Jump to content
One Armed Boxer

March & April 2018 Mutual Review Thread

Recommended Posts

20 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

KICKBOXER 5: REDEMPTION (1995) Running time: 87 mins. (Written April 2012)
Stars: Mark Dacascos, James Ryan, Geoff Meed, Tony Caprari, Greg Latter, Denney Pierce, Duane Porter, George Moolman, Rulan Booth, Robert Whitehead
Fight Choreography: Burton Richardson and Mark Dacascos
Dir.: Kristine Peterson

Great review dude, remember reading this one before, the only thing I can recall about the movie, is James Ryans fetish for championship Kikcboxing belts.

 

7 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Very good write up, ditto what @One Armed Boxer and @ShaOW!linDude said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will do The Sword and the Lute which are part 3 of the trilogy that also includes Temple of the Red Lotus and Twin Swords. Maybe I'll do Return of the One Armed Swordsman.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/03/2018 at 2:44 PM, LuFengLover said:

I will do The Sword and the Lute which are part 3 of the trilogy that also includes Temple of the Red Lotus and Twin Swords. Maybe I'll do Return of the One Armed Swordsman.

Looking forward to your reviews!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Queen Boxer (1972)

Aka The Avenger

Starring: Chia Ling, Peter Yang Kwan, Lee Ying, Ma Cheung, Tsai Hung, Hsieh Han, Lan Yun, David Tang Wei       , Yu Heng, Wong Yeuk-Ping, Chiu Keung , Au Lap-Bo          

Director: Florence Yu

Action Director: Wu Min-Hsiung, Lam Fung-Sing, Wang Tai-Lang, Ching Kau-Lung, Liao Wen-Chin

Observations: Unofficial sequel to The Boxer from Shantung

Queen Boxer  is probably the first movie made about Ma Su-Chen  and is most likely the most well received, with its memorable 15-minute finale being on the top fight lists of many old school fans. It’s ultimately a cruder film than its predecessor, Heroine Susan, but it’s that raw edge (courtesy of female director Florence Yu) and Chia Liang’s feisty performance that ultimately sets it above its slight-more-polished successor.

The movie opens with yet another reenactment of the climax of The Boxer from Shantung, with Ma Yong Cheng (David Tang, Shaolin Brothers and Naval Commandos) facing off against numerous hatchet-wielding goons before ultimately bleeding to death from multiple wounds sustained during the fracas. The Big Boss (Lee Ying, Marco Polo and Shaolin Traitorous) ends the scene by burning out Ma’s eyes with a cigar—remember this image, we’ll come back to it.

Some time later, Ma Su-Chen (Chia Ling) is strutting into town, looking for revenge. She shows up at a noodle stand that is harassed by your average Republic-era extortion gang, as is wont to happen in these films. The noodle shop owner, Fan Kao-To (Peter Yang, the evil professor in Enter the Fat Dragon), is tired of being pushed around and decides to fight back. He also gets into the casino business by muscling the owner out via his awesome kung fu skills. At the same time, Ma Su-Chen is harassed by the local Axe Gang, although her reaction is to simply knock their teeth out as if it were as easy as taking candy from a baby.

The Big Boss learns about Fan Kao-To and Ma Su-Chen, although not exactly how you might imagine. What we do know is that Fan is trying to raise money to bring his family from Shantung to Shanghai. The Big Boss hears a story that the entire Ma clan (Ma Su-Chen and Ma Yong Cheng’s mother was the subject of the film Kung Fu Mama) is on their way to Shanghai, which isn’t entirely true. So, he orders his men to exterminate the first family that arrives in Shanghai from Shantung. That would not be Ma’s family (since his sister is already in town), but Fan’s family. So now both Fan and Ma have a good reason to get revenge on the Big Boss and the Axe Gang.

Storywise, this film feels like two separate movies (once you get past the opening fight sequence). The first half deals more with Fan Kao-To and his attempts to establish himself in town, butting heads and locking horns with the local riffraff until he becomes a medium-level hustler himself. While that is going on, Ma Su-Chen stays mainly in the background. The movie is about half over when Ma steps up to the plate, and even then, she doesn’t get a whole lot of actual character development. She’s just there to kick butt and take names, which I’m perfectly fine with. It helps that Chia Ling, even though she was only 18 or 19 at this point, has a kick-a** demeanor, a no-nonsense swagger, and can tell a person to shut up with so much authority that the Trump himself wouldn’t be able to tweet back an insult to her. Her performance helps make the movie, in essence.

It also helps that Chia Ling had more martial arts experience than Wang Ping presumably had, so her two major fights in the second half (and both fights are very long) are a lot stronger than those in Heroine Susan. The most famous fight is the finale, which was featured in Top Fighter 2: Deadly China Dolls, almost in its entirety. Even more empowering is that Chia Ling is completely alone by this point, with no man to assist her (unlike Heroine Susan).  So Chia punches, kicks, cartwheels, fights with knives and hatchets, and does God-knows-what-else as she takes out at least 50 axe-wielding ruffians on her quest to revenge. And who could forget that final shot, a POV shot of a dead body as Chia Ling sticks forth her hands to put the guy’s eyes out?

The choreography itself is a bit crude—this was the 1972 after all—but it’s more convincing and hard-hitting than that of Heroine Susan. The action directors—all five of them—mainly worked during the early 70s, although Wang Tai-Lang would go on to do Ape Girl/Lady Iron Monkey and Lam Fung-Sing would work on The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which had nothing to do with the book itself. There’s some flailing arms and low, swingy kicks, but for the most part, it’s stronger and more high impact than that of its successor.

Queen Boxer isn’t a great movie, but it’s fun to watch. Some of the lighting is murky. Attempts to do quick cuts of close-ups for emphasis are a bit clunky. The plot feels like two movies stuck to each other. But if you stick around for Chia Ling to let loose, there are rewards to be had.

Coming up: A third Ma Su-Chen movie that is actually a sequel to a movie that isn’t Boxer from Shantung.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Queen Boxer (1972)

Aka The Avenger

Starring: Chia Ling, Peter Yang Kwan, Lee Ying, Ma Cheung, Tsai Hung, Hsieh Han, Lan Yun, David Tang Wei       , Yu Heng, Wong Yeuk-Ping, Chiu Keung , Au Lap-Bo          

Director: Florence Yu

Action Director: Wu Min-Hsiung, Lam Fung-Sing, Wang Tai-Lang, Ching Kau-Lung, Liao Wen-Chin

Observations: Unofficial sequel to The Boxer from Shantung

Queen Boxer  is probably the first movie made about Ma Su-Chen  and is most likely the most well received, with its memorable 15-minute finale being on the top fight lists of many old school fans.

The most famous fight is the finale, which was featured in Top Fighter 2: Deadly China Dolls, almost in its entirety. 

The choreography itself is a bit crude—this was the 1972 after all...There’s some flailing arms and low, swingy kicks, but for the most part, it’s stronger and more high impact than that of its successor.

Okay, I need to dig out Top Fighter 2: Deadly China Dolls and watch that again. This sounds to me like all I would want to see is the end fight. Great review!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@DrNgor Awesome reviews! All these years I didn't know that there was a "sister" to the Yongzhen character. I checked out bits of pieces of Queen Boxer and watched all of Heroine Susan- which I should've took your advice of it being not so good lol.  that you reviewed. Never seen em before, but from what I saw, they're actually way more violent than the Chen Kuan-Tai classic. It's cool to learn something new everyday, especially with Kung Fu cinema.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Queen Boxer (1972)

Aka The Avenger

Starring: Chia Ling, Peter Yang Kwan, Lee Ying, Ma Cheung, Tsai Hung, Hsieh Han, Lan Yun, David Tang Wei       , Yu Heng, Wong Yeuk-Ping, Chiu Keung , Au Lap-Bo          

Director: Florence Yu

Anohter solid review @DrNgor, always an enjoyable read. Need to dig out my copy of Top Fighter 2 now, just to see the finale you talked about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/7/2018 at 3:34 PM, DragonClaws said:

Great review dude, remember reading this one before, the only thing I can recall about the movie, is James Ryans fetish for championship Kikcboxing belts.

I thought Kickboxer 5 lived up to its subtitle, The Redemption. The one thing I still laugh at is during the casino fight before the showdown, June Castro comes out of nowhere to help Matt and Paul take on Negaal's thugs. I thought to myself, where did she come from?

Geoff and Mark would reunite on an Asylum film in 2007, I am Omega, which Meed wrote and Dacascos both starred and choreographed. I spoke to Geoff Meed over a decade ago...nice guy. One of his martial arts teachers was Ron Thomas (aka Bobby from the original Karate Kid).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, AlbertV said:

Geoff and Mark would reunite on an Asylum film in 2007, I am Omega, which Meed wrote and Dacascos both starred and choreographed. I spoke to Geoff Meed over a decade ago...nice guy. One of his martial arts teachers was Ron Thomas (aka Bobby from the original Karate Kid).

That was the last Mark Dacascos movie I watched, its really low budget, but he puts on a good performance despite this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope to contribute to this thread, with my Kickboxer Retaliation review next week. Caught the movie last night and while it was entertaining, I can understand some peoples critiques of it. Being a sequel to a reboot, it also ticks plenty of boxes for the Mutual Review's theme.

Enjoyed reading everyones reviews/write ups so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hero (1997)

Directed by Corey Yuen

I'll preface this review by saying that I've seen both the original Boxer from Shantung and one of the recent remakes Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses as films, and I love some aspects of one much better than the other. Hero is another retelling of that same story from 1997 and just like those two films also has some aspects which I love much more than either of the other two. It feels weird saying this, but if you smashed the best aspects of all three films together, you'd actually get a really great film. As it is, all three films are very good, but they have parts which prevent them from reaching greatness. Let's get into this.

The film starts introducing our lead Ma Wing Jing (played by Takeshi Kaneshiro) and his brother Ma Tai Cheung (played by Yuen Wah) attempting to board a train. Off the bat, it looks like your typical 90s Hong Kong action film which is both good and bad. It looks messy as all hell - think The Heroic Trio where a lot of images don't seem to link to each other and it's a little bit difficult to tell what is happening. On the flipside though, these images tend to be absolutely beautiful. I'll be showing a few examples of these a little bit later.

One advantage this film has over the original is that it seems to effortlessly build its world. Just a few shots early on - people out on the streets cutting hair, shining shoes, making goods - it sets the scene immediately that while there may be jobs, it doesn't necessarily mean that people will prosper. This is even immediately reinforced by the fact that our two leads are fired from their jobs as soon as we understand this. Many of the classic Shaw Brothers films, as beautiful as they were with their studio-bound sets tended to be rather weak when it came to building worlds and atmosphere unless it was meant to be otherworldly. Hero has the advantage of having outdoor sets and probably a much bigger budget meaning they could actually afford to build the world physically rather than through implication. Of course this is just my opinion, and I'm sure many would argue for the classic SB style of world building.

Another thing this film does incredibly well it the dramatic staging. When Yuen Biao's Tam See first enters the film, the way the camera slowly follows his movements, the way Yuen stares at the camera, the larger than life music that is almost like a wrestler's theme song. It builds him up to be the big boss without having to explain who he is. Of course, the characters don't know he is Tam See, but we can pretty safely assume that he is.

Shortly after this entrance, we are treated to our first real fight scene of the film. It isn't quite as grounded or brutal as the original, and it isn't quite as gimmicky as the 2014 remake. It is however just as what you'd expect out of your 90s HK action films. Larger than life. We have wuxia styled action in our more traditional-esque kung fu films. The fights are more than just punches and kicks, but the environment plays a big part. Wooden poles, and chairs, and tables, and boxes. Think Once Upon a Time in China. The action is more flashy and less realistic. More Tsui Hark than Chang Cheh. A good comparison actually because this film cuts a lot just like Tsui would in his films, but the shots here are held probably a fraction longer than in any of Tsui's films.

image.png

And here's an example of one of the beautiful images this film produces. If we were to look at this from a real world standpoint, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but damn if it isn't beautiful. Biao's character, regardless of how well intentioned he is, is still a gangster and a gangster's life is unfortunately a lonely one. He wants to retire, but once you're in, you're in for life. This is a theme that comes back a little later on. Of course our "hero" Kaneshiro has no idea what being a gangster would entail.

hero2.png

Almost immediately following that scene is this one. Kaneshiro and Yuen are seen sitting on some stairs. They're working their way up in the world and their ambitions see them above the regular people that go about their lives without question. I just love how Yuen shows this physically - the ambitious ones are half way up the stairs and everyone else is down below.

A little later on, we get this shot.

hero3.png

Ironically not a particularly beautiful shot, but in it's own way holds a double meaning. Wing Jing has made it to the top and he can now look down on everyone else. But he isn't happy like he thought he would be. The love of his life has left the town and as far as he is concerned, the only other thing in his life is being rich and famous. He's got that, so what now? The only thing he can do is be more rich and more famous.

And one more screenshot just because I love this scene:hero4.png

Just an example of the flashiness of the action scenes. Its unique colour scheme doesn't only lend itself to the action scenes though. We have a scene earlier than this one in which we have otherworldly purple and red lights lighting up the dance club.

There's definitely a lot to like about this film. I've mentioned much of it, but there really is much more. There is a good amount of humour which actually works! There's a scene in which the Ma brothers are at the police station and try to steal a gun which I found hilarious. There's also Kaneshiro who makes for a great lead. It'll be a controversial opinion, but I actually prefer him over Chen Kuan Tai from the original if only because Kaneshiro is so much more charismatic, and he fits the whole arrogant, ambitious and charming archetype much more. Chen looks so much more humble. I will mention though that Chen's martial arts skills are much better than that of Kaneshiro's, but Yuen works around that disadvantage with some really good camerawork.

Another scene I just wanted to make mention of because I found it incredibly interesting is actually rather early on in the film. Kaneshiro's character jumps up onto the stage of the dance club and starts playing the drums. At this point, the cutting of the film actually corresponds to the tempo of the drums. This creates some amazing tension where it cuts between the faces of the Axe Gang, our protagonists, the singer, the hands holding the axes and back between all of them. People thought this type of editing was amazing in the recent Baby Driver, but Hong Kong films seem to have been doing this casually for decades prior.

There are a couple things I dislike about this film however. The film is a bit short clocking in at about 90 minutes. This makes the film easy to watch, but the film could have used some time to slow down. A few contemplative scenes would have been nice, as well as a few more character building ones. I think the original Boxer from Shantung had a good length at over 2 hours as it gave the film more time to develop each of the pieces. This one feels very rushed at points. Once Upon a Time in Shanghai has a very similar problem but at least that film doesn't feel like it cut entire scenes out.

The other thing I'm not too fond of is the fact that the film turns into a shootout for the iconic fight between Ma and the Axe Gang. In fact, this time, it isn't just 1 vs many because Tam See even survives and a bunch of the other gang members show up to help fight as well. This really is a shame because I love the way that the martial arts was shot in this film and was looking forward to how they would present this fight. It's more comprehensible than Tsui's films, and just as beautiful even if flashy and unrealistic. Luckily it reverts back to some hand to hand combat when both Yuen and Kaneshiro take on Yuen Tak for the final fight, and as short as it is, it's pretty great.

To summarise, this is a really good film. I think I probably reviewed this one more as a film than as a kung fu movie, but to be honest, I think the fact that there is just so much to talk about craft wise that it deserves it. To be honest, the three films I've mentioned in this review are all well crafted, but I think this one is the most interesting because it tends to go out of the usual comfort zone a lot more, as well as having actors that just work better for the roles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Writ Good review! This is a Boxer From Shantung rendition that I know! Movie rocks and every time I watch it, I keep getting Fist of Legend vibes (probably because the way they shot it, and the fast paced action sequences).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

Hero (1997)

Directed by Corey Yuen

I'll preface this review by saying that I've seen both the original Boxer from Shantung and one of the recent remakes Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses as films, and I love some aspects of one much better than the other. Hero is another retelling of that same story from 1997 and just like those two films also has some aspects which I love much more than either of the other two. It feels weird saying this, but if you smashed the best aspects of all three films together, you'd actually get a really great film. As it is, all three films are very good, but they have parts which prevent them from reaching greatness. Let's get into this.

Knock-out review @Writ, and one very entertaining read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ma Su Chen (1972)

Aka Rebel Boxer; Bloody Struggle

Starring: Nancy Yen, Jimmy Wang Yu, Chiang Nan, Ma Chi, Sally Chen, Choi Wang, Shan Mao

Directors: Ting Shan-Hsi, Chan Hung-Man

Action Director: Yu Tien-Lung

Observation: Sequel to Furious Slaughter

After three different adaptations of the Ma Su-Chen story, it has become rather clear that there’s not a whole lot of story to tell if one chooses to go down the “Kung Fu girl seeks vengeance for her brother’s death” path. Basically, Ma Su-Chen shows up in Shanghai, ruffles some feathers, has a big fight with the Axe Gang, end of story. I think a story about her training and life in Shantung previous to her going to Shanghai would be a lot more interesting. This movie stands out from Queen Boxer and Heroine Susan in that Ma Yongchen is still alive when his sister arrives in Shanghai, having miraculously survived getting blinded and his body filled with hatchets.

Long story short: While Ma Yongchen (Jimmy Wang Yu, repeating his role from Furious Slaughter) is recovering from his wounds, he has his female benefactor (Sally Chen) send a message to his sister to come help. The young lady is intercepted by the Axe Gang, who have teamed up with some samurai who want revenge on Ma for killing their colleague, Miyaki, at the beginning of the movie. They find the letter addressed to Ma Su-Chen (Nancy Yen, who looks like the child Hsu Feng would’ve had after getting pregnant from a lesbian tryst with Michelle Rodrigues) and go to Shantung to take her out. She finds out about her brother’s disappearance and kills her attackers. She arrives in Shanghai looking for revenge.

As I said, there’s not a lot of story here. The film runs 75 minutes, at least 20 of which are dedicated to the final fight. There are numerous other fights, including two flashbacks to fights from the previous fights. Nancy Yen isn’t quite as good as Chia Ling, but she looks better in action than Wang Ping. Heck, she looks better in action than Jimmy Wang Yu. The action is directed by Yu Tien-Lung, who starred in and choreographed Infernal Street, which wasn’t bad by early 70s standards. There are a lot of creative edits and trampolines used to create some superhuman moves.

The finale drags a lot, since it’s mostly Jimmy Wang Yu swinging at pickaxe at torch-wielding thugs for 15 minutes, while Nancy Yen occasionally punches people in the face. Moreover, there’s not build-up to it: Jimmy Wang Yu disappears after the first 15 minutes and suddenly shows up at the Axe Gang’s warehouse to fight dozens of nameless thugs. There’s no hint to his return, nor interaction with Ma Su-Chen—why change the story and have him survive if he’s not going to even talk to the main heroine—nothing.

Nancy Yen’s performance is somewhere in between Chia Ling’s take-no-prisoners performance and Wang Ping’s more melodramatic take. She does cry a few times, but she’s also resourceful and a highly intelligent—the early scenes suggest she’s essentially a female version of Wong Fei-Hung. Once she enters revenge mode, she fights just as viciously as Judy Lee did. It’s enough to warrant the film at least a single viewing, although it’s not quite the best interpretation of the character out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's it, I'm going to rename this theme to Ma Su-Chen Month!

On ‎23‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 10:17 AM, Writ said:

Hero (1997)

Directed by Corey Yuen

I'll preface this review by saying that I've seen both the original Boxer from Shantung and one of the recent remakes Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses as films, and I love some aspects of one much better than the other. Hero is another retelling of that same story from 1997 and just like those two films also has some aspects which I love much more than either of the other two.

Fantastic review @Writ!  I haven't watched this one since Celestial first released it on DVD, but pretty sure I recall a member mentioning that this version is heavily cut (@KUNG FU BOB...I have a feeling it may have been you?).

7 hours ago, DrNgor said:

(Nancy Yen, who looks like the child Hsu Feng would’ve had after getting pregnant from a lesbian tryst with Michelle Rodrigues)

Nice review Doc, although your knowledge of human biology is potentially a cause for concern.:laugh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Nice review Doc, although your knowledge of human biology is potentially a cause for concern.:laugh

I concede. I should have used the word "somehow" in that sentence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Nancy Yen isn’t quite as good as Chia Ling, but she looks better in action than Wang Ping. Heck, she looks better in action than Jimmy Wang Yu.

Hah-hah! Upstaged by a girl. :coveredlaugh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 06/03/2018 at 1:40 AM, DrNgor said:

Heroine Susan, Sister of Shantung Boxer (1973)

Aka Sister of the San-Tung Boxer; Sister of Shantong

Starring: Wang Ping, Charlie Chin, Chiu Keung, Jack Lung, Choi Wang, Sun Yueh

Director: Wang Hung-Chang

Observations: Unofficial sequel to Boxer from Shantung

If we were to discuss the most famous women in the history of Chinese martial arts, the first name to come up would probably be Yim Wing Chun, despite the fact that her very existence is currently in dispute. Others may point to Fang Qiniang, the founder of the Fujian White Crane system. However, during the early 70s, the female martial artist who got the most attention was Ma Su Cheng, sister of Ma Yongcheng (or Ma Wing Jing in Cantonese), the famous Shantung Boxer. While much of that attention must have stemmed from the success of Chang Cheh’s Boxer from Shantung, Ma’s sister was the subject of at least five movies during the first half of the 70s, which is more than can be said of Wing Chun, who got only one movie during the entire 70s.

This movie starts out with a weak recreation of the final fight from the Shaw Brothers masterpiece. Ma Yongcheng arrives at a restaurant for an audience with the local Axe Gang. Before he knows it, one of the men throws lime powder in his face, rendering him partially blind. He’s soon fighting off a contingent of axe gang members with two hatches lodged in his body, and is quickly overcome and killed.

Some time later, Ma’s sister, Ma Su Cheng, is arriving in Shanghai to find out what happened to her brother. She discovers that he has been murdered, and that one of his friends, the owner of the local casino (Sun Yueh, the old baker in Pedicab Driver), didn’t get any flack from the Axe Gang whatsoever. Suspicious, Ma Su Cheng dresses up like a man and goes to the casino to check out the joint. As is wont to happen in these movies, Ma isn’t just a kung fu diva, she’s a great gambler. She’s about to break the house when casino workers invite her out back with the intention of stabbing her to death. ‘Tis much more primitive a reaction than giving her a free room at the casino in hopes she’ll gamble her winnings away. In any case, she kicks the snot out of them, as is to be expected.

Returning home, she discovers the casino owner and his cronies waiting for her. Teaming up with her brother’s other friend, now a drunk (and played by Chin Tu), they beat everybody to death, including to the traitorous casino owner. She goes back to the casino the next day, only to get involved in a huge fight that sees every last employee get beat to death. Helping her is a young fighter named Tan (played by Charlie Chin, of Winners and Sinners and My Lucky Stars) and his friend (Shi Kingten, who showed up in a stupid amount of Taiwanese martial arts films during the 70s—nearly 200).

By this point, the head of the Axe Gang (Chiu Keung of A Girl Called Tigress) knows that his days are numbered and sends some more men to ambush Su Cheng and her friends at her home. Another fight breaks out and a dozen more people are killed. That’s followed by yet another fight at a restaurant, that results in the deaths of the Axe Gang’s last lieutenants. Now, the only thing standing between Ma Su Cheng and her vengeance is the Axe Gang leader’s new bodyguards, a Japanese samurai (a young Jack Lung) and what appears to be an American Indian (Choi Wang). I thought the latter might be a Thai boxer, but then he starts whoop-whooping and brandishing tomahawks and I thought, “Oh wow, is he playing an Indian?”

Heroine Susan is almost non-stop action, from beginning to end. There’s so much action that there’s practically no story beyond the “Woman avenges brother” premise, no twists, little suspense, no character development, nothing. We never know who exactly Tan is and why the Axe Gang try to kill him in broad daylight early on. Nor do we know why the Axe Gang killed Ma Yongcheng at the beginning—the script assumes the viewer has seen the original film, or is familiar with his story. Nothing is explained beyond the basic, “He was Ma’s friend but betrayed him later.” Uh, okay. But why? Jealousy? Greed? A Rube-Goldbergian revenge plot involving pictures of someone naked with a goat? I dunno. Most of the dialog consists of Su Cheng declaring that she’ll get revenge on those responsible for Ma’s murder, or the Axe Gang boss telling one of his cronies to kill Su Cheng.

I suppose that would be a little more acceptable if the action was solid, but it’s not. It’s pretty obvious that actress Wang Ping is a limited martial artist at this point in her career. Her kicks are weak and most of her moves are ridge hand strikes and horizontal chops. She looks a bit better when she picks up a pair of daggers in the bloody finale, but she pales in comparison to Angela Mao and Polly Shang Kuan Ling Feng, who were putting on better performances at the same time. Charlie Chin fares a little better—outside of Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan, he was the Lucky Stars troupe member who could fight (or fake it) the best. His kicks still aren’t that great, but he has a little more energy that Wang Ping does. Everything else is your typical early 70s arm flailing nonsense. It’s violent and brutal, but lacking technique-wise.

In the end, Heroine Susan isn’t a very good movie. It plays like an extended third act to a longer film in which the first two acts were comprised of the entirety of Boxer from Shantung. As such, it depends too much on the viewer’s familiarity with the story of Ma Yongcheng to be enjoyable as its own creature, and is just a forgettable fight fest in the end.

 

What's the best release of this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, DrNgor said:

The action is directed by Yu Tien-Lung, who starred in and choreographed Infernal Street, which wasn’t bad by early 70s standards. There are a lot of creative edits and trampolines used to create some superhuman moves.

Good review Doc, would you say the action in this Furious Slaughter follow up, is better or worse than the choreography Infernal Street?.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey guys, first review here...

And I'm starting with a bang!

 

Police Story 2 (1985)

dabang-99162229_337x482.jpg

Directed by: Jackie Chan

Fight Choreography: Jackie Chan

Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Kwok-Hung Lam

Note: First time I've ever watched this movie -- Original chinese version (2 hours). I watched Police Story earlier this week, and a buttload of 80's Hong Kong flicks throughout this last month, including a few rewatches. Still catching up!

-----------------

Where to begin?

Well, first this movie does feel kinda different from Police Story 1. It's still an action movie but the plot really takes more precedence. It's also more serious, dramatic, and more intricate. Although it suffers a bit from a few drawn out sequences (the sneaky police investigation comes to mind), I thought the non-action scenes were engaging enough.

But where this movie really shines is the action of course, as expected from Jackie Chan. Although short, the early restaurant scene is sweet. Later, the playground sequence is simply incredible, and man as usual those stuntmen are giving it their all. Some epic moves in there. Jackie Chan is always so inventive with the stuff he pulls. Then we get a nice but short scene with the blind & deaf man in the dark building, but the movie really gives it its all during the explosive finale inside the fireworks factory.

Like, a literal fireworks factory. What the hell?! What were they thinking, are they crazy?

The answer is yes, definitely. I think I may have had to pick up my jaw from the floor at a few key moments during that sequence. Reminded me of the first Police Story of course, which is awesome.

One "dramatic" sequence that I thought was pulled off immensely well was the letter scene, when the bad guys are reading Maggie Cheung's letter to Jackie Chan. That was both hilarious and sad, not sure how they pulled that one but it was great! So awkward yet well done, so funny and unique too! Loved that bit. The police interrogation sequence was hilarious and unexpected as well.

In all, this movie could have benefited from about 10 less minutes so that it paces better in the middle, but it's really effective. 

Stunts - 96/100 | Top of the line, as usual from Jackie Chan's movies

Narrative - 80/100 | Better than I expected, though drags somewhat in the middle. Still very much enjoyable, and great comedy throughout. I also thought this movie had epic visual comedy that paid off from previous hints/details (like the guy taking his glasses out so Jackie doesn't break them for a third time), I'm always a sucker for this kind of comedy! This movie has a few of those in.

Choreography - 94/100 | The first Police Story I thought had better choreography overall, but not by much. Regardless, I'm comparing gold pellets between themselves at this point.

Directing and Editing - 81/100 | On point, gets the job done very well, but not much more than that.

Overall - 87/10

You really can't go wrong with this movie.

Sample from the epic playground fight

tumblr_oevt6lexyF1udlkano1_400.gif

Edited by Daxtreme

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kickboxer: Retaliation    (2018)

Fight Choreographer's - Jean Francois Ladapelle & Alain Moussi

Directed by- Dimitri Logothetis

Starring- Alain Moussi, Sara Malakul Lane, Hafpor Julius Bjornsson, Mike Tyson, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jessica Jann, Christopher Lambert, Sam Madina, Steven Swadling.

Plot Synopsis- A happily married Kurt Sloane(Alain Moussi) has left his ordeal in Thailand behind him. Now a professional MMA, living in the United States. That is until a couple of corrupt Police Officers stun him with a tazer in a locker room, and drop him off a few thousand miles away, in a Thai Jail.  Underground fight promoter and the devious prison owner Thomas Moore(Christopher Lambert), wants Sloane to fight his best man. The 6'9 four hundred pound plus walking door frame Mongkut(Hafpor Julius Bjornsson). Lucky for our hero, he's got some back up in the form of Master Durand(Van Damme) and Briggs(Mike Tyson). Who duel train the young fighter, in hope of preparing him for his monstrous challenge.

 

"Listen Briggs, I know his skills, but he may never be that good?"

 

Shredded Canadian actor and Martial Artist Alain Moussi is back, for more high kicking, high flying, Martial Arts action, in this follow up to the 2016 Kickboxer: Vengeance. The cast is a who's, who of physical culture, with strongmen, Martial Artists, a footballer and one ex pro boxer in the form of heavy hitter Mike Tyson. The story's weak and the final product feels a little fragmented, but it can’t be described as a dull. It's clear to see, that the cast really tried hard to top the last movie, maybe trying a little too hard at times?. This picture takes the over the top metre and cranks it way past eleven. What will be a, entertaining no brainer action film to some, will just be tiresome to others. While I don’t know much about its production history, it apparently had a few behind the scenes issues too, like the first movie.

Many might argue that most genre fans overlook simple plots or a lack of story. However, with that said, you do at least want a basic and clear storyline to follow. The original 1987 movie starring Van Damme, was by no means an original and complex story, but you could follow the plot, with no real glaring plot-holes etc. The film gets off to an action-packed start, with Slaone fighting off various attackers during a dream sequence, on board a train. It's a cool little segment, dragged down only by the fact, they don’t really make it clear its a dream to start with. This wasn’t so much of a problem during my second viewing, but it was when I first saw down to watch it with my girlfriend. What follows is a nicely done opening credit sequence, with nods to some of the previous films. Among the many producers, you can spot Van Damme and his wife Gladys Portugues's name's. Where they brought on board when Bey Logan left the project?.

"I still owe you, two broken ribs"

Charismatic French actor Christopher Lambert(Highlander, The Hunted), get's to show off his dark side, as one of the movies bad guy's. Any Lambert fans hoping for a large role, will be disappointed however, he's has more of a supporting role. He still has a lot of presence on screen, and it’s a shame the filmmakers couldn’t have got him on board for more scenes. A very brief sword fight, with Van Damme's characters was one of the highlights for me. Never expected to see these two European stars together in the same movie. It's also pretty clear the French born actor isn’t taking himself too seriously here. In one scene when Sloan threatens his character, he simply says, "I know, if we harm her, I'm dead, your dead(points to lackey), were all dead". All while sporting a devilish grin of glee.

The films plentiful screen combat was choregraphed by Jean Paul Francois, with contributions from star Alain Moussi. There's a great sequence where Slaone is seen fighting his way through the prison, and its many tough inmates. There stunt men fly, fall and tumble with style, despite some real rough looking landings. There's some excessive use of slow-motion, which I didn’t mind too much. It allows you to keep track of a lot of the moves and their impacts. On the negative side, it does get a bit repetitive at times. The climax of the first prison fight, features a strong scaffold brawl, that's filmed entirely in one take, with no cutting away by the camera. Here in this extended fight scene, the slow motion works best, driven and accompanied by an even slower blue's song. The combination is very effective in my opinion.

"You ruined my concentration!"

In 2018 it's very hard to come up with some original choreography and ideas, in a genre that's been churning out movies for a good few decades now. The action on display keeps a good standard throughout, even if the use of slow-motion is over-used at times. I liked the brief scuffle between Mike Tyson's Briggs character and Sloane, which features some steel plumbing getting dented by Iron Mikes fist. Tyson might not be the best on-screen actor, but his persona and personality lend themselves to this movie. He's also still very nimble on his feet, and you wouldn’t want to catch a right hook off him even now. When the pair are punished for fighting, Briggs doesn’t even flinch when he gets flailed by one of the guards. He's also pretty smart when it comes to herbs, and he shows Kurt his herbal garden, that helps him deal with the pain of the flailing. That’s a visual I thought I'd never see, Iron Mike Tyson in a Thai prison, talking like he's an expert herbalist.

"See what I mean, he's blind as a bat"

Another welcome addition to the cast is Jean Claude Van Damme, as the eccentric Thai trainer Master Durand. When I first heard about the plans to up-date the Kickboxer series. I thought that Van Damme might have played an older version of Kurt Sloane from the 1987 movie. With Alain Moussi playing his son. Guess that would have worked if they had planned to do a sequel rather than a re-boot. The Master Durand character was one of the highlights of Kickboxer Vengeance, but he doesn’t quite get the same time to shine here. Still, when your character has been blinded that’s understandable. He resembles a modern day Zatoichi, evading kicks and punches, and sword strikes with ease. There's also a lot more performers all vying for screen time here. When Briggs get under Durand's skin, the two only briefly feel each other out, with some light sparring. Despite having these two larger than life personalities, its clearly still Alain Moussi's film.

"By the sound of his breathing, he's like a rhino"

Special mention has to go to former basketball player and full time Icelandic strongman Julius Bjornsson. When you look at this guy, it’s not hard to see why the Vikings had so much success fighting and pillaging around the world. How would you stop a boat load of guys like this? all wielding swords and axes?. Back to the movie, when Master Durand goes to see, I mean hear, Mongkuts training. We see him performing barbell press's and curls using bars loaded with truck tires. This guy's so big, the average gym wouldn’t be able to cater for him. They somehow manage to find some poor saps, who are willing to attack Mongkut, as part of his training. His fighting style might not be pretty, but it gets the job done. With one guy getting planted a few inches into a concrete wall.

As you might imagine, Mongkuts not your ordinary fighter, he's being enhanced by the shady work of some Cambridge qualified scientist. Who's got a science kit that belongs in some 1950 monster movie, from Universal or Hammer horror. With a needle that looks like it would be used to sedate a T-Rex rather than a human being. The finale might just be one of the best David VS Goliath style showdowns put on screen. For me it goes a little too over the top in parts, of which I don’t want to divulge, for those yet to see the movie. You have to commend the cast and crew for the physical effort, that went into this final fight. Sure it might not be the most refined or realistic throw-down, but it's not a brawl by numbers either. You also have to consider that the towering Bjornsson has never done this kind of choreography, or movie before. Sure he had a minor role in Game Of Thrones, but he wasn’t up against a fast skilled screen fighter, like Alain Moussi. They even managed to squeeze in a nice nod to the late Darren Shahlavi, during a flashback sequence.

"I'd like to see Mongkut's training"

"How do you see anything?, your blind"

With the exception of the Mongkut character, I've no idea how the rest of the inmates maintain their physiques, on the shoddy prison food. How exactly are they getting the a balanced deit of protein and low carbs?. Sam Medina who stood out in the first installment, puts on another fine performance here. Playing Thomas Moore's go to lackey. U.S Strongman Brian Shaw, is another hulking figure, who has a nice cameo role. MMA Roy Nelson has a minor role too, but he's mostly there to hold breeze blocks for the star. It would also have nice to see more from Jessica Jann, showcasing more of her skills?. She was brought in to replace MMA fighter Paige VanZant, who bowed out for focus on a fight. Van Damme real life son Nicholas Van Varenberg was given the role of his on-screen son Travis. As an example of the fragmented plot, Travis and Gamon(Jessica Jann) characters randomly appear in the story, with no explanation. Sure Kickboxer Retaliation has its flaws, most films do, but I'd be lying to you if I said I didn’t feel entertained by this movie. Just hope they pay a bit more attention to the direction of the story in the next chapter.

Edited by DragonClaws

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/29/2018 at 4:47 PM, Daxtreme said:

Note: First time I've ever watched this movie -- Original chinese version (2 hours). I watched Police Story earlier this week, and a buttload of 80's Hong Kong flicks throughout this last month, including a few rewatches. Still catching up!

On 3/29/2018 at 4:47 PM, Daxtreme said:

Although it suffers a bit from a few drawn out sequences (the sneaky police investigation comes to mind), I thought the non-action scenes were engaging enough.

Fantastic review @Daxtreme.  It sounds like you watched the Directors Cut, which is almost universally regarded as being inferior to the international cut.  Apparently Chan at the time was really influenced by Hollywood police procedurals like 'Witness', so wanted to dedicate more screentime to the investigative aspects of the story.  For the international version, most of these were removed, resulting in a learner, more well paced movie.

On 3/29/2018 at 4:47 PM, Daxtreme said:

Then we get a nice but short scene with the blind & deaf man in the dark building

On 3/29/2018 at 4:47 PM, Daxtreme said:

One "dramatic" sequence that I thought was pulled off immensely well was the letter scene, when the bad guys are reading Maggie Cheung's letter to Jackie Chan. That was both hilarious and sad, not sure how they pulled that one but it was great! So awkward yet well done, so funny and unique too! Loved that bit.

Man, it's been so many years since I watched this one these scenes have actually escaped my memory....you've inspired me to give it a re-watch asap!

21 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

The 6'9 four hundred pound plus walking door frame Mongkut(Hafpor Julius Bjornsson).

Dude you weren't even into the review proper and this line already made me laugh out loud!

21 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

What will be a, entertaining no brainer action film to some, will just be tiresome to others.

I fall into the latter category on this one, and found it to be a pretty flat and plodding experience to get through, but can completely respect the fact that others probably got some enjoyment out of it.

21 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Van Damme real life son Nicholas Van Varenberg was given the role of his on-screen son Travis. As an example of the fragmented plot, Travis and Gamon(Jessica Jann) characters randomly appear in the story, with no explanation.

Man, the inclusion of his son was completely worthless, I'm still trying to figure out what bearing he had on the plot to this day!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Dude you weren't even into the review proper and this line already made me laugh out loud!

Glad you found that one amusing.

Still remember your line about Tia Carrere having a battle with a botox needle and losing, from your Showdown In Manilla review.

 

1 hour ago, One Armed Boxer said:

I fall into the latter category on this one, and found it to be a pretty flat and plodding experience to get through, but can completely respect the fact that others probably got some enjoyment out of it.

Agree with your critiques of the movie over at CityOnFire.Com, there's certianly room for improvement.

Tighter direction, maybe not as many stars crammed into one feature, which must have added to the run time?. Also agree with @ShaOW!linDude remarks about them not building the action up gradually, over the course of the film.

 

1 hour ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Man, the inclusion of his son was completely worthless, I'm still trying to figure out what bearing he had on the plot to this day!

Yeah they must have just put in the story at the last minute.

 

They should have hired Dennis Chan instead, even if it was just for a cameo.

DennisChanKB2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NEVER BACK DOWN 2: THE BEATDOWN (2011) Running time: 104 mins. (Written September 2011)
Stars: Michael Jai White, Dean Geyer, Alex Meraz, Todd Duffee, Scottie Epstein, Jullian Murray, Evan Peters
Stunt/Fight Choreographer: Larnell Stovall
Dir.: Michael Jai White

Synopsis
MJW is Case Walker, a former MA fighter and now ex-con. He takes on 4 young men (DG as Mike; AM as Zack; TD as Tim; SE as Justin) to train for "The Beatdown", an underground MMA fighting competition. (EP returns as Max Cooperman from the 1st film who is now a "fight promoter" so to speak. He even coins his own phrase for MMA: "The Savage Science". It has a nice ring to it, I think.)

Fight #1 --- Case puts on an exhibition and vs. Mike
An enjoyable display of techniques by MJW against various opponents. It's fun to watch Case easily handle Mike until the young man connects with an uppercut. Case then puts him down quick. Dude ain't playing, man.

Fight #2 --- Justin vs. 3 thugs
This is revenge for an event that happens at the beginning of the movie. Justin is fast, vicious, and not a little psycho.

Fight #3 --- Case handcuffed vs. 6 cops
Oh, dude! This is sweet!!!! I love watching MJW fight and the choreography is awesome with a nice blend of kicks, elbows, and hand strikes. 1 low kick and a quick in-place shuffle cause a cop to come down chin first onto a forward knee. Love it! The fight ends with a low front sweep which swings up into an axe kick dumping another cop flat on his back. Just beautiful!

"The Beatdown" is full of short preliminary bouts.

Fight #4 --- Mike vs. some dude #1
It's short but ends with a sneaky, snappy, jumping front kick.

Fight #5 --- Zack vs. some dude #2
Another short fight but Zack is fast as he segues from 1 takedown to another. He pulls off a neat little spinning elbow strike in the mix.

Fight #6 --- Justin vs. some dude #3
A brutal match but with no special moves used.

Fight #7 --- Tim vs. some dude #4
Wow! Super short due to a damaging straight right hand.

Fight #8--- Mike vs. some dude #5
This is a really good fight! Nice mix-up. Starts with a beautiful left roundhouse kick but gets down with good MMA techniques.

Fight #9 --- Justin vs. some dude #6
Justin is quick and sneaky! Nice overhead angles reveal action on the floor.

Fight #10 --- Zack vs. some dude #7
Nice combo of boxing with back-spinning Capoeira kicks.

Fight #11 --- Tim vs. some dude #8
Tim is a big guy but moves fast and smooth. Every punch is a haymaker and he uses good roundhouse kicks. The nice thing about this fight is that his opponent is bigger than he is.

Fight #12 --- Mike vs. Zack (semi-final)
All I'm saying is.......great fight!!!

(Tim and Justin are the next semi-final bout. Not going to spoil it except to say....it doesn't happen.)

End Fight --- Mike vs. Justin
In the 1st round it's just a fantastic mix-up. The two are evenly matched. (Justin pulls off a beautiful leg sweep while Mike's in mid-kick. Love it!) The 2nd round is great as well. It gets down and dirty and I liked how the fight ended.

The fight action really doesn't come into play until about the 2nd half of the movie. The film is story-driven and I enjoyed it. Each young man has a reason for why he wants to train with Case who has his own issues to deal with. While the acting is not the best, it's not too terribly wooden and I don't think it should be a problem while watching this. MJW has some pretty cool lines of dialogue. As always, Larnell Stovall proves to be a major asset as the fight choreographer. These are all really well done, well edited, and well shot.

There are some training sequences in this. They're okay. Would've liked to have seen more and with them given some unique depictions but they work.

The dvd also has a commentary track with MJW, TD, and SE. May have to watch it again while listening to it.

Lots of folks didn't care for the 1st film Never Back Down which had the same premise to a degree but with the main character being in high school. In this movie, they are in college which makes it a little easier to buy into. I personally enjoyed the 1st film but this tops it....easily. This could be a good DTV franchise in the vein of Undisputed 2 & 3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@DragonClaws I was wondering if you're gonna do your Police Story 3 review finally?

Else I'd be happy to do it! Whatever works for me btw. I did already review the 2nd installment so can let someone else cover some police story ground :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×