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Man Of Tai Chi (2013)

Man Of Tai Chi (2013)

When did Keanu Reeves decide he wanted to direct martial arts movies?! I wonder what gave him the idea... but whatever it was, I'm glad the idea was given! He doesn't feature in most fights, but he does make an appearance in the final one, and compared to Tiger Chen he is a giant! The battle isn't as realistically fluent as some of the other ones (where both contenders are professional martial artists) but it's not bad either. He puts up a good final fight, plays the villain accordingly, and Tiger Chen makes the trip from light to dark to light again just like he's supposed to. I liked that subtle yin/yang transition after he bows down to his opponent at the end, and the 'I am nothing' is spot on to the teachings of Tai Chi! Such profound wisdom in a simple sentence, and to think that the enemy bestows upon him the wisdom that ultimately lets him control his chi properly, to let it out; free himself... and beat his opponent. Ironic.

I love movies that make good modern use of martial arts without making them seeing unnecessarily flashy on the verge of supernatural, movies that humbly bridge the gap between Eastern and Western cultures without making either one seem superior, and movies that keep the tradition of real stunts and fighting choreography performed by pros still going strong! And of course I'm saying this because this movie did all three. And the fights look real, even when there are strings attached.

Overall it was a great action movie, with some great martial arts; plenty of opponents Chen has to fight. Reeves has done a nice job of gathering together talented people that aren't necessarily well-known in most of the world. Simon Yam and Karen Mok are the two exceptions, and Tiger Chen gets to (I think) debut as main character, something he does with flying colors! I guess his working with stunts on The Matrix movies might have something to do with it. Iko Uwais gets a very brief appearance at the end too. You know, that guy from The Raid? I was looking forward to a real fight but... maybe some other time. :)

Plotwise, I think I can reveal without spoiling anything that this is a bit like the Truman Show of underground fight clubs, the story of one individuals life, and the lessons and obstacles he faces along the way. Which seems all the realer considering he plays who he is, at least by name, both Tiger Chen in and outside the movie. Great watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Once Upon A Time In Shanghai (2014)

Once Upon A Time In Shanghai (2014)

Once Upon A Time In Shanghai (2014)

Once Upon A Time In Shanghai (2014)

Once Upon A Time In Shanghai (2014)

A laborer moves to Shanghai in the hope of becoming rich. But ends up using his kung fu skills to survive.

Now this is what I'm talking about! This is what Shanghai is! This is what I expected to see when I watched Shanghai (2010) and though I don't recall much about that movie, I do remember feeling deeply disappointed.

Here we have friendship, love, brotherhood, family, justice, vengeance, sacrifice, Samu Hung, Andy On, Philip Ng, Yongchen Liu along with many others and a story of a Shanghai in the 1930s ruled by Long Qi and the Axe Gangs. The Japanese are plotting to take over, and Ma Yongzhen just arrived fresh off a boat.

The movie isn't really in black and white, but at the start that's what it looks like. When we leave the boat and venture out into the world we realize it's more like white and brown, colors so saturated the nuances barely show through (unlike the covers above). I thought I'd have liked to see the movie in color, but the darker nuances build up the atmosphere in a unique way and after a while I'm snug and settled in. Well, not snug, more like constantly at the edge of my seat. But settled in.

There's dance, there's music, there's tumbling around, there's fighting, eating, glancing at each other through the windows and the over the rice bowls... just like I'd expect from an Asian movie of such grand proportions! It has elements of both old and new. It has style and it has grit. It's nice. It's sad. It's fun. And the fight are masterful. Great watch.

I couldn't find the perfect cover image so I made four.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Words To Work By

Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing.

Wise words from the chapter with the same name in a book I just finished reading. Getting Things Done (1978). An inspiring collection of advice on how to efficiently handle your time! I could probably have saved some skipping chapters on shorthand and efficient typewriter usage though.

Water Levels Just Rose 51 CM In Kalix

I'm lying in bed - napping after a long promenade in the suddenly incredibly early dusk's final light of day, when my mom calls me. The radio just announced that the water level is 51cm above normal up in Kalix.

Why Kalix is important to us - considering we don't live there nor have any relatives living there - that's another question. The one that pops into my dazed mind right after I'm told this, and briefly affirm the news with a loud 'Ah', shortly afterwards compelling me to write this post, is: why 51 centimeters? Why not just round down to 50? Is 50 such a small measurement that they feel compelled to add even that trivial one? Or maybe 50 is such an even number that people might assume they rounded up if they didn't add anything extra?

However, when floods occur, water levels quickly start being measured by meter rather than centimeter, even if the round-off is on a much larger scale. Why is this 1 all the more important when the scale is smaller, even though the exact measures should be all the more important the larger they are? The larger = the more = the more important. Usually I'd have let this thought rest right here, but it struck me that the reason I wonder so much might be because I never follow through with my thoughts.

So I thought I'd follow through. I thought I'd Google, then I realized this question is even more trivial than that one added after the 50, so why spend time on researching the question when I know the answer will be of little added value in the overall context of my life, or in the grand scheme of existence and all things to come, and all thoughts I could be thinking? Why did I even write this post? Was this post worth writing, for me or for a single reader out there? And maybe I could've rounded it off right after my theories, without extending this previously short segment of reading with an epoque on existential questioning and significance. Let it rest.

But just so you know. Water levels just rose 51 cm in Kalix.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I was a bit suspicious of how the special effects would hold in a movie from 2008, recalling scarily large differences between expectations and executions with the aged effects in movies like 'Children of The Corn 3' but... the results were good! It might not be as flawless as a movie made five years later, but it's good enough that it still looks real. And somehow I imagine that if it still looks real now, it's going to stay that way. And it's much better than the movie cover.

The Incredible Hulk is the story of super soldiers, of which the scientist Bruce Banner is a failed experiment. He has the power, but he doesn't have the control, and his lovely Betty Ross's dad - General 'Thunderbolt' Ross - wants to use Bruce Banner as a lab rat and dissect him to find out what makes him tick. Or rather, what makes him grow large, green and violent as soon as he gets angry.

There's also the supervillain Emil Blonsky, who starts a slightly irregular soldier and soon becomes the morbid result of General Ross's thoughtless attempts at doing anything he can to get his hands on Bruce Banner. Even if it means enhancing Emil's human abilities to the point where it's no longer certain if he really is human.

In the end, the General kinda admits his mistake, the batteries run out on Betty Ross's camera and Bruce Banner defeats the villain, once again choosing to live as an hermit while he learns to control his power. It's a good movie! And I hope there'll be an official sequel, not just random Hulk appearances in the collective Avenger battles. The Hulk could definitely use some more solo time. like the 'Amazing Spider-Man' or the... 'Superman'. I guess the latter superhero already has that intensifying adjective built into his name. Onto the next one!

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Let’s Be Cops (2014)

Lets Be Cops (2014)

Why do American movies have to exaggerate so much?! Why do they have to go over the top and crazy and lock up the plot on routine misunderstandings, unnecessary insults, hallucinogens, superficial oddities, strange sexual encounters, freak events like a fat dudes balls getting dragged across the face of the main character's sidekick as the other cops try to drag him away (fat guy running rampant would've been enough) or obvious feelings of insecurity?!

This could have been a great movie. The plot is good, as are the actors, the filming; short of everything except for the actual end result. The part where the black guy pitches his game plan while the white guy (that's another why: why do they always have to pair white and black people together as main characters regardless of how well those characters sync, just because they want to appeal to a broader audience or make more money?) is running around, scared shitless, chased by goons with guns ablaze, was awesome. It did make me feel like I was immersed in the action. The panic and fear was easy to read in the main character's face: the bullets digging their way through car glass, rippling through steel like aluminum foil, burying themselves in the ground in clouds of dust and debris.

At that part, I thought I was about to change my mind about this movie, but of course they take every opportunity to ruin it after that. With smart remarks. The black guy shielding the white guy with his body. The cop jokes. The 'if you say you love me I'm gonna punch you in the face' or 'you are a loser' type of comments. That's just not my kind of humor. That's not fun. That's just unnecessary. Like these short mentions of what I think about that kind of humor.

In a way the movie is like the game the black guy initially fails to make. The other guy steps up and spawns an idea for a 'firefighters against zombies' franchise with tons of explosions and stuff. The end-result isn't quite how he expected it - though obviously the result of his own thoughtless suggestions. It's the same thing here. This movie could've been awesome, but the end result just leaves me with a bad taste. Kinda inspired - it gets better at the end - but still with a bad taste.

The story's about two guys pretending to be cops btw. It starts with pretending, soon moves on to impersonating... and I'm sure you can guess how it all ends. ;)

 rated 3/5: not bad
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