Posted tagged ‘soldiers’

Memorial Day – Holiday Review

May 31, 2010


Fire up the BBQ and hose down the BBW, it’s Memorial Day once again! Federally mandated, it’s a solemn day of respectful reflection and INCREDIBLE DEALS ON ELECTRONICS! Seen by many as the official kickoff weekend of summer, Memorial Day is actually a nationally recognized Holiday where we’re supposed to remember those who gave their lives for this country, preserving our freedom here and overseas. I know a lot of you kids with your black fingernail polish, Hot Topic gift certificates and revolutionary rock music may disagree, but in all seriousness I love this country with all my heart and, contrary to how this paragraph may read, take the sacrifice those before us have made to ensure our tremendous fortune pretty seriously. So now, them in mind, let’s take a look at Memorial Day.

Like all good things, Memorial Day originated with black people. In the 1860s following the Civil War, Freedmen (former slaves who were now freed men) began dedicating a day to moving their fallen Union brethren from the mass Confederate graves into proper individual burials. This day (originally May 1st) was marked with sermons, prayers and picnics. Commemorating graves soon became custom in America, ultimately resulting in the holiday being officially named “Decoration Day” in 1868. This date was later moved to May 30th as it “Wasn’t the anniversary of a battle.” There was also a separate day of remembrance for Confederate soldiers on June 3rd until the 1968 Uniform Holidays Bill which moved the now universal Memorial Day to the final Monday of May, giving us all a three-day weekend. Seeing that Memorial Day had its origins in the Civil War and the World War vets wanted their own designated day, Veterans Day was created in 1971 to add more specificity to the original May holiday.

Memorial Day!

Of course, when you’re a child, Memorial Day is the greatest tease of summer there is. Typically the last “day off” before the final week of school, the sleeping in and outdoor shenanigans are that first hit that makes the last four or so day of class unbearable. This made Memorial Day all good until you hit high school and it became a day of “Study” before 2-3 days of nonstop finals. Then the holiday became one of procrastination where I just watched Combat Shock or Naked Lunch and listened to the Lunachicks while I walked around the park or something. Once college (rock and) rolled around and classes ended three weeks prior, I began really observing what the Holiday was about, visiting graveyard and watching actual parades honoring our brave veterans.

But being an obscure rap fan, when I think of Memorial Day, I first think of this –

Possibly the worst anything No Limit ever released.

Wow. What an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful album. I know many of you probably consider “awful” and “No Limit” to go together like a horse and carriage. But ask the local Kangas and he will say “well, during their decade-long existence, No Limit put out 140 (!) releases and by the law of averages, they all can’t suck.” I’m more of a No Limit apologist than most, to the point where four years ago I was writing a book about the label and dove deep into their catalog. I stand by Fiend, Young Bleed, Mac, Tru, Kane & Abel, Mystikal and Mr. Serv-On all having put out good-to-great ahead of their time* albums on the label, but even then I’m not delusional enough to not acknowledge that the tank fired off some of the absolute worst rap CDs and Tapes of all time. Even as someone who owns the Lil Soldiers record, I can state with some authority that Full Blooded’s Memorial Day is quite possibly the far-and-away absolute worst.

“Dog S***,” the apropos above track, is all the evidence I need. Beginning with butchering a Geto Boys quote in an attempted homage, Full Blooded ruins an alright Beats by the Pound production with some of the absolute worst rapping ever released on a national level. Half riding the “I’m a dog” theme, the garbled voice and mushmouthed delivery is Master P’s door-prize record deal distributing at its worst. Not to base an album off one song, but folks, this is as good as it gets. 70+ minutes of Beats By the Pound production wasted on this awful, awful, awful rapper. The saddest part about this is how awesome the packaging looks. Classic No Limit blood-red plastic with a cover that once inspired a friend of mine to write “My grandma is going to be so pissed that Full Blooded is f***ing with my grandpa’s grave at Fort Snelling. He was a paratrooper who fought for his country! You have no right Mr. Blooded!”

So on this Memorial Day, the only day sacred enough to not have a horror film themed after it, remember the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms around the world. Don’t remember the awful album you wouldn’t have known about had I not just written about it and brought it to your attention just now. Cool? Alright, let’s go shopping!

We give the holiday Memorial Day a Four Out of Five.

We give the Full Blooded album Memorial Day a One out of Five.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*Remember “conscious” rap fans that No Limit rapper Mac had a song chastising the ignorance of homophobia on his 1999 album World War III at a time when the ever-enlightened Common and Mos Def were letting the word “faggot” fly left and right. Mad progressive, yo.

Universal Soldier: Regeneration – Movie Review

March 9, 2010

Based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

OK, let’s get one thing straight – Jean Claude Van Damme is my absolute favorite actor on the face of the planet. From kickboxing to bloodsporting, no one man has lit up the silver screen in the same way this Belgian waffle has lit up my life. While his 80s action contemporaries succumbed to making family fare, films with a message or other trivial pursuits like politics and policework, Van Damme has spent his 20-year reign on top giving his fans exactly what we want – crotch-punching, split-kicking, sassy female reporter-swooning feature-length absurdity. Following the inspiration of a fantastic Van Damme article from the prophet Seanbaby, last year I took it upon myself to launch Van Damme Nation, a series of bi-weekly parties in New York City that saw us eventually watching every frame of celluloid ever filmed of the man’s work including his Emmy-not-nominated appearance on “Friends.” As a result, I’ve groomed myself to have somewhat of a PhD in JCVD. With my phone ringing off the hook and my email box flooded with queries of “Chaz, how is the new Van Damme movie?” I finally have the timecop to sit down and tell you that, van sadly, Universal Soldier: Regeneration sucks.

“But Chaz” you ask, and I say “what?” and you say “how could a movie in 2010 starring Van Damme be so awful?” Well, to be Jean Claude Van frank, there just isn’t Van Damme near enough of the man in the movie. Of course, with this being an entry in the Universal Solider franchise, I shouldn’t be that surprised. The first Universal Soldier, shot back in the glorious year of 1991, stands one of Van Damme’s 3 1/2 intentionally entertaining films. With a monologue-loving nemesis in the always entertaining Chemical Engineer Dolph Lundgren*, this film about cyborg super-soldiers made from harvested corpses of casualties of the Vietnam war searching for humanity went on to be Van Damme’s biggest success. The film’s producers would like you to believe that Van Damme’s character Luc Deveraux re-emerging, after being implanted with a microchip that produces comedic quips, to fight Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Toxic Avenger Part II) and professional wrestler Bill Goldberg in 1999’s Universal Soldier: The Return was the next chapter in the story, but that’s because they’re chronic liars. Yes, Universal Soldier 2: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier 3: Unfinished Business starring Burt Reynolds, Gary Busey and former President Andrew Jackson do exist, but since they don’t contain any Van Damage, they don’t. By that same logic Regeneration isn’t Universal Solider 3 but Universal Soldier 2 1/2.

Van Damme plays Chaz Kangas in the movie based on me watching this movie.

Instead of Van Damme or Lundgren, we’re treated to 80 minutes of MMA Fighter Andrei ‘The Pitbull’ Arlovski. For the unaware, “MMA Fighter” is a film term for “unwatchably bland.” While he does bring plenty of inverted heel-hook leglocks and Arm-in Guillotine headlocks to the fight scenes, these are all things nobody wants to see in a cyborg zombie-soldier movie. I can understand the potential appeal had it been footage of the man in actual athletic competition, but when we’re expecting head-explosions, crotch pummeling and broken English, it’s just plain boring. Arlovski plays the key weapon of a Russian terrorist group who’ve kidnapped the Prime Minister’s family threatening to nuke (or, perhaps re-nuke) Chernobyl unless their associates are released. Switzerland (yes, the neutral country) decides to *regenerate* Van Damme to stop the bomb. Yet a Swiss renegade doctor wants to go one step further and kill the terrorists, so he *regenerates* Dolph Lundgren to butcher them. A midst this, Russia sends in a standard solider to rescue the kids, played by another “MMA fighter” (unfortunately) named Myle Pyle, a John Cena lookalike with 1/12th of his talent. John Scenic does some criminally boring fighting too, keeping things soldiering on in a universally lame manner.

Van Damme looks as bored in the film as we are, so when we get the climactic 20-minute (!) non-stop Van-Dolph fight scene, we’re just too disengaged to care. This is a plodding, drab soiled raincoat of a motion picture. It seems all director John Hyams (son of frequent Van-Conspirator Peter Hyams) aimed to do with this film is make us believe that “MMA Fighters” have the on-screen talent of professional wrestlers. They don’t, and if you’ve ever seen Thunder in Paradise you know what an incredibly mean thing that is to say. It’s bad. Van bad. A Van disappointment. This franchise will likely see a sudden death as any further replicants will seem like just another knock off. While a good time with Van Damme shouldn’t be a hard target, any quest ending with this death warrant of a movie runs the maximum risk of having nowhere to run for entertainment in Hell.

We give Universal Soldier: Regeneration a 2 out of 5.

BONUS BEAT – Dolph Lundgren sings Elvis, plays drums and breaks ice –

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*No, seriously.