Tag Archives: review

Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison

These are the comics that make Star Wars such a valuable property, the SWU is so deep and diverse that in a hundred years if people still care they can still be writing stories within the scope of Episode 1 through the New Republic and if the writers stay original so will the stories and ever-growing character pool.

Focusing mainly on characters we have never even heard of before Dark Horse may have release the best Star Wars comic in nearly a decade since the end of Star Wars Tales.

Amid the timeline of the first Death Star’s construction a terrorist student uprising at the Imperial Academy takes control of Coruscant with the intention of luring General Tarkin to the facility and destroy the Empire’s prize weapon before it is complete.

Thinking that Vader and the Emperor have died during the initial attack and release of toxic gas throughout the palace the rebels bide their time for the arrival of the seemingly third and final piece to bring down the blossoming Empire.

Lieutenant Tohm, the sole loyal cadet of the class assists the escape of a dying Emperor, Vader and  Moff Trachta who travel to the secretive Jedi Prison previously know only to the High Jedi Council where they care to the aid of their leader and devise a plan to take back their home base before similar thinking worlds rush to the aid of the surprise army.

Deciding to free the prisoners Vader pits them against Continue reading

Way of the Dragon – Retro Review

If you only see one Bruce Lee film in your life see Way of the Dragon, not because it is Lee’s best film, but for two reasons:

1.  Way of the Dragon is Bruce, he wrote, directed, choreographed, produced and starred in this film.  His personality and charisma comes through like no other and we really get a glimpse of who Lee was as a person.

2.  Chuck Norris

Following the success of Lee’s first two major film he had in a year earned the power to create his own film in his own image in every aspect.  While not a professional filmmaker he could have fooled anyone watching as this is arguably as good as any work he produced in his short career.

The story takes Tang from his home in Hong Kong to Rome where his family has a restaurant that is under shakedown from the Mafia and he is sent to help.  All is easy until he runs into the Mafia’s biggest henchman, Colt played by Norris.  While the school scene in Fist of Fury is Lee’s most famous, the final confrontation with Colt is Lee’s greatest one-on-one moment.  The talent of Lee and Norris make the scene not only Lee’s best, but also the most talent in one room in the history of Kung Fu films.  Norris is not the only famous face from the Karate World, Robert Wall also makes his first appearance in a Lee film here also as a Mafia henchman.  History has it the three were good friends and training partners.

Because Lee had such control Dragon is filled with comedy and character depth.  The scenes in the restaurant are greatest acting moments in all of Lee’s films.  And the scene on the fountain with the beautiful Italian beauty is far underrated as one of the best explanations of international etiquette.  The funniest character in the film is hands down the eccentric and flamboyant Ho played by Wei Ping-Ao who had prominent roles in several of Lee’s films.

The one and only flaw in this film was the quality of the video and some of the shots.  It seems to have not restored as well as some of the others, does it have to do with a smaller budget?  Foreign products used from Italy?  Damage and not stored as well all these years?  Who knows but the picture is not as sharp as Fist of Fury and looks even less quality the old film of Big Boss.  Maybe with Lee’s control he did not spend as much on the quality of film, or bought what he thought was a better quality of film.  Also at times especially on location shots the focus of the shot is off.

A top notch film as were all of Lee’s completed works, but the one film he had total control over that actually made it to the theaters in his vision.

The Big Boss – Retro Review

The first of Bruce Lee’s collection released in 1971 designed to showcase his martial arts talents for Golden Harvest Films. Bruce had done television and some films when he was younger, but he always had small roles and his skills were more of a gimmick then a showcase moment.  Big Boss changed not only Lee’s perceived role in movies, but martial arts image in the eyes of the movie world when Big Boss broke all Hong Kong film records and made Kung Fu Cinema a legitimate genre for the decades to come.  This was by no means the first of its kind, but it opened the door for a new cast of fans that would otherwise have not tuned in.

The Big Boss gets right down to business in the opening minutes with thugs attempting to shake down a woman and a young boy selling dumplings. As they rough the boy up Bruc….er, James Tien comes to the rescue.  Tien already an established action star in the East played a major role in the first two Lee films and was ready to star in Game of Death prior to Lee’s unfortunate death. Tien was not the only repeat performer in Lee’s films, if you watch closely you will see many familiar faces throughout Bruce’s movies even in the smallest of roles.  Was this because Lee liked comfort and familiarity? Or a sign that there was so little talent at the time to add in new faces?  No commentary or interview I have ever seen had an answer to this question.

For the first half of the movie we wait and   Tien handles all but one brief moment of the action sequences.  Bruce’s one early moment not only gives you a glimpse of his festering rage and fury, but it shows Lee’s true acting skills and his comedic talents,something his fans know very well, while the rest of the world misses out.  His comedic timing is great and surely would have produced films much like Jackie Chan has given the world in the last few decades that have captured the common movie goer and the action fan all at once.

Set in a poor village, The Big Boss is the most destitute of all Lee’s film settings as he makes the most of the old factory to backdrop the action.  The “Bruce Lee camera angles” and panning started as early as Boss and continued right up until his final film. Bruce’s action comes in right around 45 minutes, so if you are just looking for action pop in the DVD there, but you will be missing a great film.

Cheng moves to a small shipping village to leave behind his mainland troubled past.  His mother gives him an amulet and makes him promise to avoid fighting.  But when the evil corrupt boss at the ice factory starts having co-workers “disappear” to keep his drug shipping business a secret Cheng stands up to the foreman only earning him a promotion and more problems.   When loss becomes too much Cheng takes on the entire brood with two fists and some attitude.

The camera work in all of Lee’s films are great and the soundtracks are always spot on and wonderful.  The only drawback to the Big Boss is the quality of the film gain, though in recent years they have cleaned it up exceptionally, yet it still does not meet the quality the other films of his legacy have reached with brightness and clarity.  The one glowing issue in Lee’s films was always the blood, the quality of which looked like tomato soup concentrate.

There are two mainstream versions of the film available on DVD, the Master Collection set and the Ultimate Collection set, neither contain Enter the Dragon as it’s rights are owned by Warner Bros.  The Official Bruce Lee website offers the Ultimate Collection for sale, so it seems that the family is endorsing that as their officially sanctioned product.  though through Amazon UK and Ebay there are some import box sets that have other material and bonuses not available on the Ultimate edition.  The Master Collection offers a fifth disc that is a can’t miss.

This movie can be summed up in one moment and one sentence.  Bruce’s character Cheng is such a bad-ass that he even eats his chips with attitude and purpose on the front lawn of the Big Boss.

%d bloggers like this: