Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jay-Z & Beyonce: On the Run Tour

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Monday night, I watched a movie that I had been anticipating for almost a year now called “Protector 2” starring Thai martial arts movie icon Tony Jaa… and the RZA from Wu Tang Clan (and has found a nice niche for him in kung fu movie roles the past few years). As you may recall, I hold the original Protector (2005) as elite level prestige when it comes to my beloved genre of martial arts movies, mostly due to the almost inhuman abilities of Tony Jaa… and some of the great choreography involved in filming the fight scenes by director Prachya Pinkaew including the almost legendary seven-minute continuous shot action sequence from the original. Well, because it was so awesome, they had to do a sequel… but due to the star Tony Jaa going off to be a monk for a few years, it took about 8 years to happen. Okay, the story of the original is a Thai man named Kham (Jaa) raises elephants in the country… and masters Muay Thai… some bad guys kill a father elephant & run off with the baby elephant to Sydney… and then VENGEANCE!!! Spoiler alert: He gets the baby elephant back. In the sequel, the baby is now a teenage elephant… some bad guys offer to buy him, “He’s not for sale!”, “You’ll be sorry…”, “We shall see. Hey retarded villager, could you watch my home & elephant for a few minutes while I go to town to pick up some coconuts?”, “Sure thing”, spoiler alert: The elephant gets stolen again… but at least they kept it in Thailand this time around. Oh, there’s something about a peace treaty between East & West Katana (fake countries?) and an underground fighting ring ran by a guy named LC (The RZA) though it’s never really shown how money is made or anything like in “Man of Tai Chi” but that’d be plot development& there’s no need for that really. As a wise action filmmaker once said, “Plot is the sound that poop makes when it hits the sidewalk.” To exact his VENGEANCE and save his beloved elephant, he tries to track down the thieves… but instead gets framed for the murder of one of the lower-level baddies, incidentally meets up with his buddy Mark from the first movie (now working with Interpol) and basically has to fight his way through a bunch of seemingly random groups of people until… honestly, the bad guy holding him just kinda holds the elephant hostage & makes him do jobs for him. There’s your plot. You’re watching this movie for the action though. If you’re doing it for anything else, you’re related to a cast member.
Now… for the action sequences, they were pretty good… but there was a LOT more CGI in this one… and fairly obvious too. Where the original had a lot of real but obviously staged scenarios, this one had… well, there was a scene where a bunch of guys on motorcycles are after Kham… and for every decent real life stuntman, there’s a poorly animated sequence. There’s another scene were the walls of a small area are COMPLETELY ON FIRE from burning oil or something… so instead of getting out of there, the fighters jump off the wall so their shoes start on FIRE & start fighting… again, pretty ridiculously animated fire too… and I won’t even get into the fact there’d be smoke inhalation and BOILING SKIN in that situation. Yet another scene has… I can’t even believe I’m about to type this out… the two main badasses Kham and a henchman named “Number Two” stand on an electrified train rail to fight… and when they punch, not only are there sparks from their hands like Thor… but the sounds are EXACTLY those of lightsabres from Star Wars. Ugh… anyway, with all of that being said, it’s not a horrible martial arts movie. Some of the sequences are pretty cool… some are rather dull & pointless… some are laughably stupid. If you’re a fan of the genre, check it out. If not, watch the original or something. I only kinda enjoyed it… and I’m almost glad that they didn’t have it in theatres in the Bay Area as I would’ve felt like I wasted $30. Sorry Tony! Glad to see you’re out of retirement though! Now get with the director of “Expendables 4” and a great translator! What’s that? YOU JUST SIGNED ON FOR THE JCVD CLASSIC “KICKBOXER” REBOOT??? Oh… you’re not the most malicious badass villain in all of fight movie history Po… that’ll be played by Dave Bautista… but I’m still insanely intrigued… sigh… and for you joining the “Fast & Furious” franchise in a few months… and apparently “Raid 3” which just sounds f**king EPIC!!!
Tuesday night was director Oliver Stone’s latest film “Savages” starring Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek & John Travolta (briefly). The story is about a couple of Laguna Beach pot growers (Kitsch as a former solider turned enforcer & Johnson as a hippie botanist with a heart of Maui Gold) who do pretty damn well for themselves… and so then a Mexican drug cartel wants in… they want to remain independent… and they kidnap THEIR girlfriend (Lively). With the help of a pocketed DEA agent (Travolta), they try to get her back… but does it mean doing exactly as the cartel says… or taking action. It’s been a while since Oliver Stone has had a decent movie. Some may say that he never really has… but they’d be wrong. “Platoon”, “JFK”, “Natural Born Killers”, “Any Given Sunday”, even “The Doors” were all really decent films even if a little preachy and conspiracy theory at times… but those were all back in the 90’s. This movie though… was actually pretty damn good in my opinion. I mean… aside from a few essential plot holes & points for suspension of disbelief in order to go along with the story… you get the feeling of a rough, edgy, kinda creepy, morally conflicted, dangerous tale of doing dirty things with the best intentions to start. I actually enjoyed this film. If you’re a fan of these shoot-em-up, drug cartel kind of movies… then by all means, watch this one too.
Now, the major plot device of this movie was kind of the major problem I had with the movie from the start… the shared girlfriend by these two guys.  I mean… Blake Lively is hot… and though there’s really no evidence of it in the movie, I’m sure her character is the epitome of female perfection in the sack while at the same time just being a pretty typical SoCal blonde with no real direction or skills that these two guys tag team on but… it’s just really weird... and it REALLY didn't help that she was the narrator throughout the film. Maybe I’m not a Millennial and this is a new thing… but I wasn’t exactly along for the ride with the whole Butch & Sundance thing either (directly referenced in this movie by the way). Don’t get it twisted, I’m all about the “They stole my family/girlfriend/master/dog so now I must get them back” VENGEANCE angle… but just the whole, “Hey bro… the Mexican drug cartel just kidnapped our lady… ugh… O? Was that her name? We should go get her…” “Ugh… actually bro… I think I’m just kinda bisexual and ugh… I was really in this thing for you.” “What? Me too! Let’s run off to Indonesia together! We can pick up a few SoCal blondes on the way if you want… or just find some new side trim while there… or just cut out the middle man & bang each other!” “OKAY!” Spoiler alert: That didn’t exactly happen… but that was kind of what I was expecting. The main female character O isn’t really developed at all… other than she’s essentially a slutty pothead. Her backstory is… well, eh… her moral compass is spinning all over the place… I just, couldn’t really get behind whatever it was they were trying to set up with that. However, once I basically broke it down myself to “They were trying to get out of the game but got pulled back in, when they stole the woman they loved, now shit’s getting real…” and just went from there, it was okay. I feel like they were… maybe trying to add some kind of new wave Shakespearean element… and it just didn’t work for me. Aside from that though, Benecio Del Toro is menacing as always… everybody else does a decent job… I assume Travolta got paid handsomely for 3-4 days of shooting… welcome back to decent films, Mr. Stone!!!
Wednesday night was the long awaited concert event of the DECADE (maybe?) when hip hop’s first family Jay-Z & Beyonce filled up AT&T Park for two shows with their “On the Run Tour” and… everything about this event was EPIC!!! Of course, AT&T Park is a venue of 40,000 plus screaming fans (though I think with the layout of the show, probably about 30-35k spectators). The show… high volume… like probably rattling the neighbors windows. The performance… AMAZING!!! Now… Beyonce is a f**king force. I may not be the world’s biggest fan of her or anything… but she can sing, dance, do ALL that sh*t… for 2.5 solid hours… and still look like a billion with a B. Game recognize Game… and she can shut it down by herself. Now through in her husband, the legendary S-dot-Carter, best rapper alive (and probably dead too), CEO of the ROC, HOV!!! And you’ve got TWO FORCES hitting the stage at the same time!!! Because there are so many hits between the two of their careers, most of the concert was like a medley of their hits… interjected with these whole Bonnie & Clyde video segments directed by Melina Matsoukas… but yeah, pure energy for 150 minutes… one of the best concerts of my LIFE!!! Here are some photos…

Sidenote: I did feel a little bad because… well, there  was a maybe five-foot Latino woman in the seat behind me… so yeah, she didn’t get the same view that I did… and I tried to be nice when the people in front of me weren’t there or standing up so that she could see… but needless to say, that was like 2% of the show… the rest of the time instead of seeing Beyonce’s gyrating booty, she had to watch mine… sucks for her… but I got over that real quick… I mean… the alternative was me sitting in my seat & not seeing the show so that her short ass could see… everything else in the world is built for you missy… enjoy it… but I done paid for my seat. HOV!!!
Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for the past few days… more fun stuff coming up this weekend. Have a great day everybody!!! IT’S THE ROC!!!

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