Posts Tagged ‘racing’

Climb Dance – insane!

Sat ,30/09/2017

I get scared just watching this, especially the part near the top where he’s shading his eyes in the direct sun – yipes!


It’s just about that time of year…

Tue ,28/04/2015

only about another month until the 2015 NW Pinball and Arcade show on the weekend of June 5-7! Apparently this bad boy will be making its debut there….very, very cool!


End of an era……Initial D

Mon ,01/09/2014

Discovered they finally finished Initial D – and watched the last four episodes (Final Stage). Very glad they kept with it. These start a bit slow and go a bit overboard on backstory, but all the things we love about Initial D are still there:

– ridiculous, over the top posturing (although less than in past Stages);
– crazy mountain driving without apparently any hint of fear, parental control or police;
– ‘mental monologuing’ throughout where people are constantly explaining things to each other out loud (or through narration);
– and last but certainly not least – Takumi Fujiwara and his amazing AE86 Trueno…..

Enjoy. I am not supplying a link because if you simply do a search, you’ll find it. 🙂 In case you missed Fifth Stage (immediately precedes Final Stage, there are 14 episodes) – you’ll want to search for and watch that first. And if you haven’t watched ANY of them, what were you thinking (and get to work – Funimation has Stages 1-4 online!

According to Wikipedia, there is also a three-part movie remake coming….woo hoo!



Mon ,24/03/2014

Finally got a chance to watch 2010’s Senna this past weekend with my father (the original car nut – I am only a pretender :)) This was a very interesting movie – although if you don’t care about car racing or F1 in particular, you may find it somewhat the opposite – be forewarned.

The movie details the rise of one of the world’s most famous and skilled car racers, Ayrton Senna of Brazil – who ultimately climbed to the top, claiming the F1 world title 3 times before his sad crash and death a few years later in the early 90’s. He was only 34 years old at the time.

Having been a perennial car mag subscriber at that time, what I mostly remember is that the press largely loathed Senna and constantly came to the aid (deserved or not) of his established rival, French driver Alain Prost. So as a result, I largely remembered Senna as a ‘bad guy’ who was hypercompetitive but largely an enigmatic jerk. I’m glad I watched this movie, because although it’s fairly pro-Senna in outlook, it’s a better look at the man himself, his era, the races and his rivalry with Prost.

While Senna, unlike some racers, did not come from poverty or even the middle class – his family was pretty well off before he started his career – he has to have been one of the most ‘driven’ [sic] car racers in history. There is even a scene in the movie where he all but tells off Jackie Stewart to his face about a controversial race, and manages to advocate for driver safety at the same time (which ultimately was his undoing in the crash, but inspired Stewart and others to force F1 to take safety seriously, and there have been no fatalities since).

What the movie also brings out (and the wikipedia article here) is that Senna had his causes too – he wasn’t just a rich playboy driver with the trapping of wealth to keep him amused (although he had some of that, too). He was an intensely personal man with strong religious beliefs, and it later turned out that he had donated literally millions to help poor children in Brazil throughout his career, especiallly when he became so famous and successful – but he did it very low-key, obviously because he cared about the cause and not the notoriety it would gain him.

And as observed by my dad – it’s kind of amazing the amount of footage in this movie – you’d think he had a camera crew on him the entire time he was in F1 nonstop – weird.

The movie doesn’t paint a positive picture of Prost – arguably he’s just as fierce a competitor – but he also reminded me of whiny NBA players complaining all the time when they don’t get their way – there are at least two major examples in the movie, one of which Prost actually managed to get a Senna victory overturned. It didn’t help (Senna) that the chief guy running F1 at the time was French – not at all (smirk). But as noted on wikipedia, even Senna forgave Prost in the end.

His end was pretty sad – but he certainly passed doing what he wanted to do, and ONLY what he wanted to do. It’s patronizing in some ways to say Senna was a complex man – because that’s what such personalities are always described as when we don’t completely understand them. But I’ll bite – he definitely was, and the sport was far poorer for his passing. Great movie!

R.I.P., Ayrton.

other voices:
Rotten Tomatoes
Christian Science Monitor



Thu ,20/02/2014

I’m not sure when this one came out, but dare I get excited all over again? Oh yeah….. 🙂

although I just realized in getting a better link that this is a fan trailer – but still pretty good…….!


Tron:Uprising – Episode 4

Mon ,25/06/2012

Another good one – depending on the amount you want to read into the plot, even a subtle ‘green’ message? But again, keep them coming! As I may have stated before, I can


Initial D, eat your heart out….

Fri ,02/03/2012

Why did I never think of this – too COOL!


Redline – insane is putting is politely!

Tue ,24/01/2012

Finished watching Redline tonight.  This is probably the craziest anime, (possibly movie), I have ever seen.

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of ‘racing anime’ – although among the various types of anime out there – it is comparatively rare, and I’ve pretty much seen all of them (Initial D, Wangan Midnight, IGPX, etc.), save for re-watching Speed Racer all over again, which I still may do someday (the 2008 live-action Speed Racer movie, however – that’s a great flick – see previous post here).  Common elements include the racing itself, which of course in anime means over-the-top posturing and ego clashes from nearly every character at some point or another if not constantly; technology can play a factor (IGPX being the anime-futuro-mecha version of team racing, not terribly unlike the Kinetica videogame on PS2) and illegal street racing, whether in town/highways (Wangan Midnight) or crazy steep mountain/cliffside roads (Initial D).

So Redline takes nearly all these elements in one form or another and goes one better – it is a series of increasingly challenging elimination races (Blueline, followed by Yellowline, then the ultimate final race with the cream of the competitors: Redline) that are held on various alien worlds across varied and unknown terrain, not always including actual roads.  Because (of course) some of the vehicles used are hover-jet/rocket/cars (think of the hover-car/bike race in The Phantom Menace) and because nearly all the cars (even those relying on wheels) have some sort of rocket/nitro boost in them, among other abilities (The Mach 5 would be sadly outclassed here, I think).

So the story follows a few key racers as they make it past a Yellowline race (already in progress at the start of the movie) and gain entry to the Redline final race (the third act of the movie is that race).  Unexpected plot elements include the ‘roboworld’ planet where Redline is to be held – doesn’t want the race to be held on their planet, and so does everything they can (including armies, space weaponry and bio-weapons) to stop the race and kill all the racers if possible.  Also JP (one of the main characters) has a shady past (unlike nearly every other racer who has a ‘shady present’) and is known for ‘fixing’ races, for which he was sent to prison at least once.

The plot is otherwise fairly straight forward, about what you’d expect in a racing movie/anime, save for the following:

First – it is completely hand-drawn animation.  No CGI.  Which is probably in part why it took seven years(!) to make.  The results are VERY impressive, although in many racing sequences the action is so crazy-chaotic it can be hard to figure out what is going on.  They make use of every frame in this movie to excess, and it shows.

I would have to describe the visual style of the movie as ‘Roy Lichtenstein vs. Aeon Flux‘ with a not-completely-subtle dash of Wacky Races thrown in for good measure.  JP looks almost as if he walked right out of an Aeon Flux episode, and he’s not the only one.  The stark color contrasts seen here really stand out (hence the Lichtenstein impression) with an incredible level of detail not normally seen in an anime (or most animation generally).  The ridiculous cast of racers *has* to have been influenced by Wacky Races, and the later IGPX, I’m sure – they are a total collection of freaks and misfits.

What passes for character development here is the second act, where the various racers prepare for the Redline race and have at least a few scenes of conversation here and there.  Sadly, there is a bit of gratuitous nudity thrown in (for no apparent reason) and there was some random profanity at points in the movie (I watched in Japanese with subtitles but it may have also made it into the dubbed version) which, taken together with some of the extreme action and character design, probably make this movie NOT suitable for kids – i’d rate it a PG-13.

But it’s definitely a very well-made, beautifully animated movie and if you like anime, worth seeing for that reason alone – they set a pretty high bar.  One of the few anime I’ve seen that equal this movie’s animation quality would be Appleseed – but that movie has a *lot* of CGI mixed in with the traditional animation, so not really the same thing.

Check it out!  Again I got it from Scarecrow but Amazon now carries it too if you don’t live in Seattle.

Other Redline reviews:
Anime News Network
Notaku Blog


The World’s Fastest Indian…..

Sun ,25/12/2011

Watched the 2005 Anthony Hopkins movie The World’s Fastest Indian tonight. Pretty good, although a bit slow in the middle. This is the story of Burt Munro, the guy from New Zealand who built and rebuilt his 1920’s Indian motorcycle to conquer the world of speed – first in NZ, then in Utah, USA at the Bonneville Salt Flats, in the late 60’s. The movie doesn’t really dwell on about 90% of his life – it concentrates on his quest for speed at Bonneville and the many obstacles (money, logistics and other various pitfalls along the way) he faced in getting there, getting to run and setting several new world records.

Anthony Hopkins is pretty good and believable as Burt Munro – he plays it pretty minimalist, though and sometimes it’s hard to understand him – not sure how accurate his NZ accent is, but whatevs. The speed runs at Bonneville and elsewhere he does on that crazy old motorbike are very well done and really give you a sense of how it must have seemed to drive at that speed (close to 200pmh) with little to no protection (he had almost no brakes, no protective gear save a helmet and no drag chute, at least in the runs depicted here). There isn’t really much character development of any note here – the story (like the man depicted) is solely focused on speed, speed, speed. But it’s interesting to note from Wikipedia that many of Bert’s records are still standing to this day.

The DVD includes a separate, older documentary of sorts from 1971 with the real Burt Munro in it – while it could have been at least a half-hour shorter, it’s interesting to watch and you can see the 2005 film pretty much nails the character and his quest spot on. Ultimately, ‘TWFI’ is an entertaining and inspiring adult holiday movie to watch if you get the chance.


Initial D….live!

Wed ,30/11/2011

So readers of this blog already know I’m an anime fan, and a ‘racing anime‘ fan in particular – assuming you can find it. Certainly the most notable racing anime is Initial D, and due to its long term manga/anime popularity, a live-action movie of the Initial D story came out in 2005. So the tofu-hauling teenage drift racer of Gunma Prefecture rides again, now in real life. How does it hold up?

Naturally one movie compared to 30+ manga issues and/or 3 anime series + some animated movies cannot be expected to capture the entire saga of the story – they wisely concentrate here on elements from seasons one and two. We see how Takumi became a drift expert (hauling tofu in the early dawn through the mountains for his dad’s business), how his dad is a retired racer (and expert in setting up the AE86 Takumi now drives for the deliveries) and how once the word gets out, other nearby racers immediately want to challenge Takumi (Nakazato from the Night Kids, Ryosuke Takahashi from the Red Suns, and Sudo from the Emperor team). Various races ensue, and (big surprise) Takumi wins – but like the anime, you root for him the whole time and on balance, it’s an entertaining movie.

A list of differences between the movie and the anime/manga can be seen here. I won’t go into them save to say I didn’t really like how they turned Takumi’s dad into a drunk – in the anime he’s just gruff and quiet, keeping largely to himself. I think here they were trying to show Takumi’s dad as frustrated by his wife leaving (this is never mentioned in the anime at all by comparison) so he drinks. I would have preferred more ‘racing expertise’ discussion and less of this flawed character aspect, it’s mostly just a distraction.

The racing is good, if somewhat on the brief side. The anime/manga naturally has the advantage of drawing out all the events that run up to the racing which the movie simply doesn’t have time to deal with, but they did a great job and the racing is definitely convincing. But the anime also draws out the races quite a bit, often times over multiple episodes, which would look unrealistic if done in live action, so that’s another reason it seems a lot shorter here.

The acting is good, although these are with one exception, all Hong Kong actors (only Anne Suzuki, playing Takumi’s girlfriend Mogi, is Japanese). They all do a good job but I missed the constant (many times silly) over-the-top posturing and dialog from the anime – that tends to increase the tension from the usually following race – here, that’s a bit lacking. But maybe Japanese teens aren’t really that crazy-intense in real life? Dunno.

Another somewhat missing element is the hyperactive background music of the anime during the racing scenes. Here, they largely play hip-hop style music throughout the movie, which is fine, but not quite the same. And I think that tends to slow down the impression of the racing somewhat as a result. But a nice touch was to try to replicate the offbeat and constantly changing camera angles during the race as otherwise seen in the anime – well done!

You can also watch the ‘making of’ via Youtube here – it has english subtitles, the dialog is in Chinese given the cast and crew. It’s clear they took the job of this movie very seriously and tried their best to make a good movie and not do it on the cheap. And, that they filmed in rural Japan gives it that extra look of truth, to me at least.

Check it out – it’s a good intro to Initial D, and will likely make you want to check out the anime or manga (or both).


PS – there may be an Initial D ‘2’ in the near future – see here.