Odd Couple (1979)

Posted in Reviews

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)

Posted in Reviews

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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Welcome to Sudden Death (2020)

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Following an odd if not unwelcome trend for DTV reboots of classic Van Damme vehicles (Lady Bloodfight, Kickboxer: Vengeance, Kickboxer: Retaliation, Hard Target 2), comes this goofy, good-natured if tonally ambiguous riff on 1995’s Sudden Death – itself a riff on Die Hard. In a particularly short running-time (78 minutes!), the always affable Michael Jai White plays an ex-military security guard whose bonding session with his young kids at a basketball game is interrupted by terrorists who take the Mayor, the governor and a “genius billionaire” technology mogul hostage in exchange for ‘digi-coin’. The script is full of these kinds of distracting …

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The Asian Connection (2016)

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Generic DTV riff on True Romance starring John Edward Lee as a loveable crook in Cambodia who is forced to undergo a series of bank heists at the behest of the great Thai actor, Sahajak Boonthanakit, who plays a crook doing the dirty on his own boss, played by Steven Seagal. By placing Boonthanakit as the traitor, the conceit allows Seagal to play an evil scumbag without actually having to face any of the consequences. There are mad attempts to draw out his character’s more sensitive side; he is shown sensitively teaching tai chi to very young girls in his …

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Vanguard (2020)

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Another globe-trotting outing for the Jackie Chan brand. This is less of a garbled mess than his other completely hollow spectacles of recent years. Stanley Tong has clearly always wanted to direct a James Bond film, and this is one of his closest yet, placing his frequent partner-in-crime, Jackie Chan, at the head of an elite Chinese team of well-tailored special agents called ‘Vanguards’. The core members are the babyfaced Yang Yang, who impossibly survives at least three high-falls during the film; the nerdy Ai Lun, nicknamed ‘Captain China’ by his infant son (“Captain China is mightier than Captain America,” …

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The Hunt (2020)

Posted in Reviews

Blumhouse Productions – purveyors of subversive social commentaries like Get Out and The Purge films – presents this satirical and at times shocking take on America’s culture wars, taking aim at everyone from left to right; online conspiracy theorists, climate change deniers, right-wing firebrands, insensitive corporate CEOs, bleeding-heart liberals. These are the types of divisions that have been turbocharged in recent times through social media and given extra credence under the presidency of Donald Trump. In another adaption of The Most Dangerous Game, this pits rich elites against so-called ‘deplorables’ at Hilary Swank’s ranch in Croatia. Betty Gilpin (from Netflix …

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