May 10 2013
Back from 1995, Bon Jovi performs Jon’s solo hit Blaze Of Glory live in London.
May 2 2013
2 years after the first Mad Mission movie and a year after the first sequel, Mad Mission 3 : Our Man From Bond Street (in the dubbed English release; the Cantonese language version was called Aces Go Places 3). This time the movie was directed by Tsui Hark and co-produced by Karl Maka, Dean Shek & Raymond Wong Bak-Ming. Samuel Hui once again stars with Maka and Slyvia Chang with a supporting role by Peter Graves (Mission Impossible tv series) & Peter Kiel (Jaws from two James Bond movies). Sam’s love interest in this movie is played by Naomi Otsubo. This time the prime target of the satire is the James Bond series. Jade East
Sam (Sam Hui) is in Paris when he is sightseeing as a tourist. As he scans the area with a telescopic sight, a black leather clad babe sets up a rocket launcher behind him. As he swings around, the girl fires the rocket. He leaps out of the way at the last second, and then chases the girl on foot. As he is about to interogate her, a motorboat approaches them on the river and an Oddjob (from the James Bond movie Goldfinger) lookalike attacks him with a steel rimmed hat. Sam runs into the elevator leading to the top of the Effiel tower and finds Jaws awaiting him. Sam manages to evade both Oddjob & Jaws and jumps into the river but is captured by a submarine that looks like a shark. As he looks around he finds that he has been kidnapped by a British agent called James Seal (Jean Marchent) who wants to recover one of the stolen crown jewels, the Star of Fortune. James claims that he is sent by the Queen, who also shows up (a look alike, unknown to Sam) and further incentive is give to Sam in the shape of Jade East, a lovely assistant. Sam agrees meekly.
For some reason, the jewel is hidden at the headquarters of the Hong Kong police, meaning that Sam will have to steal the jewel without the knowledge of his best friend, Cody Jack. So Sam setups a dinner with him & Cody Jack and when Jade East shows up, Sam tells Cody to stall her for an hour or so while he hides behind a newspaper. Even though he and his wife, the fiery Superintendent Hot Tongue, have a new baby in their house, their tempestuous relationship produces as many fireworks as ever, with Cody ready to walk out. Fancing himself to be a Lothario, Cody sits with Jade, while Sam sets up decoy arms to hold the newspaper and goes and completes the heist – with some awesome moves. Initially, suspicions fall on Sam but Cody offers a solid alibi and the cops looks elsewhere. But Cody finds out by pure chance as to how Sam fooled him so he & Hot Tongue sets a new kind of lie detector test for Sam but he turns the tables on Cody by talking about how Cody was fawning all over Jade. Knowing what Sam says was true, Jade storms out and leaves Cody with the baby in their apartment for the night.
A second jewel is on display at a hall which is guarded heavily due to the other one being stolen. Hot Tongue is in charge of security and the cops are on the look out for Sam. Jade sends in several kids from a playschool as a distraction and suddenly several men in Santa Claus outfits also join the hall. Sam is among them and they stage the next heist using the kids as a distraction and steal the jewel. The thieves escape on bikes but Sam is caught by Cody Jack, who was late to his job and who fakes a breathing issue so Sam would approach him in concern. Sam is brought to a meeting with the heads of the police & military, along with Cody Jack & Hot Tongue and are introduced to Agent Tom Collins (Graves) who tells him about James Seal & the fake Queen. Sam & his friends join hands to get the jewels back by infiltrating the submarine and with cops taking the place of an Arab sheikh and his people who want to purchase the jewels from James. With help from Jade and the fake Queen, who has a change of heart, the 3 friends are successful. However James escapes and at an event to felicitate the 3 heroes, he kidnaps Cody’s & Hot Tongue’s baby and demands the return of the jewels of he will drop the baby from a high tower. After some tussling, James is defeated and the baby is saved by our heroes.
1986 saw the release of Mad Mission 4 : You Never Die Twice (Aces Go Places 4 in Hong Kong) directed by Ringo Lam, and starring Sam Hui and Karl Maka with Sylvia Chang (who looks much hotter here with longer hair) and Sally Yeh as the new love interest for Sam in his every changing list of leading ladies. This time the main setting is in New Zealand, where Sam is meeting a professor at a pub. However on the way, the professor is shot by suited men in cars. Sam manages to chase them out and call an ambulance but the professor dies in his arms. Later Sam goes to the research facility where the professor wanted him to go to. At the center Sam is the subject undergoing an experiment, using a special prism that, when stimulated by lasers, turns human beings into supermen. But before the experiment can be completed, the laboratory is attacked by the same men in suits, only with a lot more backup and a helicopter. The professor dies (of a bullet wound to his leg apparently) and our bumbling thief ends up with the glass pyramid in hand and escapes with the scientist’s clumsy daughter, Sally, in tow.
A superb chase follows with Sam on a speedboat and the helicopter in the air which gets destroyed when it crashes against a mountain. Sally had left and promised to meet Sam in Hong Kong. Once back in Hong Kong, Sam joins Codyjack in an ice hockey game, pitting the Hong Kong police vs Interpol (dressed like the away jerseys of the Boston Bruins & the Detroit Redwings respectively). Sam & Coy are ejected from the game after they help even the score but get into a big fight on the ice. As they are in the locker room, Sally joins them and right behind are the men in suits led by the big bald guy. A huge fight ensues and Cody leaves with the prism but gets no help from his chief. Back in his apartment, his son Junior & Hot Tongue are attacked by the men in suits and she is taken captive and they tell Cody that he is to bring the prism to their boss, a Chinese tycoon, at his hideout in New Zealand if he wants to see his wife alive again. With Sam & Junior in tow Cody heads to Hong Kong where they are greeted at the airport by Sally, who has fallen in love with Sam. After a brief altercation with Cody (where Sally proceeds to slam him against the floor), they go out to get to Sally’s car but dumb lothario wannabe Cody gets enticed by two Kiwi women to get into their car – surprise they are members of the tycoons gang. The ladies take Cody & Junior to the hideout while Sam & Sally chase.
Getting some weapons and a plane Sam & Sally make their way to the hideout only to be captured on the spot by the big bald guy. In the lab Cody is experimented upon and the lasers activate the prism and he is hit with the emissions, giving him superhuman strength. He awakens and smashes the lab, with no recollection of who he is or who his friends are. He even hits out at Sam & Hot Tongue but Sally trips him and he gets electrocuted & falls down seemingly dead. In grief Sam goes on a killing spree and tries to get the ladies & Junior to safety but Hot Tongue refuses to leave Cody’s corpse behind. As Sam tries to drag the body, it catches fire from the lab and Cody is shocked awake – and he is himself again! No super strength but the same bumbling baldy! With a happy reunion, the 3 friends take Junior & Sally with them and leave in the plane as the tycoon’s lab lays wasted and he himself is dead.
The series takes a turn for the worse after the 3rd movie and the fourth one isn’t as fun & exciting as the other 3. I’d give the 3rd movie a 7.5 outta 10 and the 4th movie just a 6 outta 10!
Apr 28 2013
Do you remember your favourite childhood toys? Let’s see how many of you beyond the age of 30 (like me who is 36) can remember stuff that they payed with 20 + years ago.
I remember a few stuff like my cars. I had several sets of toy cars, some with wind up thingies in them that made them move. My pride and job where the miniature models of the Knight Rider car (a Transam) with a reflector light sticker on the front that made it look like the display on the actual car, KIT! I played with that a lot and it even would be displayed with pride on the front shelves in our living room.
I had a rollercoster type race track with little cars that you could set and have a race with other kids. It allowed 4 cars at one time and it was a fun little activity with friends or cousins. I knew that broke when I tried carrying it up the stairs and it slipped from my hands. Still had the cars till I was 12 and then I packed them away.
I had a lion’s head that was attached to a belt and you could tie it around your waist. A button allowed you to play different roars and sound effects and with lights flashing out of the lion’s eyes and mouth. In the dark it was really cool. Needless to say all the kids loved it as well.
I had a few action figures from the He-man & the Masters of the Universe collection and my favourites were of He-Man and of Prince Adam, his alter ego which came separate. The figures were directly from Mattel, the makers of the comic & cartoon series and hence the resemblance was authentic.
Those are the ones that I can remember off the top of my head. What were yours?
Apr 22 2013
A look back at the first Alice Cooper album I ever bought. I’m not a huge fan but I love this guy and I rock this song. Feed My Frankenstein is from the 1991 album Hey Stoopid and was also on the Wayne’s World movie & soundtrack.
Apr 19 2013
Yes you’ve seen them or atleast heard of them or maybe you’ve heard some of the music – but there is just no escaping the trio of Spaghetti Westerns that Italian director Sergio Leone unleashed on an unsuspecting public who would go on to worship them and elevate the said movies to cult, classic status. Commonly referred to as either the Dollars Trilogy or the “Man With No Name Trilogy”, a trilogy following the exploits of the same so-called “Man with No Name” (Clint Eastwood, wearing the same clothes and acting with the same mannerisms). The “Man with No Name” concept was invented by the American distributor United Artists, looking for a strong angle to sell the movies as a trilogy. Eastwood’s character does indeed have a name – albeit a nickname – and a different one in each film: “Joe,” “Manco,” and “Blondie,” respectively.
Fistful Of Dollars is first of the trilogy, released in 1964 starring Clint as the Stranger – a quick as lightning gunslinger – with Gian Maria Volente as the main villain. Marianne Koch, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, José Calvo, Antonio Prieto, and Joseph Egger play supporting roles. A remake of Akiro Kurusawa’s 1961 classic Yojimbo, the movie was subjected to a lawsuit. The movie is about a stranger who arrives in a small Mexican border town of San Miguel. After seeing a young boy sneaking into a building to meet a lady (who we learn is his enslaved mother) and being beaten up by some men, the stranger enters a inn. innkeeper, Silvanito, tells the Stranger about the bitter feud between two families vying to gain control of the town: on the one side, the Rojo brothers, consisting of Don Miguel, Esteban, and Ramón; on the other, the family of the town sheriff, John Baxter. The stranger senses an opportunity to play both families against each other and waits for the right moment. The Rojo clan ambushes & massacres a a detachment of Mexican soldiers escorting a shipment of gold passes through the town, while dressed as American soldiers and steal the gold. The Stranger takes two of the bodies to a nearby cemetery and sells information to both sides that two Mexican soldiers survived the attack. Both sides race to the cemetery, the Baxters to get the “survivors” to testify against the Rojos, the Rojos to silence them.
The two rival groups fire at each other with Ramon managing to “kill” the “survivors” and Esteban capturing John Baxter’s son, Antonio. While this is going on the stranger goes for the gold in the Rojo hideout but accidentally knocks out the enslaves mistress of Ramon, Marisol. He takes her to the Baxters, who, in turn, arrange to return her to the Rojos in exchange for Antonio. At the exchange Marisol’s son runs to her, with her husband following – but she has to return with the Rojo clan while the Baxters get their son back. That night, while the Rojos are celebrating, the Stranger rides out and frees Marisol, shooting the guards and wrecking the house in which she is being held in order to make it appear as if it were attacked by the Baxters. The Stranger tells Marisol, her husband, and their son to leave town, at the same time giving them some money to tide them over. His only explanation for helping them out is that he knew someone just like her in the same situation. The stranger is discovered as having crossed the Rojo clan, who then beat him up and lock him in a room but he escapes killing two of the men. Believing the Stranger to be protected by the Baxters, the Rojos set fire to the Baxter home and massacre all the residents as they are forced to flee. Among the dead are John Baxter, his wife, Consuelo, and Antonio. Now the only gang left in San Miguel, the Rojos confront and beat Silvanito, who they think is hiding the Stranger.
Having recovered & rested the Stranger comes back to town and faces the Rojos in a dramatic showdown. Protected by a steel chest plate behind his poncho, the stranger manages to over their bullets and kills all but Ramon. The two then have a race for their guns and finally Ramon is killed. Esteban, who has this ridiculously animated laugh (I swear the guy doing the dubbing must have also voiced some hyenas in cartoons) is shot dead by Silvanito as he hides in a building and tries to kill the stranger. Saying his goodbyes and taking some of the gold, the Stranger rides out of town.
The second of the three, For A Few Dollars More, released in 1965 sees Lee Van Cleef join Eastwood with Volente playing a different villain. The Stranger, referred to as “Manco” in this film, is a bounty hunter in search of El Indio, one of the most wanted fugitives in the western territories, and his gang. Indio favoures a musical pocket watch that he plays before engaging in gun duels, shooting only as the chimes finish. Flashbacks reveal that the watch belonged to young woman, who killed herself while being raped by Indio after he had found her with her lover and killed him. Indio still obsessed over the woman. The Stranger finds himself having competition in Colonel Mortimer also hunting for El Indio and after a classic “head-butting” scene, the two decide to pair up and share the money that is to be made for killing Indio and his 14 member gang, which amounts to a lot of money. Indio’s primary goal is to rob the Bank of El Paso and its disguised safe containing “almost a million dollars.” Mortimer persuades a reluctant the Stranger to join Indio’s gang during the robbery in order to “get him between two fires.” Manco is offered membership in the gang after rescuing one of Indio’s friends from prison.
Indio & gang rob the bank and reunites his men in a small border town to wait while things cool down. Meanwhile the Colonel is recognized by one of the men as from a previous encounter in which the Colonel had deliberately insulted him and forces a showdown in which he is killed by the Colonel. He then proves his worth to Indio by easily opening the safe for him but Indio states his intention to wait a month if necessary to allow the furor over the bank robbery to die down and locks the money away. The Stranger & the Colonel try to steal the money but are caught and severely beaten up. Indio has his right hand man Nino kill the guard and release the two bounty hunters and then has his men chase after them; his intention being that if they are all killed, he only has to share the money with Nino! However one of them realizes this and kills Nino. The next morning the bounty hunters kill off all the men one by one but the Colonel has his gun shot from his hand by Indio, who then takes his pocket watch out and plays the music. However just as it ends, the stranger comes with a similar watch that plays the same music! The second watch belongs to the Colonel, who is the brother of the woman Indio raped. The stranger plays the music once again and sits aside; as the music stops the Colonel outdraws and kills Indio. His revenge complete, the Colonel decides to take no part of the bounty.
The Stranger stacks all the dead bodies in a horse cart and rides off and counts them by the reward for each one, totaling $27,000. As he leaves, he recovers the money stolen from the Bank of El Paso, though it is not clear whether he intends to return it. He then rides off into the distance with his horse towing the wagon full of the lifeless bodies of the entire gang, while the Colonel rides off on his horse back home.
And now we come to the 3rd and the most famous of the trio, the behemoth that is the legendary The Good, The Bad & The Ugly which came out in 1966 and once again starring Eastwood, with Van Cleef in a different role as an antagonist and Eli Wallach as the second villain. The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles and prison camps. Angel Eyes (Van Cleef) interrogates a former soldier called Stevens about a missing man named Jackson who has taken on the name “Bill Carson” and a cache of stolen Confederate gold. He brutally guns down Stevens and his eldest son after the interrogation, but not before Stevens pays Angel Eyes to kill Angel Eyes’ employer, another former soldier named Baker. Angel Eyes later collects his fee for Stevens’ killing from Baker, and then shoots and kills him, too. Meanwhile Tuco Ramirez, an escapes bandit who killed 2 bounty hunters and wounded another, runs into a group of bounty hunters who prepare to capture him when they are approached by Blondie (Eastwood), a mysterious lone gunman who challenges the hunters to the draw, which he wins with lightning speed. Blondie then delivers him up to the local authorities for the reward money of $2,000. Hours later, as Tuco awaits his execution, Blondie surprises the authorities and frees Tuco by shooting the execution rope; the two later meet to split the reward money, revealing their lucrative money-making scheme.
When Tuco’s reward money goes up to $3000 the two repeat the process at another town before Blondie, weary of Tuco’s incessant complaints about the dividing of the profits from their scheme, abandons him in the desert, keeping all of the money. An angry Tuco makes his way back to town and arms himself while enlisting three outlaws to kill Blondie. Almost killed by Tuco, Blondie manages to escape when a cannonball hits the hotel and demolishes the room. But Tuco catches up to Blondie and captures him, and marches him across the harsh desert making him suffer from heat exhaustion & dehydration. As Tuco prepares to kill him, he spies Bill Carson the dying Bill Carson, who reveals that $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold is buried in a grave in Sad Hill Cemetery but falls unconscious before naming the grave. As Tuco leaves to get water, Blondie drags himself to Carson and learns the name on the grave from Carsonn just before the latter dies. Tuco nurses Blondie back to health in a monastery and the they leave but are captured by a colonel. Angel Eyes gets wind of the torture Tuco into revealing Sad Hill Cemetery as the location of the gold, but Tuco also confesses that only Blondie knows the name on the grave. Convinced that Blondie would not be easily broken, Angel Eyes offers to take Tuco’s place in the partnership to recover the gold. Blondie agrees and rides out with Angel Eyes and his posse. Tuco manages to escape and follows them.
Much fighting, twists and killings later, we have a Mexican standoff between the three at the Sad Hill Cemetery. Blondie shoots Angel Eyes, who tries to shoot Blondie while he is down only to be shot by Blondie again and roll into an open grave, dead. Tuco also tries to shoot Angel Eyes, but discovers that Blondie had unloaded his gun the night before. In a grave marked ‘Unknown’ Tuco is made to dig out the gold and is to stand atop a tottery grave marker and fixes the noose around his neck, binding Tuco’s hands before riding off with his share of the gold. As Tuco screams for mercy, Blondie’s silhouette returns on the horizon, aiming a rifle at him. Blondie fires a single shot and severs the noose rope, dropping Tuco face-first onto his share of the gold with no horse to make his way out. As the movie ends Tuco swears at Blondie, who rides off.
6.5, 8 & 9.5 for the movies respectively.
Apr 11 2013
Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.
A taste – The taste of shawarmas or good khubus, not the crappy ones you usually get in Cochin, reminds me of my childhood in Kuwait. Shawarmas are one of my favourite foods to have and I just love it when it’d done just right. Our family weekend dinners back in Kuwait would be my parents, my sister & I joining my uncle (my mother’s brother), my aunt and later my cousin for a large dinner of khubus, hummus, shawarmas and falafels (my aunt is a vegetarian). And ofcourse pickles soaked in vinegar and olives. Big family fun and big family food. Ofcourse a movie or some good tv shows would follow.
A smell – You’ve got me here. I can’t think of a specific smell or smells that remind me of my childhood. Maybe smell of certain food? The smell of the olive oil – since that’s what we used a lot of in Kuwait as opposed to coconut oil which is predominant here in Kerala – in particular is linked to my childhood. For some reason the smell of glue reminds me of doing Arts & Craft projects in the school. The smell of the ocean reminds me of the beach we used to go to in Kuwait during my childhood.
A piece of music – It’s more theme music of tv shows that I watched & loved as a kid that brings me back to that time. The A Team, Remington Steele, Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica (this one in particular is highly nostalgic), V, Gimme A Break & Misfits of Science.
Mar 24 2013
Describe in great detail the room that you slept in when you were ten years old. What was the light like? What were the furnishings? Leave out no detail!
Takes a bit of remembering so I will stretch the ole grey cells and try and get that info out to you. At age 10 I was living in Kuwait with my family, in the same small apartment I lived in from ages 0 to 11. It was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 kitchen & living room for the 4 of us but it was a happy home.
My sister and I shared a bunk bed which was kept in the second bedroom that also served as a dining room and also where my mom & dad did their prayers – a small box like thingy held the idols of Krishna, Shiva and stuff on one corner. There was a big clock on one of the walls. The bunk bed was pushed to one corner and I always used the bottom bunk cause that’s where Teddy also rested. Teddy was my big bear that I had when I was much younger, maybe age 4, and Teddy always preferred the bottom bunk so that’s where I also slept. A simple bunk bed with bright red metal parts for the frame.
There was a big table right in the center which was to be our dining table but we usually ate in front of the tv in the living room, sitting around the big coffee table. The dining table was mainly used when we had guests over for dining and my sister and I would do our homework and studying at that table. And ofcourse it was also where I read my comics and did my ……ahem…artwork. The normal stuff that kids do.
Mar 12 2013
I’m gonna try and recollect this very vivid dream that I had when I was a child. I must have been around 8 or 9 years old when I dreamed this but I remember most of it so vividly since I used to tell this to my family & relatives a lot and hence had kept most of it fresh in memory.
I was in Kuwait at the time and 8 or 9 year old me, in the dream, went from my apartment to the apartment opposite ours, where our family friends and my close friends at the time lived. When I opened the door instead of my friends greeting me, I saw a big cat sitting on one of the sofa chairs. Wanting to get it outside, I picked it up and was about to put it out on the corridor when it scratched me on my eyes with it’s paw. I closed my eyes in pain and I blacked out. When I came to I opened my eyes to see the smiling face of one of the boys in my class looking down at me. Surprised to see him in that apartment, I asked him for help but he just snapped his head and the buckle of his winter cap hit me in the eyes and I blacked out again. When I came to, I was in a huge airport!
Now not able to make any sense of what had just happened or how I had happened to get there, I knew I needed help. I saw some cops coming after me and I knew I was in danger. I walked away from them and as I turned around a corner, I noticed a huge swimming pool, with ice in it! What the heck was an icy swimming pool doing in the airport???!! And when I looked into the waters, I see Bollywood superstar Dharmendra in it and beckoning to me to follow him as a means of escaping from the cops. So I jumped it (I didn’t know swimming in real life at the time but whatever) and followed him. We made our way underwater and swam away from that area to another section of this huge airport and I happily got out and thanked him. I managed to get myself dry with towels from a sweet lady who pretended that I was traveling with her and she managed to get me a ticket (I had my passport with me, magically) and we rode the airport bus to the plane and then boarded the plane to India. As soon as we landed, I thanked her and I hitched a ride all the way to Mattancherry which is where my mother’s home was. However when I got there, the roads were all turned to sand due to a heavy sand storm and I met an uncle of mine, who let me into my grandparent’s house.
I then went to sleep in one of the rooms and woke up still tired and starving. I made some sandwiches in the kitchen and once I ate them I went to the living room to watch some tv. I was alone in the house and surprised to see that the tv was setup high on the wall on and I couldn’t find the remote control. So I tried jumping to reach the switch to turn it on but it was too high for me. One last attempt saw me hit the switch and the tv came on but…as I fell down, I knocked the tv down as well and it fell and hit me right on the head ~ which is when I woke up! Weird dream right?
Feb 26 2013
Today, February 26th, marks the 22nd anniversary of the Liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion. After almost 7 months of occupation the nation got liberated after Iraq a war waged by a U.N.-authorized Coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait. Although the official declaration of ceasefire by then US President George Bush & the Kuwaiti liberation was done on the 28th, it is the 26th that the Kuwaitis celebrate.
I’ll never forget the day that Iraq invaded Kuwait and watching the scenes on tv – it was August 2nd, 1990, which was also my 14th birthday. For Saddam and Iraq to invade my birth nation (although I never got citizenship and am fully Indian, I still do consider Kuwait with plenty of fondness) on the birthday of a 14 year old who loved Kuwait and who had just left that country for good, 3 years ago – it was a bitter pill to swallow personally. I remember having a great old party with my relatives and some friends and we were at my sister’s friend’s aunt’s house to drop her off when the news came on the tv. This friend of my sister was also a former Kuwaiti born & raised child and her parents were still in Kuwait while she studied in a college here in India. She was crying and praying for her parents and family friends and hoping that they would be alright and come back to India safely. I was shocked and couldn’t believe the images that I was watching on the screen in front of me. I hated Saddam Hussain and all Iraqis about as much as one can at that time. Ofcourse I don’t hate Iraqis but yeah – Saddam got what he deserved and should have gotten quite a few years ago and I hope he suffered a whole lot!
And those idiots who supported Saddam – and there were a few in our country and in my own city / state – fuck you idiots!