Some Kiwami Films For Yakuza Fans

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With Yakuza Kiwami out now and hopefully selling well for Sega as an evergreen title into the future, overall interest in the long-running series over the past few years seems high enough that I’m thinking some of you folks might be interested in a few of the many Japanese gangster films out there. If you’re new to them, this very short list of recommendations may pack a ton of surprises on a few fronts.

If you’ve played Yakuza 0, Yakuza 4 or more recently, Kiwami (which means “extreme” in Japanese), you’ll very clearly see cinematic influences in abundance throughout the series. Even though the games are set in a more modern version of Japan, most of these films have very similar scenes that show how in general, some criminal behavior never really changes and it’s quite a draw for some who choose to live that lifestyle despite the risks.

Anyway, just step into this alley over here and I’ll set you up right… or set you upright after setting you up, right?

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Cops Vs Thugs * – Prolific director Kinji Fukusaku made a number of great yakuza-themed films, but this 1975 gem is probably his best. Notable for a brutal interrogation scene where an actor playing a gangster is actually beaten by actors playing crooked cops (the rehearsal footage is included as one of the bonuses), that scene is somehow very tame once added to the assorted forms of other violence on display.

When crooked but loyal to a fault cop (Bunta Sugawara) and his equally crooked and loyal to a fault Yakuza pal Hirotani (Hiroki Matsukata) clash with a gung-ho young detective who wants all corruption purged from the force, plenty of mayhem ensues. There’s not a dull moment at all here and it’s also a case of seemingly minor characters having major roles as the plot twists pile up.

Fukusaku’s candid camera catches it all, sometimes tilting mid-action during certain scenes and freeze-framing during others for added emphasis. The imminent threat of random violence and no clear black and white heroes makes you almost root for both sides. But you’ll see that there’s no winners here when all is said and done. This one’s a must despite the kind of goofy title as well as a great way to embellish your Kiwami experience outside the game.

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Blu-Ray Review: Alien Covenant

“There’s so much here that doesn’t make sense…”
– Katherine Waterston as Janet “Danny” Daniels, Alien Covenant

AC_BR.PNGIs the Weyland-Yutani Corporation made up of really stupid and incredibly single-minded people hell-bent on burning through piles of money and human bodies every chance they get or am I missing something here? Every time they try to get an certain cranky, homicidal alien life form for their research or whatever other purposes, bad things happen and just get worse. I could just blame the robots, but it hasn’t *always* been their fault.

The humans on the other hand? Ay-yi-yi, we’re talking idiotic in increasing percentages in what, over a century of trying to bag that xenomorph and its assorted relatives? That’s a pretty lousy batting average. folks. That said, the original Alien gets a big fat weekend pass for its crew’s carelessness because you got your average space truckers griping about low wages and such who had no idea about what was coming thrown into a situation they had no control of .  Although, what the hell was Ash’s plan had the Nostromo crew somehow killed off their unwanted passenger first?

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Granted, the current chronology of the Alien franchise means the events in Prometheus came first and brought us the unbalanced synthetic David (Michael Fassbender) who ends up even nuttier in Alien Covenant (more on that below). Then we get Ian Holm’s creepy, frustrated and malfunctioning Ash in 1979’s Alien followed by the Lance Henriksen’s helpful Bishop in Aliens and Alien 3, followed by Winona Ryder’s “Hey, huh? I’m an android?” part in Alien Resurrection. While Ridley Scott seems hell bent on making a few more Alien films that take place before the original, Alien Covenant manages to (wisely) swipe enough from the above films not shot by Scott to somewhat good effect.  Still, I’m somehow left  with more bad questions than good answers about a ton of important stuff.

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Gravity Cat: A Royal Wedding of Tech As Advertisment


 

Yep. Japan still has the coolest game promos. This one’s for Gravity Daze 2, aka Gravity Rush 2 here in the US, which is set to land on the PS4 on January 20. You don’t see TV ads this lengthy for games in North America at all outside of trade shows and media events. But I’d take a few of these fun promo clips any day over another garbage infomercial or medicine ad selling snake oil with deadly side effects followed by a legal ad asking if you’ve taken one of those drugs and suffered from side effects, ugh.

Anyway, the recent demo was great overall – check out my somewhat rushed play through below:


 

-GW

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice TV Spots: Capes & Jaw-Juts on the Menu for March

And so, it begins. By the time Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters in March, I fully expect to see no fewer than 25 or so of these 30-second (or longer) TV spots that still won’t give away all of the film’s “surprises”. I’m at the stage where these comic book blockbusters don’t surprise me much if at all because both DC and Marvel traffic heavily in killing any actual suspense these films bring thanks to wanting to keep as many main and some supporting characters around as possible as a means of generating income. Alternate universe stories aside, they can’t “kill” off a *major* character anymore (without replacing him or her) because they’d be removing a slice of that easy revenue stream fans pony up on a regular basis.

That said, collateral damage seems to me more than okay in these flicks. In English: you sure can lay waste to cities great and small, killing thousands or even millions of civilians as a plot pushing element. “Dead” superheroes get to come back to life at some point, but dead normal folks stay dead long after the rubble has been cleaned up. I suppose there’s a moral here, but I’m too lazy to look for one today.

Playmates Has Your All-Season TMNT Solution Wrapped Up Nicely

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Clever, Playmates, clever – making those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Power Sound FX Combat Gear sets (MSRP $19.99, ages 4 and up) arrive just in time for not only Halloween, but in more than enough time for Christmas gift-giving. Leo, Mikey, Raph, and Donnie’s Battle Gear are all available now and combined with a few of Playmates other cool TMNT items, make for excellent costume enhancers (or can double for actual costumes if the weather is warm and the kids don’t want to sweat it out in full regalia).

(Thanks, TMNTToys!) 

Add in the Deluxe Role Play Shell (MSRP $14.99), one of the Deluxe Masks (MSRP $15.99), and maybe a set or two of those short range Walkie Talkies (MSRP $19.99) so everyone can keep in touch (although you’ll only be a few feet maximum from your pack, right? Good.) and you’re good to go for some quality trick or treating. If you’ve got one kid who’s a big TMNT fan, picking out his or her favorite Turtle should be pretty easy going. On the other hand, if you’re the proud parent of a small brood that just so happens to number between two and four, things could get slightly tricky if the kids tend to like the same turtles and get a little cranky if they can’t all be the one they like. Below the jump is a quick and fun solution to that issue. Continue reading

Mad Max TV Spot: And You Thought YOUR Commute Was Hell


 

Only a few more days to go until its September 1st launch on PC, PS4 and Xbox One and it sure looks as if WB Games and Avalanche Studios may have another hit on its hands. If Mad Max captures the insanity of the film and even half of the action from Avalanche’s Just Cause series, it’ll be a big winner this year. The longer “Stronghold” trailer from earlier this month certainly does an excellent job at conveying the post-apocalyptic setting and a few of the characters Max will meet in the game while also showing the game isn’t for the kiddies at all. That said, I don’t expect those prone to road rage will want to be playing this for extended periods of time as it may give them ideas on how to make their own commutes a lot more “interactive” in a not so productive manner.

Mad Max Getting Ahead

Oh, That’s Right: Orphan Black Season 3


 

Aha! I knew I was forgetting something important I had to do tonight. Well, that’s it above. Between this and Game of Thrones kicking off next Sunday, my weekends are officially booked. I wasn’t sure about those new male clones introduced last season, but I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt until it trips over something and goes BOOM. Well, even if that happens, Tatiana Maslany will always get her part(s) right.

Mad Max: Fury Road TV Spots: Hit the Road, Jack. You’ve Got A Movie To Catch


 

Ha. You know, I’d forgotten Mad Max had a last name until I saw the description to this new teaser. Anyway, Mr. Rockatansky is back in action on the wild road soon (hey, May is creeping up faster than you’d think!), so here’s a look at two of the TV ads for the film. Can George Miller pull this off as well as he did back with the first two films? Or will we need another hero to save us from the pre-summer blehs?


 

Eh, my money is on this being a winner as long as the jaded ones out there with their negativity and access to computers get busy slamming it with their tiny little hammers because it’s not what they wanted or expected. Yeesh. Try and make art these days and you find no one’s happy because everyone’s a self-styled “critic” these days. Feh.

I’m Not Quite Awake Yet…

(Thanks, TV Toy Memories!) 

Yeah, yeah. Typos fix-ed. Hey, I woke up at 4:44 this morning for some reason and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had a small cup of coffee at around 6:57am and after dinking around bumping into stuff, I finally got out of the house to take care of some minor shopping before heading out to try and get some work done. I need a better coffeemaker and a stronger brew methinks. My current setup just isn’t doing it anymore. Well, that’s my holiday gift to myself, I suppose. I’ve tried those single cup “brewers” and it’s like drinking hot water with a drop of brown ink in it. Especially if one prefers a LARGE cup of coffee. Anyway, let me stop here before I need to run out and buy a cup from that place that shall remain nameless that sells cheap coffee (and overpriced fast food that’s bad for you) but they won’t let you put in your own milk and sugar for some maddening, bizarre reason. What, they think they’re Apple selling tech that they’ll never let you touch when you need to change the damn battery? Bleh. I’m a self-made man and a stable adult, you guys. I can do loads of stuff on my own, including failing miserably at anything I want to.

Forza Horizon 2: Stop, Look and Crash!


 

Amusingly enough, although this is a dig at some famous track-bound racing game franchises, I’d actually PLAY a good slot car racing game if some smart developer and publisher teamed up to make one on nearly any home or portable platform. Anyway, while this commercial for <strong>Forza Horizon 2 is magnificent and funny, I have to question WHY it’s partially shot in live action with real cars (with a good deal of expensive CG enhancing) when the actual game looks so gorgeous:


 

Then again, I don’t work at Microsoft and heck, they know their own games better than anyone, right? Anyway, I’m still an Xbox One holdout, but if I were to grab one of those, this would be one of the games I’d grab with that system. If this is as open world and free range pure driving as it looks, it’ll be something I get lost in for hours and that’s just driving around all by myself checking out all the hard work that went into making the game engine sing so darn well. I’d be the one pulling over every few miles to check out the scenery, even in the middle of a race, so I can’t imagine being the poor AI driver behind me trying to pass as I slide to the left or right and perhaps dent up my ride because I’m trying to ogle a pretty sky or sunset. Anyway, September 30, 2014 is the due date for this baby which is predicted to do VERY well on the console…