Recently we talked about the upcoming Bolo Yeung documentary but we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on another legendary movie villain who’s documentary is just about to come out.

After an indiegogo campaign and  almost three years of production Henchmen: The Al Leong Story is finally done. It had it’s premiere mere days ago on June 7th on Days of the Dead convention in Las Vegas and it’s coming out on DVD on July 16th. Being a long time fan on the Fu Manchu-ed villain I’m pretty sure it was worth the wait.

Synopsis: This documentary explores the life of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces from 80’s action films. In addition to being the greatest cinematic henchman, Al Leong is also a martial arts champion, stuntman, biker, cancer survivor, and much more. From Die Hard and Lethal Weapon to Big Trouble in Little China and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, follow the career of Al Leong with vintage footage, film clips and candid interviews from the likes of John Carpenter, Jeff Imada, Craig Baxley and more.

And for those who missed it the first time around my favorite Al Leong fight scene with non other than Brandon Lee in his ’92’s film Rapid Fire:

 

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Probably the most imposing bad guy in the history of Martial Arts cinema Yang Sze aka Bolo Yeung is finally getting his own documentary and we must say- it’s long overdue. From learning Kung Fu with different masters as a child to his competitive Bodybuilding years (he would go on hold a Mr. Hong Kong title for a whole decade) his story fits the “stranger than fiction” category easily. Not to mention the fact that he freakin’ swam from China to Hong Kong to escape Communism!!! Or the fact that he met Bruce Lee while filming Winston Cigarettes commercial (you just got to love the ’70s).

He stared (mostly as a villain) in over 100 movies raging from Shaw Brothers (The Heroic Ones, The Deadly Duo) to Golden Harvest (Enter The Dragon) to Bruceploitation (Clones of Bruce Lee, Dragon Lee Fights Again) to Van Damme films (Bloodsport, Double Impact) and even Jalal Merhi films (Tiger Claws 1 and 2, TC 2000). He even showed that he could be an awesome good guy/ wise mentor character in films such as Shootfighter 1 and 2 (featuring Karate Kid/ Cobra Kai’s Billy Zabka).

Movie is being directed by Aziz Cem and Pavel Nyziak (who Bolo actually collaborated with on his final movie, the Kazakhstani produced The Whole World at Our Feet aka Diamond Cartel) and features exclusive interviews with the likes of Bob Wall, Richard Norton, Cynthia Rothrock, Matthias Hues, Coreena Everson, Cung Le and many, many others.

 

I remember one reviewer noticing that in the 90’s Roger Corman would seemingly blindly hand out  a contract to any Pro- Kickboxer who came knocking at his door. Now, honestly Corman was far from being the only one guilty of this. 80’s and 90’s had a surging VHS market and Action/ Martial Arts film were way more mainstream then these days so lots of Pro- fighters did have their 15 minutes of fame (or a 5- movie deal) and here’s some interesting examples for you:

05.  Curtis Bush (42- 10- 02 KB)

We purposely decided to lead with  the most obscure name off the list and that’s Curtis Bush. Bush was a lanky southpaw fighter with a background in Tang Soo Do (also Chuck Norris‘s first art). He amassed the pro record of 42 wins, 10 loses and 2 draws and also competed in Pro Boxing in parallel.

Beside being a four division champion he also had a burning desire to be in the movies. But, it seems that tall, mustachioed dudes just weren’t the flavor of the day.
He had a small part of a deranged poacher (killed by the star Michael McNamara) in Canadian action movie Dragon Hunt (1990). He also played parts of Foot Soldiers in the first two TMNT movies: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1991) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret of the Ooze (1991). He then tried his hand on the small screen with a TV adaptation of Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse– that was canceled after only four episodes!

This has to be one of greatest covers to ever grace a VHS tape

But what really makes him worthy of this list is his passion project: The Dark Angel: Psycho Kickboxer! Made for just 10 000 dollars over the course of 5 years Psycho Kickboxer is a real treat for B-movie lovers like us. I mean who can say no to a seemingly deranged man in a Ninja costume running all over town and preventing random acts of violence (with even more violence). It’s painfully low budget and nonsensical but man- it’s a it’s so fun to watch.

Look at him go!

Now, you could say that his acting career went nowhere but he did have background roles as military personnel in couple of big movies in recent times (Battleship, Godzilla) and IMDB does show him as an Admiral in Godzilla vs. Kong (2020), so it seems Psycho finally got the last laugh.

04. Kathy Long (18-1 KB, 2-0 MMA)

Kung Fu San Soo and Aikido practitioner and a pioneer of female Kickboxing in America with an 18-1 record holding WKA, WMAC, ISKA and KICK titles.
She was even a commentator in the first ever UFC event (1993) – even thou she smartly decided not to comment too much– leaving the other absolute Martial Arts legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace to keep embarrassing himself (famously mispronouncing UFC as Ultimate Fighting Challenge).

Her most significant contribution to the world of film was actually being a stunt/ fight double for Michelle Pfeiffer‘s Catwoman in ‘92‘s Batman Returns by Tim Burton.

Also in ’92 she also appeared as a villain in Rage and Honor featuring Cynthia Rothrock and (our personal favorite) Richard Norton and continued with couple of leads in movies such as post- apocalyptic Knights (1993) and The Stranger (1995). In ’97 she again showed up with Richard Norton in a fun Australian action movie called Under The Gun aka Iron Fist.

She even dabbled back into the competition pool (having come full circle) by having two MMA fights in 2009 and again in 2015. Second one was particularly impressive, wining a fight at 50 years old against an opponent roughly half her age! Definitely an accomplishment.

Even thou her dramatic acting chops where never even remotely sharp as her fighting chops I’m definitely not changing the channel when I see her on a TV.

03. Gary Daniels (31-04 AKB04- 01 KB)

Gary Daniels started as a British Taekwondo practitioner who was famously too brutal for the sport so he eventually transitioned to Amateur and then Pro Kickboxing (even capturing PKA and WKBA titles).  His most famous lead role is in Hokuto No Ken aka Fist of the Northstar that despite it’s budget constraints turned out to be a surprisingly faithful manga adaptation. Unfortunately it wasn’t widely distributed in the US and is today relegated to a Cult Classic status.

He would go on to be the star in countless Kickboxing movies on VHS either as a Hero or as a Villain but beside a Hong Kong stint or two (see Jackie Chan’s City Hunter) his big break wouldn’t happen for years and years…. Not until Stallone chose him to be an Eric Roberts‘s henchman in the first The Expendables (2010). Even in a star- crowded movie like that he did get to shine especially in an excellent two against one fight scene with Jet Li and Jason Statham.

He went on to share the screen with Eric Roberts and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin again in Hunt To Kill and was perfectly cast as a video game character Bryan Fury in not so perfect Tekken (2010). All of that positioned him to the upper levels of action B-movie market in the ’10s and he even returned to his native England for a pair of movies ike Skin Traffik (2015)– again with Roberts (Rourke and Hannah too) and I Am Vengeance (2018) where he went against the WWE superstar Stu Bennet aka Wade Barrett.

But still, being a legit badass (he traveled all the way to Thailand to have a pro Muay Thai match when he was almost 50) with a cool British accent you’d think the sky is the limit, and because of that I feel that he never really fulfilled his true potential.

02. Jerry Trimble (29-2-2 KB)

Trimble started his film career in the 80’s armed with an annoying high- pitched voice, long blond hair and all the sidekicks, hook kicks and spin-kicks you can possibly imagine.

Now, differently then some of the other folks in this list over the years he eventually developed actual acting chops (but he can still pull out those spin kicks from his arsenal if need be) confirmed- by the fact that he is still successfully working today in both film and TV.

Recommended viewing: any of his collaborations with the Filipino Action Maestro Cirio H. Santiago like One Man Army (1994) or Stranglehold (1994). And if you’re really into our kind of craziness he can be seen in Corman produced StarQuest II.

It’s also worth noting that he is adversary in early Jet Li film The Master (1992) where he is at his mighty mulleted ass- kicking best, then his career altering appearance in famed thriller Heat (1995) and of course going toe for toe with Austin 3:16 himself in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin VS Dolph Lundgren feature The Package.

For an American Kickboxer with golden pants- he sure went far.

Trivia: The Package (2013) was actually directed by Jesse V. Johnson who’s slowly but surely becoming a real force to be reckoned with in the action movie industry with films such as British comicbook– adaptation Accident Man (2018) and the Asian Expendables awesomeness that is Triple Threat (2019).

 

01.  Don “The Dragon” Wilson  (72-5-2 KB)

To circle back to the start with Mr. Roger Corman, there’s one kickboxer in particular who made more movies with Corman than anyone else. His name is of course Don “The Dragon” Wilson. Coming from a Kung Fu Pai Lum Kung Fu and Goju-ryu Karate background he competed in Kickboxing on and off until 2002 (with his final exhibition match in 2011).  He amassed an incredible list of titles: IKF, WKA, KICK, ISKA, STAR and the PKO and with wins over such opponents like Dennis Alexio, Oaktree Edwards and Dick Kimbe he is considered one of the greatest American Kickboxers of all time.

His acting career on the other hand was let’s say- slightly less impressive. He started transitioning to movies with a villain role in 1982 Hong Kong movie New York Chinatown aka Xue xi Tang Ren Jie (1988) and made his debut as a lead with Bloodfist– of course a Roger Corman production directed by Terence H. Winkless. And Bloodfist would continue to be his bread and butter as he filmed 8 parts to date!!! Another stand outs are Ring of Fire movies, featuring other famous Martial Artist like Billy Blanks, Michael Jai White and already mentioned Gary Daniels.

Now for us, we prefer the more obscure and odd moments of his filmography like his forays into SF with Virtual Combat (1995) and let us not forget his horror movie Night Walker(1996) (utilizing shaky cam to the max way before it was a fashionable thing to do) with Wilson breaking freaking vampire spines!

After all this time he’s still working and seems to be doing alright for himself but in retrospect he just never had the charisma and elegance of someone like Van Damme that could have pushed him to the real super- stardom. But he did challenge Van Damme to a Kickboxing match, so you got to give him that.

 

 

 

 

I’m pretty sure the pitch for Warlock went basically like this: “Did you like “The Terminator”? Well, how about we whip up a dark fantasy-horror version of that, and add in dash of humor?” Fundamentally, this is The Terminator, it’s also really funny, has a cool 80s horror vibe and has some great actors (well, one at least). After all, doesn’t this tagline sound familiar to you: “He comes from the past to destroy the future.” You get the picture.

warlock

Opening in the year of our lord 1691 in the tiny new world hamlet of Boston an evil Warlock (the excellent and underappreciated Julian Sands from Gothic, Arachnophobia and The Great Elephant Escape) has been captured by witch hunter extraordinaire Giles Redferne (the equally amazing Richard E. Grant from Withnail and I, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Spice World). Sentenced to death the Warlock summons up all his powers and transports himself away 300 years into the future arriving in 1980’s L.A in the home of quirky, spirited waitress Kassandra (played by Lori Singer from Footloose). There, he sets about on a quest  to find the Grand Grimoire also known as the Devil’s bible, a book that has the power to destroy all of mankind. Kassandra and her gay roommate Chas (played by Kevin O’Brien) find him and leave him to spend the night and rest there. The next morning Kassandra departures for work and warlock took that opportunity to kill Chas by cutting off his finger (he liked Chas’ ring apparently) and bitting out his tongue.

 

While police questions Kassandra about numbers of Chas’ lovers, suspecting it could be homosexual crime of passion, warlock visits local spiritualist and hands her over something that looks like crystal dildo. Already horny as she is spiritualist accepts to channel energy and invoke spirit of Satan in herself. Satan explains to warlock that he needs him to collect 3 parts of his Grimoire, which can end the creation of world. In return, warlock will become one of Satan’s legit sons. Satisfied, warlock takes out channeler’s eyes leaving her to sit with exploded crystal dildo in front of her.

Crystal dildo

Crystal dildo for your personal seanse

It seems that Kassandra’s adventures were not over yet because now Giles teleports into her house. He explained to her that he’ll try to find warlock using a witch compass he brought with himself. Kassandra called the police this and they picked him up. She shouldn’t have done that because warlock came back there too. Apparently one part of the Satan’s Bible was hidden inside her wooden table. Also, warlock took her bracelet and placed a curse on her. Every day she’ll age for 20 years unless she reclaims her bracelet.

 

Kassandra and Giles are now hunting warlock together using the witch compass. It won’t be easy since now warlock brew himself a flying potion. All he needed for that was fat of unbaptised male child, which he got somewhere along the road. Anyway, compas led them to house of menonnites. There would be second set of Grimoire’s pages. menonnites knew what evil is lurking around them so they captured warlock at attic with the help of Giles. Warlock flies away with pages but Giles managed to hit him with a weather vane. I don’t want to spoil this for you so enjoy entire fight scene below. Warlock got wounded just enough for Kassandra to recover her bracelet and save herself from ravages of old.

 

They are now heading to the old church in Boston hoping to find a clue where final set of pages might be. They discover that it is at local graveyard. And they found it in Giles’ grave. Now how about that gloomy look at past. Of course, warlock was there too. And it all comes down to old-fashioned fistfight between warlock and Giles. As expected, warlock beats a living crap out of Giles and starts a ceremony of undoing God’s creation. But then Kassandra shows up from nowhere and injects insulin into warlock’s neck. As you know insulin is nothing but salt water and demons hate salt. Warlock starts vomiting fire before he implodes. Kassandra gets one last kiss from Giles before he returns to peace of his grave. Final scene shows us Kassandra burying pages in some salt flats.

 

Conclusion: “Warlock” is unexpectedly entertaining, having been concocted with comic imagination by D. T. Twohy, who wrote the screenplay, and Steve Miner, the director. The true joy and success of the film lies in the Grant and Sands performances, as both actors entirely commit to their ridiculous roles giving over to the plot and the dialogue and relishing the absurdity of it all. What this movie didn’t have is decent budget. Any time the Warlock used his magic the effects were bargain basement bad. From the warlock’s silly flying down the highway past a speed trap to his blasting poorly animated magic at our heroes in a graveyard that couldn’t be more obviously a set if it tried.  It’s never even remotely convincing. But thats what makes this movie so laughable.

After some speculation on its new destination (after go90 service was cancelled) it has now been confirmed that the series will premiere exclusively on Horror streaming service Shudder. . And you can enjoy the first trailer bellow:

Critters: A New Binge is a comedy-horror Shudder exclusive series that picks up the tale of the Critters – hairy, carnivorous, insatiable aliens – from the beloved 1980s film franchise. Pursued by intergalactic bounty hunters, the Critters return to Earth on a secret mission and encounter Christopher, a lovelorn high-schooler, his best friend Charlie, his crush Dana, and his mom Veronica – whose past will come back to bite them. Who will survive? And who will be eaten?

This will be first official Critters content since Critters 4 (1992)! Also, you can check out some behind the scenes we previously posted right here.

 

 

 

Now that Dark Horse Comics is again gearing up to co- produce and produce a fair amount of movie adaptation ( Jonas Akerland directed Polar is on Netflix as we speak with Hellboy reboot now in post- production) it’s as good time as any to look back at some of their early and lesser known adaptations.

     Hope they do an animated Usagi Yojimbo next!

That means we’ll skip the usual suspects like Time Cop featuring Jean Claude Van Damme (a personal favorite of mine) and even the Barbwire with Pamela Anderson. No, I’m talking about one that seemingly erased from everyone’s collective memory but at the time hailed as start of a potential franchise, Virus (1999) featuring Jamie Lee Curtis!

Now, what’s a Virus, you may ask? Well, you’re in for a treat.

 

Story starts with a Russian science vessel in the middle of the ocean having performing some kind of a reading from a newly launched satellite. Unfortunately things get tough when some kind of a solar storm ( real Fantastic Four kind-of-shit) hits the satellite and it somehow transmits a weird purple lightning all the way to the ship. That can’t be good.

(slika munje ili nesto)

We jump forward in time and we’re with a motley crew of sailors chasing a lost ship that has a nice bounty on it’s sail. Unfortunately a typhoon has another plans for them. Losing a bounty, the almost lose their lives too but by a shear coincidents they end up on a abandoned Russian high-tech ship (that promises an even greater bounty).

That makes Captain (Donald Sutherland) very, very happy. Considering he was ready to blow his head off just minutes ago that’s an improvement. Now, there’s a catch- they can’t claim the vessel unless there’s no survivors so they go out to investigate (having no idea a small spider- robot is watching them). As we always know, that never ends well.

 

In fact a bizarre accident almost cripples a Maori crew member Hiko and brave Foster (Jamie Lee Curtis) runs like hell to save him. Baker (William Boldwin) suspect there’s someone else on board, who’s guilty of sinking the tug. He turns out to be right when a gas- mask wearing Russian attacks them. After they detain “him” it turns out to be a cute redhead scientist from the beginning. So say goodbye to all those millions, right Captain?

Russian tries to run away but Curtis goes after her and cornered she tells her everything. She killed all electricity on the ship because machines were accessing everything and using the knowledge from the computers to hunt and destroy humans. And that was all before the times of the readily available Wi-fi Internet? (I somehow think that if they accesed the internet they would realize that we are all doomed and they would just leave us to self- destruct on our own).

In the meantime a couple of crew members are exploring the ship and they have a first real run- in with the machines but are still in denial of what’s really happening. They barely escape with their lives.

Do need feed the mechanical- spiders!

Now, on the other hand they find the ship’s original Captain Alexie, who’s been transformed into some kind of cybernetic monstrosity. Sutherland still refuses to believe in Aliens and tries to ignore everything. And then to make things even worse another storm hits as hard as the first one that got them here. To top it off a robotic skull attackes them at the same time!

(slika skull attack ili snimak)

They go down to the lower deck and they run into their colleague Sqeak, already transformed into a cyborg, with an even bigger robot right on his heels. Those that manage to escape try to make a contact with the Alien entity via the computer and explain themselves, but in a shocking twist it turns out they consider us a VIRUS, and we must be eradicated (can’t argue with that).

Captain Everton completely looses it and Curtis relieves him of his duties (by punching him square in the face). He seems confused and bewildered by that and being left behind decides to betray all of his crew. He types in that he is superior life- form and offers his services to his new Robot overlords.

Crew decides that the only course of actions is to stop the ship before they hit a British Coast and spread the robot plague. Their plan was to flood the part of the ship with fuel and blow everything up but before they can get going a (newly) Cyborg Sutherland shows up!

Cyborg Sutherland- gone too soon!

Curtis gets into a Ripley from Alien mode but still barely survives. Russian girl gets caught and ends up sacrificing herself by shooting the gas bottles. Baker (Baldwin) and Curtis are only ones left alive but remaining robot is still after them. Trough all the fire they find an ejecting seat and finally escape while the rest of the ship explodes in a giant hail of fire.

Verdict: This movie  had the bad luck to come out in ’99, the same year as The Matrix , movie that dealt with the evil machines much more elegantly.

But still, the highlight is unexplainable acting of Donald Suterland who isn’t doing the usual stuff like phoning it in or even overacting. No, his decisions are so off the wall that it will have you going “WTF?!” again and again and make you questing what the hell are you watching. And Cyborg Sutherland really deserves some kind of an award- I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again!

Trivia: Different than most of the movies on our blog, Virus actually had a fair bit of merchandising and tie- in content like a line of action figures, the Virus Collector Series and (Europe exclusive) Video Game -the Virus: It’s Aware for PlayStation 1.

 

 

Unfortunately, we did have to wait a while (more than four years) but the third installation of Killgar and Hogstrong adventures is finally available on Newgrounds https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/724905

Harry Partridge already launched a Patrion in hope of finishing episodes 4 and 5. You can find that here:  https://www.patreon.com/harrypartridge