Donnie Yen

Radius TWC

A proactive Chinese emperor develops his own secret service protection unit in the form of street orphans trained to be elite martial artists. The Jinyiwei are the best of the best which makes their team leader, Qinglong (Donnie Yen), the best of the best of the best. Which is pretty damn good. As leader of the guard, his weapons of choice are the fourteen titular blades he wears on his back. Why fourteen? Glad you asked… eight of them are to be used for interrogation and persuasion, while the remaining six are reserved for killing. The team answers to no one but the emperor himself until an evil eunuch (can you blame the guy?) secretly takes control of the court. Qinglong soon stands as the only member of the Jinyiwei remaining loyal to the emperor, and in an effort to restore him to power Qinglong will have to fight his way through the evil eunuch (seriously, can you blame him?), an outside prince (Sammo Hung) hoping to take the throne and the most feared fighters in the kingdom… the other members of the Jinyiwei.

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news special id

SPL aka Kill Zone. Flashpoint. Ip Man. Bodyguards & Assassins. Ip Man 2. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. Wu Xia aka Dragon. I’m not shy about my love for Donnie Yen and the blistering brutality he’s capable of dealing out through his lightning-quick beat downs, an especially impressive feat seeing as he’s only four feet tall, but I’ve also been vocal in my wish to see him give the period films a rest. He’s made some great ones, obviously, but there’s something about seeing his MMA-infused martial arts in action in a contemporary setting. The alley brawl from SPL? The final fight from Flashpoint? Happily the six year drought is over as the next several months will see Yen kicking ass in two modern day settings. Iceman hits next year and starts in the Ming Dynasty where Yen’s character is frozen only to be thawed out in modern times for some laughs and fighting hijinx, but first up is Special ID. The film follows a squad of undercover cops whose identities are leaked leading to their assassinations. Cue the machine gun-style fisticuffs! Check out the clip below and start salivating for Special ID‘s eventual release here in the States.

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Michael Fassbender

What is Casting Couch? It’s where you go to make sure Elijah Wood is adding another new job to his calendar every day. Turns out, today he kept the streak alive, read on… Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender are two of the best actors on the planet Earth; objectively, inarguably. What a coup, then, that director Michael Grandage has landed both of them for his upcoming project, Genius. Based on a book by A. Scott Berg, Genius is a biopic that explores the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (Fassbender) and his editor Max Perkins (Firth). Turns out Wolfe and Perkins were great friends, but the kind who butted heads over everything. Sure, listening to two guys argue over word choice wouldn’t normally sound like a very exciting idea for a movie, but with these two actors on board it absolutely does. Add this one to your to-do list. [Variety]

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Come with me on a journey for a moment, back to when you were a youngin’ on the playground. There was a particular technique that seems to have been popular with just about every five year old around, in which the stronger of the two kids grabs the arm of his (or her, if the story is really embarrassing) opponent, hits them with their own arm and says, “Stop hitting yourself! Why do you keep hitting yourself?” It was a humiliation technique, meant to send the other kid running. And more times than not, it worked like a charm. In this clip from Dragon, the latest martial arts import from Radius TWC, we see the legendary Donnie Yen using a similar tactic on a foe. Allow me to set the scene: Takeshi Kaneshiro (Red Cliff, House of Flying Daggers) plays an investigator who has come to a rural village to look into a scruff between a local papermaker (Yen) and two ruffians who came to rob the general store. The simple papermaker remains, while the two wanted criminals, trained killers in their own right, lie dead on the ground. We see Kaneshiro’s character as he’s recounting what he believes happened in the general store, complete with some wicked fight choreography courtesy of star/action director Yen. See for yourself in this exclusive clip below.

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Donnie Yen in Dragon

If you’re going to put Donnie Yen in your movie, you better have him do what he does best. Luckily, Dragon (Wu Xia) director Peter Chan lets Yen’s fists fly as often as they can. The trailer (via Apple) shows off some sleek production design, transforming a village landscape into a suitable location for a slow-smoking noir. In the film, Yen plays a martial arts expert hiding away in a village who is being tracked down by a private investigator (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and his former master. The fight choreography looks gorgeous and aggressive, but it’s the story itself that adds to the excitement here. It doesn’t seem to be re-inventing the wheel, but it definitely shoves one genre firmly into another. Hopefully the movie gets both right and the result is a killer tale filled with faces getting punched by too-fast hands. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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If you’re just catching up with us, Junkfood Cinema head honcho Brian Salisbury and I have made the dubiously sane decision to trek 20+hours across the country to attend ActionFest, an upstart film festival focusing exclusively on badass action films. It’s a long drive from Austin to beautiful Asheville, NC, but we’ve made it relatively unscathed and have two full days and 9 fest films under our collective belt. You can read about those first two days here and here. It is with little sleep and much caffeine that we make our way back to the Carolina theater for the third and final day of ActionFest 2012! We started day 3 with the first of 2 secret screenings on the ActionFest schedules. Rumors were flying, even as we were in line, but none turned out to be correct. The film was Sleepless Night which had previously played Toronto and our own beloved Fantastic Fest. Brian had already seen it so he went up the lounge to “work” (I’m fairly certain he drank beer and ate chicken). Despite trying to see it twice at Fantastic Fest, circumstances conspired to keep me from seeing the last 30-40 minutes or so. OK fine, the first time I just fell asleep. In any event, my dad and I stuck around for the French flick to which Warner Bros. has already purchased the remake rights. We rushed out as the credits rolled and managed to only miss the first minute or two of Goon. Yeah, […]

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Even giving it action credit, The Expendables wasn’t the men on a mission movie that it could have been. It became the Stallone/Statham show with not nearly enough regard for a talented cast of former steroid users. The sequel could remedy that situation, but it also has to jump the hurdle of, you know, being an action sequel. Fortunately, the good folks over at Twitch are reporting that Donnie Yen – the badass of Ip Man and many more – has been offered a role in The Expendables 2. While this is great news for that particular cast, Yen shouldn’t take the job. Why not? Because he’s a leading man who would be playing second fiddle here – character and action-wise. He’d be given one cool fight scene and be overshadowed for the rest of the run time (even if that one fight scene proves he’s more talented at close combat than anyone else on that roster). Undoubtedly, the pitch here from producer Avi Lerner is a role that would launch Yen into the minds of American audiences. While that may be enticing, it also comes with the possibility of following in Jackie Chan’s footsteps. Chan is a phenom, but his career in the United States morphed so badly into mainstream meaninglessness that he started turning back to China to make the bulk of his movies.

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Do you remember Gheorghe Mureşan, the 7’7″ tall basketball player who once starred in the film My Giant? Of course you do. Now keep the memory of that large man and his acting skills in your mind and behold Mengke Bateer, the larger-than-life star of Bodyguards and Assassins, an upcoming release also starring Donnie Yen and a host of other stars. It’s out on DVD July 26th, and this will surely give you reason to check it out. It’s a giant man beating ass with kung-fu. Seriously.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s not getting on that horse, that’s for sure. Instead it is here to bring you the big and the small, the best and the worst, the interesting and not so interesting movie news of the day. Then it will get on that horse and ride off into the sunset. Tonight’s lead image is actress Ruth Wilson. Get a good look, as you’ll soon be seeing her again. This star of BBC’s Luther and Masterpiece Theater’s latest version of Jane Eyre beat out the likes of Jessica Chastain and Abbie Cornish to win the leading lady part in The Lone Ranger opposite Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.

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This Week in Blu-ray

It’s always a special week for This Week in Blu-ray when I can say that I’m on time. Last week was a mess, but this week we come roaring back with some great titles. It’s made even more special with the release of one of the best movies I saw in 2010, Legend of the Fist. My Donnie Yen addiction kicks into high gear while my lack of interest in big, studio-funded comedy and alien invasion films becomes readily apparent. Plenty to rent this week, a few precious titles to buy and that Red Riding Hood movie from Catherine Hardwicke right where it belongs: bringing up the rear. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen As you are undoubtedly aware, the movie theater is no place for hooting and hollering. Audiences should be present, but unheard. I know this as well as anyone out there, having sat through hundreds, if not thousands of movie with some of the stuffiest people on the planet (other film critics). But there was something about Legend of the Fist. When it screened for the audiences of Fantastic Fest last year, it jumped into our laps and demanded that we cheer. So there I was, alongside fellow critics Drew McWeeney and Brian Salisbury, reduced to cinema fandom’s equivalent of a “woo girl” by the first 20-minutes of this Donnie Yen action opus. It played like Saving Private Ryan, but with a little Asian dude running around killing Germans in the most creative of […]

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Want to see one of the best clips from a movie that Brian Salisbury called “unstoppably entertaining” in his review from Fantastic Fest last year? Only if you swear an oath of loyalty to Donnie Yen, the martial arts master of his generation. That’s right, I said it. Now swear it. The clip comes from Well Go USA and Variance Films’ Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, one of the finest martial arts epics I’ve seen in a long while. It’s part of the opening sequence, in which Chen Zhen (Yen) must save his WWI regiment from the Germans in a high-flying act of heroism. Think Saving Private Ryan, but with a Chinese dude running around killing krauts with a pair of hunting knives. In this rarest of instances, it is far more awesome than it sounds. It’s the best 1:14 you will spend online all day. See for yourself after the jump.

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Hey, guess what. I’m in Las Vegas this weekend and the sooner I get through this nightly commitment I made without thinking very hard about it, the sooner I can get back to doing nefarious things with the company’s money. What do you mean I can’t get the Bellagio fountains to form the FSR logo? Come on! Anyway, here are a few quick ones to keep you warm on a lonely Friday night.

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Words cannot describe the beauty that is the Ip Man series of films, unless you count our reviews for Ip Man and Ip Man 2. While note nearly as complex or empathetic as the first, Ip Man 2 is a Rocky IV-esque tale that sees star Donnie Yen in the title role setting up shop in Hong Kong, battling the town’s masters on table tops to gain permission to open a Wing Chun school, and brawling with a British boxer who storms into town picking a fight with everyone. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Any day that we can put something before your eyes that includes the martial arts mastery of Donnie Yen is a good day. Using my powers of deduction, I have determined that today is a good day. Today gives us a look at the official trailer for Ip Man 2, a film that Well Go USA will be releasing theatrically in January. More importantly, they will be releasing the “undubbed, bone-crushing original version.” This will be head and shoulders above the recent release of Ip Man to Netflix Watch Instantly, one of the most poorly dubbed versions of any film in the history of humanity. But lets not focus on that. Lets watch this high-energy trailer for the second part in the saga of the Ip Man (Yen), the grandmaster who would eventually go on to be the man behind Bruce Lee…

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we can’t apologize enough. This is the internet column which thankfully you only have to bear once a week. I am an indiscriminate consumer of film and gorge myself on terrible b-movies as often as the AFI Top 100 fodder. Therefore each week I will showcase a bad film near and dear to my heart. I will list its sundry faults while simultaneously lavishing adoration upon it. When you are done duly vomiting, that’s the exact moment where I swoop in and present you with an appropriate junkfood item in an effort to inappropriately ease your cinematic indigestion. This week’s film may be a bit obscure, and difficult to find, but well worth the diligent hunt. It is a Chinese film called Dragon Tiger Gate. It is the story of two half-brothers, not-so-ironically named Dragon and Tiger, who are separated as children but not before being given a two-part pendant. Their shared father is the master of the Dragon Tiger Gate; a martial art academy that, like a Transformer, is more than meets the eye. Dragon ends up being raised by a ruthless Triad and Tiger remains loyal to the academy. But when the leader of an evil cult, who secretly controls the Triads, sets his sights on the academy, the brothers must band together for the greater good.

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Donnie Yen is one of the unheralded stars of this year’s Fantastic Fest. He wasn’t in attendance obviously (aside from in my dreams), but he did have three films playing in which he takes the lead role. Sure one of those flicks was underwhelming (14 Blades), but it’s still three more movies than you or I had play there. And while I haven’t seen Legend Of the Fist yet the word is the movie is entertaining as hell. If Brian Salisbury’s love for that film proves true then it will mean that Yen starred in two of the fest’s best films. Because Ip Man 2 is a giant won-ton of whoop-ass fun. Director Wilson Yip‘s latest opens a few years after the events from the first film with the family Ip having moved from China to Hong Kong. Ip Man is trying to open his own martial arts training center and secures a location on a beautiful rooftop suitable for drying laundry. After a few scraps with local punks he’s forced to prove himself against the unofficial man in charge of the district, Master Hung Quan (Sammo Hung). Most movies would save the epicness of a Yen/Hung fight for the end, but Ip Man 2 is having none of that… it’s just getting started, and before the end credits roll they’ll be a second (but shorter) fight between Yen and Hung and a battle royale that sees Ip Man fighting for the pride of his country and countrymen. Yeah, kind […]

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After avenging his slain teacher, kung-fu master Chen Zhen finds himself a marked man. He enlists in the army as a means of escape and ends up in Europe during WWI; serving as part of a suicide squad assigned to deliver ammunition to the front line. When one of his friends dies in combat, Chen Zhen decides to assume his identity and return to his homeland; falling steadily to foreign influence which is ultimately subverting its culture and history. When the tyrannical Japanese government releases a list of detractors that it intends to silence–a death list–Chen Zhen can no longer idle quietly in his comfortable assumed life. He adorns a disguise and sets out to save the patriots of his beloved country before they become the discards of revolution.

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Great movies come from all around the world, and so do great DVDs and Blu-rays. Import This! is an irregular feature here at FSR that highlights discs and/or movies unavailable in the US that are worth seeking out for fans of fantastic cinema. A proactive Chinese emperor develops his own secret service protection unit in the form of street orphans trained to be elite martial artists. The Jinyiwei are the best of the best which makes their team leader, Qinglong (Donnie Yen), the best of the best of the best. Which is pretty damn good. As leader of the guard, his weapons of choice are the fourteen titular blades he wears on his back. Why fourteen? Glad you asked… eight of them are to be used for interrogation and persuasion, while the remaining six are reserved for killing. The team answers to no one but the emperor himself until an evil eunuch (can you blame the guy?) secretly takes control of the court. Qinglong soon stands as the only member of the Jinyiwei remaining loyal to the emperor, and in an effort to restore him to power Qinglong will have to fight his way through the evil eunuch (seriously, can you blame him?), an outside prince (Sammo Hung) hoping to take the throne, and the most feared fighters in the kingdom… the other members of the Jinyiwei. Check after the jump to see why 14 Blades may be worth an import…

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AlamoDrafthouseCinemapocalpyseNazi

I braved the wilds of Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse in order to get pummeled Inglorious Basterds and 5 other fantastic, fireball-laden, violently satisfying films that left my blood-lust quenched and me questioning whether or not I’d lost my sanity before or after the marathon began.

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fo-ipman

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Hong Kong!

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