Movie double part 1 – Best of the Best (1989)

Alright, in my last post I said I would be writing up on two films watched back-to-back over two nights that inspired some true awesomeness. For this post, I’ll be ranting about Best of the Best, a 1989 martial arts flick about a group of American martial artists who compete against an elite Korean martial arts team in a karate tournament. Even though it looks like it’s a taekwondo tournament. Methinks America-town wasn’t familiar with TKD, so it’s karate. Even though it’s mistakenly referred to as TKD in some points. It also features a poor-man’s Eye of the Tiger as the rousing montage theme, which they’ve been kind enough to include in the trailer:

See, doesn’t it just reek of pure awesomeness????? 😀 😀 😀

Surprisingly, this one isn’t too bad for a martial arts flick caught in the late-80s, early-90s cross-over period. There was a real combination of awesome (The Perfect Weapon) and rubbish (too lazy to single one out :P) during this period, often with really stark contrasts, but to be fair, most of the rubbish is hilarious. The fighting choreography isn’t too shabby, with Phillip Rhee’s skills given plenty of room to shine. Their competing cast from Korea weren’t too shabby either.

I guess where the movie comes into its own is in having just the right amount of cheese – despite some occasionally woeful acting, it’s a reasonably enjoyable and senseless romp, possibly enhanced by the presence of super-chief James Earl Jones and the often-typecast Chris Penn (who you may remember from the Bacon-fest that is Footloose, which also happens to be epic and full of win).

There are plenty of 80s and early-90s martial arts flicks that are great popcorn fodder, and Best of the Best ticks every box – unnecessary acting, plenty of biffo, familiar but enjoyable characters, James Earl Jones, montage anthems, demonised view of East Asia, and of course a good helping of Asian mysticism. Leave the sensibilities at the door, otherwise you won’t be able to savour the awesome cheese of it all 🙂

For more info, the IMDB listing is here, and the Wikipedia entry is here. Thanks to magic of Wikipedia, I found out there were apparently three sequels; might have to have a cursory look, though I imagine the cheese factor might be not quite as balanced as the original in the sequels.

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I heart Rapid Fire

Last night I watched the supremely awesome Rapid Fire, starring the late Brandon Lee. Now, let’s get this straight – Rapid Fire isn’t an example of some kind of crazy, mold-breaking martial arts flick that re-set the stage for Hollywood live-action martial arts movies (you can probably attribute that to The Matrix, which introduced Hollywood to the concept of *shock* kung fu, choreographed by HK talent no less [it also liberally “borrowed” from more movies than you can poke a stick at, but that’s another story]). Nope, this is a piece of 1992 wrapped up in cliche after cliche, but it still wins at life.

The movie sees our hero (and Art major) Brandon Lee running around a college campus with super-champ Dustin Nguyen following Brandon surviving some tanks at Tienanmen Square. Brandon then attends a party at a trendy warehouse where a Taiwanese drug trafficker gets shot by an American mafia hitman; Brandon sees it, everyone brings out uzis and shoots out all the glass they can see, Brandon does some biffo, drives his motorbike through the warehouse (also through lots of glass), and gets picked up by the cops. Given the mafia connection, he’s taken as a witness with the “feds”, corruption and more awesome biffo ensue as Art student Brandon beats the snot out of more whiteshirts, whereupon he gets taken in by a tough-talking police detective guy who says “damnit!” and in extreme situations, “God damnit!”, an awful lot. He also meets a female detective, and as per the rules of all Hollywood martial arts flicks of this era, they shag. There’s also a shootout at a mafia headquarters/restaurant in there, and more biffo in a Chinatown laundry where the chief drug trafficker gets taken down in yet another shodown. Cue the credits, rpelete with wiggly-wiggly guitar, and possibly some saxophone.

In short, utter win 🙂

What stands out in this one is that Lee is actually not too bad on screen (as opposed to Showdown in Little Tokyo, which is a hilarious mess), the fighting choreography by Jeff Imada and Brandon Lee is actually very tight and snappy, and the whole production isn’t too overblown with silly acting and stupid inconsistencies. Wifey also reckons Brandon Lee is a bit of alright, and since he spends reasonable portions of the movie without his shirt on, it meant that we could watch it together without her falling asleep 😛

Rapid Fire won’t win any crazy awards for anything in particular, but it does make for an enjoyable 90 minutes of awesome crazy era between 1988 and 1993 where cheap martial arts flicks ruled the video shelves at your local, and every now again you stumbled upon a winner.

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Archive: You suck Scott Wolf – Red is better

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 26 June, 2007

Okay, Wifey and I watched the incredible wrongness that is Double Dragon the Movie last week. I hadn’t seen it before, and my other half had seen it as part of one of her friend’s obsessions with Scott Wolf. Now, for the people out there who aren’t aware, Double Dragon was a videogame released to the masses in 1987 by the now defunct developer Technos. Double Dragon pretty much pioneered the side-scrolling fighting genre in video game land, and the games are classics – XBox 360 owners recently have had a remake thrust on them, but thankfully there’s also the option to enjoy it in all its original blocky glory.

Oops, got carried away again. Anywho, Double Dragon is a video game. Video games generally don’t translate well to movies, due to (a) the Hollywood studio execs are idiots, (b) the director and producers are idiots, (c) a story is contructed out of a property with no real story, and (d) there was no money to begin with, so it was a lost cause. Double Dragon pretty much falls into all of these categories – the studios behind it were idiots, the final package doesn’t speak all that well of the director/producers, there was obviouly very little money, and there is little premise for a story. That is because the storyline for Double Dragon is as follows – Billy Lee has a girlfriend. A dude in a mohawk punches her in the belly and then walks off. Billy and his brother Jimmy rescue the girl. Billy and Jimmy then fight each other as as to win her.

No, seriously, that’s about it. Wikipedia reckons there’s some post-apocalyptic futre thing going on. I think Technos (and by extension, Taito (who translated it into English) were smoking crack when they determined this, as the blocky scenery suggests 80s tragedy, not post-apocalyptic future.

So, in the movie Double Dragon, we start off with a winning opening – ninjas raid a Chinese village. We don’t know where, as a handy subtitle suggests that we are “Somewhere in China”. The shonky factor increases when we go a post-apocalyptic future – 2007 – to LA, whre a big earthquake blew everything up. We then witness Billy and Jimmy Lee in an underground fighting tournament that demonstrates that Wolf needed more body double shots, as he is officially shit. Jimmy Lee, unknown but talented, doesn’t suck. The dude that played T-1000 from Terminator 2 is the villain and has a goatee, and there’s lots of biff, bad effects and cheap explosions. There’s also Alissa Milano in short blonde hair, who, like Wolf, can’t fight to save her life either. Then at the end of the movie, they join two dragon-shaped pendants (the ‘Double Dragons’) and suddenly they have campy uniforms in blue and red colours. The end.

This movie fails on so many levels and should only be watched with a healthy sense of humour handy, possibly enhanced by (responsible, over 18 and legal [don’t close my blog MySpace :P]) consumption of alcohol. I won’t get those two hours of my life back, but at least I could laugh at it and didn’t waste any money on watching it.

Scott Wolf, go home to your Party of Five. Or better yet, Go Home and Be a Family Man. Man, I’m such a tragic geek 😛

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Archive: Lift some steaks, eat some weights

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 18 May, 2007

You know, I don’t even know the name of the song that aforementioned quip is from. All I know is that I keep on seeing it on VH1. Oh, and the correct line is ‘lift some weights, eat some steaks’ hahahaha, it’s sooooo bad! Except the random board kicking in the clip was cool. And the slapper girls in it are amusing as well.

Anyway, the reason for the title is because I did weight training last night. Nothing terribly intense, as I didn’t want to push myself, just wake the muscles up as my father in law said. Speaking of my father in law, I was telling him about the blog and that I’m using pseudonyms for peoples’ names – he’s informed me he will now be known as Fat Dave, as that was his moniker when he used to be on a radio show.

So anywho, did some weight training last night, which was ace. My arms are a little sore this morning, so I figure I must have done them some good. In my plan to shave off the extra couple of kilos I’ve put on over the past two months, I’ve also decided to bring back the size of my meals to the same portion as Wifey’s – it was acually her suggestion, and so far it’s all been good. I remember last time I made the conscious effort to bring back the size of the meals I was eating, and I actually started feeling better because I wasn’t eating to the point of feeling bloated; the same thing’s happening this time as well, so it’s all good.

I ended up skipping on karate this week – I had some torn skin on the back of my stump that I was hoping would heal up; it hadn’t by Wednesday, so I’ve thrown a couple of bandaids over it since Wednesday night, and it’s been feeling much better, and I’m not making it worse when wearing my leg, which is why I think it was taking too long to heal up before. Looking forward, therefore, for training next week 🙂

In non-training stuff, I want to mention two things briefly. First, I’ve added a handful of photos and stuff to the pics section – go and have a look. Hamez has been kind enough to add some comments, so feel free to add some additional ones 😛

Secondly, McAdam, Tank, Wifey and myself went to see Spider-man 3 on Tuesday. Y’know, ’cause it’s cheap to go on Tuesday nights. Tight-arse Tuesday and all that. Anywho, I won’t wax lyrical on it, but I did enjoy it, there was heaps going on which I thought was really good. Some comments though, and be warned there might be some spoilers in there:

  • The strut scene was complete awesome
  • The news reporter bit was dicky and unnecessary – please cut it out for the DVD release 😛
  • Venom looks uber
  • The scene towards the end where Spidey swings past the flag should have featured “America~~, f*ck yeah!” from Parker/Stone’s sublimely golden Team America instead of the film’s score. In fact, as soon as I can get some footage of that clip, I’ll rip out the audio and throw that in there instead, then YouTube. Though I might be drop-kicked by The Man if someone gets cranky about it
  • Speaking of flag waving, Spidey 3 was much improved over the unnecessary plastering of it over the course of the previous film. I mean, the fact it’s set in New York and they all have American accents kinda gives it away that the movie’s set in the US. Just say no to unnecessary cultural/political propaganda in Hollywood films 😛

So yes, those are my thoughts of Spidey 3 🙂

I’ll fire up another update next week, and I’ve decided I’ll try to make the time over the coming weeks to cover two things – firstly, recount my first lesson at karate, and secondly, talk about how I used to do Taekwondo with my older brother Miguel and my Dad when I was much younger, probably around 8 or 9 years old. Oh, and hopefully I’ll update my profile stuff on what I’m watching/reading – it’s really out of date now 🙂

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Archive: Bloodsport – 80s awesomeness

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 2 May, 2007

Last night the original, uber movie, Bloodsport, was on Foxtel. After the atrocities of Mortal Kombat (shonky) and American Ninja (uber shonky), I was all prepped to giggle at Van Dammmmmmmme’s break-through martial arts flick. Now, ever since I saw Street Fighter, I’ve consistently found the man amusing. True, he could beat my head about by boxing my face with his feets of fury, but he’s fun to pay out. What I wasn’t expecting when I sat down to watch Bloodsport is that I’d admit to actually enjoying it, and not just because I thought I’d giggle like a schoolboy. Last time I watched the movie was about 13 years ago – I was 11 at the time and away on camp; in a stroke of luck, the cabins we were staying in actually had a telly, which of course we were told we couldn’t use by our teachers. However, in our favour, the assigned parent to look after the cabin was actually my Dad, who didn’t seem to mind having the boys staying up late watching a martial arts flick. That’s not surprising though, ’cause my Dad is uber. Needless to say we enjoyed the late night movie, and happily enjoyed watching cartoons the next morning while eating brekky (Captain N and Ren & Stimpy – awesome!!)

Anyway, the point is – its been 13 years since I last saw the movie, and the only thing I remember is that a dude gets kicked in the shin so that a chunk of bone pops out his leg, hence to an 11 year old boy, its an awesome movie. So I was expecting it to be pretty bad, but I was pleasantly surprised. Van Damme couldn’t act and his English is sloppy, but his form is brill, and he’s a real lean fighter, not the muscle-job he became later on (again, I always think – Street Fighter). He also doesn’t say “Do you want go with me?!?!?!” whilst doing a silly army-man speech or have Kylie Minogue in a daramtic acting role by his side, so that probably helps, too. Hmm, gotta find that one cheap on DVD and write a blog on it methinks.

So yeah, really surprised by that one. Was made in 1987 according to the film’s credits, and the choreography was pretty good, the ‘mystical far-east’ factor wasn’t too overwhelming, but thumbs down on the flashbacks and stuff at the beginning of the film – a bit stilted, but oh well – training montages were fun, if a little cliched (but aren’t they all?). Oh, and Stan Bush did the vocals on all songs; fellow geeky people will recall he also sang the vocals for “You’ve Got The Touch” ( … or maybe it’s just “The Touch”) from the 1980-something cartoon, Transformers: The Movie (as opposed to Michael Bay’s extreme, explosions, stuff blows up, attractive women Transformers movie coming out soonish). Props to my Wife – I was so enthralled with the movie I wasn’t exactly the most rivetting company for the evening, and yet she still sat with me and watched the movie all the way through and got up to let the dog out as needed. I think that means I’m due to watch an Elvis movie or something now – that’s our deal, if I put her through the task of watching a (possibly shonky) martial arts flick, she gets to pick an Elvis movie or musical for me to watch with her 🙂

Outside of all the movie-related uberness this week, I’m stoked to say my ankle and stump continue to heal up nicely, and I’ve started doing leg stretches and leg lifts almost every night in prep for karate next week. On the MySpace front, I’ve finished up the code and just have to put the finishing touches on the background. Shouldn’t be far away now!

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