UK Poster and trailer for THE GRANDMASTER

We’ve already told you (on more than one occasion) that one of the best martial arts movies of the year is heading to the UK next month. Press blurb time.....

”THE GRANDMASTER, the highly-anticipated film by acclaimed director Wong Kar Wai, will open through Metrodome on 5 December. Six years in the planning and three years in the making, THE GRANDMASTER is an epic action feature inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master, Ip Man. The story spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China's last dynasty, a time of chaos, division and war that was also the golden age of Chinese martial arts.

Nominated for two Academy Awards, for Cinematography and Costume Design, THE GRANDMASTER features virtuoso performances from those at the film's heart: Wong regular, Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, HERO) and Chang Chen (HAPPY TOGETHER, 2046). It was filmed in a range of stunning locations that include the snow-swept landscapes of north east China and the subtropical south.

With THE GRANDMASTER, Wong Kar Wai has made a kung fu film like no other. Years of research and a virtual battalion of martial arts trainers on set ensured that THE GRANDMASTER portrays both the Chinese martial arts and the world of the martial artists with unprecedented authenticity: the fight scenes were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, renowned for his work on films including THE MATRIX, KILL BILL and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON; and the trio of lead actors completed several years of rigorous and challenging kung fu training for their roles.”

Yeah yeah, ok ok we get it! Now onto the UK (try and ignore the ever awful Mr voiceover narration) trailer!

Grandmasters UK poster

ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI punches onto US DVD

From Director Wong Ching Po (Revenge: A Love Story) and acclaimed Action Director Yuen Wo Ping (The Grandmasters, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) comes ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI, debuting on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital Jan. 13 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The modern action-packed fable features rising martial arts star Philip Ng (Young and Dangerous: Reloaded) as a country bumpkin who moves to 1930's Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich, but ends up honing his kung fu skills to become a lethal fighting machine. ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI also stars the legendary Sammo Hung (Ip Man franchise), Andy On (As the Light Goes Out, White Vengeance), Michelle Hu (Mr. & Mrs. Player), Luxia Jiang (Ip Man: The Final Fight), Mao Junjie (Jackie Chan Presents: Wushu), Chan Koon-Tai (The Man with the Iron Fists), Yuen Cheung-Yan (Kung Fu Hustle, Charlie's Angels franchise) and Fung Hak-On (Tai Chi Zero). Bonus materials include the behind-the-scenes featurette "The Making of Once Upon a Time in Shanghai."

Synopsis: Everyone wants to make their fortune in Shanghai, and Ma Yongzhen (Philip Ng) dreams of making an honest living – not with his fists. But the town is torn apart by rival gangs and when Boss Long Qi (Andy On) learns of Ma's formidable martial arts skills, he's brought into the family. Opposed to drug trafficking and leaking government secrets, Qi makes powerful enemies. And soon, Ma won't have a choice. Fight or lose everything - including his friend (Sammo Hung) and his love, Tie Ju.

UK trailer for HERO OF SHAOLIN

Back in September we dropped you the news that directors Cheung Kei and Dai Che’s old school classic Kung fu fest Hero of Shaolin, was getting the remaster treatment in the UK. It's due in just four days time, but to seal the deal, here's the UK trailer to round things off. Dubtastic!

Synopsis: A troop of monks from the Shaolin Temple embark on a mission to get the Golden Sutra to Tibet after the Shaolin Abbot is killed by their traitorous teacher. They are joined on their quest by a beautiful female warrior, out to avenge her father's death. They traverse forests and mountains on their mission, all the while fighting off deadly ninja assassins, vicious gangsters and even the undead.

 

 

Hero of Shaolin UK trailer

Thailand has released DANGEROUS BOYS

We’re playing catch up here after a brief hiatus, and the first thing to strike (while we get back into the swing of things) is the fact that Thailands gone all 'Crows Zero' on us, with a teen school gang fight fest of their very own.... Dangerous Boys. Not Takashi Miike by any means, but looks pretty good.

Synopsis: The conflict arose between two shorts gangsters from two different schools one was led by Peng and another one was led by Thing. Peng and Thing were good friends before. They confronted and started their gangster fight every time they met. The conflict between them became worse when Rung, Maew’s sister from Thing’s gang, went in a relationship with Peng. After that, the two gangsters made their biggest confrontment. As a consequence, they were punished by the school and they were warned not to make such violence again. Peng has a younger brother named Pongpang. Pongpang instead dreamed to have his own music band. He diligently trained himself wishing to have his own live concert. Pongpang and his friends put their music performance on Youtube and it became so popular with incredible number of views. They were contacted to participate as an opening music band in a concert of a famous singer. Unfortunately, Thing heard of the story and manged to bring his gangster to ruin the concert. He wanted to destroy the dream of Peng’s only brother. Peng also knew of Thing’s evil plan. Peng immediately gather his gangster to stop Thing. The only thing that Peng worried is that he promised his mum not to cause more trouble ever. Peng now need to choose between his respectful mum and his beloved brother.

Dangerous Boys trailer

KUNG FU KILLER arrives in 2015

Following the announcement that Kung Fu legend Donnie Yen is bringing his latest opus, KUNG FU KILLER, to this year’s London Film Festival, Signature Entertainment has confirmed two spiffy bits of news. One, a wider release for the martial arts saga when it comes to cinemas on February 20th and two, it heads for DVD and digital on February 23rd.

Also starring Michelle Bai and Charlie Young, KUNG FU KILLER is directed by Teddy Chan (star of Infernal Affairs 2) but notably also features key action scenes directed by the legendary Yen - a real draw to martial arts fans and a contributing element to one of the kung fu blockbusters of the year.

The only downside to all this is that it wont be until the new year. But we are patient, well sort off...dammit!

Synopsis: Yen (Ip Man, Blade II) stars as Hahou, a former martial arts instructor imprisoned after accidentally killing an opponent. When a vicious killer (Wang Baoqiang, A Touch Of Sin) starts targeting martial arts masters, though, Hahou offers to help the police capture him in return for his freedom.

 

RABID DOGS arrive on UK DVD & Blu

Arrow Video has announced the UK Blu-ray and DVD release of Mario Bava’s cult (horror thriller) classic Rabid Dogs, which arrives in the UK on 27th October. This new deluxe release will include both Rabid Dogs, Bava’s original version posthumously completed from his notes, and Kidnapped, the re-edited, re-dubbed and re-scored version, supervised by Bava’s son and assistant director Lamberto Bava, and producer Alfredo Leone.

Bava’s reputation as a filmmaker rests chiefly on his contribution to horror, particularly his baroque/ Gothic chillers of the 1960s. All the more surprising that in the mid-1970s he should turn to the crime genre and create Cani arrabbiati (aka Rabid Dogs), an abrasive kidnap psychodrama that ranks alongside anything done by the better-known ‘tough guy’ directors of the day.

Together with both versions of the film, this new disc will also feature a newly translated English subtitled track, alongside an audio commentary with Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas. The disc will also feature the featurette End of the Road: Making Rabid Dogs and Kidnapped which features Lamberto Bava, Alfredo Leone and star Lea Lander discussing the movie, alongside an interview with Umberto Lenzi, the alternate ‘Semaforo Rosso’ opening title sequence and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Stephen Thrower, Peter Blumenstock on the history of the film’s first distribution and more.

 Rabid Dogs trailer

English subbed trailer for VENGEANCE OF AN ASSASSIN

Hot off the proverbial press we’ve just been dropped an English subbed version of the trailer from Panna Rittikrai’s (‘Born to Fight’ and ‘BKO: Bangkok Knockout’) last movie as a director... Vengeance of an Assassin, which will be released in November. Hard core fight action, violence galore and subs, ohhhh we spoil you so! Check it out at the link.

Synopsis: Being an assassin has its rules– always keep your eyes on your target; strict to your mission, execute without any hesitation and there is no room for negotiation! Each killer has his own background, but all of them has trade in their blood and losses. Natee is an assassin who decides to protect a girl whom he was ordered to kill. After they escape to a safe house where he had grown up with his brother Than. He is badly injured but is cured by Doctor Xi Fu a Chinese doctor from the girl’s family. Than falls in love with Ploy at first sight without knowing that Natee also has some feelings towards the girl. Finally, the family is together again and his uncle, Tanom decides to unveil the big secret he has kept about Natee and Than’s parents. But the assassins don’t give them a time to breath. Being focus and utilizing all of their capabilities is the only way to survive. They have to be faster, stronger and hit harder.

 

Vengeance of An Assassin trailer (English subs via subtitles/cc control button)

Hellboy, Robocop, The Punisher and Jaa ply SKIN TRADE

Director Ekachai Uekrongtham (The Coffin) changes direction with his latest venture, a fast-paced collaboration with Thai superstar Tony Jaa. It's been a long time since Jaa had a bona fide hit on his hands, and there's little chance of this one breaking the mould, however, he is joined by some awesome talent.

Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables) shares top-billing with the pintsized wonder, but he's not the only big Hollywood star to make an appearance. Sons of Anarchy regulars are currently seeking new employment, which means the likes of Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Peter Weller (Robocop) have some free time on their hands.

Michael Jai White, fresh from duties on Arrow, more than makes up the numbers in this decent looking action movie. Set in and around Bangkok, we'll bring you more information when we have it. For now though, check out the impressive trailer. Guilty pleasures don't come around that often these days...

Synopsis: After his family is killed by a Serbian gangster with international interests. NYC detective Nick goes to S.E. Asia and teams up with a Thai detective to get revenge and destroy the syndicates human trafficking network.

Visit THE WORLD OF KANAKO at the London Film Festival

How do you follow up Kamikaze Girls, Memories of Matsuko and Confessions, three of the biggest Japanese films to make it to the UK? If you're Tetsuya Nakashima then why not go in a completely different direction with a pulpy, hard boiled, over-the-top and ultra-violent thriller starring Koji Yakusho, one of the greatest actors of his generation!

Bad cops in cinema. There are your garden variety, on-the-take or displaying a short fuse and violent tendencies. Then there are the crazed nut-jobs whose badge is the only thing keeping them from outlaw status. If you’re partial to the latter, you’re in for a treat. As recently fired detective Akikazu, Kôji Yakusho gives great psychopath on the rampage: drinking, snorting and pillaging with abandon as he tries to uncover the truth about what happened to his angelic teenage daughter Kanako.

Meanwhile, through the flashbacks of a besotted fellow high-schooler, we find that the beguiling Kanako harboured her own share of darkness. Below is a list of screenings, venues and dates this month at the London Film Festival, and be sure to check out the trailer below. You can pur-chase tickets here.

October 13th - 8:45pm at the Hackney Picturehouse with director Q&A

October 15th - 3:30pm at the Vue West End with director Q&A

October 19th - 8:45pm at the Rich Mix Cinema

Fantasy horror BLACK BUTLER arrives in the UK

Kentaro Otani & Keiichi Sato’s Live action version of Black Butler (that has already been adapted for theatre, anime, books and video games) is set for a UK (theatrical no less!) release this very month, and we’ve just been dropped the link to a brand spanking new UK trailer. BLACK BUTLER hits UK cinemas on 17th October.

Synopsis: Mummified dead bodies of various dignitaries from around the world are being discovered, a mysterious tarot card left beside them at the scene. The world is headed towards chaos... Kiyoharu is the young head of the Genpo noble family, owners of a massive toy manufacturing enterprise. He also functions as a secret watchdog for the Queen, a service that his family has provided for generations. The Queen orders Kiyoharu to solve the mummification incidents, and he starts to investigate. He is supported by his perfect butler, Sebastian, who is actually a demon. Kiyoharu has been hiding his true female identity since his parents’ tragic death 10 years earlier. In return for perfect service to his master in public and private, Sebastian will receive his master’s soul after Kiyoharu achieves revenge for the murder of his parents. Who is really behind the serial mummification deaths? Will Kiyoharu finally find out who killed his parents?

 

THE VISITOR: Blu-Ray Review

Review: Adam Wing.

Any film that opens with a conversation between Jesus Christ and a room full of bald children has to be worth watching, right? The Visitor combines stunning imagery with devilish set-pieces, alongside a top-notch cast including John Huston, Mel Ferrer, Shelley Winters and Franco Nero as Jesus. That's right, Jesus! Who could ask for more? The first exchange is priceless. When Jesus asks a mysterious stranger (The Visitor), "Has it happened again?" The Visitor replies, "Her name is Katy Collins and she will be eight years old". Then, quite brilliantly, an overzealous soundtrack kicks in, rocking the TV speakers for all their worth. Be warned. It won't be the last time this happens.

A bizarre mix of The Exorcist, The Omen and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Visitor certainly has its fair share of haters, humorously dubbed by critics as ‘a turkey made of cement’. Yet it has recently gone on to become something of a cult classic in its own right. That's why we can look forward to this newfangled Blu-ray release courtesy of Arrow Film. "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But we must have that power." I'm not going anywhere with that line of dialogue, I just really like it.

Before we move on however, let's get back to that delirious musical arrangement. It's almost as though they lifted the soundtrack from a 70s exploitation picture starring Pam Grier. There's genius at work here because it encourages you to pay close attention even when nothing is happening on screen. There's a 'nail biting' scene half way through the movie where one of the main characters is undergoing a delicate surgical procedure. It should be tense and terrifying stuff, but there's a small problem. For some reason the scene plays out to the theme tune from an 80s cop show. It's completely out of place but ridiculously entertaining all the same...Continue review.

The Visitor trailer

Times aren’t hard for THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN

The Incredible Melting Man is the ‘70s cult classic that saw special effects legend Rick Baker (Thriller, An American Werewolf in London, Men in Black) lend his hand to another memorable horror creature. The new Blu-ray and DVD editions arrive in time for Halloween on 13th October 2014. Originally starting life as a comedy under the title The Ghoul from Outer Space, The Incredible Melting Man has had remarkable staying power due to the credible comedic performances given by nearly everyone in the cast.

Of course, the effects from Baker still manage to turn one’s stomach decades after they were put on film. Additionally, the score by Arlon Ober (and the Cosmic Consort Orchestra) provides a pitch-perfect accompaniment to the on-screen action. Finally, the film looks darn good. Some viewers have complained about the lighting being flat but the restored print makes the film look as good as it ever could be. The movie includes an audio commentary with writer/director William Sachs, a Super-8 digest of the film, an interview with legendary make-up artist Rick Baker and an interview with William Sachs.

Synopsis: When spacecraft Scorpio V returns to Earth following a mission to Saturn, two of the crew are dead and the third, astronaut Steve West, is in a critical condition. Critical, that is, until he rises from his hospital bed to bite chunks out of a nurse before escaping into the surrounding countryside. The authorities set about trying to track Steve down before he claims any other victims, but they don’t know the really bad news yet – Steve is also highly radioactive!

The Incredible Melting Man Trailer

The Phoenix is proud to present FRIGHTARAMA 2014

If you're in the Leicester area this Halloween be sure to check out The Phoenix cinema art cafe bar. Their annual Frightarama takes place on October 31st, with tickets priced at £25. The all night horror movie marathon returns with five fiendish films to take you through till dawn. Take blankets, sleeping bags, crucifixes, garlic, silver bullets, pyjamas, whatever you think will get you through till dawn. Who will survive, and what will be left of them? Time will tell I guess.

The evening kicks off with The Omen, Richard Donner's masterpiece of creeping terror. Film two is yet to be confirmed but it's likely to be [REC], a film that needs to be seen in the dark and on the big screen. Following a fire-crew on a routine call out to an apartment block, a Spanish camera crew soon become trapped in with something terrifying. Argento's 1977 favourite, Suspiria, is an almost overwhelming nightmare of colour and sound. It's also film number three.

Film four is proud to present Dirty Harry... Only Hairier. Wolf Cop is the perfect film for around 4am! After being cursed, alcoholic Cop Lou is transformed into a werewolf in this gleefully insane Canadian comedy-horror. And finally, a film that needs no introduction, but it will get one anyway. A psychotic murderer escapes his asylum and stalks a young girl in John Carpenter’s masterful horror, Halloween. So there you have it. You can book your tickets here, food and beverages are available at the bar and unlimited coffee is yours for £2, finished off with a breakfast bap in the morning. Happy haunting...

KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE is a kind of magic on HK DVD

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Kiki's Delivery Service is a live action take on Studio Ghibli's 1989 animated feature, directed by Japan's very own Uncle Walt, Hayao Miyazaki. The new film is based on the children's fantasy novel "Kiki's Delivery Service" by Eiko Kadono, first published in 1985 by Fukuinkan Shoten. In a surprising change of pace, The Grudge director Shimizu Takashi has adapted this enchanting story - about a girl who comes to terms with her magical power - into a charming live-action film.

With a script co-written by Shimizu and Okudera Satoko (Summer Wars), the new Kiki's Delivery Service stars newcomer Koshiba Fuka as Kiki, a young witch who flies to a seaside town to complete her training. The film is available now on English subtitled DVD. It won't set you back too much either because the Hong Kong version is available to buy here now. The question is, will it cast a spell on you like the animated version did all those years ago?

Synopsis: To earn a living, Kiki decides to use her flying ability to start a delivery service. However, Kiki's power is misunderstood by the townspeople, some of whom are scared by Kiki's magic.

The Vault: AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS

When Princess Feiyin (Kelly Chen) takes her place on the thrown, all hell breaks loose. Before he died, her father the king had wanted Donnie (that would be Muyong Xuehu) to take charge, but some of his followers were miffed that he would want a bastard orphan to take his thrown. So they give it to a girl instead and hey, that's okay right? Well no actually. Some of Yan's army don't like the idea of being controlled by a woman either (happens to us all in the end) and fear that his control will be taken from them. Either that or they'll be listening to Kelly Clarkson songs before the day is out. Out of jealousy, the Commander-in-chief dispatches warriors to assassinate Feiyin.

An Empress And The Warriors wastes no time out of the blocks. The opening act is chock full of glorious action, sporadic drama and thumping training montages, as Donnie (it's easier to type) teaches Kelly to become a proper warrior. Donnie is usually topless of course, Kelly on the other hand is not. The production values are high and the pace is swift. Then act two kicks in. It's here that the tone of the film changes dramatically. The Princess and Duan fall in love, I don't have a problem with that, but do we really need a barrage of sappy love songs, sickening balloon rides and log fire sex scenes? Bloodshed, violence and, um, musical interludes set amongst the clouds… did somebody say this was a Donnie Yen movie!?!

Kelly Chen is miscast as the Empress who will unite a kingdom but she was made for sickening romance. I mean blossoming. Obviously. Saying that, I kind of liked the shift in tone. So many martial arts movies take themselves too seriously these days. I certainly cared more about the characters in A.E.A.T.W. than I did in, say, The Banquet. Realism may have been forfeited for the sake of entertainment but when exactly did 'being entertained' become a criticism anyway? Flesh is exposed, slow-mo camera angles are deployed, fiery mane is unleashed and An Empress And The Warriors finds its feet again. So leave your expectations at the door and enjoy the ride. Balloon optional. Just don't be surprised when the all powerful Empress turns into a sulky, lustful teenager who shouldn't be fronting a girl band, let alone an army.