One of the funniest and most pertinent rants you’re going to hear in a while. I don’t know what made me search for it today, but it’s worth it.
The ingenious wording of a certain English china warehouse’s advertisement for sugar basins in the early 1800s exploited the contemporary wave of liberal thinking: “East India Sugar not made by Slaves,” the pots were printed, thus enabling the purchaser to display his conscience publicly. “A Family that uses 5lb of Sugar a Week,” the advertisement continued, “will, by using East India instead of West India, for 21 Months, prevent the Slavery, or Murder, of one Fellow Creature! Eight such Families in 19½ years will prevent the Slavery, or Murder of 100!!” The equation of 5 pounds for 21 months, or 450 pounds being equal to the life of one slave, was a very extreme calculation. Most of the evidence from the 17th century, when conditions were primitive, life was cheap, and slaves could be obtained relatively easily in West Africa, would equate 1 life with half a ton of sugar. By 1700 it was parity: 1 ton = 1 life. By the end of the 18th century, it was nearer 2 tons equaling 1 slave’s life. So these figures are polemical rather than accurate. Yet this is the central conundrum of the whole sad story , it is also one of the major puzzles of modern history. Sugar remains one of the great moral mysteries.
If you liked Ong Bak you should definitely check out the insane sub-genre that is Thai martial arts movies. They have a wonderfully absurd approach to plot and masses of tongue in cheek humour.
Dynamite Warrior (Region 1 dvd version) is a delightfully absurd action/supernatural/martial arts/revenge/comedy melange. His parents murdered when he was a child, the hero has grown up to be a rocket armed Robin Hood, stealing oxen from traders and giving them to poor villagers as part of a quest for revenge. Meanwhile evil, effete Lord Hwang is trying to introduce the steam driven tractor to Thailand and can only overcome its expense by hiring a bandit who only fights when he’s hungry to kill all the oxen traders and steal their cattle. No, this didn’t make any sense to me for the first twenty minutes either, but stick with it.
Enter Singh, a magically protected oxen trader with two lackeys who are possessed by monkey and tiger spirits. Convinced he has found his parents’ killer, the hero must consult the Black Wizard to find out how to strip Singh of his powers. Cue a plotline involving the menstrual blood of the Black Wizard’s “daughter” being the elixir needed to subdue Singh and the obvious conclusion that taking her virginity means the effects cannot be put right again. (All of which isn’t quite as creepy as it sounds, even though some lack of clear thinking means that within the film’s timeline she’s no older than 11.)
The effects are basic but fun- you can see the wires as the hero rides a rocket Silver Surfer style- but the film isn’t relying on them. The fights are fun, if not as inventive as some in the genre and, once you get your head round its absurdities, the plot is straight forward. In the end the hero saves the girl (and her virtue remains intact, hopefully for several years), kills the baddies and, no doubt, learns important lessons about the nature of revenge.
Note I was going to provide links here about the magical properties of virginity but, though the search has turned up some interesting stuff, I’ve been unable to find anything apart from a page about unicorns that had embedded music and thus shall remain unlinked.
This was Jackie Chan’s first lead role in an American movie. It’s a bit nastier than his other work, having some of the grimness and sadism that passed for depth in US films of the mid eighties.
After seeing his partner shot, New York cop Billy Wong (10 years in the USA exactly) chases down the drugged up robber who pulled the trigger and takes him out with a speed boat. The creepiest part of the boat chase was the way the twin towers seemed to be in every shot. Billy gets busted down to crowd control for his actions, teamed up with gruff vet Garoni (Danny Aiello). When an untouchable drug baron’s daughter is kidnapped on their watch they’re sent to Hong Kong to rescue her from his erstwhile business partner.
Back in the colony, Chan seems more at home. There’s an inventive fight in a massage parlour and one of the oddest chases ever. Chan leaps from junk to junk in Hong Kong harbour as he tries to catch a triad lackey in a boat. There’s much more nudity than I’d expected for a Chan movie, including the rather matter of fact way the baggers in the heroin factory are naked so they can’t pocket any of the product.
The nastiness makes this less satisfying than the average Chan and I was disappointed that there was no bone crunching end titles blooper reel.
It seemed obvious to take a bot-crossing Transformer to see the Transformers movie. This is BOT016, who was subsequently left in the cinema atop the movie’s poster. He liked the show.
Michael Bay made the better than expected The Island and the awful Pearl Harbour (to be fair, the sequence that covers the attack on Pearl Harbour is excellent and deserves to be rescued from the dire love story framing it and edited into the superior Tora! Tora! Tora!) so I didn’t know what to expect.
What I got was a no nonsense adventure story that moved fast enough to keep me thinking too much about plot holes. It provided a few laughs as well, which is always good. The special effects were stunning, as you’d expect, making this another on of those films where I’d buy the DVD for the special features on the cgi.
A few observations-
Nice family dynamics in the Witwicky clan. It made a change to see a functionally eccentric clan rather than the usual miserably dysfunctional kind.
Was the pilot/driver of all the Decepticon vehicles the same person? And couldn’t they have got a hologram without a pornstar moustache?
I believe the original Bumblebee was a Beetle, which makes the car lot scene an inside joke.
Sector Seven were annoying, but I did like the logo.
Affiliate linkage – You can buy all sorts of Transformers stuff at Amazon.