I thought I would like The Assassin, I really did. It was a martial arts film with a lady assassin! “What could be better than that?” I said.
Reviews were quite favorable, although one thing did jump out at me — the mentions of the “glacial pace.”
“Oh, it couldn’t possibly be that bad,” I thought.
I was right that it couldn’t be that bad, because it was worse. Oh, gods, was it worse. Characters would walk into a scene and stand there for several minutes, motionless, saying nothing. A scene would end, and the camera would linger on the unmoving actor’s face. Characters would stare at each other for what felt like actual eons without a single piece of dialogue or action taking place.
This isn’t glacial, I thought to myself. This is what glacial endeavors to be.
Anyway, once you get past the interminably languid pace, you then have to deal with the fact that most of the dialogue is just exposition, that the plot is a bit silly (the titular assassin, being punished for her soft heart, is sent to murder her cousin, whom she lets live, because of her soft heart, so who didn’t see that coming, I guess), and that the director won honors at Cannes despite choosing to film an important confrontation between the assassin and her master from about a half a mile away.
So there you have it. The reasons I didn’t like The Assassin.
Mostly it was the pacing, though. Good God, the pacing.
After rereading Lone Wolf and Cub recently, I was on a Kazuo Koike/Goseki Kojima kick, so I dug out my old volumes of Path of the Assassin, which I discovered, upon serious contemplation, are nowhere near as good as Lone Wolf and Cub.
Path of the Assassin purports to be the saga of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s rise to power, aided by his ninja vassal Hattori Hanzo, but it’s really the story of Hattori Hanzo and his magical penis.
Early on, Hattori Hanzo rapes a woman … and she falls in love with him. Later, he rescues a woman from being raped, then decides to rape her. And she falls in love with him. Then a female ninja breaks into their territory, hoping she can be captured by Hattori Hanzo … and raped. HIS PENIS IS SO MAGICAL SHE WANTS HIM TO RAPE HER. Anyway, they have sex, but it’s actually mutual, and she falls in love with him. After that, he tricks a woman into having sex with him while he’s disguised as an old man. She falls in love with him.
Then he decides that all his women (except the first one, whom he dumps brutally, and we never see again) should live together and support him. At first, they fight over him, but then, thanks to his magical penis, they decide that foursomes are good, and they all live happily together.
Also, Tokugawa Ieyasu comes to power and there’s a bunch of boring political stuff, but mostly it’s the story of Hattori Hanzo’s magical penis. The. End.
Now that the Veronica Mars movie has come out (and I can’t see it!), I’ve been pretty excited about all things Veronica Mars. I’ve been forcing my daughter to watch Season 1 (“But, Mom, I want to go outside and play, and be active, not sit here watching television and maybe we’ll play video games later,” she doesn’t say), and wondering why Kristen Bell isn’t more famous (I mean, she’s pretty famous, but I think she could stand to be more famous, because she is beautiful and talented and awesome), and also wondering: Hey, what happened to that guy that played her ex-boyfriend/potential half-brother, Duncan Kane? I mean, sure, he’s no Jason Dohring, but he did have pretty eyes.
So what happened to Teddy Dunn? Why isn’t he even making a cameo appearance in the Veronica Mars movie? Did he piss off Kristen Bell? Did he witness a mob slaying?
Let’s see what we can find out.
First off, you must know (by which I mean you deserve to know, not that you know already) that his full name is actually Edward Wilkes Dunn, which is way more dignified than Teddy. He was born in Australia, but raised in North Carolina. He became interested in acting in high school, and first showed up on television/movie screens in 2004, when he was but a wee lad of 24, with a guest role on Gilmore Girls and a role in The Manchurian Candidate, which was a remake of The Manchurian Candidate. I haven’t seen either. (I add that because I know you care.)
Also in 2004, Edward Wilkes “Teddy” Dunn debuted in Veronica Mars as Veronica’s dead-eyed ex-boyfriend, in what was either a brilliant performance of a kid on way too many anti-depressants or some seriously uninspired acting. It’s really kind of hard to tell, but the only thing you really need to know is that you should be on Team Logan/Veronica, or Team Wallace/Veronica, Although Wallace Probably Deserves Better. Team Duncan/Veronica is, like, so meh.
Teddy Dunn split from Veronica Mars before the mediocre third season, fleeing halfway through the second season, after being relegated to a terrible coma baby plot that made me cry because Veronica Mars used to be awesome. After that, he laid low for a couple of years before appearing in 2008’s Jumper, which is about teens with telepathic abilities, and not someone on the window ledge of a skyscraper. That same year, he had a guest role on CSI:NY, a show that needs more initials, and then in 2009, he appeared in Kill Theory, a horror movie you’ve never heard of, and A Good Funeral, which I kind of feel like I shouldn’t have bothered mentioning, except IT WAS THE LAST THING HE EVER APPEARED IN.
Of course, it’s probably hard to make time for acting when you’re a lawyer. Because he is. Like, totally, a lawyer now. Which seems like it would make his fictional father very happy. Also, I kind of exaggerated. He’s a law clerk. That’s still cool, though.
Anyway, Law Clerk Dunn apparently didn’t have the time or inclination to be in the Veronica Mars movie, which is fine and good, because we couldn’t have seen it anyway.
So I have some confusion about the new film Red. Like, is it supposed to be based on the comic book or not?
Because I thought that it was because it’s called Red, like the comic book.
But then I thought, maybe that’s wrong because, apparently, RED stands for Retired, Extremely Dangerous?, but in the book, Red was just a code name.
And then I thought, well, maybe it is based on the comic book, because it’s about a retired hitman.
But then I thought, maybe not, because who are all these other retired hitmen? And hitwoman? Because there was only one assassin in the comic book (and his code name was Red.)
Of course, the DC Comics logo is there, so that might indicate that it’s based on the comic book.
Except that it’s called an “action comedy,” and I don’t see what’s so funny about a new FBI director deciding to have a retired hitman killed and then that hitman kills, well, pretty much every other character in the comic book instead. I mean, if that’s the sort of thing that makes you laugh, then I really hope you don’t know where I live.
So maybe it is based on the comic book? Like really, really loosely based on the comic book? Like if they decided not to pay Warren Ellis any royalty money and called the thing Maroon, he wouldn’t really be able to sue them?
I don’t know. But Helen Mirren has a machine gun, so that’s pretty cool.
One’s a cartoon coyote. The other’s a comic book hitman. (That’s pretty simplified, but you try to explain 100 Bullets in one sentence. And it can’t be a run-on!!)
What do they have in common?
Probably not much.
But let’s get down to business anyway, shall we?
Physicality. Wile E. Coyote is a cartoon coyote. I know I said that already, but I just want you to know why he’s going to lose this category. Wylie Times is a human drawn by Eduardo Risso, which means he’s very noir-ish, but also? More attractive than a cartoon coyote. Winner? Wylie Times.
More of a danger to those surrounding him? Unless you’re the roadrunner, the chances of you dying by being in the vicinity of Wile E. Coyote seem pretty great. After all, he’s always setting off bombs and rockets and making roads that lead off cliffs. Wylie Times is a member of The Minutemen, guardians of The Trust, who is called the “Point Man” because he never shoots a bullet without having a point to it. I don’t actually remember anyone calling him “Point Man” in 100 Bullets, but it’s in his character bio, so I guess? Anyway, you don’t get to be a Minuteman by being some pussy who doesn’t shoot, stab or punch people in the brains on occasion. Winner? This is a tie. These guys are walking calamities.
Leads a more pointless existence? Wile E. Coyote is, apparently, a millionaire coyote or one who is very good at credit card fraud, as he is always ordering equipment of destruction from the Acme Company so he can kill and eat the roadrunner. The irony is that if he has all this money, why doesn’t he just order a pizza? Or an assassin to kill the roadrunner? Or buy a roadrunner farm and raise his own roadrunners and eat them? Wylie Times was a Minuteman who, when The Trust decided they were unnecessary, was supposedly murdered but was actually “deactivated” and works as a gas station attendant. Later, he is “reactivated,” and just read 100 Bullets already, a’ight? He is murdered by another Minuteman, which is a shame, because he and Cole were two of my favorites. Winner? Wile E. Coyote. At least Wiley Times’ life had a few minutes of worthwhileness about it.
Has a tragic love? Wile E. Coyote’s tragic love is the love of eating roadrunner meat. So it’s not really “love” at all. More like “hunger.” Or “starvation.” Wylie Times was in love with Rose, a member of The Trust, who betrayed them and had to be murdered. By Wylie. Because it was his job. Later, he fell in love a bit with Dizzy Cordova, like who didn’t, you know? Winner? Wylie Times.
Was more successful in reaching his goals? The whole point of Wile E. Coyote is that he never eats the roadrunner. That’s really sad. Wylie Times became a Minuteman again and possibly committed suicide by other hitman. Maybe. Look, 100 Bullets is pretty dense, and I think I misinterpreted a lot of it. Anyway, he had better luck than that poor damn coyote. So, winner? Wylie Times.
Got to hang out with Dizzy Cordova? Hey, I said everybody fell in love with the girl, all right? I wish I could hang out with her. Since Wylie Times got to, he’s a winner in my book. Winner? Wylie Times.
Has cooler gadgets? Wile E. Coyote has access to all sorts of gadgets, and has also done things like strap bottle rockets to roller skates, which is awesome. Wylie Times mostly shoots people with guns, which is also awesome, but not very tech-y. Winner? Wile E. Coyote.
Overall winner? By virtue of being in one of the best comic books ever, Wylie “Point Man” (I really don’t remember them calling him that) Times.
I don’t want you to think my love for Jackie Earle Haley is waning. Because it’s not. Not one bit. I still love Jackie Earle Haley as much as any geeky blogger can love a character actor who played her favorite comic book character in a movie. Which is, actually, a lot.
I love you, Jackie Earle Haley!
That said, there is no way in hell you are getting me to see the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot this weekend. No sir. None.
I mean, Jesus.
Robert Englund was scary enough, right? I mean, he was scary! But knowing it’s Jackie Earle Haley under the hat and the striped sweater and the burn-victim makeup? Makes it ever so much worse.
(I mean, look, I love the guy, but it’s like, what’s preventing him from killing us all in our sleep? Time issues, that’s it, you know?)
(Seriously, don’t you get that vibe from Mssr. Jackie Earle Haley? The lovable sociopath vibe? If he wasn’t a movie and television star, he would make the best assassin ever.)
I just don’t need that kind of terror in my life, all right?
Plus, as much as I hate teenagers, I always feel wrong watching movies like this, where poor little Beaver from Veronica Mars is being murdered for something his parents did. Like, why doesn’t Freddy go after the parents? Oh, right, because parents aren’t sexy or whatever.
And I get the whole “they murdered me so they should suffer” thing, but, really? If I was granted the power to murder the hell out of people in their dreams after my untimely flame-related death? I would kill the people who killed me. No visiting my wrath upon their innocent chilluns, unless their chilluns were jerks who laughed at my spiffy striped sweater, I guess, then they totally deserve it.
Back on topic, ahem, Freddy Krueger has always been the scariest of the movie monsters for me. I mean, yeah, Michael Myers is a scary, undying baddie, and Jason is, whatever, killing you with a machete or something, but it’s not like you absolutely had to get laid in the creepy cabin by the lake, you know? Your own sluttiness has doomed you. Can’t really lay the blame on the disfigured serial-killing movie monster there! You know the rules!
But, damn. Everybody’s gotta sleep.
And, since I need my sleep like I need my whiskey, I absolutely, positively, definitely will not be seeing Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) this weekend. I hope Jackie Earle Haley isn’t too disappointed in me.
I’ve always dreamed of making the big time. Or at least, being fabulously, fabulously wealthy. Like my hero Dorothy Parker said, “I hate rich people. But I think I’d be darling at it.” She was a wise woman, she was.
Anyway, here’s a list of the ways I won’t being making the big time whatsoever.
1. Selling my screenplay about ninja who are also zombies (or vice versa). For one thing, I’d have to write my screenplay about ninja who are also zombies (or vice versa) and I just don’t see that happening.
2. Eccentric millionaire falls for me. “Hey, baby, I love comic books and the flat-chested, tattooed chicks who love them too.”
3. Getting bitten by a radioactive spider and going into pro wrestling. I’d probably just die of cancer. Or not trip a robber or something, and then he’d go and shoot my Uncle Ben. Not Uncle Ben! NOOOOOOOOO!
4. Getting “discovered.” I’m getting a little old for it now, and I think if I had any talents that were “discovered”-worthy, they would have shown up at this point.
5. Winning the lottery. My dream is to someday be that person who’s like, “I never bought a lottery ticket before. I can’t believe I won the $100 million jackpot!” And then not get murdered by my coworkers who buy tickets weekly.
6. Through perseverance and hard work. Sometimes I laugh hysterically at myself for even thinking that’s a possibility.
7. My acting career taking off. Once, I was in a play in college and somebody flubbed a line, so I ad-libbed in response. That is the best acting thing I have ever, or will ever, do. Done. Crap.
8. A wealthy relative suddenly dying and inexplicably leaving everything to me. Actually, I do have some wealthy relatives, but they’ve all got kids of their own. Plus they like my brother better.
9. Becoming a high-paid assassin. First, I’d have to get in shape. Then, I’d have to train. Then, I’d have to get past the whole empathy thing. Plus the “I hate blood” thing. Maybe I’ll just be that assassin who quietly poisons people and runs away.
10. Inventing something awesome. I just thought of this great invention: the “phone signal.” It would be like the bat signal, except the spotlight would shine on my hand in a fist with the thumb and the pinky sticking out. “You have a call!”
Oh, Ninja Assassin. Could someone have made a movie more awesome than thou? (Thee?) You have ninja! And also assassins! You have Korean pop stars! (Who also spurned the hell out of Megan Fox, by the way, which makes them the most awesome pop stars ever. I really should have gone to the singular by this point. Whatever.)
You have glorious action sequences! I’m pretty sure something exploded! There’s more ninja! There’s more ninja.
What could possibly keep me from seeing this movie, other than wild horses and other catastrophes? (Like a tornado and there are wild horses in the tornado and also a house lands on me.)
Oh, you brought in J. Michael Stracyzinski on the script and he finished revisions in 53 hours? Is that what he was doing instead of finishing some of the comic book series he keeps starting? Stop tempting me to boycott you, Ninja Assassin. You seem perfect in every respect otherwise!
Oh, you’re produced by the Whatever their names are brothers? Who also produced Speed Racer? And, for some reason, cast Keanu Reeves as the lead in a trilogy of movies, leading millions of moviegoers to confuse his dead-eyed stare for the character’s dead-eyed stare and think he was actually acting or something? Those brothers?
Damn you, Ninja Assassin. Stop telling me these things. I want to love you! I want to love you so much. I mean, you even have a character named “pretty ninja”! That’s my name! I mean, you know, when I cosplay or whatever. Or dream. Whatever.
Is there anything else you want to disappoint me with?
Very well, then. Try to win my love back, why don’t you. Try to —
Oh, right. The action sequences.
I love you, Ninja Assassin. I want to be with you forever.
“But who is Father Tres?” you ask (I told you already, I can heeeeaarrr you).
Father Tres, codenamed Gunslinger, is the gunslinging (hence the code name, I suppose) android priest from the Trinity Blood light novels/manga/anime.
“Look,” you say. “I’ve heard of The Terminator, but what the hell is Trinity Blood?”
It’s not important. All that matters is that Father Tres Iquis is a gunslinging android priest, which is possibly the coolest combination of things to be ever except for that upcoming movie, Ninja Assassin.
So how does a gunslinging android priest fare in competition against the well-known-est android of all?
Let’s find out, shall we?
Physicality. If we’re counting sheer size alone, Ahhh-nold (yes, I will insist on referring to him in that manner, as I have already told you I can’t spell his name!) wins, because he is one massive fellow. However, we all know that Lokifire doesn’t grade on muscle mass and ignore a pretty animated face. Winner? The petite, 600-lb (or so) Father Tres.
Coolest codename? The Terminator’s codename (?) is “The Terminator.” Father Tres Iquis’s codename is “Gunslinger.” Holy leaping cats, Batman! Those are both supra-awesome codenames! In conclusion, it’s a total damn tie. I mean, could you pick “Gunslinger” over “The Terminator” or vice versa? You couldn’t, could you? It’s a total draw, isn’t it? So! Awesome!
Coolest catchphrase. The Terminator has two: “I’ll be back” and “Hasta la vista, baby.” They’re cooler if you imagine Ahhh-nold saying them. Father Tres doesn’t seem to have a catchphrase, although he often tells his enemies what fraction of a second too slow they are, which is really kind of an asshole move. Could someone have programmed him to have a little discretion? Jeez. Winner? The Terminator.
Fighting for the best cause? The Terminator starts out all evil, but then he’s fighting to save humanity, and then there were some other movies that I never saw. Father Tres has always been programmed to protect humanity … from VAMPIRES! (It’s a really weird series, OK?) Winner: It’s another tie, although I’m not sure humanity is really the best cause out there, but whatever.
Coolest robotic series? The Terminator is from the 800 series of robots. Father Tres comes from the “Killing Doll” series. Oooooooh, “Killing Doll” sounds totally cool, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?! Winner? Father Tres.
Fought something made of liquid metal? You’d think this would be a gimme for The Terminator, wouldn’t you? Well, you’re right, it is, because they quit translating the Trinity Blood novels into English, and until I learn Japanese or they make a better anime, I don’t know what happens later on in the series. Winner? The Terminator.
Possibly a cyborg and not an android at all? Nope, no matter what wikipedia thinks, The Terminator is not made from any human bits. Well, maybe they peeled the skin of some human in the future, but I don’t think that’s how it worked? Father Tres, on the other hand, has, like, part of a human’s brain in his program or something (it’s a really, REALLY weird series). Winner? Father Tres.
Most likely to shoot you full of holes as soon as look at you? If you’re an evil vampire, you’re facing some serious trouble from Father Tres. Otherwise, you’re pretty much safe. He’s been programmed not to shoot innocent humans. If you’re dealing with the old-school Terminator, the answer is yes, he will shoot you up till you look like a piece of Swiss cheese. That is bleeding. However, Edward Furlong’s character totally neutered the poor Terminator, and now he doesn’t kill anybody. Winner? It’s a tie in sadness.
Coolest outfit? The Terminator totally stole some fat biker’s leather clothes. That’s so cool! But Father Tres dresses like a priest who carries around a ton of guns. Winner? Father Tres.
Overall winner? Apparently, you can’t get any cooler than being a gunslinging android priest, but The Terminator comes as close as anybody.
Hey, did you know that Rambo‘s first name was John? I never knew that! I just always assumed that when he came out of the womb, his parents took one look at him and shook their heads, knowing he would be too awesome for whatever first name they might want to give him, and thus just called him “Rambo” from the get-go.
Ogami Itto, on the other hand, is also known as “Lone Wolf and Cub” in the supra-excellent manga “Lone Wolf and Cub,” and that name totally fits him because he is a lone wolf/assassin, with a cub (Ogami Daigoro, his 3-year-old son).
What do Rambo and Lone Wolf and Cub have in common?
I think it’s obvious. They are unstoppable killing machines.
But which killing machine is the unstoppable-est of all?
Let the battle (Note: not an actual battle; there would be far too much carnage) begin!
Physicality already: John (hee!) Rambo is a young Sylvester Stallone. He’s also an older Sylvester Stallone. Hermm. Ogami Itto is a samurai in the peak of his bloom (or something), and has these crazy eyebrows (for which I blame artist Goseki Kojima, ’cause he drew everyone with those eyebrows). Winner? Ogami Itto, because he is Japanese, and I think we all know Lokifire has a weakness for Japanese men and if we don’t all know that, we haven’t been reading this blog for very long now, have we?
Body count: Whoooo! This is a tough one! Piles and piles and piles of bodies in both cases. I mean, throw either of these guys into the jungle or something with an entire ninja clan and you know who’s coming out alive! Not the ninja! But, in the end, Ogami Itto destroyed three different clans, as well as performed various assassinations, won multiple duels against other samurai, butchered police and bounty hunters and basically halved the population of Tokugawa-era Japan. Winner? Ogami Itto, but this is open to some debate.
Weapon of choice? For Itto, it’s the sword. He was a samurai after all. For Rambo? Whatever he can bloody well lay his hands on. Winner? Well, I love Ogami Itto and katana very much, but Rambo did get to use a rocket launcher on occasion. Rambo.
Traumatized a small child? You’d think the obvious answer would be Ogami Itto for dragging his 3-year-old son Daigoro around Japan on various assassinations, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. (Well, maybe not dead wrong, but I felt this post needed that phrase at least once. Now it has it twice! Huzzah!) Daigoro is a precocious little cutie-pie who helps his father fight the Yagyu clan as a true samurai would: with a stick of dynamite. (Hey, he was only 4 years old at the time! Cut him some slack! By the way, I’m not mixing up my ages here. Daigoro had a birthday in the course of the manga.) In any case, he avenged his father’s (spoiler alert!) tragic, tragic, tragic death at the hands of Yagyu Retsudo with a piece of a spear he found lying on the ground. Not something a traumatized kid would do, am I right? OK, fine, kid was messed up from the get-go. Winner? Ogami Itto.
Survived to star in countless (I mentioned I’m too lazy to count stuff like that, right?) sequels? As I felt I was being biased in the favor of Ogami Itto, whom I liken unto the gods themselves, I thought I owed Rambo a gimme. Winner? Rambo.
Exemplified the spirit of bushido? Well, now, this doesn’t seem fair, either, does it? I mean, bushido is a Japanese word. However, it means “the way of the warrior,” which both of these men followed devoutly. Rambo lost his way a bit, but he came ’round in the end. Winner? We’ll call this one a tie.
Coolest nickname? As the assassin Lone Wolf and Cub, Ogami Itto got to say this a lot: “Assassin! Lone Wolf and Cub! I come for your life!” The name Rambo is cool and all, but, man, you wouldn’t believe how often I use Ogami Itto’s catchphrase in my daily life! (Or perhaps you would, as it is never, but I would like the opportunity to say it more often.) Winner? Lone Wolf and Cub aka Ogami Itto.
Overall winner? The answer is a resounding Ogami Itto, because he stabbed a lot of people and was a samurai among samurai, even as a masterless ronin. And unlike Rambo, he had the good sense to die and stay that way, and not star in a series of sequels unto an age that was truly innapropriate for the character.