The final movie in the Dragon Dynasty Volume 1 DVD pack is probably the best of this set. The film banks heavily on the skill of its star: a very young Jet Li. Li is just so much more dynamic and skilled than most of the other martial artists in these older films. However, his skill might be a cinematic trick. It feels like they may have sped the film up for the fight sequences. In any event, this is another mostly comedic story that relies on over the top acting. Despite this, the story and character development work. My only major complaint is the horrible, ill-timed synthesizer music that just cheeses everything up.
Gary Cooper stars in this black and white western about Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill Hickok. It’s a very boring movie and much of the main dialogue consists of the two leads calling each other “Bill” every few seconds. There are tons of politically incorrect depictions of native Americans and hero characters defending “the white man.”
Mad Monkey Kung Fu is all about the acrobatic fight choreography and feel a lot like a Nineties Jackie Chan film minus the crazy stunts. There is even a bit of drunken fighting. It’s a colorful film and plays as a comedy for the most part (if you can forget that the hero’s wife is being held as a slave girl by the villain the entire film).
A Shaolin monk on the run vows to avenge the death of a friend and, over the course of many years, he gets married, has a girlish son, and attempts his revenge twice. Unfortunately, his white-haired nemesis Pai Mei is also a master of the tiger style and the task of vengeance falls on the aforementioned girlish son. There is a lot of humor mixed in and the husband/wife dynamics are far more interesting than the kung-fu plot. It’s a fun movie but may be a bit to simplistic for my tastes.
While this game was a pretty big improvement over KQV, it still was just too mired in Sierra adventure game brutality for me to really enjoy. There has been some attempt to make the puzzles a bit more forgiving here, including allowing for the player to take multiple paths to victory. I did alright through about the first third of the game then it just gets nasty. The worst offenses being several “walking dead” moments when I got to a puzzle and was unable to pass because of an item or interaction I missed hours beforehand. I gave up and just relied mostly on a walk-through for the rest of the game.
Although I long for the blocky graphics of the AGI games, the pixel graphics and animations in King’s Quest VI are pretty amazing, especially the background art. They also hired actual voice actors to add some life to the story. For a King’s Quest game, this had a pretty solid story despite several of the usual fairy tale tangents.
Discogs.com has been nagging me for months that this was available for cheap from a number of resellers and completing my collection of Missing Links was just five dollars away. I got it and it is exactly what I expected: another great collection of (mostly) fuzz guitar instrumentals from the master.
This was a freebie from GOG.com that I went into knowing nothing about it. The first thing anyone who plays the game will think when they begin is, “Wow, this is a complete Portal rip-off.” Then you get about halfway through an you’ll think, “Wow, this really is a complete Portal rip-off!” Now, Portal was a near-perfect game, so if you are going to rip a game off you might as well steal from the best, but they could have at least tried to change a few more of the story points. You start off as a test subject in a puzzle-filled lab armed only with a fancy future gun that shoots two colored beams. You slowly discover that things aren’t quite what they seem as the test facility falls into ruin and, eventually (and here’s where things get a little different), you battle Cthulhu and the old gods of H.P. Lovecraft. That last bit wasn’t a joke (oh, I should have said, “spoiler alert”) and it’s just as stupid as it sounds.
Now, the core mechanics of the game are unique. You are not creating teleportation holes. Instead your gun magnetizes various items in the rooms with either green or red polarity. Through this you manipulate the environment using the magnetic fields to push, pull and launch your way through puzzles. It lacks the kinetic energy of Portal but offers pretty tough challenges near the end of the game. However, I felt like it went on a bit too long and was bored by the puzzles and the story by the end.
I just bought another Shaw Brothers box set and am watching the films in chronological order. This one has a few familiar faces from Blood Brothers. However, I was quite bored by the movie. The plot is way too simple. For example, within the first moments of the film the main characters discover there is a traitor in their midst. In the next scene they reveal the traitor as he collaborates with the baddies. Not even an attempt at suspense. The rest of the film revolves around recruiting allies with hand-gestures and tea cup orientation. I guess the kung-fu is performed well, but there is nothing terribly memorable about the fights.
Come Drink with Me is heralded as the film that defined the kung-fu genre in the early sixties. I am unfamiliar with martial arts movies that where popular before it, so I can’t vouch for its originality, but I can say that, although it is less kinetic than most of the kung-fu movies I’ve seen, it feels fresh and exciting. This is mostly due to its well-defined and interesting characters and a pacing that builds from one fight to the next. We go from your standard swordplay battles, to a mysterious rooftop chase, and finally, by the end of the movie, characters are using magic wind blasts and piercing stones with their fingertips. Note that this is the first appearance of Cheng Pei-Pei’s character “Golden Swallow,” also of the aptly named, Golden Swallow. The two movies make an excellent double feature.