Monday, December 5, 2011

Music Video: LBP Stunts Chicago - Boogie Woogie Feng Shui No. 5 (Live Action AMV - Anime Music Video)

LBP Stunts Chicago seems to have a bottomless reserve of energy.  They channel it into a number of endeavors, from short films to experimental clips and now music videos.  You read that last part right: music videos.  No, LBP has not formed a band of any sort (or God forbid a rap group).  They have simply put together some visual accompaniment for a few existing pieces of music.  The visuals in question are not a random collection of disconnected images.  No, these are recreations of key fight scenes from some three of the more notable anime properties from the past 20 years.  The curiously (though fittingly) titled Boogie Woogie Feng Shui No. 5 (Live Action AMV - Anime Music Video) is a trilogy that clocks in at about seven minutes, but acts as a greatest hits package of sorts.

The first segment recreates the climactic fight from Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven’s Door with Jeffrey Griffith in the role of intergalactic bounty hunter Scott Spiegel and Alexander Hashioka-Oatfield as the villain Vincent Volaju.  The fight takes place in broad daylight on a building rooftop rather than in at night the upper reaches of an Eiffel Tower type structure.  However, from the standpoint of fight choreography and costume design, the recreation is dead on.  The moves feel instinctual and reactionary.  This exasperating slugfest ends in a chest pounding draw.

The next entry splices together scenes from Both Ninja Scroll and Samurai Champloo.  It recreates the blind swordsman confrontation from the former.  I’m not intimately familiar with the latter, so I have no idea what scene it’s emulating.  The scene is a three way brawl featuring Vonzell Carter as Jin/Jubei, Mickey Facchinello as Sara, and Brendon Huor as Majaro Utsusu.  It actually calls to mind the climactic three way lightsaber fight that ends Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.  This fight feels a bit more measured and calculated than the first, perhaps because it involves weapons instead of hand to hand combat (not to mention that one of the combatants is a blind man).  The pacing isn’t as relentless, suggesting that each character has to stop and think before executing a move.  The fighting in the first felt more instinctual and reactionary.  There are, of course, the requisite poses and intense stares to punctuate the action.  The forest setting and musical choice add an serene undertone that feels at odds with some of the aggression shown onscreen.  

The ending segment adapts a duel from Sword of the Stranger.  Breden Huor plays Nanshi and Seth Austin plays Luo Lang.  It takes place on a hilltop.  Seth Austin’s animated facial expressions call to mind the melodramatic character designs often attributed to anime villains.  In doing so, it constantly reminds the viewer of the form that this video pays homage to.  It also injects a bit of adrenaline into the proceedings.  Seth’s sleeveless red button up calls to mind Ken from the Street Fighter franchise, or even one of the characters from Double Dragon.  

Director/editor/cinematographer/fight choreographer Emmanuel Manzanares keeps things from getting too monotonous by offering a varied number of settings and fighting styles.  The differences are subtle, but will be noticed by attentive viewers.  Each entry has a distinct mood and energy level, which is likely why they were chosen.  Manzanares also shows that live action translations of such material don’t have to be literal so long as they capture the spirit of said scenes and properties.  Such an undertaking can be achieved with minimal resources.

Boogie Woogie Feng Shui No. 5 (Live Action AMV - Anime Music Video) is a nice little YouTube stocking stuffer the holiday season.  LBP Stunts Chicago have a similar work ethic and business model to rappers like Lil Wayne or Gucci Mane, only their artistic output is consistently of a much higher quality.  Like mixtapes from the aforementioned drug addled rap stars, LBP deems everything they do worthy of mass consumption.  They pump it out assembly line style.  Thankfully, they have tons of talent and energy to spare, not to mention an equal measure of cinematic vision and discipline to saddle it to.        

Boogie Woogie Feng Shui No. 5 (Live Action AMV - Anime Music Video) from LBP Stunts Chicago on Vimeo.

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