Monday, May 30, 2011

Isaiah Mustafa Unleashes his Inner Luke Cage

Though there is a dearth of black superheroes on both the comic page and the silver screen, it’s not for lack of trying on the part of “Black Hollywood.”  A Luke Cage movie has actually been floating around in creative limbo for years.  IMDB lists a screenplay credited to none other than Ben Ramsey.  John Singleton was to helm the project at one point, with Tyrese Gibson slated to play the fabled hero for hire.  Alas, the project doesn’t seem to be any closer to becoming a reality despite all the names that have been attached to it over the years.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Movie Review: Attack the Block

When a mysterious meteor shower populates the streets of south London with hostile aliens on Bonfire night, a street gang must defend their council estate from these strange invaders.  Moses (John Boyega), Biggz (Simon Howard), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Pest (Alex Esmail) and Nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) amass an arsenal of makeshift weapons and band together for survival.  Can they last the night and emerge triumphant? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cool Characters: Blade

Hollywood is ill at ease with images of black male power.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the flurry of superhero films that have invaded the world’s multiplexes in the last decade.  These comic book characters exist in science fiction and fantasy universes where people of color occupy supporting and subservient roles at best.  Every now and then, one is allowed make an appearance at the forefront, usually side by side with other white characters. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Web Series Review: Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Ep. 7: Scorpion and Sub Zero (Part 1)

Hanzo Hasashi (Ian Anthony Dale), General of the Shirai Ryu clan, prepares for the coming of the Shogun of Kumamoto Castle.  When he is informed that the Shogun has arrived early, he immediately prepares for a rendezvous with him.  He dons the mask and weapons of his alter-ego: Scorpion.  While on his way, he encounters his arch-nemesis Sub Zero (Kevan Ohtsji).  At that moment it becomes clear that the early arrival of the shogun was an elaborate ruse. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Album Review: Maybach Music Group-Self Made Vol. 1

Like the fabled drug cartels of the Cocaine Cowboys era, the Maybach Music Group now intends set its mark and enforce it.  Self Made Vol. 1 is a compilation showcase for all members of the council: Wale, Meek Mill, Pill and founding member Rick Ross.  The album is largely what both fans and detractors have been expecting. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Movie Trailer: Green Lantern 3D Trailer

The 3D trailer for Green Lantern has arrived.  It comes equipped with voice over narration that gives a cliffs notes version of the 71 year old mythology.  The CGI still looks like glossy animation, but the scope and ambition of Martin Campbell’s vision continues to capture the imagination.  The main purpose of this trailer seems to be exposition.  Warner Brothers has too much riding on this to risk alienating any segment of the audience. 

The Ebony Cat Roars: An Interview With Writer/Journalist Allen Scott Gordon (Part 1)

By the time the golden age of Hip-Hop journalism began, the golden age of rap music was already well under way.  The Source emerged during the early and mid-1990’s as the consummate hip-hop publication of its era.  It was indeed a powerhouse, boasting a plethora of talent, professionalism and journalistic integrity.  Still, it often presented a lop-sided perspective on the culture since the majority of its staff hailed from the northeastern United States.  Another voice was needed to balance things out.  Enter Bay Area native Allen Scott Gordon.

First Image of Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises"

Filming on Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, began last week.  As with his other two installments, I wondered how the villains would be visualized.  The inclusion of Bane into Nolan’s hyper-real universe struck me as odd when it was announced.  The character, as rendered in the comics, seemed a bit too typically “comic book” for the Nolan aesthetic.  This was mostly due to his gargantuan size.  The casting of Tom Hardy didn’t do anything to assuage my doubts.  Still, a friend of mine (who has an annoying penchant for being right much of the time) encouraged me to reserve judgment until more substantial info became available.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trailer: Funk-Gu

Cartoons and chop-sockies are like chocolate and peanut butter.  Back in the early to mid-1980’s, both were staples of Saturday programming.  Why no one ever thought to merge them together is one of the great mysteries of our time.  Well, it seems that someone has at long last decided to do the obvious. Artist/animator Aric Mannion and martial artist/stuntman Mike Wong have finally combined two great tastes that taste great together.  Well, not quite yet, but they have prepared a “proof of concept” trailer that offers but a glimpse of their curiously titled Funk-Gu

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Web Series Review: Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Ep. 6 - Raiden

Raiden (Ryan Robbins), God of thunder, finds himself mysteriously stranded on earth.  His unconscious body is discovered on the grounds of a mental institution.  He is immediately taken into custody and admitted as a patient.  While in captivity, Raiden’s proclamations of his Godly status are dismissed as the ravings of a madman.  Desperate, he asks a fellow to aid him in his escape.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood

Over the last quarter century, Ice-T has slowly transitioned from being one of Hip-Hop’s earliest and most successful provocateurs to one of its most transcendent and recognizable personalities.  Amazingly, that transition has never been formally chronicled save for a few magazine interviews and the like.  Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood attempts to tell the story of Tracy Morrow in a way that will speak to the converted and skeptics alike.  It does so in what has been a very productive period for the ever expanding cannon of serious hip-hop literature.

Movie Trailer: Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown

The original Never Back Down was essentially a mean spirited remake of the original Karate Kid.  It had very little going for it other than a competently staged final bout (for which it won an MTV Movie Award).  An inevitable but totally unnecessary sequel was all but assured.  The prospect of a follow up to a marginal MMA film held no interest for me whatsoever. Then I learned that it would be Michael Jai White’s directorial debut (read my excellent interview with him by clicking here).  Since Michael strikes me as the type that is successful at just about whatever he tries, I was eager to see a glimpse of this film.  Today I got my wish courtesy of the good people at Twitch.

Things Threaten to Boil Over in This New Clip from "Touye Pwen"

Verbal confrontations between characters are an important part of good crime stories.  A big part of intimidation is acting.  Criminals are some of the greatest actors in the world.  You have to be able to convince your opponent of what you’re capable of before you resort to physical violence.  If your prey senses any hesitance or fear in you, your threat will not be taken seriously.  This is key to some of the great staring contests and verbal stand offs in gangster films.  It’s like the calm before the storm.  Sometimes the actual fireworks, which come in the form of action and/or violence, can be anti-climactic after a tense verbal exchange.  R.L. Scott shows his understanding of that philosophy with this latest clip from his highly anticipated web series Touye Pwen.

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Defense Against Common Sense

Whenever you can’t defeat your enemy legitimately, never underestimate the power of good old fashioned dishonesty.  The Obama administration has become bullet proof in the court of the public opinion in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death.  Scrambling in great haste to find anything they can use to vindicate the ruins of their party before the onset of the 2012 elections, they have resorted to character assassination.  Unfortunately, this time they have a targeted someone wholly underserving of their manufactured vitriol.  

Music Video: Skyzoo - The Definitive Prayer

Though I’ve never really bought into the importance of freestyling as a necessary skill for a rapper (I see much more value in a rappers ability to write a song), I can’t deny the visceral thrill of watching a wordsmith spitting rapid fire over a beat.  While Skyzoo’s “The Definitive Prayer” may not be technically be a freestyle, it does capture that same sense of cathartic release.  It’s off his upcoming mixtape with 9th Wonder entitled The Great Debator. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Movie Trailer: Viva Riva!

The United States isn’t the only place that makes crime flicks.  I became privy to that fact upon discovering the weird and wonderful world of Hong Kong action cinema in the 1990’s.  Since then, countless countries have thrown their proverbial hats into the ring.  The Congo now takes a cinematic plunge into its own murky underworld of money, women and guns with Viva Riva!

Web Series Review: Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Ep. 5 - Kitana & Mileena (Part 2)

Kitana (Samantha Tjhia) and Mileena (Jolene Tran) have become formidable fighters after years of training.  The two then go about vanquishing the remainder of Shao Khan’s (Aleks Paunovic) enemies.  This includes imposters of the deposed King Jerrod, who has been living in self-imposed exile since Edenia was conquered.  While on their latest mission, Kitana discovers a secret that has been kept from her since she was a baby.  As she ponders the implications of what she has learned, Shao Khan prepares to move ahead with his next acquisition. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Movie Trailer: Colombiana

Men can sometimes become consumed by their enthusiasms.  Two of mine are action films and beautiful women of color, both of which take up considerable volume in my brain.  I imagine that filmmaker Luc Besson isn’t all that different.  He is fascinated with the concept of the super assassin, so much so that almost every film he as ever written, directed, or produced has been a variation on that concept.  As if through a Vulcan mind meld, he has found a way to merge my obsessions with his own.  The result is the very simply titled Colombiana.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

Odin (Anthony Hopkins), long the ruler of Asgard, is about to pass the crown on to his son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) when the ceremony is rudely interrupted by the Frost Giants of Jotunheim.  Thor considers this an act of war, and responds accordingly.  He does so against his father’s wishes.  Odin, angered by his sons’ remorseless and arrogant defiance, strips him of his powers and banishes him to earth.  There he is to live as a mere mortal until he proves himself worthy of reclaiming his birth right.  As these events transpire, Thor’s brother Loki (Tim Hiddleson) uncovers a secret which will forever alter his relationship to both his father and brother. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Devil's Advocate

Rappers love revolution, at least in concept.  Politically conscious rappers especially will advocate just about any historical figure that appears to have taken it to the man.  Ernesto "Che" Guevara and countless others have been lionized by Hip-Hop at one point or another.  Criminal figures like Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson and countless Cosa Nostra bosses have also been unofficially elevated to the status of “revolutionaries” if only because their violent criminal activities fly in the face of polite societies values.  Rappers, like Americans as a whole, tend to have selective memory when looking back at history.  This causes certain historical figures to be assigned a significance that is not befitting them.  Sometimes that tendency borders on lunacy, as truly evil men are allowed to be heroes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Dark Side of Victory

In the wake of president Obama’s recent “victory,” my feelings are mixed.  Immediately upon hearing the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, I felt a sense of elation not too dissimilar to the displays that where shown on television late Sunday night and early Monday morning.  I felt proud of President Obama, and happy that he had finally scored a decisive “win” to counterbalance (and possibly negate) all the criticism he has received since his term began.  My posts on Facebook reflected this.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Music Video: Raekwon - Butter Knives

When one chooses to live a life of hustling, there are certain inherent risks that come with the territory.  Chief among those is being captured by the police.  As Robert De Niro’s character Neil McCauley said in the film Heat, "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."  Had Raekwon written the screenplay for that cops and robbers classic, the line might have read “Be ready to break out if you standing in front of your building and Po-Po jumps out on you.” 

Web Series Review: Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Episode 4 “Kitana & Mileena (Part 1)”

The Realm of Edenia has known peace for many years.  That tranquility is shattered after its warriors lose ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments.  Edenia is then invaded by the hordes of Outworld.  Outworld emperor Shao Khan (Aleks Paunovic) drives out King Jerrod (Kirby Morrow) and takes Queen Sindel (Beatrice Ilg) as his bride. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Movie Review: 13 Assassins

As the age of the samurai gradually fades, Lord Naritsugu (Gorô Inagaki) revels in his own childish cruelty.  He uses his status as the Shogun's younger brother as a license to rape and murder indiscriminately.  After a man who has been personally disgraced by Naritsugu’s antics commits seppuku, it becomes apparent that the young lord’s foolishness can no longer be tolerated, as his further ascendance in the political arena would surely bring about untold suffering.  An elder samurai by the name of Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is hired to bring Lord Naritsugu’s reign of terror to an end. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ben Ramsey Offers Fans a Treat with an Extended Scene from “Blood and Bone”

I have an unabashed love for Blood and Bone that borders on obsession.  One of my very few complaints regarding its DVD release is the lack of “real” extras save for a commentary track.  Perhaps sensing the collective frustration of fans such as myself, director Ben Ramsey has decided to throw a proverbial bone (pun intended) to us B&B cultists.