Saturday, April 16, 2016
Greetings Dan's Movie Report readers, from the new film pile comes 'Showdown in Manila'. With the quality talent of Mark Dacascos I had rather high hopes for this effort based loosely on the 1991 flick 'Showdown in Little Tokyo'. Sadly these hopes were dashed quickly with very questionable dialogue, some rather uninspired acting, and a disjointed plot from the quartet of writers lead by Craig Hamman. and Alexander Nevsky.
With a huge ensemble cast including Casper Van Dien, Cary Tagawa, Cynthia Rothrock, Don (The Dragon) Wilson, Tia Carrere, Matthais Hues, and Olivier Gruner, I expected a full force action blast. An action oriented film with more fists, rather than very large guns.
'Showdown in Manilla' is Mark Dacascos's first directorial effort. This fact alone allows him leeway in the quality of film, and the overall film making experience. Notwithstanding, usually first time directors have many hands helping them, guiding them along the way, sadly 'Showdown in Manila' appeared directionless. The film does not know what it wants to be, is it a sordid drama of kidnapped young women, a revenge plot, or one man's focused effort to take down an evil man? 'Showdown In Manila' opens with a small band of mercenaries scoping out a truck full of young women looking to be either sold or trafficked. Then we are introduced to the other above mentioned actors, in a mish mosh small intro, then boom we have more action, but not the kind of cool action, like disjointed, why are they fighting action. My respectful advice, as I think Mark Dacascos is a real talented actor, is to focus on one story, and time efforts, and focus on a couple of characters rather then throw a hodgepodge in there.
The second major issue of 'Showdown in Manila' is the dialogue from the script and the tepid uninspired way it was delivered. There is zero sense of urgency, almost like each member of the cast is reading from cue cards or screens above them. 'Showdown In Manila' needed depth, anger, aggression, fright from the ones who were threatened. Sadly it never materialized. Again respectful advice focus the efforts to a couple of lead actors, give them the background story, so the audience is engaged.
The third major issue I had was with Tia Carrere. Sadly, she was ill prepared mentally and physically for this role. She is a beautiful woman, that unfortunately has allowed herself to virtually fade away. While she never was a award winning actress, she was really great in Wayne's World, and looked to have a bright future. In 'Showdown in Manila' she is basically the female lead, and really made the film difficult to watch. I know she can be better.
Finally, why the hell establish and assemble world class martial arts talent in an non martial arts, 'Expendables' style film. "Showdown, could have been perhaps the greatest assembly of experienced martial artists on film, instead, we get guns, grenades and, a guy saying; "I brought many things that go boom!" Yes, I know a classic line from a 7 yr. old boy, not working in an action film. What is the Facebook term, SMDH?
On the positive sides of 'Showdown', during the small fights sequences, they are well lit and visually well filmed. The scenery was lush and green, most of the action takes place in the bright daylight hours, thus it is easy to see. One bright spot in 'Showdown in Manila', sadly does not a decent movie make.
I really wanted to like the film as I respect and admire virtually everyone in it, from Cynthia Rothrock, Don Wilson, Mark Dacascos, Cary and Olivier etc.., but I just cannot recommend it unless, it is on a service you own, such as Netflix or Amazon prime etc.,, 'Showdown in Manila' rates a tropical bomb, and a 3 out of 10. Hopefully lessons will be learned, and the next effort will kick ass!
Thursday, April 14, 2016
All photos provided by Ben, from his Facebook Page, and 'Black Salt' Page
Greetings Dan's Movie Report readers, time to step into the director's chair with the talented Ben Ramsey. Ben has a wealth of experience in film, working with talented people including Michael Jai White. Currently, Ben's directorial work can be seen on the award winning short film 'Black Salt'. The film recently won a competition and can currently be seen on ActionMax and HBOGo. Ben also was a guest star on the recent episodes of the 'Rush Hour' TV series. Time to get inside the mind of Ben, and chat about his recent efforts. Enough of my rambling on, Ben, bring the textual pain!
Going in the time machine a bit, chat about the filming of 'Blood and Bone', and working with MJW. Share a production story that you never talked about yet.
'Blood and Bone' was a wonderful experience. It was great working with Mike who I’ve know for years. We had planned on working on a project together and this one kind of fell into place. It was a script that Mike had and had been trying to develop for a long time. He brought me in to direct and the rest is history. We did a bit of guerrilla shooting on 'Blood and Bone'. The scenes of Bone and Pinball driving around Los Angeles were totally stolen. No permit or nothing as well as the scene of Bone strolling off into the sunset. As a matter of fact while shooting that shot cop approached use and asked if we had permits. We said we were just testing the camera.
On to 'Black Salt'- How did you and Owen come to collaborate on Black Salt? I noticed you worked with Michelle Lee on Blood and Bone, did you have input on some of the casting etc..?
The 'Black Salt' project came to me by way of an actor friend Kenyon Glover. He was in contact with Owen. Owen told him he was looking for a director for a proof of concept short he wanted to do. I had known about Black Salt for some time and was a fan of the comic book. Since I was eager to get back in the director’s chair and exercise that muscle again. I signed on. As we went through the development process it kept getting bigger and more ambitious. What was supposed to be a Winter project for me turned into a two year project. The only person we actually cast was Kinyumba for the lead. We looked at over 100 actors for the role. The rest of the cast were all friends that I brought on board. I'm lucky to have such a talented pool of really close friends. They’re contributions made the project really shine. Ron Yuan was instrumental in getting the project done. He came on as co-producer Stunt coordinator fight and action designer. So when I wrote a new scene the MI6 scene it was only natural that I brought him in to act. James Lew is a legend. I was so lucky to have him come on-board as well as Anthony Nanakornpanom and Sheena Chou. The character of Monk Sing played by X.J. Wang was originally going to be played by my good friend Arnold Chon but we had a scheduling problem and Arnold couldn’t do it. But it worked out well as X.J. is a real Shaolin monk. He brought a real authenticity to the role. Then there is Michelle Lee. What can I say about her. She has been a good friend for many years. She is a super talented actress and stunt woman. She was my only choice for Horse Ripper. What was Ironic is that Owen had approached her about playing the role of Horse Ripper even before he met me.
Speaking of Michelle and the action, chat about the challenges of directing the action in a night shoot with water effect, the fight with her and Kinyumba Mutakabbir
perhaps set up the action etc…
It’s always challenging shooting a good action scene. But when you have talent like we had on Black Salt. It seemed almost effortless. Of course I wasn’t the one punching and kicking all night long in the rain. But both Kinyumba and Michelle threw everything they had into those scenes and it shows on the screen. What really makes the scene work is more than just the choreography the the performances they both turned it. The scene is much more about emotionalism than just action.
Black Salt had the feel of the beginning of a cool series, have you and Owen discussed future episodes?
There are plans for a possible feature length film and/or a TV mini-series. But yes…you can count on seeing more adventures of Black Salt in the future.
Shifting gears to 'Rush Hour'- OK man, tell me about that crazy fight scene in the bar, for the 'Rush Hour' first episode, pool ques and nuts are not a good combo, haha. James Lew is a real expert in action.
Rush hour was a trip man. It just kind of fell into my lap. James was looking for some big black dudes for and action scene and he knew that I practiced martial arts. I am not a stunt man but I know my way around a fight scene. So he asked me to do it and I was like “Anything you want James.” So I came on-board and got the crap kicked out of me all night by John Foo. It was a lot of fun but man, was I sore in the morning. I have a whole new respect for my stunt brothers and sisters.
What about the faces you made, during the action, all you or did you have some coaching?
No I really didn’t need any coaching. I’ve practiced martial arts for years and I’ve gotten kicked in the nuts many times so It wasn’t hard to make the right faces. I was wearing a cup so it wasn’t a real nut cracker.
Speaking of nut kicking, what are some of your thoughts on the initial Rush Hour pilot? I liked the ridiculous humor, mixed with action, I am assuming you did?
I enjoyed it quite a bit. Lots of fun with humor, and the action that more pays homage to the movie franchise than imitates it. The series is it’s own thing.
Next up for Ben, new projects, concepts you want to work on?
The next project on my plate is a Scifi action project called 'Interface'. It could best be described as a cross between The Matrix, Inception, Blade Runner and Fight Club. Check out the official Facebook Page @ https://www.facebook.com/theinterfacetv/
Looking forward to that one, wrapping up, Advice for indie film directors, what are a few of your dos and don'ts?
I have one bit of advice for indie directors. Be original. Don’t try to do what you see Hollywood doing because there are a million projects in development that are doing that. Try to be the next new thing. That will get you noticed before being an unknown doing the same thing a lot known filmmakers are doing.
Any Final thoughts, words of wisdom for Dan's Movie Report readers?
Love life, love what you do, love who you are and the world will be a wonderful place.
There you have it! Ben Ramsey chats exclusively on Dan's Movie Report, your #1 indie home for action on the web. Watch for more on 'Black Salt' later in 2016! Watch Rush Hour on CBS! Thursdays at 10pm!
Check out 'Black Salt' now on ActionMax and pre-order the DVD @ http://blacksaltfilm.com/
Support high quality indie film, and allow the directors and actors the freedom and creative vision to continue to push the envelope!
Greetings Dan's Movie Report readers. South Florida is known for it's spectacular beaches, bountiful sunshine, and year round warm weather. With the 2016 Widescreen Film Festival occuring recently, I had the opportunity to chat with a dynamic force in the scene Yessenia Cossio. Yessenia has done it all, act, dance, produce, teach, fitness model and all around knowledgeable film person.
Yessenia gave out an award at the Widescreen Fest, and she is also featured in a new short film called 'The Betrayal' Yessenia has a bright future in the film business with her talent, hard working attitude and easy going spirit, she will be a force to watch in 2016 and beyond.
Check out all of Yessenia's official pages for more information, and watch for more of her on Dan's Movie Report in the coming months.
Facebook Official: https://www.facebook.com/yesseniacossioentertainment/?fref=ts
Model Mayhem: http://www.modelmayhem.com/3285691
'Betrayal' trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0t4sdDSSCM Facebook::https://www.facebook.com/BetrayalMov/