martial Arts

DVD Releases: March 2, 2010

Out this week we have Three DVDs to feature:  Ponyo, 2012, and Ninja.  Do we Love It, Rent it, or Avoid Like Plague?

Owner

Renter

  • 2012: a disaster film which will feature some of the more scarier natural disasters out there like Yellowstone's super volcano. I’m curious to see how they pull of the message behind the movie but I have seen so many of these go wrong which leaves me leery to watch it. Netflix says I’ll give it a 4.1 so it may be good.  Definitely a renter.

  • Ninja: Do Not Confuse this with Ninja Assassin the Wachowski brothers film that will be released in a couple of weeks.  Ninja is a modern tale about Ninjas with a typical story line:  Main character journeys to Japan to study to be a ninja then gets called back to New York to protect an armor chest with the legendary ninja weapons in it.  I find it hard to place into the not interested category because I’m a sucker for Martial arts movies though every other bone in my body warns me that this won’t be good.  Netflix thinks I will give it a 3 which means it’s a risk.  With that in mind a renter for fans of martial arts movies and not interested for the rest.


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DVD Releases: October 20th 2009

Out this week we have three DVDs to feature:  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Blood: The Last VampireBlood+: Part Two.  Do we Love It, Rent it, or Avoid Like Plague?  [reus name="Transformers revenge of fallen iFrame"]

Owner

Renter

  • Blood+: Part Two is a series based on the 2000 anime film Blood: The Last Vampire about a little girl vampire hunter.  The 2000 animated film of Blood didn't spark my interest but the new movie that came out this year looked interesting and is a renter.  My interest in the movie is why this is a renter.  It will sit low on my rental list though I'm still unsure about it and will wait to watch the movie first.  If you have any comments on the Blood movie's or this series please let me know.

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Rain to Awaken the Dragon

Cover of "Enter the Dragon"
Cover of Enter the Dragon

Korean pop-star Rain ...  could be taking on a role ... in a modern noir remake of Enter the Dragon, dubbed Awaken the Dragon.

The project is the brainchild of Kurt Sutter, formerly an executive producer and writer on The Shield ... and will follow an FBI agent in pursuit of a rogue Shaolin monk into the seedy world of martial arts fight clubs ... Sutter is apparently aiming to make the film “more Raging Bull than Crouching Tiger in its viciousness (/Film)."

Bruce Lee is one of the greatest martial artists of all time.  Rain is quickly moving to pick up the mantle.

The clips from Ninja Assassin amazed me, and Enter the Dragon is one of those movies that is not only brilliant, but mired in its time.

If Rain pulls off this role, he will be the next great martial arts superstar.  We need one.  This might be the first step there.

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Ninja Assassin Trailer and Movie Poster

Ninja Assassin, the perfect blending of two things I love in one movie, martial arts films, and Wachowski Brothers films finally has a trailer out and it looks great. Watch the Trailer Below.

The action is stunning.  The part that gives me a lot of hope is the closing scene with the car.  This tells me that the Wachowski Brothers not only worked toward a stunning film with great martial arts but they are also going to use the Hong Kong style.  Blending in moments of humor into the stunning martial arts scenes to help balance out the tension and mood.

The tools of the trade for Ninjas is one of my interests particularly because they are more fluid in form and style.  This is due to the the focus being on success lending to a plethora of modified weaponry.  I like seeing the creativity that goes into those modifications.  Imagine my delight watching this trailer when I got to see in just a few minutes a lot of different weapons... I wonder how that sword works.

The poster below is another great example of the weapons featured.  The Wachowski Brothers did not go for the traditional sword wielding picture but instead are showing off that beautiful modified version of a Kusarigama using a nice dagger instead of a sickle.

ninja-assassin-poster

Story:  Raizo, kidnapped as a child and raised by the Ozunu Clan, is one of the world's deadliest assassins.  When Raizo's friend is executed by the clan, he flees into hiding.  Meanwhile, Mika Coretti, a Europol agent, retrieves secret agency files on The Clan. Finding out about the investigation, The Clan attempts to assassinate her, but she is rescued by Raizo.  Reemerging, seeking revenge he must find a way to take down the Ozunu Clan.

Ninja Assassin is due out November 24th according to the poster which is in conflict or has changed from the original believed date of November 25th.  I'm not going to hold my breath on either dates and expect latter clarification because the 24th is a Tuesday which is not a typical release day though it is just before thanksgiving weekend so it may hold for that date.  In either case it is too far off I can't wait to watch it.

The Last Airbender Teaser Trailer

I have been one of the voices in the Racebending debate around the new The Last Airbender, but this new teaser looks good but not great.

My first complaint is that the martial arts do not look as natural as I would like for Aang.  Secondly is the voice over.

They make the movie sound like it will be a Star Wars meets Harry Potter film, and while that is a good thing to bring a broader audience to The Last Airbender, I only hope that does not mean they have rewritten the story to fit into that mold.

Other than that, it looks good.  I cannot wait to see more.

(via /Film)

Project: Shadow Manifesto

Project: Shadow Logo To mark the 10 year anniversary of the Project: Shadow Manifesto, we thought it was time to overhaul it again, but this time to open up the project to all of the like-minded fans out there who are tired of the status quo, and who are hungry for something new. Brian and I drafted the original Project: Shadow Manifesto in 1999 as an outline we saw in professional publishing.  The original draft was heavy on problems, light on vision, and even lighter on solutions.  We took years investigating the limited options available at the time, built the original Project: Shadow, and I started writing.

In 2004, we revised the manifesto, and re-launched Project: Shadow.  The new draft focused on the solutions possible through new technologies.  The world/culture presented us with newer challenges.


We are fans.

We love our music, stories, characters, and settings. We know about what we love. We participate in what we love. We support what we love. What we love supports us.

At heart, a fan is not someone who enjoys a movie, a song, a band, a book, or a show.  A fan feels an intense connection with the object of their love.  Fans decorate their homes, offices, and desktops with items that announce their allegiance with their favorite bands, movies, shows, and books.

The problem with our popular culture is that it doesn’t blink at a sports fan wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with their favorite team, or even a replica jersey, but wear a Star Wars shirt or dress like a goth and they think they have the right to mock you.

What is the difference between a fan wearing a jersey to a game or fan bringing a light saber to a movie?  Or for that matter, what is the difference between a sports fan painting themselves up to go tailgating or a fan dressing as their favorite character at a convention?

Perception.  Pop Culture has classified sports fans as acceptable and speculative fiction fans as geeky.  I have to say, it is just as geeky to now all of the stats for everyone who has ever played for a particular sports franchise as it is to know the stats for every creature in the Monster Manual.  The only real difference is one fan accepts they are a geek, and the other pretends their geekiness is proof they are a jock.

The disapproval is the least of the problems facing today’s fan.

From Storytellers to Copyright

Problem: People are natural storytellers.  We hear a story, embellish it, and pass it on.

Solution: We tell each other stories, sing songs, write books, make videos, and create art to share these stories with each other.

Every story we tell is not original.  We like to tell the same stories over and over.  We borrow stories from any where and retell them in our own vernacular.  It is intrinsic to who and what we are to share stories with each other.

Problem: The only constant in the world is change.

Solution: We ask ourselves the question, "What if," and share the answer with each other.

Problem: Artists and Writers need to make a living singing their songs, writing their books, making their videos, and creating their art.

Solution: We establish systems of Copyright.

The Cultural Cycle

Before the era of Copyright, stories, heroes, melodies, and lyrics belonged to the people.  Stories were told, and retold.  Numerous visions of each story competed against each other.  The best were remembered, collected, retold, embellished, and built upon.  The rest were forgotten.

Who told the first story about Hercules? Or Jason? or Troy?  Who started the legends of King Arthur? or Beowulf?  The first tales and their countless reiterations have been lost, but the best, most iconic stories survived.

Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, only a few comedies have no obvious sources, and even they rely upon well established patterns and archetypes.

This is the Cultural Cycle that keeps important stories alive.  Each generation must retell the tales of the preceding generations in their own context to keep them relevant.  This cycle has been broken.

  • Problem: Companies lobby to prevent Intellectual Property from reentering the commons of the culture.
  • Problem: Companies control the instruments of culture, making it harder to engage culture creatively.
  • Solution: Fans retell these stories as not for profit tales, films, and  songs.
  • Solution: Fans organize themselves into clubs and conventions.

These solutions are are not enough.  Fanfiction and film relies on the good will of the copyright holders and the fact that the fans do not make money from their works to slip through the thinnest of loop hole in copyright.  As a result, pop culture is unaware of the cultural developments and retelling of these new stories.  The subculture may be enriched by them, but the culture as a whole is not.

The Creative Commons and the Cult of the Dollar

Problem: Publishers and producers focus more on the commercial and popular value of a work, and the creative energy of the work suffers.  Readers/viewers will not become fans, and fans will not continue to accept passionless works of Speculative Fiction.

Solution: Placing honesty over consumerism, we fans must stake out our own home to create and share the works we love.  We must stand between the darkness and the light:  This is the purpose of Project: Shadow.

Problem: The Companies and Rights holders lashed out against the fair use of their properties.

Problem: Some Rights Holders have lulled fandom into a false sense of security by not suing and even encouraging those who produce fanworks

Creative Commons is one of many proposed solutions to this problem.  Others have lobbied for copyright reform.  Neither of these is a solution to the problems.

Copyright reform is a doomed enterprise while corporate lobbyists have the power they do over the congress.  While it is a goal to work for, it is just not realistic in the short term.

Creative Commons is closer to a solution, but the adoption rate has not been sufficient to even start chipping away at the problem.

The reason Creative Commons is an uphill battle is that it is a major evolution in the way rights holders handle permissions to use their work, and exists without an intermediary form.  Existing rights holders have not adopted it because they are unwilling to give up all the rights entailed under Creative Commons.

I approached the Creative Commons Foundation with a proposal for a Fan Works License:

Some of the rights holders I have talked to are reluctant to use the CC because they are concerned they are giving up too many rights to their works.  A Fan Works License would allow rights holders to clearly state what they will allow others to do with their characters, content, and settings.

It would be a bit more complicated than a standard CC, stating whether others may make original text, video, music, or art projects based on their works.  It would also allow them to set the content rating they would allow fan works to have.  This could be aligned with the MPAA ratings or the ESRB ratings system or an original system.  The reason for this is so a young adult novelist could set a max rating of PG-13, allowing others to know what standards they would apply to determine whether a fan work is legitimate or not.

The other terms would be the same as in the standard CC.

You may not think something like this is necessary, but the current state of fan works is hazy.  While few have been sued in the last couple years, at any time, rights holders could decide to start suing again.  By creating a license that covers works with the same characters and settings rather than a particular book or movie, I believe we could get more rights holders to use the license to allow for the creation of fan works, which is a step on the road to open up works to the commons.

They responded with a simple, “CC probably isn't going to be expanding the license offerings, and in fact, over the past few years CC has been reducing the number of licenses.”

I do not believe that a fanwork or Creative Commons license is the ultimate solution, but as a possible stepping stone toward an open culture.

Progressive Speculative Fiction

  • Problem: Modern and Post-modern fiction is antithetical to hope, imagination, and community
  • Problem: Success is easier through snark, hate, and discrimination.
  • Solution: We will promote, support and create Progressive Speculative Fiction.

What is Progressive Speculative Fiction?

Progressive Speculative Fiction is a story told in any medium which has a "What if" at its core and is filled with hope for the future and promotes a sense of community.

How can disaster fiction be progressive?

Watch a Godzilla movie or either The Day the Earth Stood Stills.  If there is nothing worth saving, then there is no tragedy.  The heroes must at least try to save someone or something worth saving.

How can horror be progressive?

Watch nearly any horror film made prior to 1990 or for the best example read The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker or anything by Anne Rice.  If life is not worth living or there is nothing worth defending, where is the horror.  If life is worthless, then death is merely a release from a nightmare.  There is nothing scary about it.  If there is no free will, nothing is lost by imprisonment or possession.  If sanity is not worth preserving, why bother.

What works are Progressive Speculative Fiction?

There are too many to mention all of them, but to offer a spectrum:

Just to name a few.

Mythos

  • Problem: The word "Myth" has become a marketing term.

Homogenized works are released more often by the industry every year.  Focus groups and market analysis have replaced quality work, but since the cultural cycle is broken, industry has no alternative.  It is safer to release works like the ones that sold last year than it is to seek out new talent/ideas that would be more of a risk.

They know what the fans want.  We want myths, stories that speak to us on a deep level while entertaining us.  Myths are hard to make.  It is easy to add in a wizard or a starship and call it mythology.  Fans see through it, but the masses are looking for little more than sex, violence, and humor.  Speculative Fiction has been watered down to little more than:

  • imitation space opera
  • knock-off cyberpunk
  • repackaging of the rings
  • martial arts boom-boom
  • torture porn

They, then, wrap it in a shiny box, slap the word myth, saga, legend, or reboot on it, and wait for the masses to spend their money on it... and they usually do.

We do not need another company driven by profit margins, or another author whose self-important propaganda obscures the art.

We need writers and artists that love what they are doing.

We need fans who are not afraid to speak their minds.

We need places in our towns/cities and online where we can meet and share the few gems that we find from the industry and from the independent artist, writers, and filmmakers who are still following their bliss rather than the dollar.

That is why we are here.  Project:  Shadow and dashPunk will provide a platform for writers, artists, filmmakers and fans to “follow their bliss.”  We are dedicated to finding and promoting the best Speculative Fiction out there: the little/well known writers, filmmakers, artists and works, fostering their talents, and helping them to not only follow their hearts, but to share that vision with others.

But we cannot do it alone!

Fandom Strikes Back

  • Solution:  We must seek out and support the writers, artists, and producers that encourage and support fan works.
  • Solution:  We must get writers, artists, and producers on the record about their position regarding fan works.
  • Solution: We must live according to our values of hope, imagination, and community.
  • Solution: We must build a community around hope, imagination, and community, and reject the rote cynicism that defines the faux-fandom that loves to tear things down rather than build things up.
  • Solution: We must spread the stories, videos, songs, and art that speak to us.

Together, We can make dashPunk and Project: Shadow more than an idea or a website, but a vibrant community of fans who share the things we love with each other.

Together, we can make it easier to find and share the things we love and find new things to love.

Together, we can build a community of fans who support and engage one another for our mutual benefit.

Alone, none of us can stand up to the corporate powers who control the music, video, text, and art that we love, but together, our voice will be heard.

Fandom is a vibrant culture with its own music (filk), events (conventions), games, and myths.  Until now, we have gathered periodically, or in disparate groups. 

Now is the time to bring the great multitude of fan bases together.

Now is your time!  Copy this Manifesto.  Print it, post it, email it, share it!  Tell a friend, and most importantly Make your voice heard.

Download

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Creative Commons License Project: Shadow Manifesto by Project: Shadow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at dashpunk.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://dashpunk.com/about/.

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Dragonball Evolution Trailer and Thoughts

Dragonball Evolution Japanese Trailer

I am not sure how to feel about this trailer for Dragonball Evolution.  It looks goofy and weird, but then again, it is a Dragonball movie.  All I really expect is:

  • people in cartoonish costumes
  • martial arts
  • people shooting things out of their hands at each other

Check, check, check, the trailer has all of them… but I am still not sure I liked it.  With a bar this low, the only way not to clear it is to trip.

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Review of The Wandering Swordsman (1970)

The_Wandering_Swordsman Review of:  The Wandering Swordsman (1970) Overall Rating: 8

This wuxia film started with a fun lighthearted tale of a prankster character who wandered from place to place causing trouble for bad people and helped those in need.  I was left with an initial sense of stuff happens but all of the seemingly random events suddenly knit together as the main plot is revealed.  Then the movie takes on more of a stock 70’s wuxia film pattern even ending on the sad note.

The Wandering Swordsman (1970) has a delightful sense of play.  I really enjoyed the main character with his swashbuckling sense.  The visuals, actions and fight scenes are ok but I should also note that this was shot in 1970.  The characters are also for the most part flat with the exception of the lead and his nemesis.  The tale told and overall experience is fun and overall swashbuckling goodness, definitely worth watching at least once.

The story: In this fun, swashbuckling, martial arts tale, a charismatic prankster with formidable sword skills bounces decides to steel from thieves and then gives his new wealth to some wondering poor.  This plan doesn't sit well with the criminals, who band together to stop him. Fortunately our hero has a powerful blade on his side.  A high-spirited blend of action, romance, and comedy, this dynamic Shaw Brothers classic from fearless director Chang Cheh.

Get you copy from:  Amazon The Wandering Swordsman (1970)

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