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March & April 2018 Mutual Review Thread

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After kicking off 2018 with a healthy dose of Chang Cheh blood soaked violence, for the March & April Mutual Review Thread we'll be moving away from focusing on a specific person, and instead going with a more thematic approach.

So, cue the drum-roll, the theme for this month will be - The Sequel, The Reboot, and the Remakes

There's more choices than you can shake a stick at, so whether you be a Shaw Brothers fan, a Golden Harvest loyalist, or a lover of independents, there should be something for everyone.  But to get the ball rolling, here are a few suggestions - 

Sequels - Shaolin Temple 2 & 3, Police Story 2 - 4, Tiger Cage 2 & 3, Drunken Master 2 & 3, New Fist of Fury, Big Boss Part II, Tower of Death, Ip Man 2 & 3, Fong Sai Yuk 2, Azumi 2, Project A Part 2, Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars, Return of the Sentimental Swordsman, The Angry Guest

Reboots - Kickboxer: Vengeance and Retaliation, Rise of the Legend, True Legend, '97 Aces Go Places, Mr. Vampire 1992, The Green Hornet (1994)

Remakes - Born to Fight (2004), Thousand Faces of Dunjia, Sword Master, The Guillotines, 14 Blades

As usual - 

1. Please try to avoid overlap with reviews. We want to see as much variety as possible!

2. No length requirement for your reviews, but at least 2 paragraphs will be nice.

3.  If you want to make sure no one else takes your choice, please mention beforehand that you'll be reviewing it.

4. Have fun!

PS  If anyone would like to take over the theme for May & June, please let me know!

 

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Alright, let's try this again since I completely dropped the ball on the previous mutual review I tried to join.

I'll be doing 1997's Hero.

I promise not to disappear this time!

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Considered covering Once Upon A Time In China & America, as its been sat un-watched for too long. However with DrNgor covering those titles, I may do a write up on either Police Story 3 or Bloodsport 3 or 4. Might re-post my Fist Of Legend and Kikcboxer Vegeance reviews too.

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27 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

First thing that popped into my head as well, but I admire the good doctors tenacity!

 

29 minutes ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

Dude, that's like what? 5 - 6 movies? Good grief.

Give that man a medal, when he's completed that task.

Reviewed two of the five OUATIC movies for a mutual review thread last year. Parts 3 and 4 I still have sealed and sat on the shelf.

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36 minutes ago, DragonClaws said:

Reviewed two of the five OUATIC movies for a mutual review thread last year. Parts 3 and 4 I still have sealed and sat on the shelf.

In total there's actually 6...

Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1992)

Once Upon a Time in China 3 (1993)

Once Upon a Time in China 4 (1993) - The first one to lose the pairing of the director/star combi Tsui Hark and Jet Li, replaced by Yuen Bun and Vincent Zhao

Once Upon a Time in China 5 (1994) - This one saw Tsui Hark return to the directors chair, with Vincent Zhao staying on in the role on Wong Fei Hung

Once Upon a Time in China & America (1997) - Again Tsui Hark stepped away from directing this one, handing the reins to Sammo Hung, but featured Jet Li reprising the Wong Fei Hung role

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6 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

In total there's actually 6...

Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1992)

Once Upon a Time in China 3 (1993)

Once Upon a Time in China 4 (1993) - The first one to lose the pairing of the director/star combi Tsui Hark and Jet Li, replaced by Yuen Bun and Vincent Zhao

Once Upon a Time in China 5 (1994) - This one saw Tsui Hark return to the directors chair, with Vincent Zhao staying on in the role on Wong Fei Hung

Once Upon a Time in China & America (1997) - Again Tsui Hark stepped away from directing this one, handing the reins to Sammo Hung, but featured Jet Li reprising the Wong Fei Hung role

There was me under the impression Vincent Zhao only made one OUATIC movie.

Since this Mutual Reviews theme goes into April, I'll probably get round to reviewing the latest Kickboxer too. Thats when we get the official release in the U.K. Or hang on, I might change that title for Project A Part 2, or American Ninja 2, or arghhhh. @One Armed Boxer, try and pick a theme with less choice's next time:smile.

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So if Rise of the Legend is considered a reboot, is there any film that may be considered a remake of OUATIC? It obviously had a lot of spin-offs and rip-offs.

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1 hour ago, DrNgor said:

So if Rise of the Legend is considered a reboot, is there any film that may be considered a remake of OUATIC? It obviously had a lot of spin-offs and rip-offs.

Lot's of spin-offs and rip-offs yes, but personally I don't believe there's any movie out there which could be considered a remake of OUATIC.  Thankfully even the HK/China film industry knows better than to attempt to remake a Tsui Hark movie.

1 hour ago, DragonClaws said:

@One Armed Boxer, try and pick a theme with less choice's next time:smile.

Just for you @DragonClaws, the next theme will be 'The Films of Britton K. Lee'.:tongueout

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49 minutes ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Thankfully even the HK/China film industry knows better than to attempt to remake a Tsui Hark movie.

Except for Tsui Hark himself, with the unncessary Legend of Zu.

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20 hours ago, DrNgor said:

I'll probably do the OUATIC sequels and Rise of the Legend.

Okay, I've had another, more obscure and offbeat, idea (along the lines of @Writ's idea). 

@DragonClaws - If you want OUATICAA, feel free to take it!

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I'll kick things off with a re-post of my recently written review for 'Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing' - 

Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing (2006)

Originally posted here - http://cityonfire.com/undisputed-2-last-man-standing-2006-michael-jai-white-scott-adkins-review/

I confess I’m late to the party with 'Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing', 12 years late to be precise. But in my defence, I have my reasons, the biggest one being I’m simply not a fan of the whole underground tournament genre. However back in 2010, even I found myself caught up in the hype for 'Undisputed 3: Redemption', and dutifully found myself checking it out as soon as it was released. Let’s be clear, the fight action was amazing, but (and it’s a big but), the plot felt very perfunctory – it was moving us from one fight in the ring to the next. It seemed the only prior knowledge needed to enjoy Undisputed 3 was that Boyka, the iconic character played by Scott Adkins, gets his knee broken by Michael Jai White in the finale of the sequel. So it was, I never felt the urge to hunt down 'Undisputed 2', after all, why would I when I already knew the ending!?

It wasn’t until the release of 'Accident Man', which features a stellar throwdown between Adkins and Jai White, that my curiosity was finally piqued. In many ways 'Undisputed 2' is one of those movies thats reputation precedes it. Made at a time when the American martial arts B-movie was all but dead (Seagal and Van Damme released trash like 'Attack Force' and 'The Hard Corps' the same year), there’s no argument it was the production responsible for putting its stars and director firmly on the map for action fans. Isaac Florentine’s 8th movie, up until this point he’d largely been considered an unremarkable director of DTV action flicks, however in the movie he made prior, 'Special Forces', he discovered the talents of British martial artist Scott Adkins. While Adkins was used sparingly in their previous collaboration, here he was thrust into co-star status.

Until 'Undisputed 2' Adkins had been honing his action talents with the best Hong Kong had to offer, taking minor but high impact roles in the likes of 'The Accidental Spy', 'Extreme Challenge', 'Black Mask 2: City of Masks', 'The Medallion', and 'Unleashed'. However he was still paying the bills by featuring in local British TV drama series, such as 'Holly Oaks' and 'Holby City'. 'Undisputed 2' put an end to his British TV career, and started his rise to be the king of DTV action. He’s never looked back since. Likewise for Michael Jai White, while his post-2000 filmography had seen him facing off against the likes of Steven Seagal in 'Exit Wounds', and Michelle Yeoh in 'Silver Hawk' (don’t mention 'Kill Bill'), it was 'Undisputed 2' that really let him loose. I would daresay that without 'Undisputed 2', there would be no 'Black Dynamite'. A shudder worthy thought if ever there was one.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of 'Undisputed 2' though, is that it’s surely the first time in history that a DTV sequel has surpassed in popularity its A-list original, a 2002 boxing movie directed by none other than Walter Hill, which starred Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames. While many point out that the sequel can be enjoyed as a standalone story, it’s also worth pointing out that it is a continuation of Hill’s production. Much like 'Undisputed 3' would make the sequels antagonist the protagonist, so 'Undisputed 2' pulled the same trick first, by having Jai White play the role that Rhames played 4 years earlier.

This time around Jai White takes the character of George ‘The Iceman’ Chambers, and plays him as a disgraced former heavyweight champion who we meet in Russia, reduced to appearing in local TV commercials for a brand of vodka (if only he could pronounce his Russian correctly). When the local mob boss learns Jai White is in town, he decides to have him framed for drug possession, so that he can force him to partake in an illegal fighting tournament run out of a mob owned prison. The champion of the prison, which sees Adkins in the role of Boyka, has been itching for a worthy opponent to prove his belief that he’s “the most complete fighter in the world”, and so the pair are set on a collision course with each other.

While it seems almost a cliché to say that Adkins nails the role of Boyka, as someone that skipped straight to 'Undisputed 3' in which his confidence is in tatters, seeing his performance in 'Undisputed 2' was something of a revelation. Adkins plays Boyka as a palpable ball of rage, where the threat of violence seems only one wrong stare away, and he cuts a physically imposing figure. Intentionally bulking up for the role once he heard he’d be squaring off against Jai White, at one point a character describes him as “an upside down pyramid”, which I don’t think I could improve upon as a visual of his physical stature. Smashing through wooden benches, killing hapless lackeys with a punch to the throat, and armed with a vocabulary as violent as his fists, he’s as much of a presence outside of the ring as he is in it.

Florentine seems to know he has something special on his hands in the casting of Adkins as Boyka, with the opening scenes focusing more on his preparation and execution of a fight, than on our protagonist. Jai White puts in an equally intense performance, and while his boxer may have fallen from grace, he’s still quick to anger and has a tendency to act like a diva. With a pig headed attitude and refusal to show respect towards Boyka or the prison authorities, the combination of having 2 tightly coiled leads in such a confined setting serves to ramp up the tension levels admirably. As such 'Undisputed 2' feels like much more of a rounded movie than its sequel, with the story coming first, and events between the action not just feeling like filler between fights.

Of course when the action does come, it delivers. Choreographed by J.J. Perry, the lion’s share of the ring fights go to Adkins, who even makes his first entrance into the square circle a memorable one. While Jai White remains resistant to fight for a large portion of the runtime, he does get some chances to show off his stuff in a couple of scuffles outside of the ring. These occurrences are distinctly different from the action in the ring, reminding us of Florentines history of working on the 'Power Rangers' franchise, with Jai White’s blows sending their recipients flying through the air. I liked the contrast, allowing for a strong sense of impact to be conveyed with his fists as a boxer, in comparison to Adkins airborne decimations. Speaking of contrast, slow motion is used far less gratuitously here than it would be in future sequels, so when it is applied the moves really stand out.

After confronting each other in the prison dinner hall and yard, the spite that develops between Adkins and Jai White eventually boils over into not one but two in the ring fights, which don’t disappoint. One of the factors I really appreciated is that neither of them is portrayed as the underdog, which is unusual in this scenario, but works perfectly, making the question of who’ll win seem anything like a foregone conclusion. Both Adkins and Jai White are impressively bulked up, and look like they could punch through a wall, which allow for their confrontations to be suitably hard hitting. After 'Undisputed 3' and 'Boyka: Undisputed' some may feel that the length of the finale is a tad short, but its 3 round structure crams a lot in, with an intense level of choreography that sees not a single movement wasted (or wire in sight for that matter).

Overall I feel confident in saying that 'Undisputed 2' represents Florentine’s best work as a director. His love of both westerns and kung fu movies are given subtle nods throughout (my favorite of which has Jai White learning MMA moves from an old crippled master in a wheelchair), and the strong supporting cast featuring the likes of Ben Cross and Eli Danker add an unexpectedly welcome layer of drama to proceedings. While some of my pet hates are still present, the main culprit being the rap metal played over fight scenes, here it’s used more sparingly than in future instalments, to the point of being forgivable. In the Behind the Scenes featurette for 'Undisputed 2', when Adkins is asked about working with Florentine he responds “I’m really happy to be doing my 2nd film with him, and I hope it won’t be the last.” It wouldn’t be, and for that, we’re all really happy.

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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.

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I deserve a medal for bravery as I'm going to try to review Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.

I know I didn't get to my review last month, but I'll do my best to get this one up ASAP.

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17 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Heroine Susan, Sister of Shantung Boxer (1973)

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

Enjoyable read dude, and certianly not a title I'm gonna be seeking out.

Still waiting for your response to my Boxer From Shantung and Chinese Hercules reviews (sits back on rock in mediative position)

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Great write-up on Heroine Susan, @DrNgor. Sounds to me like the fighting style gets stale really fast in that, but it was a fun review to read.

Still needing to go back and watch Undisputed 2. Rereading @One Armed Boxer's review again for the 2nd time in a month has me jonesing for a Boyka marathon.

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Alright, I'm weighing in...

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


Synopsis
Matt Reeves (MD) is a former world champion kickboxer and a friend of the Sloans (the characters from Kickboxer 1 - 4). On learning of their deaths and finding another friend and protege being harassed and murdered, he sets out for revenge against Mr. Negaal (JR), himself a former world champion kickboxer who was banned from the sport for using an illegal and lethal strike thus killing his opponent. Mr. Negaal is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and has started his own kickboxing federation using strong-arm tactics to force fighters to turn over their titles, belts, and representation exclusively to him. Matt travels to Africa to find Negaal with the help of Paul Croft (GM), an ex-con who was supposed to kill him in exchange for his freedom. Together they take on the ruthless and deadly egomaniac, Negaal.

Fight #1 --- Matt vs Pinto (the other GM) and Bull (DP)
Good opening fight! It's short but a nice showcase of MD's skills. Really good kicks and handwork.

Fight #2 --- Matt and Paul vs Negaal's thugs
This is at the airport. Good fight! It's mostly MD. He even uses a metal pole as a staff to dispatch them. He does so with a flourish and it's almost comical.

Fight #3 --- Matt and Paul vs Negaal's thugs again
This is at an abandoned foundry. Another good fight! Again, mostly MD. Lots of good kicks. Some of the choreography is a little off in places, as is the sound editing, but it's still enjoyable. It gets better when GM shows up. MD unloads multiple snapping side kicks on one guy, followed by a sweet spinning back kick.

Fight #4 --- Negaal vs German champion (Gavin Hood)
Not a bad fight. JR still has some moves. The choreography could've been a little better. He uses a "tiger claw" strike to end the bout quite sadistically.

There's a short training sequence that's kind of cool as it includes a bit of chi training by showing MD snapping an arrow braced against a post with the tip pressed into his throat.

Fight #5 --- Paul vs Bollen (GL)
Meh. Not a whole lot going on here. A few punches, a few throws. Kind of lame.

Fight #6 --- Matt and Paul vs Negaal's thugs yet again
It's pretty good but very short. MD unleashes some nice kicks here.

Fight #7 --- Matt vs Negaal
Good fight!!! Wish it could've been edited a little better and run little bit longer. There are no real standout moments until the end which has a nice ironic twist. (*Spoiler*: Negaal uses his "tiger claw" strike to Matt's throat whose chi training prevents its effect. Matt then uses the same strike on Negaal and follows it with a Dim Mak [death strike] touch to his heart. Gotta love it!)

This is the last installment of the KICKBOXER franchise which was started with Jean Claude Van Damme, who only starred in the 1st one. (I've always thought that KB 2-4, which starred Sasha Mitchell, sucked and I held off a long time on seeing this because of that.) Personally, I think this should've been a movie unto itself, but I guess the studio wanted name recognition.

I'm a fan of this film. MD demonstrates that he has both acting and MA talent. JR steals almost every scene he's in. He plays a great villain and really makes the movie. The story is serviceable and the choreography is solid. The editing and camera angles?....not so good in places. But it's not that detrimental. 

This is the movie that turned me onto MD. I'd seen him in Double Dragon (the movie based on the video game where he costarred with Scott Wolf and Robert Patrick) but I just didn't remember him. However, this did the trick. He quickly became one of my favorite MA stars and he's done some of my favorites MA films. Even my wife loves this guy!

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

There is no doubt that Ang Lee's classic wuxia film, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" revolutionized kung fu cinema, nay cinema in general. It allowed martial arts films to be far more than traditional "chop socky". It introduced art, beauty and lots of floaty, flying shit to audiences all over the world. I've called it a masterpiece. Others might not think that word should be used but those people are (subjectively) wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Anyway... Sixteen years after the original, Netflix announced a sequel. Kung fu cinema fans immediately felt a mixture of happiness and worry. Then Yuen Wo (is it Wo or Woo?) Ping was announced as the director and we collectively let out a breath. Granted, he doesn't have the technical eye of Ang Lee but he couldn't go too wrong...could he? Then the cast was announced: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeah, Veronica Ngo... Hell, even Jason Scott Lee! This gaggle of actors had a lot of us giving our nod of approval and we waited with baited breath for the film to finally release on its streaming platform home.

When I first saw this film, I had a lot of bad things to say. A lot. This review is based on my second viewing. So, take what I say with a pinch of salt. With that said, let's get into it...

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" Sword of Destiny" is one hell of a double-sided coin. Where to start? Let's go with the plot first. The plot of the film is very simple. Almost comically so. There is a war going on in the martial world. Hades Dai (Scott Lee) is attempting to destroy all other clans so that his own White Lotus clan can thrive and rule the world (cue maniacal laughter). Meanwhile, Yu (Michele Yeoh) is living a life of solitude. She has traveled to Peking where legendary swordsman, Li Mu Bai's sword, the Green Destiny, is held. Oh yeah, she's also there to pay her respects to a friend's recently deceased father but that's really by the by.
Fast forward a little and a fighter called Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) attempts to kill Hades, fails and then makes her way to Peking to steal the Greeen Destiny. At the same time, Hades has sent his own warrior to steal the sword. He's caught, logged up and blah, blah, blah...
Put simply, the film is a massive fight over who has the Green Destiny. Donnie Yen, playing Silent Wolf, hops on board with his merry band of fighters, to protect the sword. And that's about it. There are protectors of the sword and those that seek to steal it. Why? Because it's a really, really good sword! Or something.
The subplots are, unfortunately, quite weak. There's a paper thin love story between Silent Wolf and Yu. There's another backstory involving Snow Vase and Wei Fang (Harry Shum Jr.) being switched at birth.

So why is it a two-sided coin? Well, firstly, it's all about the performers. "Sword of Destiny" has the misfortune of featuring some amazing people and some god awful people. For example, Michelle Yeoh puts in a quiet, elegant, nuanced performance while Jason Scott Lee hams it up as a Disney-esque villain. Donnie Yen puts in a noble, gentle performance mirroring Yeoh's while Liu Bordizzo is painfully wooden and messy. This causes the film to be very disjointed. It makes me wonder exactly what Wo Ping was going for. Big, silly fantasy? Or a careful attempt at wuxia?
Then there's the action. Some of the cast simply cannot perform. Michelle Yeoh is saved by doubles because, quite frankly, she really can't pull off the moves like she used to. She's stiff and dare I say too old? Put away the pitchforks and torches. I'm just suggesting she might be a little too long in the tooth to pull off quick, grand swordplay.
The young newcomers, while having speed, are also pretty weak when it comes to action. The fact they're fresh faced and new to cinema really comes across. They're not used to fight choreography it seems. Although, there is a hushed, silent fight near the beginning between Snow Vase and Wei Fang that's really quite nice. What I'm trying to say is there are a lot of hit and miss action performances here. The best fighters seem to be those associated with Donnie Yen's Silent Wolf.

Speaking of the action, upon my second viewing I saw it very differently to my first. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the fights this time around. Honestly, Donnie shines. His moves are crisp, his kicking looks great and he used his two-handed sword wonderfully. He's head and shoulders above anyone else on screen. However, with that said, the choreography here is actually very nice. It's a little "soft" but I think this was a weird artistic choice by the director rather than a fuck up.
There are some very nice exchanges here. Hand-to-hand (granted, not enough), weapons...it's all here. Even some environmental fights. The ice fight being a lovely use of the fighters' surroundings and featuring some beautiful "skating" exchanges.
I liked the action. It's swift and charming. I will say that it's very much the simplified choreography we have some to expect from Yuen Wo Ping as of late. By that, I mean it's much more like "True Legend" than anything else. But it's nice.
The flip-side to the action coin is that the wire-work really is quite clunky in places. It's nowhere near the serene gracefulness of the original film. Many of the moves look forced and...well...ugly. It's sad because there is a LOT of wire-work here. It's not enough to ruin the film but it may elicit a few sighs here and there.

The key to watching "Sword of Destiny" is to separate it from the original film entirely. If you view this film as a silly, standalone fantasy kung fu film, you can really enjoy it. Don't try to compare it. You WILL be letdown.
There is a lot of fun to be had here. Sure, it's almost camp. Yes, it feels more like a Syfy movie than a Netflix movie. But it's genuinely enjoyable. It's a tight little slice of b-movie wuxia with a semi-solid cast and enjoyable fight scenes. Ignore its attempts at profound side-plots and honorable character traits and see it as a goofy old kung fu romp. Refrain from comparing it to the original and you might very well be pleasantly surprised. I certainly was.
     

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On ‎06‎-‎03‎-‎2018 at 2:40 AM, DrNgor said:

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.

Enjoyable review for a not so enjoyable kung-fu flick it sounds like....look forward to your next 'Boxer from Shantung' unofficial sequel review with 'Queen Boxer'.

Now we just need someone to take on the remakes, with 'Hero' and 'Once Upon a Time in Shanghai', and we've got it covered!

14 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

I'm a fan of this film. MD demonstrates that he has both acting and MA talent. JR steals almost every scene he's in. He plays a great villain and really makes the movie. The story is serviceable and the choreography is solid. The editing and camera angles?....not so good in places. But it's not that detrimental.

Nice to see a movie that often gets mentioned but is rarely spoken about in any depth get the @ShaOW!linDude review treatment!  I've never seen this one, but should check it out.  I'm a fan of the talent that Dacascos has, but not of most of the movies he chooses.  My introduction to him was with 'Drive', which was quickly followed by his turns in 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' and 'China Strike Force'.  How a Hong Kong movie even managed to waste his martial arts skill is beyond me (but then again, that movie also wasted the talents of Won Jin, yet somehow I still find it an enjoyable guilty pleasure).

I always use Dacascos as an example of how important action choreographers are, even more to some degree than the performers themselves.  Get a great action choreographer, and they can make even non-martial artists look good ('The Final Master', 'Man From Nowhere' etc.), however put a talented martial artist with lackluster choreographers, and even the best in the business can look bland and uninspired.  Dacascos is the perfect example of the latter.

1 hour ago, Drunken Monk said:

The key to watching "Sword of Destiny" is to separate it from the original film entirely. If you view this film as a silly, standalone fantasy kung fu film, you can really enjoy it. Don't try to compare it. You WILL be letdown.
There is a lot of fun to be had here. Sure, it's almost camp. Yes, it feels more like a Syfy movie than a Netflix movie. But it's genuinely enjoyable. It's a tight little slice of b-movie wuxia with a semi-solid cast and enjoyable fight scenes. Ignore its attempts at profound side-plots and honorable character traits and see it as a goofy old kung fu romp. Refrain from comparing it to the original and you might very well be pleasantly surprised. I certainly was.

You may just have convinced me to watch this.  I picked up the HK Blu-ray a while ago, which comes with a Cantonese language track (I'm not sure if the English track is available as well, but others who have viewed the HK version seem to be of the opinion that watching it in Cantonese is more bearable than watching it in English).  Tragically it's still in the shrinkwrap on the shelf.  Great review, and a very entertaining and humerous breakdown of a sequel many were quick to lambast.  Hope to see more of your reviews @Drunken Monk, you writing style is a pleasure to read.

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On 03/03/2018 at 6:27 PM, One Armed Boxer said:

Overall I feel confident in saying that 'Undisputed 2' represents Florentine’s best work as a director. His love of both westerns and kung fu movies are given subtle nods throughout (my favorite of which has Jai White learning MMA moves from an old crippled master in a wheelchair), and the strong supporting cast featuring the likes of Ben Cross and Eli Danker add an unexpectedly welcome layer of drama to proceedings.

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would, especially after discovering that Jai White was playing a boxer and not a kickboxer. It makes a great double feature with Van Damme's IN HELL. Thanks for the review (and my boss yelled at me for reading it during work hours, despite the fact I had copied and pasted it onto a WordPad document).

 

1 hour ago, One Armed Boxer said:

Enjoyable review for a not so enjoyable kung-fu flick it sounds like....look forward to your next 'Boxer from Shantung' unofficial sequel review with 'Queen Boxer'.

That should be up in a couple of days. :)

 

20 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Still waiting for your response to my Boxer From Shantung and Chinese Hercules reviews (sits back on rock in mediative position)

I'll get to those soon. I'm juggling my free time between watching movies, writings about movies and updating the Review Compilation.

 

15 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

Matt Reeves (MD) is a former world champion kickboxer and a friend of the Sloans (the characters from Kickboxer 1 - 4). On learning of their deaths

The first time I saw Kickboxer 2, I was angered to find out that the story went in the direction of "most of the main cast of the first film that you grew to love was murdered." So this one kills off Sasha's character, too?

 

2 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

Then there's the action. Some of the cast simply cannot perform. Michelle Yeoh is saved by doubles because, quite frankly, she really can't pull off the moves like she used to. She's stiff and dare I say too old? Put away the pitchforks and torches. I'm just suggesting she might be a little too long in the tooth to pull off quick, grand swordplay.

I think she spent too much time away from MA action after the mixed-negative reception of Silver Hawk. She's about the same age as Donnie Yen, but since he's been working fairly constantly in the MA/action genres since 1984, so he's had little time to fall out of step in terms of movie MA. Just a thought.

 

2 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

I will say that it's very much the simplified choreography we have some to expect from Yuen Wo Ping as of late. By that, I mean it's much more like "True Legend" than anything else. But it's nice.

As someone who liked that movie, I see this as a plus.

 

2 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

Hades Dai (Scott Lee) is attempting to destroy all other clans so that his own White Lotus clan can thrive and rule the world (cue maniacal laughter).

That's a weird story, because the whole "Jiang Hu Underworld" (as the CTHD subtitles pu tit), or Martial World, was mentioned in the first film, but not very important to the overall plot. Sounds a bit strange for it to suddenly step into the forefront.

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23 minutes ago, DrNgor said:

The first time I saw Kickboxer 2, I was angered to find out that the story went in the direction of "most of the main cast of the first film that you grew to love was murdered." So this one kills off Sasha's character, too?

Thankfully, YES!!!

2 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

The key to watching "Sword of Destiny" is to separate it from the original film entirely. If you view this film as a silly, standalone fantasy kung fu film, you can really enjoy it. Don't try to compare it. You WILL be letdown.
There is a lot of fun to be had here. Sure, it's almost camp. Yes, it feels more like a Syfy movie than a Netflix movie. But it's genuinely enjoyable. It's a tight little slice of b-movie wuxia with a semi-solid cast and enjoyable fight scenes. Ignore its attempts at profound side-plots and honorable character traits and see it as a goofy old kung fu romp. Refrain from comparing it to the original and you might very well be pleasantly surprised. I certainly was.

This! Absolutely! Your 2nd viewing experience was akin to my 1st on watching this. Granted, it didn't live up to its predecessor, but I didn't get all the flack it was catching. It has very solid fight scenes, and the wirework (which usually irritates the daylights out of me), while not as good as CTHD, was way better than what I usually see in most wuxia films. I could stand to watch this again.

Oh, and I wholeheartedly echo @One Armed Boxer's sentiments. Review another!

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