Posts Tagged ‘Kung Fu’

Since we last touched upon this subject (talking about the Ugandan Kung Fu project Bruce U) couple more Lee related projects popped up:

Danny Chan (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle) is for example starring as Chen Zhen (made famous by Lee in Fist of Fury) in a team- up action comedy Kung Fu League as well as reprising his role as young Lee in Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 4.

More significantly The Warrior TV show (for the longest time a stuff of legends) based on the original Bruce Lee’s concept  (and executive produced by his daughter Shannon Lee) spearheaded by Justin Lin (Fast and the Furious) is set to premiere on Cinemax in early 2019.

Now, as we all know by know when there’s an official project some unofficial ones can be expected too.

ENTER THE AFGHANI BRUCE LEE!

Abbas Alizada (Abb Li for short) gained prominence as a Bruce Lee imitator on facebook, his photos and videos going viral in 2014.  His first attempt of film-making was an Azerbaijani comedy picture released in 2016 called Brat Lee (Brother Li). Well, now it’s seems his first “major” English- speaking role is finally in the cards.

Armani Burj Khalifa held a press conference for the movie titled HE IS BACK (sounds more like a Schwarzeneggersploitation picture, does it?). Film is to be directed by Chitah Yajnesh Shetty with Abb Li joined by a female lead Alina Lliumzhinov. Movie is being produced by Showtime Cinema & SBM Pvt Ltd in association with Ninjoor Pictures so we know more than a few people are banking on this being a hit. Also it’s a pretty international affair seeing that talent spans America, Thailand, India and China.

If I was being a skeptic I would say that there’s far too many inexperienced people involved in this movie but there are some positives too. Director Chitah Yajnesh Shetty is a legit JKD instructor under the late Grand Master Richard Bustillo so he knows his martial arts. Kaecha Kampakdee of Ong- Bak 2 and Asian Connection fame is in charge of action choreography and cinematographer is Ross Clarkson (Undisputed III, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear)  so that could easily translate to some solidly shot Martial Arts scenes. Filming begins in January 2019, so we’ll keep you informed how things go.

One thing is for sure- it’s 2018 and Bruceploitation is alive and well.

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In the late 70’s, the early days of post- Bruce Lee boom, we were bombarded with all kinds of Kung Fu flicks-from the Shaw Brothers to the to the rise of young Jackie Chan‘s to the budding American Martial Arts flicks but it’s a movie called Death Promise that really sticks out like a sour thumb. I mean to this day I haven’t encountered another a Kung Fu movie like that- a film about the common folk’s rise against their evil landlords. Combining Asian Martial Arts with the harsh social reality of the life in the projects and Charles Bronson or should I say Charles Bonet style complete overkill revenge movie.

In New York City, slum lords are resorting to using nefarious methods to evict tenants or have them leave so they can tear the buildings down for more commercial properties. One such victim is Charley Roman, a karate expert whose electricity and water has been shut off courtesy of the slum lords.
Unfortunately it doesn’t show that the effects of the late-70s New York
financial crisis also include Karate and Kicking Ass!

Obviously someone is dead set on evicting poor souls out of their homes but at this point we have no idea who. Their next play is to set buildings on fire. To that end we have some bad archival footage of fire.  They tried to set fire to his building too, even thou the few card-boards they have wouldn’t make much difference. But Bonnet won’t give them any chance, So he jumps in and immediately starts kicking ass. Unfortunately the bearded punk didn’t seem ready for this and he started going into some kind of spasms as soon as Charles Bonet touched him. I wasn’t sure should I laugh out loud of just feel sorry for the guy.

Well, at least the bearded guy survived…

After Bonet dispatches of the arsonist gangs we finally see the evil cabal that’s behind all of this aka The Landlords and for and I must say for an evil cabal they are very diverse group of people from very different backgrounds, everything from the elderly high court judge to the nasty ghetto pimp. I have to wonder just how all these people got together in the first place?

Anyway , Charley’s dad ends up mysteriously dead on the kitchen floor. He seemingly met his demise without any resistance, uncharacteristic for him. All the while Bonet and his black friend (with an awesome name Speedy Leacock) were having fun at the bar. But who could have defeated an old boxer like him so effortlessly? I mean we saw him dispose off some young punks with no trouble earlier in the film. The plot thickens. Bonet finds his father’s body and completely loses his mind– coupled with a ridiculous scream effect!

Now, despite the wishes of his late father his teacher Shibata show him the letter (revealing their enemies) right away, without a second thought. Unfortunately according to Shibata his skills are not up to par, so before any revenging is done- so he sends him away to China (or maybe upstate New York )  to his master Tony Liu (The Way of the Dragon, Fist of Fury) to sharpen up his skills. There’s just one thing, Liu is absolutely not an old man (hell, he is 65 now- 40 years later and that’s still not that old) and grey in his hair is painfully obviously a paint.

Also if you pay any attention the fact that his master- a Japanese Karate practitioner Shibata was taught by a Chinese Kung Fu Man who’s style is definitely not Karate doesn’t seem to bother anyone. But it’s an old American picture, maybe we should just be happy there’s no yellowface involved.

Returning to his home after months of heavy duty training he is right away reunited with Leacock. And with his help he is making a list of people he needs to kill. As we all know you can’t really achieve anything if you don’t make a list fist. They start of by pouring the poison down the string Ninja style, ending a life on elderly Judge in his sleep without anybody noticing a thing before it’s too late. Their next kill is a bit more public, Bonet dispatches of the evil businessmen by punching him to death trough a car window after a lengthy chase! They also get reinforcement, Liu’s other student shows up to help out- looking like a Bruce Lee’s mentally challenged third cousin.

Now, when they get to the pimp, Leacock insist on doing he deed himself. You can get complete picture of situation in those slums and it’s neighborhood when you hear his 12 year old brother had gone OD (must be some relative of  Drew Barrymore too).

He seems as shocked by her disproportionately large nipples as the rest of us.

The remaining Landlord, an old man with a cane sends his men on the three of them and tries to run away but gest a shuriken into his hand, then one in his back. Bonet follows him to the roof where he gets cut by a katana in front of his eyes !? It turns out, Shibata is a Yakuza!  He was behind the landlords all this time! So, wait, why did he then send his student to sharpen his martial arts prowess so he can more easily defeat him? Must be some Honor code we just can’t understand?

Aaaayyyy blonde dude is so fuckin’ awesome!

The remaining Landlord, old man with a cane got a shuriken into his hand, then his back. Bonet follows him to the roof where he gets cut by a katana in front of his eyes !? It turns out, Shibata is a Yakuza!  He was behind the landlords all this time! So, wait, why did he then send his student to sharpen his martial arts prowess so he can more easily defeat him? Must be some Honor code we just can’t understand?

They go into a prolonged fight with Shibata before killing him with his own sword– irony, right? Also he then throws his lifeless body aka something that is obviously not a human being down the building.  Also that something seems very, very heavy because someone in great shape like him  can barely lift it.

Maybe even a greatest fall in history of the cinema!

Verdict: Unfortunately Death Promise’s  Charles Bonnet never got to be the next best thing in Martial Arts movies, even though he did get to act again in his friend’s Roy Van Cleefe’s (another Martial Art legend)  Black Dragon Revenge and Way of Black Dragon. And for all the cheesiness of Death Promise I consider that to be shame ’cause the dude was a real life badass and  genuinely excellent Martial Artist and  different than many tournament fighters back in the day  he actually looked good on the camera. At least we finally did get a Latino American Martial Art super- star with Marko Zaror (Savage Dog, Reedemeer, Machete Kills, Undisputed 3) but we had to wait for 2000’s for that.

And now one more time: Death Promise theme!

Trivia: Interestingly in the old days when movies were made on the dime- posters were often masterpieces! Death Promise poster for example was done by the legendary comicbook artist Neil Adams (Batman, Deadman, X-Men). Now in the days of multi- million dollars franchises, we often only get bad Photohop photo- manipulation.

 

 

We talked before at length about the crazy and  wild world of Bruceploitation cinema. You can even read our tribute here. Now, unexpectedly, genre is making a slight resurgence with Michael Worth (himself a Martial Art actor/ director)’s excellent efforts shining the light on Brucesploitation with a book (Bruceploitation Bible), documentary and even a weekly podcast.  This once forgotten genre is finally getting the love it deserves!

Let the real Bruce Lee please stand up!

Now, to make things even more interesting we  have news of  Ugandan‘s premiere director Nabwana I.G.G. (Who Killed Captain Alex? and The Return of Unkle Benon) making his own spin on the Bruce Lee formula in an upcoming film staring African Kung Fu sensation Mansul Kiiza as the titular Bruce U. This will mark the first time Wakaliwood (Wakaliga, Uganda) Ramon production films in the People’s Republic of Chinaincluding the legendary Shaolin Temple and even The Great Wall of China!

Premiere of the movie was even attended by the Chinese ambassador in Uganda-  Chu Maoming and Star Times CEO Andy Wang so I wouldn’t be surprised with further China/ Uganda cinematic collaborations!

   Ugandan boy and Kung Fu fan Kiwa accidentally gets a chance to learn Kung Fu at China’s Shaolin Temple!

 

 

 

Though Cinthia Rothrock is most recognizable because of her classic Hong Kong movies (often with Richard Norton) and later a solid string of American Martial Arts B- movies (lots of those in the 90’s) she actually had roles in more than a couple of Indonesian flicks in the beginning of her storied career and as we all know- there’s not quite like an Indonesian action movie!

Now, one of the main selling points of this movie (for us) is without a doubt Peter O’Brian (The Intruder/ Rambu, The Stabilizer). To the best of my knowledge this is a man who who was offered a part in an Indonesian action movie (before that was hip) due to his uncanny resemblance to one Sylvester Stallone (the fact that one of his movies is called Rambu is a dead giveaway) and he said “Hell yeah!” and never looked back .To top it off in  this movie he plays a deranged villain Bolt and his foil is non other than “Lady Dragon” herself Cintia Rotrock and with that combo like that- you can do no wrong.

 

Bolt (O’Brian) is brutally torturing a man (at one point his goon, an  Asian Mr. T taking off some of his fingers with a meat chopper)  and at  the same time showing off his impressive physique. The poor man holds on before they threaten his young daughter and then he finally breaks down and gives Bolt the information. Information about what you ask? You’ll find out in a just a second.

Nancy Bolan (Cyntia Rothrock) is a head of security at HTI and she’s arriving to Indonesia as a courier carrying a mysterious silver briefcase. Not even ten seconds after she arrives at the station in a typical Asian fashion she and her colleague get attacked by a bunch of goons  and after a hell of a fight they manage to take off in a speed boat. It seemed that they are finally safe but situation evolves into a gunfight at see and after defeating the goons and things finally look safe Rothrock gets drugged and passes out.

Now, the men holding her turn out to be working for her-  ex- boyfriend! It turns out the said boyfriend faked his own death and waited three years all in effort to finally catch the Bolt– man he has a bone to pick with this dude! Rothrock on the other hand doesn’t seem to mind and the two of them continue where the left off with their romance.

The day after on the company meeting we finally learn the whole story. Rothrock is using three couriers (including herself) to carry a super- computer to the state, two being distraction and one being the actual real deal .Ironically no one knows where the real one is (at least as far as I can see). We also learn why is the criminal targeting them called Bolt, it’s because he is “The Terrorist Who Strikes Like Lightning“ (I just love that).

And then we have the fantastically ridiculous “Mission Impossible” scene where the black dude from the meeting takes off the mask- and it was Bolt all along! Considering they didn’t really have a budget for anything resembling a mask you see the scene from the back of the car.

Slika?

So, here we go again, everyone is waiting for the briefcase to come via boat but Nancy  secretly changed the plan and the real briefcase is actually coming to the airport via helicopter. Actually some blond Brad Pitt looking dude is carrying it. Unfortunately, Bolt is already onto them. He intercepts the car of her boss and goes straight to the airport where shootout ensues and the blond boy gets it.  The shootout is one of my favorite things in this movie because it literally makes no sense, most of the actors seem like they never seen firearm before and everything ends up exploding for one reason or another.

Now,  in the middle of all the craziness she’s going out shopping with her friend and her daughter. Unfortunately ‘s man tried to kidnap her and end up taking a little girl (her friend’s daughter). She viciously goes after them (on a motorbike) and after some nearly impossible stunts she stops them end… they freakin’ kill the child- in slow motion! Man, nothing is sacred for the Indonesian filmmakers!

Confusingly after the traumatic death of a child Nancy goes on a romantic evening with her boyfriend and they have a strange sex scene  with spliced footage of them kissing on the docks (these people are not sure how love scenes are supposed to work). After she wakes up tomorrow morning she immediately gets kidnapped and  ends up being tortured by Bolt and his Asian Mr. T henchmen.

HTI arranges a trade, briefcase (the final one) for Nancy but of course her boyfriend crashes a meeting (literally- via jeep trough the wall) and a complete Martial Art/ Gun- Fu madness ensues with briefcase changing hands like a hot potato.

Bolt gets completely unhinged and starts destroying everything on his way and his showdown with Rothrock is truly of EPIC proportions. Unfortunately, it gets interrupted by her boyfriend (who seems to have made a habit of that) but then- he wants briefcase all for himself! She goes after him and the fight ends up in the helicopter- she conveniently strangles him with his own tie (you should take a lesson and never get in a fight in a business suit).

Verdict: Now,  this movie has completely impossible fight scenes, bizarre editing choices and people who for the life of them can’t hold a gun properly. Production values are severely lacking (you’re sure to start laughing at some of the chases, explosions and gun battles) and that lack especially shows in the sound department (to the best of my knowledge Rothrock is the only actor that isn’t dubbed in the whole movie) but I challenge you to watch Angel of Fury and not have fun.

 

Complete Killcount by Cinthia, number 11 is especially impressive!

Trivia: We also have a bit of news to cap things off. Fantastic Mr. O’Brian is supposedly eying  his comeback to the film industry after lengthy time away he spent teaching English and being a life coach. He’s been offered a role of  a British General Cameron, commander at the Battle of Gate Pa–  whenever this comes true or not one thing is for sure- everything this man does will be on out “must see” list!

Goldsen4          Just look at this face!

 

 

 

 

 

vlcsnap-2012-01-04-09h37m25s152
Now, first thing you need to notice when movie starts is “written, produced and directed by… (in this case Patrick G. Donahue)”. When you see something like that there is truly just two options: 01 you’ll get an autour like Lynch or Tarantino or 02 you’ll get an Ed Wood. Someone with, let’s say more passion than knowledge or resources to make a movie. Being on the WM you already guessed (corectly) that this movie is falling into a second category.

kill_squadThat’s a LOT of reasons!

Wealthy businessman Joseph and his wife are viciously attacked one night and even though Joe has a substantial Martial Arts knowladge he still sucombs to the superiour numbers (and weapons )of the enemies.  To top it off attackers rape and kill his woman leaving him seemingly fatally wounded. Yet, revenge kept him alive! We see him some weeks later, now bound to the wheelchair talking to his most-trusted associate Larry (also his Vietnam War buddy,also the owner of the fantastic Afro + Mustache combo). Joseph proposes they gather their old team from the war, the KILL SQUAD!

Completely unnecessary but awesome introduction of Larry

Man, that sound impressive. He believes that with no  help from the police this is the only way to enforce the justice, and you know who am I to disagree? Then we area treated to the classic of the genre, a default “Flashback from the ‘Nam” in which we learn that Joseph stepped on the landmine and the bodybuilder dude actually saved the whole unit even thou the whole movie everybody repeats how they own their life to Joseph.

Larry goes on to recruit one after the other members of the KILL SQUAD (I’ll never get tired of saying that) and it goes about the same- no mater where they are in their life members are keeping themselves busy by kicking numerous ass, often for little or no reason whatsoever.

There are not many things that are more impressive than a Martial Arts Pimp!

Squad has gathered rapidly and without a hitch and their first target is a ranch of all things.Larry tries talking to some cowboys to get audience with a man named Virgil. Cowboys are of course offended that a black person is trying to talk to them and things escalate into a full on brawl surprisingly fast. They even menage to kill the cowboy Virgil who was in the middle of some private time with a rather ugly brunette in the barn. That prevented them from getting any kind of information but the poor girl was helpful at least. I’m kinda sorry for the girl having to witness that.

Kill Squad full movie.mp4_002316800Real woman help their man load up the shotgun!

So they finally find their lead (named fantastically Jessie James) in a cement factory! I’m starting to think those are all the locations our director had access too. They try to get him to talk, name dropping their other lead Dutch but it doesn’t really work out. Jessie runs like hell, they bring him in and ruff him up a bit but then when he was ready to talk things go sideways. A bunch of Kung Fu cement workers show up and things escalate! into a brawl once again. Truthfully this movie  quite possible has the biggest fight per minute ratio of all non- Hong Kong flicks! Just when you thought they were getting somewhere, my favorite character- the bodybuilder is shot and killed with a single bullet from the sniper! Man, that’s a bummer.

Their next lead gets them to the used-car salesman and at this point I’m sure that Patric Donahue is filming exclusively in his friends establishments. I mean let’s be honest, badass assassins don’t have business with the used car salesman. Now, knowing what kind of a movie is this when they confront the salesman everything erupts into a full on brawl but this time it’s followed by a crazy car crash- and I must admit despite the general quality of this movie stunt people did their work surprisingly well.

Unfortunately the moment the Chinese member of the Squad asks about Dutch he gets the bullet to the stomach and dies shortly. Maybe they should just quit. Also it’s a bit confusing they are letting the mysterious sniper dude get away and they are not even trying to return fire. When I think of it- why are former military officers not using any guns whatsoever? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

Things end the same way they begun with Larry seemingly the only remaining member of the Squad. He also finally tracks down Dutch who’s none other than Cameron Mitchell (the star of everything and anything from The High Chaparral to Deadly Prey). The most ridiculous thing is that he found him in the middle of a crazy pool party and he starts hitting everything and anything on his way- including girls! He then beats Dutch to a bloody pulp but just when you thought that it was all over the mysterious assassin shows up again, just as Joseph mysteriously disappears. Also previously dead member of the squad appears to help Larry explaining that his life was saved by the bulletproof west. He then proceeded to take his west off (you know, the one that saved him) so he can be cut by a sword mere moments later. Man, this dude is a complete imbecile!

And then we finally see the assassin unmasked- and he is Joseph himself?! With added shoepolish or brueses and badly drawn teeth on his lips? I can’t even start do describe this.So, he ploted a deliberate revenge scenario for no reason whatsoever. I mean his wife was about to leave him (penniless) but that has absolutely noting to do with his Vietnam buddies. Larry fittingly ends him by only way possible- decapitation.

13659205_10210454959754777_7646234512491685174_n

 

Much like his idol Frank W. Dux Argentinian born Hector Echavarria found himself crushed by his pathetic life and decided to do the only logical thing- invent a new one! He started from the begining fabricating an intricate backstory involving a Chinese Buddist monk saving his life (in Argentina?) and then training him in the secret art of Kung Fu. Then he invented mastership in anything and everything else (Shury-ryu , Kempo, Taekwondo, jiu-jitsu) culminating in completely bogus Kickboxing title!!!  In the age before internet if you could talk a good talk- you really had it made (at least for a little while).

MACS 2000-12 CovHigher Power!

He used his Martial Arts fame to get into the movies starting with small parts and culminating in a role in popular Latino comedies of the 80’s- Los Extermineitors 1,2 and 3. At the height of his popularity
trying to prove his outlandish stories he went so far that he payed random people to “fight” him to defend his unexciting Kickboxing title. Here’s what his opponent had to say about that-  In Midsummer holiday, Superdome was filled with 2,700 people. I talked with Héctor, angry with him, I told him “for what world title are we going to fight if you do not have a world title?”, I was free, I wanted to pull back and representative told me that I better not because there was already much money invested. And as it was a big event I went along with it because there were many things lined up such as TV transmission of the fight, press, conference, radio and other stuff, but I did not agree and I told him that once everything ends I was going to talk to the Federation because of his lies about the  world title and Hector told me it was all a show, and that people knew. For me it was all very confusing.”

 Of course after multiple stunts like that people grew suspicious and he was found out for what he really is. Devastated again he retaliated by deciding that he’ll rather be a star in the States than a clown in Argentina and left his home never to come back again!

Hector defending his “title” from a medical student he found at the local gym, hard fight for any champion!

He finally moved to California in the early 2000’s and that’s where our story truly begins. Using his previous movie and TV experience in his home country he presented himself as a supreme Latino Action Hero (worthy of the comicbooks and toys made on his image) to Tapout (premier MMA clothing, training gear, and accessories brand). Now, Tapout like any other firm from L.A. wanted to branch out into movies and they saw Hector as their opportunity to do just that.  Tapout brought “Rampage” Jackson,  B.J. Penn, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva- and Hector brought his Latino swag (coupled with his non-existing directing skills, poor martial art choreography and acting comparable to the abilities of an extra on a Mexican Telenovela set).

Hector1Hector VS (UFC/ Strikeforce fighter and actor) Keith Jardine

 In less than 2  years we’ve got no less than five “masterpieces” like  Never Surrender  starring Hector as a humble grand master thrust into the sexy and dangerous world of underground MMA fighting. Then Hell’s Chain starring as a prizefighter haunted by a tragedy in the ring.  He then followed it with Death Warrior a movie about a group of athletes forced to fight to the death and Unrivaled where he’s portraying Argentinian kick boxer, working  two jobs to make ends meet getting one last shot at the title.

Here the director of Never Surrender talks how he is embarrassed to film sex scene in the movie, Hector doesn’t seem to share that problem.

Unfortunately his film career hit a sudden halt in 2012 (somebody figured out couple of things about our hero) and his newest masterpiece Duel of the Legends  featuring the legendary bad guy (and a legitimate Martial Art badass) Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa still remains unpublished  as of 2014. On the other hand his imdb page lists three more projects ( Hunters, Los Muertos, No Way Out) for 2015 so if we’re lucky we can expect to be further entertained by his unique brand of fake Martial Arts, soft core sex scenes and established MMA fighters looking confused and out of place. He is also promising to host a grand Martial Arts tournament and write autobiography of his exploits but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Trivia: George St-Pierre, a  former welterweight champion of UFC, now successfully transitioning into acting (Batroc in Captain America: Winter Soldier and Kavi in the Kickboxer: Vengeance) started his career in Hector’s vehicle Never Surrender playing his on- screen brother. Unfortunately he was heavily dubbed afterwords so obviously Hector wasn’t impressed with his performance.

MV5BMTI5MTk2MjM5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTU3NjkzMg_002Hector always breaking new grounds- this time by making almost the entire film without any real actors. Strangely Hector himself is nowhere to be found on this cover.

Some films are cool, some films are funny, this film- THIS FILM IS PURE FUCKIN’ PERFECTION!

Kung FuryEvery movie that has uzi- wielding Valkira deserves our support!

With it’s foundation in 80’s Cop Films, Kung Fu and vintage video games Laser Unicorn studio present us the KUNG FURY!

David Sandberg (also Johhny Depp look- alike) is the director and  eponymous hero,  Joanna Häggblom is “Viking Babe”, Leopold Nilsson “Hacker Man” and Andreas Cahlins is the “Thor”. Kickstart campaign is destroying all the records and if you want to join in on the fun be free to do that here.