In the spirit of Tron Legacy and Gamer comes Jarrett Lee Conaway's Turbo. A short film that combines the the feel good charm of the classic The Karate Kid with near future science fiction. It tells the story of Hugo Park (Justin Chon, Twilight) a misspent youth whose only outlet for angst is a 4D fighting videogame called “Super Turbo Arena”. When Pharaoh King (Jocko Sims, Crash the Series), the Michael Jordan of cyber-sports, announces a tournament to determine who will join his pro-team, Hugo sets his eyes on the prize. But, Hugo isn't the only gamer who wants fame and glory. If Hugo wants to win he's going to have to beat Shamus (David Lehre, Epic Movie), the all time Turbo champ at the local Pandemonium arcade, and Ruse Kapri, a feisty prep girl that knows how to win. Realizing he can't win on his skill alone, Hugo turns to his brother Tobias a former kick-boxer whose last match left him wheel-chair ridden. Together the two will mend old wounds and see if a washed up street fighter can teach a troubled teen how to become a virtual gladiator!

OK it's a little cheesy and I kept expecting Mortal Kombat's Robin Shou to pop up somewhere, but it's feel good fun and very impressive for a student film. It's certainly not a bad calling card for Jarrett as he chases the Hollywood dream.

www.bfamstudios.com | BFAM Studios Blog

www.turbothemovie.com


Trailer for Ip Man which isdirected by Wilson Yip (Flash Point; Dragon Tiger Gate; SPL) and starring Donnie Yen (An Empress And The Warriors) in the title role. The film co-stars the legendary Simon Yam. The award-winning wartime period action-drama Ip Man brings to the screen the fascinating life of the celebrated Chinese martial artist who famously became martial arts master to Bruce Lee and was the first person to teach the close range combat techniques of Wing Chun openly.

Ip Man is released in the UK by Showbox Entertainment on 26th October 2009


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Trailer for Ninja assassin directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and starring Korean heartthrob Rain and British beauty Naomie Harris.

UK based readers of a certain age may recognise "Dave" from birds of a feather in that trailer. AKA Stephen Marcus who plays Kingpin and some may know Rudolpho in Starhunter (A series I rather liked).


"A Look Back The At 'No Retreat, No Surrender' Trilogy"

In the mid-eighties Ng See Yuen’s ‘Seasonal Films’ company decided it might be a good idea to try their hand at making films with more international appeal, initially inspired by the success of a certain Hollywood martial arts movie.

But unlike previous attempts at international productions by the likes of Golden Harvest and other studios, where the main goal was to introduce a home grown star to the west, Seasonal’s aim was to make movies with a combination of American actors in front of the camera, with a mostly Asian crew working behind the scenes, putting together the kind of action that Hong Kong does so well.

Their first attempt, ‘No Retreat, No Surrender‘ was released in 1986...A film which would eventually spawn two sequels.

No Retreat, No Surrender

“Tonight, he either fights for his life, or he’ll be running for the rest of it.”

The original ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’, directed by the great Corey Yuen Kwai (‘Yes Madam‘, ‘Fong Sai Yuk‘), was inspired by the success of ’The Karate Kid’, Seasonal’s mindset was to take the same concept, but pepper it with better action scenes. The film tells the rather simple tale of a Bruce Lee fanatic teenager named Jason (Kurt McKinney), moving to a new town, having problems with the local bullies, the usual stuff. After one particularly bad day he is visited by the ghost of Bruce Lee (played by Tai Chung Kim, who doubled Bruce in ‘Game Of Death’). Ghostly Bruce teaches Jason in the ways of Jeet Kune Do, turning Jason into a kung fu master. All of this leading up to a typical tournament scenario, which is being held by the goons than ran his father out of business, so it’s up to Jason to settle the score by beating seven shades out of their toughest fighter, the evil Ivan The Russian (Or Karl Brezdin according to the credits, even though they call him Ivan numerous times in the movie. Not sure how they messed that up.)

As you can see, the film is ’The Karate Kid’ with some Brucesploitation added into the mix for good measure. Yes, the idea of having the spirit of Bruce Lee randomly appear to teach some kid kung-fu is stupid and pretty tacky, even when I first saw this movie as a kid I thought it was a little daft, but it does add to the overall cheese factor of the movie. And cheese is something it has in abundance; It seems like ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ exists in a world of it’s own, it’s damn sure the eighties, but it feels like the eighties in overdrive at times. It’s almost as if Corey Yuen and the guys at Seasonal were trying a little too hard to make the movie as hip as possible and as American as apple pie. Just check out the random break dancing/body popping for example and overall corny back slapping friendship between Jason and his buddy R.J. The music, which I’m sure even at the time was considered an Edam-fest, should also be noted, with it’s power-rock styling’s and motivational “training montage” lyrics.

Of course, we can’t forget that this was the first time the world got to see Jean Claude Van Damme on the big screen and to be honest he probably gets to show his stuff in a more impressive way here than he did in ‘Bloodsport’ or ‘Kickboxer’ thanks to the choreography. Van Damme really should play bad guy roles more often because he’s great here, with his Stallone-esque curled lip, battle cries and brutal tactics.

Overall the film kind of falls into guilty pleasure territory, or indeed “so-bad-it’s-good” territory, as do the sequels at times but more so here. You have some pretty atrocious acting and clichés by the bucket load, but you also have well choreographed fight scenes from Mang Hoi (Randy Mang!) and Corey Yuen, which although are not as tight and fast paced as the work they crafted in Hong Kong, are still miles apart from the kind of stuff Chuck Norris and other American martial arts stars were doing at the time.

So ‘Seasonal’ had a little hit on their hands, what was next on the agenda? A sequel of course.

No Retreat, No Surrender 2

“It’s not a rematch…IT’S WAR!”

‘No Retreat, No Surrender II: Raging Thunder’ was originally intended to be a continuation of the original, bringing back the Jason and Ivan characters to do battle one more time. But, Van Damme had his mind set on starring in ‘Bloodsport’, which ended up shooting at around the same time, but he was contractually obliged to make two more films for Seasonal. So according to producer Roy Horan (of ‘Snake In The Eagles Shadow’ and ‘Game Of Death II’ fame) production was about to commence on the movie in Thailand when he received a fax from Van Dammes lawyer saying he wasn’t going to show up, effectively breaking his contract. As for Kurt McKinney, he had recently married and his wife had concerns about the risks of shooting in Cambodia, so he was out too. In the end the roles ended up being recast and the script was given a re-write.

I’m sort of glad this happened for a few reasons; firstly, Van Damme ended up making ‘Bloodsport’ which is one of the greats of eighties action cinema. And secondly I prefer the direction the series went from here and the characters it introduced in part two especially. So, let’s talk about part two…

The story this time centers on young American hard ass Scott Wylde

(Loren Avedon), a man with martial art skills and without a doubt the greatest name of all time; Throughout the movie you’re always waiting for someone to say something along the lines of “You’re insane, Scott! You’re wild” and for it to be followed up by the line “I’m wild alright…Scott Wylde” [CRASH ZOOM]. Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, Scott is in Thailand to visit his girlfriend and meet her folks, but typically she ends up kidnapped and in the hands of the bad guys, who are once again, the Russians (it was the eighties after all). After Scott beats seven shades out of the kidnappers that stayed behind to finish him off, he ends up in police custody, but being the “Wylde” renegade youngster that he is he escapes, determined to get his girl back.

He enlists the help of his old buddy Mac Jarvis (Max Thayer), a ‘Nam vet

who now earns a living selling all sorts of weaponry, including tanks. Now they’re armed to the teeth with machine guns and crossbows. Off they go into Cambodia to save the day, along with helicopter pilot Terri (Cynthia Rothrock).

Whilst the original was spurred on by the success of ‘The Karate Kid‘, this movie seems to have taken it’s influence from ‘Rambo: First Blood Part 2‘, it’s full of machine guns, explosions and even a red head band. But there’s another movie that this has a lot in common with, ‘Star Wars‘. When you think about the plot; young guy and his friends try to rescue captured beauty from an evil and powerful army. Now I know, that can be said for lots of movies that were made even before ‘Star Wars‘, it is of course a classic narrative, but Max Thayer sounds a hell of a lot like Harrison Ford at times and has this penchant for calling Scott “kid” all the time (I’m sure he also calls him “farm boy” too) so we’ve got a bit of a Han/Luke relationship there. If that seems like too much of a stretch, they’re destination is a place called Death Mountain…Yes? No? Am I over analyzing to the point of annoyance, Mark Cousins style here? Right, moving on…

This is probably my favourite of the three, it’s full of great characters and great slam-bang eighties action, as well as great martial arts action too; the stand out set piece being the fight with the monks, it’s a fantastic piece of complex choreography, especially when the ropes come out and it goes into agile flips and twirls. Brilliant.

As for the bad guys, taking up the role of the bad ass Russian this time around is b-movie favourite Matthias Hues, who I’d say is best known for his role in Dolph Lundgren’s ‘Dark Angel’. Apparently Matthias learned how to fight for the screen whilst shooting this movie, under the masterful tutelage of Hwang Jang Lee, you certainly can’t tell that this is his first stab at an action movie. Matthias is a lot of fun in the movie, playing it just right with a hefty dose of menace along with a slight dose of camp (whether the latter is intentional or not I don’t know, but I still enjoy it). Ty, his right hand man however is played by the aforementioned kung-fu legend Hwang Jang Lee, star (and usually the villain) of many kung fu classics, most notably the movies Seasonal produced that made Jackie Chan a star, ‘Snake In The Eagles Shadow’ and ‘Drunken Master’. As usual Hwang gets to show off his trademark kicking skills, especially during a small, but memorable, fight scene with Cynthia Rothrock.

Rothrock is also good in the movie, handling her action scenes as brilliantly as she usually does. The only problem is her character is hampered with some horrible dialogue, it’s obvious they were trying to make her character the smart ass, tough chick, but it really doesn’t work and her character eventually just ends up coming off like a bit of a childish bitch with some really bad put downs in her repertoire.

Avedon’s character is basically a younger version of the typical gung-ho American “nam vet” heroes of the time, and as I said earlier he even sports the Rambo-esque red head band. And once again his fight sequences remind you of the fact that this guy could easily have been a much bigger star given the chance. It’s a shame he never went to Hong Kong, he could’ve easily been one of the top “gwailo” bad guys over there.

All in all ‘Raging Thunder’ is a hell of a lot of fun, chock full of great action set pieces and a great explosive finale which gives us the carnage of the war themed action epics of the time and combines it with some great martial arts rumbles. It also has quite a cool theme tune too, which I can almost guarantee will be stuck in your head after the credits have rolled.

No Retreat, No Surrender 3

“The first was for honour…

The second was for his country…

This time…It’s family.”

In 1990 we got ‘No Retreat, No Surrender III: Blood Brothers’, which brought back Loren Avedon from part two but unfortunately Corey Yuen did not return, instead we have Lucas Lo in the directors chair, who after this would go on to direct Avedon again in the great ‘King Of The Kickboxers’…Which I’m pretty sure is one of the only movies to mix the world of snuff films and martial arts.

The story this time centers around two brothers Will (Avedon) and Casey (Keith Vitali) Alexander, but as the trailer says “they’re oil and water, they‘ll never mix”; Casey is following in his father footsteps and making his way up the ranks of the CIA, whilst Will is a rebel, disagreeing with the CIA’s methods and making his own way in the world by running a karate dojo. When their father (the Jimmy Stewart-esque Campanella) is murdered, the brothers go their separate ways to track down the killer; Uber terrorist bastard Franco (Rion Hunter).

So, this time around we have a plot that seems to have been inspired by the likes of ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Lethal Weapon‘, what with the terrorists and mismatched partners etc. And it’s good stuff, once again we have lot’s of good action which is probably even more “Hong Kong style” than the previous entries, the fights certainly seem a lot quicker and sharper. Keith Vitali especially looks great here and whenever I watch this I’m always disappointed that he didn’t get more to do in ‘Wheels On Meals’, but maybes his screen fighting chops weren’t up to scratch back then. After all he has said before that he accidentally knocked Sammo Hung out cold during a fight scene.

Although Keith may be strong in the action department here, his acting is certainly on the stiff side, at times it sounds like he’s saying his lines for the first time or reading cue cards. Take note of the scene in which he goes through the CIA’s records looking for information on his fathers murderer; Never mind the fact that the file he’s looking at is called ‘Top_Secret.doc’, it’s just a classic bit of bad exposition. Even seasoned actors can have trouble with dialogue that only serves to fill in the audience as to what’s going on, never mind actors that are not that experienced.

To be fair, this was only his third time in front of the camera, the others being the aforementioned ‘Wheels On Meals’ and the other being ‘Revenge Of The Ninja’ alongside Sho Kosugi, with this being his first shot at a lead role, so I do have to cut him some slack. And besides, in interviews he always seems like a really nice guy, so I feel a bit bad slating his performance…Plus he could kick my head off it’s hinges.

But, the most memorable thing about the movie (Besides the gorgeous Wanda Acuna in a bikini) is Franco, with his white mullet and white eyebrows and maniacal smile, he’s like a classical Kung Fu villain of yesteryear, but late eighties style. I always find it amusing that Franco is wanted the world over for terrorist acts, yet he never bothers to hide his most distinguished feature, the fact that he’s pretty much an albino. Even when he’s on his way to assassinate the president (with a rocket launcher!) he still doesn’t seem all that bothered that he’ll be spotted. You’d think he’d be well stocked up on ‘Just For Men’.

The finale isn’t as explosive and grand as the ending to part two, but it certainly has more kung fu action with the brothers squaring off against Franco and his George Eastmen look-alike henchman, there’s even a pretty cool homage to Jackie Chan’s ‘Dragon Lord’ thrown in there for good measure.

Well, I’d better finish up here because this is getting long, but if you’ve stuck with this until the end then you’re a good person, anyone who would read this much about this series is alright with me.

To sum up, a great set of films that always put me in a good mood after viewing them. Stick ‘King Of The Kickboxers’ in there and you’ve got yourself a night of solid, no bullshit entertainment. B-movie action at its finest.

Note: For maximum satisfaction, this night of martial arts action is best viewed with pizza, beer and a few friends.

- Snoog (Revolving Video Podcast)


UK trailer for director Chris Nahon live action adaption of Blood: The Last Vampire the now classic anime from 2000. French director Nahon previously directed Jet Li in Kiss of the Dragon and Jean Reno in Empire of the wolves.

"A vampire named Saya, who is part of covert government agency that hunts and destroys demons in a post-WWII Japan, is inserted in a military school to discover which one of her classmates is a demon is disguise."

Gianna Jun (My Sassy Girl, Uninvited) stars as government sponsored half breed vampire Saya. Liam Cunningham, JJ Feild, Koyuki and Colin Salmon also star.

The film opens in the UK on June 26th

*New International (UK) trailer added

Film Clips: Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3, Clip 4, Clip 5

Blood: The Last Vampire - Poster

www.bloodthelastvampire.co.uk

www.bloodthelastvampire-movie.com

Via: 24fps


Seven Swords

In 17th century feudal china fear of uprising has led to an imperial edict calling for the practice of martial arts by citizens to be outlawed. Anybody found to be breaking this law will be punished by decapitation and a bounty will be paid for their head.. However the constant threat of bandit raids has lead many villagers to learn martial arts as a way of defending their crops and homes. “Fire Wind” a former commander of the last regime, who has become a warlord, takes the opportunity to make his fortune. With his three thousand strong army and assortment of vicious lieutenants he begins to slaughter those inhabiting villages where the martial arts are known to be practiced. However it’s not just martial arts practitioners who loose their heads when Fire Wind comes to town. No one is safe from the slaughter, including women, children, and the elderly.

Fire Wind's next head harvesting expedition finds him at the gates of yet another village, where the inhabitants have only their basic martial arts skills standing between them and raiders. However Fu Qing Ju, another former commander of the last regime, has found his way to this particular village. Fu Qing Ju seeks to save the innocent in an effort to redeem himself in the hope of balancing out the bloody actions of his past. This sets the two on a collision course, but first Fu Qing Ju must visit the Sword Master of Mt. Heaven and enlist the help of the swordsmen who reside there with him.

The film is directed by Tsui Hark (Zu Warriors, Once Upon a Time in China, The Blade) and based on the classic Liang Yusheng wuxia novel Seven Swordsmen from Mountain Tian. Seven Swords is essentially a sweeping martial arts epic with a more old school feel than recent martial arts fantasy and swordplay movies. Nobody floats about in trees or bounces off lakes with the tip of their sword here. Instead of handing over the reigns to art directors and CGI companies Hark has decided to create a more natural looking film. Of course there is art direction and the film does use some CGI, but thankfully it’s kept under control so we don’t have to suffer colour coded scenes and computer game style moves from the cast. The film is beautiful though, mainly thanks to the beauty of the locations which at times are stunning. Hark has crafted a sweeping epic which blends the feel of the American Western with the classic Shaw Brothers wuxia movie. Even with it’s much reduced, but still long running time the movie will leave you wanting more. Certainly the kind of film you can happily spend a Sunday afternoon watching.

Even though Donnie Yen, a much admired action director and chorographer, was one of the stars, its fellow star Lau Kar-Leung who takes the reigns here. Lau Kar-Leung for those who don’t know is the older brother (by some 20 years) of Gordon Liu the famed action director on the Matrix and Kill Bill. Lau Kar-Leung is a legend to martial arts fans, having starred in and directed some of the greatest Kung Fu films ever made. Assisted here by Stephen Tung and Xin Xin Xiong (Fei Lung in the blade), together they bring us a more grounded style of action choreography, sure there’s some wires there, but not so much as to make it impossible to suspend belief, nobody can fly in this movie.

There are some faults with the movie, mainly I guess from Harks intention to let the film run for over 4 hours and then finding himself having to edit out a vast amount of footage to get the runtime down. There’s a bunch of kids who maybe had a purpose in the original concept, but now just seem to slow things down. The love triangle and romantic sides of the film really don’t have room to develop and so would be better being removed, although the UK edit does get rid of most of this. Not that I mind the romance and should a 4 hour cut surface with space for it then fine, but until then there’s just not room for it. If there’s a choice between the romance and the action on what must hit the cutting room floor, its bye, bye baby to the loving when it comes to this type of film in my opinion. Much as Donnie Yen can kick some ass, he makes a terrible love interest anyway.

While some will try and compare this to Hero, CTHD and the rest and I imagine that’s what the films PR team would want. The fact is it’s a very different kind of martial arts epic, if you enjoy those films and also old school sword play films and the work of Hark, you will enjoy the hell out of this. If your interest in martial arts epics stems only from the likes of Hero, HOFD’s etc. you may well not enjoy this as much as me. If I was going to pull out comparisons to modern film I would maybe look to Japan and to Azumi, while not as kinetic as that film, Seven Swordsmen should please fans of that cult smash. At the end of the day you have bad guys with flying guillotines, scythes, crossbows and an assortment of “evil” weapons vs. seven very deadly people with shiny swords pretty much exactly what it say's on the tin.

Sweeping epic fun from a Tsui Hark that will please most martial arts swordplay fans and annoy a few middle class girls who got it out of Blockbuster thinking it was another Hero.

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Last Hurrah for Chivalry

On the day of his wedding local noble Kao is visited by uninvited guests. A deadly kung fu master named Pai and his men. Pai had previously lost much of his land to Koa's father and sensing that the son is weaker than his father he decides now is an opportune moment to strike back. A fight ensues and Koa is badly wounded and his clan devastated. Koa Bitter that he was not able to defend his family and was unable to defeat the deadly Pai, Koa sets about looking for a way to get revenge at any cost. In the town their are two great swordsmen, one the hot tempered Chang has renounced the sword and works with horses, the other Green spends his day's drunk when not taking on jobs as an assassin. It does not take Koa long to figure out there must be a way he can use them to take down Pai.

1978's Last Hurrah for Chivalry was produced by Raymond Chow's Golden Harvest and written and directed by none other than legendary action director John Woo. Woo spent most of the seventies working on Martial arts films and the early 80's working in comedy. It was not until 1986's A better Tomorrow that he would hit on the style that would make him a legend in his own lifetime, though his other 1986 action outing Heroes Shed No Tears should not be overlooked in terms of enjoyment. 1976's Hand Of Death was competent outing for the young Woo, but Last Hurrah for Chivalry takes things to another level and is much more than just a curiosity piece for those looking into Woo's early career. In fact Last Hurrah for Chivalry is a very, very good old school swordplay movie. Where Hand Of Death hinted at what was to come later in Woo's career, Last Hurrah for Chivalry is very clearly a Woo film hand guns aside. The classic Woo themes are now firmly in place with honour, loyalty and male bonding top of the menu.

The other thing that marks this out as a John Woo film is the action. There are no birdcages being broken or slow motion white doves yet, but the action is played at a breakneck pace. In the second half of the movie you hardly get time to draw breath so constant is the fighting. Though you can't describe the film as gory it's certainly very bloody as the various characters hack and slash their way through opponents. The plot follows the revenge theme as does most of the genre, but Woo manages to throw in some brilliant twists.

Wei Pai (Five Deadly Venoms) Damian Lau (Duel to the Death, What Price Survival) are great in the lead roles as Chang and Green respectively. Lau Kong is great as Kao and shows off some pretty mean fight skills as does Lee Hoi San (Magnificent Butcher) as bad guy Pai.

Chang and Green storming Pai's home and taking on his various guards make for classic old school kung fu stuff especially when they take on the deadly but narcoleptic "sleeping Buddha". Fans of both John Woo's work and Old School Kung Fu flicks should seek this one out.

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Trailer for Jeremy Alter's The Perfect Sleep which is set "against the backdrop of a noirish dreamscape, a tortured man returns to the city he swore he would never return to, in order to save the woman he has always loved yet can never have"

The screeplay is by Anton Pardoe who also stars along with Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace), Patrick Bauchau (Chrysalis, Carnivàle), Peter J. Lucas (Inland Empire)

www.theperfectsleep.com


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"n a bid to promote awareness and interest, the filmmakers behind the independent film The Perfect Sleep asked some of the world's greatest artists (Gary Oldman, Bas Rutten and Bono) to help them get the word out. This video shows what happened."

The Perfect Sleep - Trailer

www.theperfectsleep.com | www.myspace.com/theperfectsleep

Via: Sclapham Youtuve


King Boxer (Five Fingers Of Death)

From Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers, the founding fathers of kung fu film, comes the groundbreaking cult movie King Boxer (Five Fingers Of Death). Required viewing for cinephiles and martial arts fans alike, King Boxer took world audiences by storm with the tale of a young martial artist who battles his way into a national tournament in the name of love, honour and revenge. His journey from young fighter in training to master of the Iron Fist delves deep into mythic kung fu lore and is laced with explosive action and dazzling fight sequences. Amazing special features included extremely rare film commentary by Quentin Tarantino.

As well as the Quentin Tarantino commentary also included are: Interview with filmmaker Chang-Hwa Jeong, Interviews and commentaries with film scholars David Chute and Elvis Mitchell, Interview with action director Lau Kar Wing, Stills gallery, Trailer gallery and Commentator biographies

Directed by Chang Chang Ho, Five Fingers Of Death stars the legendary Lo Lieh and  Wang Ping. This edition will be released on 23rd February 2009.

Basically a region 2 release of the US Dragon Dynasty disc which is being put out through Momentum Pictures. Interestingly Momentum had a crack at releasing films from the remastered Shaw Brothers collection in 2005 under their Momentum Asia banner, but quickly pulled the series after the initial releases failed to shift enough units. Which was a shame because they had some great title amongst those which did get a release was Chu Yuan's Death Duel, which is one of my favorite movies of all time and one I recommend seeking out.

 


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Thai language trailer for Tony Jaa's Ong Bak 2, as Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal points out the footage in the trailer is much the same as the show real which has been up over at Twitch Film, for months.

There is also a version over at youtube which uses closed caption subtitiles to traslate the voice over to English.

www.ongbak2themovie.com

Via: Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal


Hapkido

Three Chinese martial arts students spend five years in Korea training in the martial art of Hapkido. Korea is under Japanese occupation and after a fight with some Japanese the students are told to leave by their Korean master. Before they go he gives them a final demonstration in the art and some advice which he hopes will help them in the future. Armed with this knowledge they return to China and set up their own martial arts school. Back in China most of the already established martial arts schools in the area welcome the new hapkido school to the community. How ever the local Japanese martial arts school is not so happy to see them, especially when one of the three kicks the crap out of a couple of their students.

The three students turned masters of their own school, are played by kung fu legends Carter Wong, Sammo Hung and Angela Mao. Carter Wong's character is honourable and steadfast. Sammo Hung plays Fan Wei who is hot-headed and cannot stand by while injustice is done. Angela Mao plays the more balanced of the three and a pacifist at heart, although when pushed too far she can kick some serious ass. The three set up their Hapkido School and teach martial arts and practice tradition medicine and at first things go well. It's not long though before the hot-headed Fan Wei crosses paths with two students from the Japanese run Black Bear school. While out drinking with Tiger a student a local martial arts school. After defeating the students it's inevitable they will return and the next time Sammo battles them he leaves several dead after that things escalate drawing his two friends into the conflict.

Hapkido AKA Lady Kung Fu falls into the "rival schools" sub genre of kung fu movies, much like the Bruce Lee classic Fist of Fury which was made in the same year. All the three leads are great with both Sammo and Carter on good form, but this is really Angela Mao's show and she displays some serious skills here, including some top notch spinning kicks. The supporting cast includes Hapkido legend Wong In-Sik and his real life master Ji Han-jae who gives a fantastic demonstration of Hapkido's effectiveness at the beginning of the film. You can also spot Billy Chan, Jackie Chan, Yeun Biao and Corey Yuen in a range of lesser roles. Although my personal preference is for martial arts films set a bit further back in history there have been some great films set in this period and Hapkido is one of them. The DVD from Hong Kong Legends features a lovely print and the original language so if you have a dubbed version you can now see the movie as was intended. The incidental music score is wickedly funky and the films titles at the beginning drip retro cool.  If you’re a fan of said retro cool, like myself. The bit at the start where the Japanese guy picks up the pendant and reads the inscription "Hap Ki Do" and then the funky music and titles kicks in will have you grinning from ear to ear.

Hapkido is an overlooked early seventies classic from Golden Harvest. The extras on the disc (UK disk the Weinstein Company will be putting this out in North America in October) are a little light with no commentary, but then I am not really sure who they could get to replace Bey Logan. It does feature a short featurette with hapkido instructor Tammy Parlour who is also interviewed about the martial art of hapkido itself which is interesting as in the UK at least it's not as well known as other martial arts. How ever the really important thing which is the quality of the feature presentation and not extra's as some people seem to believe, is very good. I recommend that fans of martial arts cinema pick up this release, especially if you enjoy the likes of Fist of fury. Also this is a rare chance to see Ji Han-jae on film who is a true master of his art.

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Dead Or Alive - film stills, trailer and UK website


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Kasumi_kick

Dead Or Alive - film stills, trailer and UK website


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Dead Or Alive - film stills, trailer and UK website


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Dead Or Alive - film stills, trailer and UK website


City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

City Of Violence

The City Of Violence - trailer


Stills from the set of Blizhniy Boy: Final Fight

David Carradine, Eric Roberts, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Gary Busey

David Carradine, Gary Busey

Eric Roberts

Cung Le

Who is this guy?

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Bolo Yeung

Oleg Taktarov

Blizhniy Boy: Final Fight AKA Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter

View the trailer Here


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