10 of my Favorite Movie Martial Arts Fights

 

Wataahhhhh!

It's no secret that I'm a fairly enthusiastic fan of the martial arts genre of cinema. Typically for me is the general me-ness tendency to love and appreciate all my sub-genre children equally so it's fairly common for me to flit from a fantasy wuxia film, then to a period samurai flick, take in some girls with guns action, and then top it all off with some atypically ultra clean -- and incredibly colorful -- yanggang Chang Cheh type of film. Still maintaining a small degree of humanity buried deep within my mortal shell and after a reasonable amount of experience of dabbling in the genre for a few decades, I must admit to having developed some strong likes and dislikes over the years and boy oh boy have they shifted as time has passed.

Although I do personally have friends that know considerably more than I do, I do think I've gotten enough film time under my belt to have developed a decent knowledge of what's out there. Sure, sure...there still lots to see out there in the big wide world that I know I don't have enough time to watch, that's pretty much par for course in the world of cinema. But since the subject of mostest bestest fights evarrrrrr comes up on a semi-regular basis on chat boards around the net, I thought I'd put in a tiny sample of some of my favorites. If you know me even a wee bit, you probably know that I'm loath to make ranking lists of things especially films and this time it will be no different. They are not in any particular order, and some of these films overall aren't really all that great. But one thing they do share...they have some kind of fighting scene that I really enjoyed. There's always tons that I forget or new ones that I discover on a regular basis. But these are some of the films that immediately spring to mind on that rare occasion that somebody wants my opinion. Here we go!

Oh yeah...click on the pics for the Youtube footage of the fights.

Martial Club (1981)

Gordon Liu vs. Wang Lung Wei

Directed by the great Lau Kar-Leung (Liu Chia-Liang) with action choreography by the same, this is yet another film involving the great martial arts hero Wong Fei Hung played this time by the 2nd greatest film martial artist Gordon Liu (that guy from all those Shaolin films for the uninitiated). Wong Fei Hung is doing his usual wandering around trying to soak up new s+yles to incorporate into his own when he and his opponent are tricked into doing battle with each other at the end of the film. Typical of the way Lau Kar-Leung approaches fight sequences, the combat pushes the story forward and is never there just for show. He also is loath to use wirework so his fights tend to mainly involve quick and precise traditional fighting. Honestly, if I had to pick one fight as my favorite...I would probably go with this one.

Drunken Master 2 (1994)

Jackie Chan vs. Ken Lo

Hey guess what kids? It's another Wong Fei Hung film, this time played with impish vigor by that jack-of-all-martial-trades Jackie Chan. Initially a Lau Kar Leung directed film, he and Jackie had very strong opinions about how to approach the fights and halfway through production Lau left and Jackie took over. The result...MAGIC! I know, that doesn't generally happen but the two worlds of the ultra-realistic clashing with Jackie's over the top shenanigans somehow worked out perfectly as a whole morphing into what is generally considered one of the best martial arts films ever made. Jackie really pushed himself to the limit during this production and it really shows. There are so many great skirmishes in this film that you could show any of them and be happy, but let's just go with the big finish since it's pretty crazy.

Sha Po Lang (AKA Killzone) (2005)

Donnie Yen vs. Jing Wu

Directed by Wilson Yip with action choreography by Donnie Yen, this is the movie in which Donnie Yen really invented the wheel for modern martial arts films. To make a long story short, he began mixing in more realistic moves from the increasingly popular MMA type of fighting with some standard flash for the camera, as well as experimenting with some improvisational bouts and some solid editing. The result was a revolution which launched him into super stardom as Donnie is overwhelmingly considered to be the top movie martial artist currently working. His opponent Jing Wu is perhaps the most physically gifted and talented fighter today who unfortunately winds up in a lot of crap films. But not this time bucko! SPL is a solid movie with some really, REALLY great fights in it. This fatal encounter is one of my favorites despite it not really showcasing the aforementioned MMA s+yle indicated above. Maybe next time?

Angel (AKA Iron Angels) (1987)

Yukari Oshima vs. Moon Lee

Ahhhh the warm nasty '80s. The '80s Hong Kong "B" movie territory could be a pretty brutal place and two of the dirtiest fighters in the business were actually two women by the name of Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima. All too often women are not used particularly well in martial arts films and usually they just kind of throw a few awkward kicks and are then rescued by the tougher manly man. Not these two. Their conflicts with each other tended to shed a lot of blood and generally was only resolved by one or both of them dying terribly violent deaths. Angel contains a personal favorite fight of mine which although all too brief, is amazing in its ability to ramp up the violence so quickly. Watch as Yukari Oshima totally ruins Moon Lee's friend with an horribly vicious choke flip!

Shaolin Intruders (1983)

Derek Yee vs. Philip Ko

Shaolin intruders is really a movie that has to be seen to be believed. It's a completely crazy film that uses every approach in the book to choreographing a martial arts fight -- I guess having six action directors will do that sometimes. Besides just having some really crazy reactions to events in the movies from some of the characters, the film throws everything and the kitchen sink into their fights and it shows. A fine example of mixing down to earth fisticuffs, lightning fast weapon work, wire work straying into the fantastic, and piling in some truly physics defying team defense work that really has to be seen to be believed. Philip Ko and Derek Yee really go to town on each other in a film that truly feels it needs to be more of a spectacle than previous Shaolin flicks.

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Boxer From Shantung (1972)

Chen Kuan Tai vs. Everyone

Hoo boy this one's a doozy. A tragic film in which a superior fighter from the country tries to clean up the gangs and ends up corrupted himself. A truly stunning end fight that, although not technical or stylistic, is amazing just for its sheer unworldly brutality as the protagonist is mortally wounded and yet succeeds in killing an entire room full of people. It's a long clip that I had to attach two bloody videos just so you could watch it, but despite what you might think just keep telling yourself -- "he's going to kill everyone in the room". You might think he's going to die -- many times in fact -- but no...he will keep going until everyone is DEAD! Really epic and bloody carnage here folks.

Edit - The second part has been removed from Youtube unfortunately. Oh man it was awesome too...he takes down the bloody staircase and collapses the second floor and then rams an axe into the falling mob boss. Good stuff!

Yes, Madam! (1985)

Cynthia Rothrock & Michelle Yeoh vs. Dick Wei & Chung Faat

Ahhhh we're back to the dirty '80s with Michelle Yeoh's first leading role and directed by that madman Corey Yuen. Although fairly cheesy, this film is has those typical early Hong Kong action film moments in which you'll find yourself often wondering..."did that stuntman just die?". Yeoh is teamed up with Cynthia Rothrock and if you've only seen Rothrock's U.S. action films then you're in for something of a surprise as you'll get to see what she can do with a good choreographer. Watch her do the splits going backwards up against a wall!

Fist of Legend (1994)

Jet Li vs. Billy Chow

This remake of a Bruce Lee film was initially met with much animosity in the Asian sector as you just don't remake the movies of a beloved icon like Bruce Lee. After some time has passed and heads cooled down, people realized that the film was actually very good with some great action direction courtesy of the legendary Yuen Woo-ping. Despite Woo-ping's tendency to at times abuse the wire work as it were, in this film he was relatively reserved and typically just used it to enhance the generally down to earth fisticuffs. A pretty solid film overall with a great end fight. The English dub unfortunately had some problems with adding words that weren't there and changing some of the dialogue quite a bit for no discernible reason. Weirdos.

The Victim (1980)

Leung Kar-yan vs. Chang Yi

The Victim is one of those great old school meets the new school type of affairs in which all hell breaks loose. There's so much talent in the action directing department that it's hard to know where to start. Most of it was done by the great Sammo Hung and he really managed to get the actors to push themselves well past their limits. Nowhere is this more obviously displayed then in the final fight with the awesome Leung Kar-yan taking on some minions...and then the dreaded Chang Yi. Really the fight is both brutal and yet beautiful to watch in some of the long sequences of lightly edited hand to hand fighting.

The Millionaires' Express (1986)

Oh just...everybody vs. lots of folks

This is just a fun, fun, fun, kind of film! Sammo Hung thought it would be great if he could get ahold of almost everybody he ever worked with and put them in one big pseudo-western film full of ninjas, confederates, kung fu masters, trains, and lots of guns. This clip is near the end in which everybody from every faction just starts fighting each other for all the different things that they want. Pretty much every person in this film, no matter how small the role, is a martial arts movie celebrity so it's pointless to list them all. Another great use of Miss Rothrock in a short but sweet fight with Sammo Hung and the great Yasuaki Kurata vs. Richard Norton. Oh...also miss Yukari Oshima shows up to kill Richard Norton in just the most awful way possible.

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Iron Man 2 Review

 

 

Title - Iron Man (2010)

Director - John Favreau

Country - United States

Trailer

A delightful banter heavy super-hero film in which the emphasis of the film is clearly put on the character of the film and less so on the super-heroic exploits and trials that comic-based films generally focus upon. The diminished focus on action pieces might threaten to bog the picture down but the character interactions and their barbed-filled vocal exchanges keep the film moving along at a clean pace until the inevitable CG  heavy battle scenes.

Not that there is a lack of money spent in terms of CG wizardry on the screen. But instead of merely focusing their efforts on the suit battles, the film is littered with highly detailed sets and the constant use of extremely high-tech holographic touch sensitive technology is all pervasive. Not to diminish the skirmishes involving the Iron Man suit though as they are fun to watch, very smoothly executed and very aesthetically pleasing especially Micky Rourke's frankensteined creation clashing with Tony Stark's ultra-slick technology. 

The plot itself treads no particular new ground although it does attempt to through in a great many sub-plots and personal dilemmas for the ample cast of characters to deal with. The problem with most of these dilemmas is that they generate very little serious drama as they are mainly dealt with in either a succinct manner or are treated in a rather glib fashion and things just sort of seem to work themselves out almost accidentally due to the increased amount of events and characters involved basically just diluting the situation to the point that it almost seems an afterthought when it is reconciled. This casual dismissive tone carries over to the antagonists as the film spreads itself out a little too thin to the point that what should have been powerful character conflicts involving the major characters just seem like minor scuffles. 

There is also the odd sort of underlying theme of a stereo-typical conservative American approach to the way in which the film idolizes weaponry and pushes the agenda that America possessing the most powerful weapon in the world would undoubtedly result in an increase in world peace. Then there's also the extra step the film takes that Americans apparently feel more comfortable in having a shallow, fun-loving,  but seemingly trust worthy private individual in possession of the most powerful weapon in the world but not their own government.

Is the writer trying to make a statement about the current mental state of American with the increase in paranoia and private militias or is it just more poorly thought out Hollywood worship of the Dirty Harry one man army character doing things we are afraid to take responsibility for? The film makes an attempt to explore the folly of this approach by the sudden attack of Ivan Vanko utilizing similar technology that supposedly was beyond the reach of the rest of the world as promised by Stark. This is then further compounded by a frustrated military friend being able to utilize one of the suits which seems improbable considering the vast amount of hack proof machinery that Stark regularly employs. But like with most issues in Iron Man these are just brushed aside or ignored in the face of an impending threat and we are left wondering what became of all that anyways?

But despite all these faults I found the film infectiously enjoyable. Despite the fact that many characters aren't utilized to their fullest, they are immediately compelling and a joy to watch when they are on the screen. Micky Roarke is incredibly fun to watch as he is both a brutal thug and a introverted technology wizard who is only truly friendly to his father and his bird. Tony's relationship with his ambiguously defined girlfriend Pepper Potts is very engaging and their constant over-lapping dialogue exchanges were genuinely funny and wholly natural. Of course most of this has to do with Robert Downey Jr.'s great acting abilities and he really elevates the quality of the movie with his level of skill. 

Despite the intensely glib tone of the movie I found the whole thing very enjoyable. There's nothing new here to be sure, but the abilities of everyone involved elevate the movie as a whole into a very satisfying experience.

 


 
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Me First! Me First!

Other than people asking me what I think is the best (insert anything here) EVER, whether I prefer Coke over Pepsi, or what was the last (insert anything here) that I (insert something within Giant Bomb's TOU here), I think I get asked what was the first (you get the idea) that you (this joke has run its course methinks). Obviously for reasons involving my inability to warp time my choices tend to be dated a bit farther back than most people on this particular board. So for no particular reason I'd thought I'd grab a few of my favorites.

First Anime/Cartoon -

Back in 1969 other than the excitement of being given a dinosaur pop-up book (conveniently my first dinosaur book) later that year at Christmas, I distinctly remember falling in love with Kimba the White Lion otherwise known as the incredibly famous Jungle Emperor series from Japan courtesy of the legendary Osamu Tezuka. I lived in Pasadena at the time and so our antenna easily picked up the signal but I would be sorely disappointed by my parent's choices of dwellings soon after this as we began a series of moves which tended to put us in fairly distantly located trackhomes in which PBS type channels (which is the channels that aired Kimba) were very hard to receive. So over my childhood years my beloved Kimba and Speed Racer were rare commodities and I treasured every moment that I could successfully grab a signal no matter how fuzzy.

First Comic Book/Magazine -

As a child I was a voracious reader. I read almost anything I could get my hands on and stories about the Greek and Roman Gods featured big into that equation as they offered up fantastic stories of superhuman feats. Then in one of those book club magazines (Dynamite I believe it was) they often had a feature on comics reprinting the origins of various heroes. I was fascinated by these articles but in those days no comic shops existed and only the occasional grocery store had a spinner rack with comics.

Unfortunately for me my parents had recently moved to Orange County which at the time was a barren wasteland as far as stores go. No grocery stores had comics and so the only comic happiness I could find were the short features found within magazines. Then in 1974 I discovered a drug store that occasionally got in a few of the Marvel magazines that they were marketing at the time in an attempt to bring in a more adult audience. I picked up an issue of Savage Tales No. 6 featuring Ka-Zar (Lord Plunder to you!) and read it over and over again with much glee! Much to my delight it also featured women in...well sometimes in little to no clothing and since it was John Buscema art it was very...um, well done.

Soon after that we moved once again to another distant series of track homes in Oceanside and I very quickly located what at the time was an oasis of comic book goodness...A 7-ELEVEN!!! I quickly biked to it as soon as I had the chance and snatched up a comic of my favorite series The Fantastic Four and so finally I had my first actual comic -- Fantastic Four #158! With trembling hands I read quickly through the comic only to find a cliffhanger at the end! I was saddened as I was so use to rarely being able to find issues that I was sure I'd never find another one after that. Luckily the regular deliveries proved me wrong and thus was born my love for comic collecting in 1975.

First movie in a theatre -

I was a mere 4 years old when I was taken to a showing of the legendary film 2001: a space odyssey. Why my father decided a 4 year old should attend a movie like this I'll never know but I would have to assume he thought it was merely a space adventure movie and there would be lots of color and explosions to keep me occupied. Regardless, see it I did and although I don't have clear recollection of actually being there, I do have very fond memories of growing up with the big deluxe vinyl soundtrack album. I used to play it over and over as I found the very odd tracks by Ligeti to be entrancing and spooky. It could be my natural passion for Hallowe'en as I often played the soundtrack in order to make our house seem more spooky to passer bys.

First vinyl album -

Throughout most of the '70s I had a best friend that was really into Johnny Cash. I mean really into Johnny Cash. As a result I pushed aside the Led Zeppelin albums littering most people's rooms at the time and mainly listened to Johnny Cash myself over and over again. Late one weekend night I caught this weird rock band wearing outlandish outfits and strange make-up and combining this with big pyrotechnics and a driving rock sound and lyrics. Well that was it for me as after that I was a solid Kiss fan!

The very next time my parents went out shopping I stopped by the record area and picked up their newest album for $5.99 and just played that sucker to death much to my parents chagrin. I slowly accrued all their older albums and soon started buying any magazine I could afford which featured them.

Good lord it all seems so embarassing now.

For the record, my first piece of music that wasn't children's music that I bought was a ABBA 45 single of Fernando! Then my first 8-Track that I was allowed to buy for a long road trip was Steve Miller's Book of Dreams. Luckily the early '80s came along and I developed an interest in music that was a tad less embarassing. My first Compact Disc ended up being Roxy Music's Avalon which I still have sitting on my shelf.

First movie I watched multiple times in the theatre -

When Star Wars hit the theatre in 1977 I just went nutzo! It was the single most amazing thing that I had ever seen and I somehow managed to convince my parents to attend multiple showings. When I was young I was exceedingly tiny and anytime somebody sat in front of me I really just couldn't see a damn thing. As a result I took to sitting in the very front seats which solved the problem as the seats weren't really all that close to the screen.

However one particular screening of Star Wars my parents went to some new fangled over-sized theatre and when I sat down I was looking almost straight up at the screen. Let me tell you that opening sequence in which the Imperial Cruisers come slowly flying down from the top of the screen is something I will never forget thanks to that HUGE screen.

My first pet -

I had an older brother and sister when I was growing up and although we often had pets in our family, the pet was always the family's or my brother's or sister's. While I was living in Oceanside and wandering the surrounding miles and miles of thick fields covered in high brush and railroad tracks I captured a California King Snake! I convinced my parents to let me keep him and despite the reservations of my sisters and mother concerning my ability to keep him caged I at last had my first pet!

Ah my goodness what a great snake he was too! Wild snakes, once they adapt to their surroundings, are a lot more docile than their raised in captivity brethren as they really appreciate their captivity. They're always in a warm environment, they always get fed, their owner who takes them out is warm and doesn't hurt them -- what's not to love?

I kept him as long as I could but eventually, as our family did so often, we moved on down the road and I let him go back into the wild. It still makes me sort of sad to think about it as no snake that I've owned after him has ever been as super awesome as that darn snake. I loved you Mr. Snake!

My First Vehicle -

It took me quite some time in my life before I actually got a car as I had a rather rough entry into the adult world through my own confused non-actions. One thing that my father did do for me however is to buy me this nifty Honda 450CM in order to get around a little bit. It wasn't great to ride on the freeway or anything, but it did allow me to get a job and get around the neighborhood in which I lived. This in turn led me to meeting what would be my first serious girlfriend which was quite a change in my life. Not bad for just a little putt-putt of a bike.

Well that's a small trip back through a few historic firsts in my life. What are some of yours?

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Drat. He's a Pterodactyl Again.

There are times when ordinary, seemingly mundane events happen that can have a dramatic or extraordinary impact in our lives. A random stop by a retailer carrying CDs or DVDs can yield surprising finds, having to retrieve a forgotten item could prevent an auto accident, taking a different path to school could result in a physical confrontation, a conversation with a friend could spark an interest in a passer by -- a myriad of possibilities and conclusions resulting from the most commonplace activities.

Who knows whether buying that much needed bread after work could lead to their demise! Should I stay in and play it safe or should I leap before I look? Over the last week a couple of random things in my life went forward or were abruptly halted which has resulted in nothing quite so dramatic as all the noisome scribblings that preceded.

I suddenly received a notice at my quiet little email account that some person at Gamespot had suggested me for the role as a new forum moderator. Of course it would have been a minor role as a moderator in training or some such title in which I would no doubt be hazed mercilessly in the form of Nick making me clean his motorcycles or perhaps Hungry Bunny demanding that I create an animated bunny sig a day for a month until my training was complete -- "and they better be damned funny and charming as all Hell as well!!!"

But we shall never know as I decided to politely decline the offer. I don't have any issues with the job itself and I have no problem laying down the hammer or letting minor shenanigans go unpunished if they are engaged in a polite and/or amusing fashion -- for a little while anyway. But I have a full-time job that has increasingly become very physically and mentally punishing to the point that I find it hard to become motivated about almost anything and so I felt that this just wasn't the best time to be engaging in watching the kids.

To be honest, I thought it might be kind of fun and help me come out of my Gamespot shell a bit, but it's just not in the cards right now. I still don't know who nominated me but I thank you for thinking of me and perhaps in the future I'll be a bit better off in order to help Gamespot keep from becoming a fetid wasteland of agressive cliques and softcore porn advertising that I've watched so many other boards become. Did I make a mistake in turning it down? Who knows?

Much like the creation of my personal little MySpace site, one very late night during a period of incredible, restless boredom a Facebook page was created by your odd little author. I'm not particularly social and the friends that I do have are loathe to communicate through these popular sources of a social nexus. But I was in one of those moods in which filling out forms and lists which represent your likes and dislikes seem like a fun thing.

What?

Anyways...there I was all ready and willing for this big old bad networking site that has seemingly supplanted MySpace's amazing popularity. It was the king of the kings! Every tech show I watch or read about can't go a minute without bringing up the MASSIVE popularity of Facebook and how it's taken over the world! I connected, filled out all my info, added a quick profile pic which, in true Daemon fashion, was not actually a picture of me. Then I stood back and checked out my handiwork.

What I saw appalled me.

What?

This was...it? It couldn't be!

I started poking around at every option that I could find and nope, nada, nothing. Facebook is just this big empty sheet which has your likes and dislikes in nice clear text and...well that's it folks. MySpace is like having your own web site in which the sky's the limit! You could totally write all sorts of HTML code like crazy and create an animated, media heavy environment, you could plug in movies and videos and songs...well pretty much anything you wanted -- or just leave it nice and plain for your friends with slow 'puters. Again, whatever you wanted.

Now I know I'm not particularly tech savvy but I see none of this on Facebook. It kind of just looks like I filled out a dating website profile and now I feel a tad foolish and bit dirty for jumping onto this particular bandwagon. It looks like the kind of social website that would've been created ten years before the advent of MySpace and most certainly not the next step. Can somebody explain to me why anybody would use this site over anything else? I just don't get it.

So there my Facebook sits, just kinda blah and empty. I added a couple of TV shows just to see something there and I guess I could post some pics of paintings I like or some such thing but honestly...what the hell?! But who knows, perhaps something unforeseen will result in this seemingly boring and incredibly underwhelming act. I suppose I shouldn't become too jaded about the small things in my life.

Because you run the risk of making events that are actually amazing and shocking seem mundane and then nothing seems exciting anymore.

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Watchmen: The Secret New Ending!

With all the Sturm Und Drang swirling about the internet involving the Watchmen movie I decided to take a different approach and completely steal something I found rather amusing. It's from the only blog I read on the internet called Chris's Invincible Blog written by the great Chris Sims.

Also I'm rather busy at work with inventory this weekend and I'm a bit under the weather with a chest cold and I tore my left eye so I'm still a tad double-visioned and the meds I'm taking make me kind of tired and woozy and rather hard to focus at times and...well gosh I'm not sure how many excuses I need not to write a Watchmen review at the moment. Until then...enjoy!

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A Veritible Dichotomy of Demos! - XBL Gilds My Hard Drive Edition

There I sat a mighty lump on my broken couch/bed. Tired as all hell from 7 days in a row of work and wanting to play some games and enjoy the night but just completely unable...or pehaps unwilling, to leap into anything heavier than a light Animal Crossing session.

Somehow I managed to make it until the wee Pacific Time Zone hours of 4am (give or take) and I was suddenly hit with a voice party request. After some initial 360 Elite headphone issues which rendered the voice of my unknown companion something akin to an alien attempting to declare war, I discovered my new XBL friend wanted to do a little DOA4 boosting and chat a bit.

After that was all done for the "night" I initially was amazed that there had been no lag despite the fact that my friend was located in Great Britain. Determined to at last go to bed I suddenly discovered that after many days of little to no activity the folks at XBL had uploaded quite an array of demos! Reeling with the fantastic knowledge of not having to go anywhere for the next two days I jumped right into them.

Here are my rough and poorly written impressions.

Wanted - Weapons of Fate - The game takes off directly where the movie left off as you play Wesley Griffin, master assassin and something of a one man army. The game is a 3rd person shooter which utilzes an engine similar to the cover and shoot method found in Gears of War -- but a bit faster thank goodness.

The demo was okay and I found it easy to navigate and shoot my opponents down like the dogs that I have to presume that they are in order to justify my love for violence. I found it odd that for a film that pushed the concept that the whole "bending the bullet" skill was the key point of the movie it isn't even mentioned in the demo as a skill. I figured out where it was but I didn't find too many places that it would be any more effective then to just gun or stab them down. I had mixed results as far as effectiveness goes as well but that may just be a case of not being overly familar with how to best utilize the skill.

Acceptable shooter but somewhat plain and the demo didn't bring much excitement. It basically cried "Look at me! I totally work okay!".

WWE - Legends of Wrestlemania - I have to admit that I was initially excited at the idea of playing around with Andre the Giant so I was really looking forward to this demo. There are two basic modes included -- exhibition mode with Andre and Hulk, and a Wrestlemania event with The Rock and Austin.

In the exhibition mode you are pretty much left to do whatever you want with no agenda. I played with a manager and without and I was mightily amused to see my manager come up and distract my opponent so that I had a free opening. I wasn't initially happy with the engine as the slightest hit seems to completey stun your character and one of the things I can't stand is losing control of my character. I learned to be careful however and pretty soon I was mauling the Hulkster like there was no tomorrow.

The engine left me fairly unhappy. It's a bare bones affair and it seemed like a huge step back as far as technical wrestling is concerned. There are just a couple of canned ground grapples and ground strikes when your opponent is down and this disappointed me greatly as I am a big fan of submission wrestling.

The reversal system is somewhat easy to perfom as it is just initialized by a series of quick-time event button pushes, but I was confused by it as it seemed to randomly come up and somewhat beyond your control. Perhaps you can increase the movesets and ability to reverse more often but from what this demo offers that wasn't clear and I was somewhat let down.

The Wrestlemania matches have an agenda in that you gain extra points for reenacting key moments with those wrestlers. Those goals were kind of fun and not too hard to pull off but the overall ease of doing so made the goals not too challenging.

There might be fun to be had but to me it looks like a pretty bare bones affair.

Wheelman - I really didn't have much hope for this demo. It's from some of the team that brought us the Driver series which is a series I really, really dislike. In this game Vin Diesel replaces "driver" and his job is to infiltrate the mob in Barcelona and help bring them down.

Good lord the key story vehicle combat is really bloody good fun! You can slam cars chasing you with a simple flick of the right analog stick and if you time it right they wreck with quite a satisfying crash. The basic controls of the car are intuitive and easy to just pick up and gun your way into action. You can shoot your opponents as well as perform special vehicle attacks in which you spin your vehicle around in order to gun down you pursuers. Fun stuff indeed!

Then I hit the side parts of the game in the form of racing and chasing and...yeah, not so happy.

Your opponents in racing all take off like crazy leaving you to play the catch up game. The ambient traffic seems to clearly have it out for you and do whatever they can to attach themselves to your bumper. You opponents seem to move somewhat tron-like in the turns and the whole process just seemed to be a recipe for big frustration.

The chasing elements weren't too bad once I got used to jumping from car to car but again the ambient traffic is just a big, big pain. The cars you chase seem to turn better than they should and their ability to accelerate no matter how large the vehicle is was quite annoying.

The core game was fun but the side missions and racing left me scared and annoyed for a purchase.

Watchmen - The End is Nigh - It's a basic wandering old fashioned beat 'em up with some nice modern touches. You play as either Nite Owl or Rorschach and you pretty much have 30 mintues (in the free demo version) in which to run around and beat the hell out of a bunch or rioting prisoners.

The game starts off REALLY basic at first with very few moves other than light punch and heavy punch combos. You pick up icons that give you more moves though and before you know it you're grappling, evading and counter attacking your way through the unruly pack of thugs. As you get more abilities and get your opponents in various aspects of being stunned or knocked down/back, you are often give the opportunity to do some very brutal attacks with the simple push of a button which was quite satisfying.

Overall I had a great time playing it and I'll probably buy it. It's nothing amazing but it's a fun beat 'em up and I'm always a sucker for those. One annoying aspect however -- the game is bloody dark. Even on my 1080i TV I had a hard time seeing my characters in certain environments.

The Chronicles of Riddick - Assault on Dark Athena - Basically a rerelease of one of the best games on ye olde original XBox and one of those pesky games that couldn't be backwards programmed to work on the new system. A great 1st person stealth game I had forgotten how unforgiving it was and died quite a few times while fooling around with the demo.

If you like carefully stalking your opponents and tearing them a new one and don't mind Vin Diesel grumbling at you during the cut scenes then you should probably pick this up when it's finally released. It has an added campaign for those who played the hell out of it already so there's a good incentive to relive a great, great game.

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3 to the 0 to the K for the D means Milestone!

Yea verily my friends we gather once again to take notice on Daemon's most recent ability to acquire ethereal goals in pursuit of an empty dream. Aye, there is the occasional passerby that puts forth a tasty tidbit of apocryphal information from the Gods on high at Microsoft that perhaps someday, in some fashion, we will all be rewarded for our constant acquisition of these points.

Aye...someday mayhaps.

But the Gods are spiteful beings full of remorse and anger towards their followers and rarely will they allow the sunlight to truly shine upon those willing, but wholly undeserving, masses. And so we toil and struggle to make ourselves appear and feel that we are truly an accomplished gathering of humanity and attempt to keep going forward. Many games have helped me in my goal and here are a few of the most recent.

Fable 2 - I really wasn't sure what to expect from this game. I never got around to playing the old XBox iteration of this title but all the online reports I received from my friends sure made it seem like a good time. With that I jumped at the chance to literally dive into this game (no really, I actually jumped onto the box in my living room. Don't look at me like that!) and I had a blast for most of the way. I didn't really like having everything taken from me at one point but other than that it was pretty damn fun.

Hey guess what? I actually got all the achievements for this baby as well! 1100/1100 which was very sweet! Sure most of them weren't hard, but a few involved online antics which, if you note my star rating, is not something I do very often. A few also involved those damn gambling games and at one point I was fairly settled into the fact that I just wouldn't get those. But guess what again? I bore down and attacked the pub games and played those damn games and it turns out it wasn't really that hard! What a big silly goof I had been for avoiding them like the plague! Silly Daemons!

The last piece of the puzzle was finished by a postively lovely gentleman floating around the Fable 2 board whose name I wish I could recall in order to thank him once again. He allowed me to mooch the thrice-damned doll collector achievement off of him and I couldn't be more happier for hitting that goal. He even danced a little bit with me to get me the last co-op achievement and that was that. Did I mention that the online community around Fable 2 is really a nice bunch of folks?

Afro Samurai - I was really looking forward to this game as I'm always happiest when I'm wailing away with a nice run around beat-em-up game. The aesthetic is there, the music is unbelieveably great, and the fighting engine is rather bloody and fun. The problem is the boss tactics are very boring and/or random so you don't feel particularly skilled when taking them down, and the little bits of platforming are painfully bad.

Those facts coupled with my atypical literal diving technique (there I go again) of gaming made Daemon a very angry boy on his first playthrough of the game as my friend can well attest to. But now that I've looked into matters and found out that I wasn't alone in my anger (as well as a few tips that proved useful) have now helped me to calm down and enjoy all the slice n' dice action attributed properly to the various types of cannon fodder available in the game and just have fun. I still haven't got all the achievements but I've gotten quite a few and I was just about to finish them up when...

F.E.A.R. 2 - Project Origin - Yet another game in which I never played the original game! This game came out of nowhere on the XBL and I had such a blast playing the demo I quite literally ran out (well...I biked out to be specific and actually literal) of the house...er, tiny studio apartment, and reserved it right away!

Currently I'm about halfway through the game and I'm really enjoying it. I really like the mix of traditional 1st person OPS firefights mixed with really messed up freaky scary horror stuff hitting you suddenly like a cannon messing with your ability to control your surroundings and keep your zone comfortable...but in a good way if that makes any sense.

From what I've seen I guess the first game had mainly nigh impossible achievements so, if that's true, it's nice to see a large assortment of more obtainable goals. There are a decent amount of online dreary deathmatch achievements though so I suppose I'll never get those.

Wall-E - Confession time. I get a lot of these license games for free as I know folks who actually put a lot of these games together. Some I do buy as I'm a rather impatient type of person and I actually enjoy playing silly license titles, but many I receive as gifts. I received this game as just such a gift and as it was handed to me the person winced just a bit and noted "It...it's not very good.". Undaunted by this comment I sallied forth...and put it on my wall of games neatly in the "W" section.

What?! I just got Saints Row 2 on the same day and do you know how awesome that game is?! Do you!? It's like somebody took all the story out of Grand Theft Auto IV and replaced it all with insane fun!

Some time later I finally got around to watching the Wall-E movie and lordy I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed it. This may sound surprising to some of you that don't know my movie tastes but other than The Incredibles I don't really like most Pixar films. To me they are just characters on a constant fetch quests running back and forth on the screen yet accomplishing very little in terms of story or character development. So delighted was I by Wall-E however, that I decided to sally forth (for realsies this time no foolies) and play the damn game.

*wait for it*

Hey! I actually liked the game! What the...hell? I guess my friend was just pulling a trademarked Daemon attitude and just demonstrated some grade-a lack of satisfaction with everything they've accomplished. Well life is pretty hard for developers of official license products -- unreal deadlines, sudden last minute changes demanded by the licensee, little room for improvisation and creativity; quite difficult conditions to work under indeed. I assume that he just wished they had more time to fix things up to their satisfaction before release time.

Regardless, I had fun playing it. The only problems I had were in the last level in which there were some odd little platform puzzles involving a auto-magnetic strip whose physics engined didn't always work correctly and occasionally you would be hurled to your doom. Now if you're just playing it for the heck of it then you wouldn't have a problem as you would just respawn very close to your area of demise. But there's an achievement for not getting killed for every level so it made some areas very...tense to say the least. But overall I had fun reliving parts of the movie and listening to those funny voices once again.

Hey...it made me smile.

EVVVVVVEEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

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Jackie Chan = Serious, Miike = Childish, Thai Ghosts = Animated


There he sat. Not the usually type of sitting mind you, but a very particular one in which the right leg is bent "just so" leaving said sitter free from the possibility of sudden life-affirming jolts of pain ripping through his knee. He chose this option from a short list of "natural" and his own trademarked "like that" position. Although "like that" could indeed be deemed to possess some therapeutic value, the very fact that it could possibly improve his life despite the possibility of pain was enough to make him take the lazy route on this cold and dreary night -- "like that" was right out. As for "natural"...well let's just say that his painful shortcomings are such that he felt obliged to embrace his false air of iconoclasm in order to dismiss any possibility of commonality being introduced into his daily actions.

"La la la la la la!" spake the Daemon beastie. "There's no way I could possibly lose my job!" he spoke in a tone so insincere that no sane person over 10 years of age would believe. "La la la la la la la!" he repeated in a rhythmic outburst of giddy confusion. "Gosh but I do so love to bike for an hour and half everyday to work and back!" he added doubling-up his lies against reality and further compacting his personal universe of disdain and hate. "La la la la la!" he went on adding all of his life's woes real and imaginary until they soon resembled a rather oddly shaped origami chicken.

But the origami pity party chicken, multi-faceted though it was, did not have nearly enough surface material too encompass the sheer volume of self-loathing and despair unleashed this particular night. On and on the rant went and soon the sad paper avian ended up twisted and confused in an Escher-like room full of lies and bluster with no ending and no beginning until it was hopelessly lost yet interconnected to the make shift life frame in an embarassing Borg-like fashion.

The only creature witness to this entirely unprofessional outburst was the cat named Shoes. Far from being afraid of this localized vocal antic, Shoes was becoming increasingly sure that these babbling words were simply a prelude to the act of his being chased around the apartment and then perhaps a spot of tuna -- such is the ego-riddled world of the cat. But just as the moment arrived when he was sure his keeper would lunge and strike, the babbling halted as the mail arrived heralding some well-timed movie news. No tuna would be had this day.

Times have been a little tough for arguably the most famous man in all of Asia. Sure he's still making money but he's just not doing that well in his homeland and it has begun to irk him somewhat. Reluctantly Jackie appears to be accepting the fact that he's not quite limber enough to play the perpetually child-like kung-fu clown and he has begun to turn to more serious fare.

This time out Jackie is teaming up with veteran director Derek Yee and he is taking on a completely serious dramatic role well away from any martial arts choreography. I quite enjoyed the more serious tone of Jackie's New Police Story and I really liked the short, but well done, appearance he put in as the doomed general Meng Yi in the somewhat forgettable The Myth so I have some hope that this will turn out well. If Jackie can stifle his tendency to revert to his silent film cliched type of overacting then it might turn out rather interesting in Yee's hands.

Official English Site

Hey kids! It's the fun loving and hardest working director in all of Japan Takashi Miike! Just what does he do when he's not thrusting lactating villians at us and constantly redefining just what is an acceptable way in which to end a movie? Why...he makes a kid's movie that's what!

Enter the childhood favorite anime series Yatterman! Hooray! Cue the confusion amongst casual fans and the years worth of smug satisfaction from the Japanophiles out there! Not that this is totally without precendence of course as any Miike fan will be keenly aware of his kids movie The Great Yokai War. Considering how many films Miike churns out I suppose it's almost surprising that he hasn't got around to making another one before this but here it is in all it's technicolor color!

Official Site (Japanese - the trailer is the fourth button over from the left).

Despite it being a kiddie flick I'll probably still give it a spin as...well it is Miike and you never know what to expect. Still though, it be nice if they had some kind of nudge-nudge type of humor (visual or otherwise) ensconced within all the bright color madness and posing. Something that would probably fly over the heads of the younger kids....

Why hello there miss?...Kyoko Fukada? You say you helped to design the costume yourself? Why aren't you just the most helpful movie super villian ever! This of course in no way will influence my decision to watch this film.

Last up is an animated CG movie from Thailand called Nek from the good folks that brought you the martial arts brawler Ong Bak. Yes you read that right.

The Story

"Ghost and spirits surround us all, invisible most of the time. Some good ghosts help us, some evil ghosts tease us, but generally the worlds of humans and ghosts leave each other alone.

Until one day when Tee, a young human boy, suddenly gets targeted by an evil force because he is the key to a ceremony to open a large portal. This will allow a large army of evil spirits to enter the human world and reign supreme for all eternity. Bwoohahaha!

Thankfully, the boy is guarded by a group of good spirits led by the legendary and powerful Nak. When Tee still gets kidnapped, his little sister Kaem travels with Nak to the heart of the evil ghost empire to retrieve him in a desperate attempt to save the world."

This film is an extensive who's who of asian ghosts and spooks with all sorts of in-jokes and appearances made with famous ghosts from all over. But the real fun starts when the evil ghosts start to attack our heroic ensemble of benevolent spirits. The main villian in this film is none other than that damned long black-haired girl from the orginal Ring movie! Apparently, in the animated film there is a screening of the Ring movie and the evil Sadako crawls off of the movie theatre screen and begins a reign of terror upon mankind.

The word on the street is that it all comes together rather well and is very enjoyable. Not the highest production film in the world, but it's Thailand's first big entry into the animated CG market so here's hoping it does well enough to get the ball rolling on future productions.

Did I mention that they're in the middle of production on a new animated CG Astroboy movie? Ahhh! You already knew that didn't you? Oh well.

La la la la la la! I'm so bloody happy!

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