RZA

Paul Walker in Brick Mansions

If you are an aspiring composer, a musician, or simply a music fan interested in how a song actually comes together before you see it on the big screen, we have a peak behind the curtain for you. Composer John Fulford specializes in creating music for productions and has worked on shows like Breaking Bad, Glee and Enlightened as well as indie films like The Sunset Limited, studio releases like American Reunion and, most recently, Brick Mansions. Fulford knows how to work within tight deadlines (thanks to the weekly schedule of TV) and this discipline of constantly creating has helped train his ear in recognizing track elements that would work perfect on screen. Fulford was looking to get some music on Shawn Ryan’s The Chicago Code and figured the best way to achieve that goal was to work with Chicago-based artists. That led him to the artist N.E.P.H.E.W. Fulford and NEP began working together and created the track, “Nephgroove.” Unfortunately the song did not end up being used on The Chicago Code, but when Brick Mansions was looking for some authentic rap, they were sent “Nephgroove” and, as Fulford puts it, “the rest is history.” In this video (as created by Louis Mayo @Viewbility), Fulford takes you through his process of writing the song and highlighting the elements that ultimately stood out to the producers.

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Rhatha Phongam in THE PROTECTOR 2

For a brief while there in the first decade of the 2000′s it looked like Thailand’s Tony Jaa was laying claim to the title of best action star of the 21st century. Ong Bak introduced him as a viable and extremely capable action lead, and the next few years saw that status confirmed with two sequels and The Protector (aka Tom Yum Goong). And then he went nuts. In his defense he was trapped in an incredibly restrictive contract and his ego had grown to elephant-sized proportions, but that’s a long story for a different day. The good news is that he looks to in the process of making a comeback. He’s currently filming Fast & Furious 7, has two Dolph Lundgren films in the can and is rumored to be attached to sequels for The Raid and SPL. He also made a sequel with the same people whose tight grip almost drove him mad. The Protector 2 begins similarly to its predecessor with Kham (Jaa) living a bachelor’s life in rural Thailand with his pet elephant Khon. Trouble starts when the pachyderm is abducted by some ruthless thugs for nefarious purposes forcing Kham to once again leave home to rescue Khon and kick some ass along the way. A repetitive plot is bad enough, but while the first film was loaded with fantastic fight sequences and visibly impressive stunts to make up for it the sequel limps along under the weight of action “assisted” by ridiculously obvious wire work […]

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Paul Walker in Brick Mansions

The first Brick Mansions trailer from February was focused on the action elements presented in this American remake of the French film District B13. This second, full trailer wants you to know a bit more about the story. In one of his final and most physical roles, Paul Walker plays a detective looking to avenge the death of his father by entering into a neighborhood so dangerous it has been quarantined from the rest of society. Inside, he uses an unlikely ally to take on a vicious drug kingpin played by RZA, who is looking pretty villainy. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s awesome to see Walker get into the physical stuff of the Parkour-energized film alongside French star David Belle, who was a central figure in the original film. This trailer also comes complete with a pretty slick rendition of Ben E. King song, “Stand by Me.”

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Brick Mansions

Brick Mansions was the final film Paul Walker completed before his death this past November. For that reason alone, it’s bound to draw attention — it’s an opportunity for the actor’s fans to grieve and to get one last fully-finished look at Walker doing what Walker did best: driving souped-up muscle cars, elbowing dudes in the face, and being around things that may or may not (but almost always do) explode. Which Brick Mansions is certainly stuffed full of. But seeing as the film is a remake of the 2004 parkour flick District B13, there’s probably a substantial amount of dudes-running-up-walls as well. Walker plays an undercover cop in a dystopian future Detroit (a dead ringer for our dystopian present Detroit) who must infiltrate a tenement building to disarm a dangerous warhead being held inside. Accompanying Walker on his quest are RZA and David Belle, the latter being the star of the original District B13 and the actual founder of Parkour.

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Paul Walker

Paul Walker’s last movie, Brick Mansions, is scheduled for an April 25, 2015 release according to Relativity Media. Earth to Echo, Relativity’s sci-fi adventure collaboration with Disney was originally pegged to this date, but has now been rescheduled for a July 2, 2014 arrival in theaters. Brick Mansions features Walker and Wu-Tang Clan founding member RZA, along with Parkour dynamo David Belle and Catalina Denis. An English-language remake of EuropaCorp’s French actioner Banlieue 13 (District B13), the story follows Walker as an undercover police officer who ventures into the dystopian urban wilds of a future Detroit, tasked with the mission of disarming a neutron bomb set to detonate in a tenement named Brick Mansions.

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Screen Shot 2012-11-02 at 6.00.52 PM

A movie like The Man With The Iron Fists, with the tagline of “They put the F.U. in Kung Fu,” can really go either way. While such a tagline promises some cool fight scenes and much bad-assery, do the goods stop there? Also, can RZA from The Wu-Tang Clan direct? Hell yes, RZA can direct! While the film does lag at around the three-quarter mark, not only are its fight scenes awesome and bloody, but they are creatively shot and have great cinematography. This, in combine with a gleefully clever and referential script co-written by RZA and Eli Roth, make for a fun film that fits nicely within the film’s “presentor,” Quentin Tarantino’s, postmodernist pantheon. After all, there’s even a cameo from Pam Grier.

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The Man With the Iron Fists is an ambitious first feature film. Not only because it cost more than the average directorial debut, but it’s from a nearly nonexistent genre with an unproven director at the helm in the form of rapper-turned-actor-turned-director RZA. Many would scoff at this project, but one man who didn’t is Eli Roth. It became a labor of love for both RZA and Roth, who came on as both a producer and co-writer of the film. From the sounds of it, RZA and Roth wanted to make the Star Wars of Kung-Fu movies. The long haul process of making the movie was about achieving that level of scope and world-building with a small amount of means, which is $15m, to be exact. Still, with that amount of money, The Man With the Iron Fists isn’t as big of a financial risk as it is a creative one. This wasn’t an easy project to get going, but as Roth told us, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Here is what The Man with the Iron Fists producer and co-writer Eli Roth had to say about the scope of the film, the importance of filmmaker buddies, and how Five Easy Pieces inspired Cabin Fever:

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RZA is excited for The Man with the Iron Fists. Whether it’s of high-quality or not, the Wu-Tang Clan leader got to make a martial arts movie — and, to sweeten the deal, as his first film to boot. That’s something to get giddy over, the chance of introducing an audience to a whole new world. Based on his name drop of Star Wars, that’s what RZA set out to do. Some may be surprised RZA is taking a crack behind the camera, but speaking with the writer/director while on his Man with the Iron Fists tour, we learned it’s been a dream ever since he was a kid. Now that the dream has come true, The Man with the Iron Fists already seems to have built up his directorial stock, considering all the projects he’s been signing on to make. Hopefully we’ll see more movies from him where he’ll, once again, tell his crew, “I want him looking like fucking Rod Stewart.” Here’s what RZA had to say about the sober mind directing requires, controlling a team of 400 people, and the importance of preparation:

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Rza Directing

Anyone who spent their teen years driving around in their mother’s hand-me-down car with the windows rolled down and the Wu Tang Clan blaring on the stereo knows that the RZA, the GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, the Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, U-God, and the Masta Killa have a deep, abiding love of kung-fu movies. And, in the years since their musical heyday, RZA has taken this love further by composing the score for modern martial arts movies like Ghost Dog and Kill Bill, by trying his hand at being an actor, and even by becoming a director with his upcoming martial arts epic The Man with the Iron Fists. RZA doesn’t plan on stopping there either, apparently his experience directing a movie was so positive that he’s already lined up two more projects.

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Happy! Issue One

We’re less than a month away from finally seeing RZA‘s feature debut, The Man with the Iron Fists, and post-Fists, it’ll be interesting to see where his directorial career goes. Based on today’s news that RZA is adapting comic book author Grant Morrison‘s brand new series, “Happy!,” with Morrison set to handle the script, it appears that the newly-minted director is already looking towards the future. For those of you who have yet to pick up “Happy!,” including myself, here’s the official plot synopsis: “Meet Nick Sax, corrupt, intoxicated ex-cop turned hit-man, adrift in a stinking twilight world of casual murder, soulless sex, eczema and betrayal. With a hit gone wrong, a bullet in his side, the cops and the mob on his tail, and a monstrous child killer in a Santa suit on the loose, Nick and his world will be changed forever this Christmas. By a tiny blue horse called Happy.” If a tiny blue horse doesn’t sell you on a film, then what will?

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Man with the Iron Fists

RZA punches someone’s eyeball out of its socket. That should be all you need to know to skip all this drivel and watch the red band trailer for the rapper’s directorial debut, The Man with the Iron Fists. Presented by Quentin Tarantino and co-writer Eli Roth, this kung fu flick looks bloody, ridiculous, and wonderful. It stars Lucy Liu, Russell Crowe, Jamie Chung, Rick Yune, Daniel Wu and a host of others in a plot that seems more like an excuse for constant on-screen melees and an empty weapons rack. Seven warring clans…a shipment of gold…yeah, yeah, yeah. Just keep kicking metric tons of ass and turning your body into bronze. Check it out for yourself (and click to change the setting to HD while you’re at it):

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Well, guess it didn’t look as good as we all thought it did. THR reports (via /Film) that Paramount has decided to push its upcoming G.I. Joe sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, from its summer release date (one that’s barely more than a month away) in favor of a 2013 release date that will afford it less competition at the box office. Oh, and what’s that? Yeah, they’re also post-converting the Jon Chu-directed movie to 3D. Ugh. The film, once set to open on June 29, 2012, will now open on March 29, 2013. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Ray Park, RZA, Joseph Mazzello, Elodie Yung, and Walton Goggins and, despite following the money-making but underwhelming G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA, has long looked promising. While an unexpected post-conversion 3D job rarely instills confidence in people, announcing one when the film was set to open in just over a month is quite shocking.

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Channel Guide - Large

When we first see our frowzy anti-hero, he’s alone, smoking, pacing back and forth in the men’s room of an upscale New York restaurant, rehearsing…something.  “You’re amazing, a goddess, a gift from on high.” Is it a poem? A marriage proposal? Has he finally found a love so powerful and true that it’s remedied his hitherto cankered existence? No, of course not. Later, face-to-face with the delusional woman who somehow didn’t see this coming, he finishes the thought. “You deserve the white dress and the happy ending. I’m just not the guy to give it to you.”  Hank Moody is the same man he’s been since day one—insincere, kind of a jerk, closetful of black clothes. Season five of Californication picks up two years after the events of season four (hey, I guess the world doesn’t end in 2012). Karen (Natasha McElhone) is now married and apparently happy about it; Charlie (Evan Handler) and Marcy (Pamela Aldon) still aren’t together but have a two-year-old son (the kid hasn’t started talking yet which may or may not have something to do with the fact that both of his parents are apt to have sex in places where it’s quite easy to stumble upon them); Becca (Madeleine Martin) is in college, dating an arrogantly suave, younger version of her dad (who didn’t see that coming?); and Hank still hasn’t shaved.

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Most of the toy-to-film talk that goes on this week will probably be about the new Transformers movie tearing things up at the box office, but the guys over at that other 80s franchise G.I. Joe aren’t taking the matter lying down. In the midst of Bay-mania they have done a whole host of casting for their second film, and the guys they’ve got to join their elite team include a grappler, a rapper, and… some white dude. Star of the recent Fast Five, Dwayne Johnson, or The Rock if you will, has become quite the source of news over the past few months. First he knew about the death of Osama bin Laden before everyone else, and now he managed to scoop the world with the announcement of his own casting in G.I. Joe. On his website Johnson posted a mockup picture of himself beside the Joe Logo and added the caption, “It’s official: Call the Pentagon, get me my big ass gun – Rocks a JOE!” Johnson had been previously rumored as playing the character of Roadblock, the rhyme talking, gourmet cooking, Joe who carries around a gigantic gun, so these comments seem to help confirm that suspicion. Word has also leaked, this time from The Hollywood Reporter and not Dwayne Johnson, that famed rapper the RZA will also be joining the cast. RZA may be best known for his position in the legendary rap troupe The Wu-Tang Clan, but he’s also dipped his toe into acting by […]

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At Fantastic Fest, chaos does, in fact, reign. Any attentive reader of this fine publication would know that. Last year, filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo coined the phrase as the somewhat unofficial motto of the fest. Based on a line from Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, “chaos reigns” means simply that at all times, the unexpected and strange is to be expected. How’s this for unexpected? Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, actor Elijah Wood, Vigalondo and The Rza from Wu Tang walked onto the stage at The Highball last evening during the Chaos Reigns Karaoke event. The following video is what transpired. It is well worth a few minutes of your time…

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Eli Roth and Rza

I personally am praying that Roth makes his hilarious trailer of Thanksgiving into a feature film. Until then it looks like Roth will be teaming up with Wu-Tang Clan’s chief producer RZA on a martial arts flick.

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