Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Donnie Yen MIGHT Have A Role The Expendables Sequel!

Pictured: Donnie Yen doing his best "I make more money than you" pose.

(The following info came via Twitchfilm.com)

Well, Yippie Ki Yay and Get To Dah’ Choppah, this is a surprisingly tasty bit of rumor mill news!

From what I understand, Donnie Yen was recently offered a role in Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming sequel to The Expendables.

While the Yen-Meister has yet to jump on board the production as of yet, just to know that he’s regarded as being culturally relevant enough in the U.S. to rub shoulders with the action movie legends that make up the cast of The Expendables; means a whole helluva’ lot to die-hard Yen fans like myself.

The really fun part, at least for idiots like me; is the fact that unlike a lot of people, I actually kind of liked The Expendables.

Sure, it was dumb, and it wasn’t exactly the action movie masterpiece that it represented on paper; but even so, for what it was I felt it delivered for the most part.

If you’re at all interested, check out my review of The Expendables here.

Anyway, truth be told I’m excited about the prospect of Donnie Yen joining the cast for the sequel, especially since Stallone has been quoted as having said the movie is intended to be a love letter to martial arts movies.

While there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll end up going to see The Expendables 2 in theaters (and quite excitedly at that), that last bit is like the icing on the cake for me.

One of the best parts of putting Donnie Yen in the Expendables, at least to me; is the fact that it’ll be a chance to see Yen in a contemporary setting, most likely acting more along the lines of his “younger” roles.

Personally, I’ve never really been a big fan of wuxia style films, and I’ve always preferred Donnie Yen in films with a more modern setting, largely because the free license it gives him in choreographing his fights, but also because I actually kind of prefer the arrogant and prick-ish Donnie Yen to the more regal and subdued one we’ve been getting ever since he did Ip Man.

Unfortunately, Jet Li won’t be returning for the sequel, thereby squandering any opportunity we might’ve had to see him and Yen go at it one last time…. At the age of 48.

Despite this, there’s plenty of other enticing match-ups that could come from throwing Donnie Yen into the mix of an Expendables sequel.

Donnie Yen vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme is a match-up I wouldn’t exactly shit my pants over, but hell, if it were to end up in the film; you can bet I’d be excited to see it anyway.

Regardless of how miniscule or poorly written the role created for him is, I honestly hope Yen signs off on The Expendables 2.

He’s only getting older, and lord knows being in the movie would do wonders to expand his already burgeoning influence in the Western film market.

Now let’s just hope the movie doesn’t end up sucking, with or without Yen…

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

Dream Project: Jackie Chan’s “Time Belt”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I spent this afternoon pounding out an idea for a Jackie Chan “dream project” with my buddy Mencius.

It all started when I asked my buddy:

“If you had Jackie Chan in his physical prime, what movie would you put him in?”

Surprisingly, my answer to this question was rather straightforward and simple, being that of Armour of God III or something like it.

To be honest, I’d still like to see a 3rd Armour of God, as I’ve always felt it could be a good “farewell” movie for Jackie.

Getting back to the matter at hand, my buddy Mencius had something a little more off the wall in mind, something more unique; at least when it comes to Jackie Chan movies.

Mencius’ idea was that of a time travel adventure film where Jackie, playing a kung fu expert/dopey non-hero that accidentally finds himself hurtling through exotic time periods and locales.

Okay maybe the plot isn't totally unique. But The Myth sucked, so it doesn't count.

While I was initially turned off by the idea, largely due to it’s lack of a concrete source of conflict, I found myself revisiting the idea throughout the day, constantly feeding Mencius ideas that I thought could make for a fun movie.

The first idea I felt needed to come into play, was that of a group of villains chasing Jackie through time.

Basically, Jackie is like a janitor in some time travel laboratory, and then a bunch of thieves break in trying to steal the time travel gear; whereupon Jackie accidentally activates the device and gets lost in time.

Using a device with extremely limited time travel capability, the bad guys chase Jackie through time, showing up for action beats throughout Jackie’s adventures.

Mencius and I didn’t really get around to finalizing anything for this idea, but at the end of the day we came up with at least 2 locations the film would visit, namely ancient China, and Victorian England.

Naturally, Jackie would run afoul of plenty of thugs and bad guys in these places, leading to much brawling, yelling of “I don’t want any trouble!”, and weaponization of household items.

In my mind, given that this in fact a “dream” project, and can really include as many stars (in their physical primes) as I’d like, the cast of the movie would be fucking epic.

Imagine this:

Jackie goes back in time to old timey China.

He meets Wong Fei Hung, played by Jet Li.

They fight, and it most certainly doesn’t suck like in The Forbidden Kingdom.

Somewhere along the line, Jackie meets a rotund butcher played by Sammo Hung, and his fiery cohort, played by Yuen Biao.

Pictured: Comedy and Action, GOLD.

Naturally, they all become buddies.

At the end of it all, Jackie, Sammo, Yuen and Jet Li all join forces to take on the local Axe Gang, every member of which is played by a notable Hong Kong villain actor.

Imagine a crowd fight with these 4 taking on the likes of Dick Wei, Billy Chow, Ken Lo, Chin Siu Ho, Fan Siu Wong, Wu Jing, Xing Yu and Al FUCKING Leong, all at the same fuckin’ time.

Hell, I'd pay money JUST to see Jackie take on Al Leong...

Now imagine Jackie, Yuen and Sammo travel to Victorian England, only to be immediately accosted by a thuggish Jason Statham.

After escaping The Transporter, the trio run afoul of the local authorities, the leader of which happens to be Darren Shahlavi AKA Twister:

Now imagine the rest of the movie includes fights with the pursuing bad guys played by the likes of Scott Adkins, Cyril Raffaelli, Marko Zaror, Benny Urquidez, and Brad Allan with DONNIE FUCKING YEN serving as the “final boss.”

Tell me, would this not be the coolest movie ever!?

Anyway, in tribute to the classic Channel 101 show of the same name, I feel it’s only appropriate that this “dream project” be titled:

Jackie Chan’s “Time Belt”

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

Van-Damme In Expendables 2

Well fuck my nuggets, Van Damme finally checked his ego at the door and signed on for Expendables 2.

To those who are unaware, Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally approached for a role in Sylvester Stallone’s 2010 ode to modern meathead culture and 80’s action cinema, The Expendables.

While many have bashed The Expendables as being little more than a sub-par action film populated with a Towering Inferno style cast of notables, I actually kind of enjoyed it.

Sure, it was hardly one of the best films any of the actors had been in, and yeah the action was not quite as awesome as most of us were expecting; (digital squibs = sad panda) but at the end of the day I found it to be a big dumb action movie that succeeded in being just that: a big dumb action movie.

Pictured: A movie that FAILED at being big and dumb.

Despite how crummy the movie may have been in some areas, it gave us Dolph Lundgren vs. Jet Li, and Stallone vs. Stone Cold.

Any movie that does that, no matter how utterly average the fights within which may actually have been, deserves at least some credit, if only for the sake of film history.

ANYWAY, based on what I can recall, Van Damme’s role in The Expendables was likely to have been either that of Randy Couture’s character, or that of Gary Daniel’s villain role.

I’ve read rumors that suggest Van Damme’s ego got in the way,in the form of making him reject the Gary Daniel’s role due to the fact that his character would lose a fight on-screen, most likely to Jet Li.

At the same time, I’ve also heard rumors that the Muscles From Brussels turned down the roles offered to him due to him being in the process of trying to “legitimize” his acting career based on the success of movies like JCVD.

In either case, and for better or worse, Van-Damme didn’t appear in The Expendables, and I for one was kind of disappointed.

As decent a guy as Randy Couture is, the man simply cannot act; and in that sense I would’ve loved to have seen Van-Damme stand in for him.

Do I really need an excuse to use this pic?

Similarly, as fuckin’ awesome and hilarious as Terry Crews can be, he was criminally under-utilized in The Expendables; and came across as the big black dude that was there just to be a big black dude.

If they really needed a big black dude that badly, they probably should’ve asked Carl Weathers, or Jim Brown, or Mr. T, or hell, even Michael Jai White.

Regardless, next time around they need to let the big black guy be more than just scenery with a gun.

‘Cause y’know, racism and n’shit.

Anyway, it makes me happy to know Van-Damme is gonna’ be in the sequel, which for the love of all that is holy; better be a decent step-up in terms of overall quality.

The basic premise does, and always will have potential, and I have confidence in Stallone in delivering the goods the second time around.

I would appreciate it if he’d reduce the meathead quotient just a little bit, and in turn dial up the nostaligia factor; but that’s just me.

Now all he needs to do is find a way to shoehorn Scott Adkins, Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa in there…

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

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VIII – Donnie Yen In The “Post Yip” Era

Finally startin to look his age...

A long time ago I wrote that I felt that director Wilson Yip was probably the best thing to ever happen to Donnie Yen’s career.

First teaming up in 2005 for the cop drama/action flick SPL, the 2 would end up collaborating on 5 consecutive films.

With the sole exception of the somewhat lackluster Dragon Tiger Gate, all of said films were of stellar quality; easily ranking as some of the best in Mr. Yen’s career.

While Yen’s incredible longevity allowed him to effectively outlast the majority of his contemporaries, namely Jet Li and Jackie Chan; and his innovative fighting performance and choreography skills certainly put him ahead of the pack, this writer would argue that Wilson Yip’s cinematographic skills and eye for detail had just as much to do with his rise to prominence as any of the aforementioned factoids.

Besides, any man that makes shit like Bio Zombie clearly knows what theyre doing. No sarcasm intended.

That being said, it’s now 2011; and while he’s been detached from Wilson Yip ever since the production of Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen is still the reigning king of Hong Kong screen fighters.

So, why am I not happy?

I’m just about as big a Donnie Yen fan as you’ll ever meet, but truth be told; as much as I like the man’s work, like most screen fighters he’s made an alarming number of shitty movies.

In fact, if you don’t count Blade 2; a movie he choreographed by held maybe 5 minutes of screen time in, I don’t think I’ve genuinely liked a non-Wilson Yip Donnie Yen movie since Shanghai Affairs back in ’98, and even that kind of sucked.

Sadly, now that Yen doesn’t seem to have any projects lined up with Wilson Yip in the foreseeable future; I’m left feeling like things are going to go back to the way they were, with Donnie Yen steadily churning out crap movies with decent fights.

...Or in the case of the Twins Effect movies, crappy movies with crappy fights. Thats Jackie Chan on the right by the way.

Despite an astoundingly well cut trailer for it’s U.S. release, make no mistake Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen, Yen’s first film of the “Post Yip Era”; is most assuredly hot garbage.

I own a Hong Kong blu ray of Legend of the Fist, and while Yen’s physical performance was actually pretty amazing, as detailed here; the movie itself was one of the most boring kung fu movies I’ve seen in a long time.

At present, Mr. Yen has a handful of movies on his plate, most notably a mysterious Peter Chan film called Swordsmen, and 2 other films titled The Lost Bladesman and The Monkey King.

I’ve purposely decided to forego any mention of the most recent All’s Well, Ends Well, as while it does in fact include Donnie Yen in it’s cast; no force on Earth could make me see it as a “Donnie Yen film.”

Yeah, not exactly high on my "must see" list...

Anyway, The Lost Bladesman sees Donnie Yen taking on the role of famed Chinese general and folk hero Guan Yu in a wuxia film.

Trailers for this one have been popping up pretty regularly as of late, with most of the footage doing little to light a fire in my pants.

Sure, it has Donnie Yen.

Sure he’s hitting people while sporting a pimp beard and guan dao.

Even so, the production values seem a little below standard, and the cinematography and choreography seem about on par with the mediocrity of Yen’s own 14 Blades.

For those that may be unaware, any film that draws comparisons to 14 Blades has it’s work cut out for it in terms of not sucking.

Pictured: Donnie Yen squaring off against Captain Jack Sparrow.

That leaves 2012’s The Monkey King as the one Yen movie to bear the weight of making up for the past couple of years of “meh.”

While it’s certainly far off in terms of being released, in all honesty; The Monkey King actually seems like it might be worth the wait.

No footage exists as of yet, but given that the story is a retelling of the Journey to the West, essentially the Chinese myth of myths; and given the incredible assortment of talent involved in the production, I’ve got a good feeling about it.

Sure, it’ll probably be CGI’d to shit and make Donnie Yen look like a complete goof ball; but the art style of the poster and Cheang Pou Soi’s involvement as director will likely make up for it.

I don't know about you, but if you ask me that's a pretty awesome fuckin' poster.

Seriously man, if the same Cheang Pou Soi that made Dog Bite Dog and Shamo shows up for this one, we’re in for one helluva’ ride.

Despite all the pessimism of everything mentioned above, let it be known; I remain hopeful for Donnie Yen’s career.

In many ways, I think my “disappointment” in some of his recent projects spawns from my general lack of enthusiasm for mainland China productions as compared to Hong Kong ones.

Wuxia works when it works, but for the most part it’s not what you’d call my favorite genre.

Whatever the future holds for Mr. Yen, I only hope that whatever crappy or mediocre productions he’s involved in continue to be the fault of writers and directors as opposed to Donnie Yen himself…

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

Kung Fu Panda 2 WILL Be Awesome

I liked Kung Fu Panda.

I saw it in theaters with a group of some of my closest friends, and despite my initial feelings of apprehension regarding Jack Black’s presence as leading man in the film; (I like him better in supporting roles.  Too much Black can lead to bad things.  NOT racist…) I found myself laughing aloud in the theater to an extent I’ve rarely experienced.

You see, I’m one of those guy’s that generally doesn’t go to see comedies in the theaters, not just because really good comedies are hard to come by these days; but largely because I feel self-conscious about making noise/disturbing others in theaters.

Call it a quirk… A really stupid and oddly specific quirk.

Anyway, I’ve seen Kung Fu Panda once or twice since I initially saw it the theater, and I’ve gotta’ say; the movie is still pretty damn good.

While Pixar will always put out more technically advanced, prettier, and more thoughtful films, Kung Fu Panda stands as an example of Dreamworks’ more lighthearted and scatologically humored formula adding up to something enjoyable to the masses.

In particular, I found the voice cast; while riddled with needless celebrity cameos, (Jackie Chan had 2 lines, Lucy Liu was there for no other reason than her Chinese heritage, etc.) to be quite exceptional.

Jack Black’s energy and enthusiasm, married with the hilarious animations and facial expressions of Po was a match made in heaven.

... I like the Panda better.

Dustin Hoffman also managed to impress as Shifu, with the timbre of his voicing doing well to add a sense of forcefulness to his voice regardless of the volume in which he spoke.

While I’m on the topic of great voice acting, let me just say:

Ian McShane = PIMP.

... And all the panties in the room suddenly dropped to the floor.

‘Nuff said.

The fight choreography in the film, while of course animated; and thusly free of the inherent limitations of the human body, also managed to impress me.

The movements were artfully strung together, with a pace that reminded me of the old style of Hong Kong choreography I.E. sharp movements, with brief pauses for every strike so as to highlight and make visible, the beauty of each exchange.

In other words, everything was imaginatively choreographed, but conducted in such a way that the viewer could easily see exactly what was going on.

In this age of Greengrass-ian shaky cam techniques, and ultra-fast handed performers; I found Kung Fu Panda’s battles to be a refreshing take of the art of fight choreography.

While I’ve known for awhile now that a Kung Fu Panda sequel was in the works, I found out just today who some of the new characters/voice actors were going to be.

Gary Oldman, James Woods, and Jean-Claude Van FUCKING Damme.

"That's right, ME!"

Oh yeah, Michelle Yeoh’s in there too, but chances are she’ll just be there as a novelty ala Lucy Liu in the previous film, or rather Michelle Yeoh herself in The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Pictured: Brendan Fraser about to lay the smack down on Jet Li. I'm not kidding, it actually happens.

I hope she was paid well for that, ’cause her presence in that film certainly didn’t earn her any brownie points in my book.

Moving on, as long as they let James Woods be his same old snarky self, I expect great things for him in Kung Fu Panda 2.

He was great as Hades in Disney’s Hercules, and he seemed to have fun playing himself on The Simpsons and Family Guy, so yeah; I think James Woods was a good choice.

And then there’s Van FUCKING Damme.

No caption necessary.

I’ve never heard The Muscles from Brussels do voice acting before, but chances are he sucks donkey balls at it.

Not that his normal acting was anything to write home about, but give him a break; the man’s entire career was based around him kicking people in the head… and showing off his ass.

And wouldn't you know it, here's him doing both at the same time!

Apparently he’s playing a crocodile in the film, so I don’t expect any jokes to emerge regarding his limberness, nor do I expect any gratuitous shots of his ass; but regardless, it’s Van Damme, he’s in an American film, and you can be damn sure I’ll be there to see it.

Anyway, the previous film was good, Van FUCKING Damme is in the sequel, and thusly Kung Fu Panda 2 WILL be awesome.

Well, maybe not THIS awesome; but close enough...

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

So… I Just Ordered Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

*GASP!* Donnie Yen!? Kicking people!? Since when?

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is not supposed to be a good movie.

For that matter, it’s not even supposed to be a good Donnie Yen movie.

Given the often times mercurial range in overall quality throughout Mr. Yen’s film career, I’ll leave it up to you to interpret that statement however you like.

Though it supposedly features the golden kung fu-to-xenophobia ratio that seems to be working so well for Hong Kong films these days; I’ve honestly yet to find a review that makes it sound to be anything more than average at best.

This, my friends; represents one of those few instances wherein the Azn Badger casts aside his particularly, uh, particular standards for film purchases, and concedes to the will of his inner fanboy.

“It’s Donnie Yen.  It’s new.  It’s a sequel to a Bruce Lee movie than in no way required a sequel. I’m buying it.”

Bear in mind, I may be a Donnie Yen fan, but I don’t go about buying his shittier movies indiscriminately.

I didn’t bite for The Twins Effect.

I certainly didn’t bite for An Empress and the Warriors.

I did bite for 14 Blades, but only because of Donnie Yen’s pimpin’ facial hair in it.

PIMP.

If it’s worth anything towards salvaging what little reputation I have, please note that I purchased the DVD version of The Return of Chen Zhen, as opposed to the Blu Ray.

Hey, HD is fuckin’ amazing, but there’s no way my inner Azn would allow me to spend that kind of money, much less on something that is very likely pure ass.

Moving on, The Return of Chen Zhen represents an odd case of a movie being made (in this case a sequel) that no one asked for.

 

*Cough!* Not that Hollywood would know anything about THAT...

Meant to act as a sequel of sorts to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury/Jet Li’s Fist of Legend/Donnie Yen’s Fist of Fury TV show, Return of Chen Zhen follows the exploits of and, dare I say; return, of fictional Huo Yuanjia disciple, Chen Zhen.

I honestly don’t know the plot of the film, but I’m sure it involves those sneaky Japs being, well, sneaky and Japanese.

 

Fine. Don't talk about your job when I'm around. Guess I'll just have to boil your children now...

It’s a strange feeling, anticipating feelings of joy at the sight of a little Chinese man beating the ever-loving shit out of your own people…

Being as The Return of Chen Zhen is in fact a Chinese film, I anticipate little to no historical accuracy to be apparent in the film’s plot or characterization.

Especially since from what I’ve read and seen in trailers, Chen Zhen apparently practices parkour, not to mention dons a Kato-esque masked vigilante get-up.

Disguise or not, Donnie Yen's ego manages to give him away every time...

Never mind that Chen Zhen was shot 50 bajillion times at the end of Fist of Fury…

Oh well, it’s a Chinese movie, and we all know Chinese heroes don’t die until they’re damn well ready to.

Anyway, I honestly don’t have anything else to say about this one.

Hopefully it’ll be better than I’ve read, though I did hear rumors that Donnie Yen made frequent, and visible use of stunt doubles in the film, to the point in which it’s kind of hurt his reputation.

It’s never a good thing when the star of the film, a man that can’t act worth shit and is really only good for hitting people; starts relying on others to do the hitting for him.

Anyway, expect a review of this one once I get my hands on it.

In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

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

Arkham Asylum Stole My Day!

So…

Uh… What the fuck was I gonna’ write?

Oh yeah.

Um, I just spent my entire day playing Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Was that wrong of me?

Damn I feel like an uber-dork right now…

I’m pretty close to the end as far as I can tell, being as the Joker is basically asking me to come up to his doorstep and Bat-Fuck him in the ass.

Even so, I’ve decided to hold off and do a whole lot of that godawful Metroid-ian backtracking that I hate some much.

Turns out I found about 80% of the hidden goodies in the game without using my map, so I figured I’d take a few minutes to, well, bust out my Bat-Map and comb the island for everything I missed.

By “a few minutes” of course, I mean “3 hours of Jerry Seinfeld-esque neuroticism.”

"What's the deal with airplane peanuts?"

That being said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Arkham Asylum thus far.

… Provided you don’t count the 3 hours or so of backtracking I’ve done.

… So far.

It needs to be said though, for completionists like myself; games like this are dangerous.

If not for this blog, I’d probably still be chasing little green question marks on the map.

Anyway, I’m about to go to bed now, being as I’ve got another 50 hour work week IN THE GODDAMN FREEZER to look forward to in the morning.

Damn, this was a hella’ wimpy-ass post…

What more can I say?…

I know!

If you’re at all into Azn movies, I.E. Korean, Japanese, or Chinese ones; Yesasia.com is having a pretty substantial sale of Blu-Rays until January 13th.

Most of the movies are unknown to me, and are thusly either crap or feature no scenes of people hitting each other SAVAGELY, but there are a few good ones I noticed.

There’s a few Bruce Lee movies, Shamo, (which I liked, despite the negative reviews) the mediocre Donnie Yen flick Dragon Tiger Gate, Beast Stalker, Once Upon A Time In China II AKA “The Good One,” Police Story, and for the weeaboos out there that can suck my half-yellow cock, Detroit Metal City.

There, I think that fills the quota for gratuitous tags on this post.

Anyway, just giving you guys a heads up.

See yah’ tomorrow!

 

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

Brian Tyler: Complacent Genius, Or One-Note Wonder?

He doesn't think he's better than me. Not at all...

Brian Tyler is one of Hollywood’s foremost “up and coming” film score composers.

Well okay fine, he’s technically not really an “up and comer,” as he’s already firmly established in the business, but given his relatively young age, and fairly recent ascendance to high-profile marquee films, I can’t really justify placing him among the old (and still working) lions like Danny Elfman, Elliot Goldenthal, or even Hans Zimmer.

Good God, somebody get Elfman away from the kindergarten!

Anyway, I first ran across Brian Tyler when perusing the internet for chase themes for use in a film project that never got off the ground.

One gem that I happened to stumble upon, was a track (or should I say “the” track) from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

I can’t find a clip of it at the moment, but the track is called “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and it’s track 2 on the score.

Anyway, I was blown away by the unrelenting energy, and raw power exuded by this track.

For one thing, it’s epicly long, yet somehow manages to consistently ramp up the tension and energy level throughout it’s entire running time.

More importantly though, it’s an incredibly complex composition, and yet the emotions produced when hearing it are wholly elemental to the point of being primal.

In short, though I wouldn’t see Tokyo Drift until, well, just a few months ago; Brian Tyler was instantly marked as a high priority on my radar (or should that be sonar?).

Since then, though I haven’t seen all that many of the films he’s composed, I’ve gone out of my way to look up a track or 2 from some of his higher profile works.

So far, my favorite album of his has to be his work on Rambo.

The face of approval.

While he was smart to include, and leave relatively untouched, the wonderful Jerry Goldsmith theme; every other piece of music on the soundtrack is absolutely stellar in it’s own right.

The action cues are violent and intense, and much like Tokyo Drift, have a very natural and engaging rhythm of rising tension throughout.

In particular, the Title Theme

and the final battle sequence track, No Rules of Engagement


Stand out as personal favorites of mine.

Another soundtrack of Tyler’s that I found to be quite good, was his far more subtle and restrained work on Annapolis.

Pictured: THE reason I watched Annapolis. Wasn't too bad a movie actually...

Given the naval academy setting, and slightly downbeat tone of the movie, the more casual, and stripped down feel of the music fits all too well.

To be honest, Annapolis is just about the only one of Brian Tyler’s scores that I’ve heard without being able to tell he composed it right off the bat.

Annapolis serves as a good indication as to the depths of Mr. Tyler’s talents, as though he’s since gone on to become sort one dimensional as of late; it’s movies like this that remind us that he can in fact do other things.

While I’m on the topic of Mr. Tyler’s one-dimensionality, it should be mentioned that; in my opinion, he’s already begun to phone in some of his compositions.

Off the top of my head: War, Fast & Furious, and Dragonball: Evolution were all projects of his that felt severely lacking in quality and inspiration.

No amount of musical awesomeness could've saved this pile of ass...

To be fair, those movies were severely lacking in quality and inspiration, but that shouldn’t figure into the composer’s commitment to the project.

Unless they paid him in Pogs.

 

Wow, those are shitty even by Pog standards...

If they did that, then I’d take it all back.

Anyway, Tyler’s work on these movies was bland, and honestly felt like he opened up his drawer of previously discarded action cues and just threw them onto the album.

War had a few nice motifs here and there, but most of the action cues sounded more like noise than anything else.

It’s sad really, as I read somewhere that War represented the first time Tyler got to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra.

The most recent Brian Tyler soundtrack I’ve heard, was his work on The Expendables.

Meatheads of the world unite, for your Gospel has been written...

As one would expect, being as both films involve a collaboration with Sylvester Stallone; Tyler’s music for The Expendables shares it’s tone and instrumentation with Rambo.

The only difference being that Rambo was a varied and passionate score with some killer action cues, while The Expendables is a fairly generic, almost made for TV quality score comprised largely of mediocre action cues.

Don’t get me wrong, Brian Tyler’s a damn good composer, and as such his work on The Expendables is better than a lot of Hollywood action movies these days, however personally, I expected more.

I expected the bombast and energy level to match or exceed Rambo, and instead we ended up getting the equivalent of a “meow” in comparison to the former’s roar.

Despite this, Royal Rumble is a track that found a home on my Ipod:

As it stands, Brian Tyler is poised to take the reigns as composer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

*Gasp!* We won't be shooting PEOPLE this time, will we?

Given his current “sound” that he seems to be stuck fast to, I would think he’d be a good fit for the series.

If he can access his inner Rambo, and once again marry thematic and dramatic elements to his action cues, I think he’ll do just fine.

Hell, as one note as people can accuse Brian Tyler of being, Harry Gregson-Williams (who composed the first Modern Warfare) is easily 10 times as guilty.

 

(Insert generic military hymn/Metal Gear Solid theme here)

Here’s hoping Mr. Tyler hangs around to give us great music for years to come.

Oh yeah, and it’d be nice if he tried mixing up his style too.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…

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The Best Overkills in Movies: Honorable Mentions

The BFG 9000: A Classic Instrument of Overkill.

Hello all, I decided it would be a good idea to follow-up my list of the Top 10 Best Overkills in Movies with a short list of some of the kills that didn’t quite make the cut.

Hopefully this will preemptively kill some of the nasty comments or disagreements that no doubt will spawn from my choices of the Top 10…

Anyway, the first runner-up I’d like to mention, is one that I really regret omitting.

Said overkill, is Jet Li’s (surprisingly awesome) 2 on 1 handicap match against Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4:

Hah, I still can’t get over how Jet Li just can’t seem to get out of the way of Danny Glover’s girlie punches.
Anyway, outside of that; the fight was great.

This movie was one of the first DVD’s I ever bought.

Not only that, but it was crazy savage watching Jet Lit get impaled with a rebar and then shot to shit with an AK-47, especially considering the relatively tame nature of the violence in the Lethal Weapon series.

I especially love the part of this overkill where Mel Gibson picks up Jet Li via the rusty-ass rebar sticking through his midsection.

*Sigh* The only reason this overkill didn’t make the Top 10, was because of fuckin’ Bonnie and Clyde.

You stylish fucks...

Despite not giving 2 shits about Bonnie and Clyde, I couldn’t help but pay tribute to it’s place in history by giving it a spot on the list somewhere.

Fuckin’ conscience, not letting me make cool lists for the sake of coolness…

Anyway, the second runner-up I’d like to mention, is a scene from a movie that, like Bonnie and Clyde, I have not seen.

The movie in question, is the French film, Irreversible:

Be mindful that this sequence is extrememly graphic and should not be viewed by those with weak stomachs.

LAST WARNING, CLICK HERE

I discovered this film, and in particular, this scene; several years ago when I was browsing the web for the “most violent movies.”

Gimme’ a break, I was like 15 at the time…

Anyway, after watching this scene, and reading some reviews of the film, I came to the conclusion that, while the film is very provocative on many levels, it’s not something I really have all that much desire to see.

I’m sorry, but when reviews for a movie cite a rape sequence as being “the most brutal and realist committed to film,” it’s kind of a turn-off.

Honestly, I think my conscience kept me from posting this as one of the Top 10, as it’s simply too brutal to have a place in a Top 10 list on what is supposed to be a fun and entertaining blog.

Next up is yet another Steven Seagal overkill, this time in the form of his famous dismantling of an (almost) young Tommy Lee Jones in Under Siege:

Man, that has gotta’ be one of the best knife fights in movie history…

Anyway, fight-gasm aside, this scene doesn’t really qualify as an overkill in my book.

Sure, the fight is of decent length, and the actual kill has a lot of flesh-wounds building up to it, but for the most part, this is just a standard action movie life-or-death fight.

A fight with stabbing, eye-gouging, and someone getting their head put through a computer monitor….

Okay fine, it’s not just a fight, it’s a Steven Seagal fight, but a fight nonetheless.

Last, but not least, no mention of overkill can be made without mentioning the so-bad-it’s-good kung fu movie, Riki-Oh, a live-action Chinese adaptation of a Japanese manga starring a very young (and buff) Fan Siu Wong.

In short, the final fight in the movie takes the rampant gore and bloodletting of all the previous violent episodes in the film, and puts them to shame:

While this is a superb overkill, an indeed probably the bloodiest I’ve mentioned, I told myself from the outset of things that I was going to omit Riki-Oh, most horror films, as well as any animated films from the list.

I did this to maintain some sense of order and equilibrium on the list, as most of what I decided to exclude from the list are overkills that are exceedingly bloody, and entertaining to bood, but not really worthy of being considered among “the best.”

I also consciously left out the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Mostly because I don’t care much for Monty Python, but also because that scene was played for laughs, and didn’t really gel with the other entries in the Top 10.

Oh fine, I’ll embed the clip for you…

I just don’t get it…

Also, technically that wasn’t an overkill, as the Black Knight never actually died.
Anyway, off the top of my head, that’s all I got.

It needs to be said however, that the “ice” kill in Van Damme’s Timecop,

The "ice" kill in question. Sorry, no clip available...

as well as just about any fight from Hokuto No Ken (Fist of the North Star) deserve special mention, as does the theater death scene of a certain fascistic monarch in Inglourious Basterds.

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The Expendables Review

*SPOILER ALERT!* ZERO spoilers ahead in regards to plot details/major events, but most of the match-ups in the fight scenes are revealed below.

If you don’t wanna’ know who’s gonna’ be fighting who, stop reading NOW. *SPOILER ALERT!*

Let it be known, The Expendables is just about the most meat-head centric films I’ve ever seen.

Rest assured, The Expendables is all about suped-up cars, guns, tattoos, armbars, stupid one-liners, and one very gratuitous T&A shot.

Meat-heads of the world unite, the film that shall be your gospel has arrived.

ALL SHALL BOW BEFORE BROCK CHRIST!!!!

Despite my general disdain for the UFC crowd and their, how shall we say, “sensibilities;” I came away from The Expendables feeling pretty good about the whole experience.

The Expendables is, of course; a product of the master of facial paralysis himself, Sylvester Stallone.

Best caricature, EVER.

From what I remember, Stallone pounded out a script for The Expendables almost immediately after his previous film, Rambo; was proven to be a financial success.

The premise of the film is that of the “men on a mission” sub-genre of yore.

Think, The Dirty Dozen, or The Wild Bunch, or if you’re a total pussy; Ocean’s 11 (with guns).

Let me just say, The Wild Bunch is one of the best films I've ever seen.

Basically, the plot boils down to a group of heartless mercenaries being sent on a suicide mission to liberate a fictional South American nation, only to discover, through the beauty and courage of a lady freedom fighter; that they do in fact give a shit about something in this world besides money.

"You not EXPENDABLE Rambo!"

While this describes the plot for just about every film in the genre, the one major difference between Stallone’s version and the rest is, of course; the fact that the “heartless mercenaries” in his version, are all played by noteworthy “faces” of action cinema, past and present.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for some time, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, and (unfortunately) Randy Couture all star alongside Sylvester Stallone to make up The Expendables.

"You got your peanut butter in my chocolate! Oh wait, this is a good thing..."

Not only that, but Eric Roberts, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and even former opponent of Jackie Chan, Gary Daniels; serve to round out the film’s cast of formidable villains.

That's right, THAT Gary Daniels...

Oh yeah, and Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the twin MMA Nogueira brothers, Antonio Rodrigo and Antonio Rogerio, all make single scene cameos.

On paper, this would make The Expendables just about the greatest action film ever conceived, right?


Just take a look at Stallone’s own Tango and Cash.

If only it had been a live-action adaptation of Lucky and Wild... Look it up, it's a sweet ass arcade game.

Sure, that movie had Stallone, and Kurt Russell AND Jack Palance to boot, but that doesn’t mean it was even remotely good.

No, The Expendables is not the greatest action movie ever, nor will it remembered alongside any of the true greats of the genre, but that doesn’t make it a bad movie.

On the contrary, I felt it was quite good for what it was.

While the script is utter crap, with most of the one-liners coming across as strained and almost painfully weak, like any good action movie the script is secondary to the action.


Thankfully much of the dialogue in the film is brief, although sometimes the “man speak” quotient can seem a bit overwhelming at times.

Seriously, everyone in the cast of this film make this guy seem straight-up femme:

Anyway, we’ve established that The Expendables, a dumb action movie; has a shitty plot and script.

It’s probably about time I got to talking about something we didn’t know, right?

Let’s talk about how The Expendables fared on the action front.

The action in The Expendables is quite good by modern standards.

It’s violent, chaotic, and often over-the-top, and after the awesomeness that was Rambo just 2 years ago, it’s just about everything I was hoping for in an American action film.

The gunplay is especially over-the-top, with terrific sound editing, and a wonderful sense of “oomph” that is rare among action films.

Trust me, from the first time someone is shot in this film, you know just what kind of movie you’ve gotten yourself into.

Kind of like saying, "From the moment Swayze layed down on the floor and stared longingly at Jennifer Grey, you KNEW what kind of movie you'd gotten yourself into."

Oh yeah, despite it being less brutal and gory than Rambo, the violence level is right up there in Steven Seagal territory in terms of blood-letting.

It should be noted however, that virtually all of the bullet hits are done, not with squibs, but through digital effects.

While this saddened me to some extent, as I figured that if anyone was going to do things “old-school,” it would be Stallone, admittedly it doesn’t do much to effect ones’ overall enjoyment of the film.

Yup, that's violent!

The cinematography in The Expendables is vaguely Greengrass/Bourne-esque throughout i.e. lots of intentional camera jitter, rapid-fire edits, and shakily framed shots, though personally I didn’t have a problem with this.

Bear in mind, I’ve been watching dumb action flicks from the cradle and on, so MTV style editing, and, well, MTV style camera work are nothing new to me.

I think a lot of my non-issue with the cinematography in The Expendables, stems from the fact that I’ve not just been watching action movies my whole life, but boxing, and kung fu movies.

My eyes are trained son, ain’t no tricks out there my eyes can’t see…

It's in the middle, dumbass...

I will say this though, the cinematography in all of the vehicle-based action sequences in The Expendables, is fucking atrocious, and downright frustrating to follow.

Outside of that though, my eyes are trained son…

While I hate to make such a big deal about this one point, I encountered several reviews, including one by a vlogger I happen to trust and admire, Noah Antwiler AKA Spoony, that took offense to the cinematography in this film, so I figure this particular argument deserves some special attention.

Google "special attention," and this is what you get: Red Panda cuteness...

The Expendables is a typical American military action flick.

While there are in fact a handful of protracted brawls between major players in the cast, (which we will get to in a minute) the vast majority of the action in the film is choreographed in such a way that death is dealt swiftly and often.

That is to say, there is not a whole lot of depth or drama to the choreography of the action, both armed and unarmed in The Expendables.

In fact, most of the shots of violence in the film are arranged in such a way that we really aren’t shown a whole of the detail in the various battles that are taking place, but rather just the deathblows in each engagement/exchange.

A movie where every hit is a fatality? Works for me...

Think of it as taking a highlight reel approach to editing a number of fight/action scenes together as opposed to putting a premium on drama or continuity.

The Expendables is a film that often has several skirmishes happening parallel to one another, a fact that necessitates overlap between most of the action in terms of editing, resulting in a film that simply cannot stop to do the proper dramatic justice to any one of said action set-pieces.

While I generally disapprove of editing multiple action scenes together, (see Cradle 2 the Grave and virtually every Michael Bay film ever made) I found the last 30 minutes of The Expendables to be a fine example of how to implement said technique effectively.

Yes, these 2 things go together like Jet Li and DMX. Oh wait...

This leads to most of the fights/gunfights seeming fragmented, and somewhat lacking in coherence, given that much of the cast in this film is past their physical prime, do you really think you’d want to see what these guys looked like without the help of the guy in the editing room?

Speaking of which, let’s take a moment to talk about the fighting element of The Expendables.

The Expendables had a number fight scenes in it, most notably Dolph Lundgren vs. Jet Li, Jason Statham and Jet Li vs. Gary Daniels, Stone Cold vs. Sylvester Stallone, and finally, Stone Cold vs. Randy Couture.

In order, here are my thoughts:

Dolph looked surprisingly spry despite his age.

Sure, the fight was edited to shit, and the framing was frustratingly “off” at times, but the sheer novelty of seeing fuckin’ Ivan Drago go toe-to-toe with Jet Li was enough to keep me engaged.

Dolph employed a fairly linear boxing/kickboxing fighting style of sorts, with most of his punches coming in at straight angles, and more importantly, in bunches.

While the drama of the fight is virtually non-existent, largely due to a few (intentionally) giggle-inducing beats, the scene was good for what it was:

A novelty.

That being said, Jet Li’s performance in the film is rather odd.

Oh wait, this wasn't "odd," this was just "shitty."

His character is legitimately funny throughout, and his physical presence is impressive, but sadly limited.

While industry great, Corey Yuen, is credited as a choreographer for Li’s scenes, sadly the pair isn’t given much screen time to deal with.

Despite this, Jet Li’s performance possesses the grace and flexibility he is known and loved for, though the rapid-edits have the side-effect of obscuring his speed.

Jason Statham’s performance was largely similar to that of Jet Li’s, in that he looked good, but with the “A to C” as opposed to “A, B, C” style of editing, we really couldn’t tell just how good he was.

Oh yes, he's good... NOT GAY.

Having worked with Corey Yuen before, in The Transporter; it’s no surprise that Statham’s movements and execution are pretty much spot on for the demands of his character.

Speaking of “execution,” his character, who displays a penchant for knives in his fighting style, allows Statham ample opportunity to wow with his close-quarters knife work.

Seriously, I haven’t been happy with any of Jason Statham’s performances, physical or otherwise, since the first Transporter movie, but his work in The Expendables, particularly when armed with knives, was downright impressive.

That’s a pretty big fuckin’ compliment coming from me.

ME.

Anyway, Jet Li and Jason Statham’s tandem battle with Gary Daniels was legitimately impressive in a brutal sort of way.

Bear in mind, at this point in the film, (which was easily the highlight of the whole thing for me) Stone Cold vs. Stallone, Gary Daniels vs. The Dudes from The One and War, and Randy Couture hiding behind a bunch of sandbags, are all happening simultaneously.

While it makes me sad to see a talent like Gary Daniels as criminally under-used as he was in The Expendables, I have to admit it was pretty neat to see him be on the receiving end of a martial arts double-team in a military action flick.

The reason I keep emphasizing the word military, is because it implies severity, life and death stakes.

When people fist fight in this movie, it’s not for honor, or glory, it’s simply to make the man standing before them stop breathing and get out of their way.

That being said, Gary Daniels fares about as well as any human would when faced with the prospect of taking on 2 men at once.

That is, unless you’re the Undertaker…

The fight is not so much a fight, as it is brutal beatdown, but like every Steven Seagal fight in existence has taught us, sometimes that’s a good thing.

Moving on, Stone Cold vs. Stallone was probably one of the most glorious “big man” fights I can recall in film history.

Think Matrix vs. Bennett in Commando, or Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Keith David in They Live, or failing that, Zangief vs. E. Honda in the live-action Street Fighter.

*GASP!* "You remember that!?"

With Stallone being over 60, and Stone Cold turning out truly horrendous fighting performances in The Condemned and Damage, I was expecting a sluggish bar room brawl of sorts, but color me surprised when this unbelievable masterpiece of beefy old-guy fighting cinema came rolling around the corner.

The choreography is sharp, with the punches being swung fiercely and often, and Stallone routinely busting out impressive takedowns, and, in particular; one hell of an agile flying armbar.

Yes, one of these.

In fact, my only gripe with this whole fight, is that, again; most of the drama is lost due to the highlight reel style editing.

More specifically, while Stallone’s takedowns and submission holds are impressive to behold in execution, unfortunately there really is no “why” in regards to his implementation of them.

In Flashpoint, Donnie Yen’s grappling and holds had a purpose in the choreography in that they smothered Collin Chou’s superior offense, and thusly turned the fight in his favor.

This man wouldn't do something simply for the sake of flash. No way...

Stallone’s grappling in The Expendables, is the equivalent to watching Jean-Claude Van Damme do a series of his famed slow-motion aerial kicks.

There’s really no practicality to it in the context of the fight, it’s just flash for the sake of flash.

Or in this case, Butt for the sake of Butt...

While it’s a minor gripe, seeing as this has already spiraled into a much more technical and in-depth review than I was initially expecting, I figured I should bring it up.

In one scene, Stallone managed to defy Father Time, and Stone Cold made a believer out of me in regards to his career as an action movie guy.

Which brings us to the last major sequence of manly fisticuffs in The Expendables, MMA legend Randy Couture vs. modern WWF legend, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

I’ll just say this:

This fight was made for UFC and wrestling fanboys, and no one else.

First search for "UFC fan," and I got just what I wanted. Thanks internet.

After the terrific spectacle that was, well, pretty much every other fight in this movie, it brought a tear to my eye to see the final brawl in the movie be such a let down.

Randy Couture should not be in movies.

More specifically, Randy Couture should not be in this movie.

Seriously, I’m not even hating on the UFC stuff right now.

I'm not. I swear...

Randy Couture, and more importantly, Randy Couture’s character, could have, and should have been excised from the script, as neither has much of anything to offer.

Regardless, Randy Couture, though a nice guy, and a terrific athlete, is a truly terrible actor, and barely adequate screen-fighter.

Throughout the movie we bear witness to Couture body-slamming and, well, fiercely body-slamming bad guys, sometimes with a mean expression on his face, usually without.

Pictured: Randy Couture's "mean face."

To say that the choreography given to Couture in this movie is limited is like saying Hulk Hogan’s repertoire of wrestling moves was limited.

It’s an indisputable fact.

That was 1 of 3 moves Hulk Hogan possessed over the years.

Personally, I preferred seeing Couture body-slamming people as opposed to, well, just about anything else he did in the movie.

Especially speaking.

Anyway, I don’t want to go into the details of Couture vs. Stone Cold, but I will say this:

It’s not half as good as Stallone’s fight, and Randy Couture is as stiff as mother fuckin’ Frankenstein.

And I'm not talkin' the Bobby D Frankenstein either...

Alright, well I’m officially spent.

I’ve honestly got more to say, but I’m starting to fade, so I think I’m gonna’ try to call it quits for tonight.

The Expendables was a good time, if mayhem, testosterone and explosions are what you’re looking for.

It’s not a classic in the making, but it’s definitely fun for what it is.

The script is ass, though Mickey Rourke manages to carve a soul into the film with one gut-wrenching scene of apparently improv-ed ACTING.

The gunplay is tops, with comparisons to Stallone’s own Rambo in terms of entertainment value,”oh shit” factor, and spillage of bodily fluids of the sanguine (look it up, dumbass) variety, being entirely warranted.

The fighting is difficult to follow for some, (not me) but surprisingly rewarding despite the relatively advanced ages of the majority of the performers.

In all, I had fun with The Expendables, and I’m pretty sure that was the point.

Have fun with The Expendables, ’cause if you can’t, then chances are you’re just being a dick and need to lighten up.

End Transmission

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