Monday, June 30, 2008

Definitely, Maybe

Originally posted on xanga.



Definitely, Maybe was a semi well reviewed/received movie. The Netflix rating was 2.5 stars. I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting anything. I thought, maybe I might be entertained. The trailer looked killer and I would watch it if the DVD were in the house. My wife had it on our queue and it was in the house.

I loved the movie. Maybe because I had low expectations, it blew me away. I didn't actually care much for the character that Ryan Reynolds was playing. I never really felt sympathy for him per se. But because the daughter played by Abigail Breslin was so endearing, you were cheering for a happy ending and thus the main male protagonist.

Isla Fisher stole the show for me. She's amazing and the spunk of the character drew me to her right away.

I don't want to hype it because you might be expecting a lot, but I think the trailer does a good job giving you enough to go on.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sword of the Outlaw (長劍相思/长剑相思)

Originally posted on xanga.



Sword of the Outlaw (2004/2005) is a wuxia drama series starring Aloys Chen and Li Bing Bing. Running at a brisk 35 episodes.

Like many of the other non Jin Yong and Gu Long wuxia series, the endings are a big problem. They start out great, present great characters and develop them so you feel for them. But the plot isn't strong enough to make it last the remaining episodes. As is the case with Sword of the Outlaw. Strong strong first 20 episodes. Very very weak last 15 episodes.

First 20 episodes develops the story and you really care for the main protagonists. But when the "mystery" is solved, the resulting last few episodes are very weak. So many plot points and characters are left unexplained.

Poison Fu is used quite liberally and the cures are even more mysterious. The ending is totally unexpected. The main protagonist is just an after thought for the last 15 episodes.

Started out great. Ending was weak. If you want to get a taste of non Jin Yong or Gu Long wuxia, this is actually quite entertaining for the most part. Luckily for me, I could fast forward all the crappy parts.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 2) Episode 2

Originally posted on xanga.



The judges thought it was the best show of the season. I would have to disagree. The second episode of the second season of America's Best Dance Crew was boring. I did watch all 9 groups and was very uninterested.

So uninterested, I ended up watching parts of a couple episodes from Season 1.

There's a lot of hype to season 2 because Kaba and Jabba was so good in season 1. At least from the areas of pop culture I frequent.

But if episode 3 sucks like episode 1, I'll have to take it off my rotation. As convenient as watching TV is from the internet, the quality is still poor.

I am hoping for season 1 to be released on DVD. I'd buy it for around $20.

Friday, June 20, 2008

America's Best Dance Crew (Season 2) Episode 1 (Premiere)

Originally posted on xanga.



I just caught episode one of America's Best Dance Crew (Season 2) online at mtv.com.

Not as excited about it as I was while watching Season One. In Season One, week after week, Kaba and Jabba crushed it and got me all excited for the next show. Season Two? Man, I am not excited to see the next episode.

I do like the following crews (order as they appear on mtv.com, not my order) from their episode 1 performance:
Fanny Pak
Distorted X
SoReal Cru
Super Cr3w

(Spoiler Alert) It's a shame that Distorted X got eliminated! Unfortunately, I am not a judge and I seem to always miss the voting periods. Hope they have a best of the eliminated crews special show.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

White TV

Originally posted on xanga.

Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White? is an article in the current Entertainment Weekly (EW) Mag. I've been subscribing to EW since 1992 or 1993. Right about the time I started college and gave up on Rolling Stone Mag.

In any case, the article is great! Growing up, there were almost no Asian "role models" in entertainment. So, I turned my attention to stuff from overseas. Movies and dramas from Hong Kong and Taiwan are things I enjoyed in the 80s and 90s and even to today. Except, China, Korea and Japan have all jumped in with their flavors. If TV is trying to represent the diversity in the US, its not doing a good job. Maybe its made for a dying breed. Today's folks don't have to rely on TV for entertainment.

Instead of watching a lame sitcom or drama with an explicit storyline, play the Wii Fit for 1 hour. Its fun and helps you lose weight!

The only TV shows I actively watched was "Lost" and "America's Best Dance Crew" this past season.

The coming season, its probably the same. I'll keep on top of the hype and see if some shows live up to it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rambo (Rambo 4) - 第一滴血4

Originally posted on xanga. Updated 1/16/2009.



Rambo (4th installment) (第一滴血4) is worth a watch. It runs pretty short at around 80 minutes. So, it gets to its point and stays on target without much fluff.

So, what should you expect? If the other 3 Rambo's are any indication, it's Rambo being put into a difficult situation and he blast his way out. Expect nothing different.

In this installment, the situation of Burma is the backdrop for the difficult situation and the antagonist.

The special features give a good background on the movie and there's a feature on the situation in Burma. Don't skip out on the Burma feature.

Of course, its another movie about a bunch of Asians(Burmese) needing saving from a white guy. But if its coming out of Hollywood, it's expected.



Monday, June 16, 2008

Island Etude - 練習曲

Originally posted on xanga. Updated 1/16/2009.



Island Etude (練習曲) was Taiwan's entry to the 2007 oscars. It follows a "student" making a bike trip around the coast of Taiwan on his bike.

I've been watching a lot of action films lately and sitting down recently to watch this was such a breath of fresh air and a major change of pace. There's no movie that can cover all the great spots on the coast of Taiwan in 90 minutes but it does a good job high lighting memorable spots. The red bridge in the Hualien area was memorable because my wife and I walked across it when we there on vacation in 2004.

I highly recommend this movie if you plan on riding your bike around Taiwan or if you're interested in seeing the various different lifestyles in Taiwan.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

America's Best Dance Crew

Originally posted on xanga.



MTV's America's Best Dance Crew season 2 is starting soon. The Casting Speical is online for viewing now. I remember seeing someone add Kaba Modern to their pages in Facebook a few months back. I searched for them and found out that is was a dance crew competition on MTV. Since I don't have cable, I looked them up online. The Kaba ones were on YouTube and it drew my interest right away.

I was behind 2 episodes and ending up watching it on mtv.com. The mtv.com player sucked. Nothing as nice as the abc or nbc ones.

I had to catch the shows the day after they aired, but I didn't know the results.

I was a big fan of Kaba Modern. I also liked JabbaWockeeZ and Fysh N Chicks. Those three would have been my final 3.

In season 2, looks like there's a lot of the same and something different too. I am quite interested in Super Cr3w to see if they can mix it up. After watching a bunch of BOTY clips on YouTube, b-boys do breaking. I wonder if they'll be able to mix it up. BOTY are like 5-10 minute long breaking routines. ABDC routines are around 1 minute. Not a lot of time compared to the BOTY ones.

Best of luck to all the new crews. I'll be tuning in online.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Touch of Zen - 俠女

Originally posted on xanga.



A Touch of Zen lives up to billing. The movie seems to have been released as two movies originally. There's a upper and bottom half (上, 下). The DVD from Netflix had them as a complete movie. The movie quality was not the best and the shades of black made it hard to figure out what was on screen. Especially since about half the movie seems to have taken place at night, I had to watch in the dark and really pay attention.

I've actually been watching some Shaw Bro. movies from around the 1969 and 1970 time frame. After seeing those and then A Touch of Zen, you can tell the difference. Symbolism, scenery, and build up of anticipation is key.

As a wuxia movie from 1971, my guess is that it was a genre defining movie.

If your a fan of martial arts movie and the wuxia genre, you'll want to see a slice of history. Much like Come Drink with Me, it is about the build up of anticipation. Don't expect action like Hero or House of Flying Daggers.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jumper

Originally posted on xanga.



I just saw the movie Jumper on DVD tonight. Great concept! I remember getting so excited about the movie when I watched the trailer. However, I rarely make it out to the theaters so I have to wait for Netflix.

I ended up fast forwarding through a lot of it. Mainly because I didn't believe the "connection" between the Jumper and the his love interest. Also, there was so little character development that I didn't care about the Jumper. And when the Jumper hunters (Paladins) finally catch up, the Jumper makes stupid mistake after stupid mistake.

If this is suppose to be character development, it did a poor job of it. I fast forwarded much of action and still got the gist of the movie. At the end, I wanted my 90 minutes back.

Seeing the trailer, great movie! After seeing the movie, not feeling the same. Count me out of the sequel unless the nerds endorse it.

Come Drink with Me - 大醉俠

Originally posted on xanga.



The late King Hu's "Come Drink with Me" is among the best martial arts movies made by many critics account.  I saw it as a little kid in the 80s and recently saw it via Netflix courtesy of Dragon Dynasty.

It lives up to its name.  The action is not like ones of today.  But its very balletic.  Like a well tuned dance.  The action is heighten by the music and pauses.

I remember Cheng Pei Pei in the 80 as this super mom on channel 18 (KSCI).  Cheng Pei Pei had a cooking show and did various things with her daughters.  I didn't really know who she was.  My mom told me that she was a movie star.

The 19-20 Cheng Pei Pei has strong features and shows why she became a movie star during that time period.

From the Dragon Dynasty DVD, there are three interviews that are excellent and give a good context to the importance of the movie.

Highly recommend this movie if you want to see the roots of modern martial art movies.  But if you're expecting Bruce Lee, Jet Li, or Jackie Chan action, look elsewhere.



Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chu Liu Xiang - Chor Lau Heung - 楚留香

Originally posted on xanga.



I remember in the early 80s, watching the Adam Cheng's Chor Lau Heung TVB series from 1979. I was a crazy long series with 60 episodes I think. But I remember how much I loved it.

When the 1984 Chor Lau Heung series starring Michael Miu about the Bat Prince Adventures, I was a Chor Lau Heung fan for life.

I later caught the Aaron Kwok movie and started going back to the Ti Long's Shaw Bros movies as well. All great stuff.

I was a avid watcher when Richie Ren's 2001 series came out. I liked that it was 40 episodes with a main storyline, but sub stories were explored. Each new story brought a new wrinkle and new characters. I was kept on my feet at every turn because it was fresh.

That's why I am so disappointed in the 2007 Ken Chu (from F4) series, Chu Liu Xiang. The character of Chu Liu Xiang seemed to be in essence what I remember. The story line was really interesting for the first 15 episodes. However, the story kept returning the same characters over and over again. They move from location A to B, same characters. Location B to C, same characters. I was so bored. I must have fast forward through 60% of it. Probably watched the last 2 episodes. Chu Liu Xiang is a great character, the series made sure that it stayed to what I remember it. But the story casted around Chu Liu Xiang was repetitive and boring.




Heroes of the East - 中華丈夫

Originally posted on xanga.



Chinese vs. Japanese martial arts at its best.

I really enjoyed this Dragon Dynasty release with its nice special features.  Bey Logan has a segment where he gives a nice context of the film and where it stood in history at the time.

As for the action, it was great.  The story was also a plus, it kept me interested and it provided a reason for the martial art demonstrations.

You can read the synopsis from Dragon and watch the trailer to get a better feel for what its about.

I recommend this film as one of the better Shaw Bros. (SB) films I've seen. There are hundreds of SB films, and amoung them, 100s of action/kung fu/martial arts one. Not wasting your time on the crappy ones is an art form.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Duke of Mount Deer aka Royal Tramp

Originally posted on xanga.



I recently finished watching the Chinese wuxia drama The Royal Tramp starring Huang Xiao Ming.  Of the 50 episodes, I really didn't start fast forwarding until around episode 42 or so.  The last 8 episodes takes such a shift from the 20 or so that preceded it.  I was bored and fell asleep watching.  The first 6 episodes featured Wei Xiao Bao as a pre-teen.  That was quite annoying and I kept thinking, when are they going to turn into "adults".

Also, the Mandarin the children were speaking was much different than the rest of the cast.  I have a rough time deciphering slurred Mandarin.  It was a double blow of annoyance.  Kids and slurred Mandarin.

But once the "adults" came about, the series took a turn for the better.  I like Huang Xiao Ming and think he has star quality.

Cherrie Ying plays a "love" interest of Wei Xiao Bao and is suppose to be the most "beautiful" of the 7 wives.  I also liked newcomer He Zhou Yan.  As I've written in past blogs, Cherrie Ying is one of my favorites.  Looks like Cherrie Ying is making a transition to Dramas.

I was a big fan of Tony Leung's The Duke of Mount Deer series in 1984.  I think I might have watched it like 4-5 times by the time I started high school.  I haven't seen the 1984 one since the late 80s.  Maybe in a few years, I'll get the remastered TVB series.

I also enjoyed the Stephen Chow Royal Tramp movies from 1992.  In many ways, he may have been the very best Wei Xiao Bao there has ever been.