Friday, December 30, 2016
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Firstly, I'm much more geared toward action star and Oscar-winner Jackie Chan's old school titles, though I can appreciate the aesthetic value in his newer movies given the etymology of his overall filmic vision. He certainly erects it in his latest, Railroad Tigers, loaded with sprightly comedy and colorful characters, and some huge set pieces to boot, though not without a few bumps and thumps.
While Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 film by the same name, I like to think of it as a direct reimagining of its original incarnation of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai from 1954. It bears noting that Kurosawa is, to this day, still Stephen Spielberg's totemic inspiration behind his every endeavor, which calls to mind the question of how much that influences have made it into those films both thematically and narratively. I would say that the influence manifests like the whimsy of a film student's interaction with the arguments that give sustenance to a story of camaraderie. A story like this one, especially, that arrives on contact with the bold charisma of a gunslinger. I'm calling it; if this sort of Western is an analog to another form of cinematic expression, it would be to anime a la Voltron or Gundam Wing - a case for the benefits of empathy.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
This month's leaked X-Spatial Media footage from CineAsia of action star Iko Uwais's performance in Liam O'Donnell's upcoming sci-fi thriller, Beyond Skyline is nothing short of a riproaring tease for what could be a delightful thrillride considering the technology on hand. This, accompanied by his upcoming appearance in the 2017 wide release of his current Indonesian theatrical run, Headshot, certainly lends even more appeal to the fans, especially amid the long and winded expectations for a third outing in the electric crime saga, The Raid.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Looking toward the new year will undoubtedly include the witnessing of some much-deserved hype for the martial arts niche now looking to Cambodia. Thus, with the weeks and days counting their way down to January 31, 2017 pending the release of Jailbreak, we now have our first official poster for the new action comedy from Puprom Entertainment and Kongchak Pictures which you can view in the following album.
Actor Gang Dong-Won is currently enjoying his box office reign along with Lee Byung-Hun and Kim Won-Bin in the new action thriller, Master. As it stands now, the actor is now poised to carry over the momentum into the start of 2017 for his newest gig, Haunted Obsession director No Dong-Seok's Golden Slumber which will release later in the year from CJ Entertainment.
Sources are reporting that South Korea is already poised for some franchise buzz in the coming months with production on-going since this past summer with the new fantasy flick, With God. Designated as a two-parter, the budding film franchise is inspired by a three-phase webcomic by creator Ju Ho-Min, casting actor Cha Tae-Hyun (My New Sassy Girl) as a man who dies must undergo a 49-day period of seven trials to prove himself as a dissident "angel of death" unavoidably meddles in human affairs.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Actor Keanu Reeves's return to the titular role in solo debut helmer Chad Stahelski's John Wick: Chapter 2 looks to be nothing short of ceremonious come February. With this, the obvious reunion affair also lies with that of actor Lawrence Fishburne among the cast of new and returning faces for a sequel that aims to build its way further into the world first hinted in the 2014 hit film.
Sunday, December 25, 2016
In the years since I've had my eye on action star Scott Adkins, he's almost never disappointed me as a fan or a critic. That wasn't until Isaac Florentine's The Shepherd in 2008, and with an unceremonious fight finale that paled in comparison to the riproaring sequences of his previous work, including Special Forces in 2003.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
2016 has seen its fair share of stumbles for me, particularly in the interview department seeing as how I didn't get to reach as many people as I wanted to. This was one of the grievances I aired in my year four piece from a few weeks ago, and interestingly enough, things still took quite a turn for me following the teaser announcement of a new reel by a stunt performer and martial artist whose career growth now lends him the prominence that I among dozens of others can truly assert that he deserves.
That stated, I was never personally well acquainted with Andy Long until around my first or second year as a writer here at Film Combat Syndicate. However, the work he's amassed and contributed to the genre and the people of his field makes him one of the most sought after people to date for a guy that lives so far away from most others, and it's partly by way of the internet in its evolution for more than twenty years now that his relevance and success keeps him going, having collaborated with numerous teams and filmmakers aplenty, at home and abroad. Independent AND mainstream.
It's the level of work ethic here that speaks greatly to the kind of material and people I enjoy covering, especially with my last interview subjects, The Danger Element star and director John Soares and Headshot co-star Sunny Pang. Thus, I found myself at an opportune moment in the past month to reach out to Long and talk to him about his career in the hopes of debuting one final, major interview for the new year. It is an interview that I warmly bring to you all in lieu of introducing Long's newest career tribute reel, ripe with highlights of his life, his work, his dreams, goals and creative heights all dating back to 1993, and this reel is a sheer joy to watch from start to finish!
The following interview was a bit of a team effort. It took a while to finish from the start as he was finishing his reel wherein a few great new videos have since aired on the Martial Club channel already - something he hints at later on. Alas, with this being his first major interview - a fact which puts a huge and humble smile on my face - it's also rewarding as well, having given myself the chance to enhance someone that people within the stunt and film community are slowly coming to know and are increasingly coming to revere, legendary film star and Oscar winner Jackie Chan being one of them. Long certainly deserves the spotlight for all his continued, unwaning efforts to pay tribute through performance and vision overall, and it is, without question, an honor for me to share his story - a story of hardwork, dedication, experience, comradery, laughter, triumph over tribulation, endurance, friendship, art and the love of cinema.
I hereby welcome you to Film Combat Syndicate's own debut interview with the one and only Andy Long. As a noteworthy mention, Long is truly one of the most mild-mannered and modest people you will ever meet, so I'm certain he would choke me if he had any idea that I would be talking him up this much in my preface here. What can I say? I love the guy.
Cheers, Andy, and everyone, enjoy!
Andy Long: First of all, I wanna thank you very much for doing this interview with me. I’ve been reading many interviews you did with a lot of great people that I look up to, and I’m very honored to join the club!
2016 has been a fantastic year so far. I’ve been blessed with so many beautiful moments, had the chance to meet and work with amazing people for the first time and learn from the best in the stunt industry - people I’ve rarely met or only knew online beforehand. I’m also very happy that I made the time to meet my friends and shoot some funny video clips again. It revived my performing spirit once more since my stunt work has been 95% behind the camera for the last five years, and top of those things, I actually made another big dream of mine come true this year thanks to the help of very special people which I consider now as my family and proud to call my own stunt team.
Friday, December 23, 2016
Next summer might have some thrilling Kendo drama going for itself in Japan cinemas from Dias Police: Dirty Yellow Boys helmer Kumakiri Kazuyoshi. For this, we start with the latest teaser for the new film, Mukoku, low in scale whilst still boasting ample quality and substance overall, as well as some intense performances from the cast.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
It should be noted that a live-action adaptation of Shueisha's hit manga/anime property, Naruto, is on deck from Lionsgate. A date? Pending. However, this news broke last summer and now it's back in the headlines following updates at a Jump Festa event in Japan last weekend.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Coming into my first year as a writer and learning of certain names and faces, actor, martial artist and stuntman R. Marcos Taylor was one of the first to stand out to me. He's sizeable, standing well over six feet with a muscular, mildly stocky build, but his skillset equals him to many of the talent stunt performers and screenfighters I've written about, and I can attest to this having seen several of his works in addition to stunt and training reels. Point in fact, he was one of the people I put on blast for some work on the Jonathan Liebesman-directed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake, having tagged a bunch of people on social media - me, wet behind the ears with fandom and just eager to help people out.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
Welcome to the last Hit List of 2016 before I take my fat butt away from my phone a bit more to enjoy life around me some. Indeed it'll be at home through Christmas and New Year's Eve at least until my cough dissipates...It's not how I wanted to go out this year but... oh well... Wish me luck!
Jason Statham has a checkered past when it comes to action movies. This is a man who has subjected himself to the direction - if we can call it that- of the infamous Uwe Boll (In The Name of The King: A Story With An Already Ridiculous Enough Title That It Didn't Need A Subtitle to Make it Worse), confused the shit out of us as Jake Green in 2005’s Revolver, and still found time in his schedule to make basketball interesting again in 2010 with The Expendables. From the cartoonishness of his survival spree as Chev Chelios in the Crank series to his Bond-on-wheels turn as The Transporter, I would argue in gest that said past and all its turbulent splendor has contributed significantly to the cultivation of that bitchin’ perpetual scowl Statham sports. But I fear he wouldn't appreciate the joke and thus proceed to openly diss superhero movies again. So we’ll skip all that unpleasantness and talk about Mechanic: Resurrection instead.
Cold, bitter winter winds notwithstanding, 2017 will be a warm welcome for moviegoers - undoubtedly including those who prefer something much more grounded in style and tone rather than high-flying superheroics. Director Chad Stahelski is certainly heeding the call in recent years, now well on the way with his solo directorial debut in John Wick: Chapter 2 with actor Keanu Reeves reprising his role from their 2014 Stahelski/Leitch outing.
Did you enjoy Denis Villeneuve's seething 2015 crime thriller, Sicario? Do you love sci-fi, action and noir? Well, then there is no goddamn way you're not paying attention to the latest over at Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment ahead of the release of Blade Runner 2049, following in the footsteps years after the cult-acclaimed 1982 classic.
|This was a terrible night for clubbing.|
Friday, December 16, 2016
Looking at most shortfilms, many prove to be workable concepts that, if handled with care and granted the right amount of money and production muscle, could turn out to be something of a worthy feat. Most times though, especially with independent filmmakers, achieving that sort of thing with little to no money at all and a small crew with extenuating circumstances in between can ultimately prove to be quite an endeavor, which is exactly what filmmaker Leroy Nguyen endured considering the well-over five years it took to make his feature-length debut, Black Scar Blues, a reality.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Gintama, sure feel pretty exciting these days. A new anime series is on the horizon following a hiatus back in March and since then, we've also had a live-action feature adaptation of the film now headed for a July release.
As always, the prospects still loom for professional fighters looking to get into film and Muay Thai favorite, Buakaw Banchamek has been well on track for such an accomplishment. The Samurai Of Ayothaya co-star and K1 and Muay Thai champion is already in tow for a few film prospects pending with one of them being Wilson Yip's latest, Paradox (formerly Fate).
Not too familiar with longstanding Indian film star Shah Rukh Khan? Well, if you diet regularly on Netflix, your time will come now that the subscription video streaming magnate has officiated a deal with Khan's own Red Chilles Entertainment. The Bollywood star's next action thriller, Raees, is on deck for January 25, while the Netflix rollout of Khan actioners is well underway as of late last month.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Oleg Stepchenko's long-awaited, albeit loose adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's 19th century horror novella, Viy, has seen quite an evolution. And a lengthy one at that with years of production hurdles until it finally released in 2014 in Russia; The film released in the U.S. as Forbidden Empire and as the first of a trilogy at that, a sequel was in tow the following year upon its announcement.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
In the months leading up to the stellar performing release of box office hit, Suicide Squad, it was already being reported that Warner Bros. was well on the way with developing a feature spin-off focusing on a female-centric narrative primed with heroines and villainesses from the DC Universe. Three months later, Suicide Squad, in the weeks proceeding director David Ayer's bold "F**k Marvel" commentary which he eventually recanted, the film went on to gross well over $745 million dollars worldwide, flying in the faces of critics who struck the comic book adaptation with perpetually negative reviews overwhelming some positive ones.
There are definitely a few films coming in 2017 with notable lead characters appearing to share a similar theme. One of them happens to be The Fate Of The Furious over at Universal Pictures and the other, at Paramount Pictures brings us to Michael Bay's Transformers: The Last Knight, which now immerses us in a world more desolate and dystopian, riddled and damaged from battle after battle as seen in the first trailer which premiered last week.
It’s easy to take for granted the golden age of DTV action we live in with filmmakers like Isaac Florentine and John Hyams bringing genuine inspiration to their films. Kill Ratio is a throwback to an earlier era; a time that most of us would like to forget... The DTV dark age of the early 2000s.
Monday, December 12, 2016
Miike Takashi's Dead Or Alive trilogy is one I've been after for a while now and I'm glad that the good folks at Arrow Video are on top of it going into the new year. Two pre-order links are available in the announcement below for the U.S. and U.K. releases which ought to be an easy steal.
Ask anyone up until now if you thought the ever-loyal Toretto family wasn't going to have its share of trials and tribulations, and they'd probably tell you you were up your own ass for even asking that. Well, leave it to A Man Apart and Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray and his band of miscreants at Universal Pictures to turn things upside down for those naysayers who have been in for a huge surprise during the trailer launch on Sunday night for the new film, The Fate Of The Furious which now puts the famed love story between Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in sheer jeopardy, leaving a lot of people asking a series of WTFs online and such.
Four years in writing here at my blog have seen quite a bit of upscaling for many people that I've covered. English martial artist and stuntman Jean-Paul Ly is certainly someone I haven't left out of my purview in the time since he welcomed me into his social circle, and especially as rewarding as it continues to be through his progression as a stunt and fight coordinator and actor with several credits including Lucy, Jon M. Chu's Now You See Me 2, TV drama Cuckoo, and Colin Emerson's 2015 action short, Dead End.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Set during the Ming dynasty, Su Chao Pin and co-director John Woo's Reign of Assassins splashes onto the screen in the epic bravado of mythos, setting up the history of the Bodhi Kung Fu discipline; a fight system and martial philosophy developed by the powerful Indian Buddhist Monk Bodhi, who, as the legend tells it, went on a sacred exodus 800 years ago from India to China.
Friday, December 9, 2016
UNCOMPROMISED Sees Jose Manuel Taking On The Mafia In The First Offical Trailer For Upcoming MA Action Pilot
Having spawned from online shortfilm success, Puerto Rico's own, actor and martial artist Jose Manuel has landed himself and the good folks over at North Compass quite an accumulating profile over the last several years. For me, it wasn't until the top of 2015 when I began covering Manuel's incredible work as Puerto Rico's answer to Eric Jacobus, and most prolifically since his lead acting debut in the groundbreaking, award-winning 2011 feature actioner, Andres Ramírez's El Testigo.
Plotting the continuing course that lies ahead of the "open road" for The Fast And The Furious franchise hasn't been an easy feat to achieve in the last few years. Thankfully we've seen Universal Pictures deliver on this tenfold in 2015 having endured the trauma of real life tragedy a few years earlier and the production challenges that ensued thereafter for its seventh installation, Furious Seven.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES: Matt Reeves's Continuing Allegory On Mankind's Destructive Devolution Wages On In The First Official Trailer
Folks observant of 20th Century Fox's recent efforts to revamp the Apes franchise have been a mostly positive grouping of fans, proven thusly by fresh Rotten Tomato ratings and a box office score of well over $1.1 billion dollars among other factors. It's obviously good news for the studio and good enough that a third be in order to cap off this latest endeavor stemming from director Matt Reeves, here and now with War For The Planet Of The Apes.
I grew pretty fatigued in the months before and after Sony's 2014 attempt at a summer sequel with Marvel wall crawler, Spider-Man, and before I go any further, I still am, sort of. All of the tedious energy it takes to cover comic book movies - from micro updates on images to casting announcements and confirmations is why I largely don't cover comic book movies as much as I'd like to, and especially with all of the developments there were at the time for actor Andrew Garfield's succession into battling the Sinister Six along with the studio's further push for a possible female Spider-man project in the works.
Sky/Cinemax Action Series, STRIKE BACK, Reactivates With A New 'Fast And Furious' Cast, Plot Details
I rarely get a lot of time for television most days. I do, however, try my best not to be too tedious when it comes to shows that get my attention in the best of ways - shows like the Sky/Cinemax series, Strike Back which ended with its fourth season just last summer.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Animator Yeon Sang-Ho made his live-action debut this with the hit action horror, Train To Busan. The film was a festival favorite during the summer and has since earned the favor of many a critic and moviegoer, in addition to a raft of studios competing for the English-language remake rights in a few months prior to its release.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
It's interesting to see how theater technology evolves from time to time, though not everyone shares in that same immersive experience since theaters equipped with that kind of gear are located in select locations around the world, especially Asia, for one. I'm speaking of cinema local where services like Barco Escape and things like 4DX and Screen X are paving the way for moviegoers to engage the cinematic experience even beyond wearing a pair of 3D glasses, only here and now we turn to another new venture unveiled at CineAsia this week in Hong Kong in the form of company X-Spatial's 4D Psychoacoustics.
Director Tsui Hark's latest pairing with The Mermaid helmer, producer Stephen Chow for Journey To The West: Demon Chapter, is currently slated for China release in late January. As for the U.S. and other territories however, the word now is that Sony Pictures has acquired the rights to the new film following the hit success of the 2013 former which starred actor Wen Zhang and actress Shu Qi.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
It looks as if 2017 will be an otherwise reassuring year for gamers and the prospects of live-action adaptations apart from Warner Bros.'s Mortal Kombat which finally crewed up with a director. Five years in the making with Sega and Hakuhodo DY's Stories International leading the way for a slate of upcoming game adaptations including Shinobi, the company issued an official press release on Monday detailing their advancement on two more titles: Beat 'Em Up fantasy actioners, Altered Beast and Street Of Rage.
Monday, December 5, 2016
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT Forsees War, Dystopia, And An Uncertain Future In The First Official Trailer
Monday has been crazy-packed with news and updates and especially with word of the first teaser trailer for Michael Bay's new movie, Transformers: The Last Knight. Production officially wrapped on Sunday as announced via social media from the director himself who returns to the helm daring to continue the streak of big box office success that now encompasses the current franchise leading up to 2014's Transformers: Age Of Extinction.
Josè Padilha's 2014 Robocop reboot was a flawed endeavor that still had its potential, in my opinion. Beyond that and as far as I'm concerned, the only two films of the three original live-action titles dating back to nearly thirty years ago are the first two films from 1987 and 1990.
So, not sure about the rest of the crew here at Film Combat Syndicate, but I am a big fan of weapon work in fight scenes so I was excited to review Derek Yee's latest, Sword Master, as it's marketed to be an epic sword fantasy revisiting the Shaw Bros classic, Death Duel...and I got more than I bargained for.
Alrighty! In anticipation of an exceptionally busy Christmas, this will be the first of three final installments of The Hit List in 2016. Personally, I look forward to the forthcoming break and on that note I might round up some of my favorite entries of stunt reels and shortfilms in a New Year edition to whet the appetite some. We'll just have to wait and see!
[UPDATED] GINTAMA: Meet The Odd Jobs Trio In New Character Posters For Fukuda Yuichi's 2017 Live Action Adaptation
Having only found out just a few months or so after production on Hentai Kamen helmer Fukuda Yuichi had begun production on a live-action adaptation of popular manga/anime property, Gintama, it was then and there that I decided to catch up. Hence, why many of you who might be following me on Instagram have been seeing gobloads of posts about the show, and I cannot reiterate enough just how much fun the show has been for me.
When it comes to all things Fast And Furious, Universal Pictures isn't afraid to go hard on hype. It worked for every film thusfar leading up to last year's explosive +1 billion dollar success and a year and a half later, we're now days away from the first official teaser trailer for the new film, Fast 8.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
I sat down to Call Of Heroes eager to see the action direction from legendary film star Sammo Hung. And let it be a testament to bloated expectations that about twenty minutes in, I thought I was going to be disappointed. Allow me to explain. It's the thing with wuxia for me, fantasy based martial arts that succeeds or fails like the extremes of a pendulum. It's either choreographed so well that it's awesome, or it reaches the level of standard and, sadly, you are made so uncomfortably aware of wires and post production work that the crew might as well be on camera in the scene.
Call Of Heroes threatened, at first, to arrive like the infamous latter.
The 1999 Stephen Sommers-directed The Mummy, and its sequel in 2001 are still two of the most fun and memorable swashbuckling action adventure flicks ever made. Both were award-winning with numerous nominations to their credit preceding the third which faltered, critically, but still managed to garner interest for a fourth film until about four years ago.
Marvel and Netflix are already underway with production on the upcoming series installation of The Defenders. In the meantime, what awaits now is a second season of hit series Luke Cage which premiered on September 30 to rousing approval from fans and critics alike.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Friday, December 2, 2016
SPECTRAL: Heavy Firepower Reigns Down On A City Of Ghosts In The New Trailer For The Netflix Sci-Fi Actioner
The first trailer for Nic Mathieu's feature debut, Spectral, arrived a week ahead of its Netflix release. The marketing is pretty minimal here considering all we have is a trailer and maybe one or two images floating online and judging by the footage, I would have thought the push would have been a little heavier.
Keep your eyes glued to social media and YouTube long enough among circles familiar with parkour aficionados and daredevils alike and you're bound to come across some sick, twisted videos that I'll have you holding onto your own seat due to spells of vertigo. I'm talking videos of stunt performers just going around and out on the town, climbing skyscrapers and various scaffolds on buildings up to some dangerous heights and filming themselves and their friends doing some ballsy, wicked things on camera.
Award-winning actor Peter O'Toole passed away in 2013, but that's not stopping his film legacy from keeping him relevant. His final film to date, Salamat Mukhammed-Ali's The Whole World At Our Feet is gearing up for a release early next year from Cleopatra Entertainment under the new title, Diamond Cartel, according to Deadline earlier this week.
Dating back just a few years ago, it's easy to see just how surprising it would be to see someone like former AV star Celine Tran tackle action roles in her transition. Thankfully it hasn't been at all for naught with a small spate of action jewels currently on YouTube, and notably, her latest forthcoming appearance in Jimmy Henderson's new martial arts action comedy, Jailbreak, now packages for a January 31 release in Cambodia next year while other releases remain pending.
I suspect this latest update from The Tracking Board could go either way considering the number of titles in the past year or so that have seen Guiness record-holding action star, honorary Oscar-winning actor Jackie Chan attached to. This one here involves Five Against A Bullet which is reportedly still without a studio after several years in limbo but is growing back its legs no less now that it appears Chan is starring in the film as the first of a hopeful franchise.