reel deal action
As the sun knows; even the sky is not the limit…
Accordingly, was in 2013 that I first learned of Team 2X with respect to my own coverage. A look on their fanpage almost immediately revealed a crowdfunding campaign for an independent feature film stylized as a genuine sci-fi axtioner tweaked to echo the glory of films like The Raid and its sequel. Ambitious indeed, but provenly difficult as I learned in parallel with my own work in how to cover these kinds of projects and the tediousness and care it takes to do so.
Click here and you’ll be able to see just how far back I began lending lip service to one of the most anticipated martial arts film titles at the time prior to its ensuing title, Plan B: Scheiss Auf Plan A (click here to read our review). That was in 2015 and it certainly feels like forever looking back as far as then in covering German film and stunt troupe, Reel Deal Action, as much as I have been.
A Case For Better Action Movies: PLAN B: SCHEISS AÜF PLAN A Is A Paragon Of Versatile Genre Film Excellence
My first venture into German martial arts action cinema was a groundbreaking low-budget 2005 feature from Johannes Jaeger titled Kampfansage: Der Letzte Schuler. It was a narrative extension from an earlier shortfilm – one among many which opened my eyes at the time to Europe’s talent pool of online film and stunt creatives in the early two-thousandsies, and it has been a continuing pleasure to see this millieu flourish and evolve from its humble beginnings, eventually sprouting groups like Reel Deal Action as early as 2012.
Picturing firmly in this troupe are members Can Aydin, Cha-Lee Yoon, Phong Giang, Mike Moeller and Tanay Genco Ulgen, all of whom have since seen their careers grow and spawn greatness, and even a little acclaim to boot. It’s much deserved and anyone who has seen their projects online knows this as a matter of irrefutable fact whilst taking into account the progress we’ve seen for a number of similar teams over the last twenty years, like Zero Gravity, The Stunt People, LBP, Z-Team, Eclipse, Rising Tiger Films and Jabronie Pictures to name a few.
Looking at a company such as this one, of course one wonders what the next step is after making a name for itself with its own crop of shortfilm content online. Naturally, stepping into feature-length territory comes to mind – possible, for certain, although that sort of milestone is never easy to reach, and I will definitely have more questions about this particular process apart from my own chatter with Aydin twice in the last two years (throwing this in as a matter of full disclosure for those who’ve missed my earlier blog rumblings about it). Thus, that Aydin and I became in-person friends from living on opposite sides of the planet is something of a miracle to me. I feel some kind of lucky and while you might even guess that I’m a little biased here for of it, I promise you that this is far from the truth. That said, going into the latest debut pairing of film duo, Ufuk Genç and Michael Popescu with Plan B: Scheiss auf Plan A following its German release in June from 20th Century Fox, while there is no question regarding the niche this film is meant for, the film’s most inviting characteristics for moviegoers remain much more adamantly universal and multi-dimensional.
Consider the proliferation and popularizarion of any number of action movies in the last thirty years, and the household names the stars of those films bred. Such idolization comes natural for anyone who has grown up cultured by action films spanning multiple subgenres and markets be it Hollywood, Asia or other, giving way for the kind of fandom we exhibit in ourselves and, in kind, a set of well-rounded and relatable characters we get to meet in Can, Cha-Lee and Phong, along with that of actor/dancer Eugene “U-Gin” Boateng for a sprawling action comedy that makes plenty of use of some of Berlin’s locales and streets essential to writer Rafael Alberto Garciolo’s upbeat, labyrinthe story and screenplay.
Opening the floodgates is the voice of actor Laurent Daniels who we meet later on in the film as Kopp, a grisled, noble, stoic detective withered from two decades of hunting down ever-elusive crime boss, Gabriel, played by Henry Meyer; Kopp’s pursuit renewed procreeding his transfer to a new department, pairing up with new partner, Schulz (Gideon Burkhardt). At the crux of our tale is Gabriel’s safe, notoriously hidden somewhere in the city and found only through a series of four consecutive coordinates each locatable at Gabriel’s heavily guarded business fronts. The contents of the safe grants its owner the most influence and power in Berlin, and there is nothing that the city’s low-level thugs and gangsters won’t do in order to retrieve it, including kidnapping Gabriel’s wife, Victoria (Julia Dietze).
This brings us back to our four lifelong friends, optimistic in their struggle despite their recent fever pitch when U-Gin, the trios’ numerically-flawed manager, gets wind of a major audition taking place in the city. Arriving at their presumed location, an opportune chance at action movie stardom turns dangerously awry having stumbled into a kidnapping situation already in progress as they are rounded up by Victoria’s captor, Eddy (Florian Kleine), and his men. With Eddy eager to acquire the safe for his own ends, he entraps the ill-gotten auditionees by taking Phong hostage before sending the remaining three on a one-day whirlwind adventure to recover all four coordinates leading to the safe, for failure to do so, with or without the involvement of the police, means a bullet in Phong’s head, and possibly theirs. With enemies and twists at almost every turn, the stakes are more high on this than any audition they’ve faced and its up to our overnight heroes to apply their respective skillsets and do whatever they have to in order to reunite with Phong as if their lives depended on it.
Almost immediately of note is the film’s score courtesy of Popescu – a soundtrack comprised of energizing 80’s synthpop, dance funk and contemporary hip-hop to accompany the film’s hour and forty-three minute duration. Daniels brings the kind of gristled, aged gravitas akin to that of Germany’s answer to Liam Neeson in the role of Kopp, joined by the film’s more orthodox acting line-up with Burkhardt supporting, and Meyer mastering equally as the villain, in addition to Dietze who herself gets in a few minutes of action for the role of Victoria.
Not to be outdone is our starring roster led by Aydin, Yoon, Phong and Boateng who equip their on-screen bromance with the kind of colloquial, unabashed humor and blunt honesty you would expect, further underpinned by their own quirks and penchants. Most notable among these is Cha’s slightly more pragmatic nature, Phong’s attentiveness to his girlfriend, and U-Gin’s semi-lacking, albeit enduring managerial skills in addition to an impeccable knack for dance which the actor/dancer gets to flex in-full midway of the film. Can, who lives with his mother, is less obscure with his fandom, often frequenting his own reflection with a visible, shirtless, muscle-flexing fondness for Sylvester Stallone’s fabled action movie persona.
The comedy and hijinks don’t stop there as the numerous tributes and various running gags that continue throughout with notable bookmarks like identical mobile ringtones, being told to shut up, Can reciting his favorite line from Cobra, and Cha feigning broken German in front of the cops. Similar easter eggs and film homages recur throughout, particularly the film’s entitled segments putting their own spin on memorable movies, as well as the actors’ iconic jackets akin to that of film protagonists like McFly and Cobretti, late legends Bruce Lee and musical wonder Michael Jackson.
Simply put, the action is as proficient and top-notch as it gets with Reel Deal Action in charge. From the essential footchase to climatic fights, what we get is a supercharged tour de force with a visionary touch that any film buff and genre fan can appreciate. The Hong Kong-tethered fight splendor that embodies the film’s very raison d’etre for fans ushers in some exciting front-row seat talent, namely K1 fighter Aristo Luis, Hollywood stuntwoman and debut actress Heidi Moneymaker, and fellow rising martial arts and film talent, YoungMasters’s own Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe. Moeller himself makes an appearance past the halfway point for a blazing exhibition of fight furor opposite Yoon, in an exciting rematch since initially duking it out in Moeller’s own 2016 feature outing, One Million K(l)icks. As for Ms. Moneymaker, her performance as the sexy, deadly club boss our hapless heroes Can and Cha face is a pure plus. Their fight is fast, pulsating and explosive, and if you so much as blink, you are bound to miss something wicked.
In further homage fashion, some stunt fight scene moments even play out with reminiscence to certain classic moments, something to which Aydin and Luis adhere to in their final fight scene with gusto. Plating the film’s story scope and bread-and-butter fight scenery by Reel Deal Action is Tomas Erhart’s adept cinematography – further amplified by Ulgen who also mapped some of film’s additional fight action and stuntwork, along with other ancillary shots; In place of substandard camerawork and editing, viewers are rewarded with sheer displays of concrete cinematic fight recital, and comprehensive lensing and editing that absorbs everything in sight. The methodology here is one that chooses simplicity over pedestrian practices, routinely focusing on wide-ranging shots and keeping the viewer stationery long enough to take in the full breadth of flying fists, feet and bodies in the film’s key action scenes.
As we speak, Plan B: Scheiss auf Plan A awaits further commercial screentime beyond its German territory. It’s bound to happen as we speak but as always with the business of all things in film, it’s going to take time and extinuating patience before then. The film attained some attention at home but the jury is still out on whether or not the martial arts genre can sustain given the nature of most action film productions abroad and the politics of filmmaking – politics to which the folks at Reel Deal Action are no strangers.
Similarly, the call has been much more vociferous and resonant overseae from martial arts fans who’ve all but bared witness to the film’s trailer and promotional campaign in addition to its appearance at film festivals. Without a shadow of a doubt, Genç and Popescu have shepherded something pretty special and purposeful: A self-aware comedy adventure that brims with vibrance, youthfulness, danger, suspense, intrigue, and raw, unmitigated martial arts talent and flair aplenty.
The film’s adroit treatment and polish aside, that a major company like Fox validated this small-scale, independently-made labor of action movie love is no small accomplishment. I roared in my seat at work when I started my screener and saw the Real Deal Action logo appear before the opening credits, reminding me of the last four years in which many of us spent only ever seeing the same logo on our computers and mobile phones. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more pleased to see Reel Deal Action advance to the next phase of its existence in debut with an inaugural effort like Plan B: Scheiss Auf Plan A, essentially joining the pantheon of other feature titles of its kind. For this, I just hope this team’s prospects will only further embolden with more control, bigger budgets and greater influence. It feels and sounds better than having to acquiesce to the disproven norms of business-as-usual “art”.
Audiences around the world will be more than pleased when Plan B: Scheiss Auf Plan A hits Blu-Ray and multiplatform availability. I will say this though: As long and hard these people and those in their field fight to create kickass quality commercial content we enjoy, if you’re not buying at least ten copies of this film when it comes out in your area, plainly and simply, I don’t want to know you.
The new Michael Popescu/Ufuk Genc-directed martial arts action comedy, Plan B: Scheiss Auf Plan A is now out in German theaters from 20th Century Fox. Having written about this film as much as I and others have, I now patiently wait to help present some news on this film’s distribution stateside.
Set in Berlin, the film debuts German action talents, actors Can Aydin, Cha-Lee Yoon and Phong Giang with actor and dancer Eugene Boateng leading the tale of a group of auditioning action star wannabes now forced to fight their way out of the criminal underwold after stumbling into the wrong place at the wrong time. Also starring are Julia Dietze, Henry Meyer, Florian Kleine, Laurent Daniels, Aristote Luis and Heidi Moneymaker.
The film has been on a heavy campaign with the cast putting out a number of skits and videos for its release. Their latest push now comes with an official music music video for the film’s title track with performances by B-Lash, MC Bogy and Die Atzen with actor Boateng on vocals, and gladly, some bits of extra footage to boot..
There’s a link in the YouTube description for German listeners to purchase on iTunes as well. Enjoy!
German martial arts action and film production troupe, Reel Deal Action, will make its feature debut in the new action comedy, Plan B: Scheiss Auf Plan A in less than three weeks. For this, stars Can Aydin, Cha-Lee Yoon, Phong Giang and Eugene Boateng have been pounding the pavement since debuting the first trailer back in February, and with a variety of comedy shorts featuring our core cast in character.
Germans clearly have the neatest kept facial hair…whereas I am long overdue for a weedwacker. Geezus (From L to R: Can, Yavuz, myself and Engin)
If you were to tell me I would have not one, but two awesome days in a row this week in my meet and greets with stunt and film. professionals, I might have looked at you funny (while secretly wondering where you get your powers of clairvoyance from). Apparently that ended up being the case this past week when the second of two events occurred with my Friday night reunion with German action director, actor and Reel Deal Action co-founder Can Aydin during his second of two trips this year to New York City.
This evening came just short of two years after I first met him in 2015 with Hollywood fight coordinator Jojo Eusebio; Both were in town as Eusebio was working on Dave Green’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel and Can was en route at the time as actor Lorenzo Richelmy’s stunt double for season two of Netflix series, Marco Polo. At the same time, he was on the verge of completing his latest action comedy bid, Plan B, aimed at celebrating the biggest legacies in blockbuster entertainment from Sylvester Stallone and Michael J. Fox to Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson with the city of Berlin serving as the backdrop.
I eventually arrived in Time Sqauare at about a quarter to ten in the evening and found Can waiting in a Starbucks directly across the street from where we were originally going to covene. He introduced me to his friends Eugin and Yavuz, the latter who I am told first introduced Aydin to a whole raft of Hong Kong action movies when he was just ten years old, furthering his fandom and subsequent ambition to go into film later on in life. I rarely go to Starbucks for anything and mainly because I have no idea what to drink other than their bland caramel lattes, but we didn’t really stick around long, although we stayed long enough to get acquainted, and for Can to show me something really special and long awaited. Indeed, it was the official trailer for Plan B, and I have to tell you…the version of it which played for Sitges last October is NOTHING compared to what the film’s to-be-announced distributor has in store ahead of its forthcoming release Germany later this year. The duration is slightly longer – I think, but the editing is tighter, the grading is better, the pacing is more fluid, even and balanced, and as promised, the action is fresh and fantastic as you’d hope, and you can rest assure that I’ll be sharing it as soon as it goes live.
After screening the trailer, we set out to find a place to actually settle down for a bite to eat. Our initial effort was for a nice and cozy falafel spot that eventually closed before we could get there, so after walking about four freezing blocks between several corner turns, we finally got to a sushi spot. I forget the name of the place but I’ll know it again when and if I see it. Their green swivel seats took some getting used to but the food was tasty – Can had a bento box with some salmon, Engin had some teriyaki and Yavuz and I had some spicy chicken with some kind of seaweed salad on rice. It was delish!
Can and I juggled the talk between the four of us he was the one most fluent in both English and German; Engin and Yavuz knew a modest amount enough to understand a lot of what I was saying while a good portion of the dialogue was pretty universal and colloquial in nature, and I even spoke a teeny bit of German just for giggles as I’m not at all as fluent as I should be since my mother is German. All and all, we pretty much vibed nicely and connected. Just the walk alone in the 20° F weather (with windchill in the ‘teens) was just pure fun, although it’s safe to say Can may come a bit more prepared next time around as much as the weather bounced around. It was damn cold and we even cheated traffic just to cross a few streets in the process after we all finished eating.
We all got to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in time for Can to catch his bus back out of town through New Jersey where he was tentatively staying. We talked for a bit more, chatted more on film prospects and current events and even took some pics together. On the film front he also has another on the way for team Reel Deal titled On The Ropes which is currently in post production from Team 2X’s own director James Mark whose forthcoming debut at the helm, Meza, was picked up by Raven Banner late last year. Apart from plot specifics which are currently secret, I’m told that On The Ropes is toned much more differently than Plan B, once again with Can and fellow Reel Deal members Cha Lee Yoon and Phong Giang all starring in lead roles, and for what it’s worth, I think that’s something we can all look forward to.
Much like the independent stunt and film groups of the early 2000s, Can is cut from the same cloth and comes from many of the same motivations, notably including a love for film, Hong Kong action cinema and being an artist. Such have earned him the opportunity to now work with the likes of Jackie Chan, Samuel L. Jackson and Ryoo Seung-Wan which, next to the credits of his peers, Cha, Phong and Tanay, do a number wonders for Reel Deal Action as they look to set the standard for talented performers aiming for more prolific roles on both sides of the camera. With that said, Plan B wasn’t an easy feat to achieve with its trajectory, and with that, it’s not every week that you hear that an ambitious, independently-produced martial arts action movie in any capacity is possibly on par for a hopeful big screen release. Whatever the case may be, my observation here is that someone upstairs must have seen something truly great in a group like Reel Deal Action, and it is my sincere hope that this, and other studios like it will follow suit for other talented individuals in the field of stunts and film.
This is the kind of thing that I aspire for everyday when I write about movies like this. I push hard and heavy for films like this and even to the point of fatigue. I’m at work right now and I just spent until about five-ish in the afternoon fighting the urge to sleep after only getting home around two in the morning, so I can finish writing this article and post it. And you know what? No matter how tired I feel, I have absolutely NO regrets. Can comes from a great handful of people I have had the chance to meet in person and the fact that I got to share a meal with him, to talk naturally about life and some of our own hopes and aspirations means a lot to me, as well as his candor and sincerity.
Saturday night was a fun adventure for me, and I can’t thank Can, Yavuz and Engin enough for being such great company. For that matter, I only hope one day I can show up in their neck of the woods and take in the sights and some jetlag to boot, and maybe then I’ll finally get the chance to meet all of Reel Deal. At any rate though, and no matter who shows up where, I will say this: I treat every opportunity to meet someone I write about like it’s my last.
These people are super busy almost all the time and I can certainly understand why discretion is key for folks like Can and others in his field. Therein lies the effort to continuously prove to myself that I can engage this practice in a way that helps induce intellect and appreciation for the kind of things that these people do on camera for moviegoers like me, especially in an age where jerks will rip a whole fight sequence from a movie and then brag about it on social media like they’ve accomplished something despite the damaging affect that practice has on an economic level. I used to be that jerk…which is why can talk the shit that I talk, especially as someone who has been an artist for most of his young life and understands the physical exertion it takes to accomplish something, and the importance of reciprocity.
Stunt people and those among the crowd working to excel in their field on a creative basis deserve our monetary support, and an Oscar category would be nice too… I’m just saying. And in definitely, I’ll keep saying it. And writing it as a matter of coverage, as well as meet as many of these people as I humanly and possibly can to help purport that message. Reacquainting with Can this weekend came just as we tried and failed last month due to our own hectic schedules and apart from Friday night, I didn’t know if or when I would get to see him and talk more about his career. With that in mind, should the time come where all of Reel Deal Action are in town and I can finally meet these folks, best believe, there is absolutely no way I’m missing out. And Can has my work address now, so it’s going down one way or another!
Enjoy a little something from the Reel Deal Action channel below and stay tuned for the official trailer for Plan B and upcoming announcements therein!
I was always fascinated by their quality of work in terms of action and storytelling, and I was certainly happy to see the likes of French actor and martial artist Alexandre Bailly among them. His participation in the 2007/2008 shortfilm, Brothers Forever, helped continue to signal a calling for the mainstream to pay attention and watch, much like other teams at the time – something that inspired me to start a freehostia.com account to get my own news site going and help discuss martial arts and action movies on a larger scale.
All I’ll say is to click here to get a glimpse of how a part of my weekend went. Needless to say, it was fantastic and I’m glad to share it with you all, and I certainly hope to have more moments like it with even more people within my purview.
For now, It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for The Hit List, and kicking things off is, by far, one of the best and most impressive tricking reels you’ll see, here and now from Westminister-based martial artist and stuntman, Martial Club member Brian Le who has been very busy in the past few years building his prolife as a bodybuilder. And so, while not all trickers can perform these feats with the same hefty frame, it’s thrilling to know there are a few who have the caliber to do so, and Le’s reel is a proven hit among viewers alike. Following that is a new reel from actress Jennifer Linch who has also catapulted into her year for the development of several films, a few of which includes Flowers Of The Night, and Violet, the latter which has since launched a Facebook fan page you can subscribe to here.
Rounding out the playlist are stunt, parkour and action reels by Sydney Olson, Brandon Shaw, Tony Vo, Mark Chin, Jesse Turner, Aaron Jones Beck, Michael Matthews, Sam Durani, and actor, stuntman, choreographer and co-star of director Frank Figueroa’s Room 237, Anthony Giovanni Elias.
Moving on a bit, we now have a few promotional gems to share and first up comes courtesy of Vimeo a la Indiegogo where film festival programmer and filmmaker Shelagh Rowan-Legg is currently working toward her second short film, now in the form of action comedy, Flow. Inspired by the directorial visions of folks like Gareth Evans, Lexi Alexander and Joss Whedon, the project centers on a group of women soldiers amid a war already in progress while they ultimately end up fighting each other over bodily functions that are pretty hard to avoid (and we can rule out farting since Swiss Army Man already covered that).
Check out the Indiegogo campaign page with a month left to get your dollars in and help see this interesting little concept bloom into something we can escape into and enjoy! (H/T: ScreenAnarchy)
The YouTube playlist just beneath contains two trailers for upcoming projects, including Envizion Films’s first of two vigilante action horror concepts, Santos, and the new trailer for Victory Magic Films’s latest long-awaited shortfilm festival favorite, Warriors, which you can read more about in Joey Min’s latest review ahead of its July 10 release.
Now it’s off to the action and here we start things up a bit for the Marvel fans, specifically with those who share an affinity for X-Men character Psylocke in the wake of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Actress and martial artist Janice Hung has her own take this week which you can check out below with director Louise Viola at the helm.
Rounding out the playlist is another entry from the gang at Orlando-based Distinctive Light Entertainment for their dramatic Self-Defense series – an ample title to give room for some great cinematic fight material, an exhilarating practice piece by lensman and action choreographer Tanay Genco Ulgen with Nilo Ghajar-Williams and Iesha Auyeung with a special appearance by Ulgen’s fellow Reel Deal Action-man, Cha-Lee Yoon, and Jeff Centauri‘s new fan-inspired action short with villain, Crossbones.
And last and far from least is another hit action short I’m ressurecting. It’s a bit recent and it probably won’t be the last time I’m sharing it as it mostly pertains to my awesome Saturday evening this past weekend with some friends, along with actor David Sakurai. He stars in Shaky Gonzalez’s 2015 hit revenge action short, Echoes Of A Ronin, a story told through the perspective of a young girl whose father sets out to redeem his father’s legacy and avenge his wife at the hands of his greedy brother.
The project is currently in good hands as it awaits further development on possible future prospects and with any luck, we’ll be seeing more of Sakurai wielding some badass sword action in the months and years ahead. If this is your first time viewing it and if you love thrilling martial arts action, Echoes Of A Ronin will suit you nicely.
Check out last week’s entries and support all the channels, and if you’ve got something for us that you think deserves a place in our weekly Hit List, hit us up at email@example.com!
Interestingly enough, neither has fight choreographer and filmmaker Tanay Genco Ulgen, although it didn’t stop him from contributing to one of Sony’s forthcoming major feature film releases tying into the game franchise, Nozue Takeshi’s Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. I learned of this in a Facebook post a few months ago and so I found myself at an opportune moment to interview yet another aspiring film professional in the course of my own work in covering independent action as well.