Disciples of Shaolin (1975)

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Alexander Fu Sheng‘s tragi-comic embodiment of the xiao xi (‘little kid’) persona was never more fully realised than in this triumphant kung fu film. He steals every scene as the rebellious orphan Guan Feng-yi, who arrives in town as a sassy, barefoot bumpkin with exceptional martial arts skills and zero respect for authority. He winds up progressing far at a textile factory because of his fists, rallying his co-workers and protecting the bosses from unscrupulous Manchus intent on taking over the joint. His buddy, another master fighter (played by Chi Kuan-chun), faces his oppressors in a slightly different way, and the …

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Chinatown Kid (1977)

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A foreboding, moralising melodrama from Chang Cheh about the transformational power of education over a life of crime and consumerism, told through the story of two down-and-out Chinese youths arriving fresh off the boat into San Francisco’s Chinatown. (Well, not quite. Aside from some establishing B-roll footage shot on location, the whole movie is quite obviously filmed at Shaw Brothers’ studios in Hong Kong). One is a well-to-do Taiwanese student sent to the USA on a scholarship (Sun Chien), but in desperate need of income to support his studies; the other is an illegal immigrant (Fu Sheng) who enters San …

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Shaolin Martial Arts (1974)

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Another passionate potboiler; the third in the so-called ‘Shaolin cycle’ and one of the best. This one not only features a strong, youthful cast of Shaw talent (many of whom – people like Leung Kar-yan, Wang Lung-wei and Gordon Liu – would go on to become huge kung fu stars), but also because of the heavy influence of its fight choreographers, Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gaai. They use Chang Cheh‘s brooding setting to explore the practical applications of specific Chinese martial arts styles. The detail is almost forensic, but told in a playful way, despite its somewhat bleak premise.

The film …

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Five Shaolin Masters (1974)

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A rip-roaring kung fu film, part of Chang Cheh‘s ‘Shaolin cycle’ which boasts a formidable cast, sharp fight choreography from Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gaai, and a tangible sense of space and location, filmed away from the claustrophobic confines of Shaws’ Movietown Studios in the wilds of Taiwan in a bid to make use of foreign capital. The result shows Chang Cheh flexing slightly different muscles, capturing texture and landscape as well as buckets of blood and muscular young boys with their shirts off. Even by Chang’s standards, this is particularly boy-tastic, featuring the full force of his heroic discoveries …

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Men from the Monastery (1974)

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Filmed simultaneously with Heroes Two, this stoic film forms part of the so-called ‘Shaolin cycle’ of films by director Chang Cheh, writer Ni Kuang, and fight choreographers Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gaai. Given its episodic nature, this is a more disjointed film than Heroes Two, which focused on the budding bromance between Shaolin rebels Hung Hei-kwan (Chen Kuan-tai) and Fong Sai-yuk (Fu Sheng) following the burning of the Shaolin Temple at the hands of the Manchu-backed Ching government. This film is split into four chapters and looks at the origin stories of three legendary resistance fighters. Spirited man-child Fong Sai-yuk …

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Heroes Two (1974)

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A pivotal moment in kung fu movie history. This is when authentic martial arts fight choreography – rooted in geographic, stylistic and historical truth – replaced the ‘swinging arm’ aesthetic of Hong Kong action cinema in the late ’60s and ’70s, thanks to Chang Cheh‘s go-to fight coordinators, Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gaai. Their genius is brought to the fore here; a move which would ultimately help to secure the look and feel of all subsequent kung fu movies thereafter, and raise the bar in terms of on-screen fight choreography. Their championing of southern Chinese kung fu styles is apparent in an opening …

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KFMG Podcast S04 Episode 44: Heidi Moneymaker

Posted in Podcasts

“You can’t just be a stuntman or stuntwoman anymore. You have to be a performer.”

When Hollywood stunt performer Heidi Moneymaker was asked to flip a car three times in mid-air while doubling for the actor Saoirse Ronan in the 2013 film, The Host, she approached the job in much the same way she approaches all other aspects of her work: fearlessly.

Heidi is the real deal. Operating in the shadows, she is a genuine action hero who has entertained millions around the world in some of Hollywood’s most successful films (from the Fast and Furious franchise to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, …

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Profile: Heidi Moneymaker

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: February 9, 1978 (Santa Rosa, California, USA)

Full name: Heidi Louise Moneymaker

Occupation: Stunt performer, stunt coordinator, actor, personal trainer, fight choreographer.

Biography: Heidi Moneymaker is the oldest of three children born to parents Dennis and Linda Moneymaker. She has a younger brother, Sean, and a younger sister, Renae, who followed her sister to become a competitive gymnast and work in the film industry. Heidi also has three other sisters: Denise, Liz and Sadie.

Heidi trained as a gymnast from the age of five. She received a scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she studied history and received numerous accolades …

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KFMG Podcast S04 Episode 43: Fighting Spirit Film Festival 2019

Posted in Podcasts

“This festival is very important because it puts people who have the same passion in the same place in a fantastic environment. It’s so warm; it’s like a family.” Max Repossi

We have been reporting from the Fighting Spirit Film Festival since it started back in 2016. Now in its fourth year, the event has grown to become the UK’s largest martial arts film festival; a two-day celebration which welcomes some of the genre’s biggest names and best talent. As well as screening some of the hottest new feature films from around the world, the festival also provides an opportunity for …

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Lôi Báo (2017)

Posted in Reviews
Lôi Báo (2017)

Vietnamese body swap action movie from director Victor Vu, an acclaimed filmmaker known more for his dramatic work. He crafts a convincing thriller, dealt with at times in sombre tones, which is a bit of stretch for a film with the sort of premise that wouldn’t look out of place in an old episode of The Twilight Zone. Chinese fight choreographer Vincent Wang (The Great Wall) brings a grounded realism to the combat scenes – again, slightly at odds with the fantastical story – who turns the film’s star, Cuong Seven (a famous singer and dancer), into a knife-wielding, free-running, …

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