Currently Listening to : KIRBY KRACKLE GEEKIEST HITS: VOL 1

Geekiest Hits: Vol. 1

Overall just a fun album of catchy pop and comic tinged tunes. With a few that transcend niche kitschiness to be just great songs. The most obvious of these being the ridiculously addictive RING CAPACITY, followed by the simply fun ROLLOVER and HENCHMAN (if like me you are in the ignored few who loved the POWERLESS sitcom, and before that the equally hilarious BETTER OFF TED, you’ll love HENCHMAN).

Use the link above and enjoy!

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Short Film of the Day : THE SHARPEST FINGERS IN CLAYBURN COUNTY!

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THE SHARPEST FINGERS IN CLAYBURN COUNTY – An intriguing poster, and a beguiling, inventive, witty, and fun short film by Zodiak Films, written and directed by Glen Schroeder, and starring in wordless but captivating performances Mike Dopud, Aaron Pearl and Danielle Stott-Roy, and showcasing the talents and creations of origami master Joseph Wu.

A must watch short film! Catch it on Vimeo, via Roku, or online here.

Netflix Streaming an Amazon DVD Movie of the Day : FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS

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FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (1982)- Some people are a fan of these Shaw brother movies of the 70s and 80s (the company is said to go back as far as 1924), I could never get into them. I’ve seen bits and pieces of them and was never really interested. Most of them filled with broad slapstick, or syrupy soap opera that tends not to translate or interest.

Give me a good modern KUNG FU KILLER or BLOOD AND BONE or JOHN WICK or RAID any day. With few exceptions the period stuff leaves me cold. That said I’m happy to say FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (a later day Shaw Brothers production, 1982) is now one of those exceptions.

Wow, this is extreme but non-stop exciting from first minute to last. Simple story of a martial art school having to prove itself best, but the twist on this film is the intro of Japanese ninjas against Chinese kung Fu, and the simply insane levels of fight choreography and blood letting on display here. It’s not a short film, but I could not take my eyes off the screen.

Plus the research the film did to integrate weapons and uniforms actually used in that period from the Japanese, I found very interesting. All in all a no-brainer to watch on Netflix, and one worth graduating to buying on DVD.

Grade: Strongly Recommended!

Five Element Ninjas DVD

Netflix Movie of the Day : CALL ME KING

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R.L. Scott’s CALL ME KING- “I quickly outgrew the council of old men, and looked toward the future” Part action, part pulpy western fueled gangster thriller, part quirky and idiosyncratic familial soap opera, director/screen writer RL Scott’s CALL ME KING is an addictive, compulsive watch.

Undeniably low budget, with a weak reverse Cinderella B-storyline that arguably detracts from the stronger main story, but what elevates this gangster film above its missteps is the Multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-ethnic scope.

It is a film of and for the 21st Century, with fantastic faces, of hard men from hard places. A wonderfully shot and lyrically scripted layered storyline diatribe on the fall and rise of nations, and walkers in dark places. Part mythic western, part poetic treatise on violence.

Other highlights… I love the first shot and last shot of this film, making haunting and foreboding something ordinary. Add to that compelling cinematography, bone crunching martial arts fight choreography, and an addictive score and you have a $100,000 film that is more entertaining than films with a thousand times that budget,

And it is worth noting that R.L. Scott wears half the hats on this production; being not only the Director and Writer, but also the fight choreographer, stunt man, producer, and cinematographer. Wow, simply no end to this guy’s talents. This is a film and a filmmaker to watch.

Currently see it for free on Netflix, but then it is one to own on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s a film deserving of a great directors commentary, and special features. Highly Recommended.

Grade: B+.

I’m reaching out to the filmmakers to see when we can expect a Blu-Ray with special features and commentary, and will update when ready, but till that is available the DVD can be had at the link below:

Call Me King

Graphic Novel Review : Hickman and Pitarra’s MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2!

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“The World has rules, created by those who consider themselves above them. So we became radicals, who accepted neither.” — Jonathan Hickman’s THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2



THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2- I find writer Jonathan Hickman’s work very hit and miss. Quite frankly more miss than hit, while always filled with elaborate and imaginative ideas, his work generally lacks an emotional quotient, an emotional core, to make it worth reading.

His writing then becomes simple extrapolations of the head, that lack heart. Cold and off-putting works. I find this of almost all of his mainstream work that I have tried, SECRET AVENGERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, his current AVENGERS work I find unreadable dreck, with nothing to keep anyone emotionally interested or invested.

His Indie work can be likewise a gamble. Volume 1 of his Image series THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS was okay, if unremarkable. However I’m glad to say Volume 2 is much better, as Hickman is finally starting to pull taut the threads of his story.

The art by Nick Pitarra does a lot of the heavy lifting, with fun sight gags and panels that makes this far more entertaining than arguably the words or script alone would convey. I point you to the panel of the oval office orgy (say that three times fast 🙂 )for proof of that.

So lifted up on Pitarra’s visuals Hickman’s MANHATTAN PROJECTS VOL 2 is finally starting to hit its stride. And while Volume 1 is okay to read, it is not necessary, you could just pick up Volume 2, as it brings you up to speed pretty quickly. Grade: B. Worth a Purchase.

The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 2 – Price your copy here


30 Years of Jean-Claude Van Damme Films

30 Years of Jean-Claude Van Damme

According to AMG (courtesy of Fandango), Jean Claude’s first film was 30 years ago in 1983 with the romantic french comedy MONACO FOREVER.

So to celebrate 30 film years of Jean Claude Van Damme we’ll start with this simple article listing his filmography over these thirty years, along with random notes.

MONACO FOREVER (1983)

BLACK EAGLE (1986)

NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER (1988) – The film that put the world champion kick-boxer turned actor on the map, here playing a villain

BLOODSPORT (1988)- His first starring/hero role
bloodsport
CYBORG (1989)- A panned film when not being overlooked, this sci-fi flick mixing a dystopian future with lots of action, while undeniably low budget and of its time, I personally am a huge fan of.

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KICKBOXER 1989
DEATH WARRANT 1990
LION HEART 1991
DOUBLE IMPACT 1991
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 1992
HARD TARGET 1993
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NOWHERE TO RUN 1993
TIMECOP 1994

STREET FIGHTER (1994) -With the under-performance of this film is where the brakes on Van Damme’s skyrocketing popularity and career (already lessening a bit from NOWHERE TO RUN) began getting applied

SUDDEN DEATH (1995) – A good movie, perhaps one of his best from that period, it possessed a ‘DIE-HARD’ premise to it, it nevertheless underperformed at the theaters.

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THE QUEST (1996) –

MAXIMUM RISK (1996) – His first of many impressive collaborations with Director Ringo Lam, Lam was the first director to get a real performance out of Van Damme, and a fantastic and very nuanced and heart-felt performance it is. It would signal the changing of the guard for Van Damme’s career as his drawing power as a mainstream action star would start drying up, and smaller budget, direct to video films would be the order of the day, but Van Damme as actor would increasingly emerge. MAXIMUM RISK is one of my favorite Van Damme films.

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DOUBLE TEAM (1997)- Tsui Hark, following in the footsteps of fellow country-men John Woo and Ringo Lam, chooses Van Damme to make his Hollywood directorial debut. Unfortunately the film is a creative and commercial misstep, that would signal the beginning of the end to Hollywood’s love-affair with Van Damme.

DESERT HEAT (1998) –
KNOCK OFF (1998) –
LEGIONAIRRE (1999) –
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER:THE RETURN (1999) – For all intents and purposes the end (for a time) of Van Damme’s Hollywood Career.

REPLICANT (2001)- The 21st century has arrived, and the rise of home video and DVD makes direct to video (DTV) productions possible. Alternative avenues to get your movie out there for studios that cannot get or afford theatrical distribution. DTV would allow Van Damme, and other abandoned once Hollywood darlings (such as Seagal and Snipes)to continue making movies. REPLICANT, a merely serviceable film, is the first of Van Damme’s next phase of his film career.

THE ORDER (2001) –
DERAILED (2002) –

IN HELL (2003)- A fantastic Van Damme performance and film, helmed by Ringo Lam

WAKE OF DEATH (2004) – Another fantastic DTV film. This and IN HELL showing the older Van Damme not just a better actor than in his youth, but making better films. As both of these films are better than anything he produced in his Hollywood years, with the exception of MAXIMUM IMPACT and SUDDEN DEATH.

SECOND IN COMMAND (2006) –
THE HARD CORPS (2006) –
SINAV (2006) –

UNTIL DEATH (2007)-
THE SHEPHERD: BORDER PATROL (2007)

JCVD (2008) – This is the movie that really revitalized Van Damme’s image, and by so doing, his career. Part action/heist flick, part psuedo-documentary, part bio-pic, it’s a deeply personal film that uses innovative 4th wall breaking cinematography and exciting story and action, and a wrenching performance by Van Damme to make it one of Van Damme’s most critically lauded films.

In many ways JCVD signals the third phase of his career, his return to mainstream prominence while continuing to also do his DTV work, a two pronged ‘best of both worlds’ approach where Van Damme is increasingly the action equivalent to Brando (in terms of longevity) to younger actors’ Pacino. He brings the name and gravity and they bring the youth and the bulk of fight scenes. Most notably this dynamic is seen in his very successful, recent collaborations with the amazing Scott Adkins.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION (2009)- A direct result of JCVDs popularity, sporting an exciting new director in John Hyams and littered with brutally talented young MMA performers, this is a sequel that completely improves upon its inane and mediocre predecessors. It is, without reservation, a great action film.

THE EAGLE PATH (2010)-
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2011)-
ASSASSINATION GAMES (2011) -Another fantastic action/thriller co-starring Scott Adkins.

assassination_games

SIX BULLETS (2011)-A strong first half, goes off the rails at the end with the parents unbelievably becoming Mr and Mrs Rambo.
DRAGON EYES (2012)-
EXPENDABLES 2 (2012) – A rare return to villain status for Van Damme. Good to see him back, thanks to Stallone, in Hollywood’s good graces.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER:DAY OF RECKONING- Van Damme’s third collaboration with John Hyams, while sporting very little Van Damme, is a home-run and illustrates a bit of that passing of the torch that is going on between him and Scott Adkins (with that whole Apocalypse Now vibe running through it). I loved REGENERATION and DAY OF RECKONING is even better. Part Horror, part sci-fi, part thriller, part action, it is some of the most exciting film-making I’ve seen in a while. Really quite impressive.

And 2013 and 2014 has other projects in the pipeline for Van Damme, and whether these projects are met with accolades or are derided, the given is Van Damme himself shall continue to be a charismatic and watchable screen presence, that gives his all.

I look forward to seeing the work yet to come.

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Review: BATMAN THE COURT OF OWLS Vol I by Snyder and Capullo

So as this comic book was coming out in periodical/single issue form, I heard nothing but ringing praise from all corners for Scott Snyder’s BATMAN. But I waited until the trade/hardcover was out, and I’m glad I did.

The series, finally read in one nice 6 issue chunk, is good, but not great. Certainly not the accolade ridden masterpiece the reviews would have led me to believe.

Much like Snyder’s AMERICAN VAMPIRE, Snyder is a very slow burn type of writer. Book One of AMERICAN VAMPIRE, I didn’t like and didn’t find engaging at all.

BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS Vol I, however, is interesting, and engaging, and in places very good. It just never really feels great or all that essential to me, but it is definitely good.

The manga tinged art of Greg Capullo, takes some getting used to as it doesn’t always work for me. His Batman is great, it’s just characters, outside the mask, particularly Bruce and the rest of the Bat family just come off looking very Speed Racerish to me. A slight style/expectation clash, that I try not to let bug me. That and having read as much Batman stories as I have, the ‘broken bat’ approach can’t help but feel familiar.

So I’m not sold on this title enough to recommend it as a buy, however overall both the writing and the art, have enough of a hook and an edge to definitely recommend this as a read. Grade: B-.

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)