JIU JITSU Review: Logothetis’s New Martial Arts Sci-Fi Has Blockbuster Ambitions, Barely Gets A Grip
Best known for reimagining 1989’s Kickboxer with two storied back-to-back reboots, filmmaker Dimitri Logothetis segways into the comic book genre for the first time, adapting Acme Rocket Fuel’s in-house IP, Jiu Jitsu. Teeming with action-heavy talent per usual, the film rejoins Logothetis with Kickboxer Vengeance and Kickboxer Retaliation star Alain Moussi, having since escalated from stunt performance to achieving leading man status for the martial arts niche.
JIU JITSU Will Save The World In The Official Trailer For The Martial Arts Sci-Fi With Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa And Nicolas Cage
At long last after two Kickboxer reboots, martial arts fans can now take a gander at what director Dimitri Logothetis has in store with sci-fi thriller, Jiu Jitsu, starring Nicolas Cage, and Kickboxer reboot star of late, actor and martial artist Alain Moussi. And if you’re gettin’ some Mortal Kombat-meets-Predator vibes, I guess you’re not alone!
‘Hollow Point’ Director Daniel Zirilli Shares A Brief Ceremonial Highlight Reel From Jackie Chan Int’l Action Week [Exclusive]
Just a ways from the release of his next film, Acceleration, director Daniel Zirilli is sharing with us a small highlight reel from the star-studded fifth annual Jackie Chan International Action Film Week.
First Reaction: WU ASSASSINS, The Tale Of A Chef Whose Kitchen Just Got Hotter
Ten years since breaking ground for Indonesian audiences with Merantau and his own action franchise with The Raid, action star and actor Iko Uwais has grown ever closer to becoming a more household name in the mainstream market beyond the martial arts niche.
THE INVETERATE DRAGON: A Roundtable Chat With Acclaimed Martial Arts Star, Actress JuJu Chan
Distinguished martial arts star and actress JuJu Chan left a spritely impression with Adrian Castro’s award-winning short, Hit Girls alongside Maria Tran back in 2013 in my own discoveries. She’s been a sight to see ever since with hopes all the more prevalent that she’d become a greater film presence in due time, missed opportunities notwithstanding.
WU ASSASSINS Official Series Trailer Unleashes Martial Arts Mastery And Mayhem!
The first official clip is already making the rounds for Netflix’s forthcoming ten-episode action drama, Wu Assassins. The streamer now adds to the fervor with on official series trailer packing well over a punch with actor Iko Uwais leading the charge, a major mainstream milestone for his career in front of a global audience.
JIU-JITSU: Grillo, Chan, Jaa And More Join Moussi/Cage Martial Arts Sci-Fi Thriller
Following events at FilMart upon announcing intergalatic martial arts adventure, Jiu-Jitsu, trade news at Screendaily is confirming a quintet of casting additions.
HOLLOW POINT: Cameras Are Now Rolling For The New Daniel Zirilli Vigilante Thriller
Director Daniel Zirilli had been slowly hyping his latest project in recent weeks and now is officially in production in Los Angeles with action thriller, Hollow Point. Zirilli penned the script with writers Chad Law and Evan Law (The Shadow Effect, Hero Wanted), and reteams with actor Luke Goss (Blade 2, The Night Crew, Traffik) once more since the 2016 crime flick, Crossing Point.
SAVAGE RESOLVE: An Interview With Stuntman And Filmmaker Jesse V. Johnson
Greetings Jesse and thank you for stopping by to talk to us!
Review: Jesse Johnson’s SAVAGE DOG Is Fan’s Best Friend
Follow action movies long enough and you’re likely one of the many in line waiting to find out what director Jesse V. Johnson has in store with upcoming ensemble thriller, Triple Threat. That project came in the wake of quite a few announcements highlighting the names of a few directors up to helm the pic while it was Johnson who eventually took it on earlier this year. The film, likely bound for 2018, will mark the latest pairing between Johnson and British actor and martial artist Scott Adkins whose earlier acting career saw their first time together on the set of 2005 action drama, Pit Fighter, led by actor and martial artist Dominique Vandenberg; Avid fans of the genre might also be keen on the point in time in which Vandernberg served as a member of the French Foreign Legion.
It’s an aspect of Vandenberg’s life that I find worth mentioning as I go into my review here of Johnson’s new movie, Savage Dog and to be honest, I wouldn’t know where to start in terms Johnson’s own fascination with the French military in this case as those answers remain forthcoming in a hopeful interview in the coming weeks as of this article. I will say this, however, of the twenty-seven year stunt professional-turned filmmaker: I have yet to see several of Johnson’s titles since Pit Fighter, but it was in 2015 that Johnson drew my attention back with his most recent crime pic, The Beautiful Ones, which, in my opinion, is being criminally marketed as a color-corrected B-movie instead of the black-and-white noir jewel that earned the film its highly-deserved festival praise. Gladly, as much as color is not an issue here with Savage Dog, Johnson’s merit and measure stands fair and firm on its own two feet here for fans curious to see if his lead star can carry his weight outside of the hotly-celebrated and popular Undisputed spectrum.
Johnson’s pseudo-historic narrative sees Adkins in the role of Martin Tillman, an Irish former boxer on the run from the law whose life has essentially landed him in the throes of a lawless town in 1959 Indochina, owned and driven by a criminal organization that has taken on its self-imposed law and order municipality and using prisoners and wayward foreigners as pawns for a deadly underground fighting circuit for gamblers. With American forces looming and the town’s self-made police official, Hans Steiner, looking to relocate his business and deviate prying eyes away from his own activities, including that of Harrison (Matthew Marsden) an inquisitive British agent curious of Tillman’s whereabouts, he is finally freed and soon turns to the aid of Isabella, a local he’s reluctantly befriended during his time behind bars. Tillman’s freedom, seemingly promising at first with employment at a local bar own and run by Isabella’s friend and caretaker, Valentine, is provenly cut short following a violent night that ultimately pulls him back onto Steiner’s radar, obliging him to fight and keep Steiner’s operations lucrative. That end sees a dark twist of fate that spirals Tillman into a violent bookend in which innocent people die, love is tainted by tragedy, honor is ensnared and the wrath of vengeance is all that he has left for Steiner, his small army, and the muscle that guards him.
Adkins has plenty of credit among those in the know and higher into the A-list spectrum as he works his way up the ladder as one of today’s brightest action stars ever to light up the screen. Bearing this in mind, when it comes to Savage Dog, Adkins’s depth as an actor – a continued work-in-progress, only comes as strong as his character is written as, and there’s not much there to take from, save for what’s implied directly in the dialogue. The role of Tillman is presented as a stoic soul, suffering from its own demons, and the film only touches down so far enough on that end while it is only until the third act that this aspect of his character finally manifests as it needs to. As something of a countet to this, seasoned thesp, actor Keith David keeps the pacing and energy at an adequate balance both on and off screen, respectively in the role of Valentine and the film’s narrator; David himself lends a strong supporting show as Valentine as he helps steer the movie where it needs to go. The narrating itself initially felt as if seldom use might have made it feel more functional and inviting to the film’s benefit and less like forced promulgating at times, but a second viewing ot it changed my perspective and felt more inviting.
The same can be said for the chasm instituted between roles of Steiner and Isabella, played respectively by actor Vladmir Kulich and actress and martial artist JuJu Chan, the latter whose role is solely a speaking one. Their connection is explored in just a few scenes that highlight their relationship as estranged father and daughter, focusing noticeably on Steiner’s own deviousness and self-preserving intentions apart from Isabella’s purist willingness and unconditional efforts to reach out. Chan’s Isabella shares that same unmitigated love and acceptance for Tillman during their romantic respite in a montage of scenes that offer poignance and depth to keep viewers caring and otherwise intrigued.
In a few interviews now online, the fight scenes had been previously been buzzed as evolutionary for the role of Tillman, having once being a boxer. That angle almost immediately goes out of the window oftentimes as muscle memory kicks in during the course of Adkins’s action sequences, although this doesn’t exactly abate Tillman’s boxing genesis. The saving grace here comes courtesy of kicking techniques are initially kept simple and less flashy – something that gradually changes by the film’s third-act action scenes as the stakes are raised and footwork overall gets bigger and more pleasing. Contact is sufficiently staged next to neatly stacked hits and techniques and stuntwork mostly visible and shot and edited clearly and with clarity.
Johnson goes hard, heavy and unyielding in the film’s violent recapitulation, host to copious amounts of bloodletting, bullets and gore as flesh is torn, limbs are severed and faces are shattered at point blank range. Adkins, in his action star element, is a pure thrill to watch. He trades bullets and blows with actors, MMA heavy hitter Cung Le and fellow Undisputed 3: Redemption cohort, Marko Zaror, as the pièce de résistance that action fans crave for any third act and the results here are as equally rewarding throughout, with assembly by none other than stuntman and fight choreographer Luke LaFontaine who previously paired with Johnson on The Beautiful Ones. Themes of honor and duty recur as subtext for the two big fight finales with Adkins opposite actor Le’s role of Boon, a Vietnamese army commander working in tandem with Steiner, and the searing villainy of Zaror’s portrayal as Rastignac, a self-aggrandized “executioner” with the fighting prowess and imposing hunting knife to boot; Said themes are worth bearing in mind as the fight scenes go underway where unconditional survival and ultimate victory naturally go hand-in-hand. The final death scene culminates as probably one of the most gruesome and grizzly ever depicted in an Scott Adkins headliner, so much so that it might even receive a nod of approval from Stallone’s 2008 Rambo. The film’s end attributes a quote to the aforementioned Vandenberg.
The crux of a film like Savage Dog deals notably with the desire to see Adkins shine and stand out more as an actor beyond what some fans are marginally used to. To that end, it is a slow growth process that otherwise continues in lieu of what we’re offered in this film – a minimally introduced protagonist whose only real motivation for any viewer sympathy is drawn in a flashback at the top of the film for a moment that happens later – leaving the rest of the film to self-sustain via its cast performances, its fledgeling love story, the gusto of its brooding and villains and the sheer brutality of the action. What helps, by and large, is the clear-cut support of the fanbase Adkins has slowly continued to accrue in the last fourteen years, as well as his distinction as a film star whose acumen for screenfighting, stuntwork and high praise from on-set peers make him one of the most conscious and capable performers any director leading an action project would be happy to have on set.
For this, Savage Dog makes just the kind of case that keeps directors like Johnson and performers like Adkins, Le and Zaror rightfully relevant. It’s a hardcore action flick that won’t disappoint the niche, packed with action, adequate drama and a suitable story progression that recapitulates with every ounce of R-rated action movie fervor you could want for the price of a theater ticket, VOD or DVD/Blu-Ray purchase. For this, Savage Dog is a way more promising parcel than what we’ve seen in lesser-receiving feats like Close Range and Hard Target 2, and Johnson in his staunch follow-up to The Beautiful Ones, lays the groundwork awesomely for what qualifies him as one of the best and apt film directors today.
Moreover, as with Adkins, his talents as an action star make him an award-winning force to be reckoned with as he’s worked hard and aplenty; his ascension to the Marvel milleu as a fighting zealot in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange is fair sign of this and hopefully more to come. To be frank, however, it would be a mistake to neglect the need for improvement going forward. Savage Dog plays it safe and slow-burning at times while we acquaint with our protagonist, a venture aided and stimulated by the film’s requisite and supplemental drama. Whereas certain scenes of drama require a touch of nuance apart from invoking expressions of anger, pure pain, fervor and even mild joy, Adkins’s acting, albeit decent, still lingers with a wooden mien for most of the film.
Alas, the jury is still out in that respect and hopefully his next starring gig with Johnson in Accident Man will signal better for the star. For now, all prospects regarding Savage Dog present a promising ninety-minute exposition into a thrilling action movie made with the inventiveness and creative furor of a mindful filmmaker who more than proves himself perspicaciously as a filmmaker worthy of investing in. More to the point, as a non-Boyka enterprise, the film stands far better than what we’ve seen in the likes of Close Range and Hard Target 2 where calloused storytelling and clumsy writing and construction are sorely mistaken for brevity and brilliance.
Conclusively, Savage Dog, in its arrival, barks an exemplary game and sinks its tooth in sufficiently to warrant the attention it demands. The film opens in limited theaters and on August 4 as well as VoD and iTunes on August 8 with a street date pending for DVDs and Blu-Rays and I wholly welcome true fans and ardent supporters of action cinema to keep the genre above water and buy this movie where and when available.
JuJu Chan Up To Star In Australia/China Action Co-Prod, PEPPER
Antony Szeto (Fist Of The Dragon, Jackie Chan Presents: Wushu) is reportedly up to direct upcoming action thriller, Pepper. The news comes in the wake of meeting opportunities between Szeto and Filmworks Company CEO and screenwriter Janice Eymann, along with Beijing Tong Fa Group chairman Tony Cheng and group director/general manager Kent Chen thereafter.
Eymann’s script, for which celebrated martial artist, Chinese/American actress JuJu Chan is in talks to star as the title character, tells of a secret agent who sets out to Far North Queensland to find her missing brother, a fellow agent. Chan’s credits include – and aren’t limited to – Szeto’s Fist Of The Dragon and Palace Of The Damned, Adrian Castro’s award-winning shortfilm, Hit Girls, Yuen Woo-Ping’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny, Jesse Johnson’s Savage Dog and Fruit Chan’s upconing thriller, The Invincible Dragon.
Casting is also reportedly underway for a hopeful A-list male lead for which the role is described as a cane fields cowboy and ex-Special Forces operative who aids Pepper on her mission. The current goal is to begin filming next year as an Australian/Chinese co-production. Cheng and Chen are developing the project with Pam Collis and Paul O’Kane who are producing with Eymann, the latter who began conceiving the idea back in 2002.
The project will likely be one of several involving Cheng and Chen who have been brewing their own production slate after visiting Australia in late June for a spate of meetings. Among the parties were Fox Studios Australia CEO Wayne Borg and representatives of Screen Australia, Ausfilm, Create NSW and Spectrum Films according to IF Magazine.
Scott Adkins Thriller, SAVAGE DOG, To Take A Bite Out Of August In North America
It’s not often you get to see an Adkins flick in theaters, which makes XLrator Media’s stake something to appreciate. Alas, an August 4 limited theatrical release awaits with a VoD run beginning August 8.
MADE IN KOWLOON: Pegasus Officially Announces Fruit Chan’s New Action Thriller
Courtesy of Pegasus Motion Pictures Ltd.
Filmmaker Fruit Chan’s latest, Made In Kowloon has all but stirred plenty of excitement in the last several months with the production of the new movie. Looking at the cast alone regards nothing short of fan service with the likes of Ip Man spin-off prospect, actor and martial artist Max Zhang and the UFC’s own Anderson “The Spider” Silva with actress and martial artist JuJu Chan staking her claim in the year following her appearance in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny.
Pegasus Motion Pictures Limited has officially announced the film among its production slate while its worth noting to keep an eye particularly on Zhang with said spin-off in addition to Jonathan Li’s fantasy action debut, The Brink, also starring Shawn Yue. Read further on and stay tuned for more information as production on Made In Kowloon spears forward.
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Pegasus announces main picture starring UFC Champion Anderson (The Spider) Silva
Hong Kong, January 13, 2017 – Pegasus Motion Pictures Limited announced their slate of films releasing 2017 at their annual dinner on January 11, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Hong Kong. Amongst their films, the biggest budget and their main slate picture is “Made in Kowloon” , a US$20M action movie currently in production in Hong Kong and Macau, starring China action star Max Zhang (The Grandmaster (2013), SPL II: A Time for Consequences (2015)), Anderson (The Spider) Silva – UFC’s greatest fighter ever, and Chinese American Action actress JuJu Chan (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon : Swords of Destiny). Other cast members include Hong Kong actor Kevin Cheng, Stephy Tang, and Sumyau Liu.
The film is directed by award-winning Hong Kong filmmaker, screenwriter and producer, Fruit Chan. He is best known for his films depicting the everyday life of grass root Hong Kong people. His internationally acclaimed films include Made in Hong Kong (1997) and Durian Durian (2000).
“Made in Kowloon”‘s fight choreographer Stephen Tung, has been nominated a total of ten times for Best Action Choreography at the Hong Kong Film Awards and won four times, for Downtown Torpedoes (1997), Purple Storm (1999), The Accidental Spy (2001, working with the Jackie Chan Stunt Team) and Bodyguards and Assassins (2009).
In recent years, Tung has been working mostly in Mainland China, having participated in productions such as Seven Swords (2005), The Promise (2005), Painted Skin (2008), Reign Of Assassins (2010), Painted Skin:The Resurrection (2012), The Great Magician (2012) and Saving General Yang (2013).
“Made in Kowloon” tells a tale about a series of homicides occurring in Hong Kong, investigated by Detective Kowloon (Max Zhang) and his team. During the investigation, Kowloon’s fiancee is abducted. The only way to save her is to find the serial killer.
Audiences can expect to see many epic fight scenes from the three accomplished action stars!
Anderson da Silva is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC Middleweight Champion. Silva holds the longest title streak in UFC history, which ended in 2013 after 2,457 days, with 16 consecutive wins and 10 title defenses.
Zhang Jin, also known as Max Zhang, is a Chinese actor and a former wushu athlete who won the Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Grandmaster, at the 33rd Hong Kong Film Awards. Zhang began his career as a stunt actor, notably in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) as the stunt double for Zhang Ziyi, whom he later collaborated as a screen actor in My Lucky Star (2013) and The Grandmaster (2013). He also starred in Rise of the Legend in 2014 and SPL II: A Time for Consequences in 2015. Zhang is also currently involved in the Hollywood production Pacific Rim 2.
JuJu Chan is a Chinese American Action Star who has been coined the next Michelle Yeoh and Female Bruce Lee by the Hong Kong Media. She is also a Muay Thai Champion in Hong Kong, and a Taekwon-Do Black Belt international championship medalist. JuJu played Silver Dart Shi in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016), she is also the lead actress in the upcoming film Savage Dog (2017) starring along with Scott Adkins. She is also the lead in Roger Corman’s new action film Fist of the Dragon (2014), co-starring with MMA champion Josh Thomson.
About Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Limited
Pegasus Entertainment Holdings Limited is a company listed on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (HKEX: 1326).
Pegasus is principally engaged in films and television series production, distribution and licensing of film rights in Hong Kong, the PRC and South East Asia. In recent years, the Group has diversified its businesses into international film production investment, film exhibition and post-production to develop a one-stop integrated cultural business.
The principal business activities of our Group comprised:
• production of films;distribution and licensing of our films to various channels including both local and overseas cinema circuits, video hosting websites, video-on-demand operators, VCD and DVD
• distributors, cable-, satellite-, pay- and free-TV channels, airlines and Internet platforms for various devices. Our geographical coverage includes Taiwan, Japan, the U.S. and Europe in addition to our major markets, namely Hong Kong, the PRC and South East Asia;
• deriving advertising income by offering product placement and sponsorship opportunities in our films;
• and distribution of films and TV series in a film library owned by Mr. Wong Pak Ming
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