Return of the Dragon: Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Return of the Dragon: Collector's Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Return of the Dragon: Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017

Shout! Factory presents the Collector’s Edition Blu-ray for Return of the Dragon (aka Way of the Dragon), featuring an all-new 4K scan and restoration from the film’s original negative.

In Return of the DragonTang Lung (Bruce Lee) flies to Rome to help a friend of the family, Chen Ching-hua (Nora Miao). She is being threatened by local gangsters to sell her restaurant and they will stop at nothing to get the property. In one of the film’s most famous sequences, Bruce takes on American martial arts expert Colt (Chuck Norris) in the ancient city’s majestic Coliseum.

Return of the Dragon is noted for being the only film written, directed by and starring Bruce Lee. It was also the first project under Lee’s new film company, Concord Productions.

Special Features (additional details via Brandon Bentley):

  • NEW! 4K RESTORATION
  • NEW! Japanese Opening and Closing Credits in HD, taken from a recently discovered Japanese film master. It also shows the final shot of Lee walking in the distance with no credits.
  • NEW! Alternate Final Fight Music Cue: A clip from the final fight, but set to a previously unused music cue by Joseph Koo.
  • NEW! Trailer Gallery: Features the US trailer, two US TV spots in HD, 3 UK trailers/spots, uncut HK trailer (most releases cut the Mandarin dialogue between Lee and Miao midway in the trailer) in HD, 1975 Japanese theatrical trailer in HD, and the 1997 “revival” Japanese trailer (double billed with The Big Boss) in HD.
  • Audio Commentary with Asian Film expert Mike Leeder
  • Alternate Title Sequence
  • Interviews with Sammo Hung, Simon Yam and Wong Jing
  • Kung Fu? Jon Benn Remembers Return of the Dragon
  • TV Spot
  • Still Gallery

Pre-order Return of the Dragon from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Great Wall | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

The Great Wall | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

The Great Wall | Blu-ray & DVD (Universal)

RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2017

On May 23rd, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will be releasing The Great Wall (read our review) on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.

Acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of the Flying Daggers) directs this 15th century period flick revolving around an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure.

The Great Wall stars Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), Willem Dafoe (John Wick), Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs), Jing Tian (Special ID), Zhang Hanyu (The Assembly), Eddie Peng (Rise of the Legend), Lu Han (Miss Granny), Lin Gengxin (Young Detective Dee), Zheng Kai (The Running Man), Chen Xuedong (Tiny Times 3), Huang Xuan (Blind Massage), Wang Junkai, Yu Xintian and Liu Qiong.

Special Features:

  • Digital Copy of The Great Wall (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
  • Includes UltraViolet (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Matt Damon in China
  • Working with Director Zhang Yimou
  • The Great Wall Visual Effects
  • Man vs. Monster
  • Weapons of War
  • Designing a Spectacular World

Pre-order The Great Wall from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | 3 Comments

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back | Blu-ray & DVD (Sony)

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back | Blu-ray & DVD (Sony)

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back | Blu-ray & DVD (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017

On June 6, 2017, Sony Home Entertainment will be releasing Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer) and Tsui Hark’s (Young Detective Dee) Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back on Blu-ray and DVD.

In this sequel to Journey to the West, Hark takes over directing duties, while Chow produces. This time around, the cast consists of Vicky Zhao (14 Blades), Kris Wu (The Mermaid) and Kenny Lin (The Taking of Tiger Mountain). Shu Qi returns in a cameo role.

The original (read our review) centered on Tang Sanzang, a Buddhist trying to protect a village from three demons, his emerging feelings for Miss Duan, the demon hunter who helps him repeatedly, and Sanzang’s transformative encounter with the Monkey King.

Pre-order from Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | 4 Comments

John Wick: Chapter 2 | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter Two | Blu-ray (Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter Two | Blu-ray (Lionsgate)

RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2017

On June 13th, Lionsgate Home Entertainment will be releasing Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2 (read our review) on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.

Keanu Reeves returns in the sequel to the 2014 hit as legendary hitman John Wick who is forced to back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

John Wick: Chapter 2 also stars Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick, Thomas Sadoski, David Patrick Kelly, Peter Stormare and Franco Nero.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski
  • Deleted Scenes
  • “RetroWick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John Wick” Featurette
  • ‘Training John Wick” Featurette
  • “WICK-vizzed” Featurette
  • “Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership” Featurette
  • “As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John Wick” Featurette
  • “Car Fu Ridealong” Featurette
  • “Beat Down: The Evolution of a Fight Scene” Featurette
  • “Wick’s Toolbox” Featurette
  •  “Kill Count” Featurette
  • “Dog Wick” Short

Pre-order John Wick 2 from Amazon.com today!

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Quick Man (2002) Review

"Quick Man" Korean Theatrical Poster

“Quick Man” Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Lee Hyeok-su
Writer: Yun Jin-a
Producer: Seo Gil-seong
Cast: Jeon Hye-yun, Yun Se-ung, Song Geum-sig, Ricky Jun, Park Jeong-gwon, Lee Moo-jung, Kim Youn-soo, Lee Jae-yeong, Min Seong-joo, Kang You-il, Lee Suk-koo
Running Time: 89 min.

By Paul Bramhall

The start of the millennium saw many new directorial talents emerge in Korean cinema, with 2002 in particular seeing the likes of Park Chan-wook unleash Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Ryoo Seung-wan deliver his hard hitting crime thriller No Blood No Tears. However amongst the new blood that was beginning to shape Korean cinema into what it is today, surprisingly there were still some distinctly old-school names around on the scene, making distinctly old-school movies.

One such name was Lee Hyeok-su, a director who had been around since making his first feature in 1967. Hyeok-su was one of a stable of Korean directors who cranked out countless kung fu movies during the 70’s and early 80’s, from Hwang Jang-lee flicks like Hard Bastard, to Casanova Wong vehicles like Pachun Martial Arts, to the Dragon Lee and Eagle Han starring Twelve Gates of Hell. It’s safe to say that if you were a Korean martial arts star in the 70’s, then at some point you would have worked with Hyeok-su.

For the 20 year period from 1967 – 1987, Hyeok-su made, almost without fail, anything from one to four movies per year, racking up an impressively long filmography, before finally deciding to take a breather from the industry. During the 90’s he returned to the director’s chair just 4 times, most notably directing a very early role for Lee Jeong-jae, with 1996’s Albatross. The director went quiet again after Albatross, until 6 years later he’d return to the film industry one final time, putting a cap on a directing career that spanned 35 years, with the 2002 feature Quick Man.

The plot concerns a dastardly assistant director of a company, who hires a hitman to assassinate the CEO in charge, working under the assumption that as the CEO has no family, his fortune will be left to the company that he’ll now be in charge of running. However in a CD-ROM that the CEO has left to his accountant, containing a video message outlining his will, he reveals that he has a long lost granddaughter, and entrusts the accountant to track her down and pass on his inheritance. When the assistant director also watches the video, he re-hires the same hitman, and sends him on a mission to find and kill the granddaughter before the accountant can locate her.

Just like Chang Cheh made an awkward transition into directing movies in the 1990’s, so the same statement could be applied to Hyeok-su directing a movie in the 00’s. Quick Man feels like a movie made at least 10 years earlier, and apart from the presence of flip style mobile phones and a laptop, there’s nothing in the production to indicate that it was actually made post-2000. This isn’t a criticism as such, and the straight forward, no nonsense plot, reminiscent of so many 90’s Korean gangster movies, is if anything a welcome presence. In particular, one of the walls in the interior of an office set is little more than MDF panels nailed together, no paint or decoration added. Perhaps they were going for a minimalist feel.

Indeed in many ways, Quick Man feels like a 70’s Korean kung fu movie, supplanted to 19… I mean 2002 Seoul. The hit-man is played by Ricky Jun, looking remarkably similar to a Versus era Tak Sakaguchi, who was a familiar face in 90’s Korean action cinema. Quick Man could be considered his most substantial role, after playing nameless thugs in the likes of My Wife is a Gangster, Public Enemy, and even featuring alongside Steven Seagal, in the Aikido master’s only Korean movie appearance, Clementine. Jun had the moves, and gets a couple of fight scenes to show off his boot work, both of which involve him taking on multiple attackers using Taekwondo.

In the unmistakably goofy style of many a 70’s Korean kung fu movie, once Jun receives a photo of the granddaughter, he immediately recognizes her as an advertising model. He and his cronies even have a poster of her on their office wall, purely by chance, so finding their target should hardly be difficult. Except of course, it turns out that she’s become tired of the modelling life, and on the same day the thugs come looking for her, is beginning a new life as an art teacher. The granddaughter is played by Jeon Hye-yun, and Quick Man is the only movie credit to her name. I guess she got tired of the actress life as well.

Through a series of completely implausible events, Hye-yun ends up being taken under the wing of a good hearted motorcycle courier, who inadvertently becomes her protector (and suitor) from Jun and his gang of muscle for hire. The courier, playing the Quick Man that the title refers to, is played by Yun Se-ung. This was one of his first roles, and while he clearly had some worthy action chops, he’d mostly settle into doing voice work on animated features, most recently appearing in Office as a supporting player. The action content of the movie basically rests on the shoulders of Jun and Se-ung, and the plot moves forward in such a way that it essentially involves Jun constantly sending thugs to kidnap Hye-yun, Se-ung thwarting them, and then repeating in a different location. Its innocently simplistic approach is so out-of-time with other Korean movies released in 2002, that it’s difficult not to enjoy watching Jun get increasingly infuriated each time his thugs come back empty handed, just like an old-school movie villain, but in a sharp suit.

The influence that Hong Kong movies had on the Korean action genre of the decade prior is also blatantly evident in Quick Man. It’s hardly a spoiler to say that Se-ung and Hye-yun fall in love, an aspect of the plot which is driven home with a musical montage. The montage ticks all of the relevant boxes – riding along a beach on a motorbike in slow motion, staring into each other’s eyes as the sun sets, and even recreating a scene from From Here to Eternity, but with less clothes. Speaking of a lack of clothing, all three of the female characters end up with their clothes off at some point. In the 1980’s erotic cinema boomed in Korea once censorship laws were removed, and perhaps being able to film nudity never lost its appeal for Hyeok-su, even a couple of decades on.

Like Hyeok-su, the actor playing the assistant director of the company, Song Geum-sig, had also made a career for himself within the Korean action and gangster genre. Quick Man would be one of his final roles, however his filmography includes appearances in everything from Golden Dragon, Silver Snake to Guns and Talks. Here he’s cast as a stereotypical conniving middled aged business man in a suit, who stays behind the scenes and uses his money for others to do the dirty work for him. It’s a template used over and over again in Asian action cinema, from Chor Yuen in Police Story, to John Shum in Pedicab Driver. What perhaps makes Quick Man a unique entry in the action genre though, is that in the final reel Geum-sig decides to get in on the action himself, suit included, representing the old school villain of the piece.

Throwing down against Se-ung in an abandoned factory, the two go at each other with an enjoyable amount of vigour. After watching Geum-sig spend the entire run time as a corporate villain, unwilling to get his hands dirty, to see him suddenly throwing Taekwondo kicks and grappling on the floor was definitely an unexpected surprise. Hyeok-su even employs some classic old-school kung-fu movie tropes, when at one point the pair take a fall from an elevated part of the factory, in a scene that takes place at night, and then the shot cuts to have them land in broad daylight on a granite pile outside. It’s a lengthy brawl (at least it feels that way considering it starts at night, and ends in a river basked in bright sunshine), and delivers a satisfying finish to a production thats only ambition is to deliver some straight forward action. Judged on this alone, Quick Man succeeds at achieving what it sets out to, and is a worthy swansong to Hyeok-su’s career as a director.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7/10

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Huang Kin Long (aka Bruce Le) is back with ‘Bloody Hero’

"Bruce's Deadly Fingers" Chinese Poster

“Bruce’s Deadly Fingers” Chinese Poster

A few years ago, Bruce Le (aka Huang Kin Long), cult martial arts star of Mission Terminate and Bruce Stikes Back, made his 7th directorial feature, Eyes of Dawn (a redux of his 1992 film, Comfort Women), a drama about women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories during World War II. The movie was Le’s first film project after a 20+ year absence from show business. Fortunately, his comeback isn’t about to stop there…

According to Impact’s Mike Leeder, Le is currently in post-production mode for Bloody Hero, a wartime adventure that’s best described as a Chinese Braveheart meets First Blood. The film tells the true story of a Chinese commando who rages a one-man war against Japanese forces on the border with Russia during WW2. In addition to directing and producing, Le also has a small part in the film.

But to kung fu fans, the most exciting news involves Le’s “dream” project: “In the last ten years, I have been thinking about making a very big kung fu movie, full blooded martial arts action… I would really like to make a big sized co-production between America and China, my dream project is to make something that would be worthy to be called Enter the Dragon 2. That’s something I have been working on for some time, making preparation for the last few years. I know to make a movie that delivers on those elements will be a lot of work but its what I think I have to do,” Le told Leeder. Additionally, Le is also developing an Africa-set action thriller that’ll essentially be the Chinese version of Taken.

Here’s hoping Bloody Hero will see a North American release. Until then, we’ll keep you updated as we hear more about all of Le’s projects. For now, here’s the Trailer for Bruce’s Deadly Fingers:

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‘Universal Soldier’ director to resurrect cult film ‘Maniac Cop’

"Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning" Japanese DVD Cover

“Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” Japanese DVD Cover

While it may not have set the box office on fire, 2012’s Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning was generally met with acclaim from fans and critics alike, who applauded director John Hyams’ infusion of arthouse horror into the venerable action series. The sequel was also notable for introducing martial arts superstar Scott Adkins to the Universal Soldier cast list, alongside returning icons Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. Unfortunately, all has been quiet on the Universal Soldier sequel front. In the meantime, Hyams recently directed eight episodes of the SyFy Network series Z Nation.

Now, fresh out of Fantastic Fest comes word that John Hyams will direct a reboot of the Eighties cult classic series Maniac Cop. The movies featured recognizable B-movie icon Robert Z’Dar as a homicidal police officer who returns from the dead to wreck havoc on the living.

Since Z’Dar sadly passed away earlier this year, the role is ripe for recasting – and one can easily see Universal Soldier’s Dolph Lundgren filling the lumbering shoes of the zombie cop. The remake is to be produced by Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, another filmmaker well known for his hyper-violent style. Popular comics writer Ed Brubaker (Criminal, Daredevil) penned the screenplay, which John Hyams called “the follow up movie I’ve been waiting for.” Considering Hyams’ previous output, one can easily imagine that this Maniac Cop reboot will be less of a B-Movie guilty pleasure and more of a jaw-dropping, mind-altering splice of action and horror.

Updates: At last, after nearly two years of gestation, John Hyams’ remake of Maniac Cop has been greenlit, and will shoot this summer in Los Angeles. The remake is described as a contemporary and realistic action thriller rather than a pure horror film. Stay tuned for casting news!

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Deal on Fire! Assassination | Blu-ray | Only $9.99 – Expires soon!

Assassination | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Assassination | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Assassination (read our review), directed by Choi Dong-hun (The Thieves).

A group of rebels are planning a hit on an Army Leader in Japanese-occupied Korea, but the only killer for the job is in prison. Now, the Resistance must devise a jailbreak, escape a hitman… and discover which of them is a traitor.

The film stars Jun Ji-Hyun (My Sassy Girl), Lee Jung-Jae (Il Mare), Oh Dal-su (Old Boy), Ha Jung-Woo (Yellow Sea), Cho Jin-woong (Spirit of JKD) and Lee Kyoung-young (A Better Tomorrow).

Order Assassination from Amazon.com today!

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Instant Death | DVD (Sony)

Instant Death | DVD (Sony)

Instant Death | DVD (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017

On May 2, 2017, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing the DVD for Instant Death, a new ultra-violent revenge flick starring Lou Ferrigno (Pumping Iron).

A retired Special Forces veteran (Ferrigno) who is trying to adjust to normal life leaves his home in New York and visits England in an attempt to rekindle his relationship with his estranged daughter. During his visit, John witnesses a murder, which leads to a descent of fury and violence that not even the brutality of gangland is prepared for.

Instant Death is directed by multi-talented Ara Paiaya (director, writer, producer, cinematographer, editor, action coordinator and actor), who launched his first “professional” directorial debut with Skin Traffik (not to be confused with Skin Trade).

Although Ferrigno is predominantly known for playing The Hulk in the classic TV series, the legendary ex-bodybuilder is no stranger to film. With a handful of movies under his belt – including 1983’s Hercules and 1994’s Cage II (co-starring with Shannon Lee) – Ferrigno finally returns to headlining his very own action film.

Pre-order Instant Death from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, News, Other Notable Titles | Tagged | 3 Comments

Crazy, all-star actioner ‘Diamond Cartel’ gets a DVD release

"Diamond Cartel" Theatrical Poster

“Diamond Cartel” Theatrical Poster

Salamat Mukhammed-Ali’s Diamond Cartel (aka The Whole World at Our Feet), a Kazakhstan-produced action film, will finally be seeing a DVD release on August 8th, 2017 (or you can watch it right now, via Amazon Video).

In addition, the film’s soundtrack, which promises “a unique collection that perfectly captures the roller coaster ride experience of the film” is also currently available.

Diamond Cartel (read our review) stars Armand Assante (Judge Dredd), Bolo Yeung (Clones of Bruce Lee), Don “The Dragon” Wilson (The Martial Arts Kid), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Tekken 2), Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister (Jackie Brown), Micheal Madsen (Kill Bill Vol. 2) and Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia).

Pre-order Diamond Cartel from Amazon.com today!

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Sea Fog | aka Haemoo (2014) Review

"Sea Fog" Theatrical Poster

“Sea Fog” Theatrical Poster

Director: Shim Sung-Bo
Writer: Shim Sung-Bo, Bong Joon-Ho
Cast: Kim Yun-Seok, Park Yoo-Chun, Han Ye-Ri, Lee Hee-Joon, Moon Sung-Geun, Kim Sang-Ho, Yoo Seung-Mok
Running Time: 111 min.

By Kyle Warner

I think Memories of Murder deserves to be in the conversation of the finest films ever made. Dark, thrilling, funny, and almost poetic, it’s the movie that made me a fan of director/co-writer Bong Joon-ho, who did not disappoint when he followed up that masterwork with other great titles like The Host, Snowpiercer, and Mother. But one of the voices behind the making of Memories of Murder that never got the same level of acclaim that Bong did was co-writer Shim Sung-bo. Since Memories of Murder, Shim has directed a couple of short films, but has largely remained an unknown to most viewers. Now, with his feature directorial debut Sea Fog (aka Haemoo), Shim steps up and presents himself as one of the most promising new directors in Korean cinema. And, like that modern classic Memories of Murder, Shim shared the writer’s room with the great Bong Joon-ho to help bring the dark story to life.

Sea Fog is a story of desperation. The characters are desperate to make a living, desperate to escape hardship, desperate to evade the law, desperate to survive. It’s downbeat, has the heart of pitch black film noir, and takes you in directions you wouldn’t expect.

The fishermen of the boat Jeonji aren’t catching much these days. Captain Kang (Kim Yun-seok) has a wife who is cheating on him, his rusty boat is now owned by the bank, and he has to beg the boss for money to pay his crew. Without so much as consulting his crew, Kang agrees to use the boat to pick up illegal immigrants coming out of China and smuggle them back into South Korea. What begins simple enough takes a turn when the illegals challenge the sailors, who are obviously out of their depth.

When a horrible accident occurs, the fishermen try their best to cover things up for fear of facing jail time. It’s then that things shift from a dark (sometimes politically charged) drama to a thriller, as already desperate men lose their humanity and inch closer to madness. Captain Kang, who had once seemed like a sympathetic figure, becomes merciless and cold. Some of his crew, now reduced to their base nature, obsess over money or the women among the illegal immigrants. Only one crewman, Dong-sik (Park Yoo-chun) remains largely himself throughout the ordeal. Even so, the young Dong-sik must decide how far is to go in order to survive the increasingly desperate scenario.

Sea Fog is based on a stage play, which itself was inspired by a sad true story. Like many stage play adaptations, Sea Fog has one primary set. But unlike many stage play adaptations, we never really take notice of the limited sets and locations. The boat is big and it’s surrounded by that cold, black ocean. Filmed beautifully by cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo (The Wailing), Sea Fog plays bigger than its surroundings might suggest. When the fog rolls in, strange colors shine through the mist, giving the film the surreal appearance of a film noir nightmare.

The cast is largely excellent. Kim Yun-seok (The Chaser) has made a career of playing anti-heroes and likeable villains, and Captain Kang fits somehow into both categories. It’s an intimidating performance, made all the better by the fact that Kim saves the major outbursts for the finale. Perhaps most impressive is Park Yoo-chun (Sungkyunkwan Scandal) as the innocent and inexperienced Dong-sik. Han Ye-ri (Commitment) is very good as the film’s central Korean-Chinese immigrant, giving her character enough individuality so that she is not just a damsel. And character actor Mun Seong-kun (Green Fish) is memorable in one of the film’s most showy roles, that of the boat’s old-timer engineer who starts losing his mind when the worst happens.

If the script lacks subtlety in the final act, then at least you can say that it might endear itself more to thriller/horror fans that’ve come to expect a certain level of the extreme from Korean genre movies.  I did not mind this shift in tone to a bloodier, high-pitched thriller. I do have to question the ending, however. Sea Fog ends with an extended epilogue, which felt unneeded especially after what would’ve been an excellent final shot.

A film with dark moral dilemmas and increasingly raised stakes, Sea Fog is the sort of movie that’s almost impossible to look away from. It also unfolds in an unexpected way, taking you on strange detours from the storyline that you were probably expecting. It’s an excellent thriller for fans of co-writer Bong Joon-ho, who explores more of the theme of class warfare seen earlier in Snowpiercer. For writer/director Shim, Sea Fog is one hell of a feature debut, and is hopefully a hint of more good things to come.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 8/10

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Lionsgate is bringing a ‘Black Samurai’ to the big screen

"Black Samurai" Theatrical Poster

“Black Samurai” Theatrical Poster

Richard Chamberlain (Shogun) and Tom Cruise (The Last Samurai), move over… Lionsgate has just enlisted Gregory Widen (creator/writer of 1986’s Highlander, director of 1995’s The Prophecy) to pen Black Samurai, a historical action film that will revolve around a real-life samurai of African origin.

According to Deadline: Yasuke lived in the mid-1500s, and history on his origins and exactly how he came to become a sword for a warlord named Oda Nobunaga is a bit fuzzy. Widen said what is known is that he was the only known African to reach that rank in feudal Japan, and it is a strong point of entry for a period action film that can build a compelling action narrative around history.

Obviously, Black Samurai is not connected to the Marc Olden book series or Jim Kelly film of the same name (in fact, a series related to Olden’s book, starring Common, is also currently in development) but misleading as it is, we couldn’t help but use its poster/trailer for this article. Besides, we’re all about promoting the classics.

Considering Black Samurai is in script-stage, there are currently no directors or stars attached, but we’ll keep you in the loop as we hear more.

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First photos from Ding Sheng’s ‘A Better Tomorrow 4’

"A Better Tomorrow" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“A Better Tomorrow” Japanese Theatrical Poster

If Song Hae-Seong’s 2010 Korean remake of A Better Tomorrow didn’t quite do it for you, then get ready for a couple more variations of John Woo’s 1986 seminal gangster classic. That’s right, a couple of ’em.

Two A Better Tomorrow remakes are in the works: One with Stephen Fung (who is also working on a Once a Thief remake) directing; the other with Ding Sheng (Little Big Soldier) directing. Sheng’s version – curiously titled A Better Tomorrow 4 – already has a teaser poster.

Sheng’s movie, which is currently filming, stars Darren Wang (Railroad Tigers), Ma Tianyu (Surprise) and Wang Kai (Railroad Tigers), who will be playing Mark “Gor” Lee (the character made famous by Chow Yun-fat in the original).

Updates: Check out some new photos of Darren Wang, Ma Tianyu and Wang Kai from  A Better Tomorrow 4 below (via AFS):

ABT4

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‘Die Hard 2’ helmer goes wuxia with an ‘Ancient Sword’

"Legend of the Ancient Sword" Teaser Poster

“Legend of the Ancient Sword” Teaser Poster

Renny Harlin, the Hollywood filmmaker known for Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight and most recently, Jackie Chan’s Skiptrace, is currently in post-production phase on Legend of the Ancient Sword, an adaptation of Gu Jian Qi Tan, a hit Chinese role-playing game.

According to THR: The Chinese film stars Wang Lee Hom (Little Big Soldier) as Yue, a young student of “Yanjia,” a lost martial arts form. Yue sets out to find Yanjia’s greatest master, and along the way he meets Wen (Victoria Song), Xia (Godfrey Gao) and Ah (Karena Ng). Together they team up to prevent a disaster from befalling the world.

Legend of the Ancient Sword is due in theaters later in 2017/early 2018. Until then, check out some images from the film below (via AFS):

renny

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The Complete Billy Jack Collection | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

The Complete Billy Jack Collection | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

The Complete Billy Jack Collection | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: July 25, 2017

On July 25, 2017, Shout! Factory will be releasing the 4-disc Blu-ray set for The Complete Billy Jack Collection, starring the late Tom Laughlin.

The Billy Jack franchise (read our review for Billy Jack) follows an ex-Green Beret hapkido expert (Laughlin) and his many adventures against those who oppose his peaceful path.

These four groundbreaking, action-packed classics from ’70s pop culture icon Billy Jack feature all of the fast-kicking, politically aware stories that had audiences cheering. Influencing action films for decades, the Billy Jack films broke the mold with their unique hero, a half-American Indian/half white ex-Green Beret bent on correcting injustice and hypocrisy to help America reach its full potential.

The collection will contain the following films: 1968’s The Born Losers, 1971’s Billy Jack, 1974’s The Trial of Billy Jack and 1977’s Billy Jack Goes to Washington (Note: 1986’s unfinished The Return of Billy Jack will not be included, obviously).

Although Shout! Factory hasn’t disclosed details, The Complete Billy Jack Collection will most likely contain extra features.

Pre-order The Complete Billy Jack Collection from Amazon.com today!

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Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Death Note’ has death written all over it

"Death Note" Japanese DVD Cover

“Death Note” Japanese DVD Cover

A Hollywood adaptation of Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note – a hit manga, anime and Japanese live-action horror film series – is coming to your Netflix queue.

The upcoming film, directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest), stars Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) and Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys).

Death Note centers around an intelligent high school student goes on a secret crusade to eliminate criminals from the world after discovering a notebook capable of killing anyone whose name is written into it.

Death Note was previously adapted into a 2006 Japanese film of the same name, which starred Tatsuya Fujiwara (Battle Royale) and Ken’ichi Matsuyama (Kamui Gaiden). It was followed by Death Note: The Last Name, as well a 2015 mini-series. Another Japan-made sequel, titled Death Note 2016, is currently in the works.

Updates: Death Note hits Netflix on August 25th. Catch the Trailer below:

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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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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

Karate Kill | Blu-ray & DVD (Petri Entertainment)

"Karate Kill" Theatrical Poster

“Karate Kill” Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2017

North American distributor Petri Entertainment is bringing Kurando Mitsutake’s (Gun Woman) Karate Kill to Blu-ray & DVD.

When a mysterious loner and Karate master Kenji’s (Hayate) little sister goes missing in Los Angeles, whoever stands in his way of finding her will face the wrath of a lethal Karate Kill!

Karate Kill also stars Asami (Prison Girl), Kamata Noriaki (Gun Woman), Jeffrey James Lippold (Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf), Carlee Baker (L.A. Slasher), WWE’s Katarina Leigh Baker and Akihiro Kitamura (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?).

Pre-order Karate Kill from Amazon.com today!

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Wolf Guy | Blu-ray & DVD (Arrow Video)

Wolf Guy | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Wolf Guy | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2017

On May 23, 2017, Arrow Video will be releasing the Blu-ray & DVD for 1975’s Wolf Guy (aka Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope), a multi-genre flick directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread) and starring the one, the only Shinichi ‘Sonny’ Chiba (Hiroshima Death Match).

Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba is a martial arts “manimal” in the ultra-70’s, 100% bizarre mixture of horror, action and sci-fi that is Wolf Guy, one of the rarest and most sought-after cult films produced by Japan’s Toei Studio. Based on a manga by Kazumasa Hirai (creator of 8 Man), and never before released outside of Japan, it’s a genre film classic waiting to be discovered and a completely unclassifiable trip into phantasmagoric funk.

Chiba stars as Akira Inugami, the only survivor of a clan of ancient werewolves who relies on his supernatural powers to solve mysterious crimes. After a series of bloody killings perpetrated by an unseen force, Inugami uncovers a conspiracy involving a murdered cabaret singer, corrupt politicians, and a plot by the J-CIA to harvest his blood in order to steal his lycanthropic powers! At the same time, Inugami also discovers the truth behind his family heritage, and that he may not be the last of his kind.

Directed by B-movie genius Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Wandering Ginza Butterfly, Karate Bear Fighter), Wolf Guy truly is one-of-a-kind, with Chiba in full effect as the part-man, part-wolf, all-karate action hero and a collection of familiar 1970’s Toei actors in support. Violence, action, nudity, real surgical footage, and a psychedelic musical score all work together to create an unforgettable trip to the heights of Japanese cinematic weirdness.

Special Features:

  • High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • New optional English subtitle translation
  • New video interview with actor Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba
  • New video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
  • New video interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter
  • First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patrick Macias and a history of Japanese monster movie mashups by Jasper Sharp

Pre-order Wolf Guy from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | Leave a comment
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