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36th Chamber 3/09

Dateline Hollywood —As reported here a few issues ago, the long-awaited Green Hornet movie has its green light and its stars. All it was missing was a director. Now rumor has it that one of the industry’s most inventive and unusual helmers plans to get behind the cameras of this notoriously difficult project.
Is it action masters Michael Bay (Transformers), Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon), Andrew Davis (Under Siege), John McTiernan (Die Hard) or John Woo (Face Off)? No, it’s Michel Gondry, of all people!
The eccentric mind behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, and Be Kind Rewind now plans to tell scriptwriter/star/weight-watcher Seth Rogen and Stephen “Kato” Chow how to do what the script tells them.
“From the very beginning, Seth, Evan (Goldberg, co-writer) and Neal (Moritz, producer) wanted this film to stand out from the pack with its originality,” Columbia Pictures’ Matt Tolmach said. “You couldn’t ask for a better director than Michel to bring that to life.”
So, suddenly, The Green Hornet has gone from Batman-lite to the one to watch. We will, indeed, be watching, and let you know of its progress.

Another one we’re anxiously awaiting is The Expendables, the new thriller written by, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. If you’ve been reading, you already know that Sly is set to battle evil with fellow mercenaries Jet Li, Jason Statham, and Dolph Lundgren.
The rumor mill, however, has been abuzz with word of other Expendables as well. Mickey Rourke, fresh off his Golden Globe, was set, then he wasn’t (signing on instead to play a bad guy in Iron Man 2). Soon to be ex-Governader Arnold Schwarzenegger was in, then he was out, and now he’s supposedly in again. Jean Claude Van Damme was reportedly asked, but also alledgedly turned down a part.
Now the word is that the great Danny Trejo (Grindhouse, Spy Kids, XXX) beautiful Charisma Carpenter (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and none other than WWE’s legendary champ Stone Cold Steve Austin are coming aboard for what some wags are calling “Inglorious Old Basterds (sic)”, but most of us are hoping is the one to see in 2010.

Dateline Asia — The Hong Kong Film Award nominations have been announced, and despite a reported seventy percent unemployment rate in the once vital film industry, kung-fu is well represented amongst the honorees. In fact, four of the five “Best Picture” nominees are action movies: Donnie Yen’s Ip Man, Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin, Stephen Chow’s sci-fi comedic CJ7, and John Woo’s sweeping Red Cliff part 1.
Naturally, to this publication, the most interesting thing is that the HK Film Awards are one of the few events that honor fight choreography. This year the nominees for “Best Action Direction” are the great Sammo Hung for both Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon and Ip Man (along with Leung Siu Hung), ex-Jackie Chan stunt team member Li Chi-chung for Connected (an action thriller inspired by the U.S. flick Cellular), Tung Wai (the boy Bruce Lee teaches at the start of Enter the Dragon) for Painted Skin, and the venerable Corey Yuen-kwai for his exceptional battlefield kung-fu in Red Cliff 1. I’ll let you know who won in a future issue.

RIC’S PICKS

DVD

The great folk over at AnimEigo have been busy, doing their usual exceptional job, packaging the best Japanese action classics for your home entertainment. They are already up to the third in the greatest ninja movie series ever made, Shinobi No Mono (Shadow Warriors).
If you haven’t gotten the first three yet (Shinobi No Mono, Shinobi No Mono 2: Vengeance, and Shinobi No Mono 3: Resurrection) don’t hesitate … especially since they have already scheduled the fourth (Shinobi No Mono 4: Siege) for release later this year.
But that’s not all. Arguably the greatest samurai action series besides Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman and Lone Wolf and Cub (Shogun Assassin) was the Kyoshiro Nemuri series, here better known as Sleepy Eyes of Death. But while Zatoichi and Long Wolf have had their entire series released on DVD in the U.S., Kyoshiro has not.
But now, AnimEigo hopes to right that grievous wrong, starting by remastering the first four Sleepy Eyes of Death films in a new box set to be released this June. And don’t let the scheduled audio commentary by me and expert Jeff Rovin stop you from getting it.
Better known in Asia as the Son of Black Mass series, it tell of an nihilistic halfbreed swordmaster of the “full moon cut” who wanders feudal Japan, taking on the illegitimate psycho off-spring of the Shogun as well as many a lusty geisha and homicidal ronin. The films, starring charismatic Raizo Ichikawa, are exceptional, and, unlike most series films, only get better as they go on.
You’ve got to see all twelve in the series, but the only way to do that is by grabbing the first four. Ask for ‘em in your fave stores, look for ‘em on the web, or even contact AnimEigo itself at 1-800-24ANIME and/or P.O. Box 989, Wilmington NC 28402-0989. Go for it!

FASHION

Say hello to Jerry Ma, your new friend in the art biz. His bro, Rich, is an internationally competing Mantis martial artist, but you may know Jerry from his comics: Burn and The Eighth Dragon (the latter appearing in Yolk magazine).
“I always wanted to get my hands on some cool t-shirts that
showed the culture and lifestyle that my brothers and I grew up on and
loved,” he told me. “But was never successful finding anything we would ever proudly wear. So I decided to just do it myself.”
Now Jerry’s zeal is your gain. He’s now got a half-dozen uber-snazzy t-shirts screaming with Chinese and Japanese martial art themes available to anybody who wants to look good and cool at the same time.
There’s Urban Ninja, Golden Arms (for the kids who want some), Snake (calling all Venoms fans), Last Samurai (for all you Zatoichi, Lone Wolf, and Nemuri enthusiasts), War Helmet, and Big Trouble (for all those looking for it in Little China).
Check out the whole line at www.epicprops.com, or give Jerry a call at 917-929-8835 (or an email at jerry@epicprops.com).

36THE CHAMBER

Tanoai Reed, ex-American Gladiator (Toa), co-star of Steven Seagals’ Against the Dark, and stunt double for his cousin Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, gave us a call to keep us apprised of all the action. He’s already training for stunt work in Iron Man 2, did an episode of My Name is Earl, supplied moves for the T-1000 in the Terminator videogame and gave us a head’s up for Spike TV’s new show, The Deadliest Warrior.
“(They take) warriors from the past,” he said, “like a Shaolin monk and a Trojan warrior. They take experts from both backgrounds and will test their skills against each other in a virtual match to see who would be the ultimate warrior.”
Needless to say Tanoai will more than hold his own on the show, which premiered in April.