Vids I Dig 117: Whang!: Who Did Glass Joe Beat? – Gaming Mysteries

Taken from Justin Whang’s YouTube description: Glass Joe is famous for being a terrible boxer and the first opponent in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! for NES. One of the biggest mysteries around Glass Joe is that despite being an awful boxer, he has one victory on his record. Who could he have possibly beaten?

Film Review: The Wraith (1986)

Also known as: Turbocop (Mexico), Interceptor (Germany)
Release Date: October, 1986 (Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival)
Directed by: Mike Marvin
Written by: Mike Marvin
Music by: Michael Hoenig, J. Peter Robinson
Cast: Charlies Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, Clint Howard, Griffin O’Neal

New Century Entertainment Corporation, Alliance Entertainment, Turbo Productions, 93 Minutes

Review:

“You listen to me, you son-of-a-bitch! There’s a kid out there usin’ his car to kill people, not that it’s such a big deal since it seems to be your gang he’s got it in for… so, if you guys try to take the law into your own hands, and that killer turns up dead, I’m gonna see you all sniffin’ cyanide in the Arizona gas chamber.” – Sheriff Loomis

This is one of those movies that used to come on late at night on cable, usually with an introduction by Joe Bob Briggs via TNT’s MonsterVision. I always got glued to the set whenever it was on though, as there is just something so surreal and bizarre about it.

The plot is basically the same as The Crow, except the dead guy looking for revenge isn’t an invincible goth dude with a pet bird. Instead, he’s Charlie Sheen and he has the ability to turn into a ghost car. But then, that’s kind of confusing because he ends up giving the car to his little brother at the end, as he goes off into the sunset on his motorcycle with Audrey from Twin Peaks.

Anyway, Tucson is overrun by a gang of race car thugs. They bully people into racing them, cheat to win and then take their car. Charlie Sheen in his previous, less dreamy form, was murdered by the gang because he was having sex with Audrey from Twin Peaks, who the gang leader is obsessed over.

Sheen comes back, turns into a ghost car a.k.a. a Dodge M4S Interceptor and kills the gang members, one at a time, in races that end with them usually being blown to bits. Although, their bodies remain intact with their eyes looking like they’ve been burnt out. I guess Ghost Car Charlie sucks their souls out through their eyes or something. Honestly, it’s not really clear.

The film also stars Nick Cassavetes, son of John, as the gang leader, Clint Howard, as a a guy that looks like a ginger Beavis with glasses, and Randy Quaid, as the no nonsense sheriff that ain’t got time for all this supernatural shit. But the sheriff doesn’t really care about solving the case, as the ghost car is killing off the scumbags of Tucson.

I can’t particularly call this a good film and really, it’ll resonate with a certain type of movie fan. Mostly, fans of ’80s schlock with a sci-fi and supernatural bent. Really, this is a common late night cable movie of the late ’80s and ’90s, so if that’s your thing, you should enjoy this.

There’s not much plot to muck up the insanity and surrealness, which in these type of movies is a real plus. We don’t need all this wacky shit explained, just serve it to us in mass amounts and let us feast.

I can’t say that this is a movie that helped anyone’s career but I certainly don’t think that it hurt anyone’s either. It’s a hearty helping of ham with a dopey but fun script, executed as well as it could be with ’80s special effects and a tight budget.

Plus, it’s got a lot of solid car action.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: The Crow, which may have somewhat ripped this story off.

Film Review: The Set-Up (1949)

Also known as: Knock-Out (Denmark, Finland, Sweden)
Release Date: March 29th, 1949 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Robert Wise
Written by: Art Cohn
Based on: a poem by Joseph Moncure March
Music by: C. Bakaleinikoff
Cast: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias

RKO Radio Pictures, 73 Minutes

Review:

“How many times I gotta say it? There’s no percentage in smartenin’ up a chump.” – Tiny

There is one film-noir that keeps coming up in almost every book I’ve read on the subject. Sure, all the really famous ones come up all the time but as far as little known ones that modern audiences have forgotten, this is one that is almost always mentioned and with a lot of adoration by the genre experts.

I finally got around to watching it, after I had tried for a few years but never found it streaming unless I wanted to buy it. You can rent it now on Prime but honestly, after seeing it, I’m probably going to break down and buy it on Blu-ray.

The Set-Up is not only a superb film-noir but it is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest boxing movies ever made.

There really isn’t anything negative to harp on. From the acting, the story, the direction and the cinematography, this is an incredible motion picture that transcends the screen and feels like something real, something lived in and it will connect with anyone who has ever faced adversity when it comes to one’s pride.

Robert Ryan is perfection as an aged boxer, on his last legs but still needing to fight for everything. He’s trapped by circumstance and his lack of being able to do anything other than fighting. While it’s a character trait that is pretty common in boxing stories, Ryan truly makes you believe it in a way no other actor has apart from Sylvester Stallone in Rocky and Robert De Niro in Raging Bull.

This story may also seem all too familiar, as well, in that it is about a boxer told to throw a fight but his pride and his purity won’t allow him to quit just because someone tells him to. It’s admirable and it’s stupid because we all know how these things tend to go. Especially for an honest guy that just wants to get home safely to the love of his life.

Apart from the compelling story, which is really a character study, the film employs some stupendous cinematography and knows how to tell its story visually.

The boxing scenes are well shot, well lit and the action looks authentic. Even the opening credits sequence, which just features the dancing feet of boxers locked in fisticuffs is a thing of absolute cinematic beauty.

What really grabbed my attention the most, however, was the alley scene at the end of the film. The boxer tries to evade the gangsters that mean to do him harm but he gets caught coming out of the back alley behind the arena and is then backed into a corner by several men that are determined to teach him a severe lesson.

This scene is so dynamic due to the high contrast chiaroscuro presentation, as well as its use of silhouettes and textures. Everything looks brooding and ominous, as it should in that moment. The real money shot is when you see Robert Ryan with his back against a closed garage door in one-point perspective. The use of lighting and shadows here is perfection. And it’s the moment when the dread Ryan is experiencing really grabs you.

The Set-Up is such a simple yet rich motion picture. It’s a story we’ve all seen before but from the perspective of visual storytelling, it’s never been done this well.

For film-noir fans that haven’t yet seen this picture, you probably should. It’s a scant 73 minutes but in that short time, it does more than most films double that length.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: The Champion, another film-noir that takes place in the boxing world and came out the same year as this.

Video Game Review: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (NES)

I think that Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is still my favorite sports video game of all-time. Sure, it’s not realistic but it didn’t just give me hours of fun, it gave me decades of fun.

Hell, I still play through the game every couple of months and about a dozen years ago a friend and I made a short film where this game was the centerpiece of the plot.

Someone once asked what my favorite Mario game was and I answered, “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

But let me reel it back in.

This game is one of the greatest time wasters ever invented. That’s not hyperbole, that’s how I really feel.

You see, it’s pretty limited. You just do one thing in the game, you box. However, each boxer you face has a different style and it’s really a game about timing and pattern recognition. Now you may think that’s easy when a boxer you’ve beat shows up a second time but the patterns you familiarized yourself with change and get more difficult later in the game.

The way this was designed was pretty brilliant. It is also addictive as even in 2019, 32 years later, it’s hard to put down once you fire up a game.

I still play through this game in its entirety a few times per year. That’s staying power.

My only real complaint about the game is that Mike Tyson is ungodly hard. Yes, I can beat him on a regular basis but, as a kid, it took me a long ass time to finally take him out. Truthfully, even if you’ve beaten him dozens of times, as I now have, he’s still a beast and one mistake is pretty much your defeat.

A few years later, Mike Tyson got into some trouble, so he was removed from the game and replaced with a fictional boxer named Mr. Dream. Honestly, Mr. Dream was just a whitewashed Mike Tyson. Play both versions of the game and you’ll see what I mean.

In the end, both NES Punch-Out!! games are the same game. Just one has Mike Tyson and the other has whitewashed Mike Tyson.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: all other games in the Punch-Out!! franchise.

Retro Relapse: Le Mans: The Greatest Race in the World

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

Since 1923, one race has stood above all others as the greatest race in the world: The 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It has now gone on for over 90 years and is inching towards that century mark. It is the most important event in motorsports history. It pits the best car manufacturers in the world, head-to-head, to see who is the best between them. It is a dangerous game of impossible odds, cutthroat competition and bragging rights yet it still exudes more class than any other sporting event in the history of the world.

The only thing that even comes close to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is Formula 1. However, Formula 1 doesn’t race for 24 hours straight, through the elements and into the dark of night on poorly lit and often times wet roads. I can’t think of a sport or a single event with such a level of danger, risk and reward. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a showcase of the immortals behind the wheel. Only the best can hack it and only the best of the best can cross the finish line.

I could spend all day pumping this thing up because it is the most amazing thing that I get to witness year in and year out. This race is great for all the reasons I stated above but it doesn’t seem to click with American audiences. I guess watching ugly billboards go round and round in a circle for four hours is more exciting than seeing Ferraris, Porches, Aston Martins, BMWs, Audis, Mercedes and other beautiful cars weaving in and out of other luxury cars, s-curves and sharp turns for 24 hours. Sorry America, I have to side with the rest of the world on this one.

Additionally, Le Mans brings out the prototypes. The best manufacturers and engineers in the world use all their resources and knowledge to create the absolute best machine they can build in order to compete against one another. For more than a decade, Audi has dominated the sport because they have made cars that make supercars looks like ’82 Datsuns. In the past, manufacturers like Porsche and Ferrari dominated the sport. I’d rather see these majestic beasts of the road zipping by than some Chevrolet eyesore trying to sell me penis pills and Pop Tarts. If you don’t feel the same way, you need to really look at yourself in the mirror. To succeed in Le Mans, you have to be able to do a lot more than turn left at high speeds and talk with a twang.

This weekend, the 24 Hours of Le Mans returns. I will be glued to my television set for 24 hours, actually more than that due to all the pre-race and post-race coverage. Yes, I know that Audi will most assuredly win once again but that’s not the point. I didn’t stop watching Formula 1 when Michael Schumacher won five seasons in a row.

The point is, this is a sport for men. The most dangerous and life-threatening sport in the world. It gives us the best drivers in the best machines on the best race track ever created. It gives one more excitement and awe than some Mike’s Hard Lemonade 900 or whatever the next NASCAR race is called.

Steve McQueen, one of the greatest manly men to ever live, made a racing movie about one event, it was the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Hell, the film itself was simply called Le Mans.

Any argument one could have against Le Mans being the most badass sporting event of the year is completely and utterly invalid.

NASCAR can keep Tom Cruise.

Documentary Review: Jack of All Trades (2018)

Release Date: March 3rd, 2018 (Cinequest Festival)
Directed by: Harvey Glazer, Stuart Stone
Written by: Stuart Stone
Music by: John Stuart Newman, Jamie Rise, Stuart Stone
Cast: Stuart Stone, Harvey Glazer, Adam Rodness, Jose Canseco, Karie Stone

5’7 Films, R2-G2, 85 Minutes

Review:

I have loved collecting since I was a little kid in the ’80s buying up sports cards, comics and all sorts of other things. So this documentary about the baseball card hobby was something I wanted to check out.

This is more than that though, as it follows a guy whose love of baseball collecting came from his father. As the story picks up, it has been over twenty-five years since the guy’s father walked out on his family.

Initially, this is about examining the once massive baseball card industry and how all the cards ’80s and ’90s kids saved are pretty much worthless. But by the end, it is about a guy confronting his father and trying to find peace.

Overall, this is a good, engaging documentary. It really delves into baseball card collecting and also has some interviews with people from Topps and Upper Deck, as well as Jose Canseco and a guy with more baseball cards than anyone else in existence.

However, the very human story between the son and his father takes over. But that’s actually what is unique and cool about this film.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries about collecting, hobbies or nerdom.

Video Game Review: WWF King of the Ring (NES)

The original WWF wrestling game for Nintendo was a piece of shit. I mean, it was passable in 1989 when I first played it but it’s a clusterfuck of buggy controls, strange physics and is limited by its roster and only having one match type.

This was the fourth WWF game for NES, after the three Wrestlemania games. This one took the King of the Ring tournament format and brought it into the game.

Now while this is limited by having basic one-on-one or tag team matches, it does boast a bigger roster than the original Wrestlemania game.

However, what makes this much, much better than Wrestlemania is that it is playable!

This game isn’t hard to figure out pretty quickly and you certainly don’t get as frustrated with it as you do the other early WWF titles. Sadly, there isn’t much as far as move sets go. I’m not even sure if you can do finishers. This is basically a button masher and as long as you can adapt to the patterns of the game, it’s really damn easy.

But because of this being a basic bitch of a wrestling game, it gets repetitive fast and after playing through one tournament, there isn’t much else to keep your attention.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other NES wrestling games: Pro Wrestling, Tag Team Wrestling, WCW Wrestling and WWF WrestleMania Challenge.