Why “Fist of Fury” is the Greatest Movie of All-Time

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

01

For my whole life (23 years) I have sat in front of the television, drawn by Bruce Lee’s way of thinking and way of being.  Every year, I watch my favorite movie —Fist of Fury—at least once, preferably on his birthday.  The film was the start of his legendary career and began the character that we all know as Bruce Lee.

Set in World War II, Fist of Fury is about a young martial artist named Chen Zhen, who finds out that his teacher was poisoned by the rivaling Japanese dojo.  As a result, Zhen decides to show the dojo that Chinese men are not weak.  He demonstrates by not only defeating the boss, but also everyone inside.  But, as with all Bruce Lee films, with violence comes consequence.  Zhen later realizes that fighting may have been the end to his life.

The film starts off with simple narration to set up the story.  One of my favorite parts of the film starts with Lee’s character finding out about his teacher’s death.  Stunned, Zhen tries to uncover the body, but is hit in the head by another student with a shovel.  From the start, we realize that Lee is playing a different role from that of any of his other films.  Sure, he plays the amazing martial artist like his other movies, but he doesn’t have the same status as he does in the others.  Lee is a simple man who is caught in between a race war, and who does something to help his people.

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To paraphrase Alfred Hitchcock: you need to bore the audience for the first thirty minutes, and then hit them with a surprise.  Fist of Fury adheres to this rule (not counting the shovel hit); after the 30-minute mark, what arrives is the defining moment of Lee’s character.  Bruce Lee versus the dojo: this was the first time we had ever seen one man take on an army.  Many movies have paid homage to this scene, including Fist of Legends, Ip Man, Kiss of the Dragon, Ip Man 2, Hard to Kill, and many others.  We also are introduced to the nunchaku—a trade mark of Lee’s in later films.  This, to me, is one of the few believable army-on-one fight scenes.  Zhen is the one with the weapon, and he utilizes it well.  By scanning corners, having eyes behind his head, and outsmarting the opponents, Zhen showed that he had more knowledge than any of them.  Also, Zhen knew exactly what to do—take everyone’s legs out.

When the battle started, the fighting was intense (true to Lee’s form).  What Lee always did was make every blow count.  Unlike most fights, Lee doesn’t throw a million kicks or punches, but when he does, it is a death blow.  For example, when one of the cocky warriors tries to show how tough he is by attacking Zhen, Zhen thwarted him by repelling the attack and knocking him down.  That’s a big reason why I, as well as many others, love Lee so much.  He not only plays the fights so well, but executes them even better.  It’s hard to say that any fight today competes with a Lee fight, because the blows don’t mean as much.  It’s like comparing a classic wrestling match, such as Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Ric Flair, with anyone in a new match.  Not to say that nothing compares to the old, but when one of the old-school wrestlers threw a punch, the audience felt it.  The same does not speak for the other when everyone is kicking out of everyone’s finishers.  You get numb to it.

Zhen destroyed his opponents with ease, including the second-in-command teacher.  The fight was very lop-sided (but less so than the ending fight).  What makes this scene special is 1) the overall arc of the fight, 2) why Zhen is there in the first place, and 3) the foreshadowed consequences of Zhen’s actions.  Regarding the latter two reasons, Zhen wants to show that the Chinese are not weak, but the consequences show that problems cannot be won through violence.

Because the Japanese dojo was beaten, they retaliate against the other dojo.  This leads to an all-out fight between both schools.  The battle is fine, but not great (sometimes you can tell when fights are sped up and other parts you can tell that the actors don’t know what they are doing).  But the story behind it is all that matters.  Not every action scene has to win the audience over through action.  Sometimes the greatest moments in a fight is through absence of action.  For example, after the Japanese dojo springs an attack on them, one of the Chinese men tries to protect the teacher’s picture, the last remnant of their deceased master.  After being stomped on the back for several minutes, the student is crippled.  Lee returns to see the carnage that is left in the dojo, and thereby realizes that he was the indirect cause.  The dojo decides he must leave the school forever, and never return.  He does so to protect the school and the students.

If you watch this movie thinking that Zhen’s struggle is to overcome the odds in terms of fighters, then you are wrong.  The Japanese dojo is not physically strong, but it is a titanic political force.  At this point in time, Japan had total control of China.  The part of Shanghai that they were in was an international spot.  Certain parts of Shanghai were off limits to Chinese.  After being shown that no dogs and Chinese were allowed at the park, Zhen tried to fight the Japanese men through force, which is something that he could not compete with when they had so much political power.

One of my favorite types of characters is neutral characters.  Han Solo in Star Wars, Saruman in Lord of the Rings, and Magneto in X-Men are all neutral characters.  The Chinese detectives were neutral characters.  After the deaths of two Japanese cooks (who poisoned the teacher), Lee went into hiding.  Because of this, everyone assumed that Lee was guilty of these crimes.  This caused the second-in-command of the Japanese dojo to insist that the police should handle Zhen.  Although the detectives had to arrest Zhen, they also understood why he did it.  They also understood the pressure that they were under.  The detective characters were very basic, but they illustrate the political power that Japan had back then.

Act III of Fist of Fury is my favorite thirty minutes of any film.  On Friday, when I was watching this film, I realized how amazing the final five scenes are.  You get to see: Bruce Lee show his true acting chops; the final showdown; the detectives; and the closing minutes of the best scene ever.  Act III starts when we are introduced to Robert Baker’s character, and the death to Japan’s voice.  Baker is brought in to counteract Zhen, someone who has been in training for quite some time.  By now, the entire dojo knows who they are dealing with.  Although most of them have never seen Lee, they know of his skill.

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Before we get to the final battle, let’s talk about the main two villains—Baker and the Master.  In every scene we see Baker, he is very dominant.  From the drinking scene to his demonstration, you feel like he will pose a threat to Lee.  Then, we have the Master.  We never see him do anything until the end.  But, he controls the police and works closely with Britain (hence the British detectives at the end).  These two villains don’t have much chemistry together, but the difference in their set of skills proves to be a tough match towards Zhen.

After the Master makes his final move to kill all of the Chinese in their dojo, Zhen makes his final assault on the Japanese dojo.  Zhen offers to allow the low-life scum guards to leave before he challenges their master (but none do, of course!).  In this fight, Bruce shows only anger towards all these men, for each blow he is either crying or screaming.  If you have never seen Lee destroy opponents before, this fight scene will be enough to show that fight scenes can have emotions.  All five men die within seconds.  Then, the second-in-command sneak-attacks Lee.  This doesn’t amount to much of an assault as he then wields a sword.  This two minute fight is one of the best cinematic fight scenes ever.  The swordsmen remember how good he was, and cannot make any sudden mistakes like he did before.  Most of his moves are tight, and Lee as you should never takes his eyes off his opponent.  One of the best moments is when he is so focus that he runs right into a wooden wall.  First off, this was brilliant to demonstrate how focus he was, and second it showed that he had no other choice but to fight.  As the swordsman gets into stance and so does Bruce, everything remains quiet.  Bruce and him take one final stare down until Bruce kicks the sword out of his hands.  When the sword goes up in the air, Lee realizes this to paralyze him and set him up for the sword to go through him.  Every time I watch this I smile, it’s one of those Ah Ha scenes.  The scene reminds me of The Empire Strikes Back when Luke is preparing to face Vader.  You’ve been here before, you know what happens, but no matter what you still get the same reaction as you did the first time you watched it.  Not many movies can do that, but this scene gets a bigger reaction out of me every time I watch it.

Zhen is now on a rampage.  Any person he sees that is wearing Japanese attire he is killing.  One of my favorite moments is when the bodyguard of the Master starts fighting Zhen.  Obviously, Baker is not impressed.  Then, as the bodyguard charges, Lee drops down and punches him in the groin.  Not many other heroes have I seen punch someone there.  But that is what makes this character so special—he will do whatever it takes to win.  How many other heroes do you see biting people or hitting them in sensitive areas?  In his mind, it’s a fight to the death.  At this point Baker realizes it’s his turn to fight the unstoppable force.  Not many scenes in this movie are cinematic, but the fights most definitely are.  I equate the cinematic experience of the fights to the best of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, movies that had 100 times the budget.  To say the least, Lee is the master of fight scenes.  I digress.  As Baker steps down to face his opponent, time slows down.  It feels as though we have been sucked into a fantasy, and it is only the audience who is witnessing these two giants fighting.  Once the fighting starts, it seems very back-and-forth, until Zhen uses simple moves, such as biting Baker’s foot and attacking the attack.  Like I said before, Zhen will do anything to win, for he has honor at stake, unlike the others.  Although Baker gets a few hits in, it did not matter in the end.  The last minute consists of Zhen destroying him.  Take the final blow to Baker’s throat.  If you are wondering, yes, Lee crushed Baker’s throat and Baker was out for two weeks.  This is the type of fighting in films I love seeing and doing.  Real action shows that the filmmakers care about the product and they want you to be sucked into it.  If you don’t intend for the audience to think that what they are seeing is real, then what’s the point in having a fight scene?

Now, let’s talk about the Master.  He has no other choice but to fight.  And, like all good cowardly villains, he tries to blindside Zhen with a sword.  Zhen uses everything he can see in the Master’s office to use for defense and offense (very early Jackie Zhen fight scenes going on here).  But then it comes down to a martial artist’s dream: the nunchaku versus the katana.  Both are masters at their respective crafts, but in the end Zhen trumps him with patience.  The master is the most realistic villain that I can think of.  He is rich, you never see him practice or teach, and he drinks all the time, so why should he be good at fighting?  I never understood why the master has to be some amazing character because of title.  Zhen tells everyone title means nothing, as you see in the fight.  He is somewhat sloppy, and it never seems like he has the upper hand in the fight.  But I guess he always had the ace in the hole.

When Zhen returns to the dojo, he see that most of his friends and colleagues have killed.  They were murdered by the Japanese students.  Zhen also finds that the police are there waiting for him.  Not to mention, but if Lee doesn’t show up then they will close down the school and most likely all will be homeless.  Zhen knows he has to take responsibility for his actions.  The remainder of the students, believing that Zhen was going to jail, but instead would be put down “like a dog” right in front of the dojo.  This is one of the most messed up endings to any movie I’ve seen, and my favorite too.  Not only does the Japanese gang get away with all the people they killed, but they also, in a way, kill Zhen.  This showed me that every action has an effect.  In other words, I saw a very realistic ending to this movie.  One of the greatest feats Bruce Lee had achieved was successfully combining fantasy and reality in martial art films.  This ending gets to me to this day.

If you asked me what Bruce Lee’s greatest film is, I would tell you this film.  If you asked me about which one you should watch first, then I would tell you Enter the Dragon, the first polished Bruce Lee film.  When watching Fist of Fury, you would need to listen to it in Mandarin to fully appreciate it; the English dubbing (complete with comically bad, 1950s-ish, Western accents) is hard to listen to.  If you’re fine with reading subtitles, the Mandarin version is the best way to view the film.  Fist of Fury is an early work of a famous artist; the unknown work that made the creator known.  Every artist has this film: Lucas’ THX 1138, Jackie Chan’s Project A, and Christopher Nolan’s Memento.  All of these films show that something great was going to come later for these creators, but the one thing none of these films could that Fist of Fury did was capture a universe.  With just a single punch by Bruce, the world knew that they were seeing one of the best at what he does.  Fist of Fury demonstrated what fight scenes should look like.  To this day, they have not been captured the way this film has.  Not even Enter the Dragon did this.

Rating: A+

If you love martial art films and haven’t seen this movie, then this is your next one.  If you are a filmmaker and want to create cinematic action sequences, this is the perfect movie for you.  If you just want to see a different universe of storytelling, then this is your movie.  Fist of Fury will change your way of thinking, as it did mine.

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The Doctors Who Rob: My Pitch for an Action-Comedy Film

By: Richie Watkins

The following is my story idea for a short, action-comedy film that I intend to make in the near future.  You will see the one-line description of the story, followed by the list of characters and my dreams actors for each role.  For the story, I would greatly appreciate any constructive feedback.  Offer insight on how the story and/or certain characters can be fleshed out.  And, please remember to give logical reasons on why you do or do not like it.  Talk about what made sense to you and what didn’t.  Even if you think this story sounds like a threat against art and humanity, please explain why.  Also, feel free to give your own suggestions on who should play what character!  Now, without further ado:
The Doctors Who Rob is about a 1-percent-hating, middle-class senior citizen who must defend his mobile home from five rich, robbing doctors, by using booby traps and his bare hands.
Old Man Quivers: lives alone.  Still working a part-time job at a convenience store, he spends his evenings shouting at his TV every time he sees any political candidate.  Quivers despises the idea that his country has turned into one that only coddles the 1%, and leaves everyone else to suffer.  Quivers is barely keeping the lights on at his house, mainly because of his hospital bills—first from getting a heart transplant, and second from getting his foot run over by a doctor—when he was leaving the hospital after a 3-month stay for the transplant.  Quivers is also a Vietnam War veteran, and a retired police officer.  He wishes that a 1-percenter would come to his house and try to take his stuff.  Quivers would be played by Craig T. Nelson.

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Dr. Rob: the leader of the robbing doctors.  He is cold, calculating, selfish, and greedy.  He thinks the middle class are a bunch of chumps.  Also, he holds a secret to Old Man Quivers’ past.  He would be played by John Travolta.

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Dr. Burglar: the prankster who is easily amused by people accidentally spilling Mac ’n Cheese on themselves.  He would be played by Seann William Scott.

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Dr. Jack and Dr. Steal: the sex-crazed couple who are white hot for each other.  Their jobs are to distract the target, by seducing or shocking him or her with their sexual actions.  Jack and Steal would be played by Taylor Lautner and Halle Berry, respectively.

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Dr. Theft: Dr. Rob’s right hand-man.  Lightning fast, brutal fighter.  The most level-headed one of the group.  He stays calm when things go wrong, and provides the voice of reason.  He would be played by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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Responding Officer: happy-go-lucky beat cop who checks out the crime scene.  He greatly admires Old Man Quivers, who he met when Quivers was still on the force.  This is a small role that would be played by none other than Brendan Fraser!

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I look forward to your feedback!

Storytelling 101: The Protagonist, the Antagonist, and the Conflict

by: Ian Blaylock

When people talk about television and films today, usually they talk about how something looks, and how good the story was. In the age of the $200M+ blockbuster often times films may look really good, and use CGI, or other technical tricks to make a film really stand out, but without a good story, the whole thing can seem very pointless. Whether you love him or despise his name, George Lucas spoke the truth when he said, “A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”

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So, if story is so important, how do you craft a story?

The truth of the matter is that there is a variety of different ways to tell a story. Some writers like to construct every bit of their story before they write it out fully, while others prefer to jump in and see where they end up at the end of their first draft.

My goal with these posts is just as much to help me in my writing as much as it is to try and explain the basic elements of creating a story. I will use terms from different sources, and try to get to what is important about each step of the process. While I will do my best to share what I have learned, I will also point to other sources that may be of help to a writer.

A final disclaimer about my advice is that there are always exceptions to the rule, but I will try to share things that are found in the vast majority of stories.

Let’s begin!

For our first week, we should talk about the three main parts of a story: the protagonist, the antagonist, and the conflict.

The protagonist is the main character. They are the character that the audience follows, and the character the story is about. They’re pretty easy to pick out, and their name sometimes appears in the title of the story like: Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Batman, etc. Now, protagonists don’t all have to be heroes, or morally good, but their actions shape the story.

Opposing the protagonist is the antagonist. Usually they want the opposite of whatever the protagonist wants. In the Hunger Games series, President Snow wants things to stay as they are, while Katniss Everdeen and her allies seek revolution. In The Princess Bride, Buttercup wants to marry Westley, and Prince Humperdinck wants her all to himself. In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker and the rebels want freedom, but the Emperor wants order and control. It’s important to have opposing forces in a story, otherwise the story would be over before it even started. Characters just achieving their goals without trial is boring. Struggle is interesting!

The struggles of a character come in the form of conflict. Conflict is the driving force of the story. In Star Wars the Empire wants to build the Death Star, so that it can enforce the law. The rebels think this is a terrible idea, so they plan to blow it up. Conflict is related to what the story is about. If you want to write about a runner winning the big race, they probably had struggles. They probably ran against people that were much better at running than them, or maybe the runner fell and got hurt, and had to practice harder for the big race. The point is that there must be obstacles that the character has to overcome. They don’t have to be huge like destroying Death Stars, either. In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the conflict is that Charlie Brown has to make Thanksgiving dinner for his friends, but he also has to eat dinner at his grandmother’s house. He can’t disappoint his grandmother, but he also can’t cook!

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(Luckily, Snoopy is there to help.)

Next week we will discuss setting, and some of the different types of stories.

The Emperor Should Have Never Fought

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by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

We all know by now that the Star Wars prequel trilogy has many flaws:  Anakin, the dialogue, and all of Attack of the Clones, but nobody talks about the fight between the Emperor and Yoda. Why in the hell did they have to fight?

In the original trilogy, we see these two stand around, and give amazing speeches about the Force (light or dark).  The best thing they ever did with these two characters was showing them for who they are—too powerful to fight.  Why would they lower themselves to a less powerful being’s level?  As a professional fight director, I want to look at this from an artistic standpoint.

George Lucas was inspired by Akira Kurasawa, the famous Japanese director who made Seven Samurai and Rashomon.  That is why in the original trilogy the Jedi and Sith fight like samurai.  But in the prequels, this inspiration is nowhere to be seen.  From the stances, to the stare downs, to the long pauses, the fight scenes of the original trilogy felt like they would fit in an Eastern movie.  Why doesn’t the Emperor fight?  In every martial art film I’ve seen, you have two men: the muscle and the brain.  Usually what happens is the brain (the leader) uses the muscle to weaken the protagonist enough so that the brain can defeat him.  Most of the time, the brain does not fight; if they do, they stand no chance.  Examples of this are: the man who hired Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon, Han from Enter the Dragon, and Bart from Unleashed.  All of them are weak in strength compared to the man they hired.

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Thank God, he had those mirrors.

This remains true in Return of the Jedi. The Emperor does not look physically capable to do battle.  It appears that he had a hard fought battle long ago, and suffered injuries.  It also sounds like he hasn’t fought in a long time, because you don’t see him until he gets mad at how poor the Empire is doing.  But why would he need to fight with a lightsaber?  Not only is he like an evil monk, but he has Sith Lightning, one of the most powerful moves in the Star Wars Universe.  His mind is his most powerful weapon because he almost turns Luke to the dark side.

The Star Wars prequels, as everyone knows, don’t make sense.  But, in my opinion, the Emperor’s duel with Yoda was one of the was one of the most nonsensical moments in the prequel trilogy.  It reminds me of WWE bringing back two wrestlers from twenty years ago to fight.  Sure, you would of love to see them duel in their prime, but not when they are noticeably over the hill!

Not only does the fight look poor, but nobody should fight like that. It’s jarring to see the Jedi and Sith go from highly choreographed fighting, to a much more basic fighting style in the original trilogy. Did one day Lucas tell everyone, “You must actually fight, what we did before apparently wasn’t effective”? It doesn’t make sense that the Emperor would go from high intensity flipping around and waving a lightsaber to such a subdued way of fighting. So, he went from being Jackie Chan to Professor X in thirty years?  Not even in thirty years did Jackie Chan destroy his body to the point of that, and he has been doing it for forty years.

The last thing I will say about this is, The Emperor still looked old, it doesn’t even look like we are seeing him in his “prime.”  It’s hard for me to watch a seventy-year-old man doing flips and then seeing him barely able to swing the lightsaber.  Even in Star Wars: The Clone Wars it is hard to watch him fight, but at least he looks in better health.  Why pick the same actor from before, when he doesn’t look the same age.  We forget that fight scenes should enhance the story, not make us wonder, “Why is he even fighting?”

Choreography Review: Hizzonner the Penguin/ Dizzoner the Penguin

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

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Storytelling Meets Quality Fighting

One of the most unique fight scenes are from these two episodes.  One of the reasons is that Penguin and Batman never face each other in battle, but instead in a debate.  The other pivotal part in the choreography is how many times Batman loses in these episodes, something that doesn’t happen that often.  Let’s start with the first fight.

The first fight occurs at the end of part one, when the dynamic duo steps into the lair of the G.O.O.N.S.  The highlight is when Batman takes on three goons with an umbrella.  First off, I love that they use umbrellas as swords.  Absolutely brilliant.  Anyway, let’s continue.  Although they do the same movements repeatedly, the camera keeps moving around throughout the fight, to also show Robin taking on two fighters.  The thing that makes this fight work, like many others in the show, is the variety of action that occurs all at once.  While people are being thrown through tables, other people are constantly moving.

The bank heist fight scene is one of my favorite fight scenes in the show.  This is one of the few times where two rivals team up to battle the bad guys.  This scene is crazy.  About ten henchmen are in the room fighting both Penguin and the dynamic duo.  In terms of storytelling through fight scenes, it makes sense that Robin is beaten so early in the fight.  Assuming that everyone agrees that Batman is better than Robin, it makes sense that two or three henchmen are too much for the Boy Wonder.  For Batman, it takes about nine to take him down.  The best part about this sequence was the difference between the fake fighting that Penguin does and the “real” fighting that Batman does.  In the fight, we see Penguin clearly miss with his strikes against the henchmen, while Batman is actually hitting his opponents.  A simple camera trick—changing the angle—is used to distinguish the real from the fake.  The fight scenes ends with Batman being brutally beaten by 9 opponents.

The story of this fight scene shows the depths of both Penguin’s corruption and Gotham’s bizarre nature.  News teams go into the middle of the brawl; bystanders count how many “knock outs” Batman and Penguin have.  Instead of aiding the fight against crime, it is used to entertain the citizens of Gotham.

The final fight was the only part that fell a little flat.  It was interesting to watch Penguin do absolutely nothing.  But, like all poorly run campaigns, the runner’s resources run paper-thin, and Penguin suffered the same fate at the end.  With only a handful of tired men versus the dynamic duo, it was curtains for the Penguin.

Overall, the fight scenes were very engaging and told its own story.  Seeing the rise and fall of Penguin’s campaign demonstrates that great fight scenes can be the backbone of a good story.

Hizzonner the Penguin/ Dizzoner the Penguin Review

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

It’s Election Time

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          The race is on, as citizen Penguin decides to run for mayor!  The only hope is Batman, who decides to run against him.  It’s issues versus people with issues.  Who will win the race?  This was one of the first episodes I saw when I was younger, and this tw0-parter is one of my favorites.  From the amazing fight scene, to Burgess Meredith’s performance as the Penguin, this is a classic you need to see!

We start off with Penguin aiding a man who appears to be blind; even though the man never knows where the burglar is, he knows where Penguin is exactly.  Later on, Commissioner Gordon finds out that Penguin has been aiding the weak, and donating money to charities.  Immediately, Batman and Robin rush to Gordon’s aid, only to find out that the Penguin is running for mayor.  After the current mayor is defeated, Batman decides to step in to compete.  Penguin makes all the stops to prevent Batman from winning (by quadrupling the amounts of his own campaign pins, and handing out champagne to all of Gotham).  Does Penguin hold all the winning cards?

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            In the show, the villains’ plans usually involve scoring a hefty sum of money, but Penguin’s plan was far more sophisticated.  Not only did he want to control Gotham, but also have all of the other villains run Gotham with him.  For the first time, everyone’s job was on the line, as Penguin tells the Commissioner that he will be replaced by The Riddler.  Also, up until the end, the dynamic duo is constantly fighting an uphill battle.  It looks like no one cares about Batman’s speech, as about five people are there; Penguin’s campaign, meanwhile, has hundreds.  You don’t get a sense that the duo has a chance until Batman tells Penguin that the polls have been counted.

            The Dynamic Duo’s escape is funny, but very mediocre.  They are trapped by Penguin’s G.O.O.N.S, who place the duo on top of a net that is above a block of ice, which is above a vat of sulfuric acid.  As the ice melts, the net lowers closer to the acid.  The death trap for this show was disappointingly non-threatening because it took three seconds for Batman to figure it out.  In fact, he had an acid-proof bat suit that saved him, so there was no problem at all.  Both Robin and I were flabbergasted, but then—Robin realizes that HIS suit is also acid-proof!  How the hell do you forget that?

Several new concepts and special occurrences are presented in these episodes.  I love that the mayor plays a significant role in these two episodes.  The one thing I love about this show is the intricate details of its universe.  It impresses me that even a small character such as the mayor is played by the same actor in each episode.  From a creative standpoint, I enjoyed seeing the dynamic duo actually hurting in this story.  The bank heist fight scene is one of my favorite action scenes in the show.  Not only do we see Penguin fight with his boxing glove umbrella, but also we see Batman actually lose.  This showed me that Batman is not OP, because all you have to do is gang ten people up on him.  The other interesting thing in this episode was how relevant the episode is to society in the 60s, and even today.  Penguin tells Batman that politicians are the worst crooks of them all.  Even the mayor says that the Penguin probably knows more underhanded tricks than what even he does.  In today’s politically correct world, such a joke would probably not wind up in a family-friendly show.

The fight scenes are the best part of these episodes.  One of my favorite battles is actually more of a race: who can beat up the most bad guys—Penguin or Batman?  When I review fight scenes, I believe that they need to move the story forward.  This fight scene did that and so much more.  Not only were they destroying everything in the location (the bank), but also this was the final campaign speech for both of them.  This showed me that Batman was no match for Penguin’s dirty tricks.  What felt weird, though, was that Robin did not do anything in any of the fights.  In the climactic fight, he is merely thrown through a table and is out for the count; and in the first fight, he is captured, which forces Batman to give up.  I understand his minor involvement with the bank heist, because the story is more so about Batman versus the Penguin.

The most underwhelming part is the ending.  Most of Batman’s greatest moments happen at the end.  But not in these episodes.  One moment, Batman looks like he has lost; the next he is destroying Penguin and telling him that the votes have been counted.  I realize that they had a big fight at the middle of part two, but that is why it felt weak knowing that the final fight was going to take thirty seconds.

Overall, this two-part arc makes you seriously wonder, can Batman win?  He lost two fights against the G.O.O.N.S, and he only gets one clean win against them.  On top of that, the story is one of my favorites of the series.  These episodes proved to be highly influential on Tim Burton’s 1992 film Batman Returns.  Both stories show that Penguin’s actions are very similar to those of real politicians.

The Final Score

Plot: 9

An interesting take on Penguin, by depicting him as a politician makes for one of the more iconic stories in the show.

Set Pieces: 7

The mayor playing a vital role and Batman versus Penguin through words is pretty entertaining.  Interestingly, they never physically fight each other in these episodes.

Escape Moment: 6.5

Come on, Robin!  No one forgets that they have an acid-proof suit.

Fight Scene: 10

This is one of my favorite fight sequences in the show.  You see Batman lose twice, and the fights provide story instead of only laughs.

Overall: 8.125

The arc has pretty amazing moments, albeit some slumps.  The climax needed to be more exciting, and there needed to be more of Robin in these episodes.

Top Ten Star Wars Fight Scenes

by: Matthew J.R. Kohler

For almost forty years, the Star Wars franchise has produced several iconic fight scenes.  From the original trilogy to Star Wars: Rebels, we dive into ten the ten best fight scenes.  Enjoy!

10.) Jedi versus Sith (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

One of the best video game cutscenes I’ve ever seen, and a main reason why I picked up “The Old Republic”.  This scene demonstrates that the battle between Sith and the Jedi is ongoing.  The difference (difference from what?) is that both sides are in control.  For the first time, we got to see what The Old Republic wars were like.  If only the rest of the game were as good as this.

09.) General Grievous versus Ki Adi Mundi and Shak Ti (Star Wars: Clone Wars)

If you feel that Grievous was too weak in Revenge of the Sith and the newer animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars (I know, it’s confusing), then this is the fight scene for you.  In this version, Grievous was a force to be reckoned with.  Not only is he able to take on four Jedi at once, but later is able to stand toe to toe with Mace Windu (that is until Windu destroys his voice box).  This fight might not be enjoyed by the masses, but this scene was a unique take on the Grievous character.

08.) Kit Fisto versus General Grievous (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

The first fight scene in Star Wars: The Clone Wars that made me a believer of the show.  Beforehand, we had never seen Fisto fight (except for briefly in Revenge of the Sith), but now we not only see him in action but also take total control over Grievous.  From death traps to fighting five opponents, the true extent of his skills is on full display here.

07.) Darth Maul versus Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Ginn (The Phantom Menace)

The only good (and saddest) thing to come out of the prequel trilogy.  From the awesome shot of the doors opening to reveal Darth Maul, to his absolute domination of the two Jedi, you get to see other styles of the Sith at work here.  The best part of the fight scene is when Obi-Wan and Maul face off.  The speed heightens to an edge-of-your-seat level, and shows off the two young warriors’ skills.  The only thing that falls a little flat is how much better Maul actor Ray Park clearly is than the others.  At certain parts, he is so much faster that he, without a doubt, could have killed them.  (Or maybe Maul was there to never kill, and only stall?)

06.) Darth Maul and Savage Oppress versus Darth Sidious (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

This is the most emotional fight scene for me.  When Savage Oppress entered the universe in Season 3, I thought the show was ruined.  Then, I was blown away by the character.  When we first see Maul with Oppress, it’s very sad to see the state that Maul is in.  But, after one season, we see how much Maul has changed.  This arc explosively culminates when Maul and Oppress take on Darth Sidious.  What I liked about this fight was that they showed more of Sidious’ true power than ever before.  Oppress was very slow and technically choppy compared to the seasoned Darth Sidious.  This is shown at the end when Oppress meets his demise.

05.) Anakin Skywalker versus Asajj Ventress (Star Wars: Clone Wars)

The creator of Samurai Jack knows how to build up tension.  This fight scene does so perfectly.  From the rain hitting the lightsabers to the long anticipation for the next move, the suspense does justice to the final moments.  It was interesting to see Anakin turn more to the dark side in a battle.  Not only do you see him wield a red saber, but when he strikes down Asajj, images—in his mind—of Jedi are shown.  A fight scene should always have a point to it, and the one here is that Anakin had crossed the point of no return.

04.) Obi-Wan versus Darth Vader (Star Wars)

The most realistic fight scene in the Star Wars universe.  This fight makes sense because the two haven’t fought a formidable opponent in at least ten years.  Not only is Obi-Wan at a weaker state, but Vader is as well.  This is not about a lightsaber fight, but a duel they didn’t finish thirty years ago.  We all know if Obi-Wan was there for a duel, the fight would have been longer.  Obi-Wan had another plan, though.  He was there to say goodbye to Luke and Vader.  He knew that his time was up, and that it was time for Luke to take on the Empire.

03.) Darth Maul versus Pre Vizsla (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

This scene perfectly shows Maul’s ruthlessness, and how awesome bounty hunters are. Not only that, you get to see how a Mandalorian would fight a Jedi.  From the dark saber to flamethrowers, Pre Vizla shows he is the real deal.  The thing that I love most about this fight is how brilliant Maul is.  In the film, we only saw him fight.  In this show, we see him use his brains to take control of Mandalore.  And Maul’s rise is one of the best parts of Clone Wars.

02.) Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker (The Empire Strikes Back)

It’s pretty easy to see why this fight is so high on this list.  (And it is not only because of its shocking moment and highly quotable lines.)  This fight also demonstrates how unprepared Luke really was.  At first, you think he might stand a chance, then you see that Vader is testing him, and is much more powerful than we thought.  The best part of the duel, however, is the suspense, something that the prequel fights generally lacked.  Vader vs. Luke was the first actual duel we ever got to see in the universe, and the suspense 100% emphasizes that.  Vader’s slow lightsaber draw, as well as his continual distraction of Luke with taunts, makes the clashing of their light sabers more and more exciting each time.

01.) Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker (Return of the Jedi)

The scene that utilizes every element the best.  The music, lighting, and actions all sync up beautifully.  This fight tells the perfect story.  Actually, two stories occur here: the emperor is trying to convert Luke to the dark side; and Luke is trying to convert Vader to the light.  The stories climax when Vader tells Luke about his sister.  Luke explodes and beats Vader with rage.  Luke realizes his fault, and beats the Emperor by refusing the Emperor’s demands to kill Vader.  Like Episode V, the suspense is in full effect.  Everyone wanted to see the final duel between these two giants, but I don’t think anyone expected the Emperor to step in.  For the first time, we got to see the full power of the dark side!