Monday, January 31, 2011

Shaolin (2011) Movie Review

Shaolin (2011)

Directed by Benny Chan. Starring Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Bingbing Fan. China is plunged into strife as feuding warlords try to expand their power by warring over neighboring lands. Fuelled by his success on the battlefield, young and arrogant Hao Jie sneers at Shaolin's masters when he beats one of them in a duel. But the pride comes before a fall. When his own family is wiped out by a rival warlord, Hao is forced to take refuge with the monks. As the civil unrest spreads and the people suffer, Hao and the Shaolin masters are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords. They launch a daring plan or rescue and escape.

This movie is grand martial arts spectacular, brimming with action, redemption and a generous helping of Zen Buddhism.

The beginning of the movie is a little slow, it does an okay job to bring out the important characters of the movie, before jumping into the plot. This new Shaolin is indeed much more epic than the previous one, and it can be seen as the production value is much higher.

Set during the tumultuous Warlord era of the early 20th Century, Andy Lau plays Hao Jie, a ruthless warlord, whose overwhelming victories and amassed personal wealth and success have come at the expense of the country's vast, struggling population.

Hao is betrayed by his own ambitious apprentice Cao Man (Nicolas Tse), sees his young daughter killed, he is forced to flee for his life. Ultimately Hao seeks refuge at a Shaolin temple and though reluctant at first to help a warlord, but later the monks welcome him in.

The story is very straightforward, without much plot twists, but the fights are well choreographed and the editing is pretty tight, compacting the whole story of Hao Jie's redemption in about 2 hours.

Coupled with a great score and beautiful scenery, this tale of epic redemption is well paced, and it attempts to make you feel for the characters in the movie which it had delivered pretty well.

Andy Lau's performance is exceptional in the movie both portraying the ruthless warlord and an enlightened monk. The final scene with lots of action, fights and explosions also tries to make the redemption even more emotional, and it does gets some fans wet around the eyes.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, and this is one that you should check out on the big screen.

Overall: 8/10

-- Robin Low

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Review

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVD)

This is a relatively new airport, and I have been to the airport many times so far. Each time, more renovations are done to it, and it changes slightly.

In Jan 2011, I was at Shanghai again, and I found many new shops there. My complains last time was that the stores were closed early, and most of them were like 9am - 5pm stores. Next, Some stores do not accept non-China Credit cards. WTF? Airport, seriously?

The airport is located near many airport hotels which are relatively cheap. I had 6 hours to spare, and I actually spent US$40 on a room to take a shower and a short nap before flying off. It was definitely worth it.

Many new stores good -- closing stores early bad -- having lots of stores clutter up walkways bad -- not changing signs when new store are blocking way to international departure bad

There are a few more things about the airport that irked me, but I think it cannot be helped. The local people seem to not care about the place, I've seen people smoking electronic cigarettes, littering, allowing their children to pee in the trash bins, spitting, missing the toilet bowl while pooping (poop on toilet seat)

Yes, many parts of the new airport is disgusting.

There is nothing much to buy and shop. Its expensive, and many parts of the airport is disgusting!

Avoid it if you can.

-- Robin Low

Monday, January 17, 2011

Green Hornet Review

I unexpectedly went to watch the Green Hornet today in iMax 3D

If you don't know what is the Green Hornet, here is the Trailer.

The Green Hornet
Director: Michel Gondry
Writers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos

I did not know what to think of the movie, and never expected to watch it in 3-D let alone at iMax 3D, but nonetheless, I paid US$15.50 to go watch it at Lowes Boston Common.

Playboy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) becomes the new publisher of Los Angeles' "The Daily Sentinel" after the sudden death of his father. Britt's party life is about to change when he and his driver and kung fu expert, Kato (Jay Chou), stop a robbery. With the help of Kato, Britt starts a new career of fighting crime as the masked superhero "The Green Hornet".

I would say from the start, Seth Rogen was playing a dick, and instead of your usual Batman-esqe wake up and take responsibility and become super hero movie, this movie simply does not go that way. Seth Rogen remains a dick throughout the movie.

Hey, his father was murdered, well sort of in the beginning of the movie, and Seth Rogen does not seem to care, and did not even grow up through the process of the movie.

I would say the movie was about Seth Rogen and Jay Chou, and any other scene without them seemed a little flat. The action is average, and some of the scenes are pretty hilarious, so the movie is not a complete wash out. Cameron Diaz did not add much to the movie.

Even with the appearance of Edward James Olmos (Adama from BSG) the center of the movie still revolves the 2 main characters, Reid and Kato. And everyone else is not properly fleshed out.

There is a lot of slapstick humor, a bit of action, but not a whole lot of 3-D. I would say this movie, you can totally forgo the 3D part, and you should pay less if you want to watch it.

Is it worth the $15.50. DEFINITELY NO.

I would give the movie an overall 5/10

Don't watch it in 3-D, it does not add anything to the movie.

-- Robin Low

Friday, January 14, 2011

SVP FS1880 Black 35mm Negative Film/ Slide Scanner Review

I bought SVP FS1880 Black 35mm Negative Film/ Slide Scanner, and thought it would be pretty nifty to own a negative scanner.

I got one from sigutech on ebay, and thought, heh, how bad can it be if I was using it for scanning lomography photos.

I was terribly wrong.

Well, this item arrived in 10 days, a little longer than expected, but worst of all. It failed to work. I installed it, rebooted the computer, plugged it into several other computers, Windows XP, Vista, 7... the works.

I realized that the software it came with works, but the scanner unit, though recognized by the computer after the driver was installed, was just faulty.

Yes, many things are cheaply made.
Yes, it feels very cheap.
Yes, it is made in China.

But really, dead on arrival?

The bulb in the scanner is just not functioning, and when I shine a flashlight into the unit, I can see something, but it surely does not scan negatives.

Buyers are responsible for the return postage and shipping charges to send the item back. All returned products found to be non-defective after the inspection are subject to a return shipping and handling charge which will be paid for by the buyer.

I feel that this clause does not cover the fact that the scanner arrived "dead" and hence I cannot continue with this review.

Avoid sigutech on ebay and probably SVP products as well.

-- Robin Low

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Talisman Boardgame Review (Fantast Flight 4th Ed)

There is indeed a new Talisman Boardgame.

I was quite excited that one of my friends got this for xmas this year, and I've had fond memories when I played this in the past about 20 years ago.

First: Playset

The new Talisman Boardgame is pretty well made. Although the plastic play pieces are not painted, the cards, gameboard and other game pieces are pretty well made. In fact, the plastic coins somehow sounds like coins when clinked together!

Game Contents (for Fantasy Flight Games Revised 4th Edition):

* 1 Large 6-fold Game Board (slightly revised)
* Revised 4th Edition Rulebook
* 14 Character Cards with matching plastic character figures
* 104 Adventure Cards
* 24 Spell Cards
* 28 Purchase Cards
* 4 Talisman Cards
* 4 Toad Cards with matching plastic toad figures
* 4 Alignment Cards
* 6 Six-sided Dice
* 120 (40 each) Strength, Craft, Life Counters (8 large and 32 small plastic cones in each set)
* 36 Fate Tokens (cardboard)
* 30 Gold Coins (plastic)

Game play

The game takes about 15 minutes to set up and about 3 hours to play. # of players is 2 - 6.

Talisman is a cult classic board game with a fantasy theme. There are 14 characters a player can control, from the heroic Warrior to the powerful Sorcerer. In this perilous adventure, play centers around the journey of these gallant heroes to find and claim the Crown of Command, a magical artifact with the power to destroy all rivals and make the bearer the true ruler of the kingdom. Only with strength, courage, wisdom and a few good dice rolls will players be able to survive the ultimate test and beat their opponents to victory.


I rather liked this game, and it does has lots of replayability. For about $50, this game is definitely worth it.

I give this game 7/10

-- Robin Low

Sunday, January 02, 2011

First Night Boston 2011 Review

Well, its safe, warm and fun!

All thanks to the Boston Police.

Here are the pics.

Have wonderful 2011.

-- Robin Low