Archive for June, 2010

Watching the EncoreHD Karate Kid marathon

Posted in 80s, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , , on June 15, 2010 by Paxton

EncoreHD showed a marathon of all four Karate Kid movies this past weekend.  In preparation for the new movie, I sat down and watched the entire series.  From Crane kick to the new chick I endured the entirety of this series in one fell sweep (of the leg).

I originally saw the the first three movies in the theater.  I didn’t see Next Karate Kid until several years after it hit video mainly because it looked terrible and secondly, I’m a misogynist.  I remember loving the original, liking Part II but thinking it was a bit boring and really enjoying Part III.  When I watched Part IV on video, I thought it was as bad as I expected it to be.  Let’s see if my thoughts on these movies have changed over the years.

The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid (1984) – This is a nearly perfect movie.  I enjoyed every moment of every scene.  Despite being just over 2 hours, the movie felt slim and trim.  It starts off with several good action scenes then it begins a slow burn with Daniel’s training finally finishing in a whirlwind set of scenes at the All-Valley Karate Championships.  Macchio is great as Daniel and Elizabeth Shue is cute and fun as Ali.  The best people in the movie, however, are Pat Morita as Miyagi, William Zabka as Johnny and Martin Kove as Kreese.  Morita is wonderfully subtle and humorous as Miyagi.  You always enjoy watching him on screen.  And his fighting scene where he kicks the Cobra Kai’s asses is perfectly done.  Zabka totally owns as the rich douche Johnny Lawrence.  As with his other “bully” roles (Just One of the Guys and Back to School) you almost feel like he enjoys terrorizing and harassing other kids.  And the collection of teens he hangs out with are just as good in their supporting roles.  In this, Zabka is sneeringly wonderful.  And what’s to say about the despicable John Kreese?  He sulks his way through this movie spouting macho platitudes about no fear and no pain and generally getting the audience to hate him.  And he does it well.  This movie most definitely still holds up and I can wholeheartedly recommend this movie even today.  I hope the new movie is as charming and funny as the original (a tall order, I know).

Karate Kid Part II
The Karate Kid Part II (1986) – Okay, like I said, when I originally saw this in the theater I thought it was only okay and a tad boring.  The first ten minutes which picks up immediately after the karate tournament is fantastic and may have set the bar a little high.  In that first ten minutes we see John Kreese and the Cobra Kais (yes, all five of the boys return in what is essentially a cameo) arguing about Johnny’s second place.  Kreese starts beating them up then Miyagi steps in and finishes it.  Totally awesome and pretty much better than the rest of the movie.  Anyway, after this, Daniel tags along, uninvited mind you, with Miyagi to visit Okinawa to see his dying father.  While there we meet Sato, Miyagi’s former best friend who now wants to kill him and that best friend’s mean and douchey nephew Chozen.  Sato and Chozen are kind of setup as John Kreese and Johnny Lawrence characters in that they terrorize Miyagi and the village.  This movie reveals an interesting fact about Miyagi’s karate; he enjoys punching people in the crotch.  There’s a scene in this movie where Miyagi teaches Daniel a move where you drop a rag (or something) on the floor and and when you pick it up you use your lower position to punch your opponent in the balls.  Daniel even uses this maneuver on Chozen later on in the movie.  If you remember in the first movie, when Miyagi is beating up the Cobra Kais he totally kicks Dutch in the nuts.  So, essentially, a “shot to the pills” is an official move in Miyagi-Do karate.  That’s good to know; if you ever fight someone taught by Miyagi then protect your loins.  Anyway, everything comes to a head during a hurricane, Sato switches over to the good guys and at the final festival, Daniel has to fight Chozen in a “death match” (why it’s Daniel’s job to fight in this death match, I have no idea).  The fight is slightly better choreography-wise than the first movie, but again it’s straining my own personal believability that Daniel would be able to beat Chozen.  I do like that Daniel actually tries to Crane kick Chozen and it gets blocked.  Makes sense because Chozen was taught by Sato who was taught by Miyagi’s dad, so that technique would be familiar to him.  But the “new” Crane kick, the drum maneuver, is dumb.  And I hate the nose “honk” at the end.  HATE IT.  So, I still think this movie is a bit boring.  I don’t honestly care a lot about the story, it’s not as personal to me as the first movie.  And I have trouble understanding why it’s Daniel’s responsibility to fight Chozen to the death.  Daniel has nothing to do with it.  For me, except for the first 10 minutes, this movie was mildly entertaining at best and boring at worst.

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Horror Movie Marathon: Human Centipede and Sex and the City 2

Posted in Human Centipede, movies, reviews with tags , on June 11, 2010 by Paxton

Okay, so I girded my loins the past few days and I watched two movies that I really wasn’t looking forward to watching. Let’s see if they were any good.

The Human Centipede
The Human Centipede – This movie has been getting a lot of internet buzz lately. You could almost say it was this year’s Snakes on a Plane. Except instead of the concept of Sam Jackson saying “…snakes on a muthaf—in’ plane!” you get the idea of a mad surgeon sewing people together ass to mouth. The film is playing in less than 20 theaters across the country, none of which are here in Jacksonville, but Comcast is simultaneously offering it On-Demand. So my friend Jason was visiting and we thought we’d give it a shot and bought The Human Centipede from On-Demand, in HD, no doubt.

This movie is flat out horrifying. Plain and simple. But it’s the idea of what’s happening that’s horrifying, not so much the images in the movie. This isn’t Saw, or Hostel. There’s not buckets of blood and gore. It’s just the idea of the mechanics of this “human centipede” that are completely disgusting. I mean, I was thinking about the concept of the “human centipede” for a few days after I watched the movie. That’s how disturbing it was. The plot is thin, a demented surgeon has decided to take on the challenge of combining three people through their gastro-intestinal systems and creating this horrific living “pet” for himself. Connected mouth to anus, the idea of being within this sick creation is enough to make you nauseous and your skin crawl. And the doctor is successful much faster than you would expect. 46 minutes into the movie the full centipede is revealed in all of its revolting glory and you get this bizarre celebratory scene by the doctor as he cries over his new creation and kisses himself in a mirror. Next come some horrifyingly weird scenes where the doctor tries to train his new pet to fetch the newspaper. I kid you not, this movie is weird, gross, horrifying and disturbing. I’m glad I watched it, but I will never watch it again. They are currently developing the sequel right now, so maybe I’ll watch that, but considering who lives and who dies at the end of this movie, I’m not sure how they’ll continue this.

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Shawn Robare from Branded in the 80s interviewed on Strange Kids Club

Posted in blogging with tags on June 8, 2010 by Paxton

Wanted to give a shout out to a great interview on the awesome blog Strange Kids Club (SKC).

Strange Kids Club

SKC posted an interview with Shawn Robare from Branded in the ’80s.  I’ve gotten to know Shawn over the years through visiting his blog and talking with him over Twitter.  You guys have probably noticed me linking and talking about him a lot.  He’s a great guy and Branded is one of my favorite websites to visit.  Now, thanks to this interview I have another favorite blog, Strange Kids Club.

Strange Kids Club is an awesome repository for pop culture nostalgia.  Lots of images and video links and great articles on trailers, cartoons, movies and wrestling.  Lots of fun and the design of the site is fantastic.  Congrats to Shawn on a nice interview and congrats to Strange Kids Club for a great blog.

So click on over and read the great interview with Shawn where, and he was very kind to do this, he mentions The Cavalcade of Awesome as one of his favorite blogs.  Right back at you, Shawn.  And stay tuned everyone as Shawn and I are trying to find something to do together.  It should be pants crappingly awesome.  I kid you not.

Famous First Editions: A look at the origin of our most famous toys

Posted in Americana, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , on June 4, 2010 by Paxton

There are so many toys that have become timeless. Toys your parents played with, toys you played with, toys your own kids will play with. As I’m soon to be a dad myself, I got to thinking about these toys that have become ubiquitous, that have spanned the generations to be enjoyed by different children in different eras.

Here are some of our most famous toys that have been around for decades and look to be around long after all of us are gone.

1st Matchbox car 1st matchbox car with box(Pics via darkens.net.nz)
Matchbox die cast cars – Matchbox cars were started in 1953 by British toy company Lesney Products. Co-owner Jack Odell created the idea for the tiny cars because his daughter was only allowed to bring toys to school if they could fit in a matchbox. So he decided to scale down one of their larger toys, the red and green road roller, and that became the #1 1A Diesel Road Roller (pic above), the first Matchbox car ever. A dump truck and a cement mixer would complete the first 3 cars in what would come to be known as the original “75 series” of Matchbox cars. The website darkens.net.nz is a great resource for pics and information on vintage Matchbox products.

1968 Sweet 16 Hot Wheels 68 cougar
Hot Wheels die cast cars – As seen above, Lesney dominated the small die cast car market from the time they introduced Matchbox cars throughout the ’60s. Mattel decided to throw it’s hat in the ring to grab some of that die cast money with it’s Hot Wheels line in 1968. That series of cars in 1968 has come to be known as the “Sweet 16” (see pic on left via Worthpoint.com). They were all released at roughly the same time, but the first numbered car was #6205a – The Custom Cougar (pic on right via Hot Wheels Wiki).

1st issue Barbie(via Dolls4Play)
Barbie – A Mattel executive’s wife noticed that all girls’ dolls looked like infants. There were no adult female dolls for kids to play with. When she brought this up to her husband he and the rest of Mattel were unenthusiastic about the idea. I mean, she was just a woman, what the hell did she know about dolls? Am I right? Anyway, on a trip to Europe the wife came across the German Bild Lili doll, which was an adult female doll based on a popular comic strip character. She bought three, brought them home to America and worked with Mattel engineer Jack Ryan to create the first Barbie doll which was named after her daughter, Barbara (see pic above). Barbie was introduced at the 1959 Toy Fair in New York.  Retailers were reluctant at first but within a year the dolls were selling out of stores across America.  Ken was introduced in 1961 (named after Barbara’s brother) and then Skipper in 1964 (no idea where that name came from).

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