Archive for the 'Martial Arts Flicks'

Return Of The Ninja

I enjoyed 2009's Ninja, starring British martial arts star Scott Adkins. It wasn't a great film, nor even particularly original, but I thought it was a better-than-average direct-to-DVD action flick, and an entertaining throwback to the 80's heyday of Cannon's classic ninja movies. Well, director Isaac Florentine and Adkins have reunited to chronicle another adventure of Occidental ninja, Casey Bowman, with the oddly-titled sequel, Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear.

From the trailer, it looks like it could be fun. I'm particularly pleased to see little Kane Kosugi all grown up and playing the evil ninja in this entry. As a child, Kane frequently appeared alongside his father, the legendary "ninja star," Sho Kosugi, on films like Revenge Of the Ninja, 9 Deaths Of The Ninja, Black Eagle and Pray For Death. His presence just adds to the nostalgia factor for me. Looking forward to this.

Action Pack

First of all, Brandi and I saw The Expendables 2 last week. Enjoyed the hell out of it. The "meta" humor gets laid on a little too thick in the final reel, but otherwise, it's pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be. Big, loud, dumb fun, with all my go-to 80s and 90s action guys standing shoulder-to-shoulder blazing away with ludicrously large firearms. Objectively, it's not a "good" movie - the story (such as it is) is poorly structured, characters pop in inexplicably to save our main heroes and then disappear again, character development is minimal (to say the least), and some of the action scenes are - again - poorly shot. But I still loved it, and look forward to owning it on Blu-ray.

I was explaining to a friend of mine who loves classic horror films (which, you know, I do too) that the appeal of The Expendables flicks to me was the same as one of those horror flicks where you'd get old Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson & Lon Chaney Jr. together (The Black Sleep) or Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, & John Carradine all in the same movie (House Of Long Shadows), or a Universal monster mash like 1944's House of Frankenstein (which is almost as badly-structured as EX2). It doesn't really matter whether or not the movie is "good" or not, the joy comes from seeing favorite genre icons sharing the screen.

Plus, you know, explosions.

While still in that action flick mood, I thought I'd order the new DVD release of the 1981 South African martial arts movie, Kill And Kill Again, starring James Ryan. I saw this decidedly goofy actioner at the drive-in when I was in High School, paired with its predecessor, Kill Or Be Killed (not available on DVD, unfortunately), and haven't seen it since. And, while I was at Amazon anyway, I succumbed to my weakness for Don "The Dragon" Wilson kickboxer movies, and ordered Blackbelt, which is apparently Don's version of The Bodyguard. With luck, those discs will be here by the weekend.

Takin’ A Drive

Well, a full 15 years after it came out, I finally got to see the Mark Dacascos action film, Drive (not to be confused with the more recent Ryan Gosling film of the same title). Standard B-movie plot and acting, but the best Hong Kong-styled action and fight scenes I've ever seen in a U.S. film. Terrific stuntwork and Dacascos is friggin' amazing!

The 1997 movie was directed by Steve Wang (Kung Fu Rascals, Guyver), and co-starred  Kadeem Hardison and the late Brittany Murphy. I can't say I was a fan of Murphy's, but she's just delightful in this movie. Villain John Pyper-Ferguson (who, interestingly, was in the 2011 Drive, as well, although Brandi and I know him from The Adventures Of Brisco County), makes a great heavy and has most of the best lines.

Too bad the U.S. DVD is cut by 10 minutes and presented in the wrong aspect ratio. We're finally getting a Region-Free DVD player, so maybe I'll save up and order the uncut UK version (which also has different music, I understand) one of these days.

ADDENDUM: I just ordered the Region 2 widescreen version from Amazon UK for less than $10 American - shipping included! Cool!

Weekend Double Feature: A Force Of Octagon

Here's another great exploitation/action double feature poster - twice the Norris nuttiness!

El Gringo!

I actually rather enjoyed Ninja, the 2009 flick that headlined British kickboxer Scott Adkins. I thought it was a fun callback to the Cannon Films of the Eighties like Enter The Ninja & Revenge of The Ninja, and thought that Adkins was quite decent in the lead role. I have since seen him in the passable DTV action flick, Assassination Games, with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and am looking forward to his appearance in the forthcoming Expendables 2.  As I said in my review of Ninja, I believe Adkins has "all the qualities generally required of an action star - he's good looking, muscular, athletic and doesn't talk too much."

Anyway, I've since started following him on Twitter and Facebook. A couple days ago he posted a link to te trailer for his next starring vehicle, El Gringo. From the the trailer posted above, it looks like a wannabe Desperado, but it also looks like it could be fun.