Posts Tagged ‘Jean Claude Van Damme’

The movie formerly know as Star Warfare Rangers and the Cyborg Witch of Endor, now Interstellar Civil War (that Pyun fellow has a way with words) is finally nearing it’s release date.

Despite his ongoing health issues over the last couple of years Albert Pyun managed to finish his 54th film, a crazy mix of Star Wars, Dune, Cyborg, Mad Max and his trademark Kickboxing action with a help of excellent cinematographer Michael Su and a score by his long time collaborator Tony Rippareti. I’ll always have a soft spot for Pyun trademark Cyborg/ Kickboxing action and I hope this could be a bit of return to form of our old favorite.

 

 It stars Brad Thornton, Ellie Church, Kelsey Carlisle, Paul Gunn, Clare Hoak, Tommie Vegas, Jennie Carroll, Ashley Campbell, Nathan Ferrier, Nick Rush, Fulvia Santoni and Cat Cakmis as Leah C6 and you can enjoy the new extended trailer right here!

’cause he’s finally done with cyborgs (Cyborg Nemesis) seemingly always present on our blog-Albert Pyun decided to return to his epic roots (Sword and the Sorcerer) in a 300 style retelling of Napoleon’s conquests starting Jean Claude freakin’ Van Damme!!! Now this is what I call news!

script

Sample page!

Since early 2000’s Pyun seemed satisfied to work on more experimental and almost zero budget films but now he finally decided to work on something more on the commercial side. Does he still got it? I don’t know but he even plans to film it in Bulgaria’s NU Boyana studios ( one of the largest European studios where they filmed 300: Rise of the Empire, Expendables 2 and 3). Van Damme still has a final saying and of course something like this is not easy to finance but for the sheer WTF factor- I would watch this in a heart beat!

Van BonapartaJeane Claude Van Bonaparte

We already covered one of the “crown jewels” of Loren Avedon’s career King of the Kickboxers but it’s time to take a closer look at the movie that propelled him to his short- lived B movie stardom. After launching his career with Corey Yuen’s “classic” “No Retreat No Surrender II” (remember- the first one introduced the world to the awesomeness of Van Damme and his incredible splits) he continued his rise thru the ranks with the sequel. Now, this sequel is mostly a sequel in name only- having completely different tone, and abandoning previous “Tournament”setting for more urban of a urban Kickboxing meets Spy Thriller style.

This dude cracks me up!

Films starts with a fitting quote from Mao Tse Tung of course fallowed by a terrorist action by bunch of ridiculous mustached idiots. Their plan comes undone when one of the hostages turns out to be CIA agent Casey Alexander, man whose kickboxing skills are only overshadowed only by his  over the top facial expressions (ala Erik Roberts). He kills the bad guys and gets the girl (there’s always a girl there somewhere). In the meantime his younger brother Willis beating up some noobs.It turns out those are his students and he is just “preparing them for the street”. I am always shocked and amazed by complete lack of charisma and acting ability by this man! Anyway he is called by his father on his birthday party/ family reunion and he reluctantly agrees.

No.Retreat.No.Surrender 3.1990.DVDRip.XviD BROTHERS BLOOD.avi_000147600Mao said it best…

He arrives at the birthday in an old Volkswagen Beetle and ripped up jeans with some Communist insignia. Hmm… I’m wondering if the Chinese director is trying to tell us something here. Anyways, kudos for sneaking in thing like that in something that is an American production. He then menages to get into an argument with his rich CIA brother and quickly leaves. After the party’s over a new party begins as the old man faces bunch of assassins who look like Ninja Bee Gees in his very home and he even menages to kill one of them.Unfortunately he menages to die by flying out of the window like a freakin’ cannonball in one of the many hilarious highlights of this movie. His killer is devious Franko, a man that can be best described as am albino mulleted mongoloid.

Avedon returns home but it’s already too late, his father’s carcass is floating in the family pool. He then has a dramatic, tearful scene with his older brother and I painfully realize that his Keith Vitally is just as terrible actor as Avedon himself, hell maybe even more so! Next thing we see is a funeral and the FBI brother who gets a tap on his back via one of his superiors with words like “he was my partner and my best friend”. We momentarily realize that this man was in fact responsible for the murder… yeah cliches galore in this one!

Avedon journeys to Hawaii to have his revenge and his brother tries to track him down (unfortunately it seems CIA didn’t train him enough cause he fails miserably). First thing Avedon does is find a local dojo and gets into the fight with the friends Martial Artist he has here (how convenient). After blowing some steam they use their prowess and also their acting skill to get Avedon into a gang that they suspect is responsible for the murder. The less said about the way they manage to do that- the better. He ends up being rapidly inducted into the gang with his first mission to… KILL HIS BROTHER! No, I am not making this shit up.

After a disastrous “fake” subduing of his brother, the boss finally figures thing out (he’s no the head of operation for nothing) and starts torturing the brothers and the random girl the older brothers is having sex with when he’s in Hawaii (how conveniant). After being electrocuted the devious plan of CIA agent and Albino dude is finally clear, they want to use Avedon to kidnap the Ambassador of Mozambique and make a diversion which they’ll later use to FUCKIN’ BLOW UP THE PRESIDENT WITH A BAZOOKAA! These men aren’t thinking small.

No.Retreat.No.Surrender 3.1990.DVDRip.XviD BROTHERS BLOOD.avi_004907800

Of course they have a hiccup in their plan and that’s older brother Casey freeing himself and threatening their whole plan. Then finally two brothers team up and put all the evil folks thru their Martial Art blender. It’s also fun to note that the Lowe, the director desperately tried to tone down his usual sensibilities and make fight scenes a bit more in American Karate/ Kicboxing style opposed to over the place Chinese Wire- Fu but it’s like he said “fuck it” in this last scene and went over… and out.

Notice the joyful death of Franko, the albino killer!

Verdict: Director Lucas Lo shows everything that was wrong in Hong Kong cinematography of the 80’s/ 90’s in one place. And Avedon- well he proves why he was never propelled to the stardom of his dreaded nemessis Jean Claude Van Damme.

Trivia: Same director and lead actor had another team up not long after and that resulted in probably the most over the top Martial Arts film of all times- King of the Kickboxers. If you missed it- you enjoy the review here.

PS Loren is having a comeback of sorts these days acting in Frank Caruso’s vehicle Risk Factor and the movies seems like something you can watch straight after NR NS III without spiking a beat.

We watched some crazy flicks here at WM but there is one that truly stands out head and shoulders above the rest. It’s a  Martial Arts flick,  but a Martial Arts flick from the most unique place… and that place is Ireland! Yes, they are Martial Artist in Ireland and (at least one) Martial Arts filmmaker, and his name is (in this movie as in his real life) James “Jimmy” Bennet. Now let’s get down to business!

After 10 long years of absence, seasoned and successful  Martial Artist  decides to return to his home town to reconnect with his roots and more importantly discover the truth about the passing of his father Bennet Sr. While narrating his thoughts to the audience Bennet grabs a photograph of his father all samurai looking from the wall (decorated with numerous photographs of Bennet himself and also mulleted Van Damme from Hard Target for some reason), throws in into a bag and starts his long road home.

After a sad song he is finally home just to find it abandoned. He finds a little Buddah statuete on the floor and gets flashback of his training with his father right away. Next he goes to get some groceries just to find local morons stealing and harassing big blond chick who works there. He demonstrates his Van Damme- like kicking ability and stops them. We get some more flashback scenes of his childhood and then the same blond chick manages to get in trouble AGAIN. This time it’s long haired ginger dude (and his friend) speaking with such heavy Irish accent that it’s almost completely impossible to decipher what is he threatening her with. Anyway Bennet shows up and after verbally kicking their ass with “Why don’t you boy scouts go and play in the woods” he asks them and then  demonstrates some more kicking arsenal.

Now we learn who the mysterious Mickey is (the man who sent ginger dude and his friend), he is the grandson of the Drug Baron … the same man who MURDERED HIS FATHER (que in some dramatic music). And while good ol’ Jimmy Bennet practices his deadly Martial Arts Blondie rides a bike to his place. She came all this way to thank him, the only way a girl can thank a man… by giving him a pie she backed for him. Then she rides away.This girl obviously has to much free time on her hand. Anyway some of the Baron’s goons show up (even uglier than the last too) and Jimmy visits the Drug Baron who then offers him a job.

Before deciding anything Bennet takes Blondie on a proper date- a Carnival. There we can see all four women living in this village and then it’s painfully clear why did the trailer say “a hot chick” for Blondie despite her somewhat robust, sturdy built. She truly is the hottest chick in her village, but only because the other 3 don’t really resemble human females.After an obviously fun night by Irish standards Bennet falls asleep and in his dream he remember the horrible truth, he was present as the old crime boss (man barely capable of walking) sliced his father with a Katana blade. He sets his mind at ease with some running and doing some Kempo Karate forms as the sun rises.

Then the plot thickens! A mysterious Celtic Monk (seen earlier stalking Bennet) posts a notification for The Tournament (it seems Ireland also has a long tradition of secret underground fighting). Drug Baron ensures everyone their man, who should be back from Hong Kong any minute now ,Seagul ( obviously an Irish answer to Steven Seagal), will be a sure winner. They see the Tournament as a way to demonstrate that they hold the whole village in the palm of their hands (even thou that doesn’t seem so impressive when you think about it). Monk then appears in front of the Bennet’s house and invites him to the Tournament. Blondie seems trilled about it, it seems she’s also a martial arts aficionado. Anyway Bennet starts getting into (more) shape with some stick fighting and hitting a heavy bag but Monk appears again out of nowhere and invites him to come tomorrow and “walk with him”. So they meet in the woods the next day and the mysterious Monk informs him that he will train him for the tournament, just like he trained his father. And then sends him home and explains that his training will begin tomorrow. Man, he is trolling Bennet big time! The training mostly consists of doing exercises while the old man plays bagpipes but we also get a scene of Monk with Kali sticks which is absolutely precious!

Trening

Now this is what I call training!

Bennet takes a break from the hard training by going  on a picnic with Blondie but just when they’re about to kiss for the first time (yes, it took him THAT long) they are interrupted by Drug Baron’s goons on motorcycles. A ridiculous chase and shootout ensue and Blondie ends up kidnapped.  It turns out that Mickey, the Baron’s grandson is to blame.  “You make me look bad… and that’s not good!” Mickey utters to Blondie and she promises that Bennet will come after her.

Now enraged and desperate Bennet prepares to break Drug Baron’s hold of the city and get his girl back. He is flooded by memories of times they shared together including some previous scenes like riding horses and stuff… and some scenes that ABSOLUTELY didn’t happen like a sex scene . They didn’t even kiss for Christ’s sake! A this point you have to ask yourself is Bennet completely delusional?

Fatal DeviationSeriously, her shoulders are broader than his!

Now the Tournament starts and we can see that people here really enjoy fighting, lots of older people (man and especially the women) and there in the ruins of an old castle to see people fight. Bennet does his best Van Damme impersonations while demolishing one opponent after another. In the end there’s only two man standing and that’s him and Seugul. Soon to be just one of course. Irish Seagal unfortunately proves that he is not the Martial Artist as an American version. He compensates that with his sheer size and strength and even menages to make problems for Bennet (in big part by using a large chunk of wood to hit him in the head) but in the most critical moment the Celtic Monk calls for the most powerful technique and soon the whole crown chants “FATAL DEVIATION, FATAL DEVIATION…” So Bennet digs deep and manages to perform it perfectly (with some help from the editing room ) thus destroying his opponent.

Now this is simply brilliant!

He doesn’t have time to celebrate ’cause he has to race to get his girl back. This leads straight into a fantastic (apparently non- scripted) carcrash and a post production CGI explosion that lasts about two seconds and doesn’t mask the fact that the car is not burning at all.

Fantastic carcrash that was absolutely NOT a part of the script! Afterwords we get a lame-ass CGI explosion that last half a second and doesn’t mask the fact that the car is not burning at all. Epic shootout scenes fallow and are stooped just so we can see a bare assed man running across the field for absolutely no reason! After a “tense” stand- off Bennet confronts Mickey and breaks his neck. Then we cut in to the quiet picnic and Bennet and Blondie are obviously trying to continue what they started earlier. But they are out of luck again. The incredibly old man, Drug Baron appears out of thin air with a shotgun and proclaims “You killed my son, now I’m going to kill you- just as killed your father”. Jimmy B seems ready for this and he answers “ You killed my father, now I’m going to kill you- just like I killed your son”. Of course he fallows that up by disarming the frail old man and shooting him into oblivion. Then he and Blondie embrace knowing that the nightmare is finally over.

For now this is the best Kung Fu film Ireland has ever produced. But we’re still waiting on the fabled Celtic Samurai flick (trailer unfortunately removed from youtube as of now) to see how it will stack up.

Bennet as a guest on Nationwide (during the shooting of Fatal Deviation)

Trivia: Jimmy Bennet actually DID make it in life, even thou it took  years for his “masterpiece” to see light of the day. He doesn’t work on the farm no more, he is a bona fide Hollywood stuntman working on such films as  Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Lone Ranger. Soon he will also perform in the Swelter with his long time idol and inspiration Van Damme. But I sincerely hope he doesn’t forget where he came from and soon decides to surprise as all with another Irish Martial Arts Action- fest.  Now, that would be a treat!

Tutorial: If you were impressed by Jimmy Bennet’s “secret technique” and want to learn to do it- no problem. Fatal Deviation is in fact regular part of the curriculum of Ed Parker’s American Kempo Karate and here you have his black belt Jeff Speakman (Mr. Perfect Weapon himself) demonstrating this combination.

 

We already talked about this one when we reviewed the original Nemesis film waaaaaay back but we finally have some concrete news… and they are not really promising. Or they are really promising if you want it reviewed on this page in the foreseeable future.

Anyway it seems that Albert Pyun failed to bring some of the old “stars” of his two franchises, namely Van Damme and Olivier Grunner.  He also failed to bring ‘roided female MMA star Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and (I must admit an interesting choice that makes a lot of sense) Van Damme’s daughter Bianca Bree (aka Bianca Van Varenberg aka Bianca Van Damme) . It seems that all the weight is planted firmly on the shoulders of a newcomer and a lead actress a 16 year old Joei Fulco and in the MMA fighters crossover department we’re left with Kim Couture, 3rd rate fighter famous mostly for being an ex- wife of 5 time UFC Champion Randy “The Natural” Couture. The rest of the cast are Pyun regulars like Michael Pare (he’s really fallen on hard times did he?), Kevin Sorbo (the less said about his career- the better) and Sasha Mitchell.

Pyun predicts that Fulco will end up being a great star and for his (and everybody’s ) sake I hope he’s right ’cause without a charismatic lead this cheap, lo- fi SF action flick could easily end up being a complete train-wreck. Just behold insecure camera work and sub- par CGI bellow (coupled with a strange, STRANGE soundtrack choice).

Info via  http://www.dreadcentral.com

What do you do when you’re faced with a stumbling franchise with it’s main star and only draw (Jean Claude Van Damme in this case) long, long gone?Hell, the only thing you really can do- bring Albert Pyun into the fold.(see under Albert Pyun). So what does Pyun offer that can potentially revitalize these films you might ask. Well that one’s easy: ton of idiotic bikers, (almost a midget) teenage Taekwondo chick, villain who wears make up in a desperate attempt to look Asian, a ninja pervert, couple of confused BJJ experts who’re not sure how they got there and some soft- core pornography. Hellyeah!

KICKBOXER 4 - THE AGGRESSOR

The cool dude and the kid are not impressed!

In the begining we see the fabled third Slone brother, David Slone (Sasha Mitchell)- character who’s even existence defies the logic of the series (it’s absolutely clear from the first one that there are only two Sloan brothers. He is jailed although we are not informed of his exact crime but soon enough  gets a letter with an invitation to the greatest martial arts tournament of all times (if we exclude Bloodsport)! Invitation is kinda informal aka consists of his mortal enemy Tang Po who rubbing his nose with the fact that he has his wife as a hostage!

Somewhere around 15 minutes of his freedom and he already menages to get into a fight with some predictably dirty looking bikers. After an unimpressive victory where he threw some super- slow knees from Thai clinch he gets an offer  to go to Mexico and join the tournament… that he already had an invitation for? Hmmm… doesn’t matter!

He hitches a ride to Mexico. Naturally he walks into a biker bar and after witnessing extremely rude and extremely small teenage girl eating a beer bottle in the face he starts destroying the bar with his predictably slow kicks and knees. Interestingly Mitchell was once upon a time a fit and good looking model capable of holding his own but by this point he became a fat slob going thru the motions, casually trying to fake mastery in the art that he practiced for full two weeks  before the shooting. Little girl is surprisingly incredibly angry at him for saving her ass and it turns out that she is also here for the tournament.

Soon afterwards they are welcomed to the Tang Po’s hacienda (what’s Thai champion doing in Mexico again?). They withness the psychopathic musketeer looking fellow annihilating the dude’s face and then they fight for qualification, fight… each other!!! Little girls lasts about 5 seconds.

Kickboxer 4 The Aggressor (1994) DVDR NL Subs NLT-Release (DivX).avi_001601800

Fair fight!

Tang Po is presented as successful record producer (?) and businessmen and he soon starts an all out, Hitler-like speech (strangely with a strong Mexican accent) to all the tournament participants,over the feast of course. Now we run into the first (really BIG) problem with this movie. Even thou original Tang Po actor Michel Qissi was hardly of Thai origin (in fact he was of Moroccan desceant) he had  vaguely  Asian features  needed to portray a Muay Thai wrecking machine convincingly. On the other hand Kamel Krifa, Tang Po actor in this movie was as white as they get and was even original star- Van Damme’s dubble for years. So let us analize this for a second… you have a dude resembling original Slone Van Damme and instead of doing the logical thing-  casting him in the main role you go for the 10th alternative option and force the dude into wearing a bold cap and hilarious make up so he can a resemble an Asian!? Damn! You have to ask yourself- was there even one sane person on this set?

Oh, and one more thing- he doesn’t even slightly resemble Asian person after all that trouble- NOPE! He looks like a washed up drag queen- not really a look you should go for if you are trying to present yourself as a feared martial artist!

Kickboxer 4 The Aggressor (1994) DVDR NL Subs NLT-Release (DivX).avi_002295600

A Muay Thai Killing Machine?

Then the night comes and with the night many peculiar things happen. Sloan becomes a ninja (???) and starts prowling around the hacienda. Logic would tell us that he is trying to find his captive wife but something stops him. No, not the armed guards- he finds one of the tournament fighters having a threesome with two oiled up blond babes and decides to stay and watch. Next thing you know it’s morning so he must have spent all night scouting the local perversions- shame on him!

Early in the morning the tournament continues and now we see why genders and categories exist in Martial Art competitions- Musketeer-like dude is doing his patented “face into concrete” move repeatedly on a woman in black kimono. First time you see it it’s kinda funny but after the seventh blow it’s nothing else but seriously disturbing. I’d like to think that even the evil martial art dudes chose to avoid crippling girls and women if they have a choice. Then we have an absolute devastation  of a black dude in Kempo kimono (as every other person of African descent in this film). Then as he’s laying on the floor without any signs of life,  his neck obviously broken someone is yelling “get up coffee” in the background. Idiotic and racist but funny as hell.

Kickboxer 4 The Aggressor (1994) DVDR NL Subs NLT-Release (DivX).avi_003270120

At certain point participants final realize that none of them will be left alive as the winner and that the whole grand turnament is  a sceem to (somehow) smuggle shipments of cocaine into the country. Lead by an extremly chileld dude (friend of Sloan) and a diminutive blond (that’s still around the tournament even thou she lost- something like Mirko Crocop on the last K-1 tournament) remaining martial artist raise against the Tang Po’s mercenaries with uzi’s using… Martial Art of course! ’cause, why not! You only live once.

Tang Po finally recognizes Sloan- maybe he tricked him by wearing the sunglasses (the old Superman/ Clark Kent trick). Doesn’t matter, Sloan bring the fight to the deadly Muay Thai machine himself and they end up battling it out (another bunch of lousy knee strikes) on the Swedish table!!! That’s just one step above fighting in the water as far as I’m concerned. Anyway Sloan escapes being hit by a bamboo stick (don’t know how that got there) and serves a plate of high-kicks to Po wrecking  him completely in the process. The main hencmen tries to escape with his wife but the Slone grabs a kitchen knife from the said table and the rest is history( mozda opet slika). Reunited with his wife (that’ll probably have to go trough the lifetime of psycho-therapy to face the fact that she was tortured and raped for about a year) he leaves the property of Tang Po never to return- unless someone decides to make another crappy sequel.

 Sorry, but this man just gets funnier every time you see him!

Trivia: Sequel in fact did get made but thankfully it featured a real martial artist( Mark Dacascos) and 0(zero) Sasha Mitchell which makes it almost an Oscar caliber film in comparison.

    *Here you can marvel at Gruner as he demonstrates his  kickboxing skills on
a bad stop- motion Terminator rip- off.

One of those films that start kinda gritty Cyber Punk-ish with a possible promise of good innocent fun and then… goes absolutely nowhere! Director Pyun (somewhat rightfully claimed to be a Hawaiian reincarnation of Ed Wood) wanted to make a film with a dystopian , almost William Gibson SF atmosphere and every time he got close to nailing it he found a new way to royally screw things up (adding women with big muscles in the scenes has been known to do that.) It takes somewhere around a half an hour to set up our story and after that he just trows it all away the same moment our hero Rain (Olivier Gruner) gets to the island and fists start flying/guns start blazing.

Event that could be forgiven (often enough SF is just a backdrop for a classic action fest) if those same action scenes made some kind of impact but there are just cartoonish violence at it worst. Incoherent story gets completely lost in translation really fast while bizarre bunch of characters kill/fuck/or save one another almost randomly.
At some points you have to ask yourself did those people follow a REAL SCRIPT and soon after you start doubting that the script even existed. Perhaps they had a 10 page treatment… for the beginning of the movie and then they improvised from there. That would explain a lot of things. There is also a hilarious moment when a gun packing grandma starts unleashing hell, it is absurd as it gets, but at least it’s fun and you can’t say that for the rest of this picture.

THIS. IS. BAD.

Olivier Gruner ( our cyborg ex-government agent) is karateka/ ex- kickboxing champion and he demonstrates his skill here and there (in-spite of the laughable choreographed fight scenes ) but he’s acting is so woden that after a while you start appreciating all the subtleties of Schwarzenegger’s performances and that is never a good sign. On the + side (if there is one here) he gets to fight a crazed robot, terminator style stop- motion monstrosity that explodes for no apparent reason and takes his arm with him!*
One of his sidekicks (the only one that actually survives) is irritating teenage girl who becomes extremely important character out of nowhere in the last half an hour of the film– against all common sense. His dog at the beginning of the film had more character and a hell lot of more story potential than she ever had!
Legendary “Cary” Hiroyuki Tagawa (Sheng Tsung himself) makes an appearance as the crazy Yakuza boss in a Hawaiian shirt but not even his devilish charm can make this crap watchable.

Verdict: If you have to watch an Albert Pyun film watch his eulogy  of Cannon Films in the form of Van Damme’s Cyborg, Cyber- Punk angle is better realized and despite the fact that JCVD wasn’t  much of an actor back then/ or much of an English speaker back then he always had a ton of charisma, the thing that Gruner sorely lacks.

Trivia: Pyun is doing a (joint) prequel of both Nemesis and Cyborg. Unfortunately he discovered digital technology/ CGI (nobody told him that you need some money to make it work) so his movies are now worse than ever. Here’s a trailer for Cyborgs: Rise of the Slingers so you can remember to avoid it if you have the bad luck of seeing it somewhere.

You can actually find better special effects (and acting!!!) in Porn these days .