If there was one bad ass who could capture the title of “The Greatest Bad Ass Alive Today,” that bad ass would be the legendary Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director, producer, action choreographer, and multiple-time world wushu tournament champion Donnie Yen. If you only knew Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, the blind warrior from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” you already know him to be pretty bad ass. But if you only know Donnie Yen from a Star Wars movie, it’s time you get to know him a little better.
After missing yesterday’s opening day, I made sure to get myself down to Santa Monica to soak up information on hundreds of movies from around the world. Part of me would love to say I was looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, that big-budget title with an A-list cast and director, but where’s the fun in that? I’d much rather go hunting for movies that look interesting, or at least could be ironically interesting, that won’t be as heavily covered by other outlets.
And, boy, did I find some!
Every November, the film world comes together in a swanky hotel off the beach in Santa Monica, where film producers and distributors sell (or pre-sell) their latest movie concepts to buyers from around the world. Cannes might be the best known film market, although it’s far better known for the Film Festival aspect than the film market aspect, but the American Film Market (AFM) is one of the absolute must-attend events in the industry.
It’s okay if you have not heard of Ana Lily Amirpour yet. She only has one movie released so far, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a self-described “Iranian vampire Western” shot in Persian somewhere outside Buttonwillow (a favorite stop for travelers of Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the Bay Area), which grossed less than a million dollars when it was released three years ago. But it should be a sign of how visionary her little movie was that her follow-up, The Bad Batch, should be able to land stars like Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Diego Luna and Jim Carrey, and get financed by one of the best producers working today, Megan Ellison.
Way out west, there was this fella I wanna tell ya about. Goes by the name of Sam Elliott. At least that was the handle his loving parents gave him, but many people, especially women – and not just older women but women of all ages with discerning tastes – would call him “The Sexiest Man Alive.” See, this Elliot, he’d never call himself “The Sexiest Man Alive.” Because boiling down one of the most interesting actors to grace the silver screen down to a worthless tabloid moniker doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Watching Sam Elliott work over the past forty years, on the silver screen and on television, in a wide variety of genres, has been one of the great joys of entertainment, and never has he had a role quite like Lee Hayden, leading a movie quite like “The Hero.”
Continuing our desire to highlight upcoming independent and foreign films we think you should be aware of, we take a look at the new film from a legendary action star of the 80s.