Missing in Action: Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Missing in Action: Collector's Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

Missing in Action: Collector’s Edition | Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2017

The war isn’t over until James Braddock brings back our POWs! On August 15, 2017, Shout! Factory is releasing the Missing in Action: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, starring the one, the only Chuck Norris (Code of Silence).

American servicemen are still being held captive in Vietnam – and it’s up to one man to bring them home in this blistering, fast-paced action/adventure starring martial arts superstar Chuck Norris. Following a daring escape from a Vietnamese POW camp, Special Colonel Braddock (Norris) is on a mission to locate and save MIA soldiers. Aided by a State Department official (Lenore Kasdorf) and a former Army buddy (M. Emmet Walsh), Braddock amasses top secret information and state-of-the-art weaponry. Now this one-man army is prepared to blast his way into Vietnam… but will he be able to blast his way back out?

Bonus Features

  • NEW! Audio Commentary With Director Joseph Zito
  • NEW! Interview With Writer James Bruner

Pre-order Missing in Action: Collector’s Edition from Amazon today!

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First image from ‘The Raid’ helmer’s revenge thriller ‘Apostle’

"The Raid 2" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“The Raid 2” Japanese Theatrical Poster

While we’re all anxiously waiting for a possible The Raid 3, Gareth Evans (Merantau), the creator of The Raid franchise is currently hard at work on latest film, Apostle, which will premiere on Netflix in 2018.

Apostle follows a man who travels to a remote island and attempts to rescue his sister after she’s kidnapped by a religious cult. The group demands a ransom for the sister’s return, undermining the man’s resolve to rescue her (via Deadline).

In a recent interview with Impact’s Mike Leeder, here’s what Evans had to say about the project: “Apostle is a period mystery thriller set in 1905, Edwardian England… It was a conscious decision to do something outside of the action genre, sure. For me I’ve always been a fan of all cinema and so, regardless of the fact that action has given me the good grace and fortune to carve out a career for myself, I’ve always said I wanted to explore other genres,” Evans added.

Apostle will star Dan Stevens (The Guest), Michael Sheen (Underworld), Lucy Boynton (Sing Street), Bill Millner (Son or Rambow) and Kristine Froseth (Rebel in the Rye).

XYZ Films, Severn Screen and Evans’ One More One Productions is producing Apostle, while Netflix has acquired the film’s global distribution rights.

The other Evans project in the air is Blister, a “contemporary American gangster story with echoes of The Wild Bunch,” according to Evans. The film was intended to begin production this year, but has been pushed back and currently remains in limbo.

Updates: Check out the first still from Apostle below (via Instagram):


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‘Taken’ helmer is making a female ‘John Wick’ movie

"John Wick" Japanese DVD Cover

“John Wick” Japanese DVD Cover

Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde better brace herself, because there’s another unstoppable killer on the way. Pierre Morel, the director of 2008’s Taken, is tackling Peppermint, an upcoming female-centric actioner.

According to THR, Peppermint is a revenge story centering on a young mother who finds herself with nothing to lose, and is now going to take from her rivals the very life they stole from her.

Peppermint is being described as a “female John Wick,” a reference to Keanu Reeves’ 2014’s John Wick and 2017’s John Wick 2.

Updates to follow. For now, say hi to this female assassin:

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Mifune: The Last Samurai (2016) Review

"Mifune: The Last Samurai" Theatrical Poster

“Mifune: The Last Samurai” Theatrical Poster

Director: Steven Okazaki
Writer: Stuart Galbraith IV, Steven Okazaki
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Koji Yakusho, Sadao Nakajima, Kyoko Kagawa
Running Time: 80 min.

By Kyle Warner

“The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three.”

– Akira Kurosawa

Like many others, I have Godzilla to thank for first introducing me to Japanese movies. But when the day finally came for me to look beyond the kaiju and discover what else Japanese cinema had to offer, I started with the best: Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. And though I would eventually work my way through the entirety of Kurosawa’s filmography, the first thing I did after watching Seven Samurai was look up all other available Toshiro Mifune films on DVD in the States. In Seven Samurai, Mifune played the wannabe samurai Kikuchiyo, a roguish clown who starts out as the unloved stray dog of the group but ends up becoming the heart and soul of the film. It’s a marvelous performance, one so physical and funny that we don’t always notice the deep humanity until repeat viewings. What I learned over my years of searching out more Toshiro Mifune films is that fantastic performances were the norm for this actor. If I was asked to name the five greatest movie stars of all time, I can say that Mifune would definitely be on that list, and then I would spend a lot of time considering which other four would deserve to join him. So, considering all of that, the new documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai was pretty much a must see film for me.

Mifune: The Last Samurai doesn’t offer much new information to the actor’s biggest fans, but for newcomers it squeezes a good deal of information into its 80 minutes. Oscar winner Steven Okazaki’s documentary uses film clips, new on-screen interviews with Mifune collaborators and admirers, and rare behind-the-scene footage to tell Mifune’s life story. While it breaks no new ground for how such a film is put together, it’s still a handsomely produced documentary.

The film starts by showing us the history of the chanbara genre (samurai swordplay dramas) in Japanese cinema. This section includes some cool footage of silent samurai movies, many of which do not survive in their entirety today. From there the documentary shifts gears to WWII, in which a young Mifune trained pilots going off to war. Mifune was not a true believer in the goals of the Empire of Japan and told his soldiers to think more of their families than of the Emperor. When the war ended, Mifune hoped to use the skills his father taught him to become a cameraman’s assistant at Toho studios, but ended up becoming a movie star instead (quite by accident, according to some accounts). This section of the documentary shares a wealth of rarely seen images of Mifune’s youth, long before superstardom was ever part of the plan.

From there, we move into Mifune’s film career, which developed around the same time that director Akira Kurosawa was becoming a bigger name at Toho. Much time is spent detailing the working relationship between director and star, which is only right. It’s impossible to imagine many Kurosawa films without the inimitable Mifune, just as it is impossible to imagine Mifune becoming the same brilliant actor without Kurosawa. Their working relationship eventually soured, however, and they did not make another film together after 1965’s Red Beard. The documentary does not expressly state the reason for the falling out. Nor does the film go much into the attempts to patch things up, or the later roles that were seemingly written by Kurosawa with Mifune in mind.

Narrating the documentary is the voice of Keanu Reeves (John Wick Chapter 2). Some may take issue with Reeves’ narration, as he is very soft-spoken and monotone, but I had no problem with it. Reeves has a true love for the art of cinema, including martial arts cinema, and his inclusion in the documentary feels right to me.

Okazaki gathered an impressive list of interview participants for his film, including Mifune co-stars Kyoko Kagawa (High & Low) and Yoshio Tsuchiya (Seven Samurai), American admirers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg (whose early film 1941 featured Mifune in a minor role), film critic Tadao Sato, modern Japanese movie star Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins), Mifune’s eldest son Shiro (After the Rain), and even Godzilla himself, Haruo Nakajima, who was a stunt player in earlier Mifune features. (Clint Eastwood, who played Mifune’s role in the Spaghetti Western remake of Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, would’ve been a nice addition considering that movie solidified Eastwood as more than just a TV star. Also notably absent is Tatsuya Nakadai, who had second billing in many of Mifune’s finest films of the 60’s, and in the 80’s would play the roles in Kurosawa movies that seemed like they were written expressly for Mifune. But perhaps this is just the fan in me wishing for more, more, more.) All interviewees add their own take on Mifune, describing him as a consummate professional on the film set and something of a live wire when left to party. Though it does not spend a whole lot of time on the dark chapters of Mifune’s life, his tabloid scandals and his excessive drinking are among the topics of conversation.

In the film’s final moments, we hear a portion of Kurosawa’s farewell to Mifune that was read at the actor’s funeral (Mifune died in 1997 at age 77. Kurosawa died the next year at age 88). It’s an emotional moment… and then the film is suddenly over. It felt like there was much more that could’ve been said, not just on the topics already discussed but new topics as well. Much time is spent on chanbara at the start, but little is explored about how Mifune (and Kurosawa) reinvented the genre. Nor is there much said about Mifune’s lasting impact in cinema or the actors who took up the craft in his wake. That Koji Yakusho is the only modern Japanese actor in the documentary seems like an oversight.

When all is said and done, the documentary simply feels too short. Toshiro Mifune was a titan of cinema. More needed to be said about the man, his craft, and the movies he left behind (with the exception of the Samurai Trilogy, the movies not directed by Kurosawa only get brief mentions in the doc, if at all). What makes it puzzling is that the film is co-written by Stuart Galbraith IV, who wrote an epic 800-page book on Mifune and Kurosawa, titled The Emperor and the Wolf, so we know that there’s plenty more content that could’ve found its way into the film. Mifune: The Last Samurai is an entertaining documentary, one I’m sure to watch again sometime, but it doesn’t feel like much more than a well-polished special feature from a Criterion DVD. And, to be perfect honest, had it been released that way then I’m sure I would’ve been more forgiving to its shortcomings. Taken as is, it’s probably best viewed as an introduction to the actor’s legacy for newer fans. Mifune’s older fans won’t learn much that’s new to them, but it could make for a nice finale to your next Mifune movie marathon.

Kyle Warner’s Rating: 6.5/10

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Guns, bullets and death prevail in the New ‘Dark Tower’ Trailer

"The Dark Tower" Teaser Poster

“The Dark Tower” Teaser Poster

In a writing career that stretches over fifty novels, hundreds of short stories, and over forty years, Stephen King considers The Dark Tower to be his magnum opus. The dark fantasy series which involves western gunslingers and demonic villains takes place over eight central novels, but its influences and its secrets have spread to other King works, including The Stand and Hearts in Atlantis. The series follows the gunslinger Roland as he hunts The Man in Black across multiple dimensions while in search of the Dark Tower, which is believed to be the center of all possible universes.

The Dark Tower is one of those pieces of fiction that seems almost impossible to imagine adapted to film but also irresistible to filmmakers looking for a challenge. It’s said that Frank Darabont, who directed some of the finest (and most faithful) King adaptations in The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, once briefly considered adapting the Dark Tower books before either he or King apparently decided the fit wasn’t right. JJ Abrams stepped up next but he didn’t stay with the project for very long (Abrams would adapt future King works, however, including the 11.22.63 miniseries and the upcoming Castle Rock TV show, both for Hulu). Ron Howard was next and he had a very ambitious plan for how he would bring the world to life, which involved doing a film and then following up that film with a season on HBO and then another film and then I guess more HBO and so on. During this time, Russell Crowe and Javier Bardem were both rumored for the lead role of the gunslinger Roland (early art from the books based Roland’s look on Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name character).

I think it’s safe to say that The Dark Tower series ranks right up there near the top as far as King books that fans feel especially passionate about. So the back-and-forth nature of the film adaptation has been difficult to watch for some of us. But now it looks like it’s finally coming together. Sony will release The Dark Tower on August 4th 2017 (pushed back from its original January 13th date).

The film stars Idris Elba (Thor) as Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar) as The Man in Black. Supporting cast includes Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), Katheryn Winnick (Vikings), Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods), Claudia Kim (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and Tom Taylor (Doctor Foster). The film is directed by Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) based on a script rewrite co-written by Arcel, Anders Thomas Jensen (Adam’s Apples), and Batman & Robin screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (groan). If all goes well, the apparent plan is to follow the Ron Howard idea of telling some of the Dark Tower story on TV as well as making future films.

The Dark Tower hits theaters on August 4th, 2017. Watch the film’s New Trailer below:

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R. Marcos Taylor and Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson are ‘Paying’

"Paying Mr. McGetty" Theatrical Poster

“Paying Mr. McGetty” Theatrical Poster

Kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson (Bloodfist) has re-teamed with Martial Arts Kid director Michael Baumgarten in Paying Mr. McGetty, an upcoming action-comedy starring R. Marcos Taylor (“Suge Knight” in Straight Outta Compton, Luke Cage).

After a night of drinking and gambling, Tyrell (Taylor) is awakened by an angry call from his girlfriend, Meena (Anita Clay) and finds himself in bed with a strange woman, Cecelia (Alissa Schneider), a local mob boss’ daughter. Once the local mob boss finds out, he hires Shota (Wilson), a relentless hitman, to go after Tyrell. To make matters worse, the reward on Tyrell’s head has dozens of others looking for him.

Paying Mr. McGetty is produced by James Wilson (Martial Arts Kid) and Karen Kaing (White Tiger) with action choreography by John Kreng (Tsui Hark’s The Master).

A release date is pending. Until then, be sure to watch the film’s New Trailer below:

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Wesley Snipes takes on an alien attack in ‘The Recall’

"The Recall" Theatrical Poster

“The Recall” Theatrical Poster

Looks like Iko Uwais (The Raid) and Frank Grillo (The Raid remake) aren’t the only action stars who’ll be battling extraterrestrial lifeforms (i.e. Beyond Skyline). Wesley Snipes (Passenger 57) is teaming up with R.J. Mitte (Breaking Bad) in The Recall, an upcoming sci-fi thriller from director Mauro Borrelli (The Ghostmaker).

According to Deadline, The Recall centers on a group of friends vacationing at a remote lake house when aliens attack Earth. There, they meet a mysterious hunter (Snipes) with special knowledge of the attack.

The Recall hits select theaters on June 2nd in the Barco Escape panoramic format (multi screen video), followed by a limited standard release/VOD platforms on June 16th.

Updates: Watch the film’s New Trailer below:

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Erik Matti’s Filipino crime saga continues with ‘On the Job 2’

"On The Job" Theatrical Poster

“On The Job” Theatrical Poster

Although he’s currently hard-at-work with the much hyped martial arts action movie Buy Bust, director Erik Matti is now moving onto pre-production stage with the long-talked-about sequel (along with a mini-series) to his critically acclaimed crime thriller On the Job (via DiP).

The 2013 film – starring Piolo Pascual (Don’t Give Up on Us), Gerald Anderson (24/7 in Love), Joel Torre (Kabisera), Joey Marquez (Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles) and Michael de Mesa (10,000 Hours) – centered on prison inmates who work secretly as hired assassins for corrupt politicians.

Watch the video below to give you a better idea of what to expect from the upcoming On the Job sequel/series:

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Sleepless (2017) Review

"Sleepless" Korean Theatrical Poster

“Sleepless” Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: Baran bo Odar
Writer: Andrea Berloff
Producer: Roy Lee, Adam Stone
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, T.I., Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy
Running Time: 95 min.

By Ningen

Jamie Foxx plays Vincent Downs, a cop with a slightly dysfunctional domestic life and-at least on the surface-a seemingly jaded and laissez-faire attitude towards law enforcement and by-the-book procedures. Other than an eagerness to upstage his colleagues on the job, he generally takes a casual and indifferent attitude towards major crimes committed on his beat.

However, when both his home and work situations overlap in the worst possible way, Downs is forced to be more aggressive in nipping a potentially explosive situation in the bud. The situation being that a casino owner with connections to a major drug family has kidnapped Downs’ son, and threatened to kill him, if Downs doesn’t return the cache of drugs he intercepted during a deal gone south. And Downs has to do all this while being pursued a tough-as-nails female cop named Jennifer Bryant-played by Michelle Monaghan. Bryant’s own judgment at the force is being questioned, due to a disastrously failed bust of a meth operation.

So I’ll be honest and say upfront that the main reason I checked out Sleepless is because I liked how T.I. stole the show as the head of a gang in the raunchy lowbrow comedy Get Hard. But, unfortunately, he’s kind of underused as a shifty partner to Foxx’s character in this film. Still, he does show some decent emotional range during the more dramatic moments with Foxx. As for Foxx, he does a pretty brutal John McClane-esque performance as a cop trying to restore and maintain the balance to a world disrupted by goons with various agendas of their own.

The action scenes for Sleepless are not what I’d call stimulating, or fun. And the storyline isn’t the most creative out there, either. In fact, if you’re expecting some wise-cracking buddy movie, with some cool choreography and gunplay, then you’ll be disappointed. But where the film shines is the realism. The director and writers for Sleepless really thought of all the possible scenarios for how this set-up could go, for better or worse.

And they don’t try to flinch and sugar-coat the violence to make it look cool and easy to overcome. For example, when Downs and his son are overpowered by one of the pursuing thugs from the drug dealers, the two don’t pull off some clever getaway stunt, while wrapping up the situation mostly unscathed. They get their asses kicked-hard. Also, getting their hands on better ‘weapons’ to fight back doesn’t necessarily make things more convenient, either. Because there’s always some unanticipated variable which screws up their plans.

So I’m not going to pretend this is a movie you should be hyped to see and check out right away. But, if you want something a little more honest and credible about what it takes for a cop to really solve a crime, then Sleepless might be for you.

Ningen’s Rating: Story: 6/10 Action Fan Service: 5/10 Overall Execution: 8/10 Final Score: 6.5/10

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Kill ‘em All | Blu-ray & DVD (Sony)

Kill ‘em All | Blu-ray (Sony)

Kill ‘em All | Blu-ray (Sony)

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017

Jean-Claude Van Damme (Double Impact) stars alongside Peter Stormare (Fargo), Kris Van Damme (Assassination Games) – and get this – Daniel Bernhardt (LoganBloodsport 2-3, Matrix Reloaded) in Kill ‘Em All.

Kill ’em All (no relation with 2013 Johnny Messner of the same name) is helmed by veteran stunt coordinator, Peter Malota. Despite Kill ’em All being Malota’s directorial debut, his connection with the martial arts genre spans back to the early 80s, where he appeared in the Rhee’s Furious and L.A. Streetfighters (aka Ninja Turf); and also with Van Damme in numerous films that include Double Impact and Nowhere to Run.

Here’s the official plot: After a massive shootout, a mysterious stranger (Van Damme) arrives at a local hospital on the brink of death. Then, a foreign gang brazenly comes to the hospital to hunt him down. His nurse, the sole surviving witness to the follow-up shootout, must face an FBI interrogation that unlocks a plot of international intrigue and revenge. With enough twists and turns, Kill ’em All will keep you guessing until the final bullet is fired!

Kill ’em All also stars Autumn Reeser (Entourage), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man), James P. Bennett (Swelter), Paul Sampson (Rage) and Peter Organ (Pitbull).

Order Kill ’em All from Amazon.com today!

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

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

The Four Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

The Four Blu-ray & DVD (Well Go USA)

Today’s Deal on Fire is the Blu-ray for Well Go USA’s The Four, a wuxia film from director Gordon Chan (Fist of Legend) starring Deng Chao (The Mermaid), Ronald Cheng (Full Strike), Collin Chou (Special ID), and Crystal Liu (White Vengeance).

A government department known as the Six Panels appoints their best officer to infiltrate a special force called the Divine Constabulary, to ensure their way in stopping the circulation of counterfeit coin currency in the capital. The Four is based on the greatly-loved novel The Four Detective Guards by Wen Ruian.

Order The Four from Amazon.com today!

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Bruce Lee’s ‘Longstreet’ TV series to hit DVD later this year

"Longstreet" Japanese DVD Cover

“Longstreet” Japanese DVD Cover

North American distributers, Visual Entertainment, has announced the upcoming DVD release of Longstreet, a semi-obscure ABC TV series that aired in 1971-72.

Longstreet follows the adventures of Mike Longstreet (James Franciscus), a blind insurance investigator who’s on a mission to capture the people responsible for killing both his wife and his ability to see.

For kung fu cinema fans, Longstreet is perhaps best known for showcasing Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon) in 4 episodes: “The Way of the Intercepting Fist”, “Spell Legacy Like Death”, “Wednesday’s Child” and “‘I See’, Said the Blind Man” – all of which will be included in the set.

Bruce Lee historians consider his appearance in the Longstreet series the truest representation of not only his personality, but also his philosophy and art. It’s also one of the very few times we get to hear his actual voice speaking an ample amount of English dialogue.

This will be the first time Longstreet will be officially available in any format in the United States. Until Visual Entertainment’s set goes on sale, the series has only been available through VHS-quality bootlegs.

Updates: We’ve gotten word from Visual Entertainment that the Longstreet series will be officially hitting DVD within the second quarter of 2017.

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Mystery of Chess Boxing | aka Ninja Checkmate (1979) Review

"Mystery of Chess Boxing" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Mystery of Chess Boxing” Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Double Chained Horses
Director: Joseph Kuo
Writer: Joseph Kuo
Cast: Lee Yi Min, Mark Long, Jack Long, Jeanie Chang, Siu Foo Dau, Simon Yuen, Ricky Cheng, Wong Chi Sang, Wong Wing Sang, Mau Ging Shun
Running Time: 90 min.

By Chris Hatcher

Rumor has it that in 1979, the release of Joseph Kuo’s Mystery of Chess Boxing on New York City’s famed 42nd Street in Times Square caused near-riots due to its massive popularity. The film earned rave reviews and was so well-received by the public it played continuously in NYC theaters for nearly two years… an impressive feat for a 70s kung fu film not starring Bruce Lee. So, does MOCB really live up to the hype of its iconic fan-love beginnings in The City That Never Sleeps? In short… yes it does, on a number of fronts.

For starters, we’re talking about Joseph Kuo, one of the paramount directors of Taiwanese martial arts movies and most prolific filmmakers of the old school era. Kuo’s success spanned many genres (including romance!) with his most well-known being Wuxia and traditional kung fu films. His 7 Grandmasters was a definitive masterpiece with Born Invincible, World of Drunken Master, and Dragon’s Claws being other great works. Mystery of Chess Boxing is right there in the mix as one of his best (ranking just below 7 Grandmasters, in my opinion).

Secondly, Kuo’s usual suspects – Jack Long, Mark Long, and Lee Yi Min – turn in some great work for MOCB. This is especially true of Mark Long as Ghost Face Killer Wan Chun San, one of the most notorious villains in old school fu film history (made even more famous by early 90s rapper Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan). He looks, and sounds, fantastic in the role with flowing gray hair, wicked laugh, and some of the strongest kung fu of his career. In some respects, GFK is at the center of the story as a man on a mission to take out the martial arts masters who once conspired to kill him.

Thirdly, Kuo skillfully interweaves many short but great fight scenes of GFK dispatching masters with the story of Ah Pao (Lee Yi Min), a young man who wants to learn kung fu and avenge his father’s death. Each master displays different techniques to challenge Ghost Face Killer’s Five Elements style, an approach that keeps the fights fresh and exciting. And that’s a good thing, too; when Ah Pao joins a school only to become the whipping boy of its students, you’ll be thankful for the intermittent fights as the sillier parts of his initiation begin to drag out. It’s one of the few complaints I have of MOCB; it gets a bit too silly for the level of seriousness demonstrated by the fights and the back story. More gung fu and less goofy antics would have been preferred here.

Another minor complaint is Simon Yuen’s underdeveloped role as the school’s cook. One minute he’s giving wise sage advice and showing Ah Pao a trick or two and the next he’s dead on a slab (supposedly at the hands of GFK, though the signature amulet left on every GFK victim is never shown or mentioned in connection with the death of Yuen’s character). Revealing this doesn’t give away anything of significance because it happens off screen and in the blink of an eye. What it does show is a rare misstep by Kuo in reducing the role of an actor whose storied career should have garnered more respected screen time.

(Note: Yuen died of a sudden heart attack early in the same year MOCB was released. Though I could find no evidence in my research, this may have inadvertently played a part in the lack of screen time for Yuen’s character if the film was unfinished at the time of his death. Read my review on Dance of the Drunk Mantis to get the full Simon Yuen treatment).

Issues aside, Mystery of Chess Boxing’s bread-and-butter scenes take place over the final 35 minutes or so as Chess King Chi Siu Tien (Jack Long) takes in Ah Pao and teaches him the ways of chess boxing (i.e. applying the skills of mastering chess to how one masters kung fu). In this we’re treated to some good training sequences with Lee Yi Min looking sharper, faster, and more determined as the truth of his connection to Ghost Face Killer is revealed. By the time Jack Long gets into the training mix and subsequent showdown with GFK as one of the co-conspirators, all jokes are aside and MOCB really shines as a kung fu spectacle. He and Yi Min make a great tandem, and their combining of chess terms with a tag team approach to fighting in the finale is an outright adrenaline rush! (Speaking of spectacles, keep your eyes on Ghost Face Killer’s arms when Ah Pao applies one of his strength training exercises in the final fight… the incredibly obvious use of prosthetics will have you gasping and laughing at the same time!)

On a personal note, Jack Long’s fight-filled role in 7 Grandmasters is one of my all-time favorites and I wish his skills had been as frequently showcased in MOCB. He dons his fantastically long gray wig in both outings, but his participation in the action is reduced by more than half in this one. Knowing MOCB is more a vehicle for Lee Yi Min and Mark Long, the adage better late than never kicks in and Jack Long’s work in the third act offsets any disappointment. And though his form doesn’t appear quite as crisp in Mystery of Chess Boxing compared to 7 Grandmasters, any Jack Long is better than no Jack Long in my book.

In closing, one of my favorite old school quotes comes from Chi Siu Tien when he tells Ah Pao: “To master this game, you have to be… very calm. But also quick of wit, sharp of eye, fast of mind, slow of tongue, quick to see.” It’s a classic line that beautifully ties the connotations of learning chess and kung fu together, and well-represents Mystery of Chess Boxing as a classic of the old school genre.

Chris Hatcher’s Rating: 8/10

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

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

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

RELEASE DATE: June 20, 2017

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

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

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

Pre-order Railroad Tigers from Amazon.com today!

Posted in Asian Titles, DVD/Blu-ray New Releases, Martial Arts Titles, News | 6 Comments

Diamond Cartel | DVD (Cleopatra Entertainment)

"Diamond Cartel" DVD Cover

“Diamond Cartel” DVD Cover

RELEASE DATE: August 8, 2017

Salamat Mukhammed-Ali’s Diamond Cartel (read our review), a Kazakhstan-produced action film, will finally be seeing a DVD release on August 8th, 2017 (or you can watch it right now, via Amazon Video).

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

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

Pre-order Diamond Cartel from Amazon.com today!

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McG drops out, ‘Batman’ screenwriter joins ‘He-Man’

"Masters of the Universe" Japanese Theatrical Poster

“Masters of the Universe” Japanese Theatrical Poster

Despite years in development hell, Sony Pictures is still keen on bringing Masters of the Universe (aka He-Man) back to the big screen. In fact, they already have a release date in mind: December 18, 2019.

The latest news (via EW) is that the film has lost McG (Terminator Salvation) as its director, but has gained a screenwriter in David S. Goyer (Batman Begins). The same source adds that the studio is actively looking for McG’s replacement.

Other filmmakers previously attached to helm include Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid remake), Chris McKay (Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III) and Mike Cahill (I Origins).

Terry Rossio (The Lone Ranger), Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2), Alex Litvak (Predators) and Christopher Yost (Thor: Ragnarok) all worked on early screenplays for Masters of the Universe.

There are currently no stars officially attached to the role of He-Man, but names like Dwayne Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Heughan, Charlie Hunnam, Terry Crews and Jason Momoa have been favorites in online discussions.

The live-action Masters of the Universe isn’t the only He-Man-related project in the works. The makers of Turtle Power and Nintendo Quest have teamed together for a documentary titled Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, with the help of fans (click here to watch their impressive teaser trailer).

The He-Man franchise – consisting of the Mattel toy line and the cartoon series – exploded in the 1980’s. Despite its decreasing popularity during the years that followed, cartoon reboots and new toy lines managed to keep the franchise afloat.

Back in 1987, Cannon Films produced Masters of the Universe, a live-action film directed by Gary Goddard (Poseidon’s Fury: Escape from the Lost City) which starred Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Courteney Cox and Meg Foster.

We’ll keep updated on Masters of the Universe as we learn more.

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New Trailer for Van Damme/Lundgren actioner ‘Black Water’

"Black Water" Teaser Poster

“Black Water” Teaser Poster

Jean-Claude Van Damme (Cyborg) and Dolph Lundgren (Skin Trade) – the action duo known for their team up in the popular Universal Soldier franchise – are joining forces once again for Black Water.

Black Water is the story of a CIA operative (Van Damme) who is imprisoned in a CIA black site on a nuclear submarine after being framed as a traitor. He has to prove his innocence with the help of fellow inmate (Lundgren) and clear his name before he disappears forever…

The film also stars Patrick Kilpatrick (Death Warrant), Al Sapienza (Sopranos), Jasmine Waltz (Poker Run) and Kristopher Van Varenberg (Assassination Games).

Black Water (aka Submerge, obviously no relation to Steven Seagal’s Submerged) is written by Chad Law (Close Range) from a story by Tyler W. Konney (Blue Line), and is produced by Richard Switzer (Altitude).

We’ll keep you updated on Black Water as we learn new details. In the meantime, we’ll soon be seeing more of Van Damme in Amazon’s Jean-Claude Van Johnson, as well as the forthcoming Kill ’em All, not to mention a possible 2017 release for the long-awaited Full Love.

Updates: Here’s the Trailer for Black Water (it may be leaked, so watch it while you can):

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The Kung fu Golden Era… had the Internet been around

computerAs someone who got into the kung fu movie scene during the late 90’s, there’s always been a part of me which feels envious of those who got to experience the movies from the 70’s and 80’s golden era first hand, be it in a grindhouse cinema, or on an overly priced VHS tape. The sense of mystery, that came with movie watching back then, had essentially dissipated by the time the internet era was in full flow, as a wealth of websites and forums ensured you’d go into a movie most likely knowing a whole lot more than you wanted to, intentional or not.

The age of the internet of course also brought along with it a platform for anyone and everyone to voice their opinion, and when it comes to movies of any genre, there’s never a shortage of cynics. Looking at some of the comments that get posted when an upcoming movies trailer gets posted for the first time, or news of the cast and crew involved is announced, is sometimes the equivalent of throwing a piece of meat to a flock of hungry vultures.

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The internet produced a culture in which even before movies are released, opinions have already been formed and conclusions already drawn, often with very little value given to if the voices behind the opinions have even seen the full movie or not. More often than not, the most active discussions revolve around hacking a movie to pieces, and as a reviewer myself, I get it. It’s much easier to write about a movie that sucked than a movie that you thought was awesome.

However, in my opinion at least, such a culture has seen many movies released over the last 10 years get lambasted, that I’d consider to be bonafide action classics. Movies like Wu Xia, Ong Bak 2, and Merantau are all perfect examples of the martial arts genre done well, however each have also had terms such as boring, derogatory, and incoherent levelled against them more than once.

So that got me thinking. What kind of discussion would it be likely to generate, if the internet had been around when the movies that we consider untouchable classics first got released? Of course there’d be fans out there who believe they’re witnessing greatness from the moment they saw the trailer, but as I mentioned earlier, saying a movie looks great is easy. So instead, I decided to focus on what kind of comments the movies would bring from the inescapable naysayers.

The below is entirely tongue in cheek, and only meant as some harmless fun. Let’s not just stop at the movies listed though, if you have your own, feel free to contribute in the comments section!

Enter the Dragon (1973)
Comment taken from the ‘Bruce Lee’s Hollywood Debut!’ thread.

“I understand Bruce Lee wants to break Hollywood, but really, is it necessary for him to share top billing with a low budget TV actor like John Saxon, and Jim Kelly, a guy with just a single movie credit to his name? As for the villain of the piece, as much as I respect Shek Kin, he’s not an ideal match for Lee’s fighting style. I don’t have high hopes for this one, and imagine a couple of years after its release it’ll have already been forgotten. If Lee is going to stay in Hollywood, then I’ll stick with Jimmy Wang Yu.”

Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976)
Comment taken from the ‘Jimmy Wang Yu’s Next One Armed Adventure’ thread.

“You know kung fu cinema is on its last legs when a fake weapon becomes popular, and it doesn’t get much lamer than this. To make things even worse, Wang Yu continues to recycle his one armed swordsman, boxer, cleaner, whatever it is he’ll come up with next. & just to ensure everything is politically correct, his adversary here is blind. When did kung fu become all about the gimmicks? Give me Wang Yu beating up vampire toothed Japanese, that’s what it’s all about, and I don’t see much of that here. Next.”

Drunken Master (1978)
Comment taken from the ‘HK now Rebooting Movies in the Same Year That They’re Made!?’ thread.

“It seems that the same team who made Snake in the Eagles Shadow earlier in the year are getting together again for Drunken Master. Again Jackie Chan will face off against Hwang Jang Lee, again under the direction of Yuen Woo Ping. Am I missing something here? Isn’t this exactly the same as Snake in the Eagles Shadow, even down to the types of character they’ll be playing? If movies are now getting rebooted just months after the original, then this is a serious concern. Hopefully both Jackie Chan and Hwang Jang Lee don’t get typecast after this double whammy of recycled kung foolery.”

Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980)
Comment taken from the ‘Next Movie from the director of ‘The Victim’!’ thread.

“Not sure what exactly Sammo Hung is trying to achieve here. Hopping vampires, battling magicians, and what looks to be a lot of comedy. Isn’t a pure kung fu flick enough of a reason to have such a group of talented martial artists in the same movie together anymore!? I still think Sammo is capable of greatness, but judging by the trailer it looks like I’ll be waiting for this one to hit Netflix.”

The Prodigal Son (1981)
Comment taken from the ‘Star of ‘Knockabout’ returns in Second Lead Role’ thread.

“According to sources, it seems that this will be Sammo Hung’s second Wing Chun themed movie after Warriors Two a few years earlier. Apparently the lead role will be going to Yuen Biao, a stuntman who’s doubled extensively for anyone and everyone, and was also the lead in Knockabout. Not sure if he’s leading man material yet, but I’m willing to give him a chance. The major red flag with this production is composer Frankie Chan being cast as the villain, I mean, a composer!? What’s next, will we start seeing Hong Kong pop-stars being cast in kung fu movies as well!?”

Ninja in the Dragon’s Den (1982)
Comment taken from the ‘Has Jackie Chan been Cloned?’ thread.

“Not satisfied with giving us inferior lookalikes of Bruce Lee, it seems that the kung fu movie world now wants to give us a lookalike of Jackie Chan, with the debut of Conan Lee who’ll be starring in Ninja in the Dragon’s Den. Whereas Jackie Chan has been described as the clown prince of kung fu, Lee looks like to be more of an actual clown, as it appears there’ll be a fight scene performed on stilts. If I want to see guys prancing about on stilts, I’ll go to a circus thanks. Sad to say but Corey Yuen is losing his touch. Conan Lee even faces off against Hwang Jang Lee, just as Jackie Chan did. Is some originality really that hard to ask for? This is one title I’ll be skipping.”

Police Story (1985)
Comment taken from the ‘The Fearless Hyena Returns to Hong Kong’ thread.

“It pains me to see Jackie Chan selling out so early on in his career, seems like his time in America has knocked the kung fu bug out of him. Sliding down a shopping mall pole? Driving a car through a bunch of sheds on a hill? Give me a break, and since when does glass being smashed reflect the impact of a punch or kick? Sorry but no one is fooled by this one, Chan needs to call Lo Wei and beg for forgiveness, then maybe we can get back to some real kung fu goodness.”

So in summary, we should all be thankful that the internet wasn’t around when the movies that we now consider classics were originally released!

Posted in Features, News | 12 Comments

The New ‘Alien: Covenant’ Prologue fills ‘Prometheus’ gap

"Alien: Covenant" Korean Theatrical Poster

“Alien: Covenant” Korean Theatrical Poster

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in Alien with Alien: Covenant, the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with Prometheus — and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. The film hits theaters on May 19th, 2017.

Before it was known as Alien: Covenant, the movie went through a few titles, including Paradise, Alien: Paradise Lost and the obvious, Prometheus II.

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace are the only cast members returning from Prometheus. They’ll be joined by some new characters, including Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs), James Franco (127 Hours), Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down), Demian Bichir (The Hateful 8), Billy Crudup (Spotlight), Guy Pearce (Memento), Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color), Jussie Smollet (Empire), Carmen Ejogo (Selma) and Callie Hernandez (La La Land).

It should also be noted that director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) ultimately decided put his Alien sequel on hold in an effort to avoid confusion with Alien: Covenant. Blomkamp’s sequel would serve as a direct continuation to 1986’s Aliens, but would ignore all other subsequent Alien films.

Media: Watch the Trailer. | 5-Minute Prologue. | 2nd Trailer. | Red Band Trailer.

Updates: Added the film’s New Prologue below:

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Deal on Fire! King Kong vs. Godzilla | Blu-ray | Only $6.27 – Expires soon!

"King Kong vs. Godzilla" Blu-ray Cover

“King Kong vs. Godzilla” Blu-ray Cover

Today’s Deal on Fire is Blu-ray for 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, directed by Godzilla franchise creator, Inoshiro Honda.

When a pharmaceutical company captures King Kong and brings him to Japan, he escapes from captivity and battles a recently released Godzilla.

Kong vs. Godzilla stars Tadao Takashima (Son of Godzilla), Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster), Kenji Sahara (Mothra), Yu Fujiki (The Hidden Fortress), Ichiro Arishima (A Holiday in Tokyo), Mie Hama (You Only Live Twice) and Shoichi Hirose (Lady Snowblood).

Order King Kong vs. Godzilla from Amazon.com today!

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