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DVD Review: Jet Li’s Fearless (Blu-Ray)
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WordSlinger   |  
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Jet Li’s Fearless
Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Ronny Yu
Starring Jet Li, Nakamura Shidou, Sun Li, Dong Yong, Nathan Jones
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 9, 2008

Jet Li was planning to stop making martial art movies after the filming of Fearless. He didn’t stick to that plan, but had he done so he would have gone out on an extremely high note.

Fearless tells the story of the life of Huo Yuanjia (played by Li), though it takes some major liberties for dramatic effect. In real life, Huo had many children and grandchildren, not a single daughter, and he was not the only person responsible for the forming of the Chin Woo Athletic Association. Also, humorously, the film greatly embellishes the facts around the fight between Huo and a boxer named O’Brien (Nathan Jones). In reality, there was never any fight, O’Brien simply left town after a dispute over the rules of the match. I don’t imagine that would make a great sequence in a martial art film though, so it’s safe to say the film was “inspired by” Huo’s life rather than a factual account of it.

The Blu-Ray edition holds three versions of the film: theatrical, unrated, and director’s cut. I can count on one hand the number of director’s cuts that are significantly different from the original film. Fearless is one of those films and the director’s cut is a significant improvement over the theatrical version. Running 40 minutes (yes, you read that correctly, 40 minutes) longer that original version, director Ronny Yu found a lot more story to tell, with none of it seeming gratuitous.

...continue reading »
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Conversations with GoD: ‘The Forbidden Kingdom’ Screenwriter John Fusco
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Ryan Midnight   |  
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John Fusco‘s latest screenplay to hit the big screen and about to be released on DVD this Tuesday is The Forbidden Kingdom, which will be remembered for the first on-screen appearance of both Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Fusco was the pen behind the Young Guns films, as well as the Viggo Mortensen flick Hidalgo, and he also scripted the Weinstein Company’s upcoming re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai.

Geeks Of Doom: Were you aware of the Chan and Li team-up when you began writing the script?

John Fusco: It actually began as a bedtime story for my young son who was beginning martial arts. Because I have a background in kung fu, I wanted to introduce him to what I felt was the right foundation: the philosophy and literature and mythology that informs the practice. If I had tried reading Lao Tzu or the Four Classics to him I would have lost him. So I made up a fun time travel journey that would be something of a primer.

While I was out in the desert with Casey Silver making Hidalgo I told him about this story I was making up for my kid and why. He felt that I was onto a movie and he encouraged me — and hired me — to start the screenplay.

...continue reading »
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DVD Review: Flash Point
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Ryan Midnight   |  
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Flash Point DVDFlash Point
Directed by Wilson Yip
Action Directed by Donnie Yen
Written by Szeto Kam-Yuen
Starring Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Ray Lui, Kent Cheng, Fan Bing Bing
Distributed by Dragon Dynasty
Release date: April 22, 2008

Undercover officer Wilson is in deep with a trio of vicious Vietnamese gangsters who work out of Hong Kong smuggling drugs across the sea. Wilson’s partner, Ma (Donnie Yen), is a tough-as-nails cop who doesn’t hesitate to pick a fight when it comes time to bringing down the criminals. When the final bust goes down, Wilson’s identity is discovered, and he is soon targeted for assassination so that he cannot testify. When he survives the attack, Wilson’s girlfriend is kidnapped and held as ransom so that he won’t testify. Wilson buckles to their demands, and the case is thrown out due to lack evidence. But Ma isn’t going to let them walk away so easily and heads out into the streets knowing that one way or another justice will prevail!

Director Wilson Yip once again reunites with Donnie Yen and Louis Koo for another dish of crime drama and frenzied street fighting, and brings along master martial artist Collin Chou to match Yen’s bone-crunching skills. Yip, who has been pumping out a variety of genre pictures in Hong Kong since the mid-’90s, creates another successful notch on his belt with a film Hong Kong enthusiasts can get behind. Much like 2005’s Sha Po Lang (aka Killzone), he pours on the grime and grit from the alleys that are best avoided after dark, and digs in deep with righteous themes and heroism that are the life source for Hong Kong cop movies.

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