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 Four (2012)

thefour china-icon

Wuxia meets the supernatural in this standard period martial arts film that is the first of a proposed trilogy.

In ancient China, the Emperor has a group of constables known as Department Six, led by Lord Liu and his right hand man Avalanche. They have a new recruit in female Ji Yaohua, who is assigned her first job under Fourth Constable Han Long. A thief named Jia San has stolen a coin cast from the Imperial Mint and is planning to head to the Drunken Moon Inn to sell the cast.

At the Drunken Moon Inn, alongside Yaohua is disguised constable Cold Blood. When Jia San is busted, the members of Department Six finds themselves assisted by three warriors. They are Zhuge Zhengwo, the crippled fighter Emotionless, and Iron Hands. In the midst of the chaos is professional debt collector Life Snatcher. The three warriors are members of the Divine Constabulatory, a covert ops group who are the personal team of the royal Prince, much to the chagrin of Lord Liu.

A jealous Liu demands that Department Six will be the only group with royal mandate and sends Cold Blood to infiltrate the group in means to cause conflict. However, Cold Blood learns that the Divine Constablatory is more than just warriors and a team. Zhuge considers the group his family and Life Snatcher has become a new member as well. Despite Zhuge knowing of Cold Blood’s mission, he invites the constable to join them. However, all is not happy as the case of the coin cast remains and it soon becomes realized that there is a bigger threat to China as the currency is just a part of the mysterious puzzle.

Based on the novel “The Four Great Constables” by Malaysian-Chinese writer Wen Ruian, the film brings a little redemption back for filmmaker Gordon Chan (who co-directed with Janet Chun), who returned to making these period films after making his Hollywood debut with the godawful live-action adaptation of The King of Fighters in 2010. Here, one of the film’s pluses are the ensemble cast who perform well in the film.

Deng Chao does well as the conflicted Cold Blood, who must choose between his loyalty to his ranking as a Department Six constable and his new friends in the Divine Constablatory. Our protagonist is the primary focus of the film as his allegiances are not his only issue. He is involved in a love triangle with the crippled Emotionless and the rookie constable Yaohua. Even more worse, Cold Blood has a very dark secret in which he only reveals in two scenes.

Anthony Wong plays the mentor type well as Divine Constablatory leader Zhuge. Liu Yifei, who is known in the U.S. for her role in The Forbidden Kingdom, plays Emotionless as a cripple who spends most of the film staring blankly at everyone. However, in the climax, she finally reverses it and gets in on some of the action. Collin Chou sports some wicked tattoos, including his head, and uses a lot of fist work as the blacksmith Iron Hands. The surprise comes in the form of Ronald Cheng, who plays new member Life Snatcher, who can be best described as a “drunken kicker”. He loves his wine and uses some heavy bootwork in his action scenes.

In charge of the film’s action scenes is Deedee Huen-Chiu Ku, A member of Yuen Woo-Ping’s stunt team, Ku pulls off some moves in the vein of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon combined with the likes of the supernatural films such as the Mr., Vampire films and others. As mentioned, Collin Chou and Ronald Cheng perform some nicely style hard martial arts while there are notions of Qigong and wuxia’s trademark swordsmanship involved as well. While the action is at times wire-assisted, it is still an enjoyable part of the film.

The Four is quite a fun melding of the supernatural and wuxia but there is just something missing that makes this slightly above average. However, it is definitely a fun way to spend two hours, that’s if you’re not turned off by Liu Yifei’s blank stare.


A Beijing Enlight Pictures Ltd. Production. Director: Gordon Chan. Producers: Abe Kwong, Paul Cheng, and Gordon Chan. Writers: Maria Wong, Frankie Tam, and Gordon Chan; based on the novel “The Four Great Constables” by Wen Ruian. Cinematography: Lai Yiu-Fai and Li Qiang. Editing: Chan Kei-Hop.

Cast: Deng Chao, Liu Yifei, Collin Chou, Ronald Cheng, Anthony Wong, Jiang Yi-Yan, Cheng Tai-Shen, Wu Xia-Bo, Sheren Tang, Waise Lee, Ryu Kohata, Bao Baier, Anna Fang, Wu Ying-Jie, Miao Chi, Tina Xiang, Tenky Tin, Michael Tong.

Slaughter in San Francisco (1974)

slaughterinsanfrancisco Hong-kong-icon

Released as both Yellow-Faced Tiger and Karate Cop, American martial arts champion turned superstar Chuck Norris plays the villain once again in this very typical modern day kung fu film from director Lo Wei.

Don and John are two police officers in San Francisco. When they see a young woman, Sylvia Chu, apparently being raped, the cops stop the attackers. However, at the police station, Sylvia tells the chief that the two “rapists” are actually good friends and they were having fun. Feeling the embarrassment, Don and John are reprimanded and back to work.

However, Don’s world is about to be turned upside down. When John is kidnapped and attacked by a local gang, Don arrives to save John. However, during the attempt, he accidentally kills one of the street gangsters. Forced to give up his badge, Don spends a year in prison for manslaughter. Working as a waiter in a restaurant, Don grabs the attention of local crime lord Chuck Slaughter. Slaughter is impressed with Don and wants to hire him. At first Don refuses, but Slaughter gives him a week.

Meanwhile, John is ultimately killed when he attempts to stop a bank robber masterminded by Slaughter. To hide his tracks, Sylvia’s parents are accused of the crime and forced in prison. When Don learns of his best friend’s death, he decides to investigate. Throughout his quest, he learns that Sylvia has been dating Slaughter’s young brother Paul and that there is someone on the inside responsible for blaming the Chus. Don and a reformed Sylvia decide to make the wrong things right, forcing an inevitable showdown between Don and Slaughter.

After working with Bruce Lee on the 1972 Hong Kong hit film Way of the Dragon, one would have ever expected Chuck Norris to work on another Hong Kong film. However, he did just that in 1974 with this very standard action film. Norris once again plays the villain, in this case, a mobster who loves to spend money and spends his time perfecting his martial arts skills. Norris himself never got to see this film and chances are should he ever see it, he would most likely laugh at his role.

The film would make wave for a future action legend in Don Wong, who would go on to star in films like The Secret Rivals and Eagle’s Claws. The film’s female lead is another legend in Hong Kong cinema, Sylvia Chang. She would be best known for her role in the Aces Go Places series of action comedies. Here, she seems like someone who doesn’t care about anyone but herself and wanting to be popular of sorts. However, when her parents become accused of murder, she begins to have mixed feelings.

The film has quite an international cast and one wonders why the likes of Norris and the late karate master Daniel Ivan had dubbed voices. Nevertheless, the action is pretty standard fare here. The legendary Han Ying-Chieh choreographed the fight scenes and while Norris looks good, Wong himself gets to show little of his capabilities. He does get to pull off his jumping hook kick in one scene and takes on the likes of Chin Yuet-Sang and Lam Ching-Ying.

In any case, unless you are truly a fan of Chuck Norris, it is best to avoid Slaughter in San Francisco. If you’re heavily into kung fu movies, this one is your basic standard fare and only should be for hardcore kung fu film fans. Plus it does have a catchy theme song.


A Golden Harvest (HK) Ltd. Production. Director: Lo Wei. Producer: Raymond Chow. Writers: Lo Wei and Chang Yung-Hsiang. Cinematography: Cheung Yiu-Jo. Editing: Peter Cheung.

Cast: Don Wong, Sylvia Chang, Chuck Norris, Wong Sam, Erh Chun, Daniel Ivan, Robert Jones, Bob Talbert, James Economides, Ma Man-Chun, Tu Chia-Cheng, Chin Yuet-Sang, Lam Ching-Ying.

The Four Shaolin Challengers (1977)

fourshaolinchallengers Hong-kong-icon

Two years before Sammo Hung played one of Wong Fei-Hung’s most beloved disciples, karate expert Larry Lee took the role of Lam Sai-Wing in this standard kung fu film that features some nice action scenes.

A band of thugs have been terrorizing the town, extorting money from the local merchants. However, one man who dares not get involved is local pork butcher Lin Shih-Yung. Opening a local martial arts school, he gets in with dealing with the gang after one of his students finds himself in hot water with the gang.

When Lin stands up to the thugs, the crime boss Chang orders the school destroyed and in the process, Lin is seriously hurt. Luckily, three friends of Lin’s arrive to help him with his trouble. They are “Devil Kick” Chi, Ling Yun-Chieh, and Liang Kuan. When Lin is nursed back to health, he and his friends begin to stop the thugs without any killing. Chang hires a group of fighters called the “Yangtze Four”. However, what everyone doesn’t know is that Chang is actually a notorious criminal named Shao Pei-Li, the most wanted man in the area. When Lin and his friends discover the truth, they set a plan in motion to put an end to things once and for all.

Lam Sai-Wing is one of the most beloved disciples of legendary martial arts master Wong Fei-Hung. One of his famous students was Lau Chan, the father of the late action film legend Lau Kar-Leung. There have been a few films about Lam with Sammo Hung’s The Magnificent Butcher being one of, if not, the best film to feature the character. However, this 1977 film was one of the first to have Lam as the main character.

Larry Lee, a karate expert, plays Lam in this film. He plays Lam as a butcher and martial arts teacher who doesn’t believe in killing. For some of the film, he tends to be more of a pacifist. That is, until he is pushed over the edge. However, he still follows suit and does not believe in killing. Meanwhile, Bruce Lee provides a bit of comic relief as “Devil Kick” Chi as he and the othe two goons would go to brothels when not helping their friend out. Meanwhile Liu Tan is purely evil as Cheng, or Shao Pei-Li, a truly vicious criminal.

Wong Mei was in charge of the fight scenes and they are done pretty well. Bruce Leung definitely shows why he was one of the best kickers in classic kung fu films. Larry Lee gets to use both kung fu and elements of karate. This is evident in the finale, when he uses a weapon mainy used in karate, the tonfa, against the likes of goons and in his climactic battle against Liu Tan. San Kuai, Charlie Chan, Lee Hang, and Chu Chi-Ming do well as the “Yangtze Four”, each with a different style to combat our heroes. The climactic fight scene helps make up for some of the other lackluster fights throughout the film.

The Four Shaolin Challengers is a standard kung fu film, but it is quite fun to see a cast including Bruce Leung and Larry Lee in the role of Lam Sai-Wing. Truly one for hardcore fans of classic kung fu films.


A Gam Ma Film Co. Film. Director: Ngai Hoi-Fung. Producers: Charles Lowe and Cheng Hui-Chun. Cinematography: Charles Lowe. Editing: Hamilton Yu.

Cast: Leung Siu-Lung, Larry Lee, Wong Yuen-Sam, Jason Pai Piao, Eric Tsang, Lau Dan, Fung King-Man, Sammy Lau, San Kuai, Charlie Chan, Kwan Chung, Leung Siu-Wah, Wong Jing-Jing.

Mayhem (2017)

mayhem usa-iconSerbia-icon

A law firm company goes awry when a virus hits in this genre mashup film from director Joe Lynch, which seems to have a little message behind it.

Derek Cho is a legal analyst who has risen through the ranks from his humble beginnings to his current position. However, in one fell swoop, his life is about to take a serious turn as he is fired for allegedly botching a major case that cost the firm seven figures. The only problem is that Derek had nothing to do with the case. Regardless, Derek is made the scapegoat and is ready to pack his things when disaster strikes.

A SWAT team emerges and surrounds the buildings. Reports of a virus that causes rage and inhibitions, known as the ID-6 Virus, has resulted in the law firm being quarantined for eight hours. The entire office, including both Derek and former client Melanie Cross, who holds a grudge against the firm for the foreclosure of her home, has been infected. The higher ups, knowing Derek can end up being a whistleblower who can destroy the firm’s reputation, decide to put a price on Derek’s head. Derek and Melanie decide the only way to survive is to join forces and confront everyone who stand in their way.

This collaboration between director Joe Lynch and writer Matias Caruso is perhaps one of the craziest movies today, bringing to mind the madness of a Troma film with the likes of something expected from the great Takashi Miike. The film meshes the likes of Quarantine and The Office with its tale of a law firm forced to be quarantined due to an outbreak of a rage virus. Normally in films like this, it usually becomes a horror film. This film’s only horror element seems to be with everyone having one red eye, an effect of the virus aside from the insane violent antics.

However, the film seems to be more about corruption within corporations and how the higher ups will do anything to keep their reputation, even by making scapegoats out of the hardest worker in the company. In the case of Steven Yeun’s Derek Cho, he is the type of person who worked so hard to get where he is at that he shunned pretty much everything else. Yeun, who will forever be known as the innocent Glenn in The Walking Dead, goes a full 180 when the virus changes him from scapegoat to potential whistleblower. In other words, he goes from the hunted to the hunter and does it so well when he sends video calls to the higher ups with his plans to stop them. However, it isn’t so much that Derek wants to be a whistleblower. He just has had enough of his bosses so much that the virus will want him to do the one thing that all workers want to do when it comes to crappy bosses: destroy them!

One cast member who truly is relishing in the moment is Samara Weaving, who takes a more subtle approach as Melanie. And when we mean subtle, we mean that in the most maniacal way possible. Having a resemblance to Margot Robbie, it is like Melanie is channeling her inner Harley Quinn as she enjoys beating up and killing those who stand in her way in what she perceives is a justification of revenge for what the law firm had done to her, and enjoys it to a tree. Steven Brand definitely brings that mastermind type to his role of law firm CEO Towers while at times, it looks more like Caroline Chikezie seems to act like the real puppetmaster at times.

The violence of the film is pretty brutal and at times over the top with a Takashi Miike-feel to it as we see Yeun and Weaving use a barrage of power tools as their weapons of choice against the law firm workers who are either authoritative figures or those heavily influenced by said figures. Hammers, nail guns, scissors, and even a small circular saw are just a taste of what to expect to be used in the film as blood flies everywhere. Not so much limbs coming off. However, the film does employ a brawling fight style when it comes to the fight scenes with Yeun obviously meant to be a punching bag uses whatever he can to protect himself before the quarantine is over. On the upside, the virus does enable him to take a beating and keep on ticking!

Mayhem truly lives up to its title, but in a dark comedy kind of way that still proves to be a heck of a ride with Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving as the driving forces in their roles of two people who have been screwed over by the corporation and have had enough. In this case, it is good that a virus amplifies that plan for vengeance and justice.


RLJE Films presents a Circle of Confusion production in association with Royal Viking Entertainment. Director: Joe Lynch. Producers: Mehrdad Elie, Sean Sorensen, Parisa Caviani, Lawrence Mattis, and Matt Smith. Writer: Matias Caruso. Cinematography: Steve Gainer. Editing: Josh Ethier.

Cast: Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand, Carolin Chikezie, Kerry Fox, Dallas Roberts, Mark Frost, Claire Dellamar, Andre Eriksen, Nikola Kent, Lucy Chappell, Olja Hrustic.

RLJE Films will be releasing the film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on November 10.

Yen and Lau Go Bad in “Chasing” Teaser

Get ready to see action hero Donnie Yen in a whole new light in the upcoming true story-inspired Chasing the Dragon.

Yen plays “Crippled” Ho, a Mainland China-based immigrant who arrives in 1963 Hong Kong and rises through the ranks to become a notorious drug lord, with a corrupt police officer named Lee Rock joining him.

Playing the role of Lee Rock is the legendary Andy Lau, who actually played the character in a 2-part film series from director Lawrence Lau in 1991.

Jason Kwan and Wong Jing directed this film with Wong writing the screenplay. Co-starring are Kent Cheng, Philip Keung, Wilfred Lau, and Michelle Hu.

Well Go USA has acquired the North American rights while a release date for Hong Kong is set for this Fall.

Garner to Unleash Some “Peppermint”?

Sony Pictures Releasing's "Miracles From Heaven" Photo Call

Could Jennifer Garner be the female John Wick? If things go as planned, it could be very well the case.

Garner is in talks to star in Peppermint, in which she would play a woman who seeks revenge ten years after her husband and daughter are gunned down in an incident that leaves her character in a coma. And the plan is for her to go after everyone, and we do stress “everyone”.

Pierre Morel will be directing the film from a script by Chad St. John. Producing are Tom Rosenberg and Gary Luchessi for Lakeshore Entertainment while STX Entertainment are in talks to distribute the film.

More as this develops.

H/T: Deadline

Falcon Rising (2014)

falconrising usa-icon

2014, Strohberry Films

Ernie Barbarash
Ernst Etchie Stroh
Shahar Stroh
Y.T. Parizi
Yaron Levy
Peter Devaney Flanagan

Michael Jai White (John “Falcon” Chapman)
Neal McDonough (Manny Ridley)
Laila Ali (Cindy Chapman)
Lateef Crowder (Carlo Bororo)
Masashi Odate (Hirimoto)
Jimmy Navarro (Thiago Silva)
Hazuki Kato (Tomoe)
Millie Ruperto (Katerina Da’Silva)

Ernie Barbarash, the director of Assassination Games and Pound of Flesh, teams up with martial arts actor Michael Jai White for an exciting thriller that could set up a potential franchise.

Ex-Marine John “Falcon” Chapman is a man who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He spends his days drinking and at times, seeing if it is his time to go. When he gets a visit from his sister Cindy, he is worried about her job as a social worker for a non-profit organization. She works in the poverty-stricken favelas of Brazil. John soon learns that his worry has become a reality.

When Cindy is found barely alive on the rocks behind the favela, U.S. Consulate Manny Ridley learns about the incident by lead detective Thiago Santos. When John gets word of what has happened, he heads to Brazil, where it is revealed he and Ridley are old friends from their days in the Marines. John is given permission to assist with the case. However, as he gets closer to finding out who almost killed his sister, leads as well as innocent victims are killed. John soon learns that his stumbled among something and now, he must figure out the connection and take on all those who stand in his way.

Director Ernie Barbarash has made a name for himself in the action industry as a great director. While he has worked primarily with Jean-Claude Van Damme, this film is, like his others, combines a really good story and fast-paced action. This film, written by Y.T. Parazi, adds the element of the tortured hero. In this case, the lead character of John Chapman suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is seen in the action sequences when Chapman fights his way or a critical scene shows flashbacks from the mind of our hero.

It is great to see actor Neal McDonough in a role where he doesn’t play a villain. It is safe to say he has no ulterior motives here and serves as not only the U.S. Consulate. He is also a friend of Chapman. Laila Ali spends most of the film in the hospital as the battered Cindy despite having a decent opening scene with White. Jimmy Navarro and Lateef Crowder play two Brazilian detectives who assist with the case and they pull it off well. It is safe to mention that the villains are the Yakuza and the introduction of boss Hirimoto, played by Masashi Odate, plays it off quite nicely.

Kung Fu Cinema favorite Larnell Stovall took charge of the action sequences and fight scenes here. Once again, he has proven why he is one of top names in action directing today. To give fans a glimpse of what to expect from White, they introduce him in a small fight against some liquor store robbers. The rest of the action is set in Brazil and those expecting Crowder to pull off his capoeira moves will not be disappointed. Even look for white taking on multiple opponents at once a few times and they are nicely executed thanks to Stovall’s stunning choreography. It is clear that from this and the Never Back Down sequels, White and Stovall are a winning team in terms of providing quality action.

The start of a potential franchise, Falcon Rising is an exciting film from director Ernie Barbarash. Michael Jai White busts not only in action, but gives a driven performance as the tortured John Chapman. Definitely a great action film to check out, whether rental, on demand, or even wait for a DVD/Blu-Ray. Here’s hoping that we see this Falcon in more adventures.



For the Emperor (2014)

forthemperor southkorea-icon

A battle of wits combines with a story of redemption in this thrilling noir film from director Park Sung-Jun.

Lee Hwan was once a promising baseball pitcher who has had his career destroyed when he is implicated in a game-fixing scandal. Now a disgrace to the sport, Hwan finds himself working for a loan shark, Jeong Sang-Ha, after he mercilessly beats a loan shark who was supposed to have owed him his cut of the final deal that destroyed his career. After one job, Sang-Ha convinces Hwan to stay as he has a certain spunk that could be useful to the business.

Hwan opts to stay around and even finds love in Cha Yun-Su, a bartender for Sang-Ha’s local bar. After a meeting with Sang-Ha’s boss, Hwan is accepted into the family. As he rises through the ranks to become one of Sang-Ha’s most powerful enforcers, a misunderstanding threatens to break the bond between Sang-Ha and Hwan. Things become more complicated when out of nowhere, Yun-Su has disappeared. Thinking Sang-Ha may be responsible, Hwan sets a plan in motion to overthrow Sang-Ha, a decision that could potentially have its own consequences.

Set in the beautiful city of Pusan, this is a thrilling and modern day film noir that thrives on the lessons of money and power along with its eventual dire consequences. The film’s opening ten minutes showcase the events that will happen literally mid-way through the film. This was done to give the viewer a glimpse of our central character Lee Hwan, who is played by Lee Min-Ki in a sometimes very chilling performance. Hwan is clearly a character who has fallen only to rise and eventually find his destiny and Min-Ki shows how dedicated he is to make it in the dangerous world of loan sharks.

Park Sung-Woong plays it very cool as the man who brings Hwan in, Sang-Ha. He may not show much emotion, but he doesn’t necessarily need to as he proves to be cold and calculating when it comes to his job and even Hwan when the turning point hits. He is a true believer in change and will attempt to go to any lengths to ensure that change in imminent. As for Lee Tae-Im’s character of Madame Cha, she is there to be a love interest for Hwan and as for her dramatic performance, Tae-Im shows Cha as someone who one can tell, seems troubled but she will not explain why. She finds Hwan as a sense of security and he finds her as someone he loves.

The film’s major points in terms of the story is the twists that occur in the film, especially towards the last half hour. Just when you think the movie is going to end, a twist happens and one that helps drive the film. At times, the film does have a bit of a rushed feeling because it seems like that very last half hour squeeze everything in when it comes to the turning point of the story. However, despite this flaw, this is still an enjoyable thriller.

If you like the gangster and film noir genres, For the Emperor is one to definitely look for, thanks to a sometimes chilling performance by Lee Min-Ki and a cold and calculating performance from Park Sung-Woong.


Well Go USA Entertainment presents a United Pictures/OPUS Pictures production. Director: Park Sung-Jun. Producer: Lee Tae-Hun. Writer: Lee Yong-Su; based on the comic by Kim Seong-Dong. Cinematography: Cha Taek-Gyu. Editing: Kim Chang-Ju and Park Kyung-Suk.

Cast: Lee Min-Ki, Park Sung-Woong, Lee Tae-Im, Kim Jong-Gu, Jung Heung-Chae, Lee Jae-Won, Han Jae-Yong.

Call of Heroes (2016)

callofheroes china-iconHong-kong-icon


An ensemble cast leads the charge in this exciting period action piece from the director of New Police Story and the legendary action maestro Sammo Hung.

The evil warlord Cao Ying has taken over Stone City, forcing refugees to migrate to the small village of Pucheng. With the governor away, sheriff Yang Kenan is in charge of making sure the town is in order. With a mysterious man arrives, he is revealed to be Cao Ying’s spoiled son Shaolun. When Shaolun viciously shoots down the local inn owner, his teacher cousin Bai Ling, and a young boy, Yang catches Shaolun and vows to have him executed the next day.

Zhang Yi, the right hand man of Cao Ying, arrives and demands the release of Cao Shaolun. He gives Yang one day to release Cao or Pucheng will be the next area to fall under Cao’s army. Ma Feng, a hermit who has arrived in Pucheng, is the former classmate of Zhang Yi, who still feels betrayed by the previous actions of Ma. When Ma fails to convince Yi to leave the town alone, a war is imminent between Yang, Ma, and the rest of the town’s guardians against the commanders of Cao’s army with Pucheng being the prize. What will happen should Cao Shaolun makes his way out during this turbulent time?

For a while, Benny Chan, a renowned action film director who helped the millennial resurgence of Jackie Chan in New Police Story and helped elevate Nicholas Tse as an action star in his own right with this film as well as Gen-X Cops and Invisible Target, has wanted to work with Sammo Hung. That chance has finally happened with this film and this is truly an epic that shows the collaborative chemistry between director and action director.

The ensemble cast truly drives the film with veterans Sean Lau and Louis Koo leading the charge. Lau plays the law and order of the village of Pucheng, which finds himself under threat by the likes of Koo and crew. Lau, who may not seem like he can play this type of character, once again proves to the audience that he can tackle any type of role and playing a martial hero is quite a task that proves successful. As for Louis Koo, he plays Cao Shaolun as a spoiled brat who has a taste for one thing and that’s violence. When he’s not using his gun to kill his adversaries, he plays mind games to an effect where he brings a sinister laugh as if he could be a period Chinese version of Batman’s legendary nemesis The Joker. Koo once again shines as a villain after his previous mastermind role in Killzone 2 (aka SPL 2: A Time for Consequences) and this is truly his most sinister villain role to date.

The “wild card” of the ensemble comes in the form of Eddie Peng, who recently played Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung in Rise of the Legend. Peng is truly meant to be an action star and who better to take him in as a godson than this film’s action director Sammo Hung. Peng’s hard work in the action department is simply enjoyable to watch and as for his acting, he brings a bit of the film’s comic relief in the form of the reclusive Ma Feng, whose past is revealed in a flashback. Peng brings that unlikely hero to good effect while his nemesis comes in the form of Wu Jing, who plays Ma’s former classmate turned villain commander. Wu has truly been making a name for himself as of late despite rumors of a potential retirement due to leg injuries, but under Sammo Hung, Wu proves he can bring a deadly villain to the film and successfully does it in the role of Zhang Yi.

Not only does the core ensemble cast get to showcase some action skills and their acting skills to good effect, but there are some surprises in a few of the supporting cast. In a memorable extended cameo, Shi Yanneng (formerly Xing Yu) has a brief fistacuffs with Lau as a bodyguard hired by a very annoying rich man who thinks he is the man of the town. As Yang’s wife, Yuan Quan brings a nice surprise showcasing her fighting skills on screen as does Sammo’s son Sammy, who plays Yang’s underling Zhang Wu, who does wonder when using his weapon of choice, the tonfa. Sammy truly has that action blood running in his veins and does quite well in his fight scenes. Philip Keung and Berg Ng also bring some ample support on Koo and Wu’s side as two other members of Cao’s army who shine in a scene in which they attempt to bust Shaolun out of prison.

In conclusion, Call of Heroes is an exciting period epic driven by the core ensemble and some surprising supporting character actors along with Sammo Hung’s frenetic at times-wire enhanced action choreography. Definitely for martial arts fans to check out.


Universe Entertainment presents a Bona Film Group Co.Ltd./Sun Entertainment Culture/Iqiyi Motion Pictures/Yinming Culture Communications Co. Ltd./Long Motion Pictures Ltd./Alpha Pictures (Beijing) Co. Ltd./CL Motion Pictures Ltd./Beijing Monster Pictures Co. Ltd./Zhejiang Viewguide Film Co. Ltd. Production. Director: Benny Chan. Producers: Benny Chan and Alvin Lam. Writers: Benny Chan, Doug Wong, Tam Wai-Chin, Tim Tong, and Chien I-Chueh. Cinematography: Pakie Chan. Editing: Yau Chi-Wai.

Cast: Sean Lau, Louis Koo, Eddie Peng, Yuan Quan, Wu Jing, Philip Keung, Sammy Hung, Berg Ng, Shi Yanneng.