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Extraction (2013)

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Crackle, the online movie and TV site, unleashes an original film that combines shades of Die Hard and surprisingly, The Raid: Redemption with an ensemble cast.

The U.S. military are working closely with the CIA and FBI for a major assignment. A special unit of covert ops are sent to Chechnya, Russia to “extract” an ally to a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group. To extract means they must bust him out of the prison and bring him back alive. The man in question is Rudolf Martin.

When the group goes to the prison to begin the extraction process, they are caught by British-Russian warden Rudnovsky, who sends his guards to kill the entire unit. The entire unit is wiped out with one exception. Mercy Callo, a member of the squad whose parents years ago were killed by the same terrorist group Martin had funded, survives and goes forward to extracting Martin himself.

While Mercy goes for the extraction, FBI agent Natalie Meyers becomes Mercy’s only line of communication while Colonel Harding and CIA agent Kyle Black oversee the operation. Will Mercy successfully extract Martin or does Rudnovsky have something up his sleeve to prevent this from happening?

Written and directed by Tony Giglio, this is quite an interesting action thriller that capitalizes on films such as Die Hard and The Raid: Redemption. Giglio truly knows his action films and came up with a story that as it goes on, keeps bringing the viewer intrigued with the device of the plot twist. The plot twists here make the viewer want to see what happens next in a good way.

An ensemble cast takes over the film, led by wushu champion turned actor Jon Foo. Foo, who should have had his name known in the live action adaptation of Tekken, plays Mercy, the young maverick hero who decides to continue his assignment despite the rest of the team being killed off. Foo resorts to not only using firepower, but gets to unleash some brutal martial arts skills, combining some nice kicking skills with close quarter attacks.

While he proves to be the fighter on screen, one cannot hide the fact that pulling some interesting performances are the likes of veterans Danny Glover (as the colonel heading the mission) and Sean Astin (as the CIA agent who acts as a liaison for the extraction unit). Vinnie Jones mainly mugs for the camera, but gets some shots in as corrupt warden Rudnovsky.

In charge of the action are veteran James Lew and stuntman/stunt co-ordinator Lin Oeding. They pulled off some impressive action sequences that don’t go on the technical as much as the close quarters techniques. In fact, it is a welcome merging of the two with Foo leading the way. In a nicely shot fight scene, Foo finds himself taking on a bevy of guards and relies on using himself as a weapon, pulling off some impressive maneuvers in the process. While there is no real final fight scene, a fight between Foo and a prisoner combines some kickboxing style action but turned up on the brutality.

Extraction is definitely a fun action thriller. It is truly a welcome combination of military action, firepower, and martial arts film. This could be the role lead Jon Foo has been waiting for. Definitely worth seeing, and it is available on Crackle.

WFG RATING: B

Crackle Films present a Sony Pictures Television production of a Ranger 7 Films film. Director: Tony Giglio. Producers: Reuben Liber, Mike Callaghan, and Justin Bursch. Writer: Tony Giglio. Cinematography: Jesse Brunt. Editing: Peter Mengus.

Cast: Jon Foo, Falk Hentschel, Vinnie Jones, Joanne Kelly, Sean Astin, Danny Glover, Adam Croasdell, Branden Morgan, Adam Tsekhman, Maximillian Osinski, Ben Jenkin, Spencer Garrett, Paul Duke.

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Saban Films Acquires Whitaker-Bana Starrer “The Forgiven” and Sets March Release Date

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Forest Whitaker plays Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Saban Films’ upcoming film The Forgiven.

Directed by Roland Joffe, the film revolves around Tutu being appointed to head a nationwide investigation, which results in his being summoned to a maximum-security prison by a notorious murderer seeking clemency (Eric Bana). Inside the brutal prison walls, Tutu is drawn into a dangerous, life-changing battle with the cunning criminal.

The film was produced by Joffe, Craig Baumgarten, and Zaheer Goodman-Bhyat with financing by The Fyzz Facility.

Saban Films has set a release date of March 9 in theaters before expanding its theatrical output on March 16 alongside a VOD and Digital HD release.

Moussi is Back in Well Go USA’s Official “Kickboxer: Retaliation” Trailer

Alain Moussi returns as Kurt Sloane as Well Go USA unleashes the sequel Kickboxer: Retaliation this month! IGN has released the first official trailer to the film.

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Set one year after the events of Kickboxer: Vengeance, professional MMA fighter Kurt Sloane finds himself back in a place he never imagined returning to: Thailand. Implicated in the death of Tong Po, Sloane finds himself at odds with Thomas Moore, the man behind the underground fight ring he and Tong Po competed in. Sloane is now challenged to take on a new beast in the 6’8″, 400-pound monster Mongkut. At first Kurt refuses, but when his wife is kidnapped, he finds no other choice but to accept the fight. Sloane not only reunites with his Muay Thai mentor, he finds a new band of allies who will help him train for the fight of a lifetime.

Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sara Malakul Lane, Sam Medina, and Steven Swadling reprise their roles from the original film with a cast of newcomers to the mix, including boxing legend Mike Tyson, soccer star Ronaldinho, strongman Brian Shaw, MMA fighters Roy “Big Country” NelsonWanderlei Silva, and Fabricio Werdum (who appeared as a different character in Vengeance), kickboxing champion Rico Verhoeven, and Game of Thrones‘ Mountain himself, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, as the hulking fighter Mongkut. Christopher Lambert plays the mastermind Thomas Moore.

Dimitri Logothesis directed the film and co-produced with Robert Hickman as well as co-wrote the film with Jim McGrath. Jean Francois-LaChappelle and Moussi himself served as the fight choreographers.

Well Go USA unleashes Kickboxer: Retaliation on January 26 in select theaters.

Cole Fights for Freedom in “Prayer” Trailer

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

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

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

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

 

Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (1991)

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After two outings as Jake Raye, kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson is back in this third installment…as a prisoner.

In prison, Jimmy Boland attempts to protect a friend from a local bruiser gang when he sees his friend being assaulted. Using martial arts, he ultimately kills the leader of the gang and when the warden gets wind of what has happened, he decides to send Jimmy to the worst prison block. The reason is because the warden knows that Blue will seek revenge against Jimmy. Luther was Blue’s drug supplier and now that the supply is gone, Blue does indeed plot his revenge.

Upon his entry in his new “home”, Jimmy meets Wheelhead, the leader of a band of white supremacists. When he invites Jimmy to join the gang, Jimmy, who is Asian-American, refuses and Wheelhead, feeling offended, also wants to get rid of Jimmy. Meanwhile, Jimmy has eventually bonded with his new cellmate, Stark, who is set to be released soon. However, Blue and Wheelhead have decided to put aside their differences to take out the common enemy and that common enemy is Jimmy.

With his starring role in Bloodfist and Bloodfist II, where he played the hero Jake Raye in two different tournaments, kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson returns in this third installment that takes a different route. To start, Wilson plays a brand new character in Jimmy Boland. In addition, the film is set in a prison and it was released at a time when the infamous tale of Rodney King occurred. Perhaps the reason why this film was made was to bring the effects of racism in the midst, but in addition, make for a decent action film.

Kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson once again shines as this time, he is in the middle of a race war that puts him as the common enemy between two stereotypical gangs. One is the African-American drug dealers led by Blue, played by the late Gregory McKinney. The other is a gang of white supremacists led by Wheelhead, played by Rick Dean. Like its predecessors, the film also features real-life martial arts champions in roles as pretty much thugs sent to kill Wilson’s character. They include Australian kickboxing champion Stan “The Man” Longinidis and former kickboxing champion Ian Jacklin as members of Wheelhead’s gang and Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham, who is sadly wasted when compared to his performances in both No Retreat No Surrender and Above the Law, as a member of the drug dealing gang.

The original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, brings a more grounded effort in the role of Jimmy’s cellmate Stark, who serves as a mentor to Jimmy. Stark believes in equality rather than separation and it is after one of Wilson’s confrontations that his voice is heard as perhaps the catalyst that brings a sense of unity amongst some of the prisoners. And naturally, this angers the two villains of the film. There is an additional side character in Diddler, played by John Cardone. While his crime isn’t completely revealed, the appearance of someone during visitor’s day gives the viewer quite a guess and it is when he helps Wilson’s Jimmy that brings a sense of redemption for this character.

Paul Maslak, Eric Lee, and Don “The Dragon” Wilson choreographed the film’s fight sequences and while there are fisticuffs in the film, it is sporadic compared to a more dramatic element that is meant to serve its purpose in terms of the effects of racial prejudice. The fights though are not too bad for the most part. The Longinidis-Wilson brawl in the prison yard is a short and sweet fight that makes good use of both the martial artists’ skills. While McKinney and Dean are not exactly martial artists, they do quite well when it comes to being masterminds and manipulators. Richard Paul’s warden is also quite a manipulator as he intends to make life hell for everyone to keep his authority in line but even that tends to have some possible consequences.

Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight is a pretty good installment of the film series, all in part to its message about racism while at the same time, making the most of its fighting cast.

WFG RATING: B

A Concorde (New Horizons) production. Director: Oley Sassone. Producer: Roger Corman. Writers: Alison Burnett and Charles Mattera. Cinematography: Rick Bota. Editing: Eric L. Beason.

Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Richard Roundtree, Rick Dean, Gregory McKinney, Richard Paul, Charles Boswell, Brad Blaisdell, Stan Longinidis, Peter Cunningham, Laura Stockman.

Vaughn Pulls No Punches in “Brawl” Teaser

Vince Vaughn gears up to pull no punches in the teaser trailer of the upcoming thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99.

Known usually known his comic wits, this can be said to be the actor’s darkest role to date. Vaughn plays Bradley, a down on his luck ex-boxer who after losing his job and his marriage is near finished, turns to being a drug courier. After a shootout between his old friends and police, Bradley is sent to prison where he is forced into a world that only makes things worse for him.

Co-starring along Vaughn are Jennifer Carpenter, Udo Kier, and Don Johnson. Craig Zahler directed the film.

RLJE Films will unleash Brawl in Cell Block 99 on October 6 in theaters, followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on October 13.

Vaughn Plays No Games in “Brawl” Poster

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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.

Savage Dog (2017)

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Scott Adkins stars in this grounded action thriller from director Jesse V. Johnson that unleashes something unexpected in the third act.

Indochina, 1959. Martin Tilman is an ex-boxing champion who is imprisoned in Den-Dhin-Chan Labor Camp, where he is forced to fight in matches to the pleasure of the camp’s runners. The fearsome foursome who run the camp are Steiner, Boon, Amarillo, and Rastignac. When he is not fighting, Martin finds himself occasionally hanging out at a local bar run by ex-patriot Valentine as well as seeing the woman he loves, local girl Isabelle.

As Martin soon learns his time will be up soon, he just wants to return home. However, knowing that should he leave they will lose money, the four camp runners decide to hatch a plan and keep Martin locked up in order to continue their winning streak. However, when Martin begins to resist, the group hatches a plan that will affect his friends. When Martin learns the plan, he decides to do something about it and put an end to the corrupt runners once and for all.

British martial artist and one of the busiest action stars today Scott Adkins returns in this thriller from director Jesse V. Johnson, the first of what will be three collaborations between star and director. The other two are the recently completed Accident Man and Triple Threat. Johnson, a former stuntman turned filmmaker can be quite a storyteller and proves that with this film, has shades of Unleashed in terms of the character of Martin, Adkins’ character, being the major player in a game by some corrupt goons only and is forced to seek his own brand of vengeance when he wants out and they will not let him.

The supporting cast is quite interesting here with the great Marko Zaror, whose English has seriously improved here, in the role of camp runner Rastignac and Sanshou legend Cung Le as Boon, a Vietnamese head guard at the labor camp who will unleash his skills when confronted. Vladimir Kulich’s Steiner seems to be the head warden of the camp who has a bit of a dark secret himself despite his loyalty to the Third Reich while Charles Fathy’s Amarillo rounds out the core group of ultimate villains in this piece.

While it’s great to see Juju Chan in the film, she only delivers a rather lack of action in her role of Isabelle, who is looking out for Martin while having a connection to the camp. Keith David is always a hoot to watch and delivers it here as Valentine, the bar owner who can be seen as Martin’s true ally and friend amidst all the chaos.

Those expecting Adkins to pull off maneuvers a la Boyka in the Undisputed films will be sorely disappointed. Instead of Adkins displaying the tricking style of his usual arsenal, considering the film’s setting of 1959 Indochina, the action is a more grounded take that works quite well here. Fight choreographer Luke LaFontaine does a pretty good job in terms of Adkins using straight up boxing flurries with some use of his kicking agility. With a combination of choreography, Gabriel Gely’s cinematography, and Matthew Lorentz’s editing, these are some pretty good fisticuffs that make good use of Adkins and the other fighters in the cast. They include some pretty good prison fights as well as a short and sweet fight against Le and a finale that becomes a rematch of Undisputed III between Adkins and Zaror.

When Adkins is not using his martial arts skills, he resorts to using both a machete and firepower against adversaries. Now here is where things get extremely brutal and appropriately gives the title justice. It must be said that the title Savage Dog does refer to Adkins’ character Martin, who is seen as a savage dog in the fights but then when he goes on his mission of revenge brings savagery to a whole new level. Perhaps influenced by the likes of a Takashi Miike or even someone like Karate Kill’s Kurando Mitsukake, filmmaker Johnson and choreographer LaFontaine has Adkins either shooting the bejesus out of everyone with squibs galore or chopping off limbs and slicing and dicing leaving geysers full of blood that are usually seen in horror films or even the insane Japanese-style action films of today.

Savage Dog brings a more grounded execution in terms of its fight scenes, but ups the ante in terms of brutality and savagery with Scott Adkins leading the way, just continuing his reign as one of today’s major action talents with ample support from the likes of Marko Zaror, Juju Chan, and Vladimir Kulich to name a few. Don’t expect a Boyka-like performance here, but one that does help Adkins as an actor as well as an action star.

WFG RATING: B+

XLrator Media presents a Compound B/Bleiberg Productions film. Director: Jesse V. Johnson. Producer: Ehud Bleiberg. Writer: Jesse V. Johnson. Cinematography: Gabriel Gely. Editing: Matthew Lorentz.

Cast: Scott Adkins, Juju Chan, Marko Zaror, Cung Le, Vladimir Kulich, Charles Fathy, Keith David, Matthew Marsden.

XLrator Media will be releasing this film in select theaters and on VOD platforms on August 4th.

Undisputed III: Redemption (2010)

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Four years after impressing martial arts fans with Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, director Isaac Florentine returns with the long awaited third chapter in the prison fighter films. This time, paying respects to the themes of the first two, British superkicker Scott Adkins returns to form as Russian mixed martial arts fighter Yuri Boyka.

After a crushing defeat by George “Iceman” Chambers, Boyka is now a toilet cleaner in the basement of the prison with a bum knee. He has learned his one-time backer, Russian mobster Gaga has backed another fighter. When a tournament involving the world’s top prisoners is coming up in the border of Georgia, Boyka decides to see if he has it in him. He trains and soon proves himself to enter the tournament when he easily defeats the prison’s current champion.

Boyka heads to Georgia, where the first Prison Sports Competition is being held. The prize for winning: a pardon from the prison system and a chance to be a free man. The competition is fierce, including brash American boxer Turbo, capoeira exponent Silva, North Korean taekwondo fighter Lim, and the heavy favorite, Colombian drug runner and killer Raul “Dolor” Quinones. As the tournament commences, a dark secret involving the fighters eliminated from the tournament is known and now, rivals will be forced to team up to not just fight for freedom, but for survival as well.

As a longtime fan of martial arts films, Hollywood had seemed for this reviewer, somewhat troublesome when it comes to the recent wave of fight films. While the elements of mixed martial arts, or MMA, seemed imminent, the films mainly with that element seem choppier if not really bad. That was, until 2006’s Undisputed II: Last Man Standing was released. The sequel to the 2002 prison boxing film made the drastic turn to MMA thanks to the sequel’s helmer, karate expert and action film director Isaac Florentine. It was his frequent collaborator, British martial arts ace Scott Adkins, who drove the film with his unique blend of ground fighting and acrobatic kicking skills, that made it one of the best American martial arts films since the glory days of the 80’s to the mid-90’s.

All of that is about to change as this film may in fact be the best of not just the sequels, but the best of the series as a whole. Scott Adkins, coming fresh off his last collaboration with Florentine, 2009’s Ninja, and his turn as Weapon XI in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is in top form again as MMA fighter Boyka. While he wasn’t seen as a bad guy in the last film, he wanted to prove he was the best fighter. Here, he brings that back and more as well. Boyka realizes he has a purpose in life, but is unsure what it is. As the subtitle indicates, for Boykla, it is truly a chance at “redemption”.

The supporting cast of fighters does a great job as well. What many will find interesting is the bond that gradually forms between Boyka and brash American boxer Turbo, played by Mykel Shannon Jenkins. This is noticeable when Boyka’s sees a tattoo of Turbo’s kids on his chest, but on a subconscious level, it could be because Boyka’s last defeat was by that of a boxer. Perhaps, instead of Boyka’s one-time demand of evolution as a “supreme warrior”, he has a newfound respect for the various styles of martial arts. In their limited on-screen time as fillers, Ilram Choi and Lateef Crowder make the best use of their martial arts skills in respectively, taekwondo and capoeira.

Playing the prison champion favorite this time is Chilean martial arts fighter Marko Zaror. A former stuntman, Zaror wowed martial arts fans with his roles in Kiltro and Mirageman. Here, Zaror plays Raul “Dolor” Quinones, the champion at the prison where the tournament is being held. While he doesn’t have as many fight scenes as Adkins or Jenkins, Zaror is a showcase in his own right when he does fight. While press photos obviously indicate that Zaror and Adkins fight in the finals of the tournament, martial arts fans who have anticipated this match up will surely not be disappointed.

The credit for the martial arts fight scenes goes this time to Larnell Stovall, a member of the 87Eleven Stunt Team responsible for the good recent A-list action films Never Back Down and Ninja Assassin. Stovall has definitely did his homework and combined with Florentine’s direction and Ross Clarkson’s cinematography, used the cast’s martial arts skills to perhaps the highest of expectations. The result? Winning the Best Fight Choreographer Award at the 2010 ActionFest Film Festival.

If you want to see a good, no, make that awesome fight film, Undisputed III: Redemption is truly one of the greatest American martial arts ever made. A stellar cast, developed storyline, and some of the best fight scenes this side of the hemisphere make this an instant action classic!

WFG RATING: A

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment present a Nu Image production. Director: Isaac Florentine. Producers: Israel Ringel and Zvia Dimbort. Writer: David N. White. Cinematography: Ross W. Clarkson. Editing: Irit Raz.

Cast: Scott Adkins, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Marko Zaror, Mark Ivanir, Robert Constanzo, Valentin Ganev, Hristo Shopov, Lateef Crowder, Ilram Choi, Vernon Dobtcheff, Esteban Cueto.

TRAILER: Kickboxer – Retaliation

Kurt Sloane is back as the official trailer to Kickboxer: Retaliation has been unleashed.

Alain Moussi and Jean-Claude Van Damme return alongside Sara Malakul Lane and Sam Medina from the 2016 remake Kickboxer: Vengeance. Joining them for the new installment are Mike Tyson, Hafthor Bjornsson, Ronaldinho, and Christopher Lambert as well as some top MMA and kickboxing fighters such as Roy Nelson, Fabricio Werdum, Wanderlei Silva, and Rico Verhoeven.

Kickboxer: Retaliation continues where Kickboxer:Vengeance left off. It has now been 12 months since Kurt Sloan left Thailand vowing never to return. We pickup the story in a crowded sports arena with cheering fans where Kurt is now in a new battle – A title bout for the MMA World Championship title. When Kurt returns back to the locker room he is met by a familiar face along with, what we are led to believe to be two US marshals who charge Kurt with a crime and is extradited back to Thailand in an illegal manner. At some point during the journey, Kurt is sedated and later wakes up in a dingy cell at an infamous prison in Bangkok, Thailand.

Kurt soon meets the masterminds behind his abduction and is told he needs to fight a new formidable foe named Mongkut, who is a beast of a man, standing at 6’8″ and weighing in around 400lbs of solid muscle. This is a specticle they know will bring in millions. Kurt is offered 2 million dollars to fight or face a life term behind bars, but Kurt is steadfast and just wants to go home…He will not put a price on human life for the pleasure of others. A bounty is placed on Kurt’s head, prompting other prisoners to take shots to help coerce him to fight, however, Kurt can certainly hold his own and is not phased at all by any of this , however, eventually, under duress, he is forced to fight.

Kurt does not fully comprehend the challenge he has ahead of him until he encounters the pure size and strength of the man named Mongkut. Through much pain and pure determination, Kurt is put through some of the most enduring training he has ever experienced to prepare him for the fight for his life.

Dimitri Logothetis wrote and directed the remake with Robert Hickman serving as producer.

According to sources, the sequel is due for a September release.