Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

And Now, Chuck Norris Morphing Into A Bear.

I know you’ve all probably seen this before, but I had nothing to write about so I figured I’d post it.

Y’know, for kicks.

Anyway, the clip above comes from the movie, Forest Warrior, a kid friendly piece of shit that, unlike The Octagon; I have no desire to see outside of clip form.

I honestly don’t know what’s funnier about this clip, Chuck’s vaguely Smokey-like “bear voice,” or the dude’s bizarre reaction to it.

I’ve never seen a bear in the wild, nor have I ever witnessed Chuck Norris turn into said woodland beast, but in all honesty I’m pretty sure, “Whooo-AHHHHH!!! Whoooo-Ah-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!! WHOOOOOAAAAAUHHGH!!!!” wouldn’t be the first vocalization to come to my mind.

Knowing me, I’d probably say something dumb and obvious like:

“Now THAT’S a bear!”

Now that I think about it, it probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have an epitaph that read “Whooo-AHHHHH!!! Whoooo-Ah-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!! WHOOOOOAAAAAUHHGH!!!!”

Anyway, thanks to The Great Hawaiian of Inspiration for showing this clip a few years back!

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And Now, Chuck Norris Ruminating On The Existence Of Ninjas.

My friend showed me this awhile back.

Something about Chuck’s oddly casual manner, and curiously spooky inner monologue in this scene tickles me in just the right way.

Seriously man, who the fuck talks to themself in suspenseful hushed tones?

Isn’t that something one generally does only in the presence of M. Night Shyamalan?

Apparently it’s a clip from a film called The Octagon, a shitty movie that I’ve unfortunately never seen; but certainly hope to in the near future.

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

The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #6: “Remember Jefferson, 20 Seconds!”

Today we reach the halfway point in the Azn Badger’s list of the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies.

That’s not to say the MANLIEST MAN moments covered today and previously aren’t worth their weight in MANLINESS; rather they’re simply MANLY to a degree that makes them not quite worthy of the Top 5.

That being said, it causes me actual physical pain to rank it below the Top 5, but in any case our 6th MANLIEST MOMENT comes from perhaps the MANLIESTof WWII movies; The Dirty Dozen:

Or if you were on the other side of the conflict: "Das dreckige Dutzend!"

As with seemingly every entry on this list, The Dirty Dozen represents a drastically different school of MANLINESS; namely that of the classic “LEATHER-FACED MEN OF EPIC HARDNESS” subgenre that was prevalent in the 60’s and 70’s.

Whether you blame it on the fairly recent emergence of PC culture, or the government slowly poisoning our water supply with “pussy-fying” drugs; it’s hard to argue that the MANLY MEN of generations past bore a “harder” and more world weary image than those of today.

Drover or not, I'd put my money on Bronson...

It’s this HARD image that The Dirty Dozen thrives on.

As is evident from the title of the film, virtually the entire cast of major players in the film are made up of lowdown dirty bastards that are serving time for war crimes.

The vast majority of the Dozen are impetuous and irredeemable sons of bitches that probably should hang for the shit they’ve done, but at the end of the day; they’re all exactly the breed of HARD MEN that are needed to do what must be done.

In this case, the mission at hand happens to be a (fictional) mass assassination of several high ranking Nazi officials just before the D-Day invasion.

Despite the action-packed conclusion, by far the strongest aspect of The Dirty Dozen, is the fact that despite most of the cast being bigots and murderers; at the end of the day you end up caring about what happens to them:

Pictured: The appropriately named "Maggott," who nearly blew the entire mission.

Well, most of them anyway…

Being as there really are over a dozen fucking MANLY MEN in this movie, there really isn’t time to cover everyone; but at the very least I feel I should mention some of the more prominent heavy hitters in the roster.

First off there’s Lee Marvin, the MAN so MANLY even Toshiro Mifune was forced to acknowledge him as his equal.

Trust me, if this guy says you're cool; you're fucking COOL.

Marvin’s Major Reissman serves as the badass leader of the group.

While not a convicted a man like the rest of the Dozen, Reissman demonstrates, on more than a few occasions; that he’s every bit as SAVAGE as they are, and if anyone wears the pants in their relationship, it’s him.

Like Tom Selleck and his mustache, Lee Marvin made an entire career of being a tough-as-nails army dude; and The Dirty Dozen serves as an perhaps the finest example of his acting method.

Expect maybe The Delta Force. The Delta Force was the shit...

Next up is Charles Bronson as the German speaking Wladislaw, who as we all know can’t help but be a BADASS FUCKING SPHINX of a MAN even during something as sedate as a word association therapy session:

BADASS. FUCKING. SPHINX.

Throughout his lengthy career, Bronson played the LEATHER-FACED HARD MAN bit to the point of self-parody.

It’s not his fault, I mean fuckin’ look at him!

How could you ask a man with a MANLY FUCKING CATCHER’S MITT for a face to be anything but HARD in whatever role you cast him in!?

More importantly, what self-respecting MAN would pass up an opportunity to make use of said MANLINESS in a movie?

Apparently none, hence the reason the world has 5 Death Wish movies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

In addition to Marvin and Bronson, I feel it’s worth mentioning that The Dirty Dozen also featured the EPIC MANLINESS of Cool Hand Luke and The Naked Gun’s George Kennedy, as well as the always awesome Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan of The Wild Bunch fame.

Pictured: A DAMN MAN.

It’s unfortunate that all 3 of said EPIC individuals are only in the movie for a few short minutes, but even so; their presence did a lot to bolster the palpable air of MANLINESS that permeates every frame of The Dirty Dozen.

Now, I’ve spent a great long while sucking the cock of this movie, and yet, up until now; I’ve actually made no mention of the MANLIEST MAN moment contained within it.

Said moment belongs to none of the awesome individuals mentioned above, nor any sort of big-time movie star; but rather to football legend turned actor, Jim FUCKING Brown:

Whatever movie this image is from, I haven't seen it. Looks fuckin' savage though...

As the only black member of the Dozen, Jim FUCKING Brown’s Robert T. Jefferson spends much of the movie at odds with the majority of his comrades.

The target of bitter racism during the early portions of the film, Jefferson responds in kind with hate of his own.

Despite this, Jefferson demonstrates a clear sense of duty and commitment to his mission that rivals even the most steadfast of the Dozen, as evidenced by he and Bronson’s Wladislaw going out of their way to prevent John Cassavete’s Victor R. Franko from deserting, thereby scrapping the entire mission.

It’s this sense of duty that ultimately leads to Jefferson’s death, which also happens to be our 6th MANLIEST MAN moment:

At this point in the movie, the Dozen’s forces have been cut down to a mere half-Dozen; and things are starting to get down to the wire.

Having succeeded in forcing the Nazi officials into the bomb shelter area beneath the mansion, our heroes work frantically to throw grenades into the air ducts that lie just above the bunker.

... And based on the big-ass grin on Jim FUCKING Brown's face, I'd say they enjoyed it.

As enemy forces rapidly bear down the mansion, members of the Dozen simultaneously work to provide cover fire to those prepping the explosives, and secure a half-track to use as their getaway vehicle.

Eventually, the half-track is readied and the machine gun crew begin to displace, however one thing remains out of place:

The explosives need to be detonated, and the only man in position to do so is:

JIM. FUCKING. BROWN.

Before he can make a move though, Jim FUCKING Brown is ambushed by a sniper, who proves to be a terrible shot; thusly prompting Mr. FUCKING Brown to dispose of him in decidedly MANLYfashion:

Following this, Jim FUCKING Brown strips off his extraneous gear and steels himself for the task at hand one of the Dozen yells:

“Remember Jefferson, 20 seconds!”

20 seconds?

The man runs 100 yards a game, I would think he can run a Nazi driveway in 20 fucking seconds!

With that Mr. FUCKING Brown clenches a pair of grenades in his hands and steels himself for the task of EPIC MANLINESS that lay before him.

Chucking his first grenade into the air duct beside him, Jefferson breaks out into a trademark Jim FUCKING Brown sprint towards destiny…

Run Jim FUCKING Brown! Run!

With enemy fire incoming all the while, he reaches the 2nd duct and puts a pineapple in there without skipping a beat.

Making his way to the 3rd and final duct, Jefferson fumbles with his last grenade, costing him precious seconds as he struggles to dislodge the spoon.

Looks like somebody got caught with their hand in the cookie jar...

With all of the explosives in place, Jim FUCKING Brown runs down the homestretch of the mansion driveway; when from out of nowhere, hidden just beside a nearby bridge, he is gunned down in mid-sprint by a Nazi soldier.

As his body collapses against the brick driveway, the remaining Dozen members call out to Jefferson in both agony and anger.

Mere seconds later though, all emotions are put on hold as the massive fireworks show that would be Jefferson’s parting gift springs to life, thereby solidifying the exploits of the mission; no matter how chaotic or disorderly, a job well done.

BOOM.

As the of the mansion cuts a fiery swath across the night sky, all the fighting and gunfire seems to pause for a moment.

Despite this, with the memory of his fallen friend and comrade still fresh in his mind, Lee Marvin turns to the bridge and revenge-kills the fuck out of the Nazi bastard that took out the Dirty Dozen’s Ambassador of MANLINESS, Jim FUCKING Brown.

Make that, "Overweight Nazi Bastard."

Pair this immediate revenge/spite killing of the Nazi soldier with the fact that Jim FUCKING Brown is the only member of the Dozen to get a sad music cue as a result of his death, and you have a MANLY moment worthy of the Top 10 MANLIEST MAN moments of all time.

If all that isn’t enough to convince you, I present to you the heap of forlorn reaction shots that show up as soon as our boy Jefferson goes down:

Anyway, thus concludes our 6th MANLIEST MAN moment in movies!

Check back tomorrow for MANLY moment #5!

Filed under: Movies, The Best Track in the Game, Top 10 Manliest Man Moments, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #7: The Poe-Dozer

Welcome back folks, to the Azn Badger’s list of the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments!

So far we’ve covered the head-exploding exploits of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, the unbridled savagery of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s John Matrix in Commando, and the sporadic and unfocused heroism of Han Solo.

Indeed, with every entry on this list we’ve explored a number of different forms of MANLINESS, and today will be no exception.

Today, as we name the 7th MANLIEST MAN moment in movie history, we enter the 7th circle of MAN-DOM:

Make no mistake, Con Air is a horribly disjointed mess of a movie.

Despite having an all-star cast, Con Air isn’t action-y enough to be an action movie, nor prison-y enough to be a prison movie; resulting in a film that has no fuckin’ clue what it wants to do with itself.

In falling flat on it’s face trying to embody the genres listed above, Con Air falls back on what many Jerry Bruckheimer financed blockbusters attempt to do, namely be “funny.”

Normally this would be acceptable, (and if Michael Bay’s in charge, very likely racist) however in this case most of the funny lines are delivered by DEATH ROW INMATES, making the humor just a little bit morally questionable.

Haha! Serial killers are HILARIOUS!

Despite all of Con Air’s failings, to it’s credit; it remains a very watchable piece of mid-90’s garbage.

One thing the movie did do right though, was give us the awesomeness that is Nic Cage’s Cameron Poe.

Cameron Poe, feeeeeeeels so good....

A quiet Southern gentleman who just happens to be an Army Ranger, Cameron Poe also happens to be mullet-ed and blue jean-ed DEATH on 2 legs.

Case in point, Poe is known to be SO FUCKING SAVAGE that in defending his PREGNANT WIFE against 3 drunken yahoos, 1 of whom is armed with a knife; Poe ends up getting sent to prison for manslaughter.

Seriously man, the guy is SO FUCKING SAVAGE that in killing an armed man in self-defense, he gets sent to prison for 8 years on the grounds that he “should’ve known better,” being as he’s a FUCKING KILLING MACHINE.

Anyway, despite Poe’s infinite awesomeness, Con Air as a movie doesn’t exactly afford him all that many opportunities to be badass.

There’s that one time he rescues a stuffed bunny through “presenting rearward” to a more than a little surprised Nick Chinlund while over-the-top rock music blared in the background:

Somebody just lost their cherry. Not sure who...

Then there was that one time he Chuck Norris-ed the shit out of some Mexicans to the sounds of over-the-top rock music:

The MANLIEST of MANLY maneuvers: The Roundhouse Kick!

And I guess there was that one time he prevented the rape of that one lady from Total Recall by beating the shit out of “The Man Who Always Dies In Movies,” Danny Trejo; also set to over-the-top rock music:

In other words, Cameron Poe; as awesome as he is, seems dependent on the presence of over-the-top stylings of Trevor Rabin’s orchestral synth-rock music in order to get his swagger on and kill the fuck out of, well; apparently mostly just Mexicans.

Cameron Poe’s not racist, there just happen to be a lot of Hispanic bad guys that wander into his path in Con Air.

At least I hope that’s the case…

Thankfully, Cameron Poe’s MANLIEST of MAN moments, and our 7th MANLIEST MAN moment in all of movies; involves no violence directed at Hispanics, but rather  plain ‘ole white guys, which of course makes it all the more PC!:

So here’s the basic setup:

An impeccably dressed John Cusack and that one Irish guy from Star Trek have finally caught up to the Jail Bird, the plane carrying all of the escaped convicts AKA the bad guys.

Chasing after the plane in pair of attack helicopters, the Irish guy orders his pilot to shoot it down; while John Cusack’s Vince Larkin does what he can to protect the government’s property I.E. both the plane and CAMERON FUCKING POE by screaming “CEASE FIRE!” into the ear of the pilot in the front seat.

Dial it down Cusack! The check cleared...

Long story short, some shots are fired, but not enough to knock the plane out of the sky.

During all of this however, Nic Cage’s Cameron Poe is in the process of HULKING OUT over his diabetic friend Baby-O, played by Bubba from Forrest Gump; having just been shot in the gut by John Malkovich’s unitentionally hilarious Cyrus the Virus.

Nearly brought to MANLY tears at the sight of his friends lying on the ground dieing and rapidly losing his faith, Poe does what any self-respecting MAN would do and casually DECLARES HIMSELF GOD and sets out on his way to kill a bunch of people:

Thus begins the awesomeness of MANLY moment #7.

Standing up from tending to his fallen friend, The Poe’s trademark over-the-top rock music starts blaring, and shit gets real, really fuckin’ fast!

Stomping down the aisle of the Jail Bird on a bee line for the cockpit, Poe throws on his MANLIEST of MAN-FACES and ascends to his ULTIMATE level of MAN-SAVAGERY:

Despite the massive aura of MANLINESS radiating from him during all of this, a couple of the bad guys foolishly step up to challenge The Poe-Dozer.

First up is a big-ass blonde, shirtless douchbag with a broken bottle that uses what little time he has left on this Earth to shout a retarded and borderline incoherent threat at The Poe-Dozer:

Just 'cause you've only got a tenth second to issue a threat, doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

As one might expect, size advantage or not; going toe-to-toe with The Poe when he’s in full-on Poe-Dozer Mode get’s this poor shmuck beat to shit something fierce.

Quick as you can say “1, 2, 3” The Poe-Dozer brings it’s blade to bear and claims it’s first victim:

Wham, bam, thank you ma'am...

Not skipping a beat, The Poe-Dozer continues his march of MANLINESS, letting out an obscenely MANLY “HUUOOOAAAH!!!!!” as he steps over the fallen blonde douchebag.

Unfortunately, another bad guy pops up in The Poe’s way; this time armed with a handgun.

Having seen his partner utterly steamrolled by the fury of The Poe-Dozer, the baddie wastes no time lifting his pistol and opening fire.

Bad Guy used Bullet Seed! It's not very effective...

Unbeknownst to this particular bad guy though, The Poe-Dozer is immune to gunfire, thusly causing the otherwise debilitating injury of a bullet to the bicep to seem like little more than a minor annoyance.

… A minor annoyance that serves to ANGER the already POSITIVELY FUMING Poe-Dozer.

That being said, it should come as no surprise, least of all to the bad guy standing before him; that The Poe-Dozer goes to town on this sad sack of fuck with a motherfuckin’ vengeance.

… But not before we cut to a shot of the guy having a moment as he reflects on the error of his ways:

Utterly frozen in disbelief at the sight of The Poe-Dozer’s unflinching reaction to the gunshot wound, the convict finds himself unable to pull the trigger a second time.

His fate sealed, the bad guy quickly succumbs to the unrelenting fury of The Poe-Dozer; falling by the wayside after 3 consecutive straight right hands to the jaw.

... And here comes #3.

At this point the music has already begun to calm down, thereby stripping The Poe-Dozer of his inhuman strength and vengeance fueled MAN-RAGE.

Fortunately, the previous 2 bad guys made up the bulk of The Poe’s resistance in reaching the cockpit, with the last obstacle remaining in his way (besides the fucking door) being the effeminate cross-dressing convict, “Sally Can’t Dance.”

Behold, the dreaded final boss of the "March to the Cockpit" stage in Con Air: The Videogame!

Reverting from his uber-violent Poe-Dozer Mode to the more socially acceptable Southern Gentleman Mode, The Poe sees fit to dispatch “Sally Can’t Dance” in a manner that is fitting, namely that of laying the smack down with an open palm:

Huh, ‘guess I lied about the “no violence towards Hispanics” in this scene.

Oh well.

Technically there’s more to it, but in my eyes this moment marks the conclusion of the 7th MANLIEST MAN moment in movies.

Check back tomorrow for MANLY moment #6 on our list of the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments!

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My Kingdom For A New Kung Fu Movie…

Is it just me, or is there a serious shortage of kung fu/fighting movies these days?

Back when I first started this blog, the genre was swimming with new titles to choose from.

Ip Man 2 and True Legend had just come out in theaters, and Undisputed 3 was out on video around the same time, not to mention a host of other (trashy) fight movies such as Coweb and Bad Blood were making the rounds as well.

 

Pictured: Industry veteran, Kane Kosugi locks arms with up-and-coming prospect, Jiang Lui Xia. Keep an eye on her, she's pretty talented for an internet star...

While Hong Kong recently saw the release of The Legend is Born: Ip Man, the pile of shit known as City Under Siege, and Donnie Yen’s Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, as far as I’ve heard (and in the case of The Legend is Born: experienced firsthand) not one of these movies turned out to be worth the wait.

City Under Siege: 80% chance of it being "good-bad."

Damn, a lot of “Legend” movies came out in the past year…

Regardless, what happened to all the good fighting movies!?

Even though all of the movies that I just mentioned were released in the past year or so, I think the main reason for my concern/discouragement, is the fact that I may in fact have already waded my way through the vast majority of the kung fu/fighting movies I want to see, leaving me only new releases to look forward to seeing.

You see, quality Kung fu movies are like big budget action films.

At first glance it may seem like there’s a never ending supply of them, however when you take a step and really examine the history of the genre, it becomes all too clear that there really aren’t too many of them.

 

Did I mention that only about 2% of big budget action films are at all worthy your time? Pictured is a prime example of the other 98%.

In the case of big budget action films, this stems from the fact that the blockbuster action film has really only been around for 35-40 years, not to mention the fact that only so many producers exist on the planet to fund such massive monetary endeavors from year to year.

 

Hey Bruckheimer, give it a rest, 'k?

In the case of quality kung fu movies though, the main issue comes in the form of there being only a handful of outstanding performers capable of headlining entire films.

Athleticism and martial arts skills are one thing, but the ability to perform convincingly and dynamically on camera is a totally different beast.

 

Take for example, Randy Couture. Great fighter in real life, TERRIBLE on-screen performer. Acting included.

That being said, there really aren’t that many must-see kung fu/fighting movies, and in my case; I’ve reached a point where I’m running out of new movies to experience.

Sure, there’s the occasional classic that I may have missed and probably should see, (such as the early Sammo Hung flick: The Victim) not to mention there are a few rare and/or elusive films that I have yet to see, (I’m lookin’ at you Merantau and The Broken Path!) but for the most part, I’ve seen the one’s I really wanted to see.

Maybe I was spoiled by Donnie Yen’s blitz of Hong Kong cinema over the past 6 years, but goddamnit; I want a new kung fu movie to get excited about!

Here’s hoping something special happens in the world of kung fu cinema in the next few months, otherwise I swear I’m gonna’ have bust out some faux kung fu moves on some helpless pedestrian just to keep from going into withdrawals…

RANDOM, YET AWESOME, PIC OF BRUCE LEE KILLING CHUCK NORRIS!

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

Impending Review: The Expendables

It pains me to do this, but I had a obscenely LONG day today, so you’ll have to settle for a teaser post for today.

Sorry!

Anyway, aside from maybe Ip Man 2, this is just about the biggest movie of the year for me.

Fuck me, if Donnie Yen was in this movie, I’d probably blow my load right there in the theater…

Although it would appear he beat me too it...

Anyway, my brother and I have been anxiously awaiting Sly’s epic for the past 2 years, ever since rumors started popping up that he was shopping the script around post-Rambo.

Remember when I said Rocky was my brother and I’s way of bonding with my dad as a kid?

Well, you can bet Sylvester Stallone was one of our biggest hero’s growing up.

Pictured: Family of the Azn Badger.

While my expectations for The Expendables are, perhaps; unreasonably high, I have no doubt in my mind that it will thrill me as few films before it have done.

Mark my words:

It WILL be awesome.

I have no doubts, I have no worries.

The Expendables WILL be an awesome film, there’s no way it can’t be.

For fuck’s sake, it’s gonna’ be the goddamn Justice League of action movies!

Anyway, consider this a taste of things to come, as I’ll definitely be typing up a review for this one the moment I walk out of the theater.

My only hope is that there is at least one old-school action hero cameo that hasn’t been publicized.

I know Van Damme already made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the project, but it would definitely make my day if Steven Seagal, or Chuck Norris, or Mark Dacascos, or hell, even Billy Blanks made some sort of appearance in any capacity.

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

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…

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

Movie Review: Undisputed 3: Redemption

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

The Story So Far…

The Undisputed franchise has the unique distinction of being quite possibly the only film series I can think of where the first entry was my least favorite.

Well, that is unless you count THIS as the "first" in the franchise...

Released in 2002 and directed by Walter Hill of The Warriors fame, the original Undisputed was, at the time, an odd combination of genres, specifically that of the “prison drama” and “underground fight club” niche genres.

Pictured: An overrated film.

More of a B-Grade drama and social commentary film than anything else, the film featured several prison-based boxing sequences nonetheless.

Tonight on UPN: Nekkid Prison Fights.

Though Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes performed their boxing scenes ably, the fight scenes in the film served more as story beats and bookends to the drama, rather than rousing set pieces, kind of like the difference between the fights in Rocky 1 and Rocky 3.

2006 saw the straight-to-DVD release of Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing.

Directed by prolific straight-to-video action film director Isaac Florentine this time around, the film retained it’s predecessor’s hokiness and melodramatic atmosphere, while placing a much greater emphasis on the execution and “wow” factor of the fight scenes.

Wrong "wow" dumbass.

Featuring Michael Jai White handling Ving Rhames’ role of George “Iceman” Chambers (a character analogous to Mike Tyson), and Scott Adkins as the villainous Uri Boyka, the film featured stunning fight work and cinematography, as well as a storyline that was far more personal and organic than it’s predecessors’.

Undisputed 2: A Tale of Love and Understanding.

Undisputed 2 was simply a better film in every way.

The most important element in the films’ success however, could be attributed to one man: Scott Adkins.

Despite having several acting and action roles prior to Undisputed 2, (most notably director Florentines’ Special Forces) Adkins’ performance in the film could easily be regarded as his “arrival” to the action movie scene.

Possessing a chiseled musculature, and an uncommonly large frame, Adkins’ fighting movements were spell-bindingly exacting and swift, with many of his strikes coming from unique angles, often while airborne.

The signature "Guyver Kick" as it's come to be known.

Together with J.J. “Loco” Perry’s choreography, and Isaac Florentine’s elegantly framed and almost balletic use of steadicam work, and under and overcranking, Adkins and White put out some of the best fight scenes ever seen in an American film.

Since the release of Undisputed 2, Michael Jai White has gone on get shanked by Heath Ledger, and write and star in his first film, Black Dynamite.

Although THIS is the REAL reason people still remember who Michael Jai White is.

Scott Adkins on the other hand, has largely kept to fringe of the industry, continuing to star in straight-to-video projects with director Florentine, as well as score a few bit roles in major Hollywood films.

Most notable of his appearances have been as a fighter during the swimming pool fight in Jet Li’s Unleashed, a Black Briar agent in The Bourne Ultimatum, and as Weapon XI in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

What? You really thought Ryan Reynolds could move like that?

Plot Summary:

As mentioned before, the story of the film concerns an 8-man fighting tournament sponsored by shady gangsters, and conducted in a Georgian prison (the one in Europe.  Well, kinda.  Actually it’s kind of close to Asia too now that I think of it…).

It's right HERE goddamnit.

Boyka enters the tournament, eventually befriends Turbo, and together they work their way through the ranks in hopes of facing the installed betting favorite of the tournament, a ‘roided out Colombian named Dolor (“The Pain”).

As it turns out, the tournament is rigged, with all the fighters but Dolor being restricted to one hour a day of training, while at the same time being forced to eat a poor prisoner’s diet, and do back-breaking hard labor every day.

Dolor, meanwhile, lives a life of leisure outside of a prison cell.

No Comment.

Oh yeah, and he’s on the ‘roids.

By stories’ end, Boyka puts his pride at stake and faces Dolor in the final match of the tournament.

Merry mishaps ensue.  Roll credits.

The end.

Acting:

Undisputed 3: Redemption sees Scott Adkins in the leading role, once again reprising his role as Uri Boyka.

The plot of the film has Boyka, still hobbled from his shattered kneecap in previous film, retraining himself and earning the right to enter an international 8-man prison fighting tournament.

In the second film, Boyka was largely one-dimensional.  Pious, and possessed of a rudimentary sense of justice and fair-play, but otherwise devoid of character.

Now imagine a whole movie of this.

This time around, nothing has really changed, however, due to circumstances that are out of his hands, he softens over the course of the film and actually manages to hold a conversation or two without hitting anyone.

Despite this, his motivations never rise above that of “God gave me the tools to fight, so I fight.”

As in the previous film, Adkins assumed a convincing Russian accent, however my reaction to it, given the character’s role as the protagonist this time around, was not as favorable.

In Undisputed 2, Boyka is gruff, and often unpleasant, making his constant frown and drawn out, slurred words seem appropriate given the character’s menacing nature.

In this film however, Adkins recycles many of Boyka’s quirks, however now that he’s front and center for most of the dramatic scenes, his character comes across as petty and childish, like a kid that doesn’t want to share his Playmobils.

Motherfuckin' Playmobil! YEEEEEEEEEAHH!!!!!!

For the most part however, Adkins gets the job done, with his eerily even more expanded and toned physique, and his heroic features more than making up for his delivery or intonation.

Most of these conversations have Adkins playing opposite a very charismatic Mykel Shannon Jenkins’ Turbo, a fellow entrant in the tournament and essentially the Apollo Creed to Adkins’ Rocky Balboa.

There are some fun parallels to be found between Jenkins’ Turbo and the previous films’ “Iceman” Chambers, both in their fighting styles and general reactions to prison life.

That is one happy prisoner.

For the most part, I enjoyed Jenkins’ performance, particularly during the scenes in which his character’s vulnerability shone through.

His character came across as one of those guys that just can’t shut up ’cause he can’t stand silence.

Kind of like this guy. Only I don't LIKE this guy...

Special note should be made in regards to the acting performance of the film’s villain, Chilean martial artist and actor, Marko Zaror’s Dolor.

The man obviously is not an English speaker, and indeed much of his dialogue is stilted and awkward at times, however much like Scott Adkins, his natural gravitas and body language allow him to get away with it.

The man is able to chew scenery with what few scenes he’s in just by bugging out his eyes and doing a little jig.

I’m serious, at one point during a training scene he does a little dance, seemingly just for the hell of it.

DISCO DANCE! DISCO DANCE!

I came into the film half for Scott Adkins, and half for Marko Zaror, and this marks the first time I’ve gotten to see Zaror.

From what I’ve read, Zaror’s Chilean films, Kiltro, Mirageman, and Mandrill are all supposed to be the bee’s knees, and I’ve been meaning to see them.

Based on his performance in Undisputed 3, I now feel that I need to see them.

In general, most of the ancillary performances are hammy and over-the-top across the board, with Mark Ivanir’s Gaga and Robert Costanzo’s Farnatti turning out fun performances despite a few hiccups in the script.

"Yah' blabbed Quaid, yah' blabbed about Mars!" ~ Famous last words of a very fat man.

It should be noted that one of the key villains in the film, Vernon Dobtcheff’s Rezo, seems to be dubbed or ADR’ed, and very poorly at that.

Though it’s not that big a deal, and doesn’t impact ones’ enjoyment of the film whatsoever, I found it distracting and somewhat disappointing given that the actor’s face seemed to match his role so well.

Action:

*Warning! Spoilers Ahead!*

Undisputed 3 is, like it’s predecessor, a powerhouse when it comes to fight sequences and choreography.

While Undisputed 2 felt a bit thin at times in terms of the amount of running time the fight scenes occupied in the film, Undisputed 3 feels much more balanced.

The fights are plentiful and varied, with a number of different disciplines and styles being represented throughout.

Sadly, no, there is no Ladder Fu.

Conventions of the “fighting tournament” genre are all met, with most of the preliminary fights being staged as nothing more than exhibitions of the more story relevant character’s skills as opposed to actual give-and-take fights.

The sole exception to this is Jenkins’ fight with the Croatian, which begins as being totally in Jenkins’ favor, only to suddenly shift to a shockingly close fight as his character’s focus begins to falter after being hit for the first time.

OUCH! Right in the Jimmy!

In general, Jenkins’ manages to be convincing in portraying a fighting man.

His movements are sharp and educated to some extent, leading me to believe he may have at least some martial arts background.

In the film, his character utilizes a primarily boxing based fighting style, and when on the offensive, that is, delivering double jabs and 2-3 combinations, Jenkins looks great.

BOOM! HEADSHOT!

On the defensive though, executing elbow blocks and parries, I have to point out that Jenkin’s timing seems off at times, which lucky for him, actually seems to go with his character given his insecurities.

Jenkins is featured in about 3 fight scenes, only 1 of which takes place during the tournament.

Hey, it wouldn't be a prison movie without the requisite prison yard brawl.

Despite the unbelievable amount of hype surrounding Scott Adkins after his performance in Undisputed 2, he somehow managed to live up to all of it in Undisputed 3.

In the nearly 4 years since Undisputed 2, Scott Adkins grew eerily close to losing his appeal in my eyes.

I’ve always maintained that, as an actor in action films, his good looks and charisma could take him very far.

I'd lose the suit though...

As a screen-fighter however, I began to feel as if his talents were being abused.

I attribute this to the various choreographers that were handling him, as for the most part, it seemed like he was no longer doing fight scenes, but instead was being told to simply run down a list of his trademark moves, like I being forced to watch the same highlight reel over and over again.

That feeling evaporated from the first moment Adkins struck a fighting pose in Undisputed 3.

Pictured: Said moment of awesomeness.

Adkins’ movements in Undisputed 3 are just are quick and fluid as ever, however this time around his repertoire is more varied and the “wow” factor generated by his attacks is more the result of entire beats in the choreography, rather than flashy, singular motions.

I suppose this is appropriate, seeing as Adkins’ Boyka declares several times in the film that “he is the most complete fighter in the world.”

Throughout the film, the intensity of Adkins fight scenes escalate in concert with the drama.

His first fight, against a burly and somewhat slow fighter named Sykov, is brief and somewhat disappointing.

Did I mention he was ugly too?

There is a surprising amount of honest to God contact during the fight, particularly in an instance when Adkins check-hooks the poor Russian in the face, but outside of a 3-kick combination, and one of Adkins’ trademark flipping side-kicks, the fight is entirely one-sided and is very short.

Slap the fatty!

His first fight in the tournament sequence on the other hand, is excellent.

During the fight, Adkins manages to pull off nearly all of his trademark moves, though most of them are framed in such a way as to appear less showy, and more believable as practical fighting moves.

Well, maybe not all of them...

As I mentioned before, the preliminary tournament fights are devoid of drama, and Adkins’ fight is no exception.

In total he is hit once, seemingly out of negligence on his part.

A highlight to this scene is Adkins performing a believable German Suplex on the poor Frenchman.

Not as good as Donnie Yen's in Flash Point, but then again, nothing is.

Following this, Adkins takes on a Brazilian Capoeira fighter played by Lateef Crowder from Tony Jaa’s Tom Yum Goong.

Crowder’s performance in Tom Yum Goong, was impressive, as any performance of Capoeira always is, but hampered by overuse of slow-motion and water-on-the-floor gimmickery.

The scene was also cut short, which I’ve read was a result of injuries during filming.

Well, Mr. Crowder looked pretty healthy to me in Undisputed 3, ’cause he did a bang up job.

Capoeira in movies tends to suffer from the choreographer’s over-reliance on the flashier and more acrobatic motions associated with it.

This was not the case in Undisputed 3, as Crowder’s attacks, while spectacular and full of gravity defying maneuvers, also incorporate basic punches and grapples, effectively making his fighting seem less like a performance, and more like a fight.

Pictured: Attempted Arm Rape.

Watching Adkins and Crowder flip and roll about the mat in tandem was truly impressive, with neither man upstaging the other.

Also, it needs to be said that Crowder’s first fight in the movie, against a Greek fighter, features an amazingly long take (26 seconds by my count) with extremely complicated choreography.

Kudos to both men.  Oh yeah, and the camera operator for keeping up.

I have no idea who you are Mr. Greek, but thanks for getting your ass kicked by the Brazilian!

The final fight in the movie, the battle between Scott Adkins and Marko Zaror, is separated into the 3 classic phases of movie fights.

Equilibrium is reached in the opening few minutes.

The bad guy starts to take control in the middle.

And then finally our hero makes his miraculous comeback, winning against all odds.

It’s a classic formula, and Undisputed 3 loses no points for using it, however it gains an insane amount of brownie points for the content it uses to fill these 3 phases.

In short, the fight is spectacular.

Like many of the tournament fights in this movie, the fight is dropped into our laps with surprisingly little fanfare or build-up, but when the bell rings, we don’t care either way.

It’s fast, it’s furious, and the choreography communicates the character of the two men so very well.

Despite the fact that I said I was hyped about this movie because of both it’s stars, In many ways I felt I was more impressed by Zaror in this sequence, largely because of his speed and ferocity.

Adkins’ punches come out in classic “movie punch” fashion: wide, and with a lot shoulder put into them so as to maximize the urgency of the movement, while at once allowing for a degree of control.

Zaror’s punches on the other hand, are obscenely fast and compact.

In short, Zaror’s attacks look dangerous, their intent is clear and they don’t feel like fake punches.

Early on in the fight there is a sequence in which Zaror throws a feint, followed 1-1-3 combo.  That was the moment my eyes started to shift their focus from Adkins to him.

That would be the "3" of the 1-1-3.

Though Adkins has Zaror beat in terms of elegance and precision in his execution of some movements, particularly spinning kicks, I have to say, Zaror’s footwork in simply a wonder.

Even when he’s simply standing around keeping his rhythm,  his feet remain busy and explosive, shooting out with his punches and springing to life with stunningly realistic counter-movement in response to his opponent.

DISCO DANCE! DISCO DANCE!

Zaror was pretty much the perfect choice for a man to play opposite a talent like Scott Adkins, mostly because they are so similar.

While Zaror is definitely a much bigger and taller man, both performers have an acrobatic style that the choreographer, Larnell Stovall, was wise to have them pit against one another.

Watching one big man defy gravity during a fight scene is always thrilling, but to watch another, even bigger man do it response is a thing of beauty.

I won’t say much for any specific beats during the final battle, but I will say this, find a way to see it, because it’s easily the best fight scene of 2010, well, that is until I see Ip Man 2, then we’ll know for sure.

One thing worth noting is that I the phase of the fight in which Zaror took command, lasted just a little too long.

As you may have noticed, I truly enjoyed Zaror’s fighting in the film, however the middle of the final fight had him laying waste to Adkins so severely, that I simply couldn’t suspend my disbelief when the big comeback finally came.

Though I did like the way they had Zaror “sweep the leg” in terms of incorporating Boyka’s bum knee into the choreography.  That was fun.

"GET HIM A BODYBAG! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

That being said, the ending portion of the fight was a little awkward as well, with the changes in Adkins’ approach to the fight being less than obvious.

It should also be noted that whoever made the decision to incorporate songs into many of the fights should get a big fat slap to the face.

I don’t appreciate LYRICS drowning out the ambience of my fight scenes, particularly when none of them are edited in montage.

Despite my gripes, the final battle, along with many of the others, were truly amazing, and definitely makes me want to see more from both actors, as well as director Florentine.

Well, that’s Undisputed 3: Redemption, hopefully I didn’t bore you too much with my Scott Adkins/Marko Zaror cock-sucking.

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

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