RIP Harold Ramis

I’m very saddened to learn that Harold Ramis, writer, director and actor, has passed away. He was one of the largest parts of my childhood having co-wrote and started in Ghostbuters, Egon Spengler was my favorite character next to Peter Venkman. He also co-wrote and starred in Stripes, and directed Groundhog Day. A very talented man.

RoboCop Remake

There has been a lot of buzz lately of the RoboCop remake due to release Feburay 12, 2014. I’ll admit, RoboCop is one of my favorite franchises. I’ve seen all three movies, the two live action television series (yes there was a live tv series, RobCop: The Series and RoboCop: Prime Directives) and the two cartoons. Read the comics, played the games, RoboCop is one of the things I grew up with. The major concern right now with the remake is the look of the new RoboCop suit. It’s completely black, and looks like a piece of rubber. Not only that, the design looks very generic, boring and lazy. It looks like they drew the thing once and said “Ok, this works.” If they had taken more time fix the look of the black suit, the reaction probably won’t be as bad, but as it stands, it have very appealing design. The only part that looks nice is the helmet. Also, his right hand IS EXPOSED SKIN. The hand he shoots his gun with. Early set leak photos thought that something was going to be added later on in post-production but the trailer clearly shows his hand is exposed (as well as the toys). The movie apparently has an explanation for this which according to reviews of the leaked script ***SPOILER*** the human hand is left that way because of a legal loop hole of getting around the law that a robot cannot kill a human ***END SPOILER*** While I get the understanding of this loophole, this is actually a serious design flaw for combat. Everything else is armored up while the hand is exposed, say a bullet bounces off the Armour or the bad guy aims for HIS HAND than he can’t shoot anymore. Added to that, it looks extremely out of place, with everything looking robotic except the hand. They could have avoided this awkward look if had something like, an Armour covering for the hand when he needs to fight.

Regarding the RoboCop suit again, there are actually THREEE different versions suits in the film. The worst part of that in my opinion? The first suit is SILVER and looks like the ORIGINAL ROBOCOP, leading many fans of the original to shout, they should have used the silver suit as the final. Visually, I think it’s just more appealing than straight black, where he looks more like a robotic batman than RoboCop. That being said, it’s still not perfect, and clear that they oversimplified the designs. All in all, I’m still going to see the movie despite this. But I’m skeptical that it’s going to be anywhere near as good as the original, given that most of the original idea is gone (RoboCop remembers who he is from the start instead of learning it through the film.) But the trademark elements are still there (leg opens open to hold the gun).

Betty Ting to talk on Bruce Lee’s 40th Death Anniversery

Betty Ting (the last person to see Bruce Lee alive) is going to be doing a live talk on July 20th (the day he died). There is a lot of controversy with Betty Ting, even before her connection with Bruce. She was known in Hong Kong as the kind of woman who steals men. That should sum it up for you. On top of that, she once made a film capitalizing on her supposed love affair with Bruce in the 70s, titled Bruce Lee and I, during the craze of Bruce Lee knock off films.

More details about the live interview can be read here.

New Years Even Countdown Show

Did a show on New Years Eve with my Kung Fu Brothers. Turned out really well! We practiced for weeks on the fight scenes (we did hand to hand then weapons). Great turn out with the audience, though I really did accidently hit one of them with the nunchuck (luckily it was foam, I can’t apologize enough lol). New Years Revolution? Train.

Things do in Background Holding

If I’ve learned anything from doing background work is always expect things to get boring. There are days which you could be held up in holding for most of the day and only getting used in filming for about 2 hours (not that I’d complain about getting paid for not doing anything). Naturally, I’d end up finding things to do, read a book, draw, watch movies on my Ipod. I can name quiet a few drawings which were mostly done during holding in BG. Of course, a man can only draw for so long before wanting to do something else for a while, and most of the time I’d end up doing a few push-ups and stretches to keep myself awake.

Unsettled Matters – The controversial Bruce Lee Biography

Before I start talking about the book, a few things should be noted about the author, Tom Bleecker. One; is that he was briefly married to Linda Lee, the widow of Bruce Lee during the time he started doing his research for this book. Secondly, Linda tried numerous times to stop publication of this book (which eventually it did, though I’m unsure of her influence). After reading it, I can clearly see why; this book paints a really dark picture of Bruce Lee.

I think main problem people have with this book is that the direction seems to only say one thing; Bruce Lee was a self-centered, cocky man who felt VERY highly of himself. Now, it is well known that Lee was highly confident in himself and in what he does, and it’s no secret he was cocky, but the way it’s written here, it feels like he’s doesn’t like the man. It doesn’t help that he would add little comments which take often take you away from the point of the book. For example, when describing Bruce’s first encounter with Lo Wei, Lee described him as a man with “with an almost unbearably air of superiority”, prompting the author to comment “Coming from Bruce, the character analysis was laughable.” It should be noted that when Bruce first met Lo Wei on the set of “The Big Boss” he was listening to a horse race on the radio he was betting. Also, he wasn’t paying attention most of the time while the cameras were rolling. Lo Wei himself did develop a repution for acting like that, so if I was in Bruce’s position, I’d probably think the same thing.

Most of the book seems very hard to swallow because of this. He almost constantly writes about how bad and short tempered his personality is without reflecting any of his good traits. I do mean any; none of the good sides of his personallity are written. One can argue that maybe it’s because Bruce didn’t have any, but I find that hard to believe considering the amount of people and friends who knew him spoke highly of him. There’s also some question to where he gets his information from. There are numerous times where he tells a story about Bruce’s sudden mood swings that read like some sort of children’s novel, but almost never says where the information. Example, one page Bruce said he spent the previous night with “two lovely ladies” during a meeting with a friend. It should be noted that the friend he met with died not too long after Lee did, so it makes me wounder how the author could have possible known this event unless he told this someone before he died or wrote it in a journal. Is it from a news article, did someone witness it, was it from a police report? Information like this should have at least some background; otherwise it’s just one of many stories in the Lee Legend. One in particular regarded Steve McQueen sending Bruce Lee an autographed life-size photo of himself which read “To Bruce Lee, my greatest fan. Steve McQueen.” This was after Lee called him the previous day telling him he was making it big and according to the author, made Lee so furious that he “blasted the images to pieces in a martial arts frenzy.” (pg. 48). Again, where did he learn this? At the very least, he could have said “According to Linda or according to his friends”, it would have given the stories a little more validity, especially for instances like this in a private home. Unless Bruce wrote down that he did it in a journal, or Linda told him about this event, this is one of the stories I find harder to beleive. I think most people wouldn’t be writing down that they just ripped up something in anger.

Besides the question of the origin of material, there are numerous inaccuracies (or maybe this is the true date of events as he put in the beginning of the book) to the events in Lee’s life. Within the first chapter he says Bruce frequently worked in Mandarin films as a child. Bruce worked in CANTONESE films, not mandarin. Furthermore on pg 55, he says Bruce was never known as an actor and his voice was dubbed in all his films except Enter the Dragon. This is not true. His martial films were dubbed over, mainly because those films were released in Mandarin and Bruce spoke Cantonese (it should be noted however that all the Hong Kong films during this period were dubbed by another actor so Bruce isn’t a speical case). All the Cantonese drama films from his youth were indeed his real voice. Films from this period, had the dialog and everything sans a few sound effects, were done live during film. It was too expensive and costly to dub it over with another set of voice performers during editing, especially in Hong Kong. This is why the majority of them were filmed very late at night because the noise in HK was at its lowest peek. Bruce Lee says this during a 1964 audition which is presumably for Charlie Chan’s number one son. The author also failed to mention his small role in the film Marlowe, where he spoke in his real voice.

Another instance is the date when Lee started his Wing Chun training with Ip Man. In the book, it says Lee started training in 1956, at the age of 15, but many books and documentaries (and even his brother) state that Lee started in 1954 at age 13. Another date and historical inaccuracy is that he states The Green Hornet show is based on a 1950s radio series; the radio series debuted in 1936, with the series ending by 1950 but returning briefly in 1952. It’s small, non-realted to Bruce but really should have been corrected. He also states Lee saw the final cut of Enter the Dragon when according to Robert Clouse (the director) Lee only saw a very rough cut.

I have read a lot of reviews about the book online and most of them say the same thing, take it with a grain of salt because a lot of the things presented here will be very hard to verify. Honestly, the only parts that I felt really had the most value were the chapters dealing with the estate, the battle with Raymond Chow over unpaid fees and the investigation into Lee’s death. Other than that, the previous chapters felt like a rant of how self-absorbed Lee was while presenting itself as a bio.

If Bruce was alive today, would he just be another old time martial star like Jackie Chan? Maybe, but you have to remember there may not have been a Jackie Chan if Lo Wei didn’t try to market him as the next Bruce Lee, after his passing. If Lee was alive, he might Jackie Jackie would probably still be doing stunt work, while doing the occasional film. Lee promised him after accidentally hitting Chan REALLY hard while filming Enter the Dragon, he would be the stunt man for all his films. At the most, Jackie probably might not have been in the same league as he is now. Bruce Lee did what he wanted to do, honestly and to the best of his ability, and that is why I admire him. He concurred many things in his life, lived through many hardships and ultimately became a martial arts icon who continues to inspire millions today. It’s just sad that he never got to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

After reading this, it has not changed my perception of Bruce Lee, despite the possible intention of the author. Even looking at all negative aspects, should it change your opinon of Bruce Lee? I think not. No person is perfect, and without his flaws. If anything, this book tries to shows us a more human side of Bruce that many of us tend to forget. That actually makes me appreciate him even more. Overall though, the result is mixed, and could have been handled better if he didn’t write things in such a way that sounded agreesive and personal.

Hi-C Ecto Cooler

Just posted a new craft on my deviant art. A bit of an oddity, a papercraft Ghostbusters Hi-C Ecto Cooler drink box! For those not old enough to know, Ecto Cooler was an orange-tangerine mixed juice made by Minute Maid as a tie-in for The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. The drink proved to be very popular, continuing to be sold well after the cartoon was off the air. The drink was later discontinued but resurfaced again under different names, Shountin’ Orange Tangergreen, then Crazy Citrus Cooler before that was discontinued.

To grab the craft, go here;

To make your own Ecto Cooler, go here!