Tag Archives: Weapons

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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Assassin’s Creed II

Now I haven’t done a game review in a long time, but this game needs to be blogged about. I’m a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise and I now have recently acquired all the games. It’s not just the gameplay, that’s pretty standard throughout the games. For me, it’s the plot. The intricacies of the game and the secrets uncovered are just earth shattering. This particular game takes place in Italy, more particularly, Venice. With accurate building schematics and a bevy of real life characters altered to fit the contexts of the game, there is nothing that stands in the way of this game being just as good as the first and just as good as all the others.

This games kicks off with a little bit of a continuation from the last. Desmond Miles is a test subject under the jurisdiction of Abstergo, known as the Animus project. There’s this bastard, Warren Vidic, who has kept you holed up for way too long. The entire first game takes place in this testing laboratory in which there is no outside contact and no concept of what exactly is going on. Desmond is forced, through

The city is yours. Lay waste to it.

futuristic technology, to relive the past lives of his ancestors, members of a special assassin’s guild. First it’s Altair, and now it’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I’m gonna give a nod to Roger Craig Smith for the voice acting on that one. Ezio is a strong protagonist who really thrives on the revenge of his family’s death and he will do absolutely anything to fulfill it.

How is this not breathtaking?

And, through the course of the game, you parkour, slice, and lay waste to the guards and streets of Italy as you travel from your home base of your Uncle Mario (“It’s a me, Mario!”) and all over Florence, San Gimignano, Forli, Venice, and Rome. Let me tell you, the sneaking and wreaking of havoc all over the Vatican is something to remember. It almost makes me want to travel there in order to find the secret hidden underneath. The famous buildings all over every city is quite exquisite and down to the last detail correct. There’s an element of National Treasure/Indiana Jones (more the latter) in all of the hidden seals you must find in order to unlock the armor of Altair, sealing your memories of the two assassins together.

Let’s talk about the gameplay here. Okay, the free run system, I would like to argue, is one of the most advanced and best of any game currently on the market. Flowing consistently through every game, Ezio can run through the streets and, at any moment, you can be scaling a building and jumping from rooftop to rooftop. For those of you who know the game, you feel like a combination of Spiderman without the tights, and Batman with all his gadgets, just a bit more lethal though. And that’s another thing. Weapons. There is a damn shizzload of them. Throwing knives, double hidden blades (even poisoned), and swords and maces out the whazoo. With lots of different armor combos and capes to conceal and run train, this game leaves no battle up to chance.

Talk about intricacy...

Speaking of battling in the game, there’s a whole new stock of finishing moves to discover. With every weapon comes a new way to kill. You can even pick up the weapons of fallen enemies in order to exact your revenge. I gotta say, try the pike, its magnificent. And another nice thing about the game is that it’s one difficulty. That leaves it accessible to those who can figure out how to play the game and doesn’t get much more difficult. The achievements are easy to unlock and master, leaving you with a heightened sense of achievement. I can really appreciate a game that doesn’t make an achievement secret or ridiculously hard to master. There is only one achievement that I find to be the bane of my existence. The feathers. How is that a fair task to put to Ezio? Those feathers are impossible to sight in a free run on the map and to collect 100 of them? Those with a lot of free time can try to figure that out…

But this all comes back to the plot and characters. The Medici family, Borgia and all the villains

Awwwww yeah da Vinci.

politically connected. The tragic story of the Firenzes and the use of Leonardo da Vinci in the game. It’s just a big eye opener. For sure, you have to discover the secret video files in all of the hidden areas of the cities. It’s connection to the origins of the world and the suggestion to the end of it really blew me away. It may seem a bit hard to follow or, on the flipside, contrived and a bit hard to believe, but, in the end, it really made me want to believe what I was witnessing. And I can’t wait to play the next two. These games just keep getting better. A definite 10 out of 10.

Get to work. It's time to run train.


Soul Eater: The Nightmare Before Anime

Ever since my girlfriend and her sister cosplayed the Thompson twins from Soul Eater, I had developed a growing

Liz and Patty. Yes.

interest in watching Soul Eater. I didn’t realize at the time what this show would hold in store for me. (Added bonus if Christopher Sabat does any voice in an anime.) As I began watching this 51 episode anime, I found myself falling in love with the characters and caring for what would happen to them (although I had the ending ruined for me by complete accident.) It didn’t detract from the pulse-pounding episodes of battle after battle that ensued, and I found a new love in this Halloween-type anime that sent chills down my spine and laughs throughout my body as I spent a week watching this amazing anime. I was enraptured.

This anime follows the story of three “Meisters” and their “Weapons.” These duos of weapon and wielder take on what are known as Kishins, the tainted souls of creatures that have become monsters and feed on other people’s souls. Once 99 Kishin souls are collected, and one witch’s soul, then the weapon is deemed worthy of being used by Lord Death. This grim reaper is the essential Headmaster of the DWMA, also known as the Death Weapon Meister Academy. He installed this school to battle Kishins, and it has done a good job up to this point.

The doom and gloom of Death City.

It is at this point that things begin to go downhill. The evil witch Medusa (Luci Christian) and others have made plans to bring down the DWMA, and it is up to three brave Meisters, Maka Albarn (Laura Bailey), Black Star (Brittney Karbowski), and Death the Kid (Todd Haberkorn) to defeat the evil plot of the witches and Kishins. Teamed up with their weapons, Soul Eater (Micah Solusod), Tsubaki (Monica Rial), and the Thompson twins Liz (Jamie Marchi) and Patty (Cherami Leigh).

So it may seem weird that Meisters, who are people, are fighting using weapons who are also people. But these people are born with the ability to change into weapons at will. These weapons are special as well. A Meister and its Weapon have a special bond known as Soul Resonance. This bond allows Meister and Weapon to combine into one soul and creates a higher power in which to defeat enemies. But these three are not on the level of the Professors or Lord Death himself at the DWMA. And it is the school’s purpose to train these Meisters and Weapons in order to make them formidable opponents against Kishins.

The one thing that stands out about this anime, to me, is the style in which the plot is set. The doom and gloom of death and souls is combined with the comedic

Soul Eater. With some pizazz.

drawings of the artists. This gives it an anime meets Nightmare Before Christmas feel to it. The grinning Sun and Moon with blood dripping from their teeth give it that comedic element, mixed with the morbid. The grim reapers and monster encountered, drawn in what appears to be Jack the Ripper Whitechapel area sets up one of the best environments I’ve ever encountered in an anime.

Black Star. Badass.

And there are some great english voice actors that are in this anime. It would take too long to give a whole list, so I’ll just highlight a few. I thought Micah Solusod gave a great performance as Soul Eater, Maka’s weapon scythe. His grave voice and determined attitude comes across great through Micah, although I’ve never heard of him before. Brittney Karbowski was amazing as the cocky Black Star, my all time favorite ninja child and all around badass. John Swasey was great as Lord Death. His goofy voice gave the anime a Jack Skellington element with his personality and outlook. Vic Mignogna was hilarious as Maka’s father and Death Scythe Spirit. His obsession with seeking his daughter’s approval was always worth a laugh. Chuck Huber was fantastic as the madness induced Professor Doctor Franken Stein. His tormented character fought back and forth, and this was amazingly done by Huber. Maxey Whitehead was great as the insecure, gender-bender Crona. The duo of Crona and Ragnarok against the world and the lack of acceptance was heart wrenching to say the least. And yes, Troy Baker was amazing as Excalibur, the useless, fool dueling weapon of legend and lore.

And that’s about it. To get too much into the story might ruin the anime with spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this. If you’re looking for a light-hearted shonen with gore, guts (courage/bravery), and glorious fighting, this anime is for you. I give Soul Eater a 9 out of 10.

And here’s a taste of the show with a tribute to Death the Kid and the sexy Thompson Twins. Hooray.