Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon

In ‘Jack Carter and The Mafia Pigeon’, the second prequel novel to ‘Jack Returns Home’ AKA ‘Get Carter‘ Jack Carter takes a well earned break in Spain and while reading this novel I felt the author was taking a bit of a break too.

What we have here is a hard boiled British crime novel that has funny moments inbetween. I wouldn’t call it a dark comedy but a slightly more humorous take on the genre. Jack Carter is still as cold and dangerous as ever, yet he is surrounded by more lighter characters that we the readers take less seriously. It’s Carter’s reaction to the situation he finds himself in that makes this funny. There aren’t jokes, but the hard edge of Carter’s personality is sprinkled with a little more dry wit this time around. It’s a somewhat refreshing take compared to doing another straight up crime story. The downside is though that it’s not entirely imaginative, there are elements that are arguably taken from previous Carter novels and there isn’t a sense of a end game as I progressed through the book. Two characters show up near the end of the novel which seem to have been stuck in late to wrap things up after a certain number of required pages had been met.
The resolution of the story, though slightly predictable sucks all the air out of the room and takes us back towards the darkness of the prior novels.

Jack Carter and the mafia pigeon is the last in the Get Carter series of books. Most reviewers rate this fairly low compared to ‘Get Carter’ and ‘Carter’s Law‘. While I agree that it isn’t as good as the novels that came before, it’s still Jack Carter, and an evening with that character alone, his actions and inner thoughts, are enough reason to read this.

Since this is the last of the Carter books to review I’d like to mention the author Ted Lewis. Sadly he died in 1982 at the young age of 42 from alcohol related problems.
Reading his short bio at the end of the book I learned that he was fortunate enough to be recognized with talent at a young aged and encouraged into the arts. There’s a nice note at the end of the book where it mentions how he forwent fairy tales, since they belonged to a bygone generation that once had the luxury to embrace them and gave us realism that he had first hand knowledge of. Although he found success with some of his novels he seems to have struggled as a writer and never reached that place where he is now held today in the eyes of many readers and fans. The Father of British Noir.

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Kung Fu Zombie

The title alone was almost enough to make me want to watch this movie. Kung Fu and Zombies, where can one go wrong? With favorable odds and a few favorable reviews (the rest highly unfavorable) I plunked myself down for a viewing. From the opening scenes it seemed that I had been gypped with the title. Zombies? No, these are Jiangshi which are those hoping ghosts or vampires you might have seen in other Chinese or Hong Kong ghost stories. Yes, they’ve also been lumped in with Zombies but since they are creatures that absorb Qi (energy) and usually appear at night and sleep in coffins they are more commonly associated with Vampires. Well, they aren’t the only creatures in this movie, there is a ghost too trying to get himself brought back to life by placing his spirit into another body. By the end of the film there is an actual  vampire with fangs and blood sucking to boot.

Ok, getting sidetracked here…
So anyway I was thinking “oh here we go, another bad Kung Fu movie that I am going to force myself to sit through” but actually it’s not so bad, in fact it’s highly enjoyable. It’s crazy, it’s a mess, the english Dub I watched it in is hilarious. The cinematography is somewhat impressive, the Kung Fu action is entertaining to the likes of Dragon Ball with fairly nice fight choreography.

If you like movies like ‘The One Armed Boxer’, ‘Master of the Flying Guillotine’ and ‘The Drunken Master’ than you’ll enjoy this. Don’t expect high production values but do expect fun. Invite a few friends and have a few beers. The running time of the version I saw was only 78 minutes. Where can you go wrong?

This is also the bad point though. It’s only 78 minutes long. There is obviously a more coherent version out there. There is a 100 minute Japanese version of the film and a subbed version might prove more enlightening as to what’s actually going on, although that wouldn’t be as hilarious.

Favorite Quote: “Lalala I’m going to jail! Lalala Going to jail!”

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The Mighty Peking Man

The Mighty Peking Man’ aka 猩猩王 aka ‘Goliathon‘ might, at first, look like a cheap knockoff of King Kong, it might be a film that sharknado fans would get a kick out of. What’s incredulous to me is not how bad and laughable it is but the seriousness in which this film was made. What you see onscreen is NOT down with a tongue in cheek flare but in a sincere approach at making a film that was to amaze audiences in a more serious manner.

This was the most expensive movie made in Hong Kong at the time and it was set to cash in on the craze surrounding the 1976 US remake of King Kong (which nobody fondly remembers). They even brought over Godzilla’s special effect cinematographer Sadamasa Arikawa from Tokyo to help develop Hong Kong’s first giant monster movie.
Did they really let the Director get away with making a film like this? Even the poorest offerings in Hong Kong cinema from the 70s can’t compare with the complete audacity of what was filmed here.

From the early reveal of the Mighty Peking man you know that there is no sense of build up or reveal here. The only reveal we do get throughout the movie is the jungle girl running around with one of her lady bits hanging out which makes me question who is the film for? Is having a Giant Monster in your movie, the first of it’s kind in Hong Kong, not enough of a draw?? If the jungle girl had any kind of a character this might be forgiven as a giant flaw but unfortunately her character is more of a “Me Jane, you Tarzan!” type, little else as she runs almost naked around the jungle, climbs up trees and swings a cheetah around her shoulders (yes, a real live frickin cheetah!).

The male character, Johnny, who goes to the jungle in search of Kong isn’t all that compelling either. He catches his brother sleeping with his girlfriend and while drinking it up at a bar he is approached to lead an expedition to a jungle in India to find the Mighty Peking Man. Romance between Johnny and Jungle girl Samantha ensues with generic 70s music and a real live cheetah being flung around. A Jealous Might Peking Man watches on.

After we get past these waste of time scenes we get to see the Mighty Peking man tear it up in the city. Considering that this movie is one of the first of it’s kind to be made in Hong Kong I have to say that the miniatures are fairly impressive, the effects of Mighty Peking Man himself, from the suit, giant hand and facial expressions are not so bad. What is poor is the marriage between that and scenes filmed on location on the real streets of Hong Kong. The film makers don’t seem to know how to marry the effects with the real setting of the city, the blue screen looks pretty poor and when the Might Peking Man picks up people and throws them on the ground what you have is an effect with a cut to the real actor jumping onto the ground after being dropped from 30 feet.

Despite how much a mess of a film this is there is a good film in there somewhere. I think the final 15 minutes of the film which take place on top of the Jardine House building are pretty good, even great in some parts and there is clearly some symbolic meaning behind Mighty Peking Man getting taken down by a British colonial police force.

Ultimately what this represents is a joke to some, a interesting piece of Hong Kong film making History and a lost opportunity to see something truly special. The film makers here seem to be much like those wanting to catch the Mighty Peking Man in the movie, more concern with the monetary goals rather than film making ones.

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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the end of Book 7/Movie 8. It’s exciting to finally delve into the future we only glimpsed at the end of Book 7/Movie 8. The feeling was that everything was all well when we saw adult Harry, Ron and Hermione but the story of the cursed child opens up divisions between Harry and his younger son Albus. This is the main theme of the story, it’s a family focused story which we haven’t really had in the world of Harry Potter before.

While this is a new Harry Potter story that takes place after the events of Book 7 it is written by Jack Thorne and only based on story ideas by Rowling. I have not seen the play so I am basing my review solely on the Play Script. To me the characters are quite off. OK, 19 years have passed but the voices of the characters presented here don’t really belong to the ones we know. Hermione and Ron are more like caricatures, Harry just doesn’t feel like Harry although he resembles something of the boy he was, he is a bit of a dick here, sometimes cold and unsympathetic. The most glaringly different characterization is Dumbledore who is a blubbering mess in the scenes he appears and feels so out of character that you’ll cringe while you read it.

The new trio of characters are fairly underdeveloped and my impression reading the script was that they were much younger than those presented in the play. At least Rowling understood what older kids in school were like. These new characters are something out a cBBC show (kids afternoon programming)

While there are a few shining moments that explore family relationships this is a story that pales greatly in comparison to what we have come to love.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a bad story but without JK Rowling firmly behind the wheel I feel it’s a bit of a wasted one.

Favorite Quote: “The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.” – Harry (quoting Dumbledore)

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Bruce Lee:Kung Fu ‧ Art ‧ Life

Bruce Lee:Kung Fu ‧ Art ‧ Life is a special exhibition located in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. As a lifelong fan of Bruce Lee I decided to go check it out in my free time.

There aren’t many Bruce Lee related sites in Hong Kong to start with. There is his old home which is currently a love hotel, you can visit places where Lee and his family had tea, you can visit the sites where ‘Enter the Dragon’ was filmed and you can see a statue of Bruce on Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui. Beyond those few things there is little else which is why it’s great to have this exhibition.

As to whether it’s worth going to or not I think it definitely is. First of all, beyond the train ride, it’s free. It’ll take about 1 hour to 90 minutes to make your way through the exhibition filled with the various items that belonged to Bruce. Among those items are props from films, his special work out equipment, weapons, punching bags, hand written letters, poems, his school record and a small collection of books from his large library. As you make your way through the museum there is a brief history of Bruce on his journey to becoming an actor and martial arts expert.
Of items that were most interesting to me were his personal letters and the collection of books that he read. It provided a very interesting and different insight to Lee compared to the various books and documentaries that had and showed him in a more human light.

If the free entry wasn’t enough there is also a 75 minute documentary film of Lee’s life shown in a screening room throughout the day. All in all, if you have the free time and not in a rush to sight-see the main attractions in Hong Kong I really recommend this exhibition.

Details:
The Bruce Lee exhibition opened it’s doors in July 2013 and will close July 2018. The Heritage Museum is located outside of Hong Kong city and it will take a little under an hour to get there. The Bruce Lee exhibition is completely free however if you want to visit other sections of the Heritage museum to view other exhibits you’ll need to buy a museum ticket.

http://hk.heritage.museum/

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The Lego Batman Movie

LEGO Batman is not only a great movie, it is a great Batman movie. If you’re a fan of Batman in any way, small or big you’re going to have enjoyment from this. The more you know about the character, his history and villains the more references of enjoyment you’ll get out of it.

I enjoyed the heck out of it. I think as an adult I got more from it than I would have as a kid but that’s not to say it isn’t a kids film, it’s a fantastic balance between both and never lets either side down. I personally liked it more than ‘The LEGO Movie’. I like LEGO (more now than ever) but I like Batman more. What I also love is all the other none Batman characters that show up in this which I was a little surprised about but also delighted with. We have Sauron and Voldmort in the same movie along with Daleks and a whole host of other popular villains.

The one thing I am slightly disappointed about which I blame on myself if that I read a rumor months ago that each actor who had played Batman in the movies would be lending their voices to their own versions of Batman in this film. Can you imagine the fun of Bale Batman interacting with Keaton’s Batman or West’s Batman?

The message of the movie is about Family and what it says about Family and what family is almost brought a tear to my eye. In the days of other animated (kids) movies telling us we have to be loved to be truly happy the Lego Batman film brings some genuine non commercial happiness to the minds of the little younglings growing up on this stuff.

Favorite Quote: “I hate you.” – Batman

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Doctor Strange

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Was having a bit of a bad day when I went to see this so I feel like I would have enjoyed this more if I had been a bit chilled out. Regardless it’s a really good film, not fantastic but dare I express these words once again…A good start to the Doctor Strange film series. Benedict Cumberbatch is must see in anything. Having him in a marvel movie is pretty much the cherry on the cake and I don’t know how much more I can love the guy unless he threw a Star Wars movie at us. Personally I want him back in Star Trek.

As if  Cumberbatch wasn’t enough this time we also have Mads Mikkelsen as the Villain. Think of that for a second. Sherlock Holmes Vs Hannibal Lector! Mind palace vs mind palace! Thanks Marvel. The only problem though is that their time on screen together is limited and it’s not exactly scene chewing stuff. What is great are the action scenes between to two. If you loved the corridor fight in ‘Inception‘ then get ready for a whole lot more of that.

Unlike other Marvel movies ‘Doctor Strange’ feels refreshingly different. I can see criticisms that early on in the film it’s like Tony Stark at the beginning Iron Man again but really, the rest of the film is different to that. Yes, the heroes journey is fairly well walked at this stage but how they got there felt a little less by the numbers and a bit more interesting. If anything this is more of a ‘Doctor House‘ becoming a super hero kind of thing.

Questions to keep in mind for future sequels. Was there more to Strange’s car crash than what we saw? To me it looked like his car suddenly smashed into another car without Strange himself swerving at the wheel.

Favorite Quote: ” Mister Doctor? “– Kaecilius

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