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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lap Dance Movie Review



Yeah, Yeah, I know what my readers are thinking, extricate your mind from the gutter, Lap Dance is not a porn film, in fact far from it. Ali Corbin plays Monica, her father is stricken with cancer and his hospital bill is with extended care is a super high 15,000 a month! Of course her salon job is not going to cut the expense, so she decides at the behest of a friend to be an exotic dancer to make extra money.

The film is based on the true story of director Greg Carter and his girlfriend prior to moving to LA. While the film is decently written, and potentially has some drama involved, sadly the acting left me a bit flat. The actors saunter through each scene, one never feels the importance or urgency of the matter at hand. The father is visited in the beginning in his hospital bed, and we just do not see enough interplay between Monica and Kevin, as they are too busy getting there jollies with other partners. The audience is never really shown much of the story.

 plays Monica's husband Kevin. He does give Monica his blessing to dance in the beginning, but eventually he begins to become a bit suspicious. One thing leads to another, and the husband and wife relationship degrades to infidelity.

The film is not sexy enough to be an erotic thriller, nor is it dramatic enough to be a true drama. Lap Dance falls into the meandering yarn of the issues of women in the exotic dancing profession. People slam Showgirls, but there is more than talking in strip clubs, there is fighting, arguing, slutty women with major issues, Lap Dance, was just to timid and tame for such a lurid subject. 

Watch for cameos from Stacy Dash, Carmen Electra, and Nia Peoples. Yeah it is a sexy film, but definitely not Showgirls type over the top crazyness sex. Lap Dance is not gritty like the Australian film"X" Where the two young prostitutes travel down the dark end of the street. The three add a bit of life, to try to spice things up, but their extended cameo roles ultimately are just window dressing for the main plot film.

Perhaps Lap Dance would have been a better BET or Lifetime Original Movie. Whoa I know, what about the sexy parts. Well take out the nudity and you have a tight 85 minute film, perhaps add some additional dialogue and deeper background characters. 

Overall, I wanted to like the film, unfortunately Lap Dance is a mildly tepid drama with a relatively small amount of overtly sexy scenes. I rate Lap Dance a 5 out of 10, perhaps a rent only.

Amazon has the film for a very reasonable price @ 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Director Antony Szeto Interview (C) 2014 A Dan's Movie Report Exclusive! FIST OF THE DRAGON!

Above Photo: Antony Szeto as "The Buyer" From Fist OF the Dragon (C) 2013

Greetings fellow action fans! Closing out 2014 in style is an interview with director Antony Szeto chatting up his cool new film "Fist Of The Dragon". Antony has built up a solid reputation all over the world with his variety of talents, ranging from acting, to stunt work, film editing, and more recently directing. Perhaps best known for "Jackie Chan Presents: Wushu" recently Antony has directed two films for Roger Corman, a horror film called "Palace of the Damned" and "Fist of the Dragon". 

With "Fist of The Dragon" rolling out release in Thailand, and soon to be worldwide, what better way to find out more about the film than an exclusive interview with Antony about production! No filler, no BS, just honest, hard hitting text from a talented film mover and shaker. Antony wore many hats on Fist of the Dragon" , stunt driver, editor, director, and a maniacal character called "The Buyer" sit back, relax, grab a cup of tea, and prepare for action!


Chat about the initial ideas to do Fist Of The Dragon, and how you were approached to work on the project.

I was finishing off I think the 5th or 6th edit of Palace of the Damned and Roger Corman was really happy with the outcome. He then offered us, ACE Studios, to make a second film with him. He knew that my forte was action so he wanted to do an action film with me directing. Over the coming months, after Palace of the Damned was delivered, Roger sent a few scripts to us, which were all based on previous action films that he had made. He finally decided that we should do a remake of Moving Target, which was a Don Wilson actioner filmed in Ireland and released in 2000. What really hooked me was Roger allowed me full freedom with the action part of the new film.


How long was the shooting schedule? 5 and a half weeks, with no stoppage.
Budget on IMDB says $500,000, I know budgets are a closely guarded industry secret, but perhaps, the budget might inflated. I loved the final project, were there any sequences that had to be shortened or edited due to budgetary situation?

From the very beginning we had to make decisions based on our budgetary constraints. For starters, we made sure the script didn't have any outdoor night scenes, so we can keep the crew on the same hours and not lose rest time, as one normally needs to schedule in if changing from a day shoot to a night shoot, and vise versa. Next, we decided clearly that the main selling point of the film was action, and all else just had to be good enough to hold the audience from one action sequence to the next. This meant that only the bare basics was spent on wardrobe, sets, special effects and visual effects. On top of that, to keep things in complete control, everything was shot at the studio. Once this was done, we didn't make any compromises with what we could squeeze out from the action. In the end, we did cut out and/or simplify a lot of the drama. But action, we gave it all we could (given the money we had).


I am a balance guy about women fighting, I think it is a great idea to present strong female characters in films, like Roger Corman has always done, did you have discussion with him and Associate producer Juju Chan about this. 

The original film already set out the female roles, so there wasn't anything further to discuss in that respect. However, a lot of time was spent discussing the action sequences. I don't like it when I see women hitting and taking hits like men, especially when we're talking about small women. That's just too fake. So we made sure to choreograph the Maria vs Josh fight in a way that the audience can believe a woman getting the upper hand. A good amount of time was spent getting that fight right.

Juju told me that she initially she was to play Maria Tran's violent role, but was bumped to a central character, and not a martial artist. This is a great idea, Curious if you know the specifics of the change. 

Because JuJu has a strong martial arts background it was obvious that she should play the role of the Lady Killer. But when we started looking for an actress for the lead role it became clear that JuJu was always the better choice. Also, because Maria was working with JuJu on the fight choreography it wasn't difficult to find someone else to play the Lady Killer, Maria. The question was if Maria could act. We tried her out and found that she could, so the rest became history.

Yes, Maria is a natural at facial expressions, and Juju, is full action ICON, and the world will know in 2015! Speaking of fighting, chat about fight sequences and filming pressures in close quarters action like in the hotel room with Maria's fight. How long was the set up for that?

We had no pre-production time at all with the actors, so that was a huge disadvantage for us. On the other hand, all of our action related actors were actually accomplished martial artists, and this was a tremendous advantage. Our fight choreographer was Trung Ly. Though this was his first gig to fight choreograph on a feature film, he had tremendous experience choreographing live shows, and had worked with Maria Tran on choreographing fights in short films for her. When I saw his work I was blown away by his creativity. On top of that Trung knew how to organize things. Bringing him on board was fantastic for the film. He pre choreographed all the fights, so that we had things to give to actors to work on as soon as they arrived at the studio. Trung was also very quick to make changes so we could take advantage of people's abilities, or the location. In the end though, time was very tight. We would sometimes film 20 hour days so as to get everything in. It was incredibly tiring work for everyone, especially the actors themselves. I can't thank them enough for the hard work that they put into the film.


Yes the fights were spectacular, and creative especially given the limited set up time, getting back to Maria and her odd brand of torture in Fist of The Dragon haha! I spoke to Maria about this, ahha, when she was holding Juju Chan Hostage and threatening her the facelicking was a joke, but Juju had such an amazing reaction to it.

Haha… yeah. The wonderful thing about shooting with digital is that I can shoot everything without worrying about extra costs. In the old days, when shooting on film, I would rehearse things over and over until it was near perfect before shooting it. This goes for both action and drama. Nowadays I would shoot rehearsals in case something great happened…and it often did. The face lick was one of them. It's also my rule that actors must always stay in character no matter what, until I call cut. JuJu's reaction during a rehearsal is a perfect example of her staying in character when something unexpected happens. It was perfect.

Yeah not only was Juju in character, she looked surprised and disgusted haha! Speaking of cool characters, chat about The Chef! amazing classic person, Kwong-Keung Kong did Juju cast him? How was it to work with him in full power "heavy crane" style action? 

Yes, Juju did cast Kong. With any film I think you need maturity in a lot of the characters to give the film more depth. Not many actors can upkeep themselves to do action as they get older. Of course you do get a lot more of them nowadays, as the action genre seems to never get tired. Kong was an old hand at it and I was really pleased to have him on the team. He gave us everything, showing us his unique way of fighting. It's actually a martial arts style that he invented and I thought Trung worked well with Kong to bring the style out.

Yes the style he used was unique and entertaining, speaking of action, in this era of CGI must have been a blast to get down and dirty action, Chat about working with non film fighters and actual fighter Josh Thompson onset. Is it hard to teach an MMA person to film fight? 

Specifically Josh Thomson was the only martial artist who didn't have any film experience, so before meeting him I was most worried about how he would take to film fighting. I've worked with martial artists who wouldn't do moves on film cause they argued that the moves wouldn't work in real life. In the end they would insist on using "real" moves, and the results were really boring. Josh turned out to be great to work with. He understood immediately that film fighting would not be the same as what he did in the octagon. He also readily admitted that he wasn't experienced with what worked and didn't work on film and so submitted himself to our expertise. To me, that sort of humility showed he was a confident martial artist with nothing to prove. And it also meant that we could do great fight scenes with him. In the end, Josh worked the hardest. He was always happy to allow his character to start every fight as the underdog, which made for much more engaging fights. Everyone had nothing but good things to say about working with Josh. 


Great to see Josh taking an active interest in the process he seems like a cool guy ready to learn. Shifting gears, you are also the film editor for Fist Of The Dragon, was there a time pressure to keep it right at 85 minutes? Were there scenes left on the table?

No, we basically left in all that was good, and took out what dragged. Often directors leave too much of an original film in because they make decisions that are tainted with the emotions of filming particular shots. I know this so when editing my own work I keep asking myself if I'm leaving a shot in cause it really needs to be there, or because I just like it for some reason or other. My first edit was about 95 minutes. There were many things we cut out from Roger's advice, and things that I trimmed down as we re-edits. I think we had this down to the present film by the 4th edit.

Interesting with regards to the running time, shifting to creative control in Fist Of The Dragon, how important is that, as I think it is so important.

I think if a director knows what they're doing, and they know their audience, then they must retain creative control. It's always difficult for an investor/producer to allow this, but I would argue that by not doing this you end up with a more generic film, and the audience today doesn't go for that.

I know you have more materiel to work on, let us wrap up our discussion, chat about things you wish you could have changed about the film, and the aspects you liked the most. 

Oh, there are MANY things I wish I could have done differently, but given the resources I had very few of these things could have. Everyone talks about the ending CGI being poor. If I had known that would be the way the CGI would turn out I'm sure I would have argued harder to shoot in a real location. But even so it might not have made any difference as the time was so tight then I still might not be able to shoot it any other way. Of course, I love our fights. Loved the opening fight between Andrew Dasz and Xin Wuku Sarith, loved the fight between Josh Thomson and Xin in the palace, loved the fight between Maria Tran and Josh, and of course loved the final fight of Josh against Daniel Whyte and Kong. Then there's the big fight of Josh against the world! Gotta love that one too.

Finally, chat about what is on the horizon for Antony new projects etc?

I'm now in post production for Death Mist, which involved a lot of the cast from Fist. That was a lot of fun to shoot. The investor of Death Mist is now preparing another fight film which might bring me back to direct and use the same Fist team again. Fingers crossed.

Thank you Antony for taking time out of Post Production, to conduct this insightful interview. I am sure 2015 will be an epic year for you, and action fans worldwide will have something to enjoy when Death Mist drops from the sky!

Although this interview is a few years old, check out Antony with Maria Tran, with him chatting about the industry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrjHy9JQqaI Keept reading Dan's Movie Report for more Antony and Fist of the Dragon Exclusives!

Kung Fu Femmes Celebrates 10 year Anniversary!



Hard to believe it was a decade ago I went to Dragonfest 2004! Back then Tony Laudti's troupe was called Chicks With Sticks. Tony , a film and TV editor by trade, came up with clever idea of featuring females front and center in the action, in short films, and in live action shows. Over the years the series has morphed into more detailed films, longer, and thematic.

Recently Tony and fantastic star Carly Sunae, (check interview) http://dansmoviereport.blogspot.com/2014/08/actressfitness-expert-carly-sunae.html were honored at the Action on Film festival for best actress 2014.

Check out this cool photo below of Carly in the studio being interviewed by Del from AOF fest.

Above Photo: Carly Sunae (C) 2014 Tony Laudati for Dan's Movie Report.

Last year in 2013 Tony also was honored from Action On Film Festival for film of the year with From China With Love as top action short film of the year. Incidentally that film happens to be my favorite film from all of the Kung Fu Femmes series. Check my review here @ http://dansmoviereport.blogspot.com/2013/05/from-china-with-love-movie-review-short.html

Recently Kung Fu Femmes launched a new cool series called "The Goddaughter" a take on "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo. The first two episodes are online now.

All of the Kung Fu Femmes videos can be found on the YouTube Channel @ https://www.youtube.com/user/anthonylaudati/videos

Check out Kung Fu Femmes on Facebook as well @ https://www.facebook.com/kung.fufemmes.1?fref=ts

To Order a Kung Fu Femmes Volume one DVD go to https://www.createspace.com/328704 The dvd features several cool shorts including "Angering The Gods" with Amy Johnston.