onsdag 26 april 2017


No not the one with Walter Mathau and Jack Lemmon. Although it would have been better if it had ended with a kung fu showdown. No this one stars Sammo Hung and Lau Kar Wing ( brother of legendary martial arts filmmaker Lau Kar Leung) as two rival weapons masters that one day each year meet up to decide once and for all who is the best of them both. And every year it ends with a tie so they end up taking up pupils to fight for them instead. It´s a great showcase of some of teh best weapons work in a martial arts film ever. And this final fight si breathtaking.

lördag 22 april 2017

NINJA (2009)

Good ninja movies  are hard to find these days. They seem to have disappeared in the popular consciousness with a big smokebomb. They used to be everywhere in the eighties. Hell I remember they were even in the soap opera Falcon Crest back in the day , but don´t quote me on that one. My memory is pretty hazy. Like mist in the past clouding my ninja memories.

Ninja directed by Isaac Florentine is a beautiful breeze of fresh air in Ninja-cinema. An actual solid Ninja movie for the 2000´s using a lot of the mythical tropes we associate with the pop art version of Ninja. I am not sure if what we associate with the word Ninja has any historical validity. But history is sketchy anyway.

Scott Adkins stars as American Ninja Scott Bowman, adopted as an orphan into a japanese dojo by Sensei Takeda played by Togo Igawa (Street Fighter:Assassins Fist). But he has a rival on the school, Mazasuka who don´t care for gaijin or outsiders. Like Sho Kosugis character in Enter The Ninja never cared of Franco Nero in Enter The Ninja. So already we have established a conventional conflict in Ninja cinema, in which Ninja adhers to. Mazasuka  wants to become the next sensei of Ninja-school so he can get the family treasure ( a bunch of awesome ninja shit), but he gets his ass banished from said Ninja-school during a friendly matchup against Casey, but ends up not-so-friendly. He vows revenge..blablabla and soforth. Casey is on route to become the next sensei instead, while Mazasuka finds a new career path as an assassin for a ridiculous cult of white priviledged men out to kill its business competitors and strikes a deal with them.

Later he kills Sensei Takeda and comes after Casey and the treasure. That is the plot. And it is pretty basic compared to the convoluted affairs of the sequel. 

Florentine and Adkins has gone on  record saying they were never really pleased with this first Ninja outing, that it was too reliant on wirework and CGI. I can see that. But the more I watch this the more it feels like a true ninja-film of yore with shurikens, katana-blades and a vast array of different Ninja weaponry. And there are a lot of excellent fight scenes in this as well. Scott Adkins goes up against a whole room of scumbags and dispatches them in a most beautiful way. There is also a very impressive subway fight that, according to Florentine, was one of the few scenes he was proud of in the making of Ninja.

I think the more heightened impact the wirework and CG actually gives this film the type of flavour it needs. The silliness of ninjas and their almost supernatural skills is something that eighties nnja-cinema exploited in intriguing ways and the exoticism of japanese culture was at a highpoint so it would not be completely out of place of having this exaggurated look at a pop culture phomenon that has not been relevant in decades. As such I think the film works as a film belonging to a tradition of Ninja-filmmaking long gone.A tradition that has vanished in thin air to suddenly re-appear in 2009 to ambush the audience with its silly but awesome  sets of trickery.

The seuqel Ninja-Shadow of a Tear takes the fight scenes to a more grounded level to accommodate Adkins abiliteis better , because apparently Ninjas more japanese style of fighting  that the fight choreography was built on suited Scott Adkins poorly. I don´t know,  he looks pretty great in this, and that is probably a testament to his physical skills. because  of that this a damn fun film to watch.


This film is a favourite of mine. As a sequel it builds and expands on the claustrophobic survivalhorror elemts into an Infernal Affairs-esque gangster epic with many more colorful characters a more complex plot and fight sequences staged so beautifully they could be part of a museum exhibit. The kitchen fight at the end is something else. Brutal, fast, energetic. A classic.

torsdag 20 april 2017


Another Scott Adkins joint. This is a slight spoiler as the real villain is not revealed until the end. But if you have son of legendary Sho Kosugi in the same film as Scott Adkins, you can bet your sour smelly ass that they will clash against one another. This is a great finale to a perfect B-action film that contains enough story beat to put the fights together but never deviate from what the film want to capture. This is Scott Adkins at his finest. 

tisdag 18 april 2017


I was thrilled by Boyka, but Undisputed 2 might still be my favourite entry in the series. Not only is Boyka the villain before he becomes the hero, but this final fight betwen him and Michael Jai White ( Blood and Bone, Black Dynamite) is just all sorts of amazing.

måndag 17 april 2017


This is a good one. The final battle in  te Shaw Brothers classic Eight Diagram Pole Fighter starring Gordon Liu, directed by the legnedary master Lau Kar Leung. The finale involves poles, teeth flying, plenty of blood , hihg flying flips, kicks and all sorts of cirque de soleil-esque mayhem

torsdag 13 april 2017


This has been a long awaited sequel to say the least. Despite the problem of piracy, director/producer Isaac Florentine and Scott Adkins managed to scrape together enough  cash to make another one.  And for those of you who pirated the last movie, you can stop reading  this and go fuck yourself. Or at least feel some kind of shame, and redeem yourself and buy this film legally. As I did. This was recently released in Sweden on bluray/dvd.

The Undisputeds are the kind of lowbudget movies that are much more vulnerable to piracy as the profit margins are not as high as the bigger budget blockbusters so the sales must  be good enough to warrant a sequel, and as this one already seem to suffer the same fate as part 3 then I am sad to say it will probably be no more of these made. Sad, becaue Boyka is such an unusually rich character.

The first Undisputed was directed by Hollywood legend Walter Hill, starring Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames. Rhames, a famous heavy weight champ gets convicted for rape , and is sent to a prison in which boxing seem to be a norm and tournaments being held. The reigning champion of the prison is Wesley Snipes. I have to say, it is a very bland film that never tries to delve deeper into the inner workings of underground prison fighting. Until....

Undisputed 2. Directed by israeli stuntman Isaac Florentine and now starring Micahael Jai White ( Black Dynamite) in the Ving Rhames role. Now set free and forced to do Russian commercials, in  well, Russia he is now framed and put in Siberian prison where another fighter played by Scott Adkins lurks. His name: Yuri Boyka , undisputed Russian champion and self-proclaimed "the most complete fighter in the world". Boyka, the prison king of fighters this time loses to Whites character, so there is a reverse in this one. This one and the rest of the series combines dynamic fight sequences with much more world building in terms of the underground fighting and has two very charismatic leads in what would have been an otherwise obscure boxing franchise. This is the one in which boxing starts to get relegated and  replaced by high flying kicks, mixed martial arts and just beautifully choreographed and brutal fight scenes that could rivel the masters of Hong Kong action cinema

Undisputed 3  also directed by Florentine, focuses on Boyka returning from his loss and getting back to form. Boykas is the point of view we take in this one and an entry that is so important to understanding both the character of Boyka but also the seduction of this franchise.

Part 2-3  starts Boykas journey from a villain to becoming a better person or at least we are lead to believe that. At the end of part 3 Boyka is being set free and now for the first time in many years Boyka is free to go wherever he pleases.

Until now. Boyka is the first film in the franchise that follows previous perspective. How could this franchise  go on in an interesting new way?

I think Boyka tries to be a  redemption story despite that part 3 was labeled Redemption, But with Boykas past and experience with the last few films, it kind of means something; this existential conondrum that has hit our hero once he has become free from prison, trying to help out at a local church. Boyka wants to redeem himself from his past. But he don´t realize his prisoner ways are still in check.

He keeps fighting in the ring in regulated fights, but his obsession of winning ends up with killing someone that we are being told has the same kind of suicidal drive of Boyka. He then seeks up the widow, who has managed to come into trouble as her late husband was in debt to a Russian mob boss and she is now indebted into white slavery because of she cannot pay.

Boyka wants to redeem hinself by offering to pay off her debt change for fighting for the scumbag boss.

That is more story than I like to indulge, but I  was surprised that Adkins/Florentine/Davidson/White etc. managed to create a story for Boyka outside of prison that worked. For me it felt like a purgatory part one must go through, and that at the end of the third film that was the end to the story. But that just shows how much of a handle these dudes have on this guy.    Boyka  is a villain working himself slowly towards the light. Or think he can as he is raised catholic and believes in redemption.  He is stumbling through these films from the fall of the second film, he rises in the third and now he wants to do better, but his former life does still hold a grudge to him and as a tragic result his old life quickly still hold him in a a grasp. Like most prisoners, serving a long term sentence, they have probably a hard time adapting to a new way of life. It is kind of sad when you have to face that you have little choice to change or adapt.

Boyka:Undisputed is not just a solid sequel , but the kind of action film starring people who actually are good at martial arts, displaying their skills at their best potential. The story is well crafted, and despite a new director on helm (Todor Chapkanov) is on board a lot of Florentines´ own flourishes are still there. The swooshing sound effects, the un-subtle zoom-ins. All of these that gives you an almost Shaw Brother-esque experience. It is all there. Don´t worry. The fights deliver in spades. Shot extremely well as usual with wide angle lenses that captures the movements perfectly.

Boyka is back. And I am glad he is. We missed you ,bud!

For those of you who want to see Scott Adkins in action and never have, here is a compilation video: