New Teaser Poster for Scott Adkins’ ‘Boyka: Undisputed IV’

"Boyka: Undisputed" Teaser Poster

“Boyka: Undisputed” Teaser Poster

Now that 2017 is officially here, the highly-anticipated Boyka: Undisputed (aka Boyka: Undisputed IV) is right around the corner!

Scott Adkins (Hard Target 2, Eliminators) the film’s mega-talented star and martial artist from Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Assassination Games, Wolf Warrior and Close Range, is returning as the title character, Yuri Boyka.

Co-starring are Teodora Duhovnikova (Corpse Collector), Alon Aboutboul (The Dark Knight Rises), Julian Vergov (Until Death) and Valentin Ganev (Undisputed II).

In the fourth installment of the Undisputed franchise, Boyka is shooting for the big leagues when an accidental death in the ring makes him question everything he stands for.

This time around, Todor Chapkanov (Viking Quest) directs, while Isaac Florentine (Close RangeUndisputed IIIII) serves only as producer. The film’s action will be handled by Tim Man (Ong-Bak 2). David N. White (Undisputed IIIII, Ninja: Shadow of a Tear) is back as screenwriter.

Boyka: Undisputed will be released in April 2017. For now, don’t miss the film’s first trailer, as well as an action clip below:

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Enter our ‘The Monkey King 2’ Blu-ray Contest! – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

The Monkey King 2 | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Monkey King 2 | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Cityonfire.com and Well Go USA are giving away 3 Blu-ray copies of The Monkey King 2 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.

The Monkey King 2 was officially released on January 3, 2017. We will announce the 3 winners on January 6, 2017.

CONTEST DISCLAIMER: You must enter by January 5, 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.

WINNERS: Hank, James L and Ron.

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Deal on Fire! Dragon Blade | Blu-ray | Only $8.65 – Expires soon!

Dragon Blade | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

Dragon Blade | Blu-ray & DVD (Lionsgate)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Daniel Lee’s Dragon Blade (read our review), an action/adventure period flick starring Jackie Chan (Police Story 2013), Adrien Brody (The Pianist) and John Cusack (Love & Mercy).

When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An teams up his army with an elite Legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius to protect his country and his new friends.

Dragon Blade also stars Choi Siwon (Helios), Lin Peng (Viral Factor) and Wang Tai Li (East Meets West).

Order Dragon Blade from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | 7 Comments

Dead or Alive Trilogy | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Dead or Alive Trilogy | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

Dead or Alive Trilogy | Blu-ray (Arrow Video)

RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2017

Arrow Video will be releasing the Blu-ray for Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive Trilogy. Beginning with an explosive, six-minute montage of sex, drugs and violence, and ending with a phallus-headed battle robot taking flight, this unforgettable trilogy features many of the director’s most outrageous moments set alongside some of his most dramatically moving scenes.

Made between 1999 and 2002, the Dead or Alive films cemented Miike’s reputation overseas as one of the most provocative enfants terrible of Japanese cinema, yet also one of its most talented and innovative filmmakers.

In Dead or Alive, (read our reviews) tough gangster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and his ethnically Chinese gang make a play to take over the drug trade in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district by massacring the competition. But he meets his match in detective Jojima (Show Aikawa), who will do everything to stop them.

Dead or Alive 2: Birds casts Aikawa and Takeuchi together again, but as new characters, a pair of rival yakuza assassins who turn out to be childhood friends; after a botched hit, they flee together to the island where they grew up, and decide to devote their deadly skills to a more humanitarian cause.

And in Dead or Alive: Final (read our review), Takeuchi and Aikawa are catapulted into a future Yokohama ruled by multilingual gangs and cyborg soldiers, where they once again butt heads in the action-packed and cyberpunk-tinged finale to the trilogy.

Each of them unique in theme and tone, the Dead or Alive films showcase Miike at the peak of his strengths, creating three very distinct movies connected only by their two popular main actors, each film a separate yet superb example of crime drama, character study, and action filmmaking.

Blu-ray Features: 

  • High Definition digital transfers of all three films
  • Original uncompressed stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles for all three films
  • New interview with actor Riki Takeuchi
  • New interview with actor Sho Aikawa
  • New interview with producer and screenwriter Toshiki Kimura
  • New audio commentary for Dead or Alive by Miike biographer Tom Mes
  • Archive interviews with cast and crew
  • Archive making-of featurettes for DOA2: Birds and DOA: Final
  • Original theatrical trailers for all three films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Orlando Arocena
  • First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger

Pre-order the Dead or Alive Trilogy from Amazon.com today!

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

New Trailer for the ‘Raid’-esque Cambodian flick ‘Jailbreak’

"Jailbreak" Theatrical Poster

“Jailbreak” Theatrical Poster

A theatrical release for the Cambodian martial arts flick, Jailbreak, is right around the corner. Judging from what we’ve seen, we hate to describe it as a Raid-like action movie, but honestly, that’s pretty much what it is. And for the sake of entertainment, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Here’s Jailbreak’s official plot: What started as a simple escort mission will soon turn to chaos as the prisoners of Koh Kla take over the prison grounds. A special task force (Jean-Paul Ly, Dara Our and Tharoth Sam) gets trapped in the prison will have to fight their way out for survival, to protect a key witness (Savin Phillip).

Jailbreak is directed by Jimmy Henderson (Hanuman) and also features Celine Tran, Sisowath Siriwudd, Sok Visal, Lida Duch, Mork Samreth, Sou Savea, Enna So and Kong Polpin. The film also showcases action choreography (in this case, Bokator, which a Cambodian-style of martial arts) by the film’s star, Ly (Lucy).

Jailbreak is getting a domestic release on January 31, 2017. A North American date is still pending. For now, enjoy the film’s trailer below:

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KG: Karate Girl | Blu-ray (Tokyo Shock)

KG: Karate Girl | Blu-ray (Tokyo Shock)

KG: Karate Girl | Blu-ray (Tokyo Shock)

RELEASE DATE: February 23, 2017

No CG! No Wires! No stuntman! Tokyo Shock presents the Blu-ray for Karate Girl, starring Rina Takeda (High Kick Girl!), as well as a cast that consists entirely of top-notch Japan and World Champions!

A shy, hard-working high-school girl, Ayaka (Takeda) holds a dark family secret. She is a karate master and must keep her family s martial arts legacy secret to protect her precious family treasure, the Black Belt. When she accidently exposes her extraordinary fighting skills in public, the ruthless karate gang that murdered her family and abducted her sister discovers her true identity. Now a fateful battle becomes inevitable as the gang and her estranged sister plot a showdown to fight and defeat Ayaka for possession of the highly coveted Black Belt!

Special Features:

  • Movie Highlights
  • Original Trailer
  • Ready, Steady, Go! Promo Video

Pre-order Karate Girl from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Challenge of the Lady Ninja (1983) Review

"Challenge of the Lady Ninja" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Challenge of the Lady Ninja” Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Chinese Super Ninja 2
Director: Lee Tso Nam
Cast: Elsa Yeung Wai San, Chen Kuan Tai, Cho Kin, Kam Yin Fei, Kon Tak Mun, Peng Kang, Sit Hon, Sun Jung Chi, Robert Tai Chi Hsien, Yin Su Li, Lee Min-Bu, Ju Eun-ae
Running Time: 90 min.

By Paul Bramhall

For many, 1983 will be the year that Taiwanese director Lee Tso Nam is associated with creating the kung fu masterpiece Shaolin Vs Lama, a slice of martial arts goodness that would remain a favourite of grindhouse cinemas and late night screenings for many years after. However in an era when it was rare for directors working within the genre to only make a single movie, Shaolin Vs Lama certainly wasn’t Tso Nam’s only output for the year. As well as getting behind the camera for the romantic drama Love Don’t Say Goodbye, the director also decided to get in on the ninja craze, belting out two movies that largely consisted of the same cast and crew. While A Life of Ninja cast Chen Kuan-Tai and Yasuaki Kurata in a superlative slice of ninja action, the more interesting of the two titles goes to Challenge of the Lady Ninja, which cast Elsa Yeung as a female ninja who likes her ninja garb to be lipstick red. None of this black nonsense!

Yeung also featured in A Life of Ninja, as does Kuan-Tai return for this more female-centric helping of ninja action. While Kuan-Tai’s role is more a supporting one here, he gets an introduction that any budding actor would die for. Decked out in a sharp white suite, he’s introduced set to the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars, a theme which immediately demands respect no matter what context it’s played in, copyright be damned. Played over Kuan-Tai’s natural onscreen charisma, the visuals and audio are a killer combination. As you’ve probably figured out, the Shaw Brothers star (who notably was still working for the studio at the time, he featured in Little Dragon Maiden made the same year) plays the bad guy, a Chinese who’s switched to working for the Japanese during World War II, and is responsible for murdering Yeung’s father.

The setting may be the Japan occupied China of the WWII era, however it should be stated that it appears to be some alternative reality version. 80’s fashion and cars are the order of the day, proving that period detail is clearly overrated, when you have a star that can twirl around and magically make herself stripped down to a skimpy pink bikini and bottoms. One of the many powers of the lady ninja, and one that I’m glad wasn’t inherited by Richard Harrison. As the leading lady, Yeung has a suitably alluring presence, and was a regular in many a Taiwan movie of the time, notably staring alongside the likes of fellow Taiwan natives Brigitte Lin and Sally Yeh in Pink Force Commando and Golden Queens Commandos from the year prior. In Challenge of the Lady Ninja, it’s explained that she’s a Chinese that’s trained with a group of Japanese ninja’s for the past 17 years, and after passing the final test, much to the chagrin of fellow student Peng Kang (also the movies fight choreographer), is let loose into the world.

In some territories Challenge of the Lady Ninja was re-titled as Chinese Super Ninjas 2, which in itself is a re-title of Chang Cheh’s Five Element Ninjas, also released the year prior. It’s easy to see why, with Yeung’s test seeing her adorned in a red ninja outfit, as she makes her way through a forest filled with both ninja opponents and traps, so the similarity most likely made it an obvious choice for a re-title at the time of its release. However another similarity comes in the form of Chen Kuan-Tai’s 4 bodyguards, which are never far from his side, and come decked out in a variety of black leather and disco-esque outfits. The bodyguards consist of a Taekwondo expert female, a strong man, a guy whose speciality is the use of a boomerang sword, and a Japanese sword expert, notably played by Robert Tai, who comes with a big blue lobster painted on top of his shaved head. At least I’m sure it was a lobster, thinking about it now, it could have been a poorly drawn scorpion.

Once the main story kicks in, most of the action in Challenge of the Lady Ninja involves at least one of the bodyguards. Yeung herself doesn’t go it alone though, recruiting both a kung-fu expert played by Korean Kim Yeon-ja (who, apart from this has just one other movie credited to her name, with 1978’s Death Duel of Mantis), and a whore from the local brothel, played by Pok Ying-Lan. Together they become a trio of deadly femme fatales – Yeung with her ninja skills, Yeon-ja with her kung-fu talents, and Ying-Lan with her, well, ability to seduce and lose her clothes at any given moment. It can’t be denied that there’s an exploitative element to Challenge of the Lady Ninja, with training sequences that involve our trio decked out in bikinis, frequently filmed almost entirely from crotch level.

Another scene has Yeung facing off against the Taekwondo expert in a boxing ring, which has Yeung rip her own clothes off to reveal her areas of modesty covered by black handprints! The reason why she rips her clothes off in the first place of course, is that the Taekwondo expert had a strategically placed vat of baby oil which is poured all over the ring. Think Jason Statham’s scene in the bus depot from The Transporter, just swap crude oil for baby oil, and a Cockney with a receding hairline for a sultry Taiwanese actress. In many ways though, the action is in line with the slightly wacky element that came with ninja movies being made during the early 80’s. Teleport skills shown by characters randomly disappearing and re-appearing in another part of the screen come as standard, as do projectiles that unleash colourful puffs of smoke upon impact, burrowing through the ground, and completely pointless acrobatics. All are present and accounted for in Challenge of the Lady Ninja.

Interestingly a large number of the productions supporting cast are made up on Koreans, a sign which is probably indicative that part of the movie was filmed there with a local crew. Indeed the movie even has its own entry on the Korean Movie Database, where it’s listed under the title Black Rose, and lists Bruce Lai (Chang Il-do) as a cast member. Shin Wi-gyun is listed as a co-director from this source, and most likely there’s a separate Korean cut of the movie featuring local actors (Don Wong Tao once recalled in an interview how, on one of his movies being filmed in Korea, upon finishing the Korean crew then brought in their own actors to continue filming their own version). Wi-gyun was one of those local go-to directors for Chinese productions filming in Korea, which was common practice in the 80’s due to the reduced filming costs, with the only condition from Korea usually being to include some local crew and performers. Notably Wi-gyun is also listed as the co-director for the likes of The Postman Strikes Back and John Woo’s Heroes Shed No Tears.

Challenge of the Lady Ninja ultimately surprises with a plot twist I didn’t see coming (however those of a superior intellect might, which is a significant number), and culminates, like any ninja movie should, with a ninja versus ninja battle. It’s unfortunate that the final battle is somewhat of an anticlimax due to being relatively short, however it does contain some unique ideas, not least that the final part of the fight takes place completely underground. It appears that when you see those ninjas burrowing through the ground, they’re not just going from A to B, in some cases they’ve actually found the time to dig out a whole little area just big enough for a pair of ninjas to go at each other in. While it’s nice to see a variation on the countless sword clanging and colourful puffs of smoke that most ninja movies from Taiwan and Hong Kong end in, the execution sadly falls a little flat, leading the final blow to be more of a “hmmmm”, than a “wow!” moment.

While Tso Nam would continue directing and is still active today, for the other familiar names in Challenge of the Lady Ninja, the production came at the tail end of their career. Yeung would make just a handful more movies in the following years, including This Love of Mine in 1986, directed by her husband Chang Yi. Robert Tai would also make the move away from being in front of the camera, and focus more on action directing, going on to make one of his last screen appearances a couple of years later in the legendary Ninja: The Final Duel. While there’s a distinct feeling that Challenge of the Lady Ninja was made past the peak of most of its performers abilities, it succeeds at never being boring, and the guarantee of some action, be it covered in baby oil or delivered via the thrust of a blade, is never far away. For that, it certainly warrants a watch.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 6.5/10

Posted in All, Chinese, News, Ninja, Reviews | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Suddenly in the Dark | Blu-ray (Mondo Macabro)

Suddenly in the Dark | Blu-ray (Mondo Macabro)

Suddenly in the Dark | Blu-ray (Mondo Macabro)

RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2017

Mondo Macabro is proud to present this classic of Korean horror on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world. The presentation has been restored from the best available elements from the Korean Film Archive, and features brand new extras produced exclusively for this release (the previous edition, released in October, was limited to 500 copies).

Almost completely unknown outside its home country, Suddenly in the Dark is one of the best examples of pre-millennial K-horror. It was made at a time when censorship laws were being liberalized, igniting a boom in horror and erotic films. Elements of both are present here, directed with bizarre flair by Go Yeong-nam in a style often compared to the wilder Italian films of the 70s and 80s.

Suddenly in the Dark stars Kim Young-ae (Confession of Murder), Yoon Il-bong (Love on a Rainy Day), Lee Gi-seon (Lost Youth), Hyeon Hye-ri (Unconditional Love) and Kim Geun-hui (Encounter).

Product Features:

  • Interview with producer David Suh
  • Interview with critic Kim Bong-seok
  • Korean Cover Cavalcade
  • Newly created English subtitles
  • Mondo Macabro previews

Pre-order Suddenly in the Dark from Amazon.com today!

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

The Raid Collection | Blu-ray (Sony)

The Raid Collection | Blu-ray (Sony)

The Raid Collection | Blu-ray (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017

On February 28, 2017, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing Gareth Evans’ The Raid Collection on Blu-ray, which will contain both 2011’s The Raid and 2014’s The Raid 2.

In The Raid, an elite swat team moves in to take down the notorious drug lord that runs a drug-gang’s safe house, which is the home to some of the most terrifying and ruthless fighters in the city; In The Raid 2, the cop from the first film goes undercover to take down a network of powerful organized crime syndicates.

Cast members for The Raid Collection include: Iko Uwais (Merantau), Joe Taslim (Star Trek Beyond), Donny Alamsyah (Merantau), Yayan Ruhian (Yakuza Apocalypse), Arifin Putra (Macabre), Oka Antara (Killers), Tio Pakusadewo (Guardian), Alex Abbad (Merantau), Julie Estelle (Macabre), Ryuhei Matsuda (Cutie Honey), Kenichi Endo (Crows Zero), Kazuki Kitamura (Killers), Cecep Arif Rahman (The Gate), Cok Simbara (Kentut) and Very Tri Yulisman (Headshot).

The Raid Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Gareth Evans
  • Video blogs:
    • Bootcamp
    • Set Location, Camera & Lighting, Make-up & Special Effects
    • Courtyard, Hole Drop
    • Drugs Lab, Tama’s Office
    • Machete Gang & Corridor, Jaka vs. Mad Dog
    • Post Production
  • Behind-the-scenes featurettes:
    • Behind the Music
    • Anatomy of a Scene
    • Stunts
    • Themes
    • Inside the Score
  • An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda, and Joe Trapanese conversation
  • In Conversation with Gareth Evans and Mike Shinoda feature
  • Claycat’s The Raid
  • The Raid TV show ad (circa 1994)

The Raid 2 Special Features: 

  • Featurettes:
    • Ready for a Fight: On Location
    • Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography
  • Deleted Scene: Gang War
  • English Dub in addition to the original language version of the film
  • Director Commentary with Gareth Huw Evans
  • Featurettes:
    • The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel
    • Cinefamily Foundation Q&A with Gareth Huw Evans, Iko Uwais & Joe Trapanese

Pre-order The Raid Collection from Amazon.com today!

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

New photos from the Louis Koo, Tony Jaa actioner ‘Paradox’

"Tom Yum Goong 2" Japanese DVD Cover

“Tom Yum Goong 2” Japanese DVD Cover

In addition to Gary Mak’s Makeshift Squad, which is being described as an Asian Expendables-type flick starring Tony Jaa (Skin Trade), Angelababy (Mojin: The Lost Legend), Tiger Chen (Man of Tai Chi) and Iko Uwais (The Raid 2), there’s another high profile martial arts film in-the-works that Jaa is co-starring in called Paradox (aka Fate).

Directed by Wilson Yip (Ip Man 3) and produced by Soi Cheang (SPL II), Paradox stars Louis Koo (League of Gods) as a police negotiator who travels to Bangkok to search for his teenage daughter and is aided by local detectives played by Jaa and Wu Yue (Journey to the West).

Additional cast members include Gordon Lam (Trivisa), Ken Lo (The Godfather’s Daughter Mafia Blues), Hanna Chan, Stephy Tang (Let’s Go!) and Chris Collins.

Paradox will feature action choreography by Hong Kong great, Sammo Hung (The Bodyguard). Jaa recently posted a photo with Sammo, stating: “Getting ready to shoot with the amazing Sammo Hung” (via FB).

Paradox is currently in production and will see a release in 2017.

Updates: Here’s a pack of new photos from the film (via AFS), featuring Louis Koo and Wu Yue.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Railroad Tigers (2016) Review

"Railroad Tigers" Theatrical Poster

“Railroad Tigers” Theatrical Poster

AKA: Railway Asylum
Director: Ding Sheng
Cast: Jackie Chan, Xu Fan, Edison Huang, Nick Wang, Darren Wang, Yano Koji, Sang Ping, Wu Yonglun, Zhang Yishang, Jaycee Chan, Ikeuchi Hiroyuki, Asano Nagahide
Running Time: 123 min.

By Paul Bramhall

The pairing of director Ding Sheng and ageing action superstar Jackie Chan has been one of the more intriguing partnerships of recent years. In 2009, Little Big Soldier was released, and provided a welcome breath of fresh air in contrast to Chan’s Hollywood productions made during the same period, such as The Spy Next Door. Sheng seemed to be a director who knew not only how to play to Chan’s strengths, but also to his age, crafting what many still believe to be one of Chan’s best movies of the last 10 years. The director and star would reunite again in 2013 for Police Story 2013, an in-name only sequel to Chan’s mega popular Police Story series. While the production itself had no relation to the previous Police Story movies, its ambitious story set in a single location was also a welcome departure from what audiences had come to expect from Chan, even if it didn’t quite match those ambitions.

With Railroad Tigers, after a 3 year gap, Sheng and Chan reunite once more. While Sheng has directed a movie between their collaborations, with the exceptional crime thriller Saving Mr Wu, Chan’s own limitless work ethic has seen him headlining the likes of the historical actioner Dragon Blade, and buddy comedy Skiptrace. Both movies were met with disappointment from fans and critics alike, so his re-teaming with Sheng is a timely one. The plot revolves around a group of railroad thieves led by Chan, who become involved in helping Chinese freedom fighters blow up a crucial railway bridge controlled by the Japanese, led by Hiroyuki Ikeuchi from Ip Man. It’s a significant departure from the type of roles we’ve become accustomed to seeing Chan in, and arguably the setting of Japan occupied China owes more to such recent Korean movies like The Good, The Bad, The Weird and Assassination, than any of either the director or stars previous efforts.

Railroad Tigers admittedly gets off to a jarring start. Opening in a modern day railway museum, an Australian teacher guides a group of schoolchildren around the various trains on display, excitedly prompting them to shout out what colours the trains are. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear the wrong movie must be playing. The camera then pans to an Asian child (at this point I had no idea where this train museum is supposed to be – Australia? China?) who wanders off by himself, sneaking into the carriage of one of the old steam trains on display. It’s while he’s in the carriage that the furnace doors mysteriously open by themselves, revealing a faintly flickering ember within the chamber. Cue camera zooming in to the flickering ember as the child stares wide eyed, and boom, the animated opening credits sequence starts. I confess at this point I felt my heart sink, as I don’t think I was ready for another Chan kiddie-friendly action flick, regardless of if it’s from Hollywood or China (or Australia for that matter).

Thankfully the contemporary setting is never returned to again, until, as expected, the final scene, which also throws in a big name cameo as the child’s father. I always find these historical productions which feel the need to be bookmarked by contemporary scenarios to be completely out of place. From Michelle Yeoh’s Olympic speech in the Director’s Cut of Fearless, to the festive celebrations that start and end The Taking of Tiger Mountain. They just don’t work, and here is no different. With that said, onto the movie itself, well, the real movie. Opening with Chan and his crew, which includes his son Jaycee Chan and former K-pop group member Edison Huang, pulling off one of their rob the rich and give to the poor train heists, the various creative ways that the team come up with to board the trains are some of the movies highlights. The Emperor of the North Pole would be proud.

Sheng takes a while to find his footing though, most likely due to it being the first time he’s worked on such a big scale production. The movie has an annoying habit of constantly freeze framing the screen to an animated still whenever a new character appears on-screen, providing text stating their name and what their job is. Bizarrely, for Chan and his gang of thieves, the text also provides each characters catchphrase as well. Chan’s catchphrase is ‘Shut up’. The problem is, over 30 minutes in and new characters are still appearing. While I confess to not actually keeping count, I could swear there must be around 20 characters introduced, some of whom never even appear again other than the scene they get introduced in. I assume there are likely many scenes from Railroad Tigers that have been left (wisely) on the cutting room floor, however even if this is true, there can be no denying that the first third begins to feel like a bit of a slog.

Things are further hindered by the inclusion of chapter titles. The first segment is called Rob the Train, the second segment is called Rescue the Injured Soldier, and so on. The problem with these titles though is that the only meaning they have, is to essentially act as a kind of spoiler as to what’s going to happen within the next 15 or so minutes, so it would have been much better to do away with them all together. Thankfully, around the 40 minute mark, everything seems to click into place. An entertaining scene, that sees the father and son duo of Jackie and Jaycee attempt to steal a number of explosives stored in a warehouse, signals both Chan and Sheng finding their pace and rhythm, and for the remainder of the movie it becomes a smooth and thoroughly enjoyable ride.

It can’t be argued that Chan is the main character in Railroad Tigers, and while I haven’t seen all of his most recent productions, this marks the first time for me to see him in such a genre picture during which he doesn’t fight at all. Yes there’s a punch thrown on the odd occasion, a brief skirmish here and there, but the Chan signature style of fight choreography is completely absent, and as a movie it works all the better for it. There have been too many times during Chan’s career when he’s attempted to do something different, but still had one of his fight scenes shoehorned in, dating all the way back to 1993’s Crime Story. Instead, here he gets by on pure determination and teamwork with the other members in the group, and as a result the movie is a lot better for it, never needing to fall under the shadow of those conversations which revolves around Chan’s action performance.

There is of course, plenty of action to be hand in Railroad Tigers, some of it surprisingly violent. I’d say this movie likely has the highest kill-count of any Chan picture, despite successfully managing to maintain a relatively light tone throughout. More than a handful of Japanese soldiers have their necks snapped, with dozens more being shot or machine gunned down. A worthy comparison for the final 30 minutes would almost be to call it The Dirty Dozen on a Train. Sadly, blatant CGI sometimes does rear its ugly head, although nowhere near as much as expected in a movie such as this.

As the end credits show, many shots were done using miniatures, and the train that becomes the focus of the story is thankfully very real. However it still makes me question how the filmmakers can’t recognize bad CGI. In one shot, a motorbike with a sidecar launches off a cliff in an attempt to mount the train, and it looks completely unconvincing. However in the next shot, a real motorbike and sidecar go hurtling over a ditch, resulting in an impressive stunt which sends the rider flying through the air. Why these two shots were placed next to each other will never make sense to me, as the latter just further highlights the lack of realism of the first.

After the rather droll opening third, Chan’s trademark sense of comedic timing also works its way into proceedings, delivering some welcome laugh out loud moments. Many feel that Chan puts much more effort into his Chinese movies that he does those he makes in Hollywood, and Railroad Tigers would be a good example to prove that theory correct. While in movies like Skiptrace we still see the yawn inducing ‘punch something hard, shake hands in pain’ comedy style that was funny 20 years ago, here there’s an originality to the physical comedy on display, and it serves as a reminder as to why he’s a legend in the first place. Not every director is as good as Sheng at drawing out the best from Chan, so I hope Railroad Tigers will be indicative of the quality of production both continue to work on while they’re not working together. It may have gotten off to a bumpy start, but Railroad Tigers definitely ends on track, and that makes it a commendable effort.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 7/10

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

Happy Holidays from Cityonfire.com!

"Shaw Brothers Holiday Greetings" Promotional featuring David Chiang, Li Ching and Ti Lung

“Shaw Brothers Holiday Greetings” Promotional featuring David Chiang, Li Ching and Ti Lung

Wishing you a beautiful holiday and a New Year of peace and happiness!

– From your friends at Cityonfire.com

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Deal on Fire! Vengeance of an Assassin | Blu-ray | Only $8.02 – Expires soon!

Vengeance of an Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Vengeance of an Assassin | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Vengeance of an Assassin from the late Panna Rittikrai, the director behind fan favorites like Born to Fight and BKO: Bangkok Knockout. This time around, Rittikrai is teaming back up with his Born to Fight leading man Dan Chupong.

Natee (Chupong) and Than (Nantawooti Boornrapsap) are orphans raised by their parent’s friend (Ping Lumprapleng). Never knowing their parents or how they died, the two boys had always wondered who was responsible for their murder. The pursuit of vengeance is the centerpiece of Vengeance of an Assassin, the last film by Panna Rittikrai before his untimely death at the age of 53 (from complications associated with acute liver and kidney failure).

Order Vengeance of an Assassin from Amazon.com today!

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The Black Dragon’s Revenge | Blu-ray & DVD (Film Detective)

The Black Dragon's Revenge | Blu-ray & DVD (The Film Detective)

The Black Dragon’s Revenge | Blu-ray & DVD (The Film Detective)

RELEASE DATE: January 31, 2017

On, January 31, 2017, The Film Detective is unleashing The Black Dragon’s Revenge (aka The Death of Bruce Lee) on both Blu-ray and DVD.

This cult classic – which has been restored into HD from the original camera negative – is directed by Tony Liu Jun Guk (Tiger Over Wall) and stars martial arts sensation, Ron van Clief (Black Dragon).

Van Clief stars in this action thriller as a badass hired to try and find out the real reason behind Bruce Lee’s death. From the heyday of 1970s Blaxploitation and kung fu flicks, this movie demonstrates much of the same crude dialog and cut rate film techniques usually found in those genres, but succeeds by having a legitimate bad ass like van Clief in the lead role. Nicknamed “The Black Dragon” by Lee himself, van Clief is a showstopper!

The Black Dragon’s Revenge also stars Dai Sai Aan (The Pilferer’s Progress), Jason Pai Piao (Killer Constable), Yuen Qiu (The Bodyguard), Philip Ko Fei (The Challenger) and Charlie Chan Yiu Lam (The Secret Rivals 2).

Pre-order The Black Dragon’s Revenge from Amazon.com today!

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

Queen’s Ransom, A | aka International Assassin (1976) Review

"A Queen's Ransom" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“A Queen’s Ransom” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Ding Sin Saai
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Angela Mao, George Lazenby, Ko Chun Hsiung, Tien Ni, Charles Heung, Cheung Pooi Saan, Dean Shek, Bolo Yeung, Peter Chan, Cheung Ging Boh, Chu Tiet Wo, Han Ying Chieh, Hon Yee Sang, Kok Lee Yan, Helen Poon
Running Time: 93 min.

By Jeff Bona

Three years after the passing of Bruce Lee, Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest Studios was still running around like a headless chicken in search of someone who could fill the shoes of their most bankable asset. This period – between 1973 and 1977 – was a time of trial and error for the once flourishing film company that used to have the biggest star in the palm of their hand. It was a situation that can only be compared to… let’s say… The Beatles losing John Lennon and Paul McCartney at the height of Beatlemania.

To adapt to this challenge, Raymond Chow, head of Golden Harvest, turned to names, old and new, like Ko Chun Hsiung (The Devil’s Treasure), Don Wong Tao (Yellow Faced Tiger), Chan Wai Man (The Handcuff), Jimmy Wang Yu (A Man Called Tiger), Dorian Tan Tao Liang (Hand of Death) and Yue Bing Lung (The Association) to lead some of the studio’s most high concept projects. Heck, they even nabbed one-time Bond, George Lazenby (Stoner), to gain some much needed, world-wide momentum.

Despite some minor hits, none of these guys were able to truly capture the electrifying charisma, intense energy, and most importantly, the enormous box office return that Lee delivered. It wasn’t until a year or two later that Sammo Hung (not as a bad guy or a choreographer, but as a leading man) and Jackie Chan came on board to make Golden Harvest the powerhouse that it once was in the early 70s; but before this was to happen, Golden Harvest took one last stab at creating magic by bundling up some of the aforementioned names into an ensemble project titled A Queen’s Ransom.

In A Queen’s Ransom, a terrorist from Ireland (George Lazenby) leads a group of deadly mercenaries to assassinate the Queen of England. Each of the men have their own special skill: Miyamoto (Cheung Pooi Saan), a Japanese explosives expert; Ram (Bolo Yeung), a Thai boxing champion; Chen Lung (Peter Chan), a Filipino sniper; and Shark (Jimmy Wang Yu), a Viet Cong guerilla warfare expert.

With the help of a bar girl (Tien Ni), Hong Kong police officials (headed by Ko Chun Hsiung and Charles Heung Wah Keung) must race against time and intercept the bad guys before they get to the Queen; little do they know, the bad guys have other sneaky plans up their sleeve.

A Queen’s Ransom definitely starts off on a high note, but goes nowhere but downhill after the first 30 minutes. With its cool title, promising plot and a diverse, all-star cast – including Angela Mao (Stoner), Dean Shek (Drunken Master) and exploitation favorite, Judith Brown (of The Big Doll House fame) – you would think the film would be full of wall-to-wall mayhem, but nope, 85% of it is nothing but dialogue.

Normally, I’m more concerned with the overall pacing of a film, so I don’t need a lot of killings and beat ’em ups to hold my attention; but with A Queens Ransom, you have all these stars that are associated with some of the most memorable action movies of all time, so naturally, I found myself wanting, waiting and begging for some kind of notable fight or action sequence to happen. Eventually, it does happen, but when it arrives, it’s sloppy, sluggish and easily forgettable.

Unlike Stoner and Man from Hong Kong, the absence of Sammo Hung’s choreography is brutally evident. The difference between what Lazenby was physically capable of in Stoner, and what he does in A Queen’s Ransom, is night and day. It’s no wonder Sammo’s name was associated with just about every Golden Harvest actioner of the 70s. He made people, no matter what skill level, look convincing. Instead of Sammo, Lu Tsun handles the choreography, which is crude in every sense of the word. The fact that we’ve never heard of this guy shouldn’t be a big surprise.

I suppose I’d be thinking differently if the non-action scenes were done with more quality in mind, but then again, this is a 70s Golden Harvest flick, and not a well-written episode of Mission: Impossible or The Man from U.N.C.L.E. As it stands, A Queen’s Ransom is filled with a rushed screenplay, careless plot holes and haphazard directing.

A Queen’s Ransom is the third and final film Lazenby would appear in for Golden Harvest studios. After trying to squeeze whatever star power was left in Lazenby with Stoner and Man from Hong Kong, it’s apparent the studio no longer knew what to do with him; so A Queen’s Ransom was produced, which resulted in Lazenby looking like a wooden bad guy with limited screen time.

If you’re wondering if the actual Queen Elizabeth II makes an appearance, she certainly does. However, her “role” is nothing but stock footage (mostly filmed from a distance) during her 1975 visit to Hong Kong, which was spliced into the actual film (a la Bruce Lee’s funeral footage in Game of Death).

At the end of the day, I’d be a fool not to recommend A Queen’s Ransom. Despite being a job to sit through, you can’t deny the film’s dodgy charm and historical spot in the Golden Harvest catalogue. Just be warned, there’s a reason A Queen’s Ransom remains obscure, despite its international star power.

Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 5/10

Posted in Chinese, Golden Harvest, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mifune: The Last Samurai | DVD (Strand Releasing)

"Mifune: The Last Samurai" Theatrical Poster

“Mifune: The Last Samurai” Theatrical Poster

RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2017

Mifune: The Last Samurai, a new documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki (Heroin: Cape Cod, USA), hits DVD on April 25, 2017.

Mifune: The Last Samurai explores the accidental movie career of Toshiro Mifune, one of the true giants of world cinema. It also features  interviews with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, plus a narration by Keanu Reeves.

Mifune made 16 remarkable films with director Akira Kurosawa during the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. Together they thrilled audiences and influenced filmmaking around the world, providing direct inspiration for not only The Magnificent Seven and Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars, but also George Lucas’ Star Wars.

Pre-order Mifune: The Last Samurai from Amazon.com today!

Posted in DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, News, Other Notable Titles | Tagged | 2 Comments

‘Ip Man 3’ star Danny Chan is back as a ‘Romantic Warrior’

"Romantic Warrior" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Romantic Warrior” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Danny Chan, the actor mostly known for portraying Bruce Lee in both Legend of Bruce Lee and Ip Man 3 (not to mention the Bruce Lee-inspired goalie in Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer), is back in Liu Xiaotong’s Romantic Warrior.

With a title like Romantic Warrior, one can only assume a light-hearted production, but if its trailer is any indication of what to expect, some hard-hitting martial arts action should be scattered throughout the film’s duration.

Romantic Warrior also stars Steve Yoo (Dragon BladeChinese Zodiac) and Xu Dongmei (Little Big Soldier). Don’t miss the film’s trailer below (via AFS):

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‘Expendables 4’ will be exploding onto screens in 2018

"Expendables 3" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Expendables 3” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Despite Expendables 3’s box office belly flop two years ago – possibly due to the film’s online leakage, according to Lionsgate – Sylvester Stallone has been secretly developing the 4th installment.

After the fan backlash of Expendables 3’s PG-13 rating, Stallone stated that he’s going back to making the next installation R-Rated: “If I do another one it’s going to be a lot bloodier… hardcore R.” He added (via Crave): “I believe it was a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience, but in doing such, diminish the violence that the audience expects. I’m quite certain it won’t happen again.”

The fact that the recent release of Marvel’s Deadpool became the third R-Rated movie to cross $300 million domestically (The Passion of the Christ and American Sniper are #1 and #2, respectively), making Expendables 4 R-Rated is practically a done deal.

Stallone also mentioned the possible addition of Jackie Chan, who has been linked to the franchise since the original Expendables: “We’ve always wanted to use Jackie Chan. The only reason we didn’t is because there really wasn’t a part big enough for him, because we had so many actors. But in the next one, we are going to reduce the actors, and let’s just say, expand the screen time of each star.”

In addition to Chan, other names – such as Dwayne Johnson, Hulk Hogan, Christopher Lambert, Jean Reno, Pierce Brosnan, Donnie Yen, Steven Seagal, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Hulk Hogan, and even Manny Pacquiao – have been considered for the franchise (see our updates regarding Expendables casting here).

During a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Steven Seagal was asked if he’d be down for Expendables 4; Seagal simply replied: “I will not be doing Expendables 4.” No reason was implied or given.

Updates: Expendables 4 is definitely happening. According to THR, Splendid Film has picked up rights for the film across German-speaking Europe. The film is set for a 2018 release.

Posted in News | 17 Comments

Zombies, Giant Frogs & Hunchbacks: The Pinoy ‘Supergirl’

supergirl pinoy filipino rare

Living in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, always brings plenty of surprises, and so it was one evening in early November 2016, I received the following text message:

“Hi everyone! 7pm tomorrow I am introducing a secret Makati screening of the super-rare, super-strange 1973 Pinoy SUPERGIRL! Interested? txt me for details!”

Andrew Leavold photobombs Paul and friend.

Andrew Leavold photobombs Paul and friend.

The number identified the sender as a certain Andrew Leavold, the Australian filmmaker behind the Filipino cinema documentaries The Search for Weng Weng, and The Last Pinoy Action King. I’d first met Leavold in the basement of an old vintage store which housed his impressive VHS collection, on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, where he screened an early edit of The Search for Weng Weng in 2013. We’d stayed in contact since then, and after I was relocated to Manila with my work in November 2015, it seemed inevitable that our paths would one day cross on Filipino soil.

Leavold was in Manila to begin filming his third documentary on Filipino cinema, one which, almost by default, promises to be entertaining. The focus will be on the bomba films of the 70’s that were made during the Marcos era, and for those wondering, bomba is the Spanish word for ‘bomb’, which in the context of the genre was short for ‘sex bomb’. While over in Japan the Nikkatsu studio was churning out its own brand of bomba with its Roman Porno movies, the Philippines was happily doing its own thing, in a genre made in an era which has made them largely forgotten to modern day Filipino audiences.

Viva La Bomba!

Viva La Bomba!

Bomba movies aren’t the only forgotten Filipino cinema though, as during the 70’s the country also had its own unique style of superhero movie. Today we may have the Marvel Studios releasing a never ending steam of superhero flicks, and Warner Brothers doing the same for DC, but back in the 70’s it was a different story. At the time, it seemed to be Turkey that had the monopoly on making Marvel Comics adaptations. For those that don’t believe me, simply research the movie 3 Dev Adam, and prepare to be amazed at a tale which has Captain America teaming up with masked Mexican wrestler El Santo, to stop evil super villain Spider-Man from terrorizing the streets of Istanbul.

"Shazam Boom" Newspaper Advertisement

“Shazam Boom” Newspaper Advertisement

This movie exists, and even better, is still available for viewing. The same sadly can’t be said for Filipino cinema of the same era. Be it for reasons such as the productions were never intended to be more than temporary entertainment, poor storage conditions, or destroyed during the Marcos era, sadly many Filipino movies from the 70’s are lost to the sands of time. It’s a shame, as the country had its own line of DC movies. There was a Pinoy Superman, with 1973’s Zoom, Zoom, Superman!, and a Pinoy Batman that featured in Fight Batman Fight! from the same year. Throw in the likes of Batwoman and Robin from 1972, Fantastika vs. Wonderwoman from 1976, and even Shazam got his own movie in 1974 with Shazam Boom. Do we really need a Hollywood Justice League movie!?

The one movie which was largely responsible for kicking off this wave of Filipino DC superhero movies wasn’t any of the above though, it was a movie called Supergirl from 1973. Like all of the mentioned movies, Supergirl was also accepted as being lost, the only remnants of it ever existing the original posters that were used to promote it at the time, and those who have memories of it showing on Filipino TV during the 80’s.

"Supergirl" Newspaper Advertisement

“Supergirl” Newspaper Advertisement

Every genre has its own holy grails – for kung fu fans it’s the version of Bruce Lee’s The Big Boss which has the infamous saw in the head scene. For Japanese chambara flicks it’s the rumoured alternate ending of Zatoich Meets the One Armed Swordsman, in which Jimmy Wang Yu walks away the victor. For Leavold, it was the Filipino version of Supergirl.

Proving that not all holy grails are out of reach, Leavold did finally track down a copy of Supergirl on a beat up 16mm reel, and like any true film fan (kung fu community please take note), he was eager to share it with those who enjoy the more bizarre corners of world cinema as much as he does. If the screening was a secret, then the location was even more so. Screening at the Archivo Gallery in Makati, the location of said gallery was hidden away via a small door leading to a set of stairs, at the end of an alleyway between a pair of warehouse complexes. The gallery itself initially seemed like an odd choice to show a pulpy 1973 black and white superhero movie, however a brief glimpse into the kitchen area, in which the staff were busy preparing finger food, revealed its true nature. Adorned on the walls of the compact working space were several original posters of vintage bomba movies, from Silip (readily available on a feature packed DVD from Mondo Macabro) to Scorpio Nights.

Andrew Leavold giving some commentary before rolling Supergirl.

Andrew Leavold giving some commentary before rolling Supergirl.

Suddenly everything fell into place, and Leavold revealed that the curator of the gallery has a huge collection of vintage bomba material, prime fodder for his new documentary. Before the movie starts Leavold provides one of his typically enthusiastic introductions to what we’re about to watch. Yes the picture and sound quality is beat up, yes there’s no English subtitles, and yes this isn’t your typical Saturday night movie in this post-millennial era. But it IS the Filipino Supergirl, so quite frankly, who cares about any of that. Leavold’s energy is contagious, and with an audience stocked up on several cans of already consumed wine and Red Horse beer, the ever so slight level on intoxication provided the perfect mind-set for a trip into the forgotten depths of Pinoy superhero cinema.

The film credit sequence for 1978's Superman cost millions of dollars to make. 1974's Supergirl's credits were done for a couple of pesos and some balut.

The credits sequence for 1978’s Superman cost millions of dollars to produce. Supergirl’s credits were done for a couple of pesos and some balut.

It’s safe to say that Supergirl did indeed live up to Leavold’s hype. Released more than 10 years before Hollywood would concoct its own version of Supergirl, with the 1984 Helen Slater starring oddity, the Filipino version very much brings its own flavour to the characters mythos. A pair of sisters and a brother live in a humble abode out in a countryside barrio, subjected to constant pillaging and harassment from a group of local bandits, and during one of their raids the sister who can see is knocked unconscious. It’s while she’s unconscious, that she’s visited by a 30 foot tall Virgin Mary, who gives her a ring that, when she kisses it, turns her into Supergirl. Yes, Supergirl is a Catholic, powered by the mother of Jesus no less. Who knew?

A Pinky film (not to be confused with a Pink film).

A Pinky film (not to be confused with a Pink film).

These Filipino Catholic influences permeate throughout the production, so those hoping to see a re-envisioning of Krypton, or how the threat of Kryptonite is dealt with, are most definitely in the wrong place. Supergirl herself is played by local star Pinky Montilla (billed in the credits as just Pinky). I’ll be honest and say, having no knowledge of Pinoy stars from this era, that I was expecting the blind sister to become Supergirl. The actress who plays the blind sister is quite slender and slim, while Pinky is carrying a little baby fat, so good on the Philippines for not adhering to body stereotypes of what a superhero should look like, even if it’s not as applicable now as it was then.

"The funk of forty thousand years..."

The funk of forty thousand years.

Pinky appeared to have the superhero market covered, as she also played the role of Batgirl in Fight Batman Fight! made the same year, and would go on to play Fantastika in 1976’s Fantasitka vs. Wonderwoman. After a decade of working in the film industry, she retired in 1980 and is believed to have immigrated to the U.S. It’s difficult to ascertain if Pinky is actually a good actress or not, as she (amusingly) plays her role deadpan from start to finish, and frequently seems baffled at her ability to turn into Supergirl, while never questioning her ability to do so. Unlike the Supergirl from the comics, the only power she inherits is that of flying, and for a 1973 production the flying effects are surprisingly well done. Refreshingly, in an age of mass CGI pixel destruction, this means that whenever she’s faced with bad guys, her form of attack is the straightforward approach of using her fists and feet to send them into oblivion, which she does with gusto.

King Kong who?

King Kong who?

Her rival comes in the form of an evil sorceress played by Odette Khan. What’s striking about this fact is that the 1984 Hollywood adaptation would use the exact same type of villainess, in the form of Faye Dunaway’s occult practicing witch. Is it possible that screenwriter David Odell had somehow seen the Filipino version of Supergirl, before scripting the American take on the character? Of course its speculation, and all indicators would point to it being highly unlikely, not least because if it ever did get shown Stateside, I’m sure DC would be all over it for infringing copyright laws. However it is a remarkable similarity, and definitely raised a few eyebrows for those familiar with both movies.

Pink's Supergirl predates Helen Slater's

Pinky’s Supergirl predates Helen Slater’s by over 10 years.

Khan’s character is delightfully over the top, and as an actress she’s still active in the local film industry today, with Supergirl being one of her first major roles. She keeps a bulging eyed hunchback as a servant, whom she periodically whips as a display of authority, and her mission is to create a serum that will bring her daughters dead husband back to life. Said husband is kept in an open casket in the basement, watched over by the hunchback and daughter, hoping that he’ll be able to be brought back to life soon. Suddenly Faye Dunaway’s standard plans at world domination seem dull in comparison to such a wacky premise.

"Creatures crawl in search of blood... to terrorize y'awl's neighbourhood..."

“Creatures crawl in search of blood… to terrorize y’awl’s neighbourhood…”

Khan’s plans eventually do succeed, but not before she attempts to bring a dead frog back to life, which results in it not only returning to the world of the living, but also expanding to become a Kaiju sized monstrosity, with a deadly tongue to boot. With no Godzilla around to stop the gigantic frog’s deadly rampage through the barrio, it’s up to Supergirl to give it a combo of left and right hooks to the face, and save the village from total destruction. The frog is far from the finale though, with Supergirl also having to deal with the harmless zombie version of Khan’s son-in-law, who comes back to life when none of them are watching, wanders off, and becomes attached to Pinky instead of his widow. What other superhero movie throws in a love triangle between the superhero, the villainess’s daughter, and her dead husband who has come back to life!?

It's adobo. It's a lumpa. It's Supergirl!

It’s adobo. It’s a lumpa. It’s Supergirl!

Ultimately, Khan’s serum ends up reviving all of the dead townsfolk from the local cemetery, leading to an onslaught of the undead that she has control of, and it’s up to Supergirl to save the day. As if ending a superhero movie with a finale that pits the hero versus a horde of the undead is not entertaining enough, her method for dealing with them is about as Filipino as it gets. Luring them to the local church, she grabs one poor zombie and drags him in like a child who doesn’t want to visit the dentist, forcing his hand to make the sign of the cross on his forehead, at which point he falls down dead (again). The others aren’t so lucky, and end up with a variety of kicks and punches to the face instead, but it’s the principle that matters.

Truth, Justice, and the Filipina Way...

Truth, Justice, and the Filipina Way…

The penultimate showdown sees Pinky’s Supergirl facing off against Khan’s whip wielding sorceress, who can now evoke fireballs from the lash of the whip. Naturally, the fight ends up on the rooftop of the church, giving Supergirl a distinct advantage considering we know the origin of her powers. Will the horde of zombies return to their graves? Who’s going to get rid of the giant frog corpse? Will the love triangle with the undead husband be resolved? All of this and more is at stake, and despite the goofiness of it all, by the end you actually find yourself caring.

Hadouken!

Hadouken!

While Supergirl is far from being high art, neither are the current spate of Hollywood superhero movies, however what it certainly has is a lot of heart. It’s a fantastic find for Pinoy cinema, and the unearthing of a movie long considered lost can’t help but make you wonder how many of the other lost movies are out there somewhere. Maybe sitting on an ancient VHS having been recorded off the TV many years ago, or in some dusty old cinema back room on a reel. The discovery of Supergirl at least gives us a glimmer of hope, that maybe one day we’ll also be able to enjoy the delights of Fight Batman Fight! and Zoom, Zoom, Superman!

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with Supergirl.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with Supergirl.

If anyone can find them, most likely it’s going to be Leavold, with his unflinching dedication to ensuring the memory of Filipino cinema long forgotten is brought back for a modern audience. As the countries cinema continues to improve, thanks to the likes of directors like Erik Matti and Pedring Lopez, here’s hoping there are more opportunities to go digging into the past, and if one thing is for sure, whatever’s unearthed is never anything less than entertaining.

Posted in Features, News | 4 Comments

Deal on Fire! The Toho Godzilla collection | Blu-ray | Only $7.99 – Expires soon!

Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II | Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla | Blu-ray (Sony)

Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II | Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla | Blu-ray (Sony)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Toho Godzilla collection, which contains 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and 1994’s Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.

In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, the United Nations assembles the ultimate weapon to defeat Godzilla, while scientists discover a fresh pteranodon egg on a remote Japanese island.

In 1994’s Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, Godzilla is threatened by both Mogera – another UN built machine; and Space Godzilla, a beast spawned from Godzilla’s particles in space.

Order the Toho Godzilla Collection from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Deals on Fire!, News | Leave a comment
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