Throwback Thursday: Ip Man (2008)

“I Wish To Fight Ten Men.”

The list of films that can completely pull me in and make me forget about the entire world is short, but the film near the top of that list is 2008’s Ip Man. I know what you’re thinking: a kung fu movie? One of those films that features countless fight sequences with amazing and almost always obvious fake moves has that much of an impact on you? Yes, I’d say in reply, absolutely.

Ip Man is no ordinary kung fu film. For starters, it’s loosely based on the real life of Ip Man, a grandmaster of the martial art known as Wing Chun. Ip Man influenced and taught many notable practitioners of Wing Chun including Bruce Lee. The film shows a portion of Ip Man’s life in Foshan and how that life goes from one of prosperity to one of despair after the Japanese invasion in 1937 at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Under the oppression of the Japanese forces, the people of Foshan are forced to fight for the entertainment of General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi). Many of these fights end in the death of the Foshan fighter, but Miura shows respect to many of the fighters who either A) show tenacity and courage or B) are willing to take him on as a challenger.

As the film rolls along it introduces us to a number of characters who, through the brilliant direction of Wilson Yip, the strong performances by the actors, and the excellent writing by Edmond Wong and Chan Tai-Lee, become champions or villains in the viewer’s mind. I quickly became attached to a number of the characters and hoped that a few of them would change sides during the film. Some of them had only brief roles, but their performances were amazing.

Donnie Yen stars as Ip Man and takes the film to another level with his performance. He portrays Ip Man as a likeable and decent person who eventually has to take on General Miura in order to inspire his people. Lynn Hung portrays Ip Man’s wife, Cheung Wing-sing, who loves him deeply but is quick to keep him grounded and lifts him up when needed. Tenma Shibuya portrays Colonel Sato, easily the most hated man in the film. He’s Miura’s second in command and does terrible things to the people of Foshan.

Of special note are the performances of Chen Zhihui as Master Liu and Fan Siu-wong as Kam Shan-chu. These two actors have small but important roles in the film. Zhihui in particular delivers a powerful performance, and despite being somewhat of a villain, I cheered on Kam Shan-chu as well, hoping that he would become a friend and ally of Ip Man.

This film had multiple “Rocky moments” in my opinion. Like the Rocky films, Ip Man inspires the viewer to cheer for the hero and boo the villain. It drums up massive amounts of patriotism as well (and I am not Chinese in any way, shape, or form). Ip Man is a hero that anybody can get behind, and the execution of that role is perfect by Donnie Yen in this film. The only major difference between this film and the Rocky movies is that this one has a real hero in it who actually existed.

The real Ip Man and Bruce Lee.

If you’re in need of an inspiring film that features well developed characters, a solid plot, and wonderful performances all around, check out Ip Man. It triggered multiple emotions inside of me and left me wanting more of Ip Man’s story. Three sequels have been made and I haven’t seen any of them, so look forward to my review of those films in the near future.

Ip Man is also one of the few films that my son sat down and watched with me in its entirety. He never checked his phone or played any of his video games nor did he even talk during the film (although he did cheer a few times). This movie is amazing, and it deserves to be seen.

Thanks for checking out my latest Throwback Thursday post. I plan on having a Classic Horror post this weekend!

Classic Horror: The Black Cat (1934)

New, Dark, Classic

Welcome to the first post in a new series that I’ve decided to take a stab at: Classic Horror. Along with Throwback Thursday, Tunes, and Focus On, this new series will be sporadically laced throughout my normal blog posts. It will focus on classic horror films released prior to the year 2000. What makes the film a classic? For this blog, a “classic” horror film will be whatever films I see as worthy of such a label. In other words, some folks may not see The Evil Dead (1981) as a classic film, but I do. I’ll be visiting that particular film later on in this series, as well as films such as An American Werewolf In London, Alien, and many of the classic Universal Monsters films that I haven’t already covered.

I can see no film more worthy of being the first in my series than The Black Cat (1934). It is the first film to feature two titans of horror, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, facing off against each other. They would share the screen seven more times for a total of eight films.

The film runs just a tad over sixty minutes, but it’s an amazing film nonetheless. While the film is supposedly based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name, it bears no resemblance to Poe’s work.

A young newlywed couple, Peter and Joan Allison (David Manners, Julie Bishop), meet up with Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Lugosi), on a train while traveling on their honeymoon. After a terrible accident, all three of them end up in the home of Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff). Dr. Werdegast treats Joan’s injuries and Karloff offers them a room for the evening. As the night crawls on, we learn that Poelzig and Werdegast have a score to settle with one another. They play a literal and psychological game of chess to see who will come out on top.

Meanwhile, Peter realizes that something strange is going on and attempts to find a way out of Poelzig’s massive home along with Joan, who is still under the influence of a powerful sedative that Dr. Werdegast gave her after treating her wounds. Along the way we get to see a room full of dead women, a Satanic ritual, a young woman unknowingly married to her stepfather, multiple failed escape attempts, a massive explosion, and even a human flaying (off screen, but we see a shadow of the act).

The story is one of revenge and psychological horror. Unlike other Universal Monster films, The Black Cat‘s monster is one man with a twisted mind and another with his heart set on revenge. It shows the audience how quickly a relatively good person can turn into a vengeful monster.

The film is considered to be one of the earliest psychological horror films. It is also one of the first films to feature a complete musical score. Many critics and fans believe that this film is the best of all of the Lugosi/Karloff pairings as well. It was a massive hit for Universal and continued the company’s successful run with horror films. The movie is also a fun watch for fans of film editing and production, as director Edgar G. Ulmer uses a number of interesting wipes, shadow work, and transition scenes in the film. It was as if Ulmer was excited to play with some new toys and he had a lot of fun using them in this film.

Despite being a big hit for Universal, The Black Cat doesn’t get as much love and respect as all of the big monster films in Universal’s catalogue. It’s an interesting film that pushed boundaries in storytelling and cinema and should be respected for that if nothing else. The cast, music, and cinematography are all superb and the film moves at a very quick pace. The film is available for free viewing on websites like and is also available for purchase on DVD, Blu-ray, and on a number of streaming services.

I hope that you enjoyed this first edition of Classic Horror. I plan on doing more posts like this one in the near future. Thank you for reading my post and stay safe during this time of quarantine.

Fright Rags Tee Of Mystery!

I dared to open the package….

Last week I decided to order a Tee of Mystery from Fright Rags. It was my first purchase from the company and I figured that the best way to gauge just how good their products were was to buy a shirt on the cheap and check out the quality. The idea behind the Tee of Mystery is that you give them your shirt size and they send you a random shirt from their overstock, retired designs, or out of print shirts. They also had a Pin of Mystery sale going on, so I decided to grab one of those as well. I also noticed that they had a selection of Universal Monsters items and decided to snag a pair of Creature From The Black Lagoon socks. I placed my order and waited patiently for my items to arrive.

Needless to say, when the black bag emblazoned with an old VHS tape on it arrived in the mail, I got a little bit excited. I was even more excited once I opened the bag, as it contained some awesome stuff! Along with the items that I ordered were a collector card featuring Dracula, a piece of Warheads Extreme Sour Candy (not pictured cuz I ate it), and a sticker featuring one of the company’s April Fool’s Day Mash Up prints featuring Home Alone.

The shirt that I received was from Return Of The Living Dead III and featured Melinda Clarke as Julie, the tortured soul brought back to life by her boyfriend who uses pain to prevent her from eating his brains! The image is awesome and the shirt is great. It was only nine bucks, so you won’t hear any complaints from me.

The Pin of Mystery that I received appears to be a mashup pin featuring the xenomorph from Alien and something else that I’m not familiar with or don’t recognize. For three bucks, though, it’s a cool pin. The backing features two studs to secure the pin with on any jacket, hat, bag, etc.

I ordered two pairs of the Creature socks. The top of them features Creech in all of his glory and the foot portion of the sock pays homage to the wonderful swimming scene where Creech follows an unknowing Kay stroke for stroke. That sequence is one of my favorites from classic horror, so I was stoked to see it on the socks!

Fright Rags has recently released their second edition of their Universal Monsters collection. I already purchased the Wolf Man shirt and the Wolf Man socks, and I’m tempted to snag those Mummy socks as well. If you’re interested in checking out these and other products, visit their webpage at this link.

Thanks for checking out my post. I don’t receive any type of compensation or other incentives for sharing my recent purchase. I just loved my items and wanted to share them and Fright Rags with my readers!

Dune 2020 Revealed

Can Chalamet Pull It Off?

With much anticipation, film goers and fans of Frank Herbert’s legendary epic have been waiting for information on the upcoming Dune film. Vanity Fair released new images and an interesting article about the film and you can check it out here.

The movie will star Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides and will feature a massive lineup of stars old and new to fill out the rest of the cast. Some of the heaviest hitters on the current cast list include Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, and Charlotte Rampling. The film will also star Rebecca Ferguson, David Dastmalchian, and Stephen McKinley.

I have no issues with this cast excepting Chalamet. I’ve seen him in Lady Bird and Little Women and in neither case did he impress me. I’m sure that his presence in the film will attract demographic groups that aren’t necessarily science fiction fans, but will his performance take away from the film? Hopefully I am wrong and he blows my socks off in the movie, but I’m particularly fond of Herbert’s book and enjoyed the old 1984 flick despite its many flaws. That means that Chalamet and everyone else will have to do a great job. I hope that they do.

The film is currently in post-production and is looking at a December, 2020 release date.

Thanks for reading. I’ll post more updates as I can get them.

Going Back With “Back To The Future”

Lake Charles, LA, July, 1985

I fondly remember seeing 1985’s wildly successful Back To The Future with my friend, Brent, in Lake Charles, LA when I was kid. The only bit that I’m not sure about is whether I saw the film at the old Prien Lake Mall Cinema I, II, and III, or the old Oak Park VI. I’m leaning towards Oak Park, as that was my favorite theater as a child. In any case, what I remember best was the actual film. I wanted to be Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and I wanted to be Jennifer Parker’s (Claudia Wells) boyfriend. I wanted to drive the DeLorean and I wanted to be friends with Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). I wanted to travel through time and rock out to Huey Lewis & The News.

Well, I didn’t get to travel through time, date Claudia Wells, or befriend Doc Brown, but I did get to rock along with Huey Lewis & The News. Their album Fore! was the first cassette tape that I ever purchased as a kid. I loved them as a preteen and still do. I also got to take a photo with a DeLorean a few years ago that was traveling the world (but not time) raising money for the Fox Foundation, Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s research group.

Me and the non-time travel edition of the DeLorean.

The film was a perfect storm for me. It featured a hero that was cool, loved rock n’ roll and science, and drove a sweet Toyota truck. It had time travel and all of the wonderful fictional bits and gizmos that such an idea would need to appeal to a preteen kid who loved science fiction. It also featured the 1950’s, which were probably some of the coolest years in American history as far as I was concerned at the time (and now).

The film’s cast was also amazing. Who didn’t want to be Michael J. Fox in the 1980’s? He simply bled cool all of the time. Between his film career, voice acting, and popular run on television with shows such as Family Ties and Spin City, Fox became a household name well into the late 1990’s before Parkinson’s disease slowed him down. Christopher Lloyd nailed the role of Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown. He was the old weird guy that was actually a genius that a wide-eyed kid like myself wanted to stumble upon and go on a great adventure with and discover wonderful things. His career was already well established (including a turn as Commander Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock) when Back To The Future was released, and he has continued to have a prolific career. Lea Thompson was (and still is) a knockout as Marty’s mom. Like Lloyd, Thompson had already featured in a number of films (including All The Right Moves and Red Dawn), and would go on to have a solid career littered with hits such as her series Caroline In The City and a few misses such as Howard The Duck.

Two other key members of the film’s cast, Crispin Glover as George McFly, Marty’s father, and Thomas F. Wilson as Biff, the main antagonist of the film, would also have solid careers. Glover would find his niche in eccentric and oddball characters in films such as Willard and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. Wilson would turn to stand-up comedy, voice acting, and recurring and guest starring roles on television.

L to R: Micheal J. Fox, Thomas F. Wilson, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson in 2018.

Claudia Wells (Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer) left acting after making Back To The Future due to her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. She returned to acting in the 2000’s. Other cast members included character actors Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve Superman films) and Wendi Jo Sperber (Bosom Buddies, Private Benjamin) as Marty’s brother and sister, Dave and Linda, and James Tolkan (Remington Steele, Masters of the Universe) as Mr. Strickland. The film also featured Billy Zane (The Phantom, Titanic) in his first film role as Match and Casey Siemaszko (Young Guns, The Phantom) in one of his earliest roles as 3-D, both of which were goons in Biff’s gang.

Also of note is Donald Fullilove (Up) as Mayor Goldie Wilson, Courtney Gaines (Children of the Corn) as Dixon, and Jason Hervey (The Wonder Years) as Milton. I actually met Fullilove at a convention a couple of years ago. He was an amazing dude.

Myself with Donald Fullilove, Mayor Goldie Wilson.

The film’s music also hit me. The score by Alan Silvestri (The Avengers, Forrest Gump), whose music almost always lifts a film to another level, did just that with Back To The Future. Despite taking place primarily in the 1950’s, the film sounds like a blockbuster shot in the 80’s with tons of heart that doesn’t take away from the primary setting. The tracks by Huey Lewis & The News also add to the film, reminding everyone that even though Marty was in the 1950’s, he was a child of the 80’s.

I love this film (if you couldn’t already tell) and despite that fact, I only recently picked up the film on Blu-ray. I still have my old VHS copy but I don’t know if it will even work. 2020 will see the film celebrate thirty-five years, so be sure to strap into your favorite recliner at some point this year and watch Back To The Future. When it hits eighty-eight miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious……awesomeness.

Thanks for reading!

“I Bid You Welcome…”

Tomorrow, Facebook Live, My Page

Join me tomorrow at 3PM CST on my Facebook page for Bela Lugosi, The Universal Count! I’ll be taking a look at the life and work of Bela Lugosi as a part of CyPhaCon’s 2020 Virtual Convention! Hit up their Facebook page to to check out all of the other wonderful panels that will be taking place live on Saturday.

As I’m sure that you all know by now, CyPhaCon, along with a ton of other conventions, sporting events, concerts, and more, was cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic. Doug Jones (pictured above) was one of the many stellar guests that were meant to be a part of the convention. With its cancellation, though, CyPhaCon decided to put on an absolutely free online event featuring many of the panelists that were scheduled to appear.

Panels will cover everything from Dungeons & Dragons to cosplay, so be sure to check out this free event that includes yours truly!