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DrNgor

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DrNgor last won the day on May 17

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  1. If anyone wants it (and picture quality isn't an issue), try this: https://www.amazon.com/Donnie-Yen-Collection-Vol-2/dp/B001CIOCI0/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=donnie+yen+collection+2&qid=1560620352&s=gateway&sr=8-7
  2. City of Darkness (1999) Aka Black City Starring: Tso Hsiao-Hu, Chen Chi-Chiang, Lee Luo, Donnie Yen, Collin Chou, Chang Yi-Teng, Billy Chow, Kim Maree Penn, and assorted non-MA characters we don’t are about Director: Lam Maang-Cheung Action Director: Yam Pak-Wang For reasons that will soon be clear, I’ll be using @ShaOW!linDude’s Mini-Review Fight-Breakdown style for this particular review. So let’s give credit where credit is due. Synopsis: Three youngsters, including Tso Hsiao-Hu (of the Kung Fu Kids series) and Chen Chi-Chiang (best known for playing Goku in infamous live-action adaptation of Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins from the early 1990s), initially have nothing to do with each other. But they are kidnapped by an evil crime boss (Collin Chou, of Bodyguard from Beijing and Flash Point) who knows the truth: they’re actually siblings and each of them has a jade pendant, which, when placed together, leads the way to a secret treasure. They escape and are soon chased all over the Taiwanese countryside by the boss’s minions and the police, headed by a corrupt commandant. They do get some assistance from a good cop, played by Lee Luo (of Crazy Mission, the low-budget Taiwanese equivalent to Gen-X Cops), and his hot-headed colleague, played by Donnie Yen. Fight Scene Breakdown: Fight 1: Chang Yi-Tang vs. flunkies – When Japanese criminal Collin Chou does a hostile takeover on his Taiwanese counterparts, his right-hand-man (Chang Yi-Tang) cuts up a bunch of crime bosses, plus their flunkies, with a pair of curved knives. The scene lasts a few seconds, but is slickly mounted. Fight 2: Chen Chi-Chiang vs. Triads – While performing a rock song at a club, a bunch of Triads show up to make trouble. Chen fights them off with an electric guitar and some nice kicks. He does a few good acrobatic moves, but it’s mainly a Jackie Chan-esque object fight. Fight 3: Chen Chi-Chiang and Tso Hsiao-Hu vs. Triads – The same triads try to kidnap both men during a bicycle race. Our heroes perform some decent kicks on and around their bikes. Then they get in an argument and get into a good ol’ 80s-style one on one, with Chen impressing more with his kicks. At the end, both men are captured. Fight 4: Donnie Yen vs. robbers – In his first scene, Donnie is doing some grocery shopping when some men invade the store, armed with shotguns. The action is mainly centered around Donnie dodging shotgun blasts, but he does a few kicks and takedowns here. Fight 5: Chen Chi-Chiang and Tso Hsiao-Hu vs. Triads – Our heroes are taken to a nightclub, where they are questioned about a treasure they haven’t heard of. The break free and fight off Collin Chou’s men, who are armed with metal bats and choppers. More solid 80s-style choreography, with Chen doing some decent kicks around a stripper pole. Fight 6: Chen Chi-Chiang and Tso Hsiao-Hu vs. Billy Chow – While running from both the bad guys and the cops inside a forest at night, our heroes stumble upon Billy Chow, still bald and sporting goatee from The Death Games. Our heroes double-team him, but he’s not budging. He easily fends off their blows and reaches Fist of Legend heights of rock-hardness. His punch-and-block combinations are fast and his kicks are powerful. Fight 7: Lee Luo vs. Billy Chow – Police officer Lee Luo picks up the slack from the previous fight. His character is a better fighter than the other two good guys, but still no match for Billy Chow. Lots of good one-on-one choreography here. Fight 8: Chen Chi-Chiang and Tso Hsiao-Hu vs. Billy Chow (Part 2) – This fight starts in a cramped apartment, moves into a stairwell, and finally into a basement full of found objects. The two-on-one choreography just keeps on getting better, and Billy Chow shows the rapscallions just how experienced he is. Their fight is mixed up by the arrival of some bat-wielding goons, just to keep things interesting. Fight 9: Lee Luo vs. Billy Chow (Part 2) – The rematch goes about as you might expect: Billy Chow is more than a match for Lee, but both of them throw some nice kicking combinations. This segues into…. Fight 10: Donnie Yen vs. Billy Chow – This is their rematch following Iron Monkey 2 (1996), and it’s a solid one. Donnie’s character is faster and stronger than the other three protagonists, so obviously he’s more of a match for Billy. Donnie does his patented jumping back kick and, at the end, launches into a barrage of punches that resemble a mix between his wing chun machine gun punches and his Legend of the Wolf blur punches. He takes out Billy with a flying drop kick to the face. Fight 11: Chang Yi-Tang vs. Kim Maree Penn – Following the death of Billy Chow’s character, Collin Chou flies in Kim to deal with our heroes. Chang is skeptical about giving the job to a woman, so the two have a brief exchange of punches and kicks. It’s a short duel, but well mounted. Fight 12: Chen Chi-Chiang and Tso Hsiao-Hu vs. Triads – Set at a restaurant, the bad guys dress up as waiters and bus boys to ambush our heroes. The triads are armed with knives and choppers, while the heroes using a mixture of acrobatics, kicking and throwing plates and cups at the bad guys. Tso shows off more of his acrobatic skills in this fight with a series of somersaults, and gets to perform a butterfly spin over a chair, which is immediately followed by a side kick, all in the same movement. Villain Chang Yi-Tang joins the fray with a wire-assisted split kick, but our heroes run away. Fight 13: Lee Luo vs. Kim Maree Penn – Lee confronts Collin Chou at his mansion, but passes up on trying to arrest him when he finds out that Chou’s men are following the heroes out in the wilderness. When he leaves, he’s confronted by Kim Maree Penn, and a fight breaks out (natch!). Kim is a superb kicker and gets lots of chances to show off her footwork here. Fight 14: Chen Chi-Chiang and Tso Hsiao-Hu vs. Chang Yi-Tang – Another fight between the three has some good choreography, but for some reason, the action directors wire up Chang’s movements more than any other character. It’s not too invasive, but it’s noticeable. I assume it’s to show us just how much of a martial arts dynamo his character his and how out of their league our heroes are. Tso does some wire-assisted jump kicks, too. It’s mainly noticeable because he seems to stay in the air an extra second longer than a normal person might. The fight ends after a child co-star pelts Chang with firecrackers. Fight 15: Chen Chi-Chiang, Tso Hsiao-Hu, and Lee Luo vs. Kim Maree Penn – This is a great fight, with Kim holding her own against three trained martial artists simultaneously. She really struts her stuff here, and the choreography is impeccable. The fight actually lasts a while, with our heroes unable to get the upper hand until the aforementioned child sidekick hits her with a taiser, which allow the good guys to beat her to death. Fight 16: Chen Chi-Chiang, Tso Hsiao-Hu, and Lee Luo vs. Chang Yi-Tang – This isn’t as good as their previous dust ups, as the three mainly to try to avoid getting hacked to pieces with Chang’s curved blades while using some grappling to try to restrain his hands. Our heroes get bloodied up real good in this fight. It’s broken up by fight #17, which I’ll discuss below. Donnie Yen shows up briefly and bests Chang with a metal baton (shades of Sha Po Lang), and then Chen and Tso double team Chang yet again. It ends with Chen side kicking Chang, followed by Tso doing a whirlwind kick as Chang is falling backward, and Tso follows up with a butterfly spin that ends in an elbow drop. Fight 17: Donnie Yen vs. Collin Chou – Sort of a preamble to Flash Point, these two men just go buck wild with the kicks. Chou has a blade hidden in his shoe, giving Donnie a run for his money. Donnie responds with some Legend of the Wolf machine gun punches, and then takes a page from Who Am I? and gets in some good hits while manipulating Chou’s tie. It ends with a nice jumping spin kick from Donnie. City of Darkness is a low-budget Taiwanese fight fest brought to you by Lam Maang-Cheung, who choroegraphed the Kung Fu Kids films and The Death Games (1997), and Yam Pak Wang, who had assisted Lam on The Death Games. Both films are similar in that they have Billy Chow, Collin Chou and Kim Maree Penn in their casts, with Billy Chow sticking out the most. The film has a distinct Crystal Hunt feel to it, with majority of the screen time being about people fighting with gang bosses until the end, when the story becomes a half-assed Indiana Jones film. Despite frequently being referred to as a Donnie Yen Movie, Yen is mainly relegated to an extended cameo, showing up whenever the script requires him to beat people up. He certainly does a great job of that, but he’s obviously done more and better fighting in other films. Despite being made in 1999, a year before the Taiwanese film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon changed the game and the way international audiences saw Chinese cinema, this film feels like it was made a decade earlier. It has that low budget shot-on-video feel, a disregard for things like maintaining a consistent tone (like how some bad guys are super violent, and others are just goofs), and most importantly, lots of excellent fight choreography. Sure, a few wire-assisted moves show up for reasons I can’t quite grasp, but 97% of what’s on display is grounded and looks great. To quote @ShaOW!linDude, I say GET IT!!!!!!
  3. DrNgor

    Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2015)

    Review posted:
  4. Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2015) Starring: Mark Chao, Yao Chen, Jin Chen, Li Feng, Tiffany Tang, Rhydian Vaughan, Wu Jun Director: Lu Chuan Action Director: Chen Jia-Fu Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe is one of those movies where the DVD box cover (and promotional poster) is a lot more exciting than the actual film. You have a cover with a bunch of attractive young people holding AK-47’s, plus a bald guy (that reminds me of a young Gai Chun Hwa) armed with a sword, with a kaiju-sized dragon looming over them in the background. Now *that* looks like an appealing fantasy adventure film. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what we get in the end. The movie begins with a montage of important archaeological discoveries in China, including the discovery of a tomb in which the body inside is magically preserved, even after thousands of years. That particular find becomes the impetus for the creation of Bureau 748, the sort of outfit that Hellboy or Abe Sapien might work for. Their current investigation is in the Kunlun mountains, where soldiers are helping the scientists to excavate a cave in one of the mountains. This scene is particularly bizarre in an “only in the PRC” way, where we see young, attractive nurses singing patriotic songs to exhausted laborers in an attempt to keep them working. All that is interrupted by an “explosion” that takes several lives. In the wake of the disaster, a team of volunteers is put together to investigate the cause of the disaster. Among the volunteers are our hero, Hu Bayi (Mark Chao, Young Detective Dee); Yang Ping, a young nurse (Yao Chen, Journey to the West: Demon Chapter); Yang Lin (Wang Qing Xiang, The Grandmaster and Red Cliff), the head scientist of Bureau 748; and Hu Bayi’s commanding officer (Hu Jun, of The Warring States). They head back into the cavern where the explosion had occurred and discover a new shaft, which leads to a great abyss. Carved into the walls of the abyss above them are statues of various gods, which makes for some neat industry. Descending into the abyss, our heroes find an ice cavern, which leads to another exit from the mountain, into a snowy valley within the range. The team come across the footprints of something huge, but before they can find out what it is, they are beset by a horde of “fire bats,” which cause whomever they touch to become engulfed in blue flames until they are reduced to ashes. The Something Huge turns out to be a dragon, which causes an avalanche to kill several more volunteers. Our heroes, while fleeing the avalanche, jump into another ice cavern, where the rest of the Expendable Meat die. By the end, the only survivors are those mentioned above. They find a huge pagoda inside another cave, which Yang Lin identifies as the Demon Pagoda. In addition to housing some sort of demon, it also holds the secrets to the mythical “Ghostly Tribe,” the remnants of an alien race that once ruled the Earth before being defeated by Prince Yi thousands of years ago. Only a descendant of Prince Yi can enter the Pagoda, and lo and behold! Hu Bayi just happens to be a descendant. As they are opening the Pagoda, Hu’s commanding officer interrupts them, leading to a series of disasters that result in the officer’s death, the disappearance of the Yang family, and Hu almost getting burned to death. And this marks the end of the first act…things will get a bit weirder during the exposition dump that is the second act, and then in the final series of action sequences. Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe is a generally unsatisfying adventure film in the vein of Indiana Jones, mixing fantasy and science fiction (probably because overt supernatural elements would be censored by Mainland officials). There is too much going on and the backstory of the titular Ghostly Tribe is a bit too convoluted to really make sense or become compelling. The Love Story between Hu Bayi and Yang Ping is a little more effective, but Hu spends much of the movie being ineffectual and only becomes more proactive in the final third. Moreover, much of cast isn’t onscreen enough for us to care about them. Almost everybody we meet, even briefly, in the first act is dead by the end of the first half hour. And then we meet a *new* expedition team in the last act, but we also don’t spend enough time with them to really care about their plight, so the script is basically telling us to care “because these people are young and attractive,” and that’s obviously not enough. Compounding that is the fact that several important characters, as in those who provide us with most of the exposition during the second act, disappear once the final expedition is under way, which constitutes bad writing by any metric. A sequel to this movie, Bureau 748, is set to be released in Mainland theaters this year. I state this because I wonder if that film will be a direct continuation of this one. This film ends with a major plot thread—the disappearance of Dr. Yang Lin—unresolved, despite that being the reason for the entire third act in the first place! It also leaves the fate of Yang Ping ambiguous, which is also rather infuriating—she had a major role in the first and last acts, but we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen to her, if anything at all. I hope this next movie can tie up all these loose threads in a satisfying way, otherwise I’ll be majorly disappointed. The technical side of the film is hit-or-miss. There is *a lot* of mediocre 90s-level CGI on display, as is wont to happen in these big budget Mainland films. We have avalanches and sandstorms—I half expected Arnold Vosloo’s face to appear in the sand during the latter sequence. There are lots of floating objects that might’ve looked interesting in 3D, put just look fake and cheesy in regular HD. The monsters fare the best. We have the aforementioned dragon that shows up in the first act, and then the final act is a running battle through a devastated town between our heroes and an army of giant werewolves. Those creatures looks a lot better onscreen than some of the other digital effects, so I’ll give them that. Too bad the script fails to explain what they actually are supposed to be in relation to the Ghostly Tribe. The film has a credited “martial arts director”, Chen Jia-Fu, whose other major credit is Ameera, which looks like a post-modern take on the Girls n’ Guns genre. That film has Leung Kar-Yan and Colllin Chou in the cast, and the poster shows three girls in short, tight-leather get-ups holdling guns. Looks great to me! But back to this movie: there are no actual martial arts to speak of. Even when shadow demons invade the royal library where Hu is working in the second act, and Hu’s boss pulls out a traditional sword, we don’t actually see any martial arts. Boring! The climax consists mainly of people fighting werewolf-troll monsters with assault rifles and RPGs, which is fun…but where’s the actual martial arts, people? As it stands, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe is mainly a big disappointment. The script needed a few edits, the CGI needed to be better, and we needed some actual wushu on display. I’m hoping this next film is better, but on the same token, it could always go the way of those two Iceman films that everybody hates. If you want a Chinese version of Indiana Jones, stick with the Armour of God films, some of those early Wisely movies, and Dr. Wei and the Scripture with No Words. Those are a lot more satisfying than this.
  5. This is from my old Angelfire wepage back in 2000. I copied the style/format wholesale from the now-defunct "Martial Artist's Guide to Hong Kong Films" that I followed religiously at the time. I'm sure my opinions on some films will have changed from then until now, but here you go: http://www.angelfire.com/ca5/blake/martialart.html SEP DEC MAR Previous capture 10 Next capture 2002 2003 2010 23 captures 24 Feb 2002 - 3 Mar 2016 About this capture Guide to American Martial Arts Movies NOTE: The movies that I will be reviewing are American martial arts movies. I will not judge them on the same standards that I would judge a Hong Kong martial arts film. If that was the case, most movies would get very low ratings. The appearance of Hong Kong-style choreography didn't really appear in the states until Mortal Kombat (post-Bruce Lee that is). I am judging these films according to American martial arts standards. The ratings given will be based on the martial arts content (i.e. technique of performers, choreography, etc). Also, movies that aren't made in the U.S. will occasionally be reviewed if I feel there is an important significance to it (i.e. was made more American audiences or something). The ratings are on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Enter the Dragon Stars: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Angela Mao, Bolo Yeung MA Rating: 5 One of the great classics of American martial arts cinema. This movie is influential in several different ways: 1. It's the first American "martial arts tournament" film, a sub-genre that's been used COUNTLESS times since. 2. It cemented Bruce Lee's status in the states as probably the greatest martial arts actor in history. This movie set the standard for movie martial arts in the U.S. that (depending on who you ask) either hasn't been met or wasn't met until the appearance of Hong Kong choreography in the mid-90s. 3. It was hugely successful. The plot is about a martial artist who goes to a shady tournament to investigate the illegal activities of the man in charge of it. He teams up with two other martial artists in bringing down the drug/prostitution empire of the villainous Mr. Han, who also happened to study kung fu with Bruce Lee's character. There are a lot of notable aspects of the film. That's a very young Sammo Hung that Bruce Lee beats up in the opening sequence (Sammo would go on to do "Enter the Fat Dragon, which is generally considered to be the best Bruce Lee imitation ever). Angela Mao, often called the "female Bruce Lee", makes an early performance as Bruce Lee's sister. She gets to beat up a lot of thugs, and then commits suicide. There are many all-out brawls, the best of them being the brawl in the cave where Bruce uses jeet kune do, nunchaku, escrima, and a pole. His duel with Bob Wall is also memorable. Overall, a classic, no doubt. Game of Death Stars: Bruce Lee, Bob Wall, Danny Inosanto, Sammo Hung MA Rating: 5 Most people generally tend to view this film as crap. Personally, I don't agree. Even compared to high standards which movies today are creating, this film holds up well. While most of the action is done by lookalikes, the fighting is expertly choreographed by Sammo Hung. The highlights of these scenes are the fights and the estate and against Bob Wall. Bruce Lee himself fights in the final 15 minutes. His fights against, Danny Inosanto with a bamboo cane and nunchaku, a hapkido master, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar are among the best you'll ever see. Great fighting all around. The Perfect Weapon Stars: Jeff Speakman, James Hong, Mako, Dr. Toru Tananka MA Rating: 5 Standard revenge storyline is a great showcase for Speakman's kempo martial arts. His punches are fast and his kicks are good, also. Speakman also gets a chance to use some escrima in the movie. One notable a fight is one between him, James Lew, Al Goto, and another fighter at a tae kwon do gym. Above the Law Hard to Kill Out For Justice Stars: Steven Seagal MA Rating: 2-3 Modern crime dramas with lots of shootings mixed in with short martial arts sequences. Seagal's aikido, which is done quickly and brutally, is great but not showcased well. Also, these movies give him no opponent for him to fight with at the end. Bloodsport Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bolo Yeung MA Rating: 5 Good "tournament film" tells the story about how Frank Dux became the first Westerner to win the Kumite, a brutal martial arts tournament held in Hong Kong. This movie was Van Damme's breakthrough role. Van Damme himself is in good form with lots of high kicks and his patented spinning jump kick. This movie also features Muay Thai, Korean martial arts, and Chinese martial arts. One of Van Damme's best. Kickboxer Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tong Po MA Rating: 4.5 Another "tournament film" by Van Damme has him studying Muay Thai in Thailand so he can fight Tong Po, a Thai boxer who crippled his brother. Great training sequences and excellent kicks from Van Damme. Only qualm is that the end become an exhibition of moves instead of a choreographed fight. Lionheart Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme MA Rating: 4.5 Yet another "tournament movie" has Van Damme fighting in the illegal pit fighting circuit so he can help out his deceased brother's family. More acting from Van Damme than usual. His kicks are excellent as usual. The final battle is fairly long and brutal, but descends into the "punching bag" choreography that was present in Kickboxer. The Quest Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme MA Rating: 5 Less brutal Bloodsport-variation about a street crook learning Muay Thai and then fighting stylists around the world at a tournament held in hidden city. The usual muay thai/kickboxing from Van Damme is present, along with showcases from various world champion martial artists. The 5 Animals stylist is a highlight. Double Team Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, Mickey Rourke MA Rating: 5 Secret agent film about retired spy Van Damme and arms dealer Rodman going after a terrorist. The action is choreographed by Sammo Hung, who successfully makes Van Damme look his best. His display of kicks at the finale is impressive. Xiong Xin Xin, who played "Clubfoot" in the OUATIC series, makes a welcome cameo in the film. Rapid Fire Stars: Brandon Lee, Powers Boothe, Tzi Ma MA Rating: 5 Showcase for Bradon Lee's martial arts talents. The movie is action-packed, although a lot of it is with guns. Lee's skills are superb. His fight with Al Leong is a classic. Several stunts in that movie are a rip-off of Jackie Chan's Police Story. The Octagon Stars: Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef MA Rating: 3 Early ninja film about Chuck Norris taking on a school of ninjas, headed by an old rival of his. Most of the action doesn't come until the end, when Norris takes on the whole school. Norris is OK. The swordfight with the ninja executioner is slow, even by American choreography standards. The Protector Stars: Jackie Chan, Danny Aiello MA Rating: 3 Buddy-cop movie about Chan and Aiello tearing up Hong Kong in search of a kidnap victim. Lots of gunfire, explosions, and nudity, but not enough martial arts. The fight between Chan and karate champion Bill "Superfoot" Wallace is disappointing. Revenge of the Ninja Stars: Sho Kosugi, Keith Vitali MA Rating: 4 Arguably the best movie to come out of the 1980s "ninja craze." The movie is filled with the prerequisite ninja swordfights, disappearing tricks, nifty ninja weapons, etc. Lengthy fight sequence where Kosugi and Vitali take on drug traffickers is a standout. Ninja III: The Domination Stars: Sho Kosugi, Lucinda Dickey MA Rating: 4 After a violent, action-packed beginning, this movie becomes a supernatural/possession film. Things pick up when Kosugi gets on the scene. He's underused, however. The Matrix Stars: Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss MA Rating: 5 Long, occasionally slow computer/techno thriller contains a convoluted plot, John Woo-esque gunplay, and also the most intricate choreography to come from an American movie. Yuen Woo-Ping, one of the best martial arts directors in existence, does an excellent job of making the non-MA actors look like seasoned fighters. The fight between Reeves and Fishburne contains a lot of stances from different styles. Good fights. Romeo Must Die Stars: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Russell Wong MA Rating: 5 Although the fights are few and far between, they are more imaginative and expertly-choreographed than most American films. Corey Yuen does a good job of directing the action, although there are too many close-ups during the fight. At times special FX are used, but Jet Li is still impressive. Notice the amount of actual martial arts that Jet Li uses compared to Russell Wong in the finale. Would've benefited from a better main villain. Lethal Weapon 4 Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Jet Li MA Rating: 5 This is a buddy-cop action/comedy movie, not a martial arts film. However, with Corey Yuen behind the scenes, this film is an excellent showcase for Jet Li's wushu. He has fast reflexes, great kicks, and does an awesome wushu kick from the top of a forklift. You know he's that good when it takes the good guys various weapons and tricks to kill him. In short, he steals the show. Hard Target Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henrikson MA Rating: 3 John Woo's first American movie is an action-packed movie about a merchant sailor going up against a band of human hunters. A lot of the action is gunplay, which is John Woo's specialty. There is some good kickboxing from Van Damme, although not enough for a man of his skills. Generally said to be one of Van Damme's best, because of Woo's stylistic touches (the irony is that people also say that Van Damme brings John Woo down in this). Entertaining, in any case. Street Knight The Expert Scorpio One Memorial Day Stars: Jeff Speakman MA Rating: 1-2 Disappointing B-movies have a few short fights that are in no way an appropriate showcase of Speakman's kempo skills. China O' Brien China O' Brien 2 Stars: Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Keith Cooke MA Rating: 5 These two movies are non-stop action films for those who like their martial arts films to be pure. There's no unnecessary comedy, drama, or anything like that. It's all strictly fighting. The movies are a showcase for the talents of the three main characters. Good kickboxing from Cynthia and Richard. Cooke is also in great form with some great wushu kicks. Big Trouble in Little China Stars: Kurt Russell, Dennis Dun, James Hong MA Rating: 5 This movie is basically an American-made Chinese fantasy movie. There's monsters, socerors, Chinese gangs, wire-fighting, and gunplay thrown into the mix. The highlight of this films is a big martial arts brawl inside of a Chinatown alley. Welcome cameo by Al Leong. This is one of those movies that is just plain fun to watch (it doesn't take itself too seriously). King of the Kickboxers Stars: Loren Avedon, Billy Blanks, Keith Cooke MA Rating: 5 Violent, B-grade version of Kickboxer finds Avedon fighting Billy Blanks while smashing a snuff-film ring in Thailand. The film was produced by Ng See Yuen, who was responsible for some of the best traditional kung-fu flicks during the 1970s. Lots of great kickboxing from the stars. The choreography is good enough to classify this as an American classic (from a martial arts point of view). Billy Blanks kicks good. The plot is cliched and the acting is pretty bad (Just look at Avedon's face when he overacts), but the fights make up for it. Keith Cooke is a standout as a Thai kickboxing master. Unfortunately, he's underused. Sudden Death Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe MA Rating: 0 Die Hard-like movie set at a hockey game. Van Damme is a fire marshall who battles terrorists holding the Vice President hostage. The movie is violent and has a high body count, but there's not really a lot of MA from Van Damme. There are some claustrophobic fight scenes, but nothing special. Look elsewhere to see Van Damme fight good. Mission Impossible 2 Stars: Tom Cruise MA qnty: 1 MA qlty: 4 (changed to a 3) After 90 minutes of worthless, boring plot development and another 20 minutes of gunplay and motorcycle chases, the movie ends with a big martial arts showdown between Tom Cruise and the main bad guy. This fight scene makes a lot of American movie fights look pale by comparison. It is important to note, however, that the fight isn't really martial arts. It's a combination of Cruise's gymnastic skills mixed with that hyper-stylized slo mo that John Woo does so well. On Deadly Ground Fire Down Below Stars: Steven Seagal MA rating: 1 High on environmental philosophy and low on aikido. Avoid unless you are a big fan of Seagal. The Glimmer Man Stars: Steven Seagal, Keenan Ivory Wayans MA rating: 4 Buddy-cop movie has more Seagal aikido than usual and it actually has some sort of a final duel, something not often seen in a Seagal movie. Deadly Outbreak Stars: Jeff Speakman MA rating: 2.9 Terrorist movie with B-production values is better than much of the other straight-to-video stuff he's done. There's more kempo in this one than usual. However, he has yet to surpass his first movie The Perfect Weapon. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Stars: Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly MA rating: 4 For being a biography, there's a good amount of fights in this film. The fights are also more energetic than usual. However, since this film is about one of the greatest martial artists ever, the movie loses a point for failing to truly capture the spirit of Jeet Kune Do and wing chun. Jason Scott Lee is not a martial artist, and it shows. I've also heard that this movie leaves out a lot of the story as well (The don't even mention Betty Ting Pei). The film could've benefited from either a better choreographer (Sammo Hung) or a better lead. Rush Hour Stars: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker MA rating: 3 Standard buddy-cop/fish-out-of-water story about Chinese cop Chan and LA cop Tucker searching for a kidnap victim. There's a fair amount of kickboxing from Chan, nothing special, however. He is fast and agile, don't get me wrong, but there are better showcases for his physical talents. Watch his Hong Kong movies instead. Mortal Kombat Stars: Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa MA rating: 5 Martial arts extravaganza based on the popular video game. The movie is basically "Enter the Dragon" with special FX. There are quite a few fights in this movie, choreographed by both Pat Johnson and Robin Shou, a sort of teaming up of Hong Kong and American fight choreography. Shou's choreography clearly comes out on top. Shou's wushu is excellent, clearly the highlight of the film. His fights, including the one against Reptile (Keith Cooke, who's also a wushu stylist), stand out from the rest. Some of Pat Johnson's choreography is slow, showing the audience that some of the actors don't know martial arts. Extremely satisfying in the end, however. One of the best movies to come out of the states. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Stars: Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, James Remar MA rating: 4.5 Sequel to the first hit movie is full of bad acting, stupid plot twists, horrible dialogue, and subpar visual FX. There are also a large number of fight scenes in this film, once again choreographed by both Robin Shou and Pat Johnson. And like the first one, Shou's choreography outshines Johnson. It often seems like characters from the game were just thrown in so there could be a fight scene between them and the main characters. Slow choreography from Pat Johnson once again shows that many of the actors aren't martial artists. Great wushu from Shou and Keith Cooke (in a cameo as Sub-Zero). The guy who plays both Cyrax and Scorpion is pretty good too. Ray Park (James Remar's stunt double) has a short but decent fight scene. White Tiger Stars: Gary Daniels, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa MA rating: 3 Unremarkable B-movie starring British martial artist Daniels. A few decent kickboxing scenes; one can get a good idea how good Daniels is. However, nothing new or special. The Big Brawl Stars: Jackie Chan, Mako MA rating: 3 1930s era gangster/slapstick/kung fu flick was Jackie Chan's first American film. Lots of stereotyped characters, slapstick, and goofing off. Jackie Chan is fast, agile, and talented. Everyone else is big, dumb, and/or clumsy. The finale features a lot of hulking wrestler-types. The fights, choreographed by Pat Johnson, are often slow and sloppy. Mostly for Jackie Chan fans. Hot Potato Stars: Jim Kelly MA rating: 1 1970s kung fu adventure has Kelly looking for the daughter of a politician. Mostly idiotic slapstick, with some MA tossed in here and there. Not enough to redeem the film though. Avoid it. Blade Stars: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff MA rating: 4 Horror/action based on Marvel Comics character who's a vampire hunter. Full of gunplay, action, violence, and gore. Wesley Snipes makes an effort to add a Hong Kong flavor to the choreography. The choreography is better than usual and Snipes proves he's a capable fighter. Should've spent more time on the fight sequences and less time on the sadistic violence. Executive Decision Stars: Steven Seagal, Kurt Russell, John Leguizamo MA rating: 0 Suspenseful terrorist thriller about Arab terrorists hijacking an airplane. Fans of Seagal will be disappointed as he shows up in the beginning, kills some people with knives, and dies early on. Knock-Off Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rob Schneider, Lela Rochon MA rating: 3 Action-packed spy thriller set in Hong Kong. The plot is a convoluted mish mash about the CIA, the Russian mob, and miniature bombs. Van Damme fights well under Sammo Hung's direction, but the action is too often obscured by quick cuts and drug-induced photography. The action overall is quite slick and entertaining. This is one of his most stylistically original films, thanks to director Tsui Hark. Marked for Death Stars: Steven Seagal, Basil Wallace, Keith David MA rating: 4.5 Tough, violent crime-drama about an ex-DEA agent going after a Jamaican drug lord. This movie features more Steven Seagal aikido than usual. He does his usual throws, twists, breaks, etc. In one sequence he bashes a group of guys with a sledge hammer. Main problem is the over-abundance of voodoo rituals and the sort. Not for the squeamish. Desert Heat Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme MA rating: 0 Bizarre desert drama about Van Damme seeking vengeance on the white trash that stole his motorcycle. A fair amount of action, but most of it is gunplay and explosions. Spends too much time on weird, unlikeable characters. Too much sex also. Van Damme throws a few kicks and punches, nothing special. For die hard fans only. Laser Mission Stars: Brandon Lee MA rating: 0 Cold War-era spy film comes off as a James Bond spoof. Fighting is short, sparse, and sloppy. A real disappointment. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series Stars: various actors, Ernie Reyes Jr. (# 2 only) MA rating: 2-3 Film series based off of the comic book is basically an action/comedy series for kids. The movies are full of slapstick humor, one-liners, and dated slang. The action, while choreographed by Pat Johnson, seems to come from the Jackie Chan school of "slapstick-fu." The first movie is fairly standard stuff. #2 is more of the same but benefits from the great tae kwon do of Ernie Reyes Jr. The finale is a disappointment, however. Part 3 contains some good weapons forms at the beginning and some good kicking. Although the turtles are all amred with a specific weapon (katana, sai, bo, and nunchaku), the weapons work is slow and never exciting. The accessibility of these films is limited mainly to children. Circle of Iron Stars: Jeff Cooper, David Carradine, Christopher Lee MA rating: 1 Bizzarre kung fu/ Zen philosophy/barbarian film about a man who is searching for a book and the warrior who guards it. the MA is very sloppy, hinting at the fact that a lot of these guys probably don't know how to fight. Based on an idea from James Coburn and Bruce Lee. Too bad Lee died before this film was made. American Ninja series Stars: Michael Dudikoff (#1,2, and 4), Steve James (#1,2, and 3), David Bradley (#3,4, and 5) MA rating: 1-2 This series was born during the "ninja craze" of the 1980s and became a solid B-movie series. The choreography is slow and unexciting. The fighters themselves are unimpressive. Also, the weapons choreography is slow as usual. Oh, and the occasional "ninja magick" is corny. There are movies with better choreography and a better fighters out there. If you want ninjas, watch a movie with Sho Kosugi or by Ching Siu Tung. Maximum Risk Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme MA rating: 3 Gritty, violent crime thriller directed by Hong Kong director Ringo Lam. There's a violence, sex, and martial arts thrown in here and there. Van Damme isn't bad, but the fights don't showcase his talents well. The finale is disappointing. Double Dragon Stars: Marc Dacascos, Scott Wolf, Robert Patrick MA rating: 0 What should've been a brutal, non-stop martial arts film is actually a corny, post-apocalyptic, mystical action/comedy freak show. I might note that the film's attempts to have comedy fall horribly flat and make the movie all the more excrutiating to watch. This bears little resemblance to the video game in which it is based. There's not a lot of MA, and those scenes are sloppy. Dacascos is the only member of the cast who can fight, but he's horribly underused. Everyone else is slow and sloppy. Al Leong, who appears as a henchman, can't even save this movie. Probably the worst video game movie adaptation. Surf Ninjas Stars: Ernie Reyes Jr., Leslie Nielson, Ernie Reyes Sr. MA rating: 4 Martial arts/comedy is in the same vein as the TMNT series. Surprisingly, the movie isn't bogged down by stupid slapstick and most of the action is played straight. Although the choreography is often of the "punching bag" variety, both father and son are fun to watch. Their tae kwon do is swift and graceful. Silly, but entertaining. Street Fighter Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ming Na Wen, Raul Julia MA rating: 3 Silly, corny, and ultimately disappointing film adaptation of the popular video game. What could've been a great tournament film in the same vein as "Enter the Dragon" ended up being a high-tech terrorist movie. A lot of film time is spent on the stories of characters too numerous to mention. Much of the action is gunplay and explosions. The fight scenes, choreographed by Benny Urquidez, are decent. Van Damme looks good but doesn't get a lot of fight time. Ming throws some kicks and looks good doing it. The other fighters are poorly casted and aren't impressive. As far as martial arts goes, you could do better or do worse. Double Impact Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Geoffrey Lewis, Bolo Yeung MA rating: 5 Van Damme plays twins who go after the triads responsible for murdering their parents. Van Damme is good in this one; his kicks are fast and high. The fight with Bolo is fairly impressive, but a bit short. Not all of the action is martial arts, there's a fair amount of gunplay in this movie. Fights are choreographed by Van Damme. Timecop Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ron Silver, Mia Sara MA rating: 4 Pretty good sci-fi actioner about a time-traveling cop battling a corrupt senator. Van Damme's kickboxing is good like usual, but there could've been more fighting. The finale could've been better, also. One notable scene is where Van Damme does some escrima-like stick fighting. Universal Soldier: The Return Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Bill Goldberg MA rating: 4 Brainless, often exploitive sequel to the original has Van Damme fighting an army of UNISOLs led by Jai White. Although the action is non-stop, most of it is gunplay and explosions set to loud rock music. However, there is some good kickboxing, choreographed by Hong Kong veteran Yuen Tak. Van Damme and Jai White are impressive in the finale, one of Van Damme's best fights. Highlander: Endgame Stars: Adrian Paul, Christopher Lambert, Donnie Yen MA rating: qnty: 1 qlty: 5 If you can get past all of the Highlander mythology stuff, there are two great fight scenes with and choreographed by Donnie. He uses wing chun, kickboxing, and a kwan do in his fights. Under Siege Under Siege 2: Dark Territory Stars: Steven Seagal MA rating: 1 Seagal battles terrorists on a battleship in #1 and on a train in #2. Most of the action is gunplay and explosives. There is little aikido on display in these movies. Entertaining, but not from a MA standpoint. Mr. Nice Guy Stars: Jackie Chan, Richard Norton MA rating: 4.5 Typical Jackie Chan underdog kung fu/comedy hijinks. Chan plays a cook that gets caugt up in gang war between two Australian gangs. The movie is action-packed and full of comedy, prop-fighting, great stuntwork, and fighting. The choreography, done by Sammo Hung, is good (I liked the flip kick Jackie does when his leg is grabbd by a thug). Jackie is acrobatic and quick. However, his fight with Richard Norton is very short and the finale is disappointing. That's what prevents this movie from getting a full 5. However, when compared with the typical American MA film, this film really does shine. This movie, filmed in Australia with mostly non-Asian actors, was made with American audiences in mind. Who Am I? Stars: Jackie Chan MA rating: 5 After an unimpressive first half (no martial arts), things begin to pick up. There are two typical Jackie Chan prop fights (he uses wooden clogs in one seen). The movie ends with an excellent final fight. Chan fights a Dutch superkicker, Ron Smoorenburg, and a Chinese guy, David Leung, who uses a lot of punches (choy li fut?). The fight lasts for about 10 minutes and makes up for the disappointing finales of "First Strike", "Mr. Nice Guy", and "Rumble in the Bronx." The movie was filmed in English, once again with American audiences in mind. The Karate Kid series Stars: Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio MA rating: 0 Despite the title, don't expect much martial arts (or good martial arts for that matter). The sequences are short and unimpressive. Disappointing films overall. Excessive Force Stars: Thomas Ian Griffith MA rating: 4 Violent cop movie is a showcase for Griffith's MA skills. The story is typical: cop avenging his partner while battling the mob and corrupt officials. There's a fair amount of kickboxing, and Griffith looks impressive. He uses a lot of crescent and spinning kicks. However, the action lacks a certain spark. Only the Strong Stars: Marc Dacascos MA rating: 5 Excellent display of Dacascos and his capoiera skills. Capoiera is a Brazillian martial art that mixes rhythmic movement with kicking. The choreography is intense without being too violent. Dacascos is swift, agile, and graceful. His kicks are great. His main opponent is talented too. A model of a great martial arts film. The capoiera exhibitions are great also. Charlie's Angels Stars: Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz MA rating: pure MA: 1 fight scenes: 5 Another entry in the ever-increasing movies from Hollywood to contain hyper-stylized fighting choreographed by Hong Kong veterans. This time around, it's Yuen Cheung-Yan, brother of Yuen Woo-Ping from the Matrix, doing the work. There's barely any authentic martial arts from the cast. Most of the time they're performing gravity-defying kicks and the sort. Drew Barrymore's "king kong palm" pays homage directly to Iron Monkey, in which Yuen Cheung-Yan helped with the choreography. The movie is enjoyable, but MA purists beware. Drive Stars: Mark Dacascos, Kadeem Hardisson, Masaya Sato MA rating: high 5 This straight-to-video film was originally intended as a vehicle for Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone. However, it ended up being a B-movie with Dacascos and Hardisson, who aren't necessarily box office draws. The plot finds Dacascos and Hardisson on the run from assassins in the near future; it is merely an excuse to go from one action set-piece to another (imagine a cross between Universal Soldier and a Jackie Chan film). DO NOT let the straight-to-video status fool you, it is the best American martial arts movie made since Enter the Dragon It is not hard to guess that this movie was orginally intended for Jackie Chan. Props and object-driven combat show up often during the fight scenes, a practice that has become Jackie's trademark. The choreography is complex, quick, and intense. The main players and the stuntmen all know how to move. There are some wires used, none of it terribly obvious though. The fight scenes take place at regular speed, as opposed to often-excessive use of slow mo that is used today. The choreography ranks with The Matrix in speed and intricacy and surpasses it in quantity. After the abysmal Double Dragon, Dacascos has redeemed himself with movies like this and Only the Strong. Unlike the latter, Dacascos uses a more modern kickboxing style of fighting, as opposed to pure capoiera. Nonetheless, his presence as a screen fighter has far surpassed Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and such. Sato, who plays the main villain, nearly if not does steal the show in the finale with an awesome flurry of kicks that's reminiscent of Ken Lo from Drunken Master II. To sum it up: This is one of the true classic MA films. Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back Stars: Phillip Rhee, Gina Gershon MA rating: 2 Martial artist Rhee battles white supremists in the South. The movie contains a not-so-subtle message about racism and hate. There is also a lot of violcnce and brutality which is quite disturbing at times. The action is OK. Rhee's tae kwon do skills aren't the problem, it's the way they are showcased. Most of the fights are short and uninteresting. The finale is decent, with a few nifty kicks that Rhee does. One fight has him fighting in a clown outfit (something one would expect to find in a Jackie Chan film). Overall this film is forgettable. The Big Hit Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, China Chow MA rating: Qnty: 1 Qlty: 4 Kirk Wong, best known for his "true crime" flicks in Hong Kong debuted in the U.S. with this action-comedy about young hitmen. Stylistically, this is a Hong Kong action film with over-the-top gunplay and some pretty good martial arts. The finale is a hand-to-knife duel in a video store. Wahlberg, who studied martial arts with Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, looks pretty good. The choreography was better than usual. If there was only more. Lady Dragon 2 Stars: Cynthia Rothrock MA rating: 3 Generally believed to be Rothrock's best acting performance. Personally I thought the first half dragged and the melodrama was particularly annoying. When the second half of the movie goes in the revenge direction, there are some decent if unexceptional kickboxing scenes. Not bad, but not great either. Shanghai Noon Stars: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu MA rating: 5 I was a bit hasty in reviewing this movie earlier. Watching it again made me appreciate it more. The plot is similar to Rush Hour, with Jackie Chan teaming up with bandit Wilson to find a kidnapped Qing princess. Like most of Chan's movies, his character is a sort of fish-out-of-water/underdog type. The movie generally alternates between western-spoof and a typical Jackie Chan physical comedy. The action: Refreshingly, Chan's distinct style of choreography isn't watered down like it was in his other American efforts (i.e. Big Brawl, Rush Hour, and The Protector). Yuen Biao, Chan's brother from Opera Institute, was the main choreographer. The fights put Chan's martial arts, acrobatics, and stuntwork on full display. Highlights: a Chinese rope-dart sequence using a rope and horseshoe and a short duel with Yu Rong Gwong with a sword, a spear, and a 3-sectional staff. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Stars: Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chow Yun Fat MA rating: 5 Although this movie is actually a Taiwanese production, I have a few reasons for including it on this page: 1. It was financially backed (if I'm not mistaken) by an American company. 2. It's a commercial success here in the States. 3. American critics are hailing it as the best martial arts movies ever. 4. It's helping to set the standards for choreography in America for years to come. I will first discuss the movie's fight scenes before commenting on the film as a whole. The choreography, done Yuen Woo-Ping, is great. There's a great deal of wires, flying people, and the like. That can attributed to the fact that this movie belongs in the "Wuxia" sub-genre of martial arts film. The highlights are two fights between Michelle and Ziyi. The first has the two fighting hand-to-hand. The fighting is fast and intricate. Michelle is Ziyi's superior. The second duel has the two fighting once again but with weapons: sword, machete, spear, double hook swords, Chinese broadsword,etc. This is simply the best swordfight I have ever seen. Michelle looks awesome and is a joy to watch. With that said, my comments on the film: By American standards, this has some of the best martial arts put on film. By Asian standards, this is nothing new (still good, but not groundbreaking). Yuen Woo-Ping has done better. Michelle has looked more impressive. It is neither of their best work. Nor does it live up to the faster-growing reputation as the greatest martial arts movie ever. It is not the first martial arts movie with a plot. It's not the first martial arts movie with well-defined characters and good acting. Nor is it the first time a martial arts movie has had a good score. I don't doubt that the film is well-made, but certainly not the best of the genre. While I'm always pleased to see martial arts films be successful in the box-office, it is disheartening to think about what the critics' remarks imply. They imply that this film rises above the great movies whose stars are certainly more talented than Chow Yun-Fat or Zhang Ziyi. When Drunken Master 2 came out in the States, it didn't make a stir despite the fact that the choreography is superior by all standards. Many movies with Jet Li, a truly-talented martial artist, movies which have been said to be among the best of the genre, have been released in U.S. with little or no critical reaction. My point is that the great martial artists have made great films which might be left in the shadow of this film, which certainly isn't the best of the genre. No Retreat, No Surrender 2 (aka Raging Thunder) Stars: Loren Avedon, Cynthia Rothrock, Max Thayer MA rating: 4.5 Avedon teams up with Rothrock and Thayer to battle Russians, evil monks, and Hwang Jang Lee in this 1980s action fest. Lots of martial arts action are provided courtesy of Corey Yuen. Although he's one of the biggest import choreographers now, he's worked in America before. There are some good fights, like the fight with the monks and Avedon's final duel with the Russian general. The latter feels derivative of various other Hong Kong fights (like the finale of Dragons Forever). Cynthia's fight with Hwang Jang Lee, the Korean super kicker, is disappointing. It's too short; Hwang doesn't get to cut loose and Cynthia beats him too easily. On whole, it's a very entertaining film. Lone Wolf McQuade Stars: Chuck Norris, David Carradine MA rating: 2.5 Fairly early Chuck Norris action film that is often said to be one of his best. The movie feels like a modern-day western (thanks to the score). The plot has Texas Ranger Norris going up against an arms dealer, played by Carradine. Interesting premise, pitting the man who fought Bruce Lee against the man who replaced Bruce Lee. The martial arts scenes are short and sparse, with the exception of the last fight. Norris may have been a karate champion, but only Bruce Lee seems to be able to translate his skills on-screen. Overall, a generic action movie. Six-String Samurai Stars: Jeffrey Falcon MA rating: 5 Bizarre, action-packed oddysey set in a post-nuclear holocaust Nevada during the 1950s. A katana-wielding guitarist and a young boy battle Death and his minions on his way to Vegas to take Elvis' place as the King. There are several swordfights and some hand-to-hand fights as well. The set-pieces are fast, full of energy, and well-choreographed. Falcon, whose career contains several Hong Kong films, is quite impressive. Weird, but fun and entertaining. Kiss of the Dragon Stars: Jet Li, Brigitte Fonda, Tcheky Karyo MA rating: 5 This is Jet Li's third film done in the US. It is also the first time he doesn't have to share screen time with any others. It his film, plain and simple. The story, conceived by Jet himself, tells the story of a Chinese cop who gets framed for murder in Paris, France. He spends most of the movie trying to clear his name while battling policemen and befriending a prostitute. This movie arguably contains Jet's best physical performance since Fist of Legend in 1994. Part of this is due to the fact that he gets more action scenes than he had been getting before that. Also, this movie doesn't have the reliance of special effects that many of his films did. Prior to its release, this film boasted of having "Fist of Legend style action scenes" and for the most part, it delivers. Jet looks great and gets to use not only his hands and feet, but a variety of weapons also. In one scene that's reminiscent of Fist of Legend and My Father is a Hero), he takes on an entire room full of martial artists (this time with a stick). Unlike his two previuos American movies, KOTD features a fair amount of actual martial artists for Jet to fight, instead of nothing but unskilled stooges. Corey Yuen, Jet's most frequent choreographer, does his best job of bringing out the best in Jet. While he's been one of Hong Kong's most creative action directors, he's had a tendency to let the choreography overshadow that actual physical talents of Jet. This isn't hte case, however. In addition to being one of Jet Li's best fighting fighting performances, this is also his grittiest and most violent film (with Black Mask coming in second). Bones are broken, necks are snapped, people are shot, stabbed, and brutally beaten. While Swordsman 2 and Black Mask were graphically violent, the films were stylish enough to not make it offensive. The realistic tone of the film makes the violence all the more real and disturbing. Jet Li even announced publicly that he didn't want children watching this film. Purely on the basis of Jet Li's martial arts, this film gets the highest recommendation. This is Jet's best fighting film since Fist of Legend (with Once Upon A Time in China and America coming in second). However, when the violence, language, and adult themes are considered, it's very hard to recommend this film. It is not for young people. It is not for the squeamish. Whether or not a person likes it depends on his/her taste.
  6. DrNgor

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    That's some moxy on your part. The film is universally considered to be the best Godzilla film after the original GOJIRA. And to give it a 2.5? Wow, just wow.
  7. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.
  8. @ShaOW!linDude - Are you convinced?
  9. That's even bigger issue in Godzilla 2014, for the record. If you watch both films in tandem, than this film was major step up in that regard. I think they're trying to avoid some of the storytelling pitfalls, should you call it that, that befell a lot of the films especially in the 90s films, where the human story would completely stop at around the 60 or 70-minute point, and the humans would spend the rest of the film as spectators.
  10. They were indeed. From the mid 80s up through the mid 90s, the Taiwanese led the pack in producing films about little kids who knew kung fu.
  11. You should watch Godzilla 2014, even though you'll get the hang of the movie after a while if you don't. I think there are some aspects of the Monsterverse that are explained better in it. If you watch K:SI, stay until the end of the credits.
  12. My spoiler-free review that I posted in other forums: Just finished watching it. I paid a fortune (by Brazilian standards) for a small theater with wide, reclining seats and a wooden tablet to place my food on, if I wanted to. The people at the snack bar also take food and alcohol to the people on trays in the theater! So, I honestly enjoyed the 2014 Godzilla movie. It was obvious that Edwards was a fan, but he and his writers had their own thing in mind. They didn't want to be completely shackled to the fandom, while respecting them at the same time. So it's clear that Mike Dougherty and his team paid heed to some of the criticisms levied against the 2014 film, although in some ways, they paid too much heed. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a 200-million-dollar fan film, the sort of thing that those rapid STAR WARS fanboys want(ed) to do with THE LAST JEDI and now the GOT fans want to do with Season 8. On the whole, the movie was fun to watch. The story moves at a quick clip and I thought the plot device that sets the story in motion was fine. The eco-terrorist organization is suitably intimidating, although they lose a bit of their edge in the third act. The acting was fine: people who complained about Ken Watanabe spending too much of the 2014 film staring at his watch will be glad to see that he comes across as more proactive this time around. The three leads (Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, and Millie Bobbie Brown) do solid jobs. I was initially worrying that Zhang Ziyi would become the equivalent of Tian Jing’s character in Kong: Skull Island: a pretty Chinese actress to appeal to the local market. Thankfully, Zhang does a lot more and is hinted to have a special bond with a certain kaiju. After watching Kong: Skull Island, I mentioned in some forums that I hoped that Ernie Hudson would play and older Dr. Brooks. Instead, we get Joe Morton, of Terminator II: Judgement Day and The Walking Dead—the 90s film about black soldiers in the Vietnam War. I’m fine with that. The monsters themselves are magnificent. Godzilla looks great, although I wouldn’t have cared if they had kept his 2014 spines and 2014 roar—the fan pandering of returning to his original skreonk was unnecessary. He fights like a madman and I like how he has the natural advantage during an underwater battle, sort of like a crocodile versus a land animal. Mothra fares a little better than she did in Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Her role is a bit too truncated, but at least her larva is the basis for the film’s first major set piece. Rodan is just awesome. I’m pretty sure this is Rodan’s best appearance, or at least tied with his initial 1956 film. He’s fast, deadly, and ruthless. Instead of being the honorable “samurai of the skies,” he is, as the director put it, “an atomic bomb with wings.” King Ghidorah has never been crueler and more sadistic, on an individual or global level. More than any of the Showa films, you understand how this monster could be the destroyer of worlds and slayer of civilizations. The second half of the film—and the cardinal error on the part of the film’s antagonists—hinge on it being a space monster, something nobody knew until it was too late. So where does the movie falter in my opinion? The fan service and pandering. I mentioned the roar and spikes, but those are negligible details. There are three plot details that I’m referring to. In a spoiler-free review, I’ll just point out that they’re scenes cribbed directly from earlier movies. One of them had no business being in the film at all; they could’ve replaced it with a callback to Godzilla 1985 and it would’ve fit more. The second one goes back to my comments about Mothra. And the third one was unnecessary, but man, IT LOOKED AWESOME and was explained better than in the film that inspired it. So in the end, I liked the film, but I didn’t love it. It’s a worthy follow-up to Godzilla ’14 and Kong: Skull Island, but I hope Godzilla vs. Kong tries to carve out its own identity.
  13. DrNgor

    My Many MiniReviews

    You sold me on this, @ShaOW!linDude. I really want to see it, now. That is one powerhouse cast right there, I must say. I don't think I've been truly impressed with Tony Jaa since ONK BAK 2. PARADOX and SPL 2 had their moments. I don't recall him doing anything interesting in xXx (3). Still haven't seen TOM YUNG GOONG 2 yet. I liked Tiger Chen in MAN OF TAI CHI and hope he gets more showcases down the road. This is Jaa's second film with Celina Jade and Michael Jai White together. Huh. They should team up together in real life to fight crime. It's funny how many people dismiss Michael Wong as an awful actor--the only Chinese man in China who doesn't speak Chinese--and then you go to the LoveHKFilm Group on Facebook (and even the site, while it was still going), and discover the man has an extremely strong cult following.
  14. Good review, @DragonClaws. Not enough to sell me on the film--I have so many unwatched DVDs in the pile that non-essential viewing just doesn't cut it--but the write-up was fine.
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