Man of Steel

tn_manofsteel(contains THE SPOILERS)

I cannot tell a lie, I was really fuckin excited for the new Superman movie. I went to the midnight show and everything. I showed up way too early. I passed a guy dressed as Superman going into the john and might’ve given him a high five if I knew he’d washed his hands. I’m down for this. I wanted this to be great.

I’m not one of those people who shits on SUPERMAN RETURNS. I liked it, I just didn’t love it, mainly because I think it was shackled by nostalgia, held back by trying so hard to recapture the old Richard Donner movies. I know this is considered blasphemy in many circles (you’re gonna be hearing that a couple more times in this review) but I just don’t like those Superman pictures that much. They were great in the ’70s and early ’80s but to me they haven’t held up the way the Spielberg and Lucas joints of the era still do and will continue to. So as good of a job as Bryan Singer did of imitating that old version of Superman and goofball Lex Luthor and re-using the same font and music and all that, I feel like what I want to see now is start over and do a different take on Superman that’s made for the futuristic year of 2013. That’s what director Zack Snyder, writer David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan have done with MAN OF STEEL and… well, I like not love this one also. But maybe like it a little more. Maybe a smidge closer to love on this one. I don’t feel high off it like I did off the Batman movies. But I am still thinking about it, and already want to see it again, see how it plays without all the baggage of expectations. (read the rest of this shit…)

Equal Impact

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vhsThis week in my column at DAILY GRINDHOUSE I take a look at yet another VHS-only martial arts oddity, it’s called EQUAL IMPACT. Hats off if any of you have heard of it. This one stars one-and-done tae kwon do practicing twin brothers Joe and Jay Gates, plus Robert Z’Dar and Joe Estevez. And as I was watching it I was surprised to realize it was filmed in Seattle.

see my findings over on Daily Grindhouse

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Those Damn Vulgarians

VTILIIlogoOne Seagalogist’s perspective on the “vulgar auteurism” debate

Recently, on my FURIOUS 6 review, commenter Jeroen pointed me to an interesting essay in The Village Voice called “Fast & Furious & Elegant: Justin Lin and the Vulgar Auteurs” by Calum Marsh. A buddy of mine who is way deeper in the online criticism circles than I am had mentioned the “vulgar auteurism” term to me once before, but then I kinda forgot about it and didn’t really realize it was a thing. Now I keep seeing debate about it. I bet this is either the first you’ve heard of it or you’re sick of god damn hearing about it. But I feel like it needs to be mentioned here.

According to Marsh, “‘Vulgar auteurism’ is an increasingly popular concept in contemporary criticism, particularly among young critics. Though it’s emerged online and in print over the past several years and has yet to be granted an official definition, the term generally refers to unfairly maligned or under-discussed filmmakers working exclusively in a popular mode—filmmakers like Lin, who, despite an obvious formal command and distinctive directorial voice, are rarely discussed in a serious way.” He goes on to name Tony Scott, Michael Mann, John McTiernan, Paul W.S. Anderson, Neveldine/Taylor and Michael Bay as other alleged vulgar auteurs. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Super-Kumite: Talons of the Eagle

tn_talonsRound 1, Final Bout, Team Blanks vs. The Red Fist Club

“You’ve got steel balls, but no brains.”

How’s this for a weird twist on the fighting tournament movie: mismatched undercover narcotics agents Billy Blanks (USA) and Jalal Merhi (Canada) train real hard to enter an underground fighting tournament so they can impress crime lord Mr. Li (James Hong). It works, he hires them, and the tournament is never mentioned again.

Up until that point it has all the traditional tournament movie touches, though. The older mentor is Master Pan Quing Fu, a hall-of-famer martial artist who helped the Chinese government catch 23 Triad leaders in the ’60s, appeared in SHAOLIN TEMPLE with Jet Li, and is playing himself in this movie! We know he’s a good dude because when Mr. Li tries to “pay repects” to him with a bunch of cash Master Pan burns it with a torch. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Super-Kumite Round 1, Bout 3, shocking results

tn_Super-KumiteWho the fuck am I fooling, MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE is the winner of this fight. MORTAL KOMBAT: THE ANIMATED VIDEO: THE JOURNEY BEGINS is really, really, really not the winner. Video games go back to the arcade in shame and tears. Goro goes back to Outworld to apologize to his brother who he killed to steal a crystal or whatever.

My friends, this is an embarrassment. I want to apologize for this bout. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Super-Kumite: Master of the Flying Guillotine

tn_motfgRound 1, Bout 3, Team Video Games vs. The Men From Hong Kong

Fung Shang Wu Chi is the Darth Vader of the Man Chu Ching Dynasty. He’s a blind man who lives on a mountain disguised as a Buddhist lama, but he works for the Emperor, seeking out the last remaining rebels who support the former Ming Dynasty and decapitating them with the flying guillotine, a scientifically questionable but cinematically unparalleled weapon that’s basically a ring on a chain. When he tosses it over someone’s head it unfolds into a basket with a circle of blades inside, then he yanks it and it’s off with their head. And it’s ingeniously designed because the whole thing can fold up into small cylinder about the size of a pocket umbrella. If these things were easier to master then women could keep them in their purses instead of pepper spray, that would be pretty cool. (read the rest of this shit…)

Chinese Gods (Bruce Lee in Animation)

tn_chinesegodsSpeaking of weird animated martial arts videos, this week for my column on Daily Grindhouse I investigated a weird VHS tape I found of a 1976 animated movie purported to have Bruce Lee in it. Or a cartoon of him. It’s called CHINESE GODS, aka THE STORY OF THE CHINESE GODS. Bruce has a third eye and he fights a nine-tailed fox lady and that sort of thing. You know how it is.

CHINESE GODS on Daily Grindhouse

The Super-Kumite: Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins

tn_mkjbRound 1, Bout 3: TEAM VIDEO GAMES vs. THE MEN FROM HONG KONG

MORTAL KOMBAT: THE ANIMATED VIDEO, aka MORTAL KOMBAT: THE JOURNEY BEGINS was a straight-to-VHS-and-Laserdisc release made as a tie-in with Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1995 live action theatrical MORTAL KOMBAT movie. The cover boasts that it allows you to “GO ONE STEP BEYOND VIRTUAL REALITY WITH 3D ANIMATION LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE!”

It is true that I’ve never seen animation like this before, but only because most people who would make it would know it was not good enough to release on a video. This video alternates between substandard Saturday morning cartoon type drawn animation and extremely crude animatic type computer animation. More on that in a minute. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Super-Kumite Round 1, Bout 2 results

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I’m pretty sure nobody’s reading these, but that’s okay because The Super-Kumite is an underground tournament. We don’t need the light of day shone on our activities. We do it all by torchlight.

But for the few of us in this elite circle of insiders it is time to announce the winner of the AMERICAN KICKBOXERS vs. THE WOMEN contest. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Super-Kumite: Pushed to the Limit

tn_pttltn_Super-KumiteROUND 1, BOUT 2, AMERICAN KICKBOXERS VS. THE WOMEN

“They’re gonna be punchin where you’re at. Don’t be there.”

I wasn’t familiar with Mimi Lesseos until I was trying to find more tournament movies and I discovered this one. Actually, her wrestling name “The Magnificent Mimi” sounds kind of familiar, maybe I heard of her back in the late ’80s when she was a contender for the AWA World Women’s Championship belt (which she never got, except in a 1989 Playboy spread). After appearing as The Magnificent Mimi, chief rival to the heroine of AMERICAN ANGELS: BAPTISM OF BLOOD (1989), Lesseos decided to pull a Tom Laughlin and make her own independent action vehicles. She started by writing, producing and starring in PUSHED TO THE LIMIT (1992). (read the rest of this shit…)