This week is as good a time as any to remind fans to subscribe to Well Go USA’s genre imprint, Hi-YAH!. The streamer will launch Ernesto Diaz Espinoza’s Fist Of The Condor this Friday starring Marko Zaror and Eyal Meyer who have been touring the east coast this week while promoting the film’s Alamo Drafthouse screening events in North America.
HIGH & LOW: THE WORST X Review: Fisticuffs And Hard-Fought Friendship Lead The Way For Another Supercharged Sequel
The last eight years or so of thrills from the hive mind at Japanese brand LDH and the writers of HI-AX have brought forth what stands to be one of the best multimedia action franchises ever created, with Shochiku and Netflix raking in much of the earnings. Credit as of late goes to the shared directorial powers of Daisuke Ninomiya and Norihisa Hiranuma, and action stylist Masaki Suzumura with a window of at least three years since Shigeaki Kubo transitioned the High & Low saga into a new era, one led by “The Rampage” members Kazuma Kawamura and Hokuto Yoshino, along with actor and franchise favorite Goki Maeda who now return for their continuation, High & Low: The Worst X.
Director Jason Connery’s fourth feature came to me as a recommendation years ago from a friend who works in the Thai film industry, and happened to be a fan of Wes Chatham upon seeing 2012 indie action drama, The Philly Kid. I honestly don’t know how the marketing for this particular film was so I can’t really allege anything, but the film was pushed and release in the U.S. at the time from After Dark Action, an imprint of After Dark Films, and I eventually saw it in 2014 on Digital Download.
With Charlie Nguyen’s The Rebel lending a face and renewed movement in Vietnam action cinema following the successes of Tony Jaa, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan in the decade prior, martial arts fans found themselves a new hero or two with Johnny Tri Nguyen and Veronica Ngo. The two burgeoning stars would reunite several years later for Le Thanh Son’s crime thriller, Clash (or Bẫy rồng), starring the two in a story of a mercenary who gathers a ragtag team to perform a series of dangerous tasks in order to reunite with the daughter she’s been restrained from by her boss, played by Hoang Phuc Nguyen.
The Criterion Collection, or pretty much any video essay search on YouTube or written review can tell you all you need to know about the sextet of Lone Wolf And Cub titles in its library. Or, rather though, the best experience in this case is a lived one, given it’s still one of the most celebrated classic chambara franchises ever made, and never without ceremony as it still garners curated screenings for occasional public film events, as well as praise for its influence toward other creators and auteurs over the years.
Shunsaku Kawake’s BAIAN: THE ASSASSIN, M.D. To Be Launchpad For New Global SVOD Service, SAMURAI VS NINJA In April!
Shunsaku Kawake’s Baian: The Assassin, M.D. has been acquired by and will release exclusively on Samurai VS Ninja, a brand new SVOD platform launching on April 1 that aims to be home to hundreds of films and shows centered around samurai and ninja stories. The platform is the latest creation by Japanese entertainment hub REMOW Co., Ltd., in association with Nihon Eiga Broadcasting Corporation.
With the fair certainty of the second part set to arrive sometime this year, it’s worth making note that director Choi Dong-hoon’s fantasy time-travel sci-fi adventure, Alienoid: Part 1, is now streaming on Prime Video in the U.S. The film stars Kim Tae-ri, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Woo-bin, and Choi Yoo-ri in the story that spans two time periods in which robot bounty hunters caring for a Joseon orphan in present-day Korea, and a fledgling Joseon-era Taoist wizard eyeing a mysterious gun-toting woman in search of a “divine blade,” meet head-on as an alien invasion looms.
One of last year’s critical favorites is currently streaming on Rakuten Viki with Special Delivery, the third feature film from writer/director Park Dae-min. The film stars Park So-dam in a titular role that almost harkens back to the Transporter fandom of yesteryear: similar premise but completely different setting, and with a story that was as entertaining as I hoped it would be.
Kung fu cinema may be far and away from its heyday glory, but its enduring fandom remains adherent to its ties to the genre with unrelenting fervor through rigorous preservation and re-releases of these considerable classics in various selections. To date, you can look toward companies like Arrow Films’ genre specialty imprint, Arrow Video, with the recent launch of its streaming platform currently beholden to numerous titles in cult cinema, including and especially martial arts classics like Sammo Hung‘s 1979 hit, Knockabout.
Long since its birth under Cinemax before transitioning as an HBO Max exclusive property in the U.S., hit Tong wars drama, Warrior, is finally slated to return for a June 29 season three premiere. The news came on Thursday by way of an Instagram post in which actor Perry Yung is seen recording key music via flute for the upcoming third season.
The hit HBO series Barry is set to return for its fourth and final season on April 16, and we now have an official poster and teaser to signal the hype. The show will see Bill Hader back in the saddle once more along with a cast that joins Hader with Henry Winkler, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, and Anthony Carrigan. Hader co-created the series and serves as exec producer alongside Alec Berg.
Hats off to Fred Topel’s Showbiz Cheat Sheet article for listing all the current films available now streaming on The Criterion Channel featuring leading lady of action, Michelle Yeoh. The ceremony has not waned since the release of Everything Everywhere All At Once, the Daniels-directed bouquet of kung fu, sci-fi, fantasy, and family comedy and drama attributed to a ubiquitous cinematic vision and incumbent messaging of love and acceptance, and generational healing, also being hailed as a banner moment for AAPI inclusion in entertainment.
Streaming Sleepers: Mykel Shannon Jenkins Dares To Defy In THE GODS & THE GODS 2: THE DARK SIDE, Now On Tubi
You’d never know it considering the lack of marketing that most niche independent films get, but actor Mykel Shannon Jenkins, best known for roles in Undisputed 3: Redemption and Bao Tran’s The Paper Tigers, is also an accomplished filmmaker with four directing credits to his name among other short film and TV projects. His current resume at the helm includes his 2017 sophomore effort, The Gods, an operatic Romeo & Juliet-style crime drama about what it means to choose between families when falling in love means possibly going to war.
Beginning Wednesday, Echelon Studios is proudly releasing The Gods 2: The Dark Side, the latest from actor and filmmaker Mykel Shannon Jenkins (Undisputed 3: Redemption, The Paper Tigers). Jenkins is joined by much of the cast from the previous film including and not limited to Casey Ford Alexander, Nicoye Banks, Bryce Clyde Jenkins, Ernest Thomas and Kevin Interdonato.
Sales agent LevelFILM was out and about back in 2019 hitting festival floors with Jovanka Vukovic’s coming-of-age thriller romp, Riot Girls. I hadn’t heard or seen from the film ever since but I’ve only just discovered its availability on Amazon Prime here in the U.S. and its worth a watch for anyone curious.
It’s been a while since Japan Cuts had a festival run, but one of the most memorable catches for me was Kenji Iwaisawa’s On-Gaku: Our Sound, adapted from an original manga and made in the span of seven years with almost 40,000 hand drawings. GKids eventually released the pic in late 2020 and launched it on disc the following year, while those who are more streaming-oriented can also find it available on The Criterion Channel to which folks can subscribe with a free trial.
The world of classic Kaiju films has more than one big G, and one of them is stomping in to streaming! Gamera -Rebirth – project, first announced in 2022, will be a six episode anime series, exclusive to Netflix worldwide. Five kaiju, plus Gamera, will appear and he’ll have his hands full with taking them down in this new series.
HBO is renewing hit series The Last Of Us for a second season, the broadcaster announced on Friday. The show takes its cues from the critically acclaimed video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog, and is currently out with two episodes garnering major approval from fans and critics in the last few weeks.
John Ibrahim’s best-selling autobiography finally comes to life as the first official trailer is live for upcoming Paramount+ Australia series, Last King Of The Cross. The ten-episode crime drama stars Lincoln Younes, Claude Jabbour and Tim Roth along with Callan Mulvey, Tess Haubrich, Maria Tran, Matt Nable and Damian Walshe-Howling among others.
It’s been a while since I dove into anything pertaining to the ARROW player. I can’t tap into my funds just yet to use it but the best thing about it is that you get to browse expansively through its library, and there’s plenty of titles for anyone keen on Asian niche titles and films suitable for the supernatural, suspense, horror and avant-garde cinephiles alike.