Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Harold Ramis.

Harold Allen Ramis, November 21, 1944 – February 24, 2014. Goodbye Dr. Egon Spengler.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Hot Toys MMS 221 - Alien vs Predator : Celtic Predator.

At the height of the Alien vs Predator madness, Hot Toys made the right business decision to obtain licensing on all Aliens and Predators related movie releases. My favourite remains the original one from John McTiernan's 1987 version by the late Stan Winston. Like Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien, and James Cameron's 1984 The Terminator (ok, perhaps an exception to his 1991 sequel, whom also turned Alien 1986 sequel into an action movie, darn it), I personally see both movies stories ended with the original storyline. If the original's good enough, and the sequels subsequently diluted the idea, I would hate it. Most sequels thus far did not live up to the expectation, only to befuddled the original's essence further. And then there's the crossover universe stories, started and popularised by Dark Horse Comics in the 80s, and turned into movies adaptation. Alien vs. Predator. Alien vs. Predator vs. Terminator vs. Robocop vs. Rambo vs. Conan. Just kidding.  Anyway, there is one particular Predator which stands out in terms of design for me, the so-called Celtic Predator from 2004's AvP (the other being Machiko the human hybrid Predator. C'mon HT, do it already!). Secondary market prices soared ridiculously for all Predator figures then, and now, years later, with Hot Toys steadily revisiting and re-release older figures and updated them accordingly, I manage to PO one at a nevertheless, higher RRP. The figure is taller than the original Predator released, and the helmet, through an ingenious design, fit more logically instead of the "big head" syndrome. There are two options of helmet, the "damaged one" and vice versa. The weapons also come with metal now instead of plastic as previous releases. I am now contemplating whether to get the "Classic" Predator from 2010's Predators and swap the gears with the original one, which now looks, admittedly, dated. I have a hard time posing and making the figure stand properly, perhaps due to the weight.  It unfortunately committed the much feared "shelf dive" the next day, resulting in two broken toes. And after the issue with Briareos of Appleseed's figure of which after couple of years the knee joint sudden gave out, I am pretty cautious of display these large figures (as well as  rubbers which tend to deteriorate/decompose over the years). Now, I hope HT would consider to re-release Major Dutch (which has that problematic rubber body) and T-800 endoskeleton, with the recent announcement of The Terminator's re-release of T-800 battle damage version aka the "police station shootout version".  

Hot Toys MMS 210 - The Crow : Eric Draven.



"Just paint your face" the shadows smile
Slipping me away from you
"Oh it doesn't matter how you hide
Find you if we're wanting to
So slide back down and close your eyes
Sleep a while
You must be tired..."
But every night I burn
Every night I call your name
Every night I burn
Every night I fall again
Every night I burn
Scream the animal scream
Every night I burn
Dream the crow black dream
- The Cure, Burn.

People once believed that, when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.
- Sarah.

A building gets torched; all that is left is ashes. I used to think that was true about everything: families, friends, feelings... But now I know that sometimes, if love proves real, two people who are meant to be together — nothing can keep them apart.
- Sarah.

Victims; aren't we all...
- Eric Draven to Tin Tin.

Tell them death is coming for them tonight. Tell them Eric Draven sends his regards.
- Eric Draven to Gideon.

He was already dead. He died a year ago, the moment he touched her. They're all dead. They just don't know it yet.
- Eric Draven to Albrecht.

Take your shot, Funboy, you got me, dead bang.
- Eric Draven to Funboy.

Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children. Do you understand? Morphine is bad for you. Your daughter is out there on the streets, waiting for you.
- Eric Draven to Darla.

Little things used to mean so much to Shelly. I used to think they were kind of... trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.
- Eric Draven to Albrecht.

It can't rain all the time.
- Eric Draven to Sarah.

I know you. I know you. I knew I knew you. I knew I knew you, but you ain't you. You can't be you, we put you through the window. There ain't no comin' back. This is the really real world, there ain't no comin' back. We killed you dead, there ain't no comin' back! There ain't no comin' back! There ain't no comin' back! Abashed the Devil stood; and felt how awful Goodness is. And felt how awful Goodness is...
- T-Bird to Eric Draven.

Guess it's not a good day to be a bad guy, huh, Skank?
- Eric Draven to Skank.

I have something to give to you. I don't want it anymore. Thirty hours of pain. All at once. All for you!
- Eric Draven to Top Dollar.

If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.
- Sarah.

A (mis) interpretation:

October 30th, 1993. Detroit, Michigan. "Devil's Night". 143 fires raged across the city, lighting up the night sky like hellfire. Downtown at a loft, Sergeant Albrecht was at a crime scene. A couple had been attacked at their home. Shelly Webster, had been viciously assaulted and raped. She was barely conscious. Her fiancé, Eric Draven, lead singer and guitarist of the Goth band, Hangman's Joke, was brutally killed. He had been paralysed with a stab in the spine, shot six times at point blank - five onto the chest, one in the head - and thrown out through the loft's window six stories down onto the pavement below. Shelly and Eric were to get married on Halloween. As Albrecht was about to accompany a critically injured Shelly to the hospital, he was approached by a skateboarding girl of twelve, Sarah. Albrecht learnt that Shelly and Eric had cared for Sarah, whose mother, Darla was a drug addict and negligent. Albrecht lied to Sarah, saying that Shelly's going to be fine. Sarah knew better and cried. With Albrecht by her side, Shelly died after 30 hours of sufferance from the wounds inflicted upon her.
Albrecht investigated the case. Petition papers were found protesting the demolition of the apartment building and tenants re-location programme. The building was located within a newly designated urban development zone. Albrecht suspected that the murder case was an attempt to stop Shelly and Eric from sending in the tenants petition to the mayor. Property developers, corrupted city officials, and a powerful organised crime lord, Top Dollar, were on his list of suspects. He was suspended and later demoted to a beat cop for asking too many questions. It also cost him his marriage. Sarah became withdrawn and mixed with the wrong crowds of fellow delinquents on the streets, participating in acts of vandalism and petty crimes. The emotional vacuum left by the death of Shelly and Eric caused her to spiral into deep depression with increasing cynical view on life.

Part One: Angel of Death.
One year later. Sarah visited Shelly and Eric's graves. She put flowers she collected from others at the cemetery. A mysterious crow appeared from nowhere and began staring at Sarah. She was unperturbed and skated away. The crow began pecking at Eric Draven's headstone. A chip of granite came off. The beak bled and a drop of blood began to flow across the headstone. It filled Eric Draven engraved name and continued onto the earth. Strong winds, rumbling thunders and crackling lightning illuminating the darkened sky. Rains began to pour with intensity. A lightning struck upon Eric's grave. A silhouette appeared behind the headstone. It was Eric Draven, clad in the cerements, caked with earth. The rains washed away the dirt. Eric fell down on his knees, trembling and convulsing. The crow cawed at him, and Eric stared at it confusingly. The crow goaded him along. Eric somewhat understood and were led across the city through the alleyways. Along the way, Eric retrieved a pair of discarded combat boots in a dumpster. The crow led Eric into a derelict, abandoned building, up the staircase, towards the loft. Police barrier tapes whisp about the loft's door. The moment Eric's foot stepped into the apartment, flashbacks of past memories and experiences flooded his mind. Eric was overwhelmed with emotional terror. He cried and curled up into a fetal position on the floor. The crow cawed. Eric began to understand why he returned from the realm of the dead and walked on the land of the living. Anger took over as flashbacks continued. Like a tape playing over and over, Eric saw Shelly's violation and assault at the hands of the four thugs. The gangs made him watched before killing him. He went berserk and suicidal. Eric smashed everything in the loft, including swinging out the window he was thrown out of, piercing his hands on the remaining shards of glass. He punched through the masonry wall, knuckles broken, the ulna bone jutting out. Eric saw his wounds regenerate and close, realised he was immune to physical harm. He punched Shelly's vanity mirror upon seeing his own reflection. In the distorted kaleidoscope view of the shattered mirror, Eric saw Death.  And Death he shall become. Eric discarded his burial clothes. He put on a black sweater, leather pants, and applied chalk white paint onto his face, decorating his eyes and lips with black scar-like slashes, based on the porcelain harlequin mask hanging at the side of the vanity mirror. A lightning illuminated Eric's ghostly, painted face as he stared through the broken window out onto the city itself with white heated vengeance. He got 24 hours to kill those bastards responsible.

Part Two: Retribution.
The rains slowed to a drizzle. The crow took flight. It scoured the city for the four thugs responsible for  the crime. They were having a little celebration at a sleazy bar, The Pit. They had bombed an arcade centre earlier. The arcade's female manager was tied up and raped, then left to die by a slash across her neck. She staggered out before the explosion and stumbled upon Eric. He absorbed her memories and mourned her lost. Led by T-Bird, the other three were Tin Tin, Skank and Funboy. All working for Top Dollar, the most powerful crime lord in the city. All with jolly good pirate names.
The pager beeped and Tin Tin left. Tin Tin was a vicious thug whom was very skilled in using throwing knives and stabbing weapons. Eric was crouching on a building rooftop like hunter ready to kill his prey. Through the crow's eyes, he saw Tin Tin. He immediately took off, jumping, somersaulting, and clearing impossible gaps between buildings with supernatural strength, speed and dexterity. Tin Tin dropped by a pawnshop owned by a fence, Gideon. He pawned off a leather purse and ring of a woman he had robbed and murdered earlier. He proceed to a warehouse hidden within a maze of alleyways, unaware of Eric's presence. A drug deal. Tin Tin double crossed both men and stabbed them to death. Got both money and drug. He lit up a smoke from the fire in a trashcan. He heard an eerie laughter echoing across the place. Tin Tin saw a figure free falling six stories from a building roof directly onto the ground, breaking the trashcan into half, before rising up nonchalantly. The stranger began to approach Tin Tin with predatory movement. Tin Tin instinctively drew out a blade from his bandalero of knives across his vest. Tin Tin licked the blade and lunged toward Eric, engaged in a hand to hand fight. Tin Tin slashed and stabbed Eric's vital points in quick succession. Eric stood on his ground and dropped Tin Tin onto the ground with a single punch. He asked a dazedTin Tin about the murders he committed. The contact caused Eric to staggered momentarily from the flashbacks of what Tin Tin had done to Shelly and himself. Tin Tin regained focus and seized the opportunity to bludgeon Eric with a lead pipe several times. As Eric seemed unconscious, Tin Tin took off his leather trench coat with such bravado and confidence, drawing out his knives and blades, aiming them at Eric. The crow cawed at Eric to stop playing and get serious. Tin Tin threw his blades with deadly precision. Eric slapped away each incoming knives while walking ever closer to Tin Tin, taunting him to try harder. Tin Tin, insulted and perplexed, threw his last knife with all his effort. Eric grasped it with one hand an inch away from his eye. He threw it back at Tin Tin with a lightning speed, impaling through his right shoulder, with enough force to nail Tin Tin onto one of the wooden grates. Tin Tin, shrieking in pain, tried to free himself before Eric broke both his arms and legs in several places. Tin Tin's scream echoes across the dark, empty alley. Eric asked Tin Tin if he remembered him. He also asked for the location of Shelly's engagement ring. Tin Tin initially couldn't comprehend what this man in white painted face was asking but finally recognised him. Tin Tin panicked and deliriously said he had seen him killed. Eric slapped Tin Tin across his face, asking him to focus. Tin Tin confided in Eric that Shelly's ring had been pawned to Gideon a year before. Eric then picked up all the blades and knives. Tin Tin pleaded to Eric to let him off alive but he knew what was coming. He watched helplessly, cried and whimpered like a baby as Eric began to slowly stab and twisted each knife one at a time into his major internal organs according to the alphabetical order. Knives which Eric could feel that had taken countless innocent lives. As Tin Tin gave out his last breath, Eric took his trench leather coat. He used Tin Tin's bloods to paint a symbol of a crow on the side wall of the warehouse. Police officers arrived, including Albrecht. One officer threw up at the sight of Tin Tin's mutilated corpse.
Eric proceed to Gideon's pawn shop. Gideon was watching child porn and masturbating. Eric forced his way into the shop and demanded to see a particular gold ring. Gideon shot Eric in the chest with his revolver. Gideon was shocked and frightened when the wound healed. Eric knocked off the revolver and kicked Gideon squarely onto his beer belly. He then impaled Gideon's right hand onto the counter using one of Tin Tin's knife. Eric forced Gideon to return the ring and interrogated him about Tin-Tin's associates. Gideon told him that all the rings were contained in a box behind and the gangs hang out at a bar called The Pit with Funboy living upstairs. Through psychometry, Eric located Shelly's ring and overwhelmed with flashbacks and memories. He started throwing the numerous rings at Gideon, telling him that each one was a life that he helped destroy. Gideon pled for his life. Eric allowed him to live to deliver a warning to the rest of the gang. Eric saw a black Fender Strat on his way out and took it. Eric emptied a gasoline can. He then blown up the shop by firing a shotgun loaded with stolen rings into the puddle of spilled gasoline as he left. Gideon barely survive, with his left arm severely burnt. He quickly made his way to Top Dollar's lair, Trash Palace.
Officer Albrecht was having a quick bite at Maxi-Dogs open roadside fast food joint with Sarah. Both had developed a friendship a year prior. He then heard the explosion. Arriving at the scene, Albrecht saw a painted faced man cladded in leather strumming a guitar sitting on a curb. The man spoke in riddle and hinted that he killed Tin Tin. Albrecht had him at gunpoint but a second minor explosion occurred. An injured looter screamed in pain as he burnt, distracting Albrecht. He turned to see the man, whom had disappeared. He began to have goose bumps as police sirens approached.
An injured Gideon agitatedly confided in Top Dollar what had transpired. The sociopath crime lord, together with his equally sick step sister, Myca, listened intently and ordered his bodyguard and right hand man, an ex Special Force and mercenary, Grange to investigate. Gideon demanded compensation for his lost. Top Dollar smiled and agreed. He took a rapier chose from his large personal collections of exotic swords and blades from throughout the centuries kept in a massive vault and stabbed Gideon's eye with it as compensation for his lost. Myca gouged out a twitching Gideon's remaining eye and began some form of dark art ceremonial process. Top Dollar and his stepsister had been engaging in occultism since young and engaged in an incestuous relationship. He had consolidated all the gangs and crime families in the city. Nothing go ahead without his approval and knowledge. As Gideon's eye sizzled on an ornate goblet, Top Dollar inhaled the smokes and snorted on a mountain of cocaine served on a silver tray, while Grange ordered several men to dispose Gideon's body.
Funboy was a hardcore drug addict who rented a room above The Pit. After sex with Darla, they were busy shooting morphine, unaware of Eric and the crow's presence in his room. Eric alerted Funboy and Darla by sliding his fingers along the Fender Strat, loudly quoting a passage from Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Funboy produced a .44 Mag, and ordered Eric to leave at gunpoint. Eric proceed to press his head at the gun barrel and dared Funboy. He opened fire. Eric's head recoiled violently from the shot. Funboy laughed triumphantly. Eric then rose up, face half blown off but healed instantaneously. Funboy, half alert, shocked and delirious with drugs, fired more bullets from the hand cannon into Eric. Each shot galvanised Eric's painful memories. Each entry and exit wounds closed spontaneously. The surreal event unfolding before Darla was enough to caused her to snap out of the drug high. She staggered into the bathroom, locking herself inside, trembling with fear. Eric began to taunt Funboy, and under drug induced mania, caused Funboy to attack Eric. He angrily pistol whipped Eric's head. As Eric seemed unconscious on the floor, Funboy grabbed bullets from a drawer and reloaded the gun. Suddenly Eric grabbed Funboy's gun holding hand and squeezed, crushed it into pulp, bloods and jutting pieces of bones mixed together on the handle of the Mag. He then twisted a screaming Funboy's wrist around, fired a bullet into Funboy's thigh. Funboy passed out from the pains. Eric dragged him by one ankle and kicked open the bathroom door. Darla was hysterical and slashed at Eric using a razor. Eric grabbed Darla's arm and supernaturally forced out all the morphine in her body through the track marks. He sincerely requested Darla to start living normally and look after Sarah. Darla hurriedly left the room, screaming for her life. Eric put Funboy in a cold shower, awakening him. Eric placed his palm over Funboy's face and flashbacks shown what Funboy did to Shelly and him. The crow cawed and dove to snatch a roach scurrying across the floor. Funboy regained conscious and immediately grabbed the razor on the floor, slashing repeatedly at Eric. Eric knocked Funboy half unconscious with a severe slap across his face. Seeing a large pile of morphine, Eric filled up several syringes with it. He stabbed all the syringes and pumped in the content directly into Funboy's heart. Eric then broke Funboy's jaw, and cut off his genital with the razor, forcing it into his gapping, frothing mouth as he convulsed violently from overdose. Tears were streaming from his eyes. Eric was bleeding from the slash wounds. The crow cawed, and Eric understood that using his powers on Darla had temporarily made him vulnerable.
Grange arrived at The Pit, and saw Darla in time running down the stairs and exited the bar in panic motion. He quickly ran upstairs. Through a small opening of the front door, Grange saw a man cladded in leather trench coat with a guitar and a crow at the window ledge. Before Grange could react, the man jumped. Grange rushed to the window and saw no one, nothing. The heavily built killer was perplexed. There were no safety ledges nor ladders outside. Grange looked at Funboy's body and began to feel a chill across his spine, a sensation long forgotten. Written on the wall above the bed in Funboy's blood were "I KNOW WHY JESUS WEPT MOTHERF***ERS".

Part Three: Irony.
Albrecht secretly asked a fellow colleague to help him retrieve the closed case file of Shelly Webster and Eric Draven. Back at his apartment, Albrecht began to look through the documents and pictures. He unconsciously used a marker pen and drew patterns around Eric Draven's face from the Hangman's Joke band photo. Suddenly he felt a cold chill behind him and turning around, shockingly saw the man he confronted earlier at Gideon's burnt down pawn shop. Albrecht instinctively knew that it was Eric Draven. Shocked, Albrecht whom realised Eric was neither dead nor alive. After a short conversation and gained his trust, Albrecht shared the details of his investigation to Eric. Eric broke down. He told Albrecht that T-Bird and Skank, would be dead at his hands by midnight. Eric then respectfully asked Albrecht to allow him to place his palm on his face. Albrecht agreed, and flashbacks shown the 30 hours of sufferance Shelly underwent before dying. The pain was too much for Eric who screamed and convulsed. When Eric finally took hold of himself, he said it was time to leave and thanked Albrecht for keeping the memories alive. He grabbed an electrical duct tape and covered Funboy's razor slash wounds over his torso and both palms. On his way out, Eric caused Albrecht to cough out black phlegm to clear his lungs, saying that his chain smoking would eventually kill him.
As dawn approached, on his way back to the loft, Eric saw Sarah and saved her from nearly being hit by a car. Sarah felt a closeness with the eerily painted faced man but before she could say anything, the man had disappeared.
At the loft, Eric recalled with intense emotional pain on the memories and experiences he shared with Shelly. Eric had taken a stray, female cat with him. Shelly had always wanted a cat. He started playing the guitar intensely, later smashing it to pieces. Eric heard footsteps and hid himself. It was Sarah. She was surprised at the conditions of the apartment whom she had kept clean in memories of Shelly and Eric. Sarah saw the cat and started speaking to it about her depression and suicidal thought. As she was leaving, Eric emerged and they both hugged and spoke. Eric explained about his temporary existence.  Eric told Sarah that Darla had changed, their mother-daughter relationship would be repaired, and asked her to cherish and live a good life. He also requested Sarah to take care of the cat, which was pregnant.
Part Four: Vengeance and Fear.
T-Bird was the leader of the crew of four. He was a pyromaniac, specialist in making explosives and loved it. T-Bird used to brag that he was responsible for the Lake Erie fire. He worked for Top Dollar, and was very eager to please the crime lord. He made sure every orders and instructions were carried out as effectively and efficient as possible. T-Bird knew Tin Tin, Funboy and particularly Skank's were no more than sociopathic murderous clowns but they listened to him and this loyalty can't be bought. There was a meeting scheduled that night. All the leaders and members of various gangs would congregate at Trash Palace for "Devil's Night". T-Bird knew about Tin Tin's death of which he associated it with a gang hit. He and Skank were waiting for Funboy when his patience ran out and both left for Top Dollar's place. On the way, T-Bird instructed Skank to get some smokes and beers at a convenient store. Alone in his soup-up Ford Thunderbird, Eric surprised him in the back seat, and forced him to start driving. Skank saw in time as T-Bird took off with a painted faced stranger. He went after them but was hit by a Yugo and knocked unconscious. At a pier, Eric interrogated T-Bird, whom finally realised who Eric was and began to panic. Eric touched him and flashbacks occurred. He tied T-Bird up, put a tyre on him and doused it with gasoline. He knew what Eric had in his mind - necklacing, the brutal, vigilante public execution used widely by the anti-apartheid movement and partisans. T-Bird cried, piss warming his pants, and plead for his life. He recalled a line from John Milton's Paradise Lost which he had mockingly read while they were assaulting Shelly. T-Bird began to hysterically read out the line repeatedly in fear. Eric lighted up T-Bird's Zippo and staring at him momentarily, threw the lighter at him. T-Bird went up in flames, screaming and rolling in burning pain for at least 20 minutes. Popping up the boots of the car, Eric saw with disgust the numerous paraphilia of explosive devices. He rigged it and blown the car sky high.
Skank arrived in time to see the burning car, the smell of burnt flesh and rubber, and the charred body of an unrecognisable T-Bird. He then seen him, faced painted white as a ghost. The man pointed at Skank and smiled. Skank had regained conscious from the accident earlier, killed the enraged driver with his gun and took his car earlier. Hobbling from a broken leg, Skank drove towards Trash Palace.
As an industrial rock band was playing at the decadent club below, Top Dollar was preparing for the big meeting. Grange had informed him about what he saw at Funboy's room. Myca advised him to prepare for Eric. Both of them wanted Eric Draven's supernatural power, knew the importance of the crow which was the link for Eric's existence. Skank arrived. Top Dollar immediately seized the opportunity to use him to lure Eric directly into his hand.
The meeting commenced with Top Dollar giving a big speech. Eric and the crow lurched outside. He listened to the crime lord's ranting as much as he could stomach it, bristling with anger. Skank was there. Eric decided he have had enough and entered the hall, ordering Top Dollar to surrender Skank to him. Top Dollar laughed at the Eric's demand. With a snap of finger, all the gang members unleashed a hail of bullets directly at Eric. He recoiled as leads entered his face and body. He dropped down with a loud thud, ridden with countless bullet wounds, almost unrecognisable. Myca attempted to catch the crow which flew off and cawed furiously. Top Dollar was disappointed. For a supposedly indestructible vigilante, Eric died pretty quickly. Eric fulfilled Top Dollar's expectation nonetheless. With a lightning quick speed, shadowy in movement, Eric rose up and rampaged with unbridled furiousness, killing anything that move. With a single stroke, all major gangs in the city were literally wiped out. Dismembered, broken and torn, bullet riddled bodies were strewn everywhere. It was a bloodbath and massacre. A one sided battle. The white lights bathed the hall in red as flickering fluorescent light tubes were splashed and awash with bloods and gore. Top Dollar and Myca escaped, with Grange through an exit door before Eric jammed it shut with a twisted, broken body of a thug. A quivering Skank hid himself amongst the mangled bodies. After a moment of silence, the speed freak crept towards the emergency exit without realising it had been tightly shut by a rammed through body. He was so eager to escape that he didn't even feel it when Eric severed Skank's legs at the knees with a katana sword. Eric dragged him screaming across the hall. He raised Skank up, flashbacks occurred. Enraged, Eric held Skank on the floor by the head as he begged for mercy. He slowly twisted Skank's neck, spine snapping. But he stopped before Skank's spine severed completely. Eric then swung him across the hall, Skank's half broken neck lolling like a doll, and crashed through the heavy industrial window, diving head first onto an arriving police car. Skank hit the vehicle in such an angle that it severed his head which embedded deep into his own chest. Eric threw away the katana in disgust, as he had a vision of hundreds of screaming Chinese decapitated at the hand of a gloating WW2 Imperial Japanese soldier amongst ruins of a burning city.
Police cars arrived with helicopters overhead and SWATs. Searchlights and sirens everywhere. Eric dodged the trigger happy police force with supernatural speed and dexterity. Albrecht, whom had been suspended from the force for stealing the case file, arrived with a car, helped Eric escaped to the cemetery.  

Part Five: One Last Dance.
Having completed his purpose in the land of the living, Eric bid Albrecht farewell. At his grave, Sarah was waiting for him. Eric said it time for him to leave as Sarah cried. Eric gave her Shelly's ring tied around a necklace as a gift and remembrance of their times together. Sarah said goodbye and left. Eric's energy was slowly ebbing away and rested against his own headstone. Suddenly he saw through the crow's eyes that Sarah had been abducted by a large man into a nearby ruin of a church. He staggered and mustered up all his strength toward the church. The crow cawed angrily at Eric, reminding him about not to meddle with the affairs of the living or he would lose his powers as well as time to leave. Eric ignored it. He walked into an ambush setup by Top Dollar and Myca. Eric demanded they released Sarah. Top Dollar feigned fear and walking towards Eric, he pulled out a sabre. Top Dollar stabbed Eric through the stomach, deep to the hilt, lifting him up. Eric gurgled and fell as Top Dollar pulled out the sword. To his surprise, Eric began to bleed profusely and the wound didn't heal. Meanwhile, Myca succeed in shooting the crow mid-flight and captured the injured bird. As Top Dollar about to shoot Eric in the head, Albrecht appeared and a shootout occurred. Albrecht had intended to pay his final respect to Eric at the church. Albrecht was shot in the stomach by Grange. Top Dollar and Myca, under firing cover from Grange, moved up to the bell tower, with Sarah and the crow. Albrecht shouted to Eric to go after them. Eric, staggered due to blood lost, immediately proceed after the crime lord and his sister. Albrecht ran out of bullets and so was Grange. The mercenary bodyguard sneaked up on Albrecht. Well trained in martial art, Grange easily overpowered Albrecht, delivering severe bone breaking punches onto him. Mocking him, Grange choked the injured Albrecht. Albrecht wanted exactly that. He pulled out a hidden pistol and emptied its bullets into Grange point blank on the head and throat. Albrecht tried to move but was too injured. Eric went up the bell tower to rescue Sarah. Midway, he was shot at by a hiding Myca. Suddenly, the injured crow began to peck furiously at Myca's face. Her face was riddled with torn out flesh. Both her eyes were gouged out. She screamed and cursed, lost her balance and fell. Myca held onto a large church bell rope. The rope, weakened by last year fire, snapped. Myca fell along with the bell through several floors to the bottom. Her body was crushed into half by the weight of the church bell. Eric confronted Top Dollar, who was holding Sarah hostage, on the church's rooftop. A storm was brewing, thunders rumbled, lightning crackling. Rains were pouring intensely. Top Dollar threw Sarah down. She slid and held onto the edge of the roof, hanging precariously. Shelly's engagement ring fell off into the watery darkness. Eric and Top Dollar engaged in a hand to hand combat. Eric pulled off a lightning rod and used it to counter Top Dollar's sabre. The crime lord overwhelmed and overpowered the weakening Eric, his attention further distracted by his concern for Sarah's safety. Top Dollar delivered a fatal stab through Eric's heart, incapacitating him. Top Dollar chided Eric and mocked him for his misplaced sense of righteousness. He shared that it was him whom ordered T-Bird and his gang to teach Shelly and Eric a lesson and used them to serve as an example to the other tenants. Sarcastically, Top Dollar said if there were any consolation to Eric's foolish bravery to take him on, even from beyond the grave, he appreciated Eric for managing to put the fun back into his life. Top Dollar then pulled out an exotic looking ornate curved blade to cut out Eric's eyes in order to gain his power. Eric began to weaken further as more bloods poured out from both wounds. With a supreme final effort, Eric summoned all his remaining strength and reached out towards Top Dollar, palms planted firmly onto his face. Eric unloaded the cognitive experiences of Shelly's 30 hours of intense suffering he had earlier obtained from Albrecht into Top Dollar all at once. The surprised crime lord tried to pry off Eric's grip but his strength began to ebb away quickly. He began to convulse violently, screaming with unbridled mental and emotional pain, as Top Dollar was overwhelmed with sensory overload. Although it lasted no more than 10 seconds, Top Dollar's mental state lived through Shelly's entire 30 hours of traumatic sufferance, effectively destroyed his mind. He lost balance and slid down on the rain slick roof, fell onto a gargoyle statue, impaled on its horns. Top Dollar was still conscious. Bloods poured out profusely through all his body orifice, broken body twitching, gurgling and vomiting bloods as internal haemorrhaging took place. His shattered mind kept reliving the traumatic incident endlessly until his body went into shock and shut down toward darkness. Eric saved Sarah in time, and asked her to stay with Albrecht until help arrived. Together with the injured crow, he staggered toward the cemetery. Lying down on the earth of grave, Eric saw a vision of Shelly before succumbing to his injuries. He could now finally rest and die in peace.
Police officers swarmed the entire church area. Albrecht, on his way to the hospital on a stretcher, reported that, based on an informant feedback, he went to the church and stumbled upon the vigilante whom had attacked a few gang members abducting a child. An ensuing fire fight resulted in their death. Sarah visited Eric and Shelly's graves. A crow cawed at her and left Shelly's engagement ring on Eric's headstone. Sarah took it and left, knowing that justice had been served. The crow then flew off.

Ten years later. Sarah looks at the cooing babies. She has twins, a son and a daughter, whom she named Eric and Shelly. The father to her twins left Sarah but as a single mother, she is coping fine. Darla quits her job at the fast food chain to look after her grandchildren. Although occasionally struggled financially, they are at least happy with their lives. Albrecht has become a celebrated hero for his supposed actions at the church. He is now a captain. Former corrupted officers have resigned or terminated in subsequent internal affairs investigations. Albrecht also went after the public servants and businessmen involved in the urban development plan scheme upon obtaining damning evidences from secret files kept by the late Top Dollar in his vault. He remarried and has one child. Albrecht remains a close friend with Sarah, and is godfather to both her twins. Thousands of miles away, in Hong Kong, at a memorial park, a night watchman is listening to his radio of which the weather report forecasts a storm that night. A mysterious crow appears amongst the hall which are lined with hundreds of urns containing the ashes of the departed. It pecks at an enclosed marble, within which is the urn containing the ashes of the late Detective Mark Leung. A lightning crackles, thunder rumbles and rains start pouring. A storm is indeed coming.


The Crow is Alex Proyas 1994 film adaptation of  James O' Barr's 1989 comic book of the same name, starring the late Brandon Lee as the lead character, whom was tragically, accidentally killed during filming. A tale of revenge, it remained one of my favourite films of all time. I told David of xl-shop that I waited 20 years for a 1/6th scale version of the dead avenger. The younger generation would not have known about this cult hit. Hot Toys surprised me with announcement of this release. Comes with the crow, guitar and since this is the so-called special version, has additional accessory in the form of the lightning rod used by Eric Draven during the climatic fight against Top Dollar in the final scene. Everything was captured as accurate as possible to the real deal, including the headsculpt, but not 100% of course. The molded boots are good but not great as I hate that "cow-tongue" shoe tongue mold, as first appeared in HT's Iron Man 2 Whiplash. Also wishes that HT would come with a "serious" face expression instead of the sniggering one.
But at least there is now a 1/6th scale of Eric Draven and I am satisfied. I think I went overboard with the "mis-intepretation" which was derived from The Crow wiki, The Crow's script, drafts by David J. Schow and John Shirley. Now, again, wished someone would come up with a proper Bladerunner's RIck Deckard.

VTS Toys - The Revenger.


Ahh...The Punisher. This time round by VTS/Damtoys, known as "The Revenger". Based on the 2008 Punisher: War Zone movie version, the first was released by Art Figure under the name "Saves". The details on the clothing and weapons are more accurately captured compared to the Art Figure verison but, the figure stands shorter, skinnier and less "solid". As usual, I had a hard time putting the numerous "gears" together. To make matter worse, one of the straps is missing from the box, and forced to get it from eBay to replace it. The head sculpt reminds me of a mix between Ray Stevenson, the actor portrayed the Marvel's iconic vigilante with curiously, a young Steven Seagal. It is improved from the Art Figure version. Another problem I had with this figure is the darn neck peg just couldn't hold the head sculpt tight. Personally, I still prefer overall the Art Figure version because, now how do I put it, has a better pose and silhouette even thought the head sculpt looks dated and like he hasn't gone out of his home for decades. Down the road, I might make a little swap between these two figures, or maybe a separate body for it.

CNY 2014.

With a blink of an eye, 2013 is over and 2014's here. An early CNY. But kind of quieter in terms of the celebration.