Azn Badger's Blog

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Kirkland/Angulo: One Of The Best Opening Rounds I’ve Ever Seen


I’ve always found it interesting that the first round of a boxing contest is commonly known as the “feeling out” round.

During the first 3 minutes of a typical boxing match, it’s usually expected that the fighters will be tentative, cautious, and in the case of a southpaw/conventional matchup; just plain awkward.

The first round is when fighters begin to gauge one another’s reach and distance, begin to jockey for good positioning, begin to time one another’s movements, and begin to lay the groundwork for slowing or speeding up the pace of the fight in their favor.

In a sport filled with metaphors to it, the first round in boxing truly is one of the most profound examples of liminality in the ring.

While many would look upon the a boxing match as a barbaric and savage affair, established elements of the game like the “feeling out” round serve as crystal clear reminders that, boxing may not be an inherently gentlemanly sport, but when everything comes together; there really an artful science to it.

That being said, as flowery and poetic as I’ve done my best to make it sound, the sport of boxing is at it’s core, a sport that deals in little more than 2 men standing before one another and pounding the shit out of another.

Though it undoubtedly helps a great deal, particularly in regards to extending the longevity of one’s career, one does not need to be a technical genius to succeed in the sport of professional boxing.

In the right quantity, sometimes guts, raw physicality, and unerring tenacity can be enough to carry the day.

Such was the case when James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo clashed last night in their highly anticipated bout at 154 lbs.

Pictured: Kirkland and Angulo. Jesus fuck, Angulo is ugly...

On the one hand we had James Kirkland, a stout and atypically muscular whirlwind of a fighter coming off a first loss in the form of a sudden and bizarre first round knockout to Nobuhiro Ishida, as well as a recent stint in prison for illegal firearms possession.

On the other, we have Alfredo Angulo, a bestial Bionic Mexican of the highest order with only one prior loss to the intensely bipolar Kermit Cintron.

Curiously enough, Angulo came into last night’s fight following a fairly recent Visa debacle, resulting in his deportation from the United States for the past 2 years.

In a nutshell, both fighters came into the ring last night highly regarded prospects with explosive punching power, aggressive head-first fighting styles, and less than exemplary records in regards to U.S. laws and regulations.

On paper, the matchup between these sounded like fireworks all the way.

While the fireworks didn’t last all the way through the fight, I’ll be damned if I’ve seen a first round as dramatic and visceral this side of Hagler/Hearns.

Pictured: One of the best damn fights you'll ever see.

From the opening bell, both guys stepped to center ring with bad intentions.

Kirkland came out swinging, asserting his dominance through swarming Angulo with volleys of clubbing punches at close range.

Possessed of a naturally aggressive and stalking style, Angulo took some shots in the opening 30 seconds, though his amateur pedigree occasionally shined through as he evaded shots calmly and efficiently.

Even so, the first 30-40 seconds were all Kirkland, as his attack proved so constant and smothering, that the typically offensive-minded Angulo barely managed to get off a shot.

That all changed around the 1 minute mark, on the strength of a single, heatseeking missile of a straight right hand delivered by Angulo smack dab onto the point of Kirkland’s chin.

Time seemed to freeze as Kirkland backed Angulo into corner, swinging with wild abandon, only for the courageous Mexican to suddenly step forward during a millisecond break in the action, and knock Kirkland onto his backside with one of his first cleanly landed punches in the fight.

Earlier, I mentioned James Kirkland was knocked out by Nobuhiro Ishida in the first round.

While I neglected to mention that Ishida managed to knock him down 3 times in said round, I feel it’s perhaps much more important to make mention of the fact that, despite the increasingly senile and ignorant Joe Cortez’ decision to stop the fight, Kirkland made an earnest and capable attempt to stand up every time.

Hurt, and downed 3 times, James Kirkland need to be held down by the referee in order for the contest to be brought to a halt.

If ever there were a man who defined the word “tough,” for my money it’d have to be James Kirkland.

That being said, as you might have expected, Kirkland did in fact get up from the bunker busting right hand to his jaw courtesy of Alfredo Angulo.

Not only that, while most trainers likely would have chastised him for doing so, Kirkland stood up almost immediately following the knockdown, taking nearly all of the standing 8 count on his feet.

Fortunately for James Kirkland, he trains under Ann Wolfe, who as I hope we all know, enjoys watching her fighters dole out beatings as much as she does watching them take them.

Said philosophy may not work on all occasions, but as I said before, sometimes guts count for more than anything else, and last night; you can sure as hell bet that rang true.

Storming out of the neutral corner, Angulo’s previously dormant offense erupted with an explosive torrent of punches.

On shaky legs, Kirkland foolishly stood his ground and attempted to stand and trade with rubbery arms, eating thunderous barrages of punches to the head in the process.

Eventually chasing the Gumby-legged Kirkland into the ropes and all around the ring, Angulo continued to pour on the punishment, landing blows at arms length while the referee continued to watch Kirkland like a hawk in anticipation of what appeared to be an inevitable stoppage.

After 20-30 seconds or so though, it became apparent that Kirkland was not nearly as enfeebled as he seemed.

Sure he was off-balance, and still very much in trouble, as well as largely unable to put the mustard on his punches in the way that made him famous; but amidst the beating he was taking, he was also doing well to deflect blows with his forearms, as well as occasionally tie-up Angulo.

Make no mistake, Kirkland was still very much a hurt man at this point, but he was a hurt man that with a plan and bad intentions.

For nearly a minute and a half, Angulo rained down blows on Kirkland unopposed, however as tends to be the case when a fighter fires on all cylinders against a man that just won’t quit; Angulo eventually began to slow.

Though under great duress, and eating hard punches every step of the way, slowly but surely, James Kirkland began to work his way back into the fight.

Pictured: Kirkland strikes back.

It didn’t happen all at once, but in the last minute of the round, Angulo’s fatigue got the better of him, and his once crackling punches began to come out at almost comically slow speeds.

Looking like a weary fighter caught in a time warp, Angulo found himself in the most unfavorable of positions:

Out of gas, and faced with a man who had not only already taken his best shots, but had almost fully recovered from them.

Slipping and deflecting Angulo’s sluggish punches, Kirkland quickly jumped back on the offensive and miraculously pushed Angulo back on his heels with an accurate head and body attack.

No longer swinging for the fences, nor fighting with pure aggression, Kirkland laid into Angulo with a varied and intelligent assault that one wouldn’t expect given his usual wild demeanor.

That being said, following an intensely dramatic, back-and-forth first round, with the lead changes hands literally from minute to minute, James Kirkland gave the boxing world an astonishing gift by handing Alfredo Angulo his first knockdown in professional boxing with seconds to spare.

It wasn’t a flashy down, nor did it seem to be the result of any one punch, but it was legit, and it firmly secured Kirkland’s lead for the remainder of the evening.

Given the state of Angulo, having just been knocked down for the first time after having completely drained his stamina over 3 minutes, it was hard to see him lasting much longer in the fight.

For 5 more rounds, a startlingly fresh Kirkland clubbed away at a groggy and active, but largely ineffectual Angulo before the mighty Mexican would eventually succumb to the rising tide and be saved from himself via an early, but entirely justified TKO stoppage in the 6th round.

Pictured: The fight reaches it's conclusion.

In watching this amazing display of intestinal fortitude, one couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Angulo, but at the same time awed by his capacity to push forward despite his damage and fatigue.

Even so, my personal opinion was that, had James Kirkland had more accurate and sharper punches, chances are Angulo would’ve been laid out no later than the 3rd round.

It’s a strange criticism for what easily amounted to a career defining, Round of the Year shoo-in performance, but one that I feel is entirely valid nonetheless.

Kirkland/Angulo may not be the best opening round of boxing I’ve ever seen, but it’s the best I’ve seen in a long time, most likely the best ever fought in my lifetime, and in my eyes; not far from second best to the magic of Hagler/Hearns.

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

MASSIVE Summary of Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend, Part I

Alright everyone, here it is, the article that set me 2 or 3 days behind schedule with my writing.

Yesterday I posted pretty much the closest equivalent to a review of Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend, that I possibly could.

The movie is pure eye-candy, and was definitely made for fanboys and kids.

Being as I consider myself pretty much both of those things in regards to Ultraman, I don’t feel qualified to write a full-on review for this movie.

Nah, that’s bullshit.

Truth of the matter is, I’ve never encountered a film so entirely devoid of structure and plot, while at the same time so visually exciting; and to be perfectly honest, I simply don’t know how I feel about the experience.

That, and this took a crazy long time to write, and frankly I don’t feel like putting any more time into Ultraman stuff right now.

Oh well, get settled in, ’cause what follows is a MASSIVE scene-by-scene summary, almost like a slideshow (if I could use plug-ins with my blog, I would hella’ make one).

*Ahem!* Spoilers Ahead.

Man, it's like their language was created specifically for making awesome title screens...

The story of Ultra Galaxy Legend is very straightforward, and is pretty much explained to us over the course of one exposition heavy scene.

Unfortunately this scene doesn’t come until a half an hour into the film, so bear with me until then.

The movie begins with an homage to the original Ultraman TV series, by dropping us into a fight between Ultraman Moebius and Bemura, the first “monster of the week” featured in the very first Ultraman episode EVER.

"From off the top rope!"

After a somewhat awkward battle, wherein the choreography is much faster and less pose oriented than in perhaps any other Ultra movie, we’re treated to a montage sequence explaining the who’s who and what’s what of the Ultra and Ultra Galaxy universe.

A scene from the opening titles of CSI: M-78 Nebula.

The whole montage bears a striking resemblance to the one featured in Godzilla: Final Wars, complete with similar synth-heavy background music and flashy posing by all of the featured characters.

Now THAT'S a posse.

In fact, the whole movie bears a certain resemblance to Final Wars, but that’s a discussion for another time.

In between beats we are treated to a few brief scenes of life in the M-78 Nebula, in the Ultra homeworld of the Land of Light.

The Land of Light

These scenes do a wonderful job of showcasing just how far the visual effects have come for the Ultra series, as well as do a fair amount to flesh out the previously only barely seen M-78 Nebula.

Watching Ultraman Taro oversee the training of a bunch young Ultramen brought a smile to my face, as well as a few bad memories of the Star Wars prequels‘ jedi academy scenes.

I wish my teachers wore fucking capes...

Moving on, our story begins with Alien Zarab, a shape-shifter that famously terrorized the original Ultraman way back in 1966, showing up at the Ultraman equivalent of the Phantom Zone, with gadget called the Giga Battle Nizer in tote.

After storming the Ultra prison, Zarab frees an evil Ultraman named Belial, (you can tell he’s evil ’cause he’s black and red and has claws) apparently with the intent of joining forces with said evil Ultraman.

Um, not sure if I would trust that guy...

Yeah, Zarab gets to speak maybe 3 sentences before Belial shoves the Giga Battle Nizer up his ass and out his mouth.

Before Belial can leave the prison however, Taro and a bunch of no-name Ultra’s show up with the intent of putting the bunneh’ back in the box.

"Why couldn't you put the bunneh' back in the box?"

Of course, with Cameron Poe nowhere in sight, Taro and his troops get smacked around something awful.

I swear, Taro’s Ultra goombas get flipped and thrown into pretty much every wall and all-around hard surface available during this fight.

Yup, whole lotta' this...

Like watching a WWF tables match where everybody’s a Dudley Boy… and the ring is made of tables.

With this, Taro gets desperate, chugs a 5 Hour Energy, and spears Belial right off the fucking cube, down through the atmosphere, and down onto the Ultra homeworld’s surface.

Then things really get cool.

Okay, maybe not THAT cool, but still pretty cool nontheless.

Belial takes on virtually every Ultra character from the M-78 Nebula, all at once.

The choreography is hard-hitting and well shot, with very energetic camerawork that is creative, but never dizzying or confusing.

Most impressive however, is the fact that fanservice is kept to a minimum during this scene.

Well, kind of anyway.

Belial tangles with Ultraseven 21 and Ultraman Neos. Oh yeah, and some no-name Ultra Grunts too.

Despite nearly every Ultra taking part in the fight, only a scant few actually pull out any of their trademark moves, and for the most part, everyone is portrayed as nothing more than chaff getting in Belial’s way.

Color me surprised when I saw Ultraman Powered and Great kicking around in there.

Yup that's Great about to get kicked there on the left, and that's Powered on the right doing more than he ever did with an entire season of his own show.

Would’ve thought Tsuburaya would prefer to forget about those two…

Anyway, somewhere amid all the chaos, Ultraman Moebius gets tossed up into the stratosphere.

With most of the lesser Ultras cast aside, the original Ultraman, Zoffy, and Seven show up in their pimp capes and get a few nice moments to shine, as they should.

Pimp to a degree only the truly PIMP can acheive.

Ace, Jack and 80 do too, but 80’s appeal consists of being able to put both the balls and the cock in his mouth at the same time, so needless to say, I really didn’t care.

Plus, none of them had pimp capes.

After flattening all the Ultras, Belial makes a move to steal the Ultra Spark, which is apparently the source of all Ultra power.

"OH, MY BELOVED ICE CREAM BAR...."

Before he can get to it though, Ultra Father shows up and is all like:

"Git' yo' fingahs' out my cookie jar, son!"

Belial ain’t havin’ none ah’ that, so they throw.

Father lands a few nice knife-edge chops, but eventually Belial gets pissed and starts no-selling his bumps.

Belial manages to get the upper hand, and after SHOOTING TARO IN THE FACE, and bitch-slapping Ultra Mother, saunters over to the Ultra Spark and straight up jacks it.

Now, apparently the Ultra Spark really is the source of all Ultra power, ’cause once it’s gone, the whole damn planet starts to freeze over. Like, real fast.

It's like "The Day After Tomorrow", but with Ultraman!

With the Ultra planet freezing fast, Taro takes drastic measures and sets himself ON FIRE (don’t worry, he does that sometimes) so he can preserve the last vestiges of the remaining Ultra Spark power.

With that, Ultraman and Ultraseven manage to shield themselves from the wave of ice, while everyone else, Father and Mother included, gets frozen solid.

Yeah, the two most popular characters in franchise history manage to avoid getting frozen. Didn’t see that coming.

We are now 20 minutes into the film.

Check back tomorrow as we move into the 2nd act!

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

Long time no see Ultraman

I miss Ultraman.

Ultraman has been absent from the airwaves since 2007, replaced by the Pokémon-esque, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle… and the follow-up series, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey.

While Galaxy is a decent enough show, with a fun concept and plenty of kaiju battles, the acting and production values feel decidedly below average for an Ultra series. This, coupled with a distinct lack of Ultraman blowing the shit out of monsters has led me to give up on Galaxy for the most part.

Let me put things into perspective for you:

I grew up watching Ultraman.

Not only that, the first show I ever watched was the outsourced, Australian iteration, Ultraman Towards the Future, which is universally regarded as one of the worst Ultra series of all time, second only to the American Ultraman Powered.

Despite this, as a child I loved it! I remember waking up at obscene hours of the morning to to catch one of the 13 episodes every weekend, (kind of like how we all used to watch the same 2 or 3 Ren & Stimpy episodes every weekend) and loving every minute of it. To this day, I still have some of the action figures, the playset, and even the terrible Super NES game.

Whatever, this stuff was the shit when I was 5.

As a child Ultraman died to me the day he started airing at 5 AM on TNT.

I remember getting psyched after seeing a commercial for Ultraseven, where a giant ape man shot blue lasers out of his eyes, and Ultraseven struck a pose and yelled: “YAH! YAH! YAH! YAHHH!!!!”

With Ultraman Towards the Future still fresh in my mind, I tried to wake up to see Ultraseven at 5 in the fucking morning.

No simple task for a 6 year old with no alarm clock.

Naturally, I never got to see Ultraseven.

For about a month straight, I remember getting out of bed, running out into the living room and flipping on the TV, only to find that Ultraseven was not on.

A few times I remember seeing some scary shit on in that time slot, I remember some movie about creepy old Native American ladies with bleeding eyes scared me back to sleep one time.

Knowing me, I probably just mixed up the time slot for the show, but unfortunately I never got to see that awesome commercial again, so I never found out.

Haha! Yeah, that's the one!

Following this, I abandoned my love for Ultraman for a very long time.

I remember Ultraman Tiga aired on Fox Kids when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, I was 12, and was thusly too “cool” for Ultraman. Guess I was too busy failing at swearing (“Shit balls! Damn, fuck-sauce!”) and being fat to care about Ultraman.

Then a funny thing happened.

Flash forward to 2005: I’m in college. I’m bored. I’m finally getting old enough to the point where looking back on life holds meaning. I’m finally old enough to admit that I miss Ultraman.

So what do I do?

I learn about this new fangled invention called “torrenting” and type in “Ultraman” as my first query.

Much like my experiences in the 90’s with the Heisei Godzilla series, I was very much surprised to find that Ultraman had carried on just fine without me.

Ultraman Max served as my ambassador back into the world of Ultraman. Max was good fun. Every episode was colorfully executed with obvious enthusiasm. The cast was smaller than most Ultra shows, but in many ways I feel that was its strength. Every character was well defined and seemed to serve some purpose, even that haole guy, Sean.

One of these things is different...

I loved how schizophrenic the show could be at times.

Directors and storylines rarely lasted more than 1 or 2 episodes, resulting in a show that changed identities and mood from week to week, and quite successfully at that.

I remember being genuinely impressed by both of Takashi Miike’s episodes: “Miracle of the Third Planet” and “Who am I?”, the former being one of the most dramatic episodes in the series, and the latter being the funniest.

Most impressive to me is the fact that I don’t even like Takashi Miike, I’ve always thought of him as being seriously overrated.

I never finished Max, but it remains one of the my favorite series.

Unlike this 'merch hawking whore...

After I was done with Max, I took a step back and decided to watch the much heralded Ultraman Nexus from the previous year.

Nexus was a revelation. It did all the things Ultra series don’t do.

It worked from a single continuous storyline.

It was consistently serious in tone.

It had monsters that took entire story arcs to defeat.

It had a budget and was spectacular from beginning to end.

Nexus represented a great experiment in trying to tweak the format of the Ultraman series. From what I’ve heard, it’s deviation from the status quo caused it to lose a lot of fans, but for an older, wiser Azn Badger, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Good God, someone get that child away from there!

Around this time I started following the Ultra movie series with the release of Ultraman: The Next.

It was pretty good, with exceptional effects work, great suit designs, and a killer soundtrack by the lead guitarist of B’Z, Tak Matsumoto.

There was some hokiness to it in the form of lame homages to the Top Gun anthem on the soundtrack, and an oddly placed freeze frame moment, (“MAKI!!!!!!) but for the most part it was a good time.

Oh yeah, and it tied into Nexus, so yeah, brownie points there.

Skip to 5:08 for “MAKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Ultraman Moebius (yes I know the Japanese phonetics have it as “Mebius“, but fuck that noise) represented another falling out between Ultraman and I.

I don’t know if it’s because I got too old, or was fatigued from all of the Sentai and Kamen Rider I was watching at the time, (Den-Ou! WOOT!) but something just didn’t click for me.

I remember liking the feel of the show, and how it paid homage to the Ultra shows of old through its use of sound effects and intentional use of outdated special effects (even more low tech than usual), but as a whole, the show just kind of felt, well, lame.

The characters were varied and well-defined, but for the most part it just felt like a bunch of airhead pop-stars with an absurd amount of inane high school drama and baggage that somehow tied into finding the methodology necessary to defeat the monster of the week.

Yes, I am aware that I just summarized pretty much every Sentai or Ultraman show ever, but what I mean to say, is that this felt particularly pronounced in the 14 or 15 episodes of Moebius I managed to watch.

You see what you missed out on? Moebius punching Birdon in his chin balls, that's what!

I think part of why I didn’t really care much for Moebius, is that the action felt kind of tame in comparison to Max, Nexus, or even Gaia.

The camera work was typical of an Ultra series, with lots of on-rails camera movement, and lots of zooms to highlight the action, but for the most part the choreography felt less complex and somewhat slow.

Nexus contained some really visceral and intense fight sequences throughout, largely highlighted by the Ultra on Ultra fights with Dark Mephisto and to a lesser extent, Dark Faust.

Max on the other hand, featured choreography with a lot of character to it.  The fighting was conducted at essentially the same pace as in Nexus, but given the quirkiness of the storylines, and the overall light tone of the series, much of the choreography allowed the suit actors to do a lot of pantomime that really added to the fun.

Whoever the suit actor for Max was, I’d like to shake their hand.

Although I would be even more honored to shake this man's hand. No, the guy on the right, dumbass.

Despite my general dissatisfaction with the series, Moebius proved popular enough with the kiddies to have a few movie tie-ins, the first of which being Ultraman Moebius & The Ultra Brothers.

I felt it was actually very good, good enough for me to own without feeling shame.

The second one however, Superior Ultra 8 Brothers, was not so hot. Aside from some splashy effects work, I felt like the story was a little bit too fantastical and far fetched, even for little kids.

Oh yeah, and as good as the effects could be at times, the fight between Moebius and King Gesura was embarrassingly hideous to look at. *Shudder* Gives me the willies just thinking about it…

In short, Ultraman Moebius was alright, probably worth watching for most fans, but not really my favorite. Which leads us to a series that I did finish, but really wish I hadn’t…

Ultraseven X was the last “proper” Ultra series, and in my opinion, it’s spectacularly epic shittiness was most likely the reason we haven’t seen an Ultra series since 2007.

It was a miniseries, it tried to be “edgy” and “different”, and for the most part it sucked a big, fat, Blackanese cock.

When I first saw the production stills for the show, I was mightily impressed by the suit design for the title character… and little else. The characters were bland and needlessly quirky, (tough girl with chocolate addiction, huh?) and the theme song was truly terrible ENGLISH J-Rock song that was as forgettable as it was skippable.

From the first trailer it was clear that the show was attempting to create a mood of sorts, unfortunately the costumes, props, and sets were a far cry from the standard set by GARO (FUCK YEAH!) the year before, and thusly, it came across as a pale imitation.

In case you couldn’t tell, Ultraseven X was a fucking disaster.

For an example of pretty much everything shitty about Ultraseven X, click below:

The action was sparse and uninspired and story was convoluted and full of holes despite the condensed length of the series.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack, often times a highlight of any tokusatsu or Ultraman experience, was composed of minimalist, electronic turd-fuckery.

To be fair, Ultraseven X could’ve been alright had it been shot as an Ultra Q series and omitted any traces of Ultraseven or kaiju battles in general, but as it so happened I was left with a seriously sour taste in my mouth after watching it and desperately needed something to cleanse my palette.

Unfortunately, it’s been 3 years and my palette has yet to be cleansed.

Until now.

Now THAT'S a poster!

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE or….. MMBUGLTHM… for short.

Galaxy Legend THE MOVIE came out on DVD today and I am ready to be wowed. Reviews are positive, tickets sales were exceptional, Ultraman Belial looks like Carnage from Spider-Man, and the trailer looks FUCKING SWEET.


Yeah, don’t forget to change your undies cowboy.

I’m sure it’s not the best movie ever.

I’m sure it’s going to drag at points and have a shitty script.

Despite all this, I am excited for to see this movie because deep down, I want to like it.

I don’t want to be a cynical adult that shamefully picks apart the things he loves, I want an excuse to get back into Ultraman and be that kid waking up at 5 AM all over again.

It’s a wonderful feeling, having something to look forward to.

Outside of a brand new Ultra show featuring one of the original Ultras, (an idea I think would be a lot of fun) I can’t think anything that would make me happier than a rip-roaring, epic Ultra movie.

Here’s to fandom. I’ll let you know how the movie was in a few weeks.

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