Profile: Isaac Florentine

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: July 28, 1958 (Israel)

Real name: Yitzhak Florentin

Style: Karate

Occupation: Director, stunt coordinator, fight choreographer.

Biography: Isaac Florentine in an Israeli filmmaker who works in the martial arts film genre, directing mostly for the direct-to-video market. Isaac is the son of Greek parents and Holocaust survivors. His earliest film memories involve watching Bruce Lee and Sergio Leone films in Israel. He made his own films at high-school using his dad’s Super 8 camera. Upon graduating, he completed his mandatory service in the Israeli army for three years before studying Film & Television at Tel Aviv University.

He began training in martial …

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Profile: Bryan Larkin

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: August 7, 1973 (Glasgow, Scotland)

Occupation: Actor, writer, editor, producer, director.

Biography: Bryan Larkin was born in East Kilbride, Glasgow, in 1973 to a midwife mother and a father who was a mechanic and prosthetic engineer for the Royal Air Force Police. His first passion was weight lifting, becoming a junior Scottish champion and winning several competitions as a teenager. He developed a love of acting and enrolled in evening classes, joining a local drama group before training at Langside College (now Glasgow Clyde College). He started his acting career in theatre, with parts in touring productions of Harold …

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The Boxer from Shantung (1972)

Posted in Reviews

An intense, blood-soaked, career-defining moment for former Shaw Brothers extra, Chen Kuan-tai, one of the only genuine kung fu fighters at Movietown who makes the film’s highly kinetic choreography look effortless. Chen’s star potential was only spotted by Shaws after his starring-role debut in the 1972 Ng See-yuen indie, Bloody Fists, before the studio then stole him back to cast him in this much-revered head-basher, playing real-life boxer Ma Yongzhen. Ma’s rags-to-riches tale set in the underworld of 1930s Shanghai was well-known to native audiences at the time, and the film’s emotional and visceral resonance certainly left a lasting impression …

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Posted in Reviews

In a bid to add emotional depth to Tom Cruise’s dour Jack Reacher, a domestic conceit is set-up for the sequel in which Reacher and an army major (Cobie Smulders) must protect a moody teenager (Danika Yarosh) who is being targeted by hoods for allegedly being Jack’s daughter. For Reacher – an ex-military tough guy who lives in the shadows, jumping out occasionally to duff up the bad guys – the extra responsibility really cramps his style, and many of the sequel’s best moments show him having to develop the art of compromise. The story – a US military conspiracy …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 55: Tara Macken

Posted in Podcasts

“Some people like to sleep in, and some people like to wake up and do things. I like to wake up and do things.”

The key to success in the stunt world, says Hollywood action star Tara Macken, is to be an all-rounder. Tara’s resume is testament to that philosophy. Raised in the jungles of Borneo, Tara’s adventurous spirit started at a young age. It has remained with her throughout her professional career, where she has found work as a dancer, gymnast, model, actor and stunt performer with over 100 films and TV credits to her name. She is a leading …

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The Promise (2005)

Posted in Reviews

An action fantasy from Palme d’Or winner Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) who follows auteur director Zhang Yimou’s transition from melodrama to ‘martial arthouse’ with a story based on a Tang dynasty wuxia novel. Like Hero, this film was picked up for international distribution by The Weinstein Company, given a new title (Master of the Crimson Armor), and reduced by around 25 minutes, only for it to be shelved and released theatrically a year later by a different studio, Warner Independent Pictures. Those expecting Hero may be distracted by the dreamy fantasy elements, shonky visual effects, wacky action scenes and …

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Ninja Apocalypse (2014)

Posted in Reviews

Low-budget DTV slice ’em up from visual effects whiz Lloyd Lee Barnett, shot in only 12 days. Barnett does a neat job injecting blood splashes, fireballs, glowing swords, and electric charges over a lot of the action sequences. These fantasy elements sit alongside summersaulting ninja, martial arts sequences, vampires, zombies and an attack of deadly sirens in corsets. Pretty much every cult genre trope is thrown into the mix, packaged and delivered in less than 80 minutes. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the human race now appear to be living in a world somewhat similar to feudal Japan, with warring, …

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Revenger (2018)

Posted in Reviews

Martial arts instructor Bruce Khan makes his starring role debut with this barnstorming, slightly bonkers effort. Bruce follows the ‘less is more’ approach to film acting and provides short shrift in terms of character or dialogue, instead letting his fists and feet do the talking. At 51, you might think he has left it too late to star in his own martial arts film, but it quickly becomes apparent that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s electric in this; from his very first scenes, in which he washes ashore an island prison looking like Hannibal Lector in a hockey …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 54: Richard Norton

Posted in Podcasts

“If a skinny little asthmatic kid from Croydon (Australia) can end up working with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Chuck Norris, then just about anybody can.”

In the late 1970s, Richard Norton – martial artist and bodyguard to the stars – faced a crossroads in his life. He could either stay in Melbourne, Australia, and continue with his nine-to-five job, teaching martial arts in the evenings – a life he very much enjoyed – or follow the advice of singer Linda Ronstadt and move with her to California. It was a decision which would prove life-changing. Once in America, Richard started to …

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Tiger Cage 2 (1990)

Posted in Reviews

One of the all-time great Donnie Yen beat-’em-ups, this concludes a trilogy of contemporary crime films by the Yuen clan for Dickson Poon’s D&B Films, grand purveyors of all-out crazy stunt-filled fight fests with off-colour humour and ‘girls with guns’. Their previous titles together include Tiger Cage (1988) and In the Line of Duty 4 (1989). Despite the title, this has nothing to do with the first Tiger Cage film, although there’s a distinct through-line in tone and style across all three movies, not to mention many of the same cast and crew. This sees a retired cop (Donnie Yen) …

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