Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Donnie Yen: Pwn-er Of Back Pain

Donnie Yen on the Viagra!

Finally got my a new new computer today, so I’m gonna’ be busy for a few days re-acquiring/uploading essential programs to it.

By the way, I got a Dell.

Nothing flashy, but good enough for me.

Anyway, I saw found this awesome back-pain relief medication ad on Twitchfilm today featuring the pimpest man in the universe: Donnie Yen.

LINK HERE

I like how the Chinese have better fight choreography in their commercials than we do in most of our feature films.

For more info on Mr. Yen, check out my massive tribute to him here, or alternatively; click the link on the sidebar.

In case you couldn’t tell, that’s my none too subtle way of saying CLICK THE FUCKIN’ LINKS.

Donnie Yen: Kickin' Ass Even In A Golf Shirt.

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

Donnie Yen Says Be A Dude And Help The Japanese

The picture above comes from LoveHKFilm.com, a wonderful Chinese film review site.

I wish I could take credit for it’s awesomeness, I really do; but no, I just found it and “borrowed” it for today’s post.

Anyway, this is me doing my duty as a (half) Japanese and saying “Do what Donnie Yen says, or he’ll find your ass and tear it up.”

I’ve personally taken it upon myself to donate a bit of money, as well as quite a lot of clothing and toys for the orphaned kids over there; so at the very least, even if you don’t have the guilt of the Japanese being “YOUR PEOPLE” hanging over you like I do, I encourage you to please give a little something if you’re at all able.

Anyway, it’s mom’s birthday today; so I’m gonna’ get back to bein’ a good boy.

Well, that and stuff my face full of mochi.

Don’t make Donnie Yen have to come find you…

DONATE HERE

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

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

Donnie Yen’s butt.

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

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

The basic plot is as follows:

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

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

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

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

Much violence and badassery ensues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROMANCE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jesus fuck man, I DON’T CARE.

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

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

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

In short:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So… Where are his balls during all of this?

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

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

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

Kung Fu B-Boy Donnie Yen!

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

That is to say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, enough cock-sucking.

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

Yasuaki Kurata and Shawn Yue have cameos in this movie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you live without seeing Donnie Yen’s butt?

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

Writer’s Block… Time For More Farley.

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

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

In other words:

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

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

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

Azn Badger’s Top 5 Jackie Chan Songs That Keep Him From Stabbing People

Happy Azn Face!

Jackie Chan is a man of many talents.

He’s an actor.

Sad Azn Face...

He’s a stunt man.

Jackie auditioning for the role of Doc Brown in Back to the Future. Despite many broken bones, he didn't get the part...

He’s Mitsubishi’s bitch.

Jackie likes him some Bitsu Mishi...

But the one thing that many of us over here in the ‘states seem to forget from time to time, (or simply be unaware of) is that he’s also a singer.

"War! HOOH! Good God, j'all!"

It’s true, like any good Asian celebrity, Jackie Chan is known to bust out a song or 2 every now and again, seemingly just for the hell of it.

That being said, while I’ve never listened to any of his albums, I have watched a shit ton of his movies, and therefore have heard a shit ton of the theme songs he sang for them.

While I’ll be the first to admit the man will never win any awards for his vocal talents, I gotta’ say; most of his songs are exceptionally well produced, with fun lyrics and wonderfully arranged instrumentation.

I’m not kidding, the man makes some pretty good songs.

Anyway, enough set up, let’s get to the Jackie Chan music!:

#5. Thunderbolt


Let’s get one thing straight, Thunderbolt is not a good Jackie Chan movie.

The movie had a massive budget, and was clearly designed to appeal to an international (read: Japanese) audience; yet it’s overly complicated plot, poorly shot racing scenes, and mediocre fight scenes led to it being a huge letdown for me.

Okay, THIS was pretty cool, but the rest of the movie sucked...

Despite all that though, Thunderbolt does have a pretty spankin’ theme song.

Played several times throughout the movie, the song has a very bold and heroic sound to it that really grabs hold of you.

In addition to this, the electronic sampling used in the tune cleverly evoke imagery of automotive or garage tools, effectively creating an association between the song and the racing world that the movie takes place in.

Thunderbolt:  Great song, shitty movie.

#4. Who Am I?


“WAH’ CHADAH’ NAH’ JO-HOOOOOOO!!!!!”

I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled that for no reason.

Such is the power of the theme song of 1998’s Who Am I?

Pictured: A shitty, and tonally inappropriate poster that looks ripped off from a Steven Seagal movie.

Who Am I? was what I tend to consider one of Jackie Chan’s last really good physical performances.

Along with Gorgeous, (which was only an okay movie) Who Am I? represented Jackie Chan at his best, albeit while approaching the end of his physical prime.

In other words, it was these 2 movies that directly preceded his brief, yet image crushing career in Hollywood.

Pictured: That one Brit from Mouse Hunt gets caught assisting Jackie in shitting all over his career.

That being said, I really liked Who Am I?

The movie was fast-paced, had a colorful and exciting plot, and finally, after so many years of Jackie movies that ended with hovercraft chases and Nazi strongholds exploding, gave us a good final fight between Jackie a pair of dudes instead.

The Ear Pull: According to Vulcan Raven it's some sort of sport to the Eskimos.

Seriously, why can’t more movies end like that?

Anyway, Who Am I? is an incredibly catchy song that I’ve tried many thousands of times to sing along to.

Being as I honestly don’t even know what language it’s sung in, (Cantonese and… I don’t know) my attempts have never gotten much further than:

“WAH’ CHADAH’ NAH’ JO-HOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Honestly though, that’s all I need to remember from this song to fuckin’ love the shit out of it.

#3. Kung Fu Fighting Man


The Young Master is one of my favorite movies of the early years of Jackie Chan’s career.

The film showcases Jackie’s juggling skills, and impeccable comedic timing, while at the same time features some especially physical fight scenes for the time, including an especially protracted final battle with Hap Ki Do master Hwang In-Shik.

In case you didn’t get that last part, I shall translate into kung fu movie layman’s terms:

At the end, Jackie fights a Korean guy.  For a really long time.

10 minutes. 10 minutes of watching Jackie get pwned to shit...

Anyway, besides being an excellent film, Young Master also has the benefit of having a really awesome theme song, that also just happens to be the first song Jackie ever did for one of his movies.

Bearing a tune that’s decidedly disco, Kung Fu Fighting Man is sung entirely in English, adding to it’s appeal in the eyes of non-Cantonese speakers such as myself.

The lyrics are cheesy and borderline nonsensical, but in many ways I feel that adds to the appeal of the song.

It’s a silly kung fu song, for a silly kung fu movie about a silly Kung Fu Fighting Man.

What more could you ask for?

#2. I’ll Make A Man Out Of You


That’s right, there’s a Disney song on this list.

Honestly man, If you can’t appreciate Disney movies, then you are the living embodiment of sour puss-ery; ’cause Disney movies were (I don’t know about these days…) the shit.

You see this crab? He's THE SHIT. Got it!?

Anyway, did you know that Jackie Chan performed the Mandarin version of I’ll Make A Man Out Of You?

Well, he did; and quite well at that.

While I’ve found some of Jackie’s Mandarin songs, and indeed his speaking; sometimes seem a little stilted, this song, along with the one he did for Drunken Master 2, are actually quite good.

I suppose it's easy for your singing to sound "stilted" when you're drunk off your gourd.

Make no mistake, I’ll Make A Man Out Of You is a Disney product, so it obviously has some pretty strong lyrics, as well as the backing of a full orchestra.

It’s a powerful and inspiring tune, that curiously enough, sounds to me like it may have been written to accomodate the Mandarin lyrics moreso than the English ones.

Honestly, listen to it both ways and decide for yourself which language flows with the music best:

#1. High Up On High!


Honestly, how could I not put High Up On High at the top of this list?

It’s big, it’s loud, it’s the cheesiest fuckin’ piece of 80’s Chinese trash you’ve ever heard, but goddamnit; High Up On High is the shit.

Armour of God was a weird Jackie Chan movie.

The action quotient was all out of whack, the plot was all over the place, but the whole thing has a distinctive charm to it that just makes it work.

Um... I don't get it.

Truth be told, I liked the sequel, Operation Condor; a lot more, but even so; Armor of God was a good time, in no small part due to the inclusion of songs like High Up On High, and Alan Tam’s equally cheesy Midnight Rider.

That being said, High Up On High is another Jackie Chan song sung entirely in English.

Well, broken English anyway.

There is indeed a Cantonese version of the song, entitled Flight of the Dragon, however I personally prefer High Up On High for it’s bad/good appeal.

Like most of Jackie’s songs, the music is exceptionally well-crafted, with a high energy, over-the-top rock sound to it that is fuckin’ loud and stupid that you just can’t help but love it.

Anyway, that’s the Top 5 Jackie Chan Songs That Keep Me From Stabbing People.

Have a good night, and I’ll see yah’ tomorrow!

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

Holy Fucking Shit, It’s A Dinosaur.

You’ll have to forgive my laziness, as after spending 2 hours on the freeway just to get home from work; I really just can’t summon the strength to write anything clever or remotely interesting this evening.

Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed the video above, as I’ve found it always puts a smile on my face whenever I watch it.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get around to posting the Top 5 Jackie Chan Songs That Keep The Azn Badger From Stabbing People for yah’.

Such passion! How could anyone not like him?

Regardless, sorry for the retarded/non-existent post.

Thanks for dropping by!

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

Holy Schnikes! 25,000 Hits!

Quite possibly the finest image I've ever produced...

Greetings true believers!

Yesterday was the first day I invited a guest contributor to post on this blog.

Yesterday was also the first day my blog ever scored more than 450 hits.

Not only that, today the Azn Badger’s blog was fortunate to score over 3,000 hits.

… So am I to understand that my blog’s best days are the one’s in which the Azn Badger let’s someone else do the writing?

Ouch.

… Nah, I’m just Joshin’ yah’, I’m happy as a clam!

Thank you Mencius, for you contribution, and more importantly; your promotional efforts.

The success of this blog would be 3,000 something hits less without you.

Anyway, hope you like my Stallone/Ultimate Warrior mural.

I assure you, it was crafted with pure love.

Oh yeah, and Photoshop…

I’m not about to make any promises for what the future holds for this blog, (I learned my lesson about 15,000 hits ago…) however I will say that a potential podcast is definitely in the works, as well as maybe a stupid homemade action movie or 2!

That being said, thank you for your readership, expect more fun and insanity in the days to come.

Until tomorrow folks!

Excelsior!

Filed under: Boxing, Games, Movies, Uncategorized, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post)

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first (well technically second…) guest post on the Azn Badger’s blog!

After months of not-so-subtly prodding at my friends to give me a hand/break in posting on this blog EVERY FUCKING DAY, one of my closest of pal’s has finally stepped up to the plate and allowed me to post a comic of his!

Anyway, the author of said comic is listed as “red13,” however because I’m a dick, and like to treat my friend’s like shit, I will henceforth be referring to the contributor of this comic as “Mencius.”

That being said, the comic in question is an homage/parody/play on the online PC game, Minecraft.

I myself have not played Minecraft, nor know anything about it, but I can definitely fake it by throwing Wikipedia quotes at you!:

“Minecraft is a sandbox building[1][2] game which allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. It is currently in development by Markus “Notch” Persson on the Java platform. The gameplay is inspired by Dwarf Fortress, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Dungeon Keeper, and especially Infiniminer.[3][4] Minecraft was developed for about a week before its public release on May 17, 2009 on the TIGSource forums, where it gained a considerable level of popularity. It has been continually updated since then, and while still an alpha release, it has garnered hundreds of thousands of sales and critical notice and acclaim from many reviewers.”

There, you now know just as much as I do about Minecraft!

Anyway, my buddy Mencius made this comic (for fun, not posterity) based around the basic premise tha- Oh, fuck it, I’ll just let him explain it:

“Minecraft will see updates to its multiplayer where players can take damage – leading to the inevitable creation of servers which give players a bit more of a challenge than they’re used to. This comic is about what I imagine a part of Minecraft’s future will look like.”
… I don’t get it.
Enough jibber-jabbin’ and talkin’ wise an’ otherwise though, let’s get to the comic, shall we?:
(Please open the image in another window or download it.  The comic is too large for the post width of my blog, so it has been condensed somewhat.)
Hope you all enjoyed it, please remember to thank my buddy Mencius for his contribution to the blog!
Seriously man, thanks a lot, I just snagged Demon’s Souls tonight, so I definitely don’t need the extra stress of having to pound out a blog post for tonight…

Filed under: Games, 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.”

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

Movie Review: Ip Man 2

*If all you care to read about is the fighting element of the movie, please scroll down to the heading titled “Action.”*

The Story So Far…

In 2008, Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip teamed up for the 4th time to give us Ip Man.

Ip Man was of course the heavily fictionalized biographical account of the Wing Chun grandmaster of the same name.

Goofy lookin' little guy, isn't he?

Taking place in the martial arts hotspot of 1930’s Foshan, the film follows Donnie Yen’s Ip Man as he clashes with rival martial artists, and eventually comes to odds with the Japanese occupying forces.

By "comes to odds with," I mean, "beats the piss out of."

The film had an all-star cast including the likes of Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Fan Siu Wong, and up-and-comer Xing Yu.

Xing Yu: Punching Bag For the Stars

Featuring stunning fight choreography by industry legend Sammo Hung, the film was wildly successful, winning Hong Kong’s best picture and best action director awards.

In all, it was a truly great martial arts film, with intrinsic themes like pride and nationalism figuring heavily into the crowd pleasing nature of the story.

Plot Summary:

Ip Man 2 takes place in 1950, some years after the closing events of the previous film.

The story opens with Ip Man, having recently moved to Hong Kong with his family, desperately trying to eke out a living by teaching Wing Chun on a rooftop garden.

Despite posting flyers all over the neighborhood, Master Ip’s school remains empty for some time, to the point in which he can’t even pay his apartment rent.

As fate would have it though, one day an energetic young man named Wong Shun Leung (Huang Xiao Ming) approaches Ip Man and challenges him to a fight, seemingly for no other reason than to satisfy his own machismo.

BORING.

Master Ip handily defeats Leung, eventually converting the would be challenger, to a trusted and loyal pupil.

With Leung’s help, Ip Man’s Wing Chun begins to gain ground in Hong Kong, with many new students showing up every day.

That's right, bow before he wrecks your shit.

Even so, times are tough for Master Ip and his students, as money is scarce, and many of the pupils are unable to pay their dues from week to week.

Despite this, Leung’s fiery nature gets him into trouble with the local Hung Gar school, resulting in Master Ip having to step in and settle things for him.

With his fists.

Upon meeting the Hung Gar master, Hung Jan Nam, (Sammo Hung) Ip Man is told that the local martial arts union won’t allow his school to remain open unless he agrees participate in an old fashioned martial arts challenge.

Master Ip agrees to the challenge, and manages to pass it.

With his fists.

At some point we are made aware that Hung Jan Nam serves as an ambassador of sorts between the martial arts union and the British officials based in Hong Kong.

The British ask Hung to organize a venue and event for a boxing match involving their champion, Taylor “The Twister” Miller (Darren Shahlavi).

The biggest meathead the world's ever seen...

Throughout their dealings however, the British treat Hung, and in fact, all of the Chinese, as secondary citizens, often refusing to pay them or simply not speak with them.

Despite this disrespect, Hung agrees to continue working with the English, as many people’s lives depend on him for income and job security.

The boxing event goes as planned, however at one point, Twister steps into the ring during a Chinese demonstration of martial arts forms, and starts to beat and humiliate the performers.

With his fists.

This of course leads to Master Hung and Master Ip battling Twister in the name of Chinese pride.

Merry mishaps ensue.  Roll credits.

The end.

Acting:

As with the first film, Ip Man 2 casts Donnie Yen as it’s main character among an ensemble cast.

While Yen’s acting performance doesn’t really occupy that much of the film’s running time, it really doesn’t need to, as it serves to bolster one of the film’s central themes, namely that of unity.

As in Ip Man 1, Donnie Yen’s performance is calm and reserved for the most part.

In the first film, Ip Man was characterized as being a somewhat eccentric character, an outsider in the eyes of most of his more overbearing peers.

This aspect of Donnie Yen’s performance carries over very nicely from the first film, as the calmness in his performance seems even more genuine given the more energetic atmosphere of the film.

Okay, maybe "genuine" wasn't the right word...

While by no means an amazing performance, Yen does well enough to portray the character as the pillar of strength and certainty that the script demands.

I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it until the day I die, Donnie Yen is not a good actor.

He’s at his best when he has something to hit.

With his fists.

Pallets work pretty good too I guess...

Sammo Hung’s portrayal of Hung Jan Nam is probably the strongest performance in the film.

Even from a purely visual standpoint, the character is bold and striking, with a very distinct wardrobe, a flashy streak of gray going through his slicked back hair, and a physical presence like no other.

Hah, fat baby...

In dialogue with Donnie Yen and other actors, Hung exudes a strength and forcefulness that suit his character perfectly.

Hung Jan Nam is supposed to be an overbearing, “my way or the highway” sort of character, and Sammo Hung captures this beautifully.

From the perpetually accusatory tone of his voice, to the way his eyebrows go nuts every time he opens his mouth, Sammo Hungs performance is wholly complete and, sadly, painfully outclasses Donnie Yen’s limited acting ability.

ACTING.

Huang Xiao Ming’s portrayal of Wong Shun Leung is comparable to his fighting ability.

He does alright, given that he lacks experience, but there’s nothing really there that sets him apart from any of the other popstars turned actors.

I'm lookin' at YOU Nicholas Tse...

Despite this, given the sharpness to his features, and the cocky sense of youthfulness that he exudes, it’s hard to say he wasn’t well cast.

For the most part, he does well, however the role is very small, with only the most basic of “kung fu asshole” lines in the script associated with it.

The point is, he didn’t really leave an impression.

Kind of like this sack of fuck.

Xiong Dai Lin as Ip Man’s wife,  is sadly much less of an element of this film as in Ip Man 1.

In the first film, she was Ip Man’s rock, she was his foundation.

In the early scenes she sort of wore the pants in their relationship, an attitude she was able to portray exceedingly well with her physical stature and rigid body language.

Pants are overrated.

In the latter scenes we got to see the 2 of them suffer together under the tyranny of the Japanese, which she also was able to convincingly.

While she wasn’t at all a major element in Ip Man 1, she felt present for most of the important events in the story.

In the sequel she’s just pregnant scenery.

I wouldn't mind wallpaper that looked like this...

It should be said, that despite having very limited roles, Kent Cheng, Fan Siu Wong, and Simon Yam, all do exceedingly well with what they’re given to work with.

While Kent Cheng and Simon Yam basically play the same cool guys they’ve been playing for years, Fan Siu Wong surprised me yet again with his performance.

The only other movie I’ve seen Wong in was Riki Oh, and while that was fun, it did little to convince me that he had any sort of talent, physical or otherwise.

Then I saw him in Ip Man, as the Northerner Jin Shan Zao, and I was blown away!

Not only could the guy still fight, but his acting was animated and engaging.

In Ip Man 2, Wong is sadly only in a few scenes, none of which contain any fighting, however he leaves an impression with his bold manner of speaking and his wildly expressive face.

Now THAT'S a fuckin' MAN FACE!

One thing worth noting in Ip Man 2, is that the performances for the British characters are downright terrible.

From what I’ve gathered by watching a shit ton of Japanese and Chinese movies over the years, my guess is that actors that speak in English in these films are asked to speak slower than normal so as to allow the theater audience to better understand them or read the subtitles on screen.

Even so, most of the Brits in Ip Man 2, sound both childish and SLOW.

Like, Little Bear slow.

SOOOOOO FUCKING SLOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!

Darren Shahlavi’s acting performance as the villain of the film, Twister, is both embarassing and confusing to watch.

The man seemingly can only speak at one volume, namely shouting at the top of his lungs.

There are times when his character is supposed to be adopting a condescending tone wherein he sounds more like he’s about to cry or throw a tantrum.

Oh yeah, and his resemblance to Hugo Weaving is downright cosmic.

It makes me laugh because the examples pics are horrible, and both guys have the opposite expressions.

In all, pretty much all of the Brits in Ip Man 2 don’t so much as give performances, as they do fulfill every conceivable ugly stereotype of the “foreign white devil.”

Action:

*WARNING, SPOILERS MAY EXIST AHEAD!*

As with the previous film, Ip Man 2 is packed to the hilt with fight scenes of the highest quality.

Unlike the first film however, which took on a darker and more violent tone in it’s second half, thereby causing the choreography to follow suit by making the violence seem more severe, Ip Man 2 remains consistently more vibrant and energetic throughout.

Color Correction: It makes a difference.

In fact, I would feel comfortable in saying that the fight sequences in Ip Man 2 are, in general; better than in the first film.

Much like in the first film, the fights gradually ascend in quality and dramatic relevance as the film progresses.

The first fight in the film, a friendly sparring session between Donnie Yen and Huang Xiao Ming, closely mirrors that of the the opening spar between Ip Man and Chen Zhi Hui’s Master Liao from the first movie.

So when I say "Master Liao" you have no idea who I'm talking about, but when I say "That one guy that got slapped in the throat a shit ton of times" you instantly know? WTF...

Except that the sparring in Ip Man 2 is much faster paced and aggressive in nature.

From the very first fight in Ip Man 2, one can tell that, cinematographically; the choreography is going to be very different from in the first film.

The first Ip Man had a very traditional, “golden age of Hong Kong cinema” kind of style to it.

An example of the differences in cinematography.

Most every fight in the film made liberal use of full body establishing shots and sweeping pans to give a sense of reality and depth to the performances and intensify the drama respectively.

It was straightforward, clean, and every movement was distinct and easy to identify.

Ip Man 2 changes things up quite a bit by stepping up the energy level a few notches and introducing some elements of gimmickry into the mix.

GIMMICKRY.

By “gimmickry” I’m not referring to wires, as those were used to great effect in both films, but rather the use of tighter, and more selective camera angles that typically emphasize specific focal points in the action as opposed to the entire bodies of the combatants.

As a result, many of the fights consist close-up shots of limbs, or chest-up shots that feel a little claustrophobic at times.

The trade-off though, is that most of the fights consist of less posturing, and more balls-out, arms length exchanges.

DREAM COME-FUCKING TRUE.

This is not a bad thing, however it does make for fights where quick cuts are evident, and educated eyes are sometimes required to follow the choreography from punch to punch.

Speaking of punching, the blindingly fast handwork that was used to such stupendous effect in the first film is back and better than ever.

Honestly, to count the number of times Donnie Yen busts out protracted flurries of buzzsaw punches on people in this movie would be like trying to count grains of sand on the beach.

Better pack your sleeping bag kiddo...

Despite this, because of the faster and more elaborate choreography, these flurries seem much more organic, legitimately seeming like part of a larger combination of motions as opposed to a show-stopping finishing move.

In general, the choreography seems to favor motion and activity over individual, flashier strikes.

Example.

It is impressive to note that Huang Xiao Ming, despite being a popstar with virtually no martial arts background, manages to hold his own under the demands of the choreography.

That’s not to say he’s an action star in the making, but among the likes of other fighting popstars like Nicholas Tse, Jay Chou, and Shawn Yue, he did alright.

Despite my praise, Huang exhibits a stiffness that is somewhat unsettling.

Honestly, the man holds his hands up like he’s never done it before, in a mirror or otherwise.

Sammo... How could you let the kid look like such a feeb?

On top of that, his trunk displays little movement, leaving his arms to do all the work for him, causing most of his strikes to seem “hollow” and lacking in power and intent.

He also tends to plant his feet in such a way that it reeks of him being afraid to move and mess up the framing for the cinematographer.

He also seems as times to be trying so hard to remember the steps to the choreography, that he forgets to use his facial expressions to heighten the drama.

He also smells bad.

Nah, I’m just kidding about that last part, I’m sure he smells fine.

Point is, for an untrained screen-fighter, he does just about as well as can be expected, even going so far as to be somewhat impressive during his one-on-one with the Hung Gar student called Kei.

FEEB FIGHT!!!!

Donnie Yen’s fighting performance in Ip Man 2 is nothing short of spectacular.

In the first film, Donnie Yen seemed, in my opinion, to be somewhat uncomfortable with Wing Chun.

I said before, in my EPIC Tribute to Donnie Yen, that Wing Chun uses motions and principles that are contrary to nearly all of Donnie Yen’s previous performances, and in Ip Man 1, this fact was somewhat apparent.

In Ip Man 1, Mr. Yen seemed stiff at times, with some of his blocks and parries coming across as too rigid, and somewhat robotic.

Not only that, but after watching Ip Man 2, his fast hands just plain didn’t seem as fast.

Aw man, that is SO fuckin' slow...

In Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen’s performance is much more fluid and organic, with his repertoire being somewhat bolstered, as necessitated by the faster-paced choreography, and his fast punches coming out in a much more visually impressive circular loop as opposed to the straight punches from the first film.

You can't really see it, but trust me, it's awesome.

Much like in the earlier fights in Ip Man 1, Yen’s movements seem somewhat lax during the first few fights in the film, only to gradually build in momentum until he reaches peak form at the end.

Despite the inherent spectacle involved in watching Donnie Yen fighting 20 men at once in the first half hour of the film, I found his fighting to be in much better form in some of the latter scenes.

The centerpiece of the film is a series of one on one bouts between Donnie Yen, and 3 masters of various martial disciplines, with the last being Sammo Hung.

In addition to this, the fights take place atop a convincingly rickety dinner table surrounded by upturned chairs.

The first of these masters, we’ll call him “Blinks,” utilizes what looks to be some sort of Mantis Style kung fu variant.

His strikes are wild and employ the full force of his body via fancy kicks and aerial maneuvers.

The choreography here is a bit choppy, as Blinks’ movements are a little uncoordinated and not all that convincing when he’s on the wires.

YOU FOOL! How could you let Uncle Cheng back on the wire rig so shortly after his surgery!?

Even so, the fight is bolstered by the use of the table as a prop, as well as a pretty solid piece of music by composer Kenji Kawai backing it.

It should be noted that the soundtrack for Ip Man 2 is spectacular, and really served to dignify the movie despite it’s somewhat silly last half.

Pictured: The silly last half.

The second fight in the table scene is between Donnie Yen and a master that employs what appeared to be some form of Baguazhang.

"Walking the circle"

This particular master’s movements were slicker and more tactile than Blinks’, resulting in a fight conducted at a somewhat slower pace, but with better defined movements.

A highlight of this fight is watching the Bagua fighter show off his limberness and float in and out of stances with an almost otherworldly grace.

"And then, without warning, Uncle decided to up and take a shit, right there on the dinner table..."

Again, the music is great during this scene.

Despite their limited fighting presence in the film, both Blinks and the Bagua fighter come across as extremely animated and well-defined characters that were fun to watch.

“Haha, Sammo Hung gets the big drum.”

That’s what I said the first time Mr. Hung’s music cue sounded and he appeared on screen.

Rest assured, his fighting performance in Ip Man 2 is certainly worthy of the big drum.

Sammo Hung’s first fight is a brief but masterfully choreographed battle with Donnie Yen at the end of the table sequence.

The fight is meant to portray the 2 as being evenly matched, and as such there is no real contact throughout.

Well, aside from maybe this.

The sequence is a prime example of one of my favorite elements of Hong Kong style choreography, namely the complex and fast-paced sparring and handwork.

Nearly every strike launched in this sequence is parried in some way, resulting in intense exchanges within arms reach for nearly entire duration of the fight.

During this sequence, the difference in style between Hung Gar and Wing Chun is evident pretty much from the first punch.

Pictured: The first punch.

Sammo’s strikes are wider, more circular, and ultimately more form based than the relatively straightforward nature of Donnie’s Wing Chun.

In addition to this, Sammo also assumes a number of stances throughout the fight, most notably a horse stance towards the end.

The whole sequence is a delight to watch, with an intense music score, and a balls-out, almost Dragonball Z-esque finale that had me giggling like a 5 year old.

Pictured: The Finale.

The fights in the last half of the movie deal exclusively with Darren Shahlavi’s boxer character fighting against Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen, in that order.

Shahlavi’s performance, as a boxer, is not the best I’ve ever seen.

The man has a pretty good resume for fighting roles in movies, especially in the 90’s, however the only one I know of that cast him as a boxer, was I Spy, which had him facing off against Eddie Murphy.

What, you thought I was fuckin' with you?

The fights in I Spy were a joke.

Sadly, the film was not.

As a boxer in Ip Man 2, Darren Shahlavi’s movements are a little bit off.

His footwork is atrocious, in the sense that he doesn’t really have any.

More importantly though, I think the real problem isn’t any fault of Shahlavi’s, but rather that of Sammo Hung, the choreographer.

Hong Kong style choreography has a look to it, a method to it, that just doesn’t represent boxing very well at all.

It emphasizes wide and showy motions for the sake of making the movements more visible and theatrical, while boxing does exactly the opposite.

Unless of course you're Sakio Bika.

Fast and compact strikes, devoid of wasted motion are the objective in boxing, and as such, it doesn’t translate to choreography very well, Chinese or otherwise.

Not only that, but the parrying and blocking that I love so much in Chinese choreography, is something you just plain don’t see in boxing.

*Sigh* Unless of course you're Winky Wright...

Slipping and ducking are the more common methods of defense in boxing, as opposed to letting your opponent manipulate and displace your hands AKA your only weapons.

Despite his fighting not really having any boxing science to it, Shahlavi’s brawling and overall presence is actually quite impressive.

I felt Shahlavi’s first fight in the film, against Sammo Hung, was actually the better exposition of his skills as a performer.

C-C-C-COUNTER!!!!

The fight is shot in such a way as to spotlight Sammo, however Shahlavi makes a decent impression.

His fighting has a wild intensity to it that’s mostly foreign to Hong Kong movies.

His movements are aggressive and pressuring, with a shit ton of scowling, flexing and grunting thrown in for good measure.

Oh no, he's totally not flexing. Not at all...

His fight with Sammo works, not only because the fighting is good, but mostly because of the drama of the situation.

The idea is that, Sammo does well in the beginning due to his skills, however the inherent physicality of his opponent eventually begins to weigh down on him.

The fight is melodramatic as fuck, but manages to work on a purely visceral level.

Ah wrestling, I can make references to it from just about anything.

The final battle in the film is, of course, a grudge match between Donnie Yen and Darren Shahlavi.

The whole thing is a bloody and melodramatic rollercoaster that leaves you hating the British and loving the fuck out of the Chinese.

Pictured: Why I hate the British.

It’s great fun.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it to see Donnie Yen get his face punched in for a change.

Some screen fighters have a tendency to not take hits with as much zeal as they probably should.

This is typically evident amongst “baby face” screen fighters that rarely, if ever, play villainous roles.

This would include the likes of Jet Li, Steven Seagal, and in rare cases, Donnie Yen.

You see that little cut on his forehead? That's the only fuckin' hit he took in this entire epic fuckin' fight!

Ip Man 1 and 2 represented some of the rare instances in which Mr. Yen didn’t really take hits all that well.

Actually, the real problem was the fact that he never really got hit in both movies.

Do you know how many times Hiroyuki Ikeuchi hit Donnie Yen during the end fight in Ip Man 1?

3 times.

*Gasp!* He's got a bloody lip!

Well, thank God for the end of Ip Man 2, ’cause I tell yah’, Mr. Yen takes a whuppin’.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t take his licks half as good as Sammo Hung.

Then again, nobody does, except for maybe Mick Foley.

Mick Foley on the average Tuesday.

The end fight in Ip Man 2 has a very comfortable sense of ebb and flow to it.

Unlike in Undisputed 3, (see review here) where the final fight felt like it adopted the pace it did because it was convenient to do so, Ip Man 2’s fight seems to have been carried out the way it was because it made sense to.

The whole idea behind the fight, I think, is that the physicality of Shahlavi is a constant advantage, while the technical and innovative skills of Donnie Yen’s Ip Man are supposed to be a brief counter to it.

Um, pretty sure he meant to do that. Yeah....

In other words, Ip Man is technically losing the fight throughout, however, whenever he is able to stymie Twister with new angles and techniques, he can briefly turn the tide until Twister figures him out again.

Yeah, pretty sure that's a new angle.

It’s an interesting and artful way to compose a fight that, thankfully, results in something much more than a Rocky IV-esque slugfest.

The final “comeback” sequence of the fight is beautifully edited, and yes, set to a wonderful piece of music.

I won’t spoil the details of it here, but I will say this, it may go on just a second or 2 too long, but it makes a fair amount of sense and is fucking awesome to watch, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

Seriously, if I had been in the theater for the big climax of Ip Man 2, I’d probably be yelling, “FUCK YEAH!”

Oh well, why not....

Ip Man 2 is not as good as it’s predecessor.

What begins as a traditional martial arts film, quickly devolves into a shameless rip-off of Rocky IV.

That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable film.

I found most of the performances to be very good, and the fights were downright amazing at times.

The difference between the 2 films, is that Ip Man 1 had a great deal of heart, while it’s sequel attempts to artificially manufacture it by toying with our basest of emotions.

Even so, Chinese melodrama and nationalism has a way of pushing just the right buttons for me, and in the case of Ip Man 2, it worked.

It made me giggle in disbelief at how silly some of it’s dialogue and plot points were, but I bought into it nonetheless.

Even if it’s “heart” is fake, I appreciate that Ip Man 2 at least attempts to have some.

Thanks Ip Man 2, for not being Transformers 2.

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