Tiger Cage 2 (1990)

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One of the all-time great Donnie Yen beat-’em-ups, this concludes a trilogy of contemporary crime films by the Yuen clan for Dickson Poon’s D&B Films, grand purveyors of all-out crazy stunt-filled fight fests with off-colour humour and ‘girls with guns’. Their previous titles together include Tiger Cage (1988) and In the Line of Duty 4 (1989). Despite the title, this has nothing to do with the first Tiger Cage film, although there’s a distinct through-line in tone and style across all three movies, not to mention many of the same cast and crew. This sees a retired cop (Donnie Yen) …

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Tiger Cage (1988)

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Great Hong Kong cop film from the Yuen clan which follows the John Woo-inspired trend for ballistic gun fighting, suited foreign drug gangs, and corruption in the police force. The film is driven by a young and vibrant cast (Simon Yam, Carol Cheng, Jacky Cheung, Donnie Yen) with dependable support from old chopsocky favourites (Leung Kar-yan, Fung Hark-on, Wang Lung-wei). The film starts with bullets flying over Hong Kong when a drug bust goes wrong and the dealer, Wang Lung-wei, escapes, exposing undercover cop Leung Kar-yan in the process. He is getting married to Carol Cheng, has a weak heart and …

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Azumi (2003)

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A spirited jidaigeki from Versus director Ryûhei Kitamura, adapted from a popular manga series. The story of a skilled female assassin slaying warlords during Japan’s turbulent Sengoku period may not be particularly original, but the film possesses a pulpy, acerbic, and sometimes strange style – complete with colourful superhuman characters, whizzing camera angles, and a contemporary soundtrack – which makes well-worn genre tropes feel quite different. Teenage pop singer, Aya Ueto – making her feature film debut – stars as the titular Azumi, an orphan trained from birth to be a badass killer by a twisted old master along with …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 53: Vincent Wang

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“To get to that level, to become a super movie star, it’s not easy… but at least the stars set a great example to the rest of the world and young kids to try their best and fulfil their dreams.”

When a stunt performer couldn’t get the right shot needed during a 70ft fall on the set of Vietnamese superhero movie, Lôi Báo (2017), the film’s action director, Vincent Wang, made a quick decision. With time running out, Vincent relieved the stunt performer of their duties, strapped himself to a harness and performed the stunt himself – much to the shock …

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Spawn (1997)

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A twisted, grungy CGI experiment gone wrong, this live-action adaptation of Todd McFarlane’s popular comic book is a convoluted nightmare. It was famously killed by the critics, which is a shame considering it features martial arts ace Michael Jai White playing the world’s first African-American comic-book superhero on the big screen. Not that you get to see much of him: White spends most of the film in a gimp-like bodysuit and mask disguising a burned head which resembles a pork scratching. Much of the dialogue – too much, in fact – is instead handed over to John Leguizamo’s relentlessly irritating …

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Bloodfight (1989)

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English-language Japanese film made in Hong Kong which borrows its premise from Hollywood; the master-pupil dynamic and bullying elements from The Karate Kid, mixed with the gruelling training regimes and full-contact brutality of Bloodsport. Actually, let’s take that a step further: the title, the worried girlfriends, the dodgy acting, the power ballads, the urban Hong Kong setting, and even some of the choreography is all lifted from the 1988 Van Damme classic, but somewhat skewed into a new B-movie vision which seems both familiar and alien at the same time. The most obvious reference to Bloodsport is the casting of Bolo …

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Intensive Care (2018)

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Indie action thriller with comedic overtones which acts as a decent exhibition for Hollywood stunt performer Tara Macken. Her first central performance should not only provide enough content for her showreel (including fist fights, falls, and a neat car stunt), but she should also earn bonus points for a fully rounded acting performance. As soldier-turned-day nurse Alex, she is introduced as a meek, live-in carer naively hoodwinked into allowing crooks to steal the fortunes of a dying old lady. Alex is tied-up and held hostage, but not for long. She breaks free and goes rogue, planning her own attack to …

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Profile: Maria Tran

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 30 January, 1985 (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Occupation: Actor, writer, producer, director, martial artist, fight choreographer.

Style: Taekwondo, Hapkido, kung fu, Vovinam.

Biography: Maria Tran is an Australian-Vietnamese actor and filmmaker. Her parents were refugees who settled in Australia following the war in Vietnam. She grew up watching a mix of classic sitcoms and Hong Kong action films, particularly those featuring Jackie Chan, Cynthia Rothrock, Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Khan. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Western Sydney University.

Her journey in the martial arts started in 1998 following a fight at school. Her parents enrolled her in taekwondo classes in Cabramatta …

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Debt Collectors (2020)

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Despite the downbeat ending to 2018’s The Debt Collector – a smart indie action riff on Training Day from the brains and brawn of action star Scott Adkins, director Jesse V. Johnson and writer Stu Small – comes a surprise sequel. The ending of the first film is somewhat brushed-off with tongue firmly in cheek by the two leads. “For a zombie, you look pretty good,” says French (Adkins) to Sue (Mandylor) during one of the film’s many banter-like exchanges, continuing the trait for extended sequences of dialogue which channel both Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie. Once the down-and-out debt collectors hit …

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KFMG Podcast S05 Episode 52: Scott Adkins / Maria Tran

Posted in Podcasts

“If you’re able to cultivate an optimistic and open mind, you will be surprised how many ideas go through your head that could give you an opportunity.” Maria Tran

Tired of scrolling through streaming platforms trying to decide on the next thing to watch during lockdown? Then let the martial arts action star Scott Adkins help you, as he discusses his favourite fight films of all time on today’s episode, including five bonafide classics and five lesser-appreciated head-kickers. During our chat – his fourth appearance on the show – we discover how he almost ended up in the 1997 Gary Daniels …

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