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Friday, January 31, 2014

Movie Talk - The Matrix Trilogy


Well, I’m at the end of Martial Arts Month. I’m definitely going to do something like this next year. There were other things I wanted to do here, but I have to end it somewhere. So, I’ve decided to look at a trilogy that combined martial arts, philosophy, religion, and a post-apocalyptic landscape: The Matrix trilogy.

I don’t remember when I first saw the The Matrix. I know I saw it before the sequels came out because I was already a fan of the movie. I was kind of a fan of the franchise. I’ve only seen snippets of The Animatrix.  I even played the tie-in game, Enter The Matrix, which wasn’t as bad as people said it was. I saw both movies on VHS when they came out respectively. I even remember that I saw a snippet of The Matrix Revolutions during a band trip in New Orleans. Over time, I decided to add the movies to my collection. When I came up with the idea of doing this month, this trilogy was definitely on the list. Since I hadn’t seen the movies in such a long time, I’ve watched them all this week.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weird Star Trek Eps. - Amok Time aka "Spock Loses His Mind... and is Hot and Bothered!!!"

Well, it's official: Microsoft does make it to the 23rd century.

So, why am I talking about this episode in this month? It's so simple. We get to see Spock lay some of that Vulcan-Fu on Kirk! Yes, I'm going with that explanation! There's also the fact this post is a replacement for another one I wanted to do. Unfortunately, that post has to wait. Anyway, this episode is one of those memorable episodes from The Original Series. It's the first episode of the second season and it's the first episode that features Spock's Vulcan (or Vulcanian) culture.

We see that all is not right with Spock when the episode starts. He's irritable, loud, and close to being emotional. McCoy and Kirk find out that Spock might die if he doesn't get back to Vulcan in a few days. After some prodding, Spock secretly tells Kirk about Pon-farr, the reproductive cycle of Vulcans. He has to go back to Vulcan and "be" with his betrothed wife, T'Pring. Kirk decides to break the rules and help Spock get back to Vulcan. Once there, the three (Kirk, Spock, and McCoy) teleport down and we see the ritual commence with the priestess T'Pau over the whole thing.
Kirk: .... Uh... It wasn't me! I've never even touched a Vulcan woman before!

Shockingly, it turns out T'Pring doesn't want to be with Spock which leads to a challenge to the death. She picks Kirk because... she's a cold-blooded witch. Spock, who's ready to hit something, doesn't want to fight Kirk. Still, the fight must commence or Spock will die. Kirk and Spock fight and Spock seemingly kills Kirk. After Spock comes to himself, he tells McCoy to take Kirk back to the ship. He says his goodbyes to his people and then teleports up as well. On the ship, it's revealed that Spock didn't kill Kirk. McCoy gave Kirk a drug that simulated death. After all of this and a little word from T'Pau on Kirk's behalf to Starfleet, the Enterprise heads off to another mission.

This episode is definitely one of this show's best. So much is done right. We get to see a side of Spock that we hadn't see at this point. Even though the first season had Spock getting emotional at times, this took the cake and ran with it. It was awesome. We also hadn't seen any other Vulcans other than Spock till this episode. The planet Vulcan looked pretty cool. The whole ritual was weird and unintentionally funny at times.
And on that day, slash fanfiction was born! Ugh...

I also like that Kirk is really willing to risk everything in order to help his friend. Even McCoy gets some good moments to shine. We also get that awesome fight and that cool fight music. If you haven't seen the episode, then sorry for spoiling something that has been out for 50 years. It's really a good one. It may even be the episode that got me to really like The Original Series. Well, I think my next weird episode will have to be something that isn't critically acclaimed. Peace, God Bless, and "Live long and prosper."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tales from the 50 Cent Bin! - Bruce Lee #1

A Bruce Lee comic book from the 90’s… Sometimes, life is good. For my last comic in this themed month, I’ll be looking Bruce Lee #1 from Malibu Comics. What’s Malibu Comics, you ask? Well, I’d tell but then I would have to show you this piece of “WTH.” To make a long story short, they were a comics company created in the late 80’s. They got a little popular in the 90’s with books such as Ultraforce and… Ultraforce? Anyway, they also had licenses to properties like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. I’ll get to their Mortal Kombat series one of these days. The company was bought out by Marvel when comics sales declined in the mid-90’s.

During their stint, they acquired the rights to do a six-issue Bruce Lee miniseries. I found the first issue in a 50 cent bin somewhere and I knew I was going to get it. I’ve seen the rest of the issues online, but I’m not spending more than a dollar on those issues. It’s definitely something that I look out for at shops. The writer of the first issue and series is Mike Baron who’s worked on books like the Punisher, The Flash, and Nexus. The artist is Val Mayerick and he was one of the creators of the Marvel character, Howard the Duck. Wikipedia had good things to say about this mini-series, so let’s see if they’re right about the first issue.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Movie Talk - Jim Kelly

Look! Up in the sky! It's... Jim Kelly?!?! I didn't know he could fly!

Welcome back to Martial Arts Month. Today, I’ll be looking at a few movies that starred the man known as Jim Kelly… and no, I’m not talking about the football player! For those who don’t know about the man, here’s a quick bio on his career. Kelly got his big break when he starred in the 1973 movie, Enter the Dragon. Because of the success of that movie, Kelly went on to star in a lot of movies during the 1970’s. He mostly starred in Blaxploitation movies which were flourishing during the 70’s. After the 70’s, he wasn’t in much if anything at all. I remember reading that he took up a career in tennis during and after his stint in the movies.

The last thing I remember seeing him in was a deleted scene from the movie, Undercover Brother. I’m just wondering what idiot had that scene deleted because I loved it. He recently died last year due to cancer at the age of 67. My liking of the guy stems from Enter the Dragon and my dad who also likes martial arts movies and grew up in that era. I actually found a DVD set with some of Kelly’s movies at Wal-Mart and and I got it for my dad’s birthday. I also found another movie (The Tattoo Connection) at this used book store in Murfreesboro. Kelly had recently passed away at that time and I got into a little conversation with the owner of the store about it.

Most of the movies I’ll be talking about come from the set from Wal-Mart. They are Black Belt Jones and Three the Hard Way. I was going to look at Hot Potato, but there’s only so much I can put myself through. In other words, that movie was bad. The last movie I’ll talk about is called The Tattoo Connection, but it is also known by the names of Black Belt Jones 2 and The Black Six Million Dollar Man.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Movie Talk - Tekken

Welcome back to Martial Art Month. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked about the live-action movies based on fighting game franchises. The last one I’ll be talking about is the movie from my favorite fighting game franchise: Tekken. Yes, there was a live action Tekken movie released back in 2011. It was direct to video, so you’ve probably haven’t heard about it. It also has a chance of not being too good.

I was introduced to Tekken through my cousin. He had a Playstation and he had the first two Tekken games. I think I was in sixth or seventh grade when I got my Playstation. Tekken was the first game I had and I played the crap out of it. I then ended up getting Tekken 3 (my favorite out of the franchise) and played it to death as well. I did own Tekken 4 and on the Playstation 2, but it was one of the games that was stolen by that nameless thug in college. I actually got rid of Tekken Tag Tournament because my PS2 wouldn’t play it. I still own Tekken 5. I haven’t played Tekken 6 yet mostly because I just haven’t gotten around to playing it yet.

When I heard about the Tekken movie, I was a  little psyched. I don’t know how many times I checked out IMDB for news on it. I was pretty excited that actual martial artists would be playing the characters. I actually ended up seeing it through unconventional means back in 2011. Since I’ve only seen it once, I looked for it online and was able to see it once more. So, what did I think of it?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tales from the 50 Cent Bin! - Robin #1-#5

Hey, all. Originally, this was going to be a quick look at Justice League of America #8 since Batman gets into a fight with the Karate Kid (guess which one). Since it was part of a major storyline, I decided to save that for later. I then found its replacement this weekend in one of my boxes. For today’s post, I’m going to quickly browse over a five-issue mini-series that involves the third Robin: Tim Drake. While I like Dick Grayson better as a character, I think Tim may be my favorite Robin. I liked how they tried to make him different from Dick and Jason. For example, he still had his parents… until DC decided that killing one’s relatives was the way to go in the 2000’s. Yes, that’s a jab.

Tim could also be known as the first fanboy. In his first story, he was able to figure out that Batman was Bruce Wayne. Eventually, Batman ended up taking Tim on as a sidekick. This mini-series came out around 1991, a couple of years before his ongoing series began. I found the issues in the 50 cent bin a while back, so I decided to give it a read. The writer is Chuck Dixon, the penciller is Tom Lyle, and the inker is Bob Smith.

Random Video of the Month - Pierre Kirby

It's definitely been a while since I have done a random video post, so here's one. Anyone who's a fan of The Cinema Snob will know who Pierre Kirby is.  While the title is a little misleading, it's a fight scene that should give you a laugh.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Movie Talk - Bruceploitation

Yes, this movie exists... and no, Bruce Lee doesn't destroy his clones in the movie. He's dead, remember?

 Bruceploitation… yes, this word actually exists. Microsoft Word hates it though. According to Wikipedia, “Bruceploitation is a cultural phenomenon mostly seen in the 1970's after the 1973 death of martial artist and actor Bruce Lee.” Bruceploitation (BP for short, hee hee) is basically equivalent to those Elvis impersonators that pop up from time to time. You had guys going by names like Bruce Li, Bruce Leung, Dragon Lee, Bruce Le, and my favorite, Bronson Lee. If there was actually a “Bob Lee,” then this would be even more hilarious.

A lot of the movies were mostly rehashes on Lee’s pictures. Some were even unofficial sequels to those movies. There were also some “autobiographies” if you can call them that. Some would also go play “conspiracy theory” on how Lee died. Then, there are some really weird ones. Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave (yes, that’s the title!!!) is one of them. You’d be shocked to know that the movie isn’t even about that weird premise. I think there’s also one where “Bruce Lee” fights alongside Popeye, James Bond, and Clint Eastwood… Yeah.

Today, I’m going to talk about some of the ones I’ve seen. Yes, I’ve seen a few BP movies. Some are actually decent while others are pretty subpar. I was able to view them all on YouTube since I actually don’t own these. You’d be shocked to know that Jackie Chan was actually one of the many clones! Luckily, he only did one movie (New Fist of Fury) and decided to go in a better direction. Since there are a lot of these movies out there, I’m only going to look at five starting with The Clones of Bruce Lee… yes, The Clones of Bruce Lee.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tales from the $3.99 (meh) Bin! - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #21

$3.99 for a single issue... Now you see why I peruse the 50 cent bin!

Today’s issue is a little different and pretty recent. It’s an issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This series started in 2011 under the pens of Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the original TMNT comics) and Tom Waltz. Initially, I had little interest in the series but the previews online did look promising. Over time, I heard more and more things about it, so I bought an issue and I really liked it. The series got added to the pull list and it’s stayed there since then for at least a year.

The series feels like a mix of the original comics, the 80’s animated show and the 2003 animated show. Now that doesn’t mean that this is rehashed stuff. The Turtles, Splinter, Casey, April and the Shredder are more or less the same, but a lot has been changed. A lot of stuff is changed with everyone… and no, the Turtles aren’t revealed to be aliens. If you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to read the series for yourself. If you’ve ever been a fan of the TMNT, you’ll probably like it. Now, today’s issue is #21. The writing is done by both Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz. The overall art is actually done by Eastman himself. So, let’s see how the TMNT fare against an “unknown” foe.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Movie Talk - The Street Fighter Franchise

 Oh man, it's this movie. At least they look the part... at the end of the movie.

No, I'm not talking about the movies starring Sonny Chiba. I've never seen them, but I do remember seeing the movies at a rental store. Today's post is going to be about the live-action Street Fighter movies. There's only two of them, so this shouldn't take long. They are also regarded as some of the worst video game movies and that means I might have a lot to say about them. Ugh... Anyway, I've played the Street Fighter games on the consoles I own or owned and I've seen some of the animated movies or series involving Street Fighter. For a while, I used to own the Street Fighter 15th Anniversary set on the PS2. Unfortunately, some nameless thug stole it and other things during my freshmen year in college.

Background
I don't remember when I saw the first Street Fighter movie. I know I rented it somewhere. It's one I really don't remember much about. During Christmas, my dad was watching it on Netflix (he's a Van Damme fan) and I watched the last 30 minutes. I decided I would steel myself and watch the whole thing yesterday. I then found out that the movie's not on there anymore...Yay? I guess I got enough to say about it without watching the whole thing. I only watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li once when it came out on DVD. I think once was more than enough. I'll let you know why below.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Movie Talk - Bruce Lee

Making men eat paper... Only God and Bruce Lee could make this happen.

So, what can I saw about Bruce Lee that hasn’t been already said? I mean, the guy was a legend! Not only was he one of the first Asian actors to hit it big in Hollywood, the man created his own style of martial arts. That’s cool in my book. He was also one of the prolific people that passed away in his prime (32 years-old). If you want to know more about him, watch a biography like Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey and you’ll get all you need to know. I wouldn’t watch Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story for more info about him since that "biography” was so inaccurate. At least it was well acted. Today, I’ll be looking at the movies Lee did in his adult years. For those who don’t know, Lee did actually do some movies as a youth, but I won’t be looking at those. I’ll be looking at his five (technically four) movies.

Background
I pretty much saw all of these movies in my youth. Enter The Dragon is one of the first movies I remember seeing. Game of Death (the 1978 version) came second in the viewing process. I saw the rest of the movies like The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and The Way of the Dragon when we used to go to this one rental store in Pulaski. I forgot the name of the place but I know it used to be on Minor Hill Rd. I own Enter the Dragon and The Big Boss but I don’t know where they are at this moment. Since I haven’t seen the pre-ETD movies and G.O.D. in a long time, I viewed them online at places like Netflix and Veoh.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tales from the 50 Cent Bin! - The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #124

Welcome back to Martial Arts Month. This time, I will actually be looking at a character that was previously talked about in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine: Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu. Now, I actually picked this issue out of the 50 cent bin a long time ago when I had the idea of doing a month dedicated to martial arts. I didn’t read it until recently and you’ll find out what I thought about it below. I know nothing about the character, so this is pretty new to me. The team is mostly full of people I’ve never heard of. The only names I recognize are Mike Mignola as the inker, Denny O’Neil as the editor, and Jim Shooter as the Editor-in-Chief. So, let’s see what happens when the Master of Kung Fu faces some stuff.

The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #124
Writer: Alan Zelenetz
Penciler: William Johnson
Inker: Mike Mignola
Letters: Rick Parker
Colors: Christine Steele
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tales from the Magazine Bin? - The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #3

Today’s post is going to be on something a little different: a 1970’s comic magazine called The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. By the way, that is an awesome title. It was a comic book magazine published by Curtis Magazines, a defunct imprint from Marvel. That’s right, folks. Marvel created a magazine dedicated to martial arts. Let’s see if DC has done anything like that! Anyway, it lasted for about 33 issues. I believe this was created in order to cash in on the whole Kung Fu craze during the 70’s. It included stories as well as a few articles. It even included some “how-to” tutorials. Today’s issue is the third issue from August of 1974.

The editorial team for the issue includes a lot of names I know of. The team included names like Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, and John Romita Sr. The cover to this issue is pretty awesome. It’s beautifully done by Neal Adams. The cover shows Jim Kelly and another fighter takin’ it to “The Man.” It also looks like one of the Lone Gunmen from The X-Files made it in. For this, I’ll just browse over the contents since there are two 14-page stories, five articles, and a letters page.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Movie/TV Talk - Mortal Kombat

Stop! Ninja Time!
Duh duh-duh-duh! Duh-duh! Duh-Duh (Can't touch this!)

In one of the few surprises for this month, I’ll be looking at the Mortal Kombat movies as well as the Mortal Kombat Legacy web series. Ever since the 90’s, I’ve been a semi-fan of the franchise. It pretty much started with the first MK game. My uncle had a Sega Genesis back then, so I would sometimes play some of his games. I haven’t played all of the MK games. I know I haven’t even played the most recent one on the PS3. Still, if there’s a movie or series out there that involves Mortal Kombat, I’ve probably seen at least some of it even that piece of crap called Mortal Kombat: the Journey Begins.

Background
I don’t remember when I saw the first movie, but I know I saw it before I ever saw the second movie. I do own the first movie on DVD. I actually remember wanting to go see the second movie, MK: Annihilation, in Columbia. I think the movie was there for a couple of weeks and then gone the next. Ouch. I did eventually see it on VHS. About a decade later, I heard about the Rebirth video and the web series, and that got me a little psyched.  I saw first season when it came out back in 2011, and I saw the second season back in 2013.