Tag Archive | movies

The Raid 2: Berandal

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As previously mentioned, I have been very excited for the release of the sequel to the action film masterpiece The Raid Redemption.  This weekend, I saw The Raid 2: Berandal  and went to great lengths to make sure I would be able to.  The movie came out as limited release this weekend and would  be released in more theaters the following week.  However, my friends and I were so anxious to see this movie that we drove an hour to go to a theater that had it and we bought our tickets online to guarantee our seats (which turned out to be a brilliant idea because it was actually sold out).  The excitement in the theater was palpable as everybody sat in their seats waiting for the lights to dim and for the previews to end, signaling awesomeness was going to be witnessed.  I walked into that theater with ridiculously high expectations due to all the hype that surrounded this sequel, including that it was the next Terminator 2 of sequels, and if anything this movie was under-hyped.  It was that good.

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This movie picks up directly from where the last one left off, but this time Rama (the protagonist) gets involved in an undercover cop scheme to exploit the crimes of the mob bosses running Jakarta, Indonesia.  This scheme involves him going to jail and becoming friends with one of the bosses’ sons and ultimately joining the mob while maintaining his undercover identity.  However, things go sour due to miscommunication and suspicious activity from the cop who hired him for this job and from activities going on between the different mobs.  The Raid 2: Berandal had much more story and plot in comparison to the movie that preceded it and it was a wonderful change.  The first movie was very simple: cops fight their way up the tower and fight the mob boss.  This one has much more complicated story compared to the first movie but at the same time it wasn’t too overwhelming.

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This movie being an action/martial arts film, it is known that walking in there is going to be some level of violence.  However, this movie does have a lot of violence and some gore, so just as a warning for those who don’t like those types of movies.  First off, I would like to say that the cinematography of this film is much better than that of the first movie and is absolutely breath taking.  The more cinematic, landscape-type shots were very placid and calm in contrast to the more fast paced parts of the film.  The camera work for the fight scenes is mind blowing in how I still don’t understand how they were able to film everything so perfectly.  One scene had a car chase and a fight happening in one of the cars, and the way the camera weaves through the different parts of the car was so smoothly done.  In addition, their ability to capture the different angles of the hand to hand combat was beautiful.  The fight choreography was done in such a manner that the moves went together and flowed almost like a ballet, but more violent.

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I truly believe that this movie is revolutionary when it comes into terms of action films and the approach to how it is filmed.  It is a testament to how such a quality film can be made without a large budget or fancy, expensive special effects.  However, one thing that is disheartening is that American filmmakers want to make The Raid franchise but with American actors.  I believe that a film like this shouldn’t be remade to fit a more mainstream audience, it should just be remembered by how it is and how it was originally intended to be seen.  This movie will inspire aspiring directors and filmmakers and one day they will remix The Raid franchise into something new and different for the future generations.  I highly recommend this film to any action movie fan and especially if you are into martial arts/hand to hand combat.  You can count me in to watching this movie again in theaters when it is released to all theaters.  the-raid-2 review

 

1984 and the Dystopian Film

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I am currently reading the classic, 1984, by George Orwell and it got me thinking about other dystopian works.  I recently recalled watching Total Recall (the original with Arnold), no pun intended, and couldn’t help but thinking just how recently a lot of dystopian works have been released, both literary and cinematic.  In addition, it got me thinking about my favorite dystopian films and it is important to set the parameter as to what is considered a dystopian film.  I consider a dystopian work as one that shows a society set in the future marked by a controlling, oppressive power that results in poverty, pollution, violence, or corruption.

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Demolition Man

Demolition Man , starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, was made in 1993 and centers around the Los Angeles area in the year 2032.  Apparently after a massive earthquake in 2010, the city of Los Angeles and San Diego merged together to form San Angeles.  San Angeles is a place where it seems as though all crime has been eliminated due to very strict laws outlawing basically anything that could be considered immoral or dangerous.  The plot centers around a police officer, John Spartan (Stallone), and criminal, Phoenix (Snipes), who fight during the 1990’s.  After an incident that kills several civilians, they both get cryogenically frozen and are later thawed in 2032 after their sentence ends.  These two then must cope with the “utopian” future where any sort of vice is outlawed and everybody lives lives that seem to be eerily happy and content.  However, it is later revealed that they are restricted of many things and this new future has created an underground society that lives much like life before all of the advancements.  Spartan helps the San Angeles Police Department to catch Phoenix as the police department alone do not know how to deal with a criminal from the past, a seemingly alien world in comparison to their present.  This movie beautifully shows the effects of what seems to be a utopia can actually be quite the opposite.  The restrictions and laws passed in order to try and make the world a safer place end up putting the civilians in a place of ignorance, where they only know one way of life.  I recommend this movie for fans of action movies.

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Minority Report

Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, is set in the Washington DC area in the year 2052 and is directed by Steven Spielberg.  The society is full of technological advancements and in fact the police department is able to detect crimes before they even happen, known as PreCrime.  Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, is the Captain of this unit and he then becomes the victim of this very system one day.  The Department of Justice tries to outlaw this PreCrime unit from going nationwide and then it is predicted that John will murder someone in 3 days.  John tries to hide the case and flees because he believes that it is a set up from the Department of Justice. The PreCrime system is fueled by three psychics and it is explained that they all see different versions of the future but the one that is published for PreCrime is the version that is agreed on by two of the three.  The “Minority Report” is the version of the future only seen by one of the psychics and these are usually ignored and thrown away.  John kidnaps Agatha, one psychic that is more prone to seeing the Minority Report, and tries to hid from the massive manhunt trying to arrest him for a murder he hasn’t even committed yet.  The rest of the movie follows this plot line and explores the idea of free will and determinism.  This movie shows the flaws of a society that is too controlling and tries to streamline everything through technological advancements while exploring existential concepts.  The idea of a future of being accused of something that is in the future is scary because then it implies that there is no free will in the world.  This is an excellent movie and is highly recommended for sci-fi thriller movie fans.

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Total Recall

Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger tells the story of a Douglas Quaid, a construction worker from Earth,  in the year 2084.  The movie starts off with him waking from a dream he has where he is exploring Mars with a mysterious women that keeps appearing in all of his dreams.  He tells his wife that he wants to go and visit Mars, because at this point in the future Mars has been colonized.  Due to riots from rebels and inhabitants, his wife says that going to Mars on a vacation would be too dangerous.  Discouraged, Quaid goes to work and on his way learns of a company that can implant memories into your mind and it would feel as though you actually did whatever they implanted.  He decides to sign up for a trip to Mars as a secret agent but before the procedure can be done he starts to violently react and storms out of the laboratory.  He goes home and is then attacked and almost killed by his “wife” who turns out to be working for the governor Cohaagen.  He is then suddenly confused as to why everybody is trying to arrest and kill him.  However, he finds a video of himself directed toward himself where he is called Hauser.  Hauser tells Quaid to go to Mars and find the rebel leader Kuato.  The rest of the movie continuess Quaid’s journey to Mars to find Kuato while he struggles realizing whether he is in a dream or not.  The dystopia in this film could be both Earth and the colonized parts of Mars.  On Earth, the politicians are corrupt and seem to control every aspect of the peoples’ lives through surveillance and connections.   On Mars, the groups that are wealthy or that have political connections live fabulously and don’t have to worry about the things that the lower classes do.  The lower classes live in areas that aren’t completely blocked from the radiation due to malfunctional shields and they resort to more illegal economic activities for income.  Out of this anger and frustration for their living situation, some people formed rebel groups to take down the higher class that s solely concerned with mining operations.

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Dystopia’s remind us about the corruption that could arise from the depths of humanity and the consequences of such actions.  They can also be used to compare our current society with that portrayed in the works and just how eerily close we can get to the dystopia through only a few small steps.  When I watched I, Robot for the first time, this image that Sonny the Robot drew is what stood out to me the most.  Now, whenever I hear dystopia this is the image that pops up immediately in my mind.  I think it is because it consists of a large quantity of humanoid figures looking to a singular figure in the distance below a bridge out of hope.  They hope for a better future and are desperate, but nobody knows where that figure or bridge will take them.  Unfortunately, this desperation and longing for hope is what drives people to societies that often oppress them or take advantage of them.

A Review of The Lego Movie

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Hello everybody!  I recently have watched The Lego Movie and right off the bat I will say that it can be summed up pretty much in one word…awesome.  I seriously feel this is the best animated movie in the past year as I honestly can’t remember the last time I had so much fun in a movie theater.  And yes, I am saying it is better than Frozen but do keep in mind they are different types of movies.  I was compelled to watch this movie as soon as I heard about it being made because as a kid my childhood was dominated by piecing together Legos endlessly.  My whole room was consumed by different Lego sets and the makers of this movie have a crystal clear understanding of their fan base.  Right off the bat I will start by saying the animation and visuals of this movie are stunning.  I was mindblown by how literally everysingle thing in the movie looks as if it was entirely created by Legos and its supposed to.  Heck, the explosions and other visual effects look as though they were made of Legos.  The filmmakers understand that this movie is for both younger and older audiences as they know that their product has entertained plenty of generations of people.  These two concepts are what made me extremely interested in this movie and then once I learned of the cast I instantly had to drop everything I was doing the day came out and go to the theaters.  The cast consists of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and has a host of cameos from different celebrities like Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.  I mean, you can’t ever go wrong by having Morgan Freeman say words in any given movie right?  I absolutely love and Charlie Day was in this movie though because I am a huge fan of his from the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

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The idea of using a tool of imagination, the Lego brick, and using it as the building block  (no pun intended) for a film was genius.  Due to the vast number of sets and characters in the Lego Universe, it made it open to pretty much anything is in the realm of possibility.  The movie plot consists of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) obtaining a super weapon to rule the Lego Universe and Vitrivius (Morgan Freeman) must help the Chosen One in the prophecy to save the world.  The Chosen One just so happens to be Emmett (Chris Pratt) who is just an ordinary Lego man who follows the instructions.  The integration of all the different universes and characters is just masterful.  I found this movie to be ridiculously funny.  The packed theater was almost laughing throughout the entire movie.  Kids will enjoy this movie for purely the entertainment aspect of an animated film and they will also get the jokes aimed towards younger audiences.  However, I feel as though older audiences will find the movie funnier than the younger ones.  There are so many witty and funny references to other movies and things that I couldn’t help but laugh at them.  The jokes are all delivered at perfect times and the whole experience was just a hoot.  My favorite character was Spaceship Benny (Charlie Day) and if you go see the movie you will see why.  Spaceship!  My girlfriend didn’t want to go see this movie with my friends and I because she felt it was going to be a stupid movie.  She was a skeptic.  However, she walked out of that movie absolutely loving the movie and apologized she didn’t give it a chance at first.  She was laughing the entire time and thought the movie was really cute as her favorite character was Unikitty.

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Batman and Spaceship Benny

I really recommend going to go see this movie, drop everything you are doing and just go.  Go!  This movie is that good, seriously.  I know the hype is all about how Frozen is so good and all but this movie is something to get hyped about.  It is what a comedy movie experience should be like, full of laughter and good times.  Plus, the take away message from this film is one that is very important and meaningful.  It teaches people to not live by the “instructions” in life and to ultimately follow one’s own path and to create something entirely new.  I feel like individuality and freedom is something not entirely stressed in today’s society or school systems.  It is important to have people feel as though they have a voice, an opinion, and the ability to create for themselves.  This movie also brought me back to my childhood and has resparked my love for Legos.  In fact, after seeing this movie my girlfriend went to go buy me a Lego Architecture set of the Seattle Space Needle as a surprise.  If you have nothing to do or want to go see a movie, go see The Lego Movie.

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The Seattle Space Needle in Lego form build by Yours Truly

“You had me at hello”

Hello everyone!  It is February now which means that one thing in particular is approaching quickly, Valentine’s Day.  Yes, the day where people are either elated with the fact that they are spending it with their special someone, or people are jealous/sick of the happy people.  I recently read a poem called A Work of Artifice by Marge Piercy, and it is about how some men take down and constrain women through the norms of society.  It also suggests that some men do nice things expecting nice things in return, but I am here to say that love isn’t really about that.  Love isn’t about receiving, it’s about giving for the sake of that special person.

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Now with it being Valentine’s Day pretty darn soon, I have decided to compile my favorite movies about romantic love, whether it be a romantic or romantic comedy.  I am the type of guy that lives and breathes action films, especially those from the 80’s.  I mean, I have my autographs of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford up in my room, and I don’t know how many times I have seen Rambo: First Blood.  However, I do have a soft spot for romantic comedies and romantic films.  Here is my compilation of my favorite romantic/romantic comedies that I have seen so far:

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The Notebook

I have decided to start off with my favorite “chick flick” of all time.  No joke, I have probably seen this movie more than my girlfriend.  In fact, she gave me the DVD  to me as a part of my Christmas present because she was surprised I didn’t have it.  I love this movie.  I love this movie for a combination of things: Ryan Gosling, the story, the setting, and the dialogue from the movie.  Ryan Gosling is one of my favorite actors for movies like Drive, Gangster Squad, and this movie.  I first saw this movie because my girlfriend wanted to watch it when we first started dating around two and a half years ago.  Ever since, I have seen this film quite often because not only is it frequently on TV but because it is a top notch film.  The chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling is so phenomenal and believable.  The romantic mood and tone of this movie is only supported by the landscape and scenery of North Carolina’s marshes.

For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, it is one of those movies where there is one outer storyline and within that storyline another story is being told, in this case through a notebook.  The movie is about an elderly man, Noah, who is at a retirement home and wakes up everyday to tell his wife with dementia, Allie, a story.  He tells her the story of their love but everyday she forgets who he is or who the story pertains too.  While reading the story, Noah doesn’t tell her they are the people in it and he hopes one day she will remember on her own.  Now, the story of their love begins in their teenage years where young Noah, played by Gosling, tries to ask out a young Allie, played by McAdams.  From there, the story continues on to cover their teenage love until problems arrive between the two with parents and their personal lives.  To not ruin the story, I will just say that they get reunited and the movie continues on from there.  And yes, there is the scene where they argue about writing to each other and its raining.

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Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire is the movie with the famous quote, “You had me at hello.” This movie is great and one of Tom Cruise’s best performances.  This movie has an A list of actors including Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr, and everyone’s favorite child actor Jonathan Lipnicki (the kid from Little Vampire and Stuart Little).  One of my favorite aspects of this movie is the humor in the movie provided by Lipnicki as the cute little kid and Cuba Gooding Jr.  The plotline follows a young, ambitious sports agent named Jerry Maguire, played by Cruise, obsessed with his job who eventually realizes that his firm is doing it wrong by being obsessed with the money and not the personal care of their clients.  Thus, he sends a memo to everyone with his own mission statement for the firm and basically gets fired for trying to change things for the better.  One of his coworkers also decides to leave, and she does it because she loves the message he is trying to promote.  She is a single mother, played by Zellweger, with a child, Lipnicki, who struggles on whether she should be involved with Jerry.   Jerry on the other hand, also doesn’t know whether he should be involved intimately and work with this women as he hates being alone but realizes she is special.  The movie tracks his struggles to balance work with his lone client (Gooding Jr.), his love for her, and his own personal emotions.  The ending of this movie is quite emotional and climactic that is perfectly wraps up the whole movie.

 

 

 

The Raid 2

As previously mentioned in a post, I have claimed The Raid Redemption to be one of my favorite modern martial arts/action films of all time.  Last Tuesday, The Raid 2 Berandal premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and I was waiting that night for reviews of the film.  I patiently waited until early morning the next day and finally…word came out.  Suddenly, a flood of attention and hype came on other blogs and movie review sites appeared.  Let the hype begin.

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The Raid 2 Berandal is supposed to pick up immediately following the first film and follows the story of Rama, the protagonist, in his journey to take down the crime underworld of Jakarta, Indonesia while undercover.  For those of you that have seen the first film, you will understand where I am coming from when I say it is not the type of movie you would watch for its story, its more about the action.  However, from what I have read and heard, the plot in this movie is much more captivating in depth and expansive.  The action scenes and stunt work is also supposed to be revolutionary.  In fact, this movie has been called “one of the greatest action sequels since Terminator 2: Judgement Day”.  That kind of comparison is something that you just don’t throw around.  I grew up hailing Terminator 2: Judgement Day as one of the greatest movies of all time.  I mean the last scene where Arnold goes down on the chain and sacrifices himself for the sake of humanity that was a pretty emotional and heavy scene.  On top of that, the special effects James Cameron implemented where revolutionary in the sense that it added a new dimension to action films, CGI.

Even he gives The Raid 2 a thumbs up.

Even he gives The Raid 2 a thumbs up.

 

Being compared to the sequel of The Terminator is something that is extraordinary, but with these high expectations it opens up more opportunity for the movie to not live up to the hype or exceed the anxiety of influence of previous action films.  However, on Rotten Tomatoes it currently has a fresh rating of 93% and seems to only be increasing.  The only criticism of the movie that I have heard of is that for those that don’t really enjoy violent movies, it may be too violent for those kind of people.  This also raises concerns for what kind of rating it will be given, an NC-17 or R?  The Raid Redemption was released in the United States rated an R, and there has been talk that this sequel might have to cut out some scenes in order for it to get an R rating.  Will these potential changes perhaps affect its performance at the box office or change the vision of those behind the camera?  We will have to see as unfortunately it gets released in the United States in March, which makes me really sad.  You can count on me attending the midnight premiere though.  Here is the trailer released by Sundance:

-Carlos

 

A Review of Lone Survivor

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Last Saturday, I saw what I would consider one of the greatest war films I have ever seen and it was completely by accident.  I went with my friends to go watch the new movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, Her, but it was sold out.  My friends and I then made a decision on the spot, with most of us loving manly action films, we naturally went with Lone Survivor.  Despite the title of the movie and the opening science giving away the end, it is a non-stop suspenseful action movie that is a worthy and fantastic dedication to our troops.  Mark Wahlberg did an excellent job producing this film and of portraying Marcus Luttrell, the survivor of Operation Red Wings.  The whole cast did a fantastic job of taking on the personas of the real flesh and blood people they are dedicating their performance to.

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The special effects and the costume/make up department did a fantastic job as they flawlessly recreated the injuries the SEALS sustained, from trauma wounds from falling down cliff sides to bullets and shrapnel.  The several gory and agonizing scenes where completely necessary to accurately portray the reality behind the film, and to remind the audience that all of this was real.  Actual people lived through the events in the movie.  This movie was an emotional roller coaster as I laughed at the humorous scenes at the base, felt suspense in the action sequences, agony at the injury parts, and I teared up at the heart to heart, emotional sequences as well as the tribute at the very end dedicated to our troops.  Okay, I’ll admit it…I almost cried….definitely got watery eyes.  I can now add this to the list of movies that I have gotten emotional in and the list so far is BraveheartThe Notebook, and now this.  This movie is near and dear to my heart as I had an uncle that was a Marine and I am actively involved in the Wounded Warrior Project.   I felt it was a fitting and well made tribute to the story and you can tell the people behind the film really put their heart into it.  It moved the whole audience.  As soon as the movie was over, a USA chant was started in one corner of the theater and a standing ovation was given.  The movie made my group feel proud to be an American and made us even more grateful for our troops as they put their own well being on the line to protect our livelihood and liberties.  I highly recommend you watch this movie.

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In addition, I would just like to provide an update on the recreational basketball league I am starting that I mentioned in my post High Flying Movies.  The league, the ABA Recreational Basketball League, is starting to take shape as we have teams signing up to play and we are starting to gain a following over Facebook and Instagram.  Our Facebook page is called ABA Recreational Basketball League and our Instagram can be followed at @ababasketball.  We are in the process of editing our and releasing our videos just as the league starts to make the players feel like it is the NBA.  We plan to make highlight reels of the teams and players while documenting the process of making the league along the way.  In addition, with All-Star Weekend coming up in mid-February, we will host an All-Star event as well.   Feel free to follow our pages and support the league, thanks!

-Carlos

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Frankenstein Flicks

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not only a classic novel, but it has become the basis of a variety of movie genres, from horror to science fiction.  The story of Frankenstein, a scientist who aspires to create life and when he does his creation fumbles out of his own control, has been referenced to and remixed in works of literature, movies, and popular culture.  At the time of Mary Shelley, science was about to reach another revolution as the potentials of science weren’t quite realized to a majority of people.  It was apparent though that science could intrude upon the beliefs of religion and ethics.  Mary Shelley uses the idea of ethics and of the unknown potential of science to fuel the true horror evoked by Frankenstein.

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      The story of how this novel has gotten to the level of popularity it reaches today starts with the novel itself.  The book at first got mixed reviews but over time it gained a following.  At the turn of the century, the first film adaptation of it was made by Edison Studios in 1910 as a Silent short film.  However, this would not get the reception that the Universal Studios’ version staring Boris Karloff would receive in the 1931 version.  This movie solidified and introduced the horror genre to popular culture, while also setting up a kind of archetype for horror movies at the time.  The idea of man playing God and the consequences that follow captivated the minds of audiences everywhere.  This and the rest of the Frankenstein movies by Universal built upon this idea.  These movies helped to build the idea of the mad scientist in the laboratory whose own creation spins out of his own control.  Actually, Frankenstein brought the idea of one’s own creation being more than what the creator could handle, which has been an important staple in the science fiction world.

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The ideas presented above have influenced a variety of famous movies, from action to science fiction.  For example, The Terminator franchise builds upon the idea that man won’t be able to control its own advancements when it comes to robotics and computers.  The idea that machines will rise against man creating a skull filled post-apocalyptic world terrified audiences upon being released since at the time in the 1980’s advancements were being made in computers.  In Jurassic Park, man tries to play God again by bringing back dinosaurs through modern genetics in order to create an amusement park.  In the words of Jeff Goldblum, “Uh…uh…Life finds a way.”  Yes, yes it does, as then the dinosaurs escape and terrorize the island.  Once again, playing on the potential fears of the time, as in the 1990’s advancements in genetics and cloning brought new scientific ethics to the field.  These classic movies, just like in the times of Mary Shelley, is a response to potential fears at the time.

-Carlos

     

 

 

 

 

The Raid Redemption

     A few weeks ago, I was shown two great martial arts films, Master of the Flying Guillotine and Return to the 36th Chamber, and it made me think of the most recent martial art film I had seen.  The Raid Redemption.  I saw this movie last winter while it was in theaters in limited release because my friend, who shares me enthusiasm for testosterone fueled action films, had heard about it and wanted to go see it.  I really didn’t know what to expect, after all I was use to Bruce Lee film’s like Return of the Dragon or Jackie Chan in Rush Hour or Rumble in the Bronx.  This was a modern, serious martial arts action film…I had never seen one of this nature…and I loved it!!!

     The Raid Redemption in an Indonesian film that takes place in present day Jakarta, Indonesia as a SWAT team prepares to overtake an apartment complex ran by the country’s crime kingpin.  The Lieutenant orders this mission and the team must fight story by story up a 50 story complex in hopes to take the boss down.  To me, this was very reminiscent of Stallone in Judge Dredd, where he reminds us that he is the law.  The film’s protagonist, Rama, is an expectant father who is dedicated to not only his family and honor, but his art of mixed martial arts.  The SWAT team goes in and initially has success due to their surprise attack.  The residents of the complex are criminals and eventually they alert the boss who sends a mass alert to the occupants.  They run into trouble and soon start to take losses but the Lieutenant, the protagonist, and a few others are cornered and take a detour to bypass the opposition, with the use of a refrigerator and explosives.  Without spoiling the movie, the characters by encountering enemies up the stories eventually are split up by the battles and the audience follows them as they make their way up to the boss.  However, this mission has significance to Rama because of how his brother works for the crime boss and is one of his right hand men.  The crowd favorite out of the villains in the movie is the killer, crazed character Mad Dog.

       Mad Dog is one of the kingpin’s henchmen who is sent to kill the protagonists one by one.  His martial arts skills are impeccable and super dynamic.  He is the type of villain with honor as he refuses to kill anyone with a gun and instead uses his hands.  Rama’s brother is put in a mess when he realizes his brother is down their fighting to not only take down his boss but to save him.  Without spoiling the movie, the movie leads up to one of, if not the greatest, fight action sequence I have seen where it is 2 vs. 1, between Rama with his brother against Mad Dog.  Here is a sample of Rama’s fighting:

     I highly recommend this movie to anyone that enjoys action and martial arts films.  It is non-stop action with great plot and character development.  It has a variety of characters with different fighting styles, some incorporating knives and other objects.  It is one of the greatest action films I have ever seen and my friends and I constantly reference this movie.  We have also learned that kicks aren’t practical and if you see the movie you will see why.  I believe The Raid Redemption is on Netflix and actually the sequel is coming out in January or February.

-Carlos

High Flying Favorites

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With basketball season already in full swing, I have been glued to the TV watching my favorite match ups of the day while also keeping up with my fantasy team.  In addition, I along with two of my friends are creating a basketball league for teenagers in our community, because we realized there weren’t any competitive basketball leagues at the high school level that were outside of playing for the high school or travel ball.  Thus, we decided to work together and create one for kids who for whatever reason couldn’t play for their high school or they couldn’t afford travel ball.  We have decided to name it the ABA, to bring back the notion of “let’s just play basketball and have fun” that was what kind of characterized the ABA back in the day where it rivaled the NBA.  I will be posting a link to my basketball league’s page and videos in posts and be sure to keep all of you updated.  However, to celebrate the launch of the beginning of our setting up process, I have decided to compile my favorite basketball movies.

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1. Teen Wolf-1985

This classic 80’s movie stars one of the most iconic actors of the decade, Michael J. Fox.  In Back to the Future, he played Marty McFly on his adventures through time with Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd.  In Teen Wolf, Fox plays an average teenager who happens to be on his school’s not so great varsity basketball team.  On his team he isn’t a star but it is more like he’s just there (and the tension between the team doesn’t help).  Along with the troubles of his basketball team, he is also troubled by average things like not being popular, school, girls, and oh yea being a werewolf.  One night when he gets home, he starts getting a really funny feeling and rushes to the bathroom.  Upon looking in the mirror, he discovers he is turning into some sort of monster and soon discovers it runs in his family, as his father is also a werewolf.  Now, he isn’t like a new “Twilight” werewolf or savage by any means, in this movie he just becomes furry and also becomes more athletic.  You can imagine there are few werewolves in your typical high school, so Scott (his character’s name) suddenly gets launched into stardom when in a game he fails to hide his alter ego.  He gets angry during a basketball game and suddenly transforms into a high flying werewolf.  This movie doesn’t focus so much on basketball the sport, but uses it as a medium to tell the story.

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2. Hoosiers-1986

This is one of the quintessential basketball films as it is a story on not only the competitive aspect, but the philosophy behind the game.  As far as the plot, it is similar to a more recent movie, Remember the Titans, in the sense that there is the plot development between a community and a new coach being brought in for the high school team.  Similarly, the community at first is uneasy about the new basketball coach, Dale, and also that the town basketball star, Jimmy, refuses to play for Dale due to how he was so attached to the old coach.  Dale introduces a new playing style that doesn’t quite yield the results the community hoped for and threaten to get rid of him.  However, Jimmy decides to play and this turns things around for the team.   The team ends up going to to the state championship and wins it all with everyone on the team stepping up along the way.  This movie is an excellent movie, as to not butcher the beautiful messages and inspiration in the movie, I highly suggest you watch it if you haven’t.

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3. Coach Carter-2005

This movie is an inspiring sports drama about the struggles of inner city youth and trying to balance basketball along with their other priorities.  In this movie, the great Samuel L. Jackson plays Ken Carter, an alumni of Richmond High School, is newly coached to run the school basketball team.  He is disappointed in the activities and behavior of the team and before he can teach them basketball he must team them about life.  He forces them to study and has them sign contracts to make sure they wouldn’t neglect their studies.  The movie really focuses on how life and sports are interconnected in both values and responsibilities.  However, when drama occurs in some of the players’ lives and Carter’s son joins the team things get much more complicated.  Carter is so serious about changing his players’ lives for the better that he closes the gym until the players improve their games.  This movie is an excellent example of how sports relates to life and how it can be a medium for self-improvement.

-Carlos

Anosognosia on the Big Screen

Medically, Anosognosia is the lack of self-awareness (or in other words being unaware of what you don’t know).  These unknown unknowns affect us everyday and combating them is crucial for not only self improvement but how we interact with others.  It is also at the forefront of many of our popular stories, legends, and movies.  Many of our favorite movies integrate anosognosia for plot development, to add depth to the film, or for characterization.  Here are some brief examples:

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Star Wars

Yes, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” anosognosia was used for both plot and characterization.  Probably the most popularized instances of it comes from one of the franchise’s most iconic moments, the revelation of Darth Vader as Luke’s father in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.  Before the revelation, Luke had just known that he was to fight against the Sith and that Vader was his enemy.  He knew that Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire were planning devilish schemes to gain dominance in the galaxy.  After all, Vader built the Death Star, which was capable of destroying entire planets (poor Alderaan) and Luke thought Darth Vader had killed his father.  However, knowing that Vader is his dad changes everything.  It changes how he views his enemy, and makes him question himself along with the Odyssey he is on.

Another moment from the original (and really the only) trilogy comes from the Empire Strikes Back as well, when Luke and Leia kiss.  Now at the time they did not know they were brother and sister, but it does change the plot and how the characters interact as Han also had a thing for Leia.  Later when they figure out they are related, it makes it all the more dramatic and things between Luke and Han start to mend a little more.

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Jurassic Park

The plot of Jurassic Park is heavily centered around anosognosia, as the unknown unknown to Mr. Hammond and his staff is the affect of the frog DNA on the dinosaurs.   John Hammond creates Jurassic Park as a tourist attraction/living museum by bringing dinosaurs back to life from preserved “Dino DNA” found in mosquitoes in amber.  Due to deterioration, there are gaps in the gene sequence so the scientists decide to fill it in with DNA from frogs.  It is later revealed by Dr. Grant that some species of frogs are capable of changing sexes when there are not enough of one sex, prompting some of the all female dinosaurs in the park to switch genders.  All of this confirms Dr. Malcolm’s chaos theory ideas on how “Life finds a way.” The scientists were unaware of how they did not anticipate the frog DNA would allow the dinosaurs to eventually breed.  This was out of both greed from Hammond, for wanting to recreate dinosaurs as quickly as possible without regards to how, and also from his ethics.

Fight Club *spoiler alert*

For those of you who have not seen Fight Club, it is an excellent movie and I wouldn’t want to spoil the whole premise of the movie for you, thus I have put the spoiler alert.  For those of you who have, I shall continue speaking of Fight Club (breaking the First Rule).

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Now the first time I watched this movie, the revelation at the end was indeed mind blowing, to be honest I didn’t expect it.  Watching it again, I kept my eyes open for any hints about the identity of Tyler Durden and how he relates to the narrator.  The very beginning of the movie points out the narrator has insomnia but he doesn’t know it affects him to the degree that it does.  The unknown unknown for the majority of the movie is Tyler Durden’s identity and that Tyler and the narrator are the same person.  The narrator, including the audience, do not know the narrator and Tyler are the same person, Tyler just being his figment of his imagination.  The whole movie focuses around the interactions between the narrator and Tyler and how they affect each other.  Not knowing that he is making up a whole part of his life subconsciously, the narrator believes he is just living out his normal life with a new friend he has made.  When he finds out Tyler is not seen by anybody else and that he is Tyler, it completely changes his perception of life.

-Carlos

Fight Club movie image Brad Pitt