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Dogs of Chinatown makes its hometown debut

by Mark Burger

“Action” was the word on everyone’s lips, and action is certainly what they were watching — a non-stop barrage of fists flying, guns blazing, tables toppling and bodies dropping. And that was just the audience! Last Sunday, the restaurant Solaris hosted a special, exclusive screening of Dogs of Chinatown, the martial-arts shoot-‘em-up filmed last summer in Greensboro and produced by the talented folks at All Aces Media. The filmmakers, profiled last summer in a YES! Weekly cover story, were justifiably pleased and proud to finally show the world — well, select folks from the Piedmont Triad, anyway — the fruits of their labor. Dogs of Chinatown marks the first feature film produced by All Aces, which includes director Micah Moore and producer Blake Faucette, and also the first cinematic collaboration between All Aces and the Stunt People, a group of martial-arts experts and aspiring moviemakers based in the San Francisco Bay area. Having been impressed by the Stunt People’s previous feature film, the award-winning Contour, All Aces sought to team up with them and bring the rock-‘em, sock-‘em action that the Stunt People are renowned for to our little corner of the East Coast. And everybody’s still around to tell about it! Eric Jacobus and Ray Carbonel, both principal members of the Stunt People, head a cast that includes Huyen Thi, Bill Oberst Jr., Brian Lee, Ray Wood, Tom Spano and Mike Beane — many of them hailing from right here in the region. Jacobus plays Jack, a disillusioned loner who saves Jin (Thi), the mistress of a Chinatown crime boss, from an assault. In gratitude, Jack is made a member of “the family” and put to work as a hatchet man for the mob.

But when Jack and Jin get a little too close, Jack finds himself on the hit parade — and caught in the middle of an ongoing, escalating turf war between the Italian mob and the Asian Triad. It may not be the stuff of Academy Awards, but it is the stuff of cult followings. Faucette, Moore and the All Aces team are longtime aficionados of Asian gangster and kung-fu films (once upon a time called “chopsocky” films), and wanted to pay homage to the genre. Before the screening, Moore thanked a number of people in the audience (as well as YES! Weekly for its ongoing coverage of the film’s production), but saved his warmest sentiments for his cast and crew. Of Faucette, “He’s the only mo-fo I’ve ever met who could keep up with me,” Moore said, “and unlike me he did it with a positive attitude and a smile. He’s the best producer a director could wish for… [only] if he was a hot naked chick, he’d be better!” Principal photography was completed last fall, followed by some additional (planned) shooting earlier this year. The last few months have been spent editing and fine-tuning the film, as well as incorporating digital special effects to lend it a scope far beyond its budget, which was well south of $1 million. The film was shot in digital format and was originally conceived to be in black and white. Given the potential difficulties of selling a black-and-white movie in today’s marketplace (despite the novelty), the filmmakers were then faced with the task of “colorizing” it — but without disrupting the mood and atmosphere. (The filmmakers vow that they intend to include the black-and-white version in the DVD release.) The drinks flowed and spirits were high even before the film started… at least for me, because I showed up in time to watch the fourth quarter of the NFL game in which the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Any time the Eagles win, it’s enough to put even this jaded critic in a pretty jolly mood.) But there was also the palpable sense of excitement among those gathered, many of whom had direct or indirect ties to the making of Dogs of Chinatown, that they were watching a cinematic vision come to life right before their eyes. They’ll be only the first, as the film was recently selected to be screened at the Escapism Film Festival, which runs Oct. 17-19 at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. Having been acquired for distribution even before its completion, by Fantastic Films International and Crimson Wolf Productions, the film will also be screened at the international trade show MIPCOM, which is held in France Oct. 13-17. In November, the film goes to the AFM (American Film Market) in California. After that… well, then it just might be time for another update on Dogs of Chinatown. For more information about Dogs of Chinatown and the mad moviemakers who made it, check out http://allacesmedia.com/ You can also view the trailer and exclusive clips from the movie at witchfilm.net/site/view/exclusive-clipsfrom-micah-moores-dogs-of-chinatown. To comment on this story, e-mail Mark Burger at marksburger@yahoo.com.

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