Final Score (2018)

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This is clearly a shonky film, but at least director Scott Mann has the wherewithal to make his ‘Die Hard in a football stadium’ really silly – and it’s all the better for it. It’s the story of two Russian revolutionaries (played by two British actors, Pierce Brosnan and Ray Stevenson, putting on their hammiest accents) whose decades-long feud over a political coup in “Sekovia” is played out over a football match at the Boleyn Ground, home of London-based soccer team, West Ham United. Hammers fans will know this movie for being the stadium’s swan song before its demolition in …

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Bloodsport III (1997)

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The continuing saga of art dealer, ex-prisoner, new age hippy and Van Damme lookalike Alex Cardo (Bernhardt). After winning the Kumite, Alex scrubs up nicely as a tuxedo’ed high-roller in Sri Lanka. He meets the burly, booming Julius (John Rhys-Davies, who must’ve been sightseeing at the time) – another art dealer (why are there so many art dealers in these films?) – who wants to put together another Kumite for reasons which are purely plot-driven. When Alex refuses to take part, Julius blows up his sifu, James Hong, using an exploding telephone. Alex absconds to the hills to find a …

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Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite (1996)

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Eight years after the first Bloodsport comes this indirect sequel. One of the alleged reasons for the delay was Van Damme claiming that he would like to return to the scene of his breakout film role and star in the follow-up himself. But, for whatever reason, Bloodsport 2 winds up becoming the screen debut for Swiss stud Daniel Bernhardt, a martial artist and model with more than a passing resemblance to the ‘Muscles from Brussels’. Despite the clear physical and dramatic comparison, Bernhardt plays a wholly new character, a French art thief called Alex, who winds up in a Thai jail …

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Future War (1997)

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Predator meets The Terminator meets Cyborg meets Jurassic Park, but made on the sort of money that wouldn’t even cover the catering budget on any of those films. This is made very early in the straight-to-video career of martial arts star Daniel Bernhardt, who may have only been starting out, but evidently deserved better than this. Despite being able to act, Bernhardt must have been instructed not to bother on this one – or at least told to play on his ability to channel a Van Damme-esque naivety. Even his obvious charms and slow-motion kicking can’t save this convoluted sci-fi disaster; …

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True Vengeance (1997)

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Another decent, straight-to-video head-kicker starring Daniel Bernhardt, who gets to try out a more badass persona as a hotshot assassin in sunglasses and an overcoat, rolling around in slow-motion with a gun in each hand like he’s in a John Woo movie. It’s also another early outing for a few Hollywood martial artists who would go on to redefine stunts and action movies in the west; people like fight choreographers Chad Stahelski and Brad Martin, and stunt performers Jonathan Eusebio, Marcus Young and Tim Rigby. Bernhardt plays Griffin, a decorated ex-Navy SEAL who is introduced as a doting single dad …

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Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

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This has all the deadpan delivery, neon-lit style and gun-toting ultra-violence you would expect from a story based on a comic book – only it’s not. Navot Papushado’s original premise is set in a heightened alternate reality; one in which a shadowy, patriarchal organisation known as ‘the Firm’ employ female assassins to do their dirty work. The set-up doesn’t make any sense – and you get the feeling that the very ‘on-trend’ aesthetic may date the film relatively quickly – but it remains effective and enjoyable despite its very obvious references. Director-writer Papushado finds a good tonal balance between light …

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The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

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So, here’s a challenge: how can Warner Bros. reboot a valuable IP nearly 20 years after two of its main characters quite convincingly died in order to save what remains of the human race, while also make the game-changing, genre-bending, technology-led dystopian setting of the original trilogy seem relevant for a modern, digitally savvy audience watching in 2021? More intriguingly, how can Lana Wachowski (her sister, Lilly, is missing from the franchise this time around) avoid making the whole thing feel like a purely cynical commercial exercise?

Well, to answer the latter question, she can’t. In order to reach the desired …

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Made in Chinatown (2021)

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“Vinny” Chow (newcomer Jay Kwon) is a young New Yorker undergoing an identity crisis. He feels culturally distant from his Chinese roots, pressurised by an overbearing father and apathetic in his kung fu lessons. He feels a far greater kinship, however, to New York’s Italian American community, so he decides to relocate from Chinatown to Little Italy in an attempt to make it – Goodfellas style – as a mafioso. “In New York, you can be whatever you want,” he says, living out his ‘wise-guy’ fantasies as an errand-boy for the mob, while trying to impress the gangster’s moll. Because …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 79: End of Year Show 2021 with Mike Fury – Part Two

Posted in Podcasts

The wait is over! Find out our favourite – and least favourite – martial arts movies of 2021 in Part Two of our End of Year Show, featuring Life of Action author, Mike Fury.

Join in the festivities as we take it in turns to reveal our top five fight films of the year over a few ‘snowballs’ – a cocktail of advocaat and lemonade. We also take the time to highlight some of the titles which narrowly missed out on a top five position, and look ahead to some of the big movies heading our way in 2022.

Over the last few …

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Castle Falls (2021)

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“It’s a young man’s game,” says retired British martial artist Mike (Scott Adkins) as he packs up his life as a failed fighter in Atlanta to settle in Birmingham, Alabama (a neat little in-joke, considering how Adkins’ real birthplace is near Birmingham, UK). To say Mike has fallen on hard times is an understatement; he’s sleeping in his Jeep and punching-in as a construction worker helping to clear the derelict Castle Heights Hospital prior to demolition. During his duties, he chances upon a bag of hidden cash and decides to head back after hours to retrieve it – however, there …

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