Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Man With The Iron Fists----Official Review...

It's been a good year and three months since I posted a review up here. Welcome back if you had a chance to peep the blog out, and peace, blessings and welcome if it's your first time here! I originally planned on dropping a review every week, but shit happens. Anyway I'm back, for now, so yeah.....

Ever since Prince Rakeem aka The Rzarector aka Chief Abbot aka Bobby Digital aka Zig Zag Zig Allah aka Bobby Steels aka Bobby Boulders aka The Scientist aka Robert F. Diggs dropped the video for the joint Tragedy (off the Rhyme & Reason soundtrack), I waited in anticipation for him to drop a full length martial arts flick.

I had the pleasure of seeing The Man With The Iron Fists twice and I wish I could have peeped it a few more times before writing this review. Although the movie is far from perfect, I was thoroughly impressed at The Rza's work as the writer, director, producer and star of his own full length kung fu flick.

The film takes place in nineteenth century China in Jungle Village, a place full of rival clans, fine Asian honeys, and a runaway slave turned blacksmith (Rza) who provides weapons to the clans and his love to one of the finest females in the flick, Lady Silk (played by the up & coming Jamie Chung).

The clans start beefing over a large shipment of government gold, and shit starts to get hectic in Jungle Village. Enter two of my favorite characters, Jack Knife (played by Russell Crowe), a violent outsider with a fetish for group sex and murder, and Bronze Body (played by former wrestler and current MMA fighter Bautista), a brolic fighter hired by the Lion Clan to hold shit down.

I am usually not a fan of Caucasians in martial arts flicks. Usually their either posers:

or some boxer or British solider who just fucks up the movie:


but Russel Crowe's character was probably my favorite in the film. It's hard not to like any character that Crowe plays, and his character yields what may be one of the coolest weapons in cinematic history.

Anyway, the Lion Clan gets salty that the blacksmith is helping out their former leader's son, Zen Yi aka X-Blade (dude had a bad ass suit), and they decide to deal with him in rather grotesque fashion (not going to spoil it, but it's the reason why The Rza gets his "iron fists...hehe).  Jack Knife teams up with the blacksmith and Zen Yi for an ultimate showdown with the Lion Clan.

Like I said earlier, this movie is far from perfect. Rza didn't really cast any really talented martial artists in the movie. The fight scenes are cool (my personal favorite is the one with the Geminis), but most of the action is done with wire work. The movie could've used a character with serious martial arts skills a la Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa etc.

I thought it was with the utmost respect that The Rza called on Gordon Liu to play The Abbott of the Shaolin Temple (a role originally made for Rza's real life Shaolin teacher and mentor Shi Yan Ming, who was unable to get permission to return to China). It would have been dope to see some of Rza's training sequences or at least see some of the Shaolin Monks in action.

I have seen a lot of people diss The Rza's acting in the movie. I've seem him in other movies, and I'm not saying dude is award worthy, but he does have acting skills. I think here he was going for the "stoic hero" role and he did kind of overdo it.

I also expected him to be a little bit nicer with his own fighting scenes, seeing as much he has been studying Shaolin Kung Fu for some time with Shi Yan Ming.

The Rza was mad awkward in his fight scenes. It could have been due to what happens to his character, but I just though he would have pulled it off a little better.

I say all that to say this. The Man With The Iron Fists was a solid first offering (and I hope not the last) from the mind of  The Rza. Many rappers think they have what it takes and delve into the film industry, and look to add on to the genre's that they grew up idolizing. Most of them fail miserably.

The Rza had a vision to create an authentic martial arts film like the movies he grew up on, and he came damn close. Jungle Village is a place that I could easily see Jet Li or Donnie Yen doing work in.The story flowed and held my attention, and I'll be damned if I didn't wish I was in Jungle Village a few times just so I could visit the Pink Blossom (props to Lucy Liu who did her thing as always as Madam Blossom).  I give The Abbott the utmost respect for this creation and hope there is more to come in the future.

I give The Man With The Iron Fists 3 1/2 Fists. It may be too late to see it in theaters, but catch it if you can. If not cop it on Blu Ray/DVD to add to your collection.

For now peep the Red Band Trailer:

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Peace and Blessings until next time,

The Sage

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shaolin 2011

It's been a hot minute since I have had the time to really sit down and get into a flick so I could post a review. I finally got a free Saturday morning, so I decided to jump at the chance! My movie of choice this morning was Shaolin, also known as The New Shaolin Temple.

Shaolin, directed by Benny Chan, is an updated version of Jet Li's first movie, The Shaolin Temple. It stars Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers), Xing Yu (Ip Man, Flash Point, Kung Fu Hustle) and there is a special appearance by Jackie Chan.

Shaolin is set for U.S. release this September, but has been sitting in my entertainment center on DVD for a few month now, so I wanted to peep it and let y'all know my thoughts.

The movie is set in the warlord era of Early Republic China. Hou Jie (Lau) is the main character and the movie shows us his journey from greedy warmonger to righteous Shaolin monk. Hou Jie begins the movie as a ruthless warlord with his eyes on money, power and respect. Dude has his blinders on though because he doesn't see that his second in command, Cao Man (played perfectly by Nicholas Tse), is gunning for his number one spot. Cao Man tries to have Hou Jie taken out, and in the scuffle his daughter is wounded. Hou Jie goes to The Shaolin Temple out of desperation, hoping that they can save his daughter. She dies from her injuries, his wife leaves him, and dude's life is basically in shambles.

Hou Jie soon meets a cook monk named Wudao (Jackie Chan), who provides him food and shelter in his time of need. Feeling guilty of all the ill shit that he has done in the past, Hou Jie decides to devote his life to Shaolin. While at the temple, he learns Shaolin's principles through martial arts and he finds peace and is truly at one with himself.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Cao Man is into all types of shit. He has taken control of Hou Jie's army and is cahoots with foreigners. They are selling him weapons in return for Chinese artifacts. Cao Man is using the townspeople to slave and unearth these relics, and then killing them to keep his secret safe.

Cao Man soon finds out that his old leader is alive and in Shaolin, and leads his army to the temple to capture him. Hou Jie has a plot to distract his old boy while some of the other monks free the remaining imprisoned laborers. This eventually leads to Cao Man attacking the Shaolin with plans to destroy the sacred temple. Wudao is helping lead the refugees to safety, and is involved in one of the better fight scenes of the film.

Peep it here:

Hou Jie and Cao Man meet for a final battle, and Hou Jie is victorious, but he sacrifices himself to save Cao Man from a falling beam, and he eventually falls into a Buddha statue's palm for a peaceful death.

The surviving monks take out their remaining foes, but the Shaolin Temple is now in ruins. Wudao breaks it down that even though the Temple is gone, the Shaolin spirit inside of them.

Overall, I give Shaolin 4 out of 5 fists. I think it would have been a perfect 5 if there was a little more action, and if there more training scenes. I think the best part of any movie dealing with the Shaolin Temple is showing how these dudes go through all types of craziness to learn the ways of Shaolin. The training scenes in this movie were good, but could've been a lot better.

Regardless of that, the story was air tight and I think the performances by Andy Lau, Xing Yu, Nicholas Tse and Jackie Chan were all on point.

Shaolin is a must see. If you can cop it at your local Kung Fu connect before it hits theaters in September, do it.

There weren't too many clips on YouTube so I am going to leave y'all with the Official Trailer for the movie.

Peace & Blessings for now,

The Sage

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Secret Rivals

It's been more than a minute since I posted a blog entry, and I'd like to thank this damn cold I currently am suffering from and my wife for bringing me back. The cold has me laid up on the couch, and my wife was nice enough to buy me 5 movies yesterday from my Martial Arts connect (thanks honey...I luh you woman!)

So I woke up this morning sick as shit, but also feeling like a kid on Christmas!!! I decided to go with Secret Rivals. I just finished reading the Rza's book The Tao of Wu for the third time, and The Abbott bigs up this movie as a classic. I don't remember seeing it as a kid, so I was especially excited when my wifey brought home parts I, II and II.

The plot of the movies is pretty basic, but interesting enough to hold your attention. Northern Leg (played excellently by John Liu) travels to Korea in search of the man who killed his parents. The person responsible is a feared martial arts expert known as Silver Fox (one of Hwang Jang Lee's first of many roles), who also is involved in the robbery game. This attracts the attention of a government law enforcer known as Southern Fist (Wong Tao), who is in town posing as a potential bodyguard for the King (who is in cahoots with Silver Fox).

The two heroes do not hit it off at first, since they are keeping their true intentions secret from each other. They are also pursuing the same woman, which complicates things even more. Eventually they realize that although they have tremendous fighting skills, alone they are no match for Silver Fox. In the final scene, Northern Leg and Southern Fist team up and work together to open up a first class can of whoop ass on their foe.

Here is a clip of the final fight scene:

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with Secret Rivals. Although the movie was released in 1976, the story and action have withstood the test of time. John Liu and Wong Tao do an excellent job as "rivals-turned-partners." Hwang Jang Lee also thoroughly impresses as the menacing villain Silver Fox. The score, like most martial arts films, sets the mood for each scene.

I give Secret Rivals 4 1/2 Fists. It is definitely the type of movie that I am glad is in my collection. I can't wait to watch parts II and III! You should be doing the same!!!

Peace & Blessings for now,

The Sage

P.S.---be sure to follow me on Twitter @KungFuTheater and you can e-mail me

Also comments are appreciated, good or bad!! Let me know what you think!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Raekwon "Shaolin vs. Wu Tang"

It's been a minute since I posted something up here.....haven't had time to put up a full fledged review, so I decided to hit y'all with a video....Raekwon the Chef of The Wu Tang Clan is dropping a new album this Tuesday March 8th, so I wanted to give it some promotion because they are part of the reason this blog even exists....they definitley helped enhance my love and knowledge of martial arts cinema..... is the video of the title track, "Shaolin vs. Wu Tang"......dope martial arts theme and animation going on in the video......I actually heard the album too and am interested in seeing who handled the bulk of the production because I love the way they sampled music from some martial arts movies.....

Here is another one of my favorite joints off the album......peep the ill sample...too lazy to do the research but I think it's from Ip Man....definitley from a martial arts flick though....

Drop me a comment here or on Twitter ( @KungFuTheater ) and tell me what you thought...go and cop Rae's album on that real shit!!!

Peace & Blessings for now,

The Sage

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fighter in the Wind--- A South Korean Classic??

This week's review is on a 2004 Korean Martial Arts flick called Fighter in the Wind. Now I am usually biased to Chinese Martial Arts Cinema, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with this film. For a movie to hold my attention, it has to have a solid storyline, great fight scenes, and a killer score, and Fighter in the Wind does not disappoint in any of those categories.
The story is a based on Choi Bae-dal, better known as his Japanese name Masutatsu Oyama, creator of the famous Kyokushin-Karate. Most of the movie deals with the struggles he faced as a Korean living in post-World War II Japan. Bae-dal goes from wanting to be a pilot in the military to trying to make a living on the streets of Japan, but he is always met with Japanese strong arms who take ever chance to beat and embarrass him.
While dealing with a bunch of sword yielding Yakuzas, Bae-dal is saved by Bum Su, a talented martial artist also from Korea. He forms a bond with him, and Bum Su eventually gives Bae-dal a copy of Musashi Miyamoto's "Book of 5 Rings," which details techniques on how to fight and survive.
Soon the Yakuzas come back for revenge and wind up killing Bum Su. Bae-dal eventually goes to the mountains for one of the coolest training sequences I have ever saw. Peep it here. The music is incredible in this scene:

When Bae-dal come back to civilization he has one goal in mind, to fuck up every single martial arts school in Japan! Dude was seriously on a mission! Peep as he enters a dojo and literally KICKS the shit out of everyone!!

Bae-dal is eventually reunited with Kato, a pompous military official who embarrassed him in the beginning of the film. Hearing how Bae-dal has been going to dojo after dojo and taking out master after master, Kato challenges him in what is a great final fight scene. Peep it here:

I was thoroughly impressed by Fighter in the Wind, so I give this movie a rating of 4 FISTS. As I said earlier, I am partial to martial arts films from China, having been disappointed by plenty of releases from Thailand (Ong Bak 2 and 3). But this movie had it all. The storyline was not a classic, but it was strong enough to keep me interested. The fight scenes were a lot better than I expected, making me want to research more films starring Yang Dong-guen, who played the role of Bae-dal. He was a solid actor, not over-dramatic, and I didn't see any wires helping out the choreography so that is always a plus in my book! Also, I personally always find the score can make or break a movie, and the melodic metal-type sounds found in Fighter in the Wind definitely do the scenes justice.

Do yourself a favor and rent/purchase/borrow Fighter in the Wind. You'll thank me later....

Peace & Blessings,

The Sage

Be sure to leave a comment, positive or negative....they are always welcome.....

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kung Faux Clips

I'm not gonna front I slept on this show......Kung Faux was a comedy tv series which had classic kung fu flicks with voiceovers from hip hop was pretty are some clips for your viewing pleasure....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ip Man----A Modern Day Classic

Peace & Blessings! It's been a hot minute since I have done a blog entry, so I want to take the time to thank anyone who has visited the site thus far and to also welcome any new readers. Hopefully everyone is having a great holiday season. I have some well deserved time off from work and my area got hit hard with over two feet of snow; so now is the perfect time to watch some movies and hit you with some reviews. Props to my wife and step daughter for blessing me with some new DVDs for the holiday!

My wife, probably from having cabin fever, decided to watch this week's movie with me. For that fact alone I had to pick a movie I saw before and one that I knew she could appreciate. I decided to go with one of the best movies to come out in this decade, Ip Man (pronounced Yip Man), starring Donnie Yen.

Ip Man is part one in a three movie series that is loosely based on the life of Bruce Lee's teacher.

The movie takes place in the 1930's in Foshan, a southern part of China that was known for it's martial art's schools. While many sifus opened up schools and competed for students, it was known in Foshan that Master Ip Man was the best martial artist in that area. Ip Man is a low key dude who is independently wealthy, so he spends his days training on his own or spending time with friends and family. Many sifus come to his house and ask to spar with him, and he would accept their request only in a closed door session, as not to bring embarrassment to their school.

Ip Man gets even more props in Foshan after he takes down a country bumpkin with crazy skills who comes popping shit from the North (played incredibly well by Fan Siu-Wong). Peep the scene here:

Master Ip truly opens up a calm, cool but calculated can of whoop ass!

After this scene, the movie takes a different turn when Japan invades China in 1937 (the start of the second Sino-Japanse War). Life is changed for everyone in Foshan, even Master Ip and his family. The Japanese military take over his house as headquarters for their men, and he is forced to relocate to a very modest accomodations. Master Ip takes a job working at a coal mine just to support his family.

The Japanese leader in Foshan, General Miura (played by Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), is a skilled karate master who sets up an arena where Chinese martial artists can test their skills against his military trainees. The Chinese get a small bag of rice for each Japanese opponent they defeat. When one of his good friends goes missing after accepting an invite to the arena, Master Ip goes there to investigate. He is enraged when he sees a Japanese solider shoot and kill a fellow Foshan master after he wins a bout against three Japanese.

Ip Man demands a match against 10 men, which makes for one of the best scenes of the whole film. Peep it:

Master Ip's abilities spark the interest of General Miura, who wants to learn more about his skill and to see him fight again.

General Miura eventually finds Master Ip and says he will spare his life if he teaches Chinese martial arts to the Japanese soldiers. Master Ip refuses, and instead challenges the general to a fight. The general accepts the challenge, and the fight is held in public in Foshan's Square.

As the crowd cheers the defeat of the Japanese general, Master Ip is comforted by the sight of his wife and son in the crowd. While the crowd continues to celebrate the Japanese deputy decides to take matters into his own hands and shoots Master Ip. All hell breaks loose in the crowd, and Master Ip and his family are rescued amidst the chaotic aftermath. He survives the gun shot wound and is relocated to Hong Kong with his family. There he will soon open up a Wing Chun school (the focus of the sequel), and his long list of students will include Bruce Lee.

I give Ip Man the classic rating of 5 Fists. Even though it was semi-biographical, it was still great to do the knowledge about the man that taught Bruce Lee. The story line was tight, the fight scenese were top notch (choreographed by the legendary Sammo Hung), even the score was dope! And Donnie Yen has the midas touch, because any movie he touches turns to cinematic gold!

I also conside this a classic because my wife is not a fan of the martial arts genre at all (more of a rom-com type of woman). She usually does not have the patience to watch a movie in Chinese with English subtitles. She was able to successfully watch, follow and thoroughly enjoy Ip Man. As a show of thanks I am making a promise to watch the Sandra Bullock movie of her choice.

Peace & Blessing for now,

The Sage

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