Azn Badger's Blog

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A Few Thoughts on Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend

Ladies and gentleman, let it be known that when it comes to crafting an Ultraman film, there is such a thing as too much action.

Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend clocks in at a trim, 90 minutes in length, with about all but 10 of those minutes being devoted to over-the-top fights and flashy, green-screened eye-candy.

Like most Ultraman and tokusatsu features, Legend’s dialogue consists almost purely of cliches and “isms” of the genre, none of which is spoken at a volume that could be described as anything less than “epic.”

“If we all try our best, anything is possible!”

“Everyone, distract the final monster with your trademark attacks so the brand new, crazy-overpowered guy can go Super Saiyan and land the final blow!”

*Everyone exchanges nods*

“Un!”

*Final monster is killed*

“NOOOO!!!! THIS CAN’T BE! I’M INVINCIBLE!!!!!”

Go ahead, sit down and watch the film with a checklist. If it’s been said before in a kid’s anime, I guarantee you it’s in there somewhere.

Okay, so we’ve established that the film is action-packed, flashy as fuck, poorly written and acted, but what does that all add up to?

Um, not quite, but it shows your thinking.

Basically, the movie amounts to little more than fanservice, and lights with sound.

Not exactly the best description a movie could hope for, but entertaining in its own right.

While movies like Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen desperately plead for their audience’s attention with scene after scene of unfunny comic relief loosely stringing together scenes of robots fighting, Galaxy Legend takes the road less traveled and delivers an experience virtually devoid of dialogue, comical or otherwise, but is instead packed to the brim with action and fighting.

I’ve heard some people say that the Transformers movies were a let down in the sense that the one thing a movie based on the franchise should’ve been able to promise it’s viewers, was scenes of robots fighting.

Despite this, both films in the series largely dropped the ball in delivering on this promise.

Though Galaxy Legend is not a good film, and is definitely not a whole lot better, if at all, than any of the Transformers movies, I will say this:

The makers deserve a pat on the back for actually delivering on what they promised to give us, even if it wasn’t much.

On the inside cover of the DVD case there is a movie program printed on heavy cardstock.

Inside this program, there is a list of 5 key points that the makers of film outlined as it’s finest acheivements:

(Apologies for mistranslation on my part, my Japanese ain’t so hot)

1. Pitting the Ultra Heroes against 100 monsters.

2. Creating a villain born on the M-78 Nebula, Ultraman Belial.

3. Giving Ultraseven a son, Ultraman Zero.

4. Creating an entry in the Ultra series with state of the art visual effects and “hard” action.

5. Creating a story based exclusively around the Ultra characters and the Land of Light.

Despite the overall quality of the movie being pretty “meh”, the guys at Tsuburaya managed to complete every goal they established for themselves.

Oh yeah, and the effects and fights were easily the finest in franchise history.

Well done gentleman, well done.

Sorry for the late post today, got held up by Iron Man 2 and Mother’s Day stuff!

Stop by tomorrow for a massive, scene-by-scene summary of Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend!

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

The Best Track in the Game #3: Return of Double Dragon

Return of Double Dragon is the Japanese version of Super Double Dragon for the SNES.

The Japanese version was actually released after the American one, and surprisingly includes a number of changes and differences, leading to my suspicion that the American release was rushed.

Return includes a few extra character animations and music tracks not featured in the American release. In the case of the music, several tracks are also assigned to different stages.

I had never played Return until I was in college, but thankfully I found that I wasn’t really missing much in terms of extra content.

Although it is fun being able to grab everyone by the hair.

... and then do this to them.

I grew up playing Super Double Dragon across the street at my neighbor’s house.

Early on I was one of those kids who used to invite himself over, that is until their parents told me to start calling ahead.

Consequently, I regard calling my neighbor’s to see if they could “come out and play” as the first phone call I ever made on my own.

Pictured: The Future.

I’d often spend my afternoons over there, playing Super Soccer (Argentina all the way!) and Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball, but mostly Super Double Dragon.

The game was crazy awesome, taking full advantage of the increased button count on the SNES controller.

I could jump with one button.

I could block (who the fuck does that?), with just one button.

Hell, I could do the fucking spin kick with just one fucking button!

I won’t get big headed and say I was “good” at Super Double Dragon, but I will say this: I felt like I was good at Super Double Dragon.

The game was undoubtedly an improvement on every game in the series that had come before it, (that’s right, FUCK Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones) with gameplay, sound and graphics that were top notch for the time, and yet something was missing from the experience…

Okay maybe not that, but still...

I never owned Super Double Dragon, or Return of Double Dragon until much later in life, although I did borrow it once.

My brother and I made it to the final boss, (a rare feat in gaming for me back then) and just as soon as the battle got really heated, just as soon as the guy started busting out all sorts of spinning wheel kicks an other such bullshit, the game froze.

Had to wait 12 fucking years just to see this screen...

To this day, it’s the only instance I can recall of such a thing happening on the SNES.

When I bought Return of Double Dragon, I’m pretty sure I bought it not out of being nostalgic for the days and weeks I spent over at my neighbor’s house playing it, but for the half hour or so I spent playing it with my brother.

That being said,

The Best Track in the Game is…

Golden Gate Bridge Stage

Why?:

Doesn’t this music just make you wanna’ go out and grab somebody by the hair and knee ’em in the face?

Okay, maybe that’s just me, but I always found this track to be a standout in the Return of Double Dragon soundtrack.

Just to clear things up a bit, though I refer to this as the Golden Gate Bridge theme, in Super Double Dragon, this track was actually used as the background music of the opening stage, Las Vegas.

In truth, I believe that this track is much better suited for the Las Vegas stage, as the pace more closely mirrors that of walking the streets, rather than careening down the Golden Gate Bridge atop a semi-truck.

Outside of the Title theme, (which also doubles as the Final Stage theme) this track was the first one I heard in the game.

The music is pulse-pounding and has a weightiness, a harshness to it that comes across as being very aggressive, perfectly appropriate given the main objective of the gameplay.

Though not head and shoulders above the competition in terms of overall quality, it’s this serious tone that makes the Golden Gate Bridge theme a standout amongst many of the more upbeat, and less memorable tracks in the Double Dragon series.

Runner-Ups:

Slum theme, China Town theme

You know those upbeat tracks I just mentioned?

Well, the Slum theme is one of them, however it is by no means forgettable.

In fact the Slum theme was used way back in the original Double Dragon as the Opening Stage theme, though unlike some NES era tunes, it seriously benefited from the increase in audio fidelity that the SNES brought to the table.

Double Dragon has an official theme music.

It’s a truly great theme that’s been used in pretty much every game in the series.

The fact that I hold this remix of the Slum theme in higher regard than the Return version of the Double Dragon theme is a testament to it’s longevity.

If the Slum theme is a prime example of a classic tune made even better, then the China Town theme should serve as a wonderful example of a completely original track taking charge and standing out amongst its more seasoned peers.

Similar in many ways to the Slum theme, in that it is strangely colorful and fast-paced despite the rather grungy subject matter of the game, the China Town theme pushes all the buttons that the former does, albeit in, arguably, more effective fashion.

The China Town theme has an element of carefree fun to it that makes it downright irresistible.

If was to name any one track in the Double Dragon series “The Best Head-Bobbing Track in the Game,” then it would probably have to be this one.

Yup, just another day riding in Azn Badger's car...

In case you’re wondering why you haven’t heard this track before, that would be because it is exclusive to Return of Double Dragon.

That’s right, bizarre as it may seem, one of the best pieces of music featured in the game wasn’t even featured in the American release.

Oh well, I got my copy, screw the rest ‘ah ya’ll.

Filed under: Games, The Best Track in the Game, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part II – Director Yen

Around 1997, Donnie Yen began directing his own films.

As I mentioned previously, the results were far from stellar.

In most cases, the storylines of Yen’s films were muddled, confusing, and often times just plain tedious, even by Hong Kong action movie standards.

Being as Donnie Yen was, at this point, already a supremely talented performer and fight choreographer, you would think he would put his best work on display in the films he directed, right?

Sadly this was not the case, just look at this example from Legend of the Wolf:

Yikes.

I don’t know how much coke they were on when they edited this, but I know someone had one hell of a time dubbing in the audio.

To be fair, the fight isn’t actually all that bad.

The fight is conducted at an incredibly frenetic pace, and some of the sparring is modestly complex, but the excessive use of confusing close-up shots and exaggerated undercranking result in a sequence that is just plain off-balance.

Although I do have to admit that the numerous “arm fencing” sequences are just plain fun.

Cinematography: It's what's for dinner.

The use of strange and experimental cinematography was rampant throughout most Donnie Yen directed films.

From the strangely artistic colored lighting in Ballistic Kiss, to the over-the-top undercranking in Legend of the Wolf, Yen was not a man afraid to deviate from the norms of Hong Kong cinema.

When you think about it, that’s actually a pretty admirable feat.

Though most of his movies were mediocre at best, (I personally thought Shanghai Affairs was his best, and even then it kind of sucked) they were always different, and never solely relied on his physical prowess to carry the show.

... Although it probably could anyway.

Check back later for “Part III – My Relationship with Mr. Yen!”

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

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