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Friday, October 31, 2014

Channing Tatum's GAMBIT Movie Gets The Greenlight And A Screenwriter

The ever-expanding Marvel movie multiverse has been on a warpath this year with its amazing franchises already coming into fruition. The work currently being done with Tim Miller's Deadpool and Marvel's 2015 Netflix line-up, in addition to talks of a female spidey feature film, as well as the possible revival of semi-human vampire hunter, Blade, and L.L. Cool J's most recent Tweet boasting a future Marvel role have pretty much overshadowed that of the recent announcement Warner Bros. made for its own superhero line-up a few weeks ago; They're catching up, but in the eyes of comic book fans in both camps, apparently not fast enough.

NORTHMEN: A VIKING SAGA Sets Sail For North America

Director Claudio Fäh's action-packed period epic, Northmen: A Viking Saga is currently enduring a theatrical run through Europe, introducing a harrowing tale of survival about a group of maurauders who must survive their way through to a Viking settlement after getting shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland. The film itself has some mixed reviews although the trailers themselves divulge plenty their fair share of epic viking brutality and danger which ought to woo anyone who loves a good sword-swinger of a thriller.

Director Christian Sesma's VIGILANTE DIARIES Gets A New Poster

From L to R: Paul Sloan, Jason Mewes and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Not too long after the unveiling of the latest teaser trailer for director Christian Sesma's 2015 action thriller, Vigilante Diaries, the production released the first of pending poster art ahead of its upcoming presentation at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California next month. The film is offering a mixed bag of new faces to its old line-up originally stemming from its earlier roots as a hopeful exclusive webseries, boasting crazy, high-octane action and spectacle with stylish storytelling, and fully-loaded characters to make this feature-length expansion worth every playing minute.

Amr Waked On Netflix's MARCO POLO: "Lots Of Action, Sex, Politics & Nudity!"

The December 12, 2014 premiere date for Netflix's SVOD series, Marco Polo grows ever near, and the latest trailer premiered this week, granting a first glimpse of what fans can expect.

A Case For Better Action Movies: DIE FIGHTING (2014)

The Z-Team, four Shaolin-forged martial artists has just won the top award at a Film Festival. FABIEN, LOHAN, DIDIER, and JESS immediately set their sights for Hollywood, but from within the shadows emerges a new challenge: the four find themselves in front of the seemingly inescapable eye of a mysterious DIRECTOR who forces them to “act” in his own brutal reality film, with the lives of their loved ones at stake. Their every move watched through hidden cameras like mice in a maze, the Z-Team are forced to run a gamut through the seedy underbelly of LA – from robbing an armored truck, encountering a Drug Lord, breaking an entire dojo of BLACKBELTS, evading a SWAT team, surviving a blazing gunfight...and it's all a part of the Director’s script. A dark filmmaker's game culminating into a shocking ending which reveals just how high the price of success is.


I'm at a loss for words sometimes right after I watch action movies. I guess it comes from a state of absorption and recovery from the overall general buzz of being entertained by something cool I've just spent under two hours watching. But for the sake of providing a substantive review here, I'll just let my thoughts run a bit...

Some films are definitely more entertaining than others, while very few manage to achieve that edge-of-your-seat feeling that I often look forward to, especally when it comes to martial arts flicks. With that in mind, as of this write-up, I have just finished screening Fabien Garcia's directorial debut, Die Fighting, and by the time the film was over, not only was I on the edge of my seat, but I was also left a little haunted too...but in a good way!

Die Fighting is the first feature-length film to come from Fabien and his team, martial arts film and stunt troupe, Z-Team, now based in Los Angeles as Z-Team Films. The film stars three of the team's principle members, actors Fabien, and brothers Lohan and Didier Buson, and one non-affilated member, actor Jess Allen; Together, they round off the four main protagonists of the film as a team of their own on the verge of coming into themselves as film stars while still entrenched in their own struggles and endeavors. Little do they know, a video voyeur looms nearby stalking the team's every move and conversation, and it is not long before things take a terrorizing turn for the worse.

In a matter of one phone call and mere seconds, the team is swept into danger by their captor, known only as "The Director", who has also kidnapped Fabien's girlfriend. Against their will and with cameras now strategically placed throughout the city's select streets and buildings, he aims to capture every moment on screen, forcing Fabien and his friends to scatter throughout the city and into perilous situations where they have no choice but to fight their way out, or witness the death of their loved ones. With each passing moment, the fights become more brutal and deadly, with the team showcasing immense physicality in their respective battles. Nontheless, as much as it is a film for the "director", the danger is equally real for its "actors". Blood will spill, lives will be lost, and when it is all over, a more sinster plot will have already unfolded.

There's a lot to be said about stuntmen and martial artists who either become actors, or are already actors in their own right, and there are plenty of them who do manage to find their range in that category. With this in mind, the Z-Team portion of the cast - Fabien, Lohan and Didier, did an adequate job throughout the film in terms of the acting; The team members themselves have very thick accents as they hail originally from France, but it doesn't infringe too much on their overall believability and chemistry together on screen. Moreover, the film was also my intoduction to Allen as an actor, and while his action sequences are mostly prolific in the film's gun battles and not so much in martial arts, he was still great to see with the cast and it felt refreshing.

We also get a small line-up of notable villains, with memorable action performances from actors, stuntman Gray Michael Sallies and action actor Xin Sarith Wuku to name a few. On the dramatic side of this, the lion's share of the film's villainous presence goes to actor Dave Vescio plays the "director", spending most of the film in the shadows behind a wall of monitors with a phone and a multifunctional workstation to control each of his cameras recording the "film", and while his face and voice are disguised for the most of the movie, we eventually learn a little more about him by the end.

While I could go on a little more about the acting, the action here is what counts for most fanboys of the genre, in which case, if this were a different universe, I might sum it all up in one sentence that might read: THERE IS NOTHING I COULD SAY HERE THAT WOULD DO JUSTICE FOR HOW FUCKING AWESOME THESE FIGHT SCENES ARE!!!... But, in the course of trying to stay an intellectual, I digress. The Z-Team's kinetic and high-caliber performability here as martial artists are nothing to be minor about, with each main actor getting their moment to shine. The techniques are solid and tight, and you can tell that plenty of the hits taken and given in this film were done with full contact. That goes to the heart these guys carry in doing what they do, and you can never give them enough credit for the risks they take in this regard.

The choreography and coordination are stylish and superb, and Tarina Reed's substantive style of cinematography was exactly what this film needed in not only preserving the ample quality of the film's fight sequences, but maintaining the "found-footage" nature for which Fabien's script intended; His script is surprisingly tooled more as an action horror than anything, and I don't normally watch horror movies. In lieu of this, what I really love about this film is how it tows the line between genres and delivers a solid and intense action thriller without losing its identity. And to top it all off, Fabien channels his most visceral and strongest performance yet as an actor.

If I were to compare films for the sake of suggesting what you might expect, I might throw in a mixed-bag of titles crossing anywhere between The Hunger Games, John Herzfeld's 15 Minutes and the late Panna Rittikrai's Bangkok Knockout - I'd say that's a good summary. Other than that, all I can really say beyond this at the risk of sounding unjustifiably bland for lack of other adjectives to use, is that you really will enjoy Die Fighting.

At its core, it's a kind of love letter to the art of, and passion for film in its own sick, twisted and gut-wrenching sort of way, which makes it all the more enjoyable by the end. Loaded with raw and genuine martial arts talent, a dash of suspense and immensely dark satire, Die Fighting is exemplary action filmmaking, and the embodiment of what it means to have an idea and achieve it with the right people in your corner. And after all these years of watching and observing their online work in the past decade or more, I am proud of what the Z-Team has accomplished in going out of their way to become entertainers. In this economic climate, it really is difficult for artists like these guys to get their films and their ideas to the mainstream, and it shows in the length in waiting period it often takes for films like this. And, I humbly thank them and their crew for bringing this movie to life.

Die Fighting is a fully-fledged martial arts thriller with virtually all the trimmings. It will keep you excited for most of the way through and above all else, the action never misses a beat, and so I wholeheartedly recommend this film.

You can pre-order the film right now on iTunes, or if you want to learn more about its availability, feel free to visit the official website, or subscribing to the official Facebook page for more info.

To read my interviews with Lohan Buson and Fabien Garcia, click HERE and HERE.

AMC Theaters Boasts Record Ticket Sales For THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1

Lionsgate was pretty smart in being the ones to bring author Suzanne Collins' YA novel series, The Hunger Games, into fruition as a live-action feature film franchise. Now on its way with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 the third installment of its 3.4 part saga on November 20 with the fourth and final film arriving one year from then, the franchise has been nothing short of a tremendous success story starring actress Jennifer Lawrence, whose status as an actress has become more and more signified by her successes as the world's highest grossing action heroine in the world officially by Guiness, which, to say the least makes her the most bankable. That fact remained just as clear as it did last month, according to AMC's latest record ticket sales this week for the Hunger Games marathon in advance of the new film's upcoming release.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Watanabe Speaks Out On The Live-Action COWBOY BEBOP Movie That Still Isn't

Much like Akira and Ghost In The Shell at the time, earlier efforts seemed almost boundless for 20th Century Fox's hopes for a feature-length live-action adaptation of Watanabe Shinichiro's 1998 animated series, Cowboy Bebop, based on the preceding manga publication from Kadokawa and Tokyopop a year earlier from author Cain Kuga. However, it has been over six years since veteran producer Erwin Stoff made it publicly known he was working to help make this possible, and even with the attachment of Watanabe as one of the film's associate producers close to the original material along with animation company, Sunrise Inc., it appears progress has been nothing short of languishing.

New Banner Art And Featurette For RISE OF THE LEGEND

Not too long before the release of director Roy Chow's upcoming origin kung fu epic, Rise Of The Legend, we now have another new featurette from Yahoo!, as well as some cool new banner art for fans to check out below. Eddie Peng stars as the title character, Wong Fei-Hung, late and legendary martial arts master and healer from which many films of yesteryear have been based.

[UPDATED] Check Out Entertainment Weekly's New TERMINATOR: GENISYS Promo Pics!

The past two days have been nothing short of active in lieu of recently-revealed promotional pics from Entertainment Weekly's exclusive coverage of director Alan Taylor's trilogy reboot starter, Terminator: Genisys. Based on EW's coverage, the film, writen by Patrick Lussier and Laeta Kalogridis, will forsee a revamp of the story that centers on iconic heroine Sarah Connor's orphaned upbringing beginning at the age of nine years old upon the arrival of a Terminator who becomes her "guardian" who she addresses as "Pops". Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has either starred in or appeared in all previous Terminator films dating back to helmer James Cameron's successful first in 1984, is returning to reprise the classic role as the killer-cyborg from the future whose living tissue, sitting atop his metal alloy, has become the segway for the Terminator's "aging" process while co-existing with mankind.

DRAGON BLADE Shines Warrior Gold With New Character Posters!

While heavily underway with the current production with director Renny Harlin on the globe-trotting action comedy, Skiptrace, action legend Jackie Chan is poised for an epic premiere of his latest big scale action epic, Dragon Blade. Having already made a hearty impression through international sales earlier this year during Cannes, the film, directed by Daniel Lee is currently expected to begin its release run this February in Asia.

New Interactive Posters Arrived This Week For THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT

Lionsgate unveiled eight new character posters this week ahead of the upcoming release of director Robert Schwentke's installment of the second part of Lionsgate's growing successful film franchise, The Divergernt Series: Insurgent. The posters arrived this week featuring Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior, Maggie Q as Tori, Keiynan Lonsdale as Uriah, Mekhi Pfeiffer as Max, Miles Teller as Peter, Zoë Kravitz as Christina, Theo James as Four and Shailene Woodley as lead heroine Tris, along with official news that the film would be released in 3D. The illustrious posters below were unveiled in the same fashion. Check them out below.

Watch A Full Half-Hour Behind-The-Scenes Look At Maori Martial Arts Action Epic, THE DEAD LANDS

While filmmaker and popular stage director Toa Fraser is on his way with the forthcoming production of his new hostage thriller, 6 Days, his latest completed project is already paving the way for filmgoers to get a glimpse of an ancient era of Maori culture, now in the form of the new period action epic, The Dead Lands. The film is out this week in New Zealand with pending releases in other territories worldwide, and based on the reviews now published at various media sites, it's pretty easy to conclude this as one of the best received films as of late, on top of being an Oscar contender for next year.

Get In On The Action With New Featurettes For FURIOUS 7!

In anticipation of this Sunday's broadcast of the official trailer for Furious 7, the production has spent the past week hitting the internet hard and heavy with a new viral social media campaign titled "The Road to Furious 7", rolling out categorized featurettes highlighting various aspects of the epic franchise exhibited in all the films dating back to 2001. As such, Wednesday saw the release of a few videos and pictures showcasing the franchise's explosive, bone-crunching fight sequences, with the biggest highlight being the principal fight between characters Dominic Torretto and D.S.S. Agent Luke Hobbs, played respectively by actors Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, in addition to another seven-second Vine teasing action from the upcoming seventh installment franchise, briefly showcasing late actor Paul Walker in action opposite a badass-looking Tony Jaa on screen, as well as the two lovely-looking femme fatales, Michelle Rodriguez and MMA superstar Ronda Rousey.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Get Dropkicked And Blown Away In The New Teaser For VIGILANTE DIARIES!

The last few years have been busy, but good to director Christian Sesma following his intial attempt at a exclusive webseries production slate for Vigilante Diaries once upon a time. Fast forward to now in late 2014, where our dear filmmaker has successfully extrapolated the material for a fully-fledged feature-length action-packed spectacle now set for 2015, and to say the least, the new teaser trailer delivers with gusto!

Production For THE FIFTH WAVE Is Underway!

Continuing to adhere to the appeal of young adults, expect another entry into the live-action YA PG-13 genre with upcoming action adventure flick, The 5th Wave. The book franchise from author Rick Yancey is part of a pending trilogy of its own and may even follow suit on the big screen if this one is successful, and it very well may be, considering the popularity of films like the current Hunger Games saga and Divergent series films.