Category Archives: Reviews

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.

 

Gangster Land – a Review

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.

War For the Planet of the Apes – a Review

First of all, the title is a bit deceptive. There is a war brewing between apes and men–like it was in the last movie or two, but this one doesn’t depict a war.

There is a cheesy firefight scene at the end, and an ambush of sorts at the very beginning, and that’s about the extent of the combat. The bulk of the film is a psychological profile of Caesar. Woody Harrelson (doing his best Colonel Kurtz) murder’s his wife and son, so Caesar is tempted to adopt tactics and methods that are just as ee-veel as those used by the bad guys (humans).

In this ongoing reboot of the franchise, the film makers evidently intend to erase generations of history. The apes haven’t even taken over the planet yet, and they’ve already introduced both Cornelius and Nova.

The cinematography was the best aspect of the  film. Otherwise, meh.

“Another Excellent Novel”

There are downsides to having a bestseller. It gives your book more exposure, which is certainly a net gain; but it also draws plenty of wild cards.

As in all businesses, customers are probably about 75% more determined to make their opinions known when they have a complaint than when they find a product satisfactory. In the book biz, you also have some jealous, petty and vindictive authors prowling Amazon to size up the competition who, I guess, assume they can elevate their own work by trying to make other author’s work look bad. And then there’s controversial books like False Flag, which are gonna trigger sheeple and SJWs, even when they are warned up front that a particular book will not be their cup of tea.

Case in point: shortly after the post about Roy Moore went live on this blog, somebody posted the first-ever one-star review for Hell and Gone, admitting within the “review” that they hadn’t read the book. Up until then, my debut novel had never drawn less than four stars from any Amazon reviewer. I smell a motive for this drive-by, but who knows.

So the vigilant haters have managed to drag False Flag‘s cumulative review score down to 4.2 stars, but comments like the following tend to improve morale:

Another excellent novel by Henry Brown

First of all let me state that this is the third novel by Henry Brown I have read featuring “Rocco’s Retreads” a group of different special warfare operators who are mostly retired from different branches of the active duty military.


It’s a direct follow up to Tier Zero– the novel where Native American lawman and ex spec ops warrior Tommy Scarred Wolf and some of his friends and family set out to rescue a group of females from the nearby Rez who had been kidnapped in a foreign country.

This time around, Tommy and some of the Retreads have been targeted by a sleazebag Statist DHS spook and his underhanded operators- including several who are basically Manchurian Candidate Brainwashees.
Tommy is now the Sheriff in the town where the nearby Rez is located and his friends are scattered to the Southwest. Rocco, Leon and Carlos are now operating a shooting range and firearms sales and supply shop; Mac has gotten involved with a sleazy race-card baiter in Federal Law Enforcement and Josh has retired to the life of a modern Mountain Man.


Essentially Josh and some of the others find out that Rocco’s Retreads have been flagged as Domestic Terrorists by the dirtbags from DHS and worse- the same scumbags are planning on a False Flag attack on a peace rally in Amarillo Texas following the senseless beating of an African American motorist.


Talk about being ripped from the headlines.


As the NeoFascists in Federal Government see it, by attacking the rally and pinning the rap on “Right Wing Militia extremists” it will give them the justification among the McSheeple to go after the Internet and gun owners.


Tommy, Josh and the majority of their friends and family decide to try and stop the False Flag attack.
When they call in a phony bomb threat and the “proper authorities” refuse to evacuate the facility…well, it’s time for Tommy’s pals in the Native American Militia to step forward and stop the slaughter of innocent people and try and save the country from the insidious forces within the corridors of power who see Freedom as a threat to their own lustful power grabs.


The book is sobering at times and downright funny at others. The descriptions of some of the peripheral characters (looters and so forth) reminded me of some of the more razor-sharp satirical Destroyer Novels written by the late great Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy as both rednecks and looters get scalded by Brown’s pen.


I would love to see these books made into movies someday. However they are so politically incorrect that its’ mostly a pipe dream at this point.
If you enjoyed the Destroyer novels or the old Phoenix Force and Able Team books the Retreads series is right up your alley.

If you’re willing to take just a few minutes to make a small-but-significant impact in the culture war, and you’ve read one or more of my books, why not drop a couple lines into a review and counter some of this sabotage? Amazon isn’t yet as bad as Twitter, Facebook, or Wikipedia, but they’ve proven to me they are sympathetic to these SJW trolls. They took down a review I posted (it’s long-winded; sorry) even though it was obvious I read the book, and I hadn’t violated any of their published guidelines; but they won’t take leftist hit pieces down, even when it’s obvious the troll hasn’t read the book. There’s not much I can do about that. By posting an honest review, however, you could dilute this well-poisoning.

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.

wonder-woman-batman

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.

flashcyborg

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.

Turn: Washington’s Spies – a Review

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.

bluecoats

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.

Another reason to watch the series--and she's almost scrawny enough for certain Manosphere denizens.
Another reason to watch the series–and she’s almost scrawny enough for certain Manosphere denizens.

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.

 

Proelium Veritas by John Murphy – a Review

Vaughn Killian had risen to the top of the candidate class for Black Saber by the end of the first novel in the series. Now he’s ready to graduate…but the Brass isn’t happy with him.

Even in an elite unit like this, there’s an emphasis on by-the-book procedures. Killian is more of a field soldier–hands-on, seat of the pants. While that’s the kind of guy you want in combat, maybe he takes it a bit too far. And it turns out his instinctive warrior ways have backfired on him: because of his disregard for regulations, he’s being held back as cadre to train other candidates while his classmates get deployed. This is the last thing he wanted.

Nonetheless, he’s about to see action anyway. It seems the Carthenogans have somehow discovered the location of Black Saber’s secret training facility, and have dispatched a force of barbaric neandergrunts to capture some personnel and wipe out the rest.

With this second book, the storyline becomes increasingly complex. Murphy bounces around an ensemble cast to weave espionage, political intrigue, combat, and personal drama into the narrative. By book’s end, it’s still a mystery how some of these plot threads will tie together…and where all they will take us before they do. However it all weaves together in the third novel (???), it’s shaping up to be something huge.

It’s probably impossible for any author to write something I can’t nitpick in some way (myself included). But my biggest complaint here has to do with storytelling technique. Specifically: the cliffhanger ending. I think some plot elements could have been tied up a little better…there could have been a bit stronger sense of resolution…and likely we’d still want to read the next book. As is, it kind of feels like a much longer novel that was cut in half.

You may have read military sci-fi with similar elements before (Ender’s Game is one that comes to mind), but chances are you haven’t read a series with as much going on as this one.

Every Blade of Grass by R.A. Mathis – A Review

In this third novel in the Homeland series, there’s a turning point in Civil War II. Some Americans saw the writing on the wall, and bugged out just before “The Second Founding.” They organized while in hiding, and are now coming out to tangle with the forces of the new regime.

The state governments have been dissolved, and what was once the continental USA  has been divided into 10 regions under the totalitarian government of President Tophet. But in Tennessee, there are enough surviving patriots (even in the legislature) that resistance to the takeover is made official. Tennessee will not lay down without a fight.

Sergeant Cole has found the organized resistance–in this instance led by LTC Lee, his old battalion C.O. But concern over his family leads him to undertake his own mission to find them even as the flames of civil war spark to life across the country.

There is significant character development in this book–not just of Cole, either. Eduardo Garcia has quite the interesting character arc, which culminates here.

Author Mathis has masterfully woven a tale of one possible future history of the USA in the Homeland trilogy, which doesn’t bog down in technical details at all, or read like an advertisement for gold, survival supplies, or anything else. What this third novel does deliver is hope. The collapse of the USA as we know it may be inevitable, but it’s comforting to imagine there will be enough people with the wisdom, courage, and competence to mount an effective resistance.

I recommend you read the entire series. And speaking of that: the three novels have been combined into one omnibus edition now.

My Lonely Room – A Review

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.

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.