Sunday, January 31, 2016

Favorites - Nine Favorite Fight Scenes from Martial Arts Movies

Hey, all. Well, it’s sort of been a good month. Other than some weirdness here and there, I had fun doing this themed month again. I finally got to talk about some things that have been a long time coming. Of course, Butt-kicking month will be back next year. Last year, I ended it on my favorite Bruce Lee fights. This time, I’m just going to talk about nine of my favorite fights scenes in movies. It’s not going to be in order or anything like that.

I originally wrote a lot of this stuff a couple years ago. I was going to post it at the end of my first Martial Arts Month, but I decided to do something else. As I said before, these are just some of my favorites. It’s not a definitive list of the best since a couple of these wouldn’t be on that list. You’ll see ones I’ve talked about before and some I haven’t gotten to yet on the blog. I will also limit it to one martial arts actor or series of movies. I may have to cheat with one you'll see.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Movie Talk - Iron Monkey and Iron Monkey 2

Well, it’s the last week for this butt-kicking, leg-aching month. During my snow-laden stay at home, I decided to revisit a movie I saw when I was younger, Iron Monkey. I saw this a few years ago on TV and I remember enjoying it. Since it was on Netflix and I had nothing to do, I decided to watch it. I also saw that the movie had a sequel called Iron Monkey 2, so I thought it might be a good watch too. They both have Donnie Yen, a martial arts actor I’m beginning to enjoy more of these days.

Iron Monkey was first released in 1993 overseas. It was eventually brought over US theaters in 2001. Quentin Tarantino was behind getting it over here. I guess someone eventually saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and thought this would be good over here. You know, I still haven’t seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon yet. I may have to do that someday. It has an easy title to spoof with Crouching Tiger, Hidden “Insert Random Thing Here.” As for its “sequel”, it was released in 1996. There really isn’t much else to say about it… yet.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Favorites - Top Ten Power Ranger Team-ups

The Snowocalypse of 2016 is officially over. I think everyone in the state can say, “About time!” It may have been fun for the kids, but for an adult it kind of sucks. Since there was nothing to do (other than eating, sleeping, texting, trying to exercise, and Internet surfing), I hit up Netflix to see some more of that butt-kicking action. One stop was today’s subject: Power Ranger Team-Ups. I’ve had this idea in my head for months and it was finally time to see what team-ups were the best. Besides, I might as well talk about the Rangers in the month where butt-kicking is the theme.

For those who don’t know or are in the “cool” crowd, the Rangers would usually team up with past Rangers usually once a season. They have teamed up with other heroes though with the most notable and infamous team-up being with the Ninja Turtles. Yes, that happened and it wasn’t that good. It was kind of a yearly thing with the show but some seasons skipped the team-up episode. They tend to vary in quality. You have the good, the bad, and the down-right ugly episodes. So, here are my top Ten Power Ranger team-ups. Before I get to those, I do have a couple I need to mention. Whether they are honorable mentions is a big matter for debate.

  • A Friend In Need (Mighty Morphin’) – This was really the first team-up with another hero for the show. In this case, it was the Masked Rider. If you don’t know who that is, then you’re not the only one who says that. All I know about the character is that was another hero Saban wanted to make a show around and it only lasted a season on FOX. The Rangers end up traveling to the world of Edenoi on the behalf of Alpha 5. They find the planet enslaved by Lord Dregon and they team up with the Masked Rider to beat some baddies. We even got some Rita/Zedd action as well. It was an okay arc but I didn’t like it all that much. The Masked Rider was kind of lame which is probably why his show only lasted a season.
  • Shell Shocked (In Space) – This weird crossover happened when the Rangers teamed up with the Ninja Turtles. Astronoma hypnotized the reptiles into being against the Rangers but you know how those things work out. This wasn’t one of the good ones. At this time, Saban was making Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. I don’t remember much of that show but I don’t remember it being good. Fortunately, this one episode was just a hiccup in a pretty good season for the show.
  • Legendary Battle (Megaforce/Super Megaforce) – “Well, that was a letdown,” a lot of Ranger fans said. This finale for Power Rangers Super Megaforce (seriously?) was the famed battle that teamed up every Ranger from the franchise and took about five minutes to happen. The finale had the main villains try to attack Earth with everything with the Megaforce Rangers throwing everything including the kitchen sink at them. I didn’t watch Megaforce, so I can’t really comment on that show. I haven’t heard good things about it though. It wasn’t a bad finale but the team-up was really a letdown for me. It felt tacked on at the end. I will say it was cool seeing some of those old faces though.
 With those out of the way, here’s the list.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Movie Talk - Shaw Brothers' Movies

I told ya I wasn’t done with the Shaw Brothers. For those who don’t know, Shaw Brothers Ltd. was a movie studio that produced a ton of movies in the 20th century. While they may be best known for their kung fu movies from the 1970’s, they started churning out movies long before then. They actually stopped producing movies in 1987 to work on television productions. I hadn’t really heard of the company all that much.  I know I’ve had to have seen some movies that were made by them before Netflix.

The 36 Chamber trilogy of movies were just a small bit of what the studio did martial arts-wise. I don’t know how many martial arts movies they did, but it was a lot. Recently, I noticed that Netflix has started to put a lot of these older movies on there, so I decided to watch some of them. I have to say that I was quite surprised by what I found. The movies I’ll be talking about today are Shaolin Martial Arts, Kid with the Golden Arm, and Five Deadly Venoms.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tales From The 50 Cent Bin! - Richard Dragon #1

Next up for this butt-kicking month, I got a DC character who I really don’t know about: Richard Dragon. Like most martial arts characters, he originated out of the kung fu craze from the 1970’s. He first appeared in a novel written by Denny O’Neil and Jim Berry in 1974. O’Neil later adapted the character in his own series, Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter. The guy’s supposed to have trained most heroes and villains in the DCU. Other than his series and a couple of other spots, he really hasn’t been seen all that much. No wonder I haven’t heard much about him. I probably know more about The Bronze Tiger, his former partner in butt-kicking.

In 2004, there was a short-lived series that featured the character.  I found Richard Dragon #5 in the cheap bins some time ago. I was going to look at that issue until I found the first issue to this series in Murfreesboro a couple of weeks ago. The writer is Chuck Dixon. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern with Dixon and characters that practice martial arts. The pencils were done by Scott McDaniel and the inks were handled by Andy Owens.

Richard Dragon #1
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Scott McDaniel
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Tony Auina
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Michael Wright

Friday, January 22, 2016

Movie Talk - The 36th Chamber Trilogy

Well, it's cold here in TN with this snow. I think it’s time to get some straight-up kung fu action. Today, I’ll be looking at the 36th Chamber of Shaolin trilogy done by Shaw Brothers Studio. The movies all involved the legendary monk, San Te. The star of these movies is martial artist Gordon Liu. While he was already in movies like these, it’s the 36th Chamber that people will remember him for the most. I first saw snippets of his movies on this video that talked about martial artists a long time ago.

I first heard about the original years ago. When I found it at f.y.e., I bought it. It was a while before I saw it though. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that Netflix has put on different kung fu-related movies. I saw that the latter two movies were on there, so I decided to give them a watch. There are some other Shaw Bros. movies that I saw on Netflix that aren’t related to the 36th Chamber. I’ll get to those some other time this week. By the way, I watched them all undubbed. I think this is my go-to thing with foreign movies since most old-school dubbing is pretty terrible.

Monday, January 18, 2016

TV Talk - Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist

I think it’s time to step back into the world of Street Fighter. It seems like it’s been going well for the franchise with the recent games being well-received. Capcom even did a crossover with Tekken and I think I have that one. I’m not sure. When it comes to film, Street Fighter failed twice with the 90’s movie and the Legend of Chun Li. I looked at those two a couple of years ago. Thankfully, I think someone up there said, “That’s it! I’m making a good live-action SF thing actually work this time!” I think that’s how we ultimately got Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist.

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist was actually directed by Joey Anash, a stuntman and actor. He was the guy Jason Bourne punched with a book (great fight, by the way) in The Bourne Ultimatum. He and others got together to create a short film called Street Fighter: Legacy. Capcom saw this and ultimately granted the team the rights to do a web series in 2012. It took a while to complete, but the series eventually came out in May of 2014. I was supposed to go the gym the day it aired and I when I saw that it was online, you can pretty much guess what happened. I was originally going to review this last year, but then I saw that Machinima didn’t have the series on there anymore. Luckily, I did find the DVD for this at Wal-Mart sometime ago and have viewed it again.

Assassin’s Fist does something that no other live-action SF media has done: actually include Ken and Ryu as main characters! I’ll gripe on this later but I do have to say it. The series looks at what Ryu and Ken in their final training years with their master, Goken. We see them develop into the fighters they eventually become. We even see them have some fun. During their training, their master starts to teach them the right way in using the powerful art of “Satsui no Hado.” At the same time, Goken is worried since the misuse of the art could corrupt them like his brother, Gouki. We also end up seeing what actually happened to Gouki who we eventually know as Akuma.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder #1

Before I get to DC’s kung fu fighter, I think it’s time to return to the world of Mortal Kombat. Just imagine some foot-stomping musicplaying after I said that phrase. It seems like Mortal Kombat fever hit everything in the 1990’s. We had the movies, we had a crappy animated show (Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm), a somewhat weird TV prequel (Mortal Kombat: Conquest), and other stuff. It even spread over into the comics for a bit. Midway produced some comics that were tie-ins fro the game. I vaguely remember that there were MK comics on the rack in stores. I think I skimmed through some at Bi-Lo, an old grocery store in Pulaski that’s not there anymore.

Malibu Comics bought the rights to do some series featuring the MK characters. From what I’ve read online, Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder was basically an adaptation of the first two games. I definitely see that in its first issue. There’s a lot more at this page about that whole series. Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder #1 came out in 1994. It was written by Charles Marshall. The pencils were done by Patrick Rolo. The inks were done by Bobby Rae. John Tobias, one of Mortal Kombat’s creators, also served as a consultant on the issue and series.

Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder #1
Writer: Charles Marshall
Pencils: Patrick Rolo
Inks: Bobby Rae
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Mark Panicca
Editorial Consultant: John Tobias

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Spider-Man #41

Next up for this month of butt-kicking is someone who people like a lot: Iron Fist. I think he’s alright. I think his costume has mostly turned me off. It’s not horrible but I can’t get behind a man in yellow and green. I don’t care if he knows kung fu. At least he tries to make it work. I do like that Marvel has tried to retool his costume without removing what makes him Iron Fist. I know they did get rid of his big collar which should only be on one superhero: Nightwing. I’ve only read a couple of stuff featuring him like some of Ed Brubaker’s stuff, New Avengers, and this issue. I don’t know how he is on Ultimate Spider-Man since I still haven’t watched it yet.

I guess mentioning the Wall-Crawler is perfect in talking about today’s issue, Spider-Man #41 from 1993. Iron Fist plays heavily in the issue. I found this issue in the cheap bins where I actually met someone kind of interesting.  Hopefully, I’ll see her again. Anyway, the issue was written by Terry Kavanaugh. The pencils and inks were handled by a much younger Jae Lee. I know more Lee for his stuff today like his artwork on Dark Tower, some DC work, and his other Marvel work.

Spider-Man #41
Writer: Terry Kavanaugh
Artist: Jae Lee
Colors: Kevin Tinsley
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Danny Fingeroth

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Master of Kung Fu #125

Since it is the season for some butt-kicking, I think it’s time to return to a character that I talked about a couple of years ago: Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. He’s not really a favorite of mine. I really don’t know much about him. All I’ve really read of him has been a free comic book of Amazing Spider-Man where Peter had to learn kung fu, The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #3, and Master of Kung Fu #124. He debuted during the 1970’s when the martial arts craze began to take hold over here. He wasn’t the only character that came out of that craze and I’ll get to them later. He’s still around the Marvel Universe these days. I think he was even an Avenger for a bit though everyone’s been an Avenger. I actually think I’m on reserve status these days…

Today’s issue is Master of Kung Fu #125. This was actually the last issue in this series for the character. I found it at McKay’s and since I read the previous issue before, I wanted to see how it all ended. Allen Zelenetz wrote the final issue. William Johnson did the main pencils while Alan Kupperburg came in and did some pencils and his own inking. Hellboy’s creator, Mike Mignola, handled the main inks. Denny O’Neil was also the editor of this issue. So, let’s see how Shang Chi dealt with the guilt of killing his father.

Master of Kung Fu #125
Writer: Allen Zelenetz
Pencils: William Johnson and Alan Kupperburg
Inks:  Mike Mignola and Alan Kupperburg
Letters: Rick Parker
Colors: George Roussos
Editor: Denny O’Neil

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Movie Talk - Bruceploitation 3: Rise of the Bruce Lee Knockoffs!

From left: David Cairadine, Bruce Lee, and Robin Williams... at least that is what the movie wants you to believe.

Well, it’s finally time to start off Martial Arts Month with the awesomeness that is Bruceploitation. I’m starting a little late, but that happens when you spend the previous month writing about characters similar to that Gosh-Darn Batman. For those that are new here, Bruceploitation was a phenomenon that occurred in the 1970’s after Bruce Lee died. There were a lot of actors being thrown into that “Next Bruce Lee” title. Movies were even marketed to make it look like Lee was actually in them. Some movies even had footage from Lee’s earlier movies to make it look like he appeared in it. Does anyone remember the 1978 version of Game of Death? I do and man, it was bad especially when you see scenes of Lee from other movies in it.

I saw a couple of them when I was younger but decided to dip into this weird pool a couple of years ago. I have to say I was quite surprised. These movies actually tend to range from decent to “what in God’s name did I watch” pretty frequently. You might have “biographies,” original stuff, sequels/remakes, or really weird stuff. There is one I’ll talk about today that definitely fits in that last segment. I have five movies for today, so let’s start with Bruce’s trip to Purgatory… oh yes.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Book Review - The Hound of the Baskervilles

My final post for this weird Batman month will be another one that inspired Batman and one of the coolest literary characters of all time: Sherlock Holmes. What’s there to say about the detective? Apparently, there’s a lot but I’ll touch the broad strokes. He was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and first saw print in 1887. He’s been in four novels and a crapload of short stories that were written by Doyle and other later writers. He’s also been featured on radio, TV, film, video games, and stage plays. If you can name the piece of media, he’s probably been there. He’s also been played by a lot of notable actors and they include Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Caine, Ian McKellen, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Baker, and shockingly Charlton Heston.

Batman and Holmes share a lot of things. Their most powerful weapon is their mind. They are both masters at deducting crimes and motivations. They both are really good at disguises and they use forensics to do their detective work. They both are pretty skilled in different forms of combat. Yes, Holmes can get down and fight if he needs to. I think Guy Ritchie’s movies have definitely shown that and a lot more. They also have weird personalities but Holmes is less “darkness, no parents” and more dispassionate, logical, and a little egotistical. The two have actually met in the comics and on TV (Batman: The Brave and the Bold).

I’ve really only been exposed to the character through TV and movies. I tried reading A Study in Scarlet a couple of years ago but I never finished it. A couple of years ago, I picked up The Hound of the Baskervilles at my high school band’s yard sale. It was the third novel Doyle wrote for the character. I haven’t read it until now. I vaguely remember wanting to do this book for a report back in high school. Basically, we had to read it and then give a quick summary of it in front of the class. My teacher said to pick something a little easier. To Mrs. Childers’ credit, I now see why she said that. By the way, I ended up picking up War of the Worlds… not the best idea for a guy who kind of sucked at that public speaking thing.
Told ya they met.

 The Hound of the Baskervilles
Writer: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

BRIEF BLURB: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are asked to help solve the mysterious death of Charles Baskerville. When his nephew, Henry, enters the picture, the two must make sure Henry doesn’t meet the same fate as his uncle.