amnesiack: (LiMuBai)
Kung fu movie post!

I was finally able to pick up a copy of The Banquet as a domestic dvd release. Lesley and I loved it when we saw it at SIFF last year. For some reason, they changed the U.S. title to Legend of the Black Scorpion, which is extremely dumb, but it's still an awesome movie, so, yeah. Whatever.

I'm still waiting to be able to pick up A Battle of Wits as well.

Next Friday is the theatrical release of The Forbidden Kingdom with Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and some American kid. The Friday night movie group will be seeing it, and I truly hope it delivers. Anyone out there want to come with us?
amnesiack: (Donnie Yen)
Jason and I saw Curse of the Golden Flower last night at the Neptune. I would put it among the "must see" movies for fans of Asian movies/cultures. The costumes and sets are elaborate and beautiful. Chow Yun Fat dominates every scene he is in, often through facial expressions alone. It's definitely not an action movie, but the action that's there is breathtaking. The movie largely revolves around the personal and political intrigues of the royal family (the Emperor, his consort, and his three sons). Of course, it being a Chinese historical drama, a good portion of the characters are dead by the end, and the resolution (while very final and full of closure) is not what western audiences would consider "happy." If you can deal with that, though, I highly recommend it.
amnesiack: (Donnie Yen)
It's no secret that I've become increasingly enamored of (some might say "obsessed with", but they're wrong, and I will destroy them with my Wisdom of the Seven Gates kung fu) wuxia and other Chinese martial arts fantasy over the last couple of years, to the point where it equals my love of the dark and deadly shinobi. It has, in fact, reached the point where I am no longer content to sup upon the meager trickle of entertainment that comes my way through regional channels. Now, I drink directly from the source!

But above and beyond that, I have found a second wellspring from which I may draw. Arriving soon (I estimate today, but I cannot be entirely sure) from this font of delights, will be Shadowless Sword (technically, a Korean film, but it was filmed in China and is of the proper genre), Dragon Tiger Gate (a film set in the modern day but with many wuxia elements, made doubly awesome by the presence of the inestimable Donnie Yen), and Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (a live-action ninja movie based off the same novel that inspired the manga/anime series Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls).

I'm not sure where this was leading to, or if there was ever really a point to this at all beyond a momentary internet-based explosion of glee, so I guess I'm done. Cheers.
amnesiack: (american astronaut)
Fearless was fantastic. The wire-work and special effects were highly restrained, but Jet Li's performance was (as always) very well-done. It's a very straight-forward story with no twists or turns, well-choreographed fight scenes, and a basis in Chinese history that ignores almost all actual historical facts. What more could you want?

* * *

I know that Final Fantasy XII is coming out soon (I have, in fact, preordered it already), but I think that Okami may end up being one of my favorite games of the year. At its most stripped-down, core level, it's a Zelda-style action/puzzle/quest game. If you take all of its elements together, though, it is a brilliantly unique game, with a beautiful visual style unlike any other game I've seen. I'm only about 4 hours into it, and it has already sunk its claws (tee hee) quite deeply into me. With the PS3 on its way in the next couple of months, Sony is certainly making sure that PS2 game development goes out on several high notes.

* * *

Saturday night [livejournal.com profile] yurodivuie, Jason, and I saw The Billy Nayer Show live at this tiny little theater in the Rendezvous Lounge in Belltown. Like most of the people there (I think), my initial exposure to the BNS came from the bizarre uber-movie that is The American Astronaut. I've already described it in a past entry, but having watched it many more times since then, I can firmly say that it is awesome in ways which you cannot conceive of something being awesome. Corey McAbee (lead singer, electric autoharp player, and song writer for the BNS, as well as the writer, director, and star of American Astronaut) is a twisted genius of the highest order, and seeing BNS live actually kicks all of that up a significant notch. Until their two encores, every song they played was from their as-yet-unreleased new album, and the few old songs they played for encores were not from American Astronaut (i.e. songs that I knew). And you know what? It didn't matter one bit. New songs or old, McAbee's lyrics will stun, confound, and hilarify you in a single burst. I left feeling that I had experienced something profound and not entirely comprehensible by my mortal brain. If you have a chance, I would encourage you to do the same.
amnesiack: (Donnie Yen)
In honor of tomorrow's impending domestic theatrical release of Fearless, I am inaugurating my new Donnie Yen icon that I made a few days ago. Donnie Yen is not (to my knowledge) in Fearless, but he was in Hero, which also starred Jet Li, who is in Fearless. So there.
amnesiack: (suicidemouse)
We finally got to add our new player to the 7th Sea game last night (yay!). I'm always nervous the first time I GM for someone, especially when that person is someone I consider to be a very respectable GM herself, but I felt the game went well, and everyone seemed to have a good time. It's also the first time I've ever seen this particular person in full-on character roleplaying mode, and it is indeed impressive.

Between my neck bothering me and the cats suddenly deciding to use my body as the staging ground for an all-out war between them at 3am I didn't sleep too well last night, so I've been rather tired all day. Under normal circumstances I would be very annoyed that I had to spend 4 hours in meetings today, but I didn't have to contribute much in any of them besides paying attention and writing down reporting requirements, so it was actually a nice chance to conserve what little mental energy I had today.

Jason and I will probably be foregoing the normal group movie this Friday (Poseidon, unless plans have changed) in favor of seeing The Promise instead. This high-action, mystical wuxia movie seems like a perfect way of ramping up for the first session of our new Exalted game on Saturday. We're still going to try to meet everyone for Thai food afterwords, though, since the movies are playing at the same theater.
amnesiack: (Default)
The new Mon Frere album Blood, Sweat, and Swords came out yesterday. I've only done one listen-through, but so far I think it's even better than their debut EP Real Vampires, which was their only release up until now.

I'm also reading Journey to the West, one of the great classics of Chinese literature. I'm enjoying it, but getting used to the writing style is tricky since the translation that I am reading is apparently the one that tries to stick as literally as possible to the original language and diction. I'm borrowing Jason's copy of volume 1, but I'm getting into it enough that I've ordered the full set for myself.
amnesiack: (dali)
As of Wednesday we finally have some rpgs for the PSP. Much to my chagrin when I returned home from work that afternoon, David had already gone to the store without me and purchased a copy of The Legend of Heroes, but it was easy to convince him to go back to Gamestop with me. I ended up buying Kingdom of Paradise, a Chinese-style fantasy action rpg. It falls into the wuxia without the aerial acrobatics genre (similar to Jade Empire), which, while cool in its own right, is a bit of a disappointment after having had Weapons of the Gods so heavily on the brain for the last month, but I don't think I'm far enough into it to say for sure. Based on about 45 minutes of play, I can say the following things fer'it and agin'it:

Negatives:
* You can't jump. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: All action games, regardless of their secondary genre (RPG, Puzzler, Platformer, etc.) should include the ability to jump, even if it is completely cosmetic and has no effect on game play whatsoever. This applies triple to any game with kung fu.
* The camera angles can't be adjusted. In a standard old-school rpg view the camera is at a fixed point and you maneuver in a standard cardinal direction setup. KoP, however, has a dynamic camera that moves and shifts in different directions depending on where you're standing and how you're moving. The problem is that it is completely computer-controlled and cannot be adjusted or rotated in any way by the player, making it rather disorienting. Again, this is a feature that should be standard in all action games by now.
* Limited controls. This actually is a feature I have mixed feelings about (see "Easy but customizable combat system" under positives for the other side). While I never want action rpgs to reach the same level of complexity in controls as, say, your typical fighting game, it seems to me that if you're going to be controlling your actions in real-time, there should be a certain level of variety to what you're doing, rather than simply tapping the O button over and over as fast as you can. While there were things I disliked about it, I think that Kingdom Hearts really set the high standard for what an action rpg should be like in this respect. Defense of any kind is especially hard in KoP, as blocking seems to be completely ineffectual, and there are no other defensive maneuvers (jumps, rolls, etc.) that you can perform other than just using your normal running back-and-forth controls.

Positives:
* Great graphics. They're nearly on par with some PS2 games I've seen, like Star Ocean III, and they capture the setting well.
* Easy but customizable combat system. This is the flipside of the "Limited Controls" issue above. The parts of the combat system that do work are actually pretty neat. You collect kenpu and bugei scrolls. Kenpu are individual attack maneuvers and bugei are combinations of maneuvers. You assign kenpu to slots within each bugei (so far, the exact kenpu and their order is determined by the Bugei, but supposedly there are "freestyle" bugei you can acquire which allow you to arrange them as you please), and then you choose which bugei to use during combat. You can easily switch between bugei in the middle of a fight, and all you have to do to use them is continue hitting the attack button. Each time you initiate a new attack, it will begin to perform the kenpu you have in your bugei in the order they have been assigned. Thus, as the game progresses, you should in theory acquire an increasing variety and combination of attacks that you can arrange and customize for combat use without having to memorize long sequences of button combinations. Very cool.

It's too early to make a call in regards to the story, but so far, so good.

Cheers.

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