undertones of a mob bosses daughter having no will to live is instantly engaging, and we’re drawn into Lazenby’s bold move to rescue her. However then he opens his mouth. Immediately introducing himself as “Bond, James Bond”, his delivery is a little too energetic and excited. Bond should be smooth and suave, however Lazenby’s line delivery is anything but. However no sooner has he spoken, than he’s involved in a fight against two assailants, which is satisfyingly intense and chaotic.

The elephant in the room in any discussion of OHMSS is, of course, how the opening pre-credit sequence ends. Having dispatched of the two assailants, and then come to the realisation that Rigg has driven off while he was fighting, leaving him alone on the beach, Lazenby breaks the fourth wall, momentarily glancing at the camera before stating, “This never happened to the other fellow.” So in just a few short minutes, the sequence acts as a micro-nutshell as to what can be expected from Lazenby’s outing – it’s intense, dark, physical, and also pretty goofy, not always in equal proportions.

For those that classify Lazenby’s outing as Stoner to be a heap of goofy psychedelic trash, the plot device is basically the same as OHMSS. Whereas Stoner revolves around Lazenby’s attempts to track down the creator of ‘the happy pill’, an addictive drug that acts as a hallucinogenic aphrodisiac (seemingly only on well-endowed naked females), OHMSS revolves around an infertility drug which will put an end to the world population. It’s revealed that Blofeld, played by Telly Savalas (replacing Donald Pleasence’s memorable turn as the villain), is operating under the cover of running an allergy research program. Up in the Swiss mountains, a bevy of women (later revealed by Savalas to be his “angels of death”) believe they’re undergoing a treatment of hypnotism for their allergies. We get to see the treatment in action with one particular patient, played by Angela Scoular, who has an allergy to chickens (which when she explains it is actually more of a phobia). As she lays down in bed, a series of psychedelic flashing lights fill the room, and Savalas comes on over the room speaker – “I’ve taught you to love chickens, love their flesh, their voice.” Seriously.

All of these bizarre shenanigans are completely at odds with Lazenby’s budding romance with Diana Rigg. Although at first he insists that she’s mentally unstable and needs a psychiatrist, as the plot progresses these interesting elements are largely cast aside. This is forgivable though, as the decision to introduce a female character that Bond actually falls in love with, and ultimately ends up marrying, is a worthy and bold move for the character. I don’t think it would class as a spoiler to reveal the ending of OHMSS, but just in case I’ll spare the details and simply say that the final minute remains as the single most emotionally poignant scene in the whole franchise to date. Lazenby performs the scene so well that it’s enough to forget about some of his less than stellar line deliveries in the rest of the movie, and make you wish he’d stayed as the character longer. As it stands though, the events that close out OHMSS act as little more than a footnote in the pre-credit sequence of For Your Eyes Only in 1981, over a decade later.

While the middle section of OHMSS is undeniably goofy, director Hunt reigns things in for an entertaining action finale. Consisting of an exciting downhill chase on ski’s, during which Lazenby broke his arm practicing for, it made enough of an impression that Christopher Nolan cited it as an influence on a similar scene in Inception. Lazenby amusingly slips out of his British delivery during this scene, at one point yelling to Rigg, “Keep going!” in a distinctly Australian accent, however considering he has enough to concentrate on, the small slip is excusable. There’s also a nice John Woo style moment, as he slides horizontally across the ice-covered ground while firing a machine gun at the bad guys. It’s a scene which is immediately reminiscent of the finale in Tsui Hark’s Knock Off, which has Van Damme horizontally sliding between containers while also shooting at the enemy.

The bobsleigh finale also earns its action merits, partly thanks to it being re-written to include the footage of stunts gone wrong while practicing the scene. Because of this decision, there’s a great shot of Bond crashing out of the bobsleigh and into the snow, great of course, because that’s what actually happened to the poor stuntman involved. Re-using stunt footage gone wrong was remarkably ahead of its time, and became a practice widely used in Hong Kong action cinema in the 80’s and 90’s (Conan Lee’s failed street light jump from Tiger on the Beat 2 springs to mind). This, along with other more subtle references, indicate that OHMSS is probably more highly regarded than many care to recognize. One of the more subtle examples come in a scene which has Bond make a fake coat of family arms, and it’s explained that the Latin on the coat is translated as The World is Not Enough, which of course would become the title of Pierce Brosnan’s 3rd outing as the character in 1999.

While the path of playing the revered secret agent wasn’t to be travelled by Lazenby, OHMSS deserves to be recognised as a worthwhile entry into the franchise, with action scenes that were well ahead of their time, and a plot which wasn’t afraid to imbue the character with a sense of loss. The closing credits of OHMSS proudly declare that ‘JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER’, and indeed he did, but it was Sean Connery who stepped back in the shoes of 007, or as Lazenby would say, “the other fellow”. As James Bond he may have been replaced, but thankfully, we’ll always have Joseph Stoner and Jack Wilton, so regardless of whether you have a chicken allergy or not, next time you need a 007 fix, consider OHMSS as your Bond of choice.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7.5/10

Posted in All, Asian Related, Cults & Classics, News, Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Production for Donnie Yen’s ‘Ip Man 4’ starts in 2018

"Ip Man 4" Teaser Poster

“Ip Man 4” Teaser Poster

Despite publicly stating that Ip Man 3 was his last Ip Man sequel, martial arts superstar Donnie Yen (Kung Fu Jungle) never ruled out the idea of revisiting the Ip Man character for a fourth time – but considering Ip Man 3 had somewhat of a swan song-feel to it, fans dismissed the possibility.

Additionally, Yen’s increasing popularity and demand in Hollywood with the recently released Star Wars: Rogue One and xXx: Return of Xander Cage raised the question: Why would Yen backpedal to the Ip Man role again, especially if Ip Man 3 was a perfect closing chapter?

Then in September of 2017, nearly a year after the release of the last Ip Man 3, Yen had this to say: “I want to share this very excited news with you all, my good friend Wilson Yip, who had directed all of my last three Ip Man series, tonight, we have decided to reunite and continue to make our next project together, Ip Man 4! Yes, I-P-M-A-N part 4!”

Today, Yen (via FB) shared the news that production for Ip Man 4 begins in 2018: “Some prefer to call me the IP MAN. Filming begins 2018, I am back!” Yen is also toying with the idea of Tony Jaa (SPL 2) being his next opponent in Ip Man 4 (via HK01).

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about Ip Man 4. In the meantime, Yen can next be seen in Wong Jing’s Chasing the Dragon (aka King of Drug Dealers), where he’s taking on the role of real-life gangster Ng Sek-ho (aka Crippled Ho). And there’s also a Ip Man spin-off in the works, titled Cheung Tin-chi, with breakout star Max Zhang reprising his character from Ip Man 3 (rumors suggest that Yen may have a cameo as Ip Man).

For now, we leave you with the Trailer for Yen’s 1998 film, Ballistic Kiss.

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Deal on Fire! The Assassin | Blu-ray | Only $9.28 – Expires soon!

The Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Assassin, by acclaimed director Hou Hsiao-Hsien (A City of Sadness) and starring Shu Qi (Journey to the West).

In 9th-century China, Nie Yinniang (Qi) is a woman who was abducted in childhood from a general and raised by a nun who trained her in the martial arts. After 13 years of exile, she is returned to the land of her birth as an assassin.

The film also stars Zhou Yun (Bodyguards and Assassins), Chang Chen (Helios) and Tsumabuki Satoshi (Waterboys).

Order The Assassin from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 1 Comment

Martial Club | aka Instructors of Death (1981) Review

"Martial Club" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Martial Club” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Lau Kar Leung
Writer: Kuang Ni
Producer: Mona Fong
Cast: Gordon Liu, Kara Hui, Robert Mak, Wang Lung Wei, Ku Feng, King Chu Lee, Chu Te Hu, Wilson Tong, Hsiao Ho
Running Time: 102 min.

By Chris Hatcher

Of the storied directors in old school kung fu cinema, none stand higher on the mountain top than the great Lau Kar Leung. His directorial run from 1975-1986 produced some of the Shaw Brother’s most celebrated classics including The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, and Legendary Weapons of China. Known for creating realistic training and fight sequences influenced by the Chinese martial art of Hung Gar, Lau saturated his films with some of the most authentic choreography in the genre’s history. And no one added to his formula for success as frequently, or as spectacularly, as the Master Killer himself, Gordon Liu.

Lau cast Liu in 18 films and starred him in over half of those during a time of forging a new path in martial arts cinema. He ended his long-time work as an action choreographer for director Chang Cheh on the set of 1975’s Marco Polo out of need to focus more on the martial arts itself and less on Cheh’s affinity for blood-soaked violence. As one of the few directors to be an actual martial artist and the first choreographer to direct a feature film, Lau mentored actors like Liu in the ways of depicting spectacular kung fu on screen. And his approach paid off; Liu’s breakout role in 36th Chamber sealed their partnership and sky-rocketed both men to superstardom. In short, you can’t have a conversation about the best in martial arts cinema without mentioning Lau Kar Leung and Gordon Liu.

Whenever I read opinions on the duo’s best collaborations, it’s a given to see the films already mentioned sitting in the top spots. However, I’m always a bit surprised to find Martial Club towards the bottom of the list, or nowhere on the list at all. Granted, when you have so many great films under your belt it’s hard to find room at the top for everyone. But Martial Club seems… forgotten. Like it’s the one Lau/Liu film placed on the backburner simply for being a lesser known title in the filmography of these two greats, which is truly unfortunate. Here’s why:

Martial Club contains some of the best martial arts action to never kill a character on screen, which I greatly admire (a feat Lau/Liu pulled off three years earlier in the superbly bloodless Heroes of the East); it also displays an excellent blend of humor and action throughout; and, in what I consider the most compelling argument for its greatness, the finale features the single best Gordon Liu/Wang Lung Wei showdown of their many excellent encounters (which is truly saying something if you’ve ever seen these two go at it). Mix all of this together and you get a film that would likely rank top three on any other filmmaker’s “Best of” list. For a supreme director like Lau, however, it’s just another day at the office.

Martial Club’s plot keeps things light with Liu once again taking on the role of legendary troublemaker Wong Fei Hung (he previously played the part in Lau’s Challenge of the Masters). He and Robert Mak are students of neighboring kung fu schools, each always looking to one-up the other in friendly combat. An opening credits lion dance (featuring rules explanation by Lau) sets the stage for a third school’s head student (King Chu Lee) to break etiquette and challenge Mak’s Wang Yinlin to a lion dance-off. The aftermath finds the two schools’ masters, Zheng (Wilson Tong) and Lu (Chu Te Hu), seeking mediation from Fei Hung’s father (Ku Feng), a process that goes awry and leaves the two sides at odds.

When the hijinx of besting one another leads Fei Hung and Yinlin to ask their closest confidants (Hsiao Ho and Kara Hui) to rig a fight contest on their behalves, the result is a run-in with Master Shan (Wang Lung Wei), a northern kung fu expert who’s come southward to make friends and blend styles. Turns out he’s a guest of Master Lu’s, and an unsuspecting pawn in Lu’s shady plan to exploit the northerner’s talents and lead all rival schools. What ensues is a series of misunderstandings, double-crossings, and deceptions, each spawning a grander scale fight scene than the one before in route to the climactic showdown between Fei Hung and Shan.

Martial Club has been called one of the purest kung fu films ever made in some circles; another reason it demands to be more widely known by the fu fan masses. Lau is truly a master at highlighting kung fu intricacies and this one follows suit in multiple areas. For starters, I love his focus on strength of stance throughout the film with one particular scene showing Fei Hung goading a group of classmates to try and move him before his father secretly slips in to take a turn. The encounter is brief but exhilarating as Liu and Ku Feng demonstrate great footwork in a contest of focus and strength between father and son.

Another similar scene pits Gordon against Wang Lung Wei and Chu Te Hu as they attempt to break Fei Hung’s stance using long drapery-style material being offered as gifts. Each man winds cloth around his legs and attempts to hold his ground in the name of testing its quality when, in fact, the quality of the stance is the very thing being tested. Lau’s play on context is humorous and clever, not to mention pretty cool to watch.

Speaking of humor, Martial Club has plenty of it with Liu’s and Mak’s shenanigans taking center stage (Liu doesn’t play Fei Hung as zanily as Jackie Chan did in Drunken Master, but it works). Whether the two are posing as head coaches of their respective schools and being taught a lesson by a real master or Yinlin is impressing tricks in a brothel with his strength, the story is never bogged down by the silliness. In fact, it’s enriched by it due to Lau’s ability to flow effortlessly from the funny to the fighting and back again. Liu and Kara Hui demonstrate this when a misunderstanding leads Yinlin’s sister (played by Hui) to come after Fei Hung. The result is a school-on-school brawl featuring some great hand-to-hand and weapons combat between the two.

Which leads us to why we watch kung fu films in the first place… the fights. And no one stages great action like Lau with Liu, Hui, and Wang leading the way in a number of exciting clashes. I would go so far as to say Martial Club showcases some of Lau’s very best work and the final showdown between Gordon and Wang is the definitive proof. It’s one of the most breathtaking displays of technical skill I have ever seen in an old school film with the highlight being the alley it takes place in growing smaller in width as the fight progresses! Marvelous styles, stances, and flare throughout… oh, my!

But seriously, the fight is truly spectacular and I love the notion of their showdown being for nothing more than honor and the testing of skill. No revenge, no blood, no death… just honor and skill. It’s the epitomical scene for why Lau decided to sever his ties with Chang Cheh and blaze his own trail as a filmmaker… and the kung fu cinema world is a much better place for it.

Chris Hatcher’s Rating: 9/10

Posted in All, Chinese, News, Reviews, Shaw Brothers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sonny Chiba and Kinji Fukasaku’s ‘Doberman Cop’ hits Blu-ray

Doberman Cop | Blu-ray & DVD (Arrow Video)

Doberman Cop | Blu-ray & DVD (Arrow Video)

On June 27th, 2017, Arrow Video is releasing Kinji Fukasaku’s Doberman Cop on Blu-ray & DVD. Never before released on video outside of Japan, this 1977 thriller stars Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba as a Dirty Harry-type character. Read the official details below:

Released just as the popularity of yakuza movies was waning in Japan, and as the country’s film industry was undergoing some fundamental shifts, Doberman Cop is a unique entry in the career of director Kinji Fukasaku (Battles Without Honor and Humanity, Cops vs Thugs), and reunited him with star Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba (Battles Without Honor and Humanity Vol. 2: Hiroshima Death Match) in an American-style crime movie that mixes gunplay and pulp fiction with martial arts and lowbrow comedy to create one of their most entertaining films.

Based on a popular manga by “Buronson” (creator of Fist of the North Star), Doberman Cop follows the fish-out-of-water adventures of Joji Kano (Chiba), a tough-as-nails police officer from Okinawa who arrives in Tokyo’s Kabuki-cho nightlife district to investigate the savage murder and mutilation of an island girl who had been working as a prostitute. Initially dismissed as a country bumpkin (complete with straw hat and live pig in tow!), Kano soon proves himself a more savvy detective than the local cops, and a tougher customer than anyone expected. As he probes deeper into the sleazy world of flesh-peddling, talent agency corruption and mob influence, Kano uncovers the shocking truth about the girl, her connection to a yakuza-turned-music manager (Hiroki Matsukata), and a savage serial killer who is burning women alive.

Made to appeal both to the youth market with its biker gangs and popular music, as well as to old-time yakuza movie fans, Doberman Cop is an surprising oddity in Fukasaku’s career, his sole film adapted directly from a manga and never before released on video outside of Japan. Featuring Chiba at his charismatic best — channeling a Japanese Dirty Harry while doing all his own stunts — and Fukasaku at his most fun, deftly showcasing the combined talents of his “Piranha Army” stock company of actors and other regular players — Doberman Cop is a classic action comedy and a missing link in 1970’s Japanese cinema deserving of rediscovery.

Special Features:

  • High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Beyond the Film: Doberman Cop, a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
  • New video interview with actor Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba
  • New video interview with screenwriter Koji Takada
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
  • First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector’s book featuring new writing on the films by Patrick Macias

Stay tuned for pre-order information!

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Trailer for Chapman To’s artsy Karate film ‘Empty Hands’

"The Empty Hands" Teaser Poster

“The Empty Hands” Teaser Poster

Hong Kong actor Chapman To (Infernal AffairsMen Suddenly in Black) is the director of The Empty Hands (previously known as simply Karate), an upcoming martial arts-themed film that will be led by singer turned actress, Stephy Tang (Let’s Go).

According to SD, the film tells the story of a young girl whose only wish is to sell her father’s karate dojo when he dies, but discovers that 51% of the business was left to one of his worst pupils.

The Empty Hands also stars Yasuaki Kurata (Four Riders) and Stephen Au Kam-tong (Z Storm, Trivisa), a black belt in full contact karate, who is also training Tang for her physically demanding role.

Judging from the film’s newly released Trailer (below), The Empty Hands appears to be more of an arthouse drama, which is an unexpected surprise, coming from the mostly-comedic To, who made his directorial debut feature with the light-hearted Let’s Eat!

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Age of Shadows | Blu-ray & DVD (Sony Pictures)

Age of Shadows | Blu-ray (Sony)

Age of Shadows | Blu-ray (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will releasing The Age of Shadows (read our review) on Blu-ray & DVD on May 2, 2017. The film is directed by Kim Jee-woon, the acclaimed filmmaker behind I Saw the Devil and A Bittersweet Life.

Set in the late 1920s, the film follows the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between a group of resistance fighters trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to destroy key Japanese facilities in Seoul, and Japanese agents trying to stop them (via SD).

The Age of Shadows stars Song Kang-Ho (Snowpiercer), Gong Yoo (The Suspect), Han Ji-Min (The Fatal Encounter), Um Tae-Goo (Veteran), Shin Sung-Rok (The Prison), and Seo Young-Joo (Moebius).

The Age of Shadows will mark the 4th collaboration between Song (Snowpiercer) and Kim. The two previously worked together in The Foul King (2000), The Quiet Family (2002) and The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008).

Order Age of Shadows from Amazon.com today!

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Operation Mekong | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

"Operation Mekong" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Operation Mekong” Chinese Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017

Operation Mekong, a new actioner from director Dante Lam (Unbeatable), is exploding on Blu-rayDVD, courtesy of Well Go USA.

Operation Mekong stars Lam’s frequent collaborator Eddie Peng (Rise of the Legend), Zhang Han Yu (Special ID) and Joyce Feng. Louis Koo (SPL II) was previously attached, but was replace by Peng, due to scheduling conflicts.

After two Chinese commercial vessels are ambushed while traveling down the Mekong River in the waters of the Golden Triangle, the Chinese government immediately sends a band of elite narcotics officers led by Captain Gao Gang (Han Yu) to uncover the truth. An intelligence officer Fang Xinwu (Peng) joins the investigation. After it is discovered that the drugs seized on the Chinese ships had been planted, the governments of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China launch a joint task force to apprehend the criminal.

Pre-order Operation Mekong from Amazon.com today!

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Trailer: Max Zhang vs. Anderson Silva in ‘Invincible Dragon’

"The Invincible Dragon" Teaser Poster

“The Invincible Dragon” Teaser Poster

Max Zhang – the rising star of The Grandmaster and Ip Man 3 – will once again appear alongside his SPL II co-star, Louis Koo (and again, in newly announced Greedy Wolf), in The Invincible Dragon.

Formerly known as both Made in Kowloon and The Man with the Dragon Tattoo, the thriller is directed by Fruit Chan (Made in Hong Kong). Along for the ride are Annie Liu (Hungry Ghost Ritual), Richard Ng (The Pilferer’s Progress) and UFC champ Anderson Silva.

Details on The Invincible Dragon are thin, but according to AFS, Zhang and Silva will have a match, a la Donnie Yen vs. Mike Tyson in Ip Man 3.

Zhang has many other projects in the works, including The Brink, S.P.L 3: War Needs Lord, as well as an unofficial Ip Man 3 spin-off. As for Koo, well, the guy has a new film every week (just scroll down and you’ll see his name pop up as if he were a common word).

Updates: Watch the film’s Trailer:

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Straw Dogs | Blu-ray & DVD (Criterion)

Straw Dogs | Blu-ray (Criterion)

Straw Dogs | Blu-ray (Criterion)

RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2017

On June 27, 2017, Criterion Collection is releasing a fully restored, 4K version of Straw Dogs, a film directed by the maestro of screen violence, Sam Peckinpah (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia). This thrilling classic stars Dustin Hoffman (Straight Time) and Susan George (Enter the Ninja). Read the film’s official details below:

In this thriller, arguably Sam Peckinpah’s most controversial film, David (Hoffman), a young American mathematician, moves with his English wife, Amy (George), to the village where she grew up. Their sense of safety unravels as the local men David has hired to repair their house prove more interested in leering at Amy and intimidating David, beginning an agonizing initiation into the iron laws of violent masculinity that govern Peckinpah’s world.

Working outside the U.S. for the first time, the filmmaker airlifts the ruthlessness of the western frontier into Cornwall in Straw Dogs, pushing his characters to their breaking points as the men brutalize Amy and David discovers how far he’ll go to protect his home—culminating in a harrowing climax that lays out this cinematic mastermind’s eloquent and bloody vision of humanity.

Special Features:

  • New, Restored 4K Digital Transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2003 by Stephen Prince, author of Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies
  • Mantrap: “Straw Dogs”—The Final Cut, a 2003 documentary about the making of the film, featuring cast and crew
  • Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron, a 1993 documentary about the director featuring actors Kris Kristofferson, Jason Robards, Ali MacGraw, and many others
  • New conversation between film critic Michael Sragow and filmmaker Roger Spottiswoode, who worked as one of the editors on the film
  • New interview with film scholar Linda Williams about the controversies surrounding the film
  • Archival interviews with actor Susan George, producer Daniel Melnick, and Peckinpah biographer Garner Simmons
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • TV spots and trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by scholar and critic Joshua Clover

Pre-order Straw Dogs from Amazon.com today!

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Herman Yau returns to Category III with ‘The Sleep Curse’

"Ebola Syndrome" Chinese DVD Cover

“Ebola Syndrome” Chinese DVD Cover

Considering that he’s gone all respectable with historical action pictures like The Legend is Born: Ip Man and The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake, it’s easy to forget that director Herman Yau (Taxi Hunter) got his start in the grimy, nasty world of Category III.

Movies like The Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome made Yau famous and now the filmmaker is returning to Category III territory. Yau himself has announced the following statement: “Ebola Syndrome was made in 1996. After 20 years, we come back to the same genre with The Sleep Curse.”

We’re sure that in Yau’s capable hands, The Sleep Curse will deliver plenty of thrills, chills, gore and bad taste.

Updates: Watch the film’s first Trailer below:

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Sky on Fire | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

"Sky on Fire" Theatrical Poster

“Sky on Fire” Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017

Hong Kong’s legendary action director, Ringo Lam, is back at it with Sky on Fire (read our review) his follow up to his 2015 “comeback” film, Wild City. Once again, Well Go USA is releasing Lam’s latest work to Blu-ray & DVD on June 6, 2017.

In this driving, non-stop action thriller, the chief security officer at a top-secret medical facility (Daniel Wu) finds himself caught in an explosive battle when a young thief and his accomplices steal a groundbreaking curative medicine. After discovering the true origins of the medicine, the officer must decide who he can trust to protect the cure from falling into the wrong hands and prevent an all-out war from bringing the city to its knees.

Sky on Fire also stars Amber Kuo (Jian Bing Man), Joseph Chang (Wild City), and Jingchu Zhang (Switch).

Wu (That Demon Within), the film’s leading star, is describing it as City on Fire 2: “I said yes without even reading the script because John Woo, Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark are the guys who have initiated this new wave of classic Hong Kong and I always wanted to work with them. The movie is called Sky on Fire, but it could just as well be described as City on Fire 2,” said Wu, in reference to Lam’s seminal 1987 classic, City on Fire.

Pre-order Sky on Fire from Amazon.com today!

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Red Band Trailer has Hiroyuki Sanada running for his ‘Life’

"Life" Theatrical Poster

“Life” Theatrical Poster

An international space crew discovers life on Mars, but when they begin to conduct research on the alien organism, they soon realize that nobody can hear you scream when you’re in space… As you just read, Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) is doing the Alien thing (and that’s not a bad thing) in Life, which hits theaters on March 24, 2017.

Life stars Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Ryan Reynolds (Criminal), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and last, but not least, Sonny Chiba protégé, Hiroyuki Sanada (Royale Warriors), who had a similar role in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (which, interestingly enough, featured his Royal Warriors co-star, Michelle Yeoh).

Updates: Check out the film’s Red Band Trailer below:

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Ugetsu | Blu-ray & DVD (Criterion Collection)

Ugetsu | Blu-ray (Criterion Collection)

Ugetsu | Blu-ray (Criterion Collection)

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017

Criterion Collection presents the Blu-ray & DVD for Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu. Read the film’s official details below.

Having refined his craft in the silent era, Kenji Mizoguchi was an elder statesman of Japanese cinema—fiercely revered by Akira Kurosawa and other younger directors—by the time he made Ugetsu.

And with this exquisite ghost story, a fatalistic wartime tragedy derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, he created a touchstone of his art, his long takes and sweeping camera guiding the viewer through a delirious narrative about two villagers whose pursuit of fame and fortune leads them far astray from their loyal wives.  Moving between the terrestrial and the otherworldly, Ugetsu reveals essential truths about the ravages of war, the plight of women, and the pride of men.

Special Features:

  • New 4K Digital Restoration by The Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by filmmaker, critic, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
  • Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1975), a 150-minute documentary by Kaneto Shindo
  • Two Worlds Intertwined, a 2005 appreciation of Ugetsu by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda
  • Process and Production, a 2005 interview with Tokuzo Tanaka, first assistant director on Ugetsu
  • Interview from 1992 with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa
  • Original Trailers
  • An essay by film critic Phillip Lopate (Blu-ray and DVD) and three short stories that influenced Mizoguchi in making the film (Blu-ray only)

Pre-order Ugetsu from Amazon.com today!

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Railroad Tigers | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

"Railroad Tigers" Theatrical Poster

“Railroad Tigers” Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: June 20, 2017

Well Go USA has announced the release of Jackie Chan’s Railroad Tigers (read our review) to Blu-ray and DVD on June 20, 2017.

This period actioner reunites the legend with director Ding Sheng (Little Big Soldier, Police Story 2013) for a 3rd time. The film also stars Xu Fan (A World Without Thieves), Edison Huang (Gentle Bullet) and Koji (Color War).

In Railroad Tigers, a railroad worker (Chan) and his ragtag group of freedom fighters find themselves on the wrong side of the tracks when they decide to ambush a heavily armed military train filled with desperately needed provisions. Unarmed and outnumbered, they must fight back against an entire army using only their wits, in a series of a dazzling set pieces and action scenes rivaling anything seen on the big screen.

Pre-order Railroad Tigers from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | 5 Comments
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