John Salvitti, the Bostonian who’s been by Donnie Yen’s side since the late 80s, has just released a reel from his new Yen effort Special ID. The trailers gave us a hint as to what kind of action to expect, but this new reel is something else entirely. Salvitti (bald head or in hat) is mixing MMA and filmmaking in ways we’ve never seen – counters are dirtier, the grappling flows, and of course all the kicks connect. Salvitti is pushing hard this time to deliver the most badass action since, well… since Flashpoint, so we can officially credit the man with being on top of the game. Expect tons of homages and tributes to this style once Special ID is released.
Having just been released in China yesterday (January 8th), The Grandmaster, which is based on wing chun master Yip Man – portrayed by Donnie Yen in the Ip Man movies and with a third installment ready to be shot in March this year – and starring top-class actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Bullet in the Head, Hard Boiled, Infernal Affairs), is set to impress and attract audiences (especially martial arts movie fans) around the world. Read reviews below.
Shooting of The Iceman Cometh 3D has already started and been ongoing since December 17. Helmed by long-time Johnnie To/Milkyway Image associate Law Wing Cheong (Punished) and written as well as produced by original Iceman Cometh writer/producer Stephen Shiu, this remake puts Donnie in Yuen Biao’s role and is led by a cast consisting of principal cast members Wang Baoqiang (Assembly, The Fire of Conscience) in Yuen Wah’s villainous role, Simon Yam (Bullet in the Head, Full Contact, Election, Exiled), Eva Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), Mark Wu, Ava Yu, Shi Yongli, and Jacquelin Chong.
Donnie who also is the film’s action director describes the forthcoming action scenes as explosive and breath-taking, including a James Bond-like scene involving skiing while taking on the enemy and fighting the Hong Kong Special Duties Unit on top of the Hong Kong Police headquarters. On top of that, Donnie also praises co-star Wang Baoqiang highly – who by the way is a legit martial artist and has had 6 years of intensive training in shaolin kung fu at the shaolin temple – joking that Wang’s martial arts skills are superior to all of his action choreographers’.
So far, there hasn’t been any updates on Donnie’s anticipated action film Special Identity which should complete its’ post-production stage at some point soon. Meanwhile, I’ve found a couple of interesting news on what’s to come from Donnie…
In a tweet by MMA champion Cung Le made on September 14, he revealed that he met up with Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen – while touring Asia and stopping by in Hong Kong – and discussed opportunities of working together again in the near future, possibly next year. Both guys first collaborated on Teddy Chen/Peter Chan’s epic political action thriller Bodyguards & Assassins about a group of fighters assembled to protect revolutionist Sun Yat-Sen against the Qing Dynasty and its’ army of assassins in the early 20th century. Yen played one of the protectors and got to square off against Le’s ruthless Qing assassin in one major fight scene which is considered to be one of the highlights of the film, although it was somewhat unsatisfying for some people in terms of editing and overall style as well as design of the fight choreography. I think this could be the time for both to work together again as Donnie has publicly stated that he’s moving on to doing contemporary action films after making a streak of period action films in the last five years.
Word from Hong Kong Cinema expert Bey Logan is that Donnie might star in a Hong Kong remake of Tony Scott’s 1991 action film The Last Boy Scout starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, with Bey himself playing Willis’ role. I’m not sure about the overall idea but at least it’s a sign of films Donnie promises to make from here on.
Contemporary action/crime films in Hong Kong seems to be making a big comeback. Evident is the release of two anticipated films this year. First up is Sunny Lok and Longmond Leung’s bud-budgeted Cold War featuring a cast of huge stars. It includes Andy Lau, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Aaron Kwok, Charlie Yeung and Gordon Lam. Next up is film maestro Johnnie To’s Mainland-financed Drug War starring Louis Koo, Sun Hong-Lei, Crystal Huang Yi, Michelle Ye and Lam Suet.
More info on both films here:
You’ve probably seen Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx, but have you seen this version? This one’s uncut, with original Cantonese audio, and subtitled. It’s the version you’ve never seen and might never see. Highly recommended, as the fight sounds and voices are much different, and all the stuff that New Line cut out is left in tact.
Japanese outtakes from the Lucky Stars films, lots of great moments with Jackie, Yuen Biao and Sammo.
Jackie demonstrates some stone-breaking skills
Action-packed Jackie Chan commercials. First one’s on par with his film work
On day two of our Comic-Con 2012 visit, Darren Shahlavi stopped by the booth and remembered me from contact him on Facebook. I gave him a copy of Death Grip, and he spent an hour giving me the low-down on what it’s like being a “gwailo” (foreigner) in Hong Kong films. From his big debut as “Smith” in Tai Chi Chuen to his recent role as “Twister” in Ip Man 2, Darren’s been a force to be reckoned with on screen.
I mostly asked him about Ip Man 2 since it was his latest big gig. Darren had originally seen Donnie Yen in 1991 at a seminar in the UK. You can see Darren as a teenager in the clip, and from that moment he knew he would eventually work with Donnie one day. After almost two decades it happened in, and he said they flew him around promoting the film using the story of a young boy wanting to work with Donnie finally realizing his dream, with Donnie proudly telling everyone Darren was his student.
When it came to working with Donnie, Darren used the familiar term “incredible” in describing him and detailed moments like this:
“They’d have me run the choreography with a double, and Donnie would just sit there watching me. Then when it came time to shoot, he’d just get up and replace the double without any rehearsing.”
Darren would go home daily with bruises from the fight, since so much of Donnie’s choreography involved strikes to the limbs and chest and all that. “Plus I had been working out to get ripped for the fight anyway.” The fight with Donnie took ten days, which should give anyone who shoots action scenes Hong Kong-style some relief. So yes, Hong Kong takes a long time too. But they’re by no means slow. Sammo would dictate the shot style, lens, choreography, almost without any thought.
“I’ve never seen someone more in command of a film set than Sammo.”
Consistent with stories from other stunt folks like Cynthia Rothrock, Shahlavi detailed the “no-script” method of shooting in Hong Kong. Much of the English dialog was unservicable. Darren said,
“‘Guys, I can’t say this!’ So I started rewriting it there on the set, and they were ready to roll camera and here I am still writing the script on a piece of paper.”
Meeting Darren was no less than awesome. Here’s to a guy who made it into big Hong Kong films from just being a kid with a dream.
After working on eleven period action films in a time period of just five years, Donnie Yen is ready to go back to what he does best and made his name: modern action films. Donnie – who is currently in New York to attend special showings of his films Iron Monkey, SPL, The Lost Bladesman and Wu Xia – was also present for interviews and Q&As and revealed this relieving news to fans.
Donnie also stated that not only will he be the lead actor in these future projects but he will also start to produce his own films through his production company Bullet Films – the company he formed when directing Legend of the Wolf and Ballistic Kiss in the late 1990s. In the meantime, there’s Donnie next film Special Identity (post-production has gone on for two months now) gearing up to be released later this year so stay tuned for more news and trailers for that one.
Jet Li – who recently appeared in Tsui Hark’s 3D feast Flying Swords of Dragon Gate – will next star in a new action comedy directed by Wang Zi Ming, written by Charcoal Tan (Once Upon a Time in China 2 and 3), and produced by Chui Bo-Chu (Kung Fu Hustle, Fearless).
Apart from Li, the film co-stars Wen Zhang, Liu Shi Shi, Lin Shuang, Liu Yan, Chen Yan Xi, Tian Liang as well as action favorites Collin Chou (The Matrix sequels, Flash Point, The Forbidden Kingdom) and Wu Jing (SPL). Corey Yuen will handle action choreography duties and the film – which started shooting this month – is expected to be out this December.