PASKAL: The Movie (2018)

Posted in Reviews

Solid if two-dimensional military film espousing the might of the Royal Malaysian Navy – aka PASKAL, an acronym which translates as Naval Special Warfare Forces. This plays like an earnest recruitment film and isn’t too concerned about the consequences of war, although it does reference its potentially damaging impact on the soldiers’ relationships. The breakdown of the film’s central male friendship is treated more as a narrative device to create a tough adversary for the film’s reluctant hero, Arman (Hairul Azreen), to face in the action-fuelled finale. The film references real military engagements involving the Royal Malaysian Navy; a conflict …

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Legacy of Lies (2020)

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European spy thriller with some decent fisticuffs – delivered by the Accident Man and Triple Threat coupling of Scott Adkins and Tim Man – and a twisting storyline set amongst the backdrop of the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal by a Russian nerve agent, Novichock, in the UK in 2018. First-time writer-director Adrian Bol pulls no punches in taking a strong anti-Russian stance, where a covert Russian agency is shown to be silencing journalists uncovering governmental corruption. Adkins plays Martin Baxter, a former MI6 spy haunted by a ballsed-up sting resulting in the death of his girlfriend, leaving him to …

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The Driver (2019)

Posted in Reviews
The Driver (2019)

Indie outing for the Dacascos family, fighting zombies in Thailand. Mark plays the husband and father who works to protect a compound from the undead at some point in the future. “I used to kill for a living,” he says while driving, which pretty much sums up the only thing we learn about his character. His wife – played by Julie Condra, aka Mrs Dacascos, working together for first time since they met on 1995’s Crying Freeman – is bitten during a zombie attack, forcing Mark to grab his daughter (played by his actual daughter, Noelani Dacascso) and hit the …

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Profile: Joe Taslim

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 23 June, 1981 (Palembang, Indonesia)

Full name: Johannes Taslim

Occupation: Actor, martial artist, model.

Style: Judo, wushu, taekwondo, boxing.

Biography: Joe Taslim was born in Palembang, the capital of South Sumatera in Indonesia. He picked up martial arts at an early age, learning wushu, taekwondo, and eventually settling on judo. Growing up, he enjoyed going to the cinema, and this is where he started to harbour the ambition of becoming an actor. While still in high school, he won his first national judo competition, which eventually led to a career as a professional judo athlete. He was encouraged by his father, …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 62: Joe Taslim

Posted in Podcasts

“I like a fight that feels real, rather than flashy. Every time I work on something, I say, ‘you’ve got to make the fight believable’.”

Joe Taslim always wanted to be an actor, even before he became a martial artist. Growing up poor in South Sumatra, Indonesia, his family only took him to judo lessons because they were free. With his dad as his coach, he would go on to become a national judo champion in a career spanning well over a decade. Ironically, it was his skills in the martial arts which would eventually lead him back to his true …

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Rise of the Legend (2014)

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Stylish if slightly bloated reimagining of Wong Fei-hung’s beginnings which recasts the virtuous folk hero as a violent fighter in a Guangzhou (Canton) docklands gang in the 1860s, running errands for his crime boss, Lui (Sammo Hung). He decapitates a rival kingpin and thrashes the whole gang single-handedly, earning his boss’ trust and respect. Max Zhang, playing the boss’ son, drops in to take his revenge, and Wong thrashes him too. Its a daring, contrary approach to Wong’s filmic heritage from a writer – Christine To – well-known for her postmodern twists on the kung fu origin story. She gave …

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The Legend of Tomiris (2019)

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Straight and sober historical war epic detailing the Tomiris story; the Scythian queen of Central Asia’s Massagetae tribe credited for uniting the nomadic clans of the ‘steppe’ – vast, empty grasslands – and leading them into battle against the might of Cyrus the Great and his Persian army in 530 BC. There are conflicting accounts as to circumstances surrounding the death of the first Persian King and the validity of the Tomiris legend. It was originally documented some 100 years after the event by Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus. This film version ditches Ancient Greece in favour of the Syrian capital of …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 61: Larnell Stovall

Posted in Podcasts

“Give people something they are going to remember. You can’t get that time back, so let me make sure you enjoy what I have to present.”

When martial artist Larnell Stovall first saw the film Blade in 1998, it was a lightbulb moment. But it wasn’t the actions of Wesley Snipes as the titular kick-ass vampire hunter which would spark a sudden interest in wanting to work in the movies; it was the actions of the people Wesley was beating up. Feeling inspired, Larnell took a bus from New Orleans to Hollywood armed only with his martial arts skills and the …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 60: Rocky Taylor

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“All the other stuntmen had never done judo; they couldn’t even do falls on the floor. It gave me great credibility in the stunt business and allowed me to learn my craft.”

At 75, Rocky Taylor is known as Britain’s oldest stunt performer. A day before this podcast was recorded, he was doing doughnut spins in his car and setting himself on fire. In the last year alone, his stunt credits include Spider-Man: Far from Home and Angel Has Fallen. Rocky has sustained his long career (six decades and counting) by being something of an all-rounder: high-falls, horses, cars, sword fights …

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One Night in Bangkok (2020)

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Meditative revenge drama from director Wych Kaosayananda, who last worked with action star Mark Dacascos for 2019’s The Driver. Dacascos plays Kai, a smartly dressed, well-mannered hitman who lands in Bangkok and immediately sets to work picking off his targets as the night unfolds, assisted in his travels by unassuming young taxi driver, Fha (Vanida Golten). There are clear parallels to Michael Mann’s excellent 2004 film, Collateral, even down to Dacascos’ grey suit, although this has a more dream-like, almost meandering sensibility, particularly during the projected dialogue scenes between Kai and Fha, in which the two wax lyrical about everything from …

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