KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 68: Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins / Tran Quoc Bao

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“Nothing was traditional about this… we just had to make it by hook or by crook. We’re proud of every piece we did – we gave it our full dedication and focus, and we hope the work speaks for itself.” Tran Quoc Bao, director of The Paper Tigers

It has taken 10 years to get The Paper Tigers onto our screens – a slow and at times painful process full of ups and downs for its director, writer and producer, Tran Quoc Bao. The film – which finally lands in cinemas and on digital platforms in North America on 7 May …

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Death by Misadventure: The Mysterious Life of Bruce Lee (1993)

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This ramshackle documentary by Bruce Lee anoraks George Tan and Toby Russell skirts over the more basic biographical elements in favour of detailed and fascinating talking heads, particularly focusing on Lee’s death. Don Langford was Bruce Lee’s physician when he was taken to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital in May 1973 following what appeared to be an epileptic seizure. He manages to keep Lee alive by reducing swelling on his brain, before transferring him to Saint Teresa’s Hospital and the neurosurgeon, Peter Wu. Peter seems quite convinced that it was the hashish that Lee had consumed which caused the attack, and …

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Be Water (2020)

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This melancholy, poignant Bruce Lee hagiography – made for the US sports channel ESPN – arrives at a time in Trump’s America when racial divisions are at boiling point. Carefully coordinated by the Lee estate – featuring involvement from his widow, Linda, and daughter Shannon, who reads select cuts from Lee’s diaries – this film tells the story of a young, determined and charismatic Asian American immigrant trying to make an impact in white 1960s America, battling structural racism, historic prejudice, and a media landscape which saw no need for diversification. It’s an absolute miracle that Lee would go on …

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The Paper Tigers (2020)

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Heartwarming underdog story about three kung fu buddies – known locally as the ‘three tigers’ – who meet up in middle age to avenge the death of their sifu. Bao Tran’s directorial feature film debut lands a sucker-punch not just to the funny bone – the script has more chucklesome moments than most recent action comedies with ten times the budget – but also in the feels, with a strong set of nuanced characters each battling their own midlife crises: unfulfilled potential; divisions of loyalty, justice and honour; adherence to tradition and familial responsibility; and a need to find compromise. Danny (Alain …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 67: Isaac Florentine / Max Repossi

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“Some people are trouble makers. Some people are trouble solvers. I’m a trouble solver.”

Isaac Florentine is one of those rare directors who possesses a style of filmmaking all of his own. Within a few minutes of watching one of his many great action movies, you will quickly realise you are in the world of Isaac Florentine. He wears his love for spaghetti westerns on his sleeve, almost as much as his passion for the martial arts. As an expert martial artist and karate instructor, he is keen to capture technique in his fight choreography. His combat sequences are often filmed in …

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High Voltage (1997)

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The team behind Power Rangers – director Isaac Florentine and stunt coordinator Koichi Sakamoto – take a run at a John Woo-style ‘heroic bloodshed’ flick, mixed with a post-Tarantino crime drama with overtones of spaghetti western.

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Desert Kickboxer (1992)

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There are brief flashes of the exciting, high-kicking pugilism which would later become a mainstay of Isaac Florentine‘s work in this low-budget quickie, made for Menahem Golan’s 21st Century Films. As a karate expert – Florentine also acts as the film’s fight choreographer – he chooses good actors who can pull off the moves without the need of too much doubling, allowing a greater freedom as a director which has always helped to elevate his martial arts films. Michael Foley is particularly good as a menacing heavy who takes the time to explain his martial arts technique just before he …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 66: Tzi Ma

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“Nowadays if you write something that’s even remotely questionable, then it’s just a comment on you, because you can’t get away with this stuff anymore.”

Born in Hong Kong and raised in New York, Tzi Ma is a genre-spanning actor who has dedicated his career to documenting the Asian American experience. With every acting decision – whether it be on stage, screen or television – he has sought to portray fully rounded characters, working in an industry where accurate representation has not always been high on the agenda. He has turned down roles he has considered to be stereotypical, and instead, …

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Profile: Tzi Ma

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 10 June, 1962 (Hong Kong)

Occupation: Actor

Biography: Tzi Ma (pronounced ‘Tai Mah’) is a prolific actor working across stage, screen and television. He is a familiar face in mainstream Hollywood productions as well as independent cinema, where he has helped to champion and promote Asian American filmmakers and fight for greater representation in Hollywood.

Hong Kong-born Ma is the youngest of seven children. In the late 1960s – when Ma was five years old – the family moved to the USA following political unrest in Hong Kong. Ma was brought up in New York where his family ran an …

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Ip Man: Kung Fu Master (2019)

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This straight-to-digital release plays like a ‘greatest hits’ of all your favourite Ip Man tropes from the last decade. There’s the neo-noir aesthetics and rain-drenched, slow motion battle scenes from The Grandmaster; there’s a contrived bout in a boxing ring pitting Ip Man’s Chinese kung fu against a Japanese military karate fighter, like Wilson Yip’s first Ip Man film; there’s even an excursion into superhero territory in which Ip Man dons a black mask to fight crime in scenes lifted from an entirely separate Donnie Yen movie, Legend of the Fist. So, zero marks for originality, but the film offers enough …

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