Archive for the 'martial arts' Category

09
Mar
09

Ink Review

ink2A question that’s rung in my head since first hearing about the movie Ink, was what relevance the title of the film held. From the first moments of the trailer, and subsequently the film, I knew I was in for a movie that had calculated its’ steps carefully, creating something in between an eloquent waltz and an algebra equation. I knew that the title was another vital part of the whole experience, and that deciphering it’s meaning was another key to unlocking the many mysteries that lay inside the delicate layers of Ink’s story.

That story, written by Jamin Winans, is a tale of multi-dimensional dream weavers, consisting of one bad stable and one good one. The good ones, dubbed Storytellers, give us good dreams by visiting us in our rooms once we’ve fallen asleep and gently waving there hands slowly by our heads. The bad ones, called the The Incubi, give us the nightmares. Beyond the ability to grant dreams, these people also battle over the souls of those who are sleeping.

Ink's spectacular makeup and look.

Ink's spectacular makeup and look help solidify him as our complicated, yet menacing antagonist.

This is more or less where our story begins. A drifter, one who is stuck in between life and death, named Ink is propositioned by the Incubi to steal the soul of a seemingly insignificant little girl named Emma, in exchange for the ability to become an Incubi himself. Emma’s estranged father, John, is also battling staggeringly high odds, both physically and emotionally, due to a demanding and stressful job, and the weight of his own guilt and shame. The rest is quite simply too exciting and emotionally propelling to spoil for the sake of this review.

The first thing that one notices about Jamin Winans film Ink, is that it is in an entire league of it’s own in terms of visual style. While some influences are noticeable, Jamin takes the idea of kinetic and potential energy in a movie to new heights. The pace is fluid, only jumping a beat to drive home a scene or a moment, then quickly snaps back into place, driving the narrative along briskly enough to demand a viewers full attention without overloading and confusing them. The editing is so precise, so flawless, that it begins to feel almost euphoric. Jamin manipulates the order of certain events, in order to keep viewers on there toes about where the story is heading. There is no point in the movie where I could clearly say what was going to happen next, and that feeling of wonderment and vulnerability is something that has stuck with me even through writing this piece. It’s a hypnotizing film, and it never sacrifices the gravity of what’s happening on screen in favor of giving you a flashy, “Hollywood” shot that only looks great on movie posters. This film exudes an aura of tremendous planning brought to life by even more impressive execution.

The cinematogaphy is remarkable, looking even better while in full motion.

The cinematography is remarkable, looking even better when in full motion.

Hand in hand with the visual buffet, is the equally sublime audio package. From the old-timey camera snap-and-flicker sound effect used for when storytellers teleport in, to the visceral crunch of a perfectly placed uppercut, to the appropriate tinkering and manipulation of certain voices to help give them an other worldly feel, the effects are all nothing short of innovative. Everything sounds crisp and distinctive, and every action is accounted for. Holding all the aforementioned technical elements together is a subtle, oceanic, and deeply emotional score, written by Jamin Winans. The score is reminiscent of some of John Muprhy’s work, as well as some of Danny Elfmans’ dreamier, calmer material. But Jamin really shows he has the patience, style, and talent to not only create a great stand alone score, but also one that personifies and amplifies perfectly everything his film has to say. Not enough can be said about how much the score adds to the entire feel of the film, something not seen enough in the days of soundtracks where popular artists write a soulless song that supposedly represents the movie.

An Incubi, who brings nightmares.

An Incubi, who brings nightmares.

Along with the groundbreaking special effects (see the reconstructing furniture fight scene for evidence of this) there is the cinematography of Jeff Pointer. All the different planes of existence in Ink’s world are accompanied by a strikingly different palette of colors and lighting techniques. It not only creates the appearance that they are entirely different dimensions, it becomes other dimensions altogether. Due to the digital filming techniques I am almost sure Jamin Winans used extensively while shooting Ink, he gains an incredible amount of control over lighting, filters, color correction and saturation, which he uses to great dramatic effect. They also function perfectly as cues that we have begun to look in on a different scene, and helps indicate silently where we are, who were are with, and with whom there alliances lay.

But if Ink is anything, it’s a damn good story. The story is so luminary, so rife with honest humanity and emotion that it’s near impossible not to invoke some kind of serious, introspective moment within you while watching. It’s not the kind of emotion that make boyfriends not want to go see the romance flick with their girlfriends, it’s the kind of emotion that’s intrinsic within the human conscious. It’s about loss, innocence, desire, motivation, and possibly above all, hope. The film makes some very philosophical observations on the sordid perils of everyday life, but it makes them in a passive, courteous way. It acknowledges that we are, to a degree, the sum of our parts and past experiences, but it also points out that there is always the opportunity for radical change. Jamin manages to ease his way into some very heady, intellectual space without losing sight of the plot and the characters I found myself heavily invested in. This alone is quite an achievement.

The sunny, surine dimension of the Storytellers.

The sunny, serene dimension of the Storytellers.

All those points wouldn’t have been so well conveyed without actors who really seemed to understand the vision of Jamin. Consider that a non-issue though, as all the actors and actresses playing there roles without incident, with no one seeming out of place or terribly miscast. Extra credit must go to Chris Kelly for playing John and Jessica Duffy for playing Liev, whose performances were simply to sensational not to mention. There isn’t really much else I can say about the cast other then Jamin Winans must’ve have had at least some, if not all, of the actors and actress’s in mind when he wrote the script, because the roles seem tailor made for the individuals playing them. They are always shown in their best light, the emotion that Jamin squeezed from them seems as genuine as anything I’ve even seen. If there’s one thing that’s evident in independent film making, it’s the passion of those involved. It’s the whole reason independent film making still exists, because I assure you, it isn’t for the money. In Ink’s case, the movie is overflowing with determination and fire, which helps envelope the viewer in the vibrant, awe-inspiring world that this magical yarn is spun in.

The only obstacle I can see any audience having a major problem with, would be the sheer emotional investment and outside the box thinking a movie this cavernous can require for full enjoyment and understanding. It’s all about invading the comfortable areas of your life, it’s about turning the mirror on yourself, and it’s about the stuff all of us have deep inside, regardless of whether or not we pretend it’s not there. It’s story is not only timely, but timeless. There is no restriction on when a tale like this could be told.

Our Storytellers along with their quirky, philospoical guide, The Pathfinder.

Our Storytellers along with their quirky, philosophical guide, The Pathfinder.

In the end, I think I’ve found the answer to my original question, and that the answer may be that we are all Ink. We are all different colors, different viscosity, and different blends. We are the instruments of change, both good and bad, but we are not immune to them ourselves. The randomness of life can be extremely disruptive, and seem devoid of pattern, reason and predictability, but just because the last few moments, days, or years have blindsided you, it doesn’t mean you are lost forever. At least, that’s how I saw it.

Jamin Winans has concocted a potent narrative, one that is as focused as can be, while still leaving enough room for individual interpretation. It is assembled in such a way that not only promotes, but encourages multiple viewings. Technically speaking, there is nothing that could be done better within the budget, and the acting is all fitting, bringing believability and heft to each role, while naturally allowing the main figures to steal the show. Ink deserves a special place inside the hollowed halls of great intellectual cinema, here’s to hoping it takes its rightful places in that gallery one day.

Love

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08
Mar
09

Japanese Spiderman – Episode 1 for streaming (and downloading)

You didn’t even know there was a Japanese Spiderman TV series? Shame on you! Well, okay, most people don’t know it, but there was indeed a Japanese Spiderman and, truth be told, it whooped the ass of the US TV series.

Produced by Toei Company in the late 1970s, the series follows the exploits of motorcycle racer turned super hero Takuya Yamashiro (not Peter Parker), as he slings and swings, battling the evil Iron Cross Army along the way.

Some Japanese Spidey goodness:

Japanese Spiderman - episode 1

Japanese Spiderman - episode 1

Not only does he kick ass, he has a mech too!

Not only does he kick ass, he has a mech too!

Anyway… head over to the Marvel site (below) to watch episode 1 in all it’s 70’s glory and with subtitles!

Source: http://www.marvel.com/news/moviestories.7114.Watch_Japanese_Spider-Man_on_Marvel

14
Feb
09

Feast 3 – The Happy Finish

Feast III - The Happy Ending

Feast III - The Happy Finish

And now we reach the end of the Feast trilogy (assuming they do end it here that is) with Feast III – The Happy Finish..

The first five minutes of Feast III consists of flashbacks to Feast and Feast II. Feast III continues on right from the end of Feast II showing what happens to Honey Pie (shant spoil it) and the rest of the gang.

As we’ve come to expect from the previous two movies, Feast III has the usual amount of schoolboy humour and over the top gore/comedy.

Having survived Fast II, the group meet up with a Duke Nukem/cowboy who has a plan for survival, which comes to a rather unfortunate end, leaving the group at a loss for leadership. This is soon remedied by a mysterious ‘prophet’ who seems to have some sort of control over the beasts (whom we still know little, to nothing, about).

But before the meeting is surely one of Feast III’s funniest moments. Ass rape. Yes, that’s right, I’ve managed to write a review with a humorous scene of ass rape. Our ex-car dealer has his back to the wall, while trapped in a storage container. Unfortunately, said wall has a hole in it which one of the randy beasts decides to make good use of. The rest you can find out while watching it.

Ass rape - in this case, it's funny.

Ass rape - in this case, it's funny.

As the beasts run from the mysterious ‘prophet’ the gang take his advice and head for the place where the trilogies humour comes from: the sewers. Here they meet a Macguyver/Bruce Lee wannabe.

Beast balls! Gratuitous sack shot

Beast balls! Gratuitous alien sack shot

Another humorous thing in Feast III is the pole-in-head guy from Feast II. With a pole through your head, I’m sure it’d be quite difficult to talk and you’d be even harder to understand. Subtitles to the rescue! Yes, every time pole-in-the-head guy talks, we get subtitles showing, approximately, what he’s mumbling.

Pole-in-the-head guy goes delerious.

Pole-in-the-head guy goes delirious and thinks one of the midgets is his son.

The survivors leave the sewers and head for street level where the trilogies ending begins.

I’m not going to spoil it, but I enjoyed the ending. Some may not like it, but it’s suitable for the Feast movies. In fact, I’ve enjoyed all three Feast films. They’ve been funny, gory, chock full of boobage and schoolboy humour.

Long may it last. More Feast and more schoolboy humour please!*

* and, of course, boobs

27
Dec
08

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Oh yes, it’s here!

Tokyo Gore Police!

If you’ve seen The Machine Girl, then it’s more of the same crazy gore-fest goodness.

The basic story is as thus: (from IMDb)

Set in a future-world vision of Tokyo where the police have been privatized and bitter self-mutilation is so casual that advertising is often specially geared to the “cutter” demographic, this is the story of samurai-sword-wielding Ruka and her mission to avenge her father’s assassination. Ruka is a cop from a squad who’s mission is to destroy homicidal mutant humans known as “engineers” possessing the ability to transform any injury to a weapon in and of itself.

Sound crazy? Kinda. But you’ve really got to see it to believe it.

Some parts of TGP remind me of Robocop. There are parts in the movie where it suddenly switches to a TV advert, one in particular (which I thought was hilarious in this day and emo-age) was for special cutter blades, where emo-kids could use these fancy blades to cut cool shapes in to themselves, all done in over the top TV ad style. Very funny.

Tokyo Gore Police - she's the radio control chick

Tokyo Gore Police - she's the Police radio controller chick

Other parts of the movie are just plain mad. We often cut to scenes where a woman with an old 1950’s style microphone announces, in her best radio voice, incidents that are occurring. I can only assume that she’s the radio controller for the Police!

In other scenes we see a maniac murdering a woman and stuffing her remains in to a cardboard box:

She's a boxer. Hah! Geddit?! I made a funny!

She's a boxer. Hah! Geddit?! I made a funny!

In a rather fetishistic scene we see odd looking mutants dance across a stage with a skin covered, still breathing, chair that pees on people! Behold:

It's a living, breathing, peeing chair!

It's a living, breathing, peeing chair!

But there is some inventive stuff here. When the engineers are making other people engineers, they hold an organic key to the persons skin and a little keyhole appears, they pop the key in and turn it and a part of the person just pops open, unlocked, for the engineer to stick the key in to. I’ve not seen that done before!

Crazy/gory/mutated scenes are ten a penny in this film, too many to capture for here, but TGP is definitely a beautiful film. It’s well lit (colourful), the effects are pretty much all latex (yay! No CGI!) and there is a story.

I’ll be honest with you people. I downloaded a DVD-rip of TGP with subs, but I’ll tell you: if this comes out on DVD as a Directors Cut I’ll be all over it like a rash. You mark my words!

Tokyo Gore Police… it’s your DUTY to watch it!

Behold, the trailer… bow before it’s greatness!

30
Sep
08

Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford

Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis & Michelle Clifford

Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis & Michelle Clifford

With a sub-title like: A Mind Twisting Tour Through The Grindhouse Cinema Of Times Square!, how could I resist?

The book begins way back in the 60s where it goes in to great detail about the atmosphere in grindhouse cinemas and the danger that lurked in some of these hell holes. Initially this chapter seemed completely pointless, but reading on – you realise that you needed that chapter to give you the background of which cinema was where, who owned it and it’s reputation within the legendary 42nd Street.

Sleazoid Express moves chronologically through the exploitation movies being peddled. Filled with crackheads, thiefs and prostitutes/pimps 42nd Street certainly sounds sleazy! Beginning with the Olga series of movies (a pre-cursor to the Ilsa movies) it often gives a brief review (sometimes a lengthy review, if the film was decent) of the movie plot and, most times, even giving away the ending, so if you don’t want your plots spoiled, beware! But lets face it, how many exploitation movies have an in depth plot or twist ending?

The chapters are genre points within the exploitation time line, chapter titles such as: The Anco Does A Gendertwist and Blood Horror: Chopping ‘Em Up At The Rialto hint at the subjects (the Anco and Rialto being cinemas with Times Square). Many different types of film are spoken about in the book, everything from the early gore classics (Blood Feast) through to the zombie flicks, cannibal movies and even the influx of gorey westerns and wacky oriental fung-fu movies (Flying Guillotine).

Just shy of 300 pages the book also lists exploitation video companies who still sell many of the gems mentioned in the book. The index is excellent as lists actors, directors and film titles, so it’s easy to dive in to the book to find a fact. This is THE exploitation book to own, Nightmare USA is also excellent, but spends too much time reviewing, Sleazoid Express gives history, and life, to the home of exploitation cinema. If you want to know how it all started, this is the book you want.

Favourite fact gleaned from the book? The fact that Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS) is now an ordained minister!

SEE ALSO: Nightmare USA – The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents.

21
Sep
08

Master of the Flying Guillotine directed by Yu Wang

I mean, just the title alone makes me giggle

I mean, just the title alone makes me giggle.

That’s one ridiculous title.  It screams “cheese” and “fun.”  That truly is what you get.  In the first five minutes the “master of the flying guillotine” gets so pissed that some of his apprentices were killed by a man known as the one-armed boxer (yup, dudes got one arm) he jumps out of his house through the roof, does some flips, sets his house on fire with marbles that are apparently incendiary grenades, and then takes out his anger on some planks of wood with his unfolding umbrella/lampshade with teeth, the flying guillotine.

I’m pretty sure this one was directed with all the seriousness in the world, and while it does serve as a fine example of some of the most fast paced and entertaining martial arts action from the 70’s, it’s also a movie that is just fucking hysterical to watch.

The acting is hammy,but its all fuel for the incredible amount of charm this film has.  How can you really fault a martial arts movie, from the orient, made in the 70’s, for having acting that is laughable?  You can’t.  Unless the movie sucks.  And this certainly doesn’t.

It’s saving grace is that the parts that are meant to be gravely important and tell the story, are laugh out loud funny.  The fighting bits go from this “LOL” greatness, to actually being DAMN good fights.  And there’s a ton of them, especially in the middle bit where we get almost 30 minutes of straight, back to back, uninterrupted one on one tournament action.  We get tons of different types of combatants as well.  The guy who cheats and uses a knife in his staff to kill, who’s ironically named “Wins without a knife.”  Yeah, that’s the dudes name.  Also we get the Indian guy who’s a yoga expert, that’s his fighting style, with the stretchy arms, like the guy from street fighter II (the video game).

Of course I would be regretful if I didn’t mention that our main baddy, the flying guillotine master, is blind.  So we get a cripple battle between a guy throwing around the deadliest umbrella ever known to man, and a man who has one arm.  I can’t make this shit up, even if I tried really hard.

The production does its part too.  Sound effect for every punch, even if they are just practicing and punching the air.  The video warps, changes color, tears, and a number of other genuine “grindhouse” like results of being a film probably so battered and abused over the years, it’s a miracle it still exists.  The music is really good actually, shame I can’t make fun of that.

If you want to have a good laugh, or see something very absurd, or your big into old-school martial arts flicks, or your….anybody really…you should see this movie, if only to have “yeah, I’ve seen it.”