Friday, January 7

Doing the Hustle

Stephen Chow brings us the first cool movie of the year.

Fans of Hong Kong director-actor Stephen Chow have been waiting for the follow-up to his mega-popular Shaolin Soccer for a while, and now it's here. Kung Fu Hustle revs up the laughs and the thrills with more fantastic CG-enhanced martial arts, slapstick, sight gags and a nice story to boot.

Set in 1940s China, Kung Fu Hustle tells the story of Sing (Chow), an inept wannabee gangster who wants to be a member of the dreaded Axe Gang (a syndicate of top hat and suit-wearing, hatchet-toting, mobsters). To prove himself, Sing and his chubby sidekick (Nino Muhlach-lookalike, Lam Chi Chung, one of Chow's chums from Shaolin Soccer) try to extort some money from the residents of a run-down apartment complex known as Pig Sty Alley. Needless to say, their efforts fail miserably. However, they DO cause the real Axe Gang to crack down on the place, causing some of the resident martial artists to reveal themselves in a flurry of fists and kicks. From there on it's an escalating battle of killer kung fu as the residents of Pig Sty try to fight off the criminals and their hired assassins.

I won't go any more into detail, suffice to say that Kung Fu Hustle throws combos of laughs, chills and thrills at you pretty much from beginning to end. KFH isn't rocket science; there are slapsticky bits which work best when watched in a theater, with a whole audience laughing to get you in the fun. There's lots of kung fu with overblown CG work that looks quite awesome, and tons of playful nods to various movies from Spiderman to The Matrix and even The Shining. In the midst of all this, there's a sweet romance story so guys can bring along their dates to watch as well. Parents should take note though- there are a couple of bits which might be a bit too scary for really young kids.

KFH is currently doing the rounds in theaters around the world, to rave reviews. The icing on the cake for me is that KFH is such an Asian-flavored movie through and through, yet a big change of look and feel from the recently serious batch of martial arts features like House of Flying Daggers and Hero. Chow and crew gives us a classic, simple story that's imaginatively and refreshingly told, with a likeable cast that gives great performances (even the non-actors have funny little touches) throughout. Big props to Wah Yuen, one of Hong Kong's most famous comedy actors, and Yuen Qiu, a former Bond Girl, who play the Landlord and Landlady of Pig Sty, and Leung Siu Lung who plays 'The Beast'. Chow himself is in hilarious form as always.

If you love Stephen Chow's past works, you'll be in stitches with this one. Bring your friends, your workmates and see it in a good theater. If you haven't seen Shaolin Soccer or God of Cookery, just have an open mind, think 'anything goes' and just enjoy the show.

Kung Fu Hustle is now showing in theaters in the Metro. Don't wait for the Axe Gang to break down your door- Rustle up your friends and catch it over the weekend.

Addendum: The fight scenes in Kung Fu Hustle were choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping and Sammo Hung. Well, that explains the Matrix similarities. The Chinese titles for 'Kung Fu Hustle' are 'Gong Fu'/'Kung Fu'.

Tekken 5's been out in arcades overseas for some time now, but I still haven't found squat in any of the local places. I guess the local Rino's or Time Zones don't really find it profitable to invest in new games anymore. So gamers here will probably have to wait for the PS2 version of the latest Tekken to play it. Which shouldn't be a bad thing, given that the game may be coming in the next couple of months or so, along with almost arcade-perfect graphics and gameplay, more CG movies than any Tekken before and lots of customization options to dress up your fighter. Till then, all we can do is hie onto sites like Tekken Zaibatsu to watch videos. Sigh...

Thursday, January 6


Comic turned Film coming in late 2005.

I remember reading some bits of V for Vendetta years ago, as it was part of a European comics magazine anthology, which included Marvelman and Laser Eraser and Pressbutton. While it wasn't my favorite in the mag, I really liked the art and the moody atmosphere. The image above is the teaser poster of the movie, slated apparently to come out in late 2005.
V for Vendetta is set in a future, totalitarian England, with a mysterious masked vigilante dodging the authorities as he cuts a deadly swath of revenge throughout Fortress London. So far, the only star to be confirmed in the cast is Natalie Portman. Yet another comic-to-movie translation to watch out for this year.
Return to Arms

Good and Evil clash once more in the lands of Norrath.

Last year's Champions of Norrath for the PS2 was a surprise hit, giving even us nonline players a taste of the addictive MMORPG world of Everquest. In CON, you played a hero called forth to battle the increasing threat of evil growing in the realms of Norrath. Victory however only resulted in a fallout that continues to fester in the realm in the sequel game, Champions: Return to Arms.

This time, you answer the call of Firiona Vie (the infamous blonde elf sorceress and Everquest's poster girl) to put a stop to the threat of evil once and for all. The schtick this time in CRTA is that you don't actually have to follow the path of good and play white knight. Like in the recently-released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, you can actually opt to don an evil hat and serve the cause to resurrect Innorruuk and bring him back to power. Your decision will bring about distinctly different quests, enemies and goals through the game. This pretty much doubles the already mammoth amount of replayability in this game, and that's always great.
Aside from the dual-path of storyline, CRTA also ups the ante with improved graphics, new mini-games and two new races of characters to play as; the Van Shir are a race of humanoid cats, specializing in berserk warriors. On the other hand, the reptilian Iksar specialize in magic-using shaman. Players who built up characters from CON will be glad to hear that RTA will allow for you to transfer your heroes to the new game- the experience cap has now been raised to a whopping Level 80, so even characters you've maxed up from CON will have lots of room to improve further.

Champions: Return to Arms is slated for release this February. I'll be sure to keep the peepers peeled for a copy asap.
A Taste of Prosperity

Yesterday I had dinner with Vin and Andrew at McDo, and we tried their new Beef Prosperity sandwich. The prosperity consists of saucy, peppery beef with onions in a slightly longer bun than usual. I found it quite delicious (even buying one to take home), as good as Jollibee's Peppercorn burger but more on the beefy side, with a nice tangy taste of onions with later bites. Really nice, though it comes with a price; at P88 by itself (P108 with Orange Fizz and 98 with softdrink), the Beef Prosperity is on the expensive side as McDonald's sandwiches go, and it's a bit on the light side too (I can easily finish two in one sitting). I'd place the satisfaction factor at about slightly over KFC's Chicken Fillet sandwich (the one that inspires greed). Still, quite delish and something to try if you pass by McDo anytime soon.

Wednesday, January 5

Tomorrow Angel

Ate dinner last night with Vin at Wendy's for his favorite spicy burger, the Big Mexican Melt which I really can't finish without taking out some of the tongue-searing jalapenos. We talked about stuff, including the future of Angel Ace. While I am busy right now with the Kai anthology, I have not forgotten my first lady of flight. The storyline for the next issue will move the whole plot forward, at the same time revealing stuff that should have been out long ago- particularly the relationship between Angel and the series main villain, Mondebaine Gallowglass of Gallowglass Mass Industries, Inc.

Aside from the usual pinups and perhaps a short back-up story from contributors, I'm fully intending to do this book myself. It's been a long time since I've put pencil to page seriously for a while... gotta get my drawing chops back into gear or I'll get really rusty.

Tuesday, January 4


My Lola, or grandmother (on my Mom's side), was the only grandparent I knew growing up. I remember her fondly, sometimes sadly, as she would occasionally come to the house to live with us for a while. I remember the aged, wrinkled face (she was ALWAYS old to me), the smell of pulbos (baby powder) and the way she would hug me.

I say that I remember her with a bit of sadness because I was told that Lola, in her old age, gambled away her fortune. Back then, Lola owned houses and property aplenty. In another world, she would be the Lola of anybody's dreams, having great wealth that would be passed down to her heirs when she passed away. However, the gambling bug hit her hard in her later years, and as a result she sold house after house, property after property, to use in the casinos.

Lola ended up having to go from house to house among her sons and daughters, to live in until her strong character would clash with the in-law or spouse, and off she'd go to the next place to stay. I remember feeling sorry for her, thinking that she should have saved at least one house for herself so she could live comfortably and without worry for her retirement.

Eventually, she more or less settled in the province, where she passed away peacefully several years ago at over eighty years of age. And so, she was buried there, far away, and not in my family's personal grounds at Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. My Mom decided to go alone to the burial- we weren't able to see my Lola laid to her rest.
And so, I remember Lola as the last time I saw her.

Last night, I had a dream, and Lola was there.

I wasn't scared at all, despite the fact that I thought she was a ghost. In fact, I even brought out my cameraphone to snap some pictures. Since I never see ghosts in real life, I seem to see them all in dreamtime. Weird, eh?

Thankfully, my dream did not have the somewhat disturbing overtones of a dream her old driver had a few months ago- the old man, sick in bed, dreamt that my Lola appeared, beckoning for him to 'go with her'. Don't worry- He's still alive. He came out of the dream quite scared though, saying to his former boss that he didn't want to go just yet.

I saw Lola as she was the last time I saw her, shuffling about, looking over the house. It was our old house in Pasig, not our present residence, which eventuallly clued me in that it was all a dream. I remember looking at Lola for a while more, and then eventually the dream faded and I woke up. Was there meaning in the dream?

Just recently, I remember talking about my Lola to some friends, and saying how I felt sorry for her. Perhaps Lola is telling me that all is well now. She lived life the way she wanted, no matter what. Now, she's at peace, and I should just remember her with love.

With the warmth of the scent of baby powder, and tight hugs.

Thanks for the visit, Lola.

Monday, January 3

Film Fatale

Charlize Theron dons black for the role of Aeon Flux.

MTV Liquid Television's risque futuristic action-espionage series, Aeon Flux (by Peter Cheung) is in the process of being turned into a live-action movie for 2005. The role of the titular mercenary assassin is being filled in by the gorgeous Charlize Theron, recently awarded best actress by the Oscar Awards for her performance in the film Monster (where she played a disfigured female serial killer). As per the TV series, the movie is set in the future, where mankind has almost been wiped out to extinction. The last remnants of humanity live in a bubble-domed city known as Bregna, which is ruled by a council of scientists. Aeon Flux is a slinky, acrobatic assassin hired by the group known as the Monican Underground to assassinate the city's leader, Trevor Goodchild.

Aeon Flux the animation was known for many things- for episodes filled with psychobabble, risque animations, lanky Peter Cheung character designs and often fatal endings for the titular heroine. I loved it, for what it was; it was kinda but not anime- brainy and gritty and sexy. I'm a fan and I was hyped when I heard that a movie was being made.

But honestly, seeing the pics of Miss Theron in costume, I have to say that I am disappointed. As with Elektra, the costume defines the character a lot, and here once again, we have cutbacks. The costume just SUCKS like HELL. It's not like the original costume was impossible to do; it showed off skin, but not impossibly so. The costume on Miss Theron is like a full black body stocking, and it looks totally frumpy, un-sexy and crappy. CRAPCRAPCRAP!!! From that costume alone, I can predict that this is going to bomb, and bomb bad. I hope I'm wrong, 'cause I really like the Aeon Flux character. Right now though, it does not look good. Not good at all. BAH. We'll see.
New Suit

Last night, I got off Cam's car after Dean's birthday bash and I heard something clatter on the asphalt. I looked with horror to see my O2 XDA II Pocket PC Phone lying on the ground! It apparently had fallen from the clip on my belt. Slightly panicked, I got it and looked it over. Fortunately, the metal jacket was good as gold... or as steel, as the case may be. My smartphone was unscathed. Unfortunately, it seems that my beltclip for the metal case was now useless. The plastic nib, which keeps the phone held securely to my belt, had apparently been worn down and was now unable to 'bite'. In effect, it takes little effort for my phone to slip out of the clip's catch and fall from my belt.
I had spend about 1,500 pesos on the thing just this past December, and it was now pretty much useless, unless I get a replacement belt clip. And that, I guess, is something I probably will not do.

So when we went out for lunch today at Wok Inn, it was to my good fortune that we passed a new PDA shop in Park Square. I looked through the various PDA cases and accessories, and eventually settled on a cheap (P290) PDA case with a belt loop (unremoveable except by taking off your belt) that I like. The XDA2 fits snugly into the padded case, and there's even a nice elastic band catch which secures the device when you're on the go. And it hugs my side well, reducing the bulge it makes at my side. Perfect! So now, while I have downgraded from plate mail back to leather/cloth armor, I feel safer. At least, for now. Of course, only the eternally vigilant can be truly far from harm. Heh.
Back to the Salt Mines

It's the first day of work in 2005! WOOHOO!!!


Anyway, the day didn't start off too bad. The commute was actually pretty easy, with the MRT crowd being pretty light- I was actually able to sit down from the get-go. Don't really expect too much for today... work will probably pile up as the week goes along, though, and I might actually have to work into the weekend on something. Oh well. At least I can expect some new stuff at the ol' Blood Bank tonight. Stuff like Batman/Danger Girl, the latest Street Fighter comic and some more odds and ends. Yay!

I found a PSP at Theater Mall in Greenhills the other day. It was the value pack, which includes the unit itself with several accessories (no games). At 30K, it's pretty pricey, and I easily found myself turning away from it. No matter how spiffy and cool the Playstation Portable is, I'm really not an on-the-go gamer, and it will take a bunch of incredibly great games to get me to fork over the moolah for it.

By the way, Virra Mall, the center of dibidi and gaming goodness in the Greenhills area, is now closed for renovation. Heartbreaking, but then again I guess it's been a long time coming. Certainly, whatever will replace the former VM will be brighter, fancier and cleaner- but then, the black market charm of the old Virra will be something I'll miss. I hope the old shops and stuff that made the place cool will still be there when it reopens... whenever.