The Debt Collector (2018)

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As Jesse V. Johnson matures as a filmmaker, his action movies have become a lot more laden with dialogue, breathable characters, and even a touch of pathos. He is capable of making the sort of nuanced observations that are more akin to indie filmmaking than your average beat-’em-up. This is his third film in a row with the king of the low-budget fight films, Scott Adkins, working on a story which was first mooted in the early 2000s. Its a male buddy premise outlining a weekend in the life of two hired enforcers for a low-level crime boss, and it …

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Accident Man (2018)

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Scott Adkins‘ dream project – his first as producer, co-writer and star, based on a British comic-strip – is a seething, potty-mouthed, unapologetic action comedy. The film’s barbed political incorrectness champions a loutish and somewhat dated male attitude, and makes attempts to sympathise with a materialistic misogynist. Mike Fallon is an against-type role for Adkins, who is normally a lot more charming than this. Its dark humour is very much in keeping with the original anarchic comic-strip from the 1990s, focusing on Fallon’s exploits as a high-class hitman who makes all of his kills look like accidents. When his pregnant …

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A Karate Christmas Miracle (2019)

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Low-budget independent faith film centring around Jesse, a clever kid haunted by visions of his missing father who disappeared following a shooting at a local cinema. Through a series of strange nightmares (involving Eric Roberts and Martin Kove, who deliver most of their lines direct-to-the camera in an acting job which must have taken them both about 20 minutes), Jesse believes his dad will come back if he achieves his karate black belt by Christmas Day. As he progresses his way through the belts, his worried mother, Abby, believes her son may be suffering from some serious psychological trauma. So …

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10 Magnificent Killers (1977)

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Relentless chopsocky with a huge cast and one of those confusing, twisting storylines which doesn’t make any sense. The film has something to do with Cheung Lik and his sifu defeating the dreaded ‘ten magnificent killers’, who are sent from various regions to fight the duo for reasons unclear. Let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter, because the real star of the show is a succession of great kung fu shapes. Another significant feature is a cool supporting role from the ‘Beast from the East’, Bolo Yeung, who can beat the crap out of people without even looking.

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Escape Plan: The Extractors (2019)

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For anyone looking to play ‘action movie bingo’, this one has a full board: a supporting Asian cast who all know kung fu; not one, but two, damsels in distress; terrorists involved in a hostage situation demanding an insane ransom, holed up in a mysterious impenetrable fortress in another version of Die Hard; two grizzled, no-nonsense alpha-buddies; and, for an extra bonus point, this one even has Sylvester Stallone in it. Cliches and stereotypes aside, its still a great Hollywood debut for Chinese martial arts star, Max Zhang, who looks incredible with his trademark mop of black hair and smart …

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Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

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Big dumb fun from stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, parachuted into the Fast & Furious franchise after not messing up the second Deadpool film. He’s not trusted to control part of the official canon, mind, but rather a spin-off produced by franchise stars The Rock and Jason Statham, who first traded blows in the seventh Fast film as renegade agent Luke Hobbs and east-end thug Deckard Shaw respectively. Foes become friends this time around as the alpha-duo are thrown together by the CIA to track down a genetically engineered superhuman tough named Brixton (Idris Elba) who, backed by a covert crew of …

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The Bouncer (2018)

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A French-Belgian action drama starring Jean-Claude Van Damme which offers all the usual tropes you would expect to find in a JCVD flick – fist fights, car chases, gun battles, European gangsters running strip-clubs, you know the sort of thing – but shot with an effective, gritty élan by Julien Leclercq. He approaches the subject with an indie sensibility, elevating what is essentially a B-movie with pretensions. His intimate, handheld approach to the action and use of long-takes make the film genuinely exciting, bolstered by some thudding, atmospheric, electronic soundscapes. The washed-out urban setting is also befitting of the mood of …

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KFMG Podcast S04 Episode 49: End of Year Show 2019 with Mike Fury

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Welcome to our annual, festive End of Year Show for 2019, featuring the Life of Action author and fight movie expert, Mike Fury. It has been another action-packed and diverse year for martial arts movies, from off-beat indie comedies (The Art of Self-Defense) to big Hollywood franchise-based actioners (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), not to mention the return of the traditional Hong Kong kung fu movie (Master Z, Ip Man 4). Scott Adkins went ballistic in Avengement; the world’s biggest martial arts stars squared off in Triple Threat; and Veronica Ngo turned …

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Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019)

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Despite claiming the third instalment would be his final outing as the Hong Kong Wing Chun teacher and Bruce Lee‘s sifu, Ip Man, there is a definite finality to Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip’s fourth instalment. The Ip Man series may have got more histrionic with every new sequel, but Donnie has remained excellent at the franchise’s stoic core, helping to anchor the turbulence around him. It is a role which may well define his career. The film version of Ip Man represents a beacon of controlled, virtuous, empathetic civility and understanding at a time when relations between Hong Kong, China …

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KFMG Podcast S04 Episode 48: Jude Poyer

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“In the UK, stunt people generally are still regarded as grunts, which is a real shame. In Hong Kong, they are seen as filmmakers.”

On his very first day working on a Hong Kong action film set, Jude Poyer saw someone rushed to hospital when a stunt went badly wrong. Instead of seeing this as a bad omen, Jude – who had relocated to Hong Kong at the age of 18 to follow his dreams of working in martial arts movies – stayed in Hong Kong, where he would be based for the next eight years, working with some of the …

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