Why KFK is Excited about Kenji Tanigaki’s “The Furious”!

Like martial arts themselves, martial arts films have distinctly different and unique approaches and styles, and the list of the latter has only grown more fantastically diversified with time.

When one thinks of “Hong Kong action”, the image it conjures up has an identity all its own, as does the style of action found in Indonesia, Thailand, and the U.S. – so what better combo than bring all of the above together in a Hong Kong-produced martial arts action ensemble with Thailand as its primary location?

The makers of the forthcoming “The Furious” are currently endeavoring exactly that with Hong Kong stunt veteran Kenji Tanigaki directing and the project recently kicking off production in Bangkok. And naturally, that necessitates a thorough rundown of Why KFK is excited for Kenji Tanigaki’s “The Furious”!

“The Furious” Has One Furious Ensemble!

Per the project’s announcement in Variety, “The Furious” brings together a dream team of martial artists including Xie Miao, Joe Taslim, Jeeja Yanin, Yang Enyu, and Yayan Ruhian boarding the project.

Additionally, subsequent reporting by Martial Arts Action Cinema has also revealed that Martial Club’s Brian Le will also join “The Furious”, as well.

Meanwhile, the plot synopsis provided by Variety offers a glimpse at what the furious action-packed ride “The Furious” will take its ensemble cast on:

When his daughter is snatched off the street, simple tradesman Konggu (Xie) fights his way through a complex web of criminals in a frantic attempt to win her back by any means necessary.

His only ally is tireless journalist Navin (Taslim). The two men from utterly different backgrounds must learn to trust, collaborate and draw on combat skills from their own hidden pasts.”

Martial arts fans, of course, need no introduction to the quintet of action stars who make up the first round of casting news for “The Furious”.

Joe Taslim and Yayan Ruhian broke out with “The Raid” movies, with Joe and Yayan respectively garnering further recognition in the action movie world with their subsequent roles in “The Night Comes for Us”, “Warrior”, and “Mortal Kombat” for Joe and “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”, “Boy Kills World”, and Liam O’Donnell’s “Skyline” franchise for Yayan.

Fans of Thai action movies also know Jeeja Yanin well for her debut in 2008’s cult hit “Chocolate”, along with her later appearances in such martial arts hits as “Raging Phoenix”, “Tom Yum Goong 2”, “Never Back Down: No Surrender”, and “Triple Threat”.

Hong Kong action fans were first introduced to Xie Miao in his days as child star, with Miao portraying Jet Li’s martial arts prodigy son not once but twice in “New Legend of Shaolin” and “My Father is Hero”.

Miao has also continued working in Chinese martial arts films as an adult, with appearances in movies like “Ip Man: The Awakening”, “Eye for an Eye” and “Hunt the Wicked”. Additionally, after making a considerable splash on YouTube as a member of the Martial Club gang, Brian Le has made significant mainstream in-roads with his stunt and villain roles in movies like “Paper Tigers”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, and “Shadow Master”.

In all, the ensemble cast of “The Furious” alone is tailor-made to excite any martial arts aficionado, but the mandate by the makers of the movie goes much further as a vehicle to re-invigorate Hong Kong martial arts films.

Producers Bill Kong and Todd Brown Speak on “The Furious”

“The Furious” is being co-produced and financed by Bill Kong’s Hong Kong-based Edko Films and the U.S.-based XYZ Films, and producers Bill Kong and Todd Brown both envision it as a new foundational template for the Hong Kong action movie scene, which outside of the Donnie Yen department, has been noticeably more lean and uncertain in the last decade or so.

Speaking to Variety, Bill Kong shared his grandiose vision for the potential of “The Furious”:

I’m going to do an action movie that rocks the world. And to prove that Hong Kong still has something to give the film industry. I want to show that Asian people can still make an action movie that is better than the rest of the world.” Kong also added, “If we fail, ‘The Furious’ will only be as good as ‘The Raid’ or ‘Taken.

Comparisons to “The Raid” certainly aren’t without merit on any project that boasts two of its key players, but Kong most certainly knows his stuff on martial arts moviemaking, having produced such timeless classics as “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, “Hero”, “House of Flying Daggers”, and “Fearless”.

Todd Brown also shares Kong’s enthusiasm for the potential impact “The Furious” can impart and especially with the guiding hand of Kenji Tanigaki as director, telling Variety:

While people may not know who director Kenji Tanigaki is right now, they’re certainly going to. He’s the best there is, his work is incredibly kinetic while also being incredibly grounded and real, “People know Bill Kong’s previous martial arts productions for being incredibly beautiful and emotional, but this one? Tanigaki is going to punch the world in the face.”

Kong also echoed Brown’s sentiment of Kenji Tanigaki as an innovator for future Hong Kong action movies, stating: “Through this film, I want us to discover the new Yuen Woo-ping, the new Sammo Hung and the new Donnie Yen…Think what Chad Stahelski was before directing ‘John Wick,’ or ‘Deadpool’s David Leitch or ‘Extraction’s’ Sam Hargraves…That’s what Tanigaki is in Asia right now.” And indeed, Kenji Tanigaki’s resume is nothing to sneeze at.

Kenji Tanigaki is Ready to Rock with “The Furious”!

Martial arts fans already know Kenji Tanigaki well for his frequent collaborations with Donnie Yen, with Kenji helping assemble the incredible fight scenes of “Flash Point”, “Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen”, “Raging Fire”, “Sakra”, and numerous other Yen-led actioners.

Kenji also designed the epic sword battles of the live-action “Ruruoni Kenshin” franchise, and more recently served as action director on the long-incoming 2024 Hong Kong martial arts spectacular “Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In”. Comparing Kenji to Yuen Woo-ping, Chad Stahelski, David Leitch, or Donnie Yen as an action movie director and fight choreographer is far from a hyperbolic reach, as Kenji’s resume is testimony to, but like Brown and Kong, Kenji sees “The Furious” as having a much greater potential impact of pushing 21st century Hong Kong action to new heights.

Speaking to Variety, Kenji said of directing “The Furious”: “I’m not interested in making actors who cannot move look as if they can…Our cast has real skills from different martial arts disciplines. Everything we are doing is going to be practical.” with Kenji also adding, “Take the films of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin or Fred Astaire.

We are still watching those movies 50 years after they were made…They are classics, that are practical and real. I hope our movie will be able to live on like that.

Obviously, the martial arts cred of the cast of “The Furious” is legit even without Kenji’s enthusiastic endorsement, while his comment on the movie’s practical action suggests a mostly grounded approach to the movie’s fight choreography.

Moreover, Kenji’s comment on making “The Furious” a martial arts ensemble piece to stand the test of time really speaks to the push the production team are giving it as a bid to change the game of contemporary Hong Kong action along with its well-known global reach.

Between that and the core cast of “The Furious”, it also speaks to a key element of Hong Kong action that the project seems heavily steeped in.

“The Furious” Could be a Pan-Asian Action Game-Changer

As a Hong Kong-U.S. co-production, “The Furious” brings an international ensemble to its story with Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, and American martial arts stars anchoring the film (which, per Variety, will also reportedly be in English).

The multi-cultural cast of “The Furious” reflects one of the key strengths of classic Hong Kong action movies, that being the very frequent intermingling of local and international martial artists.

“The Furious” might actually be aiming to take this idea even further with a cast from so many different Asian and international territories as another push for interconnecting different Asian industries and stars into the future of Hong Kong action filmmaking.

2015’s “SPL 2: A Time for Consequences” was an early forerunner of this idea as a Tony Jaa-Wu Jing double-header, while Wu Jing’s “Wolf Warrior” movies also brought aboard Western stars like Scott Adkins and Frank Grillo as their antagonists (Scott also serving that role opposite Donnie Yen in “Ip Man 4: The Finale”).

It could well be that the makers of “The Furious” are striving to push that internationality to the next level with stars of “The Raid” movies, “Chocolate”, and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” jumping into a Hong Kong actioner filmed in Thailand.

In the cinematic universe era of superhero moviemaking, crossovers and team-ups have long since gone from the exception to the rule, and “The Furious” might be aiming to do something similar with martial arts stars from throughout Asia as well as the Western world.

With “The Furious” being sold as a grounded Hong Kong actioner with an international ensemble of martial arts movie royalty and the aim it’s taking as being a martial arts genre pusher, the idea of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bollywood, and Hollywood crossing their action stars over with greater regularity is an exciting prospect indeed.

We hope it’s one “The Furious” can open the floodgates on in its bid to push Hong Kong action movies to their next BIG evolution in the 21st century!

Stay tuned for more info on “The Furious” as it arrives!

Are you excited for martial arts ensemble of “The Furious”? What are some of your favorite martial arts flicks featuring the big players of “The Furious”? Are you looking forward to seeing Kenji Tanigaki work his Hong Kong action magic on “The Furious”? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Brad Curran

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

1 Comment
  1. Great article, I am excited as well. One other thing, not only did Kenji train and work under Donnie Yen, but also was a student of Yasuaki Kurata. That’s exciting that he brings Japanese style action experience as well, like you mentioned with the Rurouni Kenshin movies. I only hope they add more to the cast, would love to see Japanese, Korean, Indian and European martial artists added.

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