The Great Wall (2016)

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This is an odd choice of film for Matt Damon; a genuine Hollywood A-lister in a CGI-laden cross-cultural creature feature, who seems to have suspended his usual charm and charisma for a stint as a stiff, nondescript western mercenary in Song dynasty China. Along with a fellow European chancer and comic foil – played by Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal – the duo are taken hostage by a sect of the Imperial army known as the ‘Nameless Order’, and thrown inside the castle-like fortress of the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is the last line of defence …

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Eliminators (2016)

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Pacy British thriller in which Scott Adkins plays an American single dad whose house gets raided by drug thugs who get the wrong address. With his young daughter in danger, Adkins reveals his secret service skills and swiftly takes out the criminals, leaving blood and brains on the walls. The plot slowly unravels to reveal Adkins’ FBI past and his links to a known arms dealer called Cooper (James Cosmo), who sends a Terminator-like assassin (WWE star Stu Bennett) to deal with him. Adkins’ two run-ins with Bennett are both meaty encounters, with the former wrestler administering all manner of take-downs …

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Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

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Given the chequered history of Street Fighter on the big screen, fans of the computer game were due another decent shot at the source material. This isn’t quite the movie it wants to be, spoilt by an uneasy balance between urban realism, wire fu and computer-generated fireballs. But focusing on the parallel origin stories of both Chun-Li and M. Bison (two of the game’s most identifiable characters, outside of Ken and Ryu) is a worthy concept, even if the resulting film is mishandled. Clean-cut Smallville star Krisitin Kreuk never quite nails Chun-Li’s revenge-driven, murderous side, busily working through her daddy …

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Goodbye, Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Death (1975)

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Goodbye, Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Death (1975)

In 1976, the US distributors of this film (originally titled The New Game of Death) were at the centre of a lawsuit involving the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection for selling the film as a genuine Bruce Lee vehicle. A disclaimer was later added to all subsequent publicity claiming the film to be a ‘tribute’. Viewers in the west in the early 1970s who were unaware of Bruce Lee’s scant cinematic career can be forgiven for being duped by this deliberately ambiguous piece of Bruceploitation, given its crafty title and meta premise. It starts with scenes involving the professional Bruce Lee imitator, …

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Dressed to Fight (1979)

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One of those kung fu movies which appears to have been made up on the spot. This weary film has Tien Peng playing a chopsocky nobleman attempting to go steady with his former childhood sweetheart, only for him to face a number of enemies from his warrior past. Friends become foe in a messy narrative which unfolds quite confusingly, while attempts to form some kind of supernatural element is, unfortunately, never fully realised. The high-wire fighting, trampoline stunts and flying daggers are all pleasingly kooky, but this is nothing too out of the ordinary.

AKA: Dragon of the Lost Ark; The …

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Dragon’s Claws (1979)

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This cheap indie from Joseph Kuo has Hwang Jang-lee in top form as a Dragon’s Claw expert in search of an inscribed talisman which declares him the world’s best fighter. For some reason, Hwang and his cronies kill off Lau Ga-yung’s kung fu schoolmates, causing him and his mother to run for their lives. Lau (who looks like a cross between a young Jet Li and Donny Osmond) learns the Dragon’s Claw style from his mother (Yuen Qiu) and a dodgy old medicine man who ties him up, hits him with a big caber, and forces him to drink urine. …

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Green Street 3: Never Back Down (2013)

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Boxing ace Danny, AKA ‘the Guv’nor’ (Scott Adkins), turns his back on West Ham United’s Green Street Elite to start a new life away from his yob buddies. That is until his brother gets jacked by a rival firm, causing Danny to head south to duff up the culprits. He finds that football hooliganism has got a lot more sophisticated in his absence with the advent of organised underground fight clubs. This is where the West Ham faithful get to test their might in a competition against other scumbags representing teams like Tottenham Hotspur and Millwall. Danny gets the lads …

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Close Range (2015)

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Scott Adkins takes on Mexican drug gangs in an Arizona border town in this ballsy action film. Director Isaac Florentine takes pleasure in chewing up the floorboards of his desert-based ranch set, riddling the décor with bodies and bullets. The film is cine-literate, directly referencing the role of the Ronin in Samurai culture, and the spit and sawdust of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, with Adkins cast as Florentine’s ‘man with no name’. It’s probably one of the weakest of Adkins’ many collaborations with Florentine – lacking in both character and plot – but the duo continue to make effective, hard-hitting …

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DragonBlade (2005)

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Hong Kong’s first full length computer-animated martial arts movie is, for the most part, a treat. The fantasy elements are played up for the kids and the humour is a little too contrived to really laugh at, but the martial arts spectacles are quite astonishing. The story concerns local hero Hung Lang, a kung fu supremo, who befriends a talking bird (of course) and is sent on a dangerous mission to secure the sacred DragonBlade from a mystical, cavernous underworld. He faces seemingly insurmountable peril along the way in a bid to eventually slain the Boar King, a giant half-pig …

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The Dragon from Russia (1990)

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This film divides itself into three acts. The first act sees Sam Hui and Maggie Cheung living out a loving relationship in Russia, before Sam is hoisted from a train by the ‘Dragon Master’ and taken back to a forest in Asia. The second act is perhaps the most disjointed and puzzling. Sam’s memory is erased and he is trained to become a hired assassin working for the 800 Dragons organisation, donning a white mask and adopting the ironic moniker of ‘Free Man’. The final act is a bit more together, in which Hui’s latest hit turns out to be …

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