Tag Archive: kung fu movies


Ten Rings

“Why are they advertising that Suicide Squad movie now?  Didn’t it come out 5 years ago?”

A major gap in the now enormous industry of producing nine-figure, blockbuster superhero movies is that the movie studios are missing an opportunity to retain audiences.  No doubt more than half of the audience for Avengers: Endgame, which earned nearly $2.8 billion at the box office, was from moviegoers that were merely passing fans of the MCU.  Maybe they accompanied a spouse or a kid to the movie.  Most probably had never read a comic book before or since.  Studios today assume audiences will just show up for the spectacle.  But are they right?  Take the trailers for competing superhero movie studio DC Entertainment’s The Suicide Squad.  Nothing in the movie trailers–the only glimpse most prospective moviegoers will see via their TVs–explains why there is another movie called The Suicide Squad.  Do they think most TV viewers catching the commercial notice the addition of the “The” in the title?  Do they assume everyone still reads a newspaper or online entertainment source and is going to make an effort to understand that this new movie is different than the universally panned Suicide Squad of 2016?  Do they really think most prospective movie ticket buyers know or care who the director is?

Which is why it’s refreshing, and a wise move, to see Kevin Feige, mastermind behind all the Marvel Cinematic Universe, discussing the background for the latest new Marvel superhero in a new short feature clip for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.  

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Shang Chi pics

We got our first peek at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings here at borg this past April.  The new, full-length trailer reveals a plot that has the feel of Wu Assassins, and only a few days since the Snake Eyes trailers, with Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters and on video, and a new Kung Fu series airing on TV, audiences are getting new opportunities to watch AAPI actors shine.  While you’re in the vibe, don’t miss the live-action Mulan, the historical horror zombie series Kingdom, the action movie The Night Comes for Us, the fantasy wuxia series Legend of the Condor Heroes, the animated movie Over the Moon, the supernatural graphic novel Ghost Tree and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, the overview of martial arts in the movies in Iron Fists and King Fu Kicks, and the Bruce Lee documentary Be Water Long-time comics readers will know Shang-Chi as the Master of Kung Fu from the pages of 1970s Marvel Comics by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.  Originally the son of Fu Manchu, the character was an attempt by Marvel to create a monthly like the Kung Fu TV series after they failed in their bid to get the adaptation rights.

Check out the new trailer below for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

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Shang-Chi trailer

Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe took center stage with some big reveals at a Disney investor event last year.  Since then it’s all been about shuffling release dates.  In the interim Disney+ has launched both WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with Black Widow now scheduled for arrival July 9, 2021, which was when we’d initially expected to see the premiere of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.  Probably the most unexpected of the forthcoming movies from Marvel, this is another film where we expect to find, as with Guardians of the Galaxy, a new access point to the Marvel superheroes for a new generation of movie audiences.  Along with a new poster, now we have our first teaser trailer.

Shang-Chi poster

Long-time comics readers will know Shang-Chi as the Master of Kung Fu from the pages of 1970s Marvel Comics by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.  Originally the son of Fu Manchu, the character was an attempt by Marvel to create a monthly like the Kung Fu TV series after they failed in their bid to get the adaptation rights.  And everyone knew visually he was based on Bruce Lee.  In the new film Shang-Chi is played by Canadian actor Simu Liu (Orphan Black, Warehouse 13), comedian and comedic actor Awkwafina (Nora from Queens, Jumanji: The Next Level) plays his friend Katy, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong, Forced Vengeance) as The Mandarin, Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek Discovery, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) is Jiang Li, Florian Munteano (Creed 2) as a new cyborg, and Ronny Chieng (Godzilla vs Kong, Crazy Rich Asians) as Shang-Chi’s friend Jon-Jon.

Wait no longer!  Here’s the first look at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

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It was only a few months ago I reviewed Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks here at borg, a film chronicling the challenges and rise of Chinese action movies, including a segment on the legendary martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee.  At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, one of the Grand Jury Prize nominees was a documentary exclusively devoted to Lee, a film called Be Water, titled from the personal philosophy he shared with the world, “be formless, shapeless, like water… be water, my friend.”  A documentary that has received much advance praise and film festival kudos, director Bao Nguyen’s film will premiere to general audiences this Sunday as part of EPSN’s 30 for 30 series.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

From Hong Kong to the U.S. and Australia to Uganda, Australian director Serge Ou and writer Grady Hendrix track the scope of the Hong Kong kung fu movie industry and its pop culture influence on the world in the documentary Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks, now streaming this month on Netflix.  Splicing interviews with kung fu legends of the past with new discussions with martial artists and actors influenced by them, Ou offers up a surprisingly rich look at how and why kung fu movies gained an international following that continues to this day via Jackie Chan comedies, the Matrix movies (with a sequel due in theaters next year), and new television series like Wu Assassins and Iron Fist. 

Beneath what is in essence an overview of the genre is a smart mixture of social and cultural commentary on a global phenomenon centered on an artform mixing athleticism, dance, and grace.  Kung fu made its way to American audiences with Tom Laughlin in Billy Jack, and into millions of homes via the Kung Fu series.  This was paralleled by Bruce Lee movies and lesser films (they call them Bruce-sploitation) from China and U.S. studios, direct-to-video crotch-kicking and “squirrel-grabbing” action on VHS tapes in video stores, heroines leading the way as a sub-genre, eventually moving to black and inner city audiences embracing the culture, starting with martial artist and actor Jim Kelly (who co-starred with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon), re-emerging later as an influence on hip hop music.  The genre got even bigger boosts with Jackie Chan heavy-stunt comedies, followed by The Matrix and the Academy Awards arrival of the genre with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Chinese co-productions with other nations, and actors of Chinese background in the mainstream outside of Asia would eventually come along.

Viewers meet (or revisit) early kung fu icons Cheng Pei-Pei and Sammo Hung in new interviews, along with Billy Banks, who would turn the genre into his own fortune via the creation of the Tae Bo workout, early American female kung fu star Cynthia Rothrock, martial artist Richard Norton, plus from the 21st century shows, Iron Fist actor Jessica Henwick, Wu Assassins actor JuJu Chan, Doctor Strange actor Scott Adkins, and Marvel stuntwoman and choreographer Amy Johnston, among others.  It’s all interspersed with great action sequences and other clips from more than 100 films.  A theme underscoring much of kung fu movie history is a distinct lack of safety standards, with more than one participant in the documentary stressing that Hong Kong kung fu movies couldn’t be made anywhere else for that reason.

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El Rey network logo

If you haven’t yet caught sight of the El Rey network on your cable line-up, make sure you stop and check it out.  From the mind of pulp film director Robert Rodriguez, known best for his Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids, the Sin City movies, Grindhouse’s Planet Terror, and Machete, the El Rey network is a recently developed partnership between Rodriguez and Univision being picked up across the U.S. by Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and DirecTV, certain to have something entertaining for any fan of all-things-retro.  It’s tagline provides the short version of what you’ll find:  Where fans, aficionados and rebels come for their fix of bullets, blood and curated classics.  Its target is English-speaking Latino audiences, but it has a much broader appeal.

El Rey is the newest home for grindhouse movies, kung fu and other tough guy flicks, cult horror, and retro/classics.  Shows include tailored commercials and intentionally worn and grainy “bumpers” to give a dated feel, with familiar-sounding voiceover actors that highlight the series’ gritty and retro themes.  You’ll find classic series like The X-Files, Miami Vice, and Starsky and Hutch, and movies like John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Steven Spielberg’s Duel, and kung-fu features like The Kid With the Golden Arm.

Rodriquez and Carpenter

The best from the network so far is original programming like The Director’s Chair, where director Robert Rodriguez interviews some of our favorite genre moviemakers.  The first guest in the series was John Carpenter, one of borg.com′s all-time favorite directors, known best for Halloween, but also for Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Fog, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and They Live.   Rodriguez’s interview is a treat for Carpenter fans, providing insight and anecdotes from Carpenter chatting about his films.  And Rodriguez, who seems a young director at 46, goes all fanboy throughout his interview, which you rarely see in shows like this.  It works here, because if you’re watching this type of show you’re likely a fanboy or fangirl, too.

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