Posts Tagged ‘Journey to the West’

Red of the Feywild – A Fairy Tale/DnD Story

April 21, 2021

Red had spent three full years away from her village near the woods and it was strange to be back. Years ago she had left on a simple errand, through the woods to grandmother’s house to deliver a basket of food to help her nana through a sickness. On the way, she had been accosted by a wolf that had spoken to her. She had been shaken by the experience but she had survived. When she had arrived at her nana’s house, she had discovered that the wolf had already attacked the house. Her nana was dead. Red would have been killed too in that cabin if a passing huntsman had not saved her. He escorted her back to the village.

It turned out that the wolf had attacked in that area because it had been displaced by a roving band of orcs. When they arrived back at Red’s village the next day it was on fire. Her parents had been killed in the chaos. She gathered up what belongings she wanted and followed the huntsman back into the woods. For two years the huntsman and his wife had taught her how to survive, how to hunt, and how to fight. Eventually, she was old enough to hunt and forage on her own. She was armed so she felt a lot braver. She even hoped she might meet a wolf or some orcs and show them how much stronger she was.

Except, life had other plans. She wounded a rabbit with her bow and arrow and while she was chasing it, she crawled under a fallen tree. When she stood back up she realized she had managed to fall out of her world. She was in a dangerous new place and it was a week later that she confirmed that she had entered the Feywild. That was only when she had found other people her age. They had banded together to survive and, impossible as it might seem, they survived a full year in the Feywild together. Alice the elf noble, Jack the human trickster, a halfling altar boy named Seng, and a tiefling farm girl named Buira. It had hardened them into true adventurers. A ranger, a warlock, a rogue, a cleric, and a fighter.

“We don’t have to be here,” Alice said gently from behind Red. “We can turn around and find work elsewhere.”

“Now wait a minute,” Jack said. “avoiding trauma is all well and good but we still need food and a place to sleep tonight.” They had existed for an entire year without a proper bed but, now that they were back, some of them had grown accustomed to a nice downy bed.

“Quiet Jack,” Alice said and waved her hand. Her hand mirror lit up and Jack’s mouth kept moving but no sound came out. The magical cat that lived in that pendant and spoke only to Alice was a bit strange but they all trusted Alice’s judgment.

“It’s alright,” Red said. “Jack’s right. A job is a job. Besides, the village is being stalked by a monster. If we can help, we should.”

“I agree,” Alice said. “I just wanted to make sure that we are all on the same page.”

“We are in complete harmony,” Seng said. “Together there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.” He was always so optimistic and calming. It could be irritating sometimes but often, it was actually comforting.

“Our strength has much to do with it as well,” Buira said. “We will not be here long if it is a single monster we are dealing with.” Buira was so strong that it had been scary at first but she was very loyal to her friends.

“Good,” Red said. “Staying in one place too long makes Jack’s fingers start to itch.” Jack had earned himself a criminal reputation during their time together.

“I don’t steal things that much,” Jack said indignantly.

“Tell that to the goose,” Red said with a smile. Knowing her friends had her back made her a bit braver about walking into her old village again. “Let’s get some food and our rooms before we ask about the monster.”

“A solid plan,” Seng said. “It will be good to rest my feet.”

“I agree,” Red said. She had been running long enough.


A Little Entertainment During Hard Times

March 30, 2020

The world is scary right now. Well, it has always been pretty scary but it is definitely more apparent right now. I know that we are all learning a lot about ourselves and the world around us while we’re trapped inside. For me, I have already learned that I am apparently “essential”. I am a paralegal and I am still going in to work so that we can continue to fight for our clients. I get anxiety each time I leave the house and relief every time I throw the lock on my front door in the evening. With all that’s been going on in the world lately, I thought I would offer up a bit more content. I thought I would point out a few shows and movies that you might not have been aware of.

The Frisco Kid
(Streaming on Amazon)

Do you like Harrison Ford? Do you like Gene Wilder? Of course, you do. They’re both brilliant actors who never really got a big head about their celebrity. Here, Harrison Ford was young as it was two years after the release of A New Hope. Gene Wilder was older and more experienced. He had just directed and starred in The World’s Greatest Lover. Their experiences really lend to their characters. Ford plays a young and roguish bank robber traveling west. Wilder plays a Polish rabbi who is journeying to set up a new congregation in San Francisco. Wilder’s dry wit plays well with Ford’s aw shucks nature. Wilder is no doubt the star here but a lot of the movie relies on the chemistry between both men (much like many of Wilder’s other movies).

The Unicorn Store
(Streaming on Netflix)

A movie I keep going back to, this might not have seen the light of day had it not been for the success of Captain Marvel. This movie was directed by and also stars Brie Larson. It has an all-star cast of Bradley Whitford, Joan Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is about a young woman who fails out of art school and must retreat to live with her parents. She struggles to connect to the normal world while dealing with the criticism of the world and her own inner critic. Also there are unicorns. The movie is such an uplifting look at finding your way in life and regaining your self-confidence and self-worth after a bad fall.

Wait Until Dark
(Streaming on Hulu)

For my fellow horror and suspense fans, you cannot do much better than this classic. I actually first saw this performed on stage but it is still pretty visceral on the screen. Audrey Hepburn plays a young blind woman who gets caught up with a couple criminals. Hepburn is really good at playing fragile yet tough. She is a master in the old style of movie acting which was more similar to live theater. The tension is maintained throughout and the plot still holds up as clever even after this formula has been used subsequently.

Journey to the West
(Streaming on Tubi)

The combination of comedy and martial arts has long been a great combination. This movie is an update of the Buddhist fairytale which has formed the basis of so many tales told out of Asia (Dragonball, The Monkey King, etc.) This story follows a non-violent monk who uses stories to quell demons. He is sent by the Buddha to obtain a set of scriptures in the West. There is a lot of good slapstick and wonderful martial arts wirefighting. The story kind of breaks down into three parts but maintains a great through-line.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
(Streaming on Tubi)

The original Dead Snow is about a bunch of Swedish medical students who get terrorized by Nazi Zombies out in the snow. That movie is incredibly tense and really smart and serious horror movie (with a little bit of comedy). However, you do not really need to watch that to get the gist of the sequel. The sequel is more of an action-adventure film where the protagonist of the first film tries to stop the oncoming Nazi Zombie invasion. It is schlocky, silly, and a whole lot of fun. It is nothing like the first movie but still a great way for the franchise to go.

Media Update 5/5/2016

May 5, 2016

Battle Royale (Japan 2000)

I had heard about this franchise a long while ago. I knew that it was a novel first (published in 1999), then a manga series and I had first heard of a tabletop RPG game based on the franchise. I never read or played any of that but I was aware of the franchise and I was vaguely interested. The basic premise is that 42 Japanese school children (our Grade 7, I think) are hauled off to an uninhabited island. They are each given a weapon and told that all but one must die or all will die in three days. This is fully supported by the Japanese government. What ensues is a very gory and very dark story of children in combat against children. The movie mostly follows a student named Nanahara and his friend Noriko. However, it also shows the audience the fates and movements of the other students through short vignettes. The movie was violent but very exciting, chilling and moving. I have heard the comparisons with Hunger Games but not only did Battle Royale come first, it is way more compelling. That is not to say that Hunger Games is bad, it is just a statement about how good Battle Royale is. The child actors are perhaps some of the best I have ever seen especially considering some of them were not given much to go on. This movie really surprised me and I definitely recommend it.

Journey to the West (China 2011)

I previously mentioned how much I loved Kung Fu Hustle. That movie was a Stephen Chow creation and, despite spelling his first name wrong, he put together a masterpiece of a martial arts film. Journey to the West is another Stephen Chow movie and his take on a Chinese novel published back in the Ming Dynasty. The original book followed the adventures and trials of a Buddhist monk journeying to obtain sacred texts. The novel added folk tale elements to the monk’s true account. I love folk tales and mythology. The movie takes that framework and makes a story about a demon hunter who fights demons through peaceful, empathetic means. The movie follows this man’s literal journey into the west to reach enlightenment and to¬†fully accept his non-violent path given to him by his mentor. On the way, he encounters three powerful demons including the legendary Monkey King (a key figure in Chinese folktales). The movie has Chow’s great mix of comedy, strangeness and touching drama along with amazing digital and practical effects. This one does not have as much fighting but there is plenty of action and adventure to keep you satisfied. There is a very smooth merging of Buddhist philosophy with the playful brutality of the folk tales. Like most films that are similar to this one (Kung Fu Hustle, City Under Siege are two examples) there are a lot of different genres represented. I don’t want to spoil anymore so I will just say that I strongly urge you to watch this movie.

Wing Chun (Hong Kong 1994)

This was an interesting find. The movie seems to be designed mostly be a vehicle for Michelle Yeoh who would later go on to great fame in the United States due to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and one of the worst Bond films. Yeoh is a great martial artist but the choreography looked a little sloppy here in places. The acting is all in hyper-melodramatic style which makes some sense considering the plot. The movie is both a martial arts film and a romantic comedy of sorts. It shares a lot of classic Shakespearean (and older) comedy tropes such as mistaken identity and the effect of gender roles on dating. The movie is very, very silly but not in the way a Stephen Chow movie is silly. It was more Jackie Chan silly as there was a lot of mugging along with the martial arts. While it was not really a bad movie, it was not really my cup of tea. Maybe it was the mood, I was in but the exaggerated acting and the way the characters shouted almost every line was a little unnerving. It also felt like the movie could have used better ADR work in places. If I am listening to the original language track (Chinese) then it should not sound badly dubbed. This is a rare movie I would say don’t bother with.

Links of the Week:
Beach Slang – Noisy Heaven
Heaven & Hell – Bible Black
Method Man – Even If
Hank Williams – Jambalaya (on the Bayou)
Puffy Amiyumi – K2G

Weekly Updates
– Lost Girl Season 5 is really good.
– Daredevil Season 2 is awesome
– Gonna go see Keanu and Captain America: Civil War
– Started watching Kimmy Schmidt season 2 and it is hilarious
– Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday. Support your brick and mortar shop!
– This week’s theme is “Asian Action”
– Did everyone enjoy the A to Z Challenge last month?

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