The look back

This is probably going to be the final post of the year, so I feel compelled to do one of those yearly wrap-ups that never say anything about anything. Sorry.

Let’s just clear it out now: here’s how 2009 disappointed me, how it thrilled me, and what I’m looking forward to in 2010.

In 2009 I was disappointed, irritated, or pissed off by…

-Video Game journalism, which hit new depths of unwarranted self-importance, and completely sapped any meaning out of the term “hardcore gamer.”

-3-D movies. 3-D effects still don’t add anything to the experience of watching a movie, and those glasses look incredibly stupid and probably aren’t hygienic. 3-D was once the height of kitsch. Why are we taking it seriously now?

-The cult DVD market implosion. 2009 saw the possibility of bankruptcy for Image Entertainment, Dark Sky films ending their retro film line, and the complete demise of ADV, BCI, and Fusian. It was ugly.

-Bioware. Between their stupid trailer for Dragon Age and “David Gaider -- Novelist,” I’m starting to hate them in spite of their mostly competent game design.

-Celebrity deaths.

-Real life. It was a terrible year IRL.

But to be fair, in 2009 I was thrilled, delighted and contented by…

-Dungeon crawlers. After playing Etrian Odyssey 2 earlier this year, I went on a bender with the original Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire, Deep Labyrinth, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. I expect to grab Class of Heroes for the PSP soon.

-The DS, which is easily the must-own platform for this hardware generation. Aside from playing host to all of the games listed above (besides Class of Heroes), the DS also received 7th Dragon (in Japan, at least), Phantasy Star 0, Nostalgia, and an English release of Retro Game Challenge to go along with its already stellar library of games I actually play.

-Vantage Master! Falcom offers this awesome strategy game on their website, in English, free of charge!

-Mondo Macabro’s releases of The Warrior (Jaka Sembung) and Born of Fire.

-My expanding collection of martial arts movies. Of the thirty-five movies I reviewed this year, twenty-three were kung fu movies and seventeen of those were acquired in 2009, including obscure crap like Child of Peach and War of the Wizards. Go me.

-Ashes of Time Redux didn’t suck. Thanks Wong Kar Wai.

-Snus: Wonderful Swedish tobacco.

Last year, I got very drunk on New Year’s and made out with a strange woman at a party where I didn’t know anybody. As my friend Pilgrim was driving me home, I had one of those awful moments of clarity that one typically drinks to avoid, and expressed some regret that the first day of the New Year would be spent nursing a bitchin’ hangover. “Look at it this way: you have an entire year to make up for it.” That was his almost brain-bendingly optimistic response.

In similar spirit, here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2010:

-Falcom games on the PSP in English -- the PSP already boasts Ys 6 and Gurumin, but a recent announcement shows that Falcom wants to license more games for English language release. Considering Ys 7 just came out this year in Japan (and looks way better than 6) I couldn’t be more stoked. Other possible releases include Zwei! and Brandish: Dark Revenant. 2010 could be a nice year.

-A new Gene Wolfe novel, The Sorcerer’s House, is scheduled for release on March 16.

-Maybe -- possibly -- hopefully -- but doubtfully, Tsui Hark’s upcoming Di Renjie won’t suck.

-Let’s hope Magnolia’s dvd for Red Cliff is more sensible than their condensed theatrical version.

The first full year of actual, consistent blogging has been great fun. Thanks to the three people who actually bothered to consistently read it. See you guys next year.


  1. What?! You don't think 3-D is the future of cinema? ;p

    Somehow, I've managed to miss all of this year's 3-D movies, so I can't say if I would be disappointed, irritated, or pissed off.

    Heck, I haven't even seen Red Cliff in the theaters yet (is it still playing?). I saw part one of the Hong Kong release and quite liked it, but haven't watched part two yet.

    And yes, Ashes of Time Redux did not suck, as I also feared. But I did miss the original score and wasn't too keen on the new color saturation. But I'm eager to give it another viewing and judge it on its own terms, without comparison to the original.

    Anyway, it's been great reading your obscure kung fu movie reviews. Keep them coming!

    Best wishes for 2010!

  2. Happy new Year ^-^ Wish you would have a great year with happiness and success ^^

  3. @duriandave
    Lol, 3-D.

    I've seen some movies 3-D over the past couple of years. I saw Beowulf in 3-D, and Up. I didn't like either, both as films and as showcases for the technology. I keep hearing that the new 3-D tech allows for effects other than shit randomly getting thrown into the audience's faces, but I have yet to see any evidence of this.

    Red Cliff, sadly, isn't playing anymore here in Dallas. I watched the first part last spring as part of the first year anniversary of the Confucius institute at a local university. The theater was filled with Chinese people, many of whom visibly hated the movie.

    Every thirteen year old boy in the audience seemed to dig it, though. I think that's a good audience for any John Woo movie.

    I hope to have more of everything next year, particularly weird kung fu movies, and maybe some Shaw Bros. melodramas and musicals too. Ever seen Lover's Rock? I don't feel ashamed to admit that I love that movie. It's terribly uneven and I still love it.

    Best wishes for 2010, my friend!

    Happy New Year to you as well!

  4. Wow... I'm surprised that Red Cliff had so many haters. Why do you think that was the case? It's still playing in San Francisco, so I might try and catch it this weekend.

    Yes, I have seen Lover's Rock. It's a bit schizophrenic -- half Taiwanese "healthy realism" and half Shaw Brothers melodrama -- but I enjoyed watching it. Cheng Pei-pei is as cute as a button, a far cry from her fierce swordswoman persona.

    Have you seen Song of Orchid Island? It's a bizarre "ethnographic" romance but worth checking out for a sun-kissed Cheng Pei-pei.

  5. I think it probably has something to do with how they represented certain characters. Woo's depiction of Zhuge Liang isn't considered very... reverent, for lack of a better word. It was mostly the older people in the audience who I could tell were not enjoying themselves.

    I haven't seen Song of Orchid Island. It sounds like I'd enjoy it. I loved Cheng Pei-pei in Lover's Rock, and I've been telling people that Pan Lei is among Shaw Brother's most under-appreciated directors for a couple of years now, ever since I saw The Fastest Sword.

    His sex comedies are awful, though.