REVIEW: Yojimbo (1961)

March 5, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
Since its release in 1961, YOJIMBO has rightly earned its place as a celebrated masterpiece in world cinema, one of many for its director and co-writer Akira Kurosawa. It is the second of only four films Kurosawa [...]

REVIEW: Police Story 2 (1988)

February 21, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 1 Comment »
By 1988, Jackie Chan had set a seemingly insurmountable high standard for action filmmaking with the 1985 crime actioner POLICE STORY still setting the benchmark. But if hindsight hadn’t shown how well Jackie and the addition of [...]

REVIEW: Dragon Tiger Gate (2006)

REVIEW: Dragon Tiger Gate (2006)
February 19, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 2 Comments »
I am convinced that comic-to-film adaptations are possibly the single most difficult movies to make. There have been countless failures in Hollywood and Hong Kong over the years. It may have to do with audience expectations not [...]

REVIEW: Choi Lee Fat Kung Fu (1979)

February 17, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
There is no doubt that Southern Fist kung fu was the reigning king of martial arts styles within the classic kung fu era. The fascination with Southern Shaolin folklore and Lau Kar-leung’s tireless promotion of Hung Gar [...]

REVIEW: District 13 (2004)

February 17, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
DISTRICT B13 is set during a fairly dystopian vision of 2010 Paris where crime is so out of control the government has divided the city into districts with the most notorious District 13 sectioned off behind a [...]

Shinobi: Heart under Fire (2005)

February 12, 2007 | Posted in Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
BLOOD HEAT director Ten Shimoyama takes his first stab at the chambara genre by loosely adapting to live-action cinema author Futaro Yamada’s famed fantasy thriller THE KOUGA NINJA SCROLLS. This was the first in a series of [...]

REVIEW: Elimination Pursuit, The (1983)

February 6, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
THE ELIMINATION PURSUIT (aka THREE FAMOUS CONSTABLES) is a short and sweet little wuxia title from Taiwan that draws on a wide range of influences to create a fast-moving and stylized swordplay actioner. Its pedigree includes chambara, [...]

REVIEW: Fearless Fighters (1971)

January 27, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
Eagle Claw clan member To Pa (Ma Kei) leads a gang of bandits in robbing an imperial gold shipment protected by the Lightning Whipper (Yeung Lit). The Whipper gets whipped in the process. To avenge his death, [...]

REVIEW: Blood on the Sun (1945)

January 26, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
In the same year that Akira Kurosawa released ZOKU SUGATA SANSHIRO, the sequel to his 1943 biopic of judo founder Sanshiro Sugata, Hollywood tough guy James Cagney gave American audiences their first real taste of Asian martial [...]

REVIEW: Maximum Cage Fighting (2006)

January 25, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
MAXIMUM CAGE FIGHTING (MCF) is a slick little independent feature that combines the mixed martial arts (MMA) action made popular by the Ultimate Fighting Championship with a mainstream-friendly plot and above average production values for a low [...]

REVIEW: Ninjas and Dragons (1984)

January 24, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
The generic title to this obscure Mainland Chinese-Japanese co-production from the makers of SOUTH SHAOLIN MASTER and ARHATS IN FURY is a fitting suggestion of the challenge it faces in attracting potential viewers. NINJAS AND DRAGONS lacks [...]

REVIEW: Order of One (2006)

January 18, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 1 Comment »
Here to prove that big movie studios do not hold a monopoly on entertainment value (not that we didn’t already know that) is actor-turned-indie filmmaker Kevin Woodhouse who offers up ORDER OF ONE, a gratuitously fun freefall [...]

REVIEW: Face Behind the Mask, The (1979)

January 10, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
Dastardly double-crosses and delightfully dynamic swordplay abound in THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK, a faced-paced, Taiwanese wuxia pian featuring three of the genre’s leading superstars all performing at their best.

REVIEW: Fearless (2006)

January 8, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 2 Comments »
Jet Li dazzles the viewer with stunning wushu action choreographed by the Master Yuen Wo-ping in this instant martial arts movie classic. International filmmaker Ronny Yu directs the story of famed Chinese wushu champion Hua Yuanjia as [...]

REVIEW: Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion (1979)

January 4, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
Popular independent kung fu movie stars Angela Mao Ying and Don Wong Tao take a turn at the swordplay genre in MOONLIGHT SWORD AND JADE LION. This modest Taiwanese movie is threadbare, both in plot and production. [...]

REVIEW: Militant Eagle (1978)

January 2, 2007 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
Apart from the works of King Hu, Taiwanese martial arts movies are often overlooked in favor of Hong Kong’s more famous output, primarily from studios Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest. True, Taiwan’s filmmakers generally had less money [...]

REVIEW: Shogun’s Ninja (1981)

December 19, 2006 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 6 Comments »
Once again, a clean print and more perspective have changed my impression of a martial arts movie for the better (the same thing happened with Shaw Brothers’ SHAOLIN MANTIS). Previously, SHOGUN’S NINJA had only been available as [...]

REVIEW: Spin Kick (2004)

December 14, 2006 | Posted in Reviews by Mark Pollard | No Comments »
A gang of teen misfits send their school’s pitiful Tao Kwon Do team to the hospital after a school bus brawl and are forced to replace them under the leadership of a down-on-his-luck coach or face expulsion. [...]

REVIEW: Police Story (1985)

December 13, 2006 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 1 Comment »
Few movies if any come closer to defining popular Hong Kong cinema of the 1980s or Jackie Chan as a filmmaker and star than POLICE STORY. With a single volley, this filmic broadside of eye-popping stunts, high-impact [...]

REVIEW: Mystery of Chess Boxing, The (1979)

October 31, 2006 | Posted in Film and TV Reviews by Mark Pollard | 1 Comment »
Independent Taiwanese filmmaker Joseph Kuo re-teams with his SEVEN GRAND MASTERS stars for this kung fu cult classic. It’s a cheaper knockoff of Ng See-yuen’s superior SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW, but gains points for featuring the [...]