Saturday, October 16


... I got to watch Hero today on DVD. I've been holding off on watching it for months and months. No particular reason for the procrastination... I just never got to it. I guess watching House of Flying Daggers yesterday put me in the mood. Well, how did I like it? A lot, actually. To compare this film to House would be a bit unfair, but it's inescapable. Jet Li, Gong Li and the rest of the cast (Zhang Ziyi as well, in a minor role) are great, and the art direction, fight scenes and production are simply magnificent. The story as well is epic and brings forth a powerful message, and the whole presentation- told in various ways and versions leading up to the final truth and the story's resolution, made for a gripping watch. Beautiful.

I wonder if our country could can up with a signature film like this. No martial arts or flashy wirework, mind you- just something that fits the people, the country and our culture and way of life. I don't think it has happened yet, nor will it these days. But maybe someday, someone will finally give the Philippines a Hero.

Swords and Kisses

When I first heard of the film House of Flying Daggers, I knew at once I'd love it. I mean, how could I NOT like it? It was a period martial arts drama starring Zhang Ziyi, one of the most gorgeous faces in Asian cinema these days. Zhang Ziyi + martial arts = one kick-butt movie. Well, we've been waiting months and months for this film to finally hit theaters locally, and this week it debuted. I managed to take the time to slip into a theater after work today, to see this Zhang Yimou film and see if it would blow me away.

To put it bluntly... It didn't.

I really wanted to love this movie, to come in, watch it, and exit the theater gushing about how incredibly cool the story was, how great the fights were, how epic the adventure was and which of the scenes was my favorite. But in the end... I just came out feeling nothing really. No gushing, no imagining kung fu or fantasizing about Zhang Ziyi. It came and went.

To be fair, the film is gorgeous to look at. Many scenes show off awesome vistas of lush forests, fields and mountainsides in vibrant, lively colors. The martial arts are cool and stylized to their Wuxia Chinese sword drama roots- though you will have to enter the film accepting that people in this movie CAN do superhuman feats of acrobatics and weapon skill. You accept that Zhang Ziyi, despite being a petite charmer, is a deadly warrior and assassin. You just accept that the House of Flying Daggers somehow have the ability to turn simple blades into guided missiles of DOOM. In fact, this film would probably have rocked my world if it did center on the titular rebel group, and their apparent war against the corrupt government.

But really, all the epic elements of the film are mere backdrops to the love triangle between Daggers assassin Mei (played by Ziyi), Constable Jin (played by Andy Lau) and Constable Leo (played by Takeshi Kaneshiro). A good portion of the film has Lao and Ziyi eyeing each other hungrily, expressing sweet nothings and rolling in the grass. These slow scenes are broken by encounters with persistent soldiers, who are well-trained enough to turn into bamboo spear-throwing spidermen during the film's best fight scene. And while Zhang Ziyi is pretty awesome as a fighter, her character is diluted a bit by the fact that she is inferior ultimately to either of the two leads, and seems to lose her powers when in the arms of either guy.

The finale is the conclusion of the trio's triangular relationship, and everything else blots out, including an implied battle between the government troops and the Flying Daggers. This climax, as dramatic as it should have been, was pretty sloppy in terms of martial arts and actually elicited laughter due to the Terminator-like resilience of one of the players. Sad, but true. As for the resolution, pretty Asian. Think Crouching Tiger and Hero, and you know there won't be a happy "riding off into the sunset" ending. Oh well.
All in all, the film isn't really horrible or bad, by any length. The story's really not that deep or intriguing, but the performances were good overall, and the CG of the flying daggers was pretty cool. However, the marketing of this film gave an idea that the film was an epic, in the vein of Hero. But it really isn't... it's a love story, very asian and very dramatic. The film's original title I believe was The Lovers, and if this was what they used instead of 'House of Flying Daggers', I may have entered the theater expecting what I saw (but then again, I may not have entered AT ALL).

Well, Zhang Ziyi is still a feast for the eyes, and the bamboo forest scene was pretty cool. I don't regret taking the time to see HOFD, but I probably won't be wanting to see it again anytime soon. Sigh. Well, I hope Sky Captain satisfies me more when we see it tomorrow...

Friday, October 15

DIE, Rebel Scum!

I'm really not a big fan of shooters, but the Xbox actioner Star Wars Battlefront looks to be something I want to pick up. Basically, the game takes the greatest battles of the Star Wars universe (in all of the past films) and throws players in the boots of a foot soldier. Now, whether that soldier is a white-armored Imperial Stormtrooper or Republic Clone Trooper, a "Roger-Roger!" battle droid of the Separatists or a fighter in the Rebellion, it's up to you! Now you can finally see what it's like to be on the trenches defending the rebel shield generator from nigh-unstoppable AT-ATs, or as a combatant on the massive battle on Geonosis during Attack of the Clones. The sounds and imagery seem to be dead-on to the films, right down to having iconic characters such as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker occasionally appearing on the sides, either against or for you. I may pick this up when I have the chance, for some mindless blaster-shooting action on the Black Box.

And best of all, you get to KILL Gungans!!! MAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!
Waste of Time

I went out with an officemate to have lunch and satisfy our mutual Jollibee craving. Afterwards, I walked around Glorietta, which was pleasantly NOT having a mallwide sale today. Then I thought I'd finally go over to the Makati branch of Sony Ericsson to have my P910i configured for MMS (apparently, there's a slight glitch which only SE itself can fix in the P9XX series' MMS function). The branch was supposedly located at Herrera Street in Legaspi Village, which was a short taxi ride away from Glorietta.
I went out and waited for a cab. But for some reason, all the cabs passing by were full, or were being driven by BASTARDS who would not stop for me (VANISHING RAY...). Then, feeling a bit energetic, I decided to walk the way.

Walk, walk, walk. Whew... It was farther than I thought.

Walk, walk, walk. I stopped by a Mini-Stop to get some band-aids for a scratch on my finger, and had to put up with an incompetently slow cashier/counter-monkey.

Walk, walk, walk.

AH! There it was! I could see the Sony Ericsson logo clear from across the street. But wait... the store seemed pretty empty... and what was that piece of paper sticking on the storefront....

Apparently, the Sony Ericsson Service Center in Makati has been moved to Glorietta 3.


At which point I wanted to Vanishing Ray the whole frickin' city... but I made do with a cream bar from a nearby Mister Donuts. Oh well... Back to the office then.


Thursday, October 14

Crashing Back

The 15th issue of Culture Crash, the mega-popular local mangazine, is now available. Last night I got my copy along with the other comic buys. It was actually a bit of a close shave for money-short me; my withdrawal left my bank account hollow and empty, but that should change by today. WOOHOO!!! To quote Revolver Ocelot, I'm ALIVE again.
Anyway, the issue picks up from where the last ish left off LAST YEAR... yep, the last CC issue came out during the C3Con last Christmas, and now it's halfway past October already. Now, publishing is a fickle and difficult enterprise, and not even the CCCom Crew are immune to hiccups every now and then. I'm just glad they're still cooking. And from the looks of the latest release, they haven't lost their touch.
Anyway, issue 15 still has the usual suspects- Pasig by Taga-Ilog, Ryan Orosco's take on One Day, Isang Araw is getting more comfortable, Elmer Damaso's Cat's Trail revs up more action, and the talking streetfoods of Kubori Kikiam are still at it. There's a cool fanga based on the Pasig world, and very substantial anime and manga articles round up the rest of the zine with more material and style than any other local publication. Nice to see CC hasn't degraded after their hiatus.

On other local comic news, Edgar Tadeo has released his first ashcan comic, entitled YEW STUPID BASTARD!. I can describe it as excellently-drawn and laid out, but the jokes are a bit on the corny side. Still, it's worth checking out if only for the Ed's cool lines and the bare-faced good natured enthusiasm in the production.

The second issue of Jaime Bautista's CAST from Nautilus Comics is also out this week- Editor Elbert isn't slacking off on his job even though he's been making the rounds in interviews and workshops. CAST chronicles the drama and interactions that occur in a school production of an Arthurian Play, so it should appeal to teens and those into multi-faceted drama-comedy titles.

Expected out later this year are Lastikman from Mango Comics, written by Gerry Alanguilan and drawn by none other than Arnold Arre. So far I've seen the cover art, and heard comments that this is Arnold's best work yet. Can't wait to see it.

Siglo: Passion is almost complete, with just one or two holdouts left unsubmitted. I've seen the artwork for the other stories, and I have to say that the range of art styles runs the whole gamut from indie-style abstract quirkiness to international-quality graphic novel stuff. This is going to be an incredible thing to see once it comes before year's end. Will we top the first one? In quality, without a doubt. Let's see if we can win another award with it. Heh.

AND of course, K.I.A. Just a couple more stories to go- I will be working on my own requirements this weekend and into next week... If I actually pull this monster off, it'll be over 160+ pages, with art I'd stake my reputation on, and a gaggle of cool action stories laced with nice, spicy fan service. I've already asked someone to do a webpage, and once the pages are in, don't be surprised to see a sexy poster at Comic Quest to announce Kai's return.

WOOHOO!!! Lots of stuff to do still. The year's not yet over- there's still time to pull off something awesome. Wait for it. Heh.
City Myths

My favorite show these days is Urban Legends Revealed on Discovery Channel. The show, hosted by Natasha Henstridge (the sexy alien from Species), features four or five popular urban legends, and then takes them apart, finding out their origins, influences, variations and validity. These urban myths are those creepy and often macabre stories you heard from someone's friend's sister's cousin's roommate, seemingly true but... not. So far, the myths featured include the Vanishing Hitchhiker (which seems to be reflected in the local white lady stories and ghosts in general), the corpse of a scuba diver found atop a tree in a forest fire, corpses under hotel beds, alligators in the sewers and cooking babies among others.
Urban Legends Revealed is yet another creepy show that reinforces my belief that we love being scared or creeped out. It also made me think about local urban myths.

How about the story of a woman who got some jewelry stolen, and later was forced to swallow the jewelry by the thief who found out that the jewelry was fake? Well, apparently this myth has been updated, replacing the jewelry with a cellphone. Hmm.

How about the scary story of AIDs patients sticking people in theaters with a needle or toothpick dipped in HIV-positive blood?

Or the myth that looking into a mirror with a candle at midnight and saying an incantation will reveal to you either your true love or a demon?

The Philippines is still very much steeped in mysticism, supernatural beliefs and yep, a lot of urban legends. Hearsay, ignorance and fear of the unknown drives these myths, so it's safe to say that they'll be around long, long after all of us alive today are gone.
Urban Legends Revealed is shown on Discovery Channel on Tuesdays at 11 PM, with replays over the weekends. Check it out for some spooky, informative fun.

Wednesday, October 13

Rising Angel

Good news for the embattled heroine.

DC Comics' Fallen Angel by writer Peter David is one of my favorite titles, and really one of the few comics I really make a point to collect these days. This dark, gritty series about a mysterious anti-heroine in the shadowy city of Bete Noir has never really been a top favorite among readers- a fact that has kept the book on constant threat of being cancelled (crossing fingers...). Well, some good news, from Mr. David himself. Apparently, in order to support the launch of the Fallen Angel TPB (which collects issues 1-6), DC experimented and distributed free copies of the first issue. The result of this move was a thirty-three percent rise in sales of the trade, and a similar improvement in the monthly issues. DC, which had only confirmed the title up to issue 16 (the present issue, coming this week), has now given the go signal up to issue 20.

This is great news for me and other fans of the enigmatic Lee, and I hope this continues well for the series. I really recommend everyone who loves dark and unusual superhero fare to check Fallen Angel out; a good way would be to grab a copy of the TPB, available now at Comic Quest and other comic specialty shops.

Tuesday, October 12

Demon Stone

Hack and Slash action in Faerun.

Yesterday I tried out the PS2 AD&D action game, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. Set in the land of Faerun, the game puts you in control of a 3-member party consisting of a human fighter, a sorcerer and a female half-drow thief. Unlike similar games where you create characters from scratch, you basically work with these pre-set heroes and follow their story as they get thrown into a quest to stop a couple of evil, powerful Otherworlders (a Slaad Lord and a female Githyanki general) from unleashing their darkness upon the Forgotten Realms.
This game is more similar to the past Lord of the Rings games from Electronic Arts, which is more Final Fight than an RPG-type actioner like Champions of Norrath or Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. You basically work through a chapter with your three heroes, using various attacks and special techniques such as spells or the drow's ability to become momentarily invisible when passing through shadows. Controls are a bit on the slippery side, but the action is fast-paced and the screen is usually choked with tons of enemies to kill.
The game boasts some top Hollywood voice talent, such as Patrick "Jean-Luc Picard" Stewart as the archmage Blackstaff, and Michael Clark "Kingpin" Duncan as the evil Slaad. The graphics are pretty good, as is the music and sound effects. Playability is fine, with lots of attacks, combos and special techniques to dish out the punishment. I would have wanted the ability to customize your heroes more (such as getting the slinky drow in her skivvies. Heh...), but this is a good hack-and-slash action game to take out your frustrations at the end of a hard day.

Actor Christopher Reeve died yesterday. The 52-year old actor, paralyzed several years ago from a polo accident, succumbed to heart failure after going into a coma. The sudden passing of our generation's 'Superman' is felt quite acutely, especially among those who loved the movies starring the DC superhero. Farewell, Mr. Reeve, Chris, Kal-El, Superman.

Monday, October 11


This is what the group felt overall about the menu change at Country Waffles in Greenhills. The new waffle concoctions look great, such as the dubiously-named Uncle Jeb's Special (mapapa-Jebs ka sa sarap). We were able to try the Choco Nutella Banana waffle and it was pretty yummy. In addition, there are now bottomless soft drinks and drip-coffee available, so all-nighters can have their caffeine going till closing time. It all makes the chances of our coming back there again and again again a lot better.

Sunday, October 10

Cliffhanger Ending

I just watched the final episode of .Hack: Legend of Twilight on Animax. If you found that the very abrupt ending- with heroes Shugo and Rena vanishing in a flash of light to save The World- left you hanging, then you should probably be interested to know that after the credits, there was supposed to be an additional 2-minute scene that wraps up the story. Yep, Animax (and Cartoon Network in the US, I think) did TV viewers an inconvenience by not airing the ending in its entirety.
Well, lucky for us, I did some research and found what we're looking for online. You don't have to go and get the anime dvds or vcds to watch the real ending to Legend of Twilight. Just go on down here and download the ending for yourself. I personally found the whole Legend of Twilight series pretty much on the dumb side (certainly not to the standards of the much better original .Hack series), but I am a sucker for closure for stuff I watch. Enjoy!

In case you can't download the video or don't have the time to, here's a synopsis of the ending:

After the credits, we open up in a scene in The World. It's sometime after the end of the crisis with the Wandering A.I. Everyone is meeting for an event- all the main characters, including Kamui and her assistant. Balmung remarks that the two most important people haven't arrived yet. Sanjuro assures him that they will come- The World is a place where you can meet anyone, no matter what. Then, finally, Shugo and Rena arrive, alive and as perky as ever. They get ready for their next adventures. In the shadows, the Fourth Kid looks on, perhaps having found the answer she was seeking in The World. With their friends, Shugo and Rena set off to start a whole new legend... Told you it was dumb... Heh.

Unholy Idea

To bide our time, Carl and I started talking about viable businesses we could put up (in our dreams). Our topics went to food services, at which we postulated about a stand which sold little burgers with unleavened bread, or hosts. There would be a little piece of meat between two hosts, and the little-bitty burgers would be served by the white-robed chef directly into the mouths of the diners in line.
Payment would be collected via collection boxes or those butterfly-net thingies. Heh.

The name for our blasphemous resto? SACRILECIOUS!

Yep, we're going to hell...
"Look Ma, no computer!"

I can now surf and e-mail with my phone! I went to the Globe Center and had my phone's GPRS settings set, and now I am empowered with web capability. Actually, even my earlier phones could from the 6600 onwards, but it is only now that I've really taken advantage of this, going to actual websites, checking my Yahoo mail and even sending whole messages right from my P910i. It helps that the P910i's screen is pretty large, and typing out e-mails is made easy by the various typing methods. So, as long as there's a good GPRS signal, The Web is mine to peruse. Of course, it's just another way of spending my money, but what the hey... it's pretty awesome, I think. No more need for Internet Cafes, or even computers! WOOHOO!!! Unfortunately, my MMS still seems to be screwed up. Gotta have that checked again, I guess. Back to the ol' Globe center when I can.

On Friday night, Vin, Carl, Ralph and me had a nice dinner at Gloria Maris at Wilson's. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, the place started shaking. Yep, it was an earthquake, and it lingered for quite some time, putting everyone on edge. Turns out the tremor was 6.5 on the Richter Scale, but thankfully no one was apparently hurt. Sometimes I've felt tremors while in The Sanctum, making me go out and see if the world suddenly turned all to mush. Well, luckily it hasn't. Still going, still moving. We had our Chinese food dinner of sweet and sour pork, spare ribs, crispy squid, chicken and corn soup and called it a night, shaken but not stirred.