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March 16, 1995 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-16

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 16, 1995 - 5

Woo's 'The Killer' will wow you

By Shirley Lee
Daily Arts Writer
Although some of the blockbust-
ers from Hong Kong and China's
"Fourth Generation" of filmmakers
have been overrated, that does not
warrant an immediate assumption that

Home
Entertainment
Center
there isn't something interesting going
on there. Hong Kong's foremost direc-
tor, John Woo, has marked the action
genre in both the Far East and in the
West with his slow-motion signature
style - the presentation of the super-
natural within a naturalistic frame.
Woo's ingenuity in attempting to cap-
ture the heart and essence of action
flicks has caused critics to place him
and his works on a pedestal. Of all of
Woo's action, "The Killer" presents a
film as clearly powerful as those sweep-
ing epics synonymous with the "Fourth
Generation" movement and the Hong
Kong film industry.
"The Killer," shot in Hong Kong,

chronicles Jeff (played remarkably
by the always marvelous Chow Yum
Fatt) as the professional assassin un-
like the rest of the cold-blooded kill-
ers. Jeff's last hatchet job involves
murdering Tony Weng on the plat-
form during the annual Dragon Boat
festival, leading ultimately to Jeff,
Weng and the rest of the "good" and~
"bad" guys' downfalls. "The Killer,"
with Fatt at his best, manages to say a
lot in its one-hour time frame.
With razor-sharp intuition and
incredible capacity to remain calm,
Jeff distinguishes himself as no ordi-
nary assassin. Even though Jeff uses
guns for a living, he upholds honor
and kills without being ruthless. Spe-
cifically in "The Killer," Jeff rushes
an injured girl to the nearby hospital
in the hopes of saving her life and
cares for Jennie, a nearly-blinded vic-
tim whom he accidentally wounded.
"The Killer" and Jeff make known
that in this profession, one must play
by the rules, affirming how trust
should precede all. In one case, trans-
lated from Cantonese, the English
subtitles read, "A deal is a deal, even
more so between friends."
Inspector Li, assigned to the case
to track Jeff down, eventually bonds
with Jeff to grasp that true friends can
rely on one another both in times of

peace and in times of needs. Thanks
to Fatt's passionate yet resilient per-
formance and Woo's strong direc-
tion, watchers see and understand Jeff
and Li's compassion and their oppo-
nents' blind spots. But most impor.
tantly, viewers sympathize.
Most people tend to defend the,
downtrodden and the unfortunate. In,
"The Killer," professional killer Jeff
and Inspector Li become the "good"
guys despite the fact that they were on
opposing sides initially. The differ-
ence here is that Woo cares about his
fictional creations and imbues even.
the most improbable situations with,'
real human pain. It goes without say-'
ing that Woo's machinations are far
more subtle and deviating than trashy
action flicks such as "Die Hard" and'
the like; beneath Woo's work, with
all its kicks, guns and ammunition, iC.
a deep desire to make things right and
the slow-burn realization that every-
thing has been done wrong.
Action screens in East Asia make
"Terminator II" look like "Forrest
Gump." The American action-movie i
hero is dead. Do yourself a favor
and check out the flurry of action
gods and goddesses kicking butt
across the East, making their Ameri-
can counterparts look like cloistered
failures.

Robert Palmer: We all listened, believe it or not

Pinball machines are cool, especially this Guns N' Roses one designed by Slash.

By David Cook"
Daily Arts Writer
Aren't we all a little embarrassed of
what we liked to listen to in the '80s?
Sure, most of it seemed really great at
the time, but nowadays the music that
we loved has been relegated to VH-1's
"Big '80s" or to the dance floor of the
Nectarine. The embodiment of the Big
'80s just might be a solo album by
Robert Palmer, "Heavy Nova." After
leaving the moderately successful
Power Station, Palmer retreated into
some sort of artistic netherworld that
found him attempting to combine the
sounds of heavy metal and bossa nova.
The results: A record that featured no
tracks of metal, no tracks of bossa, and
most certainly no tracks of the two
combined. And, unfortunately, nopride
for this reviewer, who listened to all 10
songs over and over for a year or so, as
if there was no other album in the world.
Palmer's slick, businesslike persona
was the perfect foil to so many of the
singers at the time, which contributed
immeasurably to "the album's" suc-
cess. Consumers were ready fora singer
with glossy integrity. Palmer was in the
right place at the right time -the music
wouldn't matter. It was all style over

substance; the irony being that people
saw the album as an alternative to ex-
actly that garbage, a.k.a. what they had
been seeing, hearing and buying. He
was as guilty as a Easton or Whitesnake
of being unable to back up image with
music.
Palmer's golden throat was solid
and charismatic enough to lend a cer-
tain credibility to all of the songs; ad-
mittedly, the man has a good voice. The
overall production of the album was
very clean, and the video to the single
"Simply Irresistible" was provocative
enough and unintentionally (hopefully)
humorous enough to generate some
widespread interest in "Nova." But the
undeniable truth was that just about all
of the songs were bad - real bad.
Which was worse, the lyrics or the
music? This is a tough call. Be honest
with yourself-- you knew most if not
all of the words to "Simply Irresistible."
But this doesn't mean that the words are
good. Is Palmer really some kind of
genius for finding hundreds of words

that end in -able or -ical? He was in
1988, that's for damn sure. To this day
I kick myself for singing along with the
love epic "Early in the Morning": "Oh
I bet you were a virgin...till you met me,
yeah. Now I've got to getup early in the
morning/cause the early bird always
catches the worm." Sadly, the words
were occasionally the highlight of a
particular song, due to the sterile, sleep-
inducing tunes that Palmer wrote or,
chose to cover.
So why does this reviewer, among
others, still own the album? We have
kept it in order to look at it every day; to
remind ourselves how dumb we were at
the time, and to keep promising our-
selves every day not to part with our
money so easily. The next time you are
thinking about buying any potentially
questionable selection, please remen-.
ber all of us that own Robert Palmer's
"Heavy Nova." We recognize our er-
rors, apologize for them and vow never
to forget them. Hopefully, this attitude
will make you think twice.

New genre of
By rian A. Gnatt
Daily Arts Writer
When video games began dominat-
ing arcades in the early '80s, pinball
machine production was put on the
back burner. In the last few years
though, pinball has been making a
strong comeback, making its massive
metal machines significantly more sub-
stantial in both quality and popularity.
Some people play pinball for the
nostalgic memories of a time before
anyone knew what a Pac-Man was. A
time before the bloody gore of Mortal
Kombat, and enemies who shoot their
opponent's head off with lightning, in
a gesture of poor sportsmanship.
Others like pinball because it in-
volves a substantial machine. Hundreds
of pounds of molten steel, covered with
glass, lights, and piercing sound ef-
*fects. It's a rational game. You can
watch it think, and it can't cheat. You
control it, and it does what you make it
do.
Others like it because it's just so
damn cool. Ever since the days of
greasers, fast cars, and going down to
the malt shop for a cold soda, people
have been playing pinball. After so
many years, the machines have changed
in technology and themes, and now
represent the best our '90s pop cul-
ture has to offer.
In an attempt to incorporate the
new with the old, many machines have
now added an electronic screen that
has certaininside games and gimmicks
within the steel-ball-rolling game.
While players also used to have to be
as good as Tommy (ever hear of The
Who?) to break a million in a single
game, a quick smack on a bumper can
easily get you a cool million, so game
designers have also taken away from
pinball's embarrassment factor.
One of the more recent pinball sen-
sations, the "Star Trek: The Next Gen-
eration" machine, turns the popular

0

piball better
cult series into a lively and entertain-
ing game. Running around the long
stretches of metal tubing and plastic
replicas of items from the series, play-
ers rack up millions of points trying to
do their job (or whatever it is those
people do), and rid the galaxy of evil
and chaos.
Along with the actual pinball
mechanisms, special features like beat-
ing "Q" at a game, and other fun refer-
ences of the show come into play on the
electronic video board. These special
features are fun, but really don't add a
whole lot to the experience of the ma-
chine.
Another new pop culture pinball
favorite is "Shaq Attack." Yes, this
music and movie star also has his own
pinball game. As if the Sega and Super
Nintendo sensation "Shaq Fu" wasn't
enough to satisfy this man's needs, you
can play Shaq's very own pinball ma-
chine.
For some reason, it's based on bas-
ketball, not his successful recording
career. ButShaq's pinball extravaganza
fails to score - it's a dull and un-
eventful game. There is a way to shoot
a basket in the game with a fan-like
device, but it is difficult, and Shaq
just takes himself too seriously to
make this game very interesting.
On the other hand, the pinball crown
of thorns goes to the one, the only,
"Guns N' Roses Pinball." The game
was actually designed by Slash, who is
apparently a pinball addict. In his quest
to make a pinball game he would en-
joy, Slash actually succeeded in creat-
ing one of the best pinball machines
ever.
By combining half a dozen G N' R
classics and also one unreleased track,
pictures of the band, sound bites, and
extensive games on the video board,
the Guns N' Roses pinball machine
takes the sport to a new level. With a
different gimmick for each member,

than 'Cats'
each different game offers something
new. The most exciting of these games
is with now ex-guitarist Gilby Clark,
with him driving on his motorcycle,
trying to avoid cars. The fun thing
about it is Gilby can either avoid or run
over pedestrians. It doesn't make any
difference! No bonus points, though.
Besides all the Guns N' Roses pic-
tures and music, the actual game play
is great. With all its ramps and special
features, "G N' R" pinball is a game
that wants the player to win. By grant-
ing extra balls quite easily, and refus-
ing to let other balls be easily suckedin,
the game is thrilling to experience. It's
even better than "Cats!"

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