From June 2006

Fearless

As bad weeks go my last one was pretty dreadful. Work has been hell (currently on two projects), my bank account was locked out after a transaction got messed up, been trying to find a new flat-mate, and to top it all off I’ve been suffering from bad hay fever. I don’t like to moan but I’m sure glad it’s over!

The weekend has been much better thankfully – last night I went to see what is being billed as Jet Li’s “final martial art epic”: Fearless which portrays the life story of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia (1869-1910).

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This is one of those films which could be really good or really bad. Whilst being a bit predictable it’s thankfully the former and certainly one of the best in it’s genre – a fitting end for Jet Li’s on-screen wushu career. Whilst the end result is spectacular you can’t but help feeling that some of the exposition is missing and you’d be right. The film was savagely cut from 150 mins down to 103 mins to make it more “market friendly” which included removing a scene with Michelle Yeoh. It’s a shame but hopefully it’ll get the proper treatment on DVD.

Fearless

The story covers an interesting part of Chinese history during the encroachment of Western powers in the early 1900’s. In a nutshell Jet Li plays Huo Yuan Jia, an arrogant man who is obsessed with being the top fighter of his province with little regard for others, even against the advice of his closest friend. After a misunderstanding he indirectly causes the tragic death of his family and runs away in a fit of madness. His journey takes him to a remote village where he is taken in by a local family to be nursed back to health by the blind daughter. After learning the value of humility he returns to Shanghai to defend his country’s honor…

Fearless

The fight scenes are expertly choreographed by the legendary Woo Ping (Crouching Tiger, The Matrix, Kill Bill etc.) who executes each scene with elegance despite the raw violence taking place. Although prominent, the action does not however take precedence over the story which drives the narrative at a fast pace.

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In the end the clear message is that violence is not the solution to solving problems… but it sure looks cool! Not to be missed – catch the trailer here (9/10).

USA Holiday 06!

USA Flag

Been in a bit of a rush this week to sort out my holiday which has been in the works for a while. This year I’m off to the states for an eight day trip along the east coast, visiting New York, Washington and Boston. I’m pretty excited about it, mainly due to the fact that I’ve never been outside of Europe before! In the vain of last year here’s the itinerary:

US Holiday Map

  • New York 3rd – 5th (via early morning flight from London)
  • Boston 6th – 7th (via train from NY)
  • Washington 8th – 9th (via train from BOS)
  • Washington –> New York (train) –> London 10th (late evening flight, phew!!)

If anyone has any hints/tips/recommendations and visiting America / places to see I’d love to hear about them! I’ve already heard that getting through customs these days is a bit of a nightmare, I’m just glad I don’t need a visa!

Ouch…

Battle Royale Girl

As any discerning readers will know – I absolutely HATE REMAKES, especially ones of great Asian films (Ju-On, Dark Water, Ringu…). It therefore came as a major shock to find out that a Hollywood remake of Battle Royale (one of my favourite films), is on the cards!!!

Battle Royale has never had a theatrical release in the US, and probably for quite a good reason – the story revolves around a class of Japanese school kids forced to kill each other whilst wearing explosive collars. Based on the novel by Koushun Takami, the story is set amid “an apocalyptic future in which schools are overrun by uncontrolled violence. The government responds by organizing an annual Battle Royale, in which a school class is picked at random and students are pitted against each other on an abandoned island in a game of survival“. The controversy that surrounds the film does not come from its violence but from the fact that it is committed by minors. Although it may be pretty gory and violent, it’s also satirical, witty and thought provoking, making it a masterpiece of Japanese cinema.

I share the sentiments of fans worldwide – “Hell freezes over” wrote the editors at battleroyalefilm.net. “Let us pray for the best” said Harry Knowles at Ain’t It Cool News. Seriously, don’t do this – the original is already perfect, any remake will only do more harm than good! I just hope they don’t turn BR into just another teen slasher.

Hasta La Vista

Windows Vista

Something which Microsoft never seemed to have learnt is that if you build on bad foundations what you end up with is never very satisfactory and inherits all of the problems of its predecessor. So it is with Windows Vista (Beta 2). Microsoft’s “next generation” OS is so bad it’s painful to watch (let alone use!) and it’s already three years late. All the amazing features announced when development begun have vanished (to difficult even for them apparently) and what you’re left with is a prettied up version of XP with more annoying security prompts. It’s a real disappointment to see something which could have been good turn out to be complete rubbish. Even when Microsoft tries to copy features from other OS’s they make a mess of it and what you end up with is a system which feels like its been hurriedly cobbled together from a load of disjoint components.

If you want a cutting edge OS get a Mac, if you can’t afford one install Ubuntu Linux on your existing system, believe me both are leaps and bounds beyond this.

F-35 Insides

I’m not sure if this is legit or not but I came across these pictures of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter under construction (designed by US and UK). By the looks of things its a pretty amazing piece of engineering but obviously horrendously complex!

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

It does a max speed of Mach 1.6 (1,200 mph, 2,000 km/h), can take-off and land vertically (VTOL), and is designed to be able to be fitted with directed-energy weapons, including solid state lasers and high-power microwave beams (seriously)! More photos here.

Market Day

Last week was one of those annoyingly busy ones which keep seeming to reoccur these days. The weekend was no different. For almost the first time this year it’s been pretty hot so it seemed most of London took to the streets and the few open green spaces.

Buckingham Palace

On Saturday I took the tube over to Green Park and then had a leisurely walk from Her Majesty’s residence down to the riverside and all the way along to London Bridge. The crowds spoilt it a bit so I didn’t take many photos but I guess I was one of them so can’t complain!

Flower Market

Today (Sunday) I went for another walk around a few of London’s many street markets in the East End, namely Columbia Road Flower Market, Spittlefields and Brick Lane. Whilst I guess it was a cultural experience from what I could make out it was just a load of Cockneys/renegade Hippies selling either second hand tat or organic produce grown in organic manure… (yum). There is something very sinister about organic food, mainly the snobbishness of it all I think!