Thursday, August 31, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for September 5, 2017

by Kam Williams

This Week’s DVD Releases
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Adaptation of Medical Breakthrough Bio]

Rough Night [Bawdy Girls Trip Comedy]

The Wedding Plan [Jilted Bride-to-Be Has 30 Days to Find Replacement]

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In [The Complete First Season]

Megan Leavey [Wounded War Vet Reunites with Faithful Combat K9]

The Churchills [John and Winston Biopic]

Lowriders [Celebration of East L.A.'s Bounce Car Culture]

Smithsonian: The Real Story: [The Killing Spree That Inspired Scream]

Masterpiece Mystery: Endeavour [The Complete Fourth Season]

All Eyez on Me [Untold Story of Tupac Shakur]

Honorable Mention

Narcos: Season Two [Manhunt for Colombian Drug Lord Pablo Escobar]

Security [War Vet-Turned-Mall Guard Action Flick]

Paw Patrol: The Great Pirate Rescue! [6 High Seas Adventures]

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood [King Daniel for the Day]

Chronically Metropolitan [Fledgling Writer Engages Estranged Family]

Poldark Revealed [True Stories behind the Brit Saga]

Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark [Rare Species 3-Part Series]

Richard M. Sherman [Songs of a Lifetime]

Smithsonian: The Real Story: [Close Encounters of the Third Kind]

First Kill [Bruce Willis Vigilante Thriller]

Iron Protector [High-Body Count Martial Arts Thriller]  

Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl! [Brazilian-Paraguayan Puppy Love]

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening September 8, 2017

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams



9/11 (R for profanity) Fact-based drama recounting the harrowing ordeal of five strangers trapped inside an elevator in the World Trade Center's North Tower after the building was struck by a hijacked airliner on the morning of September 11, 2001. Co-starring Charlie Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, Gina Gershon, Luis Guzman, Jacqueline Bisset and Wood Harris.

Home Again (PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes) Romantic dramedy revolving around a recently-separated mother of two (Reese Witherspoon) who relocates to L.A. where she rents her carriage house to three aspiring filmmakers (Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander and Jon Rudnitsky), only to have her husband (Michael Sheen) show up unannounced. With Lake Bell, Candice Bergen and P.J. Byrne.

It (R for violence, profanity and bloody images) Adaptation of the Stephen King best-seller set in Maine in the summer of '89 where we find seven ostracized 'tweens joining forces to exact revenge on the shape-shifting monster (Bill Skarsgard) terrorizing their hometown. Ensemble cast includes Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard and Wyatt Oleff.


Boris without Beatrice (Unrated) Marital crisis drama about a wealthy businessman (James Hyndman) who embarks on an extramarital affair while caring for his depressed, terminally-ill wife (Simone-Elise Girard). Cast includes Denis Lavant, Isolda Dychauk and Dounia Sichov. (In English, French and Russian with subtitles)

Company Town (Unrated) Eco-documentary chronicling one man's mission to save his hometown of Crossett, Arkansas plagued by cancer clusters ostensibly caused by Georgia-Pacific, a corporate polluter owned by the Koch brothers.

Free in Deed (Unrated) Christian-oriented fare, inspired by real-life events, recounting a Pentecostal storefront minister's (David Harewood) use of faith-healing to cure a church member's (Edwina Findley Dickerson) autistic son (RaJay Chandler). Featuring Kathy Smith, Helen Bowman and Alex Coker.

The Good Catholic (PG-13 for profanity and a sexual reference) Romantic comedy about an idealistic, young priest (Zachary Spicer) whose vow of celibacy is tested when he develops a fondness for a parishioner (Wrenn Schmidt) while taking her confession. With Danny Glover, John C. McGinley and Alex Miro.

Man in Red Bandana (PG-13 for mature themes and disaster images) Gwyneth Paltrow narrates this documentary about Welles Remy Crowther, a heroic stockbroker posthumously credited with saving over a dozen lives in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack before perishing in the collapse of the the World Trade Center's South Tower.

Poster Boys (Unrated) Buddy comedy about three guys (Bobby Deol, Shreyas Talpade and Sunny Deol) whose lives come apart at the seams when their faces appear in a pro-vasectomy poster. With Sonali Kulkarni, Tasha Bhambra and Randheer Rai. (In Hindi with subtitles)

School Life (PG-13 for smoking and brief profanity) Poignant character portrait chronicling a year in the lives of John and Amanda Leyden, a married couple who both teach at Ireland's only primary education boarding school. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Trophy (Unrated) Endangered species documentary highlighting the impending extinction of a variety of African wild animals as a result of big game hunting.

True to the Game (Unrated) Crime thriller about a small-time drug dealer (Columbus Short) forced to choose between love and money as he tries to escape the 'hood. Cast includes Vivica A. Fox, Erica Peeples and Nelsan Ellis.

The Unknown Girl (Unrated) Crime thriller about a physician (Adele Haenel) who becomes obsessed with investigating the murder of the anonymous African immigrant whose frantic knock at the door she'd ignored. With Olivier Bonnaud, Jeremie Renier and Louka Minella. (In French with subtitles)

Year by the Sea (Unrated) Adaptation of Joan Anderson's (Karen Long) midlife crisis memoir about a writer who moves to Cape Cod rather than relocate to the Midwest with her husband (Michael Cristofer) upon their becoming empty nesters. Supporting cast includes Celia Imrie, Yannick Bisson and S. Epatha Merkerson.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Philip Ng

The “Birth of the Dragon” Interview
with Kam Williams

Martial Arts Master Expounds on Playing Playing the Legendary Bruce Lee

Based in Hong Kong, Philip Ng is a martial arts master who works in film and television as an actor, action director and fight choreographer. Trained in Ving Tsun kung fu [Wing Chun], he is a 6th generation disciple of Choy Li Fut kung fu. Among his previous film credits are Wild City, Zombie Fight Club, Sifu vs. Vampire, The Man from Macau, Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, Young and Dangerous: Reloaded and Naked Soldier.

Philip immigrated to the United States from his native Hong Kong at the age of 7, then beginning his martial arts training under the supervision of his father, sifu [teacher] Sam Ng [a 5th generation practitioner of the Choy Li Fut system]. Later, to further his martial arts education, he traveled back to Hong Kong and became a student of sifu Wong Shun Leung, who trained him in Ving Tsun kung fu tirelessly until his untimely passing in 1997.

Returning to the U.S, Philip earned his Master’s degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, during which time his training and sparring with other martial stylists gained him skills in the arts of jujitsu, eskrima, and Western boxing. He continues to spread his mentor's teachings with the help of his father through the Ng Family Chinese Martial Arts Association.

In addition to his work in film and television, Philip has written articles for various national and international martial arts periodicals, and he also serves as an official for national and international martial arts competitions. Here, he talks about making his North American film debut as Bruce Lee in Birth of the Dragon, a biopic about the legendary martial arts icon.

Kam Williams: Hi Philip, thanks for the interview.
Philip Ng: Thank you, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Birth of the Dragon?
PN: The fact that it's a kick-ass kung fu movie inspired by the real life event of Bruce Lee's challenge match against Wong Jack Man. While the outcome is still debated, the fight definitely gave Bruce the impetus to further evolve his fighting method and training methodologies. The events leading up to, including, and after the said fight cumulate in an entertainingly-romanticized kung fu fable that still manages to be true to the spirit of who Bruce Lee is, cinematically.

KW: Which do you admire more about Bruce Lee, his martial arts prowess or his movie career?
PN: I believe Bruce Lee placed martial arts first in his life, and everything else branched off from his passion for it. Being a martial artist first, I've always found his ideas regarding the martial arts to be revolutionary and proven correct repeatedly with the advent of MMA and other similar combat sports that continue to illustrate the realities of combat and the best strategies for success that he had advocated over four decades ago. In terms of film, Bruce paved the way for all of us martial arts actors the world over. He took a revolutionary step in martial arts choreography by making a shift to something more like an actual fight while keeping the movements stylized enough to be entertaining, cinematically.

KW: How did you prepare to play the role? Did you watch all of his films?
PN: I would say I've been unwittingly preparing to play him my whole life. My extreme interest in and curiosity about the legendary Bruce Lee and his ideas encouraged me to read all of his available writings and to watch all available footage of him. I have trained Wing Chun extensively with his instructor [Wong Shun Leung] under Grandmaster Ip Man. Plus, having worked in the action movie industry in Hong Kong for the last 15 years as both an actor and martial arts choreographer on over 35 film and television productions afforded me not only the skill set to confidently film a kung fu movie, I have also worked with many people who were close with Bruce and shared with me many of their anecdotes. After being selected to play him, I began preparing by specifically studying his speech patterns and how he moved while not engaged in combat, as I was already familiar with the way he moved when he fought.

KW: What was harder to get down, his personality or his fighting style.
PN: I'm pretty comfortable with filming onscreen combat, since I've been doing that professionally in Hong Kong for the last decade and a half. So, merging what was written and what I had been preparing to do justice to his cinematic personality was the greater of the two challenges.

KW: You started studying martial arts at an early age. Did you have an icon who inspired you back then?
PN: Outside of people I watch on film, the ones that really inspired me were the people who actually taught me, hands-on, and guided into the martial arts world.

KW: You have done stunt work, choreographed fights and acted. Which is your favorite?
PN: That's like comparing apples and oranges. But, at the same time, they're just different cogs in the same engine. I like performing and also like designing the performance.

KW: What message do you want people to take away from Birth of the Dragon?
PN: See with your eyes and not with your ears

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
PN: [Jackie Chan's] Drunken Master.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
PN: I don't remember. I almost remember holding my baby sister on my lap in Hong Kong when I was 3, but I'm not really sure if it's an actual memory or something I remembered from a photo.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
PN: I am Christian, and attend church as regularly as my work schedule allows.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
PN: My mother and father. They still do.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
PN: Stuffed eggplant with black bean gravy. My mom's recipe's the bomb.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
PN: Forgiveness frees your soul.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
PN: Not much other than what I wear. I am a pretty consistent version of myself, if I'm in the right mood.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
PN: A kung fu nerd living out his kung fu movie-making dreams.

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
PN: Quit my regular job and moved to Hong Kong 15 years ago to make kung fu movies.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
PN: Peace on Earth.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
PN: I don't recall partaking in a pleasure that I felt guilty about.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? And please answer the question.
PN: I can't think of one at the moment.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?
PN: Old school Godzilla.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
PN: Perseverance.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
PN: First, know what skill sets are required to succeed, then succeed in learning and mastering those skill sets.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
PN: As someone who had a hand in telling more than a few entertaining stories and bringing awareness to the honest nature of combat sciences.

KW: Finally, Samuel L. Jackson asks: What’s in your wallet?
PN: My Hong Kong Stuntman Association membership card and a fistful of Hong Kong currency.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Philip, and best of luck with the film.
PN: My pleasure, Kam. Thank you for the interview.

To see a trailer for Birth of the Dragon, visit:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Crown Heights

Film Review by Kam Williams

Courtroom Docudrama Recounts Real-Life Miscarriage of Justice

In the spring of 1980, Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) was wrongfully accused of murder on the streets of Brooklyn by a 15 year-old juvenile delinquent (Skylan Brooks) who picked him out of a photo lineup provided by the police. That supposed "eyewitness" testimony was the only evidence linking Colin to the crime, but it didn't prevent a jury from convicting the 18 year-old in spite of a credible alibi and the absence of a motive, weapon or connection to the victim.

Soon, he was sent up the river where he began serving a life sentence for a crime he didn't commit. Truth be told, the only thing Colin was guilty of was being born poor and black in the inner-city, which meant he was very vulnerable to a criminal justice system totally indifferent to the plight of an innocent, indigent, African-American defendant.

And he would very likely have merely wasted away behind bars forever were it not for the commitment to his cause of his BFF (Nnamdi Asomugha). Lucky for Colin, Carl King would remain obsessed with reversing the miscarriage of justice even after his appeals ran out and his attorneys, family and other friends had given up hope.

Written and directed by Matt Ruskin, Crown Heights is a riveting courtroom drama which recounts the events surrounding the shameful case. We watch Carl settle on his career as a paralegal with the goal of one day exonerating his lifelong friend. We also see the toll that that devotion would take on his marriage.

Fortunately, Carl did ultimately get Clarence Lewis to recant his testimony and admit that he'd lied under oath for orange juice and a candy bar. Too bad, that it took over 21 years to clear Colin's name.

A sobering indictment of the legal system that'll leave you wondering how many other Colin Warners might be incarcerated by a heartless prison-industrial complex routinely doling out a color-coded brand of criminal justice.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and violence
Running time: 94 minutes
Production Studio: Washington Square Films
Distributor: Amazon Studios

To see a trailer for Crown Heights, visit:

I Am Battle Comic

DVD Review by Kam Williams

George Lopez Tops Standup Tour Entertaining Troops Overseas

For over 50 years, Bob Hope served as emcee of the USO tour traveling overseas to entertain the troops. From World War II through Operation Desert Storm, Hope never hesitated to put himself in harm's way. The well-received shows proved to be pretty popular back home, too, where they aired periodically on NBC.

Although no longer televised, an altruistic band of talented comedians have continued to venture to war zones in the wake of Bob Hope's passing. Their unheralded efforts are the subject of I Am Battle Comic, a combination concert flick and documentary directed by Jordan Brady.

The inspirational film was shot on location in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain, and stars 14 standup veterans, including George Lopez, Dave Attell and George Wallace, to name a few. While it's certainly fun watching them perform onstage before very grateful audiences, what's far more rewarding is the behind-the-scenes footage of them bonding with the soldiers.

For instance, we witness Lopez stick around after a show to sign an autograph for anybody that wanted one, over 1,000 in total. Then there's Bob Kubota, who explains that he's actually anti-war, and isn't there for those who started or profit from the conflict. Rather, he wistfully recalls the satisfaction coming from receiving a letter from grateful parents thanking him for lifting the spirits of a son who'd been down in the dumps for eight months. 
The picture also features funny archival footage of Bob Hope and Robin Williams. Still, what'll probably stick with you longer than any witty one-liners are sobering moments like a weeping private's heartfelt reflections on his service and a comic's visit to an infirmary to chat with wounded warriors. 
A moving concert flick that'll make you laugh while bringing a tear to your eye in appreciation of our soldiers' selfless sacrifices.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 89 minutes
Studio: Brady Oil Entertainment
Distributor: Monterey Video
DVD Extras: Parrot joke.

To see a trailer for I Am Battle Comic, visit::

To order a copy of I Am Battle Comic on DVD, visit:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for August 29, 2017

by Kam Williams

This Week’s DVD Releases

Born in China [Panda Doc Narrated by John Krasinski]
Grey's Anatomy: Season 13 [Surgical Physicians at Mythical Seattle Hospital]

Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack [6th Installment in Cheerleading Series]

Delicious: Series 1 [A Scandal in Every Bite]

The Evil in Us [An Intense Ride into Madness]

Black Sails: Season Four [Thrilling Treasure Island Prequel]

Ireland's Wild Coast [Spectacular Wonders from Eagles to Whales]

Baywatch [Unlikely-Buddies Beach Comedy]

Clarity [What Price Is Your Child's Life Worth?]

Killing Hasselhoff [Celebrity Death Pool Comedy]

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening September 1, 2017

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun  
by Kam Williams 





Do It Like a Hombre (R for pervasive sexuality) Out-of-the-closet comedy about a lifelong friendship which is tested when a guy (Alfonso Dosal) reveals to his homophobic BFFs (Mauricio Ochmann and Humberto Busto) that he's gay. With Aislinn Derbez, Ariel Levy and Ignacia Allamand. (In Spanish with subtitles)

Dolores (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Dolores Huerta, the political organizer who co-founded the country's first farm workers' union with Cesar Chavez back in the Fifties.

Goon: The Last of the Enforcers (R for violence, crude sexuality and pervasive profanity) Seann William Scott reprises the title role in this ensemble comedy about a retired hockey player who returns to the rink for one last hurrah, over the objections of his worried wife (Alison Pill). Cast includes writer/director Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber, Elisha Cuthbert and Callum Keith Rennie.

Jackals (Unrated) Intervention thriller about a brainwashed young man (Ben Sullivan) who is kidnapped from a religious cult at gunpoint by deprogrammers hired by his family, only to end up in a cabin surrounded by members of the sect demanding his release. With Stephen Dorff, Deborah Kara Unger and Nick Roux.

Jesus (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama, set in Santiago, Chile, about a troubled 18 year-old's (Nicolas Duran) self-destructive descent into a depravity marked by sex, drugs and violence. Featuring Gaston Salgado, Sebastian Ayala and Alejandro Goic. (In Spanish with subtitles)

The Layover (R for sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Romantic comedy revolving around the love triangle which develops when a couple of BFFs (Kate Upton and Alexandra Daddario) both fall for a fellow traveler (Matt Barr) during a long layover in St. Louis. Support cast includes director William H. Macy, Kal Penn, Molly Shannon and Matt Jones.

Mike Boy (Unrated) Hugh Massey plays the title character in this suspense thriller as an orphan pressured by a shadowy figure to join a secret society bent on world domination in accordance with an ancient prophecy. Featuring Emily Killian, James Wellington and Gerard Sanders.

Tulip Fever (R for nudity and sexuality) Romance drama, set in 17th Century Amsterdam, chronicling an artist's (Dane DeHaan) passionate affair with a married woman (Alicia Vikander) whose portrait he's been commissioned to paint. With Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifiniakis and Dame Judi Dench.

Unlocked (R for profanity and violence) Suspense thriller revolving around a CIA Agent (Noomi Rapace), lured to London, where she enlists the assistance of a former soldier (Orlando Bloom) to prevent an imminent biological attack. With Michael Douglas, Toni Collette and John Malkovich.

Viceroy's House (Unrated) Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Mountbatten in this historical drama, set in New Delhi in 1947, recounting the Viceroy of India's overseeing the country's transition to independence. Co-starring Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow.

Whose Streets?

Film Review by Kam Williams

Partisan Polemic Revisits Mike Brown Shooting in Ferguson, Missouri

On August 9, 2014, Mike Brown was shot a half-dozen times by police officer Darren Wilson on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a predominantly-black suburb of St. Louis. Because several eyewitnesses said the 18 year-old had his hands up at the time, the incident triggered nationwide civil unrest which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. 
But Wilson was not even indicted by the grand jury which deemed his testimony credible. He claimed to have pulled the trigger in self defense after Brown had punched him and tried to grab his gun. The legal case divided the country along color lines in the same way as the O.J. Simpson trial, with African-Americans generally feeling that cops are too quick to shoot young black men, and most whites being inclined to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt.

Co-directed by Damon Davis and Sabaah Folayan, Whose Streets? is an incendiary documentary which revisits the tragedy in partisan fashion, arguing entirely in favor of Brown's innocence while conveniently ignoring the mountain of evidence which ultimately exonerated Wilson. Granted, this provocative polemic might serve as a Black Lives Matter recruiting tool, but it is likely to be of little value to any truth seeker interested in an impartial investigation.

After all, there was video proof that Brown and Dorian Johnson had robbed a convenience store just 3 minutes before the encounter with Wilson who was summoned to the scene by a police dispatcher. Furthermore, the county, federal and independent autopsies corroborated the cop's story while simultaneously refuting Johnson's claim that his accomplice had been shot in the back and with his hands up. After an exhaustive investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, even Attorney General Eric Holder concluded that Wilson was innocent. 
So, what's dismaying about Whose Streets? is how its presentation of a thief as an altar boy flies in the face of Dr. Martin Luther King's appeal that black people be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Why make Mike Brown the poster child for the Black Lives Matter movement, when there are so many martyrs far more deserving, like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Tamir Rice, to name a few? 
A soulful cinematic sermon elevating a sinner to sainthood for the sake of an uncritical Amen choir still in denial about the truth of the Mike Brown case!

Good (2 stars)
Rated R for ethnic slurs, mature themes and pervasive profanity
Running time: 101 minutes
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

To see a trailer for Whose Streets?, visit: