Micro-Action Short and Super Funky Pants

laundry fight an action short by brickwall pictures

laundry fight an action short by brickwall picturesBy now you’re familiar with the funny, honest and informational movie reviews from Sam Kench and the Brickwall Pictures team, but did you know they also make really quick micro-action shorts semi-regularly to add to the current content on their Youtube channel?  Sam and his team put together a minimal story, with zero budget and a bare bones crew just to do more of what they love to do.

black-and-white-wrapped-pantsLaundry Room Fight is the first action short in a new series of shorts they are working on. Be sure to subscribe to the channel to watch more.

Check out those super cool pants made by yours truly, worn by the antagonist. I made a few funky pairs of men’s pants for an apocalyptic film project Sam is working on, but he decided they were too “stylish” for his film. Luckily he was not opposed to wearing them himself – Cool beans!

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Scavenging trailer

Check out this trailer for my upcoming series:

Scavenging is a post-apocalyptic show starring Adam Cassie and Andrew Fortier and was written and directed by myself. The first episode will be released on the Brickwall Productions youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpp5qug5n5UuhHyXd782sQg?feature=watch

Subscribe to the channel to be notified when the first episode is released in the near future.

Donnie Yen Double Feature (Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen/Flashpoint)

legend of the fist

Donnie Yen is a well accomplished Hong Kong action star. He has made many acclaimed action films such as Ip Man and Hero. He’s among the ranks of Jackie Chan and Jet Li yet I had never before seen a full Donnie Yen film. I’ve made it my mission to see a handful of Donnie Yen films. I had already seen most of Ip Man before so I decided to start with Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen and then go on to watch Flash Point.

First off is my review of Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. The title seems very cliche and legend of the fistuninspired. “Legend of the Fist” Very bland and it doesn’t do a whole lot to separate itself from other action movies. However the 2nd half of the title is a bit more interesting. “The Return of Chen Zhen” Chen Zhen is a character that has been in many martial arts movies being played by a number of accomplished martial artists including Jet Li and was first played by Bruce Lee in the Chinese Connection. So Chen Zhen is definitely a character worth noting. The “Legend of the Fist” bit is making more sense now isn’t it? The character has always been associated with a fist, as a trademark.

Donnie Yen has many connections to Bruce Lee. He cites Bruce Lee as an influence, he played Bruce Lee’s teacher in Ip Man, and he has reprized multiple roles previously played by Bruce Lee. He has played Chen Zhen in Legend of the fist as well as the TV series Fist of Fury. Bruce Lee made a movie known in America as Fists of Fury, but the original title was Big Boss. Donnie Yen made a movie called Snow Wolf, but the original title was The New Big Boss.

All these connections make Donnie Yen the obvious choice for the role of Chen Zhen. He even throws in some iconic Bruce Lee high pitched yelling into his fighting. It’s definitely toned down, but it’s still there.

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen opens with one of the coolest action opening scenesequences I’ve seen in a long time. The beginning of the movie has Donnie Yen killing Germans in WWI. They have lots of men and lots of guns. He is just one man, with 3 knives. He sprints and parkours through gun fire and slashes them to pieces in an action sequence that will have you verbally exclaiming.

Now after that incredible opening action sequence, the rest of the film is a bit of a disappointment. It’s definitely not bad, just slower. There are other action scenes, and while they do not surpass the opening fight, they are all still awesome. the only problem is that the connecting bits between action sequences is not incredibly interesting. The film has a decent plot, but it feels the need to reiterate everything that is going on in between each scene.

It’s a shame that the movie peaks with it’s opening scene, as the rest of the movie seems even more slow and monotonous in comparison. The other fights are all legend of the fist 2nd fightsuperbly choreographed and executed. The action is fast and brutal. This is the kind of movie where you wish they swapped a couple of expositional scenes with a few more action sequences.

The final fight at the end of the movie is a little mixed. It begins as Donnie Yen fighting a large group of Japanese soldiers and then boils down to a one on one fight between him and the final villain. The group fight is awesome. Donnie Yen showcases incredible speed and kicks an average of 3.5 people in the face each time he leaves the ground, which is quite often. Unfortunately the one on one fight is a little disappointing. The fight isn’t bad by any means, but it lacks a certain flair, and ends up lowering the final fight.

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen has good action, but terrible pacing. I would almost say that this is the kind of film where you should skip to the good parts. If you watch Legend of the Fist you’ll probably have a good time, but you may be a little bored at parts.

Flash Point (Not to be confused with the sub par TV show of the same name.)flash point poster

Flash Point is not strictly a martial arts movie. It also has it’s fair share of gunplay. At times Flash Point can seem like a John Woo movie, which is a good thing. I got a real Hard Boiled kind of vibe off of Flash Point. There are a number of small similarities between the two films. I wonder if it was an inspiration.

Flash Point, much like Legend of the Fist, opens with a an action scene. In Flash Point the action is very short. It’s only about a minute and a half long, but it sets the tone and style of the movie. It is shot in one continuous dolly shot and looks great.

The next big chunk of the movie sets up the story. The story is actually rather cliche. There’s an undercover cop, a girlfriend in danger, a loose cannon cop who takes the law into his own hands, a bad guy above the law. It’s all been done before. The only slightly different thing is that instead of following the undercover cop whose girlfriend gets kidnapped, we follow his partner played by Donnie Yen. Not many movies do that, most films have you follow the center of the conflict. I think it was a smart move.

Flash Point has an interesting set of characters. The character development is done well and each character has a unique personality, which is something that a lot of action films don’t bother with. At times we follow both the good guys and the bad guys. Wison Yip the director does a very good job with the film. He brings a definite style and tone to the film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is a good lighthearted tone that welcomes comedy into the action.donnie yenb

Most of the acting is good, with one really terrible performance that sticks out. There is a woman who plays a cop in an action scene. She has not been in the movie before now, so this is our introduction to her. People start shooting. She’s in cover with another cop. She’s supposed to be either terrified or caught up in the action, but instead she’s smiling away. She is obliviously happy while being shot at, and the movie tries to bring tension when she dies. She get’s killed and it’s supposed to be dramatic and rage fueling, when really, it was her own fault she died, and the audience doesn’t even know her before it happens. I don’t even think she has a name. Just one poorly acted scene. You can’t introduce someone in the same scene you kill them off and expect there to be a dramatic payoff.

The relationship between the undercover cop and his girlfriend is a big part of the movie. The entire final fight scene happens because of them. The problem is that I don’t really buy their relationship. Maybe it’s the writing or maybe they just have poor onscreen chemistry, but I didn’t feel the passion that was supposed to have fueled this suicidal charge at the end.

The action in this film is great. Donnie Yen is also the action director and he brings incredible action sequences to Flash Point. There are some great chase and fight flashpointsequences. Two in particular stand out. The first is a parkour chase through the city that leads to a one on one fight in a market. Both aspects of this scene are awesome and well performed by both men.

The final sequence of the film makes the movie. The best scene in the movie is the two part action scene at the end. Where Legend of the Fist opened strong, Flash Point closed strong. A movie needs to open strong and end even stronger. I think Flash Point succeeded more in this aspect.

The film ends with a two part action sequence. The first part is a John Woo-esque shootout between Donnie Yen and all the bad guys. The shootout is very well done and this is where I  started to notice the very well done camera angles and pans. The camera work may not be important to the casual film viewer, but it does play an important role in the effectiveness of any movie. The shootout showcases some awesome sniper rifle work which again makes me wish that there were more sniperflash point gunfights in movies. True we do have some films about snipers like Shooter or Sniper, but there is always room for more. One of the main villains dies in one of the coolest on screen deaths from any film during this shootout.

Start spoiler * He is blasted into the air and skeet shot several times with the sniper rifle as he falls down onto the roof of a car. Awesome. * End spoiler

After the gunfight it’s down to Donnie Yen and one of the main villains. No guns now just fighting. This fight is incredible. It’s long varied and brutal. The actors take some impressive falls and daring full contact hits. This fight is the highlight of the whole film. I would say that most of the film is not quite there but this final fight makes the movie worth watching.

In closing I would say that neither of these movies are bad at all, but they’re not that great either. They both have great moments, but fail to deliver a consistently great experience throughout. Both films tend to drag, but the action is showstopping. I enjoyed Flash Point more than Legend of the Fist. If you’re going to watch one, then I would say, go with that one.

 

The Expendables ~ much better the second time around

The Expendables (2010 film)

Before I say anything about ‘The Expendables 2′ let me briefly talk about the first one.

Simple but great premise. Get as many great action stars together for a nonstop shoot ’em up. Sounds great, and it should have been but …

The first Expendables was a very disappointing movie. Great cast, a few missing people plus one or two that didn’t need to be there. We have Stallone directing who can definitely do action. “Rambo” was great. The main problem was the uneven pacing and large amount of down time, mixed with either missing or half finished character development.

In a movie like Expendables you don’t need that much character development. But when they try to develop a character, and then don’t fully formulate the character, it ends up being a waste of time. The whole ending segment at the castle like place was what the rest of the movie should have been like. The end hit the mark while the rest of the film kind of missed it. We have great gun play, cool fighting, and best of all Terry Crews and his amazing gun.

I was really surprised to see that most reviewers liked the first Expendables. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger make cameos in the movie and are in a single scene together with Stallone. For most critics just having them all in a room together was enough, but not for me. Willis and Schwarzenegger never even do any action. The first one was not really bad in any way, just very, very disappointing.

Now for the Expendables 2

This one was a hell of a lot better. Much more action and much less down time.

Let’s go over the expendables themselves.

We have (in order of billing)

Sylvester Stallone1. Sylvester Stallone
+ Leader of the group
+ Classic action star
+ Pistol expert
– named “Barney” I can’t take anyone named Barney seriously.

Jason-Statham2. Jason Statham
+ Second in command under Stallone (Which I find strange since he is a less experienced actor than most some other expendables.)
+ Going to be a classic action star.
+ Throwing knife expert (not used as much as in the first movie.)
– some very cheesy lines but he makes most of them work.

3. Jet LiEnglish: Jet Li in Davos, Switzerland, 2009
+ Classic martial artist
+hand to hand expert

– is only in the first ten minutes of the movie
– Goatee (Off putting. Made me think of Gomez from “Breaking Bad”)

English: Dolph Lundgren at the 2010 Comic Con ...

4. Dolph Lundren
+ Has some of the funniest lines in the movie
– former bad guy
+ current good guy

Terry Crews at the 79th Annual Academy Awards ...5. Terry Crews
+ Old Spice power
+ best gun in both films
– loses gun after a few minutes

Randy Couture at the premiere of Redbelt at th...

6. Randy Couture
– No purpose in the expendables
– The one person who should be cut

7. Liam Hemsworth
– purpose is to die and provide revenge angle.
-+ pretty much the same sniper character from “Rambo”

We also have Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in larger roles and they actually do action this time. Now that Schwarzenegger isn’t governor he is doing action movies again. His next one after Expendables is already on the way.

Zoe BellThere is a woman who joins the Expendables, Nan Yu, but she is not actually “One of the expendables”.

The only women I think could hang with the Expendables are

1.Zoe Bell
~ Death Proof

2. Rose McGowan
~ Planet Terror

The villain is played by Jean Claude Van Damme. He does great. His trademarks were kicking and doing splits. He doesn’t do any splits but he does roundhouse kick a knife into a guy’s chest so I think he compensated just fine.

Of course Chuck Norris is in the movie. He actually tells a Chuck Norris joke, and it isn’t the first time. His part is slightly more than a cameo. He does do action even if most of it happens off-screen. But he is Chuck F*CKING NORRIS!

The movie is very funny too. Lots of cheesy one liners and throw backs to previous movies they’ve done.

The action is great and there is plenty of it. Brutal and bloody.