2019 has been yr for Mark Dacascos. Not solely did he make a wonderful return to the massive display screen as super-assassin/super-fanboy Zero in John Wick: Chapter three, however he utterly stole the present. Critics and audiences stood up and paid consideration to what motion connoisseurs have identified for a while: Dacascos is the actual deal.
For those who’re a newcomer, you may end up daunted by his large physique of labor, so right here’s a whistlestop tour of a number of the highlights and why they’re value watching. And in case you’re an current convert? Sit again, benefit from the recollections and tell us your individual faves within the feedback.
To start with, there was kung fu…
Mark Dacascos was born in Hawaii and is of Filipino, Spanish, Irish, Chinese language, and Japanese ancestry – “a typical Hawaiian native boy” as he places it. His dad and mom each taught kung fu and Mark attended their classes from early childhood onwards. Al Dacascos, his father, is thought for creating Wun Hop Kuen Do (Mixture Fist), an offshoot of the Hawaiian Kajukenbo artwork that blends Karate, Jujutsu, Kenpo and Boxing. Within the early 80s, Mark competed in a number of junior Kung Fu and Karate championships and often took first place. He’s additionally since studied Muay Thai, Chin Na, Tai Chi, Wushu, and Capoeira, amassing a martial arts portfolio as numerous as his heritage.
It’s no shock that younger Mark’s hero was Bruce Lee, whose personal Jeet Kune Do is perhaps the last word hybrid model, however in contrast to Lee, he by no means had any explicit ambition to behave. He was talent-spotted on the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown within the mid-80s and solid in Wayne Wang’s Dim Sum(1985), however his small function ended up lacking from the ultimate minimize. He had an identical near-but-not-quite second when he performed a karate professional in a pilot of Bio-Man, Saban’s TV prototype for what would ultimately morph into Mighty Morphin’ Energy Rangers (albeit with out Mark Dacascos).
American Samurai (1992)
The appearing bug had bit by this stage so Dacascos paid the payments by working onstage at The Adventures Of Conan attraction at Common Studios and taking any small display screen elements he may get. His first important function got here in Sam Firstenberg’s American Samurai (1992), an try and revive and reboot the flagging American Ninja collection however with extra swords and fewer hoods.
For all its aesthetic changes, it was nonetheless a riff on the acquainted ninja story, with David Bradley as an American orphan raised within the woods by Japanese samurai. After turning into a grasp of the sword, he incurs the jealous wrath of his stepbrother (Dacascos). This being a Cannon film, the 2 need to sq. off in a Bloodsport-style event, after first making their manner by way of a collection of crazily costumed goons. Regardless of its buckets of gore, the movie is just not all that nice however it does give us a style of what’s to come back from Dacascos – smoldering eyes, oiled-up muscle mass and confoundingly quick kung fu in types you want a calculator to work out…
Solely the Sturdy (1993)
Dacascos obtained his actual break on this uncommon teen film that’s type of like a martial arts model of Stand & Ship (1988). He performs an ex-Companies man who will get introduced into the hardest college in Miami to show Capoeira courses to native gang children. It’s an uplifting story with a pleasant message however what makes it so cool is how uncommon it’s to see Capoeira onscreen and the way cinematic it’s as a martial artwork. Because it combines parts of music, dance and acrobatics with combating, the model is a deal with each for the eyes and ears. Dacascos takes centre stage and wows along with his bodily prowess and twinkly good humor to the tune of catchy numbers like “Zum Zum Zum” (which you’ll in all probability know from the Mazda adverts a few years later).
Previous to getting the function, Dacascos had no expertise with Capoeira however quickly realized it instantly from Amen Santo, one of many nice masters. The result’s that he comes off like a pure and the ultimate battle, with Paco Prieto (Lionheart), is staggeringly good. It’s a disgrace that Solely the Sturdy and the way more dramatic Assailant (2009) are the one two martial arts movies that focus totally on Capoeira, however it’s a testomony to how ace it’s that each are important viewing.
It was arguably Dacascos’s efficiency in Solely the Sturdy that led to a few different cheap profile leads in Kickboxer 5 (1995) – not the best Kickboxer sequel – and as one of many Lee brothers in Double Dragon (1994), a kid-friendly Hollywood adaptation of the beloved arcade recreation. However the subsequent important watch in your record ought to be…
Crying Freeman (1995)
Based mostly on a seminal manga by Kazuo Koike (of Lone Wolf and Cub fame), Crying Freeman is a masterpiece of excessive idea motion cinema. When a shy, lonely painter known as Emu O’Hara (Julie Condra) witnesses an assassination within the woods by a mysterious man identified solely as Yo (Dacascos) they discover themselves in a tough place. Yo’s employers – the shadowy, quasi-supernatural Sons of the Dragon – need Emu killed, as a result of she’s seen his face. However Yo and Emu have fallen deeply in love and he simply needs to guard her. Not simply from himself but in addition from the hellish crossfire of the Yakuza battle they’re now embroiled in.
Crying Freeman is basically a romantic melodrama, albeit with a wholesome dose of ultraviolence and supernatural mysticism. Christophe Gans directs with aptitude and the movie seems to be attractive from begin to end. The casting is impressed. Condra and Dacascos – who would ultimately marry in actual life and are nonetheless collectively right now (aww) – look uncannily like they’ve stepped proper out of Ryoichi Ikegami’s drawings and onto the display screen.
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Even within the moments the place the plot may really feel a bit shaky, you may be so blinded by the visuals you will not care. And the motion is insane. Explosions, huge stunts, swords galore, Woo-style slo-mo gunfights, martial arts nuttiness, you identify it. What’s nice is that it is all achieved with the utmost sincerity and fervour. For those who’re after gritty realism, you may in all probability battle with how stylized that is however it’s a comic book e-book lk21 film within the old school sense of the time period. Impressionistic, over-the-top, colourful, and good.
On the opposite finish of the spectrum, Dacascos labored a number of instances with ’80s horror maestro Tibor Takács (The Gate, I Madman) on a run of actually stable direct-to-video thrillers – Redline, Sanctuary, Lethal Previous – however one of the best of those must be Sabotage. He performs Bishop, an ex-black ops man turned bodyguard, whose employer will get assassinated by a creepy hitman (Tony Todd). FBI Agent Fortress (Carrie-Anne Moss) investigates and the 2 of them discover themselves caught up in a lethal recreation, each bit as chess-like as their names recommend it’ll be…