peipei alena yuen
Well, Monday night has arrived and I pretty much consider myself well-rested seeing as how I ended up back in blogger-mode on Sunday night. Some days you burn out, and on others you just start clicking…it’s funny, really.
Anyway, with our return to the start of a new week, the Hit List is back just as well, lending nods to a meaty handful of stunt professionals every week in attribution to their hard work shown in reels and shortfilms alike. Alas, the new stunt reel playlist for the week is now up and running with reels by Donovan Sheehan, Boris Martinez, Marco Pancrazi, an awesome action reel by Raze co-star Allene Quincy, Jacob Sebastian Malm‘s latest reel featuring his Turandot stunt team from the summer in an illuminous new fire showreel, and actor David Sakurai in a new Vimeo-exclusive action reel of his own assembled from several of his recent action projects, including Dark Samurai and Echoes Of A Ronin!
David Sakurai Way of the Sword from サクライ on Vimeo.
Now onto more web content with some more specials, and if you were watching the last reel carefully, you may have recognized Andy Le who can also be seen among his principle team members at Martial Club in a new video up and running by Just Kidding Films where they learn all the ins and outs of Tricking. And if you know Just Kidding Films, you know your face is going to hurt plenty by the end. Enjoy in all it’s delightful laughs!
I seldom spot fan videos, although when I do, quite a handful of them present just the right amount of flair attributed to the respective works they acknowledge. It’s a case in no way dissimilar in actress and stuntwoman PeiPei Alena Yuan‘s latest love letter to martial arts action star Donnie Yen by way of the opening B-Boy sequence in Yuen Woo Ping’s 1995 Hong Kong action comedy, Mismatched Couples. Yuan also happens to be a dancer, and her credentials notwithstanding (i.e. Step Up 3D, Battle B-Boy), her talent speaks for itself. Watch and leasrn!
Now let’s get into some more action-oriented material with a nifty handful of trailers – one including some updated and rather crazy cool poster art as of late.
Aside from making other videos, Rising Tiger Films’s latest, Black Scar Blues, has clearly been a more concentrated effort at something larger in scale. The film is directed by Leroy Nguyen who stars along with Edmund Shum and Queen Sayat, and focuses on two drug traffickers whose bond of friendship is slowly eroded through a series of events when personal ambition, lust and greed get in the way.
Nguyen will be presenting the film later this year at the Urban Action Showcase and Expo in New York City for the last of its year-long festival run boasting a slew of laurels and accolades well-earned, including as recently as the past two weekends in California at An Anti-Hero Production Genre Film Festival and The L.A. Neo Noir Film And Script Festival. Hopefully by then, the short will be released on YouTube unless it acquires a decent on-demand or purchase platform beforehand. In the meantime, it’s got a fresh new trailer now running online with an updated poster, and once more, it has a quote. By me! And you’re welcome.
We also have a new behind-the-scenes featurette with Nguyen explaining the four year-long process in working up to the high creative plateau presented for the film’s final fight. Having seen it for myself, I have to say it really does deliver the desired effect.
Other trailers just beneath include the second promo for Dance Nocturnal creative Jyo Carolino’s new action short, I Am Spartan, Tokyo-based action actor Chuck Johnson’s upcoming surreal action comedy short, Fists Of Absinthe, and 3 Strands Of Rope Productions’s Assassin/Darkside, sequelizing actor Calvert David Miles’s 2014 awarded short, Assassin: Origins.
New short action vids are also circulating the web this week, and kicking this next leg off on the Hit List is League Of Legends themed short, Udyr’s School Of Kung Fu, initially released back in May from Art School Dropouts and Fighting Panda Productions. Actor and fight choreographer Joey Min leads this one and its one adding to his resume of years of awesome action shorts and films, which makes it all the more awesome and honoring that he’s now a part time contributor to Film Combat Syndicate to provide his perspective of action on film from time to time.
Check it out below as well as other new action projects this week, including Narayana Cabral’s Spy Vs. Spy with Angela Bend and Danielle Stahl, the long-awaited release, Grave Error featuring Darren Holmquist and the one and only Eric Jacobus, and…well, probably the sickest Mortal Kombat fan short you’ll ever see online..ever. And if you know RackaRacka, you know this ain’t gonna no PG-13 shit. So consider yourself forewarned!
Finally, a few new action shorts have also been unveiled this week in slightly longer duration. Azi Rahman’s cerebral action thriller, Drake is now online starring Cengiz Dervis in the role of a man trapped in his own mind amid spiritual battle with inner-demonic forces. The action is largely fueled by the music for a more dramatic affect so don’t expect any foley effects as the stuntwork is solely visual.
And last but not least, gladly continuing the vision of R-rated superhero fanfare with brutal and gory action sequences is the latest sequel offering from Workhorse Pictures, Storms Of Carnage: The Black Panther Unleashed Part 2. Actor and director D.A. Jackson reprises his role once more opposite K. Jackson in a story of espionage, betrayal and the moral paradox that arises when battling evil, ultimately pitting the Black Panther against opponents on both sides of the spectrum, humans and mutants alike.
Fans familiar with the source material may either love or hate this one depending on the viewer as these things normally tend to be slightly more controversial than intended (see Adi Shankar’s Power/Rangers). For what it’s worth though, this one has quite the admirable traits for something truly worth the enjoyment as it’s full of special effects, explosive action and dramatic intensity to accomodate the epic final fight between our embattled couple.
Twenty minutes and counting, folks. Press play and enjoy!
There is at least another short that I haven’t gotten around to yet as it’s forty minutes long and dated only by about few years, but I will share that one next week. For now though, if you have time to kill then last week’s Hit List may be worth your remaining minutes at the moment. Above all else however, do subscribe to the channels above, and if you or someone you know makes awesome, QUALITY action and stunt reels, films and shorts like these, send them to us at email@example.com!
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!
Here’s a fun fact for all you action fans and stunt performers out there who follow martial arts cinema and may even read my blog: Pay close attention to the name Vlad Rimburg from here on out, because he’s going to go places.
A veteran purveyor of independent action for well over a decade, Rimburg has developed an impressive resumè over the years as one of the foremost fight choreographers and directors that Hollywood needs to recognize. Hopefully that day will come sooner than we think, with Rimburg coming off of his busiest year in 2013 directing The Hunt series for the Flow YouTube channel, assembling two installments of his Donnie Yen-inspired Special ID miniseries with Mickey Fachinello, Tamiko Brownlee and Tony Chu, editing industry fight choreographer J.J. Perry’s reel which you can view by clicking here, and putting together several other test fight shortfilms between last year and now, including his latest online “Vlad-style” Kung Fu vs. Karate gem, Dragon Lady, featuring action performers, actress PeiPei Alena Yuan and actor Brendon Huor.
Rimburg spoke to Film Combat Syndicate about what drew him to the project late last year prior to filming, which took four days to shoot between three months due to availability issues for the actors. “After ‘The Hunt’ series was over for Flow, I wanted to continue making more videos. I was told that I should start thinking about casting a female lead…”, he says. “A song came on on my iPod with a Chinese based theme and suddenly I knew that I wanted to make something ‘kung fu-ish’. PeiPei had been coming to my kicking classes at JAM (Joining All Movement), and after much thought, I decided it was time to give her a chance.”. Adding a little more on how he thought the actors did, Rimburg writes, “I pushed [Yuan] really hard during filming, re-doing takes up to fifteen times. In the end, she did great and I’m super happy with the results. As for Brendon, well, he’s Brendon, a natural talent that can do ANYTHING.”.
The latter, of course, is true, especally for Huor who, no matter how many takes or how sore he gets, commits himself to working with Rimburg since getting started with a Crows Zero-inspired test fight short in 2010 titled, Part 1: Chapter A. “…I’ve always trusted him to pick the right take, or choose the right beats to choreograph.” he says. “As I’ve grown and matured over the many practice videos I’ve done on the last three years, Vlad has always been willing to help me where I have questions, and is very receptive to any ideas I might have. He trusts me to do what he sees in his mind, and I trust in his vision.”. Huor also expressed his excitement in going toe-to-toe with Yuan on camera again, telling Film Combat Syndicate, “PeiPei is a great performer and we’re friends off set, so it makes the atmosphere less stressful. Everyone knows everyone, and we’re all there with the same goal, to make whatever we’re working the best it can be at that time.”.
Yuan, a consumate martial artist, stuntwoman and breakdancer who I have written about before in previous articles, has been a fan of Rimburg‘s videos for several years now. And with Dragon Lady marking her first creative gig with the veteran action choreographer, the results have proven to be well worth the wait for what she solely describes as “a great experience”, among other things. “I am in LOVE with Vlad’s work!”, says Yuan. “He is very diligent, passionate and creative. He knows action so well and how he wants it shot. He’s pretty much an Asian dude in many ways. I was so glad he loves Kung Fu and Drunken style, and I’ve always wanted to be like a female Jackie Chan.”.
Yuan continued our chat by further expressing how comfortable she was with Rimburg as he allowed her to blend his ideas with a few of her b-girl moves to suit the whimsical fighting nature of her character. She also had plenty of complements to share for Huor, as she now commits herself to living up to Rimburg‘s standards based on Huor’s example. “Brendon is a dynamic and all-around stuntman and fighter…” Yuan writes. “He was always on point, sharp and learned the choreo quickly, and was very helpful and humble. And, was down to do any wreck while enjoying and laughing during the shoot, yet staying very professional. I learned a lot from watching him work, and his intensity and energy was always high; His last wreck, he laid out perfectly twice each time, no pads and no injuries. Vlad has warned me that I’d have to step up because Brendon is so good!”.
On a slightly more personal, emotional note, Yuan‘s lifelong pursuit in the performing arts leading up to her new project also brings a bit of reflection to what she has since deemed “a life-changing experience”. Her father, Philip, who also had a role in translating Yuan‘s caligraphy for her character’s wanted poster at the end of the shortfilm (illustrated by artist and indie action familiar Shaun Charney), suffered from a terminal illness while living in China last year, which brought Yuan by his bedside during his time of need before filming. In my chat with Yuan, she very expressive in her awareness of how her father might perceive her character regarding the brash tone and language. But nevertheless, there is still a noticeable presence of mutual love and respect between a loving father and a daughter who has come into her own as an artist. “I dedicate this shoot to my Dad and my strong mother who saved him.” she writes. “They are both so strong and I’m inspired by their hard work, determination and love for each other.”.
2014 is going to be a good year for action fans, especially for folks who follow Rimburg‘s work. And knowing what I know, I can tell you all with absolute certainty that with some of the biggest muscle heading our way, the best is yet to come, and Rimburg is JUST getting started!
Dragon Lady is now online and you can check it out in the embed below, in addition to some extra behind-the-scenes photos. And above all else, stay tuned to Film Combat Syndicate for more on Rimburg and his videos, as well as his upcoming appearance in the feature-length Hong Kong action comedy homage, Unlucky Stars.
For more information on PeiPei Alena Yuan, visit her official website.