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Anyone remotely familiar with the Hong Kong action industry during the
1980s and early 1990s should know that the pool for martial arts actors
was overflowing with capable talent. Pick your poison: Jackie Chan, Jet
Li, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Donnie Yen, Collin Chou, Ken Lo, etcetera ad
infinitum. In like manner, there were a number of martial arts
actresses floating around: Yukari Oshima, Moon Lee, Michelle Yeoh,
Cynthia Rothrock, and Joyce Godenzi, to name but a few. Unfortunately,
the girls were not allowed to attain their full potential because the
directors and producers were either too stupid or too incompetent to
use them properly, opting to saturate their films with boring filler
material and lame humor. How many times did Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima
sign for the same film, only to then fight for a grand total of 2
friggin minutes over the course of a 90 minute running time? I honestly
lost count, and it really ticks me off because Yukari and Moon should
have accounted for at least 30 minutes of action per movie. There's no
excuse for falling short of that quota, and these "Golden Age"
directors/producers should be ashamed of themselves for essentially
wasting these actresses careers.
If there's one type of action movie that really hits the spot for me, it's the "girls with guns" or "girls kick a$$" subgenre. Some of my favorites involve non-athletic actresses, but there's something really special about watching a highly athletic girl strut her stuff without the help of stunt doubles. JeeJa Yanin, in and of herself, demands excitement after her phenomenal debut in "Chocolate" (2008). And despite the fact that the pool of martial arts actresses is very thin at the moment, Luxia Jiang has impressively demonstrated her abilities in "Coweb" (2009).
A female bodyguard attempts to rescue her kidnapped boss. It's no understatement to say that this film is as action-packed as humanly possible. Within the opening 15 minutes the viewer is treated to a brutal, lengthy kitchen fight and the subsequent brawls (in a knee-deep water pit at a disco, at a warehouse, on a bamboo scaffold, in a marketplace with breakdancers, etc.) follow in quick succession. The plot simply serves the purpose of transporting our heroine from one clash to the next, which isn't a problem for fans of no-brain action. Jiang is a highly athletic specimen who easily carries the film on her back. Her spin kicks are awesome, and she breaks out a few nifty acrobatic jumps. There are other flaws here for sure. Direction and sound design are amateurish, wires are used regularly, and the martial arts choreography is a bit repetitive at times (more variety would have been nice), but this is very entertaining fare that will please those viewers who love to see girls kick a$$.
It's definitely nice to see that modern filmmakers are capable of avoiding the same mistakes of those during the "Golden Age." I'm sure lots of people will complain about the weak plot and characters in "Coweb", but a non-stop exhibition of girl-inflicted destruction is a major rarity in the world of cinema. How many more crappy big-budget Hollywood action flicks (with actresses who have ZERO talent) do you need to watch before appreciating a Luxia Jiang or JeeJa Yanin flick? I've seen more than enough already to fully appreciate these girls. If they are fortunate enough to each make one action-packed film per year over the next decade, I'll be in heaven.
Coweb is probably short for Combat Web. The idea of the film is that a
female bodyguard has her boss kidnapped by a gang who run an
underground fighting web-site. In order to rescue her boss, the
bodyguard must fight her way through the gang's martial artists - all
while her fights are being secretly taped, streamed over the web and
The film aspires to be the kung fu version of The Truman Show, even name-checking that film and it is a neat idea, but horribly executed. The only reason to see this film is its star, Jiang Lu Xia. Coweb's reality web story probably owes something to Jiang who was discovered doing stunts and karate on online videos before becoming a part of Jackie Chan's reality TV series The Disciple.
Jiang has her limits. If she has a sense of humour, it is impossible to detect - at least in this film. She only has three gears to her acting and fighting, neutral, annoyed and REALLY angry.
Despite these limits, wind her up and she is a whirling ball of action fury, impossible to ignore. She manages to combine Jackie Chan's athleticism and ability to squeeze over and through obstacles with Bruce Lee's unstoppable fury. Of course, both Jackie and Btuce had other gears. Jiang just has the one and this may limit her career, but in full fury she is something to see.
Jiang is about five foot nothing, but it seems like she has six feet worth of legs. She has an astonishing ability to turn her legs into a multi-jointed weapon like a living three-sectioned staff allowing her to hit opponents with full force from the most impossible angles. She also has some interesting submission moves to add to her acrobatics and kicking.
But her most impressive quality is her sheer confidence, best demonstrated in a sequence where she has to cross a bridge and a horde of enemy bad guys pour onto the bridge to stop her. For the audience, there is a moment of doubt and then in a flash you realize that Jiang isn't outnumbered thirty to one, the bad guys are outnumbered one to thirty.
It's not like any movie martial artist loses that fight, but few would do what Jiang does ("You just put your head down and charge like a bull," one of her other opponents marvels later.) and fewer still would be as believable while doing it. Jiang Lu Xia is something to see, her film Coweb, not so much.
If you are looking for a movie with Ninjas: This movie has not even
remotely to do with anything Ninja. The cover and the title are purely
a marketing lie, there are non Ninjas in it.
Story: Lame, but if you like martial arts movies you, like me, probably don't always expect a witty story.
Martials arts action: Like another reviewer wrote, the editing is bad. But it's not the kind of super-fast editing that covers up completely lame fight choreography, it just feels amateurish. Here and there the choreography lacks a bit of diversity but it is definitely above average. There is some wire work but for my taste it wasn't overdone. And Luxia Jiang got some fine moves.
Bottom line: If you love martial arts movies and don't need outstanding acting and a good story, go for it if you can rent it for a buck or if all the good movies are already rented out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Female martial arts teacher is hired by an old friend to act as a
bodyguard for his boss. When the unthinkable happens and he is
kidnapped, she finds that she has to fight a series of martial artists
in order to get him back. What she is unaware of is that her battles
are being filmed and bet on by a combat website.
One of several recent martial arts films that seem to have been released recently in Asia with a female lead. In the video store that I frequent this was touted less highly then a film called Raging Phoenix, which I was assured was the next big thing, To me Phoenix was a bust, this supposedly "lesser" film however greatly impressed me.
I'll tell you straight the plot isn't very good. Its merely the excuse for the action sequences. The action sequences on the other hand are great. They are fast moving and realistic. They lift what would be a merely mediocre film into the realm of the solidly good.
If you want a film with a number of dynamite action sequences this is the place to start.
Although a fairly OK martial arts movie I believe there may have been a
marketing flaw with this movie. The poster to the movie shows a
"Ninja". Set in the background are old / classic style structures. With
the tag line of "They are the perfect weapon" When watching the movie
however it is set in the modern day. There is no "They" only one main
protagonist fighter. No ninjas to speak off.
The movie as I say is OK on its own merits as a Hong Kong style martial arts movie but due to some error along the line the wrong poster was attached to it.
The action seems solid enough to hold your attention with a pretty good female lead. Which in movies like these, are always trying to show / prove that they can be as strong as their male counterparts. In doing so the female characters becomes arrogant the same way, but more a fault of the writing.
No titillation here if that is what you are looking for as seen in many of the other action style movies with female leads, dressed in skimpy revealing clothing. Cheap tricks designed to distract you.
I believe this movie was made mainly as a response to 2008's Chocolate. Still worth checking out in any case. A few of the fight scenes especially the one vs one fights do last a little longer than I would like, to show the skills of the cast maybe? As it is not based on the fantasy setup. No wire-work or anything like that, so actions and stunts done under their own steam.
"Ninja Masters"? This title was so off that it was painful to bear
witness to. There were no ninjas in this movie whatsoever. This title
was so misleading and poorly chosen that it was bad on so many levels.
A movie title like "The Game" would have been much more in tune with
The story in "Ninja Masters" is about Nie Yi Yi (played by Luxia Jiang) who goes to Hong Kong with her childhood sweetheart Chung Tin (played by Sam Lee), where she is to work as a bodyguard. But when the ones she is meant to protect are abducted, Nie Yi Yi finds herself in a cruel game of arranged fights for money.
Storywise, then "Ninja Masters" was rubbish. The storyline was so simple that you could keep up with it even with your eyes closed. It was predictable to every step and aspect, and the story is something that has been seen before in many other movies. Not impressive, not great.
However, what managed to keep this movie afloat was the fight scenes. Luxia Jiang is definitely one to keep an eye out for, because she really impressed with her athletics and martial arts in this movie. Sure, the fight scenes tended to drag on too long and take up too much time, and let's face it, no one can sustain such beatings as they did in the movie and still be standing. But still, it was action-packed and full of good moves.
Personally, I think Sam Lee was rather poorly cast for this movie, because his usual pseudo-comedy styled acting was really misplaced in this movie, and it just brought a level of immaturity to the movie that it could have done well without. I am not saying that Sam Lee is a bad actor, as he is fun to watch in Hong Kong comedies, but not in a martial arts movie like this.
And why do movie companies in 2009 still opt to release movies with an English dubbed feature? Seriously, try checking out the dubbed version. It is without a doubt the worst dubbing job I have witnessed. Not only was it done without any heart, soul or interest in the movie at all, but it also sounded like it was done by two or three people sitting around at home with a cassette recorder. It was just awful. Movies are meant to be watched and experienced in the language they are filmed, produced and released. Dubbing is so 1980's!
"Ninja Masters" was far from impressive. And the extended fight scenes couldn't salvage this train wreck of a movie. If you enjoy Asian martial arts movies, then there are far better ones available. The only reason I could think of for anyone to watch this, it would be for the showcasing of Luxia Jiang's skills.
The 4 out of 10 stars rating I am giving "Ninja Masters" is solely because of Luxia Jiang's martial arts performance, and because this is a Hong Kong movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*There are SPOILERS here!*
Coweb is a good movie. It's true that the directing may be somewhat inexperienced; some of the fighting sequences could have been better shot, but other than that I have very few complaints. I think that people's criticisms are just plain wrong, and I also think that the low rating the movie has received so far simply owes to not enough people (by which I mean people who know their martial arts movies) having seen it yet. Compared to martial arts movies in general, Coweb is in fact amazingly realistic in many ways. Sure, the plot is designed around the fight sequences, but so are most other martial arts movie plots, and this one actually does a better job of it than most.
We have a young woman, YiYi, who's a martial arts (taekwondo?) instructor, while also being a security guard (in the beginning of the movie she seems to be a cop, but it's not entirely clear to me why she's suddenly a security guard - not that it really matters). When she meets an old friend who's the personal assistant of some big-shot business man, she is offered a job as a bodyguard to his wife. Pretty soon, the business man and his wife are both apparently kidnapped, using so many guys that YiYi can only fight off some of them. Over the next several days YiYi and her old friend (nicknamed Fatty) do everything in their power to try to save the business man and his wife, which involves following leads that are texted to a phone left by the kidnappers, telling them to show up at certain times and places to fight various goons. It turns out that the fights are being recorded and broadcast on the internet for a group of gamblers to place bets on. YiYi fights her way to the top, and eventually finds out that she has been betrayed and manipulated by everybody; it has all been a lie, designed to make money off her fighting skills. She ends up confronting the business man who exploited her, and getting him arrested.
Besides being a pretty cool martial arts movie, it also contains a very satisfying political dimension, demonstrating in a very clear way how the rich exploit the poor and naive. Showing how money so often destroys people's lives. I always love a Chinese movie with a distinctly anti-capitalist message, and this is certainly one. The end scenes actually bear some resemblance to Hamlet - I kid you not - with Gertrude turning on Claudius, and Hamlet (YiYi) having the final duel with Laertes.
The movie is not all that brutal. It does have some blood, but not much in the way of broken bones or deaths, so it's pretty watchable for everybody, which I think is good. There are a number of good scenes, but also some imperfections. Not all of the background music fits the fight scenes very well.
The previous reviewer who says of this movie that "It accomplishes what Hong Kong "Golden Age" directors failed To achieve with their female talent" is to a large extent right. Imagine a movie starring one of the old-school fighting females with as many fight scenes as we have here! In some ways, Coweb is comparable to movies like Joyce Godenzi's She Shoots Straight, but the latter hasn't got anywhere near as much fighting in it, and much the same can be said for many other vintage action movies. A plot that accommodates the fighting as well as Coweb's does is rare, but it is exactly the kind of thing a good martial arts movie desperately needs. Hopefully, action directors are finally beginning to realize this...
8 stars out of 10.
This film is pathetic.
The actors are clearly skilled martial artists but not skilled actors.
The plot is stupid, it makes no sense and then the 'twist' at the end to try and make it makes sense is so forced and idiotic that it makes you wonder why they bothered.
The martial arts scenes are endless and dull, they have nothing original to offer and are unconvincing in the extreme, I actually switched the film off after the appearance of the 'hip-hop' fighters, I only returned to watch it again because I figured it couldn't get worse than that and it doesn't but unfortunately it doesn't get better either.
There is no plot, the direction is bad, the acting is non-existent and the fights are long, unrealistic and boring. This is like the films they made in the seventies in the US when martial arts were new and trendy, it's amazing that someone would make it now.
The martial arts film seems to finally be making a comeback in the US
market, but a far cry from the boom of the 80s and 90s. Most of the
ones that still deliver come from the Asian film market and usually are
slapped into a large scale period piece. Every so often you get one
that feels more like an old school action film of the past, but a lot
of time the action just doesn't live up to the hype. The latest to
bring it into a more present day scenario is Ninja Masters but does it
bring the action with it or will it be a quick knockout?
Ninja Masters follows a martial arts instructor who is hired as a bodyguard for a powerful couple. When they are kidnapped on her watch, she sets out on a mission to get them back. As her search begins she is given cryptic messages leading her into the world of underground fighting and will have to fight her way to the top to save her clients and get out alive. First and foremost there needs to be a disclaimer on this film. The action is awesome and the story delivers, but there is not a single ninja or anything related to ninjas in this movie. Clearly this was an US release decision to capture audience's attention and will most likely work. That being said the fight scenes are so awesome here you will quickly care less if there are ninjas or not. Sure there are some silly moments and over the top action, but for the most part the story doesn't matter as you are taken on a video game like journey through one awesome fight after another that is sure to keep you entertained. It starts off a bit slow, but rest assured once things get going you will have a blast.
This movie had the feeling of the old school martial arts films and works on just about every level. For the most part the actors all do a great job, but classic ninja movie fans will no doubt get a treat from seeing Kane Kosugi, son of Sho Kosugi, in action tearing up the scene at times even better than his legendary father. If you are a fan of old school martial arts films, then you will love Ninja Masters, just take the title as a nod to Kosugi and don't read into it and let yourself get in on the fun.
There is no doubt that Luxia Jiang is skilled in martial arts. If this movie intended to show us that fact than it has served it's purpose nicely. Too bad that as a viewer I demand much more. Movies like this should contain exciting fight scenes. While there were nice moments that made me admire Luxia I had real trouble in watching these fight sequences. For some reason it was very hard to keep watching. The editing was sloppy to say the least and the background music ruined almost every scene that it was used in. Now I can understand that most of this can be blamed on the director's inexperience. But wasn't there anybody involved who could have told him that he was doing a bad job. And did everything had to be so serious. This movie could have used some comic relief. I also want to add something about a comment made by one of the reviewers on this site. In which was commented that this movie delivered on what Hong Kong golden age directors failed to do with their female talent. Even the worst movies in the girls of guns genre (eighties and nineties) pulled more punches than this one. And believe me I have seen a lot. Coweb is filled with action and stunts. And I hate to say but in this case it is not a good thing. Because it gets very tiring to see Luxia doing the same kick over and over again without having it some effect on the guy/woman that gets kicked. There was this one fight where Luxia had to fight another woman which mostly consisted of these women spinning around without hitting each other once. Looked very silly to me. Talk about failing to use the female talent available!
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