What’s Hot and What’s Not STREAMING/VOD Guide Week 11 – AMAZON PRIME Edition

WORTH FINISHING/PRETTY DARN GOOD:

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Both movies from the early 90s are of course very dated. Martial Arts had only broken into  the main-stream American conscience barely 15 years earlier. And American Martial Arts/Fight Choreography was still finding itself. And we were still in that very formulaic 80s urban crime/ Deathwish style of filming. All those caveats aside the movies remain incredibly entertaining, with a few pretty awesome sequences. Jeff Wincott and Cynthia Rothrock were prolific 80s action stars for a reason. And that reason is on display in these movies. Along with movies such as SILENT RAGE and PERFECT WEAPON and THE LAST DRAGON these films are fun and fine examples of American Cinematic Martial Arts in its early days.

 

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I consider Patrick McGoohan one of the best actors ever. And his SECRET AGENT MAN/ DANGER MAN one of the best TV shows. His fight choreography in that show, which predated the James Bond films, elevated fight choreography. The same way that the first season of ARROW raised the bar. Then the first season of DAREDEVIL raised it even higher. Patrick McGoohan, former soldier, former boxer, brings all that to his roles. And here, a much older McGoohan past throwing punches, is no less, cinematic gold.

Richard Burton in a horror movie? SOLD!

https://cdn.cinematerial.com/p/500x/quedcqtx/the-witch-who-came-from-the-sea-blu-ray-cover.jpgThe late 60s and early 70s was such an interesting time for film. Just as borders were being changed and challenged in our world and ourselves, they were also being expressed in our fiction. Particularly our films. There is a malleability and ephemeral-ness to much of the best films from this period. They are not any one genre, or any one thing. Are like our night-scapes, daringly un-solid, and always changing, depending on the viewer, and the viewed. This film will stay with you, long after you have seen it, until you are not sure it was ever a film, but rather maybe a dream, you forgot to dream.  The sight of breaking bone, and spurting blood, is everywhere in this film, and no where. A haunting film.

This one does not start well. Took me a couple attempts to finish it. Much like GOATSUCKER  that started awful, it just gets better and better, culminating in an impressive ending.

INTERESTING / JURY IS OUT

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NOT WORTH YOUR TIME / AVOID

Nightshot (2016)https://i1.wp.com/www.dreadcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mortalremainsnew.jpgStarts interestingly, but like most failed horror films, loses any concept of common sense by the third act. Is this something any rational person would do? If the answer is no, then do not put such stupid actions in your darn movie. I wanted the time I spent watching it, back. Avoid.

 

AMAZON PRIME WatchList ITEM/GIFT of the Day : Accident MAN Movie and Book!

Accident Man Movie Poster ACCIDENT MAN- Ease of browsing. This is one of the reasons I canceled Netflix in favor of Amazon Prime. That and the fact I am not paying for more than two streaming services, and my other choice is HULU.

Searching Amazon Prime is a lot like the old days of the giant video stores, only it is a lot better. You have the greatest movie library in the world at your fingertips, and ratings and trailers for almost all the movies to help you make your selection. And also they have a CUSTOMERS ALSO WATCHED recommendation queue to turn you on to other films you might otherwise not have known about.

That and the trailers have helped me discover a lot of great and obscure films I otherwise would have never know about. This film starring two of my favorite Martial Arts actors of the 21st century, Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins, is an adaption of a great, little known British comic magazine character, ACCIDENT MAN. He originally appeared in the UK’s excellent, but short lived, TOXIC magazine.

And that was followed up with a mini-series  from DARK HORSE COMICS.

I didn’t realize until doing the research for this post, there is a hardcover ACCIDENT MAN, that collects all of his appearances in TOXIC magazine, as well as the Dark horse Comics. That is so a MUST BUY! I have the Toxic issues, and I’m keeping them because it is great to see the artwork at full, magazine size, but having all his work collected in one spot on quality paper… sign me up!

Here’s the link to the hardcover. I would recommend buying two copies, one to keep and one to resell when it goes out of print, because it will. Thank me later. 🙂

https://amzn.to/2P7kRzg

Cover Image

If the movie is half as insane as the comic strip, it is going to be a whole lot of fun. And looking at the trailer… it is.

You can get the movie either via streaming or DVD/Blu-Ray:

Accident Man [Blu-ray]

https://amzn.to/2BQaiPA

Considering the Blu-Ray comes with an audio commentary and making of features that reward multiple viewings, I would spring for the Blu-ray/DVD over the streaming version. Especially considering you can get the disc a bit cheaper. You can use the link above to order your copy today.

Thanks to Alien Bee of Alien Bee Dot Net for providing the special features details that even Amazon did not have. Go check out the Alien Bee site for more great reviews:

http://www.alienbee.net/blu-ray-review-accident-man/

Subscribe and like if you found the post informative, and please spread the word. And  email or comment with what your purchase, recommendation of the day was. Till next time!

 

Fantastic Fridays: OPIUM AND THE KUNG-FU MASTER Roku Amazon Prime Movie Review!

THE SHAW BROTHERS tends to be thought of as a maker of period/classic Kung Fu Films, and while that is their bread and butter, there is a wealth of diversity in the Shaw Brothers’ Output that isn’t readily apparent.

But once you start diving into their catalog you find a wealth of diversity in genre and period and storytelling.

The Message/Anti-Drug  Movie was a staple of Nancy Reagan era politics. She the bandaid to her husband’s cartel creating foreign policy that was flooding the inner cities with white death.

In OPIUM AND THE KUNG-FU MASTER  you find the message movie wrapped in great sets, cinematography, performances, script and stellar fight scenes. Enjoyable and addictive movie from beginning to last superb fight scene.

Watch it via your Roku or Fire TV and catch it free courtesy of AMAZON PRIME. The print on Amazon prime is in superb hd quality and is the most affordable way to see this movie. the bare-bones bluray is unfortunately quite expensive.

however, it is definitely one to own/have in your collection if you can swing it. it is one of the best shaw brother movies.

Opium and the Kung Fu Master [Blu-ray]

Isaac Florentine and Scott Adkins’ CLOSE RANGE (2015)

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CLOSE RANGE (2015)

There are a few solid newer names in the action genre that despite any other failings of the film, are always a joy to watch.

Names like Michael Jai White (Where is my sequel to BLOOD AND BONE??!!!),  Tony Jaa, Markor Zaror (of REDEEMER fame, a great, if flawed, action flick, with a middle fight that stands out as one of the best of the decade), IKO UWAIS (RAID 2 fame) Lateef Crowder Dos Santos, Gary Daniels.

And of course… Scott Adkins.

He has been acting since 1998, but arguably it is 2005’s UNLEASHED opposite Jet Li, and 2006’s UNDISPUTED 2 opposite Michael Jai White that really made him a sought after action actor. He followed those movies up with increasingly higher profile  films to include UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF REDEMPTION (directed by the impressive 2nd generation director, John Hyams) and EXPENDABLES 2. And he has become  a solid and prolific  actor in the action genre/VOD market, doing 4 films in 2015 and working on 7 movies in 2016. Now his choices of film are not always the best, but he is always a solid positive in any film he is in.

It is an upward trajectory to take note of, and along with his aforementioned contemporaries, White, Jaa, and Zaror; these men are the natural heirs to the late 20th century generation of Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Dam, Jacky Chan, Jet Li, Chuck Norris. They just do it largely in the fragmented world of VOD.

This review is on one of those VOD works, 2015’s CLOSE RANGE, in which Adkins teams again with director and fellow martial artist Isaac Florentine.

 

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UNDISPUTED 2 was also the movie to put Isaac Florentine on most peoples radar, and was his first collaboration with Scott Adkins.  And like other directors who found their muse in front of the camera, such as John Ford and John Wayne, John Woo and Chow Youn Fat, Martin Scorsese and Robert Dinero, Spike Lee and Denzell Washington, Tony Scott and Denzell Washington, Florentine definitely found Adkins to be that pairing for him, as the two have worked on (as of this writing) five movies together. And while their movies have been of varying quality, I would Say UNDISPUTED 2 being by a great margin, their best film (in no small part due to Michael Jai White) followed by this film CLOSE RANGE.

Isaac Florentine continues to improve as a director and storyteller, and for the most part CLOSE RANGE shows this off. From the exciting pre-credit onwards, it is a solidly entertaining film.

Among the entertaining items in this film is another unexpected mini-credit sequence for the bad guys, as they drive toward their reckoning. It’s quite charming.

Speaking of bad guys, Jeremy Marinas who stars as Cruz, is the  Fight Choreographer of the film, and in both roles he does an exceptional job. His brawl with Scott Adkins being the highlight of the film. Which does make the remainder of the film a bit anti-climatic. He is definitely someone to watch as both actor and Choreographer.

And Director Isaac Florentine shows flashes of inspiration in this film, showing innovative ways to keep fresh an old genre.

CLOSE RANGE is very much an action/western hybrid.  Channeling Leone  in its use of closeup and stare-off, of making landscapes of faces, while it never rises to Leone heights, it is a darn entertaining action film. It does become a bit repetitive toward the end. Florentine draws out some scenes too long, particularly the final standoff, to the point of self-parody (the problem I had with all of UNDISPUTED 3 , it played more as a parody than a serious film). But these missteps aside overall a very entertaining flick. Grade: B-/B.

 

 

Netflix Streaming an Amazon DVD Movie of the Day : FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS

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FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (1982)- Some people are a fan of these Shaw brother movies of the 70s and 80s (the company is said to go back as far as 1924), I could never get into them. I’ve seen bits and pieces of them and was never really interested. Most of them filled with broad slapstick, or syrupy soap opera that tends not to translate or interest.

Give me a good modern KUNG FU KILLER or BLOOD AND BONE or JOHN WICK or RAID any day. With few exceptions the period stuff leaves me cold. That said I’m happy to say FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (a later day Shaw Brothers production, 1982) is now one of those exceptions.

Wow, this is extreme but non-stop exciting from first minute to last. Simple story of a martial art school having to prove itself best, but the twist on this film is the intro of Japanese ninjas against Chinese kung Fu, and the simply insane levels of fight choreography and blood letting on display here. It’s not a short film, but I could not take my eyes off the screen.

Plus the research the film did to integrate weapons and uniforms actually used in that period from the Japanese, I found very interesting. All in all a no-brainer to watch on Netflix, and one worth graduating to buying on DVD.

Grade: Strongly Recommended!

Five Element Ninjas DVD

Netflix Streaming and Amazon Bluray Movie of the Day : WAY OF THE DRAGON

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WAY OF THE DRAGON is arguably Bruce Lee’s best film, in that it was the film he had the most control over; wearing hat of writer, director, and star. A circumstance which is not always a good thing, actors not always being the best gauge of their own interests or image. However Bruce Lee from the start was more than an actor, he was the message not merely the messenger, and as such was uniquely suited to define himself for others; and he does that expertly in this film.

The opening of WAY OF THE DRAGON (also sometimes referred to as RETURN OF THE DRAGON, confusing in that this came before ENTER THE DRAGON, not after) is pure Charlie Chaplin, Lee showing his penchant for physical comedy, and his pure charisma. And seeing Bruce Lee against the backdrop of the West that he always found both tantalizing and duplicitous, is a joy.

What surprises, revisiting this film after some absence, is how young he is.

You forget that these icons like Hendricks, and Ali, and Bruce Lee that shaped so much of the American consciousness and whose shadows continue to dominate so much of what we consider best of our cultural zeitgeist and worth aspiring to, at the height of their power… were basically just kids who believed the world could be changed… and changed it.

Is WAY OF THE DRAGON the greatest martial arts movie of all time? Probably not, but it is a great movie, and watching a Bruce Lee untouched by age or death, with his whole life ahead of him, in a sumptuously photographed, and largely fun film, is a little like visiting one last time… with a good friend.

There is something bitter and sweet about it.

And the final fight with Chuck Norris is justifiably classic. And like the film itself it is more in the nuances around the fight, the essential touches Lee brought to it, the philosophy of Chinese Boxing, the stretching, the inter-cutting of the kitten, all deliver something more than the spectacle of violence, but a way through violence… to find some peace on the other side of it.

A film that not just every Martial Arts fan should have in their collection, but a film any fan of cinema should proudly have on their curio shelf, as the work of 1970s art that it is.

And also the Blu-Ray is a must have for the audio commentaries, documentaries and pristine picture.

I like streaming for the chance to be exposed to a wealth of movies, but quality (when it is coming from a middle man such as a streaming or cable service) is always subject to bandwidth and signal concerns of the moment. The Bluray, failing damage, will give you the best picture in all moments… consistently.

So for movies like WAY OF THE DRAGON, that you intend to come back to again and again… Blu-Ray is the way to go.

Here’s the link:

The Bruce Lee Premiere Collection (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Game of Death) [Blu-ray]

Highly Recommended! And if a fan of this film I would direct you to the 1970s comic book series it inspired, Marvel Comic’s MASTER OF KUNG FU. Specifically issues 38 and 39 that form an excellent and not to be missed two part story, that any fan of Bruce Lee should check out.

Links here:

Master of Kung Fu, Edition# 38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #38

Master of Kung Fu (1974, 1st series) #39

And a book covering the career of one of the influential artists of the 70s and Bruce Lee fan, Paul Gulacy:

Spies, Vixens and Masters of Kung Fu PB

If you like this blog, and specifically this post, show your support by using the links above. You get great items, and this blog gets a few pennies. A win all the way around. 🙂 Thanks for looking and till next time… make someone smile today.


If, like me, you’ve been interested on Chuck Norris’ take on Bruce Lee well here’s a Norris quote about meeting Lee in New York in 1965, when Lee was working on the GREEN HORNET series. The quote is courtesy of the site BRUCE LEE DAILY:

“I said that I was really tired and that I should get to the hotel because I had an early flight the next day at nine o’clock. Bruce said he was staying at the same hotel so we decided to go over together. So we were taking a cab to the hotel, and now we are really getting involved in our conversation. We get to the hotel and are going up in the lift to the floor that Bruce’s room is on.

We both step out into the hallway – it was about twelve o’clock by now – the next thing I know I’ve got my jacket off and we are working out in the hallway.

I swear to you that the next time I looked at my watch it was seven o’clock the next morning. I looked at my watch again, I could not believe it, I had a flight in two hours back to Los Angeles and Bruce said that when we got back we should work out together, which we did for three years.

Then Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his movie career. I didn’t hear anything from him for about two years, then one day I got a call from Hong Kong; it was Bruce, he said: “I’ve just finished two movies over here, they were really successful”. He said he wanted to do a fight scene that everyone would remember and he said I want you to be my opponent and he was going to call the film Way of the Dragon.”

Read the full article Here!

Netflix Movie of the Day : CALL ME KING

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R.L. Scott’s CALL ME KING- “I quickly outgrew the council of old men, and looked toward the future” Part action, part pulpy western fueled gangster thriller, part quirky and idiosyncratic familial soap opera, director/screen writer RL Scott’s CALL ME KING is an addictive, compulsive watch.

Undeniably low budget, with a weak reverse Cinderella B-storyline that arguably detracts from the stronger main story, but what elevates this gangster film above its missteps is the Multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-ethnic scope.

It is a film of and for the 21st Century, with fantastic faces, of hard men from hard places. A wonderfully shot and lyrically scripted layered storyline diatribe on the fall and rise of nations, and walkers in dark places. Part mythic western, part poetic treatise on violence.

Other highlights… I love the first shot and last shot of this film, making haunting and foreboding something ordinary. Add to that compelling cinematography, bone crunching martial arts fight choreography, and an addictive score and you have a $100,000 film that is more entertaining than films with a thousand times that budget,

And it is worth noting that R.L. Scott wears half the hats on this production; being not only the Director and Writer, but also the fight choreographer, stunt man, producer, and cinematographer. Wow, simply no end to this guy’s talents. This is a film and a filmmaker to watch.

Currently see it for free on Netflix, but then it is one to own on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s a film deserving of a great directors commentary, and special features. Highly Recommended.

Grade: B+.

I’m reaching out to the filmmakers to see when we can expect a Blu-Ray with special features and commentary, and will update when ready, but till that is available the DVD can be had at the link below:

Call Me King