Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013)

Posted in Reviews

This Ip Man film – Herman Yau’s follow-up to The Legend is Born: Ip Man – is a polite, reverential, misty-eyed nostalgia trip. It charts the latter-half of the Wing Chun master’s life following his relocation to Hong Kong, and features a diligent and authoritative central performance from Anthony Wong. Wong famously said he was drunk when he accepted the role; an extensive kung fu training programme was required to turn the award-winning actor into a believable on-screen fighter, or at least someone as equalling convincing as Donnie Yen, who has now embodied the role with his Wilson Yip-directed Ip Man films. …

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Enter the Warriors Gate (2016)

Posted in Reviews

An English-language Chinese-French co-production filmed in Canada and China from Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. It’s a film of quite contrasting visions. The tone is generally light and played for younger audiences, but the mix of fantasy and realism doesn’t quite work together. The story follows an American teenager from a single parent household who gets transported to ancient China via a giant mystical urn. The boy has to rescue a kidnapped princess and defeat an evil tyrant – played by another American, Dave Bautista. The boy is a keen gamer, and you’re half-expecting him to be sucked into …

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Profile: Zara Phythian

Posted in Profiles

Date of birth: May 10, 1984 (Nottingham, UK)

Occupation: Martial arts instructor, actor, stunt performer, fight choreographer, producer.

Nickname: The Lady Dragon

Style: Shotokan Karate, wushu, Taekwondo, kickboxing.

Biography: Zara Phythian is the oldest of four sisters, born in Nottingham, UK. She started to train in the martial arts from the age of seven, learning the discipline of Shotokan Karate and achieving a second dan black belt before becoming a teenager. At the age of 13, she enrolled at Nottingham’s School of Champions martial arts centre where she took up taekwondo, wushu, kickboxing and freestyle karate. She started teaching from the age of 16. Zara …

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KFMG Podcast S02 Episode 15: Zara Phythian

Posted in Podcasts

“As a young child growing up, I was very quiet and reserved. I needed an outlet to express myself, and martial arts was my way of doing that.”

What a pleasure it was to meet up and chat with world-champion martial artist, actor and instructor Zara Phythian, who has been kicking ass ever since her first karate lesson at the age of seven. Now, she is a role model and inspiration to hundreds of young martial artists, who flock to her Personal Best Academy in Mansfield, UK, to learn self-defence. Her varied film credits include work with top UK martial artists like …

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Lady Bloodfight (2016)

Posted in Reviews

Exciting starring-role debut from Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double, Amy Johnston, who is served well in an all-female fight tournament premise with thematic links to the 1988 cult Van Damme hit Bloodsport. Amy plays Jane Jones, a “blue eyed bullet from the west”, who gets sacked from her Pittsburgh waiter job after beating up the customers. She leaves her bereft single mother for a flight to Hong Kong to discover the truth about what happened to her dead karate dad who was killed at the Kumite; a fabled, underground, full-contact martial arts competition, here remodelled as an oestrogen-fuelled, women-only fight club, …

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TC 2000 (1993)

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First-time director T.J. Scott admirably fashions a high-concept sci-fi yarn on a shoestring budget, with clear allusions to films like Blade Runner and The Terminator. It’s all moody synthesisers, dry ice and blue lasers – some of it almost convincing – filmed predominantly in large basements full of pipework. In addition to its dystopian themes, the film is also a non-stop martial arts flick with a great B-movie cast of bare-chested strongmen like Bolo Yeung, Matthias Hues and Billy Blanks. This is a particular good vehicle for Blanks, who stars as a vengeful future-cop called Jason Storm operating in an …

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Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991)

Posted in Reviews

Tiresome sequel which lacks the charm of the first film, not to mention its star attraction: Jean-Claude Van Damme. Instead, Dallas actor Sasha Mitchell steps into the lead role, but he never comes close to matching his predecessor during the physical scenes, which is quite important for a film with the word ‘kickboxer’ in the title. He plays a third Sloane brother: the good natured pretty-boy David, who inherits his brother’s LA gym after it is revealed that both Kurt and Eric have been killed by the Muay Thai monster Tong Po (Michel Qissi). David is initially lured back into …

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The Spiritual Boxer (1975)

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Lau Kar-leung‘s influential directorial debut is often credited for being a precursor to both the slapstick kung fu comedies of Ng See-yuen at Seasonal Films (Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, Drunken Master), and the supernatural shenanigans of Sammo Hung. There are certainly signs of Jackie Chan in Wong Yu’s comedic central performance, playing a juvenile, opportunistic orphaned street rat whose sifu is a cipher for the alcoholic Beggar So. And Sammo clearly lifted the haunted mansions, Taoist priests and black magic routines for his extraordinary Encounters of the Spooky Kind. The film centres around Lau Kar-leung’s general distrust of the …

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KFMG Podcast S02 Episode 14: Matthias Hoene / James Nunn

Posted in Podcasts

“I like the challenge of trying to entertain an audience, and I read the reviews, good and bad. I don’t let them affect me, but I do try to learn from them, if I can.” James Nunn

Aspiring filmmakers should definitely tune into this episode of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast, as I talk to two up-and-coming, supremely talented, London-based directors Matthias Hoene and James Nunn, who are both making waves internationally with their own action films. Firstly, I talk to the director Matthias Hoene about his new film, Enter the Warrior’s Gate (aka Warrior’s Gate), a Chinese-European co-production written …

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General Stone (1976)

Posted in Reviews

Slightly bonkers chopsocky with a strange supernatural twist and some great fight choreography. Dorian Tan’s mother is kidnapped by marauding despot Lung Fei, but his kung fu is not up to scratch to launch a solo rescue. Luckily he’s the son of General Stone – proud defender of a deceased Tang dynasty ruler, who continues to stand guard in statue form outside the king’s shrine. Tan falls down a well and ends up in a underground house of traps where the general comes to life and his statue mates teach him how to fight. Meanwhile, fellow Tang patriot Polly Shang …

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