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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stuff So Good...Seriously, what were they thinking?

Nah,...Melon Moon makes it sound too Korean.

Because P**p, D**g & S**t have already been taken.

Only minors allowed here!

The secret to our town's prosperity - our men are really honest (and he's the Mayor).

Uhh, guys, I got a feeling this may not be the best short cut...

You won't find this place on Google Earth 'cos there is no way you would get the spelling right.

When you visit our town, you must visit our sister city below.

Tourists keep coming back!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Movie Review - Surrogates

Movie Title
Action, Sci-fi

The Surrogates movie is based on a five-issue Top Shelf Productions comic book by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele.

In the not-so-distant future, humans are able to live their lives remotely from the safety & comfort of their own homes via near-indestructible robotic avatars called surrogates (read: remotely piloted androids) — sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. Agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis), a grizzled, bearded depressive (his son had recently died in a car accident and this had driven a wedge between him and his wife) and Agent Peters (Radha Mitchell), 2 FBI personnel who are investigating a double homicide in which two surrogates were destroyed and resulted in the unprecedented deaths of their human users as well. This is not supposed to happen as fail-safes were put in place to pre vent that from ever happening.

Agents Greer and Peters approach the creator of surrogate technology, Canter (James Cromwell), to get more information. Canter, who is the father of one of the 2 victims, realizes that the target of the murder attempt may have been him, and directs the agents & blame to the corporation he built but had a falling out with. However, there now appears to be a weapon that is able to not only disable surrogates but also kill the human users and it involves more than just the corporation manufacturing the surrogates. The Military and the anti-surrogate faction (pro-human communities of extremists led by the mysterious Prophet played by Ving Rhames, who has an agenda even his followers are unaware of) are involved & implicated to these events.

In the course of his investigations, Greer's surrogate is destroyed and is not given a replacement surrogate until the investigation is complete. Driven by his personal demons and to protect his wife’s life, he then decides to continue is his quest to solve the case in the flesh (without a surrogate) and the details unravel led uncovers a terrifying secret.

Bruce Willis is a reliable Hollywood go-to guy and as usual, he does a competent job. Not great mind you, but competent. Anyway, it takes a little getting used (and quite difficult to take him seriously in this movie without breaking out with laughter*) to seeing Willis as a clean-cut agent with hair and with great skin complexion no less!

* Sorry Willis fans. I love him too.

This movie reminds me a lot of I-Robot – a police story involving robots and policemen who try to solve the case in the flesh. I have a personal affinity towards movies of this genre, hence, my rating for this will be slightly biased. Having said that, I do quite dislike – self professed prophet figures like – The Prophet. Ving Rhames also makes it easy for one to develop a quick dislike for his character.
That being said, this movie somehow lacks that elusive 'zing' that could've made it a more engaging and memorable watch.
Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Movie Review - Storm Warriors (aka Storm Riders II)

Movie Title
Storm Warriors (aka Storm Riders II or Fung Wan II)
Taking place presumably years after the 1st film. Japanese Warlord, Lord Godless (Simon Yam) and son Heart (Nicholas Tse), both extremely powerful martial arts warriors, had invaded China and are seeking the fabled Dragon Bones/Spinal Cord (Lung Mak) of which only the Emperor of China has knowledge of its secret whereabouts hidden within the labyrinth under the Emperor’s Palace. They magically managed to capture most of China's top defenders including Nameless the Undefeated (Kenny Ho) and Striding Cloud (Aaron Kwok). Before Lord Godless took off for the Dragon Bones, Whispering Wind (Cheng) managed to mount a rescue mission to save both Nameless and Cloud. However, in the battle against Lord Godless, Nameless suffered serious injury was finally defeated before making his escape with Cloud and Wind.
Nameless tells Cloud and Wind that only Lord Wicked (Kenny Wong) now has the power to defeat Godless, but they soon discover that Lord Wicked power caused him to be overcome by the Dark Side and was slaughtering innocents in his madness. He cut off both his arms to avoid becoming totally consumed by the Dark Side. Given the urgency and lack of time before Lord Godless’ catches up with them in his next assault, Lord Wicked suggests that taking the path toward the Dark Side may be the fastest way for Wind and Cloud to gain the necessary power to take on Godless, but of course, as can be expected from any journey down the Dark Side, the risks involved can be monumental. Lord Wicked deduces that only Wind may the only one with the strength of character to return unscathed from the Dark Side, while Cloud, who is unable to restrain his temper, would be tutored by the injured Nameless to develop his own powerful kung-fu moves with Nameless’ power transfer to Cloud.
Predictably, altho’ the combined might of the pumped-up Wind and Cloud made short work of Lord Godless with little effort, Wind is eventually overcome by the Dark Side and Cloud is the only one seemingly able to bring him back. But before he does, the 2 heroes’ lives would never be the same again.
As usual (and expected), the female cast’s acting not only leaves much to be desired – unless you are watching a coma-inducing drama where the female leads are put in credible performances – but was to an extent, irritating and disrupts the flow of the movie. OK, irritation also could be derived from the fat side-kick. Simon Yam and Nicholas Tse’s characters had been under-developed as I honestly believe they could have done so much more wit them. As for the 2 leads go, they are captivating with their on-screen charisma and watching them, you would not be able to keep track of the time (despite many complains about the final battle scene.)
Wow, it sure does not seem to have been 11 years already since the 1st movie. Nevertheless, I am glad this movie was made. Touted to be the most expensive martial arts film ever, visually, it did not disappoint. This movie employs visuals that are very similar to the battle scenes of 300, Harry Potter movies and even Nighcrawler's teleportation effects in the X-Men 2 movie.
The costumes of the lead heroes are also pretty impressive and well-done.
Alas this film is but half only a movie, ending with a literal cliffhanger, leaving audiences either thrilled to the prospect of another sequel (that would be me) or sick with anticipation, not knowing when the next sequel will come. I really enjoyed myself with this movie regardless of what have already been said about it and would heartily recommend it.
Rating: 6.5/10