Category Archives: Martial Arts

Shootfighter Fight to the Death (1993)

Director: Partick Alan
Starring: William Aabka, Michael Bernardo, Maryam d’Abo, Martin Kove, Bolo Yeung, Edward Albert. USA. 1h 40m

Slightly lesser known but wildly loved, Shootfighters plays on a few fight to the death tournament tropes but there’s a lot of genuine talent, not much love interest based distraction and tongues of sweaty muscles and heart, just like it should be!

Starting out with a disgraced fighter being kicked out of a legal fighting ring, Mr Lee (Kove) then travels from the Far East to Tiuana and starts up a similar righting ring but the winner of each match is only crowned when one man is unconscious or dead. Mr C (Albert) is a sly fox sidekick to Mr Lee and his job is to entice down and out fighters with bills to pay into the tournament with the promise of winning big, he manages to rope Ruben (Zabka) into the next tournament and his best friend Nick (Bernardo) tags along to keep an eye on his friend during this dangerous fight game. Somewhere back home there’s a couple of love interests but they really don’t add anything to the guy action packed adventure.

Continue reading Shootfighter Fight to the Death (1993)

Hatsukoi / First Love (2019)

Director: Takashi Miike Starring: Masataka Kubota, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani, Jun Murakami, Sansei Shiomi, Masaaki Uchno .Japan. 1h 48m

A strangely beautiful and violent thriller from cult classic director Miike, who, in recent years has slowed down and mellowed a little but swinging back with this sophisticated drama with slick fighting scenes and the odd touches of animation and quirkness really elevates an already brilliant story that’s acted out to perfection.

Miikes track record of outlandish movies really made a huge impact, and after a short stint of re rebooting iconic Japanese cinematic pieces such as Seven Samurai and Hara Kiri, his approach to bigger and bolder cinema has been fine tuned. This charming little piece follows Leo, an emerging boxer who is facing the darkest chapter of his life after he passes out in the ring and his doctor warns him that he might have a brain tumor. On his way home he rescues a screaming woman who’s being chased by an unknown man and the two catch feelings.

Continue reading Hatsukoi / First Love (2019)

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Director: Simon McQuoid
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanad, Chin Han, Nathan Jones, Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamara, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mechad Brooks, .USA. 1h 50m

Despite the long running time, just shy of 2 hours, McQuoid and his team didn’t managed to fill in enough story to fully rewrite the Mortal Kombat universe, however they did manage to cobble together a film just entertaining and intriguing enough to keep a viewer or two entertained for the duration.

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Crippled Avengers (1978)

AKA Mortal Kombat, The Return of the Five Deadly Venoms

Director: Chang Cheh
Starring: Philip Kwok, Chen Kuan Tai, Chiang Sheng, Kuo Chui, Lo Mang, Lu Feng, Wang Lung Wei .Hong Kong. 1h 40m

Just when I was positive that the Five Deadly Venoms was the best 70’s martial arts film, it turns out that the (lose) sequel actually outdoes the cult classic. In a similar vein the film runs through a deadly storyline featuring a diabolical jaded kung fu master and a group of unlikely heroes.

When a brilliant wealthy fighter’s family is brutally attacked, his wife left slaine and his son now armless, the Tiger expert finds a way to restore his son’s arms with mechanical extensions but now with a blackened heart he bullies and terrifies his hometown. Finding pleasure in crippling those to cross his pat, Four of his latest victis form a bond and seek revenge, A hawer, who has been blinded, a blacksmith, made mude and deaf and a drifter whose legs are cut off all attempt to band together with a fighter who is known as tier “idiot friend”. While finding ingenious ways to overcome their disabilities they conjure a cunning plan to take on the evil gang and the four are tested time and time again and demonstrate strengths and abilities.

Continue reading Crippled Avengers (1978)

American Samurai (1992)

Director: Sam Firstenberg
Starring:Mark Dacascos, David Bradley, Valerie TRapp, Rex Ryon, John Fujioka. USA. 1h 34m

This movie arrived during the height of the American cinematic takeover of the eastern martial arts. For many years Hong Kong cinema had released a number of powerful Kung Fu movies, winning over the hearts of millions if not billions of die-hard fans, with such prestigious names as the Shaw Brothers, Wu-Tang, and the Iconic labels such as Golden Harvest, a non-stop line of some of the best and most questionable martial arts movies have been released reaching cult classic limits.

Somehow during the late 80s early 90s the American market started the whole new basket of shenanigans, attempting to suggest that some of the the top of the range martial artists were in fact American born, initially this kicked off with a number of American ninja movies, and this delightful side step into the world of the Samurai features a number of faces that were normally seen as ninjas.

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Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara. Japan. 2h 20m

Miike’s career has turned into a long line of massive remakes of Japanese Classic cinema for some time now. I’ve been racking my brain why, but I’m still unsure what he’s trying to achieve, but it’s working out for him and I wonder what’s next? He’s making some solid and faithful remakes but I do wonder if we really need them all despite their powerful impact? This just seems to be another one, however even while watching the series after the film.. I found it’s expressionary style and character depth on a different planet entirely, and yet each are ridiculously impressive but in their own way. 

Continue reading Blade of the Immortal (2017)

The Invincible Dragon (2019)

Jiu long bu bai (original title)

Director: Fruit Chan
Starring: Jin Zhang, Anderson Silva, Kevin Cheng, Suet Lam .Hong Kong. 1h 25m

The UFC is an absolute goldmine not only does it make super fighters, but it and generally if you can nurture a dynamic Hong Kong action movie with at least one big name you’ll take in cash.. But blend the two poorly and you’ll end up with this disjointed mess, that feels as if the producers knew what they wanted to do, but wrote any bull in to make it happen.

What starts as a really engaging crime thriller following a determined gun happy cop, Officer Kowloon (Jin) who opens the film boiling in a cooking pot, in a seedy backstory restaurant, Lam Suet taunting him as the two compare Dragon tattoos, fortunate that our hero has a better back story featuring an adorable (brightly coloured cgi) Dragon that he met as a child…after the bonding he shoots Lams hand off in a function room and gets suspended, this becomes a trend with Kowloon even while investigating a spate of murders targeting female police officers he manages to fudge the operation, not only letting the only suspect go, but losing his fiancee\fellow officer. Continue reading The Invincible Dragon (2019)

Brother (2000)

Director: Takeshi Kitano.
Starring. Takeshi Kitano,Omar Epps,Claude Maki,Tetsuya Watari USA/Japan/France/UK. 1h 44m.

I’ll start my review by saying that I adore everything about this quirky film, even the bad bits, so buckle up for a fangirl review of what is commonly thought of as a bad movie.

It’s never easy when a foreign director attempts to break into different cinematic style, for me John Woo totally struggled with his western movies, Jean-Pierre Jeunet didn’t get much applause for Alien Resurrection but was made a god for any of his French movies, (it goes both ways) and Kitano seemed to have been lost in translation while still maintaining his signature cool style, and I think he made a wise choice in starring in the movie to try and hold on to whatever he could from his previous great titles. One of Kitano’s strong facets is that you can kinda link his character throughout his movies, growing and becoming tougher and cooler each time, if you thought he reached his peak, you’ll be mistaken he’ll level up forever. Continue reading Brother (2000)

Beast (2017)

Director: Michael Pearce
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James  .UK. 1h 46m

Director Michael Pearce has constructed a commanding movie with a complex layered story, this deeply psychological drama/thriller is a shouldering beauty with lots of eerie undertones. The films flaming lead Jessie Buckley gives an excellent lead performance who’s beauty gives the film a touch of piercing clarity, as Pearce builds mystery with intense fascination, often revealing big scenes with fine balance as he grips the viewers attention with climatic stages.

Set in Jersey while a serial killer has murdered several young girls, the village tries to solder o while there’s a giant elephant in the room. In among the normies is Moll (Buckley) a 27 year old who’s a deeply unhappy woman and put upon daughter by an extremely domineering mother (James) she lives out her days under the total control of her mother and carrying out a soulless job as a tour guide. There is a reason for the watchful eye of Moll, she has a dark secret that manifested in her past school girl days, and in turn she’s still basically treated as a child while her siblings are on their own pedestals. Her sister manages to upstage her at her own birthday party while announcing her pregnancy, Moll, having enough of the family antics storms out abandoning her family and Cliff, a stuffy young police officer who wanted to make Moll his new girlfriend. Into the night she runs and joins another party, meeting the mysterious and alluring Pascal (Flynn). Continue reading Beast (2017)

Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

Director:Yoshiaki Kawajiri .
Characters: Master Rai, Rebi Ra, Earth Demon, Mephisto, Rapist, Hag, Yin, Chibi, Water Demon, Genichiro, Rama . Japan. 1h 25m

The makers of this slightly underpowered Anime are responsible for much more adored favourites such as Ninja Scroll (1993) and Wicked City (1987), so it’s got a high standard to live up to. The story is somewhere between Supernatural adventure and a Romantic horror, and at times seems to be a missing link between the two.

Opening mid way through a battle between good and evil, two men, former friends Rebi Ra and short lived hero Genichirou are doing cool battle shit when one hits a limit break and kinda sparks off a huge explosion which opens a gateway to hell and this envelopes the Shinjuku area.(as you do) Cut to the modern day and only a few years after this “event” and the city has been become a no go area. The military had tried to control the nasty creatures that reside there but failed miserably but despite this an underground of people still live in their beloved district. Continue reading Demon City Shinjuku (1988)