What I'm Watching
I don't watch much television. Mostly because I simply don't have the time between band practice, publishing, managing a regular job and navigating a social life. Well, I'm also not the target demographic for most of what is on network television. Still, I like to pause every once and a while to watch some old classics like Twilight Zone or my main man, The Rockford Files. Hell, I even throw some time for shows like Justified and Doctor Who. Most of all, I like stories that entertain but still make you think outside of the mainstream paradigm. Whether, that mode is stuck on the exclusion based society of the past or adhering to the highly suspect modern social narrative. The original Star Trek series did a great job of combining entertainment and introspective social reflection. Sure, James Kirk was was a bit over the top but he was truly going where no man had gone before...and I ain't just talking about the Orions. In between all the tricorders and transporters, Star Trek addressed some real social issues of the time. Remember the episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield? That's the one where Frank Gorshin was a powerful alien locked in a never ending struggle and consumed by racial hatred. For reals, that shit was a testament to the social upheavals that were raging in the streets of America at the time. It's a struggle that is still simmering right alongside other struggles for acceptance. The tagline of my graphic novel is "the world is not as you've been told" and there is a good reason for why that tagline is applicable to television, movies and media in general. We'll talk more about that later, particularly how it relates to the direction of Afterburner and the works of alternative researchers like Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval. For now let's discuss a cool movie that I watched on Netflix.
Dragon 2011-Starring Donny Yen. Directed by Peter Chan. English subtitles. Viewed on Netflix.
This film is set in a small Chinese village around 1911 and focuses on papermaker, Lin Jin- xi, a man with a dangerous past. Dragon starts off with Lin Jin-xi as a simple family man. He is quiet, has an easygoing smile, a lovely wife and two young sons. Every day he wakes up to his loving family and has breakfast before he goes to his job at the village paper mill. It doesn't take long for that tranquil life to be shattered. The mill has brought minor profit to the otherwise poor village. But even minor profits can cause big trouble when bandits arrive to rob a store that Lin Jin-xi is visiting. Jin-xi hides as the store owners try to fight back but they are no match the bandits. The bandits dish out some bullying and intimidation until finally Lin Xi can take no more and he clumsily tackles the lead bandit. Lin Xi hangs on for dear life and what follows is a fight scene that seems to show the ineptitude of the bandits, as well as some incredible luck, on the side of Lin-xi. The banditsevery attempt to kill Lin Xi only results in them injuring themselves. When the dust settles the bandits are dead and family man Lin Jin-xi is hailed as a hero...or is he?
It's all good until a police investigator shows up to throw shade on the party. The investigator, Xu Bai Ju, wears a pair of wireframe schoolboy glasses and has skills that would rivalSherlock Holmes. His presence brings an interesting twist of police procedural as he proceeds to deconstruct the crime and the crime scene. Our hero, Lin Jin-xi tries to throw him off the scent by using his best country boy charm but the detective ain't having none of it. Through dogged investigative skills coupled with a sadistic streak of obsessive compulsiveness the detective concludes that the good natured Lin Jin-xi is really a dastardly criminal named Tang Long. If that isn't enough, Tang Long is part of a group of real bad ass, err, bad asses called 72 Demons. Oh hell no, it's on. That's when shit gets real...real fast. The 72 Demons descend upon the villageto take Lin Jin-xi back and everything...and I mean everything... goes to hell in a hand basket.
Some things that set Dragon apart from the norm are the innovative use of camera angles during the police procedural, the depth of character given to Lin Jin-xi/Tang Lord. Actor Donnie Yen is not well known on this side of the Pacific but he brings a genuine sense of humanity to Lin Jin-xi/Tang Lord. Anyone who has ever tried to turn their life around can relate to Yen's portrayal because Lin Jin-xi has a sadness and humble nobility about him. He has a terrible past which is buoyed by his love for his new family. When the past proves to be inescapable he responds with matter of fact efficiency. I've talked about the story and characterizations in this film but I should also mention that the action scenes are outstanding. There's no hollywood shaky cam here. The prerequisite wire work is present but it's use is minimal. Best of all this film combines elements of the intellectual detective work that we've missed in the Batman outings and the introspect of redemption that is needed in similar attempts at the genre. Tang Lord was a very bad man...and I don't mean that in a good way...he did horrible things. However, as Lin Jin-xi he transformed himself into a different person. We are left to ask ourselves exactly where do we draw the line between redemption and justice.