Saturday, 29 June 2013

Film: The Warrior And The Wolf (2009)

Starring

Maggie Q

Jo Odagiri

Chung-Hua Tou

Several wolves

and 

A piece of string.


  A Chinese garrison on the way home is caught by  a snowstorm and takes shelter in a village belonging to the "cursed" Harran tribe.
  There reluctant officer Lu finds a beautiful woman hiding in a pit...

  I'm not entirely sure what I just watched. To begin with, it's not the film you'd expect from the DVD cover. Given the way our two leads are standing, it's perfectly reasonable  to assume that they end up facing off against.. I dunno, barbarians of some sort.
 There are barbarians involved but they disappear offstage long before Maggie Q gets her hands on a sword.  Which she comes close to using on the hero anyway.
 Well, he had just raped her. 
 This is not a comfortable film to watch for a number of reasons.To begin with, the first part of the film concern's Lu's entry into the army lifestyle and sees the narrative bouncing between present and flashback like a demented wallaby. 
 Part two settles down to a two-person drama - Lu and the nameless woman snarling at each other in between bouts of sexual activity that he enjoys more than she does, at least to start off with.
 Can you say "Stockholm Syndrome"?
And then "The Warrior and the Wolf" steps  sideways to become something considerably more mystical

  There's hefty pieces of the film where dialogue is pared down to the absolute minimum, if not beyond,  there's a lot of focus on a particular piece of cord for reasons that are never explained, and Lu is not the most likeable protagonist even before he assaults his co-star.
 This film is beautifully shot though. It's one of those films where the landscape deserves a cast credit of its own - wherever it is, it's gorgeous to behold  and they get some of the most astonishing sunsets. 
  
 So to sum up: Looks pretty, not always easy to follow and the "romantic" elements are dubious to say the least. Approach with caution.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: She's An Angel

  My last Cover Girls post was about delightfully devilish damsels. This time around I'm concentrating on Heaven's holy warriors. Please don't ask me why so many of them are happily zipping about sans pants.
  

 Axenstar - The Final Requiem (Sweden 2006)

Album cover angel
Elegantly dressed young lady seems rather blase over the end of mankind. 
She may well have caused it.  

Six Point Six - Fallen Angel (Germany 1984)

female angel with sword
Another young lady who's decidedly Old Testament in outlook.
She could  just be in a bad mood I suppose. 


Silvercast - The Firing Line (Russia 2010)

Warrior Angel
"Hmm. Do you think I overreacted a bit?"

Well that's enough Heavenly Avengers for the moment, let's have some that are a bit less "Fire and Brimstone" shall we?

At Vance - Ride the Sky (2009)
At Vance - Decade (2010)

At Vance - Facing Your Enemy (2012)

beautiful angel

 Nude Angel

German Power Metal crew with a definite theme.
Mind you, that last one turns into something a lot 
darker if you look at it closely. 

And now, finally,  back to an angel who actually wears clothes.

Revoltons - Last Remembrance (Italy 2007)

Last Remembrance CD cover
 The Vatican's secret project to develop a rocket -powered angel
was promising but would have probably fared better if  they
had put the launchpad outside
The Pope saw the hole in the roof and got quite grumpy.

That's all folks


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

I think I need to read this - Vampire Vixens Of The Wehrmacht.

While poking about t'internet I stumbled across...

   Pic now and forever the copyright of Alex Ronald  and Bump and Grind Comics
  How can I resist a title like that and a cover like that? 

 I found the above picture here  http://2000adcovers.blogspot.co.uk/which is a great  read for anybody who likes their British comics or comic art in general.
 The comic apparently comes out in July  so I plan to keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, the artist's blog may be found here: http://alexronald68.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Can somebody please bring these out on CD?

 When you change from one medium to another there's always stuff that falls through the cracks,  especially when it comes to the leap from vinyl to CD.  I'm looking over at my LP collection right now and at least a quarter of it just isn't on CD. (Too obscure, too niche, the masters were last seen in somebody's garage 20 years ago...)
 If you look hard enough you can find it on MP3 sharing sites but that's not really the same as physically owning the album.  So here's three albums that somebody really needs to reissue on shiny disc.

 Bethnal - Crash Landing (UK 1978)


   The second of Bethnal's two albums for Vertigo, Crash Landing opens with the violin-driven,  hard-rocking title track before settling down to good quality 70s Rock throughout.
I've seen this band described as Punk which isn't quite accurate - not on this album anyway- as they're altogether too refined. Standout tracks - the opener, "Clown in The Crowd" and "Nothing New"  which, weirdly, sounds like something INXS might have done if they'd had a fiddle-player.
 

Rage - Run For the Night (UK 1983)

   A band that don't even have their own wikipedia page and who will probably spend the rest of eternity in the shadow of the German Power Metal outfit of the same name.  And that's a shame because Rage (UK) put out 3 albums of catchy hard rock that are all worth listening to. ( I picked this one simply because it's the album I listened to most recently.)
 My personal favourite is the majestic title track but since that's won't upload and the Youtube version skips anyway, here's "Ladykiller"
 

Marseille - "Marseille" (UK 1979)


    Another one from the more melodic end of the NWOBHM. Or, as they're best known these days, "The band that kids tv presenter Neil Buchanan used to be in"
  Marseille brought out 3 tuneful albums with some useful guitar work, the first apparently being the soundtrack to a porn film. I've never heard it but I can personally vouch for this album and the followup "Touch The Night". They're both pretty good. Take my word for it. 
   Like a lot of their contemporaries (Rage, for instance) Marseille slogged around the country for some years then finally lost interest in the mid-80s after Kerrang started filling up with wild-haired Americans.
 And then much to everybody's amazement, a little while back Neil Buchanan got his guitar down from the attic, called up his mates and Marseille were back in action. 
 So I live in hope that some of their old product will get a reissue.
Here's "Over and Over" 


Here's what they sound like these days: http://www.marseilleonline.co.uk./

  Of course my other problem is albums that came out on CD at the time but have been out of print ever since. (Wolfsbane's entire discography springs to mind.) I might cover a few of those next time around. Anyway, that's it for now. Catch you later, peeps.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Metal Project: Video Edition 2013

The Metal Project - Finding Metal songs with "Metal"  in the title. Well, nobody else seems to be doing it.

 Usually I prefer to post just the song but for today's selection I'm bringing you a selection that I could only find in Promo Vid/ Live clip format. Hope you find something to like.

Alternate Reality - Metal Coma (USA 2012)

(Despite the haircuts, the song is Thrash Metal )

  Honour to: attorneyguy

No Bros - Heavy Metal Party  (Austria 1982)

(Krokus meets Deep Purple sort of vibe. Not bad at all.)
Honour to: rocksteve01

More Austrians next

Drahdiwaberl - Heavy Metal Holocaust ( 1982)

(A band that seem to be Austria's answer to The Tubes so not 100% serious then.
Features Falco (Yes, the one that did Rock Me Amadeus) on vocals and possibly the first ever appearance of an accordion in a metal video. 
It's an interesting viewing experience) 
Honour to; miroking

Hellhound - Metal Psycho (Japan 2008)

Full-on Japanese Metal Madness

Speedica - Laws of Metal (NLD 1990)

(Thrash with aspirations)
Honour to; SpeedicaNL
Band homepage: http://www.speedica.com

Stress - Coracao De Metal (Brazil 2005)

(Melodic Traditional Metal)
Honour to; RoosyBullet

And finally.

In Defence - Black Metal Mania (USA 2011)

(Thrash/Punk Crossover - having a bit of a pop, methinks)
Honour to: callmoredudes

That's all folks.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Terrible Metal Album Covers Chapter 16

  As you may have guessed by now I love Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. I love the energy, the enthusiasm and the way bands and fans have spent 40+ years (metaphorically) dropping  trousers to wave their buttocks at the self-appointed arbitrators of "Cool."
   However...
  Sometimes you just have to admit that the cover artwork fell off the cliff into the Dread Valley of  Crappiness.
  Today's posted pics are all united by the  band looking like utter wassocks. Sorry guys, you know I speak truth.
  

Vice - Made For Pleasure (Ger 1988)

Dumb Metal Album Cover
A cover that's essentially trying to say "We aren't satanic. We're all about the partying, dude."
I don't really understand why two of them are in mind-air for some reason.
Since there doesn't seem to have been a follow up, maybe whatever the Skater-Dude was pointing at landed on top of them.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Metal Project: One Thousand Songs

The Metal Project - my mission to track down every Youtube song that has "Metal" in the title.

  Since today marks the point where my project hits the 1K mark I thought I'd take it up a notch. Every single one of these songs is not just about Metal but about Heavy Metal. 
  Hope you find something you like.

Dream Evil H.M.J ( Heavy Metal Jesus ) Sweden 2002  

(Swaggering, anthemic Power Metal)
Honour to: musiclord197

Metal Mareny - Heavy Metal (Spain 2004)

(Pounding Iberians demand your raised fists)
Honour to: masheavymetal

Mark Lowrey - Heavy Metal Queen (USA 1985)

(Rough n ready 80s cult band)
Honour to: SlauterXstroyes

Metalhead- Heavy F******  Metal (Germany 2006)

(About as subtle as a punch in the balls. As it should be)
Embedding disabled so here's the link.
http://youtu.be/buReHGxcnUI 
Honour to: suoquainen

Dio - God Hates Heavy Metal (USA 1996)

(The late Ronnie James Dio with a dark, angry track)
Honour to: 95holydiver


King Leoric - Gods Of Heavy Metal (Germany 2000-Demo)

(The sort of unpretentious "Worship Metal" song the Germans do so well)
Honour to: LordVexus


Man In Pain - Legiones Del Heavy Metal (Argentina 2013) 

(Starts slow then hits the boosters.)
Honour to: fedenwobhm

Pandemonium - Heavy Metal Soldiers (USA 1983)

(Sort of  US -NWOBHM.
 Well, I know what I meant.)
Honour to: SuzieSmiled

And finally, after a year and a half and well over a hundred posts,
 it seems only fitting that I hit the 1000 song mark with...

Metal - Heavy Metal (Australia 2013)

Honour to: FallenAngel333GR

 I started this project on a whim back in January 2012 and honestly did not expect to find as much good music as I did.  Credit is due to the Metal fans who dug out their Cds and old vinyl and put it up for others to enjoy. And of course to the bands who keep the faith.

 I'm not even close to finishing this quest. Hope some of you are here to see this project get past 2000 songs.

That's all folks.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Cheapo DVD Review: Warbirds (2008)

fighters vs dragons, WW2 fighters v pterodactyls
Starring:
Jamie Ellen Mann
Brian Krause
Tohoru Masamune
Shauna Rappold
Lucy Faust
Caleb Michaelson
Gizza Elizondo
Jon McCarthy
Stephanie Honore

The Pacific, 1945
  A group of Japanese soldiers open a cave and find lots and lots of really big eggs. Since none of them have ever seen a monster film, they make a fatal mistake by not immediately sealing the cave back up and running away. 
  Three months later, an all-female  aircraft ferrying team are given new orders. "Take this modified B29 from here to here. Do not look at the cargo. You will be accompanied by a small team of macho GIs and their officer who seems to have a major rod up his ass.  PS. Do not look at the cargo. "
  Thanks to an encounter with something unknown but hostile, the B29 is forced to put down on a flyspeck Pacific island. This is currently occupied by a handful of Japanese and an awful lot of flying reptiles that have developed a taste for Long Pig Tartare.
 Our heroes and heroines must get their plane back in working order, get the hell off the island and complete their mission.
   Of course the Japanese and pterodactyls have their own ideas about that...

Monday, 10 June 2013

My Top Ten... Scenes from Anime.


 I've been an anime fan ever since Manga Video began releasing these strange, violent, new Japanese cartoons in the UK. These days I've drifted away a bit  but still put my head round the door from time to time. So I thought I'd share some of my all-time favourite anime scenes. Obviously I'm limited to stuff I could find on Youtube, which is why there's nothing from Studio Ghibli. (Anything that pops up on YT gets nuked almost immediately.) and quite a few others I either could not find at all or the clip was too long or poor quality or somebody put Linkin park over the top of it.  

So, in no particular order, here's a buncha scenes I rather liked.None of them are exactly obscure but you try finding clips of Butt Attack Punisher Girl Gotaman on Youtube. Enjoy.

End Of Evangelion - Asuka's Last Stand

  Teenage mecha pilot Asuka Langley is on her own, in a mech unit rapidly running out of power, as she battles nine hostile units in a brutal hand to hand fight
Asuka gets a lot of flak for being an utter bitch but she redeems herself here by kicking some righteous ass.  And then you get one of the most chilling scenes in anime history.

Macross - Do You Remember Love? - Minmay Sings

 In which the fate of the Earth rests on one Space Fortress, a handful of transforming mecha - and a teenage girl singing a gentle love song. 
 Only the Japanese would think of weaponising Idol Singers and this is the scene I use when I want to explain that Anime does things differently. I also like the song. No seriously. I even went and bought the soundtrack CD.

The Cockpit - The Man Who  Didn't Sell His Soul To The Devil

A disgraced Luftwaffe fighter pilot is given a last chance to redeem himself by escorting a captured B17 and her cargo to the rocket testing site at Peenemunde. When he finds out what the cargo is, a terrible choice has to be made. Sacrifice his honour and a woman he loves or allow a horrific weapon to be unleashed on the world.
A very underrated series IMHO and this scene just keeps punching me in the gut every time I see it.

Macross Frontier - The Sing-Off

Another musical moment from the latest entry in the Macross Franchise.
Fighter Pilot Alto is sharing a moment with the two girls in his life - pop idol Sheryl and aspiring songstress Ranka. 
When a familiar song comes on the radio, the girls decide to serenade the bewildered Alto.
Poor Alto clearly has no idea what the hell is going on. Can you blame him?
A charming little scene and a ridiculously catchy song to boot.  

Dominion Tank Police - The Puma Twins Dance

Masamune Shirow's tale of a dystopic future sees the titular Tank Police facing cyborg badass Buaku and his two catgirl sidekicks. Massive property damage ensues. 
Here, the villainous twosome are cornered by a SWAT team. What they need is a distraction...
Along with Project A-Ko, Dominion was one of the first anime on the UK market to go for laughs rather than ultraviolence and tentacle rape. I used to have a t-shirt with the Puma Twins on it.
Because they were frigging cool.

Speaking of Project A-Ko...

Project A-Ko : The Ultimate Chickfight

High School Queen B-Ko Daitokuji has spent the entire film trying to get rid of  rival A-Ko Magami. Since nothing else has worked, B-Ko decides to do the job herself.
Oh, did I mention that A-Ko has superpowers? And B-Ko is a genius inventor?
And that there's some hostile aliens invading as well? The result is spectacular.
 B-Ko is easily my favourite anime character of all time. How can you not love an elegant young lady who thinks rocket launchers are a fashion accessory?  Nuts, obviously, but nobody's perfect.


 Black Lagoon - Revy v The Giant Nazi

 A Neo Nazi gets the drop on pirate/gunslinger/psycho  Revy but then makes the mistake of monologuing.  He really should have been paying attention to what his supposed victim was doing...
Black Lagoon is just full of awesome moments and quite a lot of them involve the frankly terrifying Revy. I picked this one because ...well, it's exactly  the sort of thing you wish films did more often.

Cowboy Bebop The Movie - Spike vs Elektra

 Space Bounty Hunter Spike Spiegel is snooping about somewhere he's not supposed to be when passing agent Elektra busts him. The resulting fight is...well one person is taking it seriously.
Male anime characters tend to come in three varieties:
1. Cocky 2. Moody 3. Hapless doormat.
The easygoing Spike manages to avoid all of these and is, incidentally a bona fide badass.

Macross Plus - Re-entry

Fighter pilot Isamu Dyson tries to sneak through Earths defences by switching off his systems and feefalling. Meanwhile love-interest Myung tries to escape from her trap and rogue AI Sharon Apple uses her hypnotic powers to blow her audience's minds .
In truth it's the music that makes this clip for me. Yoko Kanno couldn't write a bad soundtrack
if she tried and the combination of the very danceable "Information high" plus Sharon Apple's
mindf**k light show make this my favourite scene in the film. Not bad considering the last third of the film is one long procession of coolness.

and finally.

(Replacing the scene I originally had here.)

Ghost In The shell - Kusanagi Beats Up a Bad Guy

Ghost In The Shell is rightly praised for the quality of the animation and an intelligent storyline that combined cyberpunk with some exploration of the human condition. The Wachowski Brothers openly cited GITs as a big influence on The Matrix. 
 But as far as I'm concerned, the highlight of the entire film was cyborg badass Mtoko Kusanagi's brutal takedown of a fleeing terrorist. When your skin is plastic you can have all sorts of fun extras built in. Like thermal camouflage, for instance. The poor sod literally never knew what hit him. 

 
That's my favourites. What're yours? 
That's all folks.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Fallen Angels, Succubi and Other Wicked Women

Given Heavy Metal's status as "The Devil's Music" it's not surprising that female demons are a popular choice for cover art. I suppose you could say that the infernal cuties on this page are the ultimate expression of "Beautiful But Dangerous."

 A Sound Of Thunder - Queen Of Hell EP (USA 2012)

demon queen
She looks a bit bored if you ask me. 
Or possibly she's regretting getting her horns done - they didn't come out the way she wanted at all.
 The band aren't bad . Here's the title track off that EP.

Kneipenterroristen - Das Jungste Gericht (Ger 2011)

Woman riding a bomb
Whereas this girl looks like she has a job to do and she intends to make sure it's done right.
Said job being wrecking humanity's shit good and proper.

Incubus - To The Devil A Daughter (UK 1984)

Woman summoned by magic
The reason Lil' Miss Beelzebub is looking annoyed is that when these
bozos summoned her, she was at a really good party in Gehenna.
They made her spill her drink and everything.

Hell In The Club - Let the Games Begin (Italy 2011)

sexy demoness
You know getting involved with her is a bad idea.
You know she will wreck your life
You know she's probably going to eat your soul.
And you're going to do it anyway.
See you in hell, my friend.
If you like LA Cock Rock and vids with strippers, you might like these guys.

Cradle of Filth - The Manticore And Other Horrors (UK 2012)

female demon with wings
I checked. A manticore is a beast with the body of a lion, the head of a man and the sting of a scorpion, possibly with wings.
So not a girl in a leather swimsuit then.
No wonder she's looking peeved. 

Imperial Age - Turn The Sun Off (Russia 2013)

sexy demon
Smoking is bad for you, kids. Don't do it.
Obviously smashing planets for your own amusment is not nice either.
Here's what they sound like. "Grandiose" is not the word.

 And finally.

Iced Earth - Days Of Purgatory (USA 1997)

 Purgatori female demon

Ok, so this young lady isn't going to seduce you and steal your heart.
She's just going to rip it out through your nostrils and eat it.
(Rather cunningly, this cover uses the comics character Purgatori 
See what they did there?)

That's all folks.
  




Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Metal Project: Metal Is The Way

The Metal Project: Attempting to see just how many songs there are with "Metal" in the title. 

 Another selection of Metal Anthems for your entertainment. There's no real theme to it, just a fistful of things I had on my "To Post" list. Enjoy.

 Abismales - Metal Del Alma (Venezuela 2008)

( Practically an instrumental - although the vocalist does wander back in from time to time.)
Honour to: assassinsbullet94

Bloodrunner - Metal Assault (USA 2008)

(High-Speed Thrash that reminds me of somebody - but I can't work out who.
Not one of the Big Four though, I know that.)
Honour to: VictimOfDeception

Jack's Hammer - Metal Queen - Live (Germany 1993)

Melodic and has an NWOBHM feel to it. Quite impressed by this track.
Honour to: heavyload75

Myth - Metal Is The Way (USA - Year Unknown)

(Trad Metal edging towards USPM)
Honour to: SlauterXstroyes

Desekrator - Metal For Demons (Norway 1998)

( I'm not entirely sure this lot are serious. Catchy though)
Honour to: eindhovengorecity
 

Arakain - Metalomanie (Czech. Rep.)

(Fast and pounding but still catchy)
Honour to: MetalheadTrue

Pharao - Metal Baby (Germany 1987 - Live)

(Old-school Heavy Metal)
Honour to: Rafael1984

And finally

Amethyst - Let Slavitsa Metall (Latvia but singing in Russian - Year unknown)

(Interesting song. A female vocalist pops up in a few places.)
Honour to: Ametistband
Band homepage here: http://www.ametist.lv/

That's all folks.
Next time around we hit the big 1K mark.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Comic: Amazon Gazonga (1995)

My last comic piece was about a man with honour fighting a brutal war. This one is...
Well, just look at the cover.
   Amazon Gazonga (One-Shot 1995)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Film Review: Painted Skin (2008)

Starring:
Donnie Yen
Xun Zhou
Wei Zhao
Kun Chen
Betty Sun
Yuwu Qi

The Back cover blurb reads thusly:
"Combining momentous battle scenes with stunning combat choreography and a stirring story of the fight for freedom Painted Skin is a searingly powerful matial arts epic already being hailed as a modern classic.
  In the turbulent days between the Qin and Han dynasties a dark, tyrannical presence rules the land, sea and air of a once beautiful realm. As the evil forces press further into the lives of the people it falls to an ex-general (Donnie Yen) to reclaim the mantle of battle and begin a bloodthirsty war that will decide the fate of the world.  Facing the mightiest foe ever to have walked the earth he must test his strength, courage and honour in one of the greatest battles ever fought by man."

   I am convinced that whoever writes these things never bothers watching the actual movie.  In this case I'd be amazed if they even sat through the trailer. About the only things they got right were 1. Donnie Yen is in it  and 2. he's playing an ex-general. 
  There are a couple of battle scenes (more like skirmishes actually)  and the combat choreography isn't bad but I have seen better. The rest is...
  Well the problem is, the marketing people are trying to sell this as a film about war when it's really about a manipulative woman trying to snare somebody else's husband. Admittedly there is the small detail of her being a fox-demon in disguise who needs to eat human hearts on a regular basis. There's a good reason why this is called "Painted Skin"...
 Luckily I'd already seen the sequel (Painted Skin - The Resurrection. Another film with a marketing  problem.)  So this revelation didn't throw me too much. 
 Here's the original DVD cover. Note how many people are on it.
  Donnie Yen is still front and centre but at least this version acknowledges that there are other people involved as well. It also gives a slightly better sense of the movie's true nature. Less "Red Cliff" and more "Chinese Ghost Story".
 So now we've established that  Painted Skin is a really supernatural/action fantasy and that the DVD design team are taking the piss, is it any good?
 I'm inclined to say "Yes. I quite enjoyed it" 

  There's a nice mix of action and drama, with the odd comic touch and some respectable punchups. Donnie Yen's Pang Yong - more complex than he seems - is naturally the focus but the rest get their respective jobs done well and with a certain depth.
 Painted Skin is not as FX heavy as the sequel  but what there is is deployed to useful effect and one scene in particular had me going "Whoa....!" You'll know it when you see it.
 One particular highlight was a short sequence where a little playing with the colour filter results in Pang Yong, all lit up in shades of gold, hacking through an army of washed-out bad guys.
 My one big gripe is: the last act of the movie hinges on an under-pressure and upset Peirong not only getting the wrong end of the stick but grabbing the wrong stick entirely and poking herself in the eye with it. This leads to her doing something that may have been supposed to be noble but just comes across as incredibly dumb.
  Still, the whole thing is entertaining and like a lot of Chinese films, damn, it looks good on screen.
 How much did I pay for this?  £2
Was it worth it: Oh yes. 
Do I still want to have words with the DVD design team?: Yes
Here's the trailer
 And if you want to see what I thought of the sequel pop round to THIS page
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