Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Christmas Away from Home" - December 2010

As much as everyone likes to celebrate Christmas with their family, people seem to forget that there are those who aren't as fortunate and must spend Christmas away from home. So in celebration of those who have to be in a foreign place for Christmas, we're celebrating here at the Z-portal with foreign films to keep you warm this holiday season.

Merry Christmas, bitches!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Z-portal celebrates Bruce Lee

Z-portal would like to honor Bruce Lee on his birthday

In fact, we've been celebrating and pay tribute to him all month long! Starting with a review of Enter the Fat Dragon, starring Sammo Hung, which pays homage to Bruce Lee rather than just poke fun at him. Following up with a review of Jet Li's remake in Fist of Legend, which is often considered to be his best film. During the week of his birthday, I reviewed his four major martial arts movies in chronological order beginning with The Big Boss (which includes his entire film embedded in the post!) and following it up with Fist of Fury, The Way of the Dragon, and finally his ever popular Enter the Dragon.

I've also included videos such as his famous interview on the Pierre Berton Show and his screen test for a show that was never picked up. There are some demonstration and biographical videos posted along with clips of his appearance on the show Longstreet, where his more significant philosophies are actually written into the script. (There's also a quick documentary on the one-inch punch)

I've posted some interesting facts about Bruce Lee and ultimately, I pay tribute to him with short biography of his life. In celebration of his birthday, I will be watching the history channel documentary How Bruce Lee Changed the World. How is everyone else celebrating his birthday this weekend?

The More You Know - Bruce Lee Facts

  • Lee's striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached five hundredths of a second.
  • Lee could take in one arm a 75 lb barbell from a standing position with the barbell held flush against his chest and slowly stick his arms out locking them, holding the barbell there for 20 seconds.
  • Lee's combat movements were at times too fast to be captured on film for clear slow motion replay using the traditional 24 frames per second of that era, so many scenes were shot in 32 frames per second for better clarity.
  • In a speed demonstration, Lee could snatch a dime off a person's open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.
  • Lee would hold an elevated v-sit position for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Lee could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in mid-flight using chopsticks. - Witnessed by many such as Joe Hyams
  • Lee could thrust his fingers through unopened cans of Coca-Cola. (This was when soft drinks cans were made of steel much thicker than today's aluminum cans).
  • Lee performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
  • Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.
  • Lee could break wooden boards 6 inches (15 cm) thick.
  • Lee could cause a 300-lb (136 kg) bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick. ( According to Bob Wall, he has the video tape of him kicking 300lb bag towards the ceiling.)
  • Lee performed a sidekick while training with James Coburn and broke a 150 lb (68 kg) punching bag.
  • In a move that has been dubbed "Dragon Flag", Lee could perform leg lifts with only his shoulder blades resting on the edge of a bench and suspend his legs and torso horizontal midair.
  • Bruce lee was able to jump 8 feet from a stand still (this was shown in pictures and his films such as the one where he kicked the lightbulb out).
  • Bruce Lee injured his back causing damage to his sacral nerve in 1970. The injury was due to overtraining and lifting too heavy during "Good Mornings", a weight training exercise, not during a fight as many people believe. Although doctors told him he would not be able to continue his lifestyle in the martial arts, through determination he fully recovered and went on to star in four and a half films made between 1971 and 1973. 
  • Did you know that Bruce Lee used the focus glove for martial arts training as far back as 1962? In fact, it was Bruce Lee who popularized its use in the martial arts. Focus gloves are now used by almost every martial artist in the United States.
  • Bruce Lee was far from being genetically perfect, as most people believe. Bruce Lee wore contact lenses and actually failed his physical exam in 1963 and was deemed physically unacceptable by the U.S. Army Draft Board.
  • Bruce Lee was introduced to the football shield for kicking by student Dan Inosanto. At first, he rejected the idea, but within a few days he had developed a series of drills and the kicking shield became a mainstay of Jun Fan Gun Fu Jeet Kune Do training. Today there is a shield in almost every martial arts school in the USA. 
    • Bruce studied dancing as hard as he studied martial arts: he was an excellent dancer who, at 18 years of age, won the 1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship! Bruce was also a great boxer: he won the 1958 Boxing Championship – by knockout, of course.
    • Although Bruce Lee started his acting career at age 6 and was known worldwide as an actor, he considered himself a martial artist first and an actor second.

      sources: various (Internet)

      Bruce Lee videos

      Clips from his screen test video are spliced in with interviews with people who knew Bruce Lee to provide additional depth and background info.

      Be water, my friend...

      The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist)

      The following is a quick summary of Bruce Lee's career and philosophy. (in 4 minutes!)

      Here is a short compilation of his physical feats and a demo of his lethal side kick

      Here he is breaking some boards

      Somewhat related and interesting documentary on the one inch punch

      Happy Birthday Bruce Lee!!!

      Happy 70th Birthday Bruce!!! 

      Bruce Lee was more than just an actor, he was an accomplished martial artist, an international film star, a philosopher, and a proponent of Chinese nationalism. Lee was born here, in San Francisco, at the Chinese Hospital on Jackson street. (the SAME place where I was born!!!) Lee was allegedly given a girl's name at birth due to a "death curse" on the family, which supposedly claimed the life of the infant son born before him, and so the evil spirits would have a more difficult time finding him.

      Shortly after his birth, his family moved back to Hong Kong but his mother gave him a Chinese name of Jun-fan, which translates to return again, because his mother felt that he would return to America one day. Despite coming from a wealthy background, Hong Kong was overcrowded and a young Bruce Lee had regular run-ins with street gangs. Welcoming the challenge, Bruce never backed down and his confrontations were becoming increasing violent. His father then decided to teach him the fundamentals of Wu family style Tai Chi but his greatest influence in martial arts came when he began studying Wing Chun under his teacher Yip Man. Finding out about his ancestry a year into his training, the other students refused to train with him after discovering his mother was half-German. (The Chinese were pretty strict about not teaching their arts to foreigners) This led to Bruce Lee receiving private sessions with Yip Man where he had but a single training partner in Wong Shun Leung. Despite Yip Man's encouragements to participate in organized competitions Bruce Lee would still get into street fights regularly and even once beat the son of a triad family up. Fearing that there would be a contract on his life, his parents sent him to America.

      Arriving back in his hometown of San Francisco but only staying for a few short months, Lee moves out to Seattle in 1959 and continues his education out there. Eventually being accepted into the University of Washington where he would go on to study philosophy, psychology, and various other subjects. This is where he meets his future wife, with whom he would have two children. There he would open his own school where he taught Jun Fan Gung Fu, which was basically Bruce Lee's own take on Wing Chun. His first student would be a Judo practitioner by the name of Jesse Glover. Lee also competed in various competitions, one in 1962 where he would knock out a Karate Black Belt during a full contact match in 11 seconds. Ed Hart, who was the timekeeper of the match, had the following to say:
      "The karate man arrived in his gi (uniform), complete with black belt, while Bruce showed up in his street clothes and simply took off his shoes. The fight lasted exactly 11 seconds – I know because I was the time keeper – and Bruce had hit the guy something like 15 times and kicked him once. I thought he'd killed him."
      In the spring of 1964, Lee would drop out of college and move to Oakland where he stayed with James Yimm Lee, an older and established figure in the local martial arts community. He would also be the one to introduce Lee to Ed Parker, who is responsible for organizing the Long Beach International Karate Championships. Lee opens his second martial arts school in Oakland, much to the dismay of the local martial arts community who issued Lee an ultimatum to stop teaching foreigners. Apparently it was during this time that a highly controversial private match took place between Lee and Wong Jack Man over the future of Bruce Lee's schools. If Lee were to win, he would be free to teach whomever he wanted. If Wong Jack Man were to win, Lee would have to shut down his school. There are two different accounts of what happened that day because it took place behind closed doors. One party says that the match lasted 20-25 minutes but according to Lee, Linda Lee Cadwell, and James Yimm Lee say that it only lasted about 3 minutes. (Either way, Bruce did not stop teaching Caucasians)

      At the invitation of Ed Parker, Lee attended the aforementioned Long Beach International Karate Championships where he demonstrated the one inch punch and performed two-finger pushups. (it was here that Bruce Lee was discovered by Hollywood)  A man by the name of William Dozier invited Lee to audition for a show that was never picked up but he was then invited to play for the role of Kato, the sidekick on the TV show The Green Hornet. Apparently, it was during the taping one of the seasons of this show when Bruce Lee founded his own martial art style. Following his match with Wong Jack Man, Lee concluded that it had taken entirely too long to dispatch of his opponent using just his Wing Chun techniques. This led to Lee deeming traditional forms of martial arts to be "too rigid" thus prompting him to develop his own style of martial arts that was more practical to use during real combat. This was the birth of...

      Jeet Kune Do, which literally translates to "The Way of the Intercepting Fist". This was the first ever hybrid style of martial arts that took the most useful and practical parts of different styles and rejected anything that wasn't feasible. In this way, many call Bruce Lee the Godfather of MMA. JKD emphasizes fluidity of motion so as not to be too rigid and avoids being "stuck" in forms.

      Some time after they axed The Green Hornet show, Lee returned to Hong Kong where he had apparently become a superstar due to the airing of his Green Hornet show. (where it was unofficially dubbed "The Kato Show")  Back in Hong Kong, Lee was approached by director Raymond Chow about doing a couple films. These films were The Big Boss and Fist of Fury, both largely commercial successes. After starting his own production company with Chow, Concord Productions Inc, Lee was given complete creative control over his third project in The Way of the Dragon. The rest, as they say, is history...

      Z-portal would like to honor Bruce Lee... teacher, entertainer, and master. Happy Birthday Bruce!!!

      Friday, November 26, 2010

      Enter the Dragon (1973)

      Enter the Dragon (Hong Kong/USA, 1973) - Color, Director(s): Robert Clouse
      MPAA Rating: R
      [HK: CAT II B]
      Approx. 99 min.

      Z-rating: 9 out of 10 stars

      By far the most well-known of Bruce Lee's movies, this one stars actor John Saxon and martial artist Jim Kelly as well as a slew of other familiar faces in Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Bolo Yeung, along with many others. This film marks the first Chinese martial arts film to be produced by a major Hollywood studios (Warner Bros) in conjunction with Hong Kong's famous distribution company, Golden Harvest.

      This movie opens with Bruce Lee and Sammo Hung in the middle of an exhibition match at Shaolin Temple. During this fight, you can see that both fighters are wearing gloves similar to the ones that are now commonly seen in MMA (as shown above) but were not widely used during the time that this film was originally made. (If at all) After winning the fight, due to tap out, Lee is approached by a gentleman from British Intelligence who asks for his assistance with an undercover mission to infiltrate an island owned by a rogue Shaolin monk by the name of Han (Shih Kien). After Lee is briefed on the details of his mission, where he will be entering a martial arts tournament that's held by Han every three years, we are introduced to two of the other main characters in Williams (Jim Kelly) and Roper (John Saxon). Soon, the contestants of the tournament pile into a leaky old boat as they set sail for Han's island. There is a comedic scene where Bruce Lee plays some jerk who is trying to rock the boat and make some waves. (HA!! Pun definitely intended... rock the boat... alright, I know I'm a dork) There is a feast awaiting the contestants once they arrive at the island, including plenty of lovely ladies to keep the fighters company in their lonely rooms. There is a sleeper agent amongst the women on the island who aides Lee in his investigation of the island. Han is suspected of peddling drugs and trafficking women off his island but the authorities are unable to prove anything. Enter Lee, (or "the Dragon". HA!! Ok, I'll stop) who stealthily makes his way around the island in an attempt to gather evidence against Han. Williams is getting some air one night and happens to notice Lee scaling the walls of Han's fortress. The tournament continues the next day but, unfortunately for Williams, Han is aware that someone snuck out of their room at night to snoop around. Accused of being in cahoots with the spy, Williams is ambushed and dies by Han's hand. (heh)  Eventually, Han's secret underground base is discovered and his entire operation is exposed. When it all comes crashing down, Lee is there to apprehend Han but first must do battle with him in the infamous "Hall of Mirrors".

      This film was so significant that in 2004, the Library of Congress decided to preserve it in the National Film Registry. Many references to Bruce Lee in other movies tend to parody this film in particular. (As seen in films like Kung Phooey! and Balls of Fury)  Despite beginning production on The Game of Death first, he put the that project on hold in order to film this movie which was released six days after his death. (This is why The Game of Death was left unfinished until they filled in the missing scenes and released the finished film in 1978)

      Nudity: 4 out of 5. Many various girls that are sent to keep the fighters of the tournament company at night are shown topless or fully nude. Not necessarily rated for excellent quality of nudity, but for the quantity that I didn't expect from a martial arts film. I do like a healthy dose of unexpected nudity from time to time.

      Gore: None

      Awesome: to the MAX!!! Anyone who claims to know Bruce Lee, knows this movie as this is by far his most famous and popular movie. Arguably his most influential film as well, this movie came out after Bruce Lee had already developed his own style of martial arts (Jeet Kune Do) and is able to fully showcase his abilities. Some of his earlier films are a little clumsily choreographed but this is one of his best films by far. This film also showcases his prowess with various weapons in addition to his empty-handed fighting scenes. Highly recommended for any fan of martial arts movies in general. You cannot call yourself a a martial arts/kung fu movie fan if you haven't seen this film at least once.

      The Way of the Dragon (1972)

      The Way of the Dragon (Hong Kong, 1972) - Color, Director(s): Bruce Lee
      [a.k.a. Return of the Dragon]
      MPAA Rating: R
      [HK: CAT II B]
      Approx. 90 min.

      Z-rating: 8 out of 10 stars

      This film touches a bit on the difficulties of assimilating into a different culture due to language barriers as seen in the beginning of this film where Bruce Lee tries to order food in a restaurant but is unable to due to the fact that his character cannot read/speak English. Tang Lung (Lee) is sent from Hong Kong to Rome to help a friend's niece (the BEAUTIFUL Nora Miao) out with a problem she's having at her restaurant. Apparently the local crime syndicate is trying to move in on her business and muscle her out. The people who work at her restaurant all practice Karate in the back in order to help defend the business when those thugs come around but their efforts prove futile during their first run-in with them. Tang Lung steps up to the challenge and creams the hired guns when they return to cause trouble. After a few unsuccessful attempts to acquire the restaurant, the mafia boss makes a personal trip down and seems to have the upper hand until Tang Lung once again saves the day, this time with hand-carved wooden darts and his trusty Nunchaku!!! The mafia boss threatens to kill Tang Lung if he stays in Rome but, not one to be intimidated, Tang Lung fights back and even rescues a kidnapped Chen (Miao) from the clutches of the crime boss. Unsure of what else to do about Tang Lung, the mafia boss phones in some help in the form of Chuck Norris. Yes, THE Chuck Norris... Walker, Texas Ranger himself. This film climaxes in a final showdown between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris... inside the Roman Colosseum!!!

      I would recommend this movie to anyone looking to become a Bruce Lee fan. I think the story is fantastic and would make a great introductory film to Bruce Lee's work. You can bait someone in with this movie and then follow it up with Enter the Dragon, that should be enough to turn anyone into a fan. This is the first film that Bruce Lee directs and I really enjoyed how he incorporates his teachings into the film. By including his philosophies and providing visual demonstrations of his physical abilities on screen, this is how I feel Bruce Lee taught the entire WORLD kung fu. Bruce is without a doubt the most influential martial arts superstar ever to grace the silver screen and this is a prime example of why that is, in my opinion. Even though Fist of Fury has the famous scene of him beating down a room full of Japanese Bushido students and is where he first introduces his weapon of choice, Nunchaku, to the world... he uses two of them in this film!!!

      Nudity: A beautiful stranger picks Bruce Lee up and bring him back to her house. At about 20 minutes into the movie, she comes into the room only wearing panties as Bruce is seen practicing in front of a mirror. Standard boobies, I give them a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

      Gore: Maybe a little blood but nowhere near as violent as his first two films.

      Awesome: to the MAX!!!! This is one of my favorite Bruce Lee movies ever, although I'd be hard-pressed to pick out just one of them. Although I don't hear people talk about this film as much as Fist of Fury, this one still holds a special place in my heart. I have to say though, any movie that features a showdown between two martial arts legends such as Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris is worthy of the praise it receives. (The only other person I know that can defeat Chuck Norris is The Most Interesting Man in the World)

      Thursday, November 25, 2010

      Top 10 Teachers, Gurus, and Sifus

      In honor of Richard Lee's birthday, the man that has been a guru of sorts in helping me get my blog up and running, I would like to dedicate this Top 10 list of the best Teachers, Gurus, and Sifus to the guy who has taught me the ins and outs of networking online and has given me tons of invaluable advice. Thanks for all the support bro and for being there to take care of my sister, you're like family to me man.

      10. Morpheus from The Matrix - So kicking off this list will be something related to computers and technology, which seemed totally relevant to me. With your expertise and invaluable advice, much like how Morpheus took an open minded individual and help shape him into "The One", you've helped shape the direction and structure of my blog.

      9. Sarah Connor from Terminator 1 & 2 - Not that you remind me a woman or anything, it's just that Sarah Connor is a tough-as-nails single mother who has the monumental responsibility of raising the last hope for mankind. You see, her son is supposed to grow up to be the leader of the resistance against machines in the future. After running away and screaming for most of the first movie, she earns her spot by coming back in the sequel as a super bad ass mother that's ready to fight!!!

      8. Léon from The Professional - Léon is a professional assassin who, by a series of strange events, somehow ends up taking a 12 year-old under his wing and teaches her the ropes. (This film also marks the debut of a young Natalie Portman, who is fantastic as the young protege of this professional hitman) As tough as it must be for Sarah Connor to be a single mother, Léon isn't even her father. What's worse, the young girl is getting her emotions mixed up and believes that she's falling for him. All this and he's trying to juggle his career as a "cleaner". Very impressive.

      7. Pai Mei from Kill Bill: Vol 2 - This crazy old Chinese kung fu master atop a giant mountain of stairs trains only assassins of the highest caliber. Despite being a bit of a hardass, you cannot deny that his teaching methods are extremely effective. By far the most brutal and hardcore sifu on the list, this crazy old man will snatch out your eye for looking at him the wrong way.

      6. Angelina Jolie from Wanted - Without a doubt the HOTTEST teacher on this list, Angelina Jolie earns her spot on this list based on more than just her looks. Her teaching credentials? She taught James McAvoy how to freakin' curve bullets!! You can't tell me that's not pretty damn impressive.

      5. Yoda from Star Wars - Respected by all Jedi, Yoda is a highly skilled and extremely powerful Jedi Master. In addition to being able to flip around like a Tasmanian Devil on speed wielding a lightsaber, he taught Luke Skywalker how to lift an X-Wing out of a swamp using The Force at 900 years old!! Still on top of his game...

      4. Jackie Chan from The Karate Kid - Why does Jackie Chan's character from The Karate Kid remake beat out all these other seemingly more bad ass teachers such as Yoda or Morpheus? (Or even Mr. Miyagi from the original for that matter?) There is a simple explanation, anyone who can take a kid that just arrives in China from America with absolutely NO martial arts experience whatsoever... train and enter him into a tournament where he wins by defeating a group of Chinese kids that have been training in Kung Fu their entire lives... is worthy of being called one of the greatest teachers in the UNIVERSE. I saw the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, they're super serious when it comes to training, coordination, and perfection over there. This impressive feat was nothing short of a miracle. (And yes, that feat trumps "wax on, wax off" any day!!)

      3. Leung Tsang from Warrior Two - This Wing Chun master trains super-kicker, Casanova Wong, using such unique methods as crushing pits using the staff, special training with timed wooden dummies, and hand/eye coordination tests that involve hitting a ball that's swinging on a string using only the staff. Passing just enough knowledge down to his newest pupil before he is viciously murdered by a band of thugs, Leung Tsang (the "old" guy in the trailer played by Leung Kar-Yan) is one of the greatest Wing Chun masters ever portrayed in cinema history. His student goes on to defeat top level Kung Fu fighters including a man whose body was seeming impenetrable, even by swords!! (Iron Shirt technique)

      2. Lam Ching Ying (and Sammo Hung) from The Prodigal Son - Along with the previously mentioned Warriors Two, these two movies were long considered to be the best films portraying authentic Wing Chun martial arts. Funny enough, this film is about a young Leung Chang (or Tsang, the master from the last film), played by Yuen Biao, as he uses his father's money in an attempt to learn Wing Chun from a traveling opera troupe actor who also happens to a master. There is also a hilarious appearance by Sammo Hung who takes on a role as a secondary master of sorts. Both of them train Yuen Biao in different aspects of Wing Chun, who goes on to teach it to Cashier Hua as his master in Warriors Two.

      1. Ip Man from the Ip Man series - This dramatic semi-biopic of a real life Wing Chun master stars Donnie Yen as the legendary master, Ip Man. This film is the most recent and wildly popular portrayal of Wing Chun on the big screen. Yen's lightning quick hands showcase the speed, fluidity, and deadly accuracy of a Wing Chun master. As seen in the clip above, this film features Donnie Yen laying waste to ten Karate black belts at once!!! More importantly, the significance of this series is due to the fact that the man this martial arts epic was based on was also the real-life Wing Chun teacher of...

      Bruce Lee!!!

      I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks again to Richard Lee for all the support. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this.


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      Wednesday, November 24, 2010

      Fist of Fury (1972)

      Fist of Fury (Hong Kong, 1972) - Color, Director(s): Wei Lo
      [a.k.a. The Chinese Connection]
      MPAA Rating: R
      [HK: CAT II B]
      Approx. 107 min.

      Z-rating: 8 out of 10 stars

      This is one of the most influential films by Bruce Lee and serves as the original inspiration for the film Fist of Legend. Bruce Lee plays Chen Zhen who, upon returning home, receives news that his teacher has passed away from illness. Distraught by the news, he rushes over to the site where his master is being buried and claws away at the dirt atop his coffin until he is knocked out with a shovel and dragged out. Shortly after the funeral, a group of Japanese martial artists from a nearby Bushido school enters Jingwu and issues an open challenge. When their challenge isn't met, they present the school with a sign bearing the words "Sick Men of East Asia" and promise to eat their words should a worthy challenger appear. Chen Zhen goes to return the sign to their school and tosses everyone a beating while he's there. Reminding everyone that Chinese people aren't sick men, he forces two of the instructors to eat the paper those words are written on. Chen Zhen takes a stroll to clear his head but is met by racism at the park when a guard would not allow him to enter. Pointing at the sign that reads "No dogs and Chinese allowed". A Japanese man and his buddies come up and try to dog Chen Zhen (literally) but get their asses beat for it. Meanwhile, Jingwu is attacked by the Bushido school who demand that Chen Zhen be turned over to them. Realizing the mess he's caused, Chen Zhen decides to flee but overhears two men discussing the death of their master. Finding out that his beloved teacher was poisoned, Chen Zhen lashes out and beats the two responsible men to death in a blind rage. After questioning and killing the Japanese translator as well, the Bushido school is enraged and murder everyone at Jingwu in retaliation. Chen Zhen seeks revenge against the Bushido school where he faces the chubby instructor wielding a katana, a hand-to-hand battle with a Russian fighter, and ultimately culminating to a final showdown between Chen Zhen and the headmaster of the Japanese dojo.

      Nudity: A sexy geisha performs an erotic dance to entertain the head of the Bushida school and guests. She takes off her panties and you get to see a brief shot of her crotch and a longer shot of her ass. (Her top comes off as well but her nipples are covered up.

      Gore: Blood but no gore. Not as bloody or violent as his last film, The Big Boss, but there are instances where blood spurts from the head of Bushido students as they're hit by Bruce Lee's nunchucks.

      Awesome: VERY. This film revolutionized how martial arts were portrayed on the big screen. Up until this time, Chinese kung-fu films mostly involved swordplay (wuxia) but this film began a wave of empty-handed fighting films and kick-started the "Golden Era of Kung-Fu Cinema" during the 1970's. One thing that I wish they would've kept in the remake was the fact that Chen Zhen was a Master of Disguise in this movie!!! Add to that, the man's got superhuman strength. (He lifts and helicopter spins two full grown men, one in each arm. He can also lift a rickshaw with the Japanese translator inside and tosses them both aside like they were almost weightless)

      If you enjoyed this film, I would recommend checking out the remake by Jet Li called Fist of Legend. One thing I have to warn everyone NOT to do is to fall for the Donnie Yen made-for-TV series. I picked up a copy in Chinatown thinking to myself, it's a remake of a Bruce Lee movie starring Donnie Yen... how can it possibly be bad? Well, it was. The TV show was such garbage, it involved a lot of cheap special effects and fast-forwarding of the footage to make the actors appear as though they are faster than they really are. Total GARBAGE, that shit was unbearable. With the recent success of Donnie Yen's Ip Man however, they are releasing a sequel to the TV series called Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. Let's hope that with a bigger budget and more recognizable faces that this will at least be watchable.

      Monday, November 22, 2010

      The Big Boss (1971)

      The Big Boss (Hong Kong, 1971) - Color, Director(s): Wei Lo
      [a.k.a. Fists of Fury]
      MPAA Rating: R
      [HK: CAT III]
      Approx. 100 min.

      Z-rating: 7 out of 10 stars

      Bruce Lee plays Cheng Chao-An, a recent emigrant from the Guangdong province who arrives in Thailand looking for work at the local ice factory. Meeting up with his uncle and cousin, he gets a tour of the small town from his cousin, Hsu Chien, before getting into a couple of fights. Cheng wears a jade pendant around his neck to remind him of a promise he made to his mother never to fight again. Luckily, Hsu Chien seems fully capable of handling his own in a fight. Once on the job though, Cheng accidentally drops a block of ice revealing that drugs are being smuggled through the ice blocks. The manager of the factory tries to pay off anyone that saw the drugs but when the two workers won't take the bribe, the manager and his men murder them and chop up their bodies in the factory. When they don't return to work the next day, Hsu Chien questions the manager as to their whereabouts. Getting the feeling that they're just getting the runaround, Hsu Chien demands to see "the boss" and question him personally regarding the whereabouts of the two missing workers. When Hsu Chien doesn't return the next day, the workers refuse to work until Hsu Chien shows up. The workers revolt, which leads to a big fight where Cheng is caught in the middle. Trying to hold back as long as he can, his jade pendant is inadvertently shattered, forcing Cheng's hands in the matter. To earn his trust and his favor, the manager makes Cheng the new foreman after he kicks a little ass at the fight. Providing only a brief distraction, Cheng soon begins questioning the whereabouts of Hsu Chien after pressure from his housemates starts working on his conscience. Deciding to go out and investigate the ice factory, he finds the drugs hidden in the ice as well as the bodies of the missing people. Cheng is confronted by the son of "the boss" and must fight his way past them in order to get to... The Big Boss.

      Without a doubt one of the most violent Bruce Lee films, The Big Boss is not what I would've expected from Lee. First off, the choreography in this film was atrocious!! What was up with the Power Ranger flips over everyone's head? I know that Bruce Lee's later films emphasized a sense of realism over shoddy camera tricks, so it's no surprise that this is one of Bruce Lee's earliest martial arts films. (Probably before he got as big as he did.) On the bright side, you get to see a young Lam Ching-Ying and Peter Chan Lung before they got big too. I also didn't expect there to be as much violence as there was. Not that I'm complaining, I love violence just as much as the next guy.

      Nudity: A Thai prostitute's boobs are shown right before she gets it on with Cheng's passed out body.

      Gore: I wouldn't call this movie gory as there were any guts being spilled but I must admit that I didn't expect as much blood as there was. Pleasantly surprised.

      Awesome: I have to give props to this film as there were a bunch of notable faces before they were big and it IS the first of four Bruce Lee films after all. While I have mad respect for Bruce Lee and his films, this is probably the weakest of his films in my opinion. With that being said, anyone who calls themselves a Bruce Lee fan MUST see this film.

      I have embedded the film below, please enjoy it in honor of the man... Bruce Lee.

      Wednesday, November 17, 2010

      UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida

      Just 3 short days away is UFC 123 featuring a battle between two former Light Heavyweight Champions in Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida. Also on the card will be the rubber match between UFC Legends Matt Hughes and "The Prodigy" B.J. Penn. What are everyone's predictions for this pay-per-view event?

      (Any predictions, rumors, discussions, and opinions are more than welcome in the comments section)

      Tuesday, November 16, 2010

      Fist of Legend (1994)

      Fist of Legend (Hong Kong, 1994) - Color, Director(s): Gordon Chan
      MPAA Rating: R
      [UK: 18]
      Approx. 103 min.

      Z-rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars

      This remake of Bruce Lee's original Fist of Fury has Jet Li playing the role of Chen Zhen, Jing Wu's brightest student. While away at school in Kyoto, Chen Zhen faces racism from fellow Japanese students who attempt to drive him out of the school. Zhen makes quick work of dispatching of the entire karate team before news reaches him regarding his Master's death. Visibly distraught by the news, Chen Zhen immediately returns to Shanghai to get to the bottom of his death. Upon returning to Jing Wu, the Master's son (played by Chin Siu-Ho, who also starred opposite of Li in the film Tai Chi Master) is seen accepting a challenge from the teacher of a rival Kung Fu school. Chen Zhen pays his respects before promptly going over to the dojo of the man who killed his Master. Zhen is confronted by 20-30 students who, upon his entering the dojo, threaten violence if he doesn't leave immediately. Demanding to see their Master, Akutagawa, Zhen defeats the entire room full of karate students before their sensei appears. Accepting a challenge to a duel, they both agree that there will be no revenge should one of them die. Chen Zhen easily defeats Akutagawa and comes to realize that his Master must not have been well during their fight or Akutagawa wouldn't have been able to defeat him. Chen Zhen digs up his Master's body and has a doctor perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, which tested positive for poison. As news of the autopsy results spread through the city, Akutagawa confronts an army General named Fujita (played by Billy Chow) and promptly killed for his line of questioning. They try to frame Chen Zhen for the murder of Akutagawa but without a reliable testimony, their charges hold no weight. Furthermore, a girl name Mitsuko, Chen Zhen's love interest from Japan, provides a contradictory testimony and provides an alibi for the whereabouts of Chen Zhen on the night in question. The judge throws the case out and Chen Zhen is set free but is now looked down on for having relations with a Japanese woman. Returning to Jing Wu, Mitsuko is not welcome and is asked to leave. An internal power struggle develops between Chen Zhen and Ting-An culminating in a showdown for leadership of Jing Wu. Despite being victorious, Chen Zhen leaves the school to be with Mitsuko. After trying to make a life together, they are paid a visit by Mitsuko's uncle who has a friendly match with Chen Zhen. Ting-Ah also pays a visit and informs Zhen that he is set to face Fujita in a showdown the next day and Zhen agrees to accompany him. Will the combined efforts of Jing Wu's top students be enough to overcome the menace that is the Japanese General, Fujita?

      Nudity: None.

      Gore: None.

      Awesome: to the MAX!!! This is often touted as Jet Li's best movie and I can see why. Fantastic choreography, extremely fast-paced action, and very good remake of a martial arts classic. My only complaints are that in some scenes, you can tell that they fast-forwarded the action and that some of the moves pulled off in the film defy the laws of physics. I will address these issues separately:

      Fast-forwarding the action: I can understand that Bruce Lee was extremely fast and they probably wanted to recreate the sense of quickness in the fight scenes. The problem with this is, Jet Li is already pretty quick and I feel like fast-forwarding some of his scenes make you question whether the other scenes are his real speed. I know Jet Li is fast enough to make it look good without having to fast-forward any of his scenes. Also, it looks just plain silly when they fast-forward other people's fight scenes because they're obviously NOT that quick. Overall, I feel like any fast-forwarding was detrimental to the overall feel of the movie.

      Impossible moves: Bruce Lee generally emphasized realism in his movies and tried to teach lessons through his films. I think the fact that there were moves that are impossible to pull off takes away from the credibility of this film. Don't get me wrong, I am a BIG time fan of wire-fu movies. I just feel like the scenes that involved said moves pull you back out of the film after you've been immersed in it. Furthermore, the film then requires a greater suspension of disbelief than the original ever did.

      With that being said, this is NOT the movie to miss. If you're a fan of the original and would like to watch a serious and well remade version of the film, check this out. If you're a fan of Jet Li, this is definitely one for the shelf. In fact, on my shelf, this movie sandwiches The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan's Legend of the Drunken Master on the other side of it. I like to think of it as watching them when they're in their prime... and then you can see them together for the first time when they're old and established stars.

      Sunday, November 14, 2010

      Enter the Fat Dragon (1978)

      Enter the Fat Dragon (Hong Kong, 1978) - Color, Director(s): Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
      MPAA Rating: R
      Approx. 100 min.

      Z-rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars

      This is a Kung Fu comedy that pays homage to Bruce Lee, so don't expect a remake of the 1973 smash hit Enter the Dragon. The movie starts with Ah Lung (Sammo Hung) mimicking Bruce Lee while working on his father's pig farm. Ah Lung is then sent to help his uncle run a restaurant in Hong Kong (it's more of a food stand really), this being his first opportunity to visit the big city. Upon arriving in the big city, he runs into a little trouble fitting into city life but quickly makes a couple friends. One day, an unruly group eats at his uncle's restaurant but refuses to pay for the meal. Before they're able to dine and dash, Ah Lung comes back to toss them a beating... Bruce Lee style!! The next day, while Lung is out on a delivery, the gang returns to smash up the place in revenge for the beating they took the previous day. With the "restaurant" closed, Ah Lung and his pal must find a new job. Ah Lung is approached during this time about being an extra in a film starring a Bruce Lee impersonator. Next thing you know, Ah Lung needs to find a new job following a hilarious scuffle with the star and cast of the film. Ah Lung's buddy happens to catch the eyes of a couple thugs, one played by Fung Hak-On, with his artistic talents and is approached to help paint counterfeit prints of art. When denied, the thugs follow him around and attempt to bully him into helping them. Ah Lung tries to get involved and catches the attention of their boss who happens to have a meeting with an eccentric, and extremely wealthy, antique collector. While attending a soiree thrown to showcase the mob boss' collection of antiques, the wealthy collector is accompanied by three highly trained and highly skilled marital artists for bodyguards.

      First up is an African American Karate expert played Lee Hoi-Sang. Fans of martial arts cinema will surely recognize Hoi-Sang from many other Kung Fu movies such as The Young Master, Magnificent Butcher, and Warriors Two. The reason behind him being cast for the role of a black man is supposedly to parody the fact that Hollywood was continuously casting Caucasians for Asian roles at the time. (i.e. David Carradine for the Kung Fu TV series... which still seems to be an issue today with the more recent controversy over the casting for The Last Airbender)

      Next is a Chinese Kung Fu expert played by Leung Kar-Yan, yet another recognizable face in the Hong Kong world of Kung Fu cinema. Seen in many different roles in various martial arts films, you may recognize him as one half of the Jinx brothers in the movie Kung Fu Cult Master that I reviewed recently.

      Finally, there is an unknown white actor, David Nick, that plays a highly skilled boxer and Muay Thai expert.

      Accompanied by his entourage, the collector attends the party only to fall madly in love with one of the waitresses that is catering. Overcome with desire and wanting to keep her all to himself, the collector agrees to pay a large sum of money if the mob boss will help him kidnap the girl. Those same two thugs are sent out again to kidnap her but once Ah Lung catches wind of this, he immediately sets off to rescue her. The movie culminates in a final showdown between Ah Lung and the collector's three bodyguards, who he fights individually in one-on-one battles.

      Nudity: None

      Gore: None

      Awesome: Very. A good, fun movie for anyone who likes a healthy dose of comedy with their Kung Fu. Sammo Hung is fantastic in this parody/homage to Bruce Lee. I have to say that I am a major fan of Sammo's, the man has worked with every major Kung Fu movie star to come out of Hong Kong. Leung Kar-Yun, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching Ying, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and even Bruce Lee himself. Highly recommended for fans of either Sammo Hung or Bruce Lee.

      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      Skyline Hits Theaters Tomorrow

      This new Sci-Fi Thriller from the Brothers Strause has the City of Angels, Los Angeles, invaded by aliens. Strange beams of light are snatching people right out of their homes as chaos and panic spread across the world. (Apparently they can only take you if you look into the light though) From the trailer, this movie looks like something between The Mist and Cloverfield. I must admit that I do have a thing for alien invasion movies though, so what I'm really hoping for is another ID4. (Or at least something on par with it)

      Monday, November 8, 2010

      A Serbian Film?

      A friend of mine hit me up to this movie yesterday. I had scrolled by it before on a site but the title was so unassuming that I didn't take the time to look into it any further. ("A Serbian Film" isn't exactly the most eye-catching title they could've come up with) She sent me a link to the Wikipedia page where I read the quick summary at the top of the page (I didn't want to spoil the movie for myself so I just skipped over the synopsis) and, despite the mention of the review over at Bloody Disgusting, I still would like to see this movie for myself. Any movie that can make a reviewer over at Bloody Disgusting liken it to having his soul raped.... is a movie that I absolutely MUST own. (or at least see it once for myself)

      Now the question is... does anyone know a way for me to get my hands on a copy of this movie?

      Sunday, November 7, 2010

      Kung Fu Cult Master (1993)

      Kung Fu Cult Master (Hong Kong, 1993) - Color, Director(s): Wong Jing
      a.k.a. Evil Cult, Lord of the Wu Tang
      MPAA Rating: NR
      [UK: 15, Hong Kong: CAT II]
      Approx. 99 min.

      Z-rating: 9 out of 10 stars for super awesome Wire Fu with an excellent fantasy swordplay storyline

      Jet Li is now an international superstar but before he made it big over here in the States, I was watching all of his wire-enhanced martial art extravaganzas to come out of HK. (When I was a kid, I associated Li with Wong Fei-Hong... thinking that both were one and the same) Jet Li was always a big star to me as I practically grew up on his Fong Sai Yuk and Once Upon a Time in China series. The first martial art move I remember wanting to master was the Foshan No Shadow Kick. (Shadowless Kick)  So it really shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that I'm a big time Jet Li fan.

      Produced by and starring Li himself, this wuxia/martial art epic tells of two swords with the power to rule the martial arts world. (At least, that's what I think the story is about) Li plays Chang Mo-kei, whose parents are played by the GORGEOUS Sharla Cheung and super awesome Francis Ng. (who is always a pleasure to watch) On their way to meet up with an old Sammo Hung, who plays Francis Ng's teacher and Mo-kei's godfather, they're ambushed by a couple of hired guns that go by the Jinx Brothers. (One of them being played by the legendary Leung Kar-Yan) Mo-kei is hit with the deadly Jinx Palm during the struggle as the Jinx Brothers make their hasty retreat. Unable to cure him, they do their best to treat the injuries resulting from taking that palm strike. Mo-kei and his parents are eventually cornered by the six sects of the martial arts world that demand to know the location of one of the legendary swords. (There's a Heaven Sword and a Dragon Saber, if I'm not mistaken) Refusing to betray their comrade, both of Mo-kei's parent commit suicide in order to protect the whereabouts of their friend. He is taken in by Chang San-Fung (Sammo Hung) after the tragic death of his parents and also requires a daily transfer of energy from Hung to fight off the poison of the Jinx Palm.

      Collin Chou plays a disciple of Chang San-fung who is jealous of the attention and daily transfer of energy Mo-kei receives from their teacher. Believing him to be useless (because he can't practice martial arts due to his injuries from the Jinx Palm), Collin's character sabotages Mo-kei and accidentally forces him off a cliff. He's not alone though as he has the company of another BEAUTIFUL young lady (Chingmy Yau) who, after finding out who he is, devotes herself to him. At the bottom of the cliff, there was some crazy old man embedded in a rock (Yeah, IN a rock) that teaches him some legendary Kung Fu that makes him nearly invincible and cures him of his illness from the Jinx Palm that he received. With his new found powers and martial arts abilities, he sets out to avenge his parents and inadvertently becomes the leader of an Evil Sect. (Ming Sect)

      [Warning: This film ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and a sequel was never made because this one did poorly in theaters]

      Nudity: None.

      Gore: None. There was a bit of blood, but nothing gory.

      Awesome: Totally. I am a HUGE fan of wire fu movies and this is about as good as they come. This movie blends awesome wire fu with a great fantasy story and is backed by an ensemble cast of Kung Fu movie greats. If you're looking for a complete martial arts movie with really intricate choreography that's comparable to Tony Jaa and the type of detailed martial arts choreography that he showcases in his films, you will be disappointed. While there is a decent amount of good martial arts choreography in this film (Sammo Hung also serves as the action choreographer), it is still a wuxia film in the end. I would compare this genre to the sword-and-sorcery genre of Western films, in that the focus isn't so much on the swordplay choreography but more on the fantasy world that they're building. Highly recommended for fans of the Once Upon a Time in China series, New Legend of Shaolin, and Swordsman 2.

      Saturday, November 6, 2010

      Toxic Avenger Remake??

      I started this blog with an intro to Troma films. I felt like Troma studios embodied the type of movies that I was looking to review for this blog. (Cheesy, Sleazy, Must-See Movies?)  As many of you probably already know, Troma's biggest hit was undoubtedly the cult favorite... The Toxic Avenger!!!

      With the recent string of remakes to come out recently, nothing is sacred anymore. If a movie had a fantastic original concept but just lacked the budget to back the story, then I can see why you might want to remake it and update the special effects or something. This is Toxie though, what's more, this is a Troma film!!! They're known for making low-budget, cheesy, schlock films. I can't even imagine what a bigger budget Toxie will even look like. Sure the new movie will have better looking make-up and effects but will the new director be able to recapture and remain loyal to the charm of the original? The original was so politically incorrect and outrageous, I don't see how they're even going to come close to what the original was. This is obviously going to have to be a re-imagining of some sort.

      According to an article from the boys over at FEARnet, director Steve Pink (The Hot Tub Time Machine) has been attached to this project. I don't like the idea that this has more potential to be TERRIBLE than it does to actually succeed. However, I don't want to pre-judge this remake before I see. Besides, I'll most likely check it out anyway cause I absolutely LOVE Toxie. Keep your eyes peeled!!

      Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      Top 10 of Halloween 2010

      After a stellar month, with numbers that beat September's pageviews, I took two days off to relax a little. Now reflecting back on all the movies that I watched and reviewed for Halloween, I thought I'd throw up my Top 10 picks from this year's selection. Sorry for being a little late with this guys, just needed a little break after October.

      Top 10 Favorite Movies of Halloween 2010 

      10. Storm Warning (2007) - Despite a slow and chatty first half, the action really picks up in the second half of this film. All the talking in the beginning lowered my expectations of what was to come, so I was completely surprised when the flick turns dark and brutal all of a sudden. This nasty little entry into Aussie horror films features extremely graphic scenes of brutality and a little animal violence to boot. Made its way onto my list for its sheer brutality and not for being a particularly enjoyable watch.

      9. The Collector (2009) - A movie that I just discovered this Halloween, it was originally intended for this film to be a prequel to Saw. When the producers didn't want to go that route, they tweaked it a little and now we've got The Collector. A great suspense film about a cat burglar that breaks into a house where a serial killer is currently stalking and setting up traps around the house. The killer doesn't know about the burglar at first, so there's a lot of sneaking around involved. This is one of the most original films I've seen in a long time. They seem to be snatching up all the movies from the '80s and remaking them, it's just so hard to find a good horror movie nowadays with a totally original concept. Despite sharing obvious similarities to the Saw horror franchise, this is at least a breath of fresh air from watching Saw EVERY single Halloween.

      8. The Hills Run Red (2009) - This probably the second best movie that I discovered this Halloween. Starting off a little slow, this film plays out kind of like a documentary at first. (Not completely unlike Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon) This is another movie that turns out to be surprisingly violent after a slow first half. When the hulking serial killer drops his mask and it breaks in half, he puts both pieces back to his face and ties it to his head with barbed wire. TOTALLY fuckin' savage. Highly recommended for fans of Friday the 13th and other masked killer movies.

      7. Splinter (2008) - This is one of the more original concepts for a creature feature I've seen lately. I really liked everything about this movie except for the frenetic camerawork. This is the film that first inspired me to write my article on Creature Features back in June. I would recommend this to anyone who is already a fan of creature features but if you're new to this genre, I would recommend going for The Thing or Aliens. This is a good one to see if you need something new that you're not used to watching already.

      6. Feast Trilogy (2005-2009) - I saw Feast when it first came out on DVD and I have to say that I wasn't very impressed. I liked it, but it felt a little too slapstick and outrageous. Perhaps my tastes have changed since (I never thought I'd be a Troma fan!) or perhaps my expectations have changed, whatever the case, I watched the sequels over Halloween and I have to say that I'm a fan of this entire series. I understand that this film won't appeal to all audiences, but anyone who shares my sense of humor and visits this blog frequently should have the right sense of humor for this movie.

      5. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) - As I was watching movies to see which ones I wanted to recommend for October, I happened across Wrong Turn 2. This was the film that reminded me of why I love horror movies so much. A fantastic story, awesome character development and individual personalities for each of them, and the splatteriffic gore that I absolutely love with my movies. Plus, you can't beat Henry Rollins' super bad ass performance as a retired ex-military commander.

      4. High Tension (2003) - Although this movie is already several years old, it is one of the most brutal movies that I suggested this past Halloween. I feel like I'm cheating by putting a movie from 2003 so high up on my list of Top 10 of 2010. But this is MY top 10 list, so I'll do what I want!! If you haven't seen this movie yet, this is definitely one to check out. I wouldn't go around recommending this one to people in horror circles as it's already pretty well known. I have to say that I would definitely recommend this to anyone that doesn't already know it.

      3. Hatchet (2006) - Although this film isn't as dark or brutal as High Tension, Hatchet is a throwback to old school slasher films of the past. With appearances by Robert Englund, Tony Todd, and Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley. This movie is the very epitome of old school slasher films but with up-to-date gore effects. The amount of splatter in this film was a little over-the-top but not cartoonish. HIGHLY recommended for anyone to show at their party.

      2. Trick 'r Treat (2007) - This movie is totally fun for Halloween. As I said in my review, this is the best movie I've ever seen about Halloween night. The compilation of four short stories gives this movie so much depth, I think it will become tradition for me to put this on every Halloween. This movie had EVERYTHING. Boobs, blood, and fantastic storytelling. The camerawork, direction, and overall execution of this film was amazing. This would've been my #1 if it hadn't been for...

      1. The Echo (2008) - This is, without a doubt, the creepiest movie that I came across this Halloween. Everyone that I showed this movie to said that it was a really creepy movie. I have to say, personally, this is definitely one of the creepiest movies that I've seen in a LONG time. Supposedly the first American remake of a Filipino horror movie, this movie was directed by the same guy that wrote and directed the original. I think my biggest mistake was not watching the original, Sigaw, and writing a review comparing this against the original. (As is the case with most American remakes though, I hear this doesn't hold a candle to the original) I look forward to watching the original some time in the near future.

      I did meet a very friendly reviewer over at Forced Viewing by the name of Jori, who did happen to watch/review both the original AND the remake. Go check her out and the rest of the blog, which features 3 different reviewers covering horror on TV and in movies. Go check em out:


      http://forcedviewing.com/author/jori/ - Jori, look through her other reviews and check out The Echo and Sigaw.

      Those were my picks for the Top 10, what was everyone else's Top 10 for this past Halloween?