Kabuki Masks, Gore And Samurai Swords Highlight New Set Pics From Paul Nicoletos’s Upcoming Short, DRAGON'S BLADE Starring Morgan Benoit
Those who often attend film festivals may be familiar with the work of filmmaker Paul Nicoletos, best known for delivering recent notable short films like the sci-fi thriller, Icarus Down, and last year’s sci-fi action hit, Kill Shelter. Nowadays, he and producer Viet K. Huynh have moved on with other endeavors, namely working on another proof of concept they hope to turn into a feature film in 2015 in the form of the new fantasy martial arts thriller from Reloaded Films and Teru Media, Dragon’s Blade (CLICK HERE for disambiguation).
Nicoletos spoke exclusively to Film Combat Syndicate about the production and where plans to take it between now and in 2015. “Our goal with the short is to get people interested and find potential producers and investors who would like to make this into a feature.” he said. “I feel like this story truly has potential to be not so much as an excellent action film, but an action film with a story behind it. So our goal right now is to finish this scene we filmed and use it to promote the film so we can finish the proof of concept and in the meantime hopefully get people interested in the project to make the feature.”
Dragon’s Blade is set in an alternate American reality long adapted as a societal and cultural extension of Japan following the Allies’ defeat during World War II. The story here is preset by the legacy of five unique and powerful swords forged in ancient Japan, each embodied by the strength and spirit of their respective bearers and predecessors whose ownerships were measured solely by their worthiness. Actor, martial artist and stuntman Morgan Benoit (The Forbidden Kingdom, Brutal), plays swordbearer, Takeo, whose mission to rescue his beloved will pit him against a greedy and unworthy foe lusting for all five swords after having already claimed three and killing their owners.
The project marks Benoit‘s second with Nicoletos following last year’s Kill Shelter, and much to Nicoletos‘s own approval as well. “I love working with Morgan!…” he writes. “Apart from his great personality that makes him a pleasure to work with and easygoing, I would say his passion, dedication and relentless work ethic are what I respect and enjoy most about working with him. Morgan was always whom we wanted to play the lead character, and even the feature will be written with him in mind.”
The first scene took three days to complete, beginning on December 19 at a warehouse in Los Angeles near Little Tokyo, with a handful of talented action actors on hand. Kerry Wong, whose credits among many include Cedric The Entertainer’s Dance Fu and the Dolph Lundgren techno zombie thriller, Battle Of The Damned, was on hand to design the rip-roaring action. “To be able to come come up with the action sequence on the spot and be able to tweak things instantly is truly amazing and he is an artist in his own right.” says the director. “We only had two rehearsal days before we shot, meaning Kerry had to come up with the choreography and rehearse with everyone in only two days while Morgan and our amazing stunt crew had to learn it and perform it just as quick, all while taking notes and making adjustments. Thats why you work with professionals who love what they do. And of course, the environment changes on-set and when time became an issue, Kerry was there to adjust and modify accordingly.”
Benoit is also producing the project with Nicoletos and Huynh who also crafted the story while writers Joseph Foulk and Casey Stegman are aiming to draft a script by the end of next month. The official synopsis reads as follows:
After his new bride is kidnapped and held for ransom by a mysterious foe, Takeo — one of five elite samurai who wield the legendary Dragon Blades — sets out on a path of revenge to save his beloved. But with each new enemy he strikes down along his blood-soaked journey, Takeo comes to question whether things are fully what they seem. Go Rin: The Dragon’s Blade is a classic tale of love, honor, and vengeance set in a modern world where Japanese feudal law and the way of the samurai still reign supreme.
Benoit is joined by Kill Shelter star Billy Bussey, and action actors Pei Pei Yuan, Tamiko Brownlee, Bryan Cartago, Jimmy Chhiu, and Alvin Hsing. At least four more scenes are being planned as filming continues next month were we may likely learn some more details about what the project will entail. In the meantime, the project now has well over 120 spectacular behind-the-scenes set photos from last weekend. Feel free to check out a handful of those in the gallery beneath, and link over to the official Facebook page to lend your support!
From L to R: Jimmy Chhiu, Chris Cowan (behind), Xin Wuku (in-front), Brendon Huor and Micah Karns
Yes, ninja turtles usually come green with assorted masks and shells, and we’ll get more of that in a few months. This week however, we’re getting an inspired take on the classic characters by way of independent filmmaker Chris Cowan in the form of a new action short simply titled TMNT Style, featuring performances by actors Brendon Huor, Xin Sarith Wuku, Jimmy Chhiu and Micah Karns, with a special guest appearance by actor and stuntman, Master Simon Rhee of Best Of The Best fame.
The project is one of two new gigs that were announced by Cowan and his team in light of the launch of their new production platform, Epic Rival. Cowan is also one of the co-founding members of Thousand Pounds Action Company, the team behind the long-awaited fantasy martial arts series action Clandestine which is still awaiting further updates. In the meantime, check out all the action below, and as always, watch this space for more updates.
If you have been tuning into Film Combat Syndicate, chances are you have had the good fortune of coming across some of the best independently made martial arts action short films and test fights to make our way in recent years and months. More importantly, action fans, particularly fans geared toward science fiction might have even caught The Stunt People’s own Eric Jacobus with his crowdpleasing Star Wars Go Pro lightsaber Vader Strikes project. Well, here and now in 2014, the trend continues with different players and a different vision as actor and martial artist Noah Fleder initiates the newest Indiegogo campaign for his own Star Wars fan-driven action channel, Force Storm Entertainment.
Fleder briefly spoke to Film Combat Syndicate late last year about his new project as things were still in development at the time. “I grew up as a HUGE Star Wars fan all starting with the ORIGINAL film (A New Hope) and I was hooked.” he says. “I started to get all of my friends from around my block as kids playing with lightsabers and nurf guns… and then I started to read the books and play the games. Now I feel like I have the friends and resources to make my own films within the Star Wars universe.” He then added, “Also I grew up backpacking, in the outdoors doing lots of martial arts as a child growing up, so that went hand in hand with my wild imagination as far as Star Wars goes.”.
As Fleder continues his journey into Force Storm Entertainment with the self-appointed task of writing, executive producing, co-coordinating and performing throughout, he won’t be alone, as he will be accompanied by some of the biggest and most impactful action performers to date, namely premier martial arts action aficionado and indepenent filmmaker Vlad Rimburg (pictured right). The two recently worked together on just a few projects last year, including producer Travis Wong’s original webseries The Hunt for the Flow YouTube channel, as well as Rimburg‘s Donnie Yen-inspired Special ID miniseries, and it’s easy to see why Fleder would choose such a great action choreographer like Rimburg in the first place. “His WILD imagination and creative process is why I love working with him.”, Fleder says of Rimburg. “His ability to capture the fighters skill on camera and develop great choreography is why I feel honored to have him apart of this project. I remember the first time I worked with him on The Hunt, he told me to think of a quick kick combination before Brendon Huor finished me in the fight. I asked him if I could do a double front kick to side kick combo in the air, and he didnt think I could do it. So he said ‘you get three shots…after that we move on.’ After my first successful attempt, he yelled ‘HELL YEA NOAH!! You can do it as many times as you want!!’”.
With filming to hopefully begin sometime this month, the ambitious new series will be aimed at illustrating varying storylines hosted with a number of fighting styles and philosophies emphasizing the use of The Force and lightsaber choreography as a whole, and will bring lead actress Mickey Facchinello on board along with Zero Gravity stunt impressario Tony Chu, and a reunion of several actors from The Hunt, including Brendon Huor, Yoshua Sudarso, Gui DaSilva and Jimmy Chhiu; That’s just for the first installment considering Fleder is hoping to do an entire series, which means future videos could very well include perfomers and actors from other teams around the country and possibly the world. But as with all things in film, this can only happen with your donation.
So if you want to see some more Jedi and Sith muscle in your martial arts entertainment and you believe in what Fleder and Rimburg have to offer, then head on over to the official Force Storm Entertainment Indiegogo page to view Fleder‘s campaign video, a list of who the selected performers listed so far with links to their respective work, and the perks with which you can benefit from your donation, and much more!
Also, be sure to LIKE the official Facebook fan page for Force Storm Entertainment as a further show of your support. And as always, may the force be with you!
Two years after crowdfunding, filming, post production, hitting the LA Expo last year with conceptual shortfilm releases and promotional efforts in addition to searching for a worthy television platform for their new series, Clandestine, the multifaceted independent filmmakers Christopher Cowan and Haile Lee have finally launched the official trailer for the first two episodes of their ambitious new webseries. Best known for their visually stunning depiction of martial arts action with much adherence to a fanbase of amime, manga, movie and game lovers, Cowan and Lee, and series co-creator Lex Randleman, in conjunction with their production bases at Thousand Pounds Action Company and and their newest vehicle, Epic Rival, aim to use Clandestine to showcase the raw talents of some of the most prominent and rising action actors and actresses to make their mark in recent years.
The stunt community is chock full of talented and highly trained martial arts performers, each with their own stake and share of learning and practicing various elements of filmmaking. And with ten years and counting, Vladislav Rimburg is no exception.
Last year, filmmakers Chris Cowan and Haile Lee were joined by a cast of martial arts stunt actors to host a successful Kickstarter fundraiser for their bold new epic martial arts action series from Thousand Pounds Action Company, Clandestine Path, a story about feudal martial arts clan warfare in a modern-day setting. Cowan and Lee also shared a few conceptually illustrative video updates explaining the etymology of the clans, including the lion and eagle clans, respectively featuring action performers Amy Johnston and Brendon Huor.
His efforts have lended him opportunities to share the screen with the likes of, Leo Howard on Disney XD’s Kickin’ It, a small role in Act Of Valor, and featured roles in independent action films with such martial arts directors as Shaun Charney from Dragon Phoenix Entertainment, Anna Ranoso, Narayana Cabral and Micah Brock from Whirlwind Action. As an actor perfecting his craft, he idolizes Marlon Brando and Jackie Chan and their previous achievents as iconic film figures who have further evolved the film business into what it is today, saying a lot about the high standards he holds himself to as an up and coming performer.