HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, April 30, 2007

FIST OF THE NORTH STAR WEEK STARTS TODAY!

I told you we had a surprise for you this week and its an in depth five part look at the amazing Fist of the North Star series and the history surrounding it. Thanks to Russell Smith for taking the charge and helping craft this amazing look at Fist of the North Star.

The Guiding Light of The Fist of the North Star

An original article about the history of Hokuto no Ken, written by Russell “Kentai” Smith

Part 1 of 5 – The World of the Fist of the North Star


“You are already dead!!”

“KEN!”

Her voice rings out across a battlefield of fallen villages, their blood staining the sand between the buildings shattered and cracked after the war. She’s a tiny girl, held in the raised hands of a massive thug, he and his forces having ravaged the front lines of this peaceful village that lives in fear of its well being taken by men like him. The man she calls out to, dressed in a torn leather jacket and jeans, walks through the corpses with rage in his eyes. Three of the punks who aided their leader, a man just called “Z”, stand in his way.

The man named Ken looks at these three men, and cracks his knuckles. “Get out of my way”, he tells them simply. Not fans of being mocked, the three savages launch themselves at Ken, clubs and axes in hand, but he pays them no mind. With a single swing of his long leg, each one of them is smacked in the face, and without looking back he leaps over them, continuing on as if they never existed.

“What was that?” one of them asks, and the rest all prepare to leave their mark on Ken’s flesh… when they stop short, and shouting incomprehensible sounds of pain, their heads literally bloat and explode, as if a small bomb were shoved into their skull. From the sidelines of this hell on earth, the elder of this small village gasps, and mutters to himself ‘Could it be, Hokuto Shinken?’

Z stares blankly at his fallen comrades, and as Ken tells him to put the girl down, he bellows that Ken must be the one responsible for having killed his men. Without waiting for Z to take his frustration out on the small girl, a sweet and once mute child named Rin, he launches an attack of his own, his hands becoming blurs that strike Z in an endless volley of punches, chops and pokes, shouting “Atatata!” with every hit. Rin falls, and is caught in Ken’s outstretched arms.

Z gets up, seemingly unfazed by Ken’s strange assault. “Your little fists feel like mosquito bites!” he shouts, raising his arms to deliver a crushing blow that would be powerful enough to crush a lesser man’s head into nothing. Ken never even bothers to look back at his enemy.

“You’re already dead” is all that he tells Z, and sure enough, before his enemy can strike a fatal blow his entire body begins to rupture from the inside out, chunks of his brains and vital organs staining the sky crimson and his skeleton tries to escape through his skin, literally turning inside-out in a surreal display of power and justice.

The year is 199X. The man, known just as Ken to those close to him, is the master of Hokuto Shinken. And nothing in this world, no matter the odds, can stand in his way.

You’ve just been struck by the Fist of the North Star.


We Are Living, Live in These 80’s!

The forerunner of “Violence Entertainment Anime”, Hokuto no Ken – or Fist of the North Star, as it’s commonly known in English – was a savage melting pot of bloody entertainment that ushered in a new age of splattering gore, post apocalyptic chic, and superhuman martial arts in the mid 1980’s.

Originally a manga that began publication in Shounen Jump magazine in 1983, Hokuto no Ken became a success big enough to run for 6 years, and have a TV series that adapted roughly 24 of the 27 books of content (the last 2 short stories of which have never been animated). There was also a theatrical anime movie in 1986, a slew of videogames, action figures, and other various marketing tie-ins, and most importantly it started a general revolution in creating a more mature and flexible standard by which animation could be created. It’s arguable that without Hokuto no Ken, the world would have never seen other 80’s titles like Dragonball, Saint Seiya, Guyver, Violence Jack: Harlem Bomber, or countless more modern titles like Elfen Lied, Gantz and Blood+.

Despite its love for violence and mayhem – the series is about head-exploding, eye gouging, spine crunching, and limb-slicing martial arts after all – Hokuto no Ken was very much a morality play more than it was violence without rhyme or reason. Inspired by karate and samurai films of the 1970’s, Italian westerns of the 1960’s, and Australian and Hollywood action movies of the 1980’s Hokuto no Ken combined Japanese aesthetic and heroism, Chinese fighting styles and mysticism, and Western settings and showmanship to create a unique and memorable series which kept its heart rooted in love and justice, all the while never being afraid to set things right with the crushing power of a balled fist to some jerk’s face.

The general story begins in 199X (an unspecified time in the 1990’s), in which the world has been leveled by nuclear war. Most modern technology has become useless, and the most precious recourses – formerly cash, jewels, iPods and what have you - have been usurped in importance by clean water and fresh food. In this desperate time chaos has once more taken hold of the world, and warlords rule over the common people as slaves as they see fit. It’s in these troubled times that a man named Kenshirou, the man with seven scars in his chest and the master of the Hokuto Shinken style, must wage war with those around him once friend and foe alike.

Ken isn’t alone in his battle against the world, however. Aside from Bat and Rin, a pair of kids he inadvertently took up protecting, he fights alongside Rei, Shuu, and Fudou (among several others), masters of the Nanto Seiken style of martial arts. Hokuto Shinken, the Holy Fist of the North Dipper (ie: Ursa Major – mistranslated as “North Star” in the late 1980’s to make the title sound more appealing) is a style based upon driving your ki, or life energy into tsubo, 708 pressure points around the human body. When done properly, this technique can alleviate pain, help the blind see and even bring voices back to the mute… but the style is also incredibly deadly, and with the right combination of tsubo the unfortunate opponent’s body can literally rupture and explode, be forced to convulse, or in some extreme cases convince an uncooperative thug to speak his mind. This style of over the top violence helped Hokuto no Ken get some early attention, though it was its attention to likable characters and a compelling story that kept viewers long after the shock of seeing someone’s body tear in half had worn thin.

Certain forms of karate (and other carious martial arts) are specifically based upon pressing tsubo across the body, so while the results of Hokuto no Ken are exaggerated, they are based at least somewhat on fact. Similarly, the various styles of Nanto Seiken, the opposing school of Hokuto Shinken with 102 masters and the Nanto Roku Sei (or “Nanto Six Stars”, those chosen to carry on the legacy of the 6 most powerful styles in the name of their Nanto star). The five Nanto Stars who join the fray – Shin, Rei, Yuda, Shuu and Souther – all use unique and powerful styles that relate to the characters on some personal level. Hokuto no Ken’s view of martial arts may be less than realistic in general (where’s the fun in realistic martial arts animated?), but I think their treatment of the material, that they were a path to enlightenment and ruin, is perfectly acceptable and exciting none the less.

While every form of Nanto Seiken (South Dipper Saint Fist) is indeed different, they all share the common ground of turning one’s ki into a deadly force, the users’ hands becoming deadly blades with the power to impale, dismember, or in more impressive cases simply cut the opponent as if they were struck with an egg slicer. As Hokuto Shinken was created by the Hokuto Souke ruling line on the island of Asura to protect their ancient bloodline, Nanto Seiken was created to guard the 6 gates of the Empire. Hokuto Shinken, unlike most Nanto techniques, is only to be passed from father to one son, and anyone who fails to become Hokuto successor would have their fists broken, and their memories erased. This tradition would hold true until 199X.

In days long since past, it was said that Hokuto and Nanto must form an alliance in times of chaos, to work towards a better tomorrow. Hokuto no Ken is seemingly in constant battle with this concept, with wicked Nanto Seiken masters being brought to justice through Kenshirou’s struggle, and equally righteous men being killed off in the name of power and conquest by Kenshirou’s two wicked brothers.

Hokuto no Ken continued to thrive and be a success for a number of years not merely because of shock value or moral preaching, but primarily because the series continued to evolve and change, bringing in new concepts and characters on a regular basis. These concepts, similarly, began to change and shift with the mood and concept of the series. For instance, in the first part of Hokuto no Ken 2 (the second series of the anime, and about 3/5 through the manga) electricity and even currency has returned to at least one major city. The power is made by generators turned solely by slave labor, and the money is doled out to bounty hunters for bringing in defectors of the Hokuto Army set on giving water back to the people, turning even the structure of the modern age itself into a symbol of wickedness and excess. Hokuto no Ken reinforces the concept that only water and food, the elements that continue life, are the only absolute powers in the world. Well… that, and Hokuto Shinken, perhaps.


A History of Violent Comics

Hokuto no Ken, despite changing the face of animation the world over into the chisled and unwavering face of a hero hell bent on righting wrongs through hard and fast brutality. But Ken, and the supporting cast of heroes and villains, wouldn’t be there without a rich and varied history of other “brutal heroes” in manga before him.

Perhaps the biggest change in manga was the late 1960’s, which gave the Japanese PTA an enemy against morality and good taste that everyone could agree was worth fighting against: GO Nagai. Starting with Sci-Fi ninja pot boilers like Kuro no Shishi (Black Lion) and bawdy high school sex comedies like Harenchi Gakuen (Lewd School), he quickly made a name for himself as a controversial creator who combined graphic violence and suggestive innuendo in the name of children’s entertainment. Parents may have hated him, but kids loved him, and in the early 70’s Go’s storytelling was stretched into new and more mature ways, with the creation of the epic horror title Devilman, for which he’s best known in the West, as well as starting the 70’s mecha craze with Mazinger Z and Getter Robo. The most relevant creation to Hokuto no Ken, however, is without a doubt Violence Jack, the tale of a huge beast-like man who wanders the remains of Japan after a massive earthquake was said to have opened the very gates of Hell. In 1986, the first of 3 Violence Jack OVA’s would be released, Harlem Bomber Hen (aka Slumking), and in many ways was patterned off of the Hokuto no Ken TV series. Later episodes, including Jigoku Tai Hen (Evil Town) and Hell’s Wind, would become far more brutal and disturbing than Hokuto no Ken ever would.

Similarly, the late 1960’s gave Japan its’ first ever wrestling superhero, Tiger Mask. A manga in 1968, and a TV series that started in 1969, Tiger Mask was the first Japanese costumed hero to deliver bone crunching moves against his opponents in animated form. Tiger Mask also garnered a sequel in 1981, with the original TV series lasting a respectable 105 episodes (with Tiger Mask II only lasting 33 episodes). While watching grappling in a ring seems pretty tame by today’s standards, it was a shocking step towards the modern age nearly 40 years ago. The trend for in your face sports titles would continue in the form of feel good drama titles, like Ashita no Joe in 1970, Captain Tsubasa in 1983, Slam Dunk in 1993, and even Hajime no Ippo in 2000.

Hokuto no Ken owes another manga adaptation a good deal of credit, though this title has never been animated. The Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub) film series, based on the KOIKE Kazuo and KOJIMA Goseki manga, ran from 1972 to 1974 across 6 feature films, before being released in a heavily re-written and re-edited form known as Shogun Assasin in 1980. While the samurai by nature were deadly warriors who were known to cut their opponents in half with the tempered blade of a katana, the jidai geki (or period costume drama) genre had prior always shown Japanese swordsmanship to be an elegant, bloodless affair through popular television serials and film adaptations like Yojimbo and Zatoichi. OGAMIi Ito, the titular lone wolf, was a just and righteous man who, his child Daigoro ever by his side, dealt a swift and brutal end to those who stood outside the lines of good and evil, becoming a demon himself to put a stop to demons around him. The popular film series remains one of the most shockingly violent 1970’s samurai film, with duel compositions carefully setup between two halves of a head split down the middle, and blood spraying as fiercely as in the now infamous Koroshiya-1 (Ichi the Killer) live action feature.

Kenshirou himself is very much a fusion of many of these heroes before him, with more than a slight nod to the ultra-macho wave of action films in Hollywood that, ironically, both started and ended their reign of popularity with the popular gritty post-modern action film First Blood in 1982, ending in the testosterone addled cheese fest that was Rambo III in 1988. Likening Kenshirou, or even Hokuto no Ken’s aesthetic as a whole to just one cinematic leading man or series is seemingly fruitless, and with an influx of action packed TV shows, pro-wrestlers, emerging video games and an endless influx of historical and fantastic inspiration, Hokuto no Ken created characters that could look like Conan the Barbarian wearing armor patterned after Attila the Hun who’s general, a gigantic whip-wielding Spartan leads armies of Persian “Immortal” warriors (using Roman weapons) against Mongolian nomads led by a Chinese pirate who uses a secret sumo breathing techniques to literally turn his flesh into iron, only to have his metal body shattered by Conan the Hun, who never bothers to dismount from his horse. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly what the battle in the 1986 anime movie between Raou and the Fang Family amounts to. Hokuto no Ken is historical and inspirational madness, focused beyond all logic to give an exciting and always surprising twist on familiar concepts.


HARA Tetsuo and Buronson vs. ASHIDA Touyo

Let it not be said that ASHIDA Touyo wasn’t the right man to adapt Hokuto no Ken into a weekly television program as general director. While the first 22 episodes had a lot of issues – in particular the restructuring of events in making Shin the third villain, instead of the first, as well as a lot of one-shot “filler” villains meant to effectively double the length of the first story arc – there were many positive qualities, in particular the vocal cast, soundtrack, and the clear dedication to the source material… when they weren’t making something new up, at least.

With KAMIYA Akira in the titular role of Ken, Hokuto’s fist, his deep and stoic voice brought a level to the character that the written word could only begin to convey in the same way. Several other notable voice actors joined the cast – FURUKAWA Torisho as Shin, SHIOZAWA Kaneto as Rei, and UTSUMI Kenji as Raou just to name a few – every one of them breathing an undeniable sense of life into the series that could have fallen flat without them. Watching the title dubbed into other languages, of course, brings new interpretations on the characters, some of which are justified and none too shabby, while others are but pale imitations of the world so beautifully brought to the TV screen in Japan the first time around.

The soundtrack, similarly, brought a new layer to the series that the source material lacked completely. AOKI Nozomu created a score that combined the various genre that Hokuto no Ken pulled its’ core inspirations from – kung fu and karate cinema provided a rumbling and powerful bass, westerns gave us arid and lonesome string pieces, and perhaps most importantly is the presence of romanticism that resonates from the characters themselves, and their never ending struggle to defend the people they care the most for. The sound of Hokuto no Ken as a whole is perfectly in tune with the visuals, and while I in many ways prefer the manga version to the weekly TV show, I can’t deny that the audio end is something I wish the manga could somehow be combined with, because it was simply such a perfect fit.

But Ashida did far more directing the series than apply sound to the images: the animation itself, while somewhat dated by the standards of modern digital animation, were a constant stylistic struggle to keep the show both looking polished, but still within budget. Early episodes would often feature lengthy still shots of Kenshirou walking against the sun using optical tricks to make the image appear to be warping in the heat, and the graphic head explosions – both to keep censors happy and to keep expenses down – would often be a dark silhouette exploding white “blood” against a red background. Later episodes would actually paint a face on various animation cels, and then photograph them before they were dry, pulling the various layers against each other to make faces “melt” and “tear” as a special effect for the results of Hokuto Shinken. This technique saved a lot of money, and in many instances – such as the battle with Jagi – ends up looking impressive and very unique.

I could bitch about some of the lesser aspects of the anime: such as both Bat and Lin having larger roles, including Bat getting a souped up dune buggy and Lin a puppy. Sometimes they would do a “recap” episode, in which a character would reminisce over past episodes in a last ditch effort for Toei to stretch time and money before animating another full. If I really wanted to I could berate it for all the dumb filler villains, like a guy who launched himself out of a cannon with a floret raised. (Yawn.) And God save me if I ever have to watch the episode again with Zaria, a crazy Shinto priest who turns a town into zombies using church bells and sends an army of headless KKK members after Kenshirou. I swear I’m not making that up. Still, cheesy plotlines that don’t go anywhere for an episode or two basically come with the territory of weekly kids’ shows in Japan, in part because the animation is usually produced at the same time as the manga, and when the TV show catches up… well, there’s nothing left to animate. It’s very, very rare for Japan to take a break and come back a year later with a second season (though it can happen – Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE comes to mind), since investors are no longer certain that fans will still want to watch the show a year later. Tastes change, after all. So if we’re to complain about the original content in the Hokuto no Ken TV show, we might as well complain that it exists to begin with. Besides, the filler material gets far less… well, dumb, after the first chapter ends episode 22.

Besides: Hokuto no Ken 2 was pretty dumb on its own without Ashida giving Hara and Buronson any help.


YOU ÇÕ SHOCK! …So, you are shocked? You are shocking? Seriously, what?!

One of the more memorable things the TV series gave Hokuto no Ken was its soundtrack, and along with that came various theme songs, all of which helped Hokuto no Ken find its place and attitude with the viewer. All of them featured “Engrish” phrases – something that’s become commonplace in anime over the last 20 years – and in many ways continue in the vein of presenting modern music with traditional sounding vocals. If further proof is needed that I believe this music to be not only a major component of the series, but also good music besides, let it be said that I quoted a line from Ai wo Torimodose!! in my wedding vows.

Seriously, I did: “Ore to no Ai wo mamoru tame, omae wa tabidachi. Ashita wo miushinatta. Hohoemi wasurete kao na dou, mitaku wa nai sa, Ai wo Torimodose!!”

The (mostly) accurate translation that I gave to guests was “You left on a journey to protect our love, even though you lost sight of tomorrow. I don’t ever want to see your face without a smile… I will take back our love.”

My family figured I was insane, but my wife didn’t mind, even knowing what it was from. That’s love, ladies and gentlemen.
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Now this is how you hype a wrestling match!

From when LAX (Latin American Exchange) took the NWA Tag Team Titles from Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles at TNA Bound For Glory in 2006. It's on the DVD too that TNA Wrestling put out. Such an awesome promo! Shame LAX had to lose them to a really spent and weak Team 3D. Oh well it's not like LAX is going anywhere but up from here.


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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Things to come!

Nope we're not dead. Just finishing off finals (which should be done by Wednesday).

Here are some of the things we have in the works:

1. An interview with Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog about Mario Bava.
2. More insane cooking with Sandra Lee as Jess got Sandra's children's cookbook and lord is it horrible.
3. News on the latests offering of Crash Cinema and Blue Underground with cover art and more!
4. A news roundup on some film happenings in Asia.
5. Pro Wrestling Reviews and News: Yep, I like Pro Wrestling and at the very least you're going to have to scroll through it.
6. Lost more that we can't mention yet!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Sampling of Sandra Lee's Kakes

As I promised to tantalize all of you with descriptions of the idiocyof Semi-Homemade, I have pulled together some images of Sandra's culinary creations.

The title of this article misspells "cakes" because of Sandra's own inclination to purposely misspell her items (see Kurtain Krafts).

Two of Sandra Lee's most infamous (and I use the term in its pejorative sense) kakes are her holiday cakes. Sandra's show, which one can often locate on YouTube or read about on TWoP's forum on Sandra Lee, is well known for its culturally insensitive takes on cultures different from
Sandra's.

Now, Miss Lee prides herself on being a good ol' girl (not Southern, like Paula Deen) from Washington/Wisconsin/California/whatever place she dreams up, so she does not take the time to learn about the authentic foods and traditions of various cultures. Rather, she enjoys assembling her own half-baked versions of deeply loved recipes that are more often offensive than celebratory.

Case in point: Sandra's Holiday Kakes. Some background on the episode in which BOTH cakes appear would be helpful to the novice. The two cakes depicted below were part of Sandra's FIRST holiday show, entitled simply "Holiday Show." Since this was her first season on Food Network (she has been on the air since 2003), viewers did not know what to expect from her.

They soon found out, however, that holidays for Sandra equal a priority on Christmas food and decorations with other religious holidays hastily shoved into the thirty-minute program.

Food Network describes this famous trainwreck of an episode, and instant classic to all shrikes out there, as such:

Holiday Show
Sandra shows us how to whip up some festive Holiday Treats. Sandra's making a Star of David Food Cake, Classic Holiday Wreath Cake and a Kwanzaa Celebration Cake. Then, we'll see how to make a Christmas Crescent Ring, and Sugar Plum Pops.


From this list of recipes, one can immediately sense the weight given to Christmas treats. This, I believe, is fine. Sandra is presumably Christian, so she has the right to give precedence to her own beliefs and values.

However, it is her attempt to be "respectful" of the diversity of religious holidays that disgusts me. If you can't take the time to learn about the traditional recipes of the culture (for example, I have learned much about brisket thanks to my Jewish fiance and his family), don't even bother
to do this PC crap. It's just pitiful and she should have stated outright that it was a Christmas, not Holiday, show. Probably the heads at Food Network forced her to add these recipes in, so really, they are as much to blame for what you see below as Sandra herself.

Anyway, enough background on this mess of a holiday program. Here are Sandra's Holiday Kakes in all of their glory:























Above, you will see an image of Sandra's first cake of the evening, the Star of David Angel Food Cake. This is a bright-blue frosted, grocery store AFC filled with marshmallows in its hole.

Now, I know what you might be saying. Wait, Jess, does that cake have too many points? Shouldn't a Star of David Cake have, I don't know...SIX points? Like the freakin' star does?

Yes, reader, I concur. Sandra's math skillz fail her in this culinary catastrophe, and the cake is left looking like a parody of a Hannukah cake.

And, as many shrikes have pointed out, the 'mallows she uses are not kosher, thus defeating the purpose of a traditional cake for the Jewish brethren. Way to be inclusive, you lush! But seriously, if Sandra invites you to her house for Hannukah, decline EVERYTHING if you're kosher. Who knows what she puts in the drinks, for God's sake. In fact, just make up an excuse and go to some fast food joint or something. Your stomach will certainly thank you.

Next, we have what is, to many, the epitome of Sandra's insensitivity:



This, my readers, is the famous Kwanzaa Celebration Cake.

Again, you may be asking yourself, how in the hell does this hideous abomination relate to Kwanzaa? Because she made the frosting a light brown color, similar to the skin of those who celebrate the holiday (semi-racist)? Or is it the GINORMOUS candles she stuck on top? Whatever logic one can deduce from Sandra's choices, it is obvious that this is not, in any way, shape, or form, a traditional cake of the African harvest holiday. Note the use of apple pie filling to fill in the hole. Perhaps, in Sandra's warped and alcohol-soaked mind, that was her notion of a harvest cake. Of course, there are no apples harvested in Africa, but don't tell Sandy that! She's too drunk to care.

Oh, and yes, those are corn nuts and pumpkin seeds adorning the frosting. I don't know why either.

























This is the interior of Sandra's Harvest Cake, or what I like to call,"A cake for white people." Even though it is thoroughly disgusting and features the same weird brown frosting of the original Kwanzaa cake, it is devoid of the lovely candles that are the main feature of the cake for
black people. Wow, how creative can one person be?

In conclusion, these images give you a better understanding of Sandra's kulinary kreations. She assumes, or the Food Network pushes, the need to include the various winter holidays on her first Christmas show. To fulfill her requirements, Sandy half-assedly (I think I made that term up) pulls some AFCs from the grocery store and SLops them up in the way only a show called Semi-Homemade would think was possible. These two cakes remain the quintessential viewing material for new shrikes and, as Sandra herself states in her earlier intro, "I'm thrilled to be able to share them withyou."

Up next: Some facts about Sandra's past, and a review of her cookbook for kids!
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Horrors of Semi-Homemade coming soon!

I will be writing in the next week or so about one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. Her show on Food Network features some of the most abysmal recipes that stem from her "cooking philosophy": 70% store-bought ingredients and 30% fresh and "creative touches."

The woman is a blonde, big-breasted imbecile who has her shirts match her decor, particularly her "tablescapes," and has really crappy voiceovers in every episode of her show. In addition to her stupidity, she also acts like a whore, deepthroating whatever crappy food she assembles as seen below (I won't use the term cook for the likes of her), and she ends each episode with Cocktail Time, during which she creates and downs the alcoholic beverage du jour. In fact, in a few episodes she has given children, such as her niece and nephew, drinks called "kiddie cocktails!" People have said she should be on Comedy Central, since her program is so hilarifying (hilarious and horrifying).




If you have never heard of this ludicrous show, please check out Television Without Pity's forum. It is worth reading the critical reviews of her haters, known as "shrikes," who function as snarkers and point out the absurdities of every aspect of her show. For example, she had a Kwanzaa Cake that was decorated with CORN NUTS. And who could forget the Star-of-David Cake with an eight-pointed pearl star on top? This is but the tip of the iceberg for the insanity that is Sandra Lee.

I have posted below a YouTube clip that demonstrates a hint of Sandra's lunacy. Check out the way she pronunces "aquarium" and how she makes two cocktails, "one for now, and one for later." Sheesh, what a lush!



I look forward to sharing all of the ridiculousness of Sandra Lee by reviewing her cookbook for kids. Here is but a small sample of her supposedly kid-friendly introduction:

"Like, who knew? Cooking is way fun the Semi-Homemade® way. Hook up with Sandra and her nieces and nephews and get creative in the kitchen – morning, noon and totally whenever. No more, “What’s for dinner?” Kids fix their faves. Pizza, spaghetti, dig-that dessert and sooo kewl smoothies – it’s all good… and all easy, with spot-on directions and "mix and fix" pix that help growing gourmets score incredible edibles. Later on the leftovers. This book cooks. And you can, too!"


Frightening, isn't it? Once you see this woman and her insane extended family (including Kimber, Miss Stephanie and the sexually ambiguous Brycer), you will understand the hilarity that is Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Trailer for Satoshi Kon's Paprika

Jess and I are huge fans of Kon's previous TV Show Paranoia Agent. It's nice to see a gorgeous show that makes you think. Thankfully Kon's latest work is hitting US theatres on June 1, 2007 and it looks great. The quote from the NYT is a gross generalisation, so don't let it get to you if your a fan of US animation.

Enjoy


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Friday, April 20, 2007

Coming Soon: What Could We Be Planning????

Here is a little preview!



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Interview with BCI's Cliff MacMillan. Transforming a label!

Intro:

1. Can you give us a little background on yourself?

I’ve been in the video business for 24 years. I started in retail in an independent video store, then tower records as the vide o buyer for the chain and I then moved on to distribution taking a job with Ventura distribution for six year. I joined BCI about 2 years ago. I also spent nine years as a movie theatre manager – in big multi-screen theatres and in a few grindhouses in the eighties

2. Delta Force or Invasion USA?

I prefer Forced Vengeance, but if I had to chose I’d pick delta force

3. How did you start working at Adness?

I met the owner of Adness while i was at Ventura. He wanted to start a U.S. DVD label so, we distributed the line at Ventura. I picked the films he released, and oversaw the release of each title - art, transfer etc.

4. How did you wind up working at BCI?

I was friends with the then president and VP of sales and they asked me to join the company

5. Were you wary of working at BCI because of its history of being a Public Domain boxset company and the public perception of it?

It was a concern. I had worked hard to build labels like Adness, where we licensed over 15 Sonny Chiba films, putting out quality presentations of his films for the first time, and now I was joining a company that use to do the opposite…but that was the old BCI, now the company is owned by a public corporation and we are almost completely out of the pd business.

BCI:

1. How did Brentwood become BCI?

The company was purchased by the Navarre corporation and moved away from the pd business and into a more front-line DVD company. The he-man releases really put BCI on the map. They are amazing releases that really cater to the fans.

2. It often seems such a daunting task to restructure a company, when you started at BCI what were you goals?

The company moved to doing much bigger deals with major licensors and the goal was to move away from pd and create quality releases for DVD fans. We have licensed content now from major studios like disney, abc and new line.

Do you feel you’ve accomplished them?

As a company I believe we have accomplished them and I feel like I am continuing to help BCI meet those goals and bring the fans quality DVDs.

3. Do you feel that you’ve been able to get an adequate budget to produce quality titles and support from BCI’s higher ups?

Very much so….but as a business, you need to make sure that you recoup the money you put into releases…and sometimes films don’t warrant a super collector’s edition because you’ll probably only sell a couple hundred copies. You want to do the best you can, but it’s a business and we are in the business to make money for our owners. So, sometimes you don't get the budget you'd like to create something….but Navarre is very supportive of what we do and our sister company, Funimation.

4. Does the accusations that often pops up on forums of BCI just being a PD company aggravate you, especially when it is no longer the case?

Yes, it does. We have become another company but people just won’t believe it and still see us as Brentwood. But I just can’t let it bother me any more. People will think what they want…but if you look at the he-man releases or shadow warriors, you’d see that we are completely changed.

5. If you could say anything to fans about how BCI being totally different from Brentwood what would you say?

Oh, I think I did above. I think if they look at those releases they will see that things have change…or look at our Starlite drive-in theatre release of madmen of Mandoras (aka they saved Hitler’s brain) where we found the missing negative (thanks to mike vrany) and did a truly amazing new film transfer. The film looks better than it deserves to look lol

6. How has BCI been dealing with the problems of the major impendent stores

eliminating shelf space for non-major labels?

It is getting harder out there getting shelf space with the amount of releases coming from the studios. This is another reason why we can’t spend thousands of dollars creating extras for smaller films…because we might not even get the title onto store shelves because of the competition

7. Is the threat of bootlegging (more so for the Japanese titles) are large problem? Right before your Sister Street Fight set came out a bootleg set came out and appeared in major online shops.

I just have to hope that our version is so darn great that people will want to own the official release and not purchase the bootleg. In the case of sister street fighter, we did new hd transfers and Patrick Macias did a great booklet, so i hope that people will want to buy ours because of these extras.

8. How important is fan feedback? You often post on many forums, which is usually only done by a couple of label heads. You’re bookmark file must be overflowing.

I like talking to the fellow film and DVD fans. I am one of them. I'd be on the forums even if i didn't work in the business. It's great to hear from the fans that like what we are doing…and like anyone you hate to hear the negative comments… but that is the nature of the business …you just try your best and hope everyone is happy.

Rarescope

1. How did Toby Russell come into contact with BCI?

Through a licensor that i work with. I have never spoken to toby.

2. How does a title usually get prepared for a US release (transfers, extras, etc)?

On the Rarescope titles, the transfers, extras and artwork are done by the folks at Rarescope. We author the final disc and manufacture them.

3. Has the line been successful so far?

It has done well

4. How often will Rarescope titles be coming out?

Usually bi-monthly, but we have had a short break recently as we've been waiting for some transfers to be completed

5. Is there anything that our readers should be specifically on the lookout for in the coming months?

A new version of Chinese Hercules with extras and an early Jackie Chan film

Ronin

1. Can you explain the Ronin label and what type of films it will be handling?

The Ronin label will specialize in films and television series from Japan. There will be more Chiba, more samurai and more superheros

2. How has it been working with the Japanese studios?

Great! They have lots of great product. I wish I could acquire it all and they have great materials. They take care of their films and their libraries

3. How has the line of Sonny Chiba films been doing?

Very good….since we are re-releasing titles that were already released at Ventura, most of the real Chiba fans already own most of the titles we have put out recently, so you are just trying to find the fans that didn’t buy them intially..but we’ll have new titles…like shadow warriors and new versions of the bodyguard, karate warriors and dragon princess…all license from the u.s. rights holders …and new transfers from the negatives

4. Is their any chance that Ronin will be able to put The Street Fighter or will New Line not sell the rights?

I sure would love to release them. We have licensed 'wanted dead or alive' from new line and I constantly ask them about the street fighter films, but I believe they have plans for the films.

5. What is the policy of Ronin in getting US versions and English dubs? Although not always greeted with enthusiasm by all, many (including me) do like seeing them. One eample is the completely random opening to the Sonny Chiba film The Bodyguard.

I’d like to offer both versions when possible, sometimes it isn’t. On the bodyguard, dragon princess and karate warriors we will be releasing the English version only. We don't have access to the original versions from the licensor and i'd have to license the film a second time to include the original version. So, the fans will be bummed that the Japanese version is not included but the u.s. licensor doesn't own those rights and i can afford to license the film twice.

6. The release of Shadow Warriors is something new to R1 with only the release of Zatoichi being comparable, is there a chance of more Chiba shows or asian television shows for that matter? Yes, a good chance…a very good chance ….more to be announced later

7. Is there any chance that Ronin will put out any more Tsbruaya shows either dealing with Chayio or TPC?

I don’t think so.

8. If you can look into it, is there any chance you could get Dinosaur War Azienborg (its owned by TPC and legal issue free)? It combines suitmation and anime and is amazing (well at least for me). Here is part of the show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELJ17nTYSNI this is a copy using the Arabic dub. It was released in the US as a compilation of four episodes called Attack of the Supermonsters (and which is made fun of by everyone but me).

I have never heard of that show… I will certainly check it out.

BCI Grindhouse/Demois/Crown International

1. How did BCI get the Paul Naschy and CIP films?

I found out both were available and we put in a bid for them

2. Do you think the Grindhouse (CIP) series can help fill the void left by the demise (at least for the moment) the MGM Midnite Movies series?

I hope it can…but MGM has a much better library of films to choose from J

3. Is it often hard to find the uncut and original aspect ratio masters for these films? Sometimes

it's difficult…but more often, it's just expensive to create them. The Naschy films were quite an ordeal. The licensor had to search several prints and different cuts to find all the footage. Luckily, we had an expert consultant on the project, Mirek Lipinski, who knew the films and could tell us where there was missing footage when the masters arrived and the licensor would go back into the vaults to find the missing footage. It was quite a time consuming undertaking since the materials were in another country.

4. Does BCI plan to acquire older films from the 50s and early to mid 1960 or will the focus be more 1970s featured?

I like to release films from all sorts of genres and decades, but i’m partial to the 70s

5. Though released by Rhino the Crater Lake Monster was distributed by CIP, is there any chance of a re-release of that?

Yes, and in a new HD master

6. Where does BCI get the trailers and ads for its double features?

Mostly from the crown vault and our other licensors…and collectors

Misc

1. What is BCI’s plan for next gen digital media such as HD and Blu-ray?

We plan to support all formats. When we announced our hd-dvd titles about a year ago, we thought retail would embrace quality titles at an affordable price, but they just wanted studio titles, so we put our plans on hold until the retailers devoted space for the independents. So, I hope we will have hd-dvd releases later this year

2. Has BCI looked into adding their content to digital-on demand or online on demand services?

Yes, our parent company has audio product on I-tunes and we have some deals with other digital downloading companies

3. Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Thank you for your support. I wish i could announce some of the things we have coming in 2007 and 2008, but it’s too early to announce as some of the deals are being finalized but it think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what we have coming. I’ll let you know as soon as i can.

Thanks again to Cliff for this great interview!


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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jess takes on co-opting the color green!

Jess was inspired to write this while we were watching HUMAN GIANT on MTV (which is absolutly hillarious) and we saw an ad for PIMP MY RIDE and how its going green (yes, I really did just write that).

Going “Eco” or “Ego?” My Analysis of the “green” effect on society

Recently, Ian and I have been planning our impending summer wedding (8/31/08, woo!). As I have been perusing the many magazines for brides-to-be, I have noted a troubling trend: “green weddings.” Now, I have no problem with environmentalism; in fact, Ian can attest to my love of picking up litter (don’t ask). Anyway, I have always believed wholeheartedly in the need to preserve the world, plant trees, cut down on emissions, etc. I previously celebrated Earth Day by doing my share, cleaning up parks and the like, when I was in middle school, and I continue to have an interest in recycling and taking care of the Earth.

You might be asking, if this girl is gung-ho about environmentalism, why is she griping about “green?” Well, the simple response to that query is this: I hate the co-opting of a COLOR for political agendas. I was pissed with the red/blue state crap in 2004, (blue is my favorite color, but that doesn’t mean I’m a Democrat (Independent all the way!)), and now this heightened eco junk is pissing me off. Seriously, when did the combination of blue and yellow come to define environmentalism? When did the “green” cover of Vanity Fair become more than simply a background choice? Why the hell are all of my lovely bridal magazines adorned with “go eco” and “can your wedding help save the world?” Really? Do people ACTUALLY believe that by having recycled paper invitations and moss in their floral arrangements they are “saving the world?” And, this is not a joke, my The Knot for Spring/Summer 2007 actually suggests to “try fair trade” for after-dinner coffee? When the hell did free trade become ecological? Did I miss something?

This was my problem at college too. I was incredibly keen on joining the environmentalist group on campus, known as LEAP. I wrote an email to the president expressing interest in going to their meetings and helping out with their activities. Little did I know the group was basically a shill for the Green Party and all of their potlucks were vegan. Can’t an environmentalist eat meat or have different views? Also, the group was full of elitist snobs who felt they were “doing their part” to help the planet. Yeah right. On Lehigh-Lafayette Day, a day of drunken debauchery on March field, the members worked “hard” to clean up the mess left by the idiot lushes after the tailgating parties. Ian and I went over to see if we could be of assistance (I told you I love cleaning up trash; it’s a sickness!). Instead, we were shoved aside because they supposedly didn’t need anyone else to help out. Okay, does that make sense to anyone? Shouldn’t an environmentalist group want to involve as many people as possible in cleaning up the grounds of the field? That wasn’t even the most annoying aspect of LEAP, however. After they went about collecting the aluminum beer cans strewn across the grass and mud, they left. THEY F’ING LEFT. Did they clean up the food, the plates, the TRASH all over the field? Oh, no. That’s for the custodians to do. But they clearly did their part, right?

I hope I haven’t offended anyone, but I really am sick of this crap. When politics mingle with good old recycling and picking up litter, no one wins. People should want to help clean up for the sake of doing something selfless, not because it makes them look good to others. I once had my middle school principal come up to me and thank me for cleaning up the halls when no one else did. I didn’t do that for anyone but myself, yet I appreciated his gratitude. The sight of litter disgusts me, and it’s the same people who profess to be “green” and “eco-friendly” who do nothing about it.

When magazines about traveling suggest “where you can stay to change the world,” you know this has gone too far. Seriously, we need to take back the color green. If I want green at my wedding (celery or pistachio…I haven’t decided yet), it’s not going to mean it’s a “go eco” wedding. Our wedding will be a celebration of our favorite colors, not our political beliefs. Hey, we have enough problems as an interfaith couple as it is! :)


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So now the video is OLDBOY influenced too! People time to make your own choices

Well at least more people can finally discover why Carrie Ricky (and most of the other reviewers from the Philly Inq) stink!

http://blogs.phillynews.com/inquirer/flickgrrl/2007/04/never_again_1.html



Now Cho, who took a break between murders to mail an Oldboy-influenced videotape of his isolation and anger and ranting to NBC News obliges us to ask this question again. Right now I'm in mourning for the senseless loss of lives. And I'm incensed that Netflix.com would seem to be cashing in on Oldboy by featuring it as a suggested title to those who rent foreign films.
Ladies and gents its time to start letting other people tell you what is "true" and what is not.
If you have no more interest in this incident (and its completely understandable) then thats fine.
If you do and have any interest in this "evil movie" just go out and buy a copy or rent one. Form your own opinions and think. I'll be honest I never liked the film at all, still I can at least make that comment based on my on observations and not what the news tells me.

Time to make you own opinions, before others make it for you. The choice is entirely yours.

Oldboy DVD
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Apparently Matt Drudge HATES Korean Cinema

I think liberty and free expression are seriously going to have to go into hiding for a while. Sigh this is what happens when we give into fear and a desire for answers even without knowing the facts. We're all going to have to suffer for this, regardless if your a friend of the arts, video games, or music the repression and scapegoating is going to start again. The irony of this is that I didn't even like Oldboy enough to finish it. However, the doesn't make this one bit right. I feel bad for those who love Korean Cinema, its not fair what there going to have to put up with because of one lunatic.

Apparently Matt Drudge really has it in for Korean Cinema. Building on his original hammer link comparison topping his headlines yesterday.

www.drudgerpeort.com


CAMPUS KILLER 'COPIED MOVIE'...



http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1261563,00.html

Copycat: Killer Re-Enacted Violent Film

Police investigating the Virginia Tech killings are looking at whether Cho Seung-Hui was copying parts of a violent film when he murdered 32 people.

The movie scene and Virginia killer
The movie scene and Virginia killer

Officers believe he repeatedly watched Oldboy as part of his preparation for the killing spree.

The film, which won the Grand Prix award at the 2004 Cannes film festival, has been described as "an ultra-violent movie of obsession and revenge".

It contains stylised scenes of killings and an attempted suicide, and is filled with what one critic called "punishing emotional violence".

Similar themes seem to have occurred in Cho's own writings.

The video, which Cho posted to an American TV network while carrying out his murderous rampage, appears to include photographs of Cho re-enacting scenes from the film.

He is shown holding a gun to his head and wielding a hammer, images that appear in the movie.

The fact that he seems to have been influenced by the film will re-ignite the debate over whether violence in movies and video games can lead to people becoming more violent themselves.

Cho's video diary, along with his collection of movies, writings and that fact that he bought a gun last month reveal that, rather than the killing spree being a spontaneous event, he had planned the massacre in advance.

:: See Sky News Online's in-depth coverage of the shootings.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

There are still heroes in the world

When we watch the heroes of Hong Kong Cinema we think of men like this, not lunatics like Cho Seung-Hui. Selfless sacrifice for the protection of others.

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/updates-on-virginia-tech/

Hero of the Hokies | 12:19 PM ET

President Bush has anointed the first hero of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Liviu Librescu threw his body in front of the door to his classroom while his student escaped through the windows. Cho Seung-Hui was on the other side, trying to make another stop in his shooting spree at Norris Hall that left 30 dead.

Mr. Librescu was apparently hit by a bullet that pierced the classroom door, USAToday wrote.

“We take strength from his example,” the president said today at the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

The location was fitting because Professor Librescu, who was 76, survived the Holocaust, only to be killed on Yom Hashoah, the international day that commemorates Holocaust victims,” The Times story on the victims said.

Across the Web, many others have paid tribute to the professor. One report was recommended by almost 3,000 users at Digg, a social news site.

While his life included important achievements on aeronautical engineering, his role in two moments in history called out for a connection, which a blogger at Powerline made with grace:

More than sixty years after his liberation, the rescued became the rescuer.


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Well that didn't take long.....

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/updates-on-virginia-tech/

Updates on Virginia Tech

An Image’s Ties to a Dark Movie | 8:07 PM ET

Inspiration for Cho's Images?A self-shot photo of Mr. Cho, above, and a still from the Web site of the movie ‘Oldboy.’ (Photos: NBC News, top; Tartan Films)

The inspiration for perhaps the most inexplicable image in the set that Cho Seung-Hui mailed to NBC news on Monday may be a movie from South Korea that won the Gran Prix prize at Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

The poses in the two images are similar, and the plot of the movie, “Oldboy,” seems dark enough to merit at least some further study. Following is The Times’s plot summary:

The film centers on a seemingly ordinary businessman, Dae-su (the terrific Choi Min-sik), who, after being mysteriously imprisoned, goes on an extensive, exhausting rampage, seeking answers and all manner of bloody revenge.

In a Times review, Manohla Dargis wrote that the film’s “body count and sadistic violence” mostly appealed to “cult-film aficionados for whom distinctions between high art and low are unknown, unrecognized and certainly unwelcome.”

A Virginia Tech professor, Paul Harrill, alerted us of the similarity between images in the hope that it would shed some light on what led Mr. Cho to kill 32 on Monday before turning the gun on himself.


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Oh dear lord why do I have a feeling were going to hear ....



some dumbass comparisions in the next couple of weeks by pundits. Jess made a good point that people are proably going to scapegoat these films. Just because someone thinks that they can make some connection like the junk that emerged after Columbine doesn't mean anything. I swear I don't want hear so nitwit ragging on our films claiming they had anything to do with this. Anyone who has seen the cinema of Hong Kong knows that these films sure as hell don't promote chracters like him.
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We're selling out!

You may have noticed the ad banners that have been appearing today. I'm still testing this out so it may switch a couple of times. Now I'm not going to claim that running this site is a drain on my resources, but I could use some extra change for incidental expenses as I gear up and save up to move with my fiancee and start law school (ie become a pauper for next the couple of years). So if you were thinking of buying something through Amazon could you give a click and use our links. Still let me know what other retailers you like and I can mix up the links available.

Thanks!
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Watching now: The Swarm!

Ever wondered what kill Irwin Allen's career well folks I'm watching it right now. The Swarm the massive budget, 156 minute killer bee opus. This movie is beyond goofy. To quote what I wrote at DVD Maniacs:
I love this film. I rented it randomly a year or two ago and man was it worth it. Just seeing the Irwin Allen formula (which I never found interesting) applied to bees is brilliant. Its like a satire except for the fact that you know it wasn't meant to be anything but serious. Kids with the Molotov, the attempts to destroy the bees, Michael Caine GETS INTO A MISSILE SILO BY HIMSELF! Pure art.
Seriously ladies and gents expect some youtube clips latter. This films is a joy to revel in! Heck, just go and rent it right now or buy it. It retails for less than 14.99 and can probably be found a lot cheaper.
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Born to Fight Dragon Dynasty DVD Review

Video: The video quality of this Dragon Dynasty DVD release is excellent and as one would expect anamorphically enhanced. Working most likely from a PAL source (at least at some point in the process) Dragon Dynasty did an excellent job transferring the film as I did not notice any ghosting or problems that typically plague PAL to NTSC transfers. The colors were vibrant and not oversaturated. There is grain in some scenes, but I strongly suspect that they were the original intention of the director or DP to give the film a gritty look at times.

Check out the screenshots:

http://hkfilmnews.blogspot.com/2007/04/born-to-fight-dragon-dynasty-screencaps.html

Audio: The Dragon Dynasty disc comes with four audio tracks. A Thai 5.1 and English 5.1 Dolby Digital Mix. The English dub is surprisingly decent and was most likely made in the United States and not sourced from a local studio in either Thailand or Hong Kong. Both mixes sound clean and free of hiss. They were well mixed and powerful fitting a modern day action film. The dialogue is never overpowered by the music and sound effects or vice-versa. There is a Thai DTS track (which I think is a first for Dragon Dynasty), but as I do not have a DTS sound setup on my TV I was unable to fully test it. I did sample it on my PC and it sounded very nice and I’m sure will be enjoyed by those who have a system capable of playing DTS. There is also a Bey Logan audio commentary.

Subtitles: While I cannot verify the accuracy of the subtitles, I can say they are free of any grammar or spelling errors. For the main movie there is also a set of Spanish subtitles.

Extras: Dragon Dynasty goes all out giving us a two disc ultimate edition of Born to Fight loaded with extras. The first disc contains the only extra unique to this edition (the others are from the Thai DVD) with an audio commentary by Bey Logan. Bey earns extra points for referencing Gymkata numerous times and making legit comparisons to the use of gymnasts in martial arts films. Although his knowledge of Thai films is nowhere near as large as his information on Hong Kong cinema, its not bad by any means. Bey gives good background info on the background of the film, its actors, the stunts, and Thai culture (and Thai Red Bull). On the second disc we have two trailers, the original Thai (which was not anamorhpically enhanced and looks a little rough) and is subtitled, along with a US promotional trailer. The main extras are two behind the scenes features one is a short electronic press kit that was used to promote the movie in Thailand. The video quality is not great, but that is mostly likely, because it was meant for airings on TV and the internet. The main feature is a 60+ minute behind the scenes documentary that was made for the Thai DVD and that has interviews with the stars and crew and behind the scenes footage of making the movie. The video quality was excellent on this feature. All features come with optional English subtitles.

Overall: Dragon Dynasty offers a solid package for Born to Fight. If you do not own the film yet, then have no fear this is the perfect release for you to pick up. It also retails for far cheaper than its British or Australia counterparts making it the perfect choice for people who cannot play PAL DVDs or do not necessarily want to spend a lot of money. Excellent video and audio quality combined with some serious extras make this an attractive purchase for those interested in the film (and it is quite an enjoyable film). We were very happy with this DVD and cannot wait to see more of the excellent work that Dragon Dynasty has to offer in the future especially with Above The Law and Shanghai Express coming out in May and several Shaw Brother films in June.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Upcoming Media Blater Cover Scans.

Thanks again to Richard from MB.






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Media Blaster Upcoming Schedule Till July 2007

Many thanks to Richcard York at MB for giving HK FILM NEWS their upcoming schedule. We'll post some cover scans later. I can tell you that many of us at HK FILM NEWS are looking forward to Frankenstein Conquers the World.

5/1
ART OF THE DEVIL 2-pack (Tokyo Shock)

5/15
BLACK KISS (Tokyo Shock)
Asuka (Reika Hashimoto), an aspiring model, moves to Tokyo to pursue
her career. She takes up residence with a moody acquaintance named Kasumi
(Kaori Kawamura). Across the street from their apartment, Asuka witnesses a
bizarre murder — the body was flayed, disemboweled and arranged into a
hideous work of art. A series of coincidental murders occurs, all of which contain
what is possibly the murder's calling card: a black lip print dubbed "The
Black Kiss". This gruesome crime thriller in the tradition of SILENCE OF THE
LAMBS and SEVEN was originally known as SYNCHRONICITY ("Shinkuronishiti") and
features Ken Mitsuishi (AUDITION) and Masanobu Ando (BATTLE ROYALE).

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
The truth of Black Kiss
Mystery of Black Kiss
Theatrical Trailer

5/29
ICHI THE KILLER Blood Pack (Tokyo Shock)
When a yakuza boss is murdered and his money is stolen, both truth and
revenge are brutally sought. Leading the charge is Kakihara (Tadanobu
Asano), the bleach-blonde pain junky whose interrogation methods are
fetishistically sadistic. As the layers of the sordid tale are peeled
back, it appears that someone is trying to turn rival gangs against each
other.
The centerpiece of this strategy is Ichi the Killer (Nao Omori), a
mysterious and completely unhinged master of slaughter. When the final
showdown comes, it's a psychologically cataclysmic event. This one of a
kind, over-the-top, stomach-churning, live-action cartoon from Takashi
Miike (VISITOR Q, IMPRINT) remains an extreme and influential modern classic.

Disc 1
NEW 16 X 9 1.85:1 transfer
-Commentary with director Takashi Miike and Manga artist/writer Hideo
Yamamoto
-5.1 English Dub
-5.1 Japanese Mix
-Original Trailer
-Featurette with Horror film Director Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever)
-Photo Gallery

DISC 2
-Featurette The Cult of ICHI (featuring horror writer JACK KETCHUM,
Fangoria’s Tony Timpone, director Mike Mendez, actress Barbara
Nedeljakova
(HOSTEL)
And many more)
-Interview with Producer Dai Miyazaki
-Actors Sabu and Tsukamoto discuss ICHI.
-“Memories of ICHI” The Making of Ichi the Killer
CAST interviews with:
-Interview with Tadanobu Asano (Kakihara)
-Interview with Nao Omori(Ichi)
-Interview with Sabu (SUZUKI) Susumu Terajimaas Sabu
-Interview with Shinya Tsukamoto (Jijii)
-Miike trailer reel

6/12
ID (Tokyo Shock)
The ID, our unconscious, contains all our selfish drives and desires.
Our conscious keeps these instincts in check, repressing them, in order to
maintain the civility required by society. But what happens when the ID
takes control and is allowed to run free? You get ID, this grim,
shocking, contemplative and experimental exploration of the horror that lies
dormant within us all. Lawlessness, death and complete psychological abandon
befall a rural community, home to factories, pig farms and general squalor.
Here, it's difficult to tell the humans from the animals. What transpires
ultimately defies description. But this rumination on repression,
apathy and the influence of violence is brimming with raw and unbridled
creativity.

Director Kei Fujiwara began her career as an actress and later gained
notoriety for her involvement in Shinya Tsukamoto's legendary TETSUO:
THE IRON MAN (1989) as well as her directorial debut, the disturbing yet
artful ORGAN (1996).

6/26
FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (Tokyo Shock)
The still-beating, disembodied heart of Frankenstein's monster was
transported from Nazi Germany to Japan for experimentation during World
War II. But the heart is believed lost when Allied Forces drop the bomb on
Hiroshima. Several years later, a feral boy is running rampant through
Hiroshima, killing and feasting on small animals. This causes alarm and
arouses the curiosity of an American scientist, Dr. Bowen (Nick Adams),
and his assistant (Kumi Mizuno, MATANGO) who take the boy into their care.
Soon, the boy is growing at an alarming rate and exhibiting incomparable
strength.
The scientists only have one explanation: this is the mutated monster
of Frankenstein himself! But this town isn't big enough for two monsters.
The destructive, underground-dwelling Baragon emerges to do battle with
Frankenstein to the death!

Known originally as FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON, this fan favorite Toho
production has been a popular fixture on American television for the
past quarter-century. Tokyo Shock is proud to bring FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS
THE WORLD to U.S. DVD for the first time.

DISC ONE:
FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD "English Language Version" (84:47)
English Mono / English 5.1
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (contrary to the earlier reports saying it
was 1.78:1, which was premature on my part)

EXTRAS:
Special Announcement (40 seconds)
Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes)
Extra International Footage (alternate octopus ending)
Deleted Scenes (approx 5 minutes)
Photo Gallery (approx 150 images)

DISC TWO:
FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON "International Version" (93:04)*
FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON "Japanese Theatrical Version" (89:53)
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Mono / Japanese 5.1 / English Subtitles
Audio Commentary with Sadamasa Arikawa (Director of Special Effects
Photography) with English Subtitles
Trailers for ATRAGON, DOGORA, MYSTERIANS, MATANGO

7/3
SODOM THE KILLER
Bad things happen when innocent blood is shed. In the early 1700s, Lord
Sodom Ichibei is happily celebrating his wedding day when his
wife-to-be suddenly dies during the ceremony. In his search for an explanation, he
kills any and every suspect he comes across. When Lord Ichibei tortures
and kills two innocent girls, Catherine and Theresa, their death brings
about a curse on the Sodom family. Three hundred years later, one of Sodom's
descendents, Ichiro, is also set to be married. But Catherine has been
reincarnated as Ichiro's sister and kills everyone at the wedding. This
transforms Ichiro into the evil and vengeful "Sodom the Killer", a
cursed man hell-bent on slaughter and world destruction. But Theresa,
reincarnated as a detective, is keeping a watchful eye on Ichiro...

Hiroshi Takahashi, writer of the seminal Japanese horror film RINGU,
makes his directorial debut with this twisty and campy take on the genre he
helped create.

7/31
MUTANT MONSTERS Triple Feature (Includes: THE BEING, THE DARK &
CREATURES
FROM THE ABYSS)
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A New Writer Joins Us!

Big welcome to Paul Skelding who joins the writing staff today. Look for a lot of great articles on Wuxia and more. As you can see from his bio, Paul knows his stuff.

Paul Skelding, 36, resides on the US Trust Territory of Guam in
Micronesia, Asia. Paul has been watching martial arts movies since the
80s and started on a steady diet of Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, and
cheesy 80s martial arts movies. In the 90s he discovered Jackie Chan,
Jet Li, and Shaw Brothers films, and his life has not been the same
since. Paul has studied several martial arts including Yang Tai Chi,
Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu, and Gracie Jujitsu. Using Guam as a
gateway, Paul has traveled extensively in Asia including China, Hong
Kong, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan.


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New Fusian Film DVD info!




Thanks to Laura at Inspired Studios.
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Shadow Warriors Episode 9 Screencaps








I told you all not to worry about a lack of Chiba coverage. :)
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