Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

And Now, Odd Job Laying Waste To Suburbia.

I found this on accident when searching for Harold Sakata on a whim.

I knew he was a professional wrestler from Hawaii, which is why I was curious to know more about him, but I was amazed to hear that he was also a silver medalist in Olympic weight lifting.

Anyway, I figured I’d share the video above on account of it’s hilariously silly concept and production values.

I love how Odd Job and his “wife” bow to each other after she instantaneously cures his cough.

Just goes to show you how culturally sensitive Hollywood was to Asian’s back in the 70’s…

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

I Kind Of Miss Kevin Riepl…

I know what you’re thinking:

“Who’s Kevin Riepl?”

Well, to be perfectly honest; I have absolutely no fucking clue.

That is, outside of knowing him as the man responsible for composing the first Gears of War soundtrack, I’m really not familiar with his body of work.

IMDb-ing him (IMDb track videogames? Since when?) brings to light the fact that he has some strong ties to Epic Games, in the form of contributing soundtracks to several entries in the Unreal Tournament series.

Despite being familiar with most of these games, I can honestly say their music failed to leave an impression on me.

Probably because I ever recall of the Unreal games, at least from an audio standpoint; is this:

That being said, ever since I first played it, the Gears of War soundtrack, more specifically the main theme of the game; has always stood out to me as one of the better and more memorable game soundtracks out there, particularly in the modern era where games tend to favor ambient tunes over more thematic ones.

If you haven’t heard it before, then you’re in for a treat:

Imagine my surprise when I discovered neither Riepl, nor his brilliant theme music would be returning for any of the Gears sequels.

I may be in the minority on this, but I grew up watching James Bond and Godzilla movies by the truckload, movies that have managed to go 50+ without ditching the legendary themes that helped cement them in our minds as the film classics that they are.

Like many people, I grew attached to those themes and have come to associate them as aspects of the characters they were written for.

Sure, there were occasional moments in time when the themes were cast aside for a movie or 2, but at the end of the day they would always come back somewhere down the line.

Gears of War 2 and 3 were both composed by Steve Jablonsky.

While I’m probably wrong, my gut tells me that Epic contracted his services likely due to a combination of their incredible financial success with Gears 1, as well as Jablonsky’s newfound mainstream fame due to his involvement in the live-action Transformers film.

Maybe it’s just me, but in picturing a bunch of newly wealthy videogame nerds getting geared up for their big sequel, I could honestly see them ditching their in-house composer in favor of succumbing to their own dorkiness and hiring “The Transformers Guy” on a whim.

I’m sure that’s not how it actually went down, but I have my suspicions…

Anyway, while Jablonsky did a terrific job with the franchise following Riepl’s departure, in truth I kind of wish he hadn’t ejected the original theme music in favor of his own take on it.

Give it a listen and see what you think:

I would never consider this theme to be anything less than “good,” but there’s just something about it that feels “weaker” and less engaging.

Don’t get me wrong, Jablonsky’s a great composer, but there are just some elements to the style of his militaristic soundtracks that rub me the wrong way.

While it could just be me still being bitter over the complete and utter failure of Transformers 2 and 3 in living up to the even the slightest of expectations, in general I’ve found his work on those movies, as well as the Gears series; to be somewhat pretentious and/or melodramatic.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel both the Gears and Transformers franchises tried way too hard to insert unwarranted emotion and drama into stories that were truly devoid of any.

I prefer my Gears minus the extra helping of “Dom and Maria” thank you very much.

Dom and Maria: A plot device that allows for many instances of Dom related emo-ness masked as "emotional masculinity."

Back to Jablonsky.

He does a wonderful job of creating a mood and a “feel” to the music in such a way that it seems to fit the “texture” of the imagery it is meant to be played over, but his incessant use of choirs and Dark Knight/Inception style droning really feels a bit overbearing to me.

His soundtrack or Gears 2 was solid, especially in terms of the action cues, but far inferior to the original in terms of the overall strength and memorability of it’s themes.

While I haven’t played the game as of yet, in listening to the soundtrack for Gears 3, I can honestly say I like it better than the second.

Check it out:


The choirs are less, uh, “manly,” such that the music is much more graceful/lyrical, and less like a rehash of the droning Decepticons theme from the Transformers films.

Even so, despite vastly improving his theme for the game, I still maintain that the Jablonsky theme of Gears 3 is inferior to Riepl’s original.

I acknowledge that Jablonsky’s compositions are quite good overall, and that I very likely could just be being a sourpuss about all this; but in my opinion they should have never changed composers.

Filed under: Games, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes Spoilers Are A Good Thing…

Evaluating an opinion on a movie purely based on pre-release materials is tricky business.

Inevitably, one’s decision making process ends up relying on one’s knowledge of the various actors and director’s track records, but at the end of the day; sometimes a really good (or really bad) preview can end up shaping one’s opinion quite handily.

Take for instance Green Lantern.

I’m a big fan of the Green Lantern comic, however up until about last week; my opinion of the upcoming live-action film was largely negative.

Early pre-release footage for the movie had it seeming silly, narrow, and very hard to take seriously.

Truth be told, the one thing that kept me from turning my back on Green Lantern in the early goings, was the presence of director Martin Campbell.

Seriously man, the guy made Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro, and Casino Royale.

... Then again, he also directed THESE.

Despite some spotty pieces in his filmography, the man has proven that he knows how to make awesome movies, and in that sense; I never completely lost confidence in the possibility of Green Lantern upsetting it’s poor marketing campaign and turning out to be legitimately good.

In the case of Green Lantern, and as you’ll later read, Donnie Yen’s recently released film, Wu Xia; my apprehension about the film’s integrity was culled through viewing a brief preview clip of the film in it’s unedited state.

Though it’s uncharacteristic of me, I sat down and watched a (publicly available HERE) 1 minute clip of Green Lantern in hopes of finding a reason to go see it.

Said clip involved Hal Jordan desperately attempting to fend off what I’m guessing is supposed to be Parallax (who doesn’t seem nearly as “bug-like” as he did in the comics).

THAT'S fuckin' Parallax!

The action in this clip was nowhere near mindblowing, but unlike in the trailers; it at least seemed like how it plays out in the comics.

Green Lantern has always been a story about “space cops,” though in recent years the scale and severity of the violence in the comic has evolved to something more along the lines of “space soldiers.”

In short, sprawling splash pages of Lanterns hurling variously colored constructs at each other en masse are quite common in Green Lantern comics these days.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

Green Lantern combat isn’t about guys throwing progressively bigger and more elaborate constructs at each other; it’s about speed, precision, and who gets their shit off first.

In other words, it’s more like a hectic galactic gun fight as opposed to something overblown or drawn out like Dragonball fighting.

I saw a hint of this in the clip I watched, and as such; my opinion of Green Lantern has changed from “skeptical” to “somewhat optimistic.”

Which brings me to the recently released Peter Chan directed Donnie Yen vehicle, Wu Xia.

Hmm, SOMEBODY had a degree in graphic design...

Given that Wu Xia stars Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro, one can assume I was psyched for this one from day 1, right?

WRONG.

When I first saw the teaser for Wu Xia, my initial reaction was basically to let out one big-ass, slightly pompous sigh.

Okay, maybe “slightly” pompous isn’t the right word.

More like “IMMENSELY.”

I’m not big on Mandarin films, and for whatever reason; the teaser for Wu Xia just didn’t do it for me.

Then I watched an 8 minute clip of the movie that popped up on Twitchfilm.com, and suddenly I found myself intrigued.

By the way, if you go by Twitchfilm, and see all the Legend of the Fist ads; don’t buy into the hype.

Aside from literally, a few good fights, Legend of the Fist sucked some serious balls.

Well, at least this part was kind of funny... In the "good/bad" sort of way.

Anyway, said clip of Wu Xia revealed it as being kind of like Rashomon or Hero in the sense that it’s a story potentially told from an unreliable viewpoint.

Though I don’t understand Mandarin, the visuals of the clip were very clear in establishing that Donnie Yen’s character, while portrayed as feeble, but lucky; in one instance, may actually be a martial arts master hiding in plain sight.

While I didn’t care much for this storytelling device in Hero, (nor did I care much for the movie itself) it’s cleverness combined with Peter Chan’s beautiful cinematography leads me to believe Wu Xia could be a lot of fun.

I don’t expect Donnie Yen’s “Donnie Yen-ness” to be front and center, but the story seems to have legs; and Takeshi Kaneshiro is pimp-as-fuck, so I’m fairly optimistic.

PIMP. AS. FUCK. Too bad he's basically full-time Chinese now...

So there you have.

2 instances where an otherwise skeptical moviegoer had their opinion reshaped through spoiler clips.

I guess I’ve come a long way from being the fat little 10 year old that shunned all media outlets in hopes of seeing the American Godzilla movie in theaters before having the monster’s appearance spoiled for him..

Yeah, that worked out jusssssssst fine….

Filed under: Comics, Kung Fu, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Happened To Theme Songs?

Remember, back in the day, when every movie/TV series/cartoon had a cheesy self-titled theme song to go with it?

I miss those days.

I miss the days when (almost) every James Bond movie would have a goofy song of the same name as it’s theme.

I miss the days when the opening lyrics of my Saturday morning cartoons would remind me every .125 seconds of what the hell I was watching.

I miss the days when Kamen Rider would ride into battle to a triumphant theme song bearing his name.

Something happened to the traditional self-titled theme song in the past decade or so, and by golly; I’m upset.

Don’t get me wrong, theme songs still exist, especially for cartoons, it just makes me sad that culture has seemingly trended towards out-moding them in the mainstream.

Some time in the mid-80’s, a few years before I was born, it seemed like everything had a dumb self-titled theme song to go with it.

In example, I give you the (awesome) theme song for Cat’s Eye:

Cat’s Eye was an exceptionally shitty Stephen King movie by the way.

Not as bad as The Langoliers or anything, but nowhere near “good.”

Moving on, for the requisite sports drama; we have Sammy Hagar’s not quite named after the movie, but close enough theme song for Stallone’s¬†appropriately titled, Over The Top:

While many of the songs of this era were kind of shitty, I always found it kind of cool that they were obviously written specifically for the production they were used in.

It shows that someone cared enough about the production to make a song dedicated to it.

As silly as that sounds, I think that’s kind of neat.

These days it seems like, anime, tokusatsu, movies, and TV shows no longer have “traditional” theme songs, rather they simply have some sort of pop song in it’s place.

Kamen Rider used to have self-titled themes for all of it’s iterations up until the 2000’s, when the themes seemed to stop making mention of the title character.

To be fair though, Kamen Rider theme songs seem to have been produced specifically for the shows they’re used in, as evidenced by the lyrics typically being firmly rooted in the core themes of the show, as well as occasionally being sung by some of the cast members:

What really grinds my gears though, is when pop song themes don’t really have anything to do with the production they’re used in besides serving as a musical motif in the soundtrack.

My best guess is, across all aspects of the film medium; this is done for economic purposes, but I ask you:

Does fuckin’ Linkin Park really hold a candle to the old Transformers theme?

Didn’t think so.

And by the way, no, I’m not going to embed the Linkin Park song for you ’cause… Well, just ’cause.

If there was any one thing I could wish for in Transformers 3, it’d have to be the inclusion of the Gen 1 theme song in some form.

Well, that and I suppose it would be nice if the movie didn’t suck.

Anyway, this has been a retarded rant, hopefully you all aren’t confused and/or angered by it.

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

Thinking Of The Green Lantern Movie

So, last week I finally got the opportunity to view the trailer for the new live-action Green Lantern movie.

As a huge fan of the comic series and mythos, I must admit; my expectations for this film have been exceedingly high, especially given the marquee names (hint: not Ryan Reynolds) involved in it’s production.

Seriously man, take one of my favorite comics, attach Martin Campbell, the director of GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, and Casino fucking Royale to it; and I’m in like fuckin’ Flint.

That being said, despite all the hoopla surrounding it’s release, as well as my aforementioned schoolboy-esque giddy excitement; as promotional materials have continued to emerge for them movie, I’ve found myself growing weary of it’s potential suck-itude.

While it may be unfair of me, especially given the very limited amount of footage and stills that have been released at this point in time, but I can honestly say I don’t really care much for what I’ve seen of Green Lantern thus far.

The art design is flashy, and stunningly well rendered, (Kilowog looks pretty awesome) however it has a realistic quality that doesn’t really gel well with the technocolor sci-fi schlock that we’ve all come to expect from the Green Lantern comics.

The closest example I think of to cite in regards to my feelings on this subject, is that of the design work from the American Godzilla film from 1998, and the live-action Transformer films.

While brilliantly designed, and realized on the screen; the Transformers of the Michael Bay films simply weren’t Transformers as I knew them.

Similarly, the Godzilla of the Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin, while also hideous; failed to capture my interest due to it’s inability to capture the “spirit” of the character I loved so dearly.

The designs for the Green Lantern movie feel too literal and too organic for what comes to my mind when I think of the comic franchise.

In particular, the design of the Green Lantern “suit,” just seems off too me.

While I understand that the Lantern “suit” is in fact a construct of the Green Power Ring, and for all intents and purposes should appear otherworldly, however it has never appeared this way in the comics.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not denouncing the art design of the upcoming film because it is straying off the beaten path; I’m simply scrutinizing it because I honestly don’t like it.

I know, I’m being overly critical; but that’s what happens when you’re as attached to the source material as I am.

As I mentioned earlier, Martin Campbell’s name attached to this movie makes a world of difference, to the point in which it’s difficult to imagine the movie being anything less than stellar.

Seriously man, the dude has a track record.

That being said, while I’ll agree that Ryan Reynolds certainly looks the part of Hal Jordan, and will probably do well in the role; the marketing department made damn sure to make him look like utter shit in the recent trailer.

Speaking only from what’s been shown in the trailer, Reynolds’ Hal Jordan seems just a little bit too much like, well; Ryan Reynolds.

In that sense, I feel it’s worth pointing out that Reynolds’ sharp tongue and particular brand of wit, honestly seem better suited for Deadpool than the Green Lantern.

Hal Jordan’s a dick sometimes, but he’s a dick with a passion for doing what’s right.

In other words: he’s not fuckin’ Van Wilder.

On a closing note, I’d like to point out that I sincerely approve of the casting of Mark Strong as Sinestro, as his powerful voice and cold stare fit well in my mind for the character, but the use of Peter Sarsgaard’s Hector Hammond as a potential main antagonist in the film, just doesn’t seem right to me.

Sarsgaard’s consummately even-tempered demeanor, and downright creepy speech cadence make him a good pick for the role, but it’s the role itself that bugs me.

Green Lantern is a film that challenges CG artists to take the concept of a man that can create anything within the capabilities of his willpower.

In my mind, taking a character with this kind of potential, and casting him opposite a jealous dude with a big head and psychic powers just doesn’t sound all that appealing to me.

Maybe it’s me just wishing we could skip all the origin story bullshit and get right to the cool stuff, like Emerald Twilight and the Sinestro Corps War, but Hector Hammond just doesn’t really do it for me as an antagonist at this juncture.

Here’s hoping they find a way to put Sinestro front and center as the villain, albeit in a sensible and dramatically satisfying manner.

Oh well, this entire article has just been me venting my concerns over what will very likely end up being an excellent movie.

Take everything I said here with a grain of salt, as nearly all of it is just me being a worrywart more so than a dick-faced hater.

See you at the movies when this one comes out!

Filed under: Comics, Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Azn Badger’s Top 25 NES Tracks, #10-6

Hold onto your butts folks, we’ve finally made it to the Top 10 of the Top 25 NES Tracks!

Rest assured, while many of the entries on this list have been somewhat obscure, expect the majority of the remainder to consist of old favorites and themes from game series that are still going strong to this day.

That being said, let’s get to the first half of the Top 10!:

#10. Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode

“Golgo 13 Theme”


Remember when I said that you’d be familiar with all of the games in the Top 10?


Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode is a Vic Tokai espionage/action game based upon the massively epic manga series by Takao Saito, Golgo 13.

While I could bore you with a detailed description of the backstory of said manga, I find it’s easier to sum things up by saying this:

Golgo 13 is THE SHIT, and could give ROBERT FUCKING MULDOON a run for his money in terms of manliness and overall badassery.

Trust me, he’s seriously that fucking pimp…

 

 

THAT FUCKING PIMP.

 

Anyway, the NES version of Golgo 13, was neat game that I loved to play in my youth.

It was a serious game, with an involving and suitably “adult” storyline that really made you feel cool to be a part of, especially as a kid.

Basically, it felt good to play a game that had enough confidence in my intelligence to talk to me like a big kid and give me objectives that felt a little more mature than say, saving the goddamn princess.

 

*Sigh* Really?...

 

Half of the fun I had with Golgo 13, came in the form of the game’s theme music, which conveniently enough, could be brought up at any time simply by hitting the pause button!

Being as Golgo 13 is essentially the Japanese equivalent to James Bond, (only 10 times more badass an amoral) it’s only appropriate that his theme music in the game be a rousing and shlocky tune that would be right at home on a Ventures album.

Not only that, the Japanese version of the title screen has lyrics that flash on the screen in time to music, karaoke style!

I can read about 95% of it, maybe I should try and sing the fuckin’ song someday…

#9. Castlevania

“Vampire Killer”

I’ve never really been a Castlevania kid.

While I love Konami games, particularly of the 8 and 16-bit eras, Castlevania was perhaps the one flagship title in their library that I never really cared much for.

I never liked how the jumping system was heavily momentum based, so much so that mid-air adjustments were nigh impossible.

I hated the cheap, pitfall deaths that were just a constantly spawning flying medusa head away.

 

Oh you fuckin' bitch...

 

And I suppose it doesn’t help either that I don’t care much for Gothic art and design.

On the NES, the only Castlevania I ever played was the very first.

While I ended up walking away from the game feeling it was alright, but not great, the music was, and is, something that will always stick with me.

The Castlevania games are known throughout gaming circles for their incredible soundtracks, and rightfully so.

While many of the compositions of the early games have since gone on to be remixed, and usually improved, my favorite track from the original NES game was the first stage theme, “Vampire Killer.”

“Vampire Killer” survives to this day as the single most prominent theme in the series.

I love it’s light-hearted yet spooky feel, as right off the bat it cues you in on the fact that:

 

 

"This game is gonna' be all horror n'shit, but don't worry, it's still an action game!"

 

It’s a wonderful, timeless piece of gaming music history, and though I still don’t care much for Castlevania, any Castlevania; it still deserves it’s spot on this list.

#8. Super Mario Bros.

“World 1-1”


What’s this?

The Mario theme, placed at #8 on a Top 25 list!?

BLASPHEMY.

Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m surprised it’s ranked as low as it is too.

Truth of the matter is, I knew it had to go somewhere on here, but I ended up arbitrarily placing it “somewhere” in the Top 10 to satisfy my conscience, while at once ensuring that my true favorites got the justice they deserved.

The Super Mario Bros. Theme is game music.

Plain and simple.

It’s one of the most memorable and enduring arrangements in all of gaming history, and no force on Earth, no matter how hipster or counter-culture, could keep it from receiving a spot on any gaming music Top 10 list.

 

"Yeah, I don't care much for Mario, too mainstream. I only play obscure bullshit like Faria and Faxanadu... On my original NES... On a TV from 1982... While wearing a shirt from 1986..."

 

Mario games are something that I’d like to think can appeal to anyone.

They’re fun, straightforward, and typically blessed with a difficulty level that is appropriately challenging, but never punishingly so.

While I’ve always liked Mario games, in truth I never really played them that much.

My brother stomped the shit out of pretty much all of them up to Super Mario 64, but despite living in a household that owned most of said games, I spent most of my time playing other stuff.

 

 

Pictured: Other stuff.

 

I suppose I was too into beat ’em ups in my youth to take the time to sit down and work my way through the platforming goodness of Mario.

Anyway, there’s nothing I can say about “World 1-1” that hasn’t been said, so I won’t try.

I can’t say I fully agree with my placement of this particular track, but I’m happy with my Top 5, so I figure it all balances out.

#7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game

“Technodrome Stage Theme”


Okay, so we’re all in agreement that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the shit back in the early 90’s, right?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game, was the NES version of the Konami Ninja Turtles arcade game found in virtually every arcade/pizza joint in America.

 

 

If I were very rich, and very stupid, I would own one of these...

 

While it lacked the graphical polish of the arcade version, much like in the case of Turtles in Time; I’ve always maintained that the console version was superior.

Aside from including 2 extra stages and unique boss characters, the console version also had better controls and a more manageable and less “quarter-munching” difficulty level.

Ninja Turtles 2 was easily one of the most played games in me and my brother’s NES library.

It was fun, it was a Ninja Turtles product, it had “two player simultaneous gameplay,” and did I mention it was the NINJA FUCKING TURTLES!!?

I remember bringing Ninja Turtles 2 over to my friend’s houses, playing it all fuckin’ day, and then sitting down and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze over and over again until my mom picked me up.

 

 

Y'know, back in the 5 minutes or so we all thought this guy was the coolest thing EVER.

 

THAT, my friends, is what childhood was all about.

The Technodrome Stage Theme” is not only an incredible, and undeniably “Konami” piece of music, it was also something that was quite elusive to me in my youth.

Possessed of a rockin’ and moody quality that really jumps out to you as “last level” music, the “Technodrome Stage Theme” was a track that I didn’t get to hear that often because, well, Ninja Turtles 2 was actually kind of a hard game.

In many ways, me having only had a few opportunities to hear this track in my youth played a huge role in elevating this track to such a high spot on the list.

Oh yeah, that and the fact that it’s a fucking awesome piece of pulse-pounding, pizza-munching, teenage-mutant-ninja action music!

Turtle Power FOREVER.

#6. Blaster Master

“Stage 1 Theme”


After 3 of the bottom 5 of the tracks on this list came from Sunsoft products, did you really think there wouldn’t be at least one more game from them on here?

It’s true, I dig Sunsoft music, and when it comes to Sunsoft’s music library, I can think of no other game to better represent them than Blaster Master.

 

 

*Ahem!* That would be, "Master Blaster."

 

Blaster Master was a game I used to play at my barber’s house.

No, not the one that gave me a Nintendo Power, a different one.

Like most of the games on this list, I never really got anywhere in Blaster Master, but fuck man, I really wish I had…

I enjoyed every minute I played of the tank-hopping, grenade tossing action of the first stage in Blaster Master, and as always; a lot of my enjoyment came from the background music.

The “Stage 1 Theme” of Blaster Master is a terrific piece of music that really succeeds in capturing the colorful and adventurous spirit of the game and it’s setting.

It really feels like music you’d hear in a weird sci-fi world while patrolling the forests in a giant tank in search of your pet frog.

 

 

Hah! Thought I was kidding about the plot, didn't you?

 

That last sentence didn’t really make a whole lot of sense, so let me rephrase:

The “Stage 1 Theme” of Blaster Master is awesome, and it makes me smile, so therefore it is #6.

Well, folks, that does it for the first half of the Top 10!

Tomorrow we’ll finally be wrapping things up with the remaining Top 5, as well as the announcement of the #1 NES Track!

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, The Top 25 NES Tracks, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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