Tag Archives: Kung Fu

Ip Man: The True Master

Ip Man, the trainer of Bruce Lee in Wing Chun martial arts style. One of the true Grandmasters that has left a legacy all martial arts film fans must appreciate. Here comes a film from Wilson Yip, a director who has brought us Donnie Yen in the forms of Dragon Tiger Gate and Flash Point. But this film has a different pace and style. More elegant than other kung fu films, this movie flows in the same Ki as Fearless with Jet Li. I think here’s a point where I’m going to list my favorite martial artists just to get it out there. Let me know what you think of this list:

1. Tony Jaa (that’s a given, he got me into martial arts)

2. Jeeja Yanin (she’s a girl who can Muay Thai kick ass)

That is a killer stare right there.

3. Donnie Yen (straight masterful ever since I saw him in Iron Monkey)

4. Jet Li (straight destructive martial artist who has made it big in American films)

5. Dan Chupong (this dude is not as well known as Tony Jaa, but his films are just as brutal as Jaa)

I want me one of those…

6. Jackie Chan (all his movies are entertaining. Me and my roommate love Rush Hour!)

7. Iko Uwais (up and comer from Thailand. He’s in the most anticipated film for me this year, The Raid: Redemption)

8. Panna Rittikrai (this guy helped teach Tony Jaa all he knows, elderly Asian master)

9. Bruce Lee (he’s gotta be on this list somewhere! He’s ballin’ hard!)

10. Kazu Patrick Tang (this dude rocked shit in Raging Phoenix and Bangkok Knockout! Most handsome Thai man in martial arts)

The single greatest scene in the film.

And there it is. Hate me for listing Bruce Lee so low, but he’s on there. And, after watching this movie, I have gained all the more respect for Ip Man and Bruce Lee and what they do and stand for.

This film is a heartfelt one, and may bring a tear to your eye. During the Sino-Japanese War, Fo Shan is a city of prosperity until the Japanese invade and take over. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a respected martial arts master who takes people to school on a daily basis. He and his family lose everything after the invasion and it is up to Ip Man to reclaim his honor and the honor of the Chinese people in this tale of inspiration. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next one.

Shit’s about to pop off.

There were a lot of things about this movie that surprised me. Unlike the traditional shoddy acting from the martial artists in films like this, there’s none of that. Only good acting and prideful performances. Donnie Yen always surprises me as a showman first and, well, a martial arts master also first. He can perform well and with honor and dignity (as he did in this role) and kick the shit out of people. It’s really refreshing to see an aging martial arts actor gracefully enter the older years with poise and the ability to still perform at a younger level with fire and passion.

This movie also pulls back the reins on the stylistic elements of Kung Fu films. You expect the people flying from rooftop to rooftop and kicks that send people flying, but not so much in this film. In this

Breathtaking scenery.

return to reality, Donnie Yen styles down his brutal kicks and flips to hone in on a form that is more elegant, precise, and lethal. I had a jaw dropping moment when Ip Man takes on 10 Japanese martial artists at once and probably kills about half of them with these precise little blows. You have to see it to believe it.

Get on dat destruction.

Other than that, this movie has a moving soundtrack, a strangely dubbed over audio track, and fairly accurate subtitles. It’s inspirational and humbling, informing you on one of the greatest martial artists of all time. It’s one of those films you see that makes you want to know more, and reminds you why you love to watch Kung Fu films. Ip Man all the way! 8.4 out of 10.

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The Bodyguard #1 & 2: Not Your Average Thai Film

I’m gonna combine the first Bodyguard and the second, as one flows into the other. I loved this movies so much that I even watched them back to back. Petchtai Wongkamlao is a hilariously funny guy and he did a great directorial job with the onscreen humor and action. The movies didn’t focus too heavily on himself and he did this quite humbly. A lot of the humor comes from plays on words and references you have to get from knowing his work with Panna Ritikrai and Tony Jaa. Either way, these movies will kick your ass with their in your face guns and side splitting foreign comedy.

The first films starts off with Wong Kom (Petchtai Wongkamlao) as a bodyguard/official operative. He has come to this international convention to guard a major player named Chot Petchpantakam (Surachai Juntimatom). With the ensuing attack and lots of wire fu

Wongkamlao, the unconventional action star.

(Kung Fu with wires. Think a la Crouching Tiger.), Wong attempts to save Chot, but he is shot in the crossfire. The rest of the film focuses around Wong’s committed attempt to regain his honor and Chot’s son, Chaichol (Piphat Apiraktanakorn) trying to keep his father’s business running. With assassination attempts, a crew of street rats, and a rags meet riches story, this movie has a lot of humor and heart.

Just some Thai humor for ya.

In the second Bodyguard, things are a bit different. Wong is an undercover agent attempting to take down a crime syndicate that is dealing in weapons of mass destruction. After infiltrating a night club as a “provocative dancer”, Wong screws up yet again. Some explosions and gunshots later, Wong must become a famous luk thung (basically, a Thai country singer) star and keep everything from his wife, Keaw (Janet Keaw). With more laughs and quite a bit more explosions, this film surpassed the budget for Ong Bak with 1 million Baht (Thai currency), becoming the biggest film to be made in Thailand. It would be eclipsed by Ong Bak 2 shortly after.

Tony Jaa makes an appearance as the shopkeep boy.

What made these American standard B-rated action films so great is that they didn’t take themselves seriously. Wongkamlao is spinning through the air with two guns cocked and completely infinite in bullets, whipping around the room, absolutely annihilating people in very strange ways. The actors aren’t to serious about their villainous ways and it really shows throughout. Biggest example is the Thai comedian that shows up in both films. In the first, he (and I wish I could decipher which character he was) always wears something inappropriate and never talks. In the second, he dies at the end without saying anything. What makes this so great is that (and I hope it was fake) at the end of the second film, this guy blows up at Wongkamlao for not including him more in the film. I think the Thai sense of humor is spot on and could do very well over here in America.

There are so many over the top explosions and gun fight scenes that you can’t take this movie too seriously. It’s all the

That’s a bit vulgar… and a midget.

kind of action that makes Tony Jaa’s films so popular, but even more so. And that’s another great thing. They advertised in Thailand and America that Tony Jaa was going to be a big player in both these films, and he shows up to do a 5 minute action scene. It always has something to do with one of his other films, and it’s great to see that he can laugh at himself. (Where’s my elephant?)

All the heart and guns in the world.

This movie really shows just what Thailand is like. It’s more than all the action scenes and comedy that comes from these movies. And Wongkamlao knows that. There’s poverty and crime, burgeoning cities and night life, even a rich cultural aspect you don’t always see in an action film. And that’s where the heart comes from in these movies. It’s a movie you set out to do with your friends and come to love making and showing off. I’ve done it myself a dozen times. It’s not serious, it’s just showing that you can make an entertaining movie, and it doesn’t have to be award winning. And that’s why I think American audiences should check out these movies. Embrace this new culture and realize we’re a lot more alike than we think. And for this, The Bodyguard series deserves a comedy induced and action packed 7.5 out of 10.


Horrible Bosses

So this movie probably is no longer in theaters, but when me and my roomie all the way out there in London (this is a shout out E. Miss you.) caught this movie in theaters, it was in its 6th week showing. I think that itself says a lot about just how good this movie is. Plus the aged ticket vendor woman who told us this adult movie full of swearing, drugs, and new age humor for the 20 year olds was “funny as poop.” So yeah, I had to check out this movie. I mean, come on, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day in the same film? Perfect. This was a movie worthy of its under-hype, so to speak.

In this film of every Average Joe’s fantasy, three friends Nick

Trio of champions.

(Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) all hate and want to kill their bosses. Nick’s boss is a psychopathic withdrawing bastard (Kevin Spacey) who forces Nick to stay late, work often, and never give him that sought after promotion. Dale’s boss is ironically a maneating sex addict (Jennifer Anisten) who just wants Dale, despite knowing full well that he’s engaged to marry. And Kurt’s boss, the toolish son of the former boss who kicks the bucket and takes over by default (Colin Farrell). With this trio of terror, the boys just don’t know what to do to rid themselves of these terrible bosses with a job market where there’s no chance of redemption.

Until one day, Mutherf@#$er Jones (Jamie Foxx) stumbles upon them. And by that, I mean Nick and the gang to rovin’ around in a black neighborhood and stumble upon one mean Jones who’s willing to help them get rid of their bosses for a small fee.  And what does he do? He becomes their “murder consultant,” and helps them to kill each other’s bosses. What transpires is one of the funniest series of events that I’ve ever seen on film in the last 5 years. Other than 30 Minutes or Less, and that review will be coming shortly.

The good and bad. This film was shorter than I wanted it to be. This film needed to be longer. This 98 minute film could’ve been fleshed out to a 2 hour movie and I wouldn’t have complained for a second. There’s always more comedy that can be shoved into a film, and this movie could’ve used it for the full $10 movie theaters are charging now. Other than that, maybe Jason Sudeikis wasn’t the best SNL choice to go with in this film. I didn’t mind him, but at the same time, I didn’t really notice if he was funny at all.

It was mostly on Jason Bateman and Charlie Day, coupled with Colin Farrell’s hilarious scenes of

These 3 brought the house down.

cocaine and Kung Fu, that brought the brunt of the comedy in this film. I love the way in which Farrell can make fun of himself and not always go for the better roles that cast him in a better light (I’m just glad he doesn’t do movie like Alexander anymore…). But yes, Jason Bateman performs in his prime (Arrested Development level) and I’m happy to see he’s really putting work in this year with The Change Up and an Arrested Development movie in the works.

Charlie Day. Thank you for living.

Charlie Day. What is there to say about Charlie, member of one of the greatest trios to ever grace cable television on Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His signature character of the bumbling idiot shines through again in a Hollywood blockbuster meant for his caliber of acting skills. I know it may seem that Charlie Day will be typecast forever, but I could care less. His fantastic attitude and demeanor as a character actor could be the same in 1000 films and I’d watch every one.

Kevin Spacey gives a great dickish performance, in coupling with Jennifer Anisten trying on some level to reclaim some never found sex idol roles in this film. Sure she looks nothing like her normal self in this movie, but

Let the On Star begin.

damnnnn. Wow. With some great On Star humor and some great banter between Jason, Jason, and Charlie, this movie performs on par with The 40 Year Old Virgin, #1 in my favorite comedies of all time. (Since then Judd Apatow has never made another funny movie.) I give credit to Seth Gordon in this breakout directing “debut”. His work on The Office, Modern Family, and Parks and Recreation gave him some experience going into a full length Hollywood film. And definite props to Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley (among others) for great dialogue between three great characters. 8.8 out of 10.


Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Kung Fu Movie Spoof at its Finest

So I found and watched this movie a long time ago (Wow, 8 years?) and I loved it. It spoke to my inner 13 year old and the absurd potty humor this movie promotes. Being a big fan of hilarious overdubbing in films, who wouldn’t like a spoofed 70’s Kung Fu film about something absurd like battling a bad guy in league with aliens? It’s the perfect twist to an already absurd movie. Steve Oedekerk brings another funny movie to light that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Time to give it a little now.

So the Chosen One (Steve Oedekerk) was attacked as a 3-D animated child and barely survived by rolling down a hill. His

I need gopher-chucks!

nemesis Master Pain (Leo Lee/Fei Lung) killed his family with his claws of doom and intended to kill him, but the Chosen One escaped with his skills of peeing in other people’s faces. Growing up on the ways of Kung Fu, the Chosen One grows to punch people into oblivion and use gopher-chucks. With these skills in hand, the Chosen One happens upon Master Tang (Hui Lou Chen) and begins his path in destroying Betty, his newly named nemesis and all those who fight for his cause of evil.

Steve Oedekerk brings a new kind of film (okay, 9 years old) to the mix of what is/was a growing industry of spoof movies. This unknown archived film, Tiger and Crane Fist (aka Savage Killers), was completely dubbed, to a hilarious degree. Placing himself in the film, Oedekerk interacts with the characters of the past and creates hilarious situations out of nothing. Not an easy feat, every scene has some hilarious little twist. I mean, come on, Ling (Ling-ling Hsieh) with the Wee-Ooo Wee-Ooo noise? Miss Piggy is always funny. And Wimp Lo (Chia Yung Liu) with his squeaky clown shoes and lack of fighting skill? Perfect.

Ahh the cow battle. Absurdity at its finest.

With the combo of other fighting spoof scenes (Matrix cow fight) and characters with only one chesticle, there’s nothing wrong with this movie. With only a few long drawn out jokes, this movie performs on the level of an American version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Not saying they completely equate, but they have the same feel. The lip dubbing is hilarious (not a lip-flap match) but funny nonetheless. With the guys training like pros in the yard, their fighting chants ring out with the sounds of genius. It’s a great little movie for those who are younger with elements for those who are older. Steve Oedekerk has done good things in the past (including the Thumb Wars series and various other spoof films) including a bunch of writing for decently funny cartoons like Jimmy Neutron and Back at the Barnyard, this is a good example of something that was entirely Oedekerk’s project. The only thing that rivals this would be all the work that Oedekerk did on Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Now that’s gold. So I would give this movie a dec rating. 6.7 out of 10.