Mike Leeder brings another action digest round-up of the news-stories from the world of eastern action that you may have overlooked in the last few weeks…
The self proclaimed ‘Dark God of Hong Kong Action Cinema’ Ringo Lam returns with Sky on Fire, his second film since Wild City brought him out of retirement. It stars Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands, Leon Lai (Crossings), Zhang Zhing-chu ( Rush Hour 3), Simon Yam (Killers Romance) and Gordon Lam (Trivisa).
The film’s title brings back memories of Lam’s 80’s classics City on Fire, Prison on Fire and School on Fire, and according to leading man Daniel Wu: “I said yes without even reading the script because John Woo, Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark are the guys who have initiated this new wave of classic Hong Kong and I always wanted to work with them…”
The film hits the big screen in China and Hong Kong in November, and the trailer can be seen below:
The Raid goes to China for ‘Mission 911’…
The Raid took a lot of inspiration from ‘Hong Kong Cinema’ and there’s often been talk of a Hong Kong take on The Raid, with Donnie Yen’s Kowloon Walled City and even the lost-in-development-hell American Raid remake looking at Hong Kong as a potential shooting location. But it seems China has decided it’s time for a Mandarin language riff on The Raid, and a touch of Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior mixed with some Cirio Santiago-styled time-travelling Nazi bad guys Future Hunters-type shenanigans in Mission 911.
The film is directed by Lei Cui (whose previous credits include the Dragon Chen Bruce’sploitation’esque Ultimate Hero) and tells of an elite Special Duties Unit played by Richard Liu, Jess Hsu and Tiger Yang battling to prevent a terrorist (Alexandre Bailly) from obtaining a time-machine and rebuilding the Third Reich! (Echoes of Time-Cop: The Berlin Decision, anyone?)
The film looks to deliver plenty of bang for the buck, with plenty of high octane gun-play and high impact fight action, and as noted by www.cityonfire.com it does look like Alexandre’s villain is a distant relative of Darren Shahlavi’s character from Pound of Flesh…
The Tall Guy himself, Steven Seagal has often spoken of recapturing his former glory in recent years by revisiting two of his most iconic roles. It’s now almost 25 years since Seagal hit his peak with 1992’s Under Siege, which saw Seagal playing the former Navy Seal turned chef who must battle Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey. The big man tweeted the following in early October;
“It’s time. Woodie Mister is starting the script for Under Siege 3.”
While we get excited by that tweet, we then find ourselves asking who is Mister Woodie? Apart from two acting credits, the only other project he is attached to is as a producer for Above the Law 2 (another project Seagal has spoken of recently andwhich would see him reprising the role of Nico from his starring debut Nico/Above the Law…)
Two decades on from his Under Siege role as Casey Ryback, Seagal claimed in a recent interview that “I’d like to do [another] sequel to Under Siege. I’d like to do Under Siege 3 and everyone wants to see that. We’d love to do that. The reason why we didn’t do it for so many years was because there was a [feud] going on between Warner Bros and – there was a rights dispute I should say. But that’s been cleared up now so we could, in theory, make that.”
Will we really see another Under Siege or another adventure for Nico? Well, who knows? The years have not always been kind to Seagal, and while it could be so cool, we also worry just how bad it could be having endured some of Seagal’s recent cinematic adventures. Seagal continues to be the most prolific action hero in the world, with an output that rivals the time when Richard Harrison made a couple of dozen Ninja movies for Joseph Lai and Godfrey Ho in Hong Kong duringthe mid 80s. Seagal’s most recent releases have included Perfect Weapon, End of a Gun, and The Asian Connection, while China Salesman in which he battles Mike Tyson, Attrition, Contract to Kill and other projects are still set for release…
Shout Factory to release: The Billy Jack Connection
January 2017 will see Shout Factory releasing The Complete Billy Jack Collection onto blu-Ray. The four-film set stars the late Tom Laughlin as the half Native American former Green Beret solider and Hapkido expert who must battle those who would oppress others as he strives to find peace after returning from serving his country.
The set includes 1968’s Born Losers, which introduced the world to the character, along with 1971’s Billy Jack, 1974’s The Trial of Billy Jack and 1977’s Billy Jack Goes to Washington. While the films may not have made much of an impact in the UK, Billy Jack made Laughlin a fortune and helped revolutionise the way films were distributed at the time, as Laughlin oversaw the films’ promotion and distribution by sending out multiple prints of the film to various cities at the same time, as opposed to the then time-honoured tradition of releasing the film city by city, over an extended period. The success of the film made Laughlin a lot of money, and set him up as a totally independent film-maker with plan to build his own cinematic empire and challenge the studios on his own terms. Unfortunately the subsequent movies didn’t perform as well and Laughlin’s film career faded out – although he did return to the spotlight with an ill-fated Presidential campaign, and while he often spoke of the return of Billy Jack it wasn’t to be.
No word yet on any special features for the set. In an ideal world we’d love to see at least some footage from the incomplete Return of Billy Jack which began shooting in New York, and Laughlin’s Eastern Western The Master Gunfighter in the collection. However, I doubt it… but we can wish! The Billy Jack movies were spoofed at various times in everything from Loose Shoes with the Billy Jerk goes to Oz segment, and Major Payne with Damon Wayans which delivered its own take on the iconic ‘kick’ scene from the first film. Keanu Reeves name was linked to a potential remake a few years ago…
First we ‘Kill’, then we ‘Steal’!
I really enjoyed We Still Kill The Old Way. It surfaced in the midst of a slew of British gangster movies but raises the bar somewhat, directed by Sacha Bennett and starring Ian Ogilvy from Return of the Saint, Alison Doody from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lysette Anthony from Krull, James Cosmo from Highlander and Steven Berkoff from Rambo: First Blood Part 2.
The premise: Following the brutal murder of his elder brother (Steven Berkoff), a retired East End gangster Rithcie archer (Ian Ogilvy) returns to London to investigate. He learns that a vicious street gang were responsible and the police seem unwilling and incapable of doing anything about it,. So he assembles his old school gang to teach these perishing kids a lesson in manners on his old manor! Its a dark but very slick gangster flick with some very nice action sequences choreographed and coordinated by Jude Poyer and his team.
Now the boys are in trouble again in We Still Steal the Old Way, as Archer and his gang are caught in the act of illegally transferring some money from the bank vault into their pockets and sent down to one of the UK’s most hard core prisons. Theyfind themselves face to face with a rival villain from their past.
This time around Ogilvy and co are joined by Patrick Bergin (from Sleeping with the Enemy), Deborah Moore (daughter of Sir Roger!) and Vas Blackwood from The Lenny Henry Show and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.
Here’s the trailer…
WWE legend Bill Goldberg (Universal Soldier 2: The Return) and Kenny Johnson (The Shield) are fighting domestic terrorism in Checkpoint, Thomas Churchill’s action thriller – which has now been picked up by Sony for release in 2017. The film which was produced by AJ Perez (Blazin, Justice) also stars William Forsythe (Extreme Prejudice), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn), Tyler Mane (X-Men), Stephen Geoffreys (Evil Ed from the original Fright Night), Mel Novak from Game of Death and Michelle Lee from Black Salt & Zambo Dende.
The premise looks to feed off a rather topical and controversial talking point: terrorism in America: When a vagrant discovers what he thinks is a plan for an ‘invasion’ in America he tries to tell the local sheriff about his discovery, but ends up locked up for loitering. When the Sheriff begins to notice some strange occurrences and actually starts looks into things, he uncovers all kinds of genuine trouble and the reality of a sleeper cell living amongst the locals in this small town. After evidence of a beheading is exposed, others begin to fear that the insurgents attack on hometown USA. Questions and tempers begin to rise. Why this little beach community with its Norman Rockwell way of life? A town where everyone knows one another… or so they thought. When the truth is blind and justice seems lost, It will take an army of five unlikely heroes banding together to infiltrate the insurgents and foil their invasion plans. War is Hell and Hell comes home at the Check Point…