Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tim Sylvia vs World's Strongest Man, April 23, 2010

You can't make this stuff up. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, after a lot of drama following the "I got KOed by a crazy old boxer in his MMA debut" fiasco, has been signed to scrap with Mariusz Pudzianowski, 5-time World's Strongest Man Champion, in Boston on April 23rd at the DCU Center.

And there's more! Not only that, the fight is being promoted by Moosin, a Korean company, through a guy named Corey Fischer and Eric Esch, better known as the superheavyweight boxer, Butterbean.

Somewhere in this big circus of name-dropping, there is going to be an enormous fight between two enormous fellows. There's not many more details about anything else, but to be honest, I can't imagine there being much more that could be added.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Movie Review: Bodyguards and Assassins

Shi Yue Wei Cheng

“Bodyguards and Assassins”

Hong Kong, 2009

Genre: Historical

132 minutes

When the revolutionary Dr. Sun Yat Sen plans a return to Hong Kong, his supporters find themselves in the midst of a life-and-death struggle to protect the one man who can save China.

Unlike most martial arts films, “Bodyguards and Assassins” lacks a clear hero for the audience to identify with. The plot revolves around a group of Chinese revolutionaries working at a newspaper press, including the businessman owner and his son, the president of the press, the owner’s rickshaw driver, and a host of other colorful characters from around the city. It seems like this band of heroes is meant to symbolize the necessity of unity among all the social levels of Chinese culture, but as a film, it makes it difficult to follow a single storyline. There are numerous subplots revolving around a rickshaw driver’s love interest, a daughter seeking revenge for her father’s murder, a police officer’s strained relationship with his estranged wife, and, of course, the plans to escort and protect Dr. Sun from the government’s team of ninja assassins (no, seriously, Chinese ninjas).

Donnie Yen, the film’s big martial arts star, plays the aforementioned cop, who begins the film by working for the local government, doing odd jobs for money to spend on wine and gambling. His wife left him for the businessman with his daughter, but goes back to him and asks him to help protect Dr. Sun. He agrees after meeting his child for the first time, and lends a critical hand in protecting the escort through the streets of Hong Kong. He eventually is hunted down by one of the top assassins working for the government, played by MMA superstar Cung Le, the second most recognizable face in the movie. Their fight scene is the best in the film, and is probably the biggest draw for Americans looking for the movie.

To call this movie a “Kung Fu Film” would be a bit of a misnomer. Really, it’s more like a historical film that happens to use martial arts and wire-fu in the fight scenes. The fights are choreographed and shot well, complemented nicely by the orchestral rock music score. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a clear hero, there isn’t much of a final showdown with the big bad boss man, resulting in a somewhat anti-climactic ending. Even with the cast of lesser heroes, tragedy abounds through the film, removing any chance of catharsis that could have been used to relieve the audience’s tension. In the end, there isn’t really a personal resolution to the film. As a Chinese-American, I do feel a small swell of pride as Dr. Sun’s mission is accomplished, but it may be a little much to ask of people who don’t have the cultural connection to the historical events portrayed in the film. Still, if you’re just watching it for the “good parts,” it’s still a movie worth picking up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bad Boy of Sumo Retires, is MMA Next?

Asashoryu, the resident bad boy of the sumo world, announced his retirement from Japan's national sport on Thursday. This announcement comes right on the heels of a convincing victory at the January grand tournament, his 25th championship. The retirement follows allegations of a drunken brawl during a night on the town in Tokyo.

Rumors have surfaced that the sumo-tori is being courted by some of the prominent Japanese MMA organizations, where he would be a huge draw due to his reputation both in and out of competition. I can't help feel like it would be another "freak-show" attraction if he did enter MMA competition, similar to the use of other celebrities and athletes such as Jose Canseco and Herschel Walker. Still, at only 29 years old, Asashoryu is still very young for a fighter, and could feasibly become a legitimate competitor if he trains for it. As a big fan of the wrestler, I must admit that I've always hoped he would step into the cage eventually.

What would he need to make it? Cardio would be the first thing to work on. Other sumo-tori who tried MMA (Chad "Akebono" Rowan, Emmanuel Yarborough, and others) quickly found themselves gassed after the first few minutes of stalking down their opponents. This is because sumo matches are short bouts of explosive energy, not the long wars that MMA matches tend to be. If Asashoryu can bring his endurance up to speed, he'll at least have gotten himself a real chance at victory, should he decide to give the sport a shot.