Special Female Force (2016)

Posted in Reviews

A remake of 1988’s The Inspector Wears Skirts which absolutely nobody was asking for, this version recycles the same central theme of turning amateurs into mercenaries with Jade Leung in the Sibelle Hu role as the tough boot camp leader. The original looks positively progressive in light of the retrograde chauvinism on display here; a ‘girls with guns’ homage that fails to deliver convincingly edgy action (where’s Cynthia Rothrock when you need her?) or a fully rounded performance, with the film veering off into either overblown emotional histrionics or very broad humour. The ensemble of mostly useless coppers trying to make …

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Jolt (2021)

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Kate Beckinsale makes a welcome return to trashy action movies – and for Millennium Films, no less, master purveyors of B-grade, Bulgaria-based gut-punchers. With her glitzy look, shock of blonde hair and sardonic British bullishness, she cuts a distinctly different figure to that of Selene from her gothic Underworld movies. She plays Lindy, a highly volatile and dangerous orphan who quells her rage by being constantly strapped to a bodysuit which transmits an electric shock every time she feels the impulse to crack open some skulls. Her rage has really put an dampener on her social life, and following the …

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The Last Mercenary (2021)

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Another curious twist in the fascinating latter stages of Van Damme‘s film career – a zany, self-aware French action comedy for Netflix. As the legendary mercenary, Richard Brumère – a high-kicking master of disguise known as ‘The Mist’, famous for his disappearing acts and killing a rhino with his bare hands – the role is both a send-up and an homage to his action man persona (there’s even a fourth-wall-breaking moment in which Brumère smirks at a poster of Bloodsport, remarking “that’s a real man”, essentially in reference to his younger self). The film stops short of actually making Brumère …

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Profile: Brad Martin

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 14 January 1970 (Sun Valley, Idaho)

Occupation: Stunt coordinator, second unit director, action director, stunt performer, actor.

Style: Taekwondo

Biography: Brad Martin is a stunt coordinator and stunt performer who helped to create Smashcut Action Design alongside Chad Stahelski, David Leitch and J.J. Perry, before the creation of 87eleven Action Design.

Brad Martin grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho. His early passions were alpine skiing and martial arts. He has a black belt in taekwondo and also competed. He watched the American reality show, That’s Incredible!, as a child and dreamed of becoming a stunt performer. He struck a deal with …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 74: Brad Martin

Posted in Podcasts

“If you don’t have a strong story driving it, then action is just action. You can watch great action all day and not be very excited if there is no story to draw you in.”

Brad Martin is one of Hollywood’s top stunt coordinators with a string of blockbusters to his name, including the Underworld series, Live Free or Die Hard, Tropic Thunder, Gemini Man, plus the Emmy-nominated 2021 Marvel series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, to name but a few. He has recently been in Northern Ireland shooting second unit and stunt coordinating on a big-screen adaptation of the long-running …

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Ninja Scroll (1993)

Posted in Reviews

Energetic, visually arresting anime that really took off when it was released on video in America. This is the most hell-bent 90 minutes of your life: highly visceral, influential, and extreme – even by Japanese adult anime standards – Ninja Scroll is a completely thrilling experience. Japan, Edo period: Jubei is a cash-for-kill ninja with super-slashing capabilities, suckered in by a wise old man to carry out the most formidable of tasks. The old master poisons Jubei and refuses to give him the antidote until he finds and destroys the ‘Shogun of the Dark’, a pure-evil, money-hoarding rebel alliance with …

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Ninja in the Dragon’s Den (1982)

Posted in Reviews

A fabulous amalgamation of Chinese and Japanese filmmaking which lifts ideas from the chambara film and adapts it to match the pacing of Hong Kong action cinema, this is a cult classic loved by kung fu fans around the world. It is also quite a bold and well-crafted directorial debut from Corey Yuen – a fight coordinator of considerable merit and experience even by this stage in his career, responsible for shaping the distinct look and feel for action at Seasonal Films. His sense of ambition leaps off the screen – a complicated duel on stilts and an imaginative kick-fest …

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KFMG Podcast S06 Episode 73: Max Huang

Posted in Podcasts

“I want to bring back the spirit of martial arts on the big screen, and I want to remind people of what real martial arts movies are about… it is about the art.”

Max Huang‘s turn as Kung Lao – the deadly, hat-throwing, Shaolin-trained kung fu cousin of Liu Kang – in the 2021 reboot of Mortal Kombat was a delightful surprise; a scene-stealing performance complete with comedy, drama, action, and an almighty ‘fatality’ which just about steals the movie. But the notion of Max being something of an ‘overnight success’ could not be further from the truth. The German wushu …

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Profile: Max Huang

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 22 September 1988 (Nuremberg, Germany)

Occupation: Actor, stunt coordinator, fight choreographer.

Style: Wushu.

Biography: Max Huang is a martial artist, stunt performer and actor. His mother is German – a vocal coach and actor – and his father is the Chinese Indonesian classical pianist and conductor, Noorman Widjaja. Max was instilled with a love of music from an early age, and he played the violin as a child. His brother, Lee Huang, is also a stunt coordinator, fight choreographer and stunt performer.

His father would show him videos of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan growing up, which inspired him to learn …

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Black Widow (2021)

Posted in Reviews

It has been 11 years since Scarlett Johansson first made her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Russian spy Natasha Romanova, alias Black Widow, notable for being the only woman in the Avengers, and relegated to either a romantic interest, an emotional support for the boys, or to provide fetishised kick-assery in tight-fitting clothing. Thanks in no small part to Johansson’s command over the performance, the character has developed and endured throughout the series, yet despite her fascinating history – portrayed in Marvel comics since the 1960s – she has remained the only Avenger without her own origin story. …

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