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Virtual Combat (1995)

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Kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson takes on the virtual world in this pretty interesting action film.

David Quarry and his partner John Gibson are grid runners, border cops who make sure that all is safe when it comes to the world of technology and virtual reality. Stationed in Las Vegas, Quarry spends his free time testing out a virtual combat game in which he is unable to defeat level ten. When a trio of thugs attempt to hack into the grid, Quarry and Gibson are able to stop the goons after their attempt proves unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cameron, one of the nation’s top scientists, has found a way to replicate virtual reality into actual reality. With the money provided by unscrupulous businessman Burroughs, Cameron replicates two women from a cybererotica program, Liana and Greta. However, in the mix of things, Dante, the level ten fighter from the virtual combat program, has also been unleashed and when Dr. Cameron refuses to let Dante unleash his friends from the virtual world, Dante kills the scientist and heads to Los Angeles to get the program necessary to get his friends out.

When Gibson is killed after getting in the way of Dante, Quarry must go to Los Angeles to find Dante, but also must deal with Burroughs’ goons, led by Parness. The only one who can help Quarry on his mission is Liana, who has a conscience upon her entry to reality.

Nearly a decade before Don “The Dragon” Wilson entered the world of virtual reality in X-Treme Fighter, he did a reversal of sorts with this sci-fi action tale in which he takes on virtual fighters in the real world. Directed by “jack-of-all trades” Andrew Stevens, Stevens does quite well as an action film director. William C. Martell’s script highlights the potential future of the cyber universe, with combat and cybererotica a mainstay in society, which is in some aspects, deemed mainstream in today’s world although it is more akin to the Internet rather than a virtual reality environment.

The film is definitely B-movie material and that is okay here. Of course as Las Vegas grid runner Quarry, Wilson plays the typical cop looking for revenge but finds something more to it. Yet it still works here. He personally wanted and got Canadian martial arts champion Michael Bernardo of the Shootfighter films and WMAC Masters, for the role of lead villain Dante. Bernardo has the physical presence for the role but it does sort of gets funny when instead of hearing Bernardo’s voice, we have Michael Dorn from Star Trek: The Next Generation as the “virtual voice of Dante”. It just doesn’t seem to match very well with Bernardo’s physicality and that’s a flaw in the film. Athena Massey does quite well for her first film role as cybererotica doll turned real life doll Liana, who of course, not only becomes Quarry’s love interest but shows she can kick some butt in one nicely shot sequence.

In charge of the fight scenes is none other than Art Camacho. As with all of the films he had done during this era, Camacho utilizes the cast’s martial arts skills quite well. Wilson has some decent fights in the opening credits of the film, where we see him in virtual reality and has some nice one against many fights throughout the film. Wilson even has not one, but two nice fight scenes against Loren Avedon, who lets his feet fly to great use against him as Burroughs’ right hand man Parness. In the short time he is in the film, Ken McLeod shows why he truly should have had another lead role after his performance in College Kickboxers and not be relegated to either supporting or villain roles. Michael Bernardo shows why he was a force to be reckoned with too action-wise despite the voice mismatch in the film. Bernardo truly has great martial arts skills and his finale with Wilson, even with the little bits of CGI thrown in there (after all, we are talking virtual reality bad guy), was well handled.

Virtual Combat is definitely B-movie material, but it is truly fun B-movie material. The action scenes featuring “The Dragon”, Ken McLeod, Michael Bernardo, and Loren Avedon are quite a delight to watch, but expect to laugh when hearing Michael Dorn voice Bernardo’s character in a truly poor kind of way. Worth a rental for action fanatics and B-movie lovers.

A-Pix Entertainment presents an Amritraj/Stevens Entertainment production. Director: Andrew Stevens. Producer: Ashok Amritraj. Writer: William C. Martell. Cinematography: David J. Miller. Editing: Tony Mark, Wayne Schmidt, and Mark Speer.

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Athena Massey, Ron Barker, Michael Bernardo, Loren Avedon, Turhan Bey, Ken McLeod, Dawn Ann Billings, Carrie Mitchum, Rip Taylor, Stella Stevens, J.D. Rifkin, Nick Hill, Timothy Baker.

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TRAILER: Bushwick

Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista must endure martial law in Brooklyn in the trailer for this action packed thriller from directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Millot.

When Lucy (Snow) steps off the subway, she walks into an utter bloodbath on the streets of Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Texas is attempting to secede from the Union, and militia forces have descended upon New York City to claim it as an East Coast base of operations and negotiation tool. Faced with a flurry of whizzing bullets and total destruction around every corner, Lucy takes shelter in the basement of Stupe (Bautista), a burly war veteran who reluctantly helps her traverse the treacherous five-block stretch of Bushwhack to reach her destination—assuming it’s still there. 

Christian Navarro, Jeremie Harris, Angelic Zambrana, and Quincy Chad co-star in the film written by Nick Damici and Graham Reznick.

RLJ Entertainment will be releasing the film in theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on August 25.

March’s Indie Action Spotlight

It’s that time again and just before World Film Geek takes its annual vacation, which will be next week (with the exception of interviews and reviews that will be done ahead of time). Here is March’s Indie Action Spotlight!

Our Clip of the Month is a short film many have waited for and that is Clayton J. Barber‘s latest, Blindsided. The film stars the very talented Eric Jacobus as Walter Cooke, a blind man and apple pie connoisseur who goes to the local market for milk and apples. There, he finds good friend and storeowner Gordon (Roger Yuan) getting shaken down by some local mafia thugs. Walter shows these guys what he can be capable of! The film was co-written by Jacobus and Barber with David No (Mr. Nice Guy, The Matrix Reloaded) serving as producer with Barber.

Here are this month’s selections for Highlight Stunt Reels:

Rustic Bodomov

Chien Van Duong

Ozzy Ramirez

Caitlin Hutson

Brandon Ly

Angelo Poulis

Finally, here are this month’s selection for Short Films to Check Out

Escape

The Hunt: The Last War

Liquify

Payback

The Cyber Bully

Showdown

The Revenge

Ultimatum

Check out the WFG Indie Action Spotlight Page for information on how you can join next month’s Indie Action Spotlight page. Deadline for April’s IAS will be on April 6, 2017

September’s Indie Action Spotlight

It’s that time ladies and gentlemen! It is time to unleash September’s Indie Action Spotlight and we begin with some fan favorites:

Andy Le and Daniel Mah of Martial Club present a tutorial on learning a technique called the Butterfly Kick. This move has been used and is the basis of various moves seen in fight scenes today.

If you don’t know the name Amy Johnston, you will very soon. She has appeared in the web series pilot Dragon Ball Z: The Light of Hope as Android 18 and takes the lead in Lady Bloodfight, directed by Chris Nahon.

Berbeda (Absurd) is an Indonesian short action film by Firman H. Naviansyah and features a one-on-many fight scene in which the character he plays takes on four villains.

Hong Kong Shogun is a short action film which we get to see Maria Tran and Juju Chan.  International P.I; Charlie (Tran), teaming up with larrikin rookie Tom (Xin Wuku Sarith) to find the criminal kingpin; The Hong Kong Shogun. After many mistaken identities such with Cat Burglar (Joe Fiorello), Antonio Del Toro (Andrew Dasz) and The Show Girl (Chan); they finally find what they are looking for. But are they ready to face the real shogun? Action choreography by Trung Ly.

Thirst, from director James Durham (who co-wrote the script with John Becker) is a post-apocalyptic in which the global water supply has been poisoned. A young girl struggles with questions of humanity on the brink of life and death while trying to survive with a disgraced uncle who yearns for forgiveness. Compelling characters drive a powerful tale of loss and redemption among the survivors who, tested to their limits, must decide what it means to be human. Stars Nick Duckworth, Rowan Olivia Tarmy, Jenny Donovan, Sean James, and Peter Pereyra. The film was produced by Ochros Media.

Paksi is a nearly two-minute short film about a robber who meets his match in a masked hero. The film was directed by Indonesian newcomer Khalif Abu.

Gemz, another Indonesian short action film, involves a young woman being kidnapped by some thugs. This causes two guys, Wanan and Apa, to find an old friend and come to her rescue. The film was directed by Yoga Pradana from a script by M. Kurniawan.

From Italy, we have Escape from director Pietro Reniero. In this military action short, a soldier finds himself the only remaining target of a mysterious villain, this he must find a way to…you guessed it, escape.

The Drive revolves around a young woman who is attempting to steal top secret information while a mysterious assailant attempts to stop her. But how will this end? From the minds at Bat&B Films.

Finally, we have Edge, a story of a young man who attempts to justify his actions to an older man who warns him not to continue down the path he’s on. The film was directed by Gabriel Simon and Alaa “Zak” Noweihed.

And that’s it for September’s Indie Action Spotlight. If you want to be included in October’s Indie Action Spotlight, e-mail me at worldfilmgeek@gmail.comThe deadline for October’s IAS will be October 6, 2016.

REVIEW: Project Kill (1975)

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1975, Mid-America Pictures/Audio Film Enterprises

Director:
William Girdler
Producers:
Fred C. Soriano Jr.
David Sheldon
Writers:
David Sheldon (story)
Donald G. Thompson (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Frank Johnson
Editing:
Terence Anderson
Chuck McClelland

Cast:
Leslie Nielsen (John Trevor)
Gary Lockwood (Frank Lassiter)
Nancy Kwan (Lee Su)
Vic Silayan (Chief Inspector Cruz)
Vic Diaz (Alok Lee)
Galen Thompson (Carl Wagner)
Maurice Downs (Hook)
Carlos Salazar (Inspector Ortiz)
Pamela Parsons (Lynn Walker)

Before he became known for his comedies, the late Leslie Nielsen stars in this action film shot in the Philippines.

For six years, John Trevor has been training a special team of military operatives who would be hired to become government hitmen. The key to their superiority over others is that they would be enhanced with vitamins and injections that combine enhanced stamina and mind control. However, after six years, John has learned that his former trainees would end up becoming professional assassins, something that goes against his morals. With the intention to leave, he admits his worry to his second in command, Frank Lassiter, who thinks the program is fine as is.

Trevor eventually makes his escape and heads to the Philippines with a suitcase, where he intends to meet with some old friends of his, Carl and Hook. It is there where John begins to go through withdrawals from the enhanced medications, resulting in him undergoing a change to become violent and dangerous. Lassiter has been summoned by the government to bring Trevor while a local criminal boss named Alok Lee also has plans for Trevor, with the intent to duplicate the drug and training so he can create his own deadly force to take over the area.

While the late Leslie Nielsen is best known today for his work with the Zucker Brothers in films like Airplane and the Naked Gun films, based on their hit series Police Squad, Nielsen has done other types of films. This action film, shot in the Philippines sees Nielsen in a very different light. While he is given top billing in his role of John Trevor, Nielsen ultimately plays an anti-hero. While his intentions are good to get out of the government experiment due to the recent result of trainees becoming assassins, it is his withdrawals that turn him into something he never thought he could play.

In essence, there are no real heroes in this film with the exception of perhaps the Filipino police. Gary Lockwood’s Frank Lassiter may seem like he could be the hero as he is the one sent to track down Trevor. However, it is because he agrees and supports the experiments that people may not agree with him on that. They may agree more with Trevor’s morals on this one, but the fact the withdrawals turn him into a violent man show a level of extremity for Trevor while Lassiter is just doing his job. Nancy Kwan’s Lee Su is a pretty good love interest for Trevor as she seems sometimes as if she is able to help him control his rage, but in one scene accidentally finds herself accidentally hit by Trevor in one of his rages.

While the story is quite interesting, it is the low budget filmmaking and action, if you want to call it that, that ultimately dooms the film. Filipino stunt team D’Venture Stunts with Romeo Blanco as stunt coordinator resort to having Nielsen and Lockwood use some form of martial arts against both the criminal organization led by the always fun to watch Vic Diaz, but in the final confrontation between Nielsen and Lockwood. The Filipino stunt boys look good when they fight but it is safe to say Nielsen did the right thing taking the comedy route, because he does look pretty bad when he is attempting to use martial arts. The final confrontation is pretty laughable and has ridiculous slow motion and moves reminiscent of a Karate Warrior film.

Project: Kill is a pretty ridiculous low-budget action film that wastes what is an interesting storyline. This should only be seen by those who are curious to see what Leslie Nielsen did before finding his true calling as a comic actor.

WFG RATING: D

DVD

REVIEW: Time Rush (2015)

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2015, Stunt Power Films/Levine Pictures/Popart Film Factory

Director:
Daniel Zirilli
Producers:
Dean Alexandrou
Daniel Zirilli
Aaron Levine
Writer:
Dean Alexandrou
Cinematography:
Ross W. Clarkson
Editing:
Dean Alexandrou

Cast:
Dean Alexandrou (Alex)
Ron Smoorenburg (Pravada Captain)
Selina Lo (Jane)
Byron Gibson (Brink)
Alexander Winters (Pravada Commander)
Kecha Khamphakdee (Pravada Commander)
Michael Aston (Alan Williams)
Richard Dee-Roberts (Michael)
Natalie Lorence (Dr. Parsons)
Damian Mavis (Dr. Garrideb)

Imagine being a part of an experiment that leads you into a continuous time loop until you find out what you can do to end it. That is the basis for this pretty good independent film that you cannot miss even one second of or you will be confused.

Alex is a young man who meets girlfriend Jane in London after she is assaulted by some local thugs. After a while, she is planning a move back to Bangkok and somehow convinces Alex to go with her. Alex eventually takes part in a government experiment involving a new drug called Pravada, in which the user would find him or herself in a continuous time loop, even if the user is killed in the process. Forced to escape, Alex finds himself chased by three men in military garb.

As Alex is repeatedly killed, he finds himself reuniting with Jane with the intent of finding out what the experiment is all about. As Alex continues the repetition, he changes up the events while he attempts to uncover the truth about Pravada. To ensure that Alex fails, not only do the military guards intend to constantly kill Alex until he is done for good, but the doctors in charge of the experiment also plan to make sure Alex, or anyone else for that matter, never finds out the truth about the drug.

Originally titled Reflex, this is quite a trip (pun intended) for stuntman/filmmaker Dean Alexandrou. The British-born, Thailand-based martial artist proves himself quite worthy as a leading actor in the role of Alex, who finds himself in a Groundhog Day-like adventure of avoiding three military-garbed men who are part of an experiment involving a new drug. Alexandrou gets to use his skills quite well in parkour and martial arts and does quite well in the film’s action sequences.

In addition to producing, starring, and doing the visual effects of the film, Alexandrou wrote the screenplay and it’s quite an interesting take on the time loop continuum. The story also shows scenes involving the development of the drug to the relationship of Alex and Jane prior to Bangkok along with the repeating time loop. This is one of those stories that you can’t miss a minute of or it will cause some confusion to the viewer.

The lead villain of the film is played by the Dutch superkicker Ron Smoorenburg, who like Alexandrou, has based himself in Thailand over the past few years. After Smoorenburg learned his craft in Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, Smoorenburg continued to improve and here, he plays one of his best action roles let alone villain roles. As for Selina Lo, she is great as Jane, Alex’s love interest who even gets in on quite a fight scene herself and proves herself quite well in both the action and acting department. With Kecha Khamphakdee and the Jaika Stunts team coordinating the action scenes, it is clear that they do an excellent job with Alexandrou and Smoorenburg being part of the fight choreography team.

Time Rush is quite a fun trippy action film thanks to the performances of Dean Alexandrou, Ron Smoorenburg, and Selina Lo. Some nice fight scenes and an interesting story of an experiment make this for quite an adventure.

WFG RATING: B

DVD

REVIEW: Jail Breakers (2002)

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2002, Cinema Service/Director’s Home Pictures

Director:
Kim Sang-Jin
Producer:
Kang Woo-Suk
Writer:
Park Jung-Woo
Cinematography:
Jeong Kwang-Seok
Editing:
Ko Im-Pyo

Cast:
Sol Kyung-Gu (Yu Jae-Pil)
Cha Seung-Won (Choi Mu-Seok)
Song Yun-Ah (Han Kyung-Soon)
Kang Sung-Jin (Yong Min-Sun)
Kang Shin-Il (The Warden)
Yoo Hae-Jin (Kyung-Soon’s Fiancee)

The unlikeliest of escaped prisoners make for a buddy team in this hilarious comedy from director Kim Sang-Jin.

Since his incarceration for stealing, Choi Mu-Seok has unsuccessfully attempted to escape. He explains his story to a group of prisoners in a rehabilitation group. He was once a bike messenger who since having an accident felt shunned by society. He no longer knew right from wrong and stole bread from a local vendor while still in his cast. While he made three failed attempts, he’s been taking his time with a fourth escape, in which he has been digging a tunnel with a spoon.

Yu Jae-Pil is a fellow prisoner who meets Mu-Seok by chance. When Jae-Pil’s girlfriend Kyung-Soon informs him that she is planning to get married and can no longer wait for him, this sends the prisoner in a spiral of insanity. Determined to get his girl back, Jae-Pil convinces Mu-Seok to let him escape along with him. The two successfully escape and begin to enjoy their newfound freedom. Until they learn in the newspapers that on the annual Amnesty Day, where a select amount of prisoners are let go because of good behavior, they are selected to be a part of that list. As if finding a way back to prison isn’t going to be enough trouble, gang leader Yong Min-Sun has caused chaos in the prison and has taken over the prison.

For years, fans have seen films about people escaping from prison, whether they were drama, action, or comedy. However, what happens when you escape but learn you are up to be paroled, and you have to go back to prison but it’s not that easy? That is what this film from Kim Sang-Jin attempts to answer in quite comedic manner.

Sol Gyung-Ku and Cha Seung-Won are pretty funny as the buddy team of escaped prisoners Jae-Pil and Mu-Seok. Jae-Pil only has one thing on his mind in terms of his escape. His love for Kyung-Soon, played by Song Yun-Ah, makes Jae-Pil a lunatic. When he learns in prison that she is planning to get married, he loses his mind only a jilted boyfriend can. It is when Jae-Pil learns who his girlfriend’s new fiancée is, he really goes ballistic. As for Mu-Seok, he only intends to escape because he felt the whole time he was unjustly jailed because he felt shunned by society. While his flashback takes place during the opening credits, Jae-Pil is given two flashbacks sporadically in the film.

While the main plot involves the boys attempting to return to prison when the warden agrees to forgo them if they make it back without notice, the warden himself gets in a major pickle with a gang leader who takes over the prison. This is the major subplot that eventually does connect with the plot of the boys attempting to return to prison with some very funny consequences, especially the so-called “love triangle” between Jae-Pil, Kyung-Soon, and her new fiancée.

Jail Breakers is a very funny Korean comedy about what to do if you escape prison and have to return when you are selected for parole but have to deal with so much in the process. Sol Kyung-Gu and Cha Seung-Won’s funny performances really make this a standout Korean film.

WFG RATING: B+

DVD