Tag Archives: Masters

Jet Li’s Fearless

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.

transpire.

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.

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Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

After watching the original Fate/Stay Night series, I thought, “There. Finished the anime.” And then I went back and watched the AMV (see Fate/Stay Night review) that sparked my interest from the beginning. And I noticed something odd. None of the scenes from the anime were in the AMV. And then I realized something. I felt like an idiot. The AMV’s scene were taken completely from the movie Unlimited Blade Works. And so I set to watching the movie of the anime.

I found the startling differences between the anime and the movie to be quite refreshing. The speed of the 2 hour anime in

Good old Shirou and Archer.

comparison to the show was quite different and forced a fast paced fighting plot to take over. (This was better because the lack of fighting in the anime is what bothered me.) Several changes are made with the fates (ironic, no?) of the characters and who ends up with who. I was expecting with the film that there would be a rehashing of the events of the anime, but with the first 10 minutes complete, it was no longer necessary.

And so, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Began. Shirou Emiya summons Saber and Shirou and Rin make a pact to defeat the other Masters and Servants before themselves. There are some heartbreaking scenes (really quite sad) and some shocking twists. I really enjoyed the change of pace. Same voice actors (subbed of course) and and even better, more fluid animation style made this anime worth the watch. So check out the anime and then check out this movie. It’s worth the watch. 8.3 out of 10.

And check out the AMV one more time!


Fate/Stay Night: Battle Anime at its Finest

So I saw an amazing AMV for this anime at Anime Boston and I was hooked. ( To this and t.a.t.u.) This anime, based on a video game really caught my attention. Its plot and characters are really strong and its premise taken from the video game is also really interesting. Makes me really wanna find the game and play it. I’m not exactly sure what the title of the game/anime means, but it evokes images of the anime from now on in my mind.

This anime focuses around Shiro Emiya, the son of an adopted father that taught him the virtue of helping those less

Shiro. He just wants to help.

fortunate. When his father passes away, he leaves his entire estate to him, and Shiro continues his pursuit of justice and fairness and help for those who need it. And then one day everything changes. When Shiro witnesses a battle between what seems to be two warriors, he runs away and is stabbed by one. Rin, a fellow classmate saves him and it is at that point that Shiro summons a Servant, Saber. Rin and her Servant Archer team up with Shiro and Saber and these two discover exactly what is going on.

What is going on is that they are in the middle of a centuries old battle for the Holy Grail. There are seven Masters and seven Servants that are fighting each other for control of that Holy Grail in order to grant their wishes. The only way to eliminate competitors is to kill the Masters or kill the servants. From the beginning it appears that killing Masters is more effective, for the Servants will just disappear. But things drastically change this time around as the battles continue. With Shiro’s attitude and the relationship he develops with Saber, nothing will ever be the same for these magical warriors battling for their lives.

Those are some sexy Servants/Masters.

And that’s what I like about this anime. Though it focuses around the battles, not all 24 episodes contain violent action sequences. Most focus on Shiro’s attempts to quell the violence and find another way in which they can avoid confrontation and yet acquire the Holy Grail. (And I won’t even get into how complicated the Holy Grail itself is.) Shiro is constantly, and pretty much annoyingly, protecting Saber and preventing her from her primary function, fighting. But it grows on you as the anime progresses. And that’s where they social/relationship aspect of the show grows from. You begin to discover the pasts of the characters and really wish that not a single character would die. (Kind of the case… Hard to explain.)

But there are great characters in this anime. Shiro, of course, is a conflicted, troubled, angsty main character that really has to use the anime to work out his issues. Rin, his fellow student and collaborator helps Shiro as much as she can while trying to gain the upper hand over him. Illya is a little girl with a tragic past that only needs help from others, and yet at the same time is spine-tinglingly ruthless. Shinji Mato is a troubled boy who only wants to prove himself and meets challenges in his own way (I rather like him and his Servant.) And those are just the Masters to name a few. There’s Saber, Shiro’s Servant with a ruthless attitude that borders on heroically suicidal. Rider, Shinji’s Servant that is sexy and majestic at the same time. And Archer,

Archer. He destroys.

Rin’s Servant with a hard exterior and heart of gold complex. And all these characters are based on mythological/historically ancient warriors. It’s great.

These amazing characters set against a modern backdrop sets up what comes out to be an amazing anime. The battles are epic, the Noble Phantasms are great powers to have, and the mana, attacks, and spells come right out of the video game realm. I’ve never thought of how easily story driven video games can easily be turned into anime/cartoons, but they can, and they have. (Tales games, Final Fantasy, ect.) So please, check this out, it’s worth a watch.

Check out this AMV. It’s amazing.