Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

I’ve Had This Music Stuck In My Head For Awhile Now

It’s funny, I’ve only seen Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy once in my life, and yet to this day I can still recall many of the sights and sounds almost at will.

To this day, the Samurai movies maintain a very special place in my heart.

They were the first subtitled films I ever saw.

They were the first samurai movies I ever saw.

And perhaps more importantly, they served as my introduction to the walking symbol of MANLY Japanese badassery that was Toshiro Mifune.

He's got more badass in his little finger than you've got in your entire bloodline.

While I’m sure how much relevance he has with the youth of today, what with the prevalence of stories/movies/anime with bumbling or overly emotional male protagonists, and y’know, that Glee horseshit; in my mind Mifune’s samurai performances stand as the single strongest example of what an Asian male should aspire to be.

Either that, or Bruce Lee.

Or Donnie Yen when he was a few years younger.

Or Yusaku Matsuda.

The pimp that left us too soon...

Point is:  Glee, Bad.  Mifune, Good.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure, but from what I can recall, it’s been 14 or 15 years since I watched the Samurai Trilogy, and yet here I am, still getting it’s theme music stuck in my head.

It’s been about a week or so since the tune popped into my head, and to be honest, it’s got me in the mood for some classic chanbara movies.

That being said, I got an Amazon gift card this past Christmas, and I’m seriously considering using it to buy the Yojimbo and Sanjuro blu ray set.

It’s been about 4-5 years since I last saw those movies, but as far as I’m concerned, watching Mifune scratch his face and cut the fuck out of some bitches never gets old.

I would buy the Samurai movies, however I recently heard a rumor that Criterion is going to be releasing them on blu ray in the next month or 2, so I’ll hold off for now.

Hell, I’ve waited about three-fifths of my life to sit down and watch them again, I think I can wait a few more months, right?

……….. Fuck Glee.

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

The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #10: Beard-Shiro

Alrighty boys ‘n girls, it’s been a long time coming, but today we’re finally kickin’ off a new Top 10 list.

This time around we’re gonna’ be venturing into the depths of MANLY cinema to dig up the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movie history.

Better buckle your ass down, ’cause for the next 10 days, testosterone levels are gonna’ shoot through the roof, energy drinks will be consumed en masse, fake boobies will be squeezed, Tapout gear’ll be worn 24/7, and no opportunity to apply the principles of infighting will be missed out on.

Okay, maybe things won’t get that meatheaded around here; at least I hope not…

Pictured: The poster boy for a generation...

In any case, expect much violence, feats of strength, and epic acts of selfless heroism to be the core subjects explored over the next 10 days.

That being said, while things may in fact get a little meat head-y in the immediate future, bear with me, ’cause believe me; this shit’s gonna’ be awesome.

Anyway, let’s get the ball rollin’ with the first entry in our list, the 10th Manliest Man Moment as seen in Hokuto No Ken: The Movie:

Hokuto No Ken AKA Fist of the North Star is perhaps the MANLIEST anime or manga in existence.

Except maybe Golgo 13…  Golgo 13’s the shit.

THAT FUCKING PIMP.

To the sad few that might not be aware of it, Hokuto No Ken takes the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max, re-casts a Japanese Bruce Lee as the main character; and features (numerous) instances of him blowing people the fuck up by TOUCHING THEM as it’s core plot point.

If that’s not fuckin’ MANLY, then I don’t know what is.

Oh wait, THIS:

Anyway, the main character of Hokuto No Ken is an insanely powerful martial artist named Kenshiro.

Kenshiro is essentially your basic Yojimbo-esque silent do-gooder, albeit one that dispenses justice with the body exploding martial art of Hokuto Shinken as opposed to say, a six-shooter or katana.

Throughout the series, Ken kills an ungodly number of people; almost always in horribly gruesome fashion.

While any one of said kills could easily be ranked as one of the Manliest Man Moments in movies, or at least the goriest; such instances of bone-crunching blood fuck-ery occur in Hokuto No Ken with such alarming regularity; that it kind of loses it’s luster after awhile.

I hate to say it, but you can only see a guy’s intestines fall out, or his head explode so many times before it starts to seem routine.

Dude, Neutrogena. Look into it.

Well okay, maybe not routine; but you know what I mean.

Anyway, as weird as it may sound, perhaps the most badass thing Kenshiro ever did in Hokuto No Ken actually involved no maiming or butchering.

Well, “very little” maiming or butchering anyway…

You see, perhaps the most awesome thing Ken ever did in all of Hokuto No Ken and it’s spin-offs, was get his ass whupped and grow a pimp-ass fuckin’ beard:

Pictured: The beard equivalent to Sam Elliot's mustache.

While that is indeed perhaps the pimpest beard in all of existence, I have to admit; simply bearing it isn’t enough to constitute a slot on this list.

Thankfully, Kenshiro manages to one-up the awesomeness of his newly bearded visage almost immediately by, you guessed it; turning some grossly outmatched thugs into salsa waterballoons.

Not only that, he does so after essentially RETURNING FROM THE FUCKING DEAD.

At the beginning of the movie, we’re treated to a sequence wherein Ken gets his ass handed to him by a blond douchebag named Shin.

And of course by "ass handed to him" I mean he got 7 holes poked into his torso by Shin's fingers.

Flash forward sometime later, and we find a couple of kids named Bat/Bart and Lin/Rin (sorry, Japanese is weird like that…) being attacked by some Road Warrior thugs.

Literally seconds away from being mudhole stomped to death by a biker dude, Lin/Rin throws on a PURPLE FUCKING AURA and summon her random fuckin’ psychic powers to call out to Kenshiro, who just happens to be nearby.

From there, Ken’s second appearance in Hokuto No Ken: The Movie sees him literally RISE FROM HIS GRAVE to save the kids looking like Swamp Thing or some shit.

Now, while that may not sound that awesome, bear in mind that Mr. Kenshiro then proceeds to absent mindedly knock a couple of skyscrapers down WITH HIS FISTS.

Not only that, one of said buildings actually falls on Mud Man Kenshiro’s head, and he justs keeps right on walking like nothing happened.

Hell, the building even waits for him to walk out from under it to finish falling over!

Immediately following this, Ken struts his way up to the thugs; shedding his Mud Man getup along the way to reveal:

An awesomely pimptastic hood and beard combo!

BAM! Stylish!

As awesome as the “Deployment of the Beard” was, the real icing on the cake is the fact that this magnificently MANLY entrance sequence is wasted on a handful of some of the lowliest and most puny thugs in the entire Hokuto No Ken universe.

Despite having just seen the man-mountain before them RISE FROM THE GRAVE and KNOCK FUCKING BUILDINGS DOWN WITH HIS BARE HANDS, in classic kung fu movie fashion; the thugs proceed to pull knives and crossbows on ‘ole Ken.

10 bucks says Ken's dick is sharper than that knife...

Not only that, during all of this the motherfucker that was stompin’ a mudhole on little Lin/Rin doesn’t even think to take his boot off of her.

The girl put up a PURPLE FUCKIN’ AURA while you were stomping her and then a muddy fuckin’ Juggernaut came back to life, started wreckin’ buildings n’shit, and then proceeded to march straight towards your ass with GLOWING RED FUCKING EYES.

Even if the dude failed to make the connection between the Mud Man and the girl, you’d think he’d at least, y’know; stop doing what he was doing, or better yet, RUN THE FUCK AWAY.

Regardless, rest assured the dude that made with the stompage is the first to get it… BAAAAAAAAAADDDD….

Yeah, pretty sure your eye's not supposed to do that...

From there, Ken proceeds make goopy cherry Jell-O out of the rest of the gang, caving in faces and the like.

This isn’t the most creative of Ken’s beatdowns in Hokuto No Ken, given that it favors speed and efficiency over brutality and rage; however for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure none of the bad guys make it out of the fight able to wear hats anymore.

Oh yeah, and none of them lived either, which is a plus.

You see they ain't got heads no more, so hats would be... Yeah, dumb joke; I know...

As mentioned above, this sequence was far from the most brutal moments in Hokuto No Ken history, however the awesomeness of the entrance; coupled with the ultra-rare appearance of Beard-Shiro put this one high on my list in terms of badass moments in movies.

Well, #10 anyway…

That being said, this was just the beginning of the Azn Badger’s Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies.

Check back tomorrow for more MANLINESS as we move on to Manly Moment #9!

Filed under: Comics, Kung Fu, Movies, Top 10 Manliest Man Moments, 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Azn Badger’s Top 5 Songs That Keep Him From Stabbing People (Chinese Edition)

Yep, that’s right, we’re doin’ this again.

Give me a break will yah’, work was particularly brutal today…

Anyway, today we’re gonna’ be taking a look at the Top 5 Chinese Songs That Keep The Azn Badger From Stabbing People.

Unlike the previous 2 iterations of this list, this time around there’s an extra rule involved in my selection process.

Said rule would be:

No Jackie Chan.

Being as I have a fairly extensive collection of Jackie Chan songs, I think it would be best to save them for a list of their own at a future date.

Remind me to get back to this at a future date, as I genuinely like a lot of Jackie’s songs, and would love an opportunity to talk them up at some point.

Anyway, that being said; let’s get to the list:

5. Babylon In The Orient – Shanghai Restoration Project

You know this is gonna’ be a fucked up list when I start things off with a joke entry.

Babylon In The Orient, while sung in English (barely…) by a Chinese person; is the quintessential Azn song.

Mind you, that’s “Azn” not “Asian.”

The difference being defined by the amount of hair gel and “street” sensibilities present in the Asian person in question.

Consisting of little more than the words “holler” and a few extra tidbits here and there, the song captures the sound and feel of the Azn archetype so perfectly, that it’s tune springs to mind every time I see (or hear) a rice rocket or Asian guy dressed like a 300 lbs. Black guy.

Needless to say, Babylon In The Orient is a song that makes me laugh on account of how insanely Azn it is.

While it’s indeed a shitty song, the point of this list is that it consists of songs that keep me from stabbing people I.E. make me happy.

Babylon In The Orient makes me happy, though in a “so bad it’s good” sort of way.

In my book that counts for a lot.

4. Into The Future – Andy Lau

Ah, the “Great Un-Aging One,”  Andy Lau.

Andy Lau is like the Tom Cruise of China.

He’s been consistently playing handsome, energetic and suave young men throughout his entire career despite being about 10 years too old to do so for, well, over 10 years now.

Truth be told, I haven’t really seen many Andy Lau movies, but the man has one helluva’ a reputation; as is evident by my knowledge of him despite having little to no interest in his career.

That being said, I think it’s funny that #4 on this list comes from the soundtrack of a movie I haven’t seen, and is sung by an aging pop-star I barely know of.

That’s right folks, the kung fu movie obsessed blogger that is the Azn Badger has not seen Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer.

Know what else is fucked up?

I haven’t seen Kung Fu Hustle either!

Despite this, I stumbled across the theme song for Shaolin Soccer at some point, and while it doesn’t make me want to see the movie any more than before, it’s an energetic and fun song that always puts a smile on my face.

Someday I’ll see Stephen Chow’s movies, but until then; I’ll settle for listening to the soundtracks.

3. Shan Shan Re Ren Ai – Elva Hsiao

Elva Hsiao is yet another artist I ran across while perusing the now defunct Azn music forum I used to frequent.

Near as I can tell, she’s basically the Taiwanese equivalent to Madonna, only prettier and without the nasty gap in her teeth.

Oh yeah, and I’m guessing she doesn’t live out her days pretending she’s English like Madonna either.

Anyway, I only really ever heard 1 single of Elva Hsiao’s, called Diamond Candy.

Being as it was a single, there really wasn’t a whole lot to listen to, but the songs “More More More” and Shan Shan Re Ren Ai (whatever the fuck that means in Mandarin…) struck me as surprisingly catchy dance songs.

While “More More More” got brownie points from me on account of featuring Wu Jing in the music video, ultimately I felt Shan Shan Re Ren Ai was the better song.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up listening to more of Ms. Hsiao’s work in the future.

2. Huo Yuan Jia – Jay Chou

In case you haven’t noticed already, many of the songs on this Top 5 come from the soundtracks of Chinese movies.

Huo Yuan Jia just happens to be the theme song for the movie of the same name, otherwise known in the U.S. as Jet Li’s “Fearless.”

It also happens to be a song by the juggernaut of Taiwanese pop music, Jay Chou.

Unlike most Asian pop-idols, I happen to like Jay Chou.

He started out his career as a writer, and as a legitimately accomplished musician behind the scenes, he’s definitely earned his stripes.

Despite all that, the point is:

I like his sound, and he’s made more than a few songs I happen to like, so he’s cool in my book.

I can’t say I’m terribly excited about his recent forays into action cinema, most notably in the upcoming Green Hornet movie; however despite that, he’s still cool in my book…

… Provided he doesn’t make a fool of himself in that movie.

Anyway, Fearless was a pretty spankin’ movie, but the one memory I’m able to carry with me wherever I go, is the tune of this song.

Man, I wish American movies would have badass theme songs like this one…

1. A Man Ought To Be Strong – CHINESE PEOPLE

Really, how could a kung fu movie obsessed person like myself make a Chinese music list without throwing A Man Ought To Be Strong into the top spot?

As a Chinese folk song, as well as the theme of the seemingly endless Once Upon A Time In China film series, A Man Ought To Be Strong is, from my perspective, the spirit of China in song form.

While there are scores of versions of this song, (including 1 by Jackie Chan) this version, sung by a choir as opposed to a single vocalist, is easily my favorite.

As I said, this song basically symbolizes China in my eyes, making it all too appropriate that the best version of it be sung by a bunch of anonymous Chinese as opposed to some pop-star.

Anyway, this song is awesome.

Everyone should hear it at some point in their life, so if this was your first time, I’ll just say, “You’re welcome.”

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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....

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Thoughts on Inception

Movie Poster Fail.

Let it be known, this article is not a review.

Like my article on Splice, I don’t feel adequately qualified to properly review Inception, and as such, I will instead use this post as a vehicle for my ruminations regarding it.

Anyway, let me begin by saying that:

I liked Inception.

I felt it was an entertaining and (conceptually) innovative film, that managed to hold my interest throughout despite it’s sinfully long running time.

Okay fine, the movie isn’t Braveheart long, but hey; you try going to see it in the theater at 10:45 at night and tell me it didn’t whip your ass.

10:45 PM or not, he's gonna' BEAT YOUR ASS.

Inception is a film that I absolutely will not spend time going into detail regarding the plot and other such bullshit.

I say this, not because I don’t want to drop spoilers, but because I honestly don’t remember most of them.

Oh yeah, and it would cause me physical pain to try and explain some of the goofy shit that goes on in this movie.

Seriously, I’d need a diorama, Powerpoint, an old priest and a young priest just to explain the concept of this fucking movie.

Actually, I think Von Sydow would do well enough by himself. Max Von Sydow was BORN looking that awesome.

The basic concept of the movie involves the manipulation and invasion of peoples’ dreams, leading to a story that mirrors that of an absurdly complex and convoluted heist film.

I say “convoluted” because there are moments when, just when you think you’ve got all the rules of the film’s impressively well thought out, and seemingly structured universe, the movie starts throwing you curve balls in the form of changing it’s own logic for the sake of convenience in regards to the plot.

That’s not to say this happens all the way through, however there were at least 2 occasions in which I honestly had to scratch my head and say:

“Huh?  Why the fuck did that just happen?”

Pictured: A film where such a phrase is often uttered by the viewer, and yet no explanations are offered...

It’s interesting to note that, despite the 2 films sharing very little in common, for whatever reason I kept saying to myself in the theater:

“This hella’ reminds me of Flatliners…”

WHY THE FUCK HAS NO ONE SEEN THIS MOVIE!?

Despite it’s complex subject matter and, at times, fuzzy internal logic; it should be noted that Inception is by no means a genius of a film.

That is, unlike The Legend of Zelda on the NES, Inception did not make me feel stupid or lost at any point, rather; it succeeded in making me feel smart.

Let it be known, the Azn Badger is a Badger of barely average intelligence.

Your average Badger.

Azn or not.

An AZN Badger.

That being said, let me just say that the screenplay of Inception, like seemingly every Christopher Nolan film, is very redundant, and much too excessive with it’s incessant dropping of “breadcrumbs” for the viewer.

In example, let’s summarize the scripts for Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight:

Batman Begins:  “FEAR!!!!!!!! JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! I’M BATMAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!”

The Prestige: “REVENGE!!!! MAGICAL DAVIIIIIIIDDDDDD BOWIIIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!!”

The Dark Knight: “CHAOS!!!! JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! WHERE IS HE!!!!!!!????”

To those of you that don’t habla Espanol, “breadcrumbs” refers to the little droplings, or tidbits of information that are interspersed throughout a screenplay to make those “Ah Hah!” moments seem more logical, and ultimately, more rewarding to the viewer.

Inception’s script is, to pound the metaphor totally into the ground, not sprinkled with breadcrumbs as most films should be, but is instead simply a whole loaf of bread.

Mmmmmm.... Inception.... *Drool*

Put it this way, if you’re paying attention, and are able to keep track of wherever the fuck the film’s logic decides to go throughout the movie, then chances are you’ll be able to figure out most of the major plot points a good 20 minutes to a half hour before I think the movie intended you to.

Anyway, good movie, provocative screenplay, but just a little bit heavy-handed with the exposition at times.

Attention Mr. Nolan: This is not the tool you use to write a script...

The acting performances in Inception were, in a word; “solid.”

I say this because, despite the all-star cast; Inception is by no means an actor’s movie.

Due to the hardened nature of most of the main characters, the majority of the performances consist of muted expressions and flat deliveries.

Hell, even most of the humor is deadpan.

Tom Hardy has an accent, and that’s about all he did for me.

Ellen Page, while looking uncharacteristically fetching in this movie, also failed to leave any sort of impression.

Leonardo DiCaprio is just about the only actor allowed to emote throughout, yet despite this; most of his thunder is stolen by the script’s propensity to spill the beans on it’s big character reveals long before their intended cues.

That being said, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe managed to make an impression based purely on their facial acting.

That and Levitt looks like my brother, but Jewish.

He looks like these two, a little. Those are the only clues you're getting though...

Oh yeah, and Ken Watanabe is pimp, so he gets a pass as well.

One thing I feel that needs to be pointed out about Inception, is that the action is typical of a Christopher Nolan film.

One thing about Nolan that truly confuses me, is that he seems to know what he likes in his movies, and how he likes to shoot it, however, when it comes to framing action, the man just doesn’t have a clue.

Maybe it’s his cinematographer, or his editor’s fault, but regardless, whoever is fucking up really needs to stop it.

RIGHT NOW.

Simply put, Christopher Nolan likes sweeping aerial shots of cities,

Check...

car chases,

Double check...

and gunplay/fighting.

Check-A-Saurus Rex...

Inception, of course, has all of these things, however only 2 thirds of it is done well.

Don’t get me wrong, Nolan’s cityscape shots are always beautiful, as are his car chases, but when it comes to framing human-on-human violence, he sucks donkey balls.

My main issue with Nolan’s action scenes, is the lack of spacial awareness the viewer is given throughout.

You know that thing that the Hong Kong cinematographers do where they shoot the actors from the toes up so you can catch the detail and intent in their movements?

I know, a fight scene is totally different from your standard action scene, but bear with me...

Well, Nolan’s answer to this is to frame everything all loosey-goosey, and then throw the footage into the meat grinder until it makes a Bourne movie look under-edited.

It should be said though, that whoever does Mr. Nolan’s sound editing, should be given some sort of award *cough!* Oscar! *cough!*

Seriously, the sound of the gunfire in both The Dark Knight and Inception is a thing of beauty.

Truly the definition of “ear-popping.”

No, different kind of "ear pop," yah' dipshit...

Compliments aside, I have one more gripe about the action:

I know it’s realistic to choreograph a gunfight as a fairly stationary and controlled series of tactical potshots, but for A MOVIE THAT TAKES PLACE IN FUCKING DREAMLAND, I’d expect things to be just a little bit more colorful.

WOAH!!!!! TOO MUCH COLOR!!!! DIAL THAT SHIT DOWN, SON!!!!

Seriously, what the fuck is the point of having gunfire and explosions in your movie if you aren’t going to go to the trouble to highlight them in any way.

On a final note, I’d like to take a minute to give my thoughts on the soundtrack of Inception.

A lot has been said about the ever so prolific, Hans Zimmer’s, soundtrack of the movie.

Lookit' this smug fuck, with his dick-eatin' lips...

By, “a lot,” of course, I mean a lot of good.

Several of my friends hyped the soundtrack for me, such that I was really excited to hear the soundtrack, much more so than I was about seeing the movie in fact.

After all, my friends and I used to refer to Inception in daily speech as simply, “BWAAAHHHHH!!!” due to the brass blaring teaser trailer.

In example:

“Hey, did you see BWAAAHHHH!!! yet dude?”

Anyway, retarded bullshit aside, Inception’s soundtrack was booming, sweeping, and all sorts of epic, however I ended up leaving the theater with little to no recollection of any sort of themes or melodies played throughout.

In essence, the music was gorgeous, and almost mystifyingly dignified, almost like a classical symphony, however, despite being excessive and overbearing throughout, to me; it just wasn’t all that memorable or engaging.

Seriously, Inception had a lot of music, too much in fact.

The only musical memory I walked away from the film with was bittersweet, in that I realized one of the climax themes played during the last act of the film, was in fact played twice within the same act of the film.

That’s just fucking lazy.

I’ve always said Hans Zimmer was overrated, and while the score for Inception does little to change my impression of him, I will say this:

He’s done better.

Just as Christopher Nolan has done better.

And Leonardo DiCaprio has done better.

Even so, Inception is a good movie, that while lacking in some areas, and full of holes in others, is a film that, regardless of how you feel about it, leaves you with something to talk about.

Just like The Matrix more than 10 years before it, (wow, I’m really that old?) it’s by no means perfect, but something about it just makes us want to sit down talk about it with someone, for better or for worse.

In many ways, I can think of no greater success for a film of this nature.

Now let’s just hope they don’t go and blow it by making a shit ton of sequels…

Although Mr. Nolan can go ahead and make another Batman.

The Azn Badger loves him some Batman…

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“The One Where Goose Dies…”

Ever notice how sometimes we think we know something when all we’re really working from is just one fraction of the whole picture?

Though I think it’s kind of funny now, I realize that most of my knowledge of movies as a kid was derived from this kind of thinking.

In my youth, I didn’t actually watch all that many movies.

Yesterday I posted a list of my 5 favorite film villains from my childhood, and I couldn’t help but notice that nearly every movie on that list (except The Blob. FUCK The Blob…) was a movie I watched “almost every day.”

 

EVERY FUCKING DAY.

You see, I watched movies all the time, however the variety of films I would watch was extremely limited.

My parents and my brother however, watched all sorts of stuff, mostly R and PG-13 movies that I would have to leave the room for.

 

That didn't stop me from walking in on this one at Auntie's house though...

Despite my not having actually seen any of these movies in my youth, I would often overhear, or be told factoids about them by my parents or my older brother.

This lead to me developing a habit of becoming content with what little I knew, and often writing off the film as unnecessary viewing because of it.

It’s a strange way of thinking that seems to fall in line with that whole “astronauts and astronomers” speech that Sam Neill gave in Jurassic Park III.

In case you forgot, (don’t be ashamed, Jurassic Park III sucked balls) basically it goes like this:

Whatever man, you know you'd go gay for him.

 

“I believe that in this world there are 2 kinds of boys: ones that want to be astronauts, and ones that want to be astronomers.” ~ Dr. Alan Grant

The analogy is that some people thrive on hands-on experience in their passions, while others tend to explore them at arms reach.

In case you are already lost, what I’m trying to say is that; as a child, I feel I developed some tendencies akin to that of an “astronomer.”

In many ways I feel I am still marching down that path.

Anyway, that’s enough of that sappy introspective bullshit, the real reason I’m typing this article is because I found myself laughing over some of the ways I would pretend to “know” movies as a kid.

In general, the way I would “know” movies as a kid was by discovering one key moment in the drama of the film.

This lead to me knowing Top Gun for years exclusively by it’s soundtrack, (which my mother listened to, WAY too often) and that it was “the one where Goose dies.”

 

"So, I forget, what the fuck am I supposed to do now that I'm inside him?"

I didn’t know who Goose was.

I didn’t even know how or why he died.

Hell, at some point I even recall pondering whether he was even human, what with his name being Goose an’ all.

GOOSE.

Other examples of my “extensive film knowledge” as a kid included Rocky IV, which was “the one where Apollo dies,” either that, or “the one with the big Russian guy.”

Apologies for whatever spoilers I may have divulged just now, but come on man, if you don’t know Rocky IV and Top Gun, you sir, deserve to be hit with a tack hammer.

In the brain.

Not in the face, the brain.

In the case of Rocky IV, I had actually seen the first 2 films in the series, and had somewhat of a connection to the character.

Know what’s hella’ funny though?

You know what my brother told me when I asked how Apollo died?

He told me: “What do you think?  Some guy walked up to him and punched him in the head.”

Samuel Peter doing his best Rocky IV Apollo Creed impression.

While that’s actually completely true, Apollo did get punched to death, I just love how straight and to the point my brother was with me.

Bear in mind, we were both very young at the time.

Now that I think about it, that’s actually the exact same description he gave me as to how Superman died when Doomsday killed him the comics.

And wouldn’t you know it, my brother wasn’t lying.

Pictured: The Punch.

The list of movies I used to “know without knowing” (kind of like “fighting without fighting,” but, y’know, lame) goes on and on.

I know some of them are exceedingly vague, but see if you can recognize any of them:

1.  “The one where the bunny throws up and the hippo shoots everyone.”

2.  “The one where the alien jumps out of the guy’s chest.”

3.  “The one where the alien’s chest opens up and he pulls out a ray gun and kills everyone.”

4.  “The one where Godzilla bleeds (for the first time).”

5.  “The one where the guy gets his head stepped on.”

6.  “The one where Batman says, “Eat floor.””

7.  “The one with the black rock.”

And the trick question for the evening:

8.  “The one with the train that goes too fast.”

I’ll post the answers for those care to read them sometime tomorrow.

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