In just a couple of weeks I’ll be heading down to Asheville North Carolina to sit on the jury for the first edition of ActionFest, the only film festival in the world that focuses on action movies. With me on that jury will be Drew McWeeny of HitFix, Todd Brown of Twitch, Colin Geddes of Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness and CHUCK NORRIS. Yes, I am serving on a festival jury with Chuck Norris.
ActionFest has announced their first wave of titles; the festival kicks off with Neil Marshall’s Centurion and then runs for an action-packed (hardy har) few days, culminating in Chuck Norris receiving a lifetime achievement award. You can buy your badges for ActionFest right now by clicking here; if you come on to Asheville you will certainly see me around drinking Cheerwine (official festival sponsor!), and there’s a chance Nick Nunziata will be dropping by as well. Buy those passes now before they sell out!
Here are the currently announced ActionFest titles; all films will be announced on Monday.
OPERATION: ENDGAME (World Premiere) – Zack Galifanakis, Rob Corddry, Ving Rhames, and Emile De Raven star in this new comedy thriller about two teams of assassins locked in an underground facility, each out to discover who murdered their boss before they’re all offed. (Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)
THE STRANGER (World Premiere) – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin stars as an FBI agent out to find a material witness to a top-secret investigation. (Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)
UNDISPUTED III: REDEMPTION (World Premiere) – Modern martial arts masters Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror (MANDRILL) square off in this third chapter of the popular prison boxing series, as champion fighter Uri Boyka (Adkins) is transferred to a Ukraine prison to fight in the first prison fighting tournament, where the winner is granted freedom and the loser… death!
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERES
14 BLADES (North American Premiere) – During the Ming Dynasty, a secret agent of the emperor’s court is betrayed and then hunted down by his former colleagues. Starring martial arts legends Donnie Yen (IP MAN) and Sammo Hung (DRAGONS FOREVER), 14 BLADES was recently nominated for “Best Action Choreography” at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards.
BESOURO (North American Premiere) – An official selection at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, BESURO is the emotional true story of the legendary capoeira fighter from Bahia, who was rumored to fly and leads an uprising of slaves to gain their freedom.
RAGING PHOENIX (North American Premiere) – CHOCOLATE’s JeeJa Yanin returns to fight off a vicious band of kidnappers with the help of a new form of Muay Thai that combines martial arts and hip hop dance moves!
POWER KIDS (U.S. Premiere) – When their best friend is in need of a heart transplant, a plucky group of kids band together against a group of terrorists who have seized the hospital moments before their friend’s surgery. This outrageously fun martial arts adventure was produced by the same team behind ONG BAK and THE PROTECTOR.
VENGEANCE (U.S. Premiere) – Legendary Hong Kong action master Johnnie To teams up with legendary French singer Johnny Halliday for this stylish gunplay drama about a former hitman turned chef who travels to Macau to find the men who murdered his daughter’s family. (Courtesy of IFC Films)
DIRTY MIND (Regional Premiere) – From director Pieter Van Hess (LEFT BANK), DIRTY MIND tells the story of a meek and mild technician who suffers an injury on a film set and emerges as the suave and fearless “Tony T”, who sets out to become a legendary stuntman in an effort to escape his loser past.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (Regional Premiere) – South Korea’s smash hit finally hits the U.S.! A South Korean western inspired by Sergio Leone’s classic THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, WEIRD stars Song Kang-Ho (THE HOST) as one of a group of desperate gunslingers in 1930’s Manchuria after a priceless treasure map. (Courtesy of IFC Films)
HARRY BROWN (Regional Premiere) Two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Caine returns to the action milieu of his legendary film GET CARTER as Harry Brown, a widowed and retired military man looking to live out the rest of his days in peace, but forced to take up arms again when his only friend is murdered by a local gang. (Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films)
MANDRILL (Regional Premiere) – Chilean martial arts star Marko Zaror (KILTRO; MIRAGEMAN) returns to the screen as the tough-as-nails hitman Mandrill, whose latest contract finally leads him to the man responsible for the murder of his parents.
MERANTAU (Regional Premiere) – Yuda, a young man from the Indonesian countryside must undergo Merantau, a traditional rite into manhood where he must leave home and find his place in the world. But upon his arrival in Jakarta he finds himself thrust into the world of human slave trading, with only his Silat skills to help him survive.
OUT OF OUR MINDS (Regional Premiere) – A special presentation of the new short film from acclaimed director Tony Stone (SEVERED WAYS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA) in collaboration with singer and guitarist Melissa Auf Der Maur (formerly of Hole). A fantasy world spawned from sound. Three time periods and three narratives, one connection-blood. At the center of this life force is the heart.
THE SQARE (Regional Premiere) – Named one of the 10 best films of 2009 by Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News, this acclaimed Australian thriller tells the story of a man trapped in a loveless marriage who carries on an affair with a mysterious woman with a dangerous husband. (Courtesy of Apparition)
TUCKER & DALE vs EVIL (Regional Premiere) – ActionFest livens things up with comedy, action and horror, as two country bumpkins are mistaken for serial killers by a group of clueless college kids in this midnight smash hit of the Sundance and SXSW film festivals.
VALHALLA RISING (Regional Premiere) – BRONSON director Nicholas Winding Refn teams with CASINO ROYALE star Mads Mikkelsen for this historical epic about Norse warriors in the year 1000 A.D. (Courtesy of IFC Films)
BORN TO FIGHT (2004) – Panna Rittikrai, martial arts choreographer of Tony Jaa’s ONG BAK films, directed this insanely fun stunt extravaganza about a small village overtaken by terrorists that fights back in spectacular style. This rare U.S. theatrical screening is part of ActionFest’s Shomongkolfilm Retrospective (Courtesy of Dragon Dynasty)
GOLDEN BLADE III: RETURN OF THE MONKEY’S UNCLE – The only martial arts extravaganza shot entirely on location in Asheville, NC, GOLDEN BLADE III is an affectionate spoof of the classic Shaw Brothers films of the 1970s, right down to the cheap FX and bad dubbing. This special midnight screening will be accompanied by a live audio commentary from director TJ Weidow and members of the cast & crew.
WAKE IN FRIGHT (a.k.a. OUTBACK – 1971) – Once deemed a “lost” film, Ted Kotcheff’s gripping 1971 thriller about a mild-mannered school teacher’s crazed weekend in the Australian outback, has recently been restored and is now considered one of the greatest Australian films of all time.
Chuck Norris Retrospective
CODE OF SILENCE (1985) – Chuck Norris’ most critically acclaimed film cast him as Chicago cop Eddie Cusack, who battles mobsters and corrupt cops in this outstanding police thriller from director Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE)
BRADDOCK: MISSING IN ACTION III – Chuck Norris teams with brother Aaron Norris (co-founder of ActionFest) for the third film in the MISSING IN ACTION series, where Col. James Braddock goes back to Vietnam to rescue his Amer-Asian son in this little-seen sequel, Chuck’s personal favorite of the series.