drug dealing

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.


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.

Vaughn Plays No Games in “Brawl” Poster


Vince Vaughn, known for his comic roles, is about to give viewers a side of him that they will never imagine as seen on the poster of his upcoming film Brawl in Cell Block 99.

Directed by Bone Tomahawk helmer Craig Zahler, the film depicts Vaughn as former boxer named Bradley, who loses his job as an auto mechanic, and his troubled marriage is about to expire.  At this crossroads in his life, he feels that he has no better option than to work for an old buddy as a drug courier.  This vocation improves his situation until the terrible day that he finds himself in a gunfight between a group of police officers and his own ruthless allies.  When the smoke clears, Bradley is badly hurt and thrown in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.

Co-starring are Jennifer CarpenterUdo KierMarc Blucas, and Don Johnson.

ELJ Entertainment has picked up the rights and will unleash this “brawl” in theaters on October 6 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on October 13.


Chinatown Connection (1988)

chinatownconnection usa-icon

A new Bruce Lee-impersonator and the son of the Six Million Dollar Man join forces in this late 80’s B-movie.

In Los Angeles, a wave of crime has been sweeping the city. In Chinatown, tainted cocaine is being sold and the user suddenly dies. Meanwhile, gang activity has been rampant. For Warren Houston, it is all about taking the bad guys down. When Houston takes down members of a gang inside of a church, his actions on the news cause his captain to re-assign Houston to the Chinatown district. There, he is forced to partner with John Lee Chan.

Chan is not only a veteran detective, but he has been assigned to become the martial arts instructor for officers who are known to have attitude problems. While dealing with his latest “student” Estes, Chan and Houston attempt to get along despite their differences in methods. Their journey takes them to a notorious crime lord, Hong, whose number one man, North, is responsible for the tainted drugs on behalf of Hong. As the partners begin to bond, Chan also turns his students for anger management into a special task force to help with this case. Will they be able to stop Hong and his men, or is something else in store for them?

Only one word can describe this: Wow! This clearly low budget movie from director Jean-Paul Ouelette was perhaps made to capitalize on the 1987 hit Lethal Weapon and used the mismatched partners to a tee in our screen heroes Chan and Houston. What makes this the more interesting is to who play our heroes.

Playing Chan is a new Bruce Lee-alike credited as Bruce Ly. Naturally, Ly has absolutely zero resemblance to the martial arts icon and he also served as the film’s martial arts coordinator. However, according to many sources, the identity of Bruce Ly is that of Henry Yu Yung, a former classic kung fu star who continued work until just about a decade ago. As for Houston, the role went to the marvelously named “Lee Majors II”. Yes, for some strange reason, the actor opted to use a “II” rather than “Jr.” as he doesn’t bear a resemblance to his famous dad. One can only think of Ly’s character as the martial arts version of Murtaugh while Majors II plays Houston in a variation of Riggs.

Many martial arts film fans will know the name Art Camacho for his work both in front and behind the cameras as a prolific martial arts director of films. This film marked one of his first roles as he plays the hot-headed officer Estes, who is forced to join anger management through martial arts in Chan’s class. This subplot gets to show how martial arts can truly lead to self-discipline as is the case with Estes. As for the villain, Fitz Houston is truly slick and menacing as North, the one responsible for the tainted drugs and muscle to crime boss Hong. North truly has the size and even at times skill set when needed, showing brute strength. While the action is both a hit and miss depending on how one will see it, overall, there has been worse.

Chinatown Connection is quite an interesting kung fu-gunplay meshup in the vein of Lethal Weapon with its even more interesting core duo of Bruce Ly and Lee Majors II. A now cliched 80’s action film that is not at all truly terrible.


Esseff-Arpaia Productions presents in association with BCD Productions. Director: Jean-Paul Ouelette. Producer: Michael S. Emerson. Writer: Joseph Berry. Cinematography: Jack Anderson. Editing: Skip Williams and Lee Harry.

Cast: Bruce Ly, Lee Majors II, Pat McCormick, Art Camacho, Susan Frailey, Scott Richards, Fitz Houston, William Ghent.


Instant Death (2017)

instantdeath uk-icon

2017, Raging Pictures

Ara Paiaya
Ara Paiaya
Adam Davidson
Ara Paiaya
Ara Paiaya

Lou Ferrigno (John Bradley)
Jerry Anderson (Razor)
Tania Staite (Jane Hayes)
Sophie Wembridge (Wendy Hayes)
Jade Fearon (Terry)
Levi James (Caldon)
Jason Bailey (Cooper)
Angus Brown (Sunny)
Michael James McMahon (Col. Neal)

A former military man’s chance at peace and family life turns to revenge in Ara Paiaya’s latest action thriller.

It’s been six months since John Bradley has been out of military service. He is trying hard to adapt to civilian life but it is not always easy due to his suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Seeing a doctor while living in New York, it is recommended to him to go to London to see his estranged daughter and granddaughter, whom he has not seen due to his condition. He realizes this is the right thing to do and heads off to reunite with his kin.

However, on the day he arrives, he witnesses a murder orchestrated by Razor, a top drug lord who is offing the competition. When John leaves the next day, Razor finds John’s daughter Jane and granddaughter Wendy and demands to know where John is. When Jane doesn’t comply, Razor kills Wendy and brutalizes Jane to the point of rendering her blind. When John learns what has happened to Jane and Wendy, John must do the one thing he must do and that is make Razor and his men pay and serve a brand of revenge not even this criminal is expecting.

Scottish filmmaker Ara Paiaya has truly gone from making films in his homeland to rising the ranks as an indie action filmmaker. This follow up to 2014’s Skin Traffik, which made good use of action star Gary Daniels busting a human trafficking ring, goes the Death Wish route and does so with the intention of unleashing the former Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno, once again as a viable action star who proves age doesn’t mean anything in the world of action films, let alone indie action films.

While many may see the former bodybuilder who uses his best assets in his strength, he proved in 1989’s Cage that he has the acting chops, playing a fighter with special needs after an accident in Vietnam. This film allows Ferrigno to play a man stricken with PTSD who just wants to be there for his family, only to have it shattered. In his pre-revenge scenes, Ferrigno’s John at first struggles then shows his caring for his estranged daughter Jane and granddaughter Wendy. The chemistry between Ferrigno, actress Tania Staite, and newcomer Sophie Wembridge as his kin truly is the heart of the film before it goes into full on-action mode.

However, this is an action film and thanks to filmmaker Paiaya, who is also a martial artist who is a jack-of-all-trades and serves as the film’s fight choreographer. Paiaya knows of Ferrigno’s strength and enables him to use a lot of close quarter combat techniques when he’s not blowing bad guys away. And speaking of blowing the bad guys, the level of firepower in the film ranks not up there in the vein of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando and not with the body count, but the level of violence it conveys. There is plenty of bloodletting in the film and at times very disturbing scenes of torture, notably in Razor’s pivotal scene of how he brutalizes Jane. Nevertheless, Ferrigno truly joins the likes of Liam Neeson, Arnie, and even Charles Bronson in the age of the aging action hero on a quest of revenge.

Instant Death truly lets Lou Ferrigno prove the naysayers that age hasn’t caught up to him. The former Hulk gets to showcase both his emotions and his penchant for action. Perhaps we may see him do a film similar to this in the future.




Above the Rim (1994)

abovetherim usa-icon

1994, New Line Cinema

Jeff Pollack
Jeff Pollack
Benny Medina
Jeff Pollack (story/screenplay)
Benny Medina (story)
Barry Michael Cooper (screenplay)
Tom Priestley, Jr.
Michael Ripps
James Mitchell

Duane Martin (Kyle Watson)
Leon (Tommy “Shep” Sheppard)
Tupac Shakur (Birdie)
Tonya Pinkins (Mrs. Watson)
Bernie Mac (Flip Johnson)
David Bailey (Coach)
Marlon Wayans (Bugaloo)
Henry Simmons (Stearns)
Wood Harris (Motaw)

A high school basketball player learns the hard way about life both on and off the court in this sports drama.

Kyle Watson is a high school senior whose dream is to go to Georgetown University to play college basketball. His cockiness on the courts draws the ire of both his team and his coach. When childhood friend Bugaloo is released from prison, he introduces Kyle to Birdie, a local drug dealer who is planning to form a basketball for the annual Street Shoot Out tournament. Tempted with what Birdie has to offer, Kyle decides to roll with Birdie instead of joining his coach.

Things come to a head for Kyle with the appearance of Tommy “Shep” Sheppard, the newest security guard at the high school who has a past. Shep was once a high school ball star until an accident leads to the death of his best friend Nutso. To make matters worse, Shep is revealed to be Birdie’s older brother, who has been estranged from him and he also starts a relationship with Kyle’s mother. When Kyle finally reaches his breaking point, he soon learns an important about life on and off the court and finds an unexpected mentor in time for the tournament.

This basketball drama is an interesting yet gritty tale of redemption, through the eyes of both a cocky high school player who finds himself drawn to the wrong crowd and a former star who looks to seek redemption within himself after an incident forces him to never get involved with the sport again. Jeff Pollack and Benny Medina crafted a tale that only shows life on the court but the consequences that can occur off the courts based on one’s decisions.

Duane Martin does well as the very conflicted Kyle, a star who wishes to live his dream of basketball stardom only to have a very massive ego. He goes from cocky athlete to flat out angry when things don’t go his way. He is the type of character one would expect to go down in flames. However, with such a film, it takes the unlikeliest of people for Kyle to finally see the light when the third act begins. The singularly named Leon brings in a wonderful performance as Shep, who like Kyle seeks redemption, but it is because he still hasn’t gotten over the death of his best friend and to make matters worse, he now has his estranged brother to contend with.

The late Tupac Shakur is truly an evil man in the role of Birdie, a local drug lord who looks to take over the street basketball and exploits Kyle’s talents as well as attempt to get his brother to join him. Wood Harris makes a pretty good debut performance as Birdie’s right hand man, a ruthless enforcer both on the street court and during deals. While these days Marlon Wayans is known for playing the goofy characters in films, his role of Bugaloo brings some goofiness but at the same time, the role allows Wayans to break against type as well when it comes to certain pivotal scenes. If only Wayans can still do roles similar to this or given a chance to do something serious, this film proves he can do both. Bernie Mac makes the most of his role as bum Flip, who has a connection with both Shep and Birdie.

Above the Rim is an above-average basketball drama that focuses on life both on and off the courts. Breakout performances from Duane Martin and Leon drive the film as well as a somewhat against type Marlon Wayans make this definitely a watch.




Superfights (1995)

superfights Hong-kong-iconusa-icon

1995, Seasonal Film Corporation

Tony Leung Siu-Hung
Ng See-Yuen
Keith W. Strandberg
Keith W. Strandberg
Derek Wan
Allan Poon

Brandon Gaines (Jack Cody)
Faye Yu (Sally Wong)
Keith Vitali (Robert Sawyer)
Kelly Gallant (Angel)
Cliff Lenderman (No Mercy Budokai)
Chuck Jeffreys (Dark Cloud)
Brian Ruth (Night Stalker)
Patrick Lung (Grandfather)
Rob Van Dam (Mercenary)
Keith Hackney (The Enforcer)
Jim Steele (Mike Rocco/The Beast)

After American Shaolin, Seasonal Films took a break from their U.S.-Hong Kong crossover glory to concentrate on primarily Hong Kong films. However, in 1995, producer Ng See-Yuen and writer Keith W. Strandberg collaborated on this take off, combining elements of the popular Ultimate Fighting Champion and the dark side of fame.

Since he was a child, Jack Cody has always followed the Superfights, a martial arts program where the fighters look like professional wrestling and use their martial arts talents to the max. He spends his time practicing martial arts in his warehouse, hoping to one day live his dream of becoming a Superfighter. One night after work, Jack finds a young woman, Sally, getting robbed at a bank by two thugs. Word comes around of Jack’s rescue of Sally and he is hailed as a hometown hero. This catches the eye of Robert Sawyer, the man who created Superfights. When Sawyer tells Jack that he wants to make his dreams come true, Jack accepts the offer and begins training under the watchful eye of fellow Superfighter Angel. During training, Jack takes vitamins and befriends Superfighters Dark Cloud, Night Stalker, and No Mercy Budokai. After Jack completes his training, he takes on his first opponent, The Enforcer and with the help of Sally, who is in the audience, Jack wins.

Jack soon becomes one of the most popular Superfighters as he continues to win. Jack begins to live his glory and fame, but soon learns that there is a dark side to fame. When a masked man begins to attack Jack, Jack tries to fight back but the masked man has Jack in a wrist lock and warns him not to take the vitamins. Sally’s grandfather, who at first was skeptical but ultimately accepts Jack, learns of the vitamins after deciding to teach Jack the art of tai chi and has them analyzed. The so-called vitamins are a combination of steroids and mind-control drugs. Even worse, Jack learns that Sawyer is more than just a fight promoter, he is an underworld crime boss. With Budokai, Dark Cloud, and Nightstalker as his lackeys, Sawyer intends to take over the whole city under his iron fist. Will Jack risk losing his lifelong dream and become a real hero, or will he succumb to the success of being a Superfighter?

Capitalizing on the crazes of both the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the World Wrestling Federation (now called World Wrestling Entertainment), screenwriter/producer Keith W. Strandberg has crafted a story revolving around a young man who lives his dreams but learns that there is a dark side to fame. Cast in the role of Jack Cody is 3rd-degree karate black belt Brandon Gaines. Gaines had never worked in films before and this makes for a very impressive film debut. In the opening of the film, he is seen attending a Superfights contest, but it is his workout in the warehouse alone that showcases his impressive martial arts skills. Under the supervision of director/action choreographer Tony Leung Siu-Hung, Gaines gets to show some pretty nice kicking skills against the likes of former UFC Champ Keith Hackney, former WWE star Rob Van Dam, and others.

Keith Vitali plays Vince McMahon..err, Robert Sawyer, the man behind the Superfights. Strandberg must have done his research prior to writing the screenplay. In real-life, Vince McMahon was allegedly involved with steroids and was actually on trial, only to be acquitted. As for Sawyer, it goes beyond steroids. He is involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and even murder. Vitali, a former semi-contact karate fighter, uses his trademark kicking skills halfway through the film and it is clearly some of his best fighting since No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers, in which Leung also choreographed that film’s action.

What helps are the additions of actor/action director Chuck Jeffreys, American Shaolin co-star Cliff Lenderman, and national martial arts champion Brian Ruth as the three Superfighters who befriend Jack only to get more involved in Sawyer’s crime ring as well. A nicely shot fight involving the trio taking on a street gang showcases some of their best moves. Ruth doesn’t look to be much of a kicker himself like his fellow co-stars, but he is a weapons champion and briefly gets to showcase his weapon skills in the finale. Lenderman utilizes his jeet kune do skills while the flashy Jeffreys shows why he is one of the best American wushu experts today.
The movie’s Hong Kong influence not only comes in its martial arts sequences, but also in the form of Sally and her grandfather. Faye Yu, a Hangzhou-born actress, appeared in mainly Chinese language films such as Tian Di and Beijing Rocks. The late Patrick Lung Kong, who plays Sally’s grandfather, is perhaps best known in the West as the main villain in Jet Li’s Black Mask. However, Lung was also a successful director whose 1963 film Story of a Discharged Prisoner was the basis for the John Woo classic A Better Tomorrow. Lung gets to bring sarcastic humor to the role at times to good effect but becomes Jack’s “father figure” throughout the course of the film.

In the end, Superfights may not have the caliber of No Retreat, No Surrender or The King of the Kickboxers. However, it is a very well made story about the dark side of fame and glory mixed in with some top notch fights courtesy of Tony Leung Siu-Hung.




TRAILER: Sleight

WWE Studios, along with Jason Blum‘s BH Tilt, unleashes the powers of a young magician in this upcoming action thriller set for release in April.

In Sleight, Bo, played by Jacob Latimore, is a young magician who has the powers of having a sleight of hand. However, to make ends meet, he turns to the world of drug dealing but when he makes a mistake, his sister is kidnapped. Bo now much use his powers to make things right and save his sister before it’s too late.

The film co-stars Seychelle Gabriel, Dule Hill, Storm Reid, and Sasheer Zamata. JD Dillard wrote the directed the film, which is set for release on April 7, 2017 by WWE Studios and BH Tilt.

H/T: eWrestlingNews


Catch the Heat (1987)

catchtheheat usa-icon

This 80’s action was made as perhaps to become a launching pad for Vietnamese-born Tiana Alexandra, who was actually a student of Bruce Lee. However, had it not been for Alexandra, this film would have been just a mindless shoot-em-up despite the villain appearance of Hollywood legend Rod Steiger.

Checkers Goldberg is a secret agent who uses her martial arts to take down local drug dealer Danny Boy. Danny Boy has been selling China White, a mix of heroin and Fentanyl, and when Goldberg gets assistance from longtime partner Waldo Tarr, they finally get a name of the man responsible for supplying the drugs. To find the supplier, Tarr heads to Buenos Aires, where he teams up with local cop Raul de Villa.

The man in question is Jason Hannibal, a talent agent who uses his chance to find new talent as a cover to send the drugs to the United States. Tarr asks Goldberg to come to Buenos Aires undercover as Cinderella Pu, a dancer who fuses martial arts with modern dance. That way, she can infiltrate Hannibal’s organization. But what will happen when Hannibal’s driver remembers Goldberg from an incident three years ago?

Directed by Joel Silberg, the director of Breakin’ and later, Lambada, this film was meant to launch Tiana Alexandra as an action heroine. Her husband, the late Stirling Silliphant, was responsible for the screenplay and served as one of the executive producers. For those unfamiliar with Alexandra, she was a Vietnamese-born actress who trained in martial arts under Bruce Lee himself. In fact, it was Lee who introduced her to her husband.

As for the film, Alexandra does pretty well as the marvelously-named “Checkers Goldberg”. There might be an issue though with her undercover work as there seems to be an Asian stereotype of women, yet it is when Checkers shows her real identity that she is a tough one to deal with. To complement her martial arts skills, David Dukes’ Waldo seems like a goofy type who really shows his loyalty to his partner and in a shocking move in one scene, confesses something even she never expected.

Now onto the villains. Rod Steiger, a Hollywood legend, does well as the mastermind Jason Hannibal, a talent agent/drug kingpin or sorts. His henchmen include the “Professor” Toru Tanaka and Brian Libby. Libby is best known for his role of the unstoppable serial killer Chuck Norris faced in Silent Rage. Libby gets the better of the fistacuffs against Alexandra but the burlier Tanaka does use his strength to his advantage.

Alan Amiel was both the stunt coordinator and martial arts choreographer. Having worked with Sho Kosugi on a number of occasions, he uses that experience to make Alexandra look okay in the film’s fight scenes. If there were no shootouts, it is Alexandra fighting. The only issue is that Alexandra doesn’t really get a chance to showcase her skills against a worthy opponent. The closest is an extra guard who poses as if he is a karate expert and tha is pretty sad considering that Alexandra looks like she can throw down for an 80’s action star.

Catch the Heat may have notoriety as Tiana Alexandra’s only lead role as an action star. However, with a lack of worthy opposition, it sort of falls a bit flat despite her chemistry with the late David Dukes and the presence of Rod Steiger as the lead villain. Possibly worth a rental for only hardcore 80’s B-movie fans.


Trans World Entertainment presents anM’Amsel Tea Entertainment production in association with Negocios Cinematograficos S.A. Director: Joel Silberg. Producer: Don Van Atta. Writer: Stirling Silliphant. Cinematography: Nissim Nitcho. Editing: Christopher Holmes and Darren Holmes.

Cast: Tiana Alexander, David Dukes, Rod Steiger, Brian Thompson, Jorge Martinez, John Hancock, Brian Libby, Professor Toru Tanaka.



REVIEW: Blood Street (1988)

bloodstreet usa-icon

1988, Star Partners II Ltd./Sunny Pictures/Pacific Summit Productions

Leo Fong
George Chung
Leo Fong (story and screenplay)
Matthew Harvey (screenplay)
Gavin Harvey (screenplay)
Frank Harris
Peter Jones

Leo Fong (Joe Wong)
Richard Norton (Malcolm Boyd)
Stan Wertlieb (Aldo MacDonald)
Stack Pierce (Solomon)
Chuck Jeffreys (Bones)
Kim Paige (Vanna MacDonald)
Patty Georgeson (Taylor)
Joe Lynum (Keystone)

After his adventure in the 1986 B-movie Low Blow, Leo Fong brings back his private investigator Joe Wong in this sequel that puts our hero in the middle of a drug war.

Joe Wong, a freelancing private investigator, is one of the best in the business. Witnessing a local diner being robbed, he goes ahead and takes the law in his own hands by gunning down the robbers. Most of the police respect Wong due to his reputation. However, one day, a mysterious woman named Vanna arrives to hire Joe for a job and that is to find her missing husband. Joe learns that the missing husband is no ordinary businessman.

The missing husband is Aldo MacDonald, who has been getting involved in the world of drug smuggling. As a matter of fact, he has entered the territory of Malcolm Boyd, a highly respected drug lord and martial arts expert who spends time having parties for the elite and holding cage matches in his own living room. To find MacDonald, Joe and Vanna must infiltrate Boyd. However, things are about to come ahead when a series of double and triple crosses threaten not only the businesses of both rival drug lords, but that of Joe and Vanna as well.

Leo Fong is not only one of the most respected martial artists in the world, but is also a highly respected filmmaker in the B-movie circuit. In 1986, Fong created the character of Joe Wong, a private investigator hired to stop a deadly cult to rescue a kidnapped victim. The film showcased Fong’s trademark fighting skills as well as his knack for filmmaking. Who would have thought Fong would decide to reprise the character in a sequel? Thankfully, you don’t have to see the first film as this is more of a standalone film that just brings back the character with no reference to the 1986 film.

Richard Norton once again showcases his talents as a villain, in this case the elitist drug lord Malcolm Boyd, who when not doing business, spends his time training in kickboxing and holds parties complete with a cage in his living room where fighters do what they do best. For some reason, after seeing this film and the recently reviewed Hawkeye, it is clear that German-born Stan Wertlieb has fun playing scumbags in this case, the so-called “missing husband” who is actually Norton’s rival in the drug business. Today, he is a successful film producer of straight to DVD action films. The film also makes good use of Stack Pierce and Chuck Jeffreys as a father and son duo who serve as Norton’s bodyguards. Jeffreys gets to show a little bit of his martial arts skills but once again shows why he could pass as Eddie Murphy’s brother with his brash smart-alecky humor when needed.

The one annoying factor of the film is former Playmate Kim Paige, who plays Vanna, the woman who hires Joe to find her husband. She comes off as brash and just downright annoying. Perhaps it is how her character is written but she comes off as a brat who thinks she can use her body to get men to do her bidding but for the most part fails. Her attempts to seduce Joe as “payment” for the job is met with total resistance but she also brings a taste of femme fatale to the mix as well in a harrowing twist to the story.

Speaking of the story, the film’s script does have a scene that could be deemed unnecessary and would have made more sense had the actual villain did this specific deed. In one scene, Joe’s daughter is killed by an out of nowhere character named “Indian Roscoe”, who apparently Joe had stopped before (and is not in Low Blow), causing Joe to find him at a bar and get his revenge by pummeling him. This happens halfway through the film perhaps as filler but it would make more sense had perhaps Norton, Pierce, or Jeffreys’ characters had done the murder. To bring this out of left field puts this as unnecessary.

Blood Street is definitely a standalone sequel to the 1986 film Low Blow and for the most part, is what you would expect from the mind of Leo Fong. However, the filler scene truly is deemed unnecessary and Kim Paige’s Vanna is quite an annoyance and doesn’t help the film much. However, it does have some moments and is truly meant for fans of this brand of action film.