Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of The Stone (2021) Movie Review © 2022 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

Above Image: Official Poster (C) 2022 Gravitas Ventures All Rights Reserved, image not monetized


Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers. Across my desk today comes 'Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone'. Thanks to Marko Zaror, I heard about this film. 'Green Ghost' as I will call it for the remainder of my review has a quite interesting plot: In a Texas border town, car salesman Charlie Clark, plays 'Charlie Clark'  and he moonlights as masked Lucha libre wrestler 'Green Ghost' When assailants arrive seeking an otherworldly emerald, Charlie discovers that he has super powers that he must harness to save humanity. (Source: IMDB)


In the wake of the copious amount of superhero movies and TV shows over the past few years 'Green Ghost' takes aim at the indie market and a humorous vibe. Make no mistake 'Green Ghost' is a low budget film, but has some quite entertaining action and humor. Danny Trejo plays a drunken master named 'Master Gin' hahaha! Nice to see a superhero film not taking itself seriously. Although much of the action and dialogue is lighthearted, the movie has copious amounts of action, fights and intrigue.


Marko plays a legendary master named Drake, constantly training and envisioning the power he possesses. He has a quest to squire the Emerald. On the light side is Charlie we see a training montage in which a Spanish Language cover of 'Eye of the Tiger' is played.


Marko's Drake character of course has some evil Hench people! The talented Arnold Chon, who serves as the film's stunt coordinator plays Kwan Tak. He is ultra fast and diabolical hell bent on serving Drake. Talented and stunning Michelle C. Lee plays Song Shijin, in addition to her cat like martial arts prowess she has supreme mental abilities, ahh just like in real life! Nice to see villains who have real skill not just dumb henchmen or women!


The amazing Danny Trejo. He has a fun quote “The power is like alcohol, 'drink it angry you fight' 'drink it happy, you make love' hah! Everything he is in has an instant watch fun factor, as he puts heart into his roles whatever the size and scope. Trejo's drunk character works well here, “Machete I don't need no stinkin Machete” he says about 2/3 into the movie!


Andy Cheng who is quite an accomplished stunt artist and fight coordinator, plays Master Hung, he has a great fight with Marko. Speaking of Marko, he also serves as the film's fight coordinator along with Arnold Chon. Make no mistake about 'Green Ghost' this is a top notch fighting flick.


Of course the quest turns into a massive multiple attacker fight near the end here, and it is spectacular. They do cut back and forth between the action of the three main fights but enough time is spent on each one to have the impact necessary to see and feel the action.


Literally the final 20 minutes of 'Green ghost' is one massive action fight sequence, including regular fighting and super powers. The fights are precise and the action is rapid and punches and kicks never seem to be weak. The action is well lit, and well filmed, no shaky camera, a few slow-motion scenes are for added dramatic effect, but never seems to get in the way of the action. My favorite fight outside of the massive final fight with three vs Marko's Drake character is the fight between Michelle Lee and Sophie Pernas hey the girls really get down and brutal!


Special effects and other behind the scenes aspects of 'Green Ghost' are on par with high quality indie films. Fun flick all the way around. Director Michael D. Olmos son of Edward James Olmos does an excellent job of wrangling the talented martial arts oriented cast, getting them acting and action focused.


Overall I really enjoyed 'Green Ghost', the film rates a strong 8 out of 10, quite entertaining way to spend 81 fast moving minutes! Well worth a rent or purchase to support indie film!


The film is available on AMAZON Prime now as a rent or own! https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/amzn1.dv.gti.63f5dccb-2a14-473d-a51b-222b45f362ba?ref_=imdbref_tt_wbr_pvt_aiv&tag=imdbtag_tt_wbr_pvt_aiv-20


Official Trailer from Gravitas Ventures:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG-JhXv78T8

 

Official Website:  https://www.greenghostmovie.com/

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Scarlett Cross: Agents of D.E.A.T.H. (2022) Movie Review © 2022 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

Above Image: 'Scarlett Cross: Agents Of D.E.A.T.H. banner (C) 2022 Pentagram Pictures Production

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers, FINALLY 'Scarlett Cross: Agents of D.E.A.T.H. Is on the cusp of releasing through 'Troma Now'!! Troma Now is a service available on the website and as apps in Apple, Amazon Prime, Google Play Store, and Roku. The service costs $4.99 per month with the first 30 days free. https://watch.troma.com/ is the main website and it can be watched anywhere  by the month or $50 dollars per year, saving 10 dollars after the first free month.



'Scarlett Cross' opens rather salaciously with a truly bizarre, literally titillating, yet oddly engaging fight sequence, not for the children. In fact this movie if rated would probably be an NC:17, lots of violence and copious opening nudity. Notwithstanding is the creativeness of Writer/Director Dean Meadows in combining a horror, action, and thriller film all in 90 minutes. Actually Scarlett Cross is broken down into four distinct parts yet by the end they merge together at some point.



Focusing on chapter 2, 'Asylum 13' which opens with actress Tayah Kansik as Joanna Smyth, the bodyguard! We see three men chasing one man in the Forrest and the action flails out from there. Kansik gets the intensity and acting down, along with extreme action. She has a sequence with a daytime Ninja, yeah they do exist haha! I liked that the choreography on her fight was clear and easy to see in broad daylight, and the moves were fluid and entertaining. More action and fights ensue when she takes the professor back to the safe house, again no spoilers!



Actress Kat Clatworthy as Jennifer Stone has a short but fun fight with actress Hannah Farmer as Sakura Nagasawa. Sword play and blood, what is not to like haha! Seriously though the indie movie moves along at a decent pace, never a dull moment.



The sheer variety of kills in 'Scarlett Cross' make it one for slasher fans as well. For example there is a particularly brutal scene with a nun in a church, no spoilers, but let us just say things are not as they seem. Other parts of the film have sword kills, gun kills and even some other surprises! Dean Williams as stunt coordinator worked with the actors to make the majority of the action seamless.



Dean Meadows in addition to writing and directing 'Scarlett Cross' pulls quadruple duty as Cinematographer and Editor for the film! Often a first feature length film sees the director handle multiple roles, here is hoping by dipping his feet in all aspects of 'Scarlett Cross', that Meadows' career will ascend to higher levels beyond 2022.



The technical aspects of the film are solid, some minor audio issues with regards to ADR, but overall a solid effort. The camera work by Kevin McDonagh captures the essence of action in 'Scarlett Cross'. The musical score is appropriate for the story and never obtrusive, always enhancing the action and laying the foundation for the drama, in 'Scarlett Cross'. Lighting on the film made it very easy to see the action as the subjects were well lit for their fight sequences. Given the tight budget, 'Scarlett Cross; was pretty entertaining.

Overall, this is an ultra low budget film, virtually made for a Troma type audience. Perhaps it means that regular action viewers or thriller viewers may find some of the subject matter a bit off-putting. For me however, I quite liked what Dean Meadows and his crew were going for here and rate 'Scarlett Cross: Agents of D.E.A.T.H. A solid 8 out of 10. 

Troma App in various stores:

Apple:  https://apps.apple.com/us/app/troma-now/id1568473401

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tromanow&hl=en_US&gl=US

Roku:  https://channelstore.roku.com/details/92f533debe53ae5b6fbcdec244e7103c/troma-now

 

Watch for interviews with Dean Meadows and Actress Tayah Kansik later in 2022, on your home for exclusive content, Dan's Movie Report!

 

 






Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Jessica Medina Interview © 2022 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

Above Photo: Credit Jessica Medina

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers. I felt the need to delve deeper into the amazing 'White Elephant' film, Today I am chatting with the multi-talented Jessica Medina. Jessica worked on 'White Elephant' as Olga Kurylenko's stunt double and had the opportunity to work on the upcoming 'Black Adam' film. Jessica chats about working on 'White Elephant' teases 'Black Adam', and chats about her directorial debut short film 'La Oasis' (The Oasis). Unwind, grab some tea, time for Jessica to drop some action knowledge!

 

Danny Templegod: Since this is a hot new film on AMC+ chat about working as Olga Kurylenko's double on 'White Elephant'.


Jessica Medina: Doubling Olga on 'White Elephant' was Such amazing experience. I was so grateful and  thankful the Luke Lafountaine trust me and called me to double Olga Kurylenko.

She was awesome and always ready to do her action. I was there to help with everything when she need it. I was ready to step in to do a dangerous stunt if the situation called for it.


 


DT: I know she can do the majority of her own stunts, but did you and Luke go through the stunt sequences prior?


JM: In some instances we didn’t have time to rehearse, we walked through the stunt step-by-step on set several times and worked out the timing, We discussed what was going to happen and the stunt sequence. Luke and I took her (Olga) Step by step throughout the actual sequence and I stayed by her side for anything she may need during the stunt Pad Props etc... 

 


 


DT: Without spoiling too much, describe one of the sequences and set up you did for the stunts in 'White Elephant'.


JM: I had to step in and double her near the final sequence. During the Olga shoot out at the character's house I have to step in in to double her when her car gets shot up. The police vehicle car was rigged with several large pyrotechnics to blow out the windows. An explosion also blew out one of the tires and as well multiple Zircs.


DT: Please let my audience know about the term 'Zircs'.


JM: Zircs are the special effects sparks that are shot out of a paintball gun. This makes it look like bullet hits on metal. 

 

Above Image (C) 2021 Jessica Medina All rights reserved, image not monetized.
 


DT: Thank you for that informative clarification. I noticed you worked in Ben Ramsey's 'Interface' a cool short film! Chat about working on that project, Ben is a creative guy with some solid sci-fi concepts.


JM: Working for Ben Ramzey it’s always been an amazing experience just working with somebody so creative and talented we can create magic. He is a mentor and a personal friend and he is just awesome. 

 

Above photo: (C) 2022 Bridgette Bentley and Jessica Medina 


DT: I am always interested in short films, chat about your short 'La Oasis' the concept, plot and ideas you had for the film.


JM: My short film 'The Oasis' was such an amazing experience just bring in my ideas to reality and show my views and just jumping into the directors chair  was an amazing experience.  the story about two sisters that they lost their parents and they took over a business hotel and everything went down south .and the story they have a visitor the creates mayhem.


DT: I realize 'Black Adam' is not out, but chat about working with The Rock and his work ethic, seems to be a honest, positive guy,.


JM: Working on 'Black Adam' and working with The Rock was one of the pinch me moments in my career as a stunt performer. I always admire The Rock and love his movies, he’s just an amazing person and has an incredible work ethic. It was inspiring just to see that. I am very thankful for my involvement and Black Adam. I am so thankful for Tommy Harper and Chris Brewster for believing in me and calling me to do that amazing job .


DT: You are very active in stunts and acting, chat about if you have a desire to transition more to acting or do you enjoy the thrill of a kick ass stunt?


JM: I love and I’m very proud on my stunt career. I am seriously transitioning to focus on my acting career, bringing my decade of action experience in. With the addition of over a decade of acting training to build  my repertoire on interesting and diverse characters. I am determined to establish myself as a leading lady of action.

 

Official Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jessicamedinaactress/?hl=en

Official IMDB:  https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3841862/








Thursday, June 16, 2022

Stunt Coordinator Luke LaFontaine chats 'White Elephant' © 2022 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

 

Above Image: (C) 2022 AMC+ All Rights Reserved, image used for promotional purposes only, not monetized.

 

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers. It is time to unleash a brand new interview with the man behind the action of the spectacular new film on AMC+ 'White Elephant' Luke LaFontaine is a man of distinction, crafting intricate action sequences, allowing for the actors and stunt personal he works with to reach beyond their limits. Luke is a hard working honest guy, willing to let you know exactly where he stands. In this 2022 'White Elephant' interview Luke stops by to chat about working with director Jesse V. Johnson, Olga Kurylenko, and Michael Rooker. Enough of my babbling on, time for the textual ass kicking from Luke!


Danny Templegod: Luke my first question is the pre-production for setting up the action on 'White Elephant' chat about some of the work you were able to do with the stunt people prior to shooting, did you have an extended prep time due to the budget?


Luke Lafontaine: I didn't have a lot of extended prep time, even w the larger budget. I had about a week to get everything done, I prevised all the fights and and meeting with Jesse and Michael rooker. My LA stunt peeps really helped w Previs and Atlanta stunt performers went extra mile on location.




DT: I have massive respect for Olga Kurylenko as an actress and in action, she always gives 110% and, she has had a solid amount of action training, chat about working with her, and some of the new action tips you imparted on her for 'White Elephant'.


LL: Olga is fantastic , she gives 200% Olga told me she doesn't retain her training in her mind because its too much, so she lets it go after every movie. So I had to take her back thru firearms and fights, she hadn't done CQB knife fights, so that was new. Tip I imparted to her was to Breath during fights. She would hold her breath which was a lot harder. Olga is Amazing , her dedication,and attention to detail are incredible as well as her memorizing Choreo!! I loved working w her.


DT: Curious how long of a time prior to shooting the film you had to work with her as she was a central character.


LL: We actually had very little time to train, she was held up because of travel restrictions and US visa so we had 2 hours morning of shooting to go thru all firearms work, and a few 20 min sessions during week. I took her thru knife combat in an hour and ran her knife fight for about 20 mins before we had to shoot! Shes amazing at learning and performing fight choreo!!


DT: This is important to me, chat about the seriousness of having a proper armorer on set, one that is knowledgeable of the weapons used.


LL: It is of paramount importance to have an experienced professional Armorer on set!! Always! Firearms and guns that have been modified for blanks are always to be given full attention to safety, Zero exceptions!



DMR: Were there any stunts or action that was kind of left on the cutting room floor for runtime, curious, as I know action films often shoot for a possible extended cut down the road?


LL: There were a couple of action pieces that had to be trimmed. Vadhirs fight at Russians had to be trimmed in edit in order to cut between Michael action upstairs. There was also short Aikijutsu grapple w big baddie and Michael that had to be excised for time.




DT: Chat about the mixture of old-school and new-school guns and weaponry in 'White Elephant'.


LL: We mixed old school firearms and new. Jesse likes interesting guns in his films. Using old and new gives personality and different sounds and muzzle flashes.


DT: I hate spoilers, but chat a bit about the final house scene, how long did you have to set that up and shoot it?


LL: We shot interior of house raid on one day and exterior of gun battle the next day. It was a lot of action to get thru with 15 stunt guys, Olga, her double and Michael.



DT: Must have been a week of work crammed into those two days! I really enjoyed the motel scene with Olga as well, first of all it was well lit, second of all, I am sure Jesse chatted with you about action beats and specifics, but I am curious to get your perspective on working on this complicated sequence, looked like Olga did most of her own action here.


LL: Jesse laid out how he wanted the action, we has briefly discussed a 2 level fight but it wound up being motel with no 2nd floor. Blocked the action to feel real and hectic, with Olga taking on shooters from all directions. Olga did 90% of her action w Her stunt double Jessica Medina doing a long run and gun and the dive into mustang. 

 

Above: Jessica Medina and Luke (C) 2022 Jessica Medina
 


DT: Perhaps share a couple of amusing or crazy stories on set with an action sequence, that either had to be re-shot or worked out even better than planned.


LL: The action in final house battle got a little crazy w Michael ad libbing fight moves when rubber gun was knocked out of his hand. Thank goodness Michael is such a pro and nice guy and didn't hurt any of the stunt guys!!


DT: Chat about working with the amazing Michael Rooker, what are some of the action concepts you discussed with Jesse for him in the film.


LL: Michael Rooker is an incredible actor and physical performer. Most people don't know he’s a full instructor in Aikijutsu and kyoku shinkai karate. Hes been studying for decades! Very strong dangerous guy if he wants to be,as well as a loyal friend and defender. Love him to death, and I am humbled to have gotten to work with him so closely. 

 

Above Image: Esteban Cueto and Luke (C) 2022 Jessica Medina
 



DMR: I really liked Rooker's character in 'White Elephant and him as an actor, moving on... I know your specialty is bladed weapons, chat about the knife action towards the end of 'White Elephant', military and covertly used, old school technique, I am assuming.


LL: Knife fights all came from real techniques. Both Olga and Michael had small knife engagements. Fights had to be short and brutal, because that's what real knife fights are.  

 

Above Image: Jesse V. Johnson and Luke (C) 2022 Jessica Medina
 


DT: Good point about the knife fighting, rarely in real life are they long. Chat about crafting the action with Jesse in 'White Elephant' what I really enjoyed was the action was NOT nonstop, and when it came it had impact and meaning. I am assuming this is by design, from your perspective, chat about the importance giving the audience time to breathe between the action.


LL: Jesse wrote the 'White Elephant' script a while ago and in his developing story. It was a honor and life shifting story. A dramatic thriller about an aging warrior and choices he had to make to sleep at night and keep his honor. The action had to convey the weight and risk. No popcorn, filler nonsense action. The pacing is different but all the intensity is still there.


DT: I agree, 'White Elephant' has no time for a shoehorned in love story. Wrapping up, I know it has been a long time since we chatted, curious if any films or TV shows you have watched for action made you stand up and take notice, saying ok, that is cool, I thought I read you likes 'The Northman'.

 

Above Image: Vadhir Derbez, Luke and double Jason Triplett on set of "White Elephant' (C) 2022 Jessica Medina
 


LL: Yes , there have been some movies ive taken notice of , I love the action In NORTHMAN and the action design in TOPGUN: Maverick was really impressive!


DT: Finally chat about advice to stunt people just starting out in the business, when you work with the director to hire a stunt team what are some of the qualities you look for?


LL: Up and comers, Stay safe and HUMBLE!! It’s not about you. The honor code of the un-named stunt performer making movie stars look good should endure. Why would you want to steal your movie stars thunder by posting yourself on Facebook and Instagram??? Try to uphold a code: safe, loyal, humble, Tough!!  

 

Luke LaFontaine Official IMDB:  https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0480971/

 

Photography Credit:  Jessica Medina  https://www.instagram.com/jessicamedinaactress/?hl=en

 








Saturday, June 4, 2022

White Elephant (2022) Movie Review © 2022 Dan's Movie Report – Danny Templegod

 

 
https://www.ign.com/articles/white-elephant-trailer-poster-bruce-willis-michael-rooker     Image and video (C) 2022 IGN all rights reserved, image not monetized, used for promotional purposes only Film is exclusively on AMC + in North America, all rights reserved

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers, it is hard to believe that nearly 18 years ago in Vengeance Magazine, I reviewed Jesse V. Johnson's 'Pit Fighter', wow! What can I say, Jesse always strives for entertaining action films, yet with a dialogue rising far above the norm. Jesse always told me he strives to work with the best possible people in all genres of films, not just acting or behind the camera talent, but the type of people he works with is just as important. For Jesse, movies allow him to be creative, in 'White Elephant', Jesse is the director and worked as one of the writers along with Erik Martinez and additional dialogue by Katharine Lee McEwan At times when multiple writers are listed for a film, it can spell trouble, but in 'White Elephant' the story is enhanced by each writer working together as a cohesive, collaborative team. Jesse has once again leveled up!


I really do not like reviews that spoil plots, so I will get the basic plot culled from AMC+ website “A ruthless crime boss orders an ex-Marine turned mob enforcer to eliminate two witnesses. “


I will say that in one of his final roles, and his first released role since announcing retirement, Bruce Willis gives a solid performance, as the ruthless crime boss, he tries his best, given the circumstances. For me as a film fan, anytime he and John Malkovich are in films, they add an air of celluloid, well now digital, royalty.


'White Elephant' is an action crime drama, yes, but there is a copious amount of dialogue, which normally I do not like, but with Jesse's films in general, the dialogue is important to forwarding the story. Michael Rooker really shines here as Gabriel, a complex and conflicted character, I enjoyed the way he adjust to the variety of emotions that his Gabriel has to have during the film.


What more can be said about the fantastic Olga Kurylenko, usually relegated to antagonist characters in her films, Olga shines Vanessa, a detective with a military background and a tortured past. Olga is given much to work with in 'White Elephant', and I really look forward to her next outing with Jesse V. Johnson directing 'Boudica'. Ms Kurylenko is a really fantastic actress, check out 'The Water Divener' and 'The Room' to watch her in non action roles, very talented and nuanced.


One of the aspects I really liked about 'White Elephant' was that when the action happened it was memorable, rather than non-stop crazy action, the film had impact, allowing for a slow build for the first 30-40 minutes, yes there is an opening action sequence, but the action felt integrated into the story rather than driving the story.


Speaking of action, once again Jesse V. Johnson's stunt coordinator Luke LaFontaine wrangles a bunch of action sequences together, securing the set, allowing for excellent action and the utmost safety for the crew. Luke is a pro and is a wiz at hand to hand combat and weapons . In light of recent events, I cannot stress the importance of the armorer in a film such as 'White Elephant' there are so many guns and weapons used, I am sure that between Luke and armorer Taye Olsen the actors and stunt people were well versed on how to properly use and hold them. Director Jesse states that two other armorers were brought in for the MG42.


There is kind of a twist near the final 1/3 of the film, which is quite interesting, no spoilers! The final gun battle is rather epic, allowing a mixture of high tech and old fashion merged into one.


Dialogue in Jesse's films pays homage to the filmmakers he respects, ha in one scene an assassin can be seen putting on sunglasses and saying 'terminate this bitch' haha! Jesse, is never one to shy away from adding humor into what can be a serious toned film. He also showcases Olga Kurylenko in a dichotomous role, sometimes a bad ass, sometimes vulnerable. By allowing her character to be vulnerable, 'White Elephant' adds a sympathetic human element. Honestly I thought she was going to be this gung ho, bad ass detective all the way through, yet, she is not!


Minor gripe is that Olga's detective partner who witnesses the initial crime, (minor spoiler) is easily killed, That said, much of the department was a bit crooked, but the veteran probably would have taken some precaution. Sadly she had to have this motivation, as she figures out quickly that she is next. An extra 10 minutes added to the 92 minute film might have allowed for a fleshing out of his character.


Everything else is polished, musical scoring builds tension, yet is never obtrusive. I loved the fact that the entire film was well lit and action was easy to see, even at night, some far away shots were used which I am sure were for the stunt doubles, yet never did I feel I was not a part of the action. Action star and martial artist Lee Charles had the opportunity to work very closely with Olga for 'The Courier',thus allowing her to learn detailed hand to hand and action movements. 'White Elephant' gives Olga a chance to use some of those skills, yet expounds upon this by adding a variety of weaponry. Speaking of weaponry, a mix of old and new, added for an entertaining final sequence!



Overall, 'White Elephant' rates a very strong 8.5 out of 10, a strong showing for AMC+, according to various websites the listed budget is 15 million, regardless, this is obviously Jesse V. Johnson's biggest film to date, and as always I am excited to see what is next. According to Screen Daily 'https://www.screendaily.com/news/olga-kurylenko-to-play-legendary-warrior-queen-in-boudica-bleiberg/dimbort-to-launch-cannes-sales-exclusive/5170564.article Jesse V. Johnson and Olga will team up again for another epic movie, sword and sandals style!

 

Head on over to IGN for the exclusive trailer and poster!  https://www.ign.com/articles/white-elephant-trailer-poster-bruce-willis-michael-rooker

https://www.amcplus.com/#get-amc-plus for the link to subscribe to AMC+