Chasing the Dragon (2017)

chasingthedragon Hong-kong-icon

Donnie Yen stars in this fact-based film on the life of one of Hong Kong’s most notorious drug lords with Andy Lau reprising a role from a two-film series in the 1990’s.

In the year 1960, a man named Ho and his three best friends escaped China and headed for Hong Kong. There, they make their money by joining gangs in street fights. During one fateful night, Ho and his men find themselves enraging a British police officer, Hunter. However, they are saved by Lee Rock, a recently promoted sergeant major who is as corrupt as his fellow officers, but has the smarts to outwits those who rank above him. Ho and his friends one day incur the wrath of crime lord Chubby, who offers Ho and the others a job after Ho proves himself to have impeccable fighting skills.

As the years go by, Ho gains respect within the ghetto known as the Walled City. Plagued with issues involving his brother, who has dropped out of school and has become a drug addict, to the possible idea of a double cross, when Ho learns that Lee is set up to be framed and killed by the nephew of Walled City’s top gangster Master Dane, Ho saves Lee only to be betrayed by his now former boss, who cripples Ho. No longer being able to fight, Ho decides to use his street smarts when he joins forces with Lee Rock. However, with power comes greed and Ho soon finds himself biting the hand that feeds him as he is set to play a dangerous game that could cost many lives.

Surprisingly, one would never have thought that someone like Wong Jing, who has been more known for his buffoonery of films in the 1990’s, would have written this film let alone direct it. However, he collaborated with cinematographer Jason Kwan, who shares both writing and directing with Wong. However, Wong has had his fair share of serious films such as his Colour gangster film series and he has executive produced the original Young and Dangerous films. It is safe to say that if he’s not out there doing goofball-style films, then gangster films are truly his forte.

It is clear that action star Donnie Yen is slowly branching out into roles that allow him to do both his frenetic action skills and even turn in some dramatic chops as well. Ip Man was just the beginning of that transition period, but this film is truly becoming to take that cake. In what is a very bold move, Yen gets to mesh the two strengths in the first half of the film only to take the dramatic side in the second half as his character is in fact crippled. Yen’s character Crippled Ho is based on a real-life Hong Kong gangster, Ng Sek-Ho, who was one of Hong Kong’s most notorious drug lords. Yen pulls off all the stops to tackle the role and does quite a great job of it.

As for Andy Lau, the Heavenly King returns to a familiar role. In 1991, he starred in a two-part film series produced by Wong and directed by Lawrence Lau entitled Lee Rock. The film series was based on Lui Lok, a real-life officer who was involved in major corruption during the 60’s and 70’s. Lau reprises that role and having played the role before, he just seems like a natural fit. Not only does this film bring some excitement that we have Donnie Yen and Andy Lau in the same film, but they actually play each other well.

What many will find extremely important is that while the focus of the film is on Crippled Ho and Lee Rock, the film has no real good guys at all. As a matter of fact, all of the important characters are extremely bad guys with no remorse towards their actions. Aside from Ho and Lee, we have Kent Tong’s Ngan Tong, who starts out as Lee’s superior only to become his biggest rival within the ranks of the police force. Bryan Larkin’s Hunter is the notorious British officer who has a hatred towards Chinese and yet, he finds himself in a situation where he and Lee have to show some sort of respect towards each other because of their profession. Even Ben Ng’s Chubby switches gears from ruthless to benevolent to even more ruthless as it is he who seals Ho’s fate in the first half of the film.

Chasing the Dragon is a film that proves that one, Wong Jing can make some pretty good serious films; two, Donnie Yen can be a solid actor with dramatic chops; and three, just because a film is about gangsters, there don’t need to be any good guys and this is a film where all the important characters are notorious and if need be, ruthless.


An Infinitus Motion Picture/Bona Film Group/Sun Entertainment Culture Limited/Mega-Vision Project Workshop Limited production in association with Sil-Metropole Organisation, Rock Partner Films, and Red Carpet Cultural Industry Investment Fund. Directors: Wong Jing and Jason Kwan. Producers: Wong Jing, Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Connie Wong, Ren Yue, Jeffrey Chan, Stanley Tong, and Yang Guang. Writers: Wong Jing, Jason Kwan, Philip Lui, and Howard Yip. Cinematography: Jason Kwan, Ko Chiu-Lam, and Jimmy Kwok. Editing: Li Ka-Wing.

Cast: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Kent Cheng, Ben Ng, Kent Tong, Phillip Keung, Wilfred Lau, Yu Kang, Michelle Hu, Xu Dong-Dong, Felix Wong, Niki Chow, Bryan Larkin, Philip Ng, Jonathan Lee, Lawrence Chou, Wang Qianyu.


The Music of Silence (2017)

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Based on the inspirational true story of Andrea Bocelli, one of music’s greatest performers, Toby Sebastian truly breaks out in the lead role.

From birth, Amos Bardi was afflicted with congenital glaucoma, resulting in a slow period of being unable to see well. However, when he was playing soccer in school, an accident when he is hit in the head confirms his blindness. However, despite his condition, Amos has found one passion since he was a child and that is music. Slowly, Amos begins to learn to sing and finds himself gaining somewhat of an audience in his locality.

However, finding that singing may not be enough, Amos begins law school but moonlights as a singer in local bars with good friend Adriano. It is there where he finds love with Eleonora. Determined to continue singing, Amos’s uncle Giovanni finds a new teacher for Amos. Under the tutelage of the Maestro, Amos learns to harness his voice through silence. Amos eventually learns to use silence to find his voice and in 1993, a chance encounter with Zucchero, a popular Italian musician, invites Amos on stage and thus begins what will be the most successful career for this popular performer.

If you know music and you know singing, then chances are you know Andrea Bocelli, one of Italy’s most famous operatic singers today. This is a wonderfully filmed look at the story of Bocelli, who for one reason or another, has his character’s name changed to Amos Bardi. It must be noted that Amos is the name of Bocelli’s first child while some other names in Bocelli’s life would be kept, notably his parents Edi and Alessandro, or Sandro for short.

Former Game of Thrones star Tony Sebastian may have found out his breakout role as Amos, who overcomes the odds to live his dream of becoming a singer. As first seen, Sebastian truly seems to have done his homework and studied Bocelli. He emulates Bocelli’s emotions perfectly, even bringing the expression of the singer really well. Jordi Molla is great as Sandro, Amos’ father who despite his wife’s concerns, has always been supportive of his son’s aspirations and even admits his own faults to him with the intention of wanting the best for his son, even if it is not always what Amos wants.

Nadir Caselli brings some good support as Eleonora, the woman who Amos falls for. She knows his dreams of being a singer and the sacrifices he must endure, even their relationship at time. However, it is clear true love may just prevail in this case. As for Antonio Banderas, his character of Maestro may not come in until well over an hour, but it makes the most impact of the film as it fits with the title of the film. This method used by Maestro would be something that would impact Bocelli’s life forever, even going as far as Bocelli creating the Theatre of Silence, in which every July, he does one show and closes the theater for the remainder of the year.

The only issues involving the film are that Bocelli’s name is not used as the main character (but using his son’s name makes it somewhat forgivable) and to appeal to an international audience, the entire film is shot in English. While it would make more sense to have the film shot in Italian as a real homage to Bocelli’s life and upbringing, it is also forgivable in this instance.

The Music of Silence is a great look at the early life and breakthrough of a music legend. Toby Sebastian may have found his breakthrough role as the character inspired by Bocelli and Antonio Banderas makes the most of his time as the man who helped change Bocelli’s life forever.


AMBI Distribution presents a PicoMedia production in association with RAI Media. Director: Michael Radford. Producers: Motaz N. Nabulsi, Andrea Iervolino, and Monika Bacardi. Writers: Michael Radford and Anna Pavignano. Cinematography: Stefano Falivene. Editing: Roberto Missiroli.

Cast: Toby Sebastian, Jordi Molla, Antonio Banderas, Luisa Ranieri, Alessandro Sperduti, Nadir Caselli, Ennio Fantastichini, Francesco Salvi, Daniel Vivian, Anthony Souter, Francesca Prandi, Antonella Attili.

Borg McEnroe (2017)

borgmcenroe sweden-iconDenmark-iconfinland-icon

Tennis’ biggest rivalry is brought to the big screen with excellent performances by lead actors Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LeBeouf in the titular roles.

It is 1980 and the Wimbledon championship tournament has begun. The heavy favorite to win is Swedish player Bjorn Borg, who has already won four titles in the tournament and is looking for his fifth title. However, he has some heavy competition in American player John McEnroe, whose hot-tempered antics on the courts have made him the “bad boy” of tennis. However, McEnroe is determined to win the tournament in London.

As Borg and McEnroe begin to win their matches, the pressure begins to mount on both players. For Borg, it has always been about perfection and not letting his coach and family down. For McEnroe, being second best isn’t enough. Both raised into having to be perfect with winning being everything, the pressure on both are at an all-time high. When the duo makes it to the finals of the tournament, only one can be champion. However, both soon learn that to win will be just the tip of the iceberg.

This Swedish-Danish-Finnish co-production is quite interesting in its depiction of the famous tennis rivalry between Sweden’s Bjorn Borg and the “bad boy” that was John McEnroe. In sports films based in other countries, one figure would be more glorified and when it came to a rivalry of sorts, it is usually one figure or team that would be the focus of the film. However, Ronnie Sandahl’s screenplay offers a look from both perspectives of the titular players as while they were known rivals on the court, it is their upbringings that made them more similar that what we are to have believed.

Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason has an uncanny resemblance to the tennis legend Borg and complements that resemblance with an emotional performance as someone who feels the pressure of being the best. While as a kid, Borg seemed to enjoy the game, it is when he becomes the student of Lennart Bergelin that it becomes about being a winner and facing the wrath of his coach when he doesn’t live up to Bergelin’s expectations. Stellan Skarsgård churns out a brilliant performance as Borg’s mentor with Tuva Novotny giving a sense of grounded nature for Borg as Mariana Simionescu.

Shia LeBeouf could not be a better fit to play John McEnroe. McEnroe, forever known for his tantrums and outbursts on the courts during his heyday, is similar to Borg with his upbringing of being perfected. This is notable in a flashback scene where as a child, he tells his mother he scored a 96 on a test and his mother doesn’t find it acceptable asking what happened to the other 4 percent. In addition, LeBeouf’s recent real-life issues would aid in his nabbing the role and this could just be the comeback the former child star is dying for as he is perfect in the role.

The tennis sequences are exciting to watch as we see both Borg and McEnroe face their opponents, with McEnroe going postal on Jimmy Connors during the semi-finals and berating the officials. That is until the brilliant finale pitting the tennis juggernauts as we see McEnroe more collected, taking his frustrations out on himself rather than anyone in his path. Borg seems collected for the most part but also faces that pressure of getting his fifth title but shows that not all is bad when he even gives words of encouragement for his rival in between sets. This would eventually lead to the real-life rivalry turned friendship between the two.

One would think Borg McEnroe would focus more on one considering the nature of the production. However, the film wisely looks at the viewpoints of feeling perfection and pressure both Borg and McEnroe that would make history in the sport of tennis. Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LeBeouf truly personify the titular duo in an emotional story that would result in one of the greatest matches in tennis history.


SF Pictures presents a SF Studios production. Director: Janus Metz Pedersen. Producers: Jon Nohrstedt and Fredrik Wikström Nicastro. Writer: Ronnie Sandahl. Cinematography: Niels Thastum. Editing: Per K. Kirkegaard and Per Sandholt.

Cast: Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LeBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, Leo Borg, Marcus Mossberg, Jackson Gann, Scott Arthur, Ian Blackman, Robert Emms, David Bamber, Mats Blomgren, Julia Marko-Nord, Jane Perry.


Cole Fights for Freedom in “Prayer” Trailer

A24 Films has released the trailer for the biopic A Prayer Before Dawn, the true story of Billy Moore.


Joe Cole takes on the role of Moore, a British-born boxer whose downward spiral with violence and drugs while in Thailand lands him in Klong Prem prison, a very notorious facility known as the “Bangkok Hilton”. Refusing to find himself facing death, Billy trains in the art of Muay Thai kickboxing and along the way, finds himself on a journey to redemption.

The film was shot in a real prison with many of the prison’s incarcerated serving as extras on the film. Jean-Stephane Sauvaire directed the film with former Muay Thai champion turned filmmaker David Ismalone serving as the film’s stunt coordinator and Muay Thai fight choreographer.

A Prayer Before Dawn is scheduled to be released on May 19, 2018.



6 Below – Miracle on the Mountain (2017)

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The story of hockey player Eric LeMarque’s six-day mountainous journey is revealed in this inspirational biopic from the director of Act of Valor and Need for Speed.

Eric LeMarque was once a promising hockey player. However, his addiction for crystal meth had caused a major car accident. As a result, he is due in court in a week and his mother, grown tired of his addiction, has cut him off. Deciding to head off into a winter resort, Eric makes the decision to go up to the mountain to enjoy a day of snowboarding to clear his mind. Little does he know that this will be the day his life will change forever.

When the park rangers learn they will be shutting down the slopes early due to a major snowstorm coming, Eric doesn’t get wind of the news and finds himself boarding in an unsanctioned area. He soon finds himself lost in the wilderness. Remembering flashbacks of his past, including his father’s harsh treatment of him, the first time he began his drug habit, and his attempt to make it on the hockey field, Eric soon learns he must confront his demons if he plans to survive. Meanwhile, when his mother learns Eric missed his court date, she intends to find him with the help of the park rangers.

For those who may not have heard the story, in February 2004, Eric LeMarque was found on a mountaintop, having survived six days alone on the wintry mountains of California. He was a very lucky man whose determination led to his ultimate survival. Despite losing both of his legs to frostbite, he has become a man who not only survived, but in the midst of everything, turned his life around in a positive manner. He wrote the book “Crystal Clear” with Devin Seay, which is the basis for this biopic from Scott Waugh, a former stuntman who became a well-known filmmaker after his directorial debut, Act of Valor, featured real-life active Marines and the film adaptation of the video game Need for Speed.

In the pivotal role of Eric is Josh Hartnett, who also serves as a producer on the film. Hartnett brings out one of his best performances in the tale of LeMarque, who is seen at the beginning of the film, relishing in his past with Mira Sorvino playing his mother as in the first of many flashbacks cuts Eric off after his car accident from his doing crystal meth. The flashbacks offer the viewer a glimpse into the hardships Eric has endured in his life, which feature an excellent performance from young Kale Brady Culley as the younger Eric and Jason Cottle as Eric’s no-nonsense hockey coach dad, who if Eric has learned anything from him despite his harsh nature, that it is not to quit.

Waugh’s experience as a stuntman perhaps comes into play in terms of how to shoot action as the scenes involving Eric snowboarding features some exhilarating cinematography much like the way Mike Marvin brought some awesome ski sequences to life in 1980’s films Hot Dog…the Movie and Better Off Dead… The film truly brings us to Eric’s journey as he endures everything from falling into an icy lake, facing a threat from wolves, and finding by creating snow trenches. Look out for an appearance by the real Eric LeMarque himself through both archival footage as well as a pivotal scene that caps the journey for this inspirational figure.

6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is truly an inspirational film about a man who faced all obstacles with his “no-quit” attitude and successfully changed in the process, all driven by Josh Hartnett’s excellent performance in the pivotal role of Eric LeMarque.


Momentum Pictures presents a Tucker Tooley Entertainment and October Sky Films production in association with Sonar Entertainment and Dune Entertainment. Director: Scott Waugh. Producers: Brad Pilz, Scott Waugh, Tucker Tooley, Josh Hartnett, and Simon Swart. Writer: Madison Turner; based on the book “Crystal Clear” by Eric LeMarque and Devin Seay. Cinematography: Michael Svitak. Editing: Vashi Nedomansky and Scott Waugh.

Cast: Josh Harnett, Mira Sorvino, Sarah Dumont, Kale Brady Culley, Jason Cottle, Austin R. Grant, Nathan Stevens, Marty McSorely, Sean Pilz, Vashi Nedomansky, Eric LeMarque.

Momentum Pictures will be releasing this film in select theaters on October 13.


Malek is Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” Photo


Rami Malek truly has it!

Entertainment Weekly has unveiled the first official photo of the Mr. Robot star as legendary Queen singer Freddie Mercury in the upcoming biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and judging from the photo, Malek truly has an uncanny appearance to the late singer, who died in 1991 from bronchial pneumonia from AIDS at the age of 45.

Joining Malek as the remaining members of Queen are Gwilym Lee as guitarist Brian May, Ben Hardy as drummer Roger Taylor, and Joseph Mazzarro as bassist John Deacon. Lucy Boynton has recently signed on to play Mercury’s former girlfriend and best friend Mary Austin and Allen Leech to play Paul Prenter, Mercury’s manager who ultimately betrayed the singer.

Bryan Singer is directing the film, which is due for release on Christmas Day in 2018.

H/T: Entertainment Weekly




Cantinflas (2014)

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2014, Pantoleon Televisa/Lionsgate

Sebastian del Amo
Vidal Cantu
Adolfo Franco
Edui Tijerna
Sebastian del Amo
Carlos Hidalgo
Nacho Ruiz Capillas

Oscar Jaenada (Mario Moreno, “Cantinflas”)
Michael Imperioli (Mike Todd)
Ilse Salas (Valentina)
Barbara Mori (Elizabeth Taylor)
Luis Gerardo Mendez (Estanislao Shilinsky)
Alejandro Calva (Jacques Gelman)
Ana Layevska (Miroslava Stern)
Joaquin Cosio (Emilio “Indio” Fernandez)
Adal Ramones (Fernando Soto, “Mantequilla”)
Jessica Gocha (Dolores Del Rio)

The story of legendary Mexican actor Cantinflas is brought to life in this excellent biopic that juxtaposes the legendary actor’s career from 1931 to 1956 while Hollywood producer Mike Todd is looking for the actor to appear in his first major Hollywood film.

Hollywood producer Mike Todd heads to Los Angeles from New York in hopes to produce a film version of Jules Verne’s classic film “Around the World in 80 Days”, that will feature some of Hollywood’s biggest talents in both major and small roles. After coercing Elizabeth Taylor to appear in the film, the producers tell Todd of Mexican actor who has become one of that countries’ greatest comic talents, a man by the name of Mario Moreno, who is also known by his professional name, Cantinflas.

In 1931, Mario Moreno was a street-smart kid who goes to a tent show in Veracruz. After gaining some experience as a comic on stage, he is kicked out after an attempt to woo the show owner’s girlfriend goes awry. However, upon meeting Russian-born Estanislao Shilinsky, Moreno becomes a hit at his family’s stage and comes up with the name “Cantinflas” during a stage show. He marries Russian performer Valentina and word gets out of his performances. Transitioning into first bigger theaters then the movies, Mario’s life changes forever, but a line is soon blurred between himself and his iconic caricature. Despite the obstacles, Cantinflas becomes Mexico’s biggest star, who is now ready to take Hollywood by storm. But in what capacity?

If you are not familiar with the name Cantinflas (1911-1993), then here’s the bottom line. He was considered one of the greatest comic actors to come from Mexico with his improvised humor in films and earned the Golden Globe Award in 1957 for his performance as Passepartout in the hit Hollywood film Around the World in 80 Days, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The role earned him international fame and Sebastian del Amo crafted the story of the legendary actor from his humble beginnings to his rise to international fame.

Oscar Jaenada perfectly looks the part of Cantinflas, meshing the comedic talent of the legend with the real-life drama that surrounded him off the screens while The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli does a great job playing Mike Todd, the legendary producer of Around who would go on to marry Elizabeth Taylor before his tragic death in 1958 from a plane crash. Jaenada is truly the focus of the film and has great chemistry with Ilse Salas, who plays Valentina, Moreno’s beloved who stayed with him until her death in 1966.

The film has many special appearances from local talents including Barbara Mori as Elizabeth Taylor herself and others playing legendary talents of that era of Mexican cinema. What is interesting is the juxtaposing of Mike Todd’s attempt to lure Cantinflas to join the cast of Around first with a role that wouldn’t help him but ultimately, gets the co-lead role of Passepartout to David Niven’s Phineas Fogg.

Cantinflas is a wonderfully made biopic on the legendary comedic actor with some great juxtaposing on how he would break into international fame thanks to a great performance from lead actor Oscar Jaenada.




“The Irishman” Heads to Netflix


Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese

It’s been a long time coming, but it now looks like Martin Scorsese‘s next collaboration with Robert De Niro is a go!

After development and legal issues which look to have finally been settled, The Irishman, Scorsese’s next film with De Niro, is finally coming to Netflix as the streaming company has officially greenlit the film.

The film is based on the true story of Frank Sheeran, a high-ranking officer in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with rumored ties to the deaths of President Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa. De Niro will be playing the part of Sheeran.

It is being rumored that Scorsese is attempting to bring Joe Pesci out of retirement for the film and other cast rumors include the likes of Bobby Cannavale, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel, but nothing is officially set in stone yet.

What is confirmed besides the greenlight is that the film will begin production in August.

More as this develops…

H/T: Dark Horizons


The Founder (2016)

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2016, FilmNation Entertainment/The Weinstein Company/Faliro House Productions/The Combine/Speedie Distribution

John Lee Hancock
Don Handfield
Jeremy Renner
Aaron Ryder
Robert Siegel
John Schwartzman
Robert Frazen

Michael Keaton (Ray Kroc)
Nick Offerman (Dick McDonald)
John Carroll Lynch (Mac McDonald)
Linda Cardellini (Joan Smith)
B.J. Novak (Harry J. Sonnefeld)
Laura Dern (Ethel Kroc)
Justin Randell Brooke (Fred Turner)
Kate Kneeland (June Martino)
Patrick Wilson (Rollie Smith)

The story of how McDonald’s went from a small drive-in restaurant to the franchise we all know and love today is driven by some great performances by Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman in this riveting look at how business and persistence can change someone.

In 1954, Ray Kroc is a milkshake machine salesman who has done pretty modestly in the business. However, one fateful day changes his life forever when he learns there is an order for six mixers to go to San Bernardino, California. The journey takes Ray to McDonald’s restaurant, a small time place run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald that brings the concept of fast food. After learning of how everything is done, Ray comes up with an idea to franchise the place and whereas the brothers couldn’t do it, Ray uses the power of persistence.

However, as the company slowly begins to franchise in the Midwest, Ray soon learns that sometimes, not everything can go as planned. When Ray’s contract with the McDonalds limit him to how much he is earning, an attempt to renegotiate his contract goes sour and even worse, his marriage begins to crumble. After meeting with finance manager Harry Sonnefeld, Ray comes up with a brilliant idea that will change the course of the company forever and resorts to having to show the McDonald brothers that success can come at a price.

There comes a time when the true life story of how persistence can lead to success yet costs the possible livelihoods of others is brought to films. Today, McDonald’s is one of the greatest if not the greatest fast food restaurant in the world today. However, many people may not know its entire history. Questions like “Who is McDonald” and others involving the business would be raised. This film, directed by John Lee Hancock, answers those questions and it may even bring up some more questions down the road in terms of the practices achieved in the film.

The screenplay is based on Ray Kroc’s autobiography meshed with an unauthorized biography of the company. The film is driven by the performance of Michael Keaton, in his continuing comeback run since the Academy Award-winning film Birdman. Here, he plays Ray Kroc undergoing from the transition from milkshake mixer salesman to the titular “founder” of the McDonald’s franchise. While his tactics towards the third act were ultimately questionable, Kroc truly became a genius at what he achieved and to this day, his legacy remains all over the world.

The big surprise of the film must be the performance of Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald. The actor, normally known for his comedic talent, really breaks type here as the stern older of the brothers. Dick is the type who was hellbent on making his restaurant just something small but had the idea along with brother Mac of how to create hamburgers and fries in such a short amount of time, creating the idea in 1948. Perhaps Dick never realized how this can be a major business nationwide or perhaps he is worried that business owners will follow suit and not give him the credit. How it all plays out in revealed in the final scene of the third act as to why everything that’s happened happened before the epilogue scene, which is the same as the prologue scene in which Kroc prepares to give a speech in 1970.

A true story about one of the greatest businesses in the world today and how it all came about, The Founder is a great film that brings out some great performances by Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman as partners turned rivals in the fast food business. Definitely worth checking out.




Chasing the Dragon II: The Blood of Angels and Demons (2006)


2006, Z Productions Limited/Reel Asian Films

Dr. Zee Lo
Dr. Zee Lo
Dr. Zee Lo
Charlie Chang
Chris Odell
Mihoko Odell

Dr. Zee Lo (Himself)
Eva Glasure (Erica Roberts)
Roderick Kong (Rocky)
Tony Chan (Himself)
Professor Leung (Taoist Master Leung)
Lisa Su (Angry Lady/Gypsy)

In this sequel to Chasing the Dragon, Dr. Zee Lo attempts to capitalize on his local success yet he finds it is not an easy road as nightmares begin to plague him.

After making his autobiography Chasing the Dragon, Dr. Zee Lo has lived his dream to become a martial arts action star. Many locals in the San Francisco area know Lo for his other film, Martial Medicine Man: American Hwang Fei-Hung and even call him “Master Hwang”. Dr. Zee continues to teach martial arts in addition to capitalizing on his local success by coming up with a possible television series.

The films attract the attention of local reporter Erica Roberts, who knows a good thing when she sees one. As Dr. Zee attempts to find his way to make his next dream come true, he begins to suffer from horrific nightmares in which he experiences death at the hands of numerous masked ninjas. This convinces Dr. Zee to find Taoist master Leung. As Dr. Zee slowly discovers the truth about his nightmares, he soon finds himself having a revelation about his life and his career and what can happen when he pushes himself too hard to make a dream come true.

Dr. Zee Lo is quite the interesting figure with his self-financed martial arts action films. However, one of his best films is actually a film about himself, Chasing the Dragon, which while shot on video, journeys to his life as we learned about his dream to become a martial arts star, which resulted in Martial Medicine Man: American Hwang Fei-Hung. This sequel takes up to Dr. Zee’s attempt to capitalize on his local success of the film, which begins with the release of Chasing the Dragon.

One thing that Dr. Zee has come to know is that you can’t please everyone. There are scenes in which there are detractors who will find Dr. Zee’s film not exactly blockbusters and cheap. They include a group of young people who eventually become Dr. Zee’s martial arts students and a local punk gang who make fun of him by writing on his poster. However, Dr. Zee’s determination is great and he intends to make the right connections to continue his dream. Yet he tends to sometime push himself to the point where he begins to suffer nightmares involving masked ninjas who constantly fight and ultimately kill him. This seems to have been influenced by the “Demon” nightmare scenes from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. There are also technical issues in terms of dubbing as if one is watching a classic kung fu movie of the 1970’s. It is unclear if this was an intentional thing or not.

There are as many action scenes as his other films, as most of the “action” focuses on Dr. Zee training and the only technical issue is with the nightmare sequences, which suffer from bad lighting. There are a few scenes which prove to have a bit comic relief, such as Dr. Zee punching a basketball only to get berated by an elderly lady played by Martial Medicine Man’s Lisa Su. A decent fight scene involves Dr. Zee taking on three goons who disrespect Bruce Lee at an autograph signing, prompting him to go beyond what he ever expects as a martial artist.

Chasing the Dragon II: The Blood of Angels and Demons is well, like many sequels, not as good as the original. While the moral of the story is there, the nightmare sequences could have been done with better lighting and it could have done without the dubbing effect. Other than that, it is not exactly a totally bad film but an okay follow up.


This film is available to buy on Dr. Zee Lo’s Reel Asian Films website. You can order the film here.