Thursday, July 27, 2017
Image from Danny Trejo Facebook page.
Greets valued readers of Dan;s Movie Report. Tonight is the final episode of season 1 of Man at Arms on the El Rey network. The show is reminiscent of older Discovery Channel weapon age shows but with the twist of having a forger making weapons. Host Danny Trejo and weapon's expert Crystal Santos among others test out the weapons on various items of including fruits, human formed gel molds etc...
Where the show gets going is the fact that it seems or it is for the most part unscripted, the weapons are explained, forged then the cool part comes actually in the banter of the various actors on the show once they have the weapon in their hands.
Some weapons, like the three bladed knife, actually appear to cause more damage to the person actually wielding it then the intended target. The great thing about having someone who has 25 yrs of martial arts and weapons training like Crystal Santos on the show, is to watch her adapt to using the weapon, and slowly do the movements while wielding it. Danny Trejo adds cool commentary and the hour show moves fast, with backstory of the weapons and informative parts on forging.
I am very impressed with the controlled environment, lighting, mood, and they show slow motion hits after full speed. An on set medic describes the locations of wounds and the possible injuries. Overall a great first season, tonight is the season finale and airs on The El Rey Network http://www.elreynetwork.com/
Check out The official Facebook Page of Danny Trejo @ https://www.facebook.com/officialdannytrejo/
Check out The official Facebook Page of Crystal Santos @ https://www.facebook.com/officialcrystalsantos/
Monday, July 24, 2017
Special thanks to actress Erin O'Brien for the heads up on this film. 'One Penny' is a raw drama that opens with an older homeless man giving a kid sitting on steps a bagel as he walks buy, the kid has no where to go and follows the man, who eventually becomes his defacto protector.
'One Penny' is a creative gem of a film. Producer and writer David A. Melendez and director and writer Michael Devita craft a clever tale of deception. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Dylan comes upon a shell game scam for money. Harrison Samuels as Dylan, figures their little scam out but hold on, instead of getting the real money he is owed he gets one penny, thus the title. This is like an allegory for life, Dylan represents the poor in society even when he wins he loses.
Being that this is a first film for the creators, obvious time was taken to develop Dylan's complex character, and his interpersonal relationship with his buddy Collin (Will Roland) and his mentor professor Allen portrayed with verve and vigor by Carson Grant. Empathetic Jordan is portrayed with soul and heart by Erin O'Brien. The cool thing here is all of the acting is really natural, not forced, the audience feels the character pain and struggle throughout 'One Penny'.
Towards the end of the film, let us just say, “whoa that escalated quickly”, it was crazy. Normally I do not like the tight shaky cam style of fight filming, but in this case not only does it work, but it adds to the grit and tension of the scene. A high five goes to the stunt people involved and stunt coordinator Erik Aude for crafting what I term to be, “not beautiful” but more random and how a real fight would unfold.
Overall 'One Penny' is a damn fine example of great independent cinema, and rates at solid 8 out of 10. The film has won numerous awards on the Summer festival circuit. For the latest info, check out the official Facebook page.
More info: Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OnePennyMovie/
Saturday, July 22, 2017
After watching the great 'Jailbait' movie with Erin O'Brien as one of the leads and it had a solid story, I was looking forward to the sequel and new ideas. Sadly Locked Up was a very poor film all the way through.
The story was very ragged, basically about a barely legal or not inmate new to this jail but it then turns into a tournament fighting film but with ridiculous sexual situations and salacious undertones. The lead actress while not all her fault was drab and uninspiring, I mean she did not sell the scenes she was in, and her facial expressions were sub par
Katrina Grey is perhaps the only bright spot in the film and excels with the limited script. She does her best to sell emotion and empathy. A totally unnecessary love scene a lesbian love scene with her and the lead actress is not ever unpleasant but at times def not needed. That said, being male, I will say it was a bit sexy, a bit over the top, and crude, oddly my TV stayed on.
The fighting scenes were very tepid, I really thought they should have tried to just either concentrate on a more action or more thought provoking story. I know Katrina deserves better than this. I feel that this move is a rent only if you like 90s Cinemax fare or like to watch girls naked, simulating sex. Locked Up is a very tepid 4 our of 10, added one point for Katrina, but overall would have to say pass.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Savage Dog Movie Review © 2017 Dan's Movie Report- Danny Templegod
Bullets, hearkening back to a bygone era, long brutal fights. Savage Dog hits hard with a final 45 minute assault on the senses. I usally wax long and poetic ha, but this time, brevity is the key. I absolutely loved the last 45 minutes, but was not overly impressed by the setup. Jesse V. Johnson, is an amazing creative mind, with a loyal and fierce love for action. Obviously, this is a very low budget film, but I kind of wish more time was spent with the softer buildup.
Full disclosure: Jesse was gracious enough to use my suggestion of JuJu Chan for the lead female character. I feel that even 3-5 minutes more spent on her life prior to, would have made this a better film. It almost seems like more was written, but not filmed.
That said, the lead actors, Marko, Mr Adkins, Cung Le, are whirlwind of talent, energy, and viperous insults! Booming voice man Keith David provides an old-school narration, actually the narration, in this sense is really needed. The dialogue is the device used to flesh out the characters.
I must give a special mention to the costuming of LM creating the look of 50s era costuming is so difficult across cultural lines. Jesse was able to procure the use of a period era jeep and various accoutrements of the time. The dank and dirty conditions and his (Adkins) imprisonment made it VERY authentic.
The most important thing about this film is this is forging new relationships between cast and crew. Jesse V. Johnson picked actors of strong moral character, and intense drive. As Jesse's budgets rise, so will his status. I first wrote about Jesse in 2004 for Vengeance Magazine, way back with Pit Fighter. He puts full focus on his work.
I am looking forward to Accident Man and Triple Threat, with bigger budgets they should be action forces of nature. Jesse again picked some amazing talents featured on my site before!
Overall rating on Savage Dog is a 6.99999 out of 10! I so much wanted to give this a 7, but I cannot, sometimes you need a bit more to push the film over.
The Film is currently available for pre-order on Amazon in Germany and releases July 28th.
Please check out my extensive interviews with actresses JuJu Chan, Sheena Chou, Marko Zaror, photographer Ben Burton, and the amazing LM Designs across My site and The Action Elite!
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Ben Burton came to my attention with the great photos he took of actresses JuJu Chan and Sheena Chou for my interviews. Come to find out, Ben worked on Savage Dog in some of the action scenes and stand in scenes. Today I chat with Ben and get his thoughts on photography and his work on Savage Dog.
DMR: Chat about your childhood, and how you got interested in photography.
BB: I grew up in Harpersfield, Ohio, a rural area with lots of room to run around. My days were spent exploring the surrounding woods and galloping through vineyards atop my Arabian horse. My first interest in photography was from looking through old family photo albums, including some of my grandfather’s old photos. Something about it stood out to me—the idea that anyone could pick up a camera and do it.
DMR: What was the first camera you shot professionally on?
BB: As far as professionally, I went straight for the 5D Mark III. I spent a few years on small independent sets and I always bugged the production people to let me play with their cameras. It was my way of shopping. After all the cameras I held, the 5D was my clear choice.
DMR: Chat about transitioning from film to digital cameras, some of the challenges.
BB: I only ever shot on film recreationally, so I was always laid back and just doing my own thing. When I started shooting professionally and switched to my Canon there were no big challenges. At first it was a little overwhelming getting a hang of the 5D, but once I did, it was smooth sailing.
DMR: What are some tips you have learned when shooting still shots for movies?
BB: Since it is a movie set and there is a lot going on, the biggest thing is to be aware of your surroundings. Know when to go in for the shot, and know when to step back. Always know where the director of photography and camera operators are.
DMR: How do you change your approach when shooting action as opposed to the more dramatic shots in films?
BB: I love to shoot action: it’s exciting and always different. To make sure I’m ready to adapt to whatever the situation is, I almost always have my 24-70 mm lens on and I’m prepared to move fast. Actors and stunt performers move around a lot, so the faster I can move the better, which means I need a fast shutter speed. A fast shutter speed is the key to a lot of good action shots.
DMR: For dramatic scenes it’s slower paced and there is time to move around, so I usually stick with a fixed lens and use the freedom to move in order to enhance the light the best I can to benefit the photo.
DMR: Chat a bit about working on “Savage Dog.” What were some of the highlights and perhaps unique challenges on the film?
BB: One big highlight was working with the great crew and actors. I had previously worked with the director, Jesse Johnson, and he asked that I be involved on this project. Meeting and working with Vladimir Kulich was a dream come true for me. “The 13th Warrior” has always been one of my favorite films, and to meet Buliwyf was very special.
Working with a team of such professional people makes behind-the-scenes photography a wonderful experience. Scott Adkins is a great leading man and a true pleasure to photograph.
As for challenges, some of the interior sets were small and had lots of crew packed into a small space. At one point I was actually tucked inside an old jukebox and shooting through the front pane of glass! It had no backing, so I pulled it about a foot away from the wall and crawled in.
We had a scene that was shot late at night with rain machines, so getting close enough to get good photos was tough. I remember holding a piece of plywood over my head with one hand and shooting with the other. The director, Jesse, actually stepped in and held the board for me on a few takes. Needless to say, both of us got wet feet!
DMR: What is your go-to camera when shooting on film sets now?
BB: The Canon 5D Mark III, of course.
DMR: Do you enjoy working on film sets as opposed to portrait or standard photography shoots?
BB: Honestly, I love it all. I’d say the advantage that normal photo shoots have over being on set is that they are a lot faster, whereas movie sets are an all-day affair. However, if you’re working with awesome people like the crew on “Savage Dog,” the long hours aren’t an issue. I like film sets because of how different they are. Every day on set presents new challenges and I always have to switch it up to get the right shot.
DMR: Do you have a favorite type of film to work on? Do you like the action films more?
BB: Action, action, action! Anything with swords, guns, stunts, and fights!
DMR: I know you said you did some of the stunts and action on “Savage Dog.” What are some of the things you did on set?
BB: I did, and I feel very fortunate to have been involved in that way. That was one thing Jesse and I talked about before production. He said he’d find a way to put me in there and he stuck to his word. From being blown up, shot, and sliced, I think I died three or four times in this film. (This is, of course, spoiler-free because I wasn’t a principal character.)
I body-doubled for Scott Adkins for a scene or two. That meant acting with Juju Chan, which was a great experience. I won’t give away more, but you can look forward to watching Scott take me down. Luke Lafontaine was Stunt Coordinator on the film and he really did an amazing job.
DMR: What are some of the projects you have upcoming in 2017?
BB: For stunt work, I will be putting my fire-breathing talents to use for a post-apocalyptic project that starts filming in March. That’s all I have lined up for now. You may run into me on sets, taking behind-the-scenes photos. I have a few things in the works.There are one or two acting projects coming up, as well, which I’m very excited about, but I can’t say anything at this point.
DMR: Advice for beginning photographers?
BB: Go take pictures! The best way to learn is to practice. Talk to and get to know other photographers to grow your network. If you’re working on set, don’t be afraid to get in there and do your job. Some people are nervous to approach actors or crew for photos, but you’ve got to remember you are part of the crew and everyone knows you are there and that you have a job to do! Above all, always have a good attitude.
Thanks Ben for the insight, for more information connect to Ben on these following sites: