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It’s tough to refute the notion that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the most significant segment of the cinematic landscape over the past 15 or so years. The MCU is omnipresent, as close to a fully shared movie experience as anything.

But time waits for no one. Not even superheroes.

The characters who have served as the foundation of the MCU – as well as the actors who play them – are moving on. The shift was always inevitable, but now, in Phase Four, things are really starting to snowball.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” – directed by Destin Daniel Cretton – reads as a bit of a departure for the powers that be at Marvel. This is a character that is arguably the most obscure yet to receive a headlining film of their own, a character that is fundamentally different in many ways – both overt and subtle – than those that have come before.

It’s a bold choice – and an effective one.

This film tries to do something we haven’t seen before from the MCU. Yes, the Marvel formula is still in effect, but it is being applied in a novel way. We’ve seen these movies riff on other genres – space operas and paranoid thrillers and war movies – but this is the first time we’ve ventured toward the realm of Eastern action cinema. This is a Marvel movie that both stars and is directed by people of Asian descent.

Do you want to see an MCU kung fu movie? Because that’s what this is. And it works.

Published in Movies
Monday, 23 November 2020 16:45

‘Vanguard’ falls behind

I’ve been a fan of Jackie Chan for a quarter-century. Ever since his “Rumble in the Bronx” hit U.S. theaters back in 1995, I’ve been enamored of his brand of self-deprecating action cinema, combining martial arts master with outlandish stunts and over-the-top physical comedy. He and frequent collaborator Stanley Tong didn’t invent the slapstick kung fu sensibility, but I’d argue that they perfected it.

The latest collaboration between the two is “Vanguard,” and while it doesn’t ascend to the heights of their most successful team-ups, it has enough of the stuff you expect to make it an entertaining experience. It has the outlandish action you expect, whether you’re looking for gunfights, car chases or hand-to-hand combat. In terms of the story being told, well … the action’s pretty good.

That’s the thing, though – you’re not turning up for a Tong-Chan joint to experience the story. You want to see some hot kung fu action and wildly dangerous stunts, and in that respect, “Vanguard” delivers.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 14:11

Project Martial You

BANGOR Martial Arts have a long tradition of building self-esteem, discipline, and fitness in children and adults. Shawn Hill has taught martial arts at the Bangor Y for 10 years, and for the past several years has seen the program dwindle due to misconceptions and lack of visibility, something he thinks is a shame and a disservice to the community.

'We want to help kids before they develop later in life, give them confidence,' said Hill. 'It hasn't been in the public eye. It's been overshadowed by mixed martial arts. Some people view [martial arts as a whole] as violent.'

Hill noted that in the early '90s, many people opened what he referred to as 'McDojos,' which didn't have quality teachers and may not have adhered to the tenets of true martial arts.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:10

With our powers combined

Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu and Young's MMA form gym

BANGOR When we last spoke with Chris Young, owner of Young's MMA, the gym was located in the basement of his Brewer home and he was actively searching for a new space. All that has changed - Young has joined forces with Ed Benjamin of Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu of Bangor to form a gym in its own space.

Both Young and Benjamin had allowed members from the respective schools to take a free class once a week at the gym. When the opportunity arose to grab a space on Outer Hammond Street in Brewer, they went for it.

'We were tired of being in the basement, and we have to be taken seriously,' said Young.

Published in Biz

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