Tag Archives: martial arts

Playing with G.I. Joes: The Next Level by Kent Hill

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George Miller long ago professed his love of pure cinema, or cinema as visual music. His celluloid illustrations of this stance have not only influenced their genre, but the entire cinematic experience itself. So when watching Rene Perez’s foray in this arena, Dr. George’s words again filtered to my ear.

Perez having a natural aptitude and mastery of music applies Miller’s methodology with his Snake Eyes tribute; the essence of the real power of the movies, functioning entirely without dialogue. Of course, to the casual viewer, I can appreciate this experience may be jarring. But for those with a wider appreciation and deep passion for the motion picture know, all too well, that before the advent of sound…this is what movies where like. The skill of the filmmaker on center stage, showing the audience everything they need; forcing participation on some level.

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Miller’s Fury Road is an absolute masterclass in action movie making, and here, Rene Perez, the Robert Rodriguez of Redding, showcases (in a similar fashion) not only his action storytelling chops, but what is possible today on a small scale; a petite though triumphant piece of film-making, boxing above its weight class in terms of the size of the production to what one experiences as the picture unfolds.

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Perez shines consistently with his fluid camera work and editing style, set against the backdrop of the glorious vistas at his disposal. The mixture of these elements with the age old story of a man on a mission makes this a work of depth, not short-changing the viewer in terms of suspense and intrigue, considering the genre. Patterned after his beloved G.I. Joe (America’s highly trained special mission force), Perez winks back across the years at Joe-lovin’ youngster he used to be: “G.I. Joe were my favorite action figures and comic books when I was a kid. I always had Snake Eyes version 1 or 2, in my pocket when I was little,” Perez remarked.

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Rene makes films about characters driven by strong ideals. They overcome imposing odds to secure, not merely internal peace or the slaying of an old demon, but to also make amends for an old hurt; leaving nothing left unsaid, leaving no deed undone. “In these fight scenes in particular, I wanted to show that Snake Eyes has a code of honour when fighting hand to hand, that he is also a tactical thinker when it comes to using firearms.”

Teaming up once again with producer Joseph Camillari, Perez’s collaborator on The Insurrection and the (currently in production) western Righteous Blood, together with a cast that includes Beauty Queen Miss Nevada 2020, Victoria Olona (as Snake Eyes’ wife), and seventh-degree black belt Juan Manuel Olmedo as the title character.

We all enjoyed (at least I did) grabbing a handful of G.I. Joes and going all Stephen Sommers (long before that sort of thing was popular) in Mum’s garden beds. Anything went, as the cinema of our mind’s eye focused as we led brave soldiers in their never-ending fight against Cobra, the ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.

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After the dust settles on the great conjunction of unfortunate events that is 2020, we shall slowly witness the emergence of the work that those with the ability to harness their creativity and the tools afforded them have made. Rene Perez made a blinding, kick-ass action valentine to his favorite of the Joes – code name: Snake Eyes.

WATCH IT NOW!!!

“LET THE GIRL GO!” (PART 2): Remembering King of the Kickboxers with SHERRIE ROSE by Kent Hill

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The whole story of how I came to love King of the Kickboxers is something I am still working on. But what will say here dear reader is that I have of late been afforded greater insight into the making of the movie than I had ever hoped to obtain. For behind each of these movies are multitudes of individual artists and craftspeople that in many ways go to war to bring the images that we finally witness to the screen.

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I first contacted participating members of the Seasonal Film family when compiling my anthology Conquest of the Planet of the Tapes. Now most folks aren’t unaware of the Seasonal catalogue, but it has its place in cinema history – the golden age of the martial arts/action movie. One of the main players involved was a gentleman named Keith W. Strandberg who served as writer and producer on the films which began with the movie that brought Jean-Claude Van Damme into public consciousness: No Retreat, No Surrender.

In time, two films would continue the NRNS series in the form of Raging Thunder and Blood Brothers. In acknowledging these I sought the participation of martial arts legend Keith Vitali (star of Blood Brothers & Superfights) and Loren Avedon. Loren has close to a three decade long career as a martial artist and is a 5th Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do and 8th Dan black belt in Hap Ki Do. He received his big break when he was contacted by producer Roy Horan about a three picture deal with Seasonal. Aside from the NRNS series he would also star in the film King of the Kickboxers.

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Now I must be careful here not to go ballistic and write the whole story, however, once upon a time I found myself on an 18 day bus trip through the wilds of Indonesia. It was clear from the first day we had been royally screwed by the company who was coordinating the adventure and so we spent a majority of the trip on the bus. There were three video tapes on that bus to help pass the time. One was Speed, the second was Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, and the third was a film called King of the Kickboxers. It was fun, funny and had awesome fight sequences. Needless to say it quickly became the default movie on the bus and during the course of those 18 days I saw it many, many times.

So what is it about King of the Kicboxers that is, to me, so enduring? I suppose one could say that it was because of all the Hong Kong actioners and television (MONKEY every afternoon) I saw as a kid. KOTK, as with all the Seasonal productions, were among the first western audience films to employ the eastern style of filmmaking. Sure the reason for this is that they were co-productions and had American and international performers, but the way in which the productions were carried out and the methods employed during filming were right out pages of the eastern action movie play book. I guess the short answer is I just have a tremendous affection for straight to video movies like this. They came thick and fast once upon a time; lots of junk. Amongst all that product thought there were gems to be found. This was one such precious stone.

I recommend you take a look at KOTK before listening to the above interview, as I believe it will give you a better insight. But if you are already a fan of all films Seasonal and are like me, a devotee of KOTK, then press play above and listen along as the star of the show takes us behind the scenes of a movie that may have been forced upon me initially, but which now I watch over and over with both a warmth nostalgia and ever-increasing fondness.

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I was delighted to finally get in touch with Molly, the beautiful and multi-talented Sherrie Rose (who also appeared with Keith Vitali in NRNS 3: BLOOD BROTHERS), this time round to find out what filming the movie I find most glorious was like from the perspective of the girl Jake so adamantly insisted Khan LET GOOOOOOOOOOO!

I CARE, JACKSON!

SHERRIE ROSE

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She has starred in over 60 films and television shows and is best known for her starring role in the feature film Me and Will (1999) opposite Patrick Dempsey and showcasing the talents of Keanu Reeves and Seymour Cassel which she also co-produced, directed and wrote. The feature opened The Women in Film series for Sundance.

She has been involved with the creation, writing and development of 100’s projects from conception to distribution and accomplished the unprecedented feat of writing, directing, producing and starring in her own film and has sold numerous scripts as a writer and has been published in magazines and books.

She has a camaraderie with actors and directors which has allowed her to hire and work with such incredible talents as Jada Pinkett Smith and Billy Zane who acted with her in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995), Mickey Rourke in the feature Out in Fifty (1999) that she co-produced, Jonathan Kaplan from The Accused (1988) with Jodie Foster that she acted in the feature _Unlawful Entry (1992)_ qv with fellow actor Ray Liotta and Michael Bay from Transformers (2007) that she worked with on commercials and music videos. She was entered for an Emmy Nomination for her role in the television series Tales from the Crypt (1989) opposite Yul Vazquez from Magic City (2012) that William Friedkin, from The Exorcist (1973) directed her in.

She appeared in such hit show’s as the pilot episode of FX’s, Sons of Anarchy (2008) opposite Charlie Hunnam and Married… with Children (1987) with Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal and Miami Vice (1984).

She is an activist working with IFAW and other non-profit organizations concentrating on children, animals and the environment. She lives on a ranch with her son and their rescue animals.

HULK SMASH HUMOR: Lou Ferrigno & PERPS by Kent Hill

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Having had the good fortune of sampling the cinema of Tamas Nadas before, I found myself eagerly anticipating this little gem, PERPS; a fun-size belly laugh to shatter the silence of our isolation, during these pandemic days.

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It’s like a story you hear second-hand from a buddy around the water-cooler, a night of misadventures involving movies, marijuana and assorted scallywag behaviour. Now, I’ve been to the movies and gotten baked in the wake more than once, but, I never had me a buddy so in tune with the warrior ways as Mr. Nadas, and I’ve never had to talk my way out of the back of a cop car with a mentally degenerating officer at the wheel whose girl, it turns out, was stolen from him by none other than Lou Ferrigno, The Incredible Hulk or the mighty Hercules – whichever way your tastes run.

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That’s right ladies and gents, Lou Ferrigno is in this movie, HULK-SMASHING his way onto the stage with all the ferocity and presence that saw him become everything from Mr. Universe to the son of Zeus.

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Delighted I was to be gifted the opportunity to a fistful of questions to the mighty Ferrigno:

KH:  As a king of memorable cameos from Sharknado to HULK, what attracted you to walk on as yourself in PERPS?

LF: The storyline…and how no one messes with Lou Ferrigno.

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KH:  Tamas Nadas is a former guest, a great gentleman, talented filmmaker and martial artist; the production of this little gem must have been a blast?

LF: Tamas is great. He very easy to work with, and creates a freewheeling work environment with a fantastic attitude to exploring ideas whilst filming. If PERPS eventually became a series I would love to be involved.  Viewers will appreciate the comedic timing among the actors in this in this fine short film which wears entertaining its audience like one might wear their heart of their sleeve.

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KH:  COVID-19 has reshaped the world and will continue to do so in its wake; as an industry veteran, how do you see the future of production large and small on the other side?

LF: This virus has forced us to be more careful, bring more unity back into our lives and we will be able to move forward by simply being positive and lending support and attention to those areas this pandemic has found our way of life wanting.

KH:  I have saved a couple of questions for selfish reasons…because it’s not every day I get to ask the legendary Lou Ferrigno anything for that matter. I’ve always wanted to ask what filming Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules movies were like?

LF: Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules films were a blast. He brought out the best in the Hercules myth and character for me to portray. I have many fond and vivid memories of filming scenes among ancient ruins which made my job easier because I felt like I was there.

KH: Finally…I love Sinbad of the Seven Seas. You have a scene in the film where you convince the snakes in the dungeon to let you use them to tie together as a rope to escape… It’s a moment that lingers in my mind when I think of the movie; do you have any recollections of the moment or from making the picture in general?

LF: I loved doing a different version of Sinbad, and I always wanted to work with the director Enzo Castellari who shared my love for showing a comedic side to the legendary sailor.

KH: Thank you Lou, keep standing tall, stay safe, God bless.

LF: You too, Kent….stay safe.

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PERPS is out on YouTube now, starring the legend Lou Ferrigno (INSTANT DEATH, THE INCREDIBLE HULK) and martial artist Tamas Nadas (MILLENNIUM BUGS).

Before launching on YouTube, Alejandro Montoya Marin’s PERPS debuted at the Santa Fe Film Festival on February 16th, 2020 and won the best New Mexico film award.

With COVID-19 keeping everyone locked in, people need a tasty laugh, and it worked. Among the many highlights is a cheerful montage that makes the viewer laugh and fall off the chair.

Why is laughter the real medicine we need in times like these…?

PERPS is your answer…

My Favorite HENCHMAN by Kent Hill

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The story of Al Leong is not an uncommon Hollywood story in this respect: he is a face you’ve seen, but probably have no knowledge of his name, his explosive talent, his devotion to his craft and the incredible legacy he has built through the movies we all cherish. So, if you fall into that category, then you probably don’t know the man behind the face of our favorite Henchman – you probably don’t know Al Leong…?48379434_2204369366249037_295176330406789120_n Well ladies and boys…you’ve come to the movies at the most opportune time in cinema history, because, friendly neighborhood filmmaker and nice guy all-round, Vito Trabucco, has assembled for your inquisitive, movie-loving minds this beautifully human, lovingly detailed, star-studded valentine. That candy-chomping terrorist that decided taking on The Willis was a good idea; that screaming Wing Kong Hatchet Man in the service of the ancient evil of Lo Pan – and the man who very nearly conquered most of the known world of his day…and who loves Twinkies for the excellent sugar rush…! 71391611_2471535733065648_6679180045182828544_n

Man I could write for days of the films, television and memories that have and still are the fabric formed of my love of storytelling…..of which Al Leong is an indelible part. Join us as Vito and I wax political, poetical and even romantically about the cinema that is part of the wonderful life . . . of our favorite Henchman…

GET IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Henchman-Al-Leong-Story-Unrated/dp/B07TMRS26B/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=al+leong&qid=1572173068&sr=8-3al_leong_wing_kong_hatchet_mandefault

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RETURN OF THE FURY: An Interview with Jino Kang by Kent Hill

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Jino Kang, that electrifying action man of many talents is BACK!!!

Since we last spoke his continued success has grown, and now he returns with the next installment of his superb, action-packed KID FURY series – KID FURY: THE PHANTOM WITCH.

Jino is the man not even the Devil himself could keep down – because he was just too good-looking. In The Phantom Witch, a Kid (Timothy Mah) is sent on a mission to recover his stolen mysterious box by a nefarious gangster boss (Jino Kang), who happens to be his estranged father. The Kid must retrieve the box from “The Phantom Witch”, who possesses magical powers which may prove difficult, if not impossible.

The showdown is a heart-stopping encounter with incredible action and martial arts choreography. KID FURY was written and directed by Jino, and produced and photographed by Dave Fong. Timothy Mah is a 3rd degree black belt student and a musician by trade – some of his music graces the film’s heavy metal score.

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It was a joy catching up with the acclaimed and award-winning action man who is Jino Kang. After the furious excellence of Blade Warrior, Fist 2 Fist and Weapon of Choice (combined with the KID FURY series), the future is golden for this incredible gentleman, this awesome action star and all-round talented artist.

I look forward as ever to catching up with Jino as his Kid Fury saga continues and his feature film projects make their way to glorious reality – setting the silver screen on fire…

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Martial Arts Legend . . . Jino Kang!

The STUNTWOMAN: An Interview with Cheryl Wheeler by Kent Hill

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It was an absolute thrill to sit and chat with Cheryl Wheeler, legendary stunt woman, stunt double, and stunt driver of the movie industry. She has been the stunt double for Rene Russo, Kathleen Turner, and Goldie Hawn.

Cheryl began studying Yoshukai Karate at 15 – coming from a family of mostly boys; she was forced to learn to hold her own. She started kickboxing when her instructor commenced training an amateur team. She has also studied Judo, Aikido, and grappling and trained for a while with kickboxer and actor Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson, and is a three-time WKA World Kickboxing Champion

Beginning work in the film industry in 1987, Cheryl’s extensive filmography of stunt work in such films as Back to the Future Part II, Bird on a Wire, Die Hard 2, Lethal Weapon III & IV, Demolition Man, The Thomas Crown Affair and Charlie’s Angels. She was inducted into Black Belt Magazine’s Hall of Fame as 1996 Woman of the Year. She appeared on the cover and in a feature article in Black Belt Magazine in July 1997, and also received a Stunt Award for “Best Stunt Sequence” in the 2000 film of Charlie’s Angels.

I could honestly have spoken to Cheryl for hours – slowly traversing and delighting in the stories from all of the films she has participated in. We also chat about her involvement in The Martial Arts Kid 2 which she comes to as a producer with her long-time friends Don Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock.

It was a true pleasure, and I trust you will enjoy this fascinating interview with an awesome Hollywood veteran. Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Cheryl Wheeler.

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Knights be Damned: An Interview with Silvio Simac by Kent Hill

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Knights of the Damned is a film of a type you don’t see much of any more. When I was a kid there were fantasy films by the country mile – with titles including Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, Sword of the Valiant, Hawk the Slayer, The Archer, Zu Warriors, Knight of the Dragon.

But then, like the Western before them, they dried up and have henceforth become sporadic and fleeting. Knights of the Damned marks a return which sees the fantasy genre clash with the zombie phenomena in a film which sees a band of returning nights having to fight their way back to the castle of their sovereign lord through dragons, sirens and dark alchemy which has caused the dead to rise and stalk the living.

It is an exciting throwback to those fantasy films I know and love, as well as being something fresh and a little bit different. So, thrilled I was to speak with the star of show, Silvio Simac. And, thrilled was I to learn that KOTD is the first installment in an epic trilogy. Silvio is no doubt a future action movie notable and comes to the Damned with a CV of great roles in a vast array of high-concept cinema.

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So, for all you fantasy lovers out there that secretly yearn for a return to the heady days of high adventure – I won’t spoil it for you – check out Knights of the Damned now, and press play to listen to a fun interview with one of the knights most bold from days of old, whose mighty sword slashes the heads of those undead . . .

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(Courtesy of Kung-Fu Kingdom.com)

Silvio Simac is a Croatian-born British martial artist and actor who has enjoyed a long and varied three decade career with some outstanding achievements. These include being (multi-time) British, European and World Taekwondo champion. Aside from TKD, Silvio holds black belts in Choi Kwang Do, kickboxing, karate and combat self-defence. Having starred in numerous movies with such action superstars as Jet Li, Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi and Jason Statham he also regularly attends martial arts and health-oriented seminars and conferences alongside such friends as Benny The Jet, Cynthia Rothrock, Michael Jai White, Don Wilson, Shannon Lee and many more! Silvio is widely respected by his peers for being a fount of martial arts knowledge and experience on training techniques, nutrition and philosophy; he remains a hardcore student of life, happily sharing and communicating what he’s learned with ease, covering those details that can be so easily overlooked by other teachers in this day and age.

It’s PAYBACK Time!: The Martial Arts Kid 2 Interviews by Kent Hill

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I have always been a fan of underdog stories. They hold for the viewer a message of hope that – should one’s fortitude and perseverance be fixed to the sticking place – then there is nothing that can’t be accomplished or overcome.

Having enjoyed the first installment of the Martial Arts Kid, as well as having a chance to chat with two of its legendary cast, Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock, I was thrilled at the prospect that, not only would the story continue, but that I would have a chance to meet the players from this exciting second chapter.

Of course, it is obvious, that there are parallels to be drawn with John G. Avildsen’s iconic The Karate Kid. Still this is a story onto itself – a story of the discipline it takes to rise to the challenge, and ultimately find redemption in the wake of defeat.

The Martial Arts Kid 2: Payback sees the return of Wilson and Rothrock, headlining an all-star cast of Martial Arts professionals in a tale of courage and honor in the face of adversity. My guests include Producer, Dr. Robert Goldman and stars T.J. Storm, Matthew Ziff and Brandon Russell – all returning from the MAK. I’m certain this shall be another inspirational story, combined with the finest Martial Arts action, and featuring the real life champions of the various styles. A pleasure it was to talk to each of them, and more exciting, the anticipation of the release of the MAK 2. I trust you will enjoy my guest’s insights along with the movie . . . upon its release.

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{Courtesy of https://www.drbobgoldman.info/}

Dr. Goldman is a 6th degree Black Belt in Karate, Chinese weapons expert, and world champion athlete with over 20 world strength records and has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.  Some of his past performance records include 13,500 consecutive straight leg situps and 321 consecutive handstand pushups. Dr. Goldman was an All-College athlete in four sports, a three-time winner of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Physical Fitness Award, was voted Athlete of the Year, was the recipient of the Champions Award and was inducted into the World Hall of Fame of Physical Fitness, as well as induction into numerous Martial Arts Hall of Fames in North America, Europe, South America and Asia.  He founded the International Sports Hall of Fame, recognizing the world’s greatest sports legends, with ceremonies held annually at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival the largest sports festival in the world, with over 200,000 participants, 70+ sports represented and over 20,000 competing athletes, making it double the size of the Olympic Games.

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{Courtesy of https://www.martialartsentertainment.com/t-j-storm/}

In high school Storm was shy and started break-dancing as a way of trying to “fit in”. Dance quickly became T.J.’s passion and he would win over 200 dance competitions in the genres of hip hop and break-dancing. He received a dance scholarship and this paved the way for his move to Los Angeles and dancing in music videos. Dance was his passion, but it only provided him with enough money for rent and a diet of Ramen Noodles and Pop Tarts, with little left for anything else. Devoted to the martial arts, Storm often found himself stopping by and observing an outdoor Northern Shaolin class on his way home from work. Eventually Storm was approached by the teacher and he was asked to join class, allowing him to add the knowledge of Northern Shaolin to his others arts. Using his talents for dance and martial arts, T.J. began to pursue acting. He graduated from the Joanne Baron/D.W. Brown Acting Academy. While playing the role of Bayu on the television series, Conan The Adventurer, Storm developed the unique action style that he is known for. His brand of action is a combination of martial arts, acrobatic skill, comedic timing, and an almost balletic grace. Storm has since gone on to work with Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Sir Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Kelly Hu, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Michelle Rodriquez, Neal McDonough and Kristanna Loken. T.J. Storm made motion captures for Captain Josh Stone and Dave Johnson in Resident Evil 5. He is known for his roles as Criag Marduk in the Tekken Series, and Strider Hiryu in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Soon you will hear T.J. Storm in the video game Battlefield Hardline (2015), and see him in The Gold Rush Boogie (2015), Jonny Flytrap (2015) Bullets Blades and Blood (2015), Boone: The Bounty Hunter 2014 and as Coach Laurent Kaine in The Martial Arts Kid (2014).

 

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{Courtesy of http://www.matthewziff.com/}

Matthew Ziff’s professional career started two months after he was born when he signed with the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency in New York. He has been featured in numerous print ads and campaigns including Glamour magazine. By age 10, due to his talent as well as his professionalism, not only was he considered a top child model, called upon constantly for magazines, clothes and toy boxes, as well as various commercials, he had already appeared in comedy skits on both the David Letterman and Conan O’Brien shows. During his high school years at The Blair Academy, Matthew kept active with acting classes, as well as performing in stage productions, not only as an actor, but also as a director. Once in college at the University of Miami, he signed with Stellar and Elite Talent agencies where he filmed multiple commercials and embarked more thoroughly on his film career. Matthew has worked in many genres in such films as Six Gun Savior (Eric Roberts, Martin Kove), Treachery (Michael Biehn, Sarah Butler, Jennifer Blanc), Hardflip (John Schneider, Randy Wayne), Online Abduction (Brooke Butler, David Chokachi), Mansion of Blood (Robert Picardo, Gary Busey), Safelight (Evan Peters, Juno Temple), Among Friends (Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder) and Searching for Bobby D (Paul Borghese, William DeMeo). In addition to acting, Matthew has his second degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has studied Hapkido as well as Kendo (swords). In July, 2012, he represented the USA in the International Quidditch Association’s Summer Games during the Olympic Torch Relay in England, where Team USA won the Gold medal. He is also a marksman with rifles and pistols and is a multi-instrumental musician specializing in guitar, bass and saxophone. Matthew has a Master’s of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Miami. He is a member of SAG, AFTRA, AEA and GIAA. He maintains homes in California, New York and Florida.

 

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{Courtesy of https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2182241/bio }

Brandon expressed an interest in acting at the age of 3 and by 5 was already a member of SAG. His biggest role to date was his lead role in the feature film, Smitty (2012), which was released in April 2012. Brandon plays the lead role of Ben Barrett and worked alongside: Peter Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Louis Gossett Jr., Lolita Davidovich, Jason London, and Booboo Stewart. Since filming Smitty, he has gone on to film supporting roles in Wiener Dog Nationals (2013) and The Martial Arts Kid (2015). He also had a lead role in the UPtv holiday movie, Beverly Hills Christmas (2015). Brandon has also been seen on Tosh.0 (2009), Supah Ninjas (2011), and Instant Mom (2013). Later, he portrayed Peter Michaels in Fishes ‘n Loaves: Heaven Sent (2016) alongside Patrick Muldoon and Dina Meyer.

 

 

THE ‘SHOWDOWN’ TRIPLE FEATURE by Kent Hill

This film might not seem like a big deal to you. It could merely appear as another throwaway action flick on your regular streaming service – one that you glance at out of curiosity, and then move on. But I really loved SHOWDOWN IN MANILA, and here’s the reason why . . .

Once, a long time ago, in the age of wonder, they were these glorious palaces that we called, Video Stores. They were a veritable treasure trove for cineastes of all ages to come and get their movie-fix. They housed the cinema of the ages and best of all, there would be movies you could find there, that hadn’t played at a cinema near you.

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These were the titles that were made specifically for this new medium of VHS. Like the drive-in before it, these stores needed product. Thus a new genre was born, and it was called Straight-to-Video. What arose were glorious movies, some of which, sadly,  died along with their era. Awesome were the sci-fi, the horror, and specifically speaking now, the action movies that would appear on the shelves. And such action. Real, intense, dynamic and always in frequent supply. It was good versus evil in all its glory – the villains wore dark shades and the heroes carried big guns. So, it was while watching SHOWDOWN that I was hit by this wave of nostalgia, engulfed by memories of the golden age of home entertainment.

The plot of the film is simple. But isn’t that true of the best action flicks? The package is a beautiful cocktail of old and new, peppered with filmmakers wishing to deliver a splendid throwback, mixed with the stars that climbed to the dizzying heights of VHS stardom.

For those who know what I’m talking about, and even those that don’t, I say, go check out this little gem that is cut from the past, and at the same time, is polishing by the future. So, here now, I present a trio of interviews with the film’s stars Alexander Nevsky (The man on the rise), Matthias Hues (The action legend), and the man responsible for that important seed from which all great cinema grows, the script, Craig Hamman (the veteran screenwriter).

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Alexander Nevsky is a Russian bodybuilder, actor, writer, producer. His life changed when he saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron and that spark would light the fire which continues to burn bright. In 1994 Nevsky graduated from State Academy of Management (Moscow). In 1999 he moved to California. He studied English at UCLA and acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. He has risen from a bit-part-player to an international action star the cannot be ignored. With his imposing intensity, versatility and personal drive, Alex, I believe, is poised to enter the arena of formidable action superstars – its only a matter of when.

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Matthias Hues is a German-born actor and martial artist as well as being an action movie icon. He came to L.A. not knowing how to act or even speak English. The fateful moment would come when he joined Gold’s Gym and the establishment’s manager received a call from a producer who had just lost Jean-Claude Van Damme for his movie and needed a replacement. Matthias tested for the role, and he managed to convince the producers to give him the part despite having no prior acting experience. The movie, No Retreat, No Surrender 2, was a moderate success, but it opened the door. He is, of course, most recognized for Dark Angel, but has also played everything from a gladiator turned private investigator in Age of Treason to an aging hit-man in Finding Interest to a bumbling idiot trying to kidnap a rich kid in Alone in the Woods to a dancing lion tamer in Big Top Pee-wee. He’s even played a Klingon general in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

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Craig Hamann came up alongside another young aspiring filmmaker whose work would go on to define a generation. When he and Quentin Tarantino embarked upon the journey to make their own movie, My Best Friend’s Birthday, there was no telling then, where the road would lead. Well we all know where Quentin ended up, but Craig too has enjoyed a long and prosperous career that has been anything but ordinary. He’s a writer, former actor, that has watched the industry ebb and flow. He’s directed Boogie Boys, had encounters with Demonic Toys and of course, of late, he’s been a part of an action-thriller in Manila. Craig has other projects in the works, and with the company he keeps, these efforts are, I’m sure, set to explode and entertain. Yet he remains a humble gentleman with a passion for his work and a dedication that has seen him endure as a great veteran of the movie business.

 

 

 

The Rise of Etcetera: An Interview with Kent Hill

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I definitely subscribe to this line you’ll find in the bio offered up on Shawn “Etcetera” McClain’s official site http://www.iametcetera.com/index.html, that he is indeed a modern day renaissance man, and all around musical professional who is commanding not only an audience, but also the respect and acclaim of heavy hitting industry insiders. The embodiment of hard work, a Multi-Award winning musician, entrepreneur and entertainment industry professional whose career includes world-wide recognition and acclaim.  He’s definitely no stranger to the limelight, and has carefully crafted a powerhouse of musical talent and stylistics that have garnered him an award for best Rap/Hip Hop album as well as two best video awards. 

He has recently set his sights on film and television, becoming the music director and crafting monumental tracks for the highly anticipated martial arts comedy film “Paying Mr. McGetty,” and the test pilot TV series “Kelly’s Corner” His repertoire doesn’t include the standard checklist, instead he has found immense success as a fragrance designer, sports manager and actor.  His creative skills span the spectrum and have gained him a cult following and record stopping sales. 

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All of the above sounds very grand. But, what I discovered when I talked with the man was a down-to-earth family guy who has devoted his life to his pursuits. I read a great article recently, that talked primarily about whether or not one should give up on their dreams. There was no definitive answer, but there was one truth that I took away from that piece; that if your are out there giving it all that you have, in spite of the success you may or may not receive, then you are living the dream – and that is something not everyone can boast. Etcetera is such a man, and his labors have proven fruitful. I was surprised at his candour, awed by his passion and thought it brilliant that he is an enthusiastic comic book aficionado, who still may yet have a chance to have his music become a part of the DC Extended Universe.

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He is a really cool guy that I hope to hang out with some time. In the meantime, pull up a comfy chair, kick back and listen to the man of music, fragrance and comic book love. Ladies and Gentelmen . . . I give you, Etcetera.