STEEL RISING: An Interview With Larnell Stovall
Film Combat Syndicate: Thanks for taking the time to chat Larnell! How has 2014 been for you so far?
NOLA 'Kickboxer' Crew Unpaid, Crew Member Says 'Producers Didn't Have The Money'
The forthcoming remake of director John Stockwell‘s newly titled Kickboxer: Vengeance remake is one of the most hyped about films going into the new year. Sadly, the film is not without its share of roadbumps, especially pertaining to previous unfortunate news of its casting and crewing as production didn’t start until three months after its initial September date.
Now, the word is that up to 200 people and their families in New Orleans, Louisiana have been affected after 150 crew members, mostly local workers, were left unpaid, based on a new report by Katherine Sayre, lead business reporter at Nola.com | The Times Picayune. Crew members initially refused go start work on the film’s last day of its New Orleans shoot on December 13 after learning their paychecks wouldn’t arrive as they expected, prompting producers to intervene with the promise of payment delivery last Tuesday.
Among several people, Sayre’s report also quotes New Orleans-based 39-year film industry veteran and SFX coordinator R. Michael Bisetti, who simply said “The bottom line is, they didn’t have the money,”. The report also cites prop master Stan Gilbert who says crew members were now forced to pay out-of-pocket to stay on good terms, even though he and other experienced crew were able to attain vendors’ services without upfront payment.
The report is a bit perpetual in highlighting an unfortunate pattern involving Radar Pictures’ efforts to move the film forward. Martial arts stars Scott Adkins and Tony Jaa had their own reasons for leaving the production earlier this year, aside from Tai Chi 0 and Tai Chi Hero helmer Stephen Fung, who, according to a source formally attached to the production as of a few months ago, says payment was also an issue among some of Fung’s other concerns.
In lieu of this week’s news pertaining to the New Orleans crew, a lawyer representing the producers of Kickboxer: Vengeance explained that the payment delay “stems from arranging a bridge loan and substitute financing for the production.” The report also says checks will hopefully arrive to its New Orleans crew this week, preferably before Christmas Day.
It’s not easy covering this type of news on a film, especially when it comes to business dealings and the inconveniences that follow when it comes to money. Financing may have been an issue with this film for a long time now, which also explains why filming was slow to start, and I sincerly hope this production isn’t marred by any more stifling news. Personally, I’d rather talk about how awesome it will be to see Moussi take on such a high caliber cast that reunites In The Blood director and star John Stockwell and Gina Carano along with Darren Shahlavi, Georges St. Pierre, T.J. Storm, Dave Bautista and superstar Jean Claude Van-Damme in a story full of intense action and drama with the proper thrills any fan of the genre can look forward to.
As things stand however, what’s required here is accountability. The economy is still in a major recovery period while American families are still struggling, and the last thing anyone wants to do is to end up working for free and feeling like their labor is unaccounted for. If any lesson is to be learned here, it is that not only MUST you pay the people who work for you, but do so in a timely fashion that represents your professionalism and commitment to the work force wherever you are in the world.
My heart goes out to the crew this week, whose efforts to help make the holidays more enjoyable are now underway with a newly launched Facebook page attributed to the crew. Subscribe to the page and reach out.
Stay tuned for more info and updates.
KICKBOXER Adds Gina Carano To The Cast!
Let’s face it. After losing Tony Jaa and Scott Adkins, a lot of fans were dimming from any enthusiasm they may have had earlier on for Radar Pictures’s now-current production of Kickboxer, a revamp the 1989 martial arts thriller of the same name. Thankfully though, things have been turning around with surprising announcements left and right, with a sprawling cast list led by martial artist and stuntman Alain Moussi making his big screen acting debut, and now, the roster just got even better.
While it is not known how big the role will be, Fast And Furious 6 and Blood And Bone co-star, mixed-martial artist-turned-actress Gina Carano will be playing a fight promoter in the new film according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film reunites the actress with director John Stockwell since working together on Carano‘s previous action vehicle, In The Blood, and also leaves room to speculate on whether or not the nature of Carano‘s role will be aligned with that of Moussi, or similar to that of the supporting antagonist character, Freddy Lee, played by actor Ka Ting Lee in the original.
Carano joins Moussi along with a stellar cast that sees lead character, Kurt Sloane, whose mission to avenge the death of his brother, Eric, at the hands of vicious Muay Thai brawler, Tong Po, draws him in the throes of Eric’s reluctant master whose training will take him on a grueling physical and spiritual journey that will test his courage and will. Carano also rejoins her fellow Bus 657 co-star and newly-cast Spectre co-star, actor Dave Bautista who will play Tong Po. Action star Darren Shahlavi will play Eric while actress Sara Malakul Lane will play Kurt’s love interest who investigates Eric’s death, and the star of the original film, action legend Jean-Claude Van Damme will reprise the role of the master intially played by Dennis Chan in the first film. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, and The Martial Arts Kid co-stars, T.J. Storm and Matthew Ziff round out the current cast.
As a noteworthy mention, updates are still pending regarding Carano‘s most recently talked-about involvement on director Justin Steele’s latest thriller, The Opium War, which underwent production last month according to earlier reports. Perhaps we will learn more about that production in its hopeful existence in due time. In the meantime, Kickboxer is due next year.
Stay tuned for more info!
KICKBOXER Adds Darren Shahlavi!
Filming is currently underway with director John Stockwell‘s reinterpretation of the 1989 martial arts thriller, Kickboxer. Actor and martial artist Alain Moussi (Immortals, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Warcraft) tops the currently brewing list of announcements finally being made in the last several months in addition to the leading actress Sara Malakul Lane and actors T.J. Storm and Matthew Ziff, with action superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Well as of this week, fellow action star and co-star of the upcoming Zambo Dende shortfilm, actor Darren Shahlavi (Bloodmoon, Ip Man 2, Metal Hurlant Chronicles) is being announced for a principle role in the new film, according to Impact. Shahlavi will star as Eric Sloan, whose reluctant master trains his younger brother, Kurt, to avenge Eric’s death at the hands of vicious Muay Thai brawler Tong Po. The film will mark Moussi‘s debut lead role in a film following a lucrative career in stunts, alongside the original’s film’s star, Van Damme, now in the role intially played by Dennis Chan, and opposite Bautista – currently lined up this week as Mr. Hinx in the new Bond thriller, Spectre, who will portray the villainous Tong Po.
Kickboxer is expected to release later next year while fans may also catch Shahlavi and Van Damme going toe-to-toe hopefully earlier in Falcon Rising helmer Ernie Barbarash’s new actioner, Pound Of Flesh. Stay tuned for more info!
EXCLUSIVE: KICKBOXER Loses Fung, Gains 'In The Blood' Director
Probably one of the biggest pieces of developing news as of late has been the current stagnation surrounding a forthcoming remake of the 1989 martial arts tournament thriller, Kickboxer. Updates have been slow and steady since the film was announced last summer, followed by this year’s press release from The Exchange CEO, Brian O’Shea in lieu of Cannes, with a cast list that appeared to be sizing up quite nicely with martial artist and stuntman Alain Moussi (X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Warcraft) set to make his acting debut. Lately however, the production has been hitting some bumps in the past several months, signified otherwise by the fact that the film was supposed to go into production in Thailand a few months ago.
This week now, those bumps have turned into thumps, after losing martial arts action stars, actor Scott Adkins a few months ago, in addition to Tony Jaa just the other day. Moreover, it also appears that Tai Chi 0 helmer Stephen Fung is now no longer directing the film either as of several weeks ago according to sources close to the film’s development, which now brings word that John Stockwell has been tentatively attached to direct the film in his place. Stockwell‘s directorial credits include directed the action comedy sequels Cat Run and Cat Run 2, in addition to his latest action adventure thriller, In The Blood starring mixed-martial artist and actress, Gina Carano, so it appears he may have something to go on for genre fans intrigued by what a remake of an American classic would look like with Moussi in the lead.
Previously portrayed by superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1989 original directed by Mark DiSalle and David Worth, Moussi inherits the role of Kurt Sloan whose mission to avenge the death of his champion brother, Eric, at the hands of merciless Muay Thai fighter, Tong Po, verges him onto a spiritual path of self-discovery and true strength while undergoing a rigorous training regimen under his late brother’s master, Xian Chow. Following Jaa’s and Adkins’ departure, actor and mixed-martial artist Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy, Riddick) is currently lined-up to play the main villain with a role to be determined for actor and athlete Georges St. Pierre (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), while other cast announcements remain pending.
Ted Field is producing for Radar Pictures with Dimitri Logothetis and Nick Celozzi also producing, while Mike Weber and Peter Meyer will executive produce as well as The Exchange’s O’Shea along with Jeff Bowler and Nat McCormick.
Stick around for more updates.
Tony Jaa Drops Out Of Fung's KICKBOXER
It was approximately four months ago that international action star Tony Jaa was on deck to possibly star in Tai Chi 0 helmer Stephen Fung‘s forthcoming production of Kickboxer from Radar Pictures, a remake of the 1989 martial arts tournament thriller officially announced a year and a half ago. Since then, casting continued with some missteps along the way while boasting what appeared to be an otherwise promising slate of names joining actor, martial artist and stuntman Alain Moussi for his hopeful lead debut as a Fall 2014 shoot neared, and now with the year approaching its end, it appears the production has hit another bump.
Jaa‘s manager, Mike Selby, has informed Film Combat Syndicate that the actor has officially withdrawn from the production, stating “The production changed schedule to a period where Jaa would not be available.”. Whatever the case may be, it looks like a pretty scary pattern for this particular project, especially after losing fellow potential co-star Scott Adkins back in September citing script issues. More recently, Jaa reiterated his involvement in the film’s production roughly a week and a half ago in an interview with MAAC.
In our exclusive report back in July, Jaa was in talks to star in the new film in a supporting role similar to that of actor Dennis Chan’s performance fifteen years earlier, as Xian Chow, the reluctant master who would ultimately take in protagonist, Kurt Sloan, to train him in a grueling regimen to help meet the necessary criteria to qualify as a Muay Thai fighter, ultimately to avenge the death of his brother, David, at the hands of merciless fighter, Tong Po. Other names aside from Adkins, such as actor and martial artist Georges St. Pierre (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and actor/wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) were also mentioned throughout the year with the latter tapped to play the villain.
The film does carries some promising tunes as a remake for a new generation of fans that know who Jaa is, and would have surely found a way to deliver such a film in a celebratory fashion harkening back to the authentic fight flicks of yesteryear. It still looks like Bautista is in, although now that the film has lost two of its biggest prospects, what remains to be seen is whether or not the production will be able to find two more actors with the same action star power. It’s possible, but it’s unfortunate that Jaa‘s fans now have to count him out.
Jaa is still expected to earn some high marks next year with the releases of Furious 7 and director Ekchai Uekrongtham’s international thriller, Skin Trade. As for Fung’s Kickboxer, only time will tell, and hopefully we will get some good news in the not too distant future about it, although original franchise director Albert Pyun’s return to the Kickboxer ring seems to be weaving together just fine.
Stay tuned for more info.
RE-ENTERING THE DRAGON: My Pick For "The Deadly Three"
With the recent casting announcement of director Stephen Fung’s new Kickboxer reboot starring Alain Moussi, Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa, Dave Batista, and George St. Pierre, I felt this casting was just insane; a group of actors/martial artists that can really bring something special to the fight sequences…it’s something that many of us haven’t seen in an American martial arts film in quite some time!
That thought led to this one: Whatever happened to the classic martial arts tournament movie era that started with King Boxer AKA, Five Fingers of Death and ended with, Bloodsport? (Jean Claude Van Damme is more iconic to American martial arts films then some people think). Well, nowadays we have more actors who ARE real martial artists than ever before on screen, and we’re seeing different styles and systems that were never captured on film more than forty years ago. As such, a new tournament film showcasing hundreds of fighting styles would be an AWESOME idea, right?
So, the possibilities of a new tournament movie led me to think about the greatest cinematic martial arts tournament film of all time, bar none: Enter The Dragon starring the one and only Bruce Lee.
I grew up on Bruce Lee and so my take on martial arts films is this: There’s BBL (Before Bruce Lee) and ABL (After Bruce Lee). The man singlehandedly supercharged the genre (notice that I didn’t say “created”). He had me and my friends in our yards, beating the shit out of each other as the Kung Fu craze arrived in a 5’7″ 140 pound package in summer of 1973, and we LOVED it!
Eventually, these fond memories of my youth led to this realization that I kind of forgot about since it was pointed out back in 2007: Warner Bros announced that there would be an Enter The Dragon REBOOT. And like clockwork, people flipped their lids, solid on the notion that reobserving Lee’s 1973 masterpiece, the first co-production between a major Hollywood studio and a Chinese company (Golden Harvest) was just CRAZY! No one in his or her right mind should mess with that film! After all, Bruce Lee was the star of that film. Take him out, and what do you truly have?
However, deep down, after Robocop, Total Recall, Superman, The Thing and other movies, we know sooner or later it’s probably gonna happen. So while we’re at it, let us discuss an Enter The Dragon remake/reboot/reimagining – whatever you want to call it. Warner Bros. previosuly stated that Kurt Sutter, the creator of the popular television series, Sons of Anarchy, was attached to write the script. After that, nothing was ever said on the matter. So what happened? Who knows? I don’t exactly know for sure, but one other rumor was that the character, Roeper (played memorably by actor John Saxon) would be more of the lead, and Korean actor and musician, Rain, star of Ninja Assassin at the time (the scuttlebutt is that film tested good) would inherit the role of Lee as co-star.
Let’s say somebody came in my house and got all John Woo (circa 1989) and shot the place up, and then shoved a silver-plated 45mm against my temple and said, “You have to CAST and PRODUCE the ENTER THE DRAGON REMAKE and if you don’t, I will squeeze the trigger and these doves behind me will fly away in slow motion!” Needless to say, I would comply. No argument there.
Now I know many of you out there want to see new talent. I love new faces and new talent is fresh and exciting, but as a responsible producer, (remember Mr. Fat said CAST AND PRODUCE) taking chances on new talent can be (dare I say it) “risky.” So, I’m going to be fiscally responsible in my decisions and make sound choices, based on previous exposure (already having a career) and territorial appeal (international exposure), as well as the level of crazy martial arts skills I want seen.
Nuff said, here we go….
Tony Jaa would be my LEE and here is my reasoning: I love Iko Uwais (The Raid, The Raid 2). He could play Lee as well, but Jaa has already started transitioning into America with, Fast And Furious 7 and Skin Trade – the latter which seems to have a international polish and cast to it, and I’m sure that his co-stars Michael Jai White and Dolph Lundgren are speaking English.
I know that Jaa is not Chinese, but it could still work. Braithwaite (previously played by Geoffrey Weeks) could easily come to a monastery in Thailand and select Jaa. If they’re going to stick to that premise or build on it, I would want Jaa trim, more vascular and defined, (visual presentation is important) then he’s been recently, but I want the seriously deadly Tony Jaa from Ong Bak!
Next, Scott Adkins could be my choice for my version of ROPER, one who can kick all kinds of HELLA ASS! (And I would want him to be a Brit and keep his accent!) Even as a kid, I NEVER bought John Saxon, God bless his soul, to be that competent a martial artist (either that or Bruce Lee just made everyone else look bad.) Adkins has always been right on the brink of something great and is definitely one of the best non-Asian actors out there capable of performing martial arts in film. Plus, women like looking at him, which means your girlfriend or wife will not mind seeing this film.
Third and finally, Marrese Crump would be my choice for WILLIAMS. Yes, I could definitely cast others, but Marrese actually got me excited in The Protector 2. He gave Jaa a run for his money, (and that’s not easy) combining different martial arts styles, broken rhythm, speed, feints, boxing and kicking. Frankly, I hated the CGI in the film as Jaa and Crump were the only SFX the film really needed, but Crump’s performance IMPRESSED me! His confidence in the fight scenes, and character reminded me of Williams and his iconic hubris.
And there you have it! These are my selections, and if someone put a gun to my head and made me cast and produce an ENTER THE DRAGON remkae, this is how I would go about it. Also, I picked these guys because they’re around the same age, which I feel is important and would help these three look good together on screen; Even though I could have easily picked Donnie Yen and Michael Jai White (I LOVE THESE GUYS!) in place of Jaa and Crump, these men are not around the same age as Adkins (at least to my knowledge). Obviously however, they would have been my headliners a few years back.
So now that we got that out of the way, who would take the place of Oharra and Bolo, our two other beefy brawlers on Han’s Island? Could it be anywhere between Marko Zaror (Undisputed 3, Kiltro) and Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2, Pound Of Flesh)? Maybe Bolo Yeung’s son, professional bodybuilder David Yeung (Painted Faces)? Or, given the list possibilities, could we interpret these roles as new characters in a potential remake/reboot?
Feel free to comment and tell me if I’m crazy or not, but leave my mother out of this, she’s a nice lady!
This article was written by Xavier Q. Kantz, writer, indie filmmaker, ex-Martial Artist and daddy to the Blondtourage. You can follow him on Twitter @XavierQKantz
[UPDATED] Tony Jaa And Scott Adkins Are Confirmed For KICKBOXER
KICKBOXER Lands Larnell Stovall For Action Director
Stovall confirmed this moments later, and if you are not aware of who he is, it’s likely you’ve been living under a rock. He’s done some amazing work as well in the world of film and martial arts stunt coordination with credits like the first and second season of Mortal Kombat Legacy, Bunraku (2010), Never Back Down 2 (2011), Dragon Eyes (2012), Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning (2012) and the current production of Max Steel. His more prolific work can be seen especially in director Isaac Florentine’s electrifying MMA prison actioner, Undisputed 3: Redemption (2010), the upcoming home release of The Raid 2, and in the recently unveiled teaser trailer for the new home invasion thriller, No Good Deed starring Idris Elba, which has a trailer you can check out just below Stovall‘s most recent reel at the bottom of the page.
NUK SU KOW! Alain Moussi Will Lead The Cast In The Remake Of KICKBOXER
It was back in July in 2013 that two memorable action classics starring legendary superstar Jean Claude Van Damme, Bloodsport and Kickboxer were each finally announced to be remade with their own directors, with the latter to be helmed by Tai Chi 0 director, multifaceted actor and producer Stephen Fung. On Monday, almost a year later, official news finally confirmed from Cannes announcing actor, stuntman and martial artist Alain Moussi (pictured left) will be taking the lead in Fung‘s new film.
The actor most recently did stuntwork on Camille Delamarre’s directorial debut remaking the 2004 action thriller, District B13 in last month’s release of Brick Mansions, in addition to working on films such as Guillermo Del Toro’s 2013 techno monster thriller Pacific Rim, and the upcoming release of filmmaker David Hayter’s own directorial debut, Wolves with Lucas Till and Jason Momoa. Monday’s report also confirmed what may be expected as the official synopsis of the remake:
Kickboxer tells the story of David and Kurt Sloan, the descendants of a well-known Venice, Calif., fighting dynasty. When David wins the Karate World Championship, a promoter lures him to Hong Kong, despite his brother’s protestations that the man is a crook. When Kurt travels to Thailand to meet his brother, he discovers he has died, and seeks his revenge.
Fung‘s career has taken him on a journey over the years from acting to screenwriting, producing and directing films such as Tai Chi 0, Tai Chi Hero and the techno suspense thriller, Control with fellow film partner, actor Daniel Wu. In an interview with TimeOut Hong Kong back in March, Fung confirmed that Kickboxer will be an English-language remake of the original film and will also be set in Thailand, with the goal of getting “a larger Western appeal” with a more “brutal and mature” vision than his previous directorial work on Tai Chi 0 and Tai Chi Hero.
Interestingly enough, like with most martial arts fans, the original film, directed by Mark DiSalle remains a personal favorite for him, as per what inspired him to direct the film to begin with. “It’s a film that I really enjoyed watching when I was young.” he says. “Growing up in Hong Kong, you get exposed to a lot of martial arts films and we make a lot of good ones, so we have a pretty high standard. The movies that were coming in from Hollywood at that time were not very good, except Kickboxer, which was one of the good ones. Van Damme is a trained martial artist, so his moves look authentic in the film. We are not just going to do a direct remake. There has to be something of importance that warrants a remake. I hope it’s going to be a challenging experience.”
Also to boot, are the additions of The Man With The Iron Fists co-star and mixed martial artist Dave Bautista (above/left) who is set to star in the August release of Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, and actor and fellow mixed martial artist Georges St. Pierre (above/right), off the heels of portraying Batroc The Leaper opposite actor Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Further casting may be well on its way, with only speculation as to whether or not some fans may get their wish to see Van Damme in the film’s reimagining in one form or another.
As always with these things, time will tell. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Read the official word from The Exchange:
Brian O’Shea, CEO of The Exchange, has announced a deal to sell the big budget reboot of the 1989 classic KICKBOXER. The Exchange will begin selling this action packed remake at this year Cannes market.
KICKBOXER will be directed by Chinese phenomenon Stephen Fung (TAI CHI ZERO, TAI CHI HERO) and produced hit maker Ted Field of Radar Pictures (RIDDICK Series, THE LAST SAMURAI). KICKBOXER will star UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER), and WWE superstar Dave Bautista (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.) The film will also be introducing Alain Moussi as its lead. Mr. Moussi is a world-renowned stunt man / martial artists, performing in such films as (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, IMMORTALS, PACIFIC RIM, WHITEHOUSE DOWN). .”Alain is a star and will be an amazing leading man,” said Filed “Like Vin in RIDDICK, Alain will make this movie very special and this KICKBOXER reboot will be the start of an amazing franchise”.
Additional cast will be announced shortly.
David and Kurt Sloan are the descendants of a well-known Venice, California dynasty of champions. Both are top-notch fighters and athletes in the prime of their lives. When David wins the Karate World Championship, a promoter lures him to Hong Kong despite Kurt’s protests that the man is a crook. Not soon after, Kurt receives a letter from David and heads to Thailand to meet him. When he arrives, he discovers his brother is dead. The man responsible is the viscous Tong Po. Desperate to seek revenge, Kurt turns to Xian Chow, his brother’s former mentor. To defeat the man who killed his brother, Kurt must look within himself to find the strength and courage of a champion.
The film is also produced by Dimitri Logothetis and Nick Celozzi. Mike Weber and Peter Meyer will executive produce as well as Brian O’Shea, Jeff Bowler and Nat McCormick for the Exchange.
“I am very excited about KICKBOXER being in Cannes” said O’Shea, “we have a visionary director, a strong Hollywood producer, great cast and an action packed script based on a well known property – what more can you ask for?”