Man with the Iron Fists (mini-review)

Yes, I know. My schedule for post reviews it random, and for people that actually read my reviews; I apologise. But I review things when I feel like it.

ImageThere isn’t many films I’d gladly watch again and again, however, The Man with the Iron Fists is an exception. This tasty film was released in 2012 as an American martial arts film written by the RZA (Wu-Tang) and Eli Roth (Hostel, Hostel 2). The first time I heard of this films release, I had never been more exited to actually watch a film that follows the style that I love; that style being 50’s/60’s martial arts movies. Featured in this homage to movies of this genre, are an interesting plot, interesting characters and a lot of cool and stylised fighting scenes. Russell Crowe’s performance is certainly one of the best in this film, set aside from other characters as a unique set piece in the film with one of the best scenes in the film (which I will post a link to at the end).

What makes this film set aside from the thousands of other ‘chopsocky’ movies, is that the fighting ends in a much gorier state than the bad guy making a noise of death then falling on the floor, while sometimes visibly still breathing, noting that that character is dead. some fighting scenes can be seen as a little darkly humorous with characters’ heads being kicked off their shoulders. The RZA does manage to get a little blaxploitation in his film, in which he shows the blacksmiths’ (played by the RZA) back story. 

Having read other reviews about this film, other reviewers seem to have trouble following the plot and therefore calling the films’ plot ‘stupid’, I find it quite easy to follow. I’ll try and explain it as easy as I can.  The two clans, the Lion Clan and the Hyena Clan, are at war, these clans look for the blacksmith (RZA) and both give him tasks to create weapons for both clans, which he accepts. The blacksmith accepts because he needs the money so he can pay to free his lover. His lover works in a ‘house of relaxation’ owned by Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). 

The Lion Clan gets taken over by Silver and Bronze Lion after they betray their leader, Golden Lion. Golden Lion was given a task by the Emperor to transport a lot of gold. The death of Golden Lion is sent, as news, to his only son; Zhen-Yi, who is a highly skilled fighter that leaves for the Jungle Village to avenge his father. The Emperor sends a message saying that his emissary with be waiting at the Jungle Village to pick up the gold. No one knows who this is, turns out to be a man known as Jack Knife (Crowe). Silver Lion enlists the help of his top assassin, known as Brass Body (played by WWE star Dave Bautista); who has the ability to turn any part of his body (or all) to brass at will. I hope this information will interest you to watch the film, as that’s all I’m going to say. 

This film is definitely colourful, action-packed and entertaining, both visually and audibly. The soundtrack of this movie was created by the RZA and other artists. RZA sought Tarantino’s help with the score after he helped Tarantino with the score for Kill Bill. Tarantino also suggested RZA entirely produce the score. RZA and Drossin developed and finalized the score. They then developed the film’s soundtrack, which was scheduled for release on October 23, 2012 and features 15 songs from the film including original songs by Kanye West, the Wu-Tang Clan, Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah, Pusha T, Raekwon, and collaborations by RZA with The Black Keys and Flatbush Zombies.

This film had a budget of $20 million, which is quite expensive considering its critical conception. Although critics were divided between liking and dis-liking this film. Some critics had labelled is “dull”, “offers nothing original” and that it “doesn’t have enough tension to be taken seriously, or enough laughs to be taken lightly”. However, other critics noted that it has “beautifully choreographed moments, and the action sequences won’t disappoint any fans of slow-motion fistfights and arteries that gush like fire hydrants”, that Crowe’s “commanding performance” and his chemistry with Liu lift the film slightly above the routine. (You can imagine which side I’m on about this film). 

I found this film enjoyable to watch and has an amazing soundtrack that somehow just feels right with the film; the blended mix of old style hip-hop with a well aged film style that should still be popular. The first major scene of Jack Knife blew me away with the interesting camera work and the dialogue from Crowe that unmistakably makes you focus on, not only, what he is saying but what ferocity and British charm that his character has throughout the film. The popularity of this film on its initial release was huge for RZA’s first ever film, grossing $3 million on its opening day and reaching approximately $20.255.313; which evenly surpasses the budget spent in the making.

I do really like this film. And for the people to actually read this, please give me feedback by liking this post, commenting on it or even sharing/following this blog (which would be awesome and would help me out loads, as if I get feedback that people like reading my reviews. More reviews will go up more frequently) Please let me know if you enjoyed this review, and if you’d like to offer tips let me know. Now for that awesome moment from the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiraLVg85AA Enjoy 😛

Shift to the world (Shifting World review)

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In 2008, a fresh and different flash game relating online to the puzzle/platform genre of gaming, this game was simply called ‘Shift’. The simplistic look to the level design really brought things back to the easy on the eye, black and white concept of level creation as levels were easily created from black and white blocks. Now what made this game stand out from other similar titles in the genre was the ability to reverse the levels (white blocks would turn black and visa versa) with a simple press of the shift key, hence its revealing title. This premise was clear from when the player first get told to press shift to the inevitable end of the game and because of this clarity multiple sequels and port had been created after. Shifting World is the series’ début from ‘Rising Star Games’ onto the Nintendo 3DS; it adds new elements of gameplay to bring it forward from the former titles, sadly the execution of some of these new elements doesn’t work as well as (hopefully) Rising Star had intended.

The game’s plot and story feels deliberately passive as, often or not, it has very little development. This is good as it lets the game’s puzzles and gameplay to speak for themselves, however, this would make sense if the puzzle elements were better than they are. Some gameplay elements, I feel, shouldn’t have changed from Shirt; for example: in Shift you could see the whole level in front of you so you could tell where you were heading and where you’d need to go, but in Shifting World the camera is mainly focused on the character with the employment of a “mini-map” on the 3DS’ lower screen – this map is incredibly and badly set out and sometimes has made it more confusing to work out where I need to go and is obscured because of the size of the exit and keys. The smaller levels in the original games made the game much more sense as it was designed to test the players reflex with completing quick challenges.

Dying in the game is very easy, which is understandable as if you land in a pit of spikes, you’re very unlikely to survive…unless you’ve got ‘another guy’. This easy of death was fine in the simpler single screen levels on the PC, but in the 3DS version this becomes frustrating as you die and go back to the start of the level (which is the usual) because of spikes you can’t see on the map due to the vagueness of where you actually are in relation to the map. The few things that the game does right are the capability of using either trigger on the 3DS to ‘shift’ in the game, the soundtrack has kept itself nice and easy paced through the games and the art style is still easy on the eye and simple to look at. Although the tendency for the input to lag is often off putting for playing it long durations. (Which for some people, like me, playing for shorts amount of time can make the game less irritating).

There are parts of the gameplay that somehow cloud over the actual enjoyment of solving puzzles, such as the random moments where absent character pop into screen to say small lines of dialogue, this pauses the game while you frantically tap the skip button so you can continue to solve the puzzle you had just started/were in the middle of before they interrupted. The game claims to have three gameplay modes, but that’s pretty misleading. The main mode is the string of 60 levels that make up the game, and Adventure mode just allows you to replay levels you’ve beaten. Time Attack mode also allows you to replay levels you’ve beaten, but with a timer. So really this game feels like a one shot deal. 

Despite all of this, the reason I bought it and still have it and sometimes still play it, (no I haven’t finished it but I still make attempts), is because, honestly, I really enjoy the concept and is genuinely great and inspiring idea. Expanding upon the gameplay of the Shift series by introducing new objects, larger levels and the ability to shift in three-dimensional space as well as two were all great ideas. Unfortunately, I personally feel like the game is unfinished. I’d be happier if the retail release was an online only beta test version that you could find on Steam Greenlight. This game has so much potential to be better than what it is, but if you play it let me know by messaging me or commenting on this, however, if you pass on it…it’s okay, you’re not missing much.

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Link to Twitter: https://twitter.com/JasonFoster15