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10 Movies That Make Men Want to Work Out June 18, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Entertainment, Exercise, Misc, Movie Reviews, Reviews.
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I say this with an unblemished record of heterosexuality (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Have you ever watched a movie that made you want to go work out afterwards?

I have.  Well, I’ve never actually gone out and done it, but real men would have.

What I have noticed is that these films usually feature men who were either previously unknown to mainstream audiences and/or have undergone amazing physical transformations.  For example, Arnie or Stallone films rarely have that ‘Wow’ factor because they’ve always looked that way, and in any case from my research it seems looking ‘cut’ is generally preferred to looking ‘buffed’.  Anyway, it’s no surprise that the Internets is filled with guides on how to transform your body to replicate the following movie stars.

Without further ado, these are what I think are the 10 films that have inspired more meatheads than any other.

(click on ‘more’ to read on)

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Observations on ‘New China’: Part IV – Top 3 April 28, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Travel.
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The Shanghai Skyline

It’s been over a month since my visit to China, and my observations are starting to slip from my memory.  So before I forget everything, here are the top 3 from my short visit.

Counting down in reverse order…

3. Oncoming traffic

Child urination is no big deal really, but when I was in Hangzhou, I saw something that impressed me so much that I forgot to take my camera out.

We were driving along in a taxi around West Lake, and there was this kid, probably around six or seven, with his pants around his ankles and shooting a powerful stream of urine.  The thing is, this kid was not facing the rows of trees or the brick wall behind him — he was standing on the side of the curb and pissing towards the main road at the oncoming traffic.

A woman on a scooter had to swerve to avoid getting hit head on.

2. Avoiding the rain

Another incident I forgot to document with my camera because I was too stunned.  We were walking near the Four Seasons Hotel to check out some well-preserved traditional Shanghainese streets when it started raining.

As I was grabbing my umbrella out of my bag, I saw a couple of middle aged women also take something out to shield them from the rain.  First I thought they were plastic bags, but upon closer inspection I realised they were shower caps.  That’s right, they wore shower caps in the rain.

1. Both ends

And the number one observation of ‘New China’…was actually something I didn’t personally observe.  We went into this five star hotel in Shanghai with a travel agent annexed to the lobby to buy some train tickets for Hangzhou (actually a bad idea — just get them at the station, cheaper and more flexible).

My wife went to the ladies and came out with a stunned expression.  A woman was in the cubicle, sitting on the toilet with the door wide open (quite normal)…and she was eating a bento box.  Amazingly, she was consuming and depositing at the same time.  When she was done, she washed the utensils in the basin.  Talk about efficiency.

Movie Review: Ninja Assassin (2009) April 20, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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Ninja Assassin is a movie likely to polarise viewers.  On the one hand, you have the anime generation numb to the gory violence cheering on every move of the spectacular ninja Raizo (played by Korean actor/popstar Rain).  On the other, there will be those outraged by the excessive blood and carnage, wondering how a movie like this ever got made.

Personally, I didn’t mind all that ridiculous gore.  They are ninja assassins!  That’s what happens when sharp weapons make contact with human bodies!  I did get a nasty visceral shock at the beginning, especially during the opening sequence, but by the end I was starting to get used to it.  It’s actually no worse than films like Saw and Hostel.

So Ninja Assassin had a cool, manga-esque concept.  Young kids kidnapped by some clandestine clan and trained to become super weapon-wielding, kung-fu assassins who kill people in the goriest ways imaginable.  The ninjas move in and out of the shadows like ghosts and no one can touch them.  They are every nerdy kid’s wet dream.

The fight scenes are pretty amazing.  They all looked like they knew what they were doing, and each sequence was wonderfully choreographed and executed.  Knowing a little about Rain (who was previously seen by American audiences in Speed Racer) before the movie, I was impressed by his drastic improvement in English as well as his astounding physical transformation.  I read elsewhere that Rain trained so hard for this film that he vomited after training almost every day.

Rain Ninja Assassin

Korean star Rain may have worked out a little for his role as Raizo

Now that we’ve gotten the positives out of the way, allow me to rip into the rest of Ninja Assassin.  The director, Australian James McTeigue, wasn’t really the problem.  He had previously directed V for Vendetta, so it’s obvious the man has some skill and ability.

The biggest issue I had with the film was the fact that everything else about it, apart from the fight scenes, felt hopelessly amateurish.  It would have been almost better had there been no plot at all.  Raizo is just this killing machine who harbours resentment against his old clan and for some reason decides to save a Europol agent played by Naomie Harris.  These two never click, and its painful watching them try.  The rest of the characters are better ignored, and apart from that, there’s really not much left of the film.

If Ninja Assassins was slightly more credible apart from the fight scenes, it could have had the potential to be a cult classic.  All it needed was a proper plot, more interesting characters and subplots worth caring about.  It didn’t need to be convincing — just more intriguing.  Unfortunately, however, I feel it was ultimately a waste of a promising opportunity.

2 stars out of 5!

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