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Bulmyeolui Lee Soon-shin (2004)
Terrific docu-drama about one of the world's greatest military leaders
"Immortal Admiral Yi Soon-shin" (there are at least three ways of transcribing it into English) tells the true story of a Korean naval officer who forged the fleet at his disposal into the greatest naval power on Earth in the 1590s, far away from the empire-building exploits of the Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and English -- and thus far from consideration in Western history books . Closer to home for him, Japan, which was such a terror to the European powers, had overrun Korea as a prelude to conquering the declining Ming Empire in China.
The poorly organized, badly trained, and ill-equipped Koreans were no match on land for the Japanese, who were fresh from their civil wars, which had seen their forces develop from primitive feudal levies into crack modern formations which would not be matched in Europe for two hundred years. With Korea on the verge of becoming a mere footnote to history, Yi soon-shin appeared to command one of Korea's fleets. What Themistocles was to Greece and Nelson to England, Admiral Yi was to Asia.
In engagement after engagement he beat the numerically superior Japanese fleets, sometimes destroying dozens of Japanese ships without a single ship of his own being lost. Yi's most famous contribution to naval warfare was the "turtle ship," the culmination of a technology which had been developing for years in Korea. The hulls of the turtle ships were clad with iron, and a steeply pitched, iron-clad roof prevented Japanese cannonballs from penetrating the deck, while spikes pointing outward from the superstructure prevented boarding. Aside from the spikes, the turtle ship technology was nearly identical to that used by the Confederate Navy when they converted the wooden ship _Merrimac_ into the iron-clad _Virginia,_ which terrorized Hampton Roads until the little _Monitor_ appeared to fight it to a standstill.
The Japanese, glorifying land warfare above all else, made no effort to copy the turtle ships and Admiral Yi went from victory to victory, completely cutting the Japanese supply line and leaving the tens of thousands of Japanese troops on the Korean peninsula to be slowly ground under the Ming army.
Admiral Yi bears comparison to another commander besides Themistocles and Nelson, General George S. Patton. Like Themistocles, Yi had to wheedle and maneuver to get the resources and the permissions he needed to wage a successful naval war; like Patton he was periodically reprimanded and removed from power, only to be replaced as soon as his successor proved incapable of using the navy as successfully as had Yi. "Bulmyeolui Lee Soon-shin" portrays Yi Soon-shin from childhood to adulthood, as do so many Korean historical soap operas, and, typically, we see the ups and downs of his life, and see how good friends helped him to attain the rank of Admiral and attempted to deflect criticism of him.
We also see the officers and men who made up the fleet, from wandering vagabonds turned courageous sailors, to nobles who learn to subordinate their Confucian family loyalties to the greater needs of the navy and the country.
"Bulmyeolui Lee Soon-shin" is in Korean with English subtitles, and I am pleased to say that I was the one who submitted the basic information to IMDb for it. I hope that those who know Korean will please contribute more details of the cast and crew.
I compared Admiral Yi to Lord Nelson for the influence he had upon world history. Yi, Nelson, and Themistocles must surely rank as the three greatest fighting admirals in history. There is another eerie similarity between Yi and Nelson: both were shot and killed by enemy snipers in their final battles, which they both won posthumously. In Admiral Yi's case, his death is particularly sad because there was little doubt that the engagement in which he was killed would have been the final one of the war -- he won the war but he was not destined to see the peace.
Heart of the City (1986)
A first rate show, rather controversial in its day
"Heart of the City" was a first rate show, and it was rather controversial in its day. I think that the reason it was first rate was that it was made by people who were willing to *let it* provoke controversy.
One talking point I still remember to this day was the double-standard the father (Robert Desiderio) used when his son had sex for the first time and when his daughter wanted to give up her virginity, too. He would sit on his son's bed, as I recall, and explain the facts of life to him and say how proud he was that his son was being so mature about this monumental decision, etc., etc. When it came to his daughter, however, it was more like, "You're grounded until your 21 for even *thinking* about sex!"
Jonathan Ward and Christina Applegate were very good as the two kids, and they had a good on-screen chemistry with Robert Desiderio. It was a family situation which was realistic, unlike some of the contrived garbage TeeVee tries to foist on us most of the time.
The police procedures were done very realistically. I still remember that (unlike most shows!) the writers managed to get the police unit designations right for radio chatter. The father, for example, was a "King" unit -- the designation for an LAPD detective.
This was a very good series and deserves to be on DVD. I have the whole series on tape, but I would *still* buy a DVD of it. BTW, as I say on the message board, sorry -- I won't make copies of the tapes for anyone. :(
D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)
It's difficult to express just how atrociously bad this Duck shoot is. The Ducks have, en bloc, won scholarships to the snobbish private school Banks (Vincent LaRusso) attends. This offends the sensibilities of the varsity hockey team. WHY it offends them is never made entirely clear, since the Ducks will probably assure continuing championships for their school, establishing a "dynasty" tradition of which the current varsity players will be the spearhead. Much mayhem ensues as the two rival cliques play vicious trick after vicious trick upon one another. (I don't consider covering someone with fire ants or dining and dashing on an $853 restaurant bill to be "jokes" -- they are just plain sadistic.) A very thinly veiled sadism is apparent throughout D3. The final victory of the Ducks is *not* achieved through skill, expertise, or courage -- it is achieved by physically brutalizing the varsity team. (Is it a spoiler to reveal what any eight year old knows even before watching a Mighty Ducks movie? They *never* lose The Big Game. Watching these things is about as suspenseful as watching moss grow.) In the most egregious act of brutality in the movie, one of the varsity players is hurled off the rink, through the glass enclosure, and into the stands, which is physically impossible, which may be why the crowd grows wild cheering for it -- ignoring the very real possibility that the varsity player has broken one or both legs, possibly his spine, and has undoubtedly received a concussion. This is a *good* thing because the now permanently crippled high school student doesn't like Pacey ... er ... Charlie.
One of the stupidest moments is the saving of the scholarships of the Ducks (yeah, the same old stuff Disney has been spewing out since Tommy Kirk and Kurt Russel were doing teen comedies for them). Their attorney (of course the Ducks have an attorney!) argues that the scholarships offered to and accepted by the Ducks is a contract binding the school to allow the Ducks to play hockey. Hunh? What fool writes a scholarship grant which gives the recipient power over the grantor and the school? What kind of Mickey Mouse lawyer did the school have writing those things? (Maybe that was the problem -- they needed one of the Mouse's attorneys.) Even more idiotic is the moment when the Ducks are allowed to keep their own team name and colors instead of being Eden Hall Warriors. What? The baseball, basketball, and football teams are going to change *their* team names and colors because of a freaking *hockey* team?!?! In Canada, maybe, but this ain't set in Canada.
Yeah, the kids are cute, but ... well, that is the *only* thing this piece of duck dreck has going for it. Watch it with the sound off and look at their perfect, pretty punims. Nothing anyone says in this thing is worth listening to. It is certainly nothing that children should be allowed to watch -- this thing is so viciously, sadisticly violent that I think the MPAA should have given it an "R" rating -- no one under 17 admitted without a parent or guardian.
Seared into my memory
I first saw this film at a special screening in 1982 or 1983, and it is so burned into my memory that NOTHING that Raphael Sbarge has done since can supplant some of the scenes from "Abuse," which is not to disparage his 21 years of subsequent work, but to praise this film. I have made it a point to try to see EVERYTHING else Sbarge has appeared in because I was so awed by "Abuse."
SPOILER: I am using "hot" terms to describe this movie because of one scene in particular, in which Thomas is pinned to the floor by his parents and burned with a lit cigarette. The scene is unbelievably shocking and demonstrates the horrible abuse which is too often visited upon Gay kids.
One of the saddest things about "Abuse" is the number of people who will find the relationship between Thomas and Larry (the Gay man who tries to rescue him) to be somehow "more abusive" than the torture of Thomas by his parents!
This is not a film for the squeamish, but I highly recommend it.
Road Trip (2000)
I laughed once
I have been a fan of Breckin Meyer since he first hit the screen. I've seen some bad stuff just because he was in it, but NOTHING could have prepared me for how mind-numbingly, stupifyingly, baaaaaaaad this movie is. I laughed once. *Exactly* once, and that was in the brief moment when one of the characters leaves the frat house after losing his virginity, but only during the brief moments when he was high-fiving extras. The moment he began interacting with the leads the film turned south again.
Tom Green was so stupidly unfunny in this movie that he could have been replaced by a marionette operated by a mute with no decrease in the quality of the performance.
Even Breckin's most ardent supporters should avoid this piece of dreck. People who don't know who he is, but who see this film, should take my word for it that he IS a funny actor. Unless he is in an appallingly unfunny movie ... like this one.
Movie Madness (1982)
I chuckled a few times during this movie. I laughed out loud during the notarizing of the margarine company handover (pun intended).
There are three segments in this movie. The first one is supposed to be a spoof of "woman 'grows up' and launches career" movies. The Tampax® box was the funniest thing in this segment. Most of the cast members aren't listed here on IMDb. They are the lucky ones. Few other people will be able to connect this thing to the ruin of their acting careers.
The second segment is a spoof of "sharkish woman sleeps her way to the top and seizes control of huge industry" movies. Robert Culp has several funny moments, all physical humor, including the aforementioned handover. After his character dies the segment sinks lower and lower as Dominique Corsaire rises higher and higher. By the time she becomes First Lady I wanted to rip the cable out of the TV and watch "snow." I switched to Pakistani music videos instead. I don't understand Urdu, or whatever language the videos were in. It was still better than listening to the dialogue in this painfully dull "story."
Then came "Municipalians" with the *big* stars, half of them on screen for less than a minute: Elisha Cook, Jr., Christopher Lloyd, Rhea Perlman, Henny Youngman, Julie Kavner, Richard Widmark and ... *Robby Benson.* It's supposed to be a spoof of "young cop teams with hardened, substance abusing older cop who needs retirement *badly*" movies. The horizontal flash bar on the police car is very impressive. It was interesting seeing old RTD buses, and a Shell gas station sign, and an American Savings sign -- none of them are around anymore. Nagurski's "Never stop anywhere you might have to get out the car" made me smile momentarily. Then they discuss how boring the young cop is. A lot. Back and forth about how boring he is. That was as boring as this description of how boring it is. Nagurski's Law Number Four, "Never go into a music store that's been cut into with an acetylene torch," made me think that the music store is a real business at the actual location the dispatcher gave. Thinking about that was more interesting than the set-up for the gag which followed. Young Falcone (Benson) gets shot. A lot. He becomes a hardened cop like Nagurski. The segment keeps going. On and on. And on. It won't stop. It rolls relentlessly onward no matter how many times you wish he'd just *die* already so this thing will end. It doesn't. It goes on and on and on.... Then a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode which I've seen four times already comes on. Thank God! This abysmal movie ended while I went to get the mail.
On-Air with Ryan Seacrest (2004)
Mind-Numblingly Bad Extended Commercial for Fox TV
The only good thing about this hour-long, five times a week commercial for other Fox TeeVee shows is that it is filmed at Hollywood and Highland and the audience can look through the windows and watch the traffic outside. It's certainly more interesting than Ryan Seacrest, who seems to have no existence outside of the narrow world of "American Idol" and presenting the latest losers -- day after day after day after mind-numbing day. At what point do we get to grab hold of Nielsen viewers, shake them, and scream, "These people LOST! America has spoken! We do NOT want to ever see them again!"? Occasionally some publicist will manage to land an actual celebrity on the show, someone who ISN'T appearing on some other Fox TeeVee show later in the week, but such appearances are few and far between. Anyone with a Nielsen or Arbitron gig who watches this show should be reprimanded. Sternly. They deserve it for tying up an hour of airtime for the rest of us.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001)
Pitiful in comparison to the 1971 series
I learned a big chunk of my English history from the 1971 series of this same name(http://imdb.com/title/tt0066714/combined), and it still ranks as an awesome event, if only in memory now. This one, for all its merits, falls flat in comparison.
A few weeks ago I tuned into this newer series and was shocked at how dull and insipid it seemed compared to the great drama of the original. Decades on I can still remember the thunder of individual lines from the 1971 series ("Anne, Queen of England, come into the court!"), the cruel sight of Henry showing Jane the money-grubbing trickery used by the monks whom she loved, the poignant desperation of Anne of Cleves and the strength of Catherine Parr. There is little memorable in the 2001 version.
The great moments of conflict are not acted out passionately in this history. They are merely narrated, or original documents are read. How stale and unprofitable by comparison to the first great "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"! Although it may be unfair to compare a documentary series with a drama, the producers and the BBC invited the comparison with their choice of title. If the goal is to teach history and teach it so that it is remembered, this version fails the test against the standard set in 1971. PBS, give us back the original!
Les cartes vivantes (1904)
THIS is what the movies are all about!
"The Living Playing Cards" (_Les Cartes vivantes_) is what cinema is all about -- *magic!* Méliès himself plays The Magician, and he is truly amazing as he performs card tricks on stage, acting well as he asks the audience if a card he has drawn is "our" card, then reacts with disappointment as he realizes it is not, but then recovering with aplomb as he attempts to make up for his error by outdoing himself with each new card trick, culminating in his not just making a life-sized card come to life, but finally ... well, that would be telling!
Méliès once wrote that a film director must be prepared to work not only as the director, but as the writer, the camera operator, and an actor as well, if necessary. He was all of those things and did them all extremely well. Now if only I could figure out how he pulled off that last card trick....
A Knight's Tale (2001)
Stinks like five day old fish
What more can I say about how awful this movie is than what other people have already said, except that if Freddy Mercury weren't already dead, he'd die just for the satisfaction of rolling over in his grave!
From "Roar" to this piece of rancid offal is but a small step. It's also a big part of Heath Ledger's career so far. Instead of protecting us from Janet Jackson's boobies, the FCC should be protecting us from Heath Ledger's historical destructionist films. Instead of protecting us from South Park's Canadian language, the MPAA should be protecting us from any movie that Ledger is in, which requires him to wear any clothing that went out of fashion more than two seasons ago.
Pfaugh! This movie stinks!