Operation Mekong (2016)

Posted in Reviews

A multi award-winning box office smash hit in China, this tells the true story of a 2011 incident on the Mekong river in which 13 Chinese sailors were killed by a Myanmar drug trafficking ring. Following a joint operation involving the Chinese, Thai, Myanmar and Laos governments, the film recounts the steps taken to eventually capturing those responsible: a drug-fuelled group of Burmese pirates using child soldiers in collusion with Thai troops. The action flicks from tense, Jason Bourne-style surveillance situations in urban settings before culminating in full-on guerrilla warfare and scenes which borrow from The Deer Hunter. Veteran Hong …

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The Eagle’s Killer (1979)

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Another Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow cash-in, but one with a neat little cast, including a delightfully evil Hwang Jang-lee and some nifty kung phooey throughout. John Cheung plays the orphaned bumpkin-type who is desperate to learn kung fu but is disappointed in his choice of sifu, until beggar Fan Mei-sheng saves the kid from some bullies and teaches him all he knows. Hwang Jang-lee plays an eagle claw assassin (surprise, surprise) who is hired to take out the two. The beggar is slaughtered leaving John Cheung to go head-to-head with bootmaster Hwang in an extended duel to the death. …

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Eagle’s Claw (1977)

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The long white hair and pointed boots of surreal super-villain Chang Yi are kicking up a storm at the eagle claw school. Thirsty for revenge, he vows to wipe out all of the style’s practitioners, and almost succeeds in killing off their most beloved sifu. Before his dying day, the sifu proclaims that the young Don Wong will inherit the school, much to the dismay of long-time servant Chi Kuan-chung. Bitter and twisted at this rejection, Chi storms off, kills his master, and switches sides to join Chang Yi’s rival mantis school. There are plot twists and fisticuffs aplenty in …

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Underground (2007)

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Low-budget British indie featuring genuine martial artists and a few genuine actors; people like Danny John-Jules, who seems to have filmed all of his scenes on the same day, and Fidel Nanton, who is the only person who really says anything. He plays the organiser of an underground fight club backed by a consortium of champagne gangsters who bet big money on the bouts. Nanton narrates the film and, coupled with its handheld style, it sometimes feels more like a Crimewatch-style exposé on the world of illegal brawling. Maybe that’s intentional. But it still makes it hard to fully engage …

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Profile: Céline Tran

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: April 9, 1979 (Lyon, France)

Other names: Katsuni

Occupation: Actor, writer, director, DJ.

Style: Silat, Karate, Taekwondo

Biography: Céline Tran was born in Lyon, France, to a Vietnamese father and a French mother. Although she first learnt ballet as a child, she showed an early interest in the martial arts after watching the films of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. From the ages of 15 to 18, she studied Shotokan Karate, but gave up on competing on a national level to concentrate on her schooling.

She moved to Grenoble to study political science at the Grenoble Institute of Political Studies, before majoring …

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KFMG Podcast S02 Episode 17: Céline Tran

Posted in Podcasts

“Nothing is easy. But it is always possible to change; to make different choices.”

Céline Tran continues to enjoy a remarkably diverse career, having gone from an adult film star to action hero following the release of her first martial arts feature film. She stars as the sword-wielding villain Madame Butterfly in the new Cambodian fight comedy, Jailbreak, which also stars Doctor Strange stuntman and choreographer Jean-Paul Ly. It’s Cambodia’s first martial arts film and it was a hit when it was released locally in January 2017, before being picked up by The Raid distributors XYZ Films for international release. The …

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Death Match (1994)

Posted in Reviews

Routine B movie built around professional kickboxer Ian Jacklin, who looks a bit like Patrick Swayzee during his Road House years, and fits the bill for a mid-90s low-budget action star. He has a leather jacket, spends half the film topless, beds and rescues the tough girl, avenges his buddy, becomes a caring father figure to a rogue street kid, and brings down an illegal underground fight club. And he does it all without really having to act. “You really don’t like to fight, do you?” asks his reporter girlfriend, who has clearly been watching a different film. Jacklin smashes …

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KFMG Podcast S02 Episode 16: Steve Kerridge

Posted in Podcasts

“It’s like police work; real, detective work. I enjoy that.”

Bruce Lee historian and author Steve Kerridge is my guest on this special episode of the show, which is very much a celebration of Bruce Lee’s life and work. Steve is the author of the fabulously detailed book, Bruce Lee: Legends of the Dragon, which outlines the making of the film The Way of the Dragon (1972), in which Bruce Lee acted as director, writer, star, and producer. Along with fellow Bruce Lee expert David Tadman, Steve also produces the regular Bruce Lee Forever poster magazines (which are available to buy from …

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Blackbelt (1992)

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Another solid effort from Don Wilson‘s Roger Corman years. It is clearly hampered by a quick filming schedule and some poor dialogue, but it’s not altogether terrible, and has some memorable moments. Wilson is strong in the lead role, playing an honourable ex-cop who teaches karate to kids and still dabbles in a spot of pro bono crime fighting. “I don’t get charged to take out the garbage,” he says. A sassy singer asks him to be her personal bodyguard when she starts getting creepy gifts of severed fingers from psycho-fan Matthias Hues. He’s a high-kicking serial killer with some …

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Bounty Tracker (1993)

Posted in Reviews

Solid, made-for-TV crime-fighting with Lorenzo Lamas, who plays an honourable Boston-based bounty hunter called Johnathan Damone. He lands in LA to check in with his federal agent brother who is in a spot of bother with a crime syndicate and their hired goons. The baddies kill his brother, so Johnathan goes on a quest for revenge, kicking people around and looking damn good in the process. The mercenaries are led by charismatic double act Matthias Hues and Cyndi Pass, who play an ice-cold pair of leather-strapped killers. The duo lend a unique spark to a routine action movie. Lamas’ competency …

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