Sunday, March 30, 2008

John Woo's Battle of Red Cliff now two films!

Ok So while we should all be stoked for Jet and Jackie's team in Forbidden Kingdom(April 18th) this is not the only film based on an ancient Chinese novel set to be released. In July China will see two part epic based on one battle/chapter of the classic chinese novel the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The Warlords with Jet Li is kinda based off of it as well.

This is exciting for geeks like me because this is the first non-hollywood Chinese language film John Woo has made since Hard Boiled. Nothing he has made in hollywood has compared so get stoked!

A shorter verison will be released everywhere but Asia, which means will have to order from HK flix to see the full thing.

Congrads to this year's Bram Stoker award winners!

This picture is of me telling Gary Braunbeck how much I loved his novel In Silent Graves at the 2005 awards

Superior Achievement in Poetry
BEING FULL OF LIGHT, INSUBSTANTIAL by Linda Addison (Space and Time) and
VECTORS: A WEEK IN THE DEATH OF A PLANET by Charlee Jacob & Marge Simon (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction
THE CRYPTOPEDIA: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange & Downright Bizarre by Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer (Citadel Press / Kensington)

Superior Achievement in a Collection
PROVERBS FOR MONSTERS by Michael A. Arnzen (Dark Regions Press) and
5 STORIES by Peter Straub (Borderlands)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
FIVE STROKES TO MIDNIGHT edited by Gary Braunbeck and Hank Schwaeble (Haunted Pelican Press)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
THE GENTLE BRUSH OF WINGS by David Niall Wilson (Defining Moments)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
AFTERWARD, THERE WILL BE A HALLWAY by Gary Braunbeck (Five Strokes to Midnight)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
HEART-SHAPED BOX by Joe Hill (William Morrow)

Superior Achievement in a Novel
THE MISSING by Sarah Langan (Harper)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

V: The Second Generation - My review

V: The Second Generation

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (February 5, 2008)

As A kid there was only one show that came close to Star Wars in my love. That show was V. I had every hour of both mini-series and even the horrible weekly show all on Beta-max. I had a V pulse rifle that I could take apart, a visitor punching bag. I even had a mothership technical manual that I sent away for after I saw a classified ad in the back of Starlog. I was a V Geek.

Sure I loved the story, the gun battles, and the spirit of resistance even as a kid. I actually consider V a huge part of how I developed such a radical spirit. Over the years I returned to the Mini-Series in the nineties and found a totally different film. Suddenly I understood on a deeper level what Director Kenneth Johnson was trying to say about Nazi Germany.

Don’t look down on the Germans because it could have just as easily been us. This hit home even harder when I happened to watch it with friends in October 2001. Our country had lost it’s damn mind. Members of my very liberal family were calling for muslam blood and Indiana was awash with flags everywhere. GW was just starting to mold his bullshit Iraq agenda. V was more powerful than ever.

To this day I can always watch V. I always find something new. It’s like a song I love to sing along to because I know every word, every beat. So as much as I love the final battle (the official TV sequel) I was excited when Kenny Johnson the original creator told the world he was working on HIS sequel, based on his original vision.

I’m sure when he started thinking about the task of pulling all the actors back together and dealing with getting Warner brothers, NBC and everyone else back on the same page he thought a book would do it just right. So he wrote a novel.

Many people have complained that Johnson is being Lazy by throwing out the events of the final battle (Yep as far as this novel goes the final battle never happened) but personally I’m going to give this move a big thumbs up! Don’t get me wrong I love Ham Tyler and the final battle but it’s not gone. If you love the red dust, the star child, Diana’s brainwash chamber you still have your DVD’s. Personally I am glad we get to see the original creator’s vision. Personally I think Johnson’s vision while more bleak is better.

A better story, a little less cheesy and a bit more daring. You see when the events of the book start the resistance is on the ropes more than ever. Diana has lead a “great purge in ’99 and has almost dried the earth of it’s water completely. For reasons that I consider a spoiler The Vistors are on a time line and they need to finish up on earth soon.

That’s not to say the V:TSG is perfect it has some cheesy moments but nothing has cheesy as the star child. Infact the hatred and scorn thrown on the half breeds in the novel makes a lot more sense. As you read this you can tell Johnson is more comfortable writing for the screen and switches perspectives so fast it’s easy to get confused. This worked well for the original TV movie but in the book it is annoying. Johnson also had a habit of reminding us what the characters had done twenty pages earlier and I found myself wishing he trusted us to remember.

The only other thing that made me want to throw the book out the bus window (this was my commute book). Willie, you might remember as the loveable sweet alien (played by Robert England before he became know for being Freddy Kruger) in 1983 it was funny and cute when he messed up words, cut the Alien some slack he learned Arabic for going there. Johnson has Willie still screwing up english words, after thirty years in America and being married to a English speaking human. Johnson also missed a chance to give Willie a baddass sub-plot where he could have helped communicate with middle eastern resistance cells and perhaps help a jihadist muslam suicide bomber attack the visitors but I digress with my wishes. Willie had a cool role but not that cool.

In the end the book was a quick read for me because it was like being reunited with old friends. The characters have been forged by twenty years of struggle, they have hardened, changed but they are still committed to the fight and damn I am with them every page of the way.

V fans! Don’t be a poser. Read this book.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Earth Crisis Firestorm fest Review

Seattle XXX Portland XXX
March 9-10 2008

It is Crazy to think that the first time I saw Earth Crisis was January 1993. A lot has changed in the world but this band still lives and promotes Vegan Straight Edge That in it’s self is amazing and unequaled event in the history of hardcore music. When the band broke up in 2001 it was wasn’t the bands best moment.

Unlike the end of other straight edge bands they were going out with their ethics intact but on the heels of two releases that left fans worried. Slither was a bold attempt expanding their horizon musically it was not well received. As huge an Earth Crisis fan as I am I can only get behind about half the album and of course it doesn’t compare to the power of early efforts. The cover album calmed my fears some producing one new original (Panic Floods) that I thought rocked, but the band was tired and they called it quits.

This has been a good year for reunions. Look at Stallone! Rocky V was a bad movie, and lets it face Rambo III was a blatant desecration of a sacred vow. After two nights of watching Earth Crisis on this recent tour and talking to Karl about Rambo IV it is clear that EXC and Stallone had the same realization.

Go back to your roots, and your roots are hardcore.

The two shows I saw were slightly different, both were well attended with perhaps a few more people in Seattle as to be expected since they have a bigger and more active hardcore scene. Some people have complained that more kids were there to see Terror. I don’t think that was a bad thing for Earth crisis or unexpected. Terror has spent the last 7 years building a fan base while Earth crisis has become a legend.

I think the Terror fans of the world need to hear Earth Crisis and certainly Terror front man Scott Vogel made this clear. The members of Terror were going off singing along both nights and that was nice to see.

Some non-Earth crisis fans complained early in the tour that EXC played to long but they had cut four songs off there set list by Seattle. They cut songs Randall and I wanted see including ‘Cease to exist’, ‘Eden’s demise’ and most painfully ‘the order’. This also points an unspoken fact that the type of hardcore that Terror plays is perfect for hardcore kids with short attention spans. Short songs, mosh parts and simple lyrical topics. Earth Crisis on the other hand plays a style of music that is heavier, more complex and lyrics challenge the listener to think and act on what they learn.

It has been a long time since a hardcore band with this kind of audience has been on tour speaking the truth like this.

The set opened with a sample of the gears fromk between the tracks on the Destroy the machines album. As it faded out and the lights went the voice of Travis Bickle(from the movie Taxi Driver) was heard over the appaulse. Karl and the boys took the stage. The gears stopped “Some day a real rain will come and wash all the filth off the streets.”

The lights came on and Earth crisis exploded into the DTM track ‘Born from Pain’ Both nights the crowd went crazy. In Seattle It became clear I had not drank enough water and was killing my self by the time the started the second song ‘Stand by’. That song was always a favorite mine but the fact that it was in the set list was great sign remember they didn’t play that song from ’94 until the last show in 2001.

In Seattle they played ¾ of firestorm, ¾ of all out war, 4 songs off of destroy the machines and one song off breed, Gamarroh’s, slither. Portland missed out on Unseen holocaust and End begins. True scholars of all things earth crisis would notice a few surprises for one was the return of Scott playing the clean guitar intro to All out war( not heard since ’94 at least) which sounded great with Eric doing feedback into the heavy part that never sounded so brutal.

Seattle had no fights, Portland only came close once. Karl pointed to the guy starting the fight and said this:

“I don’t care if your in a hardcore costume, a metal costume or a eastern bunny costume, were all here together and were all one tribe.”

Over all I was happy with the reaction both nights, I’m glad I got the chance to see them again and think it is wonderful thing they are back. They live in three states, across thousands of miles they are working hard to make the band still happen. It’s not hobby, their certainly are easier ways to do a band, so what feels great to me is just how committed they are to making the legends continue.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jet Li returns in The Warlords

Jet Li continues to prove he can act. Lets forget about the embarrassing turn in last year's War. He has said he knew it wasn't working on the set. Anybody watching the movie knows he was phoning it and cashing the check. What did War buy him time to do? well he returned to china and made a little bad ass film co starring Andy Lau called The Warlords.

Much was made in the press about how this was not a fighting role for Li. It maybe true that he does less fighting than acting in this one, but it would be false to give the impression he didn't use his Wushu skills.

The Warlords is directed by Peter Chan. Last year saw the American release of his stylized overblown Wuxia pan fantasy film The Promise. I enjoyed this film that all the grand color and imagery of Hero but was muddled by an embarrassing loony tunes-ish scene with some of the worst CGI I've ever seen. Chan struck back with this film hard.

It is brutal war film that follows three blood brothers on several back breaking military campaigns in china around the time guns first appeared. It tells the same story as the Shaw brothers film Blood brothers but this movie has more in common with Saving Private Ryan. Jet Li has said he took this project because he was tired of seeing "killing made beautiful." Well Jet it's pretty ugly here.

The battles are well done, several cringe worthy scenes would've had a deeper impact on me if I hadn't seen the new Rambo recently. And there lies my only complainant. The DVD I rented at Movie madness seemed to be cropped just perfectly so several times the violence was hidden. I can't believe the filmmaker intended this.

Either way as a pure Kungfu movie fan I was thrilled. As a Jet Li fan even more so. Lets also not forget the gut wrenching performance of Andy Lau.

Also last week Randall, Bru-Dawg and I rented an amazing new Hong Kong gangsta film called Exiled. It was directed by Johnnie To and it was not as brutal as Election. That being said I enjoyed this one even more. It was heartfelt loving tribute to Italian westerns set in Hong Kong. How can you go wrong?