Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Honestly Don’t Know What To Think About The New Fright Night

It’s funny, though I do a lot of bitching and whining about movie remakes/franchise revivals on this blog; in most cases I tend to sensationalize my reactions to increase their entertainment value.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always honest with my opinions, whatever they may be; but pretty much every post I make here has some degree of exaggeration to it.

Truth of the matter is, while I let on that all sorts of shit is sacred to me and what not, deep down I’m rarely ever more than miffed by the antics of the Hollywood bullshit factory.

Well, unless you drag Transformers into it.

You bring up Transformers 2 or 3 around me, and not only will I go on a 2 hour rant; I’ll probably end up causing a few million dollars in property damage.

That being said, I really don’t know what to think when it comes to the upcoming Fright Night remake coming out this Friday.

I want to throw a hissy hit over it, but for the life I just can’t figure out how I feel about it.

I really liked the original Fright Night.

I saw it when I was about 13, (nearly the perfect age for “that” kind of movie) and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

In my mind, Fright Night stands as perhaps the quintessential teen horror flick of the mid-80’s.

The “Rear Window with a Vampire” premise was solid.

The cast was impeccable.

The soundtrack was memorable and almost sinfully hum-able.

Most of all though, the makeup and effects work were surprisingly over-the-top and incredibly effective.

Fright Night was a great example of the familiar horror trope of a dumb story, told exceptionally well.

Despite it’s cast of name actors, and high-quality effects, Fright Night was, at it’s core; a stupid date night horror movie.

Fright Night thrived on this, reveling in every opportunity to play up the shlocky-ness of it’s premise, while at the same time wow-ing the audience with it’s undeniable special effects charms.

Pictured: The unforgettable reverse wolf transformation sequence.

As mentioned earlier, Fright Night is a film that means a lot to me.

I rarely get attached to films to the point in which I would openly defend their integrity, however in all honesty; I’m pretty sure I’d go to bat for Fright Night should the situation ever arise.

That being said, my greatest hope is that the upcoming remake does it’s predecessor proud.

Based on the (rather excessive) ad campaign for the new Fright Night, I think it’ll be okay, though probably not on par with the original.

The new one has a pretty impressive cast going for it, as well as the benefit (or “curse” if you’re a practical effects nut like myself) of modern special effects, however I think the one big strike against it is one that it really can’t help.

I hate to say it, as I myself am not quite of the original Fright Night generation; but it feels like times have changed a bit too much for a straight Fright Night remake to succeed.

The mid-80’s were a breeding ground for “fun” blockbuster horror flicks designed to entertain audiences and get teenage boys laid.

The soundtracks were dance-pop fun.

The scripts included words like “radical” and “tubular.”

The special effects budgets were bloated to the point in which rookie directors and actors were commonplace on most projects.

It was a different time, and the youth culture was in a very different place.

Thanks to Twilight, and other such dreadfully over-the-top horror teen drama fests, popcorn horror movies seem to be caught in tough spot wherein they must either be totally serious, or totally tongue-in-cheek stupid.

LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO TEEN WOLF!!!!! WAHT DAH' FAWK!!!?

The original Fright Night, like An American Werewolf in London, towed this line with exceptional grace.

While I’m on the topic, if you want an horror franchise revival being ruined by the culture of it’s time, take a look at An American Werewolf in Paris.

The movie tried to take the humor and inventiveness of the original and transpose it into 90’s youth culture, resulting in sub-par, and poorly conceived film with inferior special effects work despite the 20 year gap between the 2 movies.

What is that? A shaved monkey or some shit?

Maybe it’s the ad campaign’s fault, but something about the trailers for the new Fright Night makes it seem a little “dark” for my tastes, both visually and thematically.

Then again, given that the man that shall forever be known as McLovin is in the film, it’s hard for me to picture it being totally serious.

Oddly enough he’s cast as Evil Ed, which, if they follow the original (don’t bet on it) will mean we’ll get to see him die on-screen!

Arrrgh!  I’m rambling now, and it’s all because I honestly don’t know how to feel about this movie!

Oh well, maybe I’ll just have to go see it and finally sort this shit out…

 

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

Wolverine and The X-Men: WTF?

Huh?

Maybe it’s just me being anal about my comic book shit, but when I ran across this DVD at work today, I couldn’t help but throw up my Corporate Eyebrow in confusion.

For the sad individuals that are unaware, the Corporate Eyebrow is this:

But using the opposite eyebrow.

Strangely enough, I have difficulty executing the People’s Eyebrow

Oh well, perhaps I’m not worthy of it’s majesty.

*Ahem!* ANYWAY, my confusion in regards to this DVD cover, springs from two aspects of it:

1. The fact that the title of the TV series is Wolverine and The X-Men.

2. The fact that somebody was actually dumb enough to title this particular segment of the show “Final Crisis.”

Keep in mind, I know nothing of this cartoon, nor do I have the patience to research it.

While both of these are admittedly minor points, let’s take a moment and address this point by point, shall we?

Wolverine is not a leader of the X-Men.

Nor is he a Jew, but apparently nobody told this guy...

In the comics, Cyclops has recently attained the status of being the undisputed team/spiritual leader of the entire X-Men organization.

Tee hee, I used to like him 'cause he wore glasses...

I’m not sure how things work these days in the X-Men, (frankly I don’t give a shit) but back in the 90’s, Storm and Cyclops headed the Blue and Gold teams of the X-Men, effectively splitting command between the 2 of them.

The simplest explanation as to why Wolverine would receive the top billing in this particular X-Men cartoon, is the fact that Wolverine is an absurdly popular character that is probably better known and loved than the entirety of the X-Men universe.

Even more than Dazzler!? Surely everybody kno... Nah, who am I kidding, everybody hates Dazzler...

Personally, I’ve always liked Wolverine when he was detached from the X-Men, as he is definitely an interesting and fun character, but whenever he’s with the X-Men all he seems to do is pine for Jean Grey (living or deceased, doesn’t matter), get into cock fights with Cyclops, and have awkward moments with whatever jailbait X-Men is popular at the moment.

Yeah, I’m not kidding about that last part.

Ever hear of Illyana Rasputin, Shadowcat, Jubilee, and X-23?

Wolverine = Pedo.

Yeah, they all wanted his nuts SO bad…

Except maybe X-23, she doesn’t want nobody.

Plus, she technically is Wolverine, so I don’t even wanna’ think about the chemistry involved in the result of a “pairing” between those 2…

Oh, that's not so bad.

Anyway, I understand using the Wolverine character and name to put asses in the seats, but did they really have to shit on the X-Men name like that?

Besides, we all know Colossus is a hundred times cooler than Wolverine…

As much as I love him, we all know that Colossus would get his ass kicked if he tangled with the Juggernaut...

My other gripe about this DVD cover, was the fact that they titled this miniseries, “Final Crisis.”

Why does that bother me, you ask?

Because “Final Crisis” is the name of a very recent major DC Comics event.

*Cough!* Kind of a big deal...

Okay fine, this one isn’t so much a “gripe,” as it is a cause for confusion.

In the comics world, the word “Crisis” has a a very unique meaning.

Whenever it is spoken, any self-respecting comic reader’s mind invariably thinks “DC.”

Ever since the revolutionary 1985 release of DC’s first major crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths, the word “Crisis” has always referred to an event involving the DC comics multiverse.

Whoops! Spoiler Alert!

Needless to say, to use the term “Crisis” in a Marvel product is a major no-no in the industry.

To actually go ahead and use the full title of a “Crisis” storyline as the title of a Marvel product, is straight up blasphemy.

BLASPHEMY.

Like I said, I understand that everything I’ve been babbling about in this post is just me nit-picking, but understand this:

I was at work for 10 hours today, and this was the one element of my day that I took the time to remember.

Needless to say, it was a slow fucking day.

Maybe you’ll all get lucky and something cool with happen to me tomorrow.

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

The Best MAN!!! #7

Afternoon everybody, and welcome back to the 7th installment of The Best MAN!

Today we’re of course going to be exploring the tragically flat, and only 16-bit adventure in the linear Mega Man series, Mega Man 7.

Ah, I see we've reached the mid-90's era of Capcom's American cover art...

Before we delve into the utterly vanilla experience that is Mega Man 7, I feel it important to address one simple issue surrounding the stigma that seems to have arose in regards to this game.

Case in point:

Now, I can’t claim that this video’s (clever) views on the Mega Man series are at all that of the general public, however I feel that it should be said that Mega Man 7 is far from the worst of the Mega Man series.

*Ahem!* By now it should be obvious that that honor belongs to Mega Man 5

Pictured: Mega Man 5.

Anyway, despite Mega Man 7’s apparent reputation for being a shit-fest of epic proportions, the game actually had a decent story.

Not that that counts for anything in a franchise that puts zero emphasis on story.

In short, after Dr. Wily is thrown in jail at the conclusion of Mega Man 6, exactly 6 months later, 4 robots he had hidden in an underground laboratory wake up and blow the shit out of the city to free him.

Essentially, the plot is a carbon copy of the first half of Dragonball Z movie 7.

This was the coolest shit ever when I was in middle school... I'm not even kidding.

Coincidence?  I think not!

Nah, I’m just Joshing yah’, it probably was a coincidence.

Anyway, like any Mega Man game, the changes to the gameplay made in 7 were small, but fairly impactful.

Just not as much as in most other games in the series…

Several new characters were introduced, including Auto, Mega Man’s burly mechanic buddy:

"Pull my finger."

And Bass and Treble, the series’ obligatory evil clone characters:

PIMP.

While Auto served as little more than window dressing, Bass and Treble engaged the player at several points in the game, initially pretending to be all baby-faced n’shit, only to turn heel and bash Mega Man over the head with a steel chair.

"MY GAWD, WITH THE STEEL CHAIR!!!!"

Gameplay additions to Mega Man 7 included a new equipment store run by Eddie, wherein the player could purchase new items and abilities, and a brand new Rush adapter called “Super Mega Man” that combined the flight and power functions of the adapters from Mega Man 6.

Mega Man, GATTAI!!!!

It was also the first game in the linear series to allow the player to “charge” the weapons of all of the robot masters.

In addition to this, the game also adopted the “Intro Stage before Stage Select” mechanic that had been pioneered in the Mega Man X series, as well as set it’s own precedent by introducing the “Intermission” stage, that is; an unskippable level forced on the player after defeating 4 of the 8 robot masters.

PHARAOH MAN CAMEO!!!

As you can already tell, outside of 16-bit graphics and sound, Mega Man 7 didn’t really bring much to the table in terms of innovation.

In fact, despite the larger sprites and more detailed animations, the games’ musical compositions were actually somewhat weak for the series.

Even so, there were exceptions:

Just goes to show you that technical advancements don’t always mean much in regards to gameplay.

Mega Man 7 was not a horrible game, nor was it the worst Mega Man game, however; due to the hype and expectations surrounding it, the first 16-bit Mega Man game; it ended up being a pretty big letdown.

Even so, the games’ biggest shame is the fact that it is utterly average, serving as nothing more than a mere hiccup in the vast legacy of the Mega Man franchise.

Enough dour bullshit, let’s get down to who’s The Best MAN!

Well kiddo’, that’d have to be…

Shade Man

SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!???

This one hurt me.

Physically.

Seriously, Mega Man 7 has a decent roster of robot masters, but I really only like 2 of them.

Turbo Man and Freeze Man, those are the only 2 MEN in the game that come close to being The Best MAN.

ALL THAT IS MAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!!

So why the fuck aren’t either of them The Best MAN in Mega Man 7!?

Well, shut up and I’ll tell you.

Junk Man is the first guy I’d always kill, and c’mon; he’s fuckin’ Junk Man.

More like "Pile of Fail Man."

Cloud Man is a fattie.

Pictured: Cloud Man.

I actually had to look up Burst Man just to figure out what the fuck his gimmick was.

Note: I still don’t know what it is…

Seriously man, what the fuck is his deal?

Slash Man is cool, but uninspired, *cough!* Wolverine *cough!*

I did like the dinosaurs in his stage though...

Spring Man is lame and had one of the most frustrating stages in Mega Man history, right next Astro Man in Mega Man 8.

Pictured: Spring Man.

That leaves us with Turbo Man and Freeze Man, the only 2 MEN that I actually like in Mega Man 7.

Both are my favorite designs in the game, they have pretty cool weapons, pretty fun stages, and are tough cookies when you finally get down to stompin’ a mudhole on their asses.

Despite Shade Man’s relatively crappy design, he trumps both of my boys in every other category, hands down.

He’s got a pimp-ass weapon, he’s tough to fight, and if you hold “B” before selecting his stage, you can play a through his stage with the Ghosts ‘N Gobins intro stage music playing as the stage background music!

Not only that, but his is the only robot master stage that includes a brief story sequence wherein Mega Man runs across an injured Bass and Treble just after they fought, and lost to Shade Man.

Even though it is later revealed that Bass and Treble were in fact working for Dr. Wily, it’s worth noting that Shade Man was considered powerful enough to have believably defeated them.

That’s street cred son, you can’t buy that.

While I don’t really care much for the whole vampire schtick of Shade Man, from a gameplay standpoint, he was a very creative and unique addition to the series.

He had more attacks than most bosses, including a life draining bite and Medusa-like stone gaze.

Clearasil: It's your friend.

More importantly, his weapon, the Noise Crush, was truly awesome, as it would bounce off of walls, growing more powerful as it ricocheted.

Like I said, the thought of declaring Shade Man the best, well, anything, makes me violently ill, however I feel I’d be lying to myself if I elected one of my favorites in his stead.

Just goes to show you, that which you like isn’t necessarily what’s best.

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review: Ip Man 2

*If all you care to read about is the fighting element of the movie, please scroll down to the heading titled “Action.”*

The Story So Far…

In 2008, Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip teamed up for the 4th time to give us Ip Man.

Ip Man was of course the heavily fictionalized biographical account of the Wing Chun grandmaster of the same name.

Goofy lookin' little guy, isn't he?

Taking place in the martial arts hotspot of 1930’s Foshan, the film follows Donnie Yen’s Ip Man as he clashes with rival martial artists, and eventually comes to odds with the Japanese occupying forces.

By "comes to odds with," I mean, "beats the piss out of."

The film had an all-star cast including the likes of Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Fan Siu Wong, and up-and-comer Xing Yu.

Xing Yu: Punching Bag For the Stars

Featuring stunning fight choreography by industry legend Sammo Hung, the film was wildly successful, winning Hong Kong’s best picture and best action director awards.

In all, it was a truly great martial arts film, with intrinsic themes like pride and nationalism figuring heavily into the crowd pleasing nature of the story.

Plot Summary:

Ip Man 2 takes place in 1950, some years after the closing events of the previous film.

The story opens with Ip Man, having recently moved to Hong Kong with his family, desperately trying to eke out a living by teaching Wing Chun on a rooftop garden.

Despite posting flyers all over the neighborhood, Master Ip’s school remains empty for some time, to the point in which he can’t even pay his apartment rent.

As fate would have it though, one day an energetic young man named Wong Shun Leung (Huang Xiao Ming) approaches Ip Man and challenges him to a fight, seemingly for no other reason than to satisfy his own machismo.

BORING.

Master Ip handily defeats Leung, eventually converting the would be challenger, to a trusted and loyal pupil.

With Leung’s help, Ip Man’s Wing Chun begins to gain ground in Hong Kong, with many new students showing up every day.

That's right, bow before he wrecks your shit.

Even so, times are tough for Master Ip and his students, as money is scarce, and many of the pupils are unable to pay their dues from week to week.

Despite this, Leung’s fiery nature gets him into trouble with the local Hung Gar school, resulting in Master Ip having to step in and settle things for him.

With his fists.

Upon meeting the Hung Gar master, Hung Jan Nam, (Sammo Hung) Ip Man is told that the local martial arts union won’t allow his school to remain open unless he agrees participate in an old fashioned martial arts challenge.

Master Ip agrees to the challenge, and manages to pass it.

With his fists.

At some point we are made aware that Hung Jan Nam serves as an ambassador of sorts between the martial arts union and the British officials based in Hong Kong.

The British ask Hung to organize a venue and event for a boxing match involving their champion, Taylor “The Twister” Miller (Darren Shahlavi).

The biggest meathead the world's ever seen...

Throughout their dealings however, the British treat Hung, and in fact, all of the Chinese, as secondary citizens, often refusing to pay them or simply not speak with them.

Despite this disrespect, Hung agrees to continue working with the English, as many people’s lives depend on him for income and job security.

The boxing event goes as planned, however at one point, Twister steps into the ring during a Chinese demonstration of martial arts forms, and starts to beat and humiliate the performers.

With his fists.

This of course leads to Master Hung and Master Ip battling Twister in the name of Chinese pride.

Merry mishaps ensue.  Roll credits.

The end.

Acting:

As with the first film, Ip Man 2 casts Donnie Yen as it’s main character among an ensemble cast.

While Yen’s acting performance doesn’t really occupy that much of the film’s running time, it really doesn’t need to, as it serves to bolster one of the film’s central themes, namely that of unity.

As in Ip Man 1, Donnie Yen’s performance is calm and reserved for the most part.

In the first film, Ip Man was characterized as being a somewhat eccentric character, an outsider in the eyes of most of his more overbearing peers.

This aspect of Donnie Yen’s performance carries over very nicely from the first film, as the calmness in his performance seems even more genuine given the more energetic atmosphere of the film.

Okay, maybe "genuine" wasn't the right word...

While by no means an amazing performance, Yen does well enough to portray the character as the pillar of strength and certainty that the script demands.

I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it until the day I die, Donnie Yen is not a good actor.

He’s at his best when he has something to hit.

With his fists.

Pallets work pretty good too I guess...

Sammo Hung’s portrayal of Hung Jan Nam is probably the strongest performance in the film.

Even from a purely visual standpoint, the character is bold and striking, with a very distinct wardrobe, a flashy streak of gray going through his slicked back hair, and a physical presence like no other.

Hah, fat baby...

In dialogue with Donnie Yen and other actors, Hung exudes a strength and forcefulness that suit his character perfectly.

Hung Jan Nam is supposed to be an overbearing, “my way or the highway” sort of character, and Sammo Hung captures this beautifully.

From the perpetually accusatory tone of his voice, to the way his eyebrows go nuts every time he opens his mouth, Sammo Hungs performance is wholly complete and, sadly, painfully outclasses Donnie Yen’s limited acting ability.

ACTING.

Huang Xiao Ming’s portrayal of Wong Shun Leung is comparable to his fighting ability.

He does alright, given that he lacks experience, but there’s nothing really there that sets him apart from any of the other popstars turned actors.

I'm lookin' at YOU Nicholas Tse...

Despite this, given the sharpness to his features, and the cocky sense of youthfulness that he exudes, it’s hard to say he wasn’t well cast.

For the most part, he does well, however the role is very small, with only the most basic of “kung fu asshole” lines in the script associated with it.

The point is, he didn’t really leave an impression.

Kind of like this sack of fuck.

Xiong Dai Lin as Ip Man’s wife,  is sadly much less of an element of this film as in Ip Man 1.

In the first film, she was Ip Man’s rock, she was his foundation.

In the early scenes she sort of wore the pants in their relationship, an attitude she was able to portray exceedingly well with her physical stature and rigid body language.

Pants are overrated.

In the latter scenes we got to see the 2 of them suffer together under the tyranny of the Japanese, which she also was able to convincingly.

While she wasn’t at all a major element in Ip Man 1, she felt present for most of the important events in the story.

In the sequel she’s just pregnant scenery.

I wouldn't mind wallpaper that looked like this...

It should be said, that despite having very limited roles, Kent Cheng, Fan Siu Wong, and Simon Yam, all do exceedingly well with what they’re given to work with.

While Kent Cheng and Simon Yam basically play the same cool guys they’ve been playing for years, Fan Siu Wong surprised me yet again with his performance.

The only other movie I’ve seen Wong in was Riki Oh, and while that was fun, it did little to convince me that he had any sort of talent, physical or otherwise.

Then I saw him in Ip Man, as the Northerner Jin Shan Zao, and I was blown away!

Not only could the guy still fight, but his acting was animated and engaging.

In Ip Man 2, Wong is sadly only in a few scenes, none of which contain any fighting, however he leaves an impression with his bold manner of speaking and his wildly expressive face.

Now THAT'S a fuckin' MAN FACE!

One thing worth noting in Ip Man 2, is that the performances for the British characters are downright terrible.

From what I’ve gathered by watching a shit ton of Japanese and Chinese movies over the years, my guess is that actors that speak in English in these films are asked to speak slower than normal so as to allow the theater audience to better understand them or read the subtitles on screen.

Even so, most of the Brits in Ip Man 2, sound both childish and SLOW.

Like, Little Bear slow.

SOOOOOO FUCKING SLOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!

Darren Shahlavi’s acting performance as the villain of the film, Twister, is both embarassing and confusing to watch.

The man seemingly can only speak at one volume, namely shouting at the top of his lungs.

There are times when his character is supposed to be adopting a condescending tone wherein he sounds more like he’s about to cry or throw a tantrum.

Oh yeah, and his resemblance to Hugo Weaving is downright cosmic.

It makes me laugh because the examples pics are horrible, and both guys have the opposite expressions.

In all, pretty much all of the Brits in Ip Man 2 don’t so much as give performances, as they do fulfill every conceivable ugly stereotype of the “foreign white devil.”

Action:

*WARNING, SPOILERS MAY EXIST AHEAD!*

As with the previous film, Ip Man 2 is packed to the hilt with fight scenes of the highest quality.

Unlike the first film however, which took on a darker and more violent tone in it’s second half, thereby causing the choreography to follow suit by making the violence seem more severe, Ip Man 2 remains consistently more vibrant and energetic throughout.

Color Correction: It makes a difference.

In fact, I would feel comfortable in saying that the fight sequences in Ip Man 2 are, in general; better than in the first film.

Much like in the first film, the fights gradually ascend in quality and dramatic relevance as the film progresses.

The first fight in the film, a friendly sparring session between Donnie Yen and Huang Xiao Ming, closely mirrors that of the the opening spar between Ip Man and Chen Zhi Hui’s Master Liao from the first movie.

So when I say "Master Liao" you have no idea who I'm talking about, but when I say "That one guy that got slapped in the throat a shit ton of times" you instantly know? WTF...

Except that the sparring in Ip Man 2 is much faster paced and aggressive in nature.

From the very first fight in Ip Man 2, one can tell that, cinematographically; the choreography is going to be very different from in the first film.

The first Ip Man had a very traditional, “golden age of Hong Kong cinema” kind of style to it.

An example of the differences in cinematography.

Most every fight in the film made liberal use of full body establishing shots and sweeping pans to give a sense of reality and depth to the performances and intensify the drama respectively.

It was straightforward, clean, and every movement was distinct and easy to identify.

Ip Man 2 changes things up quite a bit by stepping up the energy level a few notches and introducing some elements of gimmickry into the mix.

GIMMICKRY.

By “gimmickry” I’m not referring to wires, as those were used to great effect in both films, but rather the use of tighter, and more selective camera angles that typically emphasize specific focal points in the action as opposed to the entire bodies of the combatants.

As a result, many of the fights consist close-up shots of limbs, or chest-up shots that feel a little claustrophobic at times.

The trade-off though, is that most of the fights consist of less posturing, and more balls-out, arms length exchanges.

DREAM COME-FUCKING TRUE.

This is not a bad thing, however it does make for fights where quick cuts are evident, and educated eyes are sometimes required to follow the choreography from punch to punch.

Speaking of punching, the blindingly fast handwork that was used to such stupendous effect in the first film is back and better than ever.

Honestly, to count the number of times Donnie Yen busts out protracted flurries of buzzsaw punches on people in this movie would be like trying to count grains of sand on the beach.

Better pack your sleeping bag kiddo...

Despite this, because of the faster and more elaborate choreography, these flurries seem much more organic, legitimately seeming like part of a larger combination of motions as opposed to a show-stopping finishing move.

In general, the choreography seems to favor motion and activity over individual, flashier strikes.

Example.

It is impressive to note that Huang Xiao Ming, despite being a popstar with virtually no martial arts background, manages to hold his own under the demands of the choreography.

That’s not to say he’s an action star in the making, but among the likes of other fighting popstars like Nicholas Tse, Jay Chou, and Shawn Yue, he did alright.

Despite my praise, Huang exhibits a stiffness that is somewhat unsettling.

Honestly, the man holds his hands up like he’s never done it before, in a mirror or otherwise.

Sammo... How could you let the kid look like such a feeb?

On top of that, his trunk displays little movement, leaving his arms to do all the work for him, causing most of his strikes to seem “hollow” and lacking in power and intent.

He also tends to plant his feet in such a way that it reeks of him being afraid to move and mess up the framing for the cinematographer.

He also seems as times to be trying so hard to remember the steps to the choreography, that he forgets to use his facial expressions to heighten the drama.

He also smells bad.

Nah, I’m just kidding about that last part, I’m sure he smells fine.

Point is, for an untrained screen-fighter, he does just about as well as can be expected, even going so far as to be somewhat impressive during his one-on-one with the Hung Gar student called Kei.

FEEB FIGHT!!!!

Donnie Yen’s fighting performance in Ip Man 2 is nothing short of spectacular.

In the first film, Donnie Yen seemed, in my opinion, to be somewhat uncomfortable with Wing Chun.

I said before, in my EPIC Tribute to Donnie Yen, that Wing Chun uses motions and principles that are contrary to nearly all of Donnie Yen’s previous performances, and in Ip Man 1, this fact was somewhat apparent.

In Ip Man 1, Mr. Yen seemed stiff at times, with some of his blocks and parries coming across as too rigid, and somewhat robotic.

Not only that, but after watching Ip Man 2, his fast hands just plain didn’t seem as fast.

Aw man, that is SO fuckin' slow...

In Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen’s performance is much more fluid and organic, with his repertoire being somewhat bolstered, as necessitated by the faster-paced choreography, and his fast punches coming out in a much more visually impressive circular loop as opposed to the straight punches from the first film.

You can't really see it, but trust me, it's awesome.

Much like in the earlier fights in Ip Man 1, Yen’s movements seem somewhat lax during the first few fights in the film, only to gradually build in momentum until he reaches peak form at the end.

Despite the inherent spectacle involved in watching Donnie Yen fighting 20 men at once in the first half hour of the film, I found his fighting to be in much better form in some of the latter scenes.

The centerpiece of the film is a series of one on one bouts between Donnie Yen, and 3 masters of various martial disciplines, with the last being Sammo Hung.

In addition to this, the fights take place atop a convincingly rickety dinner table surrounded by upturned chairs.

The first of these masters, we’ll call him “Blinks,” utilizes what looks to be some sort of Mantis Style kung fu variant.

His strikes are wild and employ the full force of his body via fancy kicks and aerial maneuvers.

The choreography here is a bit choppy, as Blinks’ movements are a little uncoordinated and not all that convincing when he’s on the wires.

YOU FOOL! How could you let Uncle Cheng back on the wire rig so shortly after his surgery!?

Even so, the fight is bolstered by the use of the table as a prop, as well as a pretty solid piece of music by composer Kenji Kawai backing it.

It should be noted that the soundtrack for Ip Man 2 is spectacular, and really served to dignify the movie despite it’s somewhat silly last half.

Pictured: The silly last half.

The second fight in the table scene is between Donnie Yen and a master that employs what appeared to be some form of Baguazhang.

"Walking the circle"

This particular master’s movements were slicker and more tactile than Blinks’, resulting in a fight conducted at a somewhat slower pace, but with better defined movements.

A highlight of this fight is watching the Bagua fighter show off his limberness and float in and out of stances with an almost otherworldly grace.

"And then, without warning, Uncle decided to up and take a shit, right there on the dinner table..."

Again, the music is great during this scene.

Despite their limited fighting presence in the film, both Blinks and the Bagua fighter come across as extremely animated and well-defined characters that were fun to watch.

“Haha, Sammo Hung gets the big drum.”

That’s what I said the first time Mr. Hung’s music cue sounded and he appeared on screen.

Rest assured, his fighting performance in Ip Man 2 is certainly worthy of the big drum.

Sammo Hung’s first fight is a brief but masterfully choreographed battle with Donnie Yen at the end of the table sequence.

The fight is meant to portray the 2 as being evenly matched, and as such there is no real contact throughout.

Well, aside from maybe this.

The sequence is a prime example of one of my favorite elements of Hong Kong style choreography, namely the complex and fast-paced sparring and handwork.

Nearly every strike launched in this sequence is parried in some way, resulting in intense exchanges within arms reach for nearly entire duration of the fight.

During this sequence, the difference in style between Hung Gar and Wing Chun is evident pretty much from the first punch.

Pictured: The first punch.

Sammo’s strikes are wider, more circular, and ultimately more form based than the relatively straightforward nature of Donnie’s Wing Chun.

In addition to this, Sammo also assumes a number of stances throughout the fight, most notably a horse stance towards the end.

The whole sequence is a delight to watch, with an intense music score, and a balls-out, almost Dragonball Z-esque finale that had me giggling like a 5 year old.

Pictured: The Finale.

The fights in the last half of the movie deal exclusively with Darren Shahlavi’s boxer character fighting against Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen, in that order.

Shahlavi’s performance, as a boxer, is not the best I’ve ever seen.

The man has a pretty good resume for fighting roles in movies, especially in the 90’s, however the only one I know of that cast him as a boxer, was I Spy, which had him facing off against Eddie Murphy.

What, you thought I was fuckin' with you?

The fights in I Spy were a joke.

Sadly, the film was not.

As a boxer in Ip Man 2, Darren Shahlavi’s movements are a little bit off.

His footwork is atrocious, in the sense that he doesn’t really have any.

More importantly though, I think the real problem isn’t any fault of Shahlavi’s, but rather that of Sammo Hung, the choreographer.

Hong Kong style choreography has a look to it, a method to it, that just doesn’t represent boxing very well at all.

It emphasizes wide and showy motions for the sake of making the movements more visible and theatrical, while boxing does exactly the opposite.

Unless of course you're Sakio Bika.

Fast and compact strikes, devoid of wasted motion are the objective in boxing, and as such, it doesn’t translate to choreography very well, Chinese or otherwise.

Not only that, but the parrying and blocking that I love so much in Chinese choreography, is something you just plain don’t see in boxing.

*Sigh* Unless of course you're Winky Wright...

Slipping and ducking are the more common methods of defense in boxing, as opposed to letting your opponent manipulate and displace your hands AKA your only weapons.

Despite his fighting not really having any boxing science to it, Shahlavi’s brawling and overall presence is actually quite impressive.

I felt Shahlavi’s first fight in the film, against Sammo Hung, was actually the better exposition of his skills as a performer.

C-C-C-COUNTER!!!!

The fight is shot in such a way as to spotlight Sammo, however Shahlavi makes a decent impression.

His fighting has a wild intensity to it that’s mostly foreign to Hong Kong movies.

His movements are aggressive and pressuring, with a shit ton of scowling, flexing and grunting thrown in for good measure.

Oh no, he's totally not flexing. Not at all...

His fight with Sammo works, not only because the fighting is good, but mostly because of the drama of the situation.

The idea is that, Sammo does well in the beginning due to his skills, however the inherent physicality of his opponent eventually begins to weigh down on him.

The fight is melodramatic as fuck, but manages to work on a purely visceral level.

Ah wrestling, I can make references to it from just about anything.

The final battle in the film is, of course, a grudge match between Donnie Yen and Darren Shahlavi.

The whole thing is a bloody and melodramatic rollercoaster that leaves you hating the British and loving the fuck out of the Chinese.

Pictured: Why I hate the British.

It’s great fun.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it to see Donnie Yen get his face punched in for a change.

Some screen fighters have a tendency to not take hits with as much zeal as they probably should.

This is typically evident amongst “baby face” screen fighters that rarely, if ever, play villainous roles.

This would include the likes of Jet Li, Steven Seagal, and in rare cases, Donnie Yen.

You see that little cut on his forehead? That's the only fuckin' hit he took in this entire epic fuckin' fight!

Ip Man 1 and 2 represented some of the rare instances in which Mr. Yen didn’t really take hits all that well.

Actually, the real problem was the fact that he never really got hit in both movies.

Do you know how many times Hiroyuki Ikeuchi hit Donnie Yen during the end fight in Ip Man 1?

3 times.

*Gasp!* He's got a bloody lip!

Well, thank God for the end of Ip Man 2, ’cause I tell yah’, Mr. Yen takes a whuppin’.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t take his licks half as good as Sammo Hung.

Then again, nobody does, except for maybe Mick Foley.

Mick Foley on the average Tuesday.

The end fight in Ip Man 2 has a very comfortable sense of ebb and flow to it.

Unlike in Undisputed 3, (see review here) where the final fight felt like it adopted the pace it did because it was convenient to do so, Ip Man 2’s fight seems to have been carried out the way it was because it made sense to.

The whole idea behind the fight, I think, is that the physicality of Shahlavi is a constant advantage, while the technical and innovative skills of Donnie Yen’s Ip Man are supposed to be a brief counter to it.

Um, pretty sure he meant to do that. Yeah....

In other words, Ip Man is technically losing the fight throughout, however, whenever he is able to stymie Twister with new angles and techniques, he can briefly turn the tide until Twister figures him out again.

Yeah, pretty sure that's a new angle.

It’s an interesting and artful way to compose a fight that, thankfully, results in something much more than a Rocky IV-esque slugfest.

The final “comeback” sequence of the fight is beautifully edited, and yes, set to a wonderful piece of music.

I won’t spoil the details of it here, but I will say this, it may go on just a second or 2 too long, but it makes a fair amount of sense and is fucking awesome to watch, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

Seriously, if I had been in the theater for the big climax of Ip Man 2, I’d probably be yelling, “FUCK YEAH!”

Oh well, why not....

Ip Man 2 is not as good as it’s predecessor.

What begins as a traditional martial arts film, quickly devolves into a shameless rip-off of Rocky IV.

That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable film.

I found most of the performances to be very good, and the fights were downright amazing at times.

The difference between the 2 films, is that Ip Man 1 had a great deal of heart, while it’s sequel attempts to artificially manufacture it by toying with our basest of emotions.

Even so, Chinese melodrama and nationalism has a way of pushing just the right buttons for me, and in the case of Ip Man 2, it worked.

It made me giggle in disbelief at how silly some of it’s dialogue and plot points were, but I bought into it nonetheless.

Even if it’s “heart” is fake, I appreciate that Ip Man 2 at least attempts to have some.

Thanks Ip Man 2, for not being Transformers 2.

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