Trailer Review - The Blind Warrior

I am very aware of Roger Ebert's admonition against the review of trailers. I normally would wholeheartedly agree with anything that came from the venerated critic's fingers, but I've already broken the rule and discussed numerous projects that have not come out, sometimes not even on the basis of a trailer. However, I don't think that my assessments of Dragonball: Evolution and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li are particularly audacious or unwarranted (they will be crap).

Furthermore, there are some films that I will likely never get to see, but can glimpse snippets of through the good graces of the owners (or whomever else) that saved trailers and stuck them on DVD's of films that can be seen. Mondo Macabro's release of Virgins from Hell - a women-in-prison/biker chick/exploitation flick from Indonesia's prolific Rapi Films - comes with a second disk full of trailers for movies that aren't likely to be anywhere near as entertaining as my mind has built them up to be.
Among these trailers are the sort of fair one would expect from Mondo Macabro - lots of awful looking horror films and sleaze - but some surprises show up here and there. There's actually trailers for three (I believe there's at least four) of the Jaka Sembung films starring the always entertaining Barry Prima. The Jaka Sembung films were released in the West (Europe, even the US) under the title "The Warrior." It's potent mix of senselessly gory violence, cheap special effects, heroic posturing and what was likely unintentional slasher movie aesthetics was a smash hit at the local box-office and over the years it has gained a great deal of notoriety among aficionados of kung fu, exploitation, and horror movies. It's success brought on a new wave of Indonesian fantasy and martial arts flicks during the early to mid 1980's, including such notable films as Ratno Timoer's The Devil's Sword (not coincidentally, also starring Barry Prima). However, the trailer that made me cough up my own skull was for Timoer's final film (and by my count one of the last of its kind) The Blind Warrior.
It's probably safe to say that the trailer is itself the coolest thing ever made. Like many of the Indonesian martial arts/fantasy films, it frequently plagiarizes other (superior) films from other countries. In this case, the obvious source of inspiration is Zatoichi. Ichi-san, however, never had to deal with an evil, idol worshipping cult and never had to use his palm powers to cause everything to explode.
Yeah, the idol can shoot fire.
But the fire shooting idol has absolutely nothing on The Blind Warrior's own chi power.
Before palm of doom...
Palm of Doom...
And after.

Sadly, I seriously doubt that this one will ever get a proper release. I would say that stranger things have happened - and they have - but it still doesn't mean that this being released is any more likely. There is hope in that both The Devil's Sword and The Warrior have seen DVD (in pristine condition no less), neither of which I would've given much of a chance. But with the market for DVD's under serious pressure from disappearing businesses, sparse shelf space, new formats and file sharing, as well as the possibility that a usable copy might very well be difficult to come by for Pete Tombs and the MM crew, it's looking like a slim hope at best. I want to see it, but I don't want to see it in a crappy rmvb file from a nth generation vhs rip with a German dub.

What a hot mess, though. I never would've thought that bad Zatoichi imitations would have mixed so well with bad Indonesian fantasy film-making. And perhaps they don't, but this trailer gets a bloody nub up from me.
Not bloody likely.


Mana Energy Potion ... Review?

Ever watch the show “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern?” I do. In one episode, the hefty host remarks that drinking fresh from the utter donkey milk on a Chilean street is one of those times that a man has to take a moment to wonder what he is doing there, about to put warm, frothy-headed donkey milk in his mouth.

I’m sitting at home, yet I find myself wondering that same thing.Not about donkey milk fresh from the utter, though. Staring across from me is a “Mana Energy Potion,” which the cardboard advertisement in Fry’s Electronics described as “energy for gamers.”

As I have always understood them, energy drinks are the 21'st century equivalents of health-tonics, promising not only an invigorating buzz brought on by excessive amounts of caffeine, guarana, taurine, or some other cocktail of stimulants, but any number of possible benefits, usually related to what is rather nebulously referred to as lifestyle. “Rockstar,” for example, is always sponsoring extreme sports competitions, unmusical music festivals and Girls Gone Wild, letting consumers know that they’ll be able to expend all the energy they need while surfing and ogling drunken seventeen-year-olds without experiencing fatigue. “Mana Energy Potion,” I suppose, let’s gamers experience that same kind of free-wheeling, devil-may-care thrill of boundless energy as they quest to level up their Dwarven raider in WOW. Somehow, even the thrill of snake oil salesmanship is diminished when its selling point is that it will help fat nerds obsessed with their fantasy games continue their unhealthy fixation without pause. They could even bring the mana potion into their larp games without turning any heads.

Unable to resist any opportunity for ironerdic self-reflection, I actually popped open the cute little bottle - as you can see, no larger than the palm of my hand - and downed the disgusting blue concoction while playing the nerdiest game I own, The Nightmare of Druaga, a faux-roguelike RPG of the “mystery dungeon” mold and sequel to a Japanese arcade game considered to be one of the founding pillars of Japanese action RPG’s (and never released in the US).

Were I a food critic, I might comment on the taste, which is sour and tart with faint traces of the B-vitamins that it’s teeming with. The nutrition facts state that it contains over %6000 (!) of the daily recommendation for vitamin B12, which supposedly helps to metabolize carbs (thus providing more energy). It has an aftertaste and aroma reminiscent of what I figure petrol to have. Now bear with me... Imagine your mouth was a vagina, and every taste bud a tiny...

Actually, screw the extended metaphor. It tastes like crap. I’m not a food critic.

I’m also not much of one for energy drinks. I prefer slower, more natural ways of absorbing caffeine. Coffee is good, so long as it doesn’t taste like a sugary-sweet milk shake. Tea is good. I love iced tea, in particular, although not sweet tea. Many southern delicacies have caught my fancy; however, the appeal of sweet tea will always elude me.

Much like the free-association of my writing (and speaking, I’ve been recently informed) I prefer to take my time with drinks that are supposed to have some sort of benefit aside from hydration – and especially with drinks that are supposed to keep me awake. There is an art to brewing tea, even with the Lipton bag variety, a ritual that effects not only the how you experience the taste, but how you use the buzz. Good tea is something to be savored; a taste to contemplate as it is enjoyed, an indulgence to compliment what you’re doing, and to help prolong it. I don’t drink tea to keep myself awake while playing video games, because tea isn’t something to be downed in between turns during your “epic boss run.”

This whole idea is completely foreign to most people, and it appears to be especially so with my fellow nerds. The company claims that they are themselves gamers, making a product for other gamers, and their blog links to an IGN article written in two parts by Mark Bozon and Scott Lowe. I don’t know much about these guys or the brand of journalism that they normally practice, but their article is embarrassingly effusive. The pseudo-irony, hyperactive descriptions, the obnoxious pics of the staff as RPG characters (along with a stat card featuring the stalest of memes) are even more nauseating than the product they're used to describe. The “hilarious” non-sequiturs fully complete the hideous amalgamation of repellent fanboyism, and still don't manage to be the least bit funny.

Go read their “impressions” and return, and if you doubted the inherent truth of what I’m saying, you should now feel like an idiot. I am not taking this too seriously. I am right. “Mana Energy Potion” stands for all that I fear becoming, and all that I fear every one else in the world has already become. If we can actually commercialize and market by demographic – especially the nerd/geek demographic - the putting of something into ourselves in order to keep us going, humanity has truly lost its soul, not to mention its taste buds and possibly its stomach, having replaced it with a fuel tank.

In its defense, “Mana Energy Potion” does do what it promises: it kept me awake for several hours with its massive shot of caffeine. If you can trade your immortal soul and any pretense of good taste for that, than the thirty shekels (it’s not far off: I paid almost four dollars for one) you drop will probably be worth it.