4/10/03:

Another day of films, and unfortunately another bad one in the bunch, but a couple of good ones, too. And it wasn't as lonely a day of movie-watching as yesterday; I was accompanied by friends to two of the three screenings today.

Films I saw today: Trinity, Vengeance!, Aragami

Trinity

The Film Festival booklet describes Trinity as a refreshingly intelligent and philosophical science fiction film. My friend Dan and I were both excited by this description. It sounded like the kind of film we really wanted to see. So accompanied by another friend (Sam), we went to check it out. Unfortunately, Dan and I were disappointed. Perhaps we were just expecting too much (Sam thought the movie was fine). Like Second Name, this is another debut film, this time from a British writer-director named Gary Boulton-Brown. But also like Second Name, you can really tell. In fact, Trinity feels like a student film, and even has the kind of stripped-down, gimmicky premise of a student film. The title refers to the fact that there are basically only three characters in the film (a few other actors show up in a court case scene that frames the film, as well as in some random flashbacks throughout the picture, but they don't really count)--a man named Dr. Clerval (or is he a clone of the doctor?), a woman named Schiller, and another man named Braq. These three characters end up trapped together in an isolated "camp" (which consists of a large empty building with various hallways and rooms, some padded like asylum cells, some not). Here they try to work out the various strange and violent events from their past that link them together.

Schiller and Braq are part of a military team sent out to investigate transmissions that have been picked up from the abandoned camp. When they arrive, they find a man who looks exactly like (and even smells exactly like, according to Schiller) Dr. Clerval, the man who oversaw the camp some years ago. However, this man claims to be a clone of Dr. Clerval, the ultimate goal of the doctor's experiments in the camp. Schiller doesn't believe him, and thinks he is the real Clerval. Clerval's work in the camp has apparently been declared criminal, and he has disappeared; is he dead or on the run? Schiller wants him dead, but for more personal reasons--she was in the camp. Braq tries to restrain her, but he has his own personal reasons for being here. Braq and Schiller were in a relationship recently, and Braq is still obsessed with her.

Braq says their duty is clear--they have to take this man, whether he's Dr. Clerval or not, back with them now. Schiller refuses to leave; she wants to stay and interrogate this Clerval on her own terms, and ultimately execute him for his crimes. Braq is forced to agree to stay for now, and a kind of stalemate is reached. The rest of the film is basically just these three characters talking at each other. Occasionally their talk erupts into violence, and occasionally they stop talking and flashback to earlier events, but the talking is pretty much the main part of the film.

This is what I'm calling the gimmick of the film--that it is basically just three characters talking to each other--and a gimmick like this could have worked if the three characters were really interesting, and their dialogue were intelligent and well-written. The problem is, the characters are not very interesting and their dialogue sounds like something out of a high school play (after the screening, my friend Dan told us he now understood why people hated the plays he'd written in college). Yes, the characters are intriguing at first. Schiller and Braq are haunted by their past--what happened to them? Clerval is cold and logical--he doesn't appear to be haunted by anything. Is he really a clone or not? What happened here at this camp? What did Dr. Clerval do to Schiller? What happened between Braq and Schiller? All of these questions need answers. The problem is, when we do learn more about the characters, it doesn't help to really shed light on them very much. They remain rather enigmatic--the motivations for their actions remain difficult to understand, and we continue to not like or understand them. Schiller, as Braq himself points out, is basically just angry. She's anger personified. Later on she becomes more complex, and her obsession with Clerval is revealed to be a strange mixture of hate and love. But we cannot sympathize with her. It's impossible to understand how Clerval could be attractive. Perhaps this is supposed to be some form of Stockholm syndrome, a documented psychological condition that causes captives to fall in love with their captors, but there doesn't really seem to be much basis for that in the film.

As for Braq, one of the secrets from his past comes out almost immediately. It's mentioned that Schiller's previous superior officer died in a car bombing. Braq was next in line and ended up as her new commander. Soon after we learn this, we see Braq flashback to an image of him standing in front of a car exploding. Okay, so he was responsible for the car bomb, and apparently he did it just so he could be close to Schiller again. The thing is, we realize this the first time we see the flashback, but the flashback comes up again and again, and doesn't even hardly change at all. Normally when a flashback recurs in a film, it is slowly augmented somehow--more images are added onto it each time that reveal more to us about the past. Here, we just see the same thing over and over again, and it doesn't help to shed any more light on Braq. We basically have to guess why he did the car bombing. Admittedly, interpretation is an important part of film--we should have to figure things out. But should we have to guess based on almost no information? Braq remains pretty enigmatic. He kills people, but why? He seems like a nice enough guy when we know him, though rather stupid. After it's become quite clear that Schiller wants to kill Clerval and may take any excuse to do so, what does Braq do? Does he try to leave, taking Clerval with him? Does he take Schiller's weapon from her? Does he lock Clerval away into a room where Schiller cannot get to him? No, he goes and takes a shower and leaves Schiller alone with Clerval. And then whenever something goes wrong in the film, he just runs around yelling "Schiller!" over and over and over again. Not exactly bright, is he? We just never really get a glimpse into this man's mind. It's impossible to understand why he does the odd, random things he does.

As you may have guessed, the film has a problem with repetition, too. The same scenes seem to recur again and again. The characters have the same arguments again and again. Their conversations run in circles and never seem to get anywhere. After talking, they take showers or sleep. They keep sleeping and talking and taking showers. At one point they even chase each other through the camp and just end up right back where they started. Schiller shoots Braq, and yet somehow they remain "friends." After the shooting, they are back in the same room, talking to each other again about the same things. Who are these people? What human beings interact with each other this way?

The film in general is rather circular, beginning with a frame story that it returns to at the end. And then there's the enigmatic ending--which I think is supposed to be mind-blowing and horrifying--wherein Schiller somehow ends up back in the camp again with Clerval talking at her. But really this ending is just confusing, and seems to me to be a cheap attempt to disturb us and "make us think." Once again, the film is trying to use elements that other films have used to successfully convey meaning--repetition, a circular story--but it fails to use them well or effectively. The film is constantly trying to be smart and meaningful, but it ends up being merely pretentious, confusing, annoying, and boring. Its overblown, cliche metaphors (come on, how many films have used chess as a metaphor before this, and to much greater effect?) don't really go anywhere, and its enigmatic characters don't really have anything understandable or interesting going on inside of them.

The film also tries to talk about big issues like cloning and eugenics, but it does so in a very straightforward, uninteresting way. We find out (during Schiller's extended flashback that finally explains what happened to her) that Clerval is basically trying to create a (Nazi?) super-race in his camp. He's trying to fashion perfect clones using only the ideal genetic characteristics from donors, eliminating unwanted character traits. "Who decides which characteristics are kept and which are eliminated?" Schiller asks. "I do, of course," Clerval responds. "That's playing god," Schiller says. "Somebody has to," Clerval says. Clerval's responses here are rather clever, but Schiller's questions--which are apparently the questions the film is trying to raise--are familiar and boring. Clerval's mad scientist plan is also boring, and poorly explained. Although he goes over in painstaking detail the process of cloning itself, a process which is actually pretty well understood by modern science, he doesn't explain how the clones grow up as fast as they apparently do (the Clerval clone is supposed to have grown to middle-age in something like five years). This is something a lot of movies about cloning just tend to breeze over, but it really needs some kind of explanation. A clone is just a normal human being with genetic material in it that is identical to material in another human being (like an identical twin). There's nothing about it that would naturally make it grow up any faster than a normal person.

Furthermore, what exactly is Clerval supposed to be trying to use Schiller for? At first he seems to be saying she'll be a donor, then it turns out she's going to be a host for clone babies, but nothing ever seems to come of this, either; she is never impregnated. Instead Clerval just keeps coming into her room and talking to her. Occasionally he feeds her. He clearly is becoming attracted to her. In an excruciatingly long sequence, Schiller submits to sex with him. My guess is that she does this as part of an escape attempt (she clearly doesn't enjoy it), although once again her motives are left hidden and her actions seem strange and inexplicable. The sex scene is disgusting and seemingly pointless, since Schiller just ends up hitting Clerval on the head afterwards when his back is turned. (And is this how she is supposed to have escaped from what we know already to be a heavily guarded camp?)

When the film is not being disgusting or irritating, it is occasionally also laughable, usually in the moments when it is trying to be the most dramatic. One example is Braq's endless screaming of the name "Schiller!" but even worse than that is a particular scene that takes place late in the film in which Clerval shamefully tricks Schiller into revealing her true feelings. This scene takes place in the "present" of the film, during one of Schiller's "interrogations" of Clerval. An earlier scene in which Clerval played with Schiller's mind (as his voice reverberated on the soundtrack) was actually one of the few successful sequences in the film, but this one completely fails. Clerval tells Schiller that what she really wants is to go back to the camp the way it used to be. He says he can take her back there, if she just asks him to "Take me back." "I don't want you to take me back," she says. "You don't?" he says. They repeat this a few times. Then Clerval uses a silly ploy out of old Bugs Bunny cartoons to turn things around: "What don't you want me to do?" "Take me back," Schiller replies, and now they repeat this a few times, until Schiller is shouting, "Take me back!" This is supposed to be an extremely effective and dramatic moment, but instead it's just ridiculous. If the psychological torture that shows up in your film was originally successfully used on Elmer Fudd, something is seriously wrong.

Like I said, maybe I'm being a little too hard on Trinity. It is a first film, and perhaps my expectations had been raised too high by the exciting description in the Film Festival booklet. But then again, Citizen Kane was also a first film. And Trinity didn't just fail to entertain me; it actively annoyed me. I was extremely relieved when it finally ended. That's just not a good characteristic for a film to have, whether its a debut film or not.

My Poll Rating: Poor

Intermission

On our way out of the theater, Dan, Sam and I ran into another friend, Phil. It turned out that he had also just seen the movie; we had come to the same screening independently without realizing it. Interestingly enough, Phil and Sam agreed that Trinity was not that bad. They had actually kind of liked it. But I've often disagreed with Sam on films, and Phil disliked My Life as McDull, so maybe we just have different tastes.

I said goodbye to my friends and headed back inside for some dinner. It was quite similar to my dinners the last couple of nights--I'm getting to be a regular at the International House snack bar. After a quick call to my girlfriend, it was back into the theater for another movie!

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Vengeance!

This is yet another in the series of classic Shaw Brothers kung fu films being screened at the festival. Unlike the other films, this one has a slightly more modern setting--there are some guns in evidence. But the guns don't end up interfering much with the hand- and sword-fighting, and, as you might have guessed from the title, the plot is a familiar one. Yes, this is another movie about vengeance. In this case, the one killed is a Chinese Opera performer, and the avenger is his brother. (It should be noted here that Chinese opera is not at all like Western opera; the specific opera shown in the film involves no singing, and its violent story is told through acrobatic, stylized dancing.) The film opens with our Chinese Opera star in the middle of a performance. He is playing a hero who bravely fights to the death against a monstrous enemy. After the performance, our actor finds a slimy-looking fellow in his wife's dressing room, and throws him out, threatening him with violence if he returns. Unfortunately for him, the slimy guy has powerful friends who are also interested in the Opera star's wife, and wouldn't mind if he were dead. Soon after, our hero enters an inn and sits down to have a drink. We notice shortly before he does that the place is packed with men who have been ordered to kill him. He attempts to escape the ambush, fighting furiously and killing many of his foes, but, in a final, breath-taking, slow motion sequence, he is blinded and murdered, and his actual death throes are intercut with the mock death throes of his character on the opera stage.

Soon afterwards, the opera star's brother arrives, and his first act is to barge into the house of his brother's widow and kill the man she's been sleeping with. He expects it to be the man who helped engineer his brother's death, but it is just a lowly servant. This annoys him, but does not in any way deter him. When an assassin arrives and kills the widow because she knows too much, the brother casually dispatches him and moves on.

Soon after, the brother heads to the opera. In an incredible sequence worthy of Hitchcock, he is followed into the back rooms and backstage areas of the opera house and attacked by two henchmen. They are nearly as relentless as him, and keep getting up and coming at him even after he's sure he's taken care of them. The actual violence between him and these two men is constantly intercut with the staged violence in the opera. This comparison, which comes up often throughout the course of the film, is neatly done.

Eventually, with the help of an old flame who's living in town, our new hero discovers the identities of the four men who were the masterminds behind the plot to kill his brother. With single-minded ruthlessness and cunning, he tracks each of them down and kills them, in stunning, tense fighting sequences, each more thrilling than the last, and each quite different from the others. In one sequence, the brother must sneak inside of a heavily guarded hotel and get upstairs into the main suite to kill a man. With the help of his girlfriend's seductive talents, and through his own ingenuity and strength, he succeeds (despite the ridiculously slow elevator in the hotel lobby). In another, later sequence, guns come into play, and our hero must use his wits to survive. The brother is invited to come and meet with one of the men he is after. Not surprisingly, it is a trap, and a sniper lies in wait for him. However, he sees the trap coming, and double-crosses his enemy--he tricks the sniper into killing the other man. But was the sniper really tricked? Later on, a smarmy politician shows up, and it seems as if perhaps he has deliberately maneuvered our hero into a position where he can use him to his advantage. He gives the brother a perfect opportunity to take out his last target, but is it a trap? The brother's old flame tells him not to go, but he has a duty to avenge his brother's death, so he heads off to meet his destiny.

This film is directed by Chang Che, the same man who directed One-Armed Swordsman, and here again he skillfully mixes melodrama and violence to create a potent, though occasionally goofy, story. Again we have a man of violence who intends to leave behind his life of fighting and danger for the woman in his life--but only after he has done his duty, paid his debts, and performed one final act of violence. And once again the point seems to be that violence only begets violence, and leads ultimately to death and sorrow and loss.

It is in his relationship with this woman that the brother reveals his humanity. Though he is otherwise a relentless killing machine, he is very tender and soft with this woman. His past is a mystery. Why has he been away from the town? Why did he leave this woman behind? He seems to have loved his brother very much; we see one or two quick flashbacks of them frolicking together. It's not clear what our avenger does for a living. Did he train for the opera, too? We don't know. Really, it's not terribly important. The premise of the film is the simplest and most basic of kung fu movie premises, and Chang Che doesn't allow much extraneous story or character development to get in the way of that. Towards the end, there are some politics thrown in, but it's really secondary to the main vengeance plot.

Of course, Chang Che isn't the only contributor to these films; there's also the Shaw Brothers themselves, and indeed this film has much in common stylistically with all of the other Shaw Brothers films I've seen. Not only is it similar visually, it also has a similar sound. I had forgotten to mention in my reviews of the other Shaw Brothers films, but all of these movies have extremely dramatic, over-the-top sound effects. Punches, kicks, and sword cuts boom and crash repetitively like thunder or heavy machinery. Even the sound of a man walking on wet cobblestones is magnified until it seems alive with drama and a sense of impending doom.

I'm starting to notice a number of stock elements in these films, actually. There's nearly always a smiling villain of some kind. In Come Drink With Me, there was Smiling Tiger. In One-Armed Swordsman, there was the laughing lackey of Long-armed Devil. In this film, there's the smarmy politician, who's constantly smiling and laughing, but is nevertheless not to be trusted. Perhaps this stock character is used as a reminder that you can't judge a book by its cover, and appearances are deceiving. Or perhaps a smiling villain is just more intriguing than a frowning, grimacing one.

The dialogue is also rather similar in these films. One particular line that I noticed first in Come Drink With Me reappeared in One-Armed Swordsman and shows up again here: "You must be tired of living." I wonder if the Shaw Brothers recognized a great line and decided to use it as often as possible, or if this is just a common saying in Hong Kong.

Regardless, the Shaw Brothers have created a winning formula, and varied it enough each time to keep it entertaining. Vengeance! is a wonderful film, clever and beautiful, with its slow-motion visual metaphors between the balletic violence on screen and the dance of mock violence on the stage at the Chinese Opera. Our hero is not only a skilled fighter, but also wise (I particularly enjoyed the trick he uses to defeat his final enemy; feigning death until the man comes close, and then striking out with violent precision). Despite the fact that we are given little insight into his past, we still sympathize with him, and are moved by his quest. This film is his story, and it is about duty, trickery, and honor. And, most importantly (given the genre), it kicks butt.

My Poll Rating: Excellent

Intermission

After Vengeance!, I took a leisurely walk over to the Bridge for my next screening. I had a while to wait before it started, so I talked to Sarah on the phone for a while, and then bought a shirt from the festival folks who were set up next to the box office. They only had a couple of sizes left, but I figured the large would be big enough (it wasn't really, quite; I'm giving it to Sarah and getting an extra large for myself, at her request). My friend Dave and a couple of his friends (Mike and Damon) were meeting me for this movie, so I kind of hung out in the lobby a while, waiting for them. I saw Travis Crawford enter the theater. I realized he'd probably walked across town from Vengeance! just as I had, and that I've been going to practically all the movies he programmed. I wonder if he thinks I'm stalking him...

It's both comforting and disturbing to realize that you are starting to recognize familiar faces in the audience as you continue to attend more and more screenings. While I was waiting in the lobby, I ran into one of the guys I'd seen in a number of theaters recently--in fact, he'd been involved in the discussion about laughter during screenings that had occurred before One-Armed Swordsman. He recognized me, as well, and we talked a bit about what we'd seen recently. I told him about the awful Trinity (which he hadn't even bothered to read about), and we both agreed that Vengeance! was great. Soon after, I headed back toward the theater for Aragami and found that there was quite a long line already to get in! It turns out this screening of the film was sold out, and Aragami had already been selected as a festival favorite. (I'm not sure how it's fair to decide the festival favorites before half of the movies have even been screened. But maybe they have to do it this way because of scheduling concerns.) As I was waiting in line, Dave showed up and we talked a bit. I got in ahead of him and his friends and saved some seats for them. While we were waiting for the movie to start, I got a chance to talk with Damon about movies, which is always fun. He's pretty much an expert on strange and disturbing films from Asia, so of course we had to have a conversation about Graveyard of Honor. He, too, had been really impressed with the film. He also told me some interesting things about the making of Dead or Alive. Then it was movie time.

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Aragami

The director of Aragami, Ryuhei Kitamura, had a film in last year's festival called Versus, which I went to see. It's a fun, Evil Dead-type rollicking sci-fi action kung fu fest, with the classic theme of the eternal conflict between good and evil. Aragami is similar in many ways. It also has the theme of an eternal conflict between two opposing forces and, as in Versus, there's a sudden turn-around near the end of the film that leads you to question which of these forces is really the good one, or if either of them is really any good at all. Both films also have a strange, dark, but very amusing sense of humor, and both also end with a flash-forward sequence that takes place far in the future (although Aragami's flash-forward is far more effective than the one in Versus). I heard rumors that Aragami went from concept to completion in a very short time, so perhaps Kitamura, in the interest of shortening the production period, reused a lot of ideas from his previous film. Kitamura made the film as part of a filmmaking duel between himself and another director (Yukihiko Tsutsumi). They challenged each other to each make a film in which two characters are engaged in a duel to the death. (Tsutsumi's movie, 2LDK, is also in the festival, and I had considered seeing it, but then decided that other films were more important, and erased it from my schedule.)

Aragami is indeed about a duel to the death--and, in fact, it is about almost nothing else. This is a very spare film; it's another instance of what I would call a gimmick film, or perhaps a kind of exercise film. Like Trinity, this film really has only three characters (one of whom isn't even seen very often and rarely speaks). Also like Trinity, these three characters are confined to one rather small setting, and the film is all about how they interact with each other. And yet, unlike in Trinity, here the gimmick works wonderfully, perhaps because Kitamura is a more experienced and talented filmmaker, with an established style, and he doesn't let anything get in the way of the story he wants to tell. This is a movie with a simple and definite purpose. It is a fighting movie for people who like fighting movies made by a guy who likes fighting movies.

This having been said, it might seem surprising that the movie starts quite slowly, with a measured and careful pace. But Kitamura is quite aware of what he's doing. He sets up the story with calm precision, preparing us fully for what is going to happen, making sure we understand why it is going to occur (and, in fact, why it has to occur). He wants to get everything else out of the way so that when the fighting begins, we can concentrate on it completely. He lets the characters have a long, detailed discussion that answers all (or most) of our questions, and eliminates all other story possibilities except one. And then the fighting starts.

I don't want to go into too much detail with my plot summary, since the film has some entertaining surprises in store for first-time viewers, so I'll just give the barest outline. The film is set in Japan of the 1800s, when the time of the samurai was drawing to a close. As the movie begins, we are already inside the only setting the film will have--a rather oddly decorated, and quite eery, temple hidden high up in the mountains. Not surprisingly, it is a dark and stormy night. A badly wounded samurai arrives at the temple, dragging his unconscious, and equally badly wounded, comrade. He meets a woman inside (the caretaker of the temple?), and quickly collapses in a heap.

The next thing we see is the unconscious samurai, now healed, awakening. He is greeted by the temple's other inhabitant--a man who claims to have healed him, though sadly he was unable to save the other samurai. The living samurai mourns his lost colleague, who was like a brother to him. He says he wants to take the man's body back to his family, and prepares to go. But the mysterious man of the temple implores him to stay and drink with him. The storm has made the way dangerous outside, and it will be best to wait until it is over. The man is so polite and has done so much for him; the samurai agrees to stay.

I knew already at this point that these two men were almost certainly going to be the ones to fight each other to the death. But I couldn't see how it would happen. They were being so polite and honorable to each other. What would happen to make them want to fight to the death? It's around this time that the man of the temple brings up an old legend about the mountain. It's said that a creature lives up here called Aragami, that feeds on the flesh of men. It is a monster, and an ancient god of violence and war. The samurai is vaguely acquainted with the tale, though he knows the monster under a different name. It may not surprise you (it certainly didn't surprise me) that at this point the man of the temple reveals that he himself is Aragami. The samurai doesn't believe him at first, but Aragami has ways of convincing him.

But the battle isn't on yet. Instead, Kitamura spends more time going over the preliminaries of battle, really luxuriating in everything that leads up to the duel. He shows us the negotiations--the samurai doesn't see the point in fighting, but Aragami gives him plenty of reason, both emotional and logical. We also see a really amusing weapon selection scene. Aragami gives the samurai his choice of weapons, from his private stash. When the samurai reaches for the ninja stars, Aragami blurts out what is probably my favorite line in the movie: "Ninja stars are for losers."

The movie has plenty of clever, dark, ironic humor. It also has an interesting, entertaining soundtrack. There's some hard rock, and also some dance/electronic type stuff, with a heavy, catchy beat to it. Even though the film is set in the past, before such music styles even existed, somehow this music seems fitting and appropriate. It goes with the film's modern, ironic perspective. The film also has loads of style. The temple set is a very eerie, atmospheric spot for a fight, full of hidden menace and danger. It's generally dark, but lit just enough to give you an uneasy sense of its strange design. There are chains hanging about, and a large, threatening Buddha-type statue (Aragami admits early on that the statue was carved by himself, and is actually not of Buddha but of him).

But all of these elements of the film are really ultimately in service of the fighting. As I said, this is a fighting film, and the fighting is impressive. It's the kind of magical, fantastic fighting that's prevalent in contemporary Hong Kong kung fu films, with the characters moving at impossible speeds and performing impossible feats, but here the special effects are really quite well done and, as I said, it's all done with consummate style. One part of the duel is fought in darkness, with only the sparks from the sword clashes to light the scene. It's beautiful and impressive.

My only problem with the film is that it became a bit ridiculous and unbelievable at one or two points in the story. I had this same problem with Kitamura's previous film, Versus. Both films, at a certain point, present us with a sudden transformation or turn-around that forces us to completely change our perspective on the characters and story. I found it hard to follow both films in this sudden turn-around. In Aragami the problem is nowhere near as pronounced as it was for me in Versus, perhaps because Aragami prepares you more for the change, but the problem is still there. Of course, with films like this, you have to realize that you're going to have to suspend the heck out of your disbelief, but at a certain point even a crazy, over-the-top fantasy/kung fu film can ask you to swallow a little too much. When Aragami approaches its ridiculous ideas with humor, and with the proverbial tongue placed firmly in the proverbial cheek, they tend to work better (such as Aragami's explanation of how he has lived for so long, and how he has healed the samurai). But the sudden transformation at the end of this film is met with great solemnity and seriousness, and with precious little of the film's previous irony about such things. It's as if Kitamura (and his characters) has stopped realizing he's just making a silly fighting film and has bought into his own fantastic ideas.

But this isn't a big problem with the film, and the rather silly, sci-fi flash forward at the very end of the film pretty much makes up for the over-serious and hardly believable plot twist that has just occurred. As I said, Aragami is just trying to be an extremely entertaining fighting film for the fighting film-lover in all of us, and it completely succeeds. It is a celebration of the artificial violence of the cinema--rather comforting and reassuring after the shocking, disturbing, sickening, challenging meditation on violence that was Graveyard of Honor.

My Poll Rating: Excellent

Epilogue

After the film, I walked with Dave, Damon and Mike to their car. We talked (not surprisingly) about fighting movies. Damon got me pretty excited about another classic kung fu film I'm going to see in a couple of days called 36th Chamber of Shaolin. There were no car chases outside the Bridge tonight, and I caught a cab home without incident. Tomorrow will be an easy day for me--only one movie!

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Jim Genzano





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