The seventh annual Urban Action Showcase kicks off its two-day event on November 8, host to a raft of spectacular film celebrations including The Warriors, Tim Burton’s Batman and blockbuster sci-fi, The Matrix among a plethora of others.
The festival will also have its share of celebrity appearances by martial arts stars to further magnify the annual event. Of course, one other major end of the showcase will include a slew of projects from independent filmmakers from around the world.
In addition to the previously reported Final Contact: Episode III and El Hombre De Tijuana, actor Bryan Larkin will enter the fray with his new shortfilm continuation, Dead End II: A Justified Kill. It’s in this chapter where our two contract killers in pursuit of a gangster cross paths with a young girl whose eyes are fixed on a bag of cash as a way out for a better life. Julian Gaertner, Sam Gor and Chloe Chan also star for the film’s Fighting Spirit Film Festival on just over a week as of this post (review and interview).
Breakfall Studios’ own Stephen Koepfer (John Wick: Parabellum, Ray Donovan) and Paul Varacchi (Gotham, Amar Akbar Anthony) will be on hand with their latest action comedy, Rewind, among this year’s shorts featuring Wadi Jones and Josh Davidson. Actor and filmmaker Peter Jang will also maintain his posterity at the showcase with his latest proof of concept, Pawns, which has a feature film in the works as he looks to establish his own label, Simplicity Pictures.
Dani Medina will hit the screens at the showcase twice, in fact, firstly with his own mini action short, The Hunted; Previously presented as an entry in our Hit List column earlier this year, The Hunted also features Rey Rodriguez, Lorenzo Casares and Luis Cros. Filmmaker Natural Langdon himself will look to score points with audiences in November for his new capoeira action drama short, Nikita, penned by Pound Of Flesh screenwriter Joshua James.
Among the cadre of shorts for the festival, attendees can also expect the long-awaited release of Dry Land Swim, from directors Ronny Vega and sibs David and Donald Lee. Actor Khalil Barnett joins a cast featuring Vega, actresses Valen Amaris and Yi Christina Liu, and actor Nick Pham for a story offset by the endeavors of Zarathustra, an elusive criminal entity that will soon culminate the violent, dark paths of three supernatural heroes with clashing ideologies.
Vega’s own brainchild, Santos, first and foremost took the mantle with a win for Best Sci-Fi/Supernatural shortfilm in 2017. Dry Land Swim is several years in the making since then, returning the character of Santos next to the debut of Barnett’s own incarnation, Blue Heron, and actress Liu’s Zya. We’re proudly premiering the exclusive trailer for you below.
On the feature end of things, we have maverick tokusatsu auteur Bueno crafting a fandom of his own with in-house Garage Hero IP, Strega. Respawned as the succeeding evolution from his 2014 indie, Gun Caliber, Bueno stars and directs with attrition, delivering a rauchy, violent and not-so-family-friendly protagonist compared to other tokusatsu counterparts familiar in Japan’s entertainiment millieu.
Joined by actress Mai Miori and actors Sakurako Fujiwara and Amita Hachidori No. 4, Strega centers on smartball parlour assistant manager Soma Kusanagi who still hates his job, and loves sex as much as he loves shooting evil in the dick; Nowadays he’s pwning bad guys with an array of weapons he’s been subject to test in his new titular suit for VECTOR corporation, but when a new threat to the corporation and its suitheroes emerges, Soma must join forces with sexy suitheroine, Virsago, to save Japan.
Strega, like its predecessor, is unbound by conventions and unapologetic at its truest nature, and dishes precisely the kind of unmitigated, hardcore action, tongue-in-cheek laughs and skin that would be deemed exclusive by the MPAA for the Deadpool crowd. The film screened at Yubari and made its way to Brooklyn this summer while now plotting its course to take over the red carpet at the Urban Action Showcase in November (review).
The best is yet to come from director Leroy Nguyen who has taken home a wealth of accolades and notoriety in the last several years with work hailing from his Rising Tiger Films banner. Having since maintained a creative pace of sorts joining the likes of Team Red Pro and Art School Dropouts for several projects in the last few years, Nguyen’s been very keen on staying on radar, and his recent advancement on the long-awaited Silverback speaks highly to that notion.
Nguyen plays Richie Vo, a gangster whose recent return to the old neighborhood after a long stint in exile stirs up old grudges, all while mitigating an internal conflict stemming the tumultuous breakup with his unfaithful girlfriend that started it all years earlier.
Comprised with hard-hitting action and drama, all tuned to an inspired Scorsesean black-and-white veneer, Silverback serves as a suitable petri dish on which Nguyen continues to grow his craft. It’s with Richie that his latest character study exudes a punishing, brutal air about itself – one of brotherhood, betrayal, and the kind of forgiveness that’s harder to swallow than any pill you can take to ease the pain.
THE MAN FROM KATHMANDU
Director Pema Dhondup Gakyil helped raise the bar something fierce for actor and martial arts star Jose Manuel who took to the theatergoing masses this year for action adventure thriller, The Man From Kathmandu. The role is Manuel’s second major lead role in a feature following his 2011 debut in Andres Ramirez’s El Testigo, here starring as a disaffected half-Muslim Nepali living in L.A. whose excursion to his native home in Kathmandu en route to join the war in Syria turns into a transformative journey of redemption, love and true heroism.
The past five years have been some of the most exciting since I first found Manuel on YouTube via his North Compass banner, prior to delivering the action comedy goods in supporting capacity for Jarrod Crooks’ feature, Indie Guys. He’s rightly earned the title of Puerto Rico’s own breakout martial arts star with his mass of work exhibiting a performance caliber akin to the likes of Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa, and you needn’t look further than his videos for proof. For this, The Man From Kathmandu bodes as a deserving feature outing for Manuel in his current career growth.
Manuel will be seen in a smaller role in Robert Samuel’s Newarkiff premiere of martial arts comedy, Made In Chinatown on September 7, while this November will surely welcome a fair serving of attention with the burgeoning action star front and center (review).
The Urban Action Showcase kicks off on November 8. Visit the official website for more info.