Friday, January 27, 2012

Flash Point (Dou Fo Sin) - Delicious Punchfest of Epic Proportions...

Flash Point (Dou Fo Sin)

aka - A Delicious Punchfest of Epic Proportions

For our next selection, we travel forward through time 35 years to a delicious punch fest of epic proportions - Donnie Yen's Flash Point (2007), also known as Dou Fo Sin or Dao huo xian. It is directed by the incredible Wilson Yip (Flash Point, IP Man, IP Man 2, Dragon Gate, Kill Zone, and more.) This film is his third and certainly not last pairing with Donnie, proceeded by the equally epic Kill Zone and followed more recently by the biographical films Ip Man and Ip Man 2. Needless to say... we are officially playing with the big boys.

Now, we wouldn't normally start out a blog with a movie trailer. However, in the case of Flash Point (Dou Fo Sin), you REALLY need to know what kind of epic punching muscle-fest you're getting into. There are almost NO women in this movie, and those that are have minor roles. It is a straight forward story about Cops, Crooks, Corruption, and Carnage. Its got all four C's, therefore it is an automatic win with the Mavens! It is a sheer guns, explosions, punching, testosterone, rippling muscles and sweat fest... just the way we like it! (Be SURE to note the "money shot" at 0:53 seconds!!! You don't see THAT in American Cinema!)


We, the authors, would like to apologize in advance for the brazen and unabashed worship that will inevitably take place here. In short, there is a mad love for Donnie Yen up in here, as evidenced by the puddles of drool forming on our keyboards as we gather our notes. Not that Mr. Yen is not a fantastically skilled actor, or that his Kung Fu is not absolutely inspiring to watch... he just looks really great in a speedo... and that's a little distracting. 

I'm just sayin'.

Donnie Yen (44)                Collin Chou (40)                     Yu Xing (29)

The film stars these three lovely fellows (shown above)... and some other people that do various things at points within the 88 minutes of this film. I've put their respective ages in here for reference as you watch the movie, so that you can truly appreciate the ultra manly toughness.


Inspector Jun Ma (Donnie Yen), is a troubled cop with a rich history of violence against "perps", and who is out to nail a Vietnamese gang led by drug-dealing brothers Tony (Collin Chou), Archer (Ray Lui) and Tiger (Yu Xing). Within mere minutes of the movie beginning, there is a very impressive display of Kung Fu/MMA style brutality. Ma (Yen) bursts into a club to bust our villains and ends up tussling with his own undercover partner Wilson (God help me, Tom Hanks has ruined that name for me for life...). First hit to TKO totals 19 seconds.

Now, despite his best attempt to be a punk at times, Wilson sucks at the 'being covert' thing, which eventually blows his cover and mayhem ensues. But that doesn't happen until you're about 300 punches, 60 broken bones and a busted nose later.

Wilson's mission was not an entire failure though, as he manages to unsuspectingly ride shotgun with Tony and Tiger (they're grrrrrrrrreat!) while brother Archer is cornered in a high speed chase with his ill mother in the car, who ends up puking in her birthday gift. Arrest and trial are imminent. Ooooh...burn.

A couple of brutal murders and one exploding chicken later, Wilson's lovely, pregnant, former prostitute fiance (say that ten times fast!) Julie is hospitalized with what appears to be a broken leg that "needs observing" (Yeah... we didn't understand that either). Wilson leaves her side for just 10 minutes to find something for her to eat, during which time Tony and Tiger (seriously, I laugh at that EVERY time) take the opportunity to dress as hospital staff and abscond with Wilson's love and unborn child.

Ma get assaulted in the hospital elevator by Tiger, followed by an insane 10 minute foot chase and subsequent beat down unlike anything you have E-V-E-R witnessed. Tiger grabs a small girl to use as a human shield. Ma drops his gun. Tiger then heaves the child through the air into traffic. Ma's “CRAZY” light switches on... brutality commences. In all honesty, this is one of my all time favorite parts of the movie as Tiger (Yu) takes a mega punch in the face, for reals, with the bending of the nose and the spooting of the blood. It is so fantastically brutal that you are forced to rewind it just to make sure that you really saw what you think you saw!

YUP... Broken nose fo shizzle!!!

So let me get this straight. You deal drugs in his neighborhood. You blow up his partner's apartment with a bird, killing or injuring his closest friends. You then kidnap his partner's fiance... and you THINK that a cop with a history of violence against perps is going to wait for backup???

Awwww HELL no.

Please!!! If that man (Yen, shown to the right) put his hands in his pockets he would need to file for a “Conceal and Carry" permit.
It... Is... On!

Ma: 80 bajillion, Tiger: 0

Now Wilson, being so brilliant as he has previously demonstrated, chooses NOT to testify against the Vietnamese gang and instead goes in search of Julie. He calls Ma to bring him up to speed. Now, Ma is already pissed off and, if this were an RPG, he'd have lost his rage roll and gone into straight up “FRENZY”.

Ma runs out of the hospital, meets up with the now released brother Archer just in time to give him a chiropractic re-adjustment on a bike rack. (OUCH!) Ma then proceeds to arrange a hostage swap with Tony and his thugs who are hanging out in an abandoned Vietnamese refugee camp on the outskirts of Hong Kong... where Wilson “The Rocket Scientist” and Julie are being held.

The exchange begins with a tense, slow, passing boat ride across a river. Then, what follows can only be described as the most intense and extreme form interior redecorating you have ever seen. The guns and explosions and kicking and Donnie Yen (at 44 years old) diving through a wall with a high powered rifle in his hands, and rice paddy, and a car wreck, and punching, and... and...

And juuuuuuust when you think that the intensity couldn't get any higher, we have the face-off between Ma and Tony. This involves punching, kicking, grappling, falling headfirst down two stories... 

and then Tony's alzheimers-plagued mother wandering by, asking the two bloody men laying on the ground if either of them have seen her sons... whom she has lost.

Oh the irony! The anguish! The sheer goofiness... AAAnd, back to the fighting!

Brutality and Martial Arts finery continues until Tony is reduced to a pile a goo. Even though there is NO WAY he could escape at this point, Ma cuffs him to a railing to wait for someone to haul him away.

END... OF...STORY!!!

Honestly, this is a film that, once you've got the story down, can be enjoyed time and time again for the sheer face-pounding, skull-cracking, arm-snapping glory. We have determined though, through multiple viewings in a few different formats, that there are at least two different translations, the first of which we found to be very complete... and a second that was entirely hilarious. At some point the translators were either really drunk, or simply forgot how to write/interpret Cantonese, as there are significant grammatical errors, misspelled words and quirky “Yo Momma” references.

Rent it. Watch it. Love it. Watch it. Rinse and repeat.

This film is no longer available on Netflix for streaming (BOOoooo!!!), but can be rented through iTunes for $3.99, or rented for $3.25 for three nights from our favorite brick & mortar store "Video Universe" in Robbinsdale.

? eat soup please ? more blog next week ? you know you like my cookies!!!!

(You totally know what that means, right?)

'Til next week.

-MJ & Kelly

Monday, January 23, 2012

Way of the Dragon: I'm looking for a man from Hong Kong...

Paul Wei Ping-Ao as "Ho" in Way of the Dragon
"I'm looking for a man from
Hong Kong named
Tang Lung."
aka - Way of the Dragon

  We are going to start out our blogging series with a classic. And honestly, who doesn't love Bruce Lee?

  I would have to say, in my best estimation, that Way Of the Dragon is one of the best classic Kung Fu films of all time, having inspired both consumer perceptions of martial arts films (Huuuuwaaaaaaa...) as well as the style and staging of modern day actors. I mean yes, the Shaw Brothers played a huge part in our experiences with cheesy dialogue and poor overdubbing in Chinese films, packed with over emphasized punching and kicking noises. However, Bruce Lee's style and staging in this movie has been replicated time and again, paying homage to our fallen Kung Fu hero.
  An example of this can be seen in the parallel drawn between Bruce Lee's character Tang Lung kicking out a ceiling light in the office of the big boss (top), and Tony Jaa's character kicking out a street light in "The Protector" (bottom).
ANYWAY!!! Back to the movie at hand

  "Way of the Dragon", released in 1972, was written and directed by Bruce Lee. It is set in 1970's Rome, where everyone who is not Chinese apparently speaks perfect American English. Tang Lung (Bruce Lee) is a simple, naive country boy who is sent to the big city by his uncle to assist his cousin with a thug problem in their Chinese restaurant. At the beginning of the story Tang Lung is viewed as incapable of actually helping out with the Syndicate problem that the restaurant faces. However, as the story progresses and the thugs become more and more of a problem for Uncle Wang's restaurant, Tang Lung's Kung Fu abilities surface and he quickly moves from "country bumpkin" to "Hero".

  About halfway through the film, there is a gem of a fight scene here that all too frequently is overshadowed by the mighty death match at the end of the film. At one point, our hero finds himself in an alley behind the restaurant with a gang of (not very Italian) thugs. Tang Lung, seeing the four of them led by an overly cocky 1970's Kevin-Smith-looking fellow somehow produces a pair of nunchaku from thin air. Just WHOOSH, and from behind his back, high speed sticks of death. Presumably, he is just that amazing. 


In response, four more thugs materalize, BUT WAIT! Tang Lung is ready with another pair of nunchaku!

Where is he finding these things?!?!

The highlight of this scene must undoubtedtly be when our sweaty Kevin-Smith-lookalike picks up a discarded pair of nunchaku (guess Tang didn't really need two pair after all...), and, in a desperate attempt to not look like a chump, shouts “Mama-Mia” and manages to smack himself in the head with his own weapon. And the Chinese waiters were unable to beat these guys? Good times… good times…
  Now, roughly 2/3 of the way through the movie, the big boss decides to employ a karate assassin from America to take out Tang Lung. Who is this assassin? You got it... none other than our own native son, Chuck Norris starring in his first major on camera role.The awesomeness continues… there is a twist, and NO… Betrayal! Can it be??? Tang Lung is now sent all over the Italian countryside, kicking assets and not even bothering to take names. 

  In the end, Colt (Norris) and Tang Lung (Lee) have a battle royale in the Coliseum. When in Rome, right? As the fighting begins, there are back and forth shots of Norris and Lee... Norris and Lee... Cat... Lee and Norris...

   Why is there a kitten intertwined into this epic fight scene? No one seems to really know. And so, in order to add to the mystery of this scene we, the writers of "Punch in the Neck", have lovingly dubbed this adorable kitty as "Murder Cat".

"Murder Cat"
  In the end, Tang Lung wins the fight and Colt is presumably left dead in the Coliseum. Rather than walk away with the girl and the glory, he wanders off into the distance with the final line of the film being, "In this world of guns and knives, wherever Tang Lung may go to, he will always travel on his own."

   This movie is riddled with subtle comedic, situational humor (Chinese waiters Jimmy, Tommy, Tony, Robert, and Chang), as well as 1970's cultural references. If you like 70's style in clothing and interior design, this movie is of course heavy laden with the most fantastic bell bottoms, double knit, and Italian silk (aka 1970's polyester). The fight scenes are both dynamic, but also comedic at the same time ("Mama Mia!") and all in all you are a witness to the multi-faceted skill of Bruce Lee in his directorial and screen writing debut. I give it 4 punches and a big HIYAAH!!!

   So, go out to your local video store, OR check out Netflix, to see "Way of the Dragon" today. HOWEVER, due to nudity, language, and perhaps subtitles (depending on which version you watch), I do not recommend this for children at all.

The Martial Arts Movie Mavens (Kelly and MJ)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

About "Punch In the Neck": A Martial Arts Film Review...

Pai Mei - Kill Bill 2
"What is this 'Punch In the Neck' you speak of?"

"Punch in the Neck" is a phrase I often use to describe when you get entirely blindsided and taken down by something or someone. Though I use it frequently to describe the often tragic nature of my adult existence, I love to use it in relation to the 3rd love of my life, Martial Arts Films.

What you say? A chick that digs martial arts films?

Yes. I don't just "dig" them. I adore them in every way. Nothing says "good times" like seeing guys/gals fly through the air, landing bone crunching punches, followed by impossible explosions and people diving through flames. There isn't any psychotic deciphering of story, no girly emotional love story with violins, not a whole lot of dialog about feelings. Just a basic storyline with a whole lot of "beat down", aka Punch In the Neck.

So, why this blog?

Why does anyone write any blog? Because we deeply enjoy to talking about and sharing with you the things we LOVE. For me, it's martial arts movies.

In this blog I strive to share with you the latest martial arts movie that I've watched. I will do my best to provide a enjoyable review, provide actor and director information, and any other pertinent information that you may want.

My movies will come from both online and brick and mortar locations, and will include both the latest films, along with old school classics. Along with my co-author and dear "Tuesday Night Kung Fu Movies" cohort, MJ Lexvold, we will strive to provide you with the most enjoyable, entertaining, and fun reviews possible.

So, sit back, enjoy, and prepare for what is "Punch In the Neck".