Fantasia Fest 2015: Kung Fu Killer (2014)

Fantasia Festival is one of the times of year that I love. As mentioned before, 11 movies lined up this year. Last year, my Hong Kong selection was the last movie in the lineup. It feels like I unintentionally flipped it around because this year, my Hong Kong selection kicks off the festival. Its definitely a good thing. Especially with a two movie night on the first day.

The most unexpected part is that the lineup was intense. Its really intense for a Chinese movie. The most packed I’ve been to it. Maybe it has to do with Donnie Yen being our main guy in this crime thriller called Kung Fu Killer.  I’m a huge fan of Donnie Yen and I’ve seen almost every movie that he’s been in.  This one boasts that its all about martial arts, so I’m totally down for it 🙂

Let’s check it out!

Kung Fu Killer (2014)

(also called: Kung Fu Jungle)

kung fu killer

Director: Teddy Chan

Cast: Donnie Yen, Baoqiang Wang, Charlie Yeung, Michelle Bai, Alex Fong, Deep Ng, Kang Yu, Xing Yu, Siu-Wong Fan

Three years ago, martial arts instructor for the police force Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen) accidentally kills an opponent in a duel and confesses his crime right away.  This lands him with a five year sentence.  When a man is found dead by brutal force in a suspicious way, Mo does everything possible to offer up his knowledge to help the police.  In exchange, they have to let him out.  Reluctantly, Detective Luk (Charlie Yeung) recruits his help as they track down the killer who is targeting the top martial arts masters and challenging them to a duel to death.  Will Mo be able to stop the killer before too many lives are lost?

Kung Fu Killer

Right from the very cool opening scene with credits, Donnie Yen is not only the main lead but the action director of Kung Fu Killer.  That is as promising as it can get for a movie which focuses on the true essence of martial arts, reaching for the roots.  The best way to approach this review is to look at step by step.  If you go to this movie, what are you expecting? For me, phenomenal martial arts and action sequences.  If you look at the actors recruited for even the short roles of the martial arts masters here, they are all deeply rooted in various aspects of martial arts.  With the right cast, this movie speaks with the authenticity of the arts which is there whether we venture into the world of boxing, kicking, grappling, or weapons.  It touches on all of it.  Every action scene is tense and thriller to watch even if you can predict the outcome. On top of that, trying to stay traditional with the arts, it still knows how to add creativity to the scenes to make it as original and breathtaking, especially that last battle.

Kung Fu Killer

Kung Fu Killer has a solid enough story to carry it through.  It also carries a few meaningful messages about what the essence of martial arts, how to keep control over your emotions and remembering your responsibilities and staying honorable.  It can even carry the message that life is about the choices you make, about finding that balance to treat something as an art and not a killing device.  All very relevant to action movies like this which leans toward a more violent side with a brutal and vicious villain like Fung Yu-Sau (Baoqiang Wang).  The bad guy here, Fung, is a peculiar one.  A part of me doesn’t quite buy his act but there is no doubt that his character was scripted to be a maniac, a martial arts crazed maniac who is all about the ancient methods of his training to become No.1 that its become an obsession.  For that part, this guy does a really good job.  He’s a bit of an unpredictable goof in his expressions and whatnot but he has mad martial arts skills that he gets to show off as he fights each opponent.

Kung Fu Killer

But, as brilliant as some of the casting decisions were in the fighting domain.  Props goes out to Michelle Bai who shows off some stellar sword fighting abilities, I wasn’t so excited about our main actress here playing Detective Luk by Charlie Yeung.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like Charlie Yeung as a soft docile girl.  Something about her doesn’t pull off that tough lady cop thing really well.  Plus, the theatre laughed a lot at the dialogue, especially hers.  I don’t know if it was like they were liking it or not but for me, something felt like it was missing.  She just didn’t seem commanding enough for that role. While I’m at the dialogue, this one has some pretty bad script in general.  I’m not saying anyone really cares but I didn’t need to read subtitles but when I did catch a glimpse of it, I kind of giggled a little at it because watching it was already a little laugh out loud but those subtitles.  But then, there aren’t all that many lines. I was there for the action part of it. If I had to be nitpicky, there was a scene or two of bad CGI and then one particular scene that I swore I saw the wire during a battle. So really, just little flaws here and there. Plus, they offset it by putting Alex Fong in here even if its just a small Police Chief Inspector role.  I loved this guy when he used to do TV series and he makes a great cop. Okay, need to turn off the fangirl mode.

Overall, Kung Fu Killer isn’t meant to be a cinematic masterpiece.  It carries a decent and rather simple story that brings in the essence of the battle in martial arts.  The tribute of martial arts gives it a variety of fighting skills and with the stakes of death being the final result, every fight is high intense and thrilling to watch.  Most of the cast was done perfectly, especially getting actual actors trained in martial arts, there was just one casting choice I wasn’t fully convinced worked to this film’s advantage.  However, even though the dialogue was not exactly great, I was there for some mind-blowing action sequences and that delivered all the way!

Have you seen Kung Fu Killer? Are you fan of Donnie Yen and/or martial arts?

Check back tomorrow for the review of the second movie at Fantasia that I saw and a creature feature from Ireland called The Hallow!

Brick Mansions (2014)

After the biggest deadline of the year is done, I was thoroughly drained.  It came to me that being a movie fanatic and feeling bad about the lack of reviews here, it was time for a movie.  I went to check the times and to my surprise, Brick Mansions was showing at my suburban (and frankly very francophone) theatre.  The fact that Brick Mansions was there and on first week with only one more day listed motivated me to go right away.  My friend didn’t want to go so after some errands, I went to check it out. Its the first time in Montreal that I’ve gone to see a movie by myself so now that I’ve done it once, I’ll willingly do it again.  Plus, it was the perfect time because of playoff game so there was almost no one at the theatres.  I walked into the movie 5 minutes before and I was all by myself.  As the previews moved along, 3 couples came in. I honestly wouldn’t have mind being by myself.  Imagine, I had a free ticket from my Scene points and I had the whole viewing to myself.  Now that would’ve been pretty cool, right? 😉

We’re not here to read about what happened in my movie experience but what I thought. Lets start with a little synopsis, shall we?

Brick Mansions posterDirector: Camille Delamarre

Cast: Paul Walker, David Belle, RZA, Gouchy Boy, Catalina Denis, Ayisha Issa, Bruce Ramsay

In 2018, Detroit has now separated the bad into their own little Brick Mansions area where its barricaded from the “able and honest” people.  In Brick Mansions, there are no privileges and no benefits.  The people there have no public facilities: police, medical, schools.  Brick Mansions is run by ex military Tremaine Alexander (RZA).  He is a drug lord that runs the area.  However, when a Brick Mansions do gooder Lino (David Belle) steals his stash from his top henchman, he seeks him out every way possible to make him pay until he gets him locked up.  However, at the same time, Detective Damien Collier (Paul Walker) is assigned to go undercover to retrieve a bomb that was hijacked and accidentally set off.  With only 12 hours (and less) to find a way to join forces with Lino to infiltrate Tremaine’s territory, save Lino’s girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis) and to deactivate the bomb, both Lino and Damien are forced to team up and make it all work out.  If not, they will die trying.

Brick Mansions

I don’t know how many of you reacted to Paul Walker’s sudden death but I was devastated.  So much that I did my first marathon for an actor.  I got in a few movies that I had never seen on Netflix and postponed another one for this.  I didn’t get a chance to see Hours so knowing nothing about this movie, I just knew I had to see it. Plus, all the pictures of the mid air jumping was pretty cool on the poster.  What more can I say? To me, Paul Walker was a respectable man and he was part of one of my favorite franchises and a lot of movies he has done are pretty underrated.  Sure, they aren’t Oscar winning masterpieces but they always provide the entertainment that I look for.  Brick Mansions falls right in that category there and it may possibly be THE most fun outside of the Fast & Furious franchise.

brick mansions stunts


Brick Mansions is a remake of District B13, a french action movie.  I’ve never seen the original but through some research for this, I realized that David Belle, who plays Lino, was part of the District B13 franchise. I really like Lino a lot.  He was the source of a lot of the crazy and impressive stunts that went on throughout the movie. Plus, alongside Paul Walker’s Damien, they both jived really well together.  They had fights together, both against each other and against the same bad guys.  The dialogue they had were at times cheesy but I found it funny also. Together, they made this film stronger and more fun. Paul Walker always has the ability to make something like this work really well.  This movie gives me a similar feeling to when I saw Takers (review HERE).

" Brick Mansions " / Europacorp

There aren’t too many characters in this flick.  Its really a simple, straight forward race against time action movie, but we can’t mention the two main guys and not mention our bad guy just a little, right? RZA plays Tremaine Alexander.  Right off the bat, our first scene is always in that dark kitchen of his cooking and making metaphors to his grandma’s recipes and whatnot.  A part of me wasn’t sure if I was going to take him seriously but at the same time, it gives it a entertaining twist to his “ruthless” character, I guess.  I can’t really pinpoint what it is, but I found him convincing enough.

Brick Mansions

There isn’t much to say about Brick Mansions.  If you go all nitpicky and try to find it to be a perfect whatever genre movie, you won’t find much.  But, if you sit down, shut your brain off and enjoy it for what it is: an action movie full of cool stunts and cheesy lines, you will have fun with this.  Its not a thick storyline but the characters do well enough to make you have a lot of fun with it.  I was entertained the whole time and I totally fell in love with Lino and Damien because they were both noble in their own ways, even if you look at the character of our bad guy, Tremaine, he also had his own reasons for doing what he did in Brick Mansions, regardless if it was good or bad. Regardless, I’m sure there will be haters for this one because its nothing complex or whatnot, but I had a lot of fun with it and I felt entertained at the end.  Seeing Paul Walker’s last movie also gave it bonus points especially when I felt that everyone did a great job with what they had. Thats what matters, right?

Have you seen Brick Mansions? What did you think of it? Have you seen the original? What do you think of Paul Walker’s career?