Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids (2019)

Posted in Reviews

A monster-martial arts mash-up from Vincent Soberano based on the story of the evil ‘Aswang’ spirits from Filipino folklore. For a 70-minute movie, you get your money’s worth: its packed with stabby, slicey vampire-slaying, with Soberano using a well-worn apocalyptic premise to showcase some exemplary, weapons-based Filipino martial arts sequences. The back-story feels slightly superfluous; something about the Aswang possessing magical blood which infiltrates the human gene pool, creating a hybrid army led by Naga (Temujin Shirzada), who goes full-on crazy and needs to be taught a lesson. The final assault on the Aswang lair takes up a huge part …

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U.S. Seals II: The Ultimate Force (2001)

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Super fun action film from Isaac Florentine, who takes a straight-to-video property about the U.S. Navy SEALs and injects a whole new cast and sharp fight choreography into the sequel. He would do the same with Walter Hill’s modest boxing drama, Undisputed, with Undisputed II: Last Man Standing in 2006. Being a competitive sports film, that franchise managed to convincingly make the shift from boxing to MMA as a way of following the craze of the time; but turning sea-faring navy-types into kung fu masters is a bigger pill to swallow. So, Florentine creates a completely new scenario in order for all …

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New Kids in Town (1990)

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This is all over the place, but worth it for the kung fu scenes featuring choreographer Lau Kar-leung, who storms the final act giving triad meanie Eddie Maher a righteous ass-kicking. Chin Siu-ho is brilliant as one half of a wushu sibling force sent to Hong Kong from the mainland to help their cousin (Moon Lee) run the family restaurant when her dad (Lau Kar-leung) goes away. The brothers have barely stepped foot in Hong Kong before being jumped by some drug-carrying pickpockets, who are promptly (and amazingly) dispatched by Moon Lee’s amazing kung fu powers. The brothers learn about Hong Kong’s consumerist, capitalist …

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Sword of Honor (1994)

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Straight-to-video head-punching from PM Entertainment – heralded purveyors of low-budget, high-kicking video-store product from the 1990s – this perfunctory cop flick gives TV star Steven Vincent Leigh a glimpse of the limelight. And he’s pretty good, investigating some mafia-types in Las Vegas after they kill his cop buddy (played by the film’s fight choreographer, Jeff Pruitt) over a sword dating back to the Mongol empire. Leigh is a renegade on the force who can’t even go to the gym or buy a hotdog without somebody wanting a piece of him. He quickly moves in on his dead partner’s sister, the …

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Beauty Investigator (1992)

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Exemplary ‘Girls with Guns’ madness; the sort of fun, over-the-top, non-stop fight fest that put Hong Kong action cinema on the map. Moon Lee and Gam Chi-gei play cop buddies assigned to an undercover mission to snoop out a perverted serial killer targeting sex workers. They don high-heels, pearls and sequins to lure out abusive, rich douchebags in a nightclub. On her first day, Moon Lee can’t help but give one of the punters a roundhouse kick to the face. Despite this, they are somehow employed long enough to not only uncover the culprit, but also follow-up a new lead: …

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In Search of the Last Action Heroes (2019)

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A crowdsourced, connoisseurs’ look at Hollywood action films from YouTuber Olivier Harper, featuring mostly the unsung heroes who have worked on some of the biggest, loudest films of all time; directors, writers, supporting cast, editors and composers. Anyone who grew up in cinemas and VHS stores in the 1980s and 90s will enjoy this two-hour-plus nostalgia fest, full of great clips and behind-the-scenes footage. The documentary focuses mainly on a time when major Hollywood studios were throwing millions of dollars on R-rated ultra-violence, encapsulated by the work people like Stallone and Schwarzenegger. This was the so-called golden age of bullet-ridden …

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Profile: Amy Johnston

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: February 5, 1990 (Van Nuys, California, US)

Occupation: Actor, stunt performer, fight choreographer.

Style: Taekwondo, kung fu, kickboxing, Arnis, kenpo, wushu, Wing Chun, jiu-jitsu.

Biography: Amy Johnston was born in Van Nuys, California, in 1990. Her father is the former five-time WKA professional kickboxing champion, David Johnston. Her mother, Kate Johnston, is an acupuncturist. She also has a younger brother, Jesse Johnston, who also does martial arts. The family grew up in Gillette, Wyoming, where her father ran the Martial Arts Center of Gillette. Amy started training in the martial arts from the age of six with her father. She …

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Profile: Alain Moussi

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: March 29, 1981 (Libreville, Gabon)

Occupation: Actor, stuntman.

Style: Kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, Brazilian jiu jitsu, MMA, Krav Maga.

Biography: Alain Moussi was born in Libreville, Gabon, in central Africa. His father is from Lebanon, and first introduced Alain to the films of Bruce Lee. The Moussi family moved to Ottawa when Alain was seven years old. He began learning martial arts from the age of 10. His first style was jiu-jitsu, which he learnt for eight years under the Canadian martial artist, John Therien. He later learned kickboxing under Jean-Yves Thériault, a 23-time world kickboxing champion. He also has a black …

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Iron Heart (1992)

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It takes a special kind of directing talent to take a taekwondo expert like Britton K. Lee – and genre heavyweights Richard Norton and Bolo Yeung – and create a film so thunderously dull that you will want to throw your TV out the window. It was fortuitous for Robert Clouse that he would find himself associated with someone as talented as Bruce Lee and on the receiving end of two of the fight genre’s biggest international triumphs: Enter the Dragon and Game of Death. In this plodding, clumsy cop thriller, Clouse – directing his last film before his death in …

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Mulan (2009)

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Forget catchy pop songs and talking dragons, this sobering Chinese version of the Mulan story is an earnest and at times effective war movie, and far from family-friendly. In one scene, Mulan smashes a guy’s head off. That may be in the deleted scenes of the Disney version, but I very much doubt it. Other powerful moments include a defiant musical number during a mass killing (expertly and effectively handled), and a brittle, battle-hardened malaise which sets into the film around the second act, highlighting the monotony and futility of war. Jingle Ma takes his cues from the moody, sweeping …

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