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    16 years


Initial D: First Stage

Now THIS is how yer 'sposed ter drive ;)
It's a bit strange being a car freak and NOT having seen much of Initial D until recently. Still, I already knew quite a lot of it, thanks to the manga issues I scrounged up. Really amazing what one can achieve with my old car. That's right, I've been a lucky sod who drove a "Hachi-Roku". The car was a Red and Black Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, badged as Corolla GT-S. I acquired it in Belgium. Actually, I was looking fer the Sedan version, which was quite common there. But I just HAD to try out that little souped up hatchback and I was won over immediately. As I live in a region with a lot of twisty backroads and hills, (alas, no mountain pass here :( ) I had a lot of fun with it for a few years. Then a friend came over with a tape he bought (yes we're talking nineties here folks) "Isn't that your car?" he said, while showing me a vicious race between a Honda Civic (beg ya pardon, an EG6) and Takumi's AE86. The CGI action, the races, the music by M.o.v.e. All excellent! "Then how could you be so stupid and FORGET ALL ABOUT IT!?" Itsuki would ask in his overacting voice. I really don't know that. But after I coïncidentially saw the reasonable Chinese live-adaptation, I decided ter go look for it again. As with Zipang, one of my other favorite Manga/Anime's, I got lucky: I found First, Second and Extra Stage in Japanese language with English subs and that fantastic Eurobeat soundtrack. I'm still looking for the rest, which is a bit harder, because I'm trying to avoid all the dub overs with those slipshod hip-hop-songs DJ Milkyway (or something' like it ) cooked up. It might be a bit older now, but First Stage is still a lot better then all the F&F movies together.

Oh, and what did I do with my "Hachi-Roku?" After 5 years of service it was traded for a black front-wheel driven Corolla AE92 GTS, which also was a lot of fun, but I'll always have fond memories of that little red and black hatchback. Even now, while I drive a MINI Cooper.


(This comment might contain minor spoilers!)

Does anyone remember the movie The Final Countdown with Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen? Well, Zipang definitely compares with that movie. A modern day warship is en route to Pearl Harbor when it's suddenly attacked by an electrical storm and transported back in time. Only this time, it's not a powerful US aircraft carrier, but a Japanese AEGIS cruiser, appropriately named Mirai (which means "Future"). The Mirai ends up in 1942, just before the battle of Midway broke out. Their entrance is quite a shock, as they almost crash into a fleet led by the Imperial Japanese Navy's flagship, the Yamato.

I saw this series in the original Japanese version with English subtitles (There is company distributing dubbed over Zipang DVD's in America, but as I live in Holland, that's not much use to me) The power of Zipang is that it's a very atypical anime series. The main focus is on three friends who served together in the Naval Academy and are now stationed on Mira. Kadomatsu is the ships XO, Kikuchi is weapons officer and Oguri is navigations officer. There's not so much action or comedy going on, the focus is more on drama. The Mirai's crew is faced with a very big dilemma. Their appearance in WW2 will affect history, so should they keep to themselves and stay out of the fighting? When Kadomatsu makes the decision to save Kusaku, an IJN officer, from a plane wreck, things take a turn for the worse. Through him the IJN learns of this mysterious ship that is quicker than any destroyer, is able to take on a small fleet with it's weaponry and will only fight to defend themselves. In the end Kusaku, knowing that history is going to chance since he is still alive, plays a difficult game of smoke and mirrors to avert the mistakes Japan is going to make in the war. But as expected, not everyone shares Kusaku's vision, which puts the Mirai between the lines. The Allies are on one side, prepared to execute their policy "The only good Jap is a dead one" while the IJN gets more and more frustrated with Mirai's adamant attitude. The only who really understand Mirai's predicament is Kusaku, and he is only trying to turn things to his own good. The only thing left I have to say is this: GO.. SEE.. ZIPANG.. ASAP!! You'll see why ;)


Not bad... but only for those who don't know the book
As some of you might have noticed, the big crux of this film is the Michael Crichton novel it was based on. The book "Timeline" (or "Tijdlijn" in Dutch) is a very entertaining novel about the concept of traveling through time and a large company known as ITC trying to make money out of it. It packs a lot of action and tries to explain the issues surrounding time travel well enough. So anyone who read the book and liked it... SHOULD STAY THE HECK AWAY from this movie, because there's a big chance it turns out as a big disappointment.

Why? Because the movie tries to simplify the plot and put a big emphasis on action. Away with the part about ITC working on a way ter commercialize time travel. Let's just say they erm... discovered it by accident! Also throw out that part about speaking Old English and Aquitanian language in the 14th Century. Let's just say they all speak fluently English and/or French. In the book the only persons who could literally understand the people in 1357 were Marek and Edward Jones. The others had to use a special earpiece with a translator inside. But that's too difficult, so let's throw in someone else who DOES speak French. Oh and that storyline surrounding Lady Claire is much too complicated. Let's cut out Guy de Malagant (who tries to marry her in the book) and just make her Arnaut's sister. And whatever you do, don't let Chris get too close to her (in the book it was Chris who met Lady Claire first and falls in love with her, but she liked Marek more)

Then the characters: the talents of Billy Connolly (Edward Jones), David Thewlis (Robert Doniger) and Frances O'Connor (Kate Ericson) are totally wasted. And I refuse ter comment on Paul "2 Fast 2 Bloody Furious" Walker as Chris Johnston. Nondedju, what a bloody plank of an actor he is! I'm more satisfied with Gerard Butler as André Marek, although I didn't like the fact his nationality was changed (Marek was a Dutchman in the book). Also doing a good job more or less were Marton Csokas and Anna Friel. Friel is looking very good as Lady Claire and Csokas has far too less screen time to properly portray Robert De Kere (or Rob Deckard as called in the book).

Simplifying the plot of the book ter make it look good on screen actually made this film look bad. It might offer some entertainment if you never heard of the book, but if you read the book, then don't go see this movie!

Rating: 2/10 (It was pretty terrible)


The Path chosen is never a trampled Road


Not bad at all
One of countless youth feuilletons produced in Belgium in the sixties and seventies. A lot of young Belgian actors made their first appearance, most notably Jan Decleir as the villainous Odo (No, not the changeling from Star Trek), who wants to conquer the lands of Neropal. Neropal is divided in four parts: Boltania, Keromar, Tupistan and the Moon Valley. Odo and his Bolts already conquered Tupistan and Keromar. The Kerts are trying overthrow the Bolts again, but their only hope lies in the use of a rare metal called finroen.

The most surprising about Keromar is neither the story, nor the actors (although Jan Decleir, Rik Andries, Senne Rouffaer and the others try their best) It's the music. I was thoroughly surprised to hear that Ennio Morricone's music was included in Keromar. "Once upon a time in the west", "Sixty seconds to what?", "The good, the bad and the ugly" and so on and so on. Just like in those spaghetti westerns, it helps to set the right atmosphere and make this one reasonably watchable.

Rating: 3/5

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Almost shipwrecked...
True to the tagline, I was blown out of the water by this film; for two reasons. I was more than a little afraid that "Pirates" would steer the same course as "Cutthroat Island". Which ended in a major shipwrecking, as I recall.

The good part is the actors are giving everything they got. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are playing the eye catchers (blame the scriptwriters) and Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are clearly amusing themselves, which works contagious on the audience. In fact, Depp's portrayal of Jack Sparrow kinda reminds me of Mick Jagger. Same accent, same moves.

The story is the bad part of this film. In short: it drags too long. We could have done without an hour at least. The special effect are quite good and the sword fights are nice, but it takes the actors (especially Depp and Rush) to keep the boat from running on the rocks.

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