Thursday, February 11, 2016

Episode XXXVIII-And I'll Form the Podcast


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Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: 2/11/2016
  Beggin for iTunes reviews
  Ideas for interviews or
  Martial Thoughts: Fighting Words
 
  
Interlude Music: Tarot Woman by Rainbow
  
Interview: Andrea Harkins

  Contacts

    
Interlude Music: Seven Sisters by The Sword

This Week in Martial Arts:February 12th, 1983 Birthday of Iko Uwais
  The Raid
  The Raid 2
  Star Wars the Force Awakens
  Gareth Evens 

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Atemicast Youtube Channel
www.thinkingmartial.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/martialthoughts

Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Saturday, February 6, 2016

4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars for "The Golden Cane Warrior"

The Golden Can Warrior (Trailer)
The Golden Cane Warrior (IMDB)

  I just finished watching The Golden Cane Warrior on Netflix.  It impressed me enough that I wanted to immediately go online and write a review.  The movie was released in 2014, and it was made in Indonesia, which I didn't know when I decided to watch it.  I have to say, that the quality of martial arts movies that are coming out of Indonesia recently is really high.  They're putting American, and most Chinese/Hong Kong movies to shame.  Unlike the Raid and The Raid 2, this is a period piece.  I'm not familiar enough with Indonesian history to say how it fits into their countries narative.

Actors

      Again, I'm not familiar with Indonesian cinema to say, but Christine Hakim is considered a big name star.  She plays the mentor Chempaka.  The acting is one of the strong points of the movie.  All the parts are played well, and are believable in a kung fu movie kind of way.

Story

  This was the one part of the movie that seemed a little weak.  It was a typical revenge plot, but, in its own way, it added to the flavor of the old school kung fu movie feel.  Except for the language, and dress, it felt like a movie somewhere between an old Shaw Brother film, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  It did have a bit of an epic feel as there were plenty of shots showing off the beautiful natural scenery that is Indonesia.  If they just edited those pieces together it could have been a travel ad.

Filmography

  This is where the film really shines.  This was a definite high quality film, which epic vistas, and interesting locations.  It was filmed with an epic feel, and you really get the sense of weight and the larger world through the movie.

Martial Arts

    This was an interesting point for me.  I'm more familiar with the Indonesian martial art of Silat, and this movie displayed none of the feel of Silat.  I'm going to make the assumption that the people trained in the movie were trained in Kuntao, which is a more Chinese art that immigrated, and took root in Indonesia.  The Kuntao again added to Kung Fu feeling of the movie.
    Most of the martial arts were based on staff work, with very little empty hand stuff at all.  Which is fine, its just a little unusual for there not to be any real empty hand martial arts in a movie.  There was very little wire-work, and what there was, fit into the movie purposefully.  It wasn't flying for flying's sake as some other movies are in the habit of doing.

Overall

    Overall, I have to give this movie 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars for its old school kung fu movie feel, which I really enjoyed.  The acting and filmography were well done, and gave the whole movie a grandiose, and larger than life feel.  I really enjoyed the movie, and would easily recommend it to anyone who loves Chinese/Hong Kong movies.  The fact that its from Indonesia gives the movie a new fuel to the same revenge drama that we've all seen.  It makes me want to invest more time in searching out Indonesian martial arts movies, that's for sure.

3.5 Ninja Stars for the Martial Arts Romance Novel "Hong Kong Treasure"

Review of "Hong Kong Treasure"

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from the author for review purposes

Hong Kong Treasure on Amazon

  This is a bit of a departure from my normal reading list.  I was contacted by the author and asked if I wanted to do a review of her romance novel.  I was a little confused by this, but I figured I'd give it a shot.  I've never read a romance novel before, so I figured I'd give it a shot.  Why not?

Story

  The story's two main protagonists are Annie, a young American woman who has no memory of her past, and Deshi, a Hong Kong martial arts action star.  As one would imagine, the story is about Annie's past catching up with her, and her growing future with Deshi.  Which is trying to be sabotaged by someone close to them both.  Since there is the mystery of her past, I don't want to describe the storyline in great detail, as I hate spoilers.

Pros

  I have to say, I did end up wanting the characters to hook up, so in that sense, the book did get the emotion right.  The characters were full people, and I loved the side characters.  Deshi, the protagonist and love interest is based on a couple Hong Kong/Chinese actors, and you start to be able to pull apart the influences.  There is a mystery about Annie's past, and I actually found that the most compelling part of the story, as it seemed destined that the characters would hook up.  One of the things I really like the most about the book was the descriptions about the city of Hong Kong (and other parts of China).  You get the feeling that Mrs. Wickles actually was in Hong Kong, or at least had traveled there.  For example,the traffic is described as being utterly crazy and a constant near death experience, but the locals all take it in stride.  That seems to be someone's personal observation.

Cons

  There was one thing that struck me as a little weird was the way the Chinese characters spoke English.  It was almost a stereotypical/comical way.  It was a "You go now!  You be here four hour!" type of thing.  I was taken aback at first, thinking that it might be slightly racist, but I've recently learned something that does explain it.  The way it was explained to me, in the Chinese language they don't have many differences in their words.  There is no "I go, I went, I will go."  There are no plural words.  You get all of those type of things from context clues.  So If you literally translate the language it would sound like the stereotype.  (Please correct me if I'm wrong for anyone that actually speaks or is studying Chinese)

Conclusion

  I'm going to rate this not as a martial arts book, but more as a fictional piece.  As I have no experience with romance novels, I don't really even have anything to compare it to.  Somehow, in going through my schooling, I never even have to read Pride and Prejudice (and Zombies?).  That being said, I did actually enjoy the book, I felt for the characters, I especially enjoyed the side characters.  The story moved well, and there was the background mystery to keep you reading.  Overall not bad.  So I'm going to give it 3.5 Ninja Stars.  I don't know if its a martial arts book, as it was more martial arts adjacent, but it was a good read, and I'm thankful for Mrs. Wickles for allowing me to read and review her book.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Episode XXXVII-Truth, Justice and the Podcast Way Shownotes


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Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

Introduction
  Recorded On: 10/12/2015
  Martial Thoughts: Fighting Words
 
Interlude Music: Wheels (in the Sky) by Journey
 
Interview: Steve Perry
  The Matador Series
  Al Dacascos
  Steve Barnes
  Shadows of the Empire
  Teras Kasi
  The Hidden Fortress
  Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead
  Maja Guru Steven Plink
  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  Jason Bourne Series
  Joe Lansdale
  Vonda MacIntire
  Liz Lynn
  Jim Butcher (Dresden Series)
  Roger Zelazny

  Contacts
    Fans of Steve Perry
    Blog
   
Interlude Music: Separate Ways (Worlds Appart) by Journey

This Week in Martial Arts: January 15th, 1972
Ernie Reyes Jr.
  GoFundMe
 

Contact Information
Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
Email: martialthoughts@gmail.com
Atemicast Youtube Channel
www.thinkingmartial.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/martialthoughts

Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

Friday, January 15, 2016

Review of "Samurai Tales"



In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from the publisher for review purposes
Title: Samurai Tales
Written By: Romulus Hillsborough
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Pages: 256
Cover Price: $11.87(US)

 

Content

  This book contains some of the stories that were occurring in Japan at the tumultuous time of the end of the Samurai.  There are many tales that intertwine, and you start to get an idea of the political situations that were going on in the major centers of government, and how they played out through the lives of the individuals presented here.  It's an interesting read full of swordsmanship, honor, beheadings, and colorful characters.

Pros

    I've been a reader on Japan and the samurai since I started martial arts about 20 years ago, and although I knew some of the names involved, I hadn't heard any of these specific stories that were told in this book.  I consider that a plus.  My friend Rick (from the Martial Thoughts Podcast) is much more knowledgeable about the Shinsengumi than I am, and he hadn't heard all of these specific stories.  So I gather that these are newer tales to English language books.  They might be more known in Japan, but I have no way of guessing that. 
  I also enjoyed how the book played off itself.  They would tell one story of a politically motivated duel/beheading, and then describe another samurai who was on the other side politically, and talk about their revenge killings.  Overall you get a pretty good feel for the types of politics that were going on at the time.

Cons

  My only complaint, is that the book is not a history book.  It kinda starts with the impression that you have a basic idea of the political landscape of Japan at the end of the Edo period.  Which, if you have even a basic idea (no thanks to Tom Cruise's Last Samurai) you can really place these stories in their proper perspective.  That would be my only negative opinion of the stories.


Conclusion

  I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I enjoyed the book and was pleasantly surprised by the new stories that I hadn't encountered but I do think you should have a basic understanding of the framework of when these stories were taking place. 
  I especially liked the tales involving the Shogun's Executioner.  But, maybe that's because I watch too many Samurai Films (Where was the baby cart?).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Martial Thoughts: Episode 2: Martial Arts Fiction


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Recorded: 12/16/2015 
Intro Music: Fight the Good Fight by Free

Topic of the Week: Martial Arts Fiction Books
Sensei Series by John Donahue
The Matador Series by Steve Perry 

 

Contact Information
Twitter Account@martialthoughts
 

Friday, November 27, 2015

4/5 Stars for Bruce Lee The Tao of Gung Fu

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from the publisher for review purposes
Title: Bruce Lee The Tao of Gung Fu
Edited by: John Little
Publisher: Tuttle
Format: Softcover
Cover Price: $19.95 $13.97(US)

    Today in America it is our national holiday dedicated to consumerism known as "Black Friday."  It is the day many of us will willingly practice a mixed martial art called "Buy Fu."  It is a modern martial art which focuses on a combination "karate chops shops" and kara "cart-rate."  But seriously, its dangerous out there.  Stay inside.
    It also happens to be the anniversary of Bruce Lee's birthday.  He would have been 75 today, and in honor of him, I'm going to review a book of his that was actually written by him during his life time.  It was an early writing, but you can easily see where the now famous and quotable ideas came from.  In fact, most of his philosophy is there already.

Content

    The book is an original writing of Bruce Lee's that he intended to publish as a manuscript for Gung (Kung) Fu, to introduce it to more people.  Granted, it wasn't the finished version, but each section was completed.  It wasn't published during his lifetime, but it was the only book he wrote specifically for publication during his lifetime.  The Tao of Jeet Kune Do wasn't intended for publication, and was done so posthumously.

Pros

    I like that this Bruce's ideas in his own words.  This book was a conscious effort on his part to write to a western audience about kung fu in terms of physicality and philosophy.  As always Bruce Lee's words have a weight of truth to them.  Almost everything in this books can be applied to any martial art.  His words tend to focus more on the striking aspect of the martial arts, rather than the grappling aspect, but it still applies.
    One additional little thing I liked was the appendix of the book.  It looked at where Bruce Lee was in his studies at the time of this writing: He had studied Wing Chun for 7 years, Judo for 1 year, ect.  It helped put some of his ideas in perspective of where he was in his own path.

Cons

    I've read a couple of different versions of Bruce Lee's works recently, so some of the ideas are repeated from other writings.  That isn't to say that it isn't valid or valuable, just that if you're looking for "new secrets from Bruce Lee" this isn't the right place.  In fact, even a lot of the familiar language that we're used to from Bruce are initiated here.  "Be like water" and such.  So it shows almost a prequel to the man and the movies that we've all come to love.


Conclusion

    Overall I'm going to give this book 4 out of 5 ninja stars.  I love the philosophy that Bruce Lee believed in and tried to expand on for everyone else.  I think this is a polished look at where Bruce Lee was at this point in his journey.  It gives a very good spotlight of his views at this part of his path, and you can easily see where his more famous and quotable ideas originated.  You can also see how the notes he took in, what became, Tao of Jeet Kune Do started to change his ideas of martial arts.