The Bouncer (2019)

Lukas (Jean Claude Van Damme) is a nightclub Bouncer who works hard to support his 8yr old daughter. After an altercation with an unruly clubber goes seriously wrong, Lukas is fired and left with no means to support himself or his daughter.

Becoming desperate he takes on the role of a bouncer at a strip club. However it’s not long before he tasked with more, extremely illegal tasks. To add to his misery the police take an interest in him after his nightclub incident, forcing him to spy on his new boss and report back to them. Things get progressively worse, building to a brutal denouement.

Van Damme fans hoping for a typical JCVD movie where he does his famous jumping round house kick, may be a tad let down here. The Bouncer is a different animal, and one where JCVD flexes his acting muscles instead. He is a man whose emotions bubble on the surface, barely able to keep it together. The action is sparse, but brutal when it does happen. Bones are broken, heads are cracked and people are dispatched brutally.

It’s a pleasant change to see Van Damme in a role a such as this, as he is never really given much of a chance to show what he can do when given the proper material. My only real gripe with this particular release was that it was dubbed. It is clearly a movie that was filmed in Belgium, so I think the option of subtitles wouldn’t have been too much to ask for. The only good thing about the dubbing, is that Van Damme dubbed his own voice.

This is a solid movie, and one that I think Van Damme fans will enjoy. Just know what sort of movie you’re going to watch, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Dazzler Media presents The Bouncer on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download from 8th April 2019
Pre-order from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2H5W5zN

4/5

JM

Bruce Lee – LEGEND

Bruce Lee will always be a legend. His skill is unmatched, even today. There have been many collections of his movies, but this has got to be one of the most stunning sets ever. 

House in faux leather, and containing four of his movies, plus a documentary, this set is a rare find. Made by Spectrum DVD, a Korean company, this is a set that very rarely ever shows up for sale anywhere. Now you have a chance, as it’s up for sale on eBay. Click the link below to view:

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F322938303685

A seriously rare set that any serious Bruce Lee fan owes it to themselves to have. 

JM

Albert Pyun – Moviemaker 

 Those of you out there that love trashy movies, movies with cyborgs or movies set in post apocalyptic wastelands, then chances are you’ve seen Albert Pyun’s work at least once. My first foray into the work of Albert Pyun was the Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie ‘Cyborg’ back in 1992. I had already been a Van Damme fan at this point, but I loved the whole post apocalyptic setting and after watching it, I set out to find more of Pyun’s work.
  
My next stop was Dollman starring Tim Thomerson, and also an early role for Jackie Earle Haley. This was a crazy movie, with Thomerson as an intergalactic space cop who crash lands on earth. However whereas he is normal size on his home planet, he is only doll size on Earth. After befriending a woman and her son, Dollman must protect them from an angry gang and other enemies that seek to cause them harm. It was great fun with some good effects. Although I must say the effects have aged badly now that we are in the realms of high end CGI. 
  
After Dollman I found out that Pyun had directed a Captain America movie, which I was very eager to see. At the time I remember really enjoying it, but again now that we have CGI and Chris Evans as Cap, it just doesn’t hold up well to repeated viewings. Albert Pyun does well with limited funds, and this is something that is true with all of his movies. He’s a man who’s creativity seeps forth from every frame, and who’s passion for movies is so infectious, that you can’t help but admire the man. He is inspiring because he adapts to whatever restrictions may be placed on him, which is usually in the form of limited budgets. 
  
Brain Smasher: A Love Story was the next film I stumbled across. Andrew Dice Clay stars as a bouncer who has to protect Teri Hatcher from Shaolin Monks. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basic gist of the story. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen, and to be fair probably not something I would watch again anytime soon. That said it was cheap to buy so I can’t complain too much. Only recently have I stumbled across the Nemesis series. So far I’ve only watched the first one, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver Gruner stars as a cyborg cop who is tasked by his boss to find and subdue some cyborg terrorists. It’s pretty basic stuff story wise, but the action and stunts are top shelf and I must say that this is my second favourite Pyun movie, just behind Cyborg with Van Damme. 
  
Another Albert Pyun movie I have recently watched is Mean Guns starring Ice T and Christopher Lambert. It’s about a group of villains gathered together in a prison, forced to fight to the death for $10million dollars. It’s got good action, but the dialogue feels very forced, and Ice T isn’t the best actor in the world. He pretty much seems to play the same character in every movie I’ve seen him in. 
  
I’m happy to say that Albert Pyun is still making movies, but health issues have required him to slow his output down just a tad. I do hope we get to see many more of his movies for a long while yet. He really does dig deep and deliver his best effort, even if the end result isn’t always something you’d watch again in a hurry. It’s that kind of willingness to entertain that I find very admirable, and is why he is a director I have a lot of time for. There are still plenty more of Albert Pyun’s movies out there for me to discover, for that I am both thankful and excited. 
  
I’d like to thank 101 Films for the Nemesis boxset and Mean Guns. They are both available to purchase now via https://101-films-store.myshopify.com/

 
JM

The Story of Ricky (1991)

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Ricky (Siu-Wong Fan) is sent to a maximum security prison after he kills the people who murdered his girlfriend. The prison he is sent to is run by a ruthless assistant warden who also has a gang of four ruthless assassins working for him. As the gang of four terrorise and kill the inmates, Ricky decides to stand up and fight.

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Ricky begins to challenge each of the gang and any other prisoners who stand in his way, cutting a bloody trail of carnage through the prison. Soon the prison warden comes to the prison to check what’s going on, determined to put an end to Ricky once and for all.

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Based on a Manga of the same name, The Story of Ricky is deliriously violent. It is chock full of guts being ripped out, brains being splattered and skin being flailed. There is so much about this movie that is laughably bad, yet I still love it. Firstly the acting is really bad, almost Troma bad. Yet some of the effects are quite well done for a movie that is 23yrs old. However, some of the effects, like the death of Ricky’s girlfriend, are hilariously bad. There are some decent fight scenes, but not something I’d call out and out martial arts.

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That being said, if you’re a fan of ultra violence, gore and splatter then it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll like this film warts and all. Live action Manga rarely fares well, with the manic intensity of the animated version rarely matched in the live action version. I would say that it is well worth a watch. I think the fact that it plays it so straight doesn’t do it any favours. It would be much better if it was played a little more tongue in cheek. Like I said though, still worth a watch.

3/5

JM

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Out for Justice (1991)

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Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) is a no nonsense New York cop. When his partner Bobby Lupo (Joe Spataro) is gunned down in front of his wife and kids, Gino begins the hunt for the killer. He finds out that the killer is a someone he used to hang around with when they were kids, a man called Richie Madano (William Forsythe). Richie has become a drug crazed murderer, hell bent on causing as much destruction as possible before going out with a bang.

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Both the mafia and the police begin a hunt for Richie, however Gino is hell-bent on finding Richie first and dealing with him his own way. Gino scours every lowlife haunt that Richie could be, including a dingy bar owned by Richie’s younger brother, Vinnie Madano (Anthony DeSando). Gino terrorises the clientèle, including mafia members and drug dealers, getting into fights along the way, both with Richie’s men and other lowlife.

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Gino continues his hunt for Richie even going as far as threatening Richie’s elderly parents. However Gino finds out that there was more to the murder of Bobby Lupo than a simple murder. All culminating in a brutal and bloody showdown with Richie and his men.

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I love Steven Seagal’s earlier stuff. I find that he was doing some decent stuff right up until Glimmer Man. Then he started to believe his own hype and churn out direct to video shit where he is only shot from the waist up so you don’t see his massive gut. The guy has definitely not grown old gracefully. I mean even in Nico/Above the Law he was going bald, with a hairline like someone had his hair in a buggers grip. But watching this you remember a time when he was the ultimate bad ass, kicking seven shades out of random scum. Now he just fat, slow and a bit weird….with hair plugs. Shame really.

3/5

JM

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Fist of the North Star (1995)

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Some films are so endearingly shit, that it’s hard to completely hate them. The live action version of Fist of the North Star falls into this niche category. Directed by Tony Randel (Hellraiser II), it’s a mish mash of good intentions and poor execution. I’m sure many geeks know the story, but just to refresh your memories i’ll glaze over it again. Kenshiro (Gary Daniels)  wanders the earth righting wrongs and defending the innocent. Gangs of raiders stalk desolate towns preying on the weak. Ruling this wasteland is Lord Shin (Costas Mandylor) who governs with an iron fist, living in his palace away from the harshness of the wasteland.

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There are lots of things wrong with this film. First off is the total miscasting of Gary Daniels as Kenshiro, Costas Mandylor as Lord Shin, and someone I haven’t mentioned yet…Chris Penn as Jagi, renamed Jackal for some bizarre reason. The choreography is just not up to scratch at all. Any intensity that is evident in the Manga version is completely lost here. Never is this more apparent that when Kenshiro tackles some bandits and does his Hokuto Shinken multiple punch. In the Manga version he obliterates his opponents, here however it’s quite different. Gary Daniels tries his best but the end result is laughable. The bandit laughs and asks a question I think we’re all thinking, “Are you trying to tickle me to death?”.

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Okay I understand that Tony Randel does what he can with the obviously small budget, but it needn’t be so glaringly obvious. Majority of the wasteland scenes look like they have been filmed on a soundstage. The costume design is good however, capturing the apocalypse look well. It’s mainly the cast and dire script that let it down. Even the supporting cast like Malcolm McDowell can’t save it from being just pretty meh. Other supporting cast members like Clint Howard, Dante Basco and Tracey Walter just go to show that the budget wasn’t the biggest.

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The make-up effects are brilliantly cheesy however. Particularly when Jackal removes the strapping that keeps his brain from bulging out. The whole movie is probably best viewed with mates after a night at the pub. Pick up a pizza on the way home, stick this on and just have a laugh. It’s pretty much that sort of movie.

2/5

JM

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Hard Target (1993)

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Natasha Binder (Yancy Butler) arrives in New Orleans looking for her father who she hasn’t spoken to in some time. She meets Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who rescues her from some street thugs. She asks for his help in finding her father.

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Natasha and Chance find her father who has been murdered. He was a homeless veteran who was hunted down by a rich group of businessmen who hunt human prey for sport, headed up by the ruthless Emil Fouchon (Lance Henriksen) and his equally dangerous second in command Pik van Cleef (Arnold Vosloo).

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Chance and Natasha go to the police to tell them that something is wrong and that people are going missing. They find an ally in a Det. Marie Mitchell (Kasi Lemmons), who tells them she will investigate it. When Chance and Natasha begin to uncover what is happening to all of the homeless people in New Orleans Emil and Pik decide to up sticks and move on, but not before one final hunt with Chance as the ultimate prey.

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Directed by John Woo, this film was his calling card to the U.S, letting them know what he was all about. He brings the same amount of razzle dazzle to proceedings that he did in his bombastic Hong Kong movies. Some of the stunts are just amazing, and for me this is still Van Damme’s best movie to date. I have seen it numerous times and still love it.

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The supporting cast is excellent too. Yancy Butler is great as Natasha, bringing the right amount of vulnerability to the role. Wilford Brimley is great as the wily old Uncle Douvee, though his cajun accent leaves a lot to be desired. Arnold Vosloo brings menace as Pik. He casts a striking presence in the movie and also has some great lines. Lance Henriksen has always been a cult favourite and his role as the menacing Emil Fouchon is great, and you can tell he is having fun chewing up the scenery. The score by Graeme Revell is brilliant. The awesome bluesy guitars are in full swing and it fits brilliantly with the movie.

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Seriously if you’ve never seen this and you’re looking for a film for a friday night that will be the perfect accompaniment to beer and pizza then look no further. As I have always said to my buddies “It’s all about Hard Target”. Great movie!

4/5

JM

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A Bittersweet Life (2005)

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I remember when I first saw this movie. I was working in Blockbuster (RIP), and as we were allowed free rentals I decided to give it a whirl as I’d heard a lot about it and thought it’d be rude not to really since I didn’t have to pay. I can say that I was blown away. This film really is fantastic. It’s not a fluke either, there are some amazing movies that have come out of South Korea, all of which are well worth seeking out.

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The story concerns an enforcer and hotel manager called Sun-Woo (played by the awesome Byung-hun Lee) who is tasked by his ruthless boss to shadow his mistress named Hee-Soo, who he suspects is cheating while he is away. He is told by his boss to kill Hee-Soo and whoever she is seeing if it turns out to be true. Sun-Woo begins to follow Hee-Soo and slowly begins to develop an attraction for her. He discovers that she is cheating on his boss and savagely beats the mystery man, only stopping when he sees how distraught Hee-Soo is becoming. He promises to spare their lives if they promise never to see each other again. Sun-Woo’s boss finds out that Sun-Woo disobeyed an order and tortures him to find out why, leaving him for dead. He doesn’t bank on Sun-Woo killing anyone in his way on his quest for revenge.

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The action is incredible. There are some blistering fight scenes, particularly one in a warehouse where Sun-Woo takes on almost 30 people. There are also some fantastic shoot outs and one particularly memorable scene when Sun-Woo goes to buy some guns which is comical and nail bitingly tense all at once.

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Byung-hun Lee is fantastic as Sun-Woo. Most movie fans will recognise him from the G.I. Joe movies where he plays Storm Shadow, but he has made some fantastic movies in his native country. One of the films that he made which is definitely on par with this is ‘I Saw The Devil’. I have done a review of that movie, however to read it you will need to visit my good friends blog http://www.stigmatophiliablog.wordpress.com as it is appearing as an exclusive on their blog soon.

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This film really does rock. If you are one of those people that doesn’t watch subtitled movies, for whatever reason, then I urge you to break that habit and watch this. It really is fantastic. It’s full of bone crunching action, awesome fight scenes and blisteringly good shoot outs. Seriously, give it a go.

5/5

JM

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Drive (1997)

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Drive is an action movie from the 90’s that i’m pretty sure not many people know about. It sat on video shop shelves looking like a multitude of other straight to DVD actioners, but this my fellow fiends is another beast altogether. It’s an action movie that get’s straight into things and stays that way till the denouement.

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It starts off with a man called Toby Wong (played by the underrated Mark Dacascos). Toby is speical. He has in his a chest a turbo charged heart (stay with me here), which can give him incredible speed and strength. Toby is trying to get to L.A I believe, to give his turbo heart to a company that want to study it. In return Toby will get a new heart and $5 million dollars. Taken along for this wild ride is Malik Brody (played by Kadeem Hardison). Malik is initially taken hostage, but then told by Toby that he will split the money with Malik if he will “just drive”. Hot on their heels are two inept mercenaries who have been tasked by the turbo hearts creator to get Toby, or just the heart, back by any means necessary.

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The fight scenes in this movie are just amazing. As it’s also directed by Steve Wang who directed ‘Guyver: Dark Hero’ which I reviewed a couple of days back, he has gotten the same stunt team in to choreograph the fights. Mark Dacascos leaps over cars, runs up walls, and roundhouses anything in his way, it really must be seen. He whizzes about the screen with such gusto that it really is a shame he hasn’t been in more well known action movies. Also along for the ride is the late Brittany Murphy who plays a very unhinged motel owner that becomes attached to our duo.

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The acting can be cheesy in places, particularly a cringe worthy karaoke scene with Mark Dacascos, but I feel it kind of adds to the movies charm. It really is worth a watch. It flew under a lot of people’s radar, but friends i’ve shown it to love it, i’m pretty sure you guys will do. I’d be interested to hear anyone’s comments below once they’ve seen it, good or bad.

4/5

JM

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Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)

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I really love this movie. This slots nicely into my guilty pleasure file, something you may see on TV at night, that you may not normally give a second glance to. That’s why I’m here, to put these movies on your radar and show you movies you may have missed.

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It begins with Sean Barker (played by David Hayter of Metal Gear Solid Fame) who has been living with an alien armour inside his body called the Guyver unit. The Guyver unit can completely cover Sean’s body with armour which he uses to fight evil. However someone else wants the Guyver unit. A corporation called Kronos want the unit for themselves. Kronos are a group of aliens called Zoanoids, masquerading as human, who attack the innocent. Sean finds out about an archaeological dig in the mountains that has uncovered a cave full of symbols similar to the ones he has been dreaming about. He heads to the dig site for answers, not realising that Kronos are also aware of the site.

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I should mention that technically this is the second live action Guyver movie, based on the popular Manga series. The first movie is called Mutronics here in the UK and The Guyver in the US I believe. Now the reason I dove straight into this movie rather than review the first one, and then this one is actually for a few reasons. To begin with, it’s the better of the two movies. The choreography in Mutronics is a lot slower than what we have in this movie. The acting from Mark Hamill who stars, isn’t the greatest.  The director, Steve Wang, definitely made a much better movie second time out.

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He got David Hayter to play Sean Barker/The Guyver, who is actually not a bad actor it should be said. The music from Les Claypool III is also brilliant, very tense, and it fits brilliantly into the movie. However, where Steve Wang really focussed was the choreography. He got in a fantastic stunt team that put together some mindblowing fights. The final battle for me where the Guyver takes on the Zoanoids is just awesome. Whoever the stuntman is that is in the Guyver costume is just an amazing fighter.

I’d recommend this to anyone. Sure the effects can be a tad cheesy, but for something that has been made on a moderate budget you could sure do a lot worse!

4/5

JM

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