Rise of the Legend (2014)

Posted in Reviews

Stylish if slightly bloated reimagining of Wong Fei-hung’s beginnings which recasts the virtuous folk hero as a violent fighter in a Guangzhou (Canton) docklands gang in the 1860s, running errands for his crime boss, Lui (Sammo Hung). He decapitates a rival kingpin and thrashes the whole gang single-handedly, earning his boss’ trust and respect. Max Zhang, playing the boss’ son, drops in to take his revenge, and Wong thrashes him too. Its a daring, contrary approach to Wong’s filmic heritage from a writer – Christine To – well-known for her postmodern twists on the kung fu origin story. She gave …

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The Legend of Tomiris (2019)

Posted in Reviews

Straight and sober historical war epic detailing the Tomiris story; the Scythian queen of Central Asia’s Massagetae tribe credited for uniting the nomadic clans of the ‘steppe’ – vast, empty grasslands – and leading them into battle against the might of Cyrus the Great and his Persian army in 530 BC. There are conflicting accounts as to circumstances surrounding the death of the first Persian King and the validity of the Tomiris legend. It was originally documented some 100 years after the event by Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus. This film version ditches Ancient Greece in favour of the Syrian capital of …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 61: Larnell Stovall

Posted in Podcasts

“Give people something they are going to remember. You can’t get that time back, so let me make sure you enjoy what I have to present.”

When martial artist Larnell Stovall first saw the film Blade in 1998, it was a lightbulb moment. But it wasn’t the actions of Wesley Snipes as the titular kick-ass vampire hunter which would spark a sudden interest in wanting to work in the movies; it was the actions of the people Wesley was beating up. Feeling inspired, Larnell took a bus from New Orleans to Hollywood armed only with his martial arts skills and the …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 60: Rocky Taylor

Posted in Podcasts

“All the other stuntmen had never done judo; they couldn’t even do falls on the floor. It gave me great credibility in the stunt business and allowed me to learn my craft.”

At 75, Rocky Taylor is known as Britain’s oldest stunt performer. A day before this podcast was recorded, he was doing doughnut spins in his car and setting himself on fire. In the last year alone, his stunt credits include Spider-Man: Far from Home and Angel Has Fallen. Rocky has sustained his long career (six decades and counting) by being something of an all-rounder: high-falls, horses, cars, sword fights …

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One Night in Bangkok (2020)

Posted in Reviews

Meditative revenge drama from director Wych Kaosayananda, who last worked with action star Mark Dacascos for 2019’s The Driver. Dacascos plays Kai, a smartly dressed, well-mannered hitman who lands in Bangkok and immediately sets to work picking off his targets as the night unfolds, assisted in his travels by unassuming young taxi driver, Fha (Vanida Golten). There are clear parallels to Michael Mann’s excellent 2004 film, Collateral, even down to Dacascos’ grey suit, although this has a more dream-like, almost meandering sensibility, particularly during the projected dialogue scenes between Kai and Fha, in which the two wax lyrical about everything from …

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Profile: Bob Wall

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 22 August, 1939 (San Jose, California)

Full name: Robert Alan Wall

Style: Karate, Tang Soo Do, Judo.

Biography: Martial artist, actor and businessman Bob Wall has a ninth degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do, studying under Chuck Norris. He has also trained in a number of different disciplines including Judo (under “Judo” Gene LeBell), Okinawan Shorin-Ryu (under Joe Lewis), and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (under the Machado Brothers). Over the years, Bob Wall has taught martial arts to Elvis and Priscilla Presley, Paul Newman, Elke Sommers and Debbie Reynolds.

In 1959, Bob earned a black belt in Judo studying under …

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Profile: Ludi Lin

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 11 November, 1987 (Fuzhou, China)

Style: Muay Thai, jiujitsu, wrestling.

Biography: Ludi Lin was born in Fuzhou, a city along the southern coast of China, near Taiwan. His mother is also an actor. At the age of nine, Ludi was sent to study at a boarding school in Sydney, Australia, which is where he spent the majority of his youth. At the age of 17, Ludi emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, with his mother to complete his university education. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with a double major in Dietetics and Theatre Performance. He has also studied film …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 59: Ludi Lin

Posted in Podcasts

“My goal in life has always been about connection – it’s about connecting everyone in the world who has a consciousness. I think the only way to do that is to bridge this gap between the east and the west.”

The career of multilingual Chinese Canadian star Ludi Lin has gone from strength-to-strength over the last few years, with Ludi enjoying success across a range of genres in both China and the USA. Landing the role of the Black Ranger in Saban’s 2017 Power Rangers origin story helped to turbo-charge his reputation in Hollywood, followed by his work in James Wan’s …

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Wira (2019)

Posted in Reviews

This takes a while to get going, but once it does – around the halfway mark – it’s wall-to-wall action, and good stuff, too. Some of it feels gimmicky – a little under-cranked and cartoony in places with a few interesting camera choices – but Yayan Ruhian’s highly charged choreography is fluid and captured concisely, and helps to take Malaysian martial arts cinema to new levels. In something of a riff on The Big Boss, a retired commando, Hassan (Hairul Azreen), returns from military service to find his single dad and cage-fighting sister, Zain (Fify Azmi), indebted and harassed by …

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Double World (2020)

Posted in Reviews
Double World (2020)

This film was another coronavirus-related release casualty, heading straight to streaming services simultaneously in China (via iQiyi) and internationally (via Netflix), despite a budget of $43m and mad CGI landscapes. The film, which is 80% visual effects, would have benefitted from a big-screen release, but it retains much of its bonkers charm even on a small screen. The premise is designed around the pairing of Peter Ho and Henry Lau, who play a contrary double act from the same clan who journey into the gladiatorial heart of the fantastical Phoenix City to take part in an all-out crazy martial arts …

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