Future War (1997)

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Predator meets The Terminator meets Cyborg meets Jurassic Park, but made on the sort of money that wouldn’t even cover the cost of the catering budget on any of those films. This is made very early in the straight-to-video career of martial arts star Daniel Bernhardt, who may have only been starting out, but evidently deserved better than this. Despite being able to act, Bernhardt must have been instructed not to bother on this one – or at least told to play on his ability to channel a Van Damme-esque naivety. Even his obvious charms and slow-motion kicking can’t save this …

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True Vengeance (1997)

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Another decent, straight-to-video head-kicker starring Daniel Bernhardt, who gets to try out a more badass persona as a hotshot assassin in sunglasses and an overcoat, rolling around in slow-motion with a gun in each hand like he’s in a John Woo movie. It’s also another early outing for a few Hollywood martial artists who would go on to redefine stunts and action movies in the west; people like fight choreographers Chad Stahelski and Brad Martin, and stunt performers Jonathan Eusebio, Marcus Young and Tim Rigby. Bernhardt plays Griffin, a decorated ex-Navy SEAL who is introduced as a doting single dad …

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Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

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This has all the deadpan delivery, neon-lit style and gun-toting ultra-violence you would expect from a story based on a comic book – only it’s not. Navot Papushado’s original premise is set in a heightened alternate reality; one in which a shadowy, patriarchal organisation known as ‘the Firm’ employ female assassins to do their dirty work. The set-up doesn’t make any sense – and you get the feeling that the very ‘on-trend’ aesthetic may date the film relatively quickly – but it remains effective and enjoyable despite its very obvious references. Director-writer Papushado finds a good tonal balance between light …

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The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

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So, here’s a challenge: how can Warner Bros. reboot a valuable IP nearly 20 years after two of its main characters quite convincingly died in order to save what remains of the human race, while also make the game-changing, genre-bending, technology-led dystopian setting of the original trilogy seem relevant for a modern, digitally savvy audience watching in 2021? More intriguingly, how can Lana Wachowski (her sister, Lilly, is missing from the franchise this time around) avoid making the whole thing feel like a purely cynical commercial exercise?

Well, to answer the latter question, she can’t. In order to reach the desired …

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Made in Chinatown (2021)

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“Vinny” Chow (newcomer Jay Kwon) is a young New Yorker undergoing an identity crisis. He feels culturally distant from his Chinese roots, pressurised by an overbearing father and apathetic in his kung fu lessons. He feels a far greater kinship, however, to New York’s Italian American community, so he decides to relocate from Chinatown to Little Italy in an attempt to make it – Goodfellas style – as a mafioso. “In New York, you can be whatever you want,” he says, living out his ‘wise-guy’ fantasies as an errand-boy for the mob, while trying to impress the gangster’s moll. Because …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 79: End of Year Show 2021 with Mike Fury – Part Two

Posted in Podcasts

The wait is over! Find out our favourite – and least favourite – martial arts movies of 2021 in Part Two of our End of Year Show, featuring Life of Action author, Mike Fury.

Join in the festivities as we take it in turns to reveal our top five fight films of the year over a few ‘snowballs’ – a cocktail of advocaat and lemonade. We also take the time to highlight some of the titles which narrowly missed out on a top five position, and look ahead to some of the big movies heading our way in 2022.

Over the last few …

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Castle Falls (2021)

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“It’s a young man’s game,” says retired British martial artist Mike (Scott Adkins) as he packs up his life as a failed fighter in Atlanta to settle in Birmingham, Alabama (a neat little in-joke, considering how Adkins’ real birthplace is near Birmingham, UK). To say Mike has fallen on hard times is an understatement; he’s sleeping in his Jeep and punching-in as a construction worker helping to clear the derelict Castle Heights Hospital prior to demolition. During his duties, he chances upon a bag of hidden cash and decides to head back after hours to retrieve it – however, there …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 78: End of Year Show 2021 with Mike Fury – Part One

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Ho ho ho and happy holidays to all our listeners around the world. Welcome to the first part of our annual, end-of-year wrap-up podcast featuring the Life of Action author, Mike Fury. And, wow, what a year it has been for martial arts action movies! From manga to Marvel, Netflix to multiplex, low-budget indies to explosive Hong Kong thrillers, this year had it all.

In Part One of our End of Year Show, we discuss the martial arts movie news which grabbed the headlines in 2021, and we pay our respects to the famous people we lost. We share some recorded messages …

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Bruised (2020)

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Stirring sports drama from producer, director and star, Halle Berry. It’s an incredibly confident directorial debut from the Academy Award-winning actor, who manages to conjure up an evocative family drama with grit and poignancy, even if it does tick-off every sports movie cliche in the book, from Rocky to The Wrestler to Warrior. Berry gives everything to the role of New Jersey UFC legend, Jackie ‘Pretty Bull’ Justice; she’s intense, vulnerable, angry, and – even at 55 – just as powerful in the octagon as she is in the dramatic scenes. It seems her martial arts training for John Wick: Chapter 3 …

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Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)

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The epic, live-action Rurouni Kenshin saga draws to a lofty and bloody conclusion with this prequel; a neat closing chapter which circles back to the events in part four, The Final, and concluding where the first movie started – at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. By showing the origins of ‘Battōsai The Killer’ – notorious samurai-hunter of the anti-shogunate Choshu Domain – we get to see the feared assassin in his bloodthirsty glory, slicing off limbs and causing carnage with his lethal sword skills. “It’s a demon!” yells one of the Tsushima clan whose ear has just been bitten off by Battōsai. Director …

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