Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Donnie Yen MIGHT Have A Role The Expendables Sequel!

Pictured: Donnie Yen doing his best "I make more money than you" pose.

(The following info came via Twitchfilm.com)

Well, Yippie Ki Yay and Get To Dah’ Choppah, this is a surprisingly tasty bit of rumor mill news!

From what I understand, Donnie Yen was recently offered a role in Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming sequel to The Expendables.

While the Yen-Meister has yet to jump on board the production as of yet, just to know that he’s regarded as being culturally relevant enough in the U.S. to rub shoulders with the action movie legends that make up the cast of The Expendables; means a whole helluva’ lot to die-hard Yen fans like myself.

The really fun part, at least for idiots like me; is the fact that unlike a lot of people, I actually kind of liked The Expendables.

Sure, it was dumb, and it wasn’t exactly the action movie masterpiece that it represented on paper; but even so, for what it was I felt it delivered for the most part.

If you’re at all interested, check out my review of The Expendables here.

Anyway, truth be told I’m excited about the prospect of Donnie Yen joining the cast for the sequel, especially since Stallone has been quoted as having said the movie is intended to be a love letter to martial arts movies.

While there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll end up going to see The Expendables 2 in theaters (and quite excitedly at that), that last bit is like the icing on the cake for me.

One of the best parts of putting Donnie Yen in the Expendables, at least to me; is the fact that it’ll be a chance to see Yen in a contemporary setting, most likely acting more along the lines of his “younger” roles.

Personally, I’ve never really been a big fan of wuxia style films, and I’ve always preferred Donnie Yen in films with a more modern setting, largely because the free license it gives him in choreographing his fights, but also because I actually kind of prefer the arrogant and prick-ish Donnie Yen to the more regal and subdued one we’ve been getting ever since he did Ip Man.

Unfortunately, Jet Li won’t be returning for the sequel, thereby squandering any opportunity we might’ve had to see him and Yen go at it one last time…. At the age of 48.

Despite this, there’s plenty of other enticing match-ups that could come from throwing Donnie Yen into the mix of an Expendables sequel.

Donnie Yen vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme is a match-up I wouldn’t exactly shit my pants over, but hell, if it were to end up in the film; you can bet I’d be excited to see it anyway.

Regardless of how miniscule or poorly written the role created for him is, I honestly hope Yen signs off on The Expendables 2.

He’s only getting older, and lord knows being in the movie would do wonders to expand his already burgeoning influence in the Western film market.

Now let’s just hope the movie doesn’t end up sucking, with or without Yen…

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VIII – Donnie Yen In The “Post Yip” Era

Finally startin to look his age...

A long time ago I wrote that I felt that director Wilson Yip was probably the best thing to ever happen to Donnie Yen’s career.

First teaming up in 2005 for the cop drama/action flick SPL, the 2 would end up collaborating on 5 consecutive films.

With the sole exception of the somewhat lackluster Dragon Tiger Gate, all of said films were of stellar quality; easily ranking as some of the best in Mr. Yen’s career.

While Yen’s incredible longevity allowed him to effectively outlast the majority of his contemporaries, namely Jet Li and Jackie Chan; and his innovative fighting performance and choreography skills certainly put him ahead of the pack, this writer would argue that Wilson Yip’s cinematographic skills and eye for detail had just as much to do with his rise to prominence as any of the aforementioned factoids.

Besides, any man that makes shit like Bio Zombie clearly knows what theyre doing. No sarcasm intended.

That being said, it’s now 2011; and while he’s been detached from Wilson Yip ever since the production of Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen is still the reigning king of Hong Kong screen fighters.

So, why am I not happy?

I’m just about as big a Donnie Yen fan as you’ll ever meet, but truth be told; as much as I like the man’s work, like most screen fighters he’s made an alarming number of shitty movies.

In fact, if you don’t count Blade 2; a movie he choreographed by held maybe 5 minutes of screen time in, I don’t think I’ve genuinely liked a non-Wilson Yip Donnie Yen movie since Shanghai Affairs back in ’98, and even that kind of sucked.

Sadly, now that Yen doesn’t seem to have any projects lined up with Wilson Yip in the foreseeable future; I’m left feeling like things are going to go back to the way they were, with Donnie Yen steadily churning out crap movies with decent fights.

...Or in the case of the Twins Effect movies, crappy movies with crappy fights. Thats Jackie Chan on the right by the way.

Despite an astoundingly well cut trailer for it’s U.S. release, make no mistake Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen, Yen’s first film of the “Post Yip Era”; is most assuredly hot garbage.

I own a Hong Kong blu ray of Legend of the Fist, and while Yen’s physical performance was actually pretty amazing, as detailed here; the movie itself was one of the most boring kung fu movies I’ve seen in a long time.

At present, Mr. Yen has a handful of movies on his plate, most notably a mysterious Peter Chan film called Swordsmen, and 2 other films titled The Lost Bladesman and The Monkey King.

I’ve purposely decided to forego any mention of the most recent All’s Well, Ends Well, as while it does in fact include Donnie Yen in it’s cast; no force on Earth could make me see it as a “Donnie Yen film.”

Yeah, not exactly high on my "must see" list...

Anyway, The Lost Bladesman sees Donnie Yen taking on the role of famed Chinese general and folk hero Guan Yu in a wuxia film.

Trailers for this one have been popping up pretty regularly as of late, with most of the footage doing little to light a fire in my pants.

Sure, it has Donnie Yen.

Sure he’s hitting people while sporting a pimp beard and guan dao.

Even so, the production values seem a little below standard, and the cinematography and choreography seem about on par with the mediocrity of Yen’s own 14 Blades.

For those that may be unaware, any film that draws comparisons to 14 Blades has it’s work cut out for it in terms of not sucking.

Pictured: Donnie Yen squaring off against Captain Jack Sparrow.

That leaves 2012’s The Monkey King as the one Yen movie to bear the weight of making up for the past couple of years of “meh.”

While it’s certainly far off in terms of being released, in all honesty; The Monkey King actually seems like it might be worth the wait.

No footage exists as of yet, but given that the story is a retelling of the Journey to the West, essentially the Chinese myth of myths; and given the incredible assortment of talent involved in the production, I’ve got a good feeling about it.

Sure, it’ll probably be CGI’d to shit and make Donnie Yen look like a complete goof ball; but the art style of the poster and Cheang Pou Soi’s involvement as director will likely make up for it.

I don't know about you, but if you ask me that's a pretty awesome fuckin' poster.

Seriously man, if the same Cheang Pou Soi that made Dog Bite Dog and Shamo shows up for this one, we’re in for one helluva’ ride.

Despite all the pessimism of everything mentioned above, let it be known; I remain hopeful for Donnie Yen’s career.

In many ways, I think my “disappointment” in some of his recent projects spawns from my general lack of enthusiasm for mainland China productions as compared to Hong Kong ones.

Wuxia works when it works, but for the most part it’s not what you’d call my favorite genre.

Whatever the future holds for Mr. Yen, I only hope that whatever crappy or mediocre productions he’s involved in continue to be the fault of writers and directors as opposed to Donnie Yen himself…

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mortal Kombat: Legacy Web-Series Is Up!

Remember that awesome Mortal Kombat promo movie that made the rounds on the ‘net awhile back?

Well, despite talk of lawsuits early on, as promised; the makers of said video debuted the first in a series of web exclusive episodes for a project titled Mortal Kombat Legacy.

While I’m unable to watch the video at the moment, due to supremely bad connection speeds on my folk’s computers; I figured I’d post an announcement for this given that I was really looking forward to it.

Anyway, I haven’t watched it yet; so I have no thoughts or opinions to voice on it, but I will say this:

In the few seconds of footage I was able to stream (without sound mind you) I happened to see Darren Shahlavi in the cast.

Yup, this guy.

For those that are unaware, Shahlavi is an English martial artist and actor with a decent pedigree in Hong Kong cinema, most notably/recently as the villain Twister in Ip Man 2.

While the man has, quite literally; some of the most laughable acting skills I’ve seen in awhile, he’s a tremendously talented screen fighter, so I’d be curious to see how he fares/who he plays in Mortal Kombat.

Anyway, I think I’m done now.

Feel free to post your thoughts on what you thought of this, spoilers are very much welcome given that I really won’t be able to watch this until I get another new computer…

Filed under: Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

I Saw Ip Man 2 IN THEATERS! Why Haven’t You?

I saw Ip Man 2 in theaters today.

While I’ve owned the movie for some time now, and indeed have seen it several times already; I’ve gotta’ say, seeing Donnie Yen cut loose on the big screen was an experience I will never forget.

Maybe it was just the bigger screen, and the more powerful sound system, but seeing a Ip Man 2 in theaters actually served to make for a far superior Donnie Yen experience than I was initially anticipating.

I suppose it also helps that I just happened to get to see the movie with a couple of really good friends, something I can honestly say I haven’t had the opportunity to do with many good movies.

Anyway, seeing a Donnie Yen movie in theaters pretty much counts as a an entry on my bucket list, so I guess I can die happy now.

In case you have stumbled across this post, without prior knowledge of my Donnie Yen fanboy-isms, I direct you to this lengthy and drawn out review for Ip Man 2 I wrote awhile back, not to mention the MASSIVE tribute to the man that I made as pretty much my first major post on this blog.

I suppose it’s also worth noting that the theater I saw the movie in just happened to screen a trailer for the US theatrical release of Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.

For those that are fortunate to have seen Ip Man, and are hopeful for future Donnie Yen movies to tickle their kung fu fancy; I direct you to my scathing review of the utterly flat and unimpressive Legend of the Fist.

Seriously man, even a fanboy like me can admit that Legend of the Fist was a pretty shitty movie…

Anyway, I saw Donnie Yen on the big screen.

I’m happy.

Unless you have an issue with happiness or some shit, do yourself a favor and go see Ip Man this weekend.

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Announcements, HOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Alright folks, today the Azn Badger is gonna’ be a lazy bastard and take this opportunity to dole out a few announcements/orders that you would do well to follow up on.

ANNOUNCEMENT #1:

 

Wow, I guess good lighting does wonders for shitty makeup.

Remember that ill-fated indie financed trailer for a possible Mortal Kombat movie that made the rounds on Youtube awhile back?

Well, in case you don’t, here’s a link to a lengthy article that I pounded out regarding my thoughts on it.

Anyway, as it turns out, that particular video clip; while permanently removed from Youtube, went on to have not-so-ill a fate after all.

After much fussing, bellyaching, and talk of lawsuits, director Kevin Tancharoen and his crew have finally been given the greenlight to begin work on a Mortal Kombat film project, though the format is somewhat different from what was originally conceived.

Instead of a feature film, direct to video or otherwise; the project is going to be carried out as an online series, most likely for use in promoting the series’ upcoming newest installment.

The videos are expected to hit the web sometime in April, and I for one am looking forward to watching them.

Larnell Stovall is kind of a hot commodity in the fight choreography game as of now, so any chance I get to see his work is one I’ll be sure to capitalize on at every opportunity.

(Thanks to the people at Twitchfilm.com for posting the article that tipped me off to this hot news!)

ANNOUNCEMENT #2:

Ip Man 2 is coming to theaters in the US on January 28!

A long time ago I posted a huge article outlining my appreciation for Donnie Yen.

It was one of the first major articles I posted, and to date; remains one of the most viewed ones as well.

In that article, I made note of the fact that I was frustrated by the fact that despite my love for Donnie Yen movies, and indeed, kung fu movies in general; I’ve never really been given a chance to view any of them on the silver screen.

While I’ve owned Ip Man 2 for some time now, on 2 different formats; the prospect of seeing a film starring my hero Donnie Yen, on the big screen, is one that I feel I can’t afford to miss.

Theatrical releases of legitimate kung fu movies in the US are extremely rare, but for all intents and purposes this may end up being the only movie starring Donnie Yen that may ever be released here.

Rest assured, I intend to recruit a small army of friends, and plop their asses down in the theater to see this one, regardless of whether they’ve seen the first one or not.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got at the moment, make sure to

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tooting My Own Horn…

*In lieu of my family’s traditional New Year’s dinner of pork and sauerkraut (Apparently it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch thingDon’t ask…) being pushed back to this evening, I’ve decided to forego a legit posting tonight in favor of a neat little “year in review” that WordPress made for me.  Enjoy, I know I sure did!*

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 64,000 times in 2010. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would have performed about 3 times.

In 2010, there were 250 new posts, not bad for the first year!

The busiest day of the year was October 29th with 3,439 views. The most popular post that day was Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were reddit.com, facebook.com, kotaku.com, kungfucinema.com, and minecraftforum.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for donnie yen, cecilia cissy wang, broly, moon knight, and guyver.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post) October 2010
2 comments

2

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VI – Old Man Yen May 2010

3

Movie Review: Undisputed 3: Redemption June 2010
3 comments

4

Vejita Has a Brother!!? September 2010
2 comments

5

Moon Knight, Thank You For Being So Freakin’ Crazy. May 2010

Filed under: Comics, Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Donnie Yen’s butt.

That, my friends; is the one element of Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen that I can honestly say I’ve never seen elsewhere.

That one goofy and slightly embarrassing little detail aside, Return of Chen Zhen is a bipolar mess of a film that can only be recommended to the most hardcore of Donnie Yen fans, I.E. me.

The basic plot is as follows:

Picking up after the conclusion of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen) flees China for the French battlefield of WWI.

How he managed to survive charging headlong into a hail of gunfire after the events of Fist of Fury, is never explained.

During the war, one of Chen Zhen’s friends is shot dead, prompting him to go apeshit and kill a bunch of Germans via the combined techniques of parkour and shank-fu.

*Cue shitty rip-off of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme* What? You think I'm kidding?

Much violence and badassery ensues.

With that, Chen Zhen opts to assume his fallen friend’s identity as he sets off for Shanghai; declaring his homeland his new battlefield in fighting against Chinese oppression.

Why he decides to take out his aggression on the occupying Japanese (embodied by the decidedly flacid antagonist played by Kohata Ryu)  instead of the German forces that were directly responsible for his friend’s death, is not explained.

Once in China, Chen Zhen uses his resources to build himself a network of newsies, students, war vets, and cops to serve as his Shadow-esque eyes and ears.

He also invests in a pencil-thin fake mustache, seemingly just because pencil-thin mustaches are pimp.

"Hello, I'm Donnie Yen, and you sir; have just stumbled upon my secret Pimp Party. Prepare to be kicked in the face... Repeatedly."

How Chen Zhen acquires said resources to put together said network, and purchase said mustache, is never explained.

Now firmly established as a wealthy entrepreneur of sorts in Shanghai, Chen Zhen links up with fellow wealthy socialite and nightclub owner, Li Yutian (Anthony Wong) in order to spread his influence… At least that’s what I got out of it anyway.

Li’s nightclub also happens to play host to a foxy singer named Kiki (Shu Qi) whom Chen Zhen quickly becomes attracted to.

Donnie Yen would hit it, but y'know; supermodel wife...

The wikipedia entry for this movie states that Chen Zhen “is romantically attracted to Kiki,” however this is hardly evident in the film.

I know they’re Chinese, and they’re not good at that whole “love” thing, or y’know; talking to each other, but when 2 characters never so much as hold hands throughout a movie, I find it hard to believe they’re “romantically attracted” to each other.

Not only that, but their most intimate moment is actually when Chen Zhen threatens to kill her.

ROMANCE.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell; Kiki really ruined the movie for me.

Usually I kind of like Shu Qi’s bubbly cutesy-ness, as was the case in the delightfully, uh, adequate Jackie Chan flick, Gorgeous; but this time around her role was just plain ugly.

Her character’s arc, much like the flow of the entire film, is predictable; yet somehow all over the place all at the same time.

Not only that, she’s shitfaced for roughly 3 quarters of the film, making her a very difficult character to like.

I’m guessing her character was supposed to be tragic, but in the end; she just brought the whole movie down by needlessly slowing the pace with frequent, and boring dialogue scenes.

Speaking of boring dialogue scenes, Return of Chen Zhen has a fuck ton of ’em!

In most cases I can deal with inane and extraneous dialogue, but in the case of this movie; I actually found myself muttering the words:

“Jesus fuck man, I DON’T CARE.

Well okay, I didn’t exactly “mutter” those words so much as yell them, but you get the point.

Needless to say, Return of Chen Zhen has some writing issues… And pacing issues…  And it smells funny.

Now, when I said Return of Chen Zhen was a “bipolar” movie, I was of course speaking of it’s up and down pacing, specifically the jarring contrast between it’s action sequences, and the rest of the film.

In short:

Return of Chen Zhen has some pretty spankin’ fight sequences.

Heh heh, I like the part when the one dude gets kicked in the face. That was cool...

While nearly all of it is of the classic, Dynasty Warriors/1 man vs. the world style, most of it is well choreographed, and perhaps more importantly; competently shot.

Make no mistake, while the staging of the fights was indeed very good in Return of Chen Zhen, the editor, and perhaps more importantly; the cinematographer deserve a special pat on the back for their contributions.

While not so great a fight, this shot was pretty enough to redeem it.

Donnie Yen served as action choreographer for this one, and if there’s anything Donnie Yen is good at; it’s making himself look good.

While I heard reports that indicated an excessive use of stunt doubles for this film, I can honestly say that I didn’t notice them.

I’m assuming most of the parkour and stunt work was filmed using doubles, but everything that counts in my book, that is; the punching and kicking of people’s faces, was definitely all Yen.

Trust me, nobody throws kicks like Donnie Yen, nobody.

So… Where are his balls during all of this?

Speaking of which, from an action standpoint, Return of Chen Zhen serves as a sort of “best of” for Donnie Yen’s various trademark moves.

From the leaping spinning back kick above, to the cheesy windmill uppercuts of old, to even some of the joint locks and MMA style moves seen in SPL and Flashpoint; pretty much every cool thing Donnie Yen has done to someone throughout his career is featured, and ably performed in this movie at some point, with satisfyingly brutal results.

Though sadly there’s no breakdance fighting ala Mismatched Couples…

Kung Fu B-Boy Donnie Yen!

Getting back to the movie, seeing as most of the fight sequences in Return of Chen Zhen have Mr. Yen clothed in a Kato-esque mask and suit, the movements and strikes incorporated into the choreography bear a satisfying and altogether appropriate “superhero-y” quality to them.

That is to say:

When people get hit in this movie, they fly across the room and then some.

Yeah, that guy's goin' through a wall... Or 2.

Normally I’m not a fan of wirework in my kung fu movies, but their use in this film was largely used for the simple effect of slamming people into bookcases/windows/walls/platypuses, instead of the more fanciful bullshit as in Dragon Tiger Gate and other such films.

In all, Donnie Yen’s physical performance was nothing short of incredible in Return of Chen Zhen.

Given his relatively advanced age for the genre, (47) dreading the day when Donnie Yen suddenly gets old overnight and can’t perform as well he used to, but goddamnit; Father Time must owe him money or something, ’cause if anything he looked better in this movie than he did 2 years ago.

My guess is, the Ip Man movies actually served to smother Mr. Yen’s performances a bit over the past few years.

Wing Chun is a very practical, and straightforward fighting system; and one that is foreign to Donnie Yen’s martial talents.

As I mentioned earlier, Return of Chen Zhen was choreographed by Donnie Yen, for Donnie Yen, and in getting back to the basics, I think Mr. Yen showed us all that he’s still got it.

Anyway, enough cock-sucking.

In closing, I’d just like to point out a few little tidbits I felt needed mentioning:

Yasuaki Kurata and Shawn Yue have cameos in this movie.

They’re brief, and largely pointless; but it was fun seeing them nonetheless.

Would’ve really liked to have seen Kurata do a bit of fighting, seeing as he seemed relatively spry in Master of Thunder a few years ago, but oh well; take what you can get.

If you didn't see it already, then you probably shouldn't...

The vast majority of the sets for Return of Chen Zhen were very obviously recycled from the one used for Bodyguards and Assassins.

While it’s an incredible set, and definitely worth revisiting, there’s no denying that it was framed with a lot more love in Bodyguards and Assassins, and thusly comes across as kind of cheap looking this time around.

Also, if you’ve seen Bodyguards and Assassins, then it’s kind of surreal looking at little things like staircases and windows and remembering them, very clearly; from their use in that movie, which is peculiar being as Bodyguards and Assassins took place in Hong Kong, while Return of Chen Zhen is set in Shanghai.

I suppose it’s worth noting that, yes; the Japanese are the villains of this movie, and yes; they are portrayed as the most vile, baby boiling, dog kicking sons of bitches you’ve ever met.

Xenophobia has always been marketable in Chinese films, and nothing is ever gonna’ change that.

Regardless of how bad they make my people look, as long as Hong Kong keeps pumping out awesome movies about people kicking each other in the brain, I honestly don’t care.

Anyway, the plot sucked, the characters were boring, the dialogue was excessive and dull… but the fighting was pretty good.

If you love to see Donnie Yen do his thing, see it.

If not, then all you’re really missing is Donnie Yen’s butt.

Can you live without seeing Donnie Yen’s butt?

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Kingdom For A New Kung Fu Movie…

Is it just me, or is there a serious shortage of kung fu/fighting movies these days?

Back when I first started this blog, the genre was swimming with new titles to choose from.

Ip Man 2 and True Legend had just come out in theaters, and Undisputed 3 was out on video around the same time, not to mention a host of other (trashy) fight movies such as Coweb and Bad Blood were making the rounds as well.

 

Pictured: Industry veteran, Kane Kosugi locks arms with up-and-coming prospect, Jiang Lui Xia. Keep an eye on her, she's pretty talented for an internet star...

While Hong Kong recently saw the release of The Legend is Born: Ip Man, the pile of shit known as City Under Siege, and Donnie Yen’s Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, as far as I’ve heard (and in the case of The Legend is Born: experienced firsthand) not one of these movies turned out to be worth the wait.

City Under Siege: 80% chance of it being "good-bad."

Damn, a lot of “Legend” movies came out in the past year…

Regardless, what happened to all the good fighting movies!?

Even though all of the movies that I just mentioned were released in the past year or so, I think the main reason for my concern/discouragement, is the fact that I may in fact have already waded my way through the vast majority of the kung fu/fighting movies I want to see, leaving me only new releases to look forward to seeing.

You see, quality Kung fu movies are like big budget action films.

At first glance it may seem like there’s a never ending supply of them, however when you take a step and really examine the history of the genre, it becomes all too clear that there really aren’t too many of them.

 

Did I mention that only about 2% of big budget action films are at all worthy your time? Pictured is a prime example of the other 98%.

In the case of big budget action films, this stems from the fact that the blockbuster action film has really only been around for 35-40 years, not to mention the fact that only so many producers exist on the planet to fund such massive monetary endeavors from year to year.

 

Hey Bruckheimer, give it a rest, 'k?

In the case of quality kung fu movies though, the main issue comes in the form of there being only a handful of outstanding performers capable of headlining entire films.

Athleticism and martial arts skills are one thing, but the ability to perform convincingly and dynamically on camera is a totally different beast.

 

Take for example, Randy Couture. Great fighter in real life, TERRIBLE on-screen performer. Acting included.

That being said, there really aren’t that many must-see kung fu/fighting movies, and in my case; I’ve reached a point where I’m running out of new movies to experience.

Sure, there’s the occasional classic that I may have missed and probably should see, (such as the early Sammo Hung flick: The Victim) not to mention there are a few rare and/or elusive films that I have yet to see, (I’m lookin’ at you Merantau and The Broken Path!) but for the most part, I’ve seen the one’s I really wanted to see.

Maybe I was spoiled by Donnie Yen’s blitz of Hong Kong cinema over the past 6 years, but goddamnit; I want a new kung fu movie to get excited about!

Here’s hoping something special happens in the world of kung fu cinema in the next few months, otherwise I swear I’m gonna’ have bust out some faux kung fu moves on some helpless pedestrian just to keep from going into withdrawals…

RANDOM, YET AWESOME, PIC OF BRUCE LEE KILLING CHUCK NORRIS!

Filed under: Games, Kung Fu, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on The Legend is Born: Ip Man

The Legend is Born: Ip Man contains scenes of Ip Man fighting ninjas.

Now, before all the haoles and Narutards in the room hop out of their seats with glee and go buy this movie, one should perhaps note that The Legend is Born is not a good movie.

In fact it’s so very far from “good,” that I’d so far as to say it’s “bad.”

That’s right, I called a kung fu movie bad.

You see, this was bad, but it was GOOD bad.

Trust me folks, if you’re looking for signs of the approaching apocalypse, me hating on a kung fu movie is one of them.

While Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip’s Ip Man films were at times melodramatic, and often predictable; both films did so while wielding style and production values that few pure martial arts movies can match.

That, and they had Donnie Yen leading the cast.

Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen's cock!

He might not be the best actor, but he beats people like no other; and in a martial arts flick sometimes that’s all you need.

Sadly, The Legend is Born has none of these various pluses going for it.

While it has a rather large cast of “name” genre actors, the production fails to utilize them properly by giving them a bland script, placing them amid lifeless and fake-y soundstages, and generally making no attempt to film the fight sequences in an interesting manner.

I ask you, just who the fuck is fighting who in this screenshot?

For those that care to know Sammo Hung is barely in it and truly seems like he’s “between projects,” (most likely he was filming Ip Man 2 simultaneously) Yuen Biao does pretty well given his limited role in the movie, and Fan Siu Wong is his always awesome self.

FUCK YEAH!

Despite the cast, it’s a horrendously mediocre film that fails to impress is any area, and ultimately left me feeling robbed of an hour and a half of my life.

To sum up, (as briefly as possible) the plot is basically a horribly fabricated account of Ip Man’s life from childhood to right up until just before the beginning of the first Wilson Yip Ip Man film in the early 1930’s.

In case you are wondering, the whole “Ip Man fighting ninjas” thing was indeed fabricated, as was the vast majority of the events in this film.

The film’s biggest, and most visible disappointment, comes in the form of the casting of Dennis To as Ip Man.

Wipe that smug look off your face... And get a haircut, hippie...

As I mentioned in my pre-screening thoughts on this movie, To did not strike me as leading man material.

Turns out I was right, as To’s performance, both as an actor and a fighter, is as wooden and vanilla as can be.

With enough training Dennis, someday you'll become a real boy!

As an actor taking on a film that bears the same name as his character, most of the story relies on his performance, to which he brings absolutely no spark of life or zeal.

While his Wing Chun form is quite good, and indeed indicative of his background in the martial art, his posture is extremely rigid and more importantly, his strikes lack any sort of weight or power behind them.

While the speed and accuracy of the close-quarters sparring is actually quite impressive, the lack of power behind the strikes is a problem with most of the choreography, that and the cinematography simply isn’t up to snuff.

Okay, this was perhaps the most needlessly over-the-top moves I've seen in awhile, and I for one thought it was hilarious.

Aside from a decent fight between Dennis To and the real life son of Ip Man, Ip Chun, (which makes heavy use of stunt doubles for Chun) and a lengthy and surprisingly physical brawl between To and Fan Siu Wong, there really aren’t any outstanding fights in The Legend is Born.

Though I’ve seen reviews crediting Sammo Hung as the choreographer for this film, I honestly have trouble believing that.

If he was in fact the choreographer, I’m sorry to say, very little, if any; of the movements and camera angles in The Legend is Born bear Sammo’s mark, and as such, the action simply doesn’t hold up to anything in his filmography.

The basic plot of the film is that of your basic “Japanese threaten Chinese culture and property, martial artist rectifies situation with fists” genre trope, however it does so in a very inorganic and just plain stupid manner.

Well, as inorganic and stupid as a plot involving ninja fights can manage anyway...

I shit you not, nearly all of the dozen or so fights in The Legend is Born (seriously, there’s a lot of them) come about as a result of someone literally walking into a room and yelling:

“Your Wing Chun is good, show me some of it!”

Even for a kung fu movie, that’s just plain lazy.

Pictured: An unedited example of the screenwriting process of The Legend is Born.

Anyway, I was initially planning to do a seriously in-depth review of The Legend is Born, much like I did Ip Man 2 and Undisputed 3: Redemption, however I found that this movie simply wasn’t worth the effort.

If you really wanna’ see mediocre fighting, bland acting, and *sigh…* Ip Man fighting ninjas, then by all means, give The Legend is Born: Ip Man a chance.

I for one, am going to be kicking myself over this purchase for some time, being as I knew this movie was going to suck, but still let my hopes and dreams guide my wallet.

If you can identify with this man, than perhaps you'll enjoy this movie!

 

 

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Even More Ip Man!

Ever since I watched and reviewed Ip Man 2 awhile back, I’ve been left with a distinct lack of martial arts movies in my life.

Sure, The Expendables had some pretty impressive fights in it, but nowhere near the standards of your average high-profile Hong Kong production.

That being said, in addition to Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 2, 2010 saw the release of yet another semi-historical film based around the life of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man, entitled The Legend is Born: Ip Man.

Directed by the decidedly “meh” Herman Yau, the story follows Ip Man in his earlier days, when he was actually learning Wing Chun, yet by stories’ end, we are of course treated to a scene or 2 of Master Ip busting some Japanese heads.

Never get tired of this scene...

Let it be known, the Chinese have never been shy about promoting nationalism via beating the piss out of the foreign devils.

Despite how silly it may seem at times, I’ve always kind of admired that about Chinese films, as such expressions of patriotism are often met with feelings of cynicism here in the states.

Also, I think we can all agree that any excuse that allows the Chinese to make films about people hitting each other is always a good thing.

Can't say the the same for American movies...

Anyway, despite fair to middling reviews, I’m thinking about giving The Legend is Born a shot.

The film has a strong cast including the always brilliant Yuen Biao, as well as an alarming number of actors that were previously featured in Wilson Yip’s own Ip Man franchise.

Said double-dippers would be Sammo Hung, Fan Siu Wong, and oddly enough, Dennis To as Ip Man.

Dennis To: Star in the Making, or Punching Bag to the Stars #2? (#1 is Xing Yu...)

For those that don’t remember, Dennis To just happens to be the same actor that played Kei, Sammo Hung’s Hung Gar protege in Ip Man 2.

Interestingly enough, he also happens to be a real-life practitioner of Wing Chun, making him well-suited, at least physically, to play a young Ip Man.

Makes you wonder though, why was a Wing Chun disciplined screen-fighter cast as a Hung Gar student?…

Regardless, I wasn’t all that impressed with Dennis To’s physical performance in Ip Man 2, however I’m willing to concede that he may have been held back by his character’s fairly weak standing in the cast, as well as the fact that every fight he was in he was required to lose, or worse yet, make pop stars like Huang Xiaoming look good.

Clearly he also has stylists to help out as well...

He also lacked screen presence in Ip Man 2, but once again, that might’ve had more to do with the restrictions of the script than anything else.

I’m sure his acting is shit, but that’s to be expected from all but absolute cream of the crop in terms of screen fighters.

Whatever the case, I was legitimately impressed by the sparring featured in the trailer, and that’s largely the reason for my interest in this film:

I’ll probably be ordering this one in the next few days, hopefully a spirited review is to follow shortly!

Here’s hoping this one doesn’t suck donkey balls.

It's baaaaaaack....

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