Cynthia Rothrock, Kurt McKinney and More Join THE LAST KUMITE
The blockbuster success of Chad Stahelski’s JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 (2023) is perhaps indicative of the current state of modern cinema. The last decade has been heavily dominated by the superhero genre, with the MCU seemingly replacing the traditional action genre introducing audiences to pre-existing lore – with huge budgets enabling the use of CGI and special effects, designed to WOW the film going public. Yet it might be fair to say that these films may be losing their lustre, with the momentum largely slowing down as the glitzy novelty somewhat fades.
Whilst movies like ‘JOHN WICK’ (2014 – 2023) and ‘BULLET TRAIN’ (2022) do utilise special effects, these seemingly evoke the action movies of the bygone era of the 80s and 90s. The action films of the great Sheldon Lettich were vibrant and sexy, championed by the likes of Jean Claude Van Damme. Similarly the Hong Kong action genre in this period were boasting unparalleled fight choreography in hard hitting martial arts action films that quickly solicited a cult following around the world. The aforementioned films of Stahelski and Leitch are the closest contemporary films we have that resemble that period of more gritty action cinema that was a mainstay of the VHS era.
And in the classic declaration of Street Fighter 2 ‘Here comes a new challenger’, with the announcement of a kickstarter project called ‘THE LAST KUMITE.’ But make no mistake, this is NOT a fan film capitalising on tournament films like ‘BLOODSPORT’ but rather serving as a spiritual successor to these types of movies – the beauty of which stems from an incredible cast of stars of the bygone era as well as some new faces leading the charge.
Whilst the advertised premise of ‘THE LAST KUMITE’ is somewhat simplistic, the stakeholders involved are anything but that. One glance at the brutal red and black poster boasts a veritable crème-de-la-crème of action stars, with a combination of legendary martial arts action stars with the headliner being the glamourous and lethal Cynthia Rothrock, who has succeeded in developing a highly successful kickstarter campaign of her own, with a western themed martial arts action film, BLACK CREEK (estimated release in 2024).
Joining the aforementioned martial arts icon is the all American martial arts hero turned dramatic actor Kurt McKinney. In addition, are the inclusion of some imposing action villains such as Matthias Hues, Michel Qissi and Billy Blanks. The list of films each of these actors have starred in are too extensive to list, but their back catalogues are so easily accessible and are an absolute joy to revisit.
For Baby Boomers and Gen-X’ers (like this movie critic), the cast list will have us action fans salivating at the prospect of various martial arts action stars all appearing in the same movie. It’s generating the same excitement as contemporary cinema goers who swooned over ensemble films like ‘AVENGERS: END GAME’ (2019), but perhaps more aligned to Sylvester Stallone’s ‘EXPENDABLES’ (2010 – 2023) franchise.
The recent addition of David Yeung aka Bolo Jnr, aka the son of famed martial arts villain Bolo Yeung from ENTER THE DRAGON (1973), BLOODSPORT (1988) and DOUBLE IMPACT (1991) is also set to star in this project. Whilst notably the son of one of the Orient’s original man mountains, the younger Yeung is lean and ripped resembling more of an IFBB Pro League Physique champion rig – that is to say he looks incredibly impressive. Equally so is his martial arts pedigree, as his posts on social media denote clear high kicking pedigree that is well suited to a cast of super kickers. It’s such a stark contrast to see the disparity in styles between father and son, whilst the elder Yeung used very straight forward and brutal strikes – it looks like his son adapts more agility to match his leaner build.
Reportedly the latest cast inclusion is that of Richard Norton, undoubtedly Australia’s most famous and celebrated martial arts actor. This Zen Do Kai exponent is one star that easily personifies the mythical fountain of youth, as he never visibly ages and carries himself with that calm, confident Australian vernacular. Norton, famously is one of the few non-Oriental martial arts stars to hold his own in the gruelling Hong Kong fight choreography of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung – and is now of the most sought after action choreographers in the US.
With a sense of wistfulness, the movie has also clinched the involvement of famed composer Paul Herzog best known for his scores in KICKBOXER (1989) and BLOODSPORT (1988). Unsurprisingly, Herzog’s memorable scores are now highly sought after by collectors, with his signature compositions successfully integrating synth wave and retro rock, managing to be upbeat and melodic. And if that wasn’t enough, the great Stan Bush has also been recruited with his music truly evocative of those of us that grew up in the 80s. This inclusion was particularly profound for me, as my gym playlist includes ‘The Touch’ from TRANSFORMERS (1986), ‘Streets of Siam’ from KICKBOXER (1989) and ‘Fight to Survive’ from ‘BLOODSPORT’ (1988) as this will tug at the nostalgia strings as much as the cast itself.
The very enthusiastic and engaging Sean David will be serving as Executive Producer on this forthcoming film, and his appearances on popular Youtube channels VIKING SAMURAI and BTM BASKETBALL TIME MACHINE demonstrate an infectious enthusiasm for this action throwback. Ross W Clarkson is in the Director seat.
This team have enlisted the editing expertise of YouTube Content Creator and Movie Director, Oliver Harper. His movie reviews and retrospectives are slickly made, and the accompanying charming British accent adding that extra layer of class to his already well researched and comprehensive video essays. Harper’s works possess a unique quality, that engage the audience with a real vigour and enthusiasm, with the young Englishman carving out a niche for himself as a measured and educated voice of contemporary and retro cinema, as well as gaming and pop culture. He is somewhat of a personification of the ‘Swiss Army Knife of Movies and Pop Culture’, and his expertise will no doubt benefit this project.
At the time of publishing this piece the Kickstarter campaign is still in the works, nearing the half way point of its goal. Whether you are an ardent devotee of traditional action films or are a fan of any of the key players, this is certainly one to pledge to and help make this project a reality.
EDITOR NOTE: Please note we have been advised by production that Don The Dragon Wilson and Oliver Grunier, will not be part of this cast.
Vance Ang has primarily been professionally published in bodybuilding and fitness since 2005, having written extensively for hardcopy publications such as Australian IRONMAN and FLEX; but also for e-publications such as RAW Muscle and more recently the media platform, The Evolution of Bodybuilding. He is a Melbourne based policy and strategy consultant currently undertaking his post graduate study in Law. In addition to bodybuilding, conservative politics and Savate (French Kickboxing), he has long been a fan of movies and cinema of all genres – subsequently prompting an interest in modern story telling, that being script writing. He is in the process of writing his first horror novel ‘Providence’
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