Archive for August 2011

Red Belt, Ninja Assassins, Reign of Assassins

August 30, 2011

2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively.

I thought Red Belt had an interesting plot line, although things at the end were setup too artificially in order to instigate the fight lines. The fights were more along the lines of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, thus weren’t as interesting as the earlier plot developments and social relatonships. This movie is mostly a conflict between principles and cash/other values. Personally, like Kelly Muir of Instructor Revolution, I believe that if you present quality training and principles, people will join and it will be made economically sustainable. But the movie presents a mutually exclusive dichotomy to better show the effects of corruption.

Reign of Assassins, the movie I saw after Red Belt, is in Chinese with English subtitles. It’s functionally the same as watching Japanese anime with Eng subtitles, except I understand Chinese grammar better than Japanese grammar. I felt this was a pretty well balanced movie between story and fighting action. The plot was pretty complicated with some time intensive reveals at the end. The presentation was smooth even though it was complicated and the fights had variety and often adapted a definitive move or weapon for each character. Reminiscent of Asian or Japanese titles which emphasize greatly a warrior’s name and his special abilities to distinguish it from other warriors. This was historically accurate as well, since Chinese Wu-Shu or kung fu started off on the reputation of a few warriors who had developed “special” moves that they had perfected. And thus warriors of legend were known for these special abilities. Additionally, it’s a good way to brush up on my Chinese.

Ninja Assassins came in last on the viewing order. The fights here were pretty action centered, so there’s not much story here. The real story is basically all focused on the main character and his background. While simple, it’s told in time compressed reveals as the plot unfolds, so much of the audience’s attention is held by the gory fight scenes which are high speed and have definite impact on the senses. They could also be called “overthetop” but I like things like that.

All in all, these movies were very different from the usual Hollywood offerings seen in AMerica or in the rest of the world. None of them had even one sex scene, which Hollywood seems obsessed with as if sex and snorting cocaine were the only things they can spend their money on in Hollywood. Not a chick flick, even though Reign of Assassins had courtship and marriage and married life as apart of the central plot. Reign of Assassins is also rather egalitarian, showing initially a weak husband protected by his wife. But given the Asian and Chinese reliance on patriarchy and male dominated power, I suspected it wasn’t quite going to end like that.

In order of Asian influence, I would say Red Belt is the most American, with Ninja Assassin being somewhere inbetween, and Reign of Assassins being heavily influenced because that was their source material: Asia.

Fight choreography, aesthetics, and physics: Red Belt 3/5, Ninja Assassins 5/5, Reign of Assassins 4.5/5. Every attack in Ninja Assassins, almost, had the intent to kill behind it. Meaning you could see that people were putting work into it and applying strength or bodyweight. It is a very different look than bouncing wires or when you have actors with no martial ability trying to slap fight. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186367/criticreviews One of the ways you can tell is how much Hollywood idiots hated the movie. If they really hated it, then pure and heartland Americans would tend to love it. The main actor, Rain or Raizo, had good abilities. It was said he worked 6 hours a day for 6 months to learn martial arts, 5 hours on martial arts and 1 hour on body fitness. He was primarily a dancer, and thus his ability to get the rhythm of a fight played well in the movie. Not something non-martial artists may appreciate, granted.

Red Belt’s action scenes were mainly MMA, and thus there’s nothing you couldn’t see in MMA like UFC or Pride.

Reign of Assassins uses kung fu and some tricks. They’ve refined the wire system so that physics will still work and people, like me, can’t easily tell how they are using the wires.

Storyline, plot, event complexity, mystery surprises: Red Belt 4.5/5, Ninja Assassins 4/5, Reign of Assassins 5/5. Red Belt started strong in the beginning but with no quality ending of the same caliber, it loses a half mark. Ninja Assassins didn’t have much in terms of background story or plot complexity, but it was done consistently from beginning to end. Reign of Assassins had a great beginning, an interesting middle, and a mystery twist at the end.

Currently watching Bulletproof Monk 2003, which has some weak fight scenes in terms of lacking the intent (to kill). Review will be coming up soon.

Martial Arts Transition: From Technique to Principles

August 21, 2011

(Btw the sky outside looks like something out of post Apocalypia. Raining, everything is a pink/orange shade like a rusted blood shower and clouds everywhere)

 

Watch this video to understand the difference between technique and principles.

Okinawan Karate

August 21, 2011

Found this video and it is a good demonstration.

First Winner of Sasuke: Fourth competition

August 21, 2011

Oceanic fisherman setting a goal and making it.

BBJ used: police involved

August 21, 2011

Now many people would normally call this self defense but legally it isn’t.

 

What it is is a citizen protecting someone other than himself, like the police, the neighborhood, the peace, or his country.

 

 

Crazy people do to prove they got balls

August 18, 2011

Check out that video. Very entertaining.

Black Belt: Kuro Obi

August 16, 2011

Currently watching this 2007 movie in English subtitles. Looks interesting so far.

A great demonstration of H2H vs sword arts. Of course, pre WWII Japanese sword arts were post-Meiji era sword arts, which is to mean it was disconnected from the history of Japanese warfare and swordmanship. It was resurrected basically for WWII, Toyama Ryu. A way to teach swordmanship to soldiers via a drill mechanism. Enough to keep them alive against opponents who had no sword or were unused to the sword, but not enough to make them truly proficient or masters of the sword.

EDIT1: Well, so far it seems like a tale of internal dispute within one particular school of karate over attack philosophy vs defense philosophy. In Japanese style, each side has their positives and minuses, which the movie takes pains to show to the viewer. It’s not about one person or philosophy being dominant over the other, in fact one might say the “evil” or more aggressive philosophy is shown as dominant and the defensive “peaceful” philosophy is shown as detrimental and causing anguish/grief.

Well this sets things up for an upset of course and it will be interesting to see where they go with this.

EDIT2: I thought the ending was a bit strange in terms of how they designed the fighting. I much preferred the previous fights. And I’m still unsure whether the philosophical conflict ever really got resolved. Of course, a movie cannot be expected to delve too deeply into the differences between attack and defense focuses. But I was looking for something a bit deeper on this matter. In general, this movie had a great start and middle. Even if the ending didn’t quite fit my expectations, it was still a very good production, especially for those interested in Japanese culture and/or history.

Wisconsin Flash Riots

August 12, 2011

Some people just like to see the world burn.

And some people, like me, want them put down permanently.

 

An Introduction to Visual Novels

August 9, 2011

Those looking for an all ages, no stress installation and preview of why some people play visual novels and even prefer them to manga or anime, take a look at Planetarian.

Download, read, blow up from the drama firepower, the end. It’s about the length of a short story, hence the “introduction” part.

For those “looking” for a reason, for the girls this has romance and relationship difficulties. For the guys, this has action and combat. I found it very emotional and impactful, just as advertised for a kinetic novel. There isn’t a large cast, so you tend to get to know the people pretty well. The Japanese concept of “giri” or duty is also shown here so if you are weak to loyalty or duty, this is what you need to see.

LINK

 

 

Yakuza 1974

August 9, 2011

Suek recommended a movie to me a few days ago.

Suek, the movie you recommended is looking good so far. 23 minutes in…. then skipping ahead.

Sometime later, I finished it and here is what I thought. It is a great way to learn about philosophical differences between West and Japan in terms of how we view life and how they view life. What makes this movie special is that it uses English and Japanese (with english subtitles), so it was produced by someone who actually understood both sides. While it is primarily in English, it is about the Japanese. With the Americans being former occupation military police and administrators (you know, when MacArthur reigned as the American Shogun in Japan) who are in their 50s or 60s. This is definitely not a movie about teenagers with rebellion issues.

 

The Yakuza 1974


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