Because You Can Never Have Enough Motorcycles Crashing Through Rooftops, Here’s The Latest Trailer For Tom Yum Goong 2

Yeah, I think “hard hitting” is probably the right way to describe this new trailer for Tony Jaa‘s upcoming Tom Yum Goong 2 or whatever name it eventually comes out under here. And we won’t even bother discussing the “fighting outfit” of the lady in red.

Oh, and just for the record, Jaa’s also been cast in the upcoming Fast and Furious 7. Man, that movie looks more and more intriguing by the day.

Saturday Double Feature: The Grandmaster (2013) and…

Saturday on the blog means Saturday Double Feature, right? Remember, the basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before.. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

Of course, as always, there are a lot of ways I could go for a pairing of films with Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster. There are the obvious ways such as a Bruce Lee film, since the subject of the movie is Ip Man, the man who trained Lee in martial arts. Or I could play off the title and go with something like Drunken Master. But instead I think I’ll focus on a slightly different aspect of the film. First, though, here’s the Grandmaster trailer:

One of the things that stands out in the trailer, and may surprise American audiences more is the prominence in the fighting and the importance of the role of Ziyi Zhang. However, the female martial arts master is not a new invention. Iit is a longstanding tradition, especially in Hong Kong cinema, so I think this week we’ll focus on that and go with a movie that also prominently features a female protagonist, 1974’s The Tournament which stars Angela Mao.

Instead of an actual trailer, here’s a clip from the movie which shows Mao in action: as she fights a Japanese thug who is just one of the people trying to take over her school:

Since this is most likely a movie that not many people are familiar with, here’s a description posted by YouTube user CN Youku:

THE TOURNAMENT (1974) is a Golden Harvest production that deserves inclusion with such better-known films as BROKEN OATH, WHEN TAEKWONDO STRIKES, HAPKIDO, and LADY WHIRLWIND as the finest work of Angela Mao, the reigning female kung fu star of the 1970s. She has a total of four major fight sequences here, one of which is a remarkable segment at the 41-minute mark that lasts for nine solid minutes as she fights five different guys in succession, starting with Korean hapkido expert Whang In Sik, playing a Japanese karate teacher, and continuing with Sammo Hung, Wilson Tong and two others I didn’t recognize. Later, she fights a Thai kickboxer in the ring in Bangkok (where she’s dressed as a man), fights Thai thugs at the famous Ayuthia temple ruins in Thailand, and finally, back home in Hong Kong, fights a new set of karate fighters who’ve taken over her martial arts school, including a big white guy named George V. Yirikian. So Angela keeps very busy in this film, much to the delight of her fans. Co-star Carter Wong (THE 18 BRONZEMEN) plays Angela’s brother and has his share of fights as well, including three in the Thai kickboxing ring, but he’s generally overshadowed by Angela.

amThe plot has to do with a kung fu school in contemporary Hong Kong that gets disgraced after two of its students (including Carter) lose in the kickboxing ring at a Bangkok tournament. (The second student, in fact, is killed in the bout.) The school’s teacher, the father of Angela and Carter, is drummed out of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Association, which leaves him so devastated that he hangs himself. Angela, rising above the tragedy, takes it upon herself to study Thai boxing and figure out a way to incorporate it into Chinese kung fu and win back her school’s honor in the kickboxing ring. This creates enemies among the members of the Martial Arts Association (including Sammo Hung), especially after she lectures them on the limitations inherent in the way they teach and practice Chinese kung fu. (Hence the nine-minute fight at her school.) Halfway through the film she heads to Bangkok, dressed as a man, accompanied by Carter and visits kickboxing schools and goes so far as to film training sessions and actual bouts in the ring (using a Super 8 movie camera with a telephoto lens) which she then studies with Carter, all in preparation for their own matches against Thai boxers. What’s important here is that Angela takes a proactive approach to the problem and seeks creative solutions. As a result, she dominates the proceedings throughout, taking on the role of kung fu master in the wake of her father’s death. She doesn’t just fight, she leads.

Sammo Hung choreographed the many fights and they rank with the superb work he did on HAPKIDO (1972), which also starred Angela and Carter (and Sammo). The director is Huang Feng, who also directed HAPKIDO, LADY WHIRLWIND, and WHEN TAEKWONDO STRIKES and who knew how to get the best out of Angela, as both an actress and fighting star.

And here in case all of this has whetted your appetite for some good old-fashioned 70s martial arts action, here’s the entire film:

So  there you go. Any thoughts? Any other ideas for pairing films with The Grandmaster? if so, let me know below. And also let me know of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Eleven Initial Thoughts on The Grandmaster (2013)

grandmasterI’ve just come out of seeing Wong Kar-wai‘s The Grandmaster. Here is what I think you need to know going in:

1. Hollywood has pulled its usual bait and switch when it comes to selling foreign movies to American audiences. Do not buy in to what you have seen in the trailers.

2. This is not a movie that is purely exhilarating action set pieces. That’s not to say they aren’t there, they definitely are, but the movie is so much more than that.

3. This is a film that focuses much more on the arts part of the phrase martial arts that the martial aspects.

4. What it actually is is a meditation.

5. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does help if you have some understanding going in about the differing schools and styles of Chinese martial arts and their rivalries.

6. It also will help if you have some understanding of the effects of World War II on Chinese culture and life, and especially on the relationship between Japan, Mainland China, and Hong Kong. Again, I don;t think it’s completely necessary, but it does help.

grandmaster-37. The film is also a love story, but not in the way you might expect.

8. As one would expect from any Wong Kar-wai film, it is absolutely gorgeous.

9. If you have seen Ip Man and Ip Man 2, do not go in expecting a remake of those two movies either. Though the title character is the same, the focus of this movie is completely different than it’s predecessors.

10. Don’t be drawn in by the marketing that emphasizes Ip Man being the man who trained Bruce Lee That really is only an afterthought in this film.

11. I really hope that we will get to see (perhaps on the blu-ray release) the initial Chinese cut of the movie which purportedly is not only some 20 minutes longer but also has a different tone than this “International” release.

Having said all of that, what did i think of the movie? I thoroughly enjoyed it, and definitely give it a hearty endorsement. Just know what you’re getting in to before you buy your ticket.

Sorry, Gang…

Unfortunately both the Top 250 Tuesday and the Old Time Radio Thursday features will be taking the week off this week, However, The Saturday Double Feature will appear on it’s regular day, and there may be other posts along the way, too. And the Tuesday and Thursday regulars will be back next week, along with at least one more debuting regular feature. Thanks for your understanding and support!

Want Some Fun With Your Horror Show? Check Out The Full-Length Doc American Scary (2006)

Nashville’s Own Sir Cecil Crepe

Here in Nashville when I was growing up, our local Horror Host was Sir Cecil Crepe, the host of a show called Creature Feature. Every week from his dungeon below the studio of local NBC affiliate channel 4, the good Sir Cecil would serve up some of the great – and not-so-great – horror B-movies of the past, along with skits featuring other characters and bits of information about the film. In a lot of ways, we kids (and our parents) were tuning in to see Sir Cecil as much as, or perhaps even more, than the movie he was showing. Nonetheless, it’s to Sir Cecil and Creature Feature (along with The Big Show, but that’s a post for another time) that I owe a debt of gratitude for turning me on to so many of these just plain fun movies.

Nor was Nashville the only city with such programming, As a matter of fact, there probably wasn’t a major city anywhere in the US at a certain point in time that didn’t have their own horror host, and there were even a few who managed to go national.

I still have my own Ghoul Patrol badge.
I still have my own Ghoul Patrol badge.

So what happened to the local horror hosts? Why are they no longer a fixture on American television screens? Well, there are a number of factors, but basically it comes down to what it always comes down to: money. It’s cheaper for local stations to fill their time with never ending syndicated re-runs of bad comedy shows than to produce this type of programming.

Anyway, in 2006, the documentary American Scary was released as a tribute to these hosts and to tell the story of their rise and fall. I actually picked up a DVD copy of the doc when it first came out, and now, thanks to YouTube, I can share this excellent video with you.

So, whether you are old enough to remember your own local horror host, or this is a new concept to you, come back in time with me and let your inner monster kid out for a little while to enjoy American Scary:

By the way, if you have your own memories of horror hosts from your younger days, or any current favorites (yes, the tradition is still carried on, though not as predominately as it once was, and Nashville even still has our own Horror Host, Dr. Gangrene, who carries on Sir Cecil’s legacy to this day) I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Clooney, Damon, Murray, Goodman Team To Save Artistic Treasure During WWII – The Monuments Men (2013) Trailer


Now this is my kind of war movie – at least if one goes by the trailer – and with this kind of cast, I suspect you can. Reminiscent of films like The Dirty Dozen or Kelly’s Heroes, these movies about bringing together a mostly all-star cast for a particular mission within the war really appeal to me in a way that more visceral depictions of the war (and by that I mean any war, though for some reason even now World War II seems rife with opportunity for this kind of story) don’t. Perhaps its the similarity, in a way, with  “heist” movies, a genre for which I have a particular weak spot.

This time around, for his upcoming flick The Monuments Men,  Director George Clooney has assembled a team that includes himself, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and others to… well, here’s the official plot description:

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, “The Monuments Men” is an action-thriller focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys — seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 — possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

Honestly, to me this seems like a can’t miss film, but it’ll be interesting, I think, to see how a younger generation, brought up on more bloody, gory, and graphic depictions of war take to something like this. I suppose we’ll have to wait until December, when the movie is scheduled for release, to find out.

Saturday Double – Make That Triple, No, Quadruple – Feature: The World’s End (2013) and…

Saturday on the blog means Saturday Double Feature, right? Remember, the basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before.. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

I think this may be the first time this feature has actually provided an all night marathon of movies, but as I was watching this flick, it simply brought to mind too many really good movies that fit together very well with the latest Simon Pegg / Edgar Wright / Nick Frost offering The World’s End. However, I do feel it’s necessary to throw up at least a minor Spoiler Warning for those who don’t want to know too much about the movie going in., though honestly the plot is not the reason to ge see this movie, it’s really the brilliant screenplay and the interplay between the characters. Okay, first off, here’s the trailer for the new flick

So, obviously from the trailer we’ve got two things going on here. There’s the concept of a town full of people being replaced by robots, which leads almost directly to the 1975 classic, The Stepford Wives:

However, if we go back even further, there’s another sci-fi classic that also gives us a group of people fighting against robots who are a vanguard for alien invaders. That’s 1954’s Target Earth (and yes, the secret of the menace is largely kept that way through the trailer, but if you look at the last shot, you’ll see that the thing crashing through the window is a robot)

Finally, however, how could I possibly leave off this list the greatest of all “the people of this town aren’t who they used to be movies, from 1956, it’s The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

(Yeah, I know, in that flick the people aren’t being replaced by robots, but the pod people still act like it, so…)

So what do you think? Have you got any other ideas for ways to stretch this marathon out any further? if so, let me know below. And also let me know of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

“C’mon You Totney Wildcats… Give!” – Fred Astaire in A Damsel In Distress (1937)

This clip really doesn’t need many words. Instead simply sit back and enjoy as Fred Astaire dances and drums his way through “Nice Work if You Can Get It” from the 1937 film A Damsel in Distress.

Another Brand New Trailer For Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) Just Brings More Anticipation – And More Cat

I’ve said it before: the more  see of the Coen Brothers’ upcoming Inside Llewyn Davis, the more I want to see the movie. Of course, all that really means is that they’ve got someone really smart cutting their trailers. Fortunately, the little that I’ve read from people who have actually seen the film (and I’ve tried not to read too much going in) indicates that it really does live up to its promise.

Old Time Radio Thursdays – #009: The Black Museum (1951)

The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.

WellesblackOf course, Orson Welles‘ most famous – or perhaps infamous – stint on radio was his Mercury Theater productions, which I wrote about here. However that was far from Mr. Welles’ only appearance on the radio, and another extremely popular show which featured him was the Harry Alan Towers produced The Black Museum.

For those who have never heard of it, The Black Museum is the nickname given to the basement where Scotland Yard houses paraphernalia connected with some of its most interesting cases. The museum came into existence around 1875 and is generally not open to the public. Instead it is used as a training site for officers and a place where those working for the Yard can study case histories of crime and criminals.

By 1951 the Museum had become fairly well known, as it had been the subject of a number of different movies and other radio shows. Harry Towers, never one to miss an opportunity to cash in on a trend, and with Welles under contract for a number of radio shows, decided to use the setting for his latest syndicated show, Welles, for his part, actually wrote and directed a number of the shows, and served as host for all of them.

Black-Museum-Spot-Ad-52-01-15The format for the show was simple. The opening found Welles walking through the museum, intoning as only he could “This is Orson Welles, speaking from London. The Black Museum… a repository of death. Here in the grim stone structure on the Thames which houses Scotland Yard is a warehouse of homicide, where everyday objects… a woman’s shoe, a tiny white box, a quilted robe… [the items mentioned in the introduction would often vary from episode to episode] all are touched by murder.” All the while, the chimes of Big Ben could be heard off in the distance.

At that point, Welles would stop and pick up a particular object, describe it, give a bit of background, and then the program would segue into a dramatization of the crime the object was involved with. Of course, since Towers and Welles both had a feel for the sensational, that crime was almost always a murder of some sort.

Once the dramatization was ended, Welles would return, giving a wrap-up of the case, and then state “Now until we meet again in the same place and I tell you another tale of the Black Museum, I remain, as always, obediently yours.”

MBS-M-G-M-Promotion-for-Black-MuseumBecause of the somewhat scattershot nature of Towers’ syndication, though there were purportedly 51 or 52 episodes of the series produced, only some 38 or so are still known to exist today, though even that number has at times proven confusing, as the episodes were never given proper titles and have simply become known by the object they featured. Nonetheless, the episodes we do have are, as one would expect considering Mr. Welles’ participation, highly entertaining.

So once again, I invite you to sit back, relax, and join with me in revisiting the golden age of radio and enjoy a visit to The Black Museum.