Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Announcements, HOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Alright folks, today the Azn Badger is gonna’ be a lazy bastard and take this opportunity to dole out a few announcements/orders that you would do well to follow up on.

ANNOUNCEMENT #1:

 

Wow, I guess good lighting does wonders for shitty makeup.

Remember that ill-fated indie financed trailer for a possible Mortal Kombat movie that made the rounds on Youtube awhile back?

Well, in case you don’t, here’s a link to a lengthy article that I pounded out regarding my thoughts on it.

Anyway, as it turns out, that particular video clip; while permanently removed from Youtube, went on to have not-so-ill a fate after all.

After much fussing, bellyaching, and talk of lawsuits, director Kevin Tancharoen and his crew have finally been given the greenlight to begin work on a Mortal Kombat film project, though the format is somewhat different from what was originally conceived.

Instead of a feature film, direct to video or otherwise; the project is going to be carried out as an online series, most likely for use in promoting the series’ upcoming newest installment.

The videos are expected to hit the web sometime in April, and I for one am looking forward to watching them.

Larnell Stovall is kind of a hot commodity in the fight choreography game as of now, so any chance I get to see his work is one I’ll be sure to capitalize on at every opportunity.

(Thanks to the people at Twitchfilm.com for posting the article that tipped me off to this hot news!)

ANNOUNCEMENT #2:

Ip Man 2 is coming to theaters in the US on January 28!

A long time ago I posted a huge article outlining my appreciation for Donnie Yen.

It was one of the first major articles I posted, and to date; remains one of the most viewed ones as well.

In that article, I made note of the fact that I was frustrated by the fact that despite my love for Donnie Yen movies, and indeed, kung fu movies in general; I’ve never really been given a chance to view any of them on the silver screen.

While I’ve owned Ip Man 2 for some time now, on 2 different formats; the prospect of seeing a film starring my hero Donnie Yen, on the big screen, is one that I feel I can’t afford to miss.

Theatrical releases of legitimate kung fu movies in the US are extremely rare, but for all intents and purposes this may end up being the only movie starring Donnie Yen that may ever be released here.

Rest assured, I intend to recruit a small army of friends, and plop their asses down in the theater to see this one, regardless of whether they’ve seen the first one or not.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got at the moment, make sure to

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tooting My Own Horn…

*In lieu of my family’s traditional New Year’s dinner of pork and sauerkraut (Apparently it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch thingDon’t ask…) being pushed back to this evening, I’ve decided to forego a legit posting tonight in favor of a neat little “year in review” that WordPress made for me.  Enjoy, I know I sure did!*

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 64,000 times in 2010. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would have performed about 3 times.

In 2010, there were 250 new posts, not bad for the first year!

The busiest day of the year was October 29th with 3,439 views. The most popular post that day was Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were reddit.com, facebook.com, kotaku.com, kungfucinema.com, and minecraftforum.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for donnie yen, cecilia cissy wang, broly, moon knight, and guyver.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post) October 2010
2 comments

2

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VI – Old Man Yen May 2010

3

Movie Review: Undisputed 3: Redemption June 2010
3 comments

4

Vejita Has a Brother!!? September 2010
2 comments

5

Moon Knight, Thank You For Being So Freakin’ Crazy. May 2010

Filed under: Comics, Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Donnie Yen’s butt.

That, my friends; is the one element of Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen that I can honestly say I’ve never seen elsewhere.

That one goofy and slightly embarrassing little detail aside, Return of Chen Zhen is a bipolar mess of a film that can only be recommended to the most hardcore of Donnie Yen fans, I.E. me.

The basic plot is as follows:

Picking up after the conclusion of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen) flees China for the French battlefield of WWI.

How he managed to survive charging headlong into a hail of gunfire after the events of Fist of Fury, is never explained.

During the war, one of Chen Zhen’s friends is shot dead, prompting him to go apeshit and kill a bunch of Germans via the combined techniques of parkour and shank-fu.

*Cue shitty rip-off of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme* What? You think I'm kidding?

Much violence and badassery ensues.

With that, Chen Zhen opts to assume his fallen friend’s identity as he sets off for Shanghai; declaring his homeland his new battlefield in fighting against Chinese oppression.

Why he decides to take out his aggression on the occupying Japanese (embodied by the decidedly flacid antagonist played by Kohata Ryu)  instead of the German forces that were directly responsible for his friend’s death, is not explained.

Once in China, Chen Zhen uses his resources to build himself a network of newsies, students, war vets, and cops to serve as his Shadow-esque eyes and ears.

He also invests in a pencil-thin fake mustache, seemingly just because pencil-thin mustaches are pimp.

"Hello, I'm Donnie Yen, and you sir; have just stumbled upon my secret Pimp Party. Prepare to be kicked in the face... Repeatedly."

How Chen Zhen acquires said resources to put together said network, and purchase said mustache, is never explained.

Now firmly established as a wealthy entrepreneur of sorts in Shanghai, Chen Zhen links up with fellow wealthy socialite and nightclub owner, Li Yutian (Anthony Wong) in order to spread his influence… At least that’s what I got out of it anyway.

Li’s nightclub also happens to play host to a foxy singer named Kiki (Shu Qi) whom Chen Zhen quickly becomes attracted to.

Donnie Yen would hit it, but y'know; supermodel wife...

The wikipedia entry for this movie states that Chen Zhen “is romantically attracted to Kiki,” however this is hardly evident in the film.

I know they’re Chinese, and they’re not good at that whole “love” thing, or y’know; talking to each other, but when 2 characters never so much as hold hands throughout a movie, I find it hard to believe they’re “romantically attracted” to each other.

Not only that, but their most intimate moment is actually when Chen Zhen threatens to kill her.

ROMANCE.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell; Kiki really ruined the movie for me.

Usually I kind of like Shu Qi’s bubbly cutesy-ness, as was the case in the delightfully, uh, adequate Jackie Chan flick, Gorgeous; but this time around her role was just plain ugly.

Her character’s arc, much like the flow of the entire film, is predictable; yet somehow all over the place all at the same time.

Not only that, she’s shitfaced for roughly 3 quarters of the film, making her a very difficult character to like.

I’m guessing her character was supposed to be tragic, but in the end; she just brought the whole movie down by needlessly slowing the pace with frequent, and boring dialogue scenes.

Speaking of boring dialogue scenes, Return of Chen Zhen has a fuck ton of ‘em!

In most cases I can deal with inane and extraneous dialogue, but in the case of this movie; I actually found myself muttering the words:

“Jesus fuck man, I DON’T CARE.

Well okay, I didn’t exactly “mutter” those words so much as yell them, but you get the point.

Needless to say, Return of Chen Zhen has some writing issues… And pacing issues…  And it smells funny.

Now, when I said Return of Chen Zhen was a “bipolar” movie, I was of course speaking of it’s up and down pacing, specifically the jarring contrast between it’s action sequences, and the rest of the film.

In short:

Return of Chen Zhen has some pretty spankin’ fight sequences.

Heh heh, I like the part when the one dude gets kicked in the face. That was cool...

While nearly all of it is of the classic, Dynasty Warriors/1 man vs. the world style, most of it is well choreographed, and perhaps more importantly; competently shot.

Make no mistake, while the staging of the fights was indeed very good in Return of Chen Zhen, the editor, and perhaps more importantly; the cinematographer deserve a special pat on the back for their contributions.

While not so great a fight, this shot was pretty enough to redeem it.

Donnie Yen served as action choreographer for this one, and if there’s anything Donnie Yen is good at; it’s making himself look good.

While I heard reports that indicated an excessive use of stunt doubles for this film, I can honestly say that I didn’t notice them.

I’m assuming most of the parkour and stunt work was filmed using doubles, but everything that counts in my book, that is; the punching and kicking of people’s faces, was definitely all Yen.

Trust me, nobody throws kicks like Donnie Yen, nobody.

So… Where are his balls during all of this?

Speaking of which, from an action standpoint, Return of Chen Zhen serves as a sort of “best of” for Donnie Yen’s various trademark moves.

From the leaping spinning back kick above, to the cheesy windmill uppercuts of old, to even some of the joint locks and MMA style moves seen in SPL and Flashpoint; pretty much every cool thing Donnie Yen has done to someone throughout his career is featured, and ably performed in this movie at some point, with satisfyingly brutal results.

Though sadly there’s no breakdance fighting ala Mismatched Couples…

Kung Fu B-Boy Donnie Yen!

Getting back to the movie, seeing as most of the fight sequences in Return of Chen Zhen have Mr. Yen clothed in a Kato-esque mask and suit, the movements and strikes incorporated into the choreography bear a satisfying and altogether appropriate “superhero-y” quality to them.

That is to say:

When people get hit in this movie, they fly across the room and then some.

Yeah, that guy's goin' through a wall... Or 2.

Normally I’m not a fan of wirework in my kung fu movies, but their use in this film was largely used for the simple effect of slamming people into bookcases/windows/walls/platypuses, instead of the more fanciful bullshit as in Dragon Tiger Gate and other such films.

In all, Donnie Yen’s physical performance was nothing short of incredible in Return of Chen Zhen.

Given his relatively advanced age for the genre, (47) dreading the day when Donnie Yen suddenly gets old overnight and can’t perform as well he used to, but goddamnit; Father Time must owe him money or something, ’cause if anything he looked better in this movie than he did 2 years ago.

My guess is, the Ip Man movies actually served to smother Mr. Yen’s performances a bit over the past few years.

Wing Chun is a very practical, and straightforward fighting system; and one that is foreign to Donnie Yen’s martial talents.

As I mentioned earlier, Return of Chen Zhen was choreographed by Donnie Yen, for Donnie Yen, and in getting back to the basics, I think Mr. Yen showed us all that he’s still got it.

Anyway, enough cock-sucking.

In closing, I’d just like to point out a few little tidbits I felt needed mentioning:

Yasuaki Kurata and Shawn Yue have cameos in this movie.

They’re brief, and largely pointless; but it was fun seeing them nonetheless.

Would’ve really liked to have seen Kurata do a bit of fighting, seeing as he seemed relatively spry in Master of Thunder a few years ago, but oh well; take what you can get.

If you didn't see it already, then you probably shouldn't...

The vast majority of the sets for Return of Chen Zhen were very obviously recycled from the one used for Bodyguards and Assassins.

While it’s an incredible set, and definitely worth revisiting, there’s no denying that it was framed with a lot more love in Bodyguards and Assassins, and thusly comes across as kind of cheap looking this time around.

Also, if you’ve seen Bodyguards and Assassins, then it’s kind of surreal looking at little things like staircases and windows and remembering them, very clearly; from their use in that movie, which is peculiar being as Bodyguards and Assassins took place in Hong Kong, while Return of Chen Zhen is set in Shanghai.

I suppose it’s worth noting that, yes; the Japanese are the villains of this movie, and yes; they are portrayed as the most vile, baby boiling, dog kicking sons of bitches you’ve ever met.

Xenophobia has always been marketable in Chinese films, and nothing is ever gonna’ change that.

Regardless of how bad they make my people look, as long as Hong Kong keeps pumping out awesome movies about people kicking each other in the brain, I honestly don’t care.

Anyway, the plot sucked, the characters were boring, the dialogue was excessive and dull… but the fighting was pretty good.

If you love to see Donnie Yen do his thing, see it.

If not, then all you’re really missing is Donnie Yen’s butt.

Can you live without seeing Donnie Yen’s butt?

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writer’s Block… Time For More Farley.

At the moment I’ve got about 4 articles swimming around in my head, and no motivation to sit down and type them.

I suppose it doesn’t help that Christmas is just around the corner, not to mention I just got my new Donnie Yen movie:  Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.

In other words:

I’m watching Donnie Yen, so no blog for tonight.

That being said, while I have no reason to celebrate at the moment, here’s another Farley clip to tide you over for tomorrow:

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So… I Just Ordered Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

*GASP!* Donnie Yen!? Kicking people!? Since when?

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is not supposed to be a good movie.

For that matter, it’s not even supposed to be a good Donnie Yen movie.

Given the often times mercurial range in overall quality throughout Mr. Yen’s film career, I’ll leave it up to you to interpret that statement however you like.

Though it supposedly features the golden kung fu-to-xenophobia ratio that seems to be working so well for Hong Kong films these days; I’ve honestly yet to find a review that makes it sound to be anything more than average at best.

This, my friends; represents one of those few instances wherein the Azn Badger casts aside his particularly, uh, particular standards for film purchases, and concedes to the will of his inner fanboy.

“It’s Donnie Yen.  It’s new.  It’s a sequel to a Bruce Lee movie than in no way required a sequel. I’m buying it.”

Bear in mind, I may be a Donnie Yen fan, but I don’t go about buying his shittier movies indiscriminately.

I didn’t bite for The Twins Effect.

I certainly didn’t bite for An Empress and the Warriors.

I did bite for 14 Blades, but only because of Donnie Yen’s pimpin’ facial hair in it.

PIMP.

If it’s worth anything towards salvaging what little reputation I have, please note that I purchased the DVD version of The Return of Chen Zhen, as opposed to the Blu Ray.

Hey, HD is fuckin’ amazing, but there’s no way my inner Azn would allow me to spend that kind of money, much less on something that is very likely pure ass.

Moving on, The Return of Chen Zhen represents an odd case of a movie being made (in this case a sequel) that no one asked for.

 

*Cough!* Not that Hollywood would know anything about THAT...

Meant to act as a sequel of sorts to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury/Jet Li’s Fist of Legend/Donnie Yen’s Fist of Fury TV show, Return of Chen Zhen follows the exploits of and, dare I say; return, of fictional Huo Yuanjia disciple, Chen Zhen.

I honestly don’t know the plot of the film, but I’m sure it involves those sneaky Japs being, well, sneaky and Japanese.

 

Fine. Don't talk about your job when I'm around. Guess I'll just have to boil your children now...

It’s a strange feeling, anticipating feelings of joy at the sight of a little Chinese man beating the ever-loving shit out of your own people…

Being as The Return of Chen Zhen is in fact a Chinese film, I anticipate little to no historical accuracy to be apparent in the film’s plot or characterization.

Especially since from what I’ve read and seen in trailers, Chen Zhen apparently practices parkour, not to mention dons a Kato-esque masked vigilante get-up.

Disguise or not, Donnie Yen's ego manages to give him away every time...

Never mind that Chen Zhen was shot 50 bajillion times at the end of Fist of Fury…

Oh well, it’s a Chinese movie, and we all know Chinese heroes don’t die until they’re damn well ready to.

Anyway, I honestly don’t have anything else to say about this one.

Hopefully it’ll be better than I’ve read, though I did hear rumors that Donnie Yen made frequent, and visible use of stunt doubles in the film, to the point in which it’s kind of hurt his reputation.

It’s never a good thing when the star of the film, a man that can’t act worth shit and is really only good for hitting people; starts relying on others to do the hitting for him.

Anyway, expect a review of this one once I get my hands on it.

In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arkham Asylum Stole My Day!

So…

Uh… What the fuck was I gonna’ write?

Oh yeah.

Um, I just spent my entire day playing Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Was that wrong of me?

Damn I feel like an uber-dork right now…

I’m pretty close to the end as far as I can tell, being as the Joker is basically asking me to come up to his doorstep and Bat-Fuck him in the ass.

Even so, I’ve decided to hold off and do a whole lot of that godawful Metroid-ian backtracking that I hate some much.

Turns out I found about 80% of the hidden goodies in the game without using my map, so I figured I’d take a few minutes to, well, bust out my Bat-Map and comb the island for everything I missed.

By “a few minutes” of course, I mean “3 hours of Jerry Seinfeld-esque neuroticism.”

"What's the deal with airplane peanuts?"

That being said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Arkham Asylum thus far.

… Provided you don’t count the 3 hours or so of backtracking I’ve done.

… So far.

It needs to be said though, for completionists like myself; games like this are dangerous.

If not for this blog, I’d probably still be chasing little green question marks on the map.

Anyway, I’m about to go to bed now, being as I’ve got another 50 hour work week IN THE GODDAMN FREEZER to look forward to in the morning.

Damn, this was a hella’ wimpy-ass post…

What more can I say?…

I know!

If you’re at all into Azn movies, I.E. Korean, Japanese, or Chinese ones; Yesasia.com is having a pretty substantial sale of Blu-Rays until January 13th.

Most of the movies are unknown to me, and are thusly either crap or feature no scenes of people hitting each other SAVAGELY, but there are a few good ones I noticed.

There’s a few Bruce Lee movies, Shamo, (which I liked, despite the negative reviews) the mediocre Donnie Yen flick Dragon Tiger Gate, Beast Stalker, Once Upon A Time In China II AKA “The Good One,” Police Story, and for the weeaboos out there that can suck my half-yellow cock, Detroit Metal City.

There, I think that fills the quota for gratuitous tags on this post.

Anyway, just giving you guys a heads up.

See yah’ tomorrow!

 

Filed under: Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Motion Capture Is Cool…

I was watching my newly purchased Blu-Ray of Avatar tonight, when it suddenly hit me that I forgot to write my blog.

Nah, just kidding, I never forget…

While I’m on the subject of movies though, I figure now would be a good time for me to talk about my feelings on motion capture technology; something that Avatar couldn’t have been made without.

I’ve always been fascinated by the artistry of the human body in motion.

I’m a firm believer in the concept that much of how we communicate our image and demeanor to the the people around us, stems from our body language.

That being said, whether it be in stage acting, professional wrestling, dance, mime, sports, or fighting; a person’s character, both fictionalized or genuine; shines through in the manner in which the move their body.

For me, a person that doesn’t converse with new people often, or well for that matter; being able to understand gesticulations and body language goes a long way towards getting to know people.

Though I can’t pin down the first time I saw it in action, motion capture technology is an amazing tool that I’ve grown to love very much.

The basic concept of it alone is utterly intriguing to the point in which I found myself wanting to be involved with it at some point.

Seriously, if you know anyone with an “in” to the motion capture industry, let me know!

For those who are unaware, motion capture is a technology that uses a specialized camera and computerized tracking system to map out and record the movements of a subject’s form.

Using the data recorded through this process, said movements can then be transposed onto the anatomy of a digital character.

In the context of movie or videogame production, doing so allows CGI animators to save (some) time by using actual human actors to map out a performance for digital characters, which can then be finessed or tweaked further by the animators.

In many ways, it’s the heir apparent to the classic animation technique of rotoscoping.

In many ways, the largest benefit of motion capture technology, is that it grants directors and animators an incredible degree of control over their projects.

If George Lucas is any indication, control is something that is very important to filmmakers.

They say some of the best moments in film history have been the results of happy coincidences, or even mistakes.

While that may be true, CGI stands as a counter to that, as a tool that allows filmmakers a degree of control that makes the word “mistake” seem almost obsolete.

CGI allows directors to create and animate just about any imagery that pops into their head, but motion capture technology allows them the ability to continue to work with actors, while taking advantage of the technology to precisely extract the desired performance from said actors.

While I don’t see live-action movies going away at any point in human existence, the inherent possibilities of producing digital motion captured films are downright incredible.

Think of it this way:

When producing CGI films with motion captured performances, one gains the freedom to set their film anywhere they want, populated by whatever they want.

They also retain the ability to cast big-name actors that put asses in the seats, not to mention gain the capacity to modify the actor’s appearance to their liking.

Not only that, motion capture also allows for stunt actors to be inserted into scenes without having to be shot at distance or from behind, as the whole process would be seamless.

Come to think of it, the whole concept of “stunts” as a whole could potentially be removed when making a motion captured film.

After all, the whole thing is performed in a sound stage, not to mention the actor can be “removed” from scenes whenever necessary, thereby allowing the animators to take over for the dangerous or “un-performable” sequences.

Still, the idea of being able to slip Donnie Yen’s motion capture performance into Tom Cruise’s digitally de-aged body is something that I’m sure a lot of people would pay to see.

To me though, the most interesting aspect of motion capture in film, is it’s effect on the acting process.

Acting in a green room, surrounded by artifice, actors have to dig deep and use their imagination to summon strong performances.

In short, more stress is put on the actor to use their body to convincingly occupy the digital landscape their character inhabits.

From the audience’s perspective, I find it changes how we view these performances as well.

While I myself am normally attuned to the physical aspects of an actors performance, when I watch motion captured performances, I find myself drawn to dig a little deeper.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to see a digital character walk around in a movie, only to find the tiniest little inkling of evidence of the fact that you are in fact seeing a familiar actor, give a performance in an unfamiliar shell.

In many ways it reminds me of my lifelong love of Godzilla, or any sort of “suit acting” for that matter.

When Haruo Nakajima stomped around in a Godzilla suit, you could instantly tell it was him by the “largeness” and sheer character of his movements.

When Kane Hodder killed bitches as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th movies, we could always tell it was him by how savagely he went about killin’ bitches.

When Peter Weller was switched out in favor of Robert John Burke (the fattie from Thinner) in Robocop 3, we were all up in arms; not just because that movie sucked, but because Burke’s physical performance simply wasn’t Robocop.

While motion captured performances will never beat good ‘ole “man-in-suit” acting, the concept is similar enough that is brings me great joy to watch.

I look forward to seeing the day when Donnie Yen steps into the motion capture studio and shows us what motion capture pictures have been missing out on.

Seriously, why the fuck hasn’t anyone made a martial arts movie in mo-cap yet, huh?

That’s right Robert Zemeckis and James Cameron, I’m lookin’ at you two…

Filed under: Boxing, Kung Fu, Movies, Tokusatsu, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on The Legend is Born: Ip Man

The Legend is Born: Ip Man contains scenes of Ip Man fighting ninjas.

Now, before all the haoles and Narutards in the room hop out of their seats with glee and go buy this movie, one should perhaps note that The Legend is Born is not a good movie.

In fact it’s so very far from “good,” that I’d so far as to say it’s “bad.”

That’s right, I called a kung fu movie bad.

You see, this was bad, but it was GOOD bad.

Trust me folks, if you’re looking for signs of the approaching apocalypse, me hating on a kung fu movie is one of them.

While Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip’s Ip Man films were at times melodramatic, and often predictable; both films did so while wielding style and production values that few pure martial arts movies can match.

That, and they had Donnie Yen leading the cast.

Ip Man, starring Donnie Yen's cock!

He might not be the best actor, but he beats people like no other; and in a martial arts flick sometimes that’s all you need.

Sadly, The Legend is Born has none of these various pluses going for it.

While it has a rather large cast of “name” genre actors, the production fails to utilize them properly by giving them a bland script, placing them amid lifeless and fake-y soundstages, and generally making no attempt to film the fight sequences in an interesting manner.

I ask you, just who the fuck is fighting who in this screenshot?

For those that care to know Sammo Hung is barely in it and truly seems like he’s “between projects,” (most likely he was filming Ip Man 2 simultaneously) Yuen Biao does pretty well given his limited role in the movie, and Fan Siu Wong is his always awesome self.

FUCK YEAH!

Despite the cast, it’s a horrendously mediocre film that fails to impress is any area, and ultimately left me feeling robbed of an hour and a half of my life.

To sum up, (as briefly as possible) the plot is basically a horribly fabricated account of Ip Man’s life from childhood to right up until just before the beginning of the first Wilson Yip Ip Man film in the early 1930’s.

In case you are wondering, the whole “Ip Man fighting ninjas” thing was indeed fabricated, as was the vast majority of the events in this film.

The film’s biggest, and most visible disappointment, comes in the form of the casting of Dennis To as Ip Man.

Wipe that smug look off your face... And get a haircut, hippie...

As I mentioned in my pre-screening thoughts on this movie, To did not strike me as leading man material.

Turns out I was right, as To’s performance, both as an actor and a fighter, is as wooden and vanilla as can be.

With enough training Dennis, someday you'll become a real boy!

As an actor taking on a film that bears the same name as his character, most of the story relies on his performance, to which he brings absolutely no spark of life or zeal.

While his Wing Chun form is quite good, and indeed indicative of his background in the martial art, his posture is extremely rigid and more importantly, his strikes lack any sort of weight or power behind them.

While the speed and accuracy of the close-quarters sparring is actually quite impressive, the lack of power behind the strikes is a problem with most of the choreography, that and the cinematography simply isn’t up to snuff.

Okay, this was perhaps the most needlessly over-the-top moves I've seen in awhile, and I for one thought it was hilarious.

Aside from a decent fight between Dennis To and the real life son of Ip Man, Ip Chun, (which makes heavy use of stunt doubles for Chun) and a lengthy and surprisingly physical brawl between To and Fan Siu Wong, there really aren’t any outstanding fights in The Legend is Born.

Though I’ve seen reviews crediting Sammo Hung as the choreographer for this film, I honestly have trouble believing that.

If he was in fact the choreographer, I’m sorry to say, very little, if any; of the movements and camera angles in The Legend is Born bear Sammo’s mark, and as such, the action simply doesn’t hold up to anything in his filmography.

The basic plot of the film is that of your basic “Japanese threaten Chinese culture and property, martial artist rectifies situation with fists” genre trope, however it does so in a very inorganic and just plain stupid manner.

Well, as inorganic and stupid as a plot involving ninja fights can manage anyway...

I shit you not, nearly all of the dozen or so fights in The Legend is Born (seriously, there’s a lot of them) come about as a result of someone literally walking into a room and yelling:

“Your Wing Chun is good, show me some of it!”

Even for a kung fu movie, that’s just plain lazy.

Pictured: An unedited example of the screenwriting process of The Legend is Born.

Anyway, I was initially planning to do a seriously in-depth review of The Legend is Born, much like I did Ip Man 2 and Undisputed 3: Redemption, however I found that this movie simply wasn’t worth the effort.

If you really wanna’ see mediocre fighting, bland acting, and *sigh…* Ip Man fighting ninjas, then by all means, give The Legend is Born: Ip Man a chance.

I for one, am going to be kicking myself over this purchase for some time, being as I knew this movie was going to suck, but still let my hopes and dreams guide my wallet.

If you can identify with this man, than perhaps you'll enjoy this movie!

 

 

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Deadly Premonition Review

Deadly Premonition is a budget game.

Plain and simple.

Described by Destructoid as a “beautiful trainwreck,” Deadly Premonition is an open world/survival-horror hybrid developed by Access Games.

I first caught word of Deadly Premonition several months ago when I sat down to watch the first part of Spoony’s (Noah Antwiler) Let’s Play of it.

To my knowledge, that first hour or so of gameplay, is the only portion of the game that Spoony has posted any footage of.

Pictured: A man that has better shit to do than play a shitty game like Deadly Premonition.

After having played, and beaten the game over the course of 30 hours of gameplay, it’s easy to see why someone would so readily drop this game.

Deadly Premonition is a game that asks a lot from the player.

It has terrible graphics.

The soundtrack is extremely repetitive and is often times far too upbeat given the seriousness of the story.

The gameplay is equally repetitive, with controls approaching Resident Evil 1 levels of clunky-ness.

Knife vs. Zombie!? Not bloody likely!

For the most part, the only 2 saving graces of Deadly Premonition, are the strength of it’s writing, especially in regards to the characters, and the design of it’s surprisingly expansive map.

While the writing in Deadly Premonition is by no means brilliant, it has a a lot going for in that it’s just so damn quirky.

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was a huge stylistic influence on Deadly Premonition, and it shows from beginning to end.

Numerous homages are made to the TV series in the form of the game’s setting, (a Pacific Northwestern town) as well as the unexplained abundance of cherry pie.

Oh yeah, and this kind of cryptic-ass fucked up shit:

"THE, SUIT, BURNS BETTER... LOOK!!! BURN'S SUIT! BURN'S SUIT!"

To call the characters in Deadly Premonition “odd,” is to discount the power of that word.

In the game, the player takes on the role of FBI profiler, Francis York Morgan, (his friends call him York) a facially scarred man that has a strong connection to the paranormal, smokes way too fucking much, has prophetic visions by looking into his morning coffee, and has a tendency to speak to an imaginary friend name Zach, often while in the company of others.

Well, looks like we caught him doing all of the above at once. His coffee is in between his legs...

If the above character traits aren’t intriguing to you even in the slightest, then congratulations, you are the snootiest high-brow motherfucker on the planet.

Pictured: You.

The game begins as York arrives at a fictional town in Washington called Greenvale.

Greenvale has recently played host to a gruesome murder/crucifiction, the investigation of which serves as the chief subject of the plot and gameplay in Deadly Premonition.

The closest thing to nudity you'll find on this blog. Except maybe the occasional dirty Donnie Yen photo...

The actual execution of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition, is that of a sandbox-style game, married with the over the shoulder shooting mechanic of Resident Evil 4.

Though I’m not much for sandbox games, I have to say, I was fairly impressed by Deadly Premonition’s take on it.

To be fair, I think most of my enjoyment of the map in the game springs from it’s impressive recreation of a Washintonian town.

Yup, a whole lotta' trees and little else...

As a life long, Seattlite, and one time Olympian, I can say with certainty, that the developers of Deadly Premonition really got the look and feel down pat.

The sprawling country roads, surrounded by evergreen trees, the big ass farms with seemingly nothing growing in them, the not quite picturesque lakes, it’s all there.

Haven’t you ever played GTA and wondered what it would be like if it was set in your hometown?

Then again, if you grew up in South Central, there's a good chance GTA strikes pretty close to home for you.

Well, if you’re from Olympia, Nisqually, or anywhere in Eastern Washington, Deadly Premonition; while not really possessing the vast breadth of sandbox-y goodness that GTA is known and loved for, absolutely gets the look just right.

If there’s any downside to the design of the map though, it’s due to the fact that it requires the player to drive around a little bit too much.

You see, unlike GTA, which offers a myriad of distractions while traveling from point A to point B, Deadly Premonition’s map is pretty sparse.

Pictured: Grand Theft Auto's definition of "distractions."

Sure, there’s fishing mini-games scattered about, as well as the occasional dirt road or hidden item, but for the most part, you really are just driving for minutes at a time.

Pictured: Deadly Premonition's "distractions."

Remember those country roads I mentioned awhile back?

Well, you better get used to them, ’cause if you start playing Deadly Premonition, your gonna’ end up driving up and down them like no other.

Let me put it this way:

The driving in Deadly Premonition is kind of like the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.

It’s boring, there’s altogether too much of it, but if you can force yourself to power through it, there’s actually a pretty good game beyond it all.

A pretty good game that I WILL beat someday...

Which brings me to the review proper.

Deadly Premonition is an okay game.

It’s not great, it has a shit ton of flaws, but if you’re willing to accept the game as being the best that it’s studio could manage with what they had, then it’s actually pretty good.

Trust me, it's a lot easier to appreciate Deadly Premonition when you grew up watching shit like Ultraman.

The murder mystery storyline is fairly well developed with some pretty cool kill sequences and red herrings thrown in for good measure.

The murders in the game involve a psycho-killer cutting out the tongues of young women, stuffing their mouths with red seeds, and then somehow rigging them in Saw-esque death traps for the main players to stumble across.

In all, while actually not very graphic or bloody, most of the murders are quite unique, and indeed even shocking due to the excellent voice work and dialogue.

Pictured: Why we always knock before we go into the bathroom...

The cast of characters is quite vast, with every character in town having a unique voice, personality, and even side-missions offer you from time to time.

Like York, most of the cast are endearingly quirky, such that I found I had no trouble remembering most by name.

The game is surprisingly long, with admirable pacing that sees the first half of the game being a largely sandbox style experience, with important story beats coming at the appropriate times, and the second half taking on a more urgent, and therefore more linear and focused style of progression.

That is to say:

The game allows you the freedom you desire from the outset to get to known the lay of the land, and collect all of those hidden goodies and side-missions, but just before you get tired of slogging through all of that, the game forces you get on track and follow the main storyline.

Deadly Premonition: A Story of Male Bonding.

The storyline has a few holes in it, such that you’re left scratching your head from time to time, but when focus is left on York, or any of the other main characters, it’s actually quite good.

I was particularly impressed by how they handled the explanation for York’s imaginary friend, Zach.

While the actual explanation was kind of muddled, I found it to be effective from a purely conceptual standpoint.

If there’s any one thing that I need to slap Deadly Premonition across the face about, it’s the game’s shooting mechanic.

About half of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition consists of Resident Evil 4 style shooting/adventuring segments.

During these sections, the player is confronted with goofy looking backwards walking ghouls that attack you by shoving their hands down your throat.

"GIMME' BACK MY TIC-TACS!"

There’s only a handful of enemy skins, and only about 2-3 different enemy types throughout the game, resulting in a bland and repetitive experience.

Worse yet, most of the enemies have horribly inflated lifebars, resulting in boring gameplay that takes forever to get through.

No joke, I put a third of a 300 round magazine into an enemy’s head one time, only to find that I had to stop to reload before I finally killed him.

That, my friends, is called padding one’s gameplay.

Pictured: About half of the total enemies in Deadly Premonition. I'm not even joking.

Being as all of these segments take place in a Silent Hill-esque “other world,” the creators of this game may as well have omitted the shooting segments altogether, as I think it would have been more efficient to simply force the player to run away from danger.

Anyone remember Run Like Hell? Shitty game, fun premise...

Which brings me to the quick-time segments of Deadly Premonition.

They were actually quite good.

While the button variations weren’t diverse enough, (B always dodges throwing axes) their frequency and difficulty level are pretty good.

I especially enjoyed the protracted chase segments, as they were actually quite tense, and made impressive use of a split-screen effect showing both York’s and the pursuer’s perspective at the same time.

Pictured: The Bad-Ass Pursuer. Playable at one point in the game!

In all, Deadly Premonition is an impressively detailed game for a budget title.

While it lacks polish in virtually every area, it’s easy to see where the developers had good ideas, but lacked the resources to act on them.

Requiring the player to eat, sleep, shave, and clean their wardrobe regularly was a nice touch that went well with the game, being as it forces you to play out every minute of every day in-game.

Pictured: My favorite suit in the game.

Well, that is unless you’re smoking to speed up time.

I enjoyed the deadline system for the story missions, as I found it fun to cruise around town all day doing side-missions, only to take a look a the clock and discover I only had 5 minutes before I had to be at the old mansion for an important story event.

Despite all of my praise though, Deadly Premonition is definitely only for those who, like me; can find it within themselves to play the game and accept it’s problems.

I picked up the game because I was intrigued by it’s characters and story.

I accept that it’s hideous, often times boring, and only has about a half dozen tracks of music.

Because of this, I simply cannot recommend Deadly Premonition to anyone but myself.

It’s not a game for everyone, but I happened to enjoy my time with it.

I’ll probably never touch it again, but it was fun while it lasted…

Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Even More Ip Man!

Ever since I watched and reviewed Ip Man 2 awhile back, I’ve been left with a distinct lack of martial arts movies in my life.

Sure, The Expendables had some pretty impressive fights in it, but nowhere near the standards of your average high-profile Hong Kong production.

That being said, in addition to Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 2, 2010 saw the release of yet another semi-historical film based around the life of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man, entitled The Legend is Born: Ip Man.

Directed by the decidedly “meh” Herman Yau, the story follows Ip Man in his earlier days, when he was actually learning Wing Chun, yet by stories’ end, we are of course treated to a scene or 2 of Master Ip busting some Japanese heads.

Never get tired of this scene...

Let it be known, the Chinese have never been shy about promoting nationalism via beating the piss out of the foreign devils.

Despite how silly it may seem at times, I’ve always kind of admired that about Chinese films, as such expressions of patriotism are often met with feelings of cynicism here in the states.

Also, I think we can all agree that any excuse that allows the Chinese to make films about people hitting each other is always a good thing.

Can't say the the same for American movies...

Anyway, despite fair to middling reviews, I’m thinking about giving The Legend is Born a shot.

The film has a strong cast including the always brilliant Yuen Biao, as well as an alarming number of actors that were previously featured in Wilson Yip’s own Ip Man franchise.

Said double-dippers would be Sammo Hung, Fan Siu Wong, and oddly enough, Dennis To as Ip Man.

Dennis To: Star in the Making, or Punching Bag to the Stars #2? (#1 is Xing Yu...)

For those that don’t remember, Dennis To just happens to be the same actor that played Kei, Sammo Hung’s Hung Gar protege in Ip Man 2.

Interestingly enough, he also happens to be a real-life practitioner of Wing Chun, making him well-suited, at least physically, to play a young Ip Man.

Makes you wonder though, why was a Wing Chun disciplined screen-fighter cast as a Hung Gar student?…

Regardless, I wasn’t all that impressed with Dennis To’s physical performance in Ip Man 2, however I’m willing to concede that he may have been held back by his character’s fairly weak standing in the cast, as well as the fact that every fight he was in he was required to lose, or worse yet, make pop stars like Huang Xiaoming look good.

Clearly he also has stylists to help out as well...

He also lacked screen presence in Ip Man 2, but once again, that might’ve had more to do with the restrictions of the script than anything else.

I’m sure his acting is shit, but that’s to be expected from all but absolute cream of the crop in terms of screen fighters.

Whatever the case, I was legitimately impressed by the sparring featured in the trailer, and that’s largely the reason for my interest in this film:

I’ll probably be ordering this one in the next few days, hopefully a spirited review is to follow shortly!

Here’s hoping this one doesn’t suck donkey balls.

It's baaaaaaack....

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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