‘The Raid’ star Joe Taslim joins Bruce Lee’s ‘Warrior’ series

"The Big Boss" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“The Big Boss” Japanese Theatrical Poster

New details on Cinemax’s upcoming Warrior have emerged. The 10-episode crime series, based on unpublished writings by the late Bruce Lee, now has a cast and a director on board.

Warrior will star Andrew Koji (Finding Akira), Olivia Cheng (Marco Polo), Jason Tobin (Pound of Flesh), Dianne Doan (Descendants 2), Kieran Bew (Green Street Hooligans), Dean Jagger (Game of Thrones).

Other cast members include Joanna Vanderham (What Maisie Knew), Tom Weston-Jones (Copper), Hoon Lee (Outcast), Joe Taslim (The Raid), Langley Kirkwood (Dredd), Christian McKay (The Young Messiah) and Perry Yung (John Wick: Chapter 2).

Assaf Bernstein (Netflix’s Fauda) is directing the series’ pilot. Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond, Finishing the Game) is producing along with Jonathan Tropper, co-creator of Banshee.

According to DeadlineWarrior is described as a gritty, action-packed crime drama set during the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. The series follows Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who immigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances, and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful tongs (Chinese organized crime family).

We’ll keep you updated on Warrior as new details emerge. Until then, here’s message from Bruce:

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Metro Manila (2013) Review

"Metro Manila" Theatrical Poster

“Metro Manila” Theatrical Poster

Director: Sean Ellis
Writer: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers
Cast: Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega, John Arcilla, Erin Panlilio, Iasha Aceio, Moises Mag Isa, Angelina Kanapi, JM Rodriguez, Ana Abad Santos, Reuben Uy
Running Time: 114 min.

By Paul Bramhall

The well-worn tale of naïve country folk heading to the big city for brighter prospects is one that’s been used in cinema for almost as long as the medium has been around. It’s particularly prevalent in Asian cinema, from Chen Kuan Tai in Boxer from Shantung, through to Iko Uwais in Merantau, such tropes have provided the perfect framework to craft countless gritty action movies. The Philippines though has taken a more drama-centric approach, dating back to the likes of Lino Brocka’s 1975 masterpiece Manila in the Claws of Light (recently given the 4k treatment thanks to Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project), and now given its most recent update in the form of Metro Manila.

What’s perhaps most interesting about Metro Manila, is that it is in-fact a co-production between the UK and the Philippines. Much like the previously mentioned Indonesian movie Merantau was directed by British filmmaker Gareth Evans, so Metro Manila also has a Brit as the helm in the form of Sean Ellis. The director of such dramas as Cashback and The Broken, Ellis came up with the idea for Metro Manila while he was on a visit to the Philippines, and happened to witness an argument between two guards of an armoured truck. Upon his return to the UK, he put together a 20 page treatment for a story, and shortly after began work on the screenplay itself with U.S. based screenwriter Frank E. Flowers.

The catch for Ellis of course, was that having gotten the idea for the story while he was in Manila, he also wanted to film it there. It was an ambitious task, considering not only is it all but impossible to get international backing for a Tagalog language production, but also that neither Ellis nor Flowers knew the language. Regardless of such challenges though, they ploughed ahead, ultimately overcoming them by writing the script in English, and asking the Filipino actors to translate their own lines. The decision was also made to film on the streets of Manila guerrilla style, and it’s one which arguably benefits the look and feel of Metro Manila more than if it had a big budget behind it, as the street level filming amongst the crowded Manila alleys lends it an almost documentary like feel.

The story focuses on a struggling married couple and their two children. The father, played by Jake Macapagal (Showdown in Manila), was recently laid off from an out-of-business silk factory, and is trying to make ends meet as a rice farmer. However with a poor harvest, almost no money to their name, and a young daughter with a toothache, they make the decision to move to Manila, where he believes it’ll be possible to find work. Once there, they soon find themselves swindled out of the little money they have by the predatory conmen populating the cities densely packed urban sprawl, and end up living destitute in the largest slum area of Tondo (the area that parts of the Korean movie Master were also set in). Things eventually start to look up when Macapagal secures a job as a guard at an armoured truck company, and is taken under the wing of a more experienced guard played by John Arcilla (The Bourne Legacy). However it’s soon revealed that Arcilla is not all that he seems to be.

While on paper Metro Manila may sell itself as a taut crime thriller, in reality it’s far from it, with the eventual heist element of the plot only being revealed a whole 80 minutes in. Instead, Ellis has crafted a superior piece of human drama that reflects both the harsh realities of life, and more significantly how far someone is willing to go to provide for their family. Macapagal, along with his characters wife and daughter, played by Althea Vega and Erin Panlilio respectively, have fantastic chemistry together, and are almost too believable as a family unit that suffer misfortune after misfortune. There’s a heart wrenching sequence mid-way through, which has a scene of Macapagal obliged to join Arcilla and his colleagues for a night of drinking in a local bar, juxtaposed with a scene of Vega miserably working in a go-go bar and being harassed by the foreign clientele. It represents a pivotal moment of reaching rock bottom, and the decisions taken when you have nothing left to lose.

Arcilla’s performance is a standout, and even though not he’s not a part of the family unit of which the plot keeps its focus on, he’s a pivotal character in the events that shape Metro Manila into the movie that it is. There’s an underlying tension to his loud and almost over-friendly bravado with Macapagal that’s difficult to put your finger on, and the more he begins to show his ambitions, the more he begins to come across as a tightly wound coil that Macapagal is directly in the crossfire of. It’s darkly enthralling to watch, as Ellis keeps his cards close to his chest for the longest time, allowing seemingly random and meaningless events to unfold onscreen in a slice-of-life type manner, until the moment comes when everything falls into place, and true intentions are revealed.

However even then, that’s not to say that Arcilla is the villain of the piece. Ellis may have framed his tale in a way that would have audiences assume there is a bad guy behind everything, but once Metro Manila gets under your skin, you realise that it’s not about good guys or bad guys. Rather, it’s about the harshness of a city where many of its residents have to get by on less than $10 a day, and the inevitable follies of human nature once presented with a way to get out of it. There are no epiphanies to be found here, were a character suddenly realises that they could get rich if they were to go down a certain path, but instead we see the fleeting moments of opportunity seized out of desperation more than anything else, and the consequences that follow.

Perhaps the most significant character in Metro Manila though, is the bustling metropolis that is Manila itself. Ellis captures it with an unflinching eye, from the slums of Tondo, with its barren huts nailed together from whatever sheets of plywood can be found, to the contemporary apartments of uptown, with their modern amenities and 24 hour security. The division between the rich and the poor is observed through the eyes of Macapagal and Arcilla, on the road in their armoured truck, and is never inherently commented upon, Ellis seemingly happy to allow the images to simply speak for themselves. Could the story have been transposed to any other city in the world with a similar economy? Probably, but it definitely wouldn’t be the same movie that we have here.

One notable criticism that has been levelled at Metro Manila by some Filipino viewers, is that there are pieces of dialogue that don’t sound natural being spoken in Tagalog. This is most certainly due to the actors themselves translating the English lines into Tagalog, and was an issue that both Macapagal and Arcilla have openly stated was sometimes a challenge. However much like many Mandarin speakers heavily criticised Daniel Wu’s line delivery in One Night in Mongkok, and many picked on Shu Qi’s Cantonese in her early Hong Kong movies, for a non-native speaking audience, this is largely a non-issue. For Metro Manila in particular, the subtitles simply follow the English script, however it is a relevant criticism for those that can watch it in its native language of Tagalog.

As a social drama that gradually develops into a slow burning thriller, there aren’t many other movies out there, at least in Asia, which can be easily compared to Metro Manila. In the local Philippines film industry itself, there’s sadly nothing that comes close. It’s a unique movie, and even allowed for the UK to provide an entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 86th Academy Awards, probably the first and last time such an entry will be possible. While Ellis wisely chooses to not go the route of providing a blatantly happy ending, there is closure in the finale moments of Metro Manila, that allow for hope to subtly shine through. At one point Vega solemnly states to Macapagal, “It was a big mistake to come to Manila.” It’s a difficult line to disagree with, but for those who have yet to see Metro Manila, I guarantee you certainly won’t consider it a mistake to check it out.

Paul Bramhall’s Rating: 8.5/10

Posted in All, Filipino, News, Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Wolf Warrior II | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Wolf Warrior II | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Wolf Warrior II | Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

RELEASE DATE: December 12, 2017

On December 12, 2017, the highly successful sequel to Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior is exploding its way to Blu-ray & DVD, courtesy of Well Go USA.

China’s deadliest special forces operative (Wu Jing of SPL II) settles into a quiet life on the sea. When sadistic mercenaries begin targeting nearby civilians, he must leave his newfound peace behind and return to his duties as a soldier and protector.

Wolf Warrior II (read our review) also stars Olympic gymnast Zou Kai, Celina Jade (Skin Trade), Hans Zhang (Youth Never Returns), Frank Grillo (The Grey) and Yu Nan (The Taking of Tiger Mountain).

Pre-order Wolf Warrior II from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | Tagged | 19 Comments

New action-packed Trailer for Dante Lam’s ‘Operation Red Sea’

"Operation Red Sea" Teaser Poster

“Operation Red Sea” Teaser Poster

Director Dante Lam (Unbeatable) might just be the hardest working man in Hong Kong cinema. The filmmaker has been reliably turning out hard-hitting films that have helped expand the scope of the action/thriller genre in Hong Kong – his most recent film, Operation Mekong, is currently making waves, and now, Lam has yet another creamy trick under his sleeve: Operation Red Sea.

Operation Red Sea is an upcoming actioner that stars Zhang Yi (Brotherhood of Blades 2), Huang Jingyu (Drug War) and Du Jiang (Mr. High Heels).

According to the official synopsis (via Variety), “the Jiaolong Assault Team, one of the special forces of the world’s largest military force, People’s Liberation Army, is given a potentially fatal assignment, leading a small eight-man unit to evacuate Chinese residents from a North African republic in the throes of a coup d’état.”

Operation Red Sea hits theaters later this year.

Updates: Watch the film’s New Trailer below

Posted in News | Leave a comment

4 Best Classic Action Movies Worth Watching

"Enter the Dragon" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Enter the Dragon” Chinese Theatrical Poster

Well, if you are among those cinephiles who possess an intense desire to watch the movies which are full of action instead of the romantic or the dramatic ones then you definitely love the whole concept of ‘adrenaline rush’. Right?

Yes! It might be true that for others ‘action’ means only ‘violence’. But, you know it very well that it is much more than that, turning the fightings and punchings into something which is ‘full of art’ and extremely ‘spectacular’!

Moreover, now you can avail the offers on movie DVDs very frequently which make the whole episode of watching action movies a frugal one. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a lucrative deal, buy your favorite movie DVDs at an affordable rate and start watching those films for how much ever times you want!!

But, wait! Before you sit tight with your popcorn, just make sure which ones to watch for sure? Want to know about the same? Well, here I am with an ultimate rundown of the incredible action movies that you shouldn’t miss watching!!

Have a look!

1. Enter the Dragon

Like martial arts? Then, I hope you have already watched Bruce Lee’s eminent masterpiece ‘Enter the Dragon’. Right? But, if you haven’t done the same till now then go for it soon. This movie just kicked off the jones for Kung-fu from the westernized society.

Lee played the role of Shaolin martial artist who works undercover for British intelligence with the task of bringing down the villainous Shih Kien. This movie is a great example of Lee’s exceptional acting ability and charisma!!

2. Inception

Haven’t you watched Inception yet? Then, do the same without any ado!! Moreover, don’t forget to grab an exciting coupon from a website like CouponsMonk to buy the DVDs while saving your pocket hugely. It is one of the finest movies of Christopher Nolan. The notable role of Tom Hardy in this film, exhilarating set-pieces like the snow-sequences, shifting cityscapes etc. altogether make this film just out of the world.

3. Mad Max 2

Mad Max is a yet another superb film that showcased a thrilling chapter of action and energy!! The plot of the film is quite simple but it is one of the most fabulous action films ever. In this film, you can see Mel Gibson avenging the death of his wife and young son in the hands of a gang leader. And, thereafter, driving the post-apocalyptic highways of the Australian outback while fending off the attacks from nomadic tribes.   

4. Safety Last

Of course, during that silent era, almost all the stars starting from Mack Sennet to Charlie Chaplin performed their stunts in an outstanding way. But, no doubt, Harold Lloyd snatched the crown with his marvelous scene where he hangs off a clock face at the climax to the Safety Last movie. Moreover, other scenes of the film which are massively vigorous and action-packed in nature made this movie absolutely one of its kind.

Lastly, the one last suggestion from my end is that watch these movies as soon as possible and I am sure you will end up having some of the most memorable and mind-blowing experiences of your lifetime.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Cyborg: Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Cyborg" Collector's Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Cyborg” Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: January 30, 2018

On January 30th 2018, U.S. label Scream Factory (subsidiary to Shout! Factory) will release a Special Edition Blu-ray for Cyborg, a 1989 actioner from cult director Albert Pyun (The Sword and Sorcerer, Nemesis) that stars martial arts sensation Jean-Claude Van Damme (Death Warrant).

Cyborg takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, where a plague has wrecked the world and only a female cyborg (Dayle Haddon) has the key to finding a cure. But there’s a problem: the most powerful gang (headed by Vincent Klyn) in the wastelands will do anything they can from seeing the scientists succeed in saving the world. Read Kyle Warner’s full review.

So what kinds of features will this Special Edition include? Only time will tell. Perhaps they’ll throw in Pyun’s director’s cut of the film (aka Slinger), which has only been available in foreign markets. For now, he’s what Shout! has shared so far…

Special Features and Specs:

  • Brand New Remaster
  • New Bonus Features in progress
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

Pre-order Cyborg from Amazon.com today!

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

Fists, the Kicks and the Evil, The (1978) Review

"The Fists, the Kicks and the Evil" DVD Cover

“The Fists, the Kicks and the Evil” DVD Cover

AKA: Fists, Kicks and the Evils
Director: To Lo Po
Cast: Bruce Leung Siu Lung, Philip Ko Fei, Bolo Yeung Tze, Chiang Cheng, Ku Feng, Lau Hok Nin, Ma Chao, Chan Lau, Lin Ke Ming, Kei Ho Chiu, Ricky Wong
Running Time: 84 min.

By Matthew Le-feuvre

In that rare and exclusive echelon of celebrated kicking tactic­ians, Leung Siu Liang – otherwise known in international circles as Bruce Leung – seemed to be throughout his career designated at the lower end of the martial arts acting fraternity, despite (or in spite of) spearheading or supporting a myriad of fight legends, notably: Jackie Chan (Magnificent Bodyguards); Angela Mao Ying (Broken Oath); Ho Tung Tao (Bruce vs. Iron Finger) to the more recent Stephen Chow film (Kung Fu Hustle). Observedly, his only problem – per se in securing instant recognition – was a diminutive stature.

Moreover Leung was neither physically blessed with a standard “action man” persona, nor was he photogenic in a way many of his contemporaries were, at least from a matinee idol perspective. What Leung had to offer was an affable disposition bordering on the goofy; an everyman in equal semblance of an outsider caught between political subversion and paternal revolt until conditions intercede the presence of a wise and patient master. These were commonplace building blocks to the majority of Hong Kong/Taiwan­ese screenplays: ergo the maturity of the underdog who breaks the shackles of oppression by (A): resisting exoteric influences to (B): learning an arcane combative doctrine.

Leung’s adequate career more or less treaded a conventional path. Born in 1948 and raised in Hong Kong, he learned the rudiments of kung fu from his father, a well respected Canton Opera Sifu, prior to augmenting his physical perspicuity in both the Wing Chun and Goju Rye systems. As a veteran of 75 films (to his credit), Leung originally acquiesced to a typical contract with the Shaw Brothers scraping a meagre, often toilsome living as an expendable extra/stuntman: look carefully, and he can be glimpsed assailing the now-long forgotten Shi Szu in The Lady Hermit (1971).

With timed regularity, Leung eventually graduated to larger or more meaty support roles before landing critical lead vechicles, for example Kidnap in Rome (1976), opposite the generally overlooked Mang Hoi; My Kung Fu 12 Kicks (1979) and the rather distasteful Bruce­ploitation romp, The Dragon Lives Again (1976). Surprisingly the latt­er did less damage to Leung’s profession than one would gather. Yet the very concept of promoting a metaphysical dimension in which Lee’s spirit combats a hierarchy of nefarious archetypes from ‘Dracula’ to a ‘Clint Eastwood’ imitator was indeed an exercise in derision, at best, skirting on levity. However, regardless of a variably indistinct filmography, perceptively, the equivalent could not be affirmed of The Fists, the Kicks and the Evil.

Set against the backdrop of those ordinarily haughty ‘Manchu’ (Qing) subjugators, Leung reunites with (the frequently referred) Schlockmeister, To Lo Po (Fist of Fury 3) for a physically eruptive, superbly choreographed tale of loss and retribution. Nevertheless these script ingredients are requisite despite an almost pedestrian feel as the story arc, in part, is loosely based upon the formative years of Wong Yan Lam – apparently one of the founding members of the legendary ‘Ten Tigers of Kwantung’. Although Lam’s latter real-life exploits were objectively as well as collectively motivated on restoring the ‘Han’ administration, here, the premise is undividedly focused on Lam’s schooling in the graceful art of (Lama) White Crane Kung Fu, an extremely complex, yet pliant style where the rigorous demands of honing wrist/finger strength whilst the hands are emulous of a crane’s beak is equally important as balance and co-ordination.

The beauty of this picture, which for some maybe contentiously unoriginal or repetitive even, is Lam’s metamorphosis from a rambunctious neophyte filled with misdirected anger towards, intrinsically, a political ideology based on class discrimination into that of a disciplined, confident fighting tactician. Naturally there is always in place ‘a catalyst’ for Lam’s external transformation. In this case (a familiar theme not always saluted by critics), it is the unprovoked, as well as blatant, patricide of his father played, nonchalantly, by the (consistently) great Ku Feng, an actor who by general occupation was under a very strict contract with the Shaw Brothers. Here, Feng was allocated creative manoeuvrability to engage outside the machination providing it was conducted in a minor capacity.

Refreshing, though obligatory, as principle Manchu nasties – support from the otherwise ice-cold Ko Fei (Techno Warriors) and his sadistic subordinate, the ever voluminous Bolo Yeung, each chew up recognizable Taiwanese sceneries, and/or extant locales with gleeful abandon. Negligible… perhaps?! But all essential paradigms, right down to the basics of staid dialogue and formulaic typecasting. Of course, neither would amicably work without the other – a sort of symbolic scaffold for an obviously innovative conclusion whereby Lam deftly manages too ‘showcase’ as well as ‘negotiate’ his manifold techniques within a bamboo forest. Dazzling!

Matthew Le-feuvre’s Rating: 9/10

Posted in All, Chinese, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss (1976) Review

"New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss" Blu-ray Cover

“New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss” Blu-ray Cover

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writer: Koji Takada
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Isao Bito, Takeo Chii, Takuya Fujioka, Seizo Fukumoto, Eiji Go, Ryuji Katagiri, Takuzo Kawatani, Chieko Matsubara, Kan Mikami, Michiro Minami, Sanae Nakahara, Kōji Nanjo
Running Time: 91 min.

By Kyle Warner

1976 just happened to be a leap year. And on February 29th, a woman with a drug problem is murdered. The first suspect is the yakuza Imamura, her known supplier. But then Imamura turns up dead a couple days later. The cops round up the usual suspects and demand answers. The criminal underworld was tense already but now the murder investigation is making business difficult. The yakuza take it upon themselves to solve the murder – with bullets! Tensions boil over and all-out war breaks out between rival clans. Bombings and shootings occur in broad daylight. Bosses and underlings alike are getting murdered. The war rages on until the thing that sparked it, the mysterious murders of Imamura and the woman, is but a distant memory.

Unlike other Battles Without Honor and Humanity films (old or New), Kinji Fukasaku makes no effort to set up the board or name the alliances before dumping us into the action. The final New Battles film, Last Days of the Boss, is a frenetic, noisy action movie that rarely ever slows down. It’s lewd, mean, sometimes shockingly funny, and just full to the brim with the angry violence that the director is known for.

We’ve already sat through a good portion of the film before our hero, Bunta Sugawara, finally swaggers up wearing a yellow hardhat and looking nothing like the yakuza he played in the original series. Here Sugawara plays Nozaki, an orphan who was raised by a decent, honorable yakuza but is working as a blue-collar dockworker. Nozaki is not unfamiliar with the yakuza world, though. While he’s on good terms with his adoptive father and his father’s gang, Nozaki was dead set against his little sister Asami (Chieko Matsubara) marrying a yakuza from a rival gang, which created a schism between brother and sister.

When Nozaki’s adoptive father is assassinated, the mantle of boss for his small Kyushu gang falls to Nozaki. The outsider Nozaki reluctantly takes the position and swears to get revenge for his father’s death. However, his blood feud – which must be satisfied if he is to be considered a respectable yakuza – comes at a bad time, as those above him are beginning to discuss a peace accord with the competition in Osaka.

Nozaki is told to wait on vengeance, see how negotiations progress. But something goes wrong. An assassin jumps the gun, resulting in more senseless bloodshed, canceling out any idea of peace. It’s all the encouragement that Nozaki needs to commit his gang to war in a desperate struggle to kill off the bosses that lead the Osaka crime families.

The Battles series was among the first Japanese crime sagas to directly criticize the yakuza and strip them of their ‘Honor and Humanity.’ Until then, yakuza movies told tales of chivalrous anti-heroes with codes to uphold. Last Days of the Boss plays like a strong criticism of the classic, chivalry yakuza films, but it also shares more of their DNA than the other Battles films. This is a much pulpier, melodramatic, and stylized crime movie than the Battles movies that came before it. What saves it from becoming another chivalry picture, I think, are two important things. One: it’s super violent and that violence often appears to solve nothing (the film’s final frame hammers this home and might be the best moment in the movie).  And two: the characters, acting on a personal code of honor, come across like crazy people. Nozaki wants vengeance, and I get that, but the lengths which he’s willing to go to achieve it are nuts. He’s the closest thing to a hero in Last Days of the Boss but he’s hardly a relatable figure.

Other bits of un-Battles-like melodrama include the brother/sister relationship between Nozaki and Asami. Rumors say they were *ahem* very close once. And as the gang war rages on, those rumors eat away at Asami’s husband, Nakamichi (Koji Wada). Soon, not only is Nozaki fighting the Osaka bosses, but now he has to worry about his brother-in-law, too.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the changing times – Last Days of the Boss is the only Battles film to take place in modern day (1976 at the time) – but the yakuza repeatedly reach out to contract killers in this film. The hitmen featured are a little larger than life, like the transvestite with a knife and the Korean soldier with a machine gun. The characters might’ve felt out of place in an earlier Battles film, but they fit the pulpy tone that Last Days of the Boss went with.

Kinji Fukasaku’s influence on cinema — and on the yakuza genre specifically — would continue for years to come. Hell, this isn’t even the lastBattles film. The Battles series would continue without Fukasaku with Aftermath of Battles Without Honor or Humanity in 1979 from director Eiichi Kudo (11 Samurai). The series was then revived again in 2000 with Another Battle from director Junji Sakamoto (Face). Another Battle was actually written by Last Days of the Boss screenwriter Koji Takada, but that appears to be one of the only links to the original films. I know very little about those films and don’t expect to see them available on DVD anytime soon. Then again, I once thought the same thing about the New Battles trilogy, and here we are.

Last Days of the Boss is a perfectly enjoyable final entry to the New Battles trilogy. I can’t say I liked the New Battles films as much as the original series – being standalone films, they cannot hope to achieve the epic scale of the original Battles films – but I do quite like these films just the same. If the original Battles Without Honor and Humanity series had a ‘ripped from the headlines’ feeling to it, then I’d say that New Battles feels ripped from the tabloids. They’re generally nastier, weirder, and less grounded in reality. The Boss’s Head is the finest chapter of the New Battles trilogy but Last Days of the Boss isn’t far behind. Fast-paced and in-your-face, it’s remarkably fresh for what is the eighth film of the Battles brand.

One marvels at how Fukasaku’s eight Battles movies were all made between 1973 and 1976. Not only am I in awe of what had to be an insane production schedule, but also that the quality of the films ranged from the good to the brilliant. And those weren’t the only movies Fukasaku directed during that time — great films like Cops vs. Thugs and Graveyard of Honor were also made during that same time period (not to mention the other, less well-known films). Now, at the end of the New Battles trilogy, I find myself wishing Fukasaku had made more of these films. But then I consider all of this and I think, you know, maybe that makes me sound just a little bit greedy.

About this release: New Battles Without Honor and Humanity is now available in a box set with three Blu-rays and three DVDs. It’s a very handsome looking set. Yes, I care about packaging, I’m one of those people. Picture quality is middle of the road, likely the result of source materials. And the special features are a little bit light, unfortunately. On the first film’s disc, Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane stammers his way through trying to describe what he thinks of the trilogy. New interviews with Koji Takada appear on the other discs. Takada talks about how he was brought in to fix the script for The Boss’s Head versus how he was the lead writer from day one for Last Days of the Boss. We also get trailers. I would’ve liked more, frankly.

The best extra is the 58-page booklet. Stephen Sarrazin focuses on New Battles Without Honor and Humanity. Tom Mes talks about The Boss’s Head and Hayley Scanlon talks about Last Days of the Boss, and they both talk about the growing importance of women in the series. Chris D. shares some info on Fukasaku’s contemporaries, Junya Sato (Bullet Train) and Sadao Nakajima (Memoir of Japanese Assassins), who helped create the new wave of darker, more reality-based crime dramas. I enjoyed every piece in the booklet, but might’ve liked Chris D.’s the most because it named about 20 films I gotta track down now. Marc Walkow talks about Kinji Fukasaku’s career, who became something of a chameleon after the 70’s, where you could never predict just what a Fukasaku film was anymore. And finally interpreter Toshiko Adilman remembers working with Fukasaku on the set of his film Virus.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 7.5/10

Posted in All, Japanese, Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Deal on Fire! The Last Supper | Blu-ray | Only $7.49 – Expires soon!

The Last Supper | Blu-ray & DVD (Random Media)

The Last Supper | Blu-ray & DVD (Random Media)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for The Last Supper, directed by Lu Chuan (Founding of the Party).

During the tumultuous last days of the Qin dynasty, the commander of the era’s most powerful army recognizes great potential in an inexperienced laborer named Liu. When he gives Liu command of thousands of officers, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will put his own life in peril and determine the fate of a nation.

The Last Supper features an impressive cast, including Yu Liu (The Monkey King), Daniel Wu (Sky on Fire), Qin Lan (Ulterior Motive), Yan Ni (Kung Fu Dunk), and Chen Chang (Crouching Tigger, Hidden Dragon).

Order The Last Supper from Amazon.com today!

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

The New Trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ has arrived

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Theatrical Poster

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Theatrical Poster

The newest Trailer for Rian Johnson’s (LooperStar Wars: The Last Jedi is now online (see below). The film is the follow up to J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which itself was the official continuation of the original Star Wars trilogy created by George Lucas.

Returning cast members include Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and of course, the late Carrie Fisher. New cast members include Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) and Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), who’ll be playing one of the film’s key villains.

But if there’s one new cast member we’re extra excited to see in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s Vietnamese filmmaker, actress, singer and model, Veronica Ngo Thanh Van (House in the Alley). To Western audiences, the multi-talented star is mostly known for her work in the acclaimed Vietnamese martial arts features The Rebel and Clash with Johnny Tri Nguyen, not to mention a minor role in Yuen Woo-ping’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny with Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen. But in her Native country, she’s practically a household name.

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ngo will portray Paige Tico, a gunner in the Resistance. We’re not sure how much screen time she’ll have, but if this action figure (click here for photo) is any indication, we’re expecting more than a “blink or you’ll miss” appearance.

Ngo continues the trend of Asian action stars appearing in the new wave of Star Wars films. In 2015, The Raid stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian had cameos in Star Wars: The Force Awakens; then in 2016, Ip Man’s Donnie Yen and Let the Bullets Fly’s Jiang Wen were predominant co-stars in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

In addition to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there’ll be another ‘Paige’ turned in her career: Ngo will also have a role in David Ayer’s upcoming thriller, Bright, with Will Smith, which opens a week after Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s December 15, 2017 date.

Posted in News | Leave a comment
Pages: Prev 1 2 ... 7 8 9 10 11 ... 460 461 Next