‘Straight Outta Compton’ is dope!

I love urban movies. I love rap. I love N.W.A.

In fact, their CD is still in rotation in my car stereo. That’s why “Straight Outta Compton” was my No. 1 most anticipated movie of the year.

So did the movie live up to my expectations? Oh yeah, and then some. The acting was superb and the direction on point. The story may have been glamorized, but it worked. And the music… oh the music!

I have so many good things to say about this movie that I can’t put together a coherent review. So I thought I’d drop a rhyme instead.

So yo, check it out.

nwa1

(To the tune of N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton”)

 

You are now about to witness the strength of film knowledge.

 

Straight outta Frolic, crazy film fan named Myong Choi

And in this gang called Frolic I’m the bad boy

Saw a movie, it’s gonna be a hit

Now I’m telling y’all what I thought of it

It’s about gangstas with a lot in common

They all come from a town called Compton

They all can rap, some can even write

And all of the songs they make are super tight

They get famous, known all through the country

No longer are these ghetto boys hungry

But then they start facing some issues

Not the kind where you can cry into some tissues

But they give it up smooth

Ain’t no tellin’ when they down for a new groove

Fame ain’t nothin’ but a bitch

It ain’t worth it, even if you rich

That’s their story, and it’s a great one

And the movie ain’t tragic it’s good fun

The actors are dope and do a great job

And Director F. Gary Gray hits it on the nob

Yeah, that’s right, nob, not nose

Cuz he ain’t one who think he gotta pose

That I’m down, with the capital FHC

Boy, you can’t argue me

So when it’s in the theaters, you better watch

Cuz this movie is the top of the notch

As I blog, believe this topic

But when I come back boy, I’m coming straight outta Frolic

Damn, that film was dope!

nwa2

 

You must choose this ‘Mission’

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to the theater and watch “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” one of the best films to come out this summer. This message will self-destruct at the end of this review. Oh, and Tom Cruise is the man. Nuff said.

Here are five questions for “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.”

What’s it about?

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has been tracking down a mysterious terroristic group called the Syndicate, but the IMF is in danger of being dissolved by the CIA due to its unorthodox methods and lack of protocol.

How’s the action?

Amazing. That money shot from the trailer where Cruise hangs on to a plane taking off? That’s just the first scene of the film. But when you start thinking it’ll be impossible to top that stunt, the film delivers one intense action set piece after another, especially a high-speed motorcycle chase set in Casablanca that delivers many “holy s—“ moments.

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Does it have a good story?

Unlike many spy films, this one is very simple to follow and doesn’t get bogged down by unnecessarily trying to outsmart itself. Speaking of smarts, I loved how the main villain was always several steps ahead of Hunt and his IMF team. A film really works when it feels like the hero is in legitimate danger and it was refreshing to see Hunt playing catch up to a villain for once.

Who’s the hot femme fatale this time around?

A star in the making, that’s who. Relative newcomer Rebecca Ferguson plays Ilsa Faust, a spy who will keep you guessing the entire film as to where her loyalty lies. Not only does she convincingly ride that fine line between villain and hero, her execution of complex moves in the action scenes means film audiences will be seeing much more from her in the future.

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Where does “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” rank in the series?

1) “M:I 2” – Yeah, so I’m a John Woo fan boy. Still, this film by far has the most elaborate and beautifully choreographed action of the entire series.

2) “M:I – Rogue Nation” – Great action, clean story, perfect execution.

3) “M:I – Ghost Protocol” – Director Brad Bird does an astonishingly superb job in his first live action film.

4) “M:I” – The original film hasn’t really aged well but that break-in scene at CIA headquarters is still one of the most intense sequences in the series.

5) “M:I 3” – This one probably had the best villain (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) but the weakest supporting cast and least memorable action.

*POOF*

Not the same ‘Vacation’

Is America ready for another Griswold adventure? Does America even remember who the Griswolds are? Let’s take a look at five questions for Hollywood’s latest reboot, “Vacation.”

What’s it about?

It’s been 18 years since the last Griswold family vacation (“Vegas Vacation”) and now it’s time for a grownup Rusty (Ed Helms) to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In an effort to bring his family closer together and relive his childhood experience, he persuades his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and their two sons to pack up the car and go on a road trip to Walley World.

Another reboot?

Yes, and yet another one that doesn’t do right by the original. For all the cluelessness exhibited by the original family of Clark, Ellen, Rusty and Audrey, there was never any doubt that despite their bickering and dysfunction, they loved each other unconditionally. In this version, Rusty is more or less an idiot but can’t pull off the act like Chevy Chase could. Debbie is a former slut and the younger son bullies the older son nonstop for no reason except to have a young kid say swear words.

“Vacation” succumbs to contemporary ideas of comedy: bathroom humor, sexual jokes and violence. Gags with pubic hair, puke and human feces can be effective in other films (or can they?) but are cheap and lowbrow. They don’t belong in a film about the Griswolds.

I grew up with a dad like Clark Griswold who’d do anything to make his family happy, so the original “Vacation” films hit home for me. I was that bratty son, much like Rusty, who complained aloud about having to spend so much time with his parents but in the end cherished many moments we shared. This latest trip lacks the innocence and heart that made the original films so personally memorable.

vacation1Is it funny?

While this “Vacation” lacks the special qualities of the previous films, it does induce some laughs among its misses. There are tons of jokes and the hit rate is about 50 percent. Helms especially gives it his all and Applegate is a trooper as always. Guest star Chris Hemsworth is also surprisingly funny as the brother-in-law who loves to show off Thor’s hammer, if you know what I mean. But again, the humor is cheap and you almost feel embarrassed for laughing when you do.

Would you watch these Griswolds go on another vacation?

Of course. I love the “family vacation from hell” concept of the films and would love to watch this group on another adventure. It would be even cooler if they kept recasting the children as the previous films did. Just make sure to get the tone right next time.

vacation2How would you rank the “Vacation” films?

1) “Vegas Vacation” – I love Vegas and I especially loved Rusty’s alter ego Nick Pappagiorgio. I still throw that name around to this day.

2) “Vacation” (1983) – The one that started it all.

3) “European Vacation” – I still say “Big Ben, Parliament” whenever driving in a circle.

4) “Vacation” (2015) – Lacks the heart, but still has laughs.

5) “Christmas Vacation” – Probably the most played on TV but my least favorite.

 

‘Ant-Man’ – Tiny hero, huge laughs

To paraphrase male model extraordinaire Derek Zoolander, “What is this? A movie made for ants?!”

No, it’s a movie made for not just comic book fans, but also all movie fans in general. Marvel continues to bring on the hits with its latest superhero film.

Here are five questions for “Ant-Man.”

What’s it about?

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a good guy with a bad past. Just released from prison for a modern Robin Hood type crime, he’s looking for a fresh start to life, including getting close to his young daughter. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is a brilliant scientist who invented a formula with the ability to shrink human atoms to create powerful, tiny soldiers. When his former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) steals his technology to create his own super suit, Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) recruit Scott to don his old suit to prevent Cross from selling his formula to the bad guys.

How’s the casting?

Spot on. Rudd is the perfect choice to play Scott Lang with his affable, likable personality who can get away with sarcastic jabs with a mere wink and a nudge. Honestly, how can you not love this guy? Douglas is also perfect as his mentor and the original Ant-Man. Father time has not had any affect on his natural charisma and screen presence, and it’s scary how he more and more resembles his late father Kirk. Lilly proves that she’s grown since her days on TV’s “Lost.” And you want laughs? Michael Pena delivers them in every scene he’s in.

antman1So it’s a funny film?

Surprisingly, it’s one of the funniest films of the year. “Ant-Man” doesn’t take itself too seriously and is one of the most fun Marvel films yet. If you take the origin story of “Iron Man” and mash it with the tone of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” that’s “Ant-Man.”

How’s the action?

Awesome. I loved watching Ant-Man switching back and forth between small and big and the scenes where he’s tiny are wonderfully done. We’ve come a long way from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Director Peyton Reed does an amazing job of balancing the scope of the action onscreen, showing close-ups of the action when Ant-Man is tiny, then pulling back to wider shots to accurately establish the scale of what’s going on.

antman2Is there a set up for future films?

You bet. After all, Ant-Man is now a part of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). There’s a great sequence where Ant-Man battles an Avenger that leads into the post credits scene. And yes, there are both a mid credits and post credits scenes. I can’t wait to see Ant-Man join forces with other Avengers in the upcoming Civil War storyline. His sense of humor would be a great contrast to someone like the stoic Thor. Hey, maybe he can ride on Thor’s hammer!

I was skeptical when Marvel first announced it would be introducing Ant-Man into the MCU but now he’s one of my favorite characters and I want more. Now.

 

Guide to Saturday’s Korean Festival

I’m on the board of the Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce, which is putting on Saturday’s Korean Festival at Magic Island, so I may be a bit biased when I say it’s one of the most fun festivals of the year. But seriously, with more than 30,000 people expected to show up, K Fest has definitely become a hot-ticket item. And the best part? It’s free!

What are some of the highlights? Here are my insider tips.

Jajangmyeon eating contest (자장면 먹기 대회)

2 p.m.

The kimchi eating contest (1:30 p.m.) has always been one of the main highlights. In the early years, the winner walked away with a pack of Rolaids and a burning tongue (prizes have gotten better). This year there’ll also be a jajangmyeon eating contest. What’s jajangmyeon, you ask? If you’ve ever seen a K-drama, it’s that black saucy noodle dish that looks so enticingly good when the actors slurp it up. So simple, yet so mashiso! This contest is sure to be as messy as it will be fun.

jajangmyeon

Food (음식)

All day

Korean food is killer, and I’m not just talking in terms of heat. A record number of food booths will be on hand Saturday to satisfy all of your hunger needs. You’ll see traditional local favorites such as kalbi, meat juhn and mandoo, but don’t be afraid to try other treats such as ddukboki (spicy rice cakes). Oh, and if you haven’t had a chance to try the hottest new Korean fried chicken in Honolulu, Von’s Chicken will be frying up its top seller.

FullSizeRender-7• Snow Factory
• Ebenezer
• Corny Cones
• Popcorn Express
• Island Maid
• Milk Tea
• Megaload Burgers
• Little Seoul
• CMS Korean snack foods
• HCC Korean plate
chicken• Yi Shave Ice
• Hawaiian Roasted Corn/Blazin Steaks
• Von’s Chicken
• HKCC pojanmatcha
• My Bento
• Kimukatsu
• Hau Nani Shave Ice
• Waikiki Resort Hotel/Seoul Jung
• L&L Drive In

Taekwondo (태권도)

1:00, 3:30 p.m.

I’m a huge martial arts fan and as a former taekwondo student myself, I always look forward to the taekwondo exhibitions. Each year, the Taekwondo Center Honolulu and the US Taekwondo Center put on amazing displays of aerial artistry and powerful board breaking. You don’t want to miss them in action, especially the talented kids!

Cultural Exhibition (문화 전시회)

Lots of attention will be focused on the food and entertainment on stage but be sure to spend some time in the Korean Cultural Exhibition tent as well. You can check out traditional Korean costumes, calligraphy and other exhibits. There will also be lots of interactive activities for the keiki. It’s well worth your time to drop in and learn more about Korea.

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K-Pop

10:40 a.m. and from 7 p.m. on

What’s a Korean Festival without K-pop? Be sure to check out the evening entertainment where there will be a K-pop dance festival on the main stage starting at 7 p.m. Local dancers and K-pop enthusiasts will perform top hits from the ’90s, 2000s and now. I’m hoping to see some performances set to my personal favorite ’90s K-pop group – Fin.K.L!

For more information on the 14th Annual Korean Festival, check out their website at www.koreanfestivalhi.com.

Korean Festival 2015
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Magic Island