After a long hiatus, I’m back with a vengeance (hopefully) after some getting back into the swing of things here at college. This is my senior year, and this blog better take off, or I’m gonna be an English major out roaming the streets like a drifter. That’s kind of a joke and kind of not… Anyways…
I don’t remember this movie that clearly, but if I watched it, I like to give a little bit of an impression on it. From what I remember, Election is a Chinese movie about the election of a gang member to lead a sect of the Triads. It’s Lok (Simon Yam) versus Big D (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), and the stakes are high. The old ass bastards of the Triads select the member to lead the gang for two years, and the world is a changing. With Lok’s commitment to hard work and Big D’s commitment to bribes, it all comes down to who sides with who.
There’s some inter-gang fighting, some martial arts, and a whole lot of dramatic dialogue (from what I remember). The movie was a bit dark, but certain parts lagged when it came to moving the film along. It really didn’t stand out to me, and that’s probably why it hasn’t stuck in my head these last two months. I’ll probably just leave it at that. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and I’m sure it was a good movie, as most foreign films are. The ending was memorable, and it was cool to see a foreign perspective on the Triads instead of an American one.
I was happy to sit down and watch the second Ip Man after having watched the first, enjoying the story with interspersed martial arts fight scenes throughout. With more of a focus on story over choreography, this one didn’t catch my attention as much as I would have liked. It wraps up like Cinderella Man and makes you feel all good inside, but I didn’t have any of those jaw dropping moments. Let’s just get to the plot, shall we?
In this one, Ip Man (Donnie Yen reprises his role) has moved to Hong Kong after beating back the Japanese years before. He has plans to start his own martial arts school, but no disciples seem to be interested. With money problems and a
Two masters goin’ at it.
suppressive British government, Ip Man must maneuver his way through life, following his principles and maintaining a happy family. But it’s not all easy going for the Ip Man.
I really was surprised how this film focused more on story rather than substance. It had all the elements of a triumph of the will story without all the fight scenes and technique. My impression of Wing Chun from this film is one of precise and calculated moves, more than the clever and wily style of other martial arts styles. There aren’t flashy kicks or the use of elbows or knees, it is all more in the quickest
Donnie Yen, as refined as ever.
way to take someone out. I do appreciate that though. Donnie Yen shows off how quick he can be in a flurry of punches I’ve never seen demonstrated in a Kung Fu movie before. I give him his due for that.
The acting is just as good in this film as in the last. But I’m talking more about the Chinese actors than the English speaking ones. Although I’m pretty sure that Brian Burrell is living my dream of being a white man from America living in an Asian country. My country of choice, though? Thailand. Gotta give it up for the Muay Thai and Thai food. (Volcano chicken all the way.) But anyways, the English speaking actors (with as few of them as there probably are in China) just took things over the top and need to work on delivery. This is a common problem though in foreign films, so I don’t blame them too much. They were better than some.
I do appreciate the message the Ip Man films send to a wider audience than just China. The oppression felt in China has
I gotta get me one of those…
been quite prevalent in the last 100 years by foreign countries and bigger world powers. It has been a triumph over the bully in the last century, and China knew how to depict that. I give props to Wilson Yip for doing a good job in that department. I feel for the Chinese in this film and the way that most people look down on Chinese martial arts. Hell, martial arts in general. But I’m pretty sure, other than stamina, that any martial arts expert could take out a boxer with the right moves. Like me and all the other martial arts enthusiasts out there, I appreciate martial arts in all its capacity. Asia will always dominate in my heart.
In a different twist I wasn’t expecting in this film, I was touched more than inspired to do martial arts. The music was good and uplifting, the cinematography wasn’t bad, and the Wing Chun kept it brief and brutal. Not much to complain about, but I still do love the fight scenes from the first movie more. 7.4 out of 10.
And now I begin the journey of slobbering and raving all over The Matrix series. You know those experiences in movies when, after it’s all over, you want to believe what you saw is real? I had that. And the insane desire to practice martial arts moves. I can say with pure conviction that this movie was the exact point where I defined
That’s a stunner right there.
myself as a person. My love for action/martial arts films started here. My love for metal also started here. With how I’m saying this was such a definitive movie in my life, how can it not be considered amazing and a game changer?
For those who don’t know what The Matrix as a movie/concept is, I’m not gonna reveal too much, but I’m going to talk about this movie at great length. So sit back, relax, and be ready to jump into that rabbit hole.
The Matrix is the story of Neo (Keanu Reeves), a computer hacker by night and a computer programmer by day. The duality between his life is cleverly dictated by colors and clothing as well as surroundings. On a constant search for Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Neo must steer two lives as Mr. Anderson and Neo in order to bring some semblance to his life. But he discovers something he may not have expected. In a chance encounter with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo realizes the truth about the turn of the century world we live in even as we speak.
In a world so heavily controlled by technology and computers, it isn’t any wonder that a film with complete computer
Black is back.
dependence would be created. It adds an element of mystery to it when the creators of the film, the Wachowski Brothers, are really not well known at all. Wanting to keep their own privacy, it seems as if these brothers know something about the world they’re not supposed to tell…
He is the one. (How many times have you seen this homaged in movies?
I truly love all the influences that the Wachowski Brothers drew on in order to make this movie. Anime style world and immersion, sci-fi concepts and futuristic ideas of control and advancement, Kung Fu fight scenes, even turn of the century CG effects and camera techniques. This movie, in 1999, was the true game changer when it came to creating a whole new era of cinematography and special effects through computer graphics. This movie was well thought out in all aspects and stands as one of the last true bastions of original thought in cinema. Stand aside Inception, you took your “original” ideas from The Matrix. (The whole time I was sitting in the theater at Inception, I thought hmmm, this seems familiar… A dream within a dream? More like, are we within the Matrix?)
She wrecks pretty hard in this one.
Some people criticize the first film for creating this amazing start to a story with original story and unconventional means of explanation. Then the second half of the film deals with guns and fighting, turning into a traditional action film. That is EXACTLY what I wanted from this film. I am a sucker for great fight scenes and lots of blood and carnage. This movie made me think at the same time that it delivered in a visually stunning way. When you can cross genres like this film did, you know you created something unique.
Add to wonderful things about this film: acting. You got a great cast that each person has done a handful of works, but not that well known. You got Laurence Fishburne, a man who will always been seen as
The greatest fight scene of all time.
Morpheus. His ability to act as sensei and grandmaster of knowledge and leadership shines in this film. Joe Pantoliano as Cypher. He did some work before this, but I felt this was a springboard for a lot of actors to get bigger and better work heading into the 2000’s. His “cheesy action lines” felt well delivered, as did every line in this film. This is one of those movies in which every line feels original, as if Neo is awaking to a world where everything is new and fresh. That’s excellent. Carrie-Anne Moss is the sexy, badass, femme-fatale chick who rocks the short haircut and kicks in bullet time. I had no idea who she was, but this movie made me aware a woman can be just as cold and calculated in a film like this. Cue every other female hero in a movie after this one.
A world gone wrong.
And then we come to Keanu Reeves as Neo. People complain he didn’t do well. People make fun of Keanu Reeves in general as always playing that dumbass Ted from the Bill & Ted movies. I would say he lost the surfer accent in this movie and really took the reins. His character dictates the film and discovers himself throughout the series, regardless if anyone thinks Keanu is a good actor. Here’s the thing though. Could you imagine anyone else in the role of Neo? Will Smith turned it down because he felt he wasn’t mature enough of an actor to do the role. And Nic Cage was offered the role. As amazing of a movie as that would’ve been, it wouldn’t have been as good. I think the Wachowski Brothers made the best choice possible. Of anyone.
So you got the great acting, the amazing cinematography and effects, and an amazing storyline. What more could you need? ENTER THE AMAZING SOUNDTRACK. Don Davis absolutely
Mind bending with Aang. (Am I right?)
created the best score possible to set the tone for this movie. An amazing brass section to create revelation moments throughout the film, making the jumps and feats seem that much more badass. Quick trills and a pounding bassline when needed just to make you wish you were onscreen, in the Matrix, doing what Neo is doing. When a soundtrack, not even the songs used, can pump you up that much, that is an award winning musical score.
And then there’s the songs from the film. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Rage Against the Machine… Talk about all the 1990’s greats that have exploded into the 2000’s. This movie made “Calm like a Bomb” at the end feel like the only song anyone could ever
I’m calm like a bomb.
end a film with. So kick ass. When I heard those ending credits roll, I knew what kind of music would define my life for the rest of it. Superb.
So combine all these outrageously amazing aspects into one film and create a series out of it? You have me hooked for life. I would consider this in the top three movie trilogies of all time, probably #1 of all time. Nothing gets better than this if you love movies. No question. 10 out of 10. Check it out to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes (I also love Alice in Wonderland. Go figure.)
This movie may hold its place solidly in British Comedy, but this movie has one of the best final action sequences of all time. As a kid I fantasized after watching The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, etc. about busting in on some thugs and being strapped to the teeth. You know that scene I’m talking about:
I’m one of those guys who can make the auto gun noise with my mouth and dived onto my bed while shooting two finger guns through the air. I love all action movies and guns, swords, and martial arts really get my blood flowing. When you have an homage/spoof/comedy movie like this that lets out the little kid in you who fantasized about riding into town on a horse and lighting up the bad guys, you have come to the right spot.
You may not have come to the right spot if you don’t like a bit of British humor… or at least 2 hours of it. If you’re anticipating the final showdown and you have to wade
The Sandford Police Service.
through two hours of well crafted action jokes and situational comedy, that might kill it for you. Not for me.
So this is another in the Cornetto Trilogy from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and they just keep getting better. Their next one on the list to end the trilogy is “The World’s End”. Maybe more zombies? Who knows… All I know is that they are fantastic. For the childhood that I had where Star Wars, action films, cartoons, and sci-fi knowledge was a everyday thing, this hits home. Very close to home. And I loved it.
Heaven’s fallen Angel.
Simon Pegg plays Police Officer Nicholas Angel (No. 777, if you didn’t get it already). He is the best on the force in London (he’d rather I say “police service” because it comes off as less aggressive) and is making all the other officers look bad. With the recommendation of all three superiors (Cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy), Nicholas says goodbye to his former GF (played by Cate Blanchett in a white CSI outfit) and heads to Sandford Gloucestershire. (A fictitious name for a police situation town when running drills/scenarios.)
When Nicholas comes to Sanford, he is blown away by the life of the small town chum. The police station sees no action and Sanford is considered the safest town in England. Headed by Constable Frank Butterman (Jim
Broadbent) and his son Danny (Nick Frost), Nicholas stumbles upon a bunch of “accidents” that could be nothing short of murders. Who is he to suspect? And who is he to trust? And finally, who is he gonna shoot up first?
I saw this movie in theaters after falling in love with Shaun of the Dead, I had to see it the first weekend out. I about died laughing every 15 minutes of the movie (usually more often). This movie has a lot more punchlines per minute than Shaun had, but every bit just as good. They watched over 150 action films to get the script to be just right (insert their own British flavor and Bam!). This movie went to great lengths to be successful, and rightly so. It delivered on all movie going levels. Entertainment. To the extreme.
There are a lot of great British actors in this movie as well. Obviously the buddy buddy duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. You’ll never see two other actors onscreen who seem like they’re two best friends doing exactly what they wanna do.
Lunch. Dat. Shit.
They are living their dream making these movies. As I mentioned before, my idol Steve Coogan had a small part beside Martin Freeman (Tim from the Office) and Bill Nighy, the funniest old British man. The Andes as they were referred to, Paddy Considine (you might recognize him as Ross from The Bourne Ultimatum) and that great famous son, Rafe Spall. He lost a lot of weight and did some growing up to play the other Andy in this film, and I loved him.
This movie has the wit and fast cuts you’d expect from an action film. All the guns, action, and cheesy action comedy (combined with some really clever comedic work) make this one of the best comedies of the 2000’s (right beside Shaun). You won’t see comedies this entertaining and perfect come along that often, and also featuring a former James Bond, Timothy Dalton. It looks like a lot of fun was had with this film (with plenty of homages to other films) and it really is a laughable thrill ride with slangin’ guns. Perfection in a barrel. 9.7 out of 10.
In what was considered Jet Li’s breakout American performance, I was a bit disappointed. (I personally though Lethal Weapon 4 really showcased a lot more skills…) The plot is just a crude, urban sampling from Romeo and Juliet. There were minimal stunt/fight scenes. Overall it wasn’t as action packed as the cover had led me to think. I guess I should’ve
An awkward couple?
expected half-assed amounts of martial arts from the director of Exit Wounds, Doom, and Street Fighter. Thanks a lot, Andrzej Bartkowiak…
Let’s just examine the plot to get a what bothers me about this movie. Two warring families. You have the Sing family, led by Ch’u Sing (Henry O). Then you have the black family led by Issak O’Day (Delroy Lindo. He’s that intelligent black man you see in a lot of films as a stock character actor. The smart version of Ving Rhames.) O’Day? What kind of last name is that for a black mafia family? And when have black gangs ever organized like the mafia in the first place? Weird…
This is the second time in a film I’ve seen a guy throwing a girl around…
So yes, I get the two warring families with Jet Li and Aaliyah in the middle. They don’t really love each other at first and you never get that onscreen chemistry from them. Never even a kiss. Just a hug. What I find weird is that they shot the kiss scene (that could’ve been placed anywhere in the film) and they chose to cut it out. Racist anyone? The screeners said it was awkward… Hmm…
Anyways, Jet Li is Han Sing, escaped from a high security prison in Hong Kong. He creatively escapes during one of the cooler fight scenes in the film, but how does he escape the country and make it all the way to Oakland? There is a real lack of police interference in this movie… Aaliyah is a beautiful young actress who (after watching this and The Queen of the Damned) really was taken too quickly from the
It’s all about the shades for Wong.
silver screen. She wasn’t like other R&B actresses onscreen who kinda flaunted their sex appeal. She came across as the cute girl next door you could believe and fall in love with. (Not so much in The Queen of the Damned, but just as good in that movie too.)
A beautiful and tragic young actress.
So Jet Li makes it to Oakland to discover something fishy going on with his father’s gang enterprise. His brother Po (Jon Kit Lee) has been murdered and Han Sing is on the case to find out what happened. (He used to be a police officer. Jackie Chan anyone?) The two star crossed lovers meet (if you can call them lovers) and their families war around them. With some betrayal and only the slightest bit of martial arts, this movie comes to its conclusion: happy ending.
But it wasn’t such a good ride to the happy end. Coming from a 2000 film, the ghetto speak was tired and old. If I had watched it when it had came out, I might be saying something different. But all the dawg’s and yo’s really wore on me… especially when the Chinese gangs used that slang, AND if showed up in
Some of that minimal martial arts.
their subtitle translations for some strange reason… I don’t think they have that kind of slang in the Chinese language…
And how racist this film was! It wasn’t just the speech, it was the music. Sure you have an all star cast doing the R&B hits for all the black gang scenes, but when it comes to cutting over to a scene with Jet Li or someone in the Asian gang, classical oriental music. The clangs and bows of what every person in America hears when they go into a Panda Express. There couldn’t be an infusion or anything more original for both gangs? This movie just seemed like a compare and contrast of races. The only crossover was that some black gang members miraculously knew proper Karate/Wushu form for no reason. Fancy that…
Get your head around that…
The acting was fine and I had no major complaints about that. But for some reason, and I don’t know how to put it into words, Anthony Anderson (co-star of some of the Scary Movies… and Kangaroo Jack…) just rubbed me the wrong way. He wasn’t funny, and seeing him get his ass handed to him by Jet Li just seemed satisfying… Overall though, the whole movie put me in a sour mood. I’ve seen better from Jet Li. This movie is one of those Asian/American films that takes the whole action/martial arts thing for granted. It sickened me a little bit. It was just too dated for me. They should’ve changed the title too… Romeo Must Die? More like A Vague Racist Action Movie About Building A Football Dome. There you go, all fixed. 4.3 out of 10.
In one of the more visually stunning and passion filled Muay Thai martial arts films I’ve seen, Yanin Vismistananda performs far better than I could have expected. As the leading heroine in Raging Phoenix (AKA, Jeeja Due Suai Du), Yanin shows more heart and courage (with some more brutal and flashy moves) than she did in Chocolate (although I love that movie). Panna Rittikrai does it again with some amazing stunt coordination in this one.
Deu (Yanin: also spelled Dew for some reason…) is a down and out on her luck drummer in a punk band. She has scummy boyfriends and is constantly being fooled. (She’ll say this at length in the movie.) With trust issues and an appetite for the drink, Deu gets herself in some trouble. After being chased down in a parking structure, Deu
She is both pretty and deadly.
gets away by chance with the help of a devilishly good looking and bearded Thai man (He’s also in Bangkok Knockout. I didn’t know he was one of Panna’s main boys, but Pod is in this one too… Review coming much later). He turns out to be called Sanim (Kazu Patrick Tang) and he’s good at taking down thugs with bladed kangaroo legs.
Look at that handsome man. Who wouldn’t fall for that?
With bringing her back to their hideout, Sanim encounters some unexpected collateral. Deu meets Pig Shit (Nui Saendaeng) and Dog Shit (Sompong Lertwimonkaisom), two fellow fighters with an agenda. What Deu becomes so fascinated with is a drunken style of fighting (made up for the film) known as Meyraiyuth. With montage scenes and lots of drinking, Deu and the gang take on the Jaguar Gang, a bunch of thugs looking to kidnap women just like Deu for nefarious purposes.
What I liked most about this movie was the interesting new style of fighting. Called Meyraiyuth, this badass feet of fury technique is actually an infusion. Mix classically ballin’ brutal Muay Thai finishing moves with a Capoeira dancing style that allows you to outwit your enemy and you can easily evade attacks with a lot of trauma. There are some great fight locations and a lot of newly
Pretty dope, right?
invented kicks and finishing moves that always surprise me in these Muay Thai action films. When you see one of these you expect the same old stuff, but Panna Rittikrai always has something new up his sleeve.
This was news to me too.
The acting was fine in this one, with the exception of a few actors. But that’s not what these movies are about, right? It’s about the artful technique of martial arts. It’s got the word “arts” right in there. Who cares about the plot and talking if the fans aren’t there for that? There were some cheesy CG effects and one or two strange other things, but the movie held its own as a story of love, loss, and the channeling of pain into what you do with your life. Yanin “Jeeja” sold it and it all worked out in the end.
And the end is what I wanna talk about. I’m used to these Muay Thai films with the main hero busting down hundreds of guys with lethal finishing moves, one right after the other. But this movie focused on a handful of major fighters taking on their counterparts in some long, well developed fight scenes. And that’s what makes the end so brutal. In her pain and despair, Yanin channels death into her palms and DESTROYS the main villain. She absolutely does some of the best, most lethal moves I’ve ever seen that are actually doable in the realm of physics. I was welling up with tears with the impassioned music and the fists ripping across the screen. That doesn’t happen often, but I know when I’ve found a new favorite fight scene. So, with that in mind, I give Raging Phoenix a lethal 7.6 out of 10.
I’m a huge sucker for anime that involves martial arts. Heck, for anything that involves martial arts. I dream about one day becoming a disciple of a certain martial arts form, but that day may be behind me (my only training was trying lethal moves out on my sister, in a joking manner of course). But the adrenaline and inspiration that martial arts injects into me makes me feel like I can do anything. And a character like Kenichi: History’s Mightiest Disciple proves it.
Although this anime boasts 50 episodes (and OVA’s to come), it is rather simple and extols the teachings and techniques of martial arts. Kenichi “Weak Knees” Shirahama (Josh Grelle) is just what his nickname suggests. Picked on all the time at school and always outcasted, Kenichi joins the school’s Karate Club in order to become stronger. After being
Kenichi and the masters of Ryozanpaku!
threatened by the biggest kid in the club, Kenichi is worried for his life. And his alien looking friend Haruo Niijima (Todd Haberkorn) confirms this.
Until one day when Kenichi’s entire life changes. Rescued by a new transfer student to the school, Miu Furinji (Carrie Savage), Kenichi discovers a way to fight back against all those bullies. Joining the Ryozanpaku dojo, Kenichi becomes the sole disciple and strongest hero by story’s end.
Miu, the boob action in the show. Pretty ridonk fighter though.
What I liked most about this show, other than the martial arts, is the sensei’s of the dojo. There’s Hayato Furinji (R. Bruce Elliott), the wizened leader of the gym who is basically unstoppable. Although he’s not around, he supports Kenichi and his granddaughter Miu. There’s Shio Sakaki (Christopher Sabat) the drunken comedy and Karate master. His punches are fierce and so is his standoffish personality. He likes Kenichi like a father (although he already has one) and pushes him to do better. Apachai Hopachai (Sonny Strait) is the dumb guy in the group. He’s lovable and friendly, but he doesn’t know his own strength. Always kicking Kenichi into the atmosphere, he loves calling out his name when he performs Muay Thai (my favorite. Period.) Shigure Kosaka (Trina Nishimura) is the weapons expert of the group. She doesn’t talk much, but makes up for it with quick sharp wit with her blade. Kensei Ma (Vic Mignogna) is an interesting old man. Bald and brazen, he brings the pervert aspect into the anime. Always taking pictures, he still finds time to teach Kenichi Chinese Kenpo (softer martial arts). And last but not least, Kenichi’s main teacher, Akisame Koetsuji (Kent Williams). His intelligence and artful technique pervade every aspect of his life. He can usually be seen forcing Kenichi to tow him around on a tire attached to a string through the city streets.
The Shinpaku alliance!
And there are far more characters than that that add spice to this show. As I mentioned before, Niijima is a wonderfully slithery character. His art of running away never fails, and his PDA never fails on recon. Todd Haberkorn brings a wildly raucous character to life with his evil alien features. And then there’s Ragnarok. Considered all to be Kenichi’s arch rivals, Kenichi must defeat them in order to keep from dying (or anything else terrible). One of my personal favorites is Hermit (Eric Vale) this solemn and quiet character has a masterful technique and an iron will. Eric Vale does a wonderful job as usual as a character who never gives up with a great dramatic voice. Jerry Jewell plays a ferociously sinister character I can’t really talk about, but he’s worth waiting for. And J. Michael Tatum does a voice I didn’t recognize at first with Ikki Takeda, the boxing beauty with shiny blue hair.
With all of these wonderful Funimation voice actors and so many characters, nothing could be better. And then you get down to all the fighting. Although some of it may be unrealistic and come with explosions of light and unheard of power with your fists, the technique is there. I’ve learned more from watching Kenichi than I have from anything else. I know moves, fluid techniques, and trick moves too. I know their names and why they’re significant, I might as well have just
Niijima and his wonderfully alien good looks.
watched a Discovery Channel show on it. And from so many different countries! China, Japan, Thailand, and any other Asian country that may have been mentioned. This show displays a sort of U.N. like congregation of the wonders and majesty of martial arts and brings them together in one wonderful show.
This show may floor you.
The plot is simple and straightforward, pulling no punches (pun-ch intended). Kenichi must systematically defeat and conquer enemies and his fears in order to become the best. What more of an archetypal story do you need? Throw in a whole lot of comedy, boobs, and amazing fighting technique, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is one of the best shounen out there. Get some of that kick ass. 8.3 out of 10.
I have to say at first I was a bit skeptical about this movie. From the get go, the Iron Monkey/Robin Hood hero is flying through the air pulling off some ridiculous kicks and spin moves. It reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but in more of a comical way. And then I let all those inhibitions go and enjoyed the movie for its technique and visual thrill. By the end, I was pumped up, and inspired to go downstairs and try out some moves on my little sister. But it was 2 in the morning, and I was to lazy to beat up on a sleeping person.
Iron Monkey is the epic tale of a man with a hidden, superhero-like identity. Yang Tianchun (Yu Rongguang) is a medical doctor. He treats the poor for no fee and makes the rich pay what they feel is necessary to heal their ailments. Nights, Yang
Donnie Yen, the master.
moonlights as The Iron Monkey. He sneaks into the evil Governor Cheng’s (Jean Wang) chambers and steals from him. He defeats a dozen guards and four Shaolin monks. It is apparent that no one can stand up to the power of The Iron Monkey.
Wrought with despair at having any of his massive plunder taken, Governer Cheng orders the head of his guard, Fox (Yuen Shun-yi) to search and find anyone who could be the Iron Monkey. When a foreign physician/rapist martial artist rolls into town, Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) and his son/disciple Wong Fei-hung (Angie Tsang) are arrested. Noticing Kei-ying’s power, the Governor enlists him to find the Iron Monkey, or he will leave his son in the dungeons forever. It is up to Donnie Yen in his fight for his son and the well being of a town who benefits from the one man he is trying to capture. Let the chase begin.
Angie Tsang, what amazing things she did with that stick.
After getting over the wire propelled stunts and kicks, I came to really enjoy the characters and the setting for this film. A remake from back in the 1970’s, this movie went farther and more elaborate than I’m sure the other film did. Based on a myth of the Wong father and son’s interaction with an “Iron Monkey” like character, a real mystery is placed around a Batman like character.
All of the fight scenes are dope. Every one is unique and takes place in a different location that utilizes the surroundings to pull off a spectacularly choreographed fight scene. And there are 4 martial artists whose skills are showcased. It’s not all about the Monkey. I
An evil power looms…
found that to be a relief from films that focus on the protagonist and no one else. The Iron Monkey actually had less fight scenes than anyone else!
And here’s another thing that blew my mind. Donnie Yen’s son in the film is actually played by a girl! Angie Tsang is on Hong Kong’s national Wushu martial arts team. She won silver in the Asian Games and Gold in the Wushu Championships. And the whole time I thought she was some malnourished little boy. I’m always thrilled to see a young woman destroying big burly guys on camera with skills she actually can do and will do in order to defend herself and utlimately kick you ass (i.e. Chocolate). A big bravo and props sent Angie’s way.
What a great last fight scene. Get some of that.
With an almost over the top plot with lots of great comic relief and fight scenes, this movie is something I would recommend to a lot of first time martial arts movie watchers. It has the plot in order to draw you in and then blows you back with the martial arts action. Donnie Yen is a martial arts destroyer as usual, and I plan to do a lot more reviews of his movies in the future (most likely his Ip Man films). This movie inspires you to fight for the weak and poor, and rightly so. It is the true way of a master. 8.2 out of 10.
In a different approach that I’ve never done in my blog, I’m going to debate the documentary created by Kirby Dick, This Film is Not Yet Rated. While watching this, a lot of questions and refutes came to mind that I wanted to deal with rather than just reviewing the movie. I gave this film my full attention and open mind, so I’m going to talk back.
This Film is Not Yet Rated deals with the issue of the warped way in which independent and Hollywood films are treated and rated according to the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. of America). With the issues of homosexual vs heterosexual relations, male vs female sexuality, and violence, vs sexual content, Kirby Dick handles this and the board behind which these issues are debated and rated on. It is quite controversial and sexual in nature, with interviews from people all across the movie making business and their thoughts behind why this secretive establishment was ever put into place. And a lot of attacking of Jack Valenti, the man that started it all.
I have to concede a lot of points to Kirby Dick and the creators of this documentary. It is rather disturbing that an organization is given this much power and allowed to be kept secret and confidential on its workings. To not be allowed to know the peers who judge you (as you are in the court of law), is downright un-Democratic. The board that represents “average American parents” is warped and not accurate in the slightest. And any sort of appeals board that is put into place is just ludicrous.
But I think where a lot of the confrontation comes from is the business world. Hollywood and the movie making machine is a business. A lot of business (especially big businesses that make billions of dollars) are run by the elite “conservatives” that wouldn’t look kindly on the liberal views of sexuality and experimentation. With the movie makers butting heads with the owners who rate the films and distribute them, documentaries like this are going to arise that fight the backwards system they’re involved in.
What I didn’t understand is why there’s such a conflict. If the MPAA rates movies as R or NC-17, that restricts the amount of people who can see the film. And by restricting a demographic from seeing a film that may not be so restricted content heavy, that loses money to a particular age group. Why would the big businesses who run the showing of films do such a thing? It seems backward, and could only be because they feel it is necessary to keep the status quo morals. I applauded this film for fighting “the man” and the “big machine”, but there were things I had problems with.
Coming from someone who loves a lot of different films, I have to be honest. I don’t think that, in 90 out of 100 cases, that sex scenes are necessary in film. What do sex scenes do? They reaffirm a “loving” relationship between two people, be it straight, gay, or whatever. It’s for lust, for some form of artistic representation. But how often does it actually move a plot along? Not often. Sexual scenes of any sense that actually further plot are usually scenes of rape or procreation. If someone’s having a baby or having their lives changed by a terrible experience, those are depicted harshly or beautifully. Sex scenes to “seal the deal” come across as eating up screen time to me.
Let me give an example so I just don’t seem prude. I tried to watch a film recently titled, A Room in Rome. I thought, hmmm, I’ll expand my knowledge in films with this liberating and artistic foreign film about lesbians. It started off okay. They had some thought provoking conversations. Then they hit the showers and I was exposed to sex scene after sex scene. At that point, I realized what sex scenes are to me. They are invasions of privacy, voyeuristic looks into someone else’s private time, be it onscreen or not. They, for the most part, bore me and make me feel uncomfortable. And for a film to claim it’s an arthouse film and just show 90 minutes of nonstop sex scenes? That’s a total load of bullshit. Don’t tell me that. That’s not some form of art that I would never understand. “It’s symbolic.” Are you f$%^&ing kidding me? Hell no.
I’m not ashamed to exasperatedly voice my opinion, and it’s about to get worse. Call me a typical dumb male, but I would rather have a scene of violence in a film than a sex scene. It’s more entertaining and adrenaline pumping than two people doin’ it in front of my eyes. And it furthers plot. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott on The Office said it best when he said that what’s more exciting than a gun? What is more exciting and threatening to a character than a gun onscreen? There’s a point to be had there. Martial arts films that depict the grace, discipline, and brutality of fighting really inspire me to be better than myself and protect and defend others. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
There was one point in the film that made me pretty mad in particular. It was quite a leap and a wrong one. To say that violent films and video games inspire more kids to shoot up schools than anything else is not the truth. It is an access to firearms at a young age. It’s those kids who are mentally unstable, picked on, not listened to, those kids who feel the pressures of the world before they even get out of college. The outcasts, the rejects, those kids nobody would ever dream of talking to or hanging out with. In some particular cases, I’m sure violent acts have been done because of what someone saw on T.V. or in movies. But not a majority or a large portion of the time at all. Marilyn Manson said it best in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine documentary. When asked what he would have said to the two young male shooters to try to dissuade them, he said, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”
This film makes valid points about a world I am not a part of, but would one day like to be a part of. The movie world scares me now after seeing this documentary. How much freedom is taken away when you want people to see what you’ve made and how a movie can be banned or censored is against our rights. But the way that sex is seen as something that should be above anything else (drugs weren’t talked about in this film), I falter in my support. I find that to be assuming too much of an “open-minded” America. For parents to have to talk to children about sex, who wants that conversation? (Daniel Tosh paraphrase from a telling joke about Mormons and gay rights.) As a whole, America is a prude machine that doesn’t want to move from where its standing. I stand among those in the action film/horror movie/all around whatever the hell genre it is community and say, “I don’t need sex in my films.” I know it is backwards to say violence above sex, but aren’t movies fake? Don’t they depict things that, for the most part, are an interpretation/exaggeration of the real world? Sex scenes hit too close to home and come from a person to person basis on what is acceptable sex.
So coming away from this with one thing, you should remember I said this. I don’t find sex to be entertaining or necessary in movies. That’s just me, my opinion. You could think I am absolutely stupid and ignorant for thinking that. That’s your choice to think that. But if my voice has any say in the matter, this is what I think. Plain and simple. Let me know what you think, and, as always, I’ll be writing from The Abyss.
In what was meant to be Jet Li’s last Wushu epic, Jet Li busts out all the big guns for this film. Although he has made other films that feature his style of martial arts, it goes without saying that movies like The Warlords, The Forbidden Kingdom, and the Expendables (soon to be followed by a second) aren’t exactly focused around Li’s stunt action coordination or anything of the sort. I would argue that War, the movie with Jason Statham that followed this film, was a bit focused on Li’s destructive power of those around him, although the movie questions his identity. In either case, it wasn’t meant to be Jet Li’s last film, just his last display of his martial art’s competence.
In this film, based loosely on Huo Yuanija’s life as a martial artist, this movie follows Jet Li as Huo and his fights to bring back honor and national pride to a broken country. With the Western imperialism and Japanese pressure, Huo fights those foreign invaders in symbolic battles that show off the strength of pride that the Chinese people hold. If it came down to Jet Li’s acting to represent honor for China in this film, it may not hold as much meaning. I was just a bit thrown off by Jet Li’s acting in this movie. It seemed forced and comical at times, but it didn’t matter when he closed his mouth and pounced on some ass with his destructive moves.
Jet Li at his finest.
The movie starts off at a martial arts display tournament in which Huo must defeat 4 competitors from 4 different countries. Using weapons and hand-to-hand combat, Huo fights back the attackers in order to defend his country. Before the fourth battle commences, a flashback to Huo’s life before takes place. For 2/3’s of the movie. Huo remembers when he was a child, being instructed by his father Huo Endi (Colin Chou) and how honorable he was. His father would take him downtown to the battles that took place in raised rings between fighters in the town. In this particular fight, Huo’s father is defeated and Huo finds his resolve to never be fearful and always to win and gain honor.
You’ve impressed me.
This mentality almost becomes Huo’s downfall when he won’t allow the attacking of one of his disciples to be delegated in a civil, non-violent manner. Quin Lei (Chen Zhihui) the rival martial arts master defies Huo and his newly found hubris and fights to the death versus him. With his ruthless manner, something not encouraged by his father, Huo kills Lei and retreats into the countryside to really reevaluate just what it means to participate in martial arts. (I left something out there, watch to find out.) Learning mercy and the righteous path, Huo finds himself in a position to fight for the honor of China.
This film has a lot of moving parts that really present a historical piece that is actually one of my favorite genres. Huo is a real person, and these events of his life weave a very compelling story. The fact that he fights for the honor of China at the end is a stab at those countries that would dare impose themselves on others, as the fights suggest. The tribute at the end to the dojos that are dedicated to Huo and his principles is a nice ending for the film and the events that
Some of my favorite weapons fighting.
The fight scenes in this movie are really what stand out though. The rings that these men fight in are very stylistically stunning. Especially the fight between Huo and the man who beat his father’s son, is ridonkulous. The poles and camera angles that effortlessly flow through the fight scene really caught me by surprise. I always knew that Jet Li was a phenomenal fighter and stunt actor, but this movie really pulled out all the stops. His penchant for stunts and choreography, especially the weapon related fights show a lot of discipline and knowledge that I admire. Not being a martial arts expert myself, I’ve seen enough martial arts and have read up enough about it to know Jet Li has got his shit in order.
This big white dude shows up far too often in martial arts films…
The success this film had and the amount of good reviews it is given are just, but I felt, as some others have, that the film had its down moments that kinda left it at middle of the road. Yes, it didn’t have the acting oomph that would’ve elevated it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but it was well above some of the straight to DVD martial arts films that’re out there. The story itself is inspiring and films like this are what make me wanna be a director. I’d equate it to a Cinderella Man type of film with the action and drama equalling each other out.
I am now psyched to hear that there are two other versions of the film, two of them depicting a more developed love/rejuvenation plot with Michelle Yeoh and a THAI BOXING SCENE. I wish they had included that in the theatrical version. My favorite form of fighting is Thai Boxing/Muay-Thai fighting. It’s one of the only forms that could take out Jet Li and I guess that’s why they were afraid to include it. I would still love to see a fight between Tony Jaa and Jet Li. Hell, Tony Jaa and anyone. Other than getting a bit of a boner over these martial arts masters, I thought this movie was very positively geared towards the Chinese community that Jet Li and director Ronny Yu were representing. It’s a great
Thank you Jet Li and Ronny Yu, for making a movie China can be proud of.
message to all those action stars from non-Asian countries. Back the hell off, we have pride, and that pride will stomp all over you. That message and this film deserves a 8.1 out of 10.