Coincident with the German blitzkrieg into France, Heinrich Himmler assigns a special detail to “protect” Wilhelm Hohenzollern, the former Kaiser of the Second Reich, who is exiled in Holland.
The assignment is passed down to young Captain Brandt, a veteran of the Poland Campaign who was wounded winning the Iron Cross, but also got on the wrong side of the SS after witnessing an atrocity. Still recovering from shrapnel wounds to his stomach, he nonetheless doesn’t want this cushy rear-echelon job. But orders are orders, so off he goes.
Brandt is quickly caught in a tug of war between the Kaiser’s military attache; the Gestapo; Wermacht Intelligence (trying to track down a British spy in the area), and a young, nubile war widow who is down for cheap, meaningless sex.
It’s a pleasant surprise how good this movie is. While it certainly has its faults, it’s not always easy to guess what will happen next.
Even the most fanatic revisionist white knights couldn’t ruin a story set in the Mongol Empire during the conquest of south China, right?
I wish I could say I’m surprised by what they’ve done with the subject matter.
First off is the main character, Marco Polo. His motivations are sketchy at best, beyond some vague desire for a father figure. In the first season he’s habitually stupid…but not as stupid as the series writers assume their audience is.
The sad fact is, that assumption may prove correct.
There’s all the formulaic theater, white-knight feminist tropes, and contrived plot devices you can find in any other TV show, and the Trojan beach head of perversity we can expect from a Weinstein Company-backed tale of palace intrigue.
(But to be honest, it’s doubtful Harvey Weinstein is any worse than the other producers in Hollywood. In fact, he’s probably mild compared to some of them.)
But the sterling character of the morally pure saints headquartered in Homowood, Commiefornia never rests until it has delivered a hypocritical moral message. And so their favorite perversion (pedophilia) is represented not accurately (like, say, in the character of an entertainer or leftist politician), but in the form of a Christian Mongol.
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.
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.
It would be difficult to count all the movies that have been set during the prohibition era. Yet for some reason, it seems like all of them are set at the end–usually around the Stock Market crash. It’s nice to see one that kicks off in the early days.
The story bears only superficial resemblance to history. But still, it’s nice to see a period piece that depicts the rise of Al Capone and Bugs Moran.
The protagonist (played by some actor who looks familiar) is a straight arrow, but when his father is murdered by a rival gang, he hires on as a trigger man for Capone.
One little tidbit I didn’t expect was a brief monologue from Capone about how John D. Rockafeller was the driving force behind getting the Volstead Act passed. Hadn’t heard that one before.
Aside from what I’ve mentioned, there’s nothing remarkable about this movie. Back in the day, it would have been called a “B picture.
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,
Not much cinematic effort has been put into the American Revolution, compared to other periods of history, and when it is, usually the effort is lackluster. This series, in some ways, was a pleasant surprise.
It’s loosely based on the book Washington’s Spies: the Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose. Rose is British which, ironically, is probably why the account is more fair to the American side than it would be if written by one of our own cucked revisionists. The Netflix mini-series starts out with at least a passing interest in historical accuracy. Every series degenerates eventually, though, and this one is no exception.
On the plus side, the acting is pretty solid with exceptions I’ll mention later. Not sure why pretty much all the Americans have a Scottish or Irish brogue, but the acting are believable. I’m also pleased with some of the directorial choices made–little stuff most people miss and I won’t bore you with. And the writing is not as horrendous as one would expect. Whereas most TV scripts would score a D- to F, this show averages a C+ to B- over three seasons.
It would rate higher than that if consistent, but some lazy contrivances and lame efforts to ramp up the tension really drag it down. One particular character who starts out on the British side, for instance, is built up to be invincible through a succession of episodes. But evidently a different villain probably became more popular with focus groups or something and so was elevated. When these two characters faced off, the formerly invincible character suddenly became incompetent in order for the new heavy to prevail handily. And no explanation was even hinted at how the new heavy became such a badass out of nowhere.
Speaking of characters: Benadict Arnold is a little overdone, and George Washington seems more like a parody than a character. In the former’s case, the writer may be more at fault than the actor, and visa-versa in the latter case.
The OPSEC (operational security) of most characters on both sides (but especially on the American side) is a piss-poor joke. It’s hard to imagine any country winning any kind of war against anyone with breakdowns in OPSEC so flagrant as depicted in this series.
As the third season progressed, my willing suspension of disbelief seriously faltered. And the finale reached a new high of unbelievability.
For all its faults, I’m glad I watched Turn. There are few productions these days done as well as this.
This movie is “based on a true story.” The way it played out certainly seems plausible–probably even likely–but I don’t know much about the history of MacDonalds, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy. Whatever connection to reality it has, what I find remarkable is a metaphorical aspect that is shocking, in a Hollywood movie.
Ray Kroc is a traveling salesman in the 1954 Midwest who discovers an incredible success story in the food service industry. (Keep in mind that there was no such thing as “fast food” prior to the events depicted in this movie.) He discovers a truly revolutionary food-serving system at a little restaurant run by two brothers in southern California.
After being kicked around by the Great Depression and other hard knocks, the MacDonald Brothers harnessed their ingenuity, discipline, and shrewd business savvy to develop a business model that is successful beyond the scope of any similar venture. Through hard work, they fine-tune their system to nigh-perfection. They’re making good money; their customers love them, and they’re content with what they have.
Ray Kroc sees dollar signs and tells the brothers they need to franchise. But the brothers have already tried that–and found that restaurant managers deviated from the business model while letting the quality fall. But, as Kroc has been taught, persistence can elevate a talentless hack into a a tycoon and he badgers them relentlessly. Against their better judgment, the MacDonald brothers make a franchise deal with him. But they take precautions and insist that he signs off on a legal contract that ensures he uphold their standards, and that the lion’s share of the profits are retained by the franchises.
It’s a struggle from the beginning, and Kroc begins taking credit for their ideas and system. In fact, he doesn’t come up with a single idea of his own, but merely hijacks the ideas of others, twisting them to his own purposes. The brothers’ chief concern is their customers, and the quality of their product. Ray Croc’s primary concern is his own success, as he defines it. He willingly sacrifices anything to pursue it. He opens restaurants all over the country, and finally connects with a shady character who teaches him how to screw over his partners.
Long story short: he cheats them out of everything, and eventually they even lose their own personal restaurant (where they developed the system that revolutionized the food service industry). Incredibly, they agreed to a “handshake deal” on their cut of future profits, which, predictably, they never received a penny of. The standout dialog of the film is when Kroc admits that the law is completely on their side, due to the contract, but that he’ll win anyway because he can hire better lawyers and they can’t sustain the court battle it would take to retain their rights.
I couldn’t help but notice the similarity in modus opperandi between Ray Kroc, Bill Gates, and the devil himself.
There was another chord this movie struck which I couldn’t help noticing. More than once in the film, MacDonalds is equated with America itself. The parallels are hard to ignore.
The founders of the American republic designed a system which led to the greatest levels of both liberty, and prosperity, in recorded history.
Against the better judgment of our forebears, enemies of our republic were allowed to infiltrate, and invited into positions of power.
Those domestic enemies gradually attained a monopoly on the amazing wealth generated by our free market economy, and of course put that wealth to use toward the destruction of the very system that gave them the opportunity to accumulate that wealth.
Simultaneously, they took over government at all levels: the banks; academia; the press; the entertainment industry; the tech industry; giant corporations…and turned them all into weapons against the revolutionary system of government they benefited from–against our liberty; against our prosperity; against our culture; and even against institutions that predated the republic–like the family itself. Rarely did they contribute anything worthwhile to their respective industries, but nonetheless profited from the innovation and hard work of those who did.
What the usurpers have done, are doing, and intend to do, is illegal. The law of our land is against them, but they don’t care about that; and they believe we are too ignorant and/or apathetic to ever challenge them on it. Besides, they now have all the money, control over the police and the courts, and legions of useful idiots spread throughout the population who will defend their machinations fanatically.
They have stripped our republic of its remarkable wealth (assigning it to themselves and their proxies) and replaced it with staggering debt that can never be repaid even if taxes were raised to 100% for the next century. Replacing our real money with fiat currency was basically a handshake deal in which the only financial backing to the “US Dollar” (Federal Reserve Note) they left in place was the confidence in the dollar from the consumer.
Just as Ray Croc used some bizarre reasoning that included churches and flags to convince the MacDonald brothers to franchise “for their country,” our domestic enemies have repeatedly appealed to patriotism and Christian morals (both of which they despise) to convince US Citizens to fight and/or support foreign wars that don’t serve the interests of the American people at all. (Quite the opposite, usually.) Furthermore…”The Patriot Act.” ‘Nuff said.
Just as Ray Croc attained ownership of the real property the MacDonalds Empire was built upon, our enemies have seized the natural resources and “public lands” of the USA for themselves, and use our tax $$ to fund alphabet-soup pseudo-armies quartered among us to deny citizens access to our “public lands” by force of arms.
Our enemies intend to leave us completely destitute and dependent on them for sustenance after they have gobbled up every last iota of wealth for themselves, and provided for their own survival of the catastrophe they are developing.
No typical film director in Homowood, Commiefornia, would ever intentionally encode a message like this into a movie, as it works against The Narrative they push onto us with every other cinematic effort. Perhaps this is another instance of a Dunning-Kruger victim outsmarting himself.
Why on Earth was the British Expeditionary Force allowed to escape in 1940?
That is the question everyone with a modicum of military savvy has to ask when examining the story of Dunkirk. (Well at least after coming down from your outrage due to underrepresentation in the film of Pygmy hermaphrodites, transgender unicorns, and Badass Warrior Womyn in front-line combat formations.) One positive side effect of the recent movie I’ve noticed is that some folks are indeed asking that question.
The Wermacht steamrolled over Poland and France despite the disparity of numbers, displaying a functional combined arms doctrine the world had never seen before… and yet allowed Britain’s army a second chance to fight them (when they inevitably returned with a more powerful ally), despite being poised to cut them off from the sea and destroy their ability to fight.
Not every fan of history knows the reason Dunkirk was allowed to succeed. Historians usually explain it away with one dubious claim or another. When I found out the truth, I just had to shake my head. And yet…it made sense.
A British historian spent the post war period interviewing the German high command, and its field marshals. The book he wrote clears up this and many other curiosities about WWII in the European Theater. I highly recommend it.
An added bonus is the reactions you’ll receive just toting the paperback around. On the cover is an image of a Nazi-era German flag, which happens to have a swastika on it. Rabid SJW thought police will be triggered, while public-educated FaceBorg junkies will often just run away. It’s Wolfenstein 3D all over again–but without intrusion into your gaming fun!
This book is a prequel to The Vandals. As such, it has inspired me to go back and read it again. And although classified “Y.A.,” I consider My Lonely Room a fine, worthwhile read for men or boys of any age.
The setting is Queens, New York, at the dawn of the rock & roll era. A young outcast lives in partially self-imposed exile due to selfish parents; a sadistic landlady; cliquish kids doing what kids do (only worse, in the big city); and social ineptitude deriving from arrested development.
You don’t have to be Polish, a baby-boomer, or from the Big Apple, to relate to Jimmy Yadenik. Those details merge to form a fascinating backdrop for this tale of a boy becoming a young man, and learning to play the cards he was dealt.
I should clear something up: 1950s street gangs are not to be confused with biker gangs. The latter began as clubs made up of drunken, brawling WWII vets out to have fun and abuse their newly attained civilian freedoms. Later they evolved into something uglier, but that’s another story.
Nor are 1950s street gangs to be confused with later gangs, which were more like fiefdoms in the feudal drug trade, where life is a perpetual nightmare for everyone involved–or even just in proximity.
The gang members of the 1950s were teenagers, mostly. A gang was comprised of kids from the same neighborhood, and was not envisioned as a criminal enterprise by the founders. The members often shared interests (rock & roll, for instance; girls; maybe cars), but what united them was a mutual need for protection. Protection from what? Other kids, mostly.
It’s amazing to me, but a lot of big city folks spend their entire lives in a single neighborhood. It’s been that way for a while. Kids like Jimmy Yadenik didn’t look for trouble; but when they strayed into a different ‘hood, they often found it.
Kids behave like pack animals anywhere, but stack them like sardines in tenaments, and the violence multiplies. Faced with this situation, it’s only natural kids would seek safety in numbers. Or, as the Jets sang in West Side Story:
When you’re a Jet let ’em do what they can
You got brothers around; you’re a family man.
You’re never alone; you’re never disconnected.
You’re home with your own when company’s expected.
You’re well protected.
Sometimes a gang from the next ‘hood would invade yours. Sometimes there were two gangs in the same ‘hood. This is how turf wars got started.
Also, don’t confuse this subculture with the pampered Baby Boomer generation as a whole. Yes, midwestern James Dean wannabes dressed like thugs and tried to act tough during these years, but their “rebellion” came from petulance. No other generation in history had it so easy; had been given everything on a silver platter (except discipline); or had so little to be angry about. “Rebel without a cause” is an apt description for most of them. Or, as Marlon Brando’s character put it in The Wild One when asked what he was rebelling against: “What have ya got?”
But in the asphalt jungle, teenagers weren’t coddled, and didn’t enjoy lives of largesse. Jimmy Yadenik has a father who never bothered to teach him anything at all, much less how to be a man. The father is absent physically and emotionally. The only worth he recognizes in his son is the labor potential, so Jimmy can contribute to the weekly beer fund and the parties at the Polish Club. Jimmy’s mother is a little more humane, but still a lot more take than give. Case in point: they put Jimmy in a foster home so he wouldn’t be an inconvenience to them. As the story begins, Jimmy has just recently come to live with them again.
Perhaps the saddest part of Jimmy’s story is the way he latches onto some advice from a teacher. She gives him a truly underwhelming sample of generic, non-commital social worker talk, and it motivates him. It’s evidently the most encouragement he’s ever received from any adult in his life.
Not especially charismatic or athletic, how is Jimmy supposed to make friends with angry, messed-up kids from other dysfuntional families at school or in the neighborhood?
He acquires a girlfriend who does most of the heavy lifting for him in Love’s Learning Curve, for one thing. (If only all girlfriends could be so straightforward and accomodating.)
Secondly, he finds brotherhood (of sorts) via some streetwise boys who take him under their wings, and help him along in his journey. (If only all de facto orphans could find this kind of peer support.)
It’s certainly not the best path to manhood a boy could take, but it beats the azimuth set for him by his parents and teachers.
If you were born some time within the last half-century, you will probably find something in My Lonely Room that resonates with you.
Red-Blooded American Men Examine Pop-Culture and the World