Category Archives: Action

Birth of the Dragon – a Review

This film was inspired by the fabled showdown between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man.

I was only vaguely familiar with the story; and only as told from the perspective of Lee and his legions of devoted fans. But there is controversy surrounding not only the outcome of the fight; but why it took place.

If you’ve seen Bruce Lee biopics before this, you’ve seen Lee’s victory over Man depicted. In Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, the showdown occurred because the Old Guard of Kung Fu demanded Lee endure trial-by-combat, for the crime of teaching their ancient secrets to non-Chinese.

Pretty heroic narrative. The stuff of legends.

This film, however, tells the story from an entirely different perspective:

Wong Jack Man was not sent to San Francisco to spy on Bruce Lee, to punish or kill him. Although he was reluctant to share Kung Fu with non-Chinese, it wasn’t his motive for coming to the USA. Rather, he came to work as a dishwasher as a form of pennance, while ostracized from his Shaulin monastery for badly injuring a Tai-Chi master during a demonstration that was not supposed to be full-contact. Washing dishes will put his pride in check and help him restore internal balance.

Bruce Lee fans probably hate this movie, because (although he has some likable qualities, including his fighting skills) he’s an egomaniacal bully blinded by his own ambition. He delights in publicly humiliating others, and it is he who tries to goad Wong Jack Man into a fight. The prideful, childish side of alpha male behavior is portrayed accurately in this regard. Nobody knows for sure how the real life events played out, because there are few witnesses, and those witnesses tell contradictory versions of the story. However, this version does have the ring of truth to it. Certainly it’s not 100% accurate; but it strikes me as more plausible than the more popular Bruce Lee hero myth.

The acting is good–especially Xu Xia as Wong Jack Man. Philip Wan-Lung Ng has a physique much like Bruce Lee, and has mastered Lee’s poses, gestures, and movement. This was displayed best when fighting or sparing, when he would dance around his opponent (in western boxing this is called “the bicycle”–Bruce Lee’s bicycle was distinct and rather flamboyant).

What eventually persuades Man to fight Lee is a sub-plot concerning an American Kung Fu student trying to rescue a Chinese babe (Jingjing Qu) from indentured Servitude to a Chinatown mob boss. Perhaps the premise is too fairy-tale, but the part of Steve “Mac” McKee (Billy Magnuson) was written and performed adequately. I appreciate that they didn’t make this fictional character the stereotype “arrogant racist American who had to be taught a lesson before he could believe in equality” yada yada yada. He’s a very likable character, with his own ego in check (if not his emotions); a teachable student who respects both Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man.

We know that in real life, after the fight with Man, Lee abandoned traditional Wing Chun and went on to develop Jeet Kun Do. In the film we see a more extensive turning point for Lee–that he has actually learned some humility by the end. Not to sound like the message in a fortune cookie, but this film version of Lee is closer to bringing his inner self “into balance” before the final credits.

The older I get, the harder it is to sit through the old Hong Kong martial arts flicks, pioneered by Bruce Lee. The Hollywood-produced Enter the Dragon is watchable, but still a little on the cheesy schlock side of B-movie-dom. The production values of this movie are miles higher than those old exploitation quickies. Mainstream critics (pompous SJWs who get paid to spout off their opinions) have panned this film, but I assure you it’s both written better and more exciting than any Star Wars flick made within the last couple decades.

 

Pick Up Your Sickle Sword, Follow Me…

I’m the Bronze Age infantry.

Tribal shock troops

Patch on my shoulder…

Free for the Amazon Kindle right now: the new epic fantasy novel Gods & Proxies.

This is not yet another Tolkien wannabe book. And, like other Virtual Pulp titles, it eschews the “strong female character” and all the accompanying feminist tropes which are obligatory across seemingly all entertainment media, ESPECIALLY fantasy novels.

If I were going to try to emulate some famous fantasy author (which I’m not), it would be Robert E. Howard.

What you have here, kind of, is opposing gods fighting a proxy war via Bronze Age nations. One nation is human, and its enemies are mostly Nephilim (giants, or Titans).

For the small price of zero dollars and no cents, you can indulge in high adventure…for the next few days.

Justice League – A Review

Last year I reviewed Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and opined on the possibility that the next DC team-up blockbuster might be a formulaic clone of the other superhero movies (of which, the Marvel flicks have rather defined the cookie-cutter).

Well, it happened. Some god-like supervillain wants to control/destroy Earth (domination and destruction are interchangeable in these movies), but first he needs to collect some ancient mystical object with cosmic power…blah blah blah. (In this case it’s three boxes–one guarded by the Amazons, one by the Atlantians, and one by the humans.)

This age-old baddie (“Steppenwolf”) captures two of the boxes, bringing Aquaman and Wonder Woman onto the Batman’s bandwagon to form a super-team and stop him from obtaining the third, or Steppenwolf will achieve total…villainhood…or something.

I rather like Steppenwolf. I also like Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and the Lovin’ Spoonful. Wonder if one of them will be the next all-powerful supervillain. But I digress.

JusticeLeagueClassicLeadership

So, Superman is still dead from the last blockbuster, which is one reason why the Batman thinks this team is necessary. If you don’t know much about the source material (comic books), then you probably aren’t aware of the characters and team dynamics that get trashed in all the virtue-signaling revamps by screen-adapting creative teams. Batman and Superman were “honorary members” of the Justice League. Obviously Batman had no super powers, but he was the superior tactician of the bunch and therefore the de facto leader of the team when he was there. But now it’s the current year (you mysogonistic bigots!) and Wonder Woman has to be the leader…because vagina. That’s one of the sub-plots of the film–Batman trying to push her into her rightful supreme role.

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Since the main plot is nothing new, I guess I’ll just give you the down-low on the characters, as they are in this depiction.

SUPERMAN: (spoiler alert!…not) He comes back. And he’s got possibly one of the best lines in the movie. At first, after his ressurection, he’s a vengeful anti-hero willing to kill his allies…until Lois Lane gives him a hug. Then he is restored to his Boy Scout super-Samaritan god-dom as fast as you can say “applause-inducing plot device.” Because vagina.

BATMAN: He’s the old, over-the-hill version from Dark Knight Returns in this movie. Some good lines. Same pros and cons from the last movie. At least the writer/director is consistent in this case.

WONDER WOMAN: She’s not just attractive, she’s likeable. Unlike women in real life who think they ARE her.

CYBORG: I don’t remember much about him in the comics–he seemed little more than a token minority character. Here they’ve done a fairly good job fleshing him out and giving him some useful abilities that help the team. Not a marquis character yet, but OK.

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AQUAMAN: He’s basically Wolverine in a different costume, but more effeminate. Oh yeah–he doesn’t have to swim; he sort of flies underwater.

THE FLASH: The character in the TV show is whiny, but bearable. This Flash is the worst incarnation of him I’ve ever seen. Kind of like what the film makers did to Spiderman in Homecoming, only much worse. He’s pathetic. By the time his character arc brings him some backbone, I’m too irritated by the goofy appearance of his costume to pay full attention. They should have just borrowed the one from the Netflix series. This costume looks like something that would be worn to a Gay Pride Bicycle Race.

Nice visuals, of course. Some good dialog. The Batmobile was badass for about 30 seconds, before it (like every other cool multi-million dollar asset in these movies) met its obligatory destruction.

Not a must-see in the theaters. Wait ’till you can stream it at home.

Sword & Supernatural

…That’s what I’m calling this foray into epic fantasy.

I meant to reveal the cover prior to the release of the book. Oops. But here it is now.
I meant to reveal the cover prior to the release of the book. Oops. But here it is now.

As for the setting…for now, all I’m going to say is that it’s not unlike what Robert E. Howard did with his “Hyborian Age.”

I’ll share more on this later, but if you don’t want to wait, you can always buy the kindle version now. The paperback should be out by Christmas, and E-books for non-Kindle readers should be available in February,

Keep Watch for Alt★Hero!

We’ve blogged at length here about the culture war, and we’ve worked (as time and opportunity have permitted) to provide alternatives to The Narrative being rammed down our throats in every medium of pop culture. Comic books have been so blatantly cultural Marxist for so long, many people have given up on them completely, in disgust.

An alternative to the Leftist Hive Mind’s monopoly is long overdue. Maybe, just maybe, it is almost here.

 After reaching its initial funding goal in only four hours, a new right-wing comics series, Alt★Hero, concluded its historic crowdfunding campaign by reaching the $245,000 mark. 2,190 backers signed on to help the alternative superhero series wage cultural war on the social justice-converged comic duopoly of Marvel and DC Comics.

Alt★Hero is being written by prolific Marvel and DC Comics veteran writer Chuck Dixon and six-time Hugo Award Finalist Vox Day. It will be published by Castalia House, Finland’s leading independent publisher.

The series is the creation of game designer Day, who is best known for being a member of GamerGate and publishing the political philosophy bestsellers SJWs Always Lie and SJWs Always Double Down. Alt★Hero features unconventional villains such as Captain Europa of the Global Justice Initiative and controversial heroes such as Michael Martel, a vigilante who drops off criminal undocumented immigrants at the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, and Rebel, a Southern girl whose superhero outfit incorporates the Confederate battle flag.

The breakout star of the campaign, however, has been Dynamique, a chain-smoking French model whose indifference to current events is only surpassed by her pragmatism.

“This is only the beginning,” said Alt★Hero creator Vox Day, who is writing six volumes of the series as well as co-designing the role-playing game. “Fans and retailers alike despise how Marvel and DC are trashing characters they have cherished for generations. That is why it’s not going to be too long before you’re going to start seeing Alt★Hero games, and eventually, movies.”

“I have an entire year’s worth of continuity funded to build a cast of characters in a brand new universe. Very inspiring, Very exciting,” said industry legend Chuck Dixon, the longtime Batman writer and co-creator of Bane, who is writing the first six volumes of the Alt★Hero series Avalon as well as a standalone novel entitled Avalon: Vendetta. “The city of Avalon is already a very real place in my mind. I think readers are going to enjoy visiting.”

“Astonishing demand,” added journalist Mike Cernovich on Twitter in response to the news that Alt★Hero had shattered the previous record for a new comic being crowdfunded.

In reaching 978 percent of its original $25,000 goal, the Alt★Hero crowdfunding campaign was the most successful in history for a new comics launch, and is the 22nd most-funded of the 10,553 historic comics-related crowdfunding campaigns.

What I hope is that Alt★Hero doesn’t descend into the poo-slinging, purity signaling “muh white nationalism” circlejerk that consumes so much of the “Alt-Right.” With writer Chuck Dixon involved at such a high level, I tend to doubt it, but we’ll see. I’m at least going to give Alt★Hero a chance. I continued to waste my hard-earned cash on irritating drivel from Marvel and DC  even after being sucker-punched multiple times, so it’s only fair I give Alt★Hero the same chance(s). I’m a backer of the Alt★Hero crowd sourcing campaign, so I should get to see the first several comics, digitally, once they’re released.

I hope it is a truly right-wing comic, but actually, I’d be happy with an apolitical endeavor that just concentrates on good storytelling, without contriving all the obligatory sodomiphilia and Grrrrrl Power tropes tripe which usually causes me to stop reading /watching something, never to finish.

The Replacements – A Review

With NFL millionaires flaunting their hatred of America, and contempt for at least half of their fan base, now looks like a good time to plug one of the best comedy jock flicks ever made.

“Every athlete dreams of a second chance,” proclaims Coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) in voiceover toward the end. Second chances is what this movie is about, at it’s core. All the jokes, action, and Sports Movie Formula might distract you from that central theme; but those frills are not what resonates with the masculine soul while watching it.

Inspired by the NFL players’ strike in the late 1980s (before Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins went on to destroy the Denver Broncos in the Superbowl), the story begins with crybaby millionaire star quarterback Eddie Martel throwing a game in order to avoid getting tackled. The end of the game marks the beginning of the players’ strike.

The owner of the “Washington Sentinels,” hungry for a playoff berth despite the strike, woos “controversial” (old-fashioned) coach McGinty into putting together a roster of replacement players to finish the season.

Turns out, McGinty has been tracking some former players with great potential who, for various reasons, never made it in the pros. “If nothing else,” McGinty says, “they should be fun to watch.”

And they are.

Unfortunately, there are only so many plots available for a sports movie. It is a credit to the director that there are enough twists in The Replacements to make it stand out despite the formula.

The movie does have flaws. The romantic subplot, for instance, comes off as tacked-on and superficial. I suspect the scenes that might have fleshed it out wound up on the cutting room floor. It probably should have been left out altogether, so that other scenes didn’t have to be pared down for the sake of running time (Shane Falco’s first pass in the first practice was obviously two scenes cut together).brookecheerleader But the compromises that weaken the film are not why the critics hate it.

There’s none of the obligatory LGB-pandering anywhere in the film (except, perhaps, in a tres risque pantomime by the strippers-turned-cheerleaders on the sidelines at one game). The screenwriters didn’t contrive some way to put a female on the team–even as a kicker. Comraderie and male-bonding are celebrated throughout, and men act like men. When a female reporter invades the locker room, she gets little cooperation from the players and is ultimately convinced to give up and leave the “male space” intact. The bulk of the entire movie is an unapologetic celebration of masculinity guaranteeing that it could never get made today.

In fact, it’s amazing it got made 17 years ago, because the culture was deeply pozzed by then, already. Instead of watching the anti-American NFL bite the hands that feed them on Sunday, check this flick out.

Decoding the Divergent Series

Hollywood directors have been sneaking messages into movies for a long time. Two of the most talented ever were John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. The former was obsessed with the taming of the wilderness and the establishment of civilization, framing his themes and character subtexts according to his Catholic worldview. The latter obsessed over guilt, whether caused by deed or thought.

Now why would Hitchcock have Bruno's feet so prominent in the frame?
Now why would Hitchcock have Bruno’s feet so prominent in the frame?

Both directors used visual semeiology to insert subplots and character arcs which contrasted, yet harmonized, with the main plot followed by the casual viewer. They were usually subtle enough that most people were never even aware of the additional narratives taking place in subtext.  And despite the typical socialistic leanings (Ford was a staunch New-Dealer), the subtexts in their films were rarely political in nature–especially compared to current entertainment.

Ethan Edwards, the permanent outcast and vanishing wild man.
Ethan Edwards, the permanent outcast and vanishing wild man.

Film makers today are not nearly as clever or capable, but they are predictably political–and so heavy-handed that most people have little trouble recognizing how Homowood is pushing The Narrative.

There are a couple themes slithering around beneath the surface in the first two films of the Divergent series. It is a little more subtle than the average Narrative Push…enough so that I feel compelled to point it out.

Deep State Apologetics:

(In the world of the Divergent Series, some vaguely-conceived war has caused humanity (at least in Chicago) to segregate according to personality type in order to avoid future conflicts. Yeah, I know. Anyway, the personalities are grouped as follows: Candor [the brutally honest]; Abnegation [the “selfless”]; Amity [the pacifistic flower children]; Erudite [the intellectual/high IQ set]; and Dauntless [the sheepdogs–soldiers and police]. )

divergentfactions

Specifics are in short supply, but the rubes and proles blame the government (controled by Abnegation) for some obscure failure to govern correctly. But Abnegation is a community of selfless, competent administrators who are actually doing a bang-up job and don’t deserve criticism.

Opportunistic manipulators among Erudite are plotting a coup, taking advantage of the proles’ discontent and assuming themselves to be better qualified to lead.

Get the idea? The de facto ruling class is competently herding us through a series of progressive steps toward Utopia, but the ungrateful rubes in Flyover Country are upset about confiscatory taxes; industry-crushing regulations; the invasion through our open borders; massive election fraud; treason from the highest offices; infringement of our inalienable rights, etc. Hence we wrongly resent our betters. Conniving intellectuals are fanning the flames, drawing attention to the habitual idiocy of the ruling class. Presumably these are figureheads in the alternative media, plus a few political rogues like Ron Paul and Neil Gorsuch.

The surprising aspect is that (covertly, anyway), the architects of this series acknowledge the intelligence of their enemies. After all, the most influential critics of the Deep State can figure out that in secure government emails, a “C” stands for “Classified,” and that Congress should read a bill to know what’s in it BEFORE passing it into law. Unfortunately for the likes of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, they’ve found themselves in a contest of wits…and are unarmed.

THE TRANSGENDER SUBTEXT:

The world of this series is stiffly organized into factions, according to the personality types listed above. However, certain rare individuals can’t be funneled into rigid categories according to such narrow-minded cisnorms. They are called “divergent”–get it?

butchtris

The soon-to-be amazon superninja and main character, Beatrice, starts out very feminine by today’s standards in the West. But she chooses to join the Dauntless (no doubt she, and the author of the fiction series, are Secret Warrior Queens deep inside their oppressed ids), and soon sheds her dress for Emo pants and vest (sometimes a black wife-beater/muscle shirt). She also changes her too-feminine name to the androgynous “Tris” moniker as she is gradually empowered by combat training. (Well, at least she, unlike the amazon superninja in the latest Star Wars abominations, had to actually train before becoming the Greatest Badass in the Galaxy.) Toward the beginning of the second movie, Insurgent, for no obvious reason, Tris cuts off her hair. The actress already had the masculine frame that is supposedly sexy for modern women, and the butch haircut is the final touch that visually transforms her into a boyish other.

This is not an exhaustive analysis–there is more evidence to examine for those who are interested. The third film (Allegiant) takes a turn into another thematic reinforcement of The Narrative.

But maybe I’m wrong. After all, messages like these are so antithetical to what the cultural svengalis want and believe.

The Last Kingdom (Seasons 1, 2) – a Review

I almost didn’t even give this series a chance. Hollywood and television have me so gunshy, I doubted they could produce anything that won’t nauseate me. And the BBC, from what little I know, is brimming over with cultural Marxixts just like every other long-established media/entertainment organization. To trust them with anything even remotely historical? Forget it.

Then I found out it was based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales. I’ve read some of Cornwell’s fiction (Agincourt and a few of the Sharpe novels). He’s a competent storyteller and he doesn’t butcher historical flow or details enough for me to take exception. So, “Once more into the breach,” sez I.

I guess you could say I semi-binge-watched the first two seasons on Netflix–finishing them in about a week or so.

lastkingdom1

The Premise:

In the late 9th Century, a Saxon noble and his heir are slain by a band of Danes a’viking through Bebbanburg in Northumbria. The lone surviving son was baptized and named Uhtred before being captured by the Danes.

Earl Ragnar spares the boy’s life, respecting his courage and truculence, and raises him as a Dane along with a Saxon girl named Brita. After growing into a man, and losing his adopted family (via treachery from other Danes), he becomes a vassal of Alfred, king of Wessex…”the last kingdom.” (Vikings have run roughshod over all other kingdoms in the British isles.)

Relevance:

With all the current brouhaha by the “alt-right” about race, immigration/invasion and “Magic Dirt” vs. “Magic DNA,” this series couldn’t be more timely. Genetically, Uhtred is a Saxon; yet his attitude, disposition, customs, etc. are decidedly Danish. This duality makes him an outsider in both worlds (not because everyone on both sides reject him out-of-hand, but because his ambition to rule Beddanburg causes him to side against the invaders; while his Danish weltanshuang motivates a contemptuous disdain for the Saxons and their ways.) Though he wields completely different weapons for a completely different type of warfare, Uhtred during the viking expeditions is not unlike Thomas Sowell during the USA’s present Cold Civil War, in that they are both slogging through similar conundrums–their demographic profile contradicting their deeply-rooted belief system.

The Religious Aspect:

Although Islam and other religions get a pass, Christianity is universally hated by the string-pullers with the monopoly on resources in the entertainment industry. It would be foolish to assume Christianity would get a fair shake in this series–especially given the behavior of the Roman Catholic Church through history. And, the historical backdrop for Last Kingdom smacks of religious conflict. The peoples of present-day Great Britain were Catholic during the period depicted, while the Northmen were still unmitigated pagans. How could you tell a story in this setting that ignored the religious aspect?

So of course the series takes cheap shots at Christianity, through the nominally Christian characters. But it is usually understated enough to ignore.

Historical Accuracy:

Alfred of Wessex and some other characters are real historical figures, while Uhtred and many others are fictional. Historians know a lot about Alfred because his life is very well-documented for the time. But as for the rest…well, it was the Dark Ages, folks. We are familiar with some generalities of the period…that the Vikings were raising hell in western Europe, for instance (and allegedly are the culprits who made London Bridge fall down); that the Catholic Church was growing in power; that the traditions of Roman civilization had given way to the early stages of feudalism…but there are just too many big, gaping holes in the historical record to ascertain specifics about much of what went on.

It wasn’t a question of if, but when the creative team would unleash their arsenal of ludicrous Grrrl Power tropes in the series. Surprisingly, the obligatory butt-kicking Womyn Warriors didn’t rear their preposterous heads until late in the First Season. Even more surprising: this revisionist hogwash was dialed down quickly enough to prevent me from giving up on the series. I truly am curious what caused the correction, but relieved nonetheless.

The series creators brought a technique to the screen I consider ingenious: When revealing geographic locations via subtitles, the ancient name is displayed first, then it transforms into the name it is known by today. As someone fascinated by the evolution of language, I really appreciate this gimmick.

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Other Stuff:

I’m not an expert on Dark Ages melee techniques, but it seems to me when you have a shield and your enemy is swinging a sword or axe at you, you would use the shield to block or deflect the blow. Evidently, though, the shield is just an ornament, and you block a swinging sword with your own sword. Nevermind that banging two metal blades together repeatedly converts both of them to crude, dull saws–this is what BBC fight correographers have decided is the logical tactic.

It’s easy to identify the important characters on this show, because they don’t wear helmets, even in combat. I’ve remarked before about the wisdom of refusing to protect your head when weapons will be streaking toward it, so I won’t completely rehash it here.

Suffice it to say that Uhtred’s brain usually operates like somebody’s who has fought in many a melee without a helmet. Watching him navigate the ethno-political waters of 9th Century Britain is like watching the Johnson Administration navigate through the Vietnam conflict…in slow motion. For the entire first season, it’s a safe bet that in any given situation, Uhtred will choose the most  idiotic course of action possible, then follow-up with a rash decision to make matters even worse. In the second season he seems to have learned a little self-discipline, thankfully, and dramatic conflict is generated in other ways.

I almost titled this post Mascara Kingdom because, for a few episodes, several of the male actors were painted with black eye shadow. It stuck out like a mosh pit at a royal ball. Seems like one character in Game of Thrones was made up that way too, if I remember correctly. Don’t know what the purpose is, but I’m glad they seem to have given up on that effort–it looked pretty stupid.

I might watch a third season of Daredevil if it comes to Netflix, but no other TV show has proven worth my time in several years. This show I plan to watch more of–and might even read the books it was based on, if that tells you anything.

 

Slaughter City: The Sergeant #6 – a Review

When we last left Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool, Patton had tried to force Eisenhower’s hand to get the war blazing along the Moselle River, so he could drive on to Berlin. But Ike called his bluff and the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division was left caught between Perdition and the deep blue sea.

Well, a deep river, anyway, and more brown than blue. With no artillery support or air cover and little in the way of supplies, the Hammerheads were thrown back across the river even though the defenders are hardly Germany’s finest.

But now, Patton has scrounged up some support, and is driving his boot into the 4th points of his subordinates to make the attack work this time.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene where Patton comes to motivate the troops personally, down at company level:

 “Now listen here, men,” Patton growled, “I know what you went through last night. A lot of your buddies were killed, and all of you nearly got killed yourselves. Now we all know that it’s no fun to lose a battle because Americans aren’t losers. By nature, we are winners. Given half a chance, we will win any battle in which we are placed. That’s because we’re tough and strong and because we love to fight. Yes, by God, we love to fight.”

Patton made a fist and held it up in the air. “We love to beat the shit out of our enemies and step on his face afterwards. We love to rip open his belly and tear his guts out. We pray for the chance to kick him in the balls and split his head open. Is there any man out here who doesn’t feel that way?”
Nobody said a word, just as Patton knew they wouldn’t.
“Good,” Patton said. “I knew there weren’t any cowards or queers in this company. I knew because you’re all good, red-blooded Americans. I know you’re just itching to get across that river over there and lay your hands on those Germans. By God, I feel sorry for those Germans when I just think about it. I really do because I can imagine what you’re going to do to them.”

Patton pointed to the Moselle River. “You’re going to make that river over there run red with their blood for what they did to you last night. There’ll be so many dead Germans over there you won’t be able to put your foot down without stepping on one of their noses. I feel bad that I have to hold you back until midnight because I know you want to go over there right now. But you have to wait just a little while longer, and I want you to use that extra time to clean your weapons and cover them with a light film of oil so they won’t get rusty. If you have some extra time after that, you can sharpen your bayonets so they’ll cut deeper into those Hun bastards over there. You might want to make sure your canteens are filled with water because you’re gonna get thirsty while you’re killing all those bastards. And as we all know, tonight is going to be much different from last night because tonight you’ll have plenty of artillery preparation and support. By the time you get across that river, those g****mn kraut-eating bastards won’t know where the hell they are. Their eardrums will be bleeding, and their brains will be upside-down in their heads. The poor bastards will probably try to run away from you, but I want you to go right after them and kill them like the dogs that they are. And I don’t want you to shoot over their heads or at their legs. I want you to aim directly for the center of their backs and bring them down. We’re not going to play with them after what they did to us last night. And they probably know it. I’ll bet they’re shitting their pants over there right now because they know they’ve made us mad, and a mad American soldier is a fearsome thing.”

There’s a lot else happening in this book, including an SS death squad using a seductress to kill GIs; a panty-raid at a USO show; both Mahoney and once-innocent farmboy Cranepool wounded in action; shooting a locomotive with bazookas, and some down & dirty urban house-to-house combat.

After a relatively slow-paced departure in the last book, Len Levinson is back on the offensive in Slaughter City, and in fine blood-splattered form.

Doom River: The Sergeant #5 – a Review

Due mostly to my schedule, my blogged reviews of this blood’n’guts war series stopped at #4. But my negligence stops, now!

Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool have just returned from their attachment to a French unit liberating Paris. It was supposed to be cushy duty, but only the end of it was cushy–in the arms of some French floozies in a fancy hotel.

doomriverpaperbackThe Sergeant and his sidekick are back just in time to meet Charlie Company’s new C.O. Captain Anderson is a young, inexperienced officer, but one of the good ones (a rare combo, in my day). They’re also just in time for one of Patton’s “recon in force” missions, to push across the Moselle and keep the pressure on the Germans.

Patton is out of gas for his tanks, and frightfully low on artillery, ammo and supplies. He assumes if he is able to stir up some action, Ike will be forced to send him what he needs, so Patton can push on to Berlin and finish the war before Christmas. But Ike isn’t having it–all the supplies will be diverted to Field Marshal Montgomery, who is tasked with taking Antwerp.

(Historical note: Yes, Patton’s 3rd Army could have reached Berlin and ended the war before Christmas of ’44 if their supplies hadn’t been cut off. Also true that all those resources were given to Monty–somewhat less than a daring or decisive general–for Operation Market Garden (of A Bridge Too Far fame), which had less chance of success and, even if successful, would have had a lesser impact on the grand strategic situation. Most likely, Patton’s onslaught was intentionally delayed in order to give the Red Army time to capture the half of Europe which had been promised to Stalin by FDR at the Yalta conferences.)

So the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division conducts a river crossing at great cost, since they didn’t have much in the way of artillery support, and their men and boats are chewed up pretty bad by the German defenders. Still, they now have a beachhead from which the Wermacht has to throw them. Mahoney’s regiment bears the brunt of this counterattack.doomriverebook

The Americans are in a bad position, but Patton doesn’t like surrendering ground once he’s taken it.

This installment in the series could launch a character study on the sort of men who populate the officer corps of an army. Whether a commander wants to make a name for himself, or simply doesn’t want a sub-par evaluation, it is their troops who are used like cannon  fodder to enhance or maintain their egos.

Mahoney himself has some moments in this book in which he demonstrates more humanity than is normal for him. (Also, in this one we are introduced to PFC Butsko. I can’t help but notice the similarities between him and the platoon sergeant of The RatBastards–also named Butsko.) Still, this is a transitional phase for Mahoney, and the real plot dynamics focus on other characters.