martial arts tagged posts

Blu-Ray Review: Dragon Inn (1967)

Dragon-Inn---Blu-ray-coverDirector: King Hu

Writer: King Hu

Cast: Shih Chun, Shangguan Lingfeng

Cert: 12

Running time: 111mins

Year: 1967

Language: Mandarin (English subtitles)


 


What’s the story: 15th century China, the Jingtai era. Minister of Defense Yu Chien is executed after being framed by the evil eunuch Zhao, controller of the Eastern Agency and Palace Guards. Zhao orders Yu’s children also be killed, but warriors sympathetic to the minister spirit them away. Assisted by the mysterious traveller Xiao, they must face Zhao’s forces at the remote desert tavern, Dragon Inn.

Dragon-Inn---remote-tavernDragon-Inn---Shangguan-Lingfeng-2

What’s the verdict: Relatively obscure in the West, in the East Dragon Inn has cast a long shadow over wuxia (martial arts hero) movies...

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The Assassin (2015)

The-Assassin-posterDirector: Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Writers: Hou Hisao-Hsien, Zhong Acheng, Chu T’ien-wen, Hsieh Hai-Meng (screenplay), Pei Xing (short story)

Cast: Shu Qi, Chang Chen

Cert: 12

Running time: 107mins

Year: 2015


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The lowdown: Celebrated Chinese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien turns his hand to the wuxia-pien (martial arts) genre for his first film in eight years. But, those expecting House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may be surprised at what an anti-martial arts film Hou has produced. The plot, a female assassin is sent to kill the man to whom she was once betrothed, is standard fare. Hou’s telling is more focused on costumes and scenery than a compelling story or choreographed combat, meaning it’s pretty to look at but likely to leave scratched heads and soft snores.

The-Assassin---Chang-ChenThe-Assassin---Shu-Qi,-orange-decor

The fu...

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Must-See Films at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival

Steve-Jobs---Michael-Fassbender,-glasses-reflection

The 59th London Film Festival runs Wednesday 7th to Sunday 18th October.

12 days.

240 movies and documentary features, plus hundreds of shorts from all over the globe.

Even the most rabid movie buff will concede defeat in trying to see all those films in less than two weeks. So what to watch?

In the best tradition of internet Top Lists, we proudly present the Top 10 movies we are most hotly anticipating. And then looked again and had to expand it to 15.

They may be great, they may exhilarate, hell they may even frustrate… The only guarantee is they will be memorable. Which is what makes the London Film Festival such an essential event year after year.

Enough of the preamble, let’s dive into the idiosyncratic Electric Shadows 59th London Film Festival Must-See list...

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Fast & Furious 7

Fast-&-Furious-7---posterDirector: James Wan

Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (characters)

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey

Cert: 12A

Running Time: 137 mins

Year: 2015


 

The lowdown: Paul Walker’s death inevitably hangs over Fast & Furious 7, but the film stands as moving tribute to one of recent Hollywood’s most likeable leading men. Insidious director James Wan moves from chills to thrills, successfully steering the seventh instalment of the frenetic franchise. Carnage ensues as ‘Legitimate English badass’ Jason Statham pits his pecs against fellow glabrous growlers Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. Disengage your brain, let logic take the backseat and join the gear-crunching crew for more vehicular mayhem...

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Tokyo Tribe

Tokyo Tribe - posterDirector: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (script) Santa Inoue (manga)

Cast: Young Dais, Ryouhei Suzuki, Nana Seino, Shota Sometani, Riki Takeuchi

Cert: 18

Running time: 117mins

Year: 2014

 

The lowdown: Ichi the Killer with a transfusion of West Side Story is one way to describe Tokyo Tribe. The most dazzling teen movie since Scott Pilgrim is another. The latest film from Japanese provocateur Sion Sono is cinematic MDMA. The plot: rival gang war, organised crime and sentimental bromance is standard stuff. The rush comes in the telling, a narcotic blast of hip-hopera, kung-fu, nudie exploitation, yakuza silliness and bizarro horror. Addiction is mandatory.

Tokyo Tribe - Sion Sono, Young Dais, Nana SeinoTokyo Tribe - Mera, Ryohei Suzuki, Young Dais

The full verdict: Tokyo Tribe will split audiences in much the same way various gang members are bisected by the myriad katana samurai s...

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The Raid 2 Blasts On To Blu-ray

The Raid 2 - DVD cover - Gareth EvansIt’s not often we feel compelled to write a piece on the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of a movie.

But then again, The Raid 2 sits at the top of our films of the year thus far list, so we’re prepared to make an exception.

If you have already experienced the baseball bat to the noggin rush that is Gareth Evans follow-up to The Raid, then you know to be excited.

If you have yet to be exposed, be prepared for a 5-star all-out explosion of cinematic verve. A film we called “The Godfather Pt II of action movies”, a film that was 18 months in pre-production and sets itself the not inconsiderable challenge of re-writing the rule book on ballistic filmmaking.

As is standard these days, extras-wise the Blu-ray trumps the DVD, boasting three featurettes, two live audience Q&As and a delet...

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Merantau

Merantau - Iko Uwais, Gareth Evans, posterDirector: Gareth Evans (as G.H Evans)

Writer: Gareth Evans (as G.H Evans)

Cast: Iko Uwais, Sisca Jessica, Alex Abbad, Mads Koudal, Yusuf Aulia, Yayan Ruhian, Laurent Buson, Donny Alamsyah, Christine Hakim

Cert: 15

Running time: 107mins (International version)

Year: 2009

The lowdown: The breakthrough film for Raid director Gareth Evans, Merantau is a martial arts gem. A showcase for telecom-company-dispatch-driver-turned-action-superstar Iko Uwais and the Pencak Silat fighting style, this riotous adrenalin rush pays affection tribute to old school kung fu cinema. Uwais is perfect as the country boy pitted against gangsters and slave traders, while Evans directs like he’s got the hottest superhero property on the planet. Glorious fun.

Merantau - Iko UwaisMerantau - Alex Abbad, Iko Uwai, Sisca Jessica

The full verdict: Gareth Evans’ low budget debut ...

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The Raid 2 – Movie Connections

The Raid 2 Connections - Iko UwaisRama, an undercover cop, infiltrates Jakarta’s criminal underworld through Uco, the impulsive son of crime boss Bangun. Bangun runs the city beside the Japanese Goto clan, but the peace is shattered when wild card gangster Bejo arrives. And while Rama launches a one-man war on crime, Uco hungrily eyes the top spot.

No mere plot synopsis can do justice to The Raid 2. Gareth Evans directs like he is the offspring of John Woo and Stanley Kubrick, spraying crime carnage on the big screen, but with a directorial rigour that is a joy to watch.

And like Scorsese, another director who presence can be felt in The Raid 2, Evans is a cineaste. But, not for him the “we know you’re out there in the dark” wink of Tarantino’s post-modern pick n’ mix cinema...

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Gareth Evans – The Raid 2 FrightFest Q&A

The Raid 2 - Gareth Evans on setAt well over 6ft, Gareth Evans is as big as his movies and a showman-director in the Tarantino mould. So any The Raid 2 Q&A with him won’t be a dry dissection of the work, its subtexts and the process of battling for an artistic vision.

Don’t get us wrong, all these things are in here, but much like with his films Evans wants foremost to entertain and is a natural raconteur with a knack for spinning a great anecdote. And like all great storytellers, he won’t censor his spicy language if the tale demands it.

Following a bring-the-house-down FrightFest screening of The Raid 2 at London’s Cineworld, Haymarket on April 2nd, Evans, plus stars Iko Uwais and Yuyan Ruhian gave the audience a 5-star Q&A recalling making this instant action classic.

And gave us juicy stories about The Raid 3...

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The Raid 2: Berandal

The Raid 2 - posterDirector: Gareth Evans

Writer: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusodewo, Alex Abbad, Ken’ichi Endô, Julie Estelle, Very Tri Yulisman, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian

Cert: 18

Running time: 150mins

Year: 2014

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The lowdown: The Godfather Pt II of heroic bloodshed movies and surpassing the ballistic brilliance of the first instalment, The Raid 2: Berandal is a five star encore. Iko Uwais returns as beleaguered cop Rama, sent undercover to bust the criminal empire and corrupt police force hinted at in the final moments of the first movie. Yakuza crime movie cool slams headlong into Jacobean revenge tragedy, punctuated by some of the most exhilarating, red raw action ever slammed onto the silver screen. Watch it. Don’t make us tell you twice.

The Raid 2 - Iko Uwais, prison riotThe Raid 2 - Iko Uwais, Cecep Arif Rahman

The full verdict: The R...

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