IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS Review: An Historical, Open-Ended Saga That Will Have You Clenching Your Fists For More
Look in almost any kung fu or martial arts cinema library or archive, and you’re bound to find a documentary of some kind. It helps, however, that there are as many documentaries on the genre as there are, delivered over the years with the last several generations sharing their own respective interpretations on the cinematic art of stunt performance, fisticuffs and stylish whoopass.
It’s always a funny thing when people ask me what my thoughts are about certain selections I add to the Hit List or films I give positive reviews on – funny because for one, reviews should speak for themselves. The same especially goes for the former, really, in that usually if I see a video that I like and I like it enough to put in the energy to write something about it, it’s normally because I liked it. ?
Among the cadre of longstanding kung fu thesps and experts of the last fifty years, martial arts master, ex-stuntman and Hung Gar successor Mark Houghton’s story is certainly one of interest. From traversing the world of martial arts starting at the age of 14 to battling life and death scenarios both on-screen and off, he’s since become one of the foremost figures in martial arts film and sport – his posterity further sustained in Lei Chiu’s new documentary, I Am The White Tiger, which has already circulated festivals aplenty with numerous awards and accolades in its wake.
A lot has gone into comparing The Cage Fighter to the likes of gritty and hard-edged fight dramas like Raging Bull and even Mickey Rourke’s raw performance in The Wrestler. Reviews pouring in since its premiere last year in San Francisco have a mixture stirring well into positive territory and all the more making Unay’s debut at the helm a worthy one to put on your moviegoing calendar.
Filmmakers Matthew Kaplowitz and stuntman Stephen Koepfer’s Concrete and Crashpads: Stunts In New York earned several nods for more than a year during its festival life in up to ten public screening events. Having proven its appeal accordingly and eventually finding availability at Ultraflix, consumers with access to On-Demand services at Amazon Prime and Vimeo can now enjoy their introductory look into New York City’s urban stunt jungle whose inhabitants share accolades and credits in work as seen in televison shows and films like the John Wick franchise, Gotham and many more.
That chasm between the two ladies is further explored by the film’s end, which is mostly delivered on a bit of a bittersweet note, but the film accomplishes a lot of what you would expect in a documentary. It’s not until later in the second half of the film where Rugilo presents a more open profile of herself and her personal life, which I think lends greatly to the notion of one’s own need for self-discovery when it comes to life, people, relationships and struggles. She carries herself with a pretty bright and forward-moving demeanor, which is characteristic of any good martial arts instructor, while the documentary features her own pursuits in the ring, often traversing between N.J. and across the Hudson River to Manhattan. Similar can also be iterated for much those in her circle, including Dongui-is whose smile is total show-stopper in this feature, and even in some capacity for Mendez, a police officer and single mother balancing between work, motherhood and her membership on Rugilo’s fight team.
Want A Bruceploitation Documentary? A Celebrity Stage Event? Nickolas Nielsen Is Making Either Of These Happen!
You can certainly imagine the challenges faced by studios more than forty years ago who were desperate to find the “next Bruce Lee”… literally. The search for lookalikes who could echo the famed martial arts action star’s image became top priority for filmmakers and producers following the 32-year old actor’s and Jeet Kune Do founder’s untimely death in 1973, and it has spawned many films resulting in an era dubbled notably as “Bruceploitation”.
The era still remains as a cult phenomenon among fans alike with a multitude of performers, (a few of whom have passed away in the years since) who’ve become famous for their portrayals of the actor in some iteration, including Bruce Li, Bruce Le, and Dragon Lee (a.k.a. Moon Kyong-seok) and despite previous documentaries, it’s a phenomenon that still drives questions from those curious to hear the real stories and answers. Well, as of just a few days ago, filmmaker Nickolas Nielsen began spearheading those efforts in the form of a new Kickstarter campaign for his own documentary, now aiming for a December 2015 release, according to CityOnFire.com.
Nielsen‘s campaign is just under two months away from its end, so hopefully this will grant him plenty of time to meet his current goal of $96,000. However, Nielsen also offers a possible star-studded stage gathering of Bruceploitation actors along with noted actors and directors, including Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Quentin Tarantino, Sonny Chiba The Last Dragon star Taimak, famed producer Raymond Chow, as well as Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee and MANY more, provided that the fundraiser meets stretch goal potential.
The director has already gotten a headstart in making his documentary happen, having already interviewed Game Of Death actor Mel Novak (pictured above, right of Nielsen), of which you can catch a small segment in the campaign video over at Kickstarter. Feel free to check out at the page and learn more about what else Nielsen has in store for the film, as well as the perks listed in exchange for your contributions.
H/T: City On Fire
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art that has taken the world by storm. It is a beautiful, mysterious, physical and spiritual practice that combines dance, combat, theatre and music. It creates a state of mind that attracts millions of people around the world. It is the only international martial art with an African heritage.
Every now and then, a documentary comes along that inspires some reflection and changes the way you view a specific topic. For martial arts enthusiasts, such a documentary can be found in the recently released film, The Bladed Hand, a critically acclaimed and intricate retrospective into the world of the Filipino Martial Arts, hosting an eclectic array of interviews with fight professors and martial arts masters, as well as stuntmen and fight choreographers for film and television.
The film became a huge success upon its DVD and Vimeo VoD release last year since earning its praise with several screenings back in 2012, so much so that a sequel is currently underway as of November last year, with writing and producing trio, Jay Ignacio, Kent Vives and actor and stuntman Sonny Sison (Broken Path, The Lackey, Godzilla), back on board to bring the next film to life. And with a large handful of interviews already done with at least 20 more subjects to go, Sison took to his Facebook group to share a few recent photos with former Navy SEAL Chris Carraci, who will no doubt be featured along with his bladed weapon collection in the new film which could arrive later this year or in 2015. Check them about below:
We’ll keep you posted about the new film in the months ahead. In the meantime, The Bladed Hand is already available for rental and purchase on Vimeo and Amazon. Watch the trailer below, and to keep close to what’s happening for The Bladed Hand 2, feel free to join the official Facebook group.
The Bladed Hand – Trailer from ShowVIS LLC on Vimeo.
While developments continue to linger for veteran Indonesian thesps Billy Chong and Barry Prima for the previously announced production of Garuda 7, the two prolific actors will be among a handful featured in Shaya Production’s latest documentary currently in post-production titled Garuda Power. The new documentary comes just off the heels of the spectacular success of director Gareth Evans’ latest thriller, The Raid 2, and aims to further explore the world of Indonesian action cinema, an industry that has produced hundreds of action movies dating back to the 1930’s.
Twitchfilm founder and editor and XYZ Films producer Todd Brown forwarded latest detailed press release for the new documentary which is now in post-production under director Bastian Meiresonne and producer Julien Thialo.
THE RAID 1 & 2’s success put worldwide spotlight on a largely unknown Asian Cinema country; few people know that there are currently 80 movies produced per year and that Gareth Evan’s instant action classics are the latest of a range of hundreds of totally crazy action titles produced in Indonesia since the early 1930s.
The docu-fiction GARUDA POWER is the final result of many years of research about Indonesian Action Movies – or what’s still left of it.
It focuses on Action Movies from the first Chinese-influenced martial arts movies of the 1930s, the James Bond copies of the swinging 1960s, the Bruce Lee-alikes and super hero comic book adaptations of the 1970s, the golden age of the 1980s up to recent worldwide success of the two RAID movies.
It will include never-before shown footage of old forgotten Action titles, many interviews of cult actors (Barry Prima, George Rudy, Billy Chong aka Willy Donzan; Advent Bangun…) and directors (Imam Tantowi, Ackyl Anwari…) of the 1980s and some unreleased behind-the-scenes footage of newer movies.
Head over to Twitchfilm to check out the latest stills for the film and much more!