Archive | Martial Arts

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More Crazy Tony Jaa Action In ONG BAK 3 Trailer

Posted on 02 February 2010 by Rich Drees

Martial arts actor extraordinaire Tony Jaa’s latest film Ong Bak 2 is hitting DVD and Blu-ray today, but there’s already an Ong Bak 3 ready to hit theaters in Asia later this year.The film will surve as a direct sequel to Ong Bak 2 and as a prequel to the original Ong Bak.

Not surprisingly, the trailer is filled with more intense and interesting action in its one minute and 24 second length than most full-length features. I love me some Tony Jaa action, and the thing with the elephant is just flat out crazy cool.

No word yet when or if the film will be picked up for US distribution, but since Jaa already has a growing fan base thanks to the first two Ong Bak films and The Protector, I don’t expect we’ll be waiting long to find out.

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First Look At John Woo’s RAIN OF SWORDS

Posted on 03 December 2009 by Rich Drees

Like many of his brethren of the Hong Kong cinema scene of the 1980s and 90s, director John Woo has not had much luck in trying to replicate his success within the Hollywood studio system. It probably boils down to how Tinseltown works. With numerous people wanting to give their “creative” input, a film’s original vision often becomes diluted to the point where it has become completely lost. This probably explains why many actors who came to Hollywood from Hong Kong, like Jackie Chan and Jet Lee, are instead choosing to split their time between the two filmmaking centers- Do a Hollywood film for the paycheck and then a couple of films in Hong Kong for the greater artistic freedom. Woo, however, seems to have forsaken Hollywood completely following the release of the 2003 dud The Paycheck.

Back in Hong Kong, Woo recently has been wowing audiences with the epic, two-part Red Cliff. And while that film is just starting its limited release here in the States, Woo is already hard at work on his next picture, Jianyu Jianghu, which poetically translates as Rain of Swords In The Pugilistic World. Joining Woo as co-director is Su Chao-Bin whose best known films, Silk and Better Than Sex, are only familiar to the art house crowd here in the States.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘s Michelle Yeoh stars in the film as a retired assassin roused from retirement when she discovers that the group of assassins she used to belong to is coming to kill her and steal something from her possession. She also discovers that her husband is the son of a former victim who may want to talk to her about her former occupation. Our first look at the film is below. Click on each picture for a larger version.

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Via Monkey Peaches.

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Friday Flashback: HIGH SOCIETY

Posted on 07 August 2009 by Rich Drees

High Society Poster

Bing Crosby. Grace Kelly. Frank Sinatra. Louis Armstrong. Cole Porter.

That’s a list of heavy-hitters and when their talents were all applied to a musical adaptation of The Philadelphia Story, the result was the 1956 home run High Society. Crosby stars as C. K. Dexter Haven, divorced from Tracy Samantha Lord (Kelly), but certainly not over her. It is no coincidence that Dexter has scheduled a jazz festival for the same weekend as Tracy’s marriage to the milquetoast George Kittredge (John Lund). Sinatra and Celeste Holm are two gossip magazine journalists whose editor has strong-armed an invitation for them to cover the wedding for the magazine. All of the songs are from Porter’s songbook, while Armstrong serves as a friend and confident to Dexter and Greek Chorus for the audience. Needless to say, complications ensue and while it’s no surprise as to whom will wind up with whom by the final fade to black, it makes for a rather pleasant trip.

The film is noteworthy in that it is the capstone to Kelly’s rather short, six year Hollywood career. After initially meeting Prince Rainier III of Monaco in April 1955, the two became engaged when the prince visited America the following December. Filmed in the early months of 1956, High Society would become Kelly’s last film. (The engagement ring her character sports in the film is the one that Rainier gave Kelly.) The two were married on April 18, 1956 and High Society was released by studio MGM a few months later on July 17.

For my money, the musical highpoint of the film is the Sinatra-Crosby duet “Well Did You Evah?” Amazingly, the song was not originally intended to be in the film. Sinatra had signed on to the movie reportedly anxious to work with his boyhood hero Crosby. When it was realized that there was no duet between the crooners in the script, Porter’s works were quickly combed over for a song for them that would fit the film.

But the film’s love story is best summed up in the lovely “True Love,” as sang by Crosby in the clip below.

High Societyis available for purchase on DVD.

(And the fact that “True Love” was my parent’s wedding song and that they are celebrating their 50th anniversary of wedded bliss has nothing to do with the song and film being the subject of this week’s Friday Flashback. Well… Maybe a little.)

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UPDATED: David Carradine Found Dead

Posted on 04 June 2009 by Rich Drees

davidcarradinekillbillUPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that Thai officials have conducted an autopsy on Carradine and ” cited ‘unusual circumstances’ in his death.” An additional report states that authorities are leaning towards a verdict of “accidental suffication.”

It is being reported that David Carradine, the martial arts master who rose to fame in the 1960s television series Kung Fu, has been found dead in a hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand. He was 72.

The news broke from Thailand’s English-language The Nation, which stated that the actor had committed suicide by hanging. He had been in the country working on a new film titled Stretch.

Best known to movie audiences for his being the titular object of Uma Thurman’s revenge in Quentin Tarantino’s two-part Kill Bill (2003, 2004), Carradine first rose to stardom as the Shaolin monk on a quest through the old American West on the television series Kung Fu. Before taking the role of Kwai Chang Caine, Carradine had no interest in martial arts, though he quickly became an avid advocate. He would go on to produce several and appear in several exercise videos featuring Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

The mid-1970s probably provided Carradine with his most prolific film work. He starred as tough race car drivers in Deathrace (1975) and Cannonball (1976). He played multiple roles in 1978’s Circle Of Iron, a film originally being developed by Carradine’s friend Bruce Lee. The wooden flute that Carradine plays in this film is the same one he would play in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

Other, non-martial arts/action roles include a turn in Martin Scorsese’s Boxcar Bertha (1972), playing Woody Guthrie in the 1976 bio-pic Bound For Glory and an appearance in Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg (1977). He co-starred with half-brothers Keith and Robert Carradine in the 1980 western The Long Riders.

Most recently he played an elderly, perverted Chinese crime boss in this past spring’s Crank: High Voltage. According to the IMDB, he still has several films in post-production.

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Bone Crunching CHOCOLATE Trailer

Posted on 28 January 2009 by Rich Drees

The sad thing is that many of you won’t get to see Chocolate when it gets released next Friday. Sure, you’ll get to catch up with the film once it hits DVD a few days later, but this is the type of bone-crunching martial arts film that should be enjoyed with an audience. And since this film is directed by Prachya Pinkaew, who discovered the great Tony Jaa, you know that the action is going to be intense.

Jeeja Yanin stars as an austic young woman who ihas managed to develop incredible martial arts skills through watching the students at the Muay Thai martial arts school next door and by watching old martial arts films on television. When her mother develops cancer, she and her friend Moom set out to get money for her treatments.

We’ll have a review of the film next week for you in our run up coverage to this year’s New York Comic Con, but in the meantime, enjoy this new trailer.

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New ONG BAK 2 Trailer

Posted on 24 October 2008 by Rich Drees

Just a few short months ago, it looked as if we might never see Thai action star Tony Jaa’s directorial debut Ong Bak 2 due to numerous behind-the-scenes dramas including Jaa’s own disappearance and reappearance. Thankfully, things seem to have settled down and the film looks like it is well on its way to its December 4 Thailand premier date.

To whet your appetite for the film, here’s the current trailer. All I can say about it is that it definitely seems to encompass what I’ve come to expect from a Jaa film- raw power, speed and precision and a touch of spirituality.

The Weinstein Company currently holds the North American distribution rights for Ong Bak 2, but there is no indication yet if the company will give the film a theatrical release or just dump it directly on to DVD.

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The Trouble With Lists

Posted on 07 February 2007 by Rich Drees

Well, I guess I can die then…

The Houston Chronicle’s tech writer, Dwight Silverman, has posted on his blog a list of 15 films he considers essential film geek watching. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen all films on the list.

I’d also have to say that I’m not that impressed with his choices overall. Sure, I’ve enjoyed every film named to one degree or another and 12 of the titles sit on my DVD shelf at home. But Silverman’s list is an awfully narrow slice of science-fiction, fantasy and horror genre films that arguably are pretty well known to the general public. I mean really, two Star Trek films? Even a die-hard Terry Gilliam fan like myself is wondering at the inclusion of 3 of his films. Likewise, Sam Raimi gets two of his films named to the list with Silverman even admitting that Army Of Darkness is “a more mainstream and approachable film” than the first two Evil Dead flicks. How, exactly, can a movie be both “mainstream and approachable” and worthy of being placed on a list of “geek films”? It seems to me that the two are mutually exclusive.

In an effort to provide some more geek film titles for his readers, Silverman also links to another blog that contains the title of 81 geek movies “that do not suck.” While this new list does traffic in roughly the same science-fiction/fantasy/horror milieu that Silverman’s list, it does deserve some credit for trying to expand things a bit with the addition of the “Obsessive Nerd-Chick Stalker Geek,” “Cult Film Geek” and “Nostalgia “I was a nerd kid in the 80s” Geek” categories.

But still the list is problematic. There are a few titles – An Evening With Kevin Smith and Children Of Dune – which aren’t films but made for DVD specials or television mini-series. There also seems to be a lot of padding on this list- naming both Spider-Man films, four separate Star Trek films (though the original Star Wars trilogy gets grouped as one entry), and films like Constantine and Swordfish. Swordfish?!

Ultimately, while both lists attempt to be something that starts discussions among film fans (See, we’re doing it here), they fail in that their scope is limited to however the writer chooses to define “film geek.” In both instances here, the writers clearly think that geekdom (Geekatude? Geekosity?) is clearly confined to a few narrow genres. But what about those people whose unabidding love is the movie musical or westerns or silents? Don’t they get their geek lists too?

No art can be judged in a vacuum and if one only exposed themselves to films considered “classics,” one would rapidly loose any standard by which to judge said films. It’s much better to have knowledge of a wide range of films from all genres in order to be able to better appreciate any movie they may watch. Soderberg’s recent The Good German invariably invites the viewer to draw comparisons to Casablanca. But how are those comparisons tempered when the viewer also factors in the Pam Anderson film Barb Wire, which also drew inspiration from the Humphrey Bogart classic?

I’ve always tried to steer clear of “Best Of” or “Essential” lists here at FilmBuffOnLine. It’s not that I’m afraid that someone is going to disagree with my choices. It’s that there are too many choices to narrow a list down to manageable levels. That’s why if pressed for a list of movies that one absolutely must watch by friends or family, I always answer “As many as you can.”

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