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wchngliu

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I Expected Better From This Anime, 2 September 2011
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I stumbled upon this Anime on Wikipedia's list of Anime based on video games page by chance and thought that it would be as good as the original Streetfighter Anime from 1994.

Sadly however, Streetfighter IV: The Tide That Bides is no where as amazing as its previous effort as this one is disappointing.

The plot takes place before the Streetfighter 4 game so it's a prequel to it. Characters in Guy, Dhalsim, Fei Long, Blanka, E. Honda and Dee Jay to Streetfighter 4 newcomers El Fuerte, Rufus, Juri, Hakan are all absent and are nowhere to be seen. However, it makes one wonder why is this actually called Streetfighter 4, when in which one say one third of the characters from the game are in it? It makes no sense.

Much of the movie involves the characters spending a large chunk of the film having a conversation- and less on the fighting and action sequences. The main storyline involves Ken, Ryu and Crimson Viper with Chun Li and Guile playing second fiddle to the trio and although it was the writers attempt to make this watchable, it became overdrawn and turned out to be a snooze fest. It got to me that the writers or whoever it was decided to make Crimson so annoying, arrogant and obnoxious.

Because when I played Super Streetfighter 4, as she is a CIA agent, I assumed she would be a tough character with a heart. Viper in the games is a cool chick, but here she could've been easily mistaken as one of the villains.

The animation is OK at best, although the colours look muted and drab. The character designs I thought are somewhat good - Anime standard that is, but they're not great.

I still dislike the live- action Streetfighter flick of 1994 with Van Damme more and would rank this below that and the recent legend of Chun Li movie in third place.

If they put more time and effort into it, it would've been a terrific Anime; but alas, this was a waste of an opportunity & a waste of the Streetfighter 4 franchise.

In all, a huge disappointment and inferior to the Streetfighter 2 Anime, which is still class 17 years on.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Virtua Fighter Anime Does Justice To Its Gaming Franchise, 29 August 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am a huge fan of the Virtua Fighter video games and when I saw that there was an anime based on it, I thought I'd check it out to see whether it is worth seeing again.

Compared to the King Of Fighters and Streetfighter anime movie and the TV series, this one is up there with the best. Akira Yuki, who is the main protagonist of the games goes on a quest to see the 8 Stars of Heaven. In addition, Sarah Bryant- Jacky Bryant's sister gets kidnapped by Koenkan (in the game's plot, they are known as J6) and is brainwashed by a evil scientist named Eva Durix, who uses her fighting techniques to create the ultimate android known as Dural.

Along the way, Akira with Jacky, Pai Chan meet up with French teen Lion Rafale- whose family have struck deals with terrorists over illegal arms, ninja Kage Maru, Aboriginal Australian fisherman Jeffry, Canadian wrestler, Wolf and herbal doctor, Shun Di to help defeat Koenkan.

It's almost as faithful to the actual games and beats the Tekken: the motion picture anime and has been praised by a number of critics and I can see why.

It's funny, well- animated, the story-lines and the characterisations throughout are excellent. The Virtua Fighter anime is one of the very few video game screen adaptations, which rightly and faithfully sticks close to the original source material and doesn't divert from it. It helps when the developers, SEGA had a hand in the show.

Even if you have never played the games before, the story lines will hook you in and the fighting scenes are sure to get your attention.

If there is one thing I wish to point out though is the characterisations of Akira and Jacky are slightly off and reversed; likewise, in the series Akira is goofy, jokey and enjoys to slack off and Jacky tends to be more serious. In the game, Akira comes off as the more disciplined one and Jacky is more brash, confident and upbeat than his anime counterpart. But these are just minor in discrepancies that do little to tarnish the series.

The first series was televised in Japan back in 1995 and there was a second series that followed after that. The only English dubbed version was the first season, which is a shame given it is such a good show. Virtua fighter did air in the West but due to falling sales, the company who distributed the rights of the show outside of Japan, decided not to dub the second series in English. Alas, no western licenser picked up season 2.

I'd like to see a new VF anime in English but a more up-to-date one with characters like Eileen, Aoi, Jean Kujo, Brad, Goh, Lei Fei and Vanessa from VF 4 and 5 added to it.

Undoubtedly one of the better video game anime's produced, Virtua Fighter certainly packs a punch. And a kick. If you are a fan of the games, be sure to give this a watch.

Rating:

*8.5 out of10

Arguably,The Best Black British Sitcom Ever, 18 January 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Desmonds was one of channel 4's most successful U.K sitcoms during the late 80s and what made it so appealing to mainstream and black audiences was the funny- yet well depicted life of a Black family led by 2 Jamaican born parents, Desmond and Shirley and their British born kids, Sean and Gloria.

Desmonds is the name of the barber shop, Desmond Ambrose runs alongside his wife Shirley. There are 4 other supporting characters: Tony, the token Caucasian who is a fellow barber, Porkpie and Matthew, the African who comes across as being very intellectual and offers a philosophical insight on life. Lastly is Desmond and Shirley's other son, the somewhat stuck-up and sophisticated Michael, who works in a bank.

What makes Desmonds different to every other Black sitcom that has been around on television and are on TV today firstly is it is mainly centred on Black British Caribbean culture, as opposed to African American Black culture in the U.S. It was not the first ever Black sitcom to air on TV but it was the first set in a work environment.

Many Black communities in the U.K and England, tend to be either of Jamaican or African descent in contrast to the U.S. Which explains a lot about the differences between Black British culture and Black American culture. Desmonds was a sitcom that showed the lives of a working man and his family and it gave us a glimpse of this infusion of Black British, Caribbean culture with some 'western' aspects and conventions of the sitcom genre.

Secondly, the humour is very quint-essentially British-like-like with a Caribbean flavour to it; it works so amazingly well.

Desmonds is well- written, very funny and the characters are very likable. I think it was a shame that as a result of Norman Beaton's death that the series had to end so prematurely. Had that not happened, then I could've seen it last for a few more series.

Desmond's was a great little sitcom- if you haven't seen it yet, I'd recommend that you do!

Good Clean Fun, 14 October 2010
8/10

I caught some episodes of 'What's happening!!' on You Tube last year and being a U.S sitcom fan myself, I had to give this one a try. I thought it was very good.

From the writer of Good Times, 'What's Happening!' followed the trials and tribulations of young Raj aka Roger, the family he lives with and his friends, Rerun and and Dwayne.

Raj had a mother, Mabel going by the name of mama, who was single and a sister named Dee. She was somewhat interesting because at times i found some of the things she uttered funny, but also on occasions she'd annoy me. But props go to Danielle Spencer who for someone so young at the time, then possessed so much comedic talent.

Raj, Rerun and Dwayne often hang out at Shirley's café and talk about things together, which a lot of it was humorous but good natured as well. The 3 teens along the way experience love, more about what friendship means and through Raj see his relationship with his sister and mother grow, in addition to experiencing more problems and resolving them. Shirl was a hoot at times and was such a fun character.

What's Happening had a very good run, in spite of the fact it was overshadowed by the likes of The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Diff'rent Strokes and Good Times. There was a follow-up titled 'What's Happening Now', but that series didn't do so well in contrast to its predecessor.

Being in my 20s and entering my 30s, I've become more used to see shows that I never managed to see when they aired in the U.S via the internet and You Tube because I was too young to know or have heard of them. People lauded the Jeffersons, Good times and What's Happening as great shows and having seen episodes of those programmes I could see why.

This series deals with in particular the notion of how being a child of a single parent doesn't mean one is at a complete disadvantage from other children as seen mostly from Raj's perspective; with friends by your side, such as Re-Run and Dwayne, Raj still was happy, content and had fun in his teen-hood. And later on through the spin-off, What's Happening Now, he got married and a had a wife of his own, whilst still retaining his friends.

What's Happening is good, clean fun and if you love your classic American sitcoms, you should give this one a watch. It's funny, well-written and scripted and the performances are very, very good.

Recommended.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Forerunner To Friends: Amusing, Light-Hearted -Yet Far More Intelligent, 15 July 2010
8/10

Living single was lauded as the African-American version of Designing Women and Friends. With the latter show being a forerunner to Living Single.

Like Friends, it was based in New York- only this time in Brooklyn and as opposed to just 3 guys and 3 girls, there were 2 guys and 4 girls who all hanged out in a little apartment.

The show's ensemble cast was one of the best, let alone in a Black sitcom; Queen Latifah was superb as Khadijah- she was laid-back but also, had a no-nonsense yet still firm attitude. Erika was at times hilarious as Maxine, Kim Fields was very, very good as Regine and managed to be sharp and sweet too. My favourite was Synclaire (notice the spelling, there is an 'e' at the end of it); played by actress and later TV host, Kim Coles. She was by and large the Black version of 'Phoebe' from Friends. Kooky- yet subtle, quirky and silly. Which is good!

Another Friends- like character was Kyle- he was the show's version of Ross but he was less goofy and more reserved, he came off as being very 'dashing' and exquisite in contrast. Almost posh-like. And last but not least was Overton- he was the more laid-back, easy going, fun loving guy.

Arguably, most of the jokes and funnier moments were much better handled and executed well; thus, it stood out more than NBC's worldwide hit, Friends. Each character had their own agendas, as well as individual personalities and the actors all had depth and they brought something different to them to make them as likable as interesting as they are.

I also noticed whilst watching a few of the episodes that there seemed to be an air of intelligence, especially in the writing that made this head and shoulders above many other black sitcoms. Not just in the 90s but the early 00s as well. For instance, whilst Synclaire was portrayed as being an 'air-head' in many respects, she was also very loyal, compassionate and had a innocent and endearing charm about her. Nearly child-like that is. The scripting of Living Single was excellent.

One's initial viewing of this show would be this is a 'chick' show, but for a so-called chick sitcom, Living Single was both clever AND amusing.

I read also that like many sitcoms over the last decade, Living Single fell foul to terrible writing towards the last couple of open-ended episodes of the final season, which later resulted in its cancellation by network Fox- only for the series to be brought back and wrapped up in the final 3 eps.

Living Single was very under-rated as a show; the characters were well developed and story-lines were well-written; the writers did extremely well in juggling and handling both the humour and drama.

The rights were never bought in the UK, and so I don't recall Living Single ever being shown on terrestrial and satellite TV over here. But I have watched a couple of the episodes on-line and for me, it is a really good sitcom. It's a shame that U.S TV has stopped making sitcoms such as this nowadays. Sitcoms that put a smile on your face and with an ongoing plot line, because right now, the TV market is currently saturated with reality TV and drama.

Overall, it was and still is amusing, light-hearted and one of the most intelligent sitcom shows around. Living Single may not have been an outright sitcom classic, yet it was terrific fun that during the 00s its relatively short success was later followed by the likes of 'Girlfriends'- another sitcom that was remarkably similar to Living Single in many respects.

Living Single was a show that was fresh and unique that deserved to be handled much, much better than it was by Fox.

"Fame" (1982)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
In Hindsight, The TV Show Was Superior To The Movie, 19 January 2010
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just like with the movie, I myself was too young to ever remember the TV series of Fame. I was 1 years old at the time (was born in 1981 and an 80s baby)- I never saw a single episode on TV in the UK when it was aired. But as I grew up, especially in the 00s, I read lots of things on the internet about 80s pop culture and the impact it had everywhere. Fame, as well as Flashdance and Footloose were the embodiment of the 1980s dance revolution. Culturally, it spawned things like Lycra and knee length socks.

The Fame TV series was launched in 1982 amidst the back of the global success of the film itself- yet whilst the movie was gritty, raw and powerful in places, fans especially felt as if they knew very little about the characters themselves and how they had ended up at the performing arts school in New York. Thankfully, throughout the 6 seasons, the show was able to address that issue and focus more on the characters and their individual and collective situations.

The movie was good, but looking back on it, it did lack that element of 'character' development. Yes we got to see Coco, Montgomery, Doris, Danny and Leroy but their parts were relatively speaking very small. There was also criticism from some fans that the themes in the movie rendition were too adult-orientated and R-rated, for a film supposedly depicting life at and behind a performing arts school. As well as the film played on 'stereotypes'- i.e. the black kid who is angry, aggressive in the shape of Leroy; Montgomery the closeted homosexual.

Fame's appeal was now broad and mainstream- the movie's swearing, nudity, R-rated hardcore stuff had to be 'cleaned up'. Again, die- hard fans of the movie weren't too happy with this, but for everybody else it was just what this series needed to further extend its mass appeal to the audience.

Dance student Coco Hernandez was now played by Erica Gimpel- she replaced Irene Cara, the original actress of that role in the movie, after she had disagreements, issues with the people behind Fame and her record company with regards to royalty payments for her hit, 'Fame'. In addition, the roles of Montgomery and wisecracks Doris Schwaltz and Danny Armatullo were performed by P.R Paul, Valarie Lansberg and Carlo Imperato respectively.

The only main cast survivors from the original movie to make their transition to the small screen were Gene Anthony Ray as would- be dancer, Leroy Jonston and Lee Cureri as music student Bruno Martelli. and then- newcomer, Julie aka Lori Singer joined the ranks.

Carol Mayo Jenkins played English Lit teacher, Miss Sherwood, Professor Shorofsky was undertaken by the late Albert Hague and last but not least, Lydia Grant- who having lusted after Leroy in the movie, became a hard- as- nails, tough talking drill sergeant/ dance tutor. She was played by the ever talented and sublime, Debbie Allen.

Debbie Allen's role in the movie was once again very minor, but in the show itself, she became a regular cast member and as Lydia waved her magic wand, slipped on her dancing shoes and danced and sang like never before. For all her production, directorial efforts on other shows, her association with Fame will live on in memory for generations to come. She was in many respects, the heartbeat of and driving force behind 'Fame's success and phenomenon. Almost everything she touched turned to gold. Debbie choreographed most of the dance routines, directed and produced the show, as well as act, dance AND she sang on the show too. Just wow!

I recently purchased the first season on DVD and throughout each episode, I was engrossed in and drawn by the quality of the story lines, as well as the dialogue. The writing in Fame is superb. The characterisations were much better suited for the small screen, as opposed to the big screen and it showed throughout with each episode. The original music numbers are great too, I felt like dancing myself! And the performances from all the cast members were fantastic.

Overall, the TV series of Fame is better than the original movie. It is very much an extended version of the movie but has none of the expletives and adult themes. Of course, there was also the remake of the movie that came out in 2009 and whilst that is also more family orientated, that version of Fame is aimed more at the kiddie market, as opposed to (elder generations of) fans of the original film and TV show.

If you are a fan of the 80s, and want to feel artistically and creatively inspired, then be sure to get and watch Fame the TV series.

'Fame', we'll always remember your name! ;)

Fame (1980)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Gritty Yet At times Moving Look At Performing Arts And Its Students, 19 October 2009
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fame was released in the U.S. a year before I was born; I was too young to ever remember the original version of Fame- and yet I heard and read numerous things about it. Such as the fact that it spawned a TV series and that its soundtrack was led by the Irene Cara, Giogio Moroder hit, 'Fame'.

Fame was arguably the first of its kind to portray and showcase the world of performing arts in the form of a feature length film. The lives, the struggles, the hurdles the students and some of the teachers undergo themselves were under the eye of the viewers.

The performances were great, yet one which caught my eye in particular was Gene Anthony Ray, who played the troublesome yet promising Leroy. Angry, frustrated and at first rude, his character later became less angry and frustrated and more committed to his studies- not just with the practical in the performing but in the theoretical too. Irene Cara was good as Coco- the scene with her taking her blouse off while some pervy director was filming her was rather discomforting to watch-, as well as Paul McCrane for his amazing portrayal of a vulnerable but closeted homosexual trying to cope with life and enrolling on a performing arts school in New York, after he had been kicked out of the military when he told them he was gay. Ralph played by Barry Miller was interesting but at times, his character did grate on my nerves.

The choreography was excellent, there were some good dance numbers involved and the 'hot lunch' scene in the cafeteria was worth watching. Another scene that was great was when the 'Fame' song was played and all the kids started rushing out into the streets of New York and danced wildly and without a care in the world. It was a street jam like no other.

The only star to ever truly benefit from this in the long run was and is Debbie Allen- she later became a producer, director and star- though she mostly worked behind the scenes on shows such as Everybody Hates Chris and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Paul McCrane later went on to star alongside Peter Weller in the movie, 'Robocop', where he played a villain and E.R. as the judgemental, obnoxious Doctor Romano.

British director Alan Parker shot this really well- he allowed the performers to dance, act, sing to their hearts content without wanting to interfere with and affect their styles.

Throughout the duration of the movie, we see the various stages the students encounter during their 4 years- from their auditions to freshman year, all the way up to graduation in New York's High School For The Arts.

Fame is one of those movies which caters for or is aimed at a particular audience that isn't necessarily the general mainstream movie loving community- it is definitely NOT for everyone.

I for one enjoyed it because I have an interest in the arts- not technically in terms of being a performer because I am not one but as someone who appreciates that creativity and artistic expression can be channelled through hard work, commitment and passion towards what one does with their talents. Therefore, if you are an aspiring dancer, actor- or just someone who is creative, you might be interested in a movie such as this- though whether the events in Fame are anything like what it is in a performing arts college/school in real life, then that is a completely different matter altogether.

The 2009 remake of this movie was released recently and frankly, it virtually pales by comparison.

As for the original Fame, almost 30 years on though yes it is a bit dated but it is still a great movie, nonetheless.

It's not an outright classic but as a 80s cult classic, in line with other 80s dance hit movies, such as Footloose and Flashdance, Fame hits the spot. Isn't it a coincidence that all those dance movies begin with the letter 'F'?

Gritty, moving and intriguing, this one is worth a watch.

Not Bad, But That's As Far As It Goes, 16 September 2009
6/10

I saw this movie when it was premiered on Channel 4 for the first time on Sunday 13 September, this year and I have to say that afterwards I thought it was okay, at best.

Take The Lead is basically 'Fame' mixed in with elements from the Australian flick, 'Strictly Ballroom' and 'Dangerous Minds'- but whereas those movies in their own way, captured the essence of triumph over adversity and the idea of working hard to get to where you want to be and in Fame's case, combining it with dance, Take The Lead doesn't necessarily quite hit the mark.

It wasn't by any means awful, but neither was it fantastic- yet it was entertaining to say the least. I expected more in terms of what was happening, but it just didn't materialise throughout the duration of the movie.

I did feel that some parts of the movie were a little too over-exaggerated and corny, but they didn't put me off from watching it the whole way through.

Antonio Banderas's performance wasn't his best, but with regards to the material he was given, he made the most out of it and at times, he really asserted his authority in this film. As his character tries to instill confidence, passion to his students and motivating them to take a keen interest in ballroom dancing.

The choreography was good though- well executed and captured and shot on camera brilliantly, the acting was good in places, but the script was somewhat of a letdown.

I really wanted to enjoy this movie a lot- instead, it didn't live up to what I expected from it, and I expected more from 'Take The Lead'.

The ending especially disappointed me and I felt this was a let down, given that it didn't go to great lengths to tie up the loose ends of the characters' own predicaments. I'm not sure that many people who have watched or will watch the movie will buy that ending completely. I didn't.

If you're expecting something similar on the lines of 'Fame', 'Strictly Ballroom' then you can forget it. It is entertaining to watch yes and it is not bad, but that's about it. If you do watch 'Take the Lead', then it is probably best to do so for the choreography than for anything else.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dynamite! Good Times Was Good Fun, 6 September 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like The Jeffersons, Good Times was one of the those classic American sitcoms which was never aired in the UK, not to mention it came out in the 1970s- a decade where of which I wasn't born yet.

But like most fans of the show, I watched a few episodes on You Tube- and afterwards, I loved it.

The Evans family are headed by James and Florida- two parents trying to make ends meet, and who despite their lack of qualifications, encourage their children, who have their own aspirations in life to fulfil them and to take their chances. James was the strict but loving dad, who didn't dare hesitate in disciplining J.J, Michael and Thelma- should they over-step the line. Whilst Florida, in contrast was a fair, kind- hearted and considerate mother and loving wife, although she was in many ways similar to James, with regards to their attitudes to parenthood and family values from an Afro- American perspective.

The kids were just as lively and entertaining as the parents themselves: J.J was an aspiring artist with a goofy personality and crazy sense of humour, who would often wear multi-coloured outfits, and whose 'DY-NO-MITE' catchphrase is as infectious and familiar as Arnold Jackson's 'Whatchoo talking' 'bout Willis?' from Diff'rent Strokes. Michael was the smart-alec, who dreams of becoming a lawyer, whilst sister Thelma had her own dreams and hopes. Her verbal taunts with J.J were mostly hilarious, as was the love/hate relationship between brother and sister, which was played out extremely well by both Jimmie Walker and Bernadette Stanis.

Over the seasons, there were a few cameo appearances made, most notably from Janet Jackson, Debbie Allen and a young Gary Coleman as himself! I actually prefer Good Times over say, The Cosby Show, which was an 80s show because a) I preferred the Evans family over the Huxtables, both in terms of a) characterisation and b)as I felt it tackled serious and difficult social issues, in a way that resonated with many viewers. It was a comedy but it was also a social commentary which aimed to highlight the lives of working class, Afro- Americans in 1970s America. The Cosby Show attempted to cater to the mainstream audience in a 'candy coated' way, as the Huxtables were portrayed as Blacks who easily assimilated themselves into an upper-class U.S culture we would associate Whites with, whereas Good Times in contrast was much more 'edgier' and it was not afraid to address themes such as drug and child abuse in a realistic way. I actually found that whilst The Cosby Show can be fun to watch at times, it lacked that bit of 'sassiness' which Good Times has and of which made it trendier and cooler.

The show did jump the shark during the latter seasons, as it continued after John Amos's character, James died in a freak accident (in reality, it was known at the time that John had quit Good Times for good. And so, his character's death was written as it is on the show). Without John, the show suffered and alas, it lost a lot of its charm.

Still, for a sitcom, Good Times ticked all the right boxes. If only they had shown this in the UK during the 80s. As it certainly is, as JJ would put it, 'DY-NO-MITE!!'

My rating: 8 and a half

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An Underrated Gem Which Should Have Lasted More Than One Season, 21 October 2008
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the animation company who gave us Transformers in the 80s and 90s incarnations of Marvel Comics's X-men and Spiderman on the small screen, TMS Entertainment made a follow-up to Transformers, in response to its success on TV and its popular toy line, titled: Visionaries- Knights of the Magical Light.

Two sets of enemies: one good, one bad- the good being the Spectral Knights, the other the Darkling Lords, with Merklyn the great wizard maintaining order, do battle against each other. Each member possesses their own weapon and is acquired with a set of special powers that enable them to magically transform into animals, best represented by the holographic emblems- or be it totems on their chest. They are also assigned to a particular animal, such as a lion, whale, a grizzly bear and a wolf to name for example. Thus, the animal also tends to, but not always reflect and connote the personality of each group member.

The series combines medieval shivery with futuristic special effects, which is and was the first of its kind to do so- think 'King Arthur' mixed with elements from Transformers, Jayce and the Wheeled warriors and Galaxy Rangers and you'll get the picture.

The dialogue was impressive, the concept is original and something that has never been attempted before for an animated show. The quality of the animation was faultless and the characters were well designed; and whereas they were often complex and detailed, the plots were unique, interesting and well- devised. As for the voice-acting, it was one of the best from any animated series.

The fact that it only lasted 13 episodes- which frankly equals to one measly season was criminal; given as this doesn't do this franchise any justice whatsoever. Visionaries was a very under-rated cartoon and one of the most overlooked ones, back in the 80s.

This is one of the many cartoons that deserve to make a comeback and be possibly remade for older and future generations of fans and admirers of Visionaries (and if it does so, to retain the original premise, design and feel of the show). I may have been a little girl at the time when this came out over 20 years, but I loved the action-packed cartoons the 80s had- and Visionaries was no exception. As it is an underrated gem.

It deserves to be released on DVD in the UK.


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