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Crafty_Dog
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« on: November 29, 2004, 08:16:35 PM »

I don't know what happened to my original post, which included the WSJ review by Joe Morgenstern, querying about the movie "Alexander the Great", and somehow Tuhon Rafael's post wound up on the Knife thread, so here is the review once again, then Tuhon Raf's post:

============

By JOE MORGENSTERN  
WSJ  
'Alexander' Grates: Stone
Delivers a Grecian Formula
That Can't Conquer Boredom

Epic Digital Battles Are Gripping,
But History Lesson Drags On;
An Inviting 'Long Engagement'
November 26, 2004; Page W1

Oliver Stone's "Alexander" is a tale of two battles -- one of them fought by Alexander the Great against the rest of the world, the other by the filmmaker against himself in an elephantine production that's constantly torn between extravagant action (elephants figure heavily in the climax) and extended history lessons. History defeats Mr. Stone. His instinct for showmanship has been throttled by his penchant for pedantry, and that comes as a real surprise. For almost two decades Mr. Stone's films have been many things, sometimes simultaneously -- smart, sharp, crazed, bizarre, ludicrous, pretentious, insightful, irresponsible, powerful, over the top, around the bend. Never, until now, have they been emotionally inert or quite so flat of foot.

 
Colin Farrell plays Alexander (who died at the age of 32) as the world's most powerful brat. Blond-wigged, Irish-brogued and a chronic brooder, this Oedipally unsettled victim of bad parenting loves a man (his boyhood friend Hephaistion, played as an adult with eyeliner by Jared Leto), though eventually he takes a beautiful Asian woman, Roxane (Rosario Dawson), for his queen. (And really takes her, in a shockingly graphic replay of the rape that he witnessed, as a little boy, when Angelina Jolie's mommy dearest was taken by Val Kilmer's drunken dad.)

Then Alexander becomes the world's most powerful bore, thus betraying the promise of the movie's preface. In that long, turgid, pseudo-scholarly equivalent of an infomercial, the narrator, an aged Ptolemy, played by Anthony Hopkins in a flowing robe, recalls the Macedonian king, 40 years after his death, as a colossus, a force of nature, a man who built an empire of the mind, and a leader in whose presence, "by the light of Apollo, we were better than ourselves." Well, by the sweet breath of Dionysus, we are worse than ourselves after suffering through the silly speechifying that defeats drama in this colossal mess.

Several outsize battle sequences provide sporadic relief from the prevailing torpor, even if the hackings and whackings are staged no more imaginatively than those in the sword-and-sandal epics of the 1960s. (These days, the standard battle formation consists of live extras to the front, digital replicants to the rear.) And Ms. Jolie's Olympias is a hoot with her Transylvanian accent and an incandescent loathing of her husband, who is finally murdered, evidently at her behest. At one point Olympias, who has always wanted her son's hot body but settles for his tortured soul, asks Alexander: "What have I done to make you hate me so?"


Elliot Cowan and Colin Farrell in "Alexander."

  
Yet there's no zest to the general depravity, no coherence to the script or the spectacle -- clarity is missing in some of the camera work -- and, most important, no character to give a Greek fig about. With writing as shallow as this, everyone is an extra. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but you won't find a single moment in the movie to match the simple humanity -- or even the suspense -- of that scene near the beginning of "The Black Stallion" when the father tells his son the classic story, with charming embellishments, of young Alexander taming the wild horse Bucephalus. (Child and horse are also trotted in by Oliver Stone, but for a retelling distinguished only by lack of surprise.)

"Alexander" cost at least $160 million, a figure that will grow by many more tens of millions for global marketing. After I cited the staggering budgets of other recent follies, including the risibly ramshackle "Troy," several readers sent e-mails to say that since it wasn't my money, it was none of my business how studios or producers chose to spend it. I take the point. More than that, I put it in the context of a Weekend Journal piece last week in which my colleague John Lippman reported that "Troy," for all its failure to connect with a domestic audience, will turn a significant profit in the global market. But the movie medium is mine -- is ours -- to care about, and to worry about. With each new heedless squandering of our interest and trust, with each monster domestic dud that justifies its shoddiness through overseas success, the movies as we've known and loved them are closer to becoming ancient history.


* * *
DVD TIP: A friend who shared my dismay at "Alexander" reminded me that a model already exists for the glorious, fabulist adventure that might have captured the conqueror's spirit. It's a movie I've recommended before, John Huston's masterful "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975). Michael Caine and Sean Connery co-star as Victorian British soldiers mistaken for gods in Kafiristan, a province of Afghanistan that was once ruled by Alexander the Great.
 


===========

And Tuhon Raf writes:
===

Film does drag a bit but not the train wreck many reviewers seem to give it. It could have used more editing. It should have included some of the more interesting aspects of Alexander that displayed his wit. For example, no scenes devoted to the Gordian Knot or the Ten Brahmins. Hopkins was phoning his work in.. a hungrier actor could have stolen the film if this was cast differently.

Focusing on the fight scenes. I liked that the film showed Alexander training at a young age. There's some snips of good work but the cinematography was better than the actual action. The copis was shown in some portions, there's some phalanx work even though the visual focus on it faded later on. There was no martial flavor between a Persian, India or Macedonian outside of visual costuming and props. There's some factual bits in the tactical end of things, but there's so many other cool and documented scenarios that the film missed. There's some poetic license in the final battle... it never happened that way. There was no battle with elephants in the woods but on open ground.

Alexander retreated rather than fighting the even larger force that was awaiting him in India. After a hard fought battle that the Macedonian/Persian forces encountered in India, they were not about to go against a much larger force consisting of 6000 elephants. That was never included in the film. Other segments that was lost was the way Alexander could exhibit mercy and then turn around and wipe out a whole city on a whim.

So cinematography was very good, costumes was good, even the directing was good in many sections. Alexander lost points in factual omission of character development, too much emphasis on his mother (then straying away from showing her wickedness) and some lackadaisical work from Hopkins who unfortunately was the person responsible for the transitions.

--Rafael--
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2004, 11:04:47 AM »

This review is from whom I guessing is the son of noted Suppy Side economist Jude Wanniski upon whose site it appears wink

===================

A Review of "Alexander"

Dec  2 2004

Memo To: Website Moviegoers
     From: Matthew Wanniski
     Re: A Tantalizing Bid for Epic Greatness

Moviemaking can be like a military campaign - you spend bundles of cash to win the hearts and minds of a wary audience, marshalling a troop of actors to deliver a blockbuster and not a dud. Can a film about the most famous conqueror in history be as good as the legend of Alexander? Can $150 million buy greatness?

"Alexander" comes tantalizingly close. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film opens with a montage of graven images of Alexander and what appears to be his name in the languages of the ancient world, a subtle but effective reminder of his world-wide renown. He pushed ever further how people conceived of the world and their place within it, opening up the East and instigating the flow of ideas between the East and the West. A captivating mix of the human and the superhuman he was, a perpetual motion machine that unhappily burned itself out too soon.

The film engages both heart and mind as it explores all aspects of Alexander's life. In the role of Alexander, Colin Farrell is so natural and effortless, we almost forget he isn`t Alexander himself. We witness all the bravery, vigor, and hubris of the Greek heroes he admired and envied. We feel his visceral reaction to the overwhelming, even oppressive personalities of his mother and father, both of whom tragically used him to best suit their own personal interests and ambitions. Farrell makes Alexander accessible, while preserving the myth.

The rest of the cast is equally impressive. Anthony Hopkins, in the role of Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals, serves as the film's narrator, ensconced in the pristine luminosity of Alexandria in Egypt and reciting to his scribes the history behind Alexander's achievements. This is a great service to the audience, as it gives them a solid background in the past and puts the events of the film into their proper historical context.

As Alexander's strong, shrewd, and beautiful mother Olympias, Angelina Jolie sparkles. An extremely talented actress, Jolie slithers and slinks across the screen like one of the queen's pet snakes. The serpent is indeed an apt symbol for her, as she is a hypnotic and dangerous woman. Her pushing and cajoling of Alexander is not exactly motherly (he calls himself "the cracked mirror of her dreams"). Where his brilliance is on the battlefield, she is far more practical and political in domestic affairs. The relationship between mother and son, borderline incestuous and pseudo-Oedipal, is fascinating to watch play out. Alexander wavers between love and hate for Olympias, simultaneously wishing to please and to escape from her influence.

Val Kilmer plays Philip, Alexander's father and King of Macedon. Kilmer gives a glowing performance as the man whose efforts to unite Greece under one rule laid the basis for Alexander's desire to bring the rest of the world into the fold. Kilmer swaggers as the grizzled and drunken king who casts a long and terrible shadow over his son. When he tells Alexander "there is no glory without suffering," we see a man who has been tempered by loss and life, who has gained a degree of wisdom from his drive to unify the Greeks and push out their old enemy, the Persians, who had sacked and burned Athens roughly 150 years before. His wisdom offsets his brutish behavior, making him a sympathetic character that recognizes how glory and ambition can make slaves of us all. He surely winds heavy chains around Alexander, meanwhile urging him to be free. Audiences will surely have a love-hate relationship with Philip that is every bit as fierce as the one between Alexander and his mother.

All the women in Alexander's life appear to be iron-willed lionesses, including Rosario Dawson, as Roxanne, a woman from Bactria (present day Afghanistan) whom Alexander marries. Alexander had several wives and mistresses, but Dawson appears to symbolize them all, as well as all the enemies he's ever conquered and treated as equals.

The sets are lavish and on an appropriately grand scale in the spirit of Lean, DeMille, and the other epic filmmakers of Hollywood's golden years. The depiction of Babylon in particular stands out among the rest. Audiences will likely react much the same way Alexander himself did when he rode through its gates to the adulation of its citizens, all of whom turned out to welcome him-that far from being the barbarians that Aristotle and others claimed, the Persians were just as civilized, if not more so, than the Greeks believed themselves to be. That feeling of equality and respect for ones foes makes Alexander appear much more enlightened than his tutor, Aristotle.

Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography vividly brings those ancient cultures to life. Pushing the boundaries of the possible, it blends the real with the surreal to show where myth overlaps reality (eg, using infrared film to depict Alexander's near-death experience while fighting an elephant-backed tribe in India). Under Prieto's able hand, the battle scenes become bloody, brutal, and epic in scope, capturing the chaos and madness of war, and highlighting the differences in tactics between Alexander's forces and those of his enemies. Yet these scenes carry less weight than the complicated relationships between the characters. Prieto renders the more intimate and personal scenes that explore Alexander's kinships and liaisons as effectively as the battle scenes. They are what truly propel the story forward.

The film handles Alexander's bisexuality in a respectful manner, placing it in its appropriate historical context. Primarily focusing on his relationship with Hephaestion, played by Jared Leto, the film has received more than its fair share of controversy for it. Despite the fact that Greeks were well known for their lack of strict sexual mores, especially among their soldiers, who turned toward one another during the frequently long campaigns that took them far from their wives and mistresses back home. Perhaps in an effort to reach a wide audience-no doubt influenced by reports that voters cared more about morality than any other issue in the last election-Stone and Co. were forced to re-edit the love scenes between Alexander and Hephaestion. The result is that, unlike the other love scenes, the scenes between them seem nearly platonic. In fact, Alexander comes off so well, he seems even better than he may have been in life.

Fortune favors the bold, and "Alexander" is a bold film. While it leaves out some of the good and the bad, Stone deserves credit for presenting Alexander with warts and all, and allowing audiences to decide his greatness for themselves. That's the way a biopic should be, uncensored and unbiased. Audiences may have stayed away on its opening weekend in favor of more holiday family fare, but it deserves a chance to prove its greatness.

Rated "R" for violence and some sexuality/nudity.
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2004, 05:29:50 PM »

I watched "Alexander" last weekend.  My take is that this movie is good in the theater but not worth a rental on DVD.  The massive battle scenes were visually stunning, but given the altitude of the fly-overs, the features will probably be reduced to a mass of crawly, zig-zaggy dots on a regular TV.  Most of the battle scenes were a wash of shaky, blurry action interrupted by the occasional, overly graphic spurt of blood.  "Hero" easily exceeds "Alexander" in battle.  Even "House of Flying Daggers" does a better job in small skirmishes.

As a movie about the expansion of an empire, this film was too touchy feely.  It seems as if this movie was designed for the average contemporary audience, offering a taste but not a meal for anyone:  indistinct action for the guys with an equal dose of relationship-wallowing for the gals.   The bisexual theme was repeated excessively throughout the entire movie.  The primary royal fairy displayed breasts rather than pecs, making him nearly indistinguishable from a woman.  If homosexuality is about male-male attraction, why do are all of the "guys"  in "Troy" and "Alexander" look like women ?  At least in "Fight Club", a pretty boy, also Jared Leto, was directly destroyed .

As for the female characters, the initially prominent sexual dimorphism of his East Indian bride was also effectively neutralized.  Each mammary gland (excuse me, breast) was the size of Alexander's head, yet she capably resisted Alexander and eventually held a knife to his throat.  Well, we know who wears the pants.  "Alexander" is just another instantiation of the prime-time wimp husband/boyfriend shows such "Everybody loves Raymond", "Friends", "Married with Children", that Paul Rodriguez show, etc. In yet another gender-equalization scene, the harem was again overpowered by the Alexanders's draw to the royal fairies.

As for other characters,  Angelina Jolie performed wickedly , so, I'd assign her the star role of the movie as she seemed to run the show.  Anthony Hopkins was a detached bumbler with yet another staff of pretty boy scribes.  

"Alexander" is an action movie for the metrosexual.  "There's nothing like spending a day with a good glass of Cab on my marble island in my kitchen."  I'm waiting for "Blade Trinity " .  In the meantime, I suppose I'll have to hold my breath for a car chase or some sort of demolition in a Julia Roberts movie.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2004, 03:07:16 PM »

The fully formatted report may be found at http://wanniski.com/showarticle.asp?articleid=4047

--------------------------------------------------------

A Review of "House of Flying Daggers"

Dec 16 2004

Memo To: Website Moviegoers
     From: Matthew Wanniski
     Re:  An Intimate Martial-Arts Romance

It is appropriate that December features films that explore beginnings and endings (see last week's review of "Closer"). The new film by Zhang Yimou, "House of Flying Daggers," is another excellent example, a real feast for the eyes and for the heart. While this summer's hit film "Hero" was a martial arts story with a romantic edge, this latest is a romance masquerading as an action film. One can argue that the action scenes in "House of Flying Daggers" are almost incidental to the story, but they are dazzling to witness and enjoy, and quicken the pulse as much as the love scenes do.
 
Set in China near the end of the illustrious T'ang Dynasty, the story revolves around a gorgeous and deadly blind assassin named Mei, played by the lovely Ziyi Zhang (she now uses the Westernized order of her first and last name), a member of the insurgent House of Flying Daggers, which is attempting to bring down the government, one official at a time. Ms. Zhang continues to make an impact with Western audiences, growing better with each performance. In such films as "Hero" and "The Road Home," (both directed by Yimou), and of course "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," she has continually proven her talent as a dramatic actress and an action star. Here again, her looks and athleticism are on fine display. With this role, she could very well become the breakout star of the year.

Two men factor into Mei's life, and with her they form more than a simple love triangle, but a tightly woven web of deception, loyalty, and sacrifice. Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Jin, an undercover police captain sent to infiltrate the House of Flying Daggers. A carefree playboy, Jin would rather laze the day away with one arm around a woman and another around a wine bottle, but he fights with determination and great skill when necessary. His relationship with Mei causes him to question his duty, and sets the stage for a heated and ongoing battle between reason and passion.

While the two leads share real chemistry, Kaneshiro's charming performance as the conflicted officer isn't quite as compelling as Tony Leung's remarkable turn in "Hero" (truly one of the year's best). Of the two, Leung's role is the more memorable one. Still, Kaneshiro imbues Jin with enough substance and goodness that, combined with his inner turmoil, goes a long way toward making him a sympathetic character.

Andy Lau plays Leo, Jin's fellow officer, who in contrast to his insouciant friend, appears to reek of duty from head to toe. Lau gives a capable if largely unexceptional performance until late in the film. Then the simmering anger and desperation of a man betrayed by those he trusted most boils over with great intensity. You can feel the heat of his furious desire coming off the screen.

Emotional intensity aside, the characters could have been more rounded out and made as engaging as they deserve to be. Still, on the whole the actors manage to deliver fine performances despite the occasional thinness of their roles. It is not exactly the characters that move the story along, but the romance itself, the belief that empires may crumble, but true love endures.

That's an upbeat message, yet a deep sense of melancholy still pervades the film. The settings and the mood often create the feeling of a huge and terrible prison, the most obvious being the jail cell at police headquarters, and later the fight in the bamboo forest. The latter is the subtler of the two, and is all the more dramatic because of it.

Cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao paints a picture that is just as beautifully lavish, but less dreamlike, than "Hero." The patterns and textures of the costumes and the scenery appear to leap from the screen. Unlike "Hero," the fight scenes in this film look more grounded and less obviously exaggerated, although they are just as fantastically choreographed. No CGI was used for those scenes. Where it is used, it's entirely unnecessary and strikes a discordant note. Somehow, it's easier to accept the gravity-defying stunts and extraordinary visual effects than it is to accept a noticeably faked scene of a forest path, down which Jin travels after Mei. It adds nothing to the story and no one would miss it if it were removed.

While most theatergoers may not pick up on one very brief, computer-generated image, they may find it difficult, to say the least, to suspend their disbelief over the ending. Many may leave with a strong feeling of dissatisfaction.

"House of Flying Daggers" is a much smaller, far more intimate film than the spectacular martial arts epics we've been treated to over the last few years. Despite its weaknesses, it has a good story that keeps you engaged. While audiences will be divided over which film they prefer most, "House of Flying Daggers" stands as an excellent example of the magic of movie-making and the joy of story-telling, not just a fine addition to the martial-arts genre, but to the annals of filmdom.

Rated "PG-13" for sequences of stylized martial arts violence, and some sexuality.

Matthew Wanniski is a writer, editor and story analyst for Anonymous Content, a talent management and production company in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Mattsreviews@aol.com. His Thursday reviews here have been appearing Fridays to a much wider audience at http://www.worldnetdaily.com.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2005, 06:05:08 PM »

A Review of ?Kung Fu Hustle?

Apr 21 2005

Memo To: Website Moviegoers
From: Matthew Wanniski
Re: A Supreme Martial-Arts Film

There?s a Chinese proverb that goes: ?A single spark can set a prairie on fire.? Hong Kong comedy/action star Stephen Chow knows this well. He used it as the moral of his latest film, ?Kung Fu Hustle,? the follow-up to last year?s state-side release of ?Shaolin Soccer? ? the most successful Hong Kong-made film ever made on its 2001 release (only to be surpassed by ?Kung Fu Hustle? in February 2005). Miramax acquired the film a few years ago along with ?Hero,? but by delaying their U.S. release, they unintentionally yet ultimately ensured very big prairie fires when they finally hit theaters here.

Chow, an extremely talented and creative individual with outstanding comic timing and bold physicality (think Jackie Chan meets Buster Keaton), wrote, produced, directed, and stars in ?Kung Fu Hustle,? a story about discovering your destiny by tapping into the inner strength of the heart and the spirit. Chow plays Sing (coincidentally, the same name of the character he played in ?Shaolin Soccer?), a mop-topped wannabe gangster in 1940s Shanghai. He desperately wants to join the infamous Axe Gang, a group of top-hat wearing, Michael Jackson-style dancing thugs who are so brutal even the police hide when they stroll past. Brother Sum, the dapper leader of the Gang (gleefully played by Kwok Kuen Chan), will only accept Sing as a new member if he kills someone.

Sing?s trouble is that despite his best intentions, he?s just not very good at being bad. He?s tried, but eventually decided that a life of crime pays better. His rotund sidekick, played with a childlike innocence by Lam Tze Chung, fails to provide him with the edginess and toughness he seeks, and he?s troubled by the childhood memory of the young girl he once tried to defend (unsuccessfully) from a bunch of bullies.

Sing?s career begins to take a new path after witnessing the residents of a slum known as ?Pig Sty Alley? take on the Axe Gang and beat them black and blue. The residents are aided by the Landlord, played by martial arts veteran and Bruce Lee stuntman Yuen Wah (?The Chinese Connection?) and the perpetually house-coated Landlady, who is very humorously played by veteran actress and former Bond Girl Yuen Qiu (?The Man With the Golden Gun?). Three others join in the fight against the Axe Gang, exhibiting remarkable and improbable martial arts skills. It would appear that Pig Sty Alley is a virtual retirement home for kung fu masters, reminiscent of ?The Incredibles? superhero relocation program.

When The Axe Gang calls in the most notorious killer of them all, a man known only as ?The Beast,? to settle things once and for all, Sing ? a practitioner of the questionable ?Open Palm? style of Kung Fu ? realizes that his true destiny literally lies in the palm of his hand. Played with exceptional humor and athleticism by the famous martial arts master and 1970s actor Leung Siu Lung, The Beast ?like the Landlady? lulls his opponents into letting down their guard with his decidedly non-threatening appearance.

Stephen Chow delivers a truly amazing performance. His film combines a wonderful blend of comedy and action, and he easily draws fantastic performances from the rest of the cast. The exceptionally choreographed fight scenes are jaw-dropping in their execution and mixed with remarkable special effects that reflect Chow?s extensive influences, which include all the martial arts films he grew up watching, such as Bruce Lee?s films, but also ?The Matrix? trilogy, and (my personal favorite) Bugs Bunny. The result is a truly over-the-top movie-going experience unlike anything else out there.

Pig Sty Alley and its hardscrabble residents, including an effeminate barber with a disturbing inability to keep his rear end adequately covered, are all lovingly portrayed by Chow, in homage to the Hong Kong neighborhood where he lived as a boy. A place, he says, where ?there was much that was unknown and hidden underneath the ordinary neighborhood life.? This mirrors the unknown and untapped resources hidden within Sing as he determines what direction his life will take.

In many ways, ?Kung Fu Hustle? is very similar to ?Sin City,? in that both films are cartoonishly violent (though with very little blood and gore) and amazing visual spectacles. Both utilize revolutionary filmmaking techniques to deliver a highly unique style. Both will likely spark massive prairie fires throughout the filmmaking industry. While in the end, ?Sin City? appears to be about the never-ending cycle of violence, ?Kung Fu Hustle? is more upbeat. Despite its ?R? rating, it?s not about violence for the sake of violence or pandering to audiences? perceived bloodlust. It?s about redemption and transcendence. Of course, it also presents a world where such things are possible. It?s a hopeful message that will resonate loudly with audiences, whether they are fans of martial arts films or not. It?s one of the best films of the year.

Rated ?R,? for sequences of strong stylized action and violence.
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2005, 02:40:37 PM »

Funniest knife projectile scene on film!
----
Btw, Check out OLD DOG... there's an extended fight scene in hallway that's excellent. This is how a CONAN film should be choreographed.

--Rafael--
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--Rafael--
"..awaken your consciousness of our past, already effaced from our memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered."
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2005, 11:49:07 PM »

Woof Tuhon Raf:

A pleasure to be graced by your presence once again.  

I'm not familiar with the movie "Old Dog", but by its name and your recommendation I am favorably disposed.  What can you tell us about it?

Woof,
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2005, 04:25:37 PM »

some notes and thoughts from me:

Quote from: Matthew Wanniski
A Review of ?Kung Fu Hustle?

Chow plays Sing (coincidentally, the same name of the character he played in ?Shaolin Soccer?),


HK films sometimes names the characters after the actors because the actors are so well-known. Stephen Chow's name in cantonese is Chow Sing-chi. there are some movies of Jackie Chan's where his character is "Jackie".

Stephen Chow movies have bigger box offices than Jackie Chan movies from what i've heard. he is the biggest asian star, bigger than Jackie.

Quote
...martial arts veteran and Bruce Lee stuntman Yuen Wah (?The Chinese Connection?)


Yuen Wah is one of the Seven Little Fortunes (in cantonese:  Chut Siu Fook) and amongst his "martial brothers" are Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao. all the SLF's stage names are named after their instructor in the Peking Opera, Yu Jim-yuen, with the exception of Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan who have used their real surnames instead of their stage names.

Quote
Three others join in the fight against the Axe Gang, exhibiting remarkable and improbable martial arts skills.


the styles of the 3 who fight agains the axe gang are real styles - 2 forms from the hung ga system of CMA and 3rd one may or may not be, i'm not up on the 3rd:  1) the pole style is "5 elements 8 diagram pole" (mm hung baat gwa gwun), 2) "iron wire fist" (teet sin kuen), and 3) tam tui, the kicking/legs style. i don't know if there is a "real" toad style that the beast used towards the end of the movie, or if there is a real "lion's roar" or also the "buddhist palm", but in the chinese wu xia novels, these styles exist. cool seeing it cgi'd.

Quote
When The Axe Gang calls in the most notorious killer of them all, a man known only as ?The Beast,? ... Played with exceptional humor and athleticism by the famous martial arts master and 1970s actor Leung Siu Lung


my friend said his best movie was, sorry - the name escapes me at the moment. my fave movie of his is released currently as THE LEG FIGHTERS, available on dvd commercially. back then he was known as Tam Tao-Liang, Delon Tam (after french movie idol Alain Delon), and various other spellings. incredible kicks. and yes they are high and flashy. i am not saying it's good or bad in real life/self defense, just saying he has good kicks as seen in his 1970's movies.

i liked this movie alot. the addition of cgi was realistic enough or seamless, unlike say tsui hark's LEGEND OF ZU. in LOZ, i felt like tsui was banging my head with a blunt ax saying, look at me, ooh ahh, cool cgi, see what i can add to the movie. in LOZ, the cgi was excessive. in SHAOLIN SOCCER, the cgi was very obvious but it was not excessively used which is a good thing. some critics complained of george lucas of overdoing the cgi in episodes 1-2. some of stephen chow's earlier HK movies involved a lot of wordplay and humor was lowbrow, i am glad he has evolved and that the west is getting a chance to see 2 of his recent movies. i recommend stephen chow movies to my non-cantonese speaking friends and i always wonder if they will find it as funny as me.
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2005, 07:38:55 PM »

Quote from: Crafty_Dog
Woof Tuhon Raf:

A pleasure to be graced by your presence once again.  

I'm not familiar with the movie "Old Dog", but by its name and your recommendation I am favorably disposed.  What can you tell us about it?

Woof,
Crafty Dog


Hey Crafty,

Must be my OLD age hitting me... probably cause I'd just seen a preview of Jet Li's new film, the film is actually called OldBOY. It is a South Korean film. It is a dark film about a man held prisoner in a room for many years and he turns into a sadistic vengeance seeking machine when he finally escapes. More twists and turns but I do not want to ruin it. The highlight is the hallway fight. It is how Conan should be staged, not stylistically but emotionally.  

Been thinking of Conan lately... wonder why Wink

--Rafael--
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2005, 08:47:21 PM »

I enjoyed Conan 1 (Sandahl Bergman smiley o==8 ) simply by putting aside the knowing that it could have been so more more.  Howard's Conan is a figure deep in the dark primal archetypes.  If only someone had been at the helm with the vision and courage to have gone there something truly great could have been made.  Ah well, forward.

Conan 2 was a joke-- and a waste of Wilt Chamberlain.  PG Conan!?!  Oy vey.
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metis
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2005, 09:01:46 PM »

i get the same feeling watching the 'Riddick' character from "Pitch Black" : the morally neutral survivor.

and i watched Conan (again) the other night w/ buddy who's a powerlifter and he was commenting on all the actors and how they were the 'old school' bodybuilding elite, even excluding Arnold.
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Black_Grass
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2005, 08:18:16 AM »

Quote from: Crafty_Dog
I enjoyed Conan 1 (Sandahl Bergman smiley o==8 ) simply by putting aside the knowing that it could have been so more more.  Howard's Conan is a figure deep in the dark primal archetypes.  If only someone had been at the helm with the vision and courage to have gone there something truly great could have been made.  Ah well, forward.

Conan 2 was a joke-- and a waste of Wilt Chamberlain.  PG Conan!?!  Oy vey.


A new Conan movie is in the works "King Conan". Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) is set to direct replacing John Milius ( the director of Conan the Barbarian). Rodriguez still hopes to get Governor Arnie in the lead role.

So I ask "what is best in life ?"

Vince
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2005, 12:42:55 PM »

I think our Guv is not up to it physically any longer.  After his heart surgery, one suspects he may be leary of further use of hormonal supplements.

With a bit a vision, this could have been a powerful series, a barbarian James Bond (in the sense of a franchise) if you will.  But too late for that.

Suggestions for the new Conan?

I thought the Rock showed the capability for athleticism (always a weak point for the Guv IMHO) arrogance and sense of humor in that movie where he played a bounty hunter bringing back Jason Something Something from Brazil.
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metis
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2005, 01:52:17 PM »

Milius had planned on using the wrestler 'Triple H'. they felt he could be made to look younger and older to fit different parts of the story.
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Sun_Helmet
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2005, 07:53:41 PM »

Some PC peppering here and there but never the less, I liked this film. I'd like to see the whole thing unedited as I believe Ridley Scott had to trim nearly an hour of footage. The battle scenes are well done. You can see formations better than in most recent Hollywood epics. Better than ALEXANDER and TROY.

Small nitpick, I didn't like the choice for Richard the Lion Hearted, too stately - he was the closest thing to Conan in real life. Ed Norton's Baldwin is well done, the visual reminds me of this image that I drew fifteen years ago:

http://members.aol.com/kayanancomicart/mask.html

And the design for Saladin (pardon the westernized sp) looks close to this one:

http://members.aol.com/RafKayanan/NewArt2002/vulture.html

Wait a sec... someone owes me a royalty check!!!  Smiley

The scene with the two armies is VERY well done and paced to build up so that by the time we see the appearance of the True Cross (supposedly a remnant of the cross which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on), it is striking.

This film sets up the more interesting Crusade from my POV, the battles between Richard the Lion Hearted and Saladin. There's no closure to what happens to Guy, even though those of us who've read about Saint Joan de Arc knows where he eventually ends up.

Some well done fight scenes and battles in this one with the gore and blood intact as only the man who brought us GLADIATOR could do it.


--Rafael--
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--Rafael--
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Jose Rizal, from his 1889 essay, ' To The Filipinos '
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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2005, 12:31:58 PM »

Woof All:

Being a father of a 5 and 2 year old, my wife and I don't get out much, so the reviews I post rarely are of movies I have seen, so I just share reviews that seem interesting.

Crafty
=============================

Memo to: Website Moviegoers
From: Matthew Wanniski
Re: A Great Film ? and That?s No Accident

Coming off the great success of his screenplay for ?Million Dollar Baby,? Paul Haggis takes the director?s seat to deliver another emotionally-driven, powerfully-told story: the Lion?s Gate release, ?Crash.? The film is ostensibly about racism and it examines the issue from all sides from the streets of Los Angeles. It comes at a time when most people may no longer consider it with any great urgency, if they ever did at all. Haggis? film shows that, sadly, racism is still alive and kicking, still impeding our progress, so preventing us all from living happy and peaceful lives.

The story begins with a carjacking (inspired by a similar experience that Haggis and his wife once faced), an event that sets everything in motion. Two young black men pause in their discussion of racism to steal a car from white District Attorney Richard Cabot and his wife Jean. Larenz Tate and rap star Ludacris play the carjackers, and it is their argument that sets the tone for the rest of the film. While Richard contemplates the political impact, Jean feels as if her sense of security as been violated, affecting her far more acutely than her husband. Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock play the victimized couple very well. Fraser?s emotionally stand-offish D.A. stands in marked contrast to Bullock?s Jean, who really makes you feel her trauma, her anger, and her fear. There?s a distance between them, which Haggis deftly reveals to be just one small piece of the yawning chasm between everyone in the film, between everyone in the city, a distance even between body and soul.

On the other side of town, black L.A. police detective Graham and his Hispanic partner/lover Ria, played by Jennifer Esposito, investigate the murder of a young black man, whose body has been dumped along the road. Don Cheadle, who also produced the film, plays Graham, a tired and jaded man who doesn?t quite have his life together as it seems. Like everyone else, he has his own demons to deal with, and he tends to push away even those he loves most. Like D.A. Cabot, his career comes first, much to Ria?s dismay. It?s a familiar coping mechanism these men seem to have, cutting themselves off from everyone else to avoid the pain of love and loss. Such actions do have a tendency to backfire, however, and the characters are forced to face the consequences of their selfish actions.

There are several moments of such intensity and emotional impact, that they hit you in the gut and leave you reeling, such as the dramatic rescue from the burning car of the black wife of a successful black television producer. Thandie Newton delivers a fantastic performance in this role. Her torment over being saved by a racist white cop, played by Matt Dillon?who had earlier humiliated her and her husband when they were pulled over for no other reason than that they were black?is so incredibly raw and real that it?s just devastating to watch. Terrence Howard, who plays her husband, another emotionally distant man more interested in his career than his marriage, offers a wonderful performance of his own as a man coming to terms with his own identity as a prominent black man who masks his race behind his success.

The most poignant performances, however, comes from Michael Pena, who plays Daniel, a Mexican locksmith, and Ashlyn Sanchez, who plays Daniel?s 5-year-old daughter, Lara, who is afraid of being shot and killed while she sleeps, supposedly safe, in her bed. Their scenes together are truly beautiful and heartbreaking.

The film also takes the time to explore religious tension in the form of a Persian shopkeeper who is treated poorly by white men who believe he is an Arab, and therefore must secretly be a terrorist.

A overwhelming sense of foreboding seeps into you as you watch, filling you with dread and the belief that this is all going to end badly. Haggis is a very clever filmmaker, however. He turns expectations on their head, defying audiences to figure out how things turn out in end.

It?s no accident that this is an extraordinary film. Haggis and co-writer Robert Moresco expertly weave together the lives of these seemingly divergent characters, and does so in an unpredictable way, forcing us to look at the world through different sets of eyes and then turning our eyes inward for a good, hard look at ourselves. The film suggests that we don?t know ourselves as well as we think we do. It?s an uncomfortable fact to accept. Reusing to shy away from edgy, controversial subject matter is a bold move, and it?s an environment in which these actors shine. Haggis pulls tremendous performances out of his actors, even from those playing minor characters. They all make it look so effortless. Come Oscar time, this will be the one to watch.

Rated ?R,? for language, sexual content and some violence.

Matthew Wanniski is a writer, editor and story analyst for Anonymous Content, a talent management and production company in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Mattsreviews@aol.com. His Thursday reviews here have been appearing Fridays to a much wider audience at http://www.worldnetdaily.com, and can also be found at www.rottentomatoes.com.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2005, 02:46:39 AM »

Woof All:

Assured by by a friend of its suitability, I took Conrad to see Batman Begins today.? As my son Conrad has had more exposure to and more conceptual tools for matters concerning aggression than most 5 year old boys (he's 6 August 29).? That said, this movie required all my fathering skills as we watched it together and we will be continuing to discuss it on the long drive home from the Bay area tomorrow. (Friday).

Putting that aside, I would like to say that I thought this was an excellent movie-- and quite unlike the other Batmans-- none of which resonated for me.

In contrast this movie's script operated on several levels including an interesting three way dynamic instead of the usual good versus bad wherein two concepts of justice war with each other as well as with bad.

Woof,
Crafty Dog
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2006, 10:43:05 AM »

I really enjoyed King Kong.
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outcast
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2006, 03:15:08 PM »

Hey, I'll tell my brother you liked it.  He did some of the animation on it (in the credits he is).  He saw me watching some of RSF 1 and it reignited his want to train.  Woof!
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ponytotts
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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2006, 04:51:46 PM »

its not a fight movie, but has anyone seen " what the bleep do we know"?
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Guard Dog
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« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2006, 07:28:44 PM »

Another one I want to bring up is "Four Brothers."  It has a hand gun disarm in it that is textbook.



Gruhn
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bjung
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« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2006, 11:26:55 PM »

swords! guns! war elephants!!

i caught a preview for yet another thailand vs. burma war epic...the trailer isn't on the website yet, but the trailer i saw looked promising...

http://kingnaresuanmovie.com/
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matinik
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« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2006, 12:03:15 AM »

woof y'all

speaking of which, what do you guys think of ong bak with tony jaa. i thought they did a great job presenting krabi krabong
and muay thai. tony jaa had the skills that i haven't seen on sceen in a while. granted, he took some liberties
doing the techniques, but alll in all, it was kind of refreshing to see wire free action for a change.

i really dug the final fights in the cave. they must've played with every thing but the kitchen sink afro!

where oh where can we see some GOOD movie FMA action.? cry (beside the HUNTED or Borne identity/supremacy)


matinik
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buzwardo
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« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2006, 11:38:20 AM »

woof y'all

speaking of which, what do you guys think of ong bak with tony jaa.

I just rewatched it and still want to learn how to throw the knee that ended, with one blow, the first "fight club" fight toward the beginning of the flick. Looked like he brought the knee up, leaned, turned the hip over, then cranked his down foot outward while brining the knee across. Anyone know what it's called or done it?
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Guard Dog
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« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2006, 01:30:27 PM »

Quote
Anyone know what it's called or done it?

First off may I say that TJ is a prodigy when it comes to being able to manipulate his body in space.  His gymnastic ability coupled with his MA knowledge is extremely impressive.  With that said IMHO I think you need to have extreme flexibility and balance to be able to execute that knee.  Secondly, that is the only place I have ever seen that done, let alone ever work.  I think the most important thing we shoudl remember when watching it is that it is meant for show more than anything.  My advice on learning how to throw it is make sure you can do full splits in all directions, then go from there.

Gruhn
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« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2006, 01:34:58 PM »

I have to put The Protector's (Tom Yum Goong) last fight sequence (Tony Jaa versus the world) among the most amazing displays of martial arts in a film. Pick a style and he uses it to dismantle a somewhere around 30-40 guys. Incredible athletic ability on display.
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Dog Robertlk808
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« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2006, 06:54:15 PM »

Yeah at the end is a great fight sequence.  I checked this site and there is going to be a Ong-Bak 2

http://www.tonyjaa.org/film_ongbak2.shtml

Accoding to his site there are 2 more movies he is planning on making that look really good as well.

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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2006, 09:37:15 PM »

****SPOILER****

Only click on the link if you want to see the fight, who knows maybe it will make yo want to see the movie....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqGxP5bvJUk
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"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2006, 11:00:14 PM »

Tony Jaa simply is one of the most impressive screen fighters I have ever seen.   The quality of the movement, the coordination and timing, the grace, the athleticism, the apparent martial arts skills, the aura he projects are all outstanding.

I've never seen his movies with/in English-- doesn't matter.  The opening scene of Ong Bak (the tree climb competition) is a remarkable piece of film.
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bjung
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2006, 10:31:22 AM »

Tony Jaa definately has the charisma to go along with his talent. I can't wait to see his next movie. On a side note, the concept of six degrees of seperation always tickles me.  My aunt is close friends with a popular dance performer here in Thailand who is in turn good friends with tony. i'm not sure if tony has ever studied dance though...
tony vs. capoeria in tom young goong is probably my fave one on one fight scene right now, though his battle up the flights of stairs pretty much dropped my jaw too...
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peregrine
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« Reply #30 on: October 22, 2006, 03:12:01 AM »

Robert808 i just picked up Tom Young Guun.. and Spirit(sp?) Tony Jaas other 2 movies, i'll let you borrow if you got something to trade like some of that Mordern Arnis or bubblegum.
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matinik
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« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2006, 09:45:12 PM »

yup, the man got skills. i sure hope he doesn't do a bone head jackie chan move and try to cross over to hollywood. every time that happens, they either emasculate what makes the guy cool or water him down to a shadow of himself (shades of around the world in 80 days shocked)) am i the only one bugged about this trend? angry

btw, there's a movie coming out called pathfinder. the story is about this viking kid that got stranded in ancient america, learned to go native, then has to fight off a viking horde that comes back to claim the land (if memory serves). interesting premise. have to wait and see how they handle the swordplay on this.

also take a gander at zatoichi the original series, out on dvd. some really fly? afro old school samurai action. funny as all git out.

ps.?  pls. check out my blog, all. i'm attempting to launch a comic book about a kali/silat character. it's at blogger.com
do a search for wavmostudio. that's my space.

matinik
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 09:57:55 PM by matinik » Logged
the spaniard
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« Reply #32 on: October 28, 2006, 05:04:17 AM »


Frank miller's comic "300" adaptation to film representing the last stand of 300 Spartans against the Persian Army in Thermopylae in 480 BC.
http://www.themoviebox.net/movies/2006/0-9ABC/300/trailer.php
Sadly we'll have to wait until next year cry
You can see Spanish film Capitan Alatriste starring Vigo Mortennsen about a soldier and mercenary in Spain of 17th Century.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAcrIr84OdQ
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Dog Robertlk808
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« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2006, 11:48:08 AM »

OK, so I know this thread is about movies but I didnt think it was worth creating a whole new thread..
I was playing World of Warcraft (yeah.. Im a geek, whatever.. lol) but I totally forgot about this interesting reference, this character is a weapons trainer.



Also if you ever read sci-fi / science fiction there is a series by Terry Goodkind called Sword of Truth. I believe it is in the 1st or maybe the 2nd book. There is a tribe that is very skilled in blades and the name is similar to Bakbakan interesting yeah? Not only is FMA in movies but also paid tribute or referenced in Sci-Fi fantasy books as well. I will have to dig mine up and find out which one they are in and maybe Ill even type or scan the paragraph in which the main character does battle with them.
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Dog Greg Brown
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« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2006, 12:22:28 PM »

I've been seeing the previews for 300 and it looks great. Sort of that same filming style that I loved from sin city and added to one of the most amazing feats in the history of warfare. I think this may be an old subject, but Tony Jaa spent time learning the old thai boxing (mae ma muay thai) with some of the trainers at Sityodtong.
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MonyetNakal
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« Reply #35 on: December 09, 2006, 07:04:31 PM »

OK, so I know this thread is about movies but I didnt think it was worth creating a whole new thread..
I was playing World of Warcraft (yeah.. Im a geek, whatever.. lol) but I totally forgot about this interesting reference, this character is a weapons trainer.


If you look hard enough you will find at least two more references to Kali or Silat in that game... one of which is Dog Brothers specific (...or maybe I should say specific to a specific Dog Brother) both of them are weapons.

 wink
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #36 on: December 09, 2006, 11:53:41 PM »

You do have my curiosity aroused.  Do you have a URL?
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Dog Robertlk808
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« Reply #37 on: December 10, 2006, 01:28:02 AM »

Guro Crafty,
Here is a URL to search through all the weapons.
http://wow.allakhazam.com/dyn/items/weapons.html

I scanned through but I am not sure if this was what he referencing it will take a little bit of time to find the other references.

Bludgeon of the Grinning Dog
http://wow.allakhazam.com/db/item.html?witem=10627

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"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Dog Robertlk808
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« Reply #38 on: January 01, 2007, 02:35:31 PM »

While I was visiting WA back in Sept.  I bought this video for .50 cents  grin  Now the movie isnt all the great but it is interesting that they Datu Inocalla from Modern Arnis and Kimo.  Is the video worth watching? Welll... I would just fast forward to the fight scenes, lol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocqqizJ_d6I

IMDB.com doesnt not provide much info about the movie either..
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"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
peregrine
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« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2007, 02:04:43 PM »

Killzone- cool Hong Kong flick - very good asp baton verse reverse grip knife
The Promise- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417976/
Finghter in the Wind- a flick about Mas Oyama... here is a link on review http://www.kungfucinema.com/reviews/fighterinthewind_010605.htm
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ponytotts
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« Reply #40 on: May 10, 2007, 03:34:25 PM »

i cant wait 4 this 1 !!!!! afro
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GbvNL6s45U&mode=related&search=
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Dog Robertlk808
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« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2007, 01:21:21 AM »

New Rambo movie coming out.. I had no idea they were making this ....
Some gorey moments in this clip.

Quote
During the opening weekend of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, footage from the upcoming "Rambo" sequel, entitled "John Rambo," made its rounds among distributors. The footage hit the internet shortly thereafter, and here it is in all its non-PC, R-rating friendly, slap-happy violent glory...

http://www.filmthreat.com/index.php?section=features&Id=1946
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"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #42 on: May 22, 2007, 01:24:41 AM »

It has recently come to my attention that Stallone is a major anti-gun rights guy.  What a hypocrite.
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Bandolero
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« Reply #43 on: May 23, 2007, 07:41:31 AM »

Starring Cung Le, but also has Bolo and David Carradine.  I've always liked Bolo:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0780484/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJpx3t1eJjg
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Tom Stillman
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« Reply #44 on: May 23, 2007, 06:05:21 PM »

Here is a little gem of a movie you do'nt want to miss. Back in the late 70's in Los Angeles, this movie use to pop up from time to time on SELECT Cable TV on the "MIDNIGHT HORROR" show. One of my favorites for sure!.  I think George Lucas borrowed some music from this movie for Star Wars... Or was it the other way around?  Just the tempo was slower. TS                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAJSWcPb7AM
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« Reply #45 on: May 23, 2007, 06:16:43 PM »

Here is the music.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPNai1EDos4&mode=related&search=
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DougMacG
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« Reply #46 on: May 17, 2008, 11:47:25 PM »

Crafty wrote: "...the movie "Miracle" (2004).  My son is getting involved in playing hockey and this could be a good movie for us to watch.  To help me with my search, do you remember the name of the lead actors?

Kurt Russell played the coach Herb Brooks.  Like the original Rocky, it is more about training, winning and the human side than about the sport.  Here's a clip: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi379191577/
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Guard Dog
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« Reply #47 on: May 18, 2008, 09:33:50 AM »

The Foot Fist Way:

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #48 on: May 18, 2008, 10:46:14 AM »

Thank you Doug.
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maija
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« Reply #49 on: June 20, 2008, 08:15:19 PM »

Ong Bak 2 Promo Reel: http://youtube.com/watch?v=3wMNQwF2Wk4
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