Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Holy Fucking Shit, It’s A Dinosaur.

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

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

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

Such passion! How could anyone not like him?

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

Thanks for dropping by!

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A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VII – Mr. Yen, to the Future and Beyond!

"I want you... to suck my cock."

The year is 2010, and as of last year, Donnie Yen is now the most, or is among the most highly paid actors in Hong Kong.

Since finishing Ip Man in 2008, Donnie Yen has gone on to release 5 films, 3 of which being high-profile blockbusters.

The first of these was Bodyguards and Assassins, an action-drama set in turn-of-the-century Hong Kong.

With an all-star, ensemble cast, the film sported impressive production values, perhaps most notably the set, which consisted of a brick for brick recreation of several blocks of 1906 Hong Kong.

The film is essentially split into two halves, with the first being drama-heavy and ultimately responsible for setting the stakes, and the second being action-heavy, taking all the pre-established pieces of the plot from the first half and running wild them non-stop until the final reel.

While occasionally weighed-down by protracted bouts of melodrama, particularly in the film’s action-heavy second half, the film saves itself by providing an impressive level of characterization to what at first glance would appear to be an overwhelmingly bloated cast of characters.

Despite my ignorance in regards to pronunciation and recognition of Chinese names, I never found myself puzzled as to who was who or how every character related to one another.

Donnie Yen has a small but important role as a down-on-his-luck gambler seeking redemption for his past sins.

The role is minimal, with Donnie Yen being used primarily as an action element among the players, however he does have some truly effective dramatic moments.

The highlight of his performance, and perhaps the entire film however, is of course, a fight:

The above bout between Donnie Yen and former MMA champion, Cung Le, was reportedly re-shot and re-choreographed sometime after filming had officially wrapped.

Apparently Mr. Yen was unhappy with his performance, and thusly organized a reshoot, without supplemental pay or benefits.

The result is a fight that, while inspired, and certainly beyond the norm in terms of choreography, is somewhat uneven and ultimately, unbalanced.

The parkour element of the fight was brief, but effective, with much of the camerawork being downright spectacular, particularly when use of steadicam is used to weave between bystanders.

The sparring between the two players is crisp and on point for the most part, with great sound effects and music to back it up, but the MMA style joint locks and grappling seem largely out of place given the time period.

Perhaps most disappointing though, is the awkward use of wirework.

Though I’ve said before that wuxia isn’t really my thing, the fact of the matter is, that if one is going to incorporate fantastical wirework into a film, it’s implementation should be consistent rather than sporadic.

In all, the fight was a highlight for this film, however it doesn’t rank very high on Donnie Yen’s resume.

And as previously established, it's a pretty long resume. Yes, they boned.

Donnie Yen’s next film, also released in 2009, was the 90’s wuxia throwback, 14 Blades.

I have not seen this film, so I feel I have no right to comment on it in detail, however I will say this:

I have very little desire to see this film anyway.

In fact there are many films Donnie Yen has made, particularly in the 2000’s, that I have almost no interest in seeing.

As I mentioned in previous articles in this blog, Wilson Yip was a blessing on Donnie Yen’s career.

In between the classics that Yip and Yen were cranking out in the late 2000’s, Donnie Yen also released a number of smaller, poorly regarded films, most of which were, you guessed it: wuxia films.

Twins Effect I and II… ‘Nuff said.

Seven Swords seemed overblown and lacked the proper “Yen Quotient.”

An Empress and the Warriors didn’t peak my interest in the least, given the plot and Donnie Yen’s presence as a character who exists for no other reason than to hit people.

And then there’s Painted Skin

Well, Painted Skin just plain looked like ass.

AAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

I haven’t seen any of these films, including 14 Blades, but to my knowledge they have all received poor reviews, and while impressive to look at in some cases, and not terrible films in their own right, they simply don’t offer the Donnie Yen experience I’m looking for.

THIS on the other hand.... No, wait, this sucked too...

Despite being of the relatively advanced age of 46, Mr. Yen remains the top dog in terms of Hong Kong action cinema, with many of his upcoming films having him cast in action-heavy roles.

As I type this, Donnie Yen has more than 3 major films in the works,  not the least of which being Ip Man 2, which was recently released in theaters.

The film reunites nearly all of the principle cast from the previous entry in the series, however this time the story has moved to 1930’s Hong Kong, and includes Sammo Hung in a co-starring role as an overbearing Hung Gar master at odds with Ip Man.

Highlights in the film look to be a long overdue rematch between Yen and Hung following the impressive nature of their brawl in SPL, as well as what appears to be Sammo and Donnie pitting their form based Hung Gar and Wing Chun against English screen-fighter, Darren Shahlavi‘s more fluid Western boxing.

Sadly, from what I’ve read, Fan Siu Wong‘s role in the film is very small, and totally devoid of action.

A shame really, as I was very impressed by his performance in the first film, both as an actor and a combatant.

Although I can't say the same for his performance in this film.

Also on Donnie Yen’s plate for this year, is Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, a truly bizarre semi-sequel to Bruce Lee‘s 1972 classic, Fist of Fury.

I call the film bizarre due to the fact that the protagonist of the first film, Chen Zhen, was supposed to have gone down in a hail of gunfire at the end of Lee’s film, and yet, based on recent teaser footage, the sequel appears to have Yen cast not only as the same character, but as a masked vigilante practitioner of parkour.

Though I can’t say my hopes are up for The Return of Chen Zhen, it’s this continued process of adaptation and innovation that, in my eyes, keeps Mr. Yen’s performances from going stale.

That, and lots and lots of hair spray.

Despite being discovered  in the 80’s by one of the great directors and choreographers of our time, Yuen Woo Ping, Donnie Yen would not rise to prominence in the industry until more than a decade later, well after he had already begun to direct and choreograph his own films.

Unlike so many screen-fighters, in particular Jet Li, Donnie Yen has proven himself to be a student of the game.

Beyond being a fantastic martial artist, he has also displayed a remarkable sense of awareness in regards the kinetics of filmmaking.

Truly, particularly in recent years, he has come to embody the role not of screen-fighter, but that of a physical actor.

Some men, when placed into a fight scene, do nothing but hit their marks, keep to the beat, and wow with their physical prowess.

Donnie Yen does all of these things while injecting a sense of dramatic weight to his actions.

You care when he throws his punches and more importantly, you know why he chose to throw the punch the way he did.

Donnie Yen is of the rare breed of men that can not only teach, but also do.

Not only that, he is of the even rarer breed that can do both well.

At 46 I understand that Donnie Yen most likely has maybe 3-4 years left in him to produce truly great physical performances in his career.

Unlike Jackie Chan however, I believe Donnie Yen’s vanity and pride will keep him from stretching his fighting career beyond his means.

It saddens me to know that I was among those that overlooked Mr. Yen until such a late stage in his career, only to find that he was already beginning down the road to the inevitable end of his career.

I guess I should look at it not as me having missed the first 17 years of Yen’s career, but as me having witnessed the past 9, which is more than most can say.

I look forward to whatever the Mr. Yen is able to produce in the coming years.

Here’s hoping we’ll all be “wowed” one last time by the greatness that truly is, Donnie Yen.

Thank you to all who took the time to read this epic tribute of all I know and love about Donnie Yen!

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A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VI – Old Man Yen

Allow me to be serious for a moment.

In 2008, Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen gave us the film Ip Man, a heavily fictionalized biographical-account of the life of the Wing Chun grandmaster of the same name.

Donnie Yen was 45 years old.

Throughout his career, Donnie Yen’s acting has been criticized for consisting of little more than him preening, posing, and more often than not, flexing his way through his films.

Yeah, kind of like that.

Ip Man gave us our first glimpse of a more restrained, more mature Donnie Yen.

Gone were the trademark leaping back-kicks. Gone were the cocky, “bring it on” eyebrows.

Even the cheesy windmill uppercut feints failed to make the cut.

Okay, that's not really a feint, but whatever.

Donnie Yen was 45 and finally ready to act his age.

The result was a gorgeous film that earned 2 awards out of 12 nominations at the 28th Hong Kong Film Awards.

One of those awards went to Sammo Hung for Best Action Choreography.

The other went to the production itself, as it just happened to be the award for Best Film.

While much of the film’s success could be attributed to Chinese nationalism (the plot concerns the Japanese occupation of China) and passion for martial arts culture, it’s hard to deny that the film is a solid contribution to the action-drama genre.

Production of Ip Man brought Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung together for the second time in their careers.

The first time was in SPL, where the two would clash onscreen for a climactic battle that, amazingly, matched the intensity of Yen’s alleyway duel with Wu Jing just minutes earlier within the same film. (See “Donnie Yen: Part IV – The Real Donnie Yen”)

This time around however, Hung would serve as fight choreographer, bringing his unerring cinematographic eye and untold years of experience to the production.

The above sequence, from the film in which Sammo Hung directed, choreographed, and co-starred, Wheels on Meals, (the third film to include the Peking Opera Trio of Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao) showcases the first of two epic battles between Jackie Chan, and American kickboxer, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez.  This sequence is widely regarded as one of the finest sequences in screen fighting history, and is a testament to Mr. Hung’s skills behind the camera.

How’s that for credentials?

Seriously, do NOT fuck with this man.

Hung’s attention to detail and penchant for injecting his fights with realistic passion and violence made him perfect for the job.

Ip Man gave Hung the opportunity to explore and put on display a number of different martial arts, most notably, Wing Chun.

The simple fact that he was able to convey each of these styles largely through pure physical expression, rather than superfluous exposition, is a testament to Mr. Hung’s skills as a choreographer.

Donnie Yen’s movements as Ip Man clearly reflect the Wing Chun principles of countering and establishing a “line” with one’s opponent.

Fan Siu Wong’s character, Jin, effectively portrays a practitioner of Northern Kung Fu, relying on solid stances and aggressive circular strikes.

Hiroyuki Ikeuchi’s General Miura, as well as the other Japanese characters, all include the straight punches and mechanical blocking motions of Karate.

Mr. Hung managed to communicate all of this through nothing but body language.

"So... You wanna' like, do it?"

It’s interesting to note that, stylistically speaking, Donnie Yen, while versatile and athletic, is not really the first person that came to my mind in casting a master of Wing Chun.

For one thing, Mr. Yen has never studied Wing Chun, and for another, the fighting style he employed in most of his films prior to this is contrary to the principles of Wing Chun in that it utilizes wide, flashy kicks to the head, techniques Wing Chun places little emphasis on.

But that was the old Donnie Yen, not the old Donnie Yen.

As you can plainly see, Mr. Yen managed to get the hang of Wing Chun pretty handily.

Despite this, another challenge for Mr. Yen, and Mr. Hung for that matter, was in staging and planning the choreography in such a way that it matched the tone of every scene.

The sequence above took place at the end of the first half of the film, during which the tone is bright and lively, and the drama is largely restricted to standard genre fare I.E. squabbles between rival martial arts schools and principles.

The sequence below however, takes place midway through the second half of Ip Man, within which the tone, and color palette for that matter, become engulfed with darkness.  As a result, the choreography becomes harsher, more violent, and altogether more intense.  Even the soundtrack reflects this.

A tip of the hat to Mr. Yen and Mr. Hung…  and a pat on the back to all those who may have been injured during the filming of this sequence.

Regardless of how much praise I shower upon it, Ip Man is not a great film.

It is however, a great kung fu movie.

Every cliche and trope you would expect to find in an entry from the genre is present here in some form, and I think that was the point.

Ip Man doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, it merely tries it’s best to give it a spit shine and more importantly, do it with heart.

Sure, the story can be hokie at times.

Sure, the script was largely forgettable.

I’d sooner accept both of those shortcomings in exchange for a decent film with a handful of scenes where Donnie Yen beats people like a fucking drum.

You know you'd buy it...

End serious moment.

Well okay, maybe that wasn’t all that serious, but hey, I tried.

Check back for the exciting conclusion to my MASSIVE tribute to Donnie Yen, in “Part VII – Mr. Yen to the Future and Beyond!”

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The Best Track in the Game #1: Mega Man X

You don't wanna' see what I'm doing with my other hand...

Megaman X.  Few games have had as huge an impact on my life than Megaman X.

Growing up, I was a Megaman/Capcom nut.  I remember way back in the day, my barber (yeah, I don’t know why either) gave me and my brother an issue of Nintendo Power with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the cover:

Back when men were men... and turtles were not yet made of rubber

Yeah, that’s the one.

Anyway, somewhere in there was a sneak peak at Megaman 2 with a fold out poster featuring all 8 of the robot masters, plus Guts Dozer, The Mecha Dragon, and the schmuck Dr. Wily.

From the first time I saw this poster, I was hooked.

I remember running over to my mom and showing her all the characters, and telling her in impossibly adorable child-speak:

“This guy, his name’s Bubble Man!  He has bubble powers!  He shoots, um… He shoots bubbles!”

Eventually, I got my mom to make me a Bubble Man helmet out of cardboard…  and a Crash Man helmet for one of the neighbor kids… and a Quick Man helmet that I told her was for one of my friends that I ended up keeping for myself.

Yeah, back then Bubble Man was my favorite boss from Megaman 2.  My brother used to give me shit about it.  He would say:

“Bubble Man’s fat.  No wonder you like him, fatty.”

So fat...

Well, can’t say my brother was ever wrong about him being fat.  At least he’s not a pussy like Metal Man AKA THE FIRST FUCKING GUY EVERYONE KILLS.

FIRST. FUCKING. GUY.

Anyway, back to Megaman X!

Wall climbing.  Dashing.  Wall Dashing.  Throwing a Hadouken.  These were just a few of the amazing innovations that Megaman X brought to the Megaman franchise.Most critical among these was the Dash, which, coupled with the ability to hug walls to slow your descent, made for precision gameplay far faster and more forgiving than the classic Megaman series has ever been.

In gaining a beam saber, he lost his cock. Tragic...

True the franchise has never been very hard, (except for the utterly craptacular Megaman X6) and I see how that could be a problem for all the Contra kids out there, but the level length, number of secrets, and plethora of colorfully animated boss characters throughout most of the games has always struck me as being among the best in gaming.

Okay, maybe X3 had too many secrets, (most of the time you found at least half of the stuff by accident) and X2’s difficulty was sinfully weak, but few people can argue that the original Megaman X was pretty much on the mark in every area.

But that says nothing for the quality of the music.

Picking a best track from Megaman X is no easy task.  When you first boot up the game, you are treated to a provocative and well-executed diagnostic sequence, followed by one of the most awesome title screen tracks EVER.


Right from the get go, best title track EVER.

And it just keeps getting better from there.

The intro stage (an innovation to the Megaman franchise first seen here) tune is exhilarating and skillfully layered.  In fact one of the most remarkable things about this soundtrack, to me at least, is the fact that it succeeded in making me feel like there was some level of importance to my actions.

The track that plays when Zero and X hold their conversations establishes a sense of brotherhood between the two characters that does a lot to add to the gravity of the conflict at hand (especially when you consider the events that precede the two instances when this track is heard in the game.)

In picking a favorite track from this game though, my objective is to select the one that is not only the most enjoyable to listen to, but the one that “means” the most to me as a whole.

Being one that plays Megaman games more often than he beats them, I tend to spend most of my time playing through the pre-castle, robot master stages.  That being said it’s natural for me to pick one of the robot master stage tracks as The Best Track in the Game for Megaman X.

Without further ado,

The Best Track in the Game is…

Armored Armadillo Stage

Why?:

The music is fast, energetic, and has a significantly longer running time than many of the other robot master themes. (I’m looking at you Storm Eagle and Sting Chameleon…) Not only that, but Armored Armadillo’s stage is potentially the most fun to play through, featuring a number of unique enemies (the “jet birds” at the end, and the tunnel digging bug-machines) and gameplay mechanics (the spiked mine cart rides).  In general, Armored Armadillo’s stage seems to have more “love” put into it than the others, and is therefore, simply more fun to play.

In addition to this, Armored Armadillo’s stage is undoubtedly the one that most people have played through the most.

No, not because it’s so damn fun, (even though it is) but because it’s the only way to get the Hadouken capsule!

Assuming you don’t suck, and don’t have to continue through any of the robot master stages, one will end up playing Armored Armadillo’s stage 5 times as much as any of the other levels in the game!  I can’t prove it, but something tells me Capcom made the conscious decision to step up their game in designing Armored Armadillo’s stage in order to prevent people from getting pissy over having to play through the stage an extra 4 times (potentially more, again, if you suck) to get a cheesy fireball upgrade.

In this is case, it worked, ’cause I have never once balked at the idea of playing through the game without getting the Hadouken.

Runner-Ups:

Storm Eagle Stage, Title Theme

Why?:


Storm Eagle’s theme has a solid reputation for being the favorite among most gamers.

It’s short, it’s sweet, it has a sort of Top Gun-ish heavy guitar feel to it, in short, it’s fucking awesome and it goes with the airport setting very well.

Storm Eagle’s theme was my favorite as a kid, and remained so until fairly recently.

As I mentioned previously, I think Armored Armadillo’s theme is great partially because it was shoved down my throat so many times over the years.  In that sense I think it’s fair to say that I enjoy both tracks pretty much equally, however one has recently begun to occupy a larger place in my memory than the other.

In regards to the Title Theme, listen to it!

It’s fucking awesome!

Even without the awesome metallic *SHING* noise when the “X” flashes into place, it’s still fucking awesome!

How could you not get crazy hyped up after hearing this for the first time!?

I know I did at least until one of the little purple flying dudes with the red nose bumped me in mid-air and knocked me into a pit not 2 minutes into my first life.  Little fucker, has the nerve to blink his eyes and bob his nose in celebration every time he hits you too…

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