Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Boxing and the Azn Badger

Boxing is just about the only professional sport I pay attention to.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy watching sports, I simply haven’t devoted as much time to appreciating and learning the subtleties of them as I have in the case of boxing.

SUBTLETY.

The first time I can remember seeing boxing, was when I was really young, maybe 5 years old.

My parents were watching the end of Rocky III on TV, and I walked into the room (past my bedtime) thinking it was a real fight.

I remember yelling “Jesus!” every time Rocky got, um, clubbed; by Clubber Lang.

"JESUS!"

After 3-4 cries of “Jesus,” my mom ushered me out of the room and told me to go to bed, but not before telling me to say “jeez” instead of “Jesus.”

Now that I think of it, that was kind of weird.

I remember going to church every now and again as a kid, but my parents never enforced any sort of religion in the house.

Oh well, my best guess is that, at that point in my life my parents hadn’t yet decided if I was going to be raised with a religion, so they didn’t want me taking the Lord’s name in vain just in case.

To this day, I have yet to establish any religious affiliations.

Although I did spend some time in the Kamen Rider Kult for awhile... Does that count?

That awkwardness aside, Sylvester Stallone and Mr. T’s climactic brawl at the end of Rocky III served as my introduction to the sport of boxing.

That fight also ranks as one of my favorite in AMERICAN film history, so it’s gonna’ get posted below for your enjoyment:

I remember years later, during Mike Tyson’s big comeback in the mid-90’s, my brother and my dad would “watch” some of the scrambled Pay-Per-Views.

You see, this was back in the day when Pay-Per-Views came via a cable box, (which my home didn’t have until my brother started ordering WWF Pay-Per-Views) but the channels they aired on could still be accessed in “scrambled” format.

That’s right, my brother and my dad cared enough about boxing that they would plop down in front of the TV and watch a scrambled snowstorm just to get the live audio.

"Oh, LOOK at that crushing right hand from Arguello! Boy Jim, that sure LOOKED painful, didn't it!?"

It was around this time that I came to realize that boxing meant something to my family, primarily my dad.

My dad loves all sports, don’t get me wrong; but boxing has always seemed to have a special place in his heart.

When I was little, and would sometimes sit in and watch the fights with him, he’d always amaze me with his ability to predict the outcomes of fights.

I didn’t know it then, but it turns out my pop had done a bit of boxing in his youth.

Pictured: My Dad.

That’s not to say he was some retired legend of the ring or anything, but even so, he managed to do a few neat things during his time in the sport.

For instance, in his youth he competed in the Philadelphia Golden Gloves tournament, even going so far as to the reach the semi-finals.

He was eliminated by a young fighter named Willie “The Worm” Monroe, a man who would later go on to defeat middleweight legend, and easily one of my favorite fighters of all time; Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

Sum' bitch, beat mah' daddy...

Oh yeah, and get knocked the fuck out by Hagler a few years later.

Click below for vengeance by proxy:

During his time in the Vietnam War, my dad made his way over to Thailand once or twice.

While staying there, my dad was invited to participate in a friendly exhibition match with a local fighter.

Nobody told my dad who he was fighting before the match, but as it turns out, his opponent was Chartchai Chionoi.

The same Chartchai Chionoi that had been sitting on the world flyweight championship for a few years by the time my dad met him.

According to my dad, the fight really did play out as a friendly exhibition for the most part, with neither man getting hurt for the most part.

My dad always said he was just glad he on his feet the whole time and didn’t end up embarrassing himself.

He and Chartchai exchanged holiday cards every now and again for years after that.

According to my dad, Mr. Chionoi got kind of pudgy at one point, so my dad used to poke fun at him for it.

Pictured: Chartchai Chionoi in the twilight of his career.

It was my dad’s love for/knowledge of boxing that drew me into it.

I always wanted an excuse to hang out with my dad and shoot the shit, and boxing was the venue I chose to do it from.

I spent my youth listening to the little fundamental tidbits my dad would throw out during the fights, and by the time I was in high school, I felt I knew the sport pretty well.

That’s one of the major differences between boxing and other sports for me.

I get boxing.

I didn’t really pay much attention to other sports as a kid, and as a result, I don’t know them as well.

It makes a huge difference, knowing what you’re looking at, and knowing “how” to appreciate it.

Art....?

When he was in high school, my brother went to live in Kobe, Japan for a year.

During this time he took the time to join Senrima Keitoku’s boxing gym, the same trainer that would go on to train recently dethroned world bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Hasegawa is a Japanese boxer that is actually GOOD.

I don’t know the extent of my brother’s training in Japan, but I think he did it for the same reasons I wanted to:

To have something in common with dad, and to say that he “did it.”

These guys "did it" too.

Seeing as boxing was one of the few things I could really relate to my dad on, I was always envious of my brother for having that connection.

Unfortunately, I was not in the best of shape as a kid, and I always thought I’d never make it in a gym, so I never really tried.

Pictured: The Azn Badger in his youth.

As fate would have it, I found myself faced with a school project that required one to join a community and do what is called “appreciative inquiry,” I.E. giving and taking while never really implying that you’re overtly “taking.”

Yeah, I know, hippie-dippy-gobbledy-gook at it’s best, right?

Because the project was sprung on us with little notice, I took it upon myself to take advantage my my newly in-shape self, and I joined the local Police Athletic League to try my hand at boxing and do my project at the same time.

I had a lot of fun at the gym, in fact I still miss it to this day, largely because of all the time I got to spend helping out the little kids.

Not in THAT way, you perv.

This way:

At the gym, I was surprised to find that I was more than able to keep up with the training regimen, however my eyesight was a huge problem.

Let it be known, that people that wear contact lenses or glasses should never, ever consider pursuing boxing as anything more than a workout.

Don’t be an idiot like I was, you’ll be better for it.

In sparring, I never told my coach that I was wearing disposable contacts that would come out after getting hit about, oh, once.

As a result, I was blind for most of my sparring sessions, though I did alright anyway.

Never got hurt, anyway.

On my last day in the gym, when my class and the project attached to it ended and I was forced to get back to my normal schedule, I got my ass torn up by a new arrival at the gym.

The guy was about 17 years old, 2 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier than me, and had a few years experience under his belt.

It's true, it's true. I did in fact fight Ivan Drago.

All I had going for me was a thick skull and ridiculously big hair.

Oh yeah, and I'm a FUCKING DOCTOR.

I got my face pounded in that night, and even though it was my last night there anyway, it truly felt like the world was telling me to get out of the ring.

Some of us are made to be fighters, some aren’t.

AREN'T.

I can’t say which I am, but I will say this, starting out in boxing at 21 years of age is not the way to find out.

I never got a chance to fight in a real match, however I was scheduled for one, which I made weight for and everything.

At 152 lbs., there were a lot of other fighters vying for the same spot as me on the card, so I ended up getting pushed aside in favor of more experienced guys.

That match will always be a big “what if” I’ll have in the back of my head, but such is life.

These days I play armchair quarterback with my dad.

I prefer to watch fights alone, or with my dad; rowdy crowds tend to make me nervous on account of how they sensationalize the fight.

Kind of like these guys.

I’ve always said that, in boxing, I never applaud violence, (unless I HATE the guy getting his ass torn up) I’m just there to see what happens.

It’s for this reason that I also prefer to watch fights after they’ve already happened.

I don’t really care about being surprised, I just like sitting back and evaluating, and learning from the situation.

Boxing is a sport that encourages it’s fans to review it’s long and colorful history.

I have spent most of my life doing this, and for that reason I guess I’ve been conditioned to know what is coming ahead of time.

Some would call my preference blasphemy, however in my eyes, boxing is something I “appreciate” more than I care about “being there” for.

I’m not sure if I should thank my dad for getting me into a dieing sport that no one really seems to talk about these days, (try finding a boxing magazine among all the gun, bodybuilding and MMA ones, I dare you) but I will say this:

I am thankful for my father and everything he’s taught me in life.

Sure, I can’t ride a bike, but I can tell you the names of probably 80% of boxing’s hall of famers.

Life skills, that’s what dad’s are for.

Thanks dad, here’s to sittin’ around watching the fights together for the rest of our days.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Filed under: Boxing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Super Mario Bros. Must Die!


Tonight my good buddy and I are going to embark on a magical videogame journey 25 years in the making.

Tonight we are going to do what neither of us could do as children.

Tonight, we are going to RAPE the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES.

It won’t be easy, it certainly won’t be pretty, and the whole experience would probably be a helluva’ lot more “fun” if we were going to be playing it drunk, (we aren’t) but by golly, we’re gonna’ do it.

We are going to kick that games’ ass.

I don’t have a way of recording the game footage, but I’ll see if I can record the live audio and post it later.

Wish us luck, kids!

*Update*

Well, me and my buddy managed to beat Super Mario Bros., along with most of Ninja Gaiden, (NES version) and the last two “Juggernaut“spec-ops missions in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Here’s the video footage of my friend killing Mario:

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Snow Bros: The Best Game Ever

Snow Bros. was my favorite videogame as a kid.

Every week or so, my mom would take my brother out to rent an NES game from a little mom and pop rental store near our local grocery, Art’s Grocery.

Rentals at this store were one day only, so you had to be sure you would enjoy whatever it was you rented.

Well, you can bet I was satisfied by my selection every time, ’cause I must’ve rented Snow Bros. like 50 times.

Snow Bros. was a simple yet enjoyable game that shared more than a few simalarities with Bubble Bobble.

I know Bubble Bobble is way older, but c'mon, Snow Bros. kicks it's ass.

The story goes like this:

Nick and Tom are two dudes that are trying to put the moves on these twin princesses, then some evil sorceror shows up and jacks their bitches, but not before turning good ‘ole Nick and Tom into snowmen.

Apparently turning dudes into snowmen is supposed to diminish their ability to rescue princesses.

Fortunately, that logic is bullshit, and our evil sorceror ends up seriously dropping the ball, ’cause snowmen or not; Nick and Tom are BAD DUDES, and they have what it takes to save the president.

If you never got to see this screen, then you aren't truly a BAD DUDE.

The basic gameplay of Snow Bros. has the two players, cast as Nick and Tom; being dropped into a series of single-screen arenas populated with monsters that they have to defeat in order to advance.

Sounds like pretty standard arcade game fare, doesn’t it?

That’s because it is, smart ass.

The fun part of Snow Bros., was in specifically “how” the player went about defeating monsters.

Although nobody kills monsters like Rick from Splatterhouse. NOBODY.

The Snow Bros. of the games’ title each possess the ability to throw snowballs, manufactured from their own bodies no less; that they can use to pile up on their enemies, thusly encasing them in giant, roll-able snowballs.

Good God this movie was terrifying...

Being as most of the stages are set up as a series of cascading platforms, it only makes sense that the Snow Bros. method of killing monsters consists of taking said roll-able snowballs, and sending them careening into other monsters.

Upon steamrolling monsters with a snowball, the resulting pile of monster corpses transform into food products (snowmen are gluttons) or colored medicine bottles, each of which provide the players with a number of different power-ups.

One caused the snowmen’s feet to develop restless leg syndrome.

I believe the medical term is "The Jimmy legs."

One made the snowmen’s balls bigger.

Right Guy: "I WIN."

One made the snowmen’s balls shoot farther.

Yikes, better get that thing checked out, man. Oh wait, you found a little boy to take care of that for you.

And my personal favorite, the ultra-rare teal medicine, made the snowmen’s head inflate like a balloon, causing anything they touch to die instantly.

"ALL SHALL BOW BEFORE THE GREAT AND MIGHTY PENIS OF INSTANT DEATH!"

Snow Bros. was a wonderful game, that while a little too easy, and definitely repetitive, was easily my favorite videogame as a child.

My brother used to make fun of the title screen, calling Nick and Tom “fatties,” and of course pointing out that I was the fat and dumb snowman.

Mental giants they are not.

Which one he was referring to, I will never know, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it was the red one, seeing as my brother was ALWAYS player one.

The whole game could be beaten inside of a half hour, and though I beat the game numerous times with and without my brother, for some reason I spent most of my life thinking I never really beat the game.

Omega Tom Hanks: UN-FUCKING-BEATABLE.

You see, the final boss of Snow Bros. isn’t the evil sorceror whose portrait is featured in so many of the between level cut scenes, but rather a pair of statues that have zero personality, and are not so much as mentioned in the game’s (limited) narrative.

How the fuck do you go from this, to THIS!?

As a kid, I was so underwhelmed by the final battle in Snow Bros. that I outright denied it’s status as such.

It wasn’t until I replayed the game years later that I finally admitted myself that I had thoroughly beat Snow Bros.’ ass.

“Holy shit, that’s really the end?” I said to myself.

I found myself saying the same thing about 3-4 times during this movie. Was none too happy about it.

Other than the bullshit final battle, Snow Bros. was great.

I loved the little things, like how the snowmen would “Superman” their way out of each stage, and how an evil pumpkin headed ghost would drop down from the heavens and kill you if you played too slow.

This punk scared the piss outta' me.

I loved the enemy designs, especially the fuzzy purple dudes that did pirouettes until they turned into heat-seeking tornadoes of rape-age.

No comment.

Some of the bosses were pretty memorable too, with one of my favorites being the twin naked chickens that you fight in the freezer.

Thought I was kiddin', didn'cha?

The music was also spot-on, with a stage 1 theme that I catch myself humming to this day.

It’s kind of funny actually, my mom still remembers the stage 1 theme of Snow Bros., in fact she still teases me about it whenever she overhears me talking about videogames.

She always reminds me of the days when I would wake her and my dad up at obscene hours of the morning, humming along with my Snow Bros.

Pretty sure we had one of these posted in front of my house.

I am well aware that Snow Bros. is a Capcom port derived from a Toaplan series of arcade games.

You can thank Toaplan for giving you this, you fucking dork.

I’ve pumped quarters into both arcade machines because of my fondness of the NES version, however I found both to be graphically superior, but otherwise quarter-munching games that lack the charm and nostalgia factor of the console version.

Also, the music quality was tinny and crappy.

While the second game gets points for it’s expanded cast, and overt Japanese-ness, for my money the NES version is the best of the bunch.

Snow Bros 2 with New Elves: The Creepiest Fucking Player Select Screen EVER.

Anyway, I’ve always felt that Snow Bros. was lacking in terms of fan support, so I figured I would take the time to write a little something showing my appreciation for it.

God bless you Snow Bros., I still can’t believe I never owned you.

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ip Man 2: Pre-Ordered

Thank God for speedy Hong Kong DVD manufacturing.

That’s right folks, Ip Man 2 comes out on DVD on June 25th, and I am truly psyched.

Take another look at the trailer, maybe it’ll help you get as excited about it as I am:

From what I’ve read over at Love HK Film and Twitch, Ip Man 2 is somewhat of a step down from it’s predecessor, with a second-half plot that is essentially the Hong Kong equivalent to Rocky IV, as is clearly evident from the trailer above.

Am I wrong in claiming that this is the coolest thing ever?

Does that bother me?

Not one bit.

Rocky IV may have been retarded, but it was still a kick ass movie that’s fun to rally behind in a “Yo Joe!” sort of way.

As I mentioned in my EPIC Tribute to Donnie Yen, Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen go together like spiders and the bottom of my shoe.

Spider pictures creep me out, so you get a pic of a beat-up Spider-Man instead.

Scratch that.

That’s actually kind of gross.

Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen = Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Though Donnie Yen would have to be the Peanut Butter, ’cause Peanut Butter kicks Jelly’s ass any day…

Hmm, now that I think of it, I don’t even really like Jelly….

*AHEM!* Whatever, the point is: Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen working together is always a good thing.

In my eyes, the pair honestly can’t make a bad movie.

Dragon Tiger Gate was convoluted and bland, but it was no means bad.

Outside of that one misstep, every other movie the two have worked on together has been a winner in my book.

Hell, Wilson Yip has even managed to make awesome movies WITHOUT Donnie Yen.

The archetypal story of the Chinese being bullied by foreigners and being forced to find redemption through beating the piss out of said foreigners is a story that Hong Kong cinema will never abandon.

It’s simply a result of putting a nationalistic spin on the universal “underdog” story that we all know and love.

It’s cliche yeah, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing when it comes to making movies about people frequently engaging in protracted 5 minutes fist fights?

It worked for Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury.

Bruce, donning his "Who cut a muffin?" face.

It worked for Sylvester Stallone in his Rocky movies.

God bless you Sly. Good luck with The Expendables.

It worked for Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid.

I know he's been 40 since like 1980, but even so, DAMN HE GOT OLD!

Hell, it even worked for Leon and the Jamaicans in Cool Runnings.

Say what you will, Cool Runnings was the shit.

So what if I already know the story coming in?

So what if the villain’s acting performance is supposed to be over-the-top to the point of near Ultimate Warrior levels?

There's epic, and then there's ULTIMATE.

Maybe I like that in my kung fu movies!

Ip Man 2 could have the worst acting and the shittiest plot in the history of Hong Kong cinema, but with Donnie Yen on board, and the promise of excellent fights conducted and performed by the man himself, Sammo Hung, there’s almost no way I won’t like it.

DONNIE FUCKING YEN.


SAMMO FUCKING HUNG.


FIGHTING EACH OTHER!!!!!!!!!!


FIGHTING DARREN SHALAVI IN A BOXING MATCH!!!!!!

It doesn’t take much to please me when there’s fighting involved in movies.

I can’t explain it, but for some reason I find it easier to buy into the ceaseless melodrama of Hong Kong films than I do American ones.

Maybe it’s the innate sense of unity and bold-faced patriotism that often permeates most Chinese films that strikes a chord with me, or simply an element of the culture that I appreciate, but either way, when it comes to getting my screen-fighting fix, I know where to look.

Expect a review of the movie in a few weeks.

Here’s to Ip Man 2 being my summer event movie.

Well, until The Expendables comes out anyway.

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

The Best Track in the Game #10: Axelay

That's right, I hard-modded my Super NES like a true dork.

Associative memory is a funny thing.

We all have random, seemingly insignificant little “things” in our lives that, for whatever reason; remind us of what’s most important to us.

I have a teddy bear that, while not important to me in any way, will always make me think of my Grandpa.

Every time someone mentions the words “scavenger hunt,” I’m reminded of the first time I ever got lost.

Okay, maybe I didn't get "lost" per se, maybe I was just dumb...

Playing old videogames from my youth has always been my way of revisiting old memories.

Whenever I play Turtles in Time, I think of the one time I went to the Fun Factory and got scared of the Dragon’s Lair 2 attract demo with my cousin in Hawaii.

Skip to :45 for the scary part:

Whenever I play Pocky and Rocky, I’m reminded of the time my brother and I beat the game early in the morning and our mom took a picture of us doing a “thumbs-up” in front of the end credits.

And whenever I play Axelay, I’m reminded of my friend Ben.

No, not THAT Ben...

Ben was my friend for only a few years, between 5th and 8th grade, but his influence on me to this is day has been profound.

He introduced me to the concept of self-reliance, and walking to where I wanted to go instead of always getting rides from my parents.

He taught me everything I know about Warhammer 40K and table-top games in general.

...Although maybe I should be CURSING him for this rather than praising him.

He convinced me that PC games could be fun, particularly when trying to play Mechwarrior 2 with the controls split between 2 people.

He introduced me to the wonders of Nutella sandwiches, and Munster cheese.

He showed me that one could play the cello, and do kendo at the same time.

Well, maybe not at the same time, but he was pretty good at both.

Ben also shared my passion for console videogames, though I will confess that his taste in games was somewhat different and, dare I say; “better” than mine.

Ben’s library of Super NES and Playstation games were a mix of the truly great, and what could only be described as “eclectic.”

Neither "great," nor "eclectic," this tattoo is just plain "dumb." Oh yeah, and a little bit "sad."

Rock ‘N Roll Racing and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse I would consider “great,” however Uniracers and Diablo for the Playstation were just plain odd.

You see this? In order to play Diablo you need THIS WHOLE FUCKING CARD just to save one goddamn file!

Oh yeah, and he had some weird, esoteric game I’ve never seen or heard of anywhere else called Kendo Rage.

Apparently it was a gift from someone, so I couldn’t blame him for owning it, but either way; that game was fucking horrible.

I would say the American cover art is horrible, but the Japanese one isn't all that much better...

By far my favorite game in his collection though, was an early Konami space shooter on the Super NES called Axelay.

Axelay was, and still remains to this day, one of my favorite shoot ’em ups.

Though I tend to place little stock in games’ accomplishments based on their graphical fidelity, I feel it is necessary to point out that Axelay was a very handsome game for it’s time.

With a vast array of lavishly detailed and vibrantly animated sprites populating the games intensely varied backgrounds from stage to stage, Axelay was a stunner from start to finish.

FUCK YEAH.

The gameplay in Axelay was surprisingly varied and polished for a space shooter, to a point in which it was hard to believe the game was an early Super NES title.

The key innovations of Axelay’s gameplay were it’s inclusion of both vertical and horizontal scrolling gameplay styles, as well as a unique weapon select system that had the player outfit their ship prior to each stage as opposed to scrambling for power-ups throughout.

As you can plainly see, Axelay was a game for pacifists.

I’d like to take this moment to preach my love and appreciation for the Round Vulcan, as it was easily one of the slickest and most inventive weapons I’ve ever had the pleasure of wielding in a shoot ’em up.

Good luck with that Straight Laser buddy, you're gonna' die in about 3 seconds.

A neat feature of the weapon load-out system was the fact that, when struck by a “weak” enemy bullet, the player’s ship would lose whatever weapon they had equipped at the time (of the available 3) instead of dieing instantly.

What really happens upon impact of a "weak enemy bullet."

It was little innovations like this that kept me coming back to Axelay.

Even though Ben always had neat PC games like Magic Carpet and Descent II he liked to tool around on, when it was my turn to choose what to do, I almost always wanted to play Axelay.

I wanna' know what the fuck these reviewers were on when they tried this. Magic Carpet sucked balls...

We had an arrangement, where each of  us would play specific stages in accordance with our skill in beating them.

To this day, I still find myself reeling at the prospect of playing certain stages without having Ben there to hand the controller off to.

I still remember some of the goofy shit me and Ben used point out to each other when playing Axelay.

Ben always thought the 2nd stage boss looked eerily like ED-209 from Robocop.

In turn, I would always tell Ben that the 3rd stage bosses’ second form was clearly Leonardo Da Vinci riding in his famous pyramid tank:

Yeah, I was dumb/weird kid.

In addition to being a crazy-fun and graphically impressive game, Axelay also had the distinction of possessing, in my opinion; one of the single greatest soundtracks in all of videogame history.

That’s right, not an RPG, not a franchise game, but a lowly space shooter with no sequels.

That's right, suck a Blackanese cock fan-boys...

To think, an entry in one of the most famously quick to produce and homogenized game genres, get’s my nod for one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming…

I think it goes without saying, that THE BEST TRACK IN AXELAY IS….

EVERY FUCKING TRACK.

Why?:

Axelay’s soundtrack succeeds on so many levels, that it’s tough just remember all of them.

First off, the music is extremely well-produced, with some very powerful and dignified samples being used throughout.

In addition to this, most of the samples used in the game are from the familiar, and stellar, Konami library of the time, giving everything a comfortable air of familiarity to it.

*Sigh* It's like one big happy family.

There’s very little “tinniness” to be heard in Axelay, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Second, the score is thematic, with a number of familiar cues being used throughout that bring a wonderful sense of crescendo and weight to many of the games’ more intense moments.

On the same note, it should be mentioned that, since Axelay is indeed a scrolling shooter, all of the soundtracks’ major climaxes mesh with the timing of the gameplay dead on.

Axelay's "Oh Shit" Moment #47

And third, the music is varied and appropriate throughout.

Axelay is a game that goes through drastic scenery changes from stage to stage, and at no point does the music ever fail to make the transition with the same gusto and grace as the games’ beautiful graphics.

No better example of this, is during the transition from stage 4, to stage 5, wherein the player jumps from a subterranean, underwater cave filled with all sorts of monstrous creatures, to a violently erupting lava planet filled with magma spewing drones and dragons:

See what I mean?

The two stages are like night and day, and yet the composer, Sotaro Tojima, hits just the right notes on both occasions.

If I was forced to pick a favorite track in Axelay, it would probably be the ending credits theme.

The track is a wonderfully exhilarating and uplifting track that brings to mind images of exactly what a “you just saved the world” track should.

Hope, triumph, and a long journey home are concepts that come to mind when I listen to this track:


The ending track of Axelay is essentially the ultimate version of what one could consider the “theme” of the game.

The melody used throughout it, is a remixed version of the opening stage track, something that I feel adds weight to the player’s accomplishments after beating the game.

It’s like the game is reminding you of how you began the experience, and how far you’ve come since.

Axelay’s soundtrack is so good, that I think I’ll be a nice guy and give everyone a download link for the entire OST:

Axelay OST

You’re welcome.

Axelay was an excellent space shooter of unparalleled balance, as well as a rare feeling of “fairness” to it.

When you got shot, the game gave you the benefit of the doubt and didn’t kill you outright, instead choosing to cripple you progressively until you wanted to die.

And when the time finally came, and you did die, it didn’t bother you, ’cause it was your fault.

YOUR FAULT.

In later years, space shooters would pop up from time to time trying to emulate the success of Axelay’s gameplay.

Philosoma tried, and failed; to mimic Axelay’s multi-directional scrolling gameplay, while modern legends like Einhänder, would borrow the weapon load-out system and take it to new heights.

Never doubt dah' powah' of 'ze Germans.

Axelay is a wonderful game with a long legacy.

A legacy that I feel very fortunate to have been a part from the very beginning.

Thanks Benedict, for all the things you taught me, and all the things you help me to remember.

You are remembered.

Filed under: Games, The Best Track in the Game, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1,000 Hits… DANCE GODDAMN YOU!

Wow, last night we made it to 1,000 hits kids!

That’s fuckin’ c-c-c-crazy!!!

Everybody dance goddamnit, RIGHT FUCKIN’ NOW!

Wasn’t it just 2 weeks ago that I was getting all excited about a measly 500 hits?

Well, clearly something has changed, ’cause the views have been pouring in these past few weeks, and I couldn’t be happier.

Kind of funny though, I suspect that the vast majority of these most recent 500 views have been on account of my Undisputed 3 review.

I swear, you put “UFC” and “sweaty, homoerotic bro’-fest” in your tags and the meat-heads just come a’ runnin’.

Typical readers of Azn Badger's Blog, post-Undisputed 3 review.

Anyway, I consider this a small victory in my life, so I’m taking this opportunity to chillax and save my strength for a good, hearty post tomorrow.

Yup, a good, hearty post...

My “between milestones” resolution is to write at least one post about Boxing, and maybe one on Pro-Wrestling.

Both are topics I am passionate about, I’ve just been having a helluva’ a time trying to write about something that I honestly feel needs to/hasn’t been said.

Hopefully I won’t scare off my readers in doing so, but hey, don’t they always say “write what you know”?

Here’s to many more days and weeks of fun writing.

See you in 1,500 hits or so.

No wait, that one was wimpy.

Let’s go with the classic:

THAT’S more like it.

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Crossovers and Event Comics, Goddamnit…

I am not an event book reader when it comes to comic books.

In most cases, I find them to be sloppily organized, and sometimes harmful to the storylines of the characters involved.

More often than not, I find that crossovers and event comics typically have valuable ideas and story beats to bring to the table, however in most cases the events that take place between these major moments amount to little more than fluff or padding.

All of this, combined with the fact that I don’t consider myself a fan of “team” books, is what keeps me from reading event books.

I find them to be nothing more than bloated, ponderous, fanboy conceived drivel that are more enjoyable to read in bullet-point summary.

Or in the case of Onslaught, better when avoided entirely.

That being said, what experience do I have personally with event comics?

Well, the first crossover I ever read was X-Men: Fatal Attractions.

Okay, Magneto looks fucking retarded on this cover, but I swear it's a good book.

This was a typical 90’s X-family story, wherein the Acolytes are running around being dicks, Magneto has somehow come back from the dead following Fabian Cortez’s betrayal, and now the whole planet is in danger.

Pictured: The Kevin Costner of the X-Men universe.

The story is told from the viewpoint of nearly all of the major X-family factions including the X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force,  and even the England based Excalibur.

Sorry though, no New Mutants, although I don’t know who in their right mind would miss them.

Good God what a juvenile pile of suck...

The whole thing comes to a climax when a small strike force of X-Men attempt to destroy Magneto, resulting in him using his magnetic powers to tear the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and clear through his skin.

One of my first "Holy fucking shit" moments in comics.

It was perhaps the most dramatic moment in the entire storyline, however it was by no means the only important event to occur throughout.

Colossus’ defection to the Acolytes while mourning the loss of his younger sister Illyana was quite memorable, as was Cable’s hopeless one-on-one struggle against Magneto.

This just seems to be the trend whenever Magneto is forced to take the gloves off...

As a kid, I really liked Fatal Attractions.

The X-Men cartoon and Capcom’s various Marvel arcade games of the time had thrust the X-Men into the forefront of my childhood consciousness, and even if I didn’t “get” all the subtleties of the story, I was just happy to be reading about the X-Men.

Nowadays, as an older, wiser Azn Badger, I bow my head in shame at any thought of the X-Men comics, however I still find myself nostalgically flipping through my collected edition of Fatal Attractions from time to time.

The only other crossovers I own, are the excellent Death and Return of Superman, and the mediocre Batman: War Games.

Oh yeah, and that piece of monkey-crap, X-Men: Messiah Complex.

WORST. COMIC. EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

In general, crossovers always have the potential to be pretty good, but when it comes to combining the writing and art of so many different writers and pencillers, it takes a special kind of chemistry to make it all sync together just right.

Of the 4 crossovers I own, only Fatal Attraction manages to remain fairly consistent in voice and presentation.

Well, except for maybe the guys that drew the Excalibur portion, they sucked something fierce.

Seriously, what the fuck is up with Colossus in this cover?

When everyone comes together just right, and are able to trick you into thinking you’re reading a single cohesive story, written by one person; then you have a crossover that just might be something special.

It doesn’t happen often, but we comic fans are always hopeful.

...Unlike this kid.

Event comics are something that I stayed away from until fairly recently.

My one big gripe with event comics has always been the over-abundance of spin-offs and tie-ins that invariably coincide with their release.

An example of a GOOD spin-off, which was in turn "spun off" from a spin-off.

You know those little captions that pop up in the corner of some panels saying cryptic little nothings like:
“For more info, read Avengers West Coast #47!”

That’s the kind of bullshit that kept me away from event books for most of my life.

My first event book, was a classic of the industry, namely Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet.

A truly great fucking cover.

It was tightly paced, only had 2 illustrators, who thankfully had similar styles; and perhap most important of all:

It was self-contained.

True, there were a handful of supplemental storylines that tied-into the main storyline, but despite this, the entire collected edition, from start to finish, could be read and understood by just about anyone.

I really liked the Infinity Gauntlet, but from most reviews I’ve read, there aren’t that many company event comics that can measure up to it, outside of maybe the grandaddy of all event comics, Secret Wars.

The original Ocean's 11 of comic books.

I own maybe 3 event comics including the Infinity Gauntlet.

The other 2 are Civil War and World War Hulk.

I bought Civil War because of Steve McNiven’s art more than anything else, and World War Hulk was a necessary purchase after I read the story directly preceding it, the truly magnificent Planet Hulk.

Now imagine a whole book of THIS.

While World War Hulk was kind of a let down given that I am not really a “modern” John Romita Jr. fan, (I liked his 90’s style better than his Moai Statue looking people nowadays) and the conclusion of the story reeked of deus ex machina, Civil War was a pleasant surprise.

If anything swayed me a little bit on the possibility of good “modern” event comics, Civil War was it.

While the story is a little bit claustrophobic at times, and the conclusion seems to come rather suddenly, the collected edition of Civil War was largely coherent, and more importantly, enjoyable to read.

Did I mention Steve McNiven was a good artist?

While Mark Millar is hardly on my “good list,” his writing for Civil War was remarkably restrained, and fit the voices of the characters quite well for the most part.

Like I mentioned earlier though, it helps when you have Steven McNiven, one of the best artists in the medium; doing the interiors.

ONCE AGAIN, I'd just like to say that Steven McNiven is a pretty decent artist.

Civil War had a shit-ton of tie-ins, some of which I’ve been told were essential to the experience, particularly the Amazing Spider-Man issues, however I read none of them and still enjoyed myself.

The reason I chose today to gripe about event comics and crossovers, was because of a dilemma I encountered at Olympic Cards and Comics yesterday.

And this would be Azn Badger doing his civic duty by plugging a local business.

I was in the market for a trade paperback, (I don’t buy weekly’s and monthlies anymore) and I had found myself stupefied by a simple, 3-way decision.

I was holding Thunderbolts vol. 3, Moon Knight vol. 3, and Wolverine: Weapon X vol. 1, and even though I wanted the Thunderbolts, I ended up walking away with Moon Knight.

Why did I do this?

Because Thunderbolts vol. 3 just happened to be a tie-in to the 2008 event comic, Secret Invasion.

WORST COMIC EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR MK. 2

In terms of event comics, Secret Invasion is widely regarded as the definition of “let-down.”

It was hyped for no less than 5 years, and while the changes to the Marvel universe that it brought to the table were indeed significant, the actual panel-to-panel experience amounted to nothing more than “meh.”

On top of that, if you go to your local comic shop, and you look for Secret Invasion of the trade shelf, do you know what you see?

A WHOLE FUCKING ROW OF PAPER THIN PURPLE BOOK SPINES.

Marvel really shat on it’s readers with it’s release of Secret Invasion and it’s ungodly number of tie-in books.

Seriously, by my count there are 26 books under the Secret Invasion label, with 4 of them being of the core storyline, and about 5-6 of them being essential to the experience according to most recommendations.

At $30 for the core book, and like $15 a pop for any of the tie-ins, that’s not asking a lot, that’s just straight punk-garbage-faggotry, man.

...Sure, why not?

Secret Invasion pisses me off because I don’t want to read it on account of it’s shittiness, and yet I feel a strong desire to give in and read it on account of it having stake in just about every storyline since it’s publication.

Either way, I still hate reading really good trades from characters I like and seeing those little fucking yellow captions pop up with their “See Secret Invasion #5!” bullshit.

Fortunately, I always have this as an excuse for not buying over-priced bullshit.

2 years have past, I know what happens during Secret Invasion, and yet I don’t.

Though I loved Thunderbolts 1-2, the interference of Secret Invasion, a bloated book I honestly don’t want to read, is what kept me from pursuing the rest of the series for the time being.

Well, that and the fact that Warren Ellis bowed out of the series as writer after volume 2.

Warren Ellis: Creator of such wonders as the "Bowel Disruptor Gun."

The whole point of this rant is that, I love comic books, but I’m pretty sure I’m always going to be one of those guys that just reads his comics.

I took a gamble with Civil War, and it worked out, but I also took a gamble with Messiah Complex, and now I feel like hitting someone every time I think about it.

Unfortunately, no one was around at the time of writing this...

Event comics are hard for me, because I tend to read comics from the DC/Marvel universes, but I generally stick to the characters that typically aren’t involved in the big events.

Moon Knight was featured in about 1 page of The Infinity Gauntlet.

I guess you could say The Punisher lent a hand in Civil War, and by that I mean he killed a pair of D-list supervillains that nobody cared about.

Just for fun, here's the two of them hangin' out together.

Batman is the FUCKING MAN, but if you thought Marvel’s event comic continuity was impenetrable, then apparently you haven’t looked at DC’s “Crisis” storylines and their multiverse bullshit.

That's nice an' all, but could someone tell me what the heck is going on?

I like my comics, but every now and again, I feel compelled to take a gamble and try and read one of their comics.

When I think about it though, near as I can tell I’m about 1:1 with my “good” and “bad” event book purchases, so I guess the odds of me being pleasantly surprised are actually pretty good.

Here’s hoping to future gambles and pleasant surprises then, I guess.

Filed under: Comics, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #5: The King of Fighters 2000

SNK has a long history of being regarded as a fringe gaming company in the U.S.

None of their products and franchises really seriously broke into the mainstream, and in fact most of them started out as lame rip-offs of other, often times better; games.

Despite this, nearly every arcade on the planet has at least one of SNK’s distinctive red arcade cabinets sitting somewhere in a dark corner.

FUCK. YEAH.

SNK games are, for lack of a better term, the perfect gaming choice for the modern American hipster.

SNK games are relatively well-known, behind the times in terms of technology, and often regarded as “under-appreciated.”

Do the fucking math.

*Sigh* I just don't "get" it...

One of SNK’s flagship titles, The King of Fighters, had it’s debut in 1994.

If you want to nit-pick though, 1992’s Garou Densetsu AKA Fatal Fury, was actually the first instance in which The King of Fighters tournament was used in an SNK game.

Just figured I’d throw my nerd cap on the table for all to see.

Hah, thought I was kiddin', didn'cha?

The basic premise of virtually every King of Fighters game, is that of a one-on-one fighting game, with the added feature of both sides consisting of 3-man (or woman) teams.

Each battle is carried out in elimination style, with the victor of each match remaining in the fight to face the next members of the opposing team until they themselves are eliminated.

Between matches, a fraction of life energy is awarded to the victor to give them a fighting chance against their next opponent.

If only my 1997 had been this cool...

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of The King of Fighters series, has always been it’s massive gallery of characters.

Among the linear King of Fighters games, meaning not including any of the spin-offs, there have been well over 100 characters rotated through the roster.

The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match currently holds the record for most number of characters in a King of Fighters game, with a staggering 66 individual combatants.

Jesus fuck that's a lot of people.

Over the years, the gameplay of the King of Fighters series has gone through subtle changes, but has never really attempted to change it’s stripes.

’94 got the ball rolling and introduced us to the series’ protagonist, Kyo Kusanagi, as well as the manually charged super combo meter.

Terry Bogard layin' down the smack on Chang (he's Korean.)

’95 gave us the “oh my God, why didn’t they have this the first time around” team editing feature, as well as gave Kyo a rival in the form of Iori Yagami.

Just a little bit ghey. Just a bit.

’96 gave us simplified controls, and featured GEESE HOWARD.

THE MOTHERFUCKING MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNN......

GEESE HOWARD automatically elevates any game he’s in to “legendary” status.

’97 represented the culmination of the series’ first (and best) story arc, the Orochi saga; as well as introduced the popular “Advance” and “Extra” styles of play.

Orochi: Evil Demon, Final Boss, and Wearer of Slacks.

It also represented the only instance in series’ history in which ambience was used instead of music for many of the stages.

That was dumb.

’98 was the first game in the series to not have a storyline, instead it was a “dream match” scenario where characters were inserted into the game based on their popularity.

’98 was, in my opinion; the best game in the series up until 2002: Unlimited Match.

Once again here's Chang (the Korean) about to get blasted by Takuma Sakazaki.

’99 gave us 4-man teams and the retarded “strikers” system, as well as the equally retarded “Counter” and “Armor” modes.

It also made drastic changes to the games’ roster, and replaced the main character, Kyo, with K’.

Kind of want to hate him, but I have to admit, he's actually kind of pimp.

While ’99 kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, The King of Fighters 2000 was easily on of my favorites in the series.

I’d rank it just behind ’98 in terms of badassery.

Kind of like how I'd rank Hard-Boiled just behind The Killer in similar terms.

While the gameplay was largely unchanged from ’99, SNK made the wise decision of trimming some of the excess fat in removing the “Armor” and “Counter” modes.

Seriously man, those were bullshit.

Pictured: "Counter" Mode

2000 had a lot going for it: a good roster, great music, and gameplay that was more of the same, but tweaked to perfection.

It’s easy to see why 2000 ended up so good, as it would be SNK’s last real King of Fighters game they would develop before the Korean company, Eolith, bought them out and started raping their franchises.

Hmm, I wonder why Metal Slug 4 would replace Tarma, their coolest character, with Trevor, a KOREAN?

How could you replace THIS, with THIS!!!!???

On the same note, I wonder why King of Fighters 2001 would introduce us to May Lee, a KOREAN?

Well, at least she has a Kamen Rider henshin belt.

Not only that, but I wonder why in King of Fighters 2002, Kim Kap Hwan, SNK’s resident KOREAN who hadn’t received a sprite overhaul in years, would suddenly receive some of the most detailed and smooth animations in the franchise history?

From this...

...To this.

*Ahem!* Bullshit aside, King of Fighters 2000, as well as Metal Slug 3, which was released the same year; had some serious love put into them, and stand as some of; if not the best entries in their respective series.

Kind of like THIS was the best in it's franchise.

The final boss in The King of Fighters 2000, was the mustachioed, dress wearing baddie, Zero.

Pictured: Tom Selleck in a dress.

Technically his name is actually “Clone Zero,” as he is merely a clone of white-haired, dress wearing baddie of the same name from King of Fighters 2001, but whatever.

It’s kind of funny though, Clone Zero has more moves, and is way more difficult to beat than the original Zero, largely because Zero was only a mid-boss in 2001.

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, King of Fighters games, and indeed SNK games in general; have a reputation of populating their games with broken-as-fuck final bosses.

I'm lookin' at you Magaki, you goofy-ass, queer bag of shit.

It’s kind of easy to see why though, seeing as SNK games are primarily arcade games, and in that sense, any way you can squeeze quarters out of your customers is a good way to make money.

I suppose having stuff like this in your arcades would boost sales as well.

Oh yeah, and from a gameplay standpoint, one has to take into account the fact that King of Fighters games have the player going up against the final boss with 3 different characters to their 1.

Despite the numbers advantage though, King of Fighters bosses have always been almost sinfully difficult to overcome.

Many cite ’99’s Krizalid as being one of the harder bosses in the franchise history.

Wow, now that is a fruity coat.

To be honest, I myself didn’t have too much trouble beating him through simply hanging back and Terry Bogard-ing or Joe Higashi-ing his ass.

Personally, I found Goenitz from ’96, Orochi from ’97, and Igniz from ’01 to be far more difficult than Krizalid.

Though Omega Rugal from 2002: Unlimited Match shits on all of them, end of story.

The beast himself.

In terms of difficulty, I would put Clone Zero somewhere on the upswing of the middle-tier.

I’ve had rounds where I went to town on his ass and swept him with one guy, and I’ve also had rounds where he took out my team without breaking a sweat.

Fighting him is kind of a toss-up.

If he hangs back and tries to counter you with his skirt attacks, then chances are you can chip away at him and eke out a victory.

Believe it or not, this is actually a GOOD sign.

If he goes offensive on you, and starts spamming his unblockable shadow punch, then you’re in trouble, ’cause you just know his black hole super combo is gonna’ come out just when you least expect it.

THIS is when you're in trouble.

Of course, despite Clone Zero’s bi-polar fighting style, one plus to the experience, is the truly awesome background music of his stage.

The fight takes place in some sort of deep, dark dungeon, and the music is appropriately moody.

The music is pounding and ominous, lending itself well to Zero’s overwhelming strength advantage over your team, while at once maintaining an energy that fits well with the fighting game experience.

In other words, unlike say, Kain R. Heinlein’s overly dramatic and nearly non-existent theme from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Zero’s music keeps the player from getting bored.

Another example would be Orochi’s theme from King of Fighters ’97:

Both themes are good, but seem to put too much emphasis on the dramatic aspect of the situation, rather than matching the intensity of the gameplay.

Anyway, that’s King of Fighters 2000, someday I’ll do a 2002: Unlimited Match article, ’cause Krizalid’s remixed theme in that is easily one of the best boss tracks ever in a video game.

I won’t post the link, ’cause I’d like to save it for another day, but definitely check it out.

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth

If you’re like anyone else surfing around on the intersnatch these days, then you’ve probably heard news of Kevin Tancharoen’s 8-minute pitch video for a new Mortal Kombat movie.

If not, then you should probably click the video above and check it out.

I for one was very impressed, not just by the production values and artistic design of the video, but also by it’s cast.

In case you didn’t know, Michael Jai White of Undisputed 2 and Black Dynamite fame plays Jackson Briggs,

You knew I had to use this one again.

Capoeira expert, Lateef Crowder from Tom Yum Goong and Undisputed 3 plays Baraka,

Funny, he doesn't look like a brutha' to me...

and Matt Mullins, who is currently on the American Kamen Rider TV show and will be playing Vejita in the new live-action Dragonball movie, plays Johnny Cage.

Glad to see they upped the budget for the next Dragonball movie.

To top things off, the fight choreographer of the video is Larnell Stovall, who you will of course remember conducted the fights in Undisputed 3.

And we all know how well that turned out.

From what I can tell, the basic premise that Tancharoen was working from for his “new” Mortal Kombat, is something along the lines of Se7en/8mm/Saw meets Enter the Dragon/Bloodsport.

Okay, this movie needs to be made. NOW.

That is, I believe the idea was to combine the bloody, dark, urban and “ugly,” aesthetic, atmosphere and subject matter of Se7en, and combine it with the underground fighting tournament plot-line of Enter the Dragon.

On paper, I think it’s a great idea.

Though the Mortal Kombat series of games were never really my favorite, (I was a Capcom and SNK kid) one thing I will admit about them, is that they always had a pretty impressive roster of characters.

Sure, the digitized graphics of the older games in the franchise seriously restricted the developers ability to create truly outrageous and memorable designs, and palette swapping was often out of control, but even so; most of the character designs had a lot of charm and personality to them regardless.

Jax: He's a black guy. Yeah, that's all he's got goin' for him.

I have to say, it was truly refreshing to see some of the more gruesome and imaginative character designs in the series I.E. Baraka and Reptile; be integrated into live-action in such a way as to highlight their gruesomeness.

I for one would love to see a character like Kabal, or even Kano, redone in this style.

Previous attempts at doing so in the film series were often cheap looking, and very “PG-13” in their approach, so much so in fact, that most of the costume and makeup designs were often times laughable, especially in that piece of monkey-crap, Annihilation.

Say what you will, their costumes are still better than the ones in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Some purists may object to it, but I feel that moving the Mortal Kombat series away from it’s “Outworld” elements is a good move.

I always felt that Mortal Kombat games were at their best when they kept the mysticism and inter-dimensional bullshit on the fringe instead of at the forefront of their presentation.

Goro was fun and memorable because he was the only inhuman character in the first game.

That and he was a broken-ass piece of shit that knocked you across the room anytime you tried to do anything but jump-kick his ass.

Silly Scorpion, 'told you to jump-kick his ass, but NOOOO.....

By the time we got to MK3, and we reached a point where it was becoming hard to distinguish just who the hell wasn’t some crazy fucked-up monster from Outworld, I felt like things started to get gimmicky.

No wait, THIS, is gimmicky...

Mortal Kombat: Rebirth seems like it’s trying to keep things grounded in a twisted and warped, but otherwise fairly believable reality.

No mention is ever made as to Shang Tsung being any kind of sorceror, nor are Reptile and Baraka ever made out to be anything more than malformed and psychotic men.

May I just say, that after all the internet crap about Harlequin fetuses and what not, I always figured it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to use the concept in a movie.

Congrats to Mortal Kombat: Rebirth for being the first movie I know of to actually do so.

Now here's a picture of Harley Quinn, 'cause Harlequin Ichthyosis gives me the heebie-jeebies.

So, we’ve established that, conceptually and artistically speaking, I think Mortal Kombat: Rebirth has something going for it.

But what did I think of the fighting?

In short, the action put on display in this 8-minute video is pretty much on par with some of the better American martial arts movies.

Lateef Crowder is his usual impressive self, with indications of his Capoeira skills being restricted largely to his posture and the occasional hand-plant or spin-kick.

He, along with the choreographer, seemed to play up Baraka’s fierce and brutal nature in such a way as to tone down the sleekness of Crowder’s movements, and put more of an emphasis on throwing his weight around and giving power and intent to his attacks.

His strikes, particularly his punches, were a little bit guarded and slow, a fact that may have been due more in part to the cinematography than Crowder himself.

Even so, I felt some of his punches just didn’t have the right “big-ness” to them that a character as vicious as Baraka should have had.

Crowder’s performance was pretty good for what it was, but sadly I believe he has little hope in his career of ever being cast as anything but “the Capoeira guy with the dreads.”

Hell, they already cast him as Eddy Gordo in the Tekken movie, that must have been just about the easiest casting job ever.

If you type "Eddy Gordo" into Google, Lateef Crowder is the second result. No joke.

Matt Mullins’ Johnny Cage was pretty good as well.

His movements were sharp and impressively quick, however I felt his attacks during some of the longer, and more complex sequences, were a little bit off.

While Crowder’s punches seemed to be overly restrained at times, Mullins’ seemed to come out half-cocked.

There is a 4-5 hit sequence early on wherein Mullins hits all his marks, but I get the sense he’s just putting his hands where they need to be, instead of fleshing out, and “selling” every move.

It’s a minor gripe, especially since Mullins was actually able to carry out the choreography quite well, and indeed left somewhat of an impression, but it’s still something I felt needed pointing out.

One thing worth noting is that probably the most impressive moment in the whole fight, a inside-spinning-kick, was delivered by Mullins and not Crowder.

Mullins’ form in executing this kick, compared to his somewhat wimpy movements during the longer, more contact oriented beats of the choreography lead me to believe that it may just be a lack of comfort that is holding him back.

Flashy acrobatics and kicks seem to be his forte, but not complex hand work and sparring.

The cinematography during the fight was classy and efficient, with very little unnecessary movement or trickery being emplyoed.

The angles were well selected, and some of the panning shots during the more complex sparring were very nice.

Though I can’t say I am familiar with Tancharoen’s directing skills, I have read that he is a dance choreographer and has directed several dance videos and features, which, on paper should make him well-suited to filming any sort of physical action, in particular man-to-man combat.

In all, the fight was well shot and choreographed, and I have no doubt that, given a longer production schedule, all the players involved in the film, both in front of and behind the camera, could produce something pretty impressive.

...Or they could just make this.

On the whole, I found the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth video to be quite impressive.

I feel that, should it get picked up for production, chances are it would do best as a straight-to-video feature.

The straight-to-video market has been rapidly legitimizing as of late, and given the grounded in reality, but otherwise ridiculous subject matter of Tancharoen’s concept thus far, I don’t think it would be taken as seriously in theaters as the director might hope.

Regardless, Tancharoen was fortunate to score a stellar cast for his production, one that I hope he manages to maintain if the movie ever gets picked up.

We all know Michael Jai White can fight, and we all know he can play the lead, so why not let him do both as Jax?

I would watch that, in fact I would look forward to that.

Well, those are my thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, chances are the buzz surrounding it has already past, but oh well.

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

Thoughts on Splice

*SPOILER ALERT* SOME PLOT DETAILS MAY BE REVEALED! *SPOILER ALERT*

Vincenzo Natali’s Splice opens with the birth of a colossal penis.

No, that’s not my twisted way of referring to Adrien Brody’s nose, but rather the honest to God truth.

The movie begins with a clever first-person shot from the fish-eyed perspective of the penis in question, where we are then, literally; carried off to an examination room in the laboratory where said penis is introduced to…

Another giant penis.

"Ma'am, I must advise, I honestly don't think you can handle that much banana..."

Did I mention that the giant penises have “vaginas” for tongues?

Well, they do, and they aren’t shy about whipping ’em out for all to see either.

Kind of like these guys.

Splice is an odd movie.

It wasn’t really a horror movie in the proper sense, (very little shocks, scares, or tension) and it wasn’t really all that good or bad.

It was just plain weird.

To be truthful, I did see the movie in an empty theater, with a friend who at times was more concerned with telling me which anime the movie reminded him of, so that may have skewed my impression of the movie, (no audience reactions and what not) but for this article, I’m gonna’ stick to my guns.

Splice is a movie about a stupid, crazy bitch, her equally stupid boyfriend, (who she just happens to have by the BALLS) and of course, their animal-human hybrid that wants to fuck both of them.

Sorry, just spoiled the movie for you.

My thoughts aside, Splice is actually a rather straightforward film about a parenthood and control, both things that our STUPID protagonists fail to earn the right to wield over, well, anything really.

On a side note, do you know how you can tell Splice is a Canadian, or at least not-American film?

Because the lead characters are named fucking Elsa and Clive, that’s how.

Pictured: Elsa and Clive.

If I may diverge for a moment, I just need to vent my frustrations with the main characters.

Both Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley performed their roles ably within the confines of the script, however whoever was in charge of the wardrobe and some of the set design, was trying just a little bit too hard.

According to the world of Splice, genetic engineers are the hippest people in the world.

They wear designer hipster gear, listen to techno and jazz, have fabulous apartments, sleep on futon’s with giant manga prints hung over them, eat Japanese candy every day, and oh yeah, they drive an ironic and unpretentious beater car.

"Quickly! To The Hipster-Mobile!"

In essence, our protagonists come across as Manhattanites or some shit, while living in a snowy podunk town with seemingly only one skyscraper downtown.

No wait, I’m not done venting just yet!

Elsa is a stupid fucking bitch.

I didn’t like her from the film’s opening moments, and you can bet I straight-up hated her ass by the final reel.

It is hinted at that she had an abusive, negligent mother, and that may be why she is so fucked up, both as a person and as a pseudo-parent, but even so, she was very hard to deal with throughout.

Clive on the other hand, was not so bad.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t stupid.

Or whipped to shit.

Now just replace the Azn girl for a stupid bitch, and there you have it: Splice!

That being said, I won’t question Clive’s questionable logic at times during the movie, seeing as the stupid/whipped combo actually explains that away pretty conveniently for me.

You see, early in the film, Clive is just whipped, but not stupid.

Elsa does things against his better judgement I.E. illegally creating Dren, the human-animal hybrid, and he does nothing to stop her.

About halfway in though, after Dren’s already grown up, Clive starts to get dumb.

REEAAAAAAAALLLLLY DUMB.

Going into the movie, I assumed Dren was going to rape Clive.

Turns out, I was off by a bit, as he fucks her consensually, and then later, Dren rapes Elsa.

That’s right, there are sex scenes with Dren, and yes, they are weird.

Weird may not be the right word though, ’cause I found myself laughing at a lot of scenes in Splice that I think I really wasn’t supposed to.

For instance, there is one real gory scene in the movie, and all throughout it, I found myself laughing out loud at how over-the-top it was.

The difference is, you're SUPPOSED to laugh at this.

Then during the scene where Dren and Clive share a dance, I shook my head and snorted in dismissal.

And the scene where Clive fucked Dren?  You better believe I was saying “what the fuck?”

Splice is a movie that asks you to, above all, watch what happens.

It doesn’t so much tell a story, or deliver a message, as it does drop scenes in your lap and simply ask you to watch.

It’s like watching a documentary about a dysfunctional couple raising a down’s syndrome kid.

Pictured: A great fuckin' movie.

The character of Dren is the centerpiece of the film, and rightfully so.

She is presented to us, first as a horseshoe crab shaped whatsit.

Pictured: One of the coolest animals in all of existence.

Then it is later revealed to us that this form was just a cocoon, housing a hairless rabbit/chicken looking thing that likes Japanese candy and has a nasty poison stinger for a tail.

A month later, Dren takes on the appearance of a big-headed, chicken-legged, bald kid with her eyes on the side of her head like a deer.

Elsa begins dressing her like a human at this point, and Dren demonstrates clear signs of intelligence by spelling words that she hasn’t been taught.

Despite this, she never really speaks, with most of her vocalizations sounding like a cross between a squirrel and a monkey.

One thing about Dren’s intelligence that I found interesting to note, was the fact that the filmmakers wisely made the decision to make her smart, without being overwhelmingly so.

In many of these “science run amok” films, often times the title villain or creature displays levels of intelligence that seem overly convenient, or forced I.E. Species and The Lawnmower Man.

Splice never attempts to do this with Dren, instead the makers seemed to be content having their creature be a quick learner, and very smart, but never really approaching the level of a grown human.

To that end, the film succeeds in making Dren a fairly sympathetic character in that she is at the mercy of her dim-witted and psychotic “parents.”

Dren’s “adult stage” looks like Sinead O’Connor with a tail, and chicken legs.

Sinead O'Connor circa 1990

Her eyes adopt a more binocular style alignment, definitely making her seem more human.

The actress that played her, Delphine Chaneac deserves some praise, as her nearly entirely physical performance as the oddly shaped Dren is utterly believable, and very interesting to watch.

Her movements have an animalistic quality to them that is sharp, alert, and seemingly purposeful in a sense that is altogether foreign to the average human.

Have you ever stared at a dog or a gorilla and tried to figure out what was going on in their head?

Well, that same sense of, “what the fuck are they looking at?” is evident in Dren, and it went a long way towards helping me to forget that she was indeed a special effects construct.

I will say this though, when the full extent of Dren’s transformation is finally revealed, my friend called it about a minute beforehand, to which I responded “you better not be right, man.”

Seriously, I was really hoping they didn’t take the “splicing” part of the storyline as far as they did, but oh well.

Splice is a movie with a lot of little mysteries floating around in it, but due to excessive telegraphing and leaving of breadcrumbs, most of them are revealed to the audience somewhat prematurely.

In that sense, there aren’t really that many surprises in the movie, but the movie gives you enough incentive to keep watching anyway.

Mmmm.... Incentive....

Protip: Don’t see Splice with someone that calls out what everyone thinks is going to happen.  Chances are they’ll spoil every surprise for you.

At one point I even said aloud:

“Aw man, they can’t kill him, that’s such a cliche.  Besides, he didn’t do anything wrong, other than be a douche.”

Sure enough, Mr. Douche was dead about a minute later.

Like seemingly every movie I talk about on this blog, Splice was not a bad movie, it was just weird, flat, and filled with dumb characters doing even dumber things.

Oh yeah, and weird sex, lots and lots of weird sex…

Sorry if you thought this was gonna’ be a review, my mind was just a little bit too jumbled for me to properly compose one.

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