Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Rumor Mill

 

Jim Lee Batman FTW.

I happened upon an article on IGN earlier today that ruminated on some possible plot details of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman three-quel, The Dark Knight Rises.

Said article made mention of Talia al Ghul and the League of Shadows (“Assassins” in the comics) likely having a role in the central plot of the film, which most likely points to Tom Hardy’s previously announced role as Bane taking a hit in screen time and dramatic relevance.

"Bane takes backseat to NO ONE!!!"

My personal objections to this potential snubbing of Bane aside, I honestly feel that Talia could be an interesting element to the overarching story of the Nolan-verse of Batman lore.

With Catwoman already announced for the cast of the film, we now have 2 very potent femme fatales of Batman’s rogues present in 1 film.

Combine that with a Bruce Wayne who’s very likely still shaky around the lady-folk due to his previous love getting, y’know; blown the fuck up in the previous movie, and you have the makings of a very intricate and deceptive love triangle.

Eew! Batman has cooties!

In addition to this, Talia serves as an effective anchor to Batman Begins in the form of her familial relation to the primary villain of that film, Ra’s al Ghul; making for an epic plot thread that, if executed properly; will lend a sense cohesiveness to the whole trilogy.

While nothing is certain, least of all the plot elements mentioned above; the thought of Bane being cast as anything less than a primary villain feels like kind of a letdown.

When Bane was initially announced as a villain for The Dark Knight Rises, I was hoping against hope that he was going to be the villain, that is; the main foil for Batman regardless of whatever notables of his rogues gallery ended up being cast in the film.

Upon reading that Talia was a possible element of the film though, it makes it hard to picture Bane as little more than the muscle, or worse yet; a pawn to the machinations of the League of Shadows.

Despite my personal disappointment in said news, (anything short of a live-action Knightfall will probably fall short in my eyes…) it’s interesting to note that this particular plot rumor actually follows the Batman comics pretty closely.

Not long ago, I was fortunate to acquire a copy of the somewhat rare Batman story arc entitled Legacy.

I PAID!

In Legacy, the Bat-Family (including Catwoman) is charged with preventing Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter Talia, Bane, and the entire League of Shadows from unleashing a catastrophic plague on humankind.

While the story is indeed “comic booky” to the point of being unfeasible for live-action adaptation, the one element of the story that drew to pick it up, was that Legacy was known to contain the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane post-Knightfall.

While I honestly can say, grudgingly; that the rematch was not at all worth the considerable price of admission, it was fascinating to see Bane incorporated into a Ra’s Al Ghul story nonetheless.

In Legacy, Bane’s role was that of a stand-in for Bruce Wayne as Ra’s Al Ghul’s potential heir.

A key storyline that has often been used in interactions between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul has always been that of Ra’s wishing to marry Talia off to Bruce and have him take control of the League of Shadows.

Hell, at one point Batman actually went through with all of the above; only to turn his back on Ra’s and Talia after a moral disagreement.

"Moral Disagreement" of course being code for "Naked Swordfight."

The point is, Bane is and always has been somewhat of a cracked mirror image of Batman, such that their origins and motivations are nearly opposite, but their abilities and steadfast natures are nearly identical.

Going with this line of thinking, the writers cleverly wrote Bane into Legacy as Ra’s new heir, as well as future husband to Talia.

If Christopher Nolan and his crew were to associate Bane with the League of Shadows in a fairly logical (by comic book standards) manner, such as the one listed above; I see no reason why it wouldn’t work out.

My hope remains that Tom Hardy is given free reign to take center stage as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises, but with Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, the yet to be cast role of Talia, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s yet to be announced (or confirmed) role in the film also floating around somewhere in the script; it seems unrealistic to think that anyone will be claiming this film as their own.

Much like every Christopher Nolan film of the post-Batman Begins era, I’d expect The Dark Knight Rises to be very much an ensemble affair, making it unrealistic to expect a singular, commanding performance from anyone in the cast ala Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s Joker(s).

Bane’s a heavy for sure, but his charisma and personality can’t hold a candle to the endless possibilities that a character like The Joker presents to actors.

That being said, I’m a Batman nut, and a Bane fanatic; so The Dark Knight Rises is basically the biggest comic book movie ever for me.

Gonna’ be hard to wait for this one…

 

 

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A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VII – Mr. Yen, to the Future and Beyond!

"I want you... to suck my cock."

The year is 2010, and as of last year, Donnie Yen is now the most, or is among the most highly paid actors in Hong Kong.

Since finishing Ip Man in 2008, Donnie Yen has gone on to release 5 films, 3 of which being high-profile blockbusters.

The first of these was Bodyguards and Assassins, an action-drama set in turn-of-the-century Hong Kong.

With an all-star, ensemble cast, the film sported impressive production values, perhaps most notably the set, which consisted of a brick for brick recreation of several blocks of 1906 Hong Kong.

The film is essentially split into two halves, with the first being drama-heavy and ultimately responsible for setting the stakes, and the second being action-heavy, taking all the pre-established pieces of the plot from the first half and running wild them non-stop until the final reel.

While occasionally weighed-down by protracted bouts of melodrama, particularly in the film’s action-heavy second half, the film saves itself by providing an impressive level of characterization to what at first glance would appear to be an overwhelmingly bloated cast of characters.

Despite my ignorance in regards to pronunciation and recognition of Chinese names, I never found myself puzzled as to who was who or how every character related to one another.

Donnie Yen has a small but important role as a down-on-his-luck gambler seeking redemption for his past sins.

The role is minimal, with Donnie Yen being used primarily as an action element among the players, however he does have some truly effective dramatic moments.

The highlight of his performance, and perhaps the entire film however, is of course, a fight:

The above bout between Donnie Yen and former MMA champion, Cung Le, was reportedly re-shot and re-choreographed sometime after filming had officially wrapped.

Apparently Mr. Yen was unhappy with his performance, and thusly organized a reshoot, without supplemental pay or benefits.

The result is a fight that, while inspired, and certainly beyond the norm in terms of choreography, is somewhat uneven and ultimately, unbalanced.

The parkour element of the fight was brief, but effective, with much of the camerawork being downright spectacular, particularly when use of steadicam is used to weave between bystanders.

The sparring between the two players is crisp and on point for the most part, with great sound effects and music to back it up, but the MMA style joint locks and grappling seem largely out of place given the time period.

Perhaps most disappointing though, is the awkward use of wirework.

Though I’ve said before that wuxia isn’t really my thing, the fact of the matter is, that if one is going to incorporate fantastical wirework into a film, it’s implementation should be consistent rather than sporadic.

In all, the fight was a highlight for this film, however it doesn’t rank very high on Donnie Yen’s resume.

And as previously established, it's a pretty long resume. Yes, they boned.

Donnie Yen’s next film, also released in 2009, was the 90’s wuxia throwback, 14 Blades.

I have not seen this film, so I feel I have no right to comment on it in detail, however I will say this:

I have very little desire to see this film anyway.

In fact there are many films Donnie Yen has made, particularly in the 2000’s, that I have almost no interest in seeing.

As I mentioned in previous articles in this blog, Wilson Yip was a blessing on Donnie Yen’s career.

In between the classics that Yip and Yen were cranking out in the late 2000’s, Donnie Yen also released a number of smaller, poorly regarded films, most of which were, you guessed it: wuxia films.

Twins Effect I and II… ‘Nuff said.

Seven Swords seemed overblown and lacked the proper “Yen Quotient.”

An Empress and the Warriors didn’t peak my interest in the least, given the plot and Donnie Yen’s presence as a character who exists for no other reason than to hit people.

And then there’s Painted Skin

Well, Painted Skin just plain looked like ass.

AAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

I haven’t seen any of these films, including 14 Blades, but to my knowledge they have all received poor reviews, and while impressive to look at in some cases, and not terrible films in their own right, they simply don’t offer the Donnie Yen experience I’m looking for.

THIS on the other hand.... No, wait, this sucked too...

Despite being of the relatively advanced age of 46, Mr. Yen remains the top dog in terms of Hong Kong action cinema, with many of his upcoming films having him cast in action-heavy roles.

As I type this, Donnie Yen has more than 3 major films in the works,  not the least of which being Ip Man 2, which was recently released in theaters.

The film reunites nearly all of the principle cast from the previous entry in the series, however this time the story has moved to 1930’s Hong Kong, and includes Sammo Hung in a co-starring role as an overbearing Hung Gar master at odds with Ip Man.

Highlights in the film look to be a long overdue rematch between Yen and Hung following the impressive nature of their brawl in SPL, as well as what appears to be Sammo and Donnie pitting their form based Hung Gar and Wing Chun against English screen-fighter, Darren Shahlavi‘s more fluid Western boxing.

Sadly, from what I’ve read, Fan Siu Wong‘s role in the film is very small, and totally devoid of action.

A shame really, as I was very impressed by his performance in the first film, both as an actor and a combatant.

Although I can't say the same for his performance in this film.

Also on Donnie Yen’s plate for this year, is Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, a truly bizarre semi-sequel to Bruce Lee‘s 1972 classic, Fist of Fury.

I call the film bizarre due to the fact that the protagonist of the first film, Chen Zhen, was supposed to have gone down in a hail of gunfire at the end of Lee’s film, and yet, based on recent teaser footage, the sequel appears to have Yen cast not only as the same character, but as a masked vigilante practitioner of parkour.

Though I can’t say my hopes are up for The Return of Chen Zhen, it’s this continued process of adaptation and innovation that, in my eyes, keeps Mr. Yen’s performances from going stale.

That, and lots and lots of hair spray.

Despite being discovered¬† in the 80’s by one of the great directors and choreographers of our time, Yuen Woo Ping, Donnie Yen would not rise to prominence in the industry until more than a decade later, well after he had already begun to direct and choreograph his own films.

Unlike so many screen-fighters, in particular Jet Li, Donnie Yen has proven himself to be a student of the game.

Beyond being a fantastic martial artist, he has also displayed a remarkable sense of awareness in regards the kinetics of filmmaking.

Truly, particularly in recent years, he has come to embody the role not of screen-fighter, but that of a physical actor.

Some men, when placed into a fight scene, do nothing but hit their marks, keep to the beat, and wow with their physical prowess.

Donnie Yen does all of these things while injecting a sense of dramatic weight to his actions.

You care when he throws his punches and more importantly, you know why he chose to throw the punch the way he did.

Donnie Yen is of the rare breed of men that can not only teach, but also do.

Not only that, he is of the even rarer breed that can do both well.

At 46 I understand that Donnie Yen most likely has maybe 3-4 years left in him to produce truly great physical performances in his career.

Unlike Jackie Chan however, I believe Donnie Yen’s vanity and pride will keep him from stretching his fighting career beyond his means.

It saddens me to know that I was among those that overlooked Mr. Yen until such a late stage in his career, only to find that he was already beginning down the road to the inevitable end of his career.

I guess I should look at it not as me having missed the first 17 years of Yen’s career, but as me having witnessed the past 9, which is more than most can say.

I look forward to whatever the Mr. Yen is able to produce in the coming years.

Here’s hoping we’ll all be “wowed” one last time by the greatness that truly is, Donnie Yen.

Thank you to all who took the time to read this epic tribute of all I know and love about Donnie Yen!

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

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