Diamond Cartel (2017)

Posted in Reviews

Shambolic action film from Kazakhstan. A version of this was released in Russia in 2015 under the title, The Whole World at Our Feet. This US dub has clearly gone through a huge post-production process to retrofit all audio and, despite the added benefit of hindsight, it still makes no sense. Kazakhstan may not be known for its cinematic output, but somehow the producers of this film have managed to entice a roll-call of Hollywood A-listers and B-movie action stars to appear, presumably at ransom. Michael Madsen gets his head blown off in a drug deal, and Lawrence of Arabia star …

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47 Ronin (2013)

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Lavish, English-language account of the 47 ronin story with a few Hollywood embellishments, like CGI monsters and a white guy in the lead. The story is constantly divided as to where to position Keanu Reeves’ character in this well-established narrative. He plays Kai, a runaway “half-breed” taken in by the Ako domain, raised by the Tengu – a mysterious, forest-dwelling, alien-like set of sword-makers – and capable of great fighting abilities, although its unclear as to where he has acquired these skills considering he has spent his adult life as a social outcast within the Ako. Kai also becomes something …

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Atomic Blonde (2017)

Posted in Reviews

Charlize Theron shimmers and sizzles in this violent, neon homage to the 1980s and John le Carré novels. She delivers a bewitching performance which is at once sensual and visceral, and dripping in an icy coolness. Her commitment to the role extends to much of the stunt work, which has her thrown and bashed around in long scenes of fluid fight choreography. Its the least you would expect from David Leitch – co-founder of the 87eleven stunt team and making his directorial debut away from Chad Stahelski and their work on John Wick. The stand-out sequence is an extraordinary long …

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47 Ronin (1994)

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Solid, straight-faced, multi award-winning retelling of the 47 ronin story. The film deserves its plaudits for strong acting performances, particularly from prolific actor Ken Takakura in the lead, and measured direction from Kon Ichikawa, who produces a subtle film full of intrigue, subterfuge and brief moments of light, before culminating in a bloodbath. Set in the early 1700s, this version focuses on the role of Oishi as chief retainer of the slighted Ako Samurai domain, who are forced to abandon their council by the ruling shogunate and become ronin when their leader attacks the imperial Lord Kira and is made …

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They Call Me Bruce? (1982)

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Feature film comedy vehicle for Johnny Carson regular Johnny Yune, a popular American-Korean stand-up, singer and TV personality. The humour is mostly based on broad stereotypes and features some honking one-liners, many of which are actually pretty good. “I got my black belt in the Orient. It was easy; only a written test,” that sort of thing. Yune plays a naive pan-Asian chef (the film is constantly jumbling up its Asian references and geographies) who inadvertently becomes a drugs mule for the Italian mafia when he is sent to New York with bags of flour which have been substituted for …

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Sword Master (2016)

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Derek Yee takes a swipe at remaking his starring-role debut – Shaw Brothers’ 1977 wuxia flick Death Duel – with the help of Tsui Hark’s zany brand of blockbuster magic. 3D gimmickry and sweeping CGI vistas work alongside tangible, sumptuous sets and costumes and the sort of fleshed-out, fully rounded characters you would expect to see in a contemporary remake. It takes a while for the film to settle into its romance narrative, and at times it feels like the film is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed by its own imagination. But it soon hits its stride once the …

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Profile: Tim Man

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: 22 November, 1979 (Malmö, Sweden)

Style: Taekwondo, Vovinam, Judo, wushu, boxing, Muay Thai, MMA.

Occupation: Actor, action director, stuntman.

Biography: Tim Man was born in the Swedish city of Malmö to a Swedish mother and a father from Hong Kong. He started martial arts at the age of six where he trained in judo and jui-jitsu. At the age of eight, he studied the Vietnamese discipline of Vovinam from his teacher, Tha Truing Duong, who also taught him taekwondo. Tim now holds a 2nd dan black belt in taekwondo.

At the age of 15, Tim Man was already a three-time taekwondo …

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KFMG Podcast S02 Episode 19: Tim Man

Posted in Podcasts

“I think I was a bit brainwashed as a kid. I thought I was living in a movie. I wanted to be like Jean-Claude Van Damme, kicking the tree.”

Fresh from his award-winning fight choreography duties on a string of Scott Adkins hits – including Boyka: Undisputed, Eliminators, Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, and the upcoming Accident Man and Triple Threat – it was a great pleasure to spend time with the Swedish martial arts maestro, Tim Man. A former taekwondo champion, Tim Man learned the hard way by getting knocked around as a stuntman in Thailand. His credits include working …

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Boyka: Undisputed (2016)

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The fourth and best film in the Undisputed franchise expands on the Boyka legend, and in doing so, highlights just how far these films have distanced themselves from Walter Hill’s original vision in 2002. Under Isaac Florentine’s guidance – himself a keen martial artist – not only has he created the first series of films to actively promote the sport of mixed martial arts (replacing the original boxing concept), but he has also provided British actor Scott Adkins with the most defining role of his career. His work as the conflicted Russian convict, Yuri Boyka – the “world’s most complete …

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Savage Dog (2017)

Posted in Reviews

Stuntman-turned-director Jesse V. Johnson uses the relatively untapped cinematic backdrop of the fallout from the first Indochina war for this efficient Scott Adkins vehicle. Set in 1959, North Vietnam has become a post-war political hotbed and final outpost for a disparate group of European extremists, brought over to defend the French colony against the Viet Minh forces and the rising tide of communism. Ex-Nazis and war criminals command over a jungle refuge, clinging onto their increasingly fractious authority. Adkins does a good turn as a boxing, bomb-making Irish republican who winds up in a colonial jail and used as the …

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