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Time for a “Showdown in Manila”: WFG Goes Round 2 with Alexander Nevsky

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Last April, World Film Geek had the pleasure of interviewing former bodybuilder turned actor and producer Alexander Nevsky on his directorial debut Black Rose. I am proud to announce that Nevsky is back, this time with the long-awaited Showdown in Manila, which features an action ensemble cast including Nevsky himself, Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Olivier Gruner, Cynthia Rothrock, Matthias Hues, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Don “The Dragon” Wilson. The film will be coming to select theaters on January 19th from ITN Distribution followed by a Digital HD and VOD release on January 23rd.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to speak with Nevsky about the film and his inspiration to make the film.

Alexander, it’s great to be talking to you again, this time on behalf of Showdown in Manila. I got to see the film over the holiday and it is definitely a fun and wild action ride.
Thank you so much. I’m glad to hear. I didn’t direct this one. I think Mark Dacascos did a great job as a first time director.

How did the project come about as you helped come up with the story?
To be honest, I was inspired by the Expendables franchise. I know Sly [Stallone] personally and I was very inspired. I actually wanted to get all the guys who didn’t make it to the Expendables. I don’t know if you agree with me. I hope you will, but Mark Dacascos, Casper Van Dien, Olivier Gruner, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, for God’s sake. Tia Carrere, Cynthia Rothrock. I think they all should have been in The Expendables. Gary Daniels was in the first one. So, that was the inspiration.

When Craig Hamman wrote the script, I think he did a great because he had the drama and the comedy, but he also had a lot of action in the script in a way that we can present each character. Especially in the end when they all show up. You can still enjoy it. If you’re a fan of Olivier Gruner, you can see him doing all that crazy action. If you miss Cynthia Rothrock on the big screen, you will see her doing all that stuff. I was an amateur kickboxer and Don “The Dragon” Wilson was my idol! For me, to work with him, was a huge inspiration and thanks to Van Dien, we have all those comical moments.

I’m glad you enjoyed it because we had a theatrical release in Russia and it was actually pretty successful and it was sold internationally everywhere and in the U.S. and Canada, it will be released on January 19th in theaters and then January 23rd on Demand. For me, it’s a dream that continues to come true.

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Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Iza Calzado, and Alexander Nevsky surround Mark Dacascos, who makes his directorial debut on Showdown in Manila.

This marked the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos, who is definitely a favorite of mine. He truly has experience in films as an action film actor. What was the experience like under his direction?
Well, as you know I did my directorial debut with Black Rose, so I understood all the pressure. I think he did a great job because he knew all the people he worked with and the people he brought to the film. So he was able to do it all. And as you know, Al Dacascos, Mark’s father, was the fight choreographer of the film. Mark assisted in some of the choreography as well because you know Mark is a versatile guy.

He started as a fighter under Al and he’s also a great on-screen fighter. He’s done so many great movies and fights well on screen. On top of that, he’s also a great actor. He can do it all as an actor! So he put it all together and his part is small, because he wanted to focus on directing, so to work with him was unbelievably easy and it was a lot of fun. We actually shot the film in the Philippines, in Manila, outside Manila, and in an actual jungle. There were so many locations, but he handled it pretty well and I’m proud of him!

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Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Olivier Gruner, Casper Van Dien, Mark Dacascos, and Alexander Nevsky on the set of Showdown in Manila.

One of the film’s major positives is the ensemble cast. Mark has a cameo, but you have Casper Van Dien, Matthias Hues, Cynthia Rothrock, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, and Tia Carrere. How did this come about because everyone made the most of their roles in the film?
Well, here’s a few things. When you have Mark Dacascos as the director and Andrzej Bartrowiak, the director of Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave, as executive producer, it was pretty easy to get everyone involved. I knew many of the guys before. Don, Cynthia, and Mark actually had joined me in Russia several times when I was doing charity seminars and charity sports festivals for free. We would promote living a healthy lifestyle and promote martial arts and natural bodybuilding. So, I’ve known them before.

And Olivier Gruner. I’ve been a fan of his. He’s had great films like Nemesis and Savate. I was introduced to him by Matthias Hues, who is a longtime friend. We’ve done several movies together already. So it wasn’t that hard to get them and the idea of something along the lines of The Expendables with more comedy and martial arts action, they liked the idea. Mark called up Tia and she wanted to work with him. And Cary Tagawa, I’ve known him for a while and he’s also a great actor. So yeah, it wasn’t that hard to get everyone.

Mark’s father, martial arts legend Al Dacascos, served as the film’s fight choreographer. What did he bring to the table in terms of how to go about the action sequences?
I think what Al did was great because we didn’t have much time to prepare. I mean, it’s not a studio movie. When you have a studio movie like John Wick, which is Lionsgate, a smaller-level studio. They take several months to prepare all the stunts and fight scenes. We didn’t have the time because this was a fully independent production.

So what Al did was create a series of smaller fights that looked more real. They didn’t have to be long. I mean, there were long scenes in the end because we wanted to see more Olivier, Cynthia, and Don. But we did the smaller scenes especially for my character because Al told me that he didn’t want me to do something I wasn’t able to do, like Japanese martial arts. He wanted to make them more real and make the fights feel more real. And Mark is great because he knows so many styles of martial arts. And there’s another guy, Emmanuel Bettancourt, who is Mark Dacascos’ friend since childhood and Al also trained him. He’s a great guy! I got to fight him in the jungle. He played one of Tagawa’s bodyguards. He’s a great martial artist, a great guy. He also helped with the choreography.

So thank to Al, I think we made the fights more realistic.

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The Expendables of Showdown in Manila: Dmitriy Dyuzhev, Cynthia Rothrock, Casper Van Dien, Alexander Nevsky, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Olivier Gruner.

That’s great. I do like the flashy martial arts stuff but sometimes I need that sense of realism when it comes to fight scenes and this delivers with that.
And that’s exactly why we made it. I understand that a lot of these big movies will have these unbelievable stunts and fight scenes, especially with martial arts. You also have films with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, I mean she was great in Atomic Blonde. She was unbelievable.

But, I think there are those who still want to see Mark Dacascos, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, and Cynthia Rothrock, those heroes from the old action days, where it was all more realistic. I hope that audience will be pleased as well.

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Alexander Nevsky with his idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who saw his next film Maximum Impact and gave his thumbs up!

Finally, what are your next projects? From our last conversation, you mentioned the possibility of a sequel to Black Rose. Is that still on the cards?
It is! I’m doing it step by step, but my next film is Maximum Impact, which is actually directed by Andrzej Bartrowiak and was written by Ross LaManna, who wrote the original Rush Hour. That film is ready and let me tell you, the first guy to actually see the finished film was my idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger! He went to the screening and he loved it! I mean, he was my inspiration when I first started in 1986 and here we are thirty years later, sitting with me in the screening room, it was so great! It was a dream come true!

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Russian promotional poster for Maximum Impact. Thank you to Alexander Nevsky for the poster!

And what’s great is that your site is for real geeks and I am one of them! (Laughs) But yeah, Kristanna and I have been talking about Black Rose 2, but my focus right now is Maximum Impact. This is my first real action-comedy and you’ll see a lot of stuff seen in Rush Hour since it is from the creator of that film with Andrzej directing it. I hope you will like it!

Showdown in Manila will be released in theaters on January 19 followed by a Digital HD and VOD release on January 23 and I think afterwards it will be on Netflix and Redbox. Anyone who loves throwback action will likely enjoy this film. Thank you again Alexander for talking about the film.
Well, thank you for all your support. And tell all the fans and readers that I may be 6’6” 300 pounds, but I am definitely a geek as well, a World Film Geek too! (Laughs).

A Special Thank You goes out to Katrina Wan PR and Alexander Nevsky, once again, for making this interview possible. If you wish to follow Alexander Nevsky and check out his upcoming films, go to his official Twitter page.

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The Ghost of “Wild”: An Interview with Jon Voight

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Today, WFG feels very blessed, thanks in part to EMR Media. If you truly have a love for movies, then you know who Jon Voight is. The Hollywood legend is known for his versatility in films, bringing memorable performances in films like Midnight Cowboy and Varsity Blues just to name a few. His latest film, Surviving the Wild, features Voight as the ghost of a 13-year old’s grandfather, who helps the youngster on an adventure to bring his ashes to the top of a mountain.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to interview Voight via e-mail about his experience on the film.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Surviving the Wild. It was a great family adventure and a major driving force was your chemistry with Aidan Cullen. 

What attracted you to the role of Gus?
Well, I am a grandfather myself. My father was a teacher of golf – but he was also a great teacher of life and he had a wonderful sense of humor. He used to tell his grandchildren stories, so when I read the script, and this role, it reminded me a little of my own father.

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Aidan Cullen and Jon Voight in Surviving the Wild (SP Releasing)

You have always been a natural talent in front of the screen and in film, you came up with a few one-liners that brought a sense of comic relief to an otherwise family adventure. Were you able to improvise some of your lines in the film or did you stick to the script?

I played with the script a little bit, just a few adjustments, but it was a nicely written script.

Newcomer Aidan Cullen did a great job as Shaun, your grandson. Gus was more than a grandfather, but a best friend and mentor for Shaun. Were you like that with Aidan on the set as well because the chemistry between the two of you was so natural instead of forced?
I agree. We became friends. I have a great admiration for his talent and him as a person. We had lots of fun together making the movie.

In the film, you have limited screen time with Jamie Kennedy and Vail Bloom, and yet you still make the most out of it. What was it like working with those two, especially Jamie, who truly has come a long way from his comic fodder days?

 Jamie Kennedy and I worked together on Enemy of the State. We became friends there and I always thought he had a strong acting talent, in addition to his comic brilliance – and I am right. “Smile”. Vail gives a very strong performance in the film too. I have just worked on another film with her, where she plays my daughter.

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Lare Roberts and Jon Voight on the set of Surviving the Wild.

You have a really good range when it comes to your roles and this is by far one of my favorite roles for you. Would you do another film like this if given the chance?
I am very pleased that you like me in this film. It is closer to my own personality than most characters I have played. I enjoyed being Gus.

Surviving the Wild comes to theaters today (1/12/18) and this is definitely a terrific family film that brings the negatives of life and make them a positive. A special Thank You goes to EMR Media and Jon Voight for making this interview possible.

 

 

 

Becoming “Crazy Famous”: An Interview with Actor Gregory Lay

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Gregory Lay has always loved acting. A graduate of Boston University Film School and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater is a well-versed film, television, and stage actor. Having done short films, Lay got a role in the 2011 Hollywood film The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon. Lay takes center stage as the lead role in Crazy Famous, a new funny indie comedy coming to VOD, Digital HD, and DVD on January 9 from Gravitas Ventures.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to talk with Lay about making the film.

Thank you Gregory for talking about Crazy Famous. I saw the film and I laughed my butt off. It was hilarious and I really enjoyed it!
That’s awesome man! That’s so cool you thought it was funny. It’s a real relief. It’s awesome! Thank you!

Before we talk about the film, can you tell me how you started your film career?
I’ve always wanted to be in films since I can remember. It’s always been kind of a before I can remember ambition that started. I went to Boston University Film School and I’ve always wanted to be in films. I’ve always loved and have been obsessed with acting and comedy my whole life. I went to film school and I did theater while I was there. I decided to take acting training after college. I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse in the city for two years.

Once that was done, I was trying to see how to get involved in film because you know, it’s a crazy competitive world out there. I did everything I could. I did as many student films as I could and as many off-Broadway films as I could. I learned as I went. Let’s see it was 2006 when I got out so it was like getting into a situation where you work with the best team possible. Developing crews of my own who are able to create stories in the vein that I want to on film.

It’s a process but my first major studio film was the Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau so it was from there, pushing the envelope. Getting into bigger projects, better projects and working with bigger people, better people. Since that credit, it’s all about that one little breakthrough. It was a small part, but still, working on a big studio film right off the bat. Seven or eight days working with those guys, it was great!

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Gregory Lay as Bob in Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures)

That’s great! Let’s talk about Crazy Famous. How did you get involved with the film?
I auditioned for a much smaller part and in happenstance, I got a call from the casting director, but the guy who directed the film, I knew him. We worked together on a film in 2011, and Paul Jarratt, the director of Crazy Famous, was an assistant director on the film. So I contacted him and decided I would be perfect for the lead role. I auditioned for the lead and I didn’t think I would get it. A month went by and I got the phone call. It was great! I loved the script. I thought it was hilarious and I thought it was going to be really funny. I went for it and I got it!

For those who haven’t seen the film yet, describe your character of Bob in your own words.
Bob is a guy who has been pressured, manipulated, and traumatized by his parents and their need to live vicariously through his fame and finding it impossible to find happiness. To find fulfillment, so he ends up doing whatever he needs to do to get the attention of his parents. So, he does something crazy and jumps the fence at Camp David. He gets arrested and still doesn’t get the attention from his crazy risks and paths so he takes one more crack at it, all to get the attention of his parents. It takes him to all these wacky places. That’s pretty much what drives a lot of human beings I suppose.

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Christopher Lloyd, Michael Keaton, Stephen Furst, and Peter Boyle as The Dream Team (Touchstone), which seems to have inspired Crazy Famous.

I hear you there. The chemistry between you and co-stars Richard Short, Victor Cruz, and David Neal Levin reminded me so much of the 1989 comedy The Dream Team, with Michael Keaton.
Dude! Loved that movie! I think I mentioned that when I read the script! I’m 100% with you. I watched that movie obsessively. That was one of my favorite comedies right there! That’s one of those movies I watched twenty or thirty times, one of those movies you just watch all the time.

I do that all the time (Laughs)!
Exactly, and people may think we’re crazy. They wonder why the multiple times, but there’s something about it that just brings it in and you’re still seething off it, whatever it is. But, The Dream Team was probably why I loved making this movie. I thought it could really bring that character-driven physical comedy. The absurdist comedy I loved from that era.

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David Neal Levin, Victor Cruz, Gregory Lay, and Richard Short in Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures)

Exactly, and I thought the chemistry between you guys on this film was great. What was it like working with them?
It was great! They are all so talented and they were all so open as well. Everyone was up for the challenge and we all just jumped in. One of the biggest challenges is when you meet a group of people and sell like that. You want to shorten that period of adjustment as much as possible. They hold back a little bit because I know in their head they want to do their job.

When you realize everyone is kind, cool, trustworthy, and positive, and everybody just lets it fly, you just see it and it was great. Our trust and the creative process developed through us exponentially as it went on. And it couldn’t have been a better fit. Everybody got along and was super giving, super generous. And they were super funny! Everybody got it! They knew what characters they were playing and the dynamic of the four of us and we all knew what we needed to go and we got it! That’s half the battle!

There was one scene in the film that I couldn’t stop laughing at. It was the scene where during your escape attempt, and Dr. Phil had no pants on and Larry is attempting him to bring him up an air vent. I have to ask. Did you nearly break or break at all, because had I been on the set of that film and saw that, I would have been dying even more than I did watching it.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure the entire crew broke for several minutes just to laugh (Laughs). Literally, because it was so necessary. Just imagine, what you don’t see in the movie is an actor dangling from the ceiling with a white harness around his bare butt cheeks, like in his crack. And spinning around a grown man, feeling like a fool (Laughs). So filming it is all about grabbing pieces and editing it together and making it look like he has no harness, and they did a great job! But yeah man, it took a while too and it was not fun!

(Laughs) Yeah I can imagine, because I kept thinking about him spinning around and Larry getting hit in the face and that’s all I pictured and I kept losing it.
Yeah, dude! For sure man! I’m sure I had to leave the room at one point. Because it’s obviously funny, not so much to give him his privacy (Laughs). You can’t just see that up there and not think about it. It’s just funny!

Bob is someone who is looking for fame and in today’s world, there are countless people who search for that fame as well. As an actor, what advice would you give those who aspire to follow their dreams and become involved with acting?
Find the reason why you’re doing it. Keep stripping layers. Find the way. What is it you want to say as a human being? Concentrate on the work and all the rest of that s**t will come, if it’s supposed to come. You can’t chase the results of something. You have to have faith in the process. Nobody starts at the top. Nobody starts confident. It’s a marathon. An experiential lifestyle, so focus on the work. Always the work and the rest will come.

Finally, what will you be working on next?
I actually wrapped up a feature film I also co-wrote called Hudson. I wrote the movie for David Neal Levin, who plays Dr. Phil in Crazy Famous. My friend Sean (D. Cunningham), who is a commercials director, and I wrote it. It’s a feature film about two strange cousins and David’s character is called Hudson. Richard Masur is in it. He plays David’s father. We just put it together, shot it, and got a great cast. The founder of the band Blind Melon even came up with a song for us.

And as usual, just hustling it out there. I have another film with my Simon, who I made my feature film debut with. We are working on our second film together. So yeah, that’s in post-production now as well. Other than that, I’ve just looking for new projects and see where it leads.

Great! Crazy Famous comes to DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on January 9. If you like films like The Dream Team or that absurdist comedy era, then you will enjoy this film! Thank you again Gregory for talking about the film.
And I am so glad you mentioned that! I’m so glad because we’re 100% on that one! Thanks for having me!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Gregory Lay for making this interview possible.

Bringing the “Furnace”: An Interview with Actor-Producer Mike Dwyer

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Mike Dwyer is an actor and producer based in Ohio who has worked in independent films shot in his home state. He stars in, produces, and helped wrote the screenplay for the indie horror film Union Furnace, which will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 15 through Metropol Pictures, a company he co-founded with the film’s director and co-writer, Nicholas Bushman.

World Film Geek got the opportunity to talk with Dwyer about the film.

Thank you Mike for talking about Union Furnace. I saw the film and it sounded like something along the lines of perhaps Saw and Hostel, but it wasn’t like that at all, but it was very good.
Oh cool! Yeah, we get that a lot that it sounds like Saw or Hostel, and I like both movies. But, I hope people will get something different from watching the movie. But cool, I appreciate it!

Before we talk about the film, can you talk about how you got involved in filmmaking and acting?
My uncle loved movies and he actually wrote a book about Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, about the Hammer cinema. So I grew up watching old Beta tapes of old horror movies. So yeah, from a very young age, I was watching Beta and well, no one even knows what that is anymore (laughs). It was really kind of great to see all these movies and I met Nick [Bushman, the film’s director] in middle school.

Nick had always wanted to make movies, probably from birth [laughs] and we went and saw Donnie Brasco together twenty-plus years ago and I said, yeah, I want to make movies. And he did too, so that’s how it all started for me. I went to film school for a little while, then just started and putting them out.

Let’s get into Union Furnace. What inspired you and Nicholas Bushman to come up with the film?
Well, we had made our first film, The Sandbar, which was a father-son movie with Rick Rossovich, who did major films like Terminator, Roxanne, and Top Gun. It was a blast and we wanted to do another movie but we wanted to do something different.

Nick has had this car thief character [Mike’s character of Cody] in his wheelhouse and he’s had a great setup for him, but we were looking for something exciting, kind of nutty thing for him to go on. So we locked ourselves in a room for two weeks and we thought, why don’t we literally have him go through Hell. And maybe come back, but maybe not. So we were playing off each other for two weeks and that was really where it was born.

It was inspired by the old Italian giallo movies, those kind of movies. Pasolini’s Saló (1975) was a big influence for us, just because of its darkness.

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Seth Hammond as the Lion in Union Furnace (Metropol Pictures)

The film I felt was really driven by Seth Hammond’s character, who brought a bit of shock and craziness to the role. How did Seth come on board and whose idea was it for him to make his acting debut, because it was one heck of a debut performance?
Oh man! I feel the same way because I don’t even talk much in the movie and he’s there and he talks to me, screams at me. He has such an imagination on him. When Nick and I were coming up with the bad guy, who ultimately became Seth’s character of the Lion, we really wanted to blur the line between good and bad. He’s your friend, he’s not your friend. He’s manipulative. He grabs desperate people and puts them in this situation.

I think it’s that mask that gave him that extent of power. I’m not kidding man, there’s time when he’s in front of the camera screaming at me and I would actually be quaking. I mean, his pants are so tight. He’s wearing a silk shirt and he has a fake gun on him. I was like, what the hell? First role? This is amazing! He’s really wild!

I’ve seen Katie Keene (left center) in Clowntown and Keith David (right) is a seasoned veteran. How did they come onboard and what were they like on the set of the film?
Well, Katie was actually in our first film, Sandbar, and that was actually her debut performance. Nick got her involved. She actually auditioned from an open casting call. She was in Kentucky at the time. She’s in L.A. now. We wrote the part just for her. We knew what we wanted. We thought of her voice and she wanted to be in the movie. So she came onboard.

Well, Keith is very interesting. When we wrote the character of Pinstripe, Nick knew right away, it had to be Keith David. It had to be Keith David. I was like, that sounds great. Are you going to get him? Nick said, yeah I’ll get him. Nick got Keith’s information, he sent him the script. I think it was about two, two and a half weeks later, he was out here shooting the film. It was really quick, but it was great that he was such a nice guy who liked the script and he came out here and shot the film in eight days. He’s a Godsend, adds a bit of flavor to the film.

What’s next for you in terms of projects?
Nick and I completed another film called Stranger in the Dunes. It’s kind of a thriller, sci-fi movie that takes place at a beach house. I’m in that film too and it will start playing festivals in the fall. It’s a pretty wild awesome movie. That and we are going to make another film sometime in the fall. We’re just trying to rock and roll, take every chance we get. And I hope people get to check out our films.

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The Lion (Seth Hammond) leads the pack in Union Furnace (Metropol Pictures)

Exactly and this is why I love indie films today because this film has a sense of originality, again with Seth’s performance really just mind-blowing. I don’t think I would ever expect anything he did in a major Hollywood movie.
He literally is the highway of the film. The driving force of the film and it’s exciting to see him both with the mask and without the mask. And I think it’s great to see that in a genre film, someone who is a real guy. It’s the manipulation. It’s like he takes you to the place and has you locked up and also someone to woo you, making you think, oh this guy is my friend and he drops the ball on you.

Union Furnace is a thriller with some pretty good unexpected turns. The film comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on August 15. You all did great in the film and I would recommend this to any fans of horror films who want something a little different in terms of playing deadly games.Thank you again Mike for talking about the film.
Thank you very much! Appreciate it!

A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Mike Dwyer for making this interview possible. For more on Mike and his films, check out the official Metropol Pictures page.

A Tribute to Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

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Hollywood has been rocked by the death of legendary actor, writer, playwright, and filmmaker Sam Shepard.

Shepard passed away after a lengthy battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, on July 27 at the age of 73. His passing was just announced today via outlets.

Born on November 5, 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Shepard was the son of a teacher and a former WWII pilot turned teacher and farmer. In high school, the acting bug bit Shepard while working as a ranch hand after the family settled down in California. In 1962, Shepard joined a theater troupe and never looked back.

Shepard got his start on the stage in the Off-Off Broadway circuit as a playwright. While he focused writing for the stage, he did write the occasion film as well. In 1975, he became the core playwright for the Magic Theater in California. A mere three years later, Shepard transitioned into acting when he made his debut in front of the cameras in Days of Heaven for director Terrance Malick. One of his most iconic acting roles was that of astronaut Chuck Yeager in 1983’s The Right Stuff.

Shepard would go on to have a successful career in both the stage and film. In addition, he even has done some writings which have been published. He would direct only two films, 1988’s Far North and 1993’s Silent Tongue.

Shepard is survived by his sisters and three children. World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Sam Shepard.

Rest in Peace, Sam Shepard.

Meet “Bonejangles”: An Interview with Writer and Actor Keith Melcher

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Keith Melcher as the titular character in Larry and the Monsters (2015)

Keith Melcher got his start making short films before playing the titular bachelor in a TV mini-series, Larry and the Monsters, in 2015. His second script, the horror-comedy Bonejangles also shows Melcher as the titular killer, who must be released when police break down in a town full of monsters. The film is currently available on Video on Demand and at Redbox from Wild Eye Releasing.

World Film Geek got the chance to interview Melcher about his experience on the film, which marked his feature film debut.

Being the writer of the movie, did you always envision playing the role of Bonejangles yourself?
Not at all. My plan was to just stand on the sidelines and hit on the makeup girl. But when the search for an actor to play Bonejangles was looking like it was going to cost us too much, Brett DeJager, the director, offered me the part since I knew the script inside and out. And I’ll admit, deep down, I always secretly wanted to play a slasher villain and I think it worked out in the end. And besides, the “makeup girl” wound up being a big, burly, tattooed guy like me anyway, so there you go!

Why did you think you’d be the best man for the job?
I honestly didn’t. I am extremely near sighted without my glasses, so I wound up playing Bonejangles almost completely blind. I also wound up being shorter than most everybody in the cast, especially my victims, which makes it kind of hard to look like a bad ass serial killer when you’re a foot shorter than everybody else. But thanks to some movie magic and the use of lots and lots of apple boxes, I was able to look pretty damn scary in the finished film if I do say so myself.

Did you base the character on any past horror monsters or real-life monsters?
I will admit there’s quite a bit of Jason Voorhees in Bonejangles. Maybe a little bit of Leatherface and Michael Myers thrown in as well. I wanted him to basically be a slasher archetype who borrowed a little bit from all the greats who came before him.

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Keith Melcher as the titular Bonejangles (Wild Eye Releasing)

Did you chop and change his ‘look’ as development on the film went on?
His look pretty much was redesigned on set before we shot his first scene. Our original FX artist, who will remain nameless, bailed on us shortly before filming and made off with the original mask, FX props and the $6,000 we paid him in advance to design everything. So Ben, the above mentioned “makeup girl” now found himself the new FX artist and also was given free rein to design Bonejangles’ look. And I think he knocked it out of the park.

 How empowering did it feel wearing the guise of Bonejangles?
Very empowering. I’m pretty self conscious about appearing on screen, but wearing the mask eliminated all of that and gave me the freedom to unleash my inner serial killer and to take out all my aggressions by fake murdering a bunch of people. I’ve worked in the tourism industry, so I’ve got a lot of aggression to take out!

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Keith Melcher about to unleash all Hell as Bonejangles (Wild Eye Releasing)

Is there a particular scene you enjoyed filming most?
There is a flashback scene that captured the tone of the scene in the script 100%. It’s just as goofy and over the top as I envisioned to be and it cracks me up every time I watch it. As for any scene featuring myself… beating the hell out of some poor camper with a guitar was a hell of a lot of fun to film. I’m just disappointed we only had one guitar and it smashed to pieces pretty quickly.

What do you consider yourself first and foremost – an actor or writer?
Writer definitely. That is my favorite part of filmmaking, coming up with a script. I don’t usually adhere to a strict outline and mostly make stuff up as I go so I like seeing scripts go in different directions than I originally envision. I’m a fan of merging genres too. As for acting, I do enjoy it, but if I had a choice, remaining behind the scenes is where I would prefer to be.

What do you hope Bonejangles does for your career?
I’m hoping it can open some doors and lead to some other film projects down the line. I have a lot of other scripts I’d like to see get turned into movies at some point. And the inner geek in me would never forgive myself if I didn’t say I’d love to be involved in a Marvel Studios production at some point. So Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this, I’ve got a kick ass Moon Knight script just waiting to be read.

A Special Thank You goes to October Coast PR and Keith Melcher for making this interview possible. Check out Bonejangles on VOD and at all Redbox locations.

A Tribute to Don Rickles (1926-2017)

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One of the greatest comedians in history has passed away. Don Rickles, known for his off-brand humor as well as being successful actor, passed away yesterday from kidney failure at the age of 90.

Donald Jay Rickles was born on May 8, 1926 in Queens, New York. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Rickles decided to pursue acting and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Starting out as a bit part actor in television, Rickles wasn’t getting anywhere, so he turned to becoming a stand-up comedian. Who would have guessed that would have been the ticket he was destined for? Known for his insults, which he started when he fought back against hecklers, earned him the nickname “The Master of Insults” according to Dean Martin.

While Rickles may be known for his off-brand humor and insults, which he took no remorse doing (and rightfully so), he has had his share of serious roles. They included his film debut, 1958’s Run Silent, Run Deep; 1963’s X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes, and even Martin Scorsese’s hit film Casino.

He has also had his share of comic relief in films, including the Beach Party films with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and playing Mr. Wilson in the straight to video sequel Dennis the Menace Strikes Again in 1998. He also voiced Mr. Potato Head in Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story films.

Rickles is survived by wife Barbara and two children. World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Don Rickles.

As a final tribute, we present a video from YouTube user Patrick Lovell, which has six of Rickles’ roasts from the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast series. It’s Rickles at his finest:

Rest in Peace, Don Rickles.

Combat Mortal (2004)

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2004, Z Productions/Reel Asian Films/The Supreme Ultimate Fist

Director:
Dr. Zee Lo
Producer:
Dr. Zee Lo
Writer:
Dr. Zee Lo
Cinematography:
David Austin
Editing:
Kate Johnson

Cast:
Dr. Zee Lo (Billy Lee/Master Qi/Inspector Couseau)
Nikita Ager (Nicole King)
Joe Ho (Wu Feng)
John Milios (Zoh)
John Truong (Hwang)
Sid Campbell (Capt. O’Rourke)
Samuel Lima (Det. Lopez)
Steve Heinze (Capt. Goldman)
Karina Karrington (Kay King/Anna)
Bryan Handy (Troy)
Sky Nicholas (Jeannie)

Bruce Lee’s Grand-student, Dr. Zee Lo, creates perhaps the ultimate Americanized-Bruceploitation film in his directorial debut, in which he opens with “imitation is the highest form of flattery”.

Billy Lee is a martial artist who aspires to be an actor, but to make ends meet, uses his skills as a bounty hunter. When his latest assignment is to capture martial arts master Hwang, Lee tracks him down and after a fight, is able to get a name of his boss, Wu. Billy makes the arrest while attempting to go to auditions to live his real dream of being a martial arts film star. Nicole King is an international supermodel who only under the advice of older sister Kay, has done it all on her own with no outside interference. However, crime boss Wu Feng has threatened Nicole that if she does not work for him, she will face certain danger.

Kay, concerned about the situation, decides to hire someone low-key to serve as Nicole’s bodyguard. Enter Billy, who at first is reluctant to take the job, but ultimately accepts the offer. When Billy soon learns who has been threatening her, he learns that Wu Feng is the one who was raised practically as his brother when they were kids. Now, Billy, loyal to the job at hand, must do what it takes to protect Nicole, even if it means having to face his own “brother”.

When you see the words “imitation is the highest form of flattery” superimposed on the screen, one may think is this going to be a spoof. Instead, Dr. Zee Lo has basically made his own version of the popular cult subgenre that is “Bruceploitation”. Interesting enough, he took the character names from his film debut, The Deadly Cure, and once again made them hero and villain and yet added a dash of secrecy in the fact that these two were once blood brothers who have now become sworn enemies.

Lo lifts elements from films such as Fist of Fury and more notably Game of Death. The GOD reference involves our hero Billy aspiring to be an actor where in GOD, Bruce Lee’s Billy Lo is a martial arts film star who gets himself caught in a situation with a syndicate. Plus, in a scene being shot by a “Mr. Weintraub” (an obvious reference to Enter the Dragon producer Fred Weintraub), Billy and good friend Troy, played by Bryan Handy, are re-enacting the GOD nunchaku fight between Lee and Dan Inosanto. Billy even reads a line from Enter the Dragon in his office before receiving a call from his boss. Dr. Z also plays two supporting characters, Master Qi and a play on The Pink Panther’s bumbling Inspector Clouseau, here a filler character who works for villain Wu Feng.

Nikita Ager plays a strong woman in supermodel Nicole, who has done it all on her own, but only needs protection in order to prevent the worst. She only pulls the damsel in distress in the final act, because let’s face it, that’s what one would normally expect in this brand of film. Joe Ho doesn’t look intimidating as lead villain Wu Feng. His look and demeanor look more as if he should be playing a henchman or a right-hand man, but not so much a lead villain. John Truong and John Milios provide mainly action support and fit their roles of Hwang and Zoh, two martial arts professionals working for Wu Feng while Sid Campbell makes a cameo as Capt. O’Rourke in a filler scene where Billy helps him teach police cadets self-defense.

Dr. Z’s fight scenes allow him once again to emulate Bruce Lee, but this time, that is his intention to make his own version of emulating Bruce and does it to a tee. He does the movements, the screaming, and even does the backflip kick done in Enter the Dragon. However, once again, Lo feels it is necessary to use a constant use of double, triple, and even quadruple taking of action and while it may be a good idea to do it, there are certain scenes where it is completely unnecessary and even goes as far as using slow motion in very unnecessary moments of the film.

Combat Mortal is without a doubt Dr. Z’s answer to Bruceploitation and it is not completely bad, but the unnecessary slow motion and multiple shots in some of the action can be more seen as annoying. However, Dr. Z gets an A for effort for trying.

WFG RATING: C+

This film is available to buy on Reel Asian Films, Dr. Z’s film distribution company.

Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

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2014, Fox Searchlight Pictures/New Regency/M Prods/Le Grisby Productions/TSG Entertainment/Worldview Entertainment

Director:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Producers:
John Lesher
Arnon Milchan
James W. Skotchdopole
Writers:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Nicolás Giacobone
Alexander Dinelaris
Armando Bo

Cinematography:
Emmanuel Lubezki
Editing:
Douglas Crise
Stephen Mirrone

Cast:
Michael Keaton (Riggan Thompson)
Emma Stone (Sam Thompson)
Zack Galifianakis (Jake)
Naomi Watts (Lesley)
Edward Norton (Mike)
Andrea Riseborough (Laura)
Amy Ryan (Sylvia)
Lindsey Duncan (Tabitha)

Michael Keaton was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of an actor making a comeback. Had it not been for him and Edward Norton, this movie would have been completely ho-hum, yet it still felt dull if that makes sense.

Riggan Thompson was once a big star, best known for playing the superhero Birdman in a series of action films. However, those days are long gone. Now struggling, he has a chance to make a comeback when he decides to bring the Raymond Carver play “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” to Broadway. With the help of best friend and lawyer Jake, Riggan intends to show people that he can go against type and attempts to assemble the best cast possible. However, he soon learns things don’t go as planned.

Riggan must deal with acclaimed actor Mike, who unwittingly improvises his lines and can only do his best on stage. Riggan faces issues with his daughter Sam, whom on the road to recovery, serves as his assistant. Not to mention the scathing reviews he receives during previews of the show before the big opening. However, none of all that compares to the simple fact that he is literally wrestling with his conscience, who wishes he had gone back to being Birdman again instead of going against type. Will all the pressures take its toll on the actor?

This film won the grand prize of Best Picture at the Academy Awards earlier this year, but did it really live up to the hype? Well, overall, the film felt kind of dull and depressing. However, it does have its moments and it is all because of Michael Keaton, who rightfully earned at least his nomination for Best Actor. Keaton tremendously drives the depressing story of an actor who just wants to make a comeback but in a different way and all the struggles he faces along the way. Riggan may seem like a dull character, but it is understandable with all the obstacles that stand in his way. As Riggan, we see Keaton having to deal with life both on and off the stage, external conflicts and internal conflicts within himself. While those expecting some joy in the actor’s comeback will be severely disappointed, Keaton really manages to handle himself quite well.

It seems like not only is Riggan a “dull, depressing” character, but practically everyone is in the film. Emma Stone, who normally manages to play light-hearted roles, goes against type as Riggan’s recovering daughter Sam while Edward Norton brings a sense of cockiness to his role of famous actor Mike, whom we learn has quite a few issues of his own off the stage and can only feel he can do his best on the stage. Think of it as a “reverse stagefright” if you will. The only character who brings any sort of optimism towards the whole entire play gig is Zack Galifianakis’ Jake, who as Riggan’s best friend, has to be that sort of crutch for the near-fallen actor.

That doesn’t go without saying, the highlight of the film and yes there is something there that doesn’t make this a complete dud, is the technical aspects, notably the cinematography and editing. Some nice long continuous takes during the backstage scenes to the stage are shot very well and bring a bit of color to the overall greyness of the film. There are a few comic moments that prevents the film from being a complete dud. This includes an improptu fight backstage between Keaton and Norton and a very nicely done dream-like sequence in which Riggan comes to face to face with his conscience, who just happens to be the very character he played in the past. The finale of the film does bring a sense of redemption value in the film as well, due to its part comic relief and part revelation.

However, Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), is too much of a dull and depressing movie that had it not been for Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, would have been a complete mess. It has some light moments, but ultimately, it is too grey for this reviewer.

WFG RATING: B-

DVD/BLU-RAY

Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994)

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The Hollywood film The Hard Way (1991) starred Michael J. Fox as an actor who follows tough cop James Woods to prepare for a role as a cop in an upcoming film. This Bollywood remake of that very film kicks it up a notch due to the presence of one of India’s biggest action stars, martial artist Akshay Kumar in the Woods role.

Kumar plays police inspector Karan Joglekar, who has learned his brother and mentor, Arjun, has been brutally murdered at the hands of big shot crime lord Goli. As Karan searches for clues to find Goli, he gets himself in hot water when he is asked to confront a local movie producer who has kidnapped a woman in order to force her to appear in his films. At the scene as well is Deepak Kumar, an actor known for his roles in romantic comedies who is looking to go against type but is constantly met with disapproval from the unscrupulous producer.

When Karan confronts the producer, he is forced to fight the producer and his security guards using his martial arts skills. Kumar, who holds black belts in karate and tae kwon do as well as being a muay thai practicioner does some great moves for Bollywood cinema. Under the supervisor of action coordinator Akbar Bakshi, Kumar was able to perform his own stunts in the film, even jumping over the hood of a car to kick one of the goons he fights.

Impressed by what he has seen, Deepak is determined to make Karan take him along for the ride in order to study the role of a police officer. Meanwhile, Goli’s girlfriend Mona has been killed by the crime lord because of her betrayal by ratting him out to Arjun, Karan’s brother, before he was killed. However, when Karan decides to find a look-alike to infiltrate Goli, he meets Basanti, and soon she begins her infiltration yet she falls for the hard-nosed cop at the same time.

At first, Deepak and Karan don’t get along due to Deepak’s constant interference with Karan’s mission. However, Karan soon realizes that he cannot figure the whole mystery out himself and it takes the sometimes annoying Deepak to show Karan the meaning of not only working with a partner, but even showing the meaning of friendship.

This film is the second in Akshay Kumar’s breakout Khiladi series of films. As with a Bollywood action film, this is a nicely blended mix of action, comedy, and the mandatory musical sequences that make Bollywood what it is today. Kumar seems to be the best fighter of the entire movie and it shows. Some call him the “Jean-Claude Van Damme” of Bollywood and it may be true in terms of showcasing his skills on screen. Saif Ali Khan provides the perfect comic counterpart to Kumar’s hard-nosed police officer as a very popular actor who just wants a change. The fact that these two learn from each other not only with work, but eventually in life, works out nicely in terms of the plot.

The only disappointment of the film comes in the climax of the film. Most film villains tend to have a top number one henchman that can pose a real threat for the hero, sometimes even more than the actual villain himself. This seems to be the case with the Goli’s henchman. Seeing the film, a fight scene between the henchman and Karan would have been necessary. Sadly, their confrontation is way too short and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t consist of any fighting between the two.

With the exception of a disappointing finale, Main Khiladi Tu Anari is a fun action-comedy in which the credit goes to the unlikely team of Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan with Kumar’s thrashing of the movie producer and his goons as the highlight of the film.

WFG RATING: B-

A United Sevens Combines/Venus Records and Tapes Production. Director: Sameer Malkan. Producer: Champak Jain. Writers: Kader Khan; story by Sachin Bhomwick. Cinematography: Akram Khan. Editing: Suresh Chaturvedi.

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Rageshwari, Shakti Kapoor, Johnny Lever, Mukesh Khanna, Beena Banerjee, Goga Kapoor, Shiva Rindani.