Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Mortal Kombat: Legacy Web-Series Is Up!

Remember that awesome Mortal Kombat promo movie that made the rounds on the ‘net awhile back?

Well, despite talk of lawsuits early on, as promised; the makers of said video debuted the first in a series of web exclusive episodes for a project titled Mortal Kombat Legacy.

While I’m unable to watch the video at the moment, due to supremely bad connection speeds on my folk’s computers; I figured I’d post an announcement for this given that I was really looking forward to it.

Anyway, I haven’t watched it yet; so I have no thoughts or opinions to voice on it, but I will say this:

In the few seconds of footage I was able to stream (without sound mind you) I happened to see Darren Shahlavi in the cast.

Yup, this guy.

For those that are unaware, Shahlavi is an English martial artist and actor with a decent pedigree in Hong Kong cinema, most notably/recently as the villain Twister in Ip Man 2.

While the man has, quite literally; some of the most laughable acting skills I’ve seen in awhile, he’s a tremendously talented screen fighter, so I’d be curious to see how he fares/who he plays in Mortal Kombat.

Anyway, I think I’m done now.

Feel free to post your thoughts on what you thought of this, spoilers are very much welcome given that I really won’t be able to watch this until I get another new computer…

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

Blackest Night Review

*Disclaimer* No spoilers, but just want to say that I don’t really touch on the plot AT ALL.  Too lazy…

Blackest Night is the latest in DC’s long line of major crossover events.

Unlike Crises past, present and future however, this particular storyline is distinctly more focused on the actions of the Green Lantern rather than the usual “Big Three” (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.)

Is it just me, or is Wonder Woman dead behind the eyes?

Blackest Night was written by Geoff Johns, with the event serving as a major climax in his very long, and revolutionary run on the Green Lantern franchise.

Beginning in 2004, Geoff John’s run on the series took us from the rebirth of classic Green Lantern, Hal Jordan; (as depicted in the story “Rebirth”)

to the expansion of the Green Lantern universe to accomodate power rings for every color of the light spectrum,

and finally; to the fateful prophesized day of reckoning known to the Guardians of the Universe (the overseers of the Green Lantern Corps) as the Blackest Night.

The Guardians of the Universe: Little Known Cousins to the Smurfs

Key to the build-up to Blackest Night, was the creation of the “emotional spectrum” of colored power rings.

Thanks to Geoff Johns, we now have Green for Willpower, Yellow for Fear, Red for Rage, Orange for Avarice, Violet for Love, Blue for Hope, and Indigo for Compassion.

It’s cheesy, yes; but interesting nonetheless.

Every single one of these colors has a Corps of it’s own, with distinct and interesting characters whose temperament clearly reflects their place in the emotional spectrum.

It was a revolutionary idea, and it almost single-handedly got me back into Green Lantern after almost a decade of me not caring post-Emerald Twilight.

Yes, I read it. And yes, I was too young to understand that it sucked.

Hey, I was a 90’s comic fan, I liked my Hal Jordan, particularly when he had his pimpn’ Mr. Fantastic white badger-esque hair.

Indeed, Blackest Night has been a long time coming.

I myself will admit that I came into Blackest Night just a little bit under-prepared.

Prior to reading this event, I had read John’s Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War, with a majority of the essential tidbits and factoids leading up to Blackest Night being revealed to me through reading reviews of the in-between story arcs.

Despite this, I will say this:

As long as you at least know who most of the characters are in Blackest Night, or the DC Comics universe for that matter; you probably won’t have any problems understanding the storyline, as most of it is fleshed out on the fly for you in convenient, exposition heavy “comic speak.”

Pictured: A child fluent in "Comic Speak."

That being said, is said storyline worth reading in the first place?

In short, yes; but only if you genuinely want to read this particular story.

All others, may be better spending their money/time elsewhere.

I’ll get back to that, but first let’s take a moment to go over the details of the story in question:

In short, Blackest Night is a story about the dead coming to life throughout the universe wearing Black power rings of Death, and tearing out the hearts of the living to fuel the resurrection of their mysterious leader.

For the love of God, get these people some Clearasil!

Of course, there’s a lot more to it, but I don’t feel like going into it, on account of me being lazy.

Our main characters are, surprisingly; The Flash, (the recently resurrected Barry Allen version) The Atom, Mera, (Aquaman’s hoe) and of course; Hal Jordan.

Could it be!? A moment where Aquaman is actually being cool!?

Personally, I found most of these characters to be interesting and a decent enough focal point for the narrative, but the problem for me was that I genuinely don’t give two-shits about half of them.

By half, I mean The Atom and Mera.

The reasoning behind using these particular characters, seems to be largely the fact that they have close ties to the recently deceased, making them good candidates for drama throughout.

To make a long story short, this particular ploy works, largely due to the visual impact that the various Black Lanterns have when in conflict with the heroes.

Goddamn they look cool..

It needs to be said that Blackest Night, despite being a whopping 8 issues long, twice that of Siege; the one major downside to the story is that it’s full of holes.

Seriously, half the reason I didn’t attempt to write a review until just now, was the fact that I really didn’t feel like I finished the story until I read the accompanying Blackest Night: Green Lantern.

Hell, I read that, and I still don’t feel like I’ve finished Blackest Night ’cause now I know there’s still a shit ton of holes regarding what went on with the Green Lantern Corps!

Pictured: Blackest Night

Getting back to what I said earlier, about this being a story that one needs to want to read, the problem with Blackest Night is that the 8 issue core story just isn’t a complete thought.

Characters inexplicably disappear for half the story, events are hyped that are never further explored, and in general, the whole thing genuinely feels like the writer was writing in too many directions at once.

Which of course, is exactly the case; as Geoff Johns just happened to be writing the Green Lantern series parallel to Blackest Night.

Despite the content of the collected edition being a little sparse, the writing is typical of Johns, with characters speaking with a distinct sense of voice, and entertaining banter throughout.

In particular, I really enjoyed John’s Sinestro, he truly captures the overbearing and forceful passion of the character.

Sinestro: He doesn't look like Hitler. Not at all...

Ivan Reis illustrated Blackest Night, and I doubt anyone can say that his work in it is anything short of excellent.

Characters are rendered faithfully and beautifully, with several of the Black Lantern designs coming across as truly inventive an downright creepy to boot.

The one issue I had with the art, is not actually an issue at all.

My one problem with the art of Blackest Night, was the fact that it wasn’t done by Ethan Van Sciver.

Did I mention Ethan Van Sciver was a good artist?

I understand that Reis and Van Sciver have collaborated several times, and indeed have similar styles, but for my money, Van Sciver is the real talent of the pair.

Seriously, the Van Sciver art for John’s Rebirth story arc was a huge factor in getting me back into the Green Lantern, and to this day I’m still hoping to see his work on the character again.

Anyway, I’m running out of steam, so I’ll just say this:

I liked Blackest Night, but bear in mind, I like comics.

I’m not exactly a DC kind of guy for the most part, but I liked the Green Lantern, and I liked Geoff Johns, so I gave it a shot.

After reading it, I said to myself:

“Hmm…  That was good, but where’s the rest of the story?”

That lead to me buying, reading, and enjoying (in that order) Blackest Night: Green Lantern, but after that I said to myself:

“Hmm…  That was good, but where’s the rest of the story?”

To my knowledge there are 7 Blackest Night collected editions.

Enough to require the use of an Amazon.com B6 box. I should know, I'm a certified box maker...

While I don’t intend to purchase all of those, I genuinely liked the spectacle to be found within 2 of them, and am fully prepared enjoy a 3rd.

I think that speaks volumes as to the appeal of this storyline.

When faced with reading the messy and incomplete collected edition of Blackest Night, my gut reaction was to ask for more.

That surprised me, and I feel good knowing that.

Filed under: Comics, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth

If you’re like anyone else surfing around on the intersnatch these days, then you’ve probably heard news of Kevin Tancharoen’s 8-minute pitch video for a new Mortal Kombat movie.

If not, then you should probably click the video above and check it out.

I for one was very impressed, not just by the production values and artistic design of the video, but also by it’s cast.

In case you didn’t know, Michael Jai White of Undisputed 2 and Black Dynamite fame plays Jackson Briggs,

You knew I had to use this one again.

Capoeira expert, Lateef Crowder from Tom Yum Goong and Undisputed 3 plays Baraka,

Funny, he doesn't look like a brutha' to me...

and Matt Mullins, who is currently on the American Kamen Rider TV show and will be playing Vejita in the new live-action Dragonball movie, plays Johnny Cage.

Glad to see they upped the budget for the next Dragonball movie.

To top things off, the fight choreographer of the video is Larnell Stovall, who you will of course remember conducted the fights in Undisputed 3.

And we all know how well that turned out.

From what I can tell, the basic premise that Tancharoen was working from for his “new” Mortal Kombat, is something along the lines of Se7en/8mm/Saw meets Enter the Dragon/Bloodsport.

Okay, this movie needs to be made. NOW.

That is, I believe the idea was to combine the bloody, dark, urban and “ugly,” aesthetic, atmosphere and subject matter of Se7en, and combine it with the underground fighting tournament plot-line of Enter the Dragon.

On paper, I think it’s a great idea.

Though the Mortal Kombat series of games were never really my favorite, (I was a Capcom and SNK kid) one thing I will admit about them, is that they always had a pretty impressive roster of characters.

Sure, the digitized graphics of the older games in the franchise seriously restricted the developers ability to create truly outrageous and memorable designs, and palette swapping was often out of control, but even so; most of the character designs had a lot of charm and personality to them regardless.

Jax: He's a black guy. Yeah, that's all he's got goin' for him.

I have to say, it was truly refreshing to see some of the more gruesome and imaginative character designs in the series I.E. Baraka and Reptile; be integrated into live-action in such a way as to highlight their gruesomeness.

I for one would love to see a character like Kabal, or even Kano, redone in this style.

Previous attempts at doing so in the film series were often cheap looking, and very “PG-13” in their approach, so much so in fact, that most of the costume and makeup designs were often times laughable, especially in that piece of monkey-crap, Annihilation.

Say what you will, their costumes are still better than the ones in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Some purists may object to it, but I feel that moving the Mortal Kombat series away from it’s “Outworld” elements is a good move.

I always felt that Mortal Kombat games were at their best when they kept the mysticism and inter-dimensional bullshit on the fringe instead of at the forefront of their presentation.

Goro was fun and memorable because he was the only inhuman character in the first game.

That and he was a broken-ass piece of shit that knocked you across the room anytime you tried to do anything but jump-kick his ass.

Silly Scorpion, 'told you to jump-kick his ass, but NOOOO.....

By the time we got to MK3, and we reached a point where it was becoming hard to distinguish just who the hell wasn’t some crazy fucked-up monster from Outworld, I felt like things started to get gimmicky.

No wait, THIS, is gimmicky...

Mortal Kombat: Rebirth seems like it’s trying to keep things grounded in a twisted and warped, but otherwise fairly believable reality.

No mention is ever made as to Shang Tsung being any kind of sorceror, nor are Reptile and Baraka ever made out to be anything more than malformed and psychotic men.

May I just say, that after all the internet crap about Harlequin fetuses and what not, I always figured it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to use the concept in a movie.

Congrats to Mortal Kombat: Rebirth for being the first movie I know of to actually do so.

Now here's a picture of Harley Quinn, 'cause Harlequin Ichthyosis gives me the heebie-jeebies.

So, we’ve established that, conceptually and artistically speaking, I think Mortal Kombat: Rebirth has something going for it.

But what did I think of the fighting?

In short, the action put on display in this 8-minute video is pretty much on par with some of the better American martial arts movies.

Lateef Crowder is his usual impressive self, with indications of his Capoeira skills being restricted largely to his posture and the occasional hand-plant or spin-kick.

He, along with the choreographer, seemed to play up Baraka’s fierce and brutal nature in such a way as to tone down the sleekness of Crowder’s movements, and put more of an emphasis on throwing his weight around and giving power and intent to his attacks.

His strikes, particularly his punches, were a little bit guarded and slow, a fact that may have been due more in part to the cinematography than Crowder himself.

Even so, I felt some of his punches just didn’t have the right “big-ness” to them that a character as vicious as Baraka should have had.

Crowder’s performance was pretty good for what it was, but sadly I believe he has little hope in his career of ever being cast as anything but “the Capoeira guy with the dreads.”

Hell, they already cast him as Eddy Gordo in the Tekken movie, that must have been just about the easiest casting job ever.

If you type "Eddy Gordo" into Google, Lateef Crowder is the second result. No joke.

Matt Mullins’ Johnny Cage was pretty good as well.

His movements were sharp and impressively quick, however I felt his attacks during some of the longer, and more complex sequences, were a little bit off.

While Crowder’s punches seemed to be overly restrained at times, Mullins’ seemed to come out half-cocked.

There is a 4-5 hit sequence early on wherein Mullins hits all his marks, but I get the sense he’s just putting his hands where they need to be, instead of fleshing out, and “selling” every move.

It’s a minor gripe, especially since Mullins was actually able to carry out the choreography quite well, and indeed left somewhat of an impression, but it’s still something I felt needed pointing out.

One thing worth noting is that probably the most impressive moment in the whole fight, a inside-spinning-kick, was delivered by Mullins and not Crowder.

Mullins’ form in executing this kick, compared to his somewhat wimpy movements during the longer, more contact oriented beats of the choreography lead me to believe that it may just be a lack of comfort that is holding him back.

Flashy acrobatics and kicks seem to be his forte, but not complex hand work and sparring.

The cinematography during the fight was classy and efficient, with very little unnecessary movement or trickery being emplyoed.

The angles were well selected, and some of the panning shots during the more complex sparring were very nice.

Though I can’t say I am familiar with Tancharoen’s directing skills, I have read that he is a dance choreographer and has directed several dance videos and features, which, on paper should make him well-suited to filming any sort of physical action, in particular man-to-man combat.

In all, the fight was well shot and choreographed, and I have no doubt that, given a longer production schedule, all the players involved in the film, both in front of and behind the camera, could produce something pretty impressive.

...Or they could just make this.

On the whole, I found the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth video to be quite impressive.

I feel that, should it get picked up for production, chances are it would do best as a straight-to-video feature.

The straight-to-video market has been rapidly legitimizing as of late, and given the grounded in reality, but otherwise ridiculous subject matter of Tancharoen’s concept thus far, I don’t think it would be taken as seriously in theaters as the director might hope.

Regardless, Tancharoen was fortunate to score a stellar cast for his production, one that I hope he manages to maintain if the movie ever gets picked up.

We all know Michael Jai White can fight, and we all know he can play the lead, so why not let him do both as Jax?

I would watch that, in fact I would look forward to that.

Well, those are my thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, chances are the buzz surrounding it has already past, but oh well.

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

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