Incoming (2018)

Posted in Reviews

Low-budget Serbian space movie which never fully delivers on a promising premise, set in a future where the International Space Station has been turned into a prison to house some of the world’s worst terrorists. Before you can say “Die Hard on a spaceship”, the prisoners break out and take control – one of them has a background in flying spaceships, obviously – and set course for Moscow on a suicidal death plunge. With a gung-ho crew of American astronauts trapped on board, violence ensues with primitive weaponry – the best being some makeshift bottles of exploding piss. This being …

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Abduction (2019)

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Silly yet enjoyable martial arts fantasy with an 80s throwback feel – think Highlander, Big Trouble in Little China, that sort of thing – about an inter-dimensional race of cloak-wearing, shape-shifting, time-hopping kung fu wizards who kidnap humans for their chi. They create an immortal human army by attaching glowing green spiders to their necks, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear, other than to provide a steady stream of stunt performers for the fight scenes. They kidnap the daughter of Scott Adkins – big mistake – and the wife of Andy On – another huge error. The individual stories of …

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Highlander (1986)

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A commercial and critical failure upon its initial release, this bombastic action fantasy achieved popularity in Europe before becoming a cult video hit, spawning many sequels, a TV series, books and video games. The film’s divisive elements are clear to see – a bizarre supernatural premise, hammy acting, over-the-top action – but its these very same elements which have also helped to guarantee its reputation. Director Russell Mulcahy borrows many of the same tricks he learned as one of the most popular music video directors of the 1980s – long tracking shots, dry ice, extreme close-ups and noir-ish back-lighting – which …

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Zatoichi (2003)

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Takeshi Kitano’s singular, updated vision of one of Japan’s most iconic pop culture characters is an exhilarating watch, with tender moments juxtaposed with comedy and scenes of bloody violence. As writer, director and star, the idiosyncratic filmmaker replaces his trademark guns with a Samurai sword for the first time in his career, undergoing a bleach blond transformation to play the blind swordsman and part-time masseuse popularised by Shintaro Katsu for decades on Japanese television and film. Although this is far removed from the Yakuza bloodletting of his earlier films, Takeshi fans will still appreciate its unique sense of humour, embodied by a number …

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Odd Couple (1979)

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Those expecting Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon larking about may be significantly surprised when this totally different masterpiece hits you, probably the best weapons movie ever made and featuring some of Sammo Hung‘s most technically intricate choreography. Its the story of two martial rivals; the King of Swords (Sammo) and the King of Spears (Lau Kar-wing, brother of Lau Kar-leung). They are both formidable fighters, but their ongoing feud (contested every ten years) has yet to determine a winner. A deal is struck: both ageing masters will teach their skills to one lucky star pupil each, who will in turn continue …

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Profile: Jesse V. Johnson

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 29 November, 1971 (Winchester, UK)

Other names: Jesse Johnson, Jess Johnson, Jesse E. Johnson, Jessie Johnson, J.E. Johnson.

Occupation: Director, writer, stunt coordinator, second unit director, actor, stunt performer.

Biography: The director Jesse V. Johnson is the nephew of British stunt performer and coordinator, Vic Armstrong, famous for his roles as a stunt double in the Indiana Jones films, Flash Gordon, Superman and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. One of Jesse’s earliest memories of being on a film set is carrying bags and assisting his uncle on the set of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), when filming was taking …

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Deliver Us from Evil (2020)

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A decent, well-paced and visually accomplished revenge thriller from South Korea, filmed mostly in Japan and Thailand. Hwang Jung-min plays the hard-drinking, nihilistic assassin In-nam who hangs up his killing boots with dreams of retiring to Panama after one last hit involving a Yakuza scumbag in Tokyo. Of course, as is the tradition with this sort of action film, he reliably takes another case when his estranged daughter is kidnapped and his ex-flame winds up in a Bangkok morgue. A range of subplots start to converge; one featuring a lucrative organ trafficking syndicate involved in the kidnapping, aided by corrupt …

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Profile: Brett Chan

Posted in Profiles

Other names: A. Brett Chan; Arthur Brett Chan; Brent A. Chan.

Occupation: Second unit director, stunt coordinator, stunt performer, fight coordinator, second unit director, actor.

Style: Shotokan Karate, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Kali, taekwondo, kickboxing.

Biography: Canadian martial artist Brett Chan was born in Ontario, Canada. He started martial arts at the age of five after his father encouraged him to take up kung fu and Shotokan Karate. He has a 7th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and has also trained in Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Kali, taekwondo and kickboxing, and he is also experienced with various weapons styles.

He first entered the stunt industry …

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Seized (2020)

Posted in Reviews

It’s Scott Adkins versus Mexican cartels (again) in his first film with director Isaac Florentine since 2015’s Close Range. Although their latter-day low-budget adventures have slipped into far more generic territory, the duo are still capable of injecting vitality and creativity into their action scenes, turning the most humdrum of stories into something worth watching. This is a good example, with Adkins’ ex-special forces single dad being forced by Mario Van Peebles’ high-tech, benevolent crime lord to drive around the sun-kissed locales of Baja California on a killing spree in a bid to retrieve his kidnapped son. It’s essentially a …

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English Dogs in Bangkok (2020)

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Obnoxious, low-budget indie thuggery from the UK which revels in its own vulgarity. This hooligans-abroad chore is chauvinistic, outdated twaddle aiming for old-school Guy Ritchie only without any of the wit, charm or intelligence. The story centres around low-level British criminal, Byron (Byron Gibson), who interrupts his seedy visit to Thailand as a sex tourist to buddy-up with hunky kickboxer Dutch (Ron Smoorenburg) to take over the local steroid trade. When Dutch ends up in the slammer, Byron has to run some errands back home in London to free his buddy. Not only is the film filled with repugnant characters …

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