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December 06, 2010 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-12-06

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8A - Monday, December 6, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com "I

'Jam' getting stale

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya, You killed my father. Prepare to die!"
'Warrior' loses

Ninjas descend upon Old
West town, but it's not as
exciting as you think
Daily Arts Writer
The first scene of "The Warrior's
Way," from first-time writer and direc-
tor Sngmoo Lee, sets up an action-packed
modern martial-arts
film. The dark cinema-
tography and stylized,
comic book-like ani- The
mation create a capti- Wanior's
vating atmosphere as
black-robed swordsmen Way
explode out of the mist At Quality16
to attack the hero, Yang
(Jang Dong Gun, "The a
Promise"), who coolly Rogue
cuts them down with
the deft precision of a practiced warrior.
It's exciting, original and sets a high stan-
dard. But as the film progresses, it feels
like this opening belongs to another film.
After his anonymous foes have been
felled, Yang, who the audience learns is
the best swordsman in the world, is con-
fronted with a decision: Should he follow
through with his orders and kill the last
surviving member of a rival clan, who
happens tobe a baby?
Of course, our merciful hero refuses to
commit such a base act, even after hav-
ing murdered the baby's entire family.

Instead, he absconds with the infant to
a small town in the American West, his
own clan in hot, vengeful pursuit. Unfor-
tunately, it takes them almost the entire
movie to find him, leaving the film's mid-
dle third nearly devoid of action.
The premise of the movie is thin and
the plot even thinner, supported by life-
less, cliched writing and caricatured
roles. Kate Bosworth ("21") plays Lynne,
the local circus's knife thrower with a
troubled, bloody past - an outlaw named
"The Colonel" (Danny Huston, "Robin
Hood"), whose appearance provides the
only action in the movie's middle third,
killed her family when she was a girl. The
relationship between Lynne and Yang is
formulaic and entirely unconvincing, and
their love story, which dominates half of
the movie, lacks vitality.
"The Warrior's Way" shines in the fight
sequences. They are beautifully shot and
intricately choreographed, often with
ballet-like grace. These scenes move at
a quick and energetic pace, and have
a highly nuanced visual style, includ-
ing tasteful use of slow motion and cre-
ative effects, like an extreme close-up of
a sword slicing through rain drops and
strobe light-like stop motion. It's clear
Lee is a talented director with a specific
vision and an eye for action.
Unfortunately, the movie fails on almost
every other level. The acting, despite an
impressive performance by what has to be
the best baby actor in the world, is gener-
ally laughable, with Bosworth's perfor-
mance being particularly lackluster. Dong

its way
Gun's performance also lacks vigor, which
is partly due to his character's stoicism; he
rarely speaks, even during the emotional
love scenes. Geoffrey Rush (the "Pirates
of the Caribbean" series), who plays the
town drunk, gives the movie's best perfor-
mance, but his character is such a cliche
that no level of acting can save it.
"Warrior's Way" also ostensibly
explores the similarities between Eastern
samurai beliefs and the values of the old
American West. However, the filmmaker
handles these themes clumsily, just add-
ing clutter to an already unfocused movie.
The references to the two philosophies
are too overt to be effective and don't fit
with the movie's tone.
The movie, like many fantasy films,
takes place in a sort of alternate universe,
where hordes of flying ninjas descend
upon Old West towns and cowboys
wield automatic machine guns. However
absurd this seems at first blush, it works
when the movie gives itself over entirely
to its own absurdity. Even the non-fight
scenes that are shot in this style are
entrancing and fun to watch. But when-
ever the film moves away from its fantasy
sensibility, either to comedy or romance,
it loses energy.
The final battle scene is epic and
intense, but not worth the hour-long build
up. Watching Yang annihilate the droves
of faceless warriors, one can't help but
feel disappointed knowing that the whole
movie could have been like this, rather
than another tired entry in the annals of
Hollywood action-romances.

Daily Arts Writer
"NBA Jam" brings back so many mem-
ories. In 1993, when video gaming was
much more casual and console hardware
was more limiting, "NBA
Jam" fit right in. Fast-
forward 17 years and
EA Canada is picking NBA Jam
up where Midway went
bankrupt in 2009 and PS3,Wii and
attemptingto extend the Xbox 360
franchise - a similar EA Sports
but not especially suc-
cessful attempt was also made in 2003. It
seems, though, that EA missed the ferry to
contemporary gaming and produced this
new "Jam" title from Midway's island in
the past.
The main selling point of the game is
the retention of its roots. And while this
evokes nostalgia, how much can a game be
true to its originsbefore it becomes redun-
dant? All the humorous announcements
from the original are included ("Boom-
shakalaka," etc.), but is this really what EA
should focus on? This commentary is sure
to inspire a good laugh for the first few
games, but after a while it seems like the
staff at EA was just too lazy to find new
ideas. Humor, especially meta-humor, can
be a great attribute of video games, but the
jokes in "Jam" quickly dissolve into self-
Nostalgia will only
get you so far.
The graphics are also very unimpres-
sive, furthering the self-deprecation of
this title. Each basketball player has a
digitally rendered 2-D cutout of the real'
player's face, making each of them look
like celebrities in "South Park," and yes, it
gets old really fast. EA may again squeeze
a few laughs out of gamers, but soon the
realization that you have to look at these
stupid faces every single game takes over
and players feel duped. The more you have
to look at these faces, the more they begin
to resemble the programmers at EA who
forced foolish gamers into staring at them.
Big-head mode compounds those prob-
lems, and the other extra additions to
"Jam" don't do much to help the matter.
"Break the backboard" mode is basically a
normal game, except it requires a dunk to
win, and the others are equally insignifi-

cant. Thank goodness for the inclusion of
online play, though, which is a necessity
for the lonely gamers out there.
The controls are easy to learn, and they
only take a little while to master. Flick up
on the control stick, and at the peak of the
jump, flick down on the control stick. If it's
timed right, it will swish. "Steal" is a flick
to either the left or the right of the control
stick, and a shove is performed with the
same controls as a steal, but with turbo
selected. The simplicity is nice, but after
about an hour, the controls are mastered
and there isn't much room for improve-
The throwback to simplicity isn't a
problem in itself, but that doesn't mean EA
should remake a Genesis game on the PS3
without opening it up a little bit. Resort-
ing to some new controls and a couple
new features does not meet the standards
of a next-generation release. "NBA Jam"
hardly brings anything new to the table
and, though there are a few tasty morsels,
the meat EA invites you to dine on is just
17-year-old gristle.
This isn't "FIFA" and it does notdeserve
the status of a fleshed-out sports game.
"Sonic" and "Street Fighter" revamps have
been released on the Playstation Network
at affordable prices, but EA goes and puts
its "Jam" remake on Blu-ray at full price.
This could have been a good download-
able title; a casual game here and there is
a lot of fun, especially with a partner. But
if you have a Genesis or a Nintendo 64, the
old "Jams" will satisfy the desire for a little
casual competition. And if you decide to
buy this game, make sure you look up the
codes to unlock the Democrats and Repub-
licans. It'll make the experience that much
more enjoyable.

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