Tony Leung casts a spell in ‘The Great Magician’ on Import Blu-ray and DVD

"The Great Magician" Theatrical Poster

The Great Magician is a 2011 Chinese language film from director Derek Yee (The Shinjuku Incident, One Nite in Mongkok), starring Hong Kong acting heavyweights Tony Leung Ciu Wau and Lau Ching Wan, as well as the incomparably lovely Zhou Xun (True Legend).

Online retailer has the Region A Blu-ray available to pre-order for only $18.97. You can also pre-order the Region 3 DVD for $13.46. The Great Magician releases on March 8th.

In this suspenseful drama, Tony Leung plays a renowned magician with mystic powers who is in love with his childhood sweetheart (Zhou Xun). The only trouble is, she’s been kidnapped by a cruel warlord (Lau Ching Wan) who plans to make her his concubine. Tony Leung must pull out every trick in the book to rescue his love.

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Dark Korean movie leaves a ‘Mirage’ in its wake

Yang Jung-ho's "Mirage"

Yang Jung-ho's "Mirage"

Writer/director Yang Jung-ho (assistant director on 2007’s Hellcats) is ready to unleash a dark vision into Korean theaters on March 8th. That’s when Mirage makes its debut and, from the looks of the trailer over at Beyond Hollywood, it’s going to be a wild and Lynch-ian ride. The film follows a writer who wakes up drunk during the subway ride to his hometown to accept a literary award. Back on his old stomping grounds, he’s forced to confront the buried secrets of his past.

Mirage is being released by CJ Entertainment but looks a fair bit more grim and cerebral than their usual blockbuster fare. The film stars Mun Jeong-ung, Kim Chang-hwan, Sin Jae-seung, Kim Tae-yoon-I, and Kim Min-kyeong-II.

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New 60-second TV spot for Jason Statham’s ‘Safe’

"Safe" American Theatrical Poster

"Safe" American Theatrical Poster

THE MOVIE: International man of action Jason Statham is back with another kick-ass flick. In Safe, he plays a former cop who is ought to protect a little girl from the New York mob and police alike.  Writer/director Boaz Yakin also wrote the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie, which has to count for something. In theaters on April 27, 2012.

THE TRAILER: Courtesy of Yahoo.

Updates: AICN has a new poster for the film (scroll down). The film is now headed for theaters on April 27.

BREAKING NEWS: New 60-second TV spot courtesy of ye old YouTube.

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Rare 1976 ‘Game of Death’ promotional footage from the Golden Harvest vaults

"Game of Death" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Game of Death" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Bey Logan, respected expert on Hong Kong action cinema, has just uploaded some obscure promotional footage for Bruce Lee’s Game of Death. The purpose of the 1976-produced footage was to show buyers and film producers that there was one more Bruce Lee movie that was waiting to be completed.

If originally released in 1976, the promo would mark the 2nd time (after the 1973 documentary Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend) the public would lay their eyes on Bruce Lee’s Game of Death footage, which would eventually be sliced, diced and pasted onto Robert Clouse’s Game of Death ’78.

Also on his channel are some rare fight dailies for Game of Death ’78, China O’Brien and a series of rough pilots for HK Movie Magic.

While you’re at it, please be sure and visit Bey Logan’s own reeleast.com. Not only does his website have cool articles, but it also has an online store where you can get genuine promotional items from classic Hong Kong films, including movies, books, flyers, posters, lobby cards, T-shirts and much more.

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Ready for some crazy violence? Fox is releasing ‘The Yellow Sea’ on DVD this February 28th

The Yellow Sea DVD (Fox)

The Yellow Sea DVD (Fox)

Finally, the wait is almost over! Fox’s World Cinema label presents The Yellow Sea on DVD, Na Hong-jin’s ultra-violent follow up to his critically acclaimed 2008 film, The Chaser. Sadly, there is no word of a Blu-ray release at this time. Check out the trailer and be sure to read our review.

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Watch English-subbed Korean movies on YouTube this May

"A Flower in Hell" Korean Promotional Poster

"A Flower in Hell" Korean Promotional Poster

Here’s some unexpected but welcome Asian cinema news. The Korean Film Archive has announced a partnership with Google that will see several classic Korean films streaming on Youtube with English subtitles in May.

The selection on Youtube will include a range of Korean movies released from the years 1958 to around 1996, including “A Flower in Hell” (1958), “Woman of Fire” (1971), “The Day a Pig Fell in the Well” (1996), and more. The address will be www.youtube.com/koreanfilm. You can read more over at Asian Movie Pulse, who helped break the story.

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Blu-ray and DVD Releases for 2/27/12

King of Triads DVD aka Bad Blood, Mie Men, Mit Moon (Lionsgate)

King of Triads DVD aka Bad Blood, Mie Men, Mit Moon (Lionsgate)

We’re a day late but never a buck short here at City on Fire with your new releases list. There’s some great stuff for Asian film fans this week, whether it’s finally being able to see “The Yellow Sea” with subtitles or Andy On and Luxia Jang kicking ass in “King of Triads.” So, let’s get cracking. Here are your Blu-ray and DVD releases for the week of 2/27/12:

ASIAN CINEMA

The Yellow Sea (DVD) – here’s the great news: the 2010 Korean thriller from the director of “The Chaser” is finally coming out in the US. Here’s the bad news: it’s only on DVD. No Blu-ray. Boo!

King of Triads (DVD) – Lionsgate releases this 2010 Hong Kong action flick starring Simon Yam, Carina Lau, Andy On, and Luxia Jiang. Fortunately for you, we reviewed the Import Blu-ray about 6 months ago. You can read our review here.

Boys on the Run (DVD) – a 2010 Japanese movie about an awkward and virginal 29 year-old vendor machine refiller, courtesy of Asian Crush

Daesapo Naughty Girls (DVD) – Asian Crush delivers a 2006 South Korean high school sex comedy. Oo, naughty!

FOREIGN CINEMA

Mandrill (Blu-ray/DVD) – Magnet Releasing offers this kick-ass 2011 Spanish-language martial arts film starring Marko Zaror of “Undisputed III” fame

Rabies (DVD) – this 2010 film was billed as Israel’s first horror movie and it’s garnered rave reviews lately. A brother and sister on the run fall into a trap set by a psychotic killer living in a nature preserve

Automobile/L’Automobile (DVD) – your friends at RaroVideo USA present this 1971 Italian drama featuring a score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone

The Sky Turns (DVD) – New Yorker Films offer this 2012 Spanish film in the ‘magical realism’ genre, about a village on its last legs

Baby Angelo (DVD) – a 2008 Filipino drama courtesy of Pathfinder Pictures, set in a Manila apartment complex

ANIMATED

Justice League: Doom (Blu-ray/DVD) – this 2012 animated movie is based on the DC Comics story-arc “Tower of Babel” by Mark Waid and Howard Porter, and features fan favorites Tim Daly as the voice of Superman and Kevin Conroy as Batman

INDIE

Vanya on 42nd Street (Blu-ray/DVD) – Criterion Collection releases this 1994 film from French director Louis Malle, featuring actors like Julianne Moore reading Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya”

I Melt With You (Blu-ray/DVD) – a 2011 film about a group of male friends’ deadly mid-life crisis, starring Thomas Jane and Jeremy Piven

The Myth of the American Sleepover (DVD) – a 2010 independent film set in the suburbs of Detroit, featuring a cast of talented newcomers

Catechism Cataclysm (DVD) – the 2011 Sundance audience favorite comedy, about a disgraced young priest lost on a canoe trip with an old high school pal

MAINSTREAM

Hugo (Blu-ray/DVD) – Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award-winning 3-D children’s film from last year arrives on home formats

Johnny English Reborn (Blu-ray/DVD) – British comedian Rowan Atikson is back with the sequel to his first spy spoof. This 2011 film was a hit in the UK

Johnny English (Blu-ray) – on that note, the 2003 original is out now in hi-def

Bounty Hunters (DVD) – WWE diva (I think that’s what they’re called) Trish Stratus stars in her own 2012 direct-to-video action flick

Tomorrow When the War Began (DVD) – this 2010 film is set in Australia and based on a best-selling book series. Written/directed by Stuart Beattie, who served as co-writer on the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie

CLASSICS

The Buccaneer (Blu-ray) – it’s Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner in a Cecil B. Demille movie! This time there’s no ten commandments, just pirates on the high seas in this 1958 film

The Mountain (Blu-ray) – Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner star in this 1956 film about mountain-climbing

Scarlet Street: Kino Classics Edition (Blu-ray) – a 1945 noir starring Edward G. Robinson from legendary director Fritz Lang (“Metropolis”), now on Blu-ray

Where Love Has Gone (Blu-ray) – the 1964 movie, ripped from trashy tabloid headlines, is now on Blu-ray, starring Susan Hayward and Bette Davis

HORROR

Baba Yaga (Blu-ray) – Blue Underground presents this cult classic 1973 Italian horror movie based on a popular comic strip

Beneath the Darkness (Blu-ray/DVD) – Dennis Quaid goes direct-to-video with this 2011 “teen horror” movie

Interested in any of these movies? If so, we hope that you’ll consider ordering from our affiliate to help support this site. Thank you!

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The Yellow Sea DVD (Fox)

The Yellow Sea DVD (Fox)

The Yellow Sea DVD (Fox)

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2012

Desperate to pay off mounting debts, a young man living in China agrees to carry out an assassination, but he soon finds himself in a dangerous conspiracy. Fox’s World Cinema label presents The Yellow Sea on DVD, Na Hong-jin’s ultra-violent follow up to his critically acclaimed 2008 film, The Chaser. Check out the trailer and be sure to read our review.

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I Saw the Devil (2010) Review

"I Saw the Devil" Korean Theatrical Poster

"I Saw the Devil" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Kim Ji-woon
Writer: Park Hoon-jung
Cast: Lee Byung-Hun, Choi Min-Sik, Jeon Guk-Hwan, Cheon Ho-Jin, Oh San-Ha, Kim Yun-Seo, Choi Mu-Seong, Kim In-Seo, Jo Deok-Je, Han Cheol-Woo, Jo Myung-Yeon, Kim Gap-Su, Lee Jun-Hyuk
Running Time: 114 min.

By JJ Hatfield

I Saw The Devil is a stunning masterpiece of the macabre. A terrifying tale of horrific deeds done for sickening psychotic pleasures and unimaginable acts carried out for a promised justice. In the dark of night on a lonely snowy road a hideous crime is committed. This gruesome barbarous undertaking sets the wheel in motion for a spellbinding journey into the depths of blood drenched terror in nightmare proportions.

When his fiancée Ju-yeon is viciously slaughtered, Kim Soo-hyeon sets out to find her murderer and make him pay, and pay dearly. With the help of his fiancée’s father, retired chief of police Jang, Soo-hyeon quickly discovers the primary suspects in Ju-yeon’s bloody and vicious murder and rules them out in his own way one by one. It isn’t long before he has found the subject of his search. Indeed Soo-hyeon finds the savage serial killer Jang Kyung-chul rather quickly, tracking him down and confronting him but he doesn’t beat him to near death and turn him into the authorities. Soo-hyeon made an impassioned promise to his beloved Ju-yeon and he intends to keep that promise no matter where it may lead.

Choi Min-sik, known for Oldboy, has always proven himself accomplished as any character but here he goes well beyond his previous success to his finest role to date. Choi turns in a positively brilliant performance. He takes on the task of being the cold-blooded butcher Kyung-chul and does so to sadistic maniacal perfection. When he is on screen you can look nowhere else, even though you may try to look away. Kyung-chul is the embodiment of absolute evil. He is not a misunderstood character and there is no possibility of redemption. There is nothing that could conceivably explain the cruelty and mental and physical atrocities he inflicts on his victims and thereby those that love them. Though Kyung-chul is thoroughly malevolent that in no way translates into him being dimwitted. A suspect in numerous killings of girls and young women for years he has managed to evade capture. Whether this is due to his superb evasion techniques or deficient police abilities isn’t quite clear, although it does seem mostly the latter.

Lee Byung-hun, A Bittersweet Life, The Good the Bad the Weird, leaves absolutely no doubt that he has become a truly excellent actor capable of an astonishing artistic achievement. He too turns in the performance of his career. With I Saw The Devil he proves himself worthy of outstanding status. Lee makes a convincing loving and compassionate man whose vow of revenge twists his very soul. He is very believable as the character Soo-hyeon a highly skilled secret agent with the National Intelligence Service. Soo-hyeon’s training allows him to more effectively contend with the ruthless Kyung-chul than the average person at least on the physical level. His unfathomable pain drives him onward never allowing him to rest in his quest to fulfill his promise, to extract his revenge.

Kim Jee-woon is the mastermind of the movie. Previous works include A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good the Bad the Weird. Kim is a fantastic director and with I Saw the Devil he excels. He utilizes the cinematography of Lee Mogae to shape every slice of film in excruciating and unflinching detail. The camera never shies away from the bloody terrors instead recording what feels like intensely private horror. These are things no one would ever see unless doing the blood soaked grisly acts themselves. A number of shots involve the element of snow. Pure unspoiled innocence provides the backdrop for droplets to pools of blood, the jet black hair of a victim, the palette for prey to fall to the merciless hunter. It may sound odd but this is a beautiful film. Scenes of the snow are vivid and unblemished. Every shot is clear and distinct, perfectly framed lighted and balanced.

There are numerous exceptional scenes that combine cinematography, choreography and action. An abandoned greenhouse provides a visually striking environment for Soo-hyeon and Kyung-chul to come together, two men pitted against each other in a duel. A taxi is the stage for an amazing action sequence. The choreography is brilliant, no less the shooting. It is a brutal bloody frantic surreal piece of film. Every image is striking, every scene splendidly crafted.

Anyone who thinks this is just a Korean version of an American slasher movie is a fool. With so many facets this gem must be seen more than once. I Saw The Devil is a multilayered impeccable work that succeeds because every single aspect is flawlessly done. The fact is everything is executed to perfection. Hollywood can never make a film like this. I Saw The Devil is one damn fine film – one of the best you will ever see and you will never forget.

I Saw The Devil receives my highest recommendation and the best score possible here at cityonfire.com.

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 10/10


By HKFanatic

From the looks of it, “I Saw the Devil” is drawing stronger reactions online – both positive and negative – than your average Korean revenge film. I think it’s largely because this is one of the few revenge movies I can think of that makes its “hero” complicit in the violence and pain that is wrought.

On the surface we have a slick and stylish film with a very capable, almost Jason Bourne-like protagonist, who is on the hunt for the serial killer who took everything from him. During the runtime we get plenty of bloody, bloody murders; some backwoods cannibals that will turn your stomach; the constant threat of rape; and enough tendon slicing and torture for several films. Somewhere along the way our protagonist becomes so mired in the bloodshed and his lust for revenge that he loses sight of the innocent who are hurt in the process. There’s no one to root for here; just black painted on black.

“I Saw the Devil” may be the latest in a long-running stream of South Korean revenge films, but director Ji-woon Kim (“The Good, The Bad, The Weird” and “A Bittersweet Life”) is just as happy to subvert the genre as he is to embody it. He toys with the notion of giving the viewer the catharsis we crave from a revenge flick – a wrong has been committed and someone needs to make it right – but by the end of the film, the audience has been tossed into an abyss of brutality where there is no right, no wrong, no hero, no villain, just a concrete floor splattered with blood and entrails that the credits will slowly sweep away like a janitor clearing a school hallway.

Arthouse critics, action purists, revenge movie fans – all should find something to enjoy in “I Saw the Devil,” but then again it’s not exactly a movie you “enjoy” in the traditional sense. The film glides through the night like the windowless van of a predator, offering you a ride after the buses have stopped running. You’ll hop in, a little leery but thankful for the warmth. And just when you least expect it, the movie bashes you in the head with a lead pipe until you slump over, blood streaming from what used to be your skull. Are you ready?

HKFanatic’s Rating: 8.5/10


By Mighty Peking Man

After Soo-hyun’s (Lee Byung-hun) girlfriend is barbarically murdered, he seeks revenge against the psychopath (Choi Min-sik) held responsible…

In a country whose movies consist mostly of remakes (“The Karate Kid”), reboots (“Conan The Barbarian”), comic books (“Green Lantern”), teeny bopper novelizations (“Twilight”) and filmmakers (Michael Bay, James Cameron) who piss and shit on the foolish masses; it’s good to know that there’s an alternative option out there for top quality filmmaking that’s fresh and original.

It’s no wonder I got into foreign cinema to begin, which remains one of the best choices I’ve ever made in regards to entertaining this little brain of mine. I’m not saying all of Hollywood sucks, I’m saying that most of it does. Let’s put it this way: it has been years since I have been truly in awe after watching a Hollywood movie (get the hell out of here with that “Inception” shit!).

Kim Ji-woon’s “I Saw the Devil” is as good as it gets when it comes to a single motion picture full of revenge, violence, suspense, gore and action; with that statement, it almost sounds like I’m downplaying it as some kind of senseless shock-value flick; the fact is, it’s an all-round solid movie that’s filled with great characters, a simple plot and a director/writer/cast/cinematographer/action choreographer who really knows what the fuck they’re doing.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every Kim Ji-woon title I have seen (I have yet to see 2000’s “Coming Out”). However, I was a little worried after watching “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (2008); don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome movie, but there was a part of me that sensed Kim Ji-woon might have been headed more towards the big budget Hollywood side of things, and away from the more low key cult favorites like “A Bittersweet Life” (2005) and “Foul King” (2000)…

With “I Saw the Devil,” Kim Ji-woon takes a step backwards from the mainstream light, and pulls out a gutsy – metaphorically and literally speaking – thriller that I’ll never forget and continue to bring up anytime the subject of ‘great movies’ is discussed.

A definite must see!

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 10/10

Posted in Korean, Reviews | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Haywire DVD & Blu-ray (Lionsgate)

Haywire DVD & Blu-ray (Lionsgate)

Haywire DVD & Blu-ray (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2012

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the Haywire Blu-ray & DVD introduces mixed martial arts superstar Gina Carano as a black-ops agent for a government security contractor. After freeing a journalist held hostage, she is double-crossed – by someone in her own agency. Haywire also stars Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas.

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, Other Notable Titles | 9 Comments

Donnie Yen is ‘The Lost Bladesman’ on Import Blu-ray and DVD

"The Lost Bladesman" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Lost Bladesman" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Is there any greater cinematic crime, in this day in age, than a Donnie Yen action flick not receiving distribution in the West? And yet this remains the case with 2011’s The Lost Bladesman. This is a historical epic based around the classic novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and starring Donnie Yen as the legendary god general Guan Yu. It arrives from writing and directing team Alan Mak and Felix Wong, who had a large hand in the popular Infernal Affairs series.

Western release or no Western release, The Lost Bladesman can be acquired from trusted retailer DDDHouse on Region A Blu-ray for only $25.00 and Region 3 DVD for $16.03.

Donnie Yen also served as action director on this lavish production. The film co-stars Jiang Wen, Alex Fong, Chin Siu-ho, Betty Sun, and Andy On. Check out an English subbed trailer here.

Posted in Asian Import Titles, News | 1 Comment

Toshiaki Toyoda wants you to join his ‘Monsters Club’

"Monsters Club" Japanese Theatrical Poster

If you’ve seen Toshiaki Toyoda’s film Blue Spring, you know the director has a knack for exploring the casual nihilism at the heart of many of today’s young people. With his forthcoming film Monsters Club, his characters are a bit older but they maintain a deep current of dissatisfaction with society.

The plot follows a man Ryoichi named who lives in complete isolation on a snow-covered mountain. He spends his days sending mail bombs to CEOs until mysterious events – like the reappearance of his long deceased brother – intervene and set him on a path of self-discovery. Over at Twitch, you can check out the Japanese theatrical trailer for Monsters Club. The film arrives in Japanese theaters on April 21, 2012.

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New Korean thriller will have audiences ‘Howling’ at the moon

"Howling" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Howling" Korean Theatrical Poster

The Korean thriller Howling is slated to hit theaters in its native country on February 9th, 2012 and today Beyond Hollywood has the new poster for the film. Howling is about two detectives trying to unravel the murder mystery surrounding a killer “wolfdog” and stars Song Kang-ho, one of the most recognizable faces in Korean cinema thanks to his turns in films like The Host, Thirst, and Memories of Murder. He co-stars alongside Lee Na-young (Dream of a Warrior).

Director Yoo Ha is no slouch either, having helmed such movies as A Dirty Carnival and A Frozen Flower. All in all, Howling is shaping up to be one of 2012’s Korean films to watch. Beyond Hollywood has the English-subbed trailer.

Update: Asian Movie Pulse reports that Howling is a resounding hit at the Korean box office. In its first week, it knocked Nameless Gangster from the top slot. The movie is expected to surpass one million ticket admissions by the end of the week.

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Martial arts icon Kara Hui takes to the horror genre with ‘Blood Stained Shoes’

"Blood Stained Shoes" Promotional Picture

I’ve been following Todd Rigney’s coverage of the upcoming Chinese horror film Blood Stained Shoes over at Beyond Hollywood for a couple of reasons. One is that the Asian horror genre remains interesting, despite the countless Ringu knock-offs and American remakes it’s been forced to endure.

Two is that Blood Stained Shoes stars Kara Hui, the martial arts icon famous for appearing in Shaw Brothers films like My Young Auntie and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. Even at 52 years old, Kara is still one of the loveliest actresses in the world.

I’ve been waiting patiently for a trailer to arrive before I posted about the movie and today my wish has been granted. And the trailer even has English subtitles! Check it out here.

There’s no official plot synopsis available yet so we’ll just have to piece together clues from the trailer. The film looks to take place in the not too distant past and feature some rather striking cinematography, with a classic ‘ghost story’ type vibe, perhaps not unlike the popular Japanese video game series Fatal Frame. The cast includes Ruby Lin, Monica Mok, Anna Kay, Michael Tong, Xing Minshan, Daniel Chan, Jing Gangshan, and Daichi Harashima. Blood Stained Shoes lands in Chinese theaters on March 8.

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Have a ‘Secret Reunion’ with this Korean thriller on Import Blu-ray and DVD

"Secret Reunion" Korean Theatrical Poster

Before he wowed international audiences with his blistering Korean War drama The Front Line, director Jung Hun delivered a decidedly modern thriller in Secret Reunion. This 2010 film stars Korea’s most recognizable actor, Song Kang-ho (Thirst, The Host, Memories of Murder), alongside Kang Dong-Won of Haunters fame in a North vs. South Korea spy game.

Song Kang-ho plays a disgraced federal agent who alternately hunts down and befriends Kang Dong-Won’s North Korean spy.

Trusted retailer DDDHouse is now accepting pre-orders on the Region A Blu-ray for only $16.03 and the Region 3 PAL DVD for only $12.56. The disc releases on March 8th.

Secret Reunion screened at the 2010 New York Film Festival where it was billed as “2010’s most heartwarming shoot-’em-up,” combining “manly hugs with messy headshots.” Check out the trailer.

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