Friday, May 26, 2017

My blog and it's Facebook page hit 2 milestones




It truly humbles me that this blog and its Facebook Page hit 2 milestones.


My deepest gratitude to you, the readers of this blog and to the Facebook users!! THANK YOU!!!


Here are 2 links that gives you a flavor of this blog ... the "Stickgrappler Experience" if you will:


I've slowed down to a snail's crawl in 2015 and 2016 and my deepest apologies on that. 2017 is picking up steam again though! Please continue to join me in my Sojourn of Septillion Steps!


Here's to the next milestones!  Cheers!


The Universe is speaking to me! Time to reread Trevanian's "Shibumi"!!

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The Universe is speaking to me!

I read Trevanian's "Shibumi" in the early 1980's as a teenager.

Fast forward to October 24, 2014 - Keanu Reeve's "John Wick" showed a guard reading Shibumi.

Fast forward yet again to USA Network's "Shooter" season 1 episode 2 which aired November 22, 2016 and Ryan Phillippe as Bob Lee Swagger, a former Marine sniper, was going through a trunk that belonged to his deceased spotter. Yep! You guessed it ... Swagger came across a copy of Shibumi!

Shibumi tells the story of Nicholai Hel, who is the world’s most wanted man. Born in Shanghai during the chaos of World War I, he is the son of an aristocratic Russian mother and a mysterious German father and is the protégé of a Japanese Go master. Hel survived the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world’s most artful lover and its most accomplished—and well-paid—assassin. Hel is a genius, a mystic, and a master of language and culture, and his secret is his determination to attain a rare kind of personal excellence, a state of effortless perfection known only as shibumi.

Now living in an isolated mountain fortress with his exquisite mistress, Hel is unwillingly drawn back into the life he’d tried to leave behind when a beautiful young stranger arrives at his door, seeking help and refuge. It soon becomes clear that Hel is being tracked by his most sinister enemy—a supermonolith of international espionage known only as the Mother Company. The battle lines are drawn: ruthless power and corruption on one side, and on the other . . . shibumi.


What is the common thread of all 3 stories? The world's best assassin tries to leave his former life but is dragged back in and is now the world's most wanted man.

Time to reread Shibumi :)

The Universe is speaking to me!




Cross-posted with this site's Facebook page:



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chow Yun-fat - Hard Boiled - 辣手神探 (1992) (Full movie)

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Posting Hard Boiled movie in honor of Chow Yun-fat's 62nd birthday!

Enjoy!!



Synopsis
Hard Boiled (Chinese: 辣手神探; pinyin: Làshǒu shéntàn) is a 1992 Hong Kong action film directed by John Woo. The film stars Chow Yun-fat as Inspector "Tequila" Yuen, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Tony, an undercover cop, and Anthony Wong as Johnny Wong, a leader of criminal triads. The film features Tequila, whose partner (Bowie Lam) is killed in a tea house gunfight with a small army of gangsters. One of the mob's high-ranking assassins is the undercover cop Tony, who must team up with Tequila for their common pursuit of taking down Wong's crime syndicate. The film leads up to a climax in a hospital, where the two must rescue innocent civilians and newborn babies from the maternity ward while fighting off dozens of mob hitmen.

In Cantonese with English subtitles.
 
 



Trivia

  • Bodycount: 307
  • John Woo had previously been criticized for glamorizing gangsters in his films, so he decided to make this film glamorizing the police.
  • During the filming of the scene in which Tequila is running down the exploding hallway with the baby, John Woo wasn't satisfied that the explosions were big and frightening enough in the scene. According to Woo in his Dragon Dynasty DVD interview, he asked the special effects technicians to reset the explosives and give him the trigger. When Yun-Fat Chow ran down the hall, Woo immediately set the explosives off, nearly incinerating Chow, who barely made it. According to Woo, Yun-Fat Chow exclaimed to the producer afterwards "John's trying to kill me! John's trying to kill me!". When Woo heard Chow screaming, he went up to apologize to Chow and saw that the back of his head and coat were in fact singed from the explosions.
  • Using the shotgun in the rose box was an original idea in both this film and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). It is a coincidence that they both came up with it at the same time. Its appearance in this film is not a reference to or a copy of "Terminator 2". It was used in two influential earlier films: Dog Day Afternoon (1975) when Al Pacino's character brings a rifle into the bank, and before that in Stanley Kubrick's film noir classic The Killing (1956), when the gang smuggles their heist gun into the track locker room hidden in a box of roses.
  • More than 200 guns were used in the film, all of which were real. Due to Hong Kong's strict gun laws, the weapons had to be imported specially from England and inspected by the HK police before they could be used on set. The production also had to import a substantial quantity of blank ammunition; in total, over 100,000 rounds of blank ammunition would be fired during the filming of the movie.
  • The now famous long take of Tequila and Alan shooting through two floors full of henchmen in the hospital lasts 2 minutes, 43 seconds.
  • Because of the shooting schedule, the crew only had one chance to perform the continuous take during the gun-battle in the hospital.
  • Many of Tequila's mannerisms (such playing the clarinet) were taken from a real cop John Woo interviewed for the film. Tequila's love of jazz is taken from Woo himself.
  • The scene at the jazz bar after the teahouse shootout was added on the last day of shooting. Yun-Fat Chow wanted to have a scene that showed his real-life friendship with John Woo. The scene was scripted and shot in less than a hour.
  • Like many of John Woo's other films, elements of the film's action sequences were improvised, such as the famous "staircase slide" in the teahouse. Yun-Fat Chow came up with the idea of using flour in the climax of the teahouse shootout.
  • Originally, Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok (Mad Dog) [best known as The Lizard of Five Venoms] was not supposed to have an acting role in the film, instead just working as the action director. But John Woo was a fan of Kwok's acting work from the 70's and he felt Johnny Wong would not project enough of a real threatening presence, so he wrote in the character of Mad Dog and offered Kwok the part.
  • Inspector Tequila is based on fictional super cops Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan from the Dirty Harry franchise and Det. Lt. Frank Bullitt from the Bullitt (1968), portrayed by Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. Like Tequila, they are portrayed as "all guys, no glory" heroes. Both fictional cops were inspired by real life SFPD Homicide Det Steve Toschi who gained fame as the lead investigator in the "Zodiac" homicides. Therefore, Tequila is the third movie cop to be inspired by and based on Toschi.
  • John Woo wanted a jazz soundtrack in The Killer (1989), but was overruled by Hark Tsui. He got to do that here.
  • The film took 123 days to shoot.
  • The hospital scenes took 40 days to shoot.
  • The statue that Tequila and the other police officers worshipped in the police station is of Guan Yu (aka: General Kwan, Taoist God of War). Guan Yu was a great military general, later an Emperor, during the Eastern Han Dynasty who was deified as early as the Sui Dynasty. Even today, General Kwan (in Cantonese, he is referred to as Kwan Gong) is still worshipped among Chinese people. Because Guan Yu is a guardian deity that exemplifies bravery, righteousness, leadership, protection and triumph, he is commonly worshipped by Chinese law enforcement agencies so that Guan Yu's blessings will protect them in life and in work. In Hong Kong, every police station has a shrine dedicated to Guan Yu (though worship of Guan Yu is not enforced). In the film's subtitle track, Guan Yu/Kwan Gong is incorrectly referred to as "Guana".
  • Anthony Chau-Sang Wong wasn't happy with the film as he thought that his character, Johnny Wong, was a two-dimensional and thinly characterized villain. He also considered John Woo hard to work with.



For further info, please check:




In case you missed my other Chow Yun-fat entries I've posted, please check out:



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The 19 Rules of Jason Bourne



In Robert Ludlum's Bourne series, we learn some of Jason Bourne's tradecraft rules. "Tradecraft" is the favored term over the older term "spycraft".


For your consideration, some rules/aspects of tradecraft can be used for the common man's self-defense. After all, a spy/secret agent, like the samurai of old, live with the possibility of death daily. They needed some rules of thumb for their survival.

Hope these help!



  1. You are not helpless. You will find your way. (The Bourne Identity pg 43, 88)
  2. Instinct. Follow your instincts, reasonably, of course. (The Bourne Identity pg 88)
  3. Don’t crucify yourself. (The Bourne Identity pg 43)
  4. Nothing can be disregarded. (The Bourne Identity pg 123)
  5. To blend in, change your appearance, your hair your face.
  6. Read the newspapers every day. (The Bourne Identity pg 174)
  7. Stay controlled. (The Bourne Identity pg 289)
  8. The success of any trap lies in its fundamental simplicity. The reverse trap by the nature of its single complication must be swift and simpler still. (The Bourne Identity pg 470)
  9. Use an advantage given to you. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 84)
  10. Do the unexpected. Confuse the enemy, throw him off balance. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 166)
  11. Don’t run. Running identifies you as a target.
  12. Opportunities will present themselves. Recognize them, act on them. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 390)
  13. Don’t make your moves when you’re tired or exhausted. Rest is a weapon. Use it. Don’t forget it. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 481)
  14. Work on the visual. It’s more effective than anything else. People will draw the conclusions you want on the basis of what they see far more than from the most convincing lies you can tell them.(The Bourne Supremacy pg 175)
  15. Study everything. You’ll find something you can use. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 501)
  16. The cleanest escape is one done in stages, using whatever confusion there is. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 179)
  17. Establish a benign contact as soon as you can. Especially in an unfamiliar face where there could be hostility. The contact could give you the opportunity or the time you need. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 222)
  18. Avoid elevators whenever you can. They’re traps. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 270)
  19. Your first reflections are the best, the most accurate, because the impressions are stored in your head, like the information in a data bank. That’s what your head is. (The Bourne Supremacy pg 270)


Deepest gratitude to Twist for compiling this list. I took the liberty to add page references where I could find them. Only missing 2 :(


Sunday, May 14, 2017

The 40 Moscow Rules



The "Moscow Rules" were developed by the CIA and named after Moscow which was a dangerous place to be during the Cold War.

One may think of them like “Rules of Engagement” for spies, although it could also serve as guidelines or rules of thumb for one's self-defense.

If you haven't any Rules of Engagement for yourself, start thinking of them now and not while you are in the Moment of Truth as the 'fit hits the shan'!

Hope these help in your Sojourn of Septillion Steps!




The Moscow Rules

  • Rule #1: Assume nothing.
  • Rule #2: Technology will always let you down.
  • Rule #3: Murphy is right.
  • Rule #4: Never go against your gut.
  • Rule #5: Always listen to your gut; it is your operational antennae.
  • Rule #6: Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  • Rule #7: Don’t look back; you are never completely alone. Use your gut.
  • Rule #8: Go with the flow; use the terrain.
  • Rule #9: Take the natural break of traffic.
  • Rule #10: Maintain a natural pace.
  • Rule #11: Establish a distinctive and dynamic profile and pattern.
  • Rule #12: Stay consistent over time.
  • Rule #13: Vary your pattern and stay within your profile.
  • Rule #14: Be non threatening: keep them relaxed; mesmerize!
  • Rule #15: Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  • Rule #16: Know the opposition and their terrain intimately.
  • Rule #17: Build in opportunity but use it sparingly.
  • Rule #18: Don’t harass the opposition.
  • Rule #19: Make sure they can anticipate your destination.
  • Rule #20: Pick the time and place for action.
  • Rule #21: Any operation can be aborted; if it feels wrong, then it is wrong.
  • Rule #22: Keep your options open.
  • Rule #23: If your gut says to act, overwhelm their senses.
  • Rule #24: Use misdirection, illusion, and deception.
  • Rule #25: Hide small operative motions in larger non threatening motions.
  • Rule #26: Float like a butterfly; sting like bee.
  • Rule #27: When free, In Obscura, immediately change direction and leave the area.
  • Rule #28: Break your trail and blend into the local scene.
  • Rule #29: Execute a surveillance detection run designed to draw them out over time.
  • Rule #30: Once is an accident; twice is a coincidence; three times is an enemy action.
  • Rule #31: Avoid static lookouts; stay away from chokepoints where they can reacquire you.
  • Rule #32: Select a meeting site so you can overlook the scene.
  • Rule #33: Keep any asset separated from you by time and distance until it is time.
  • Rule #34: If the asset has surveillance, then the operation has gone bad.
  • Rule #35: Only approach the site when you are sure it is clean.
  • Rule #36: After the meeting or act is done, “close the loop” at a logical cover destination.
  • Rule #37: Be aware of surveillance’s time tolerance so they aren’t forced to raise an alert.
  • Rule #38: If an alert is issued, they must pay a price and so must you.
  • Rule #39: Let them believe they lost you; act innocent.
  • Rule #40: There is no limit to a human being’s ability to rationalize the truth.


Copied from http://www.itstactical.com/intellicom/tradecraft/the-moscow-rules/

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Stingray #08/S01E08: "That Terrible Swift Sword" (May 13, 1986)

Posted this episode to mirror the airdate from 31 years ago on this date of May 13, 1986 ... the first episode of the new TV series, Stingray, aired.





Series Background

"Ray" is a shadowy character with a mysterious 'secret agent' past. People in trouble often come to him for help, since he has a lot of important and powerful contacts. He refuses to be paid for his services; however, those seeking his assistance must promise him a favor. Some time in the future, Ray will come to them and ask to collect on that favor, giving them some task that is often arduous and/or dangerous. The title of the show comes from the vintage Corvette Stingray that Ray drives.

"Stingray" attracted his clients by advertising a black 1965 Chevrolet Corvette "for barter only".

"Stingray's" real name and actual occupation are never revealed in any of the installments; throughout the series, any attempt any other character makes, in any installment, to track down his identity inevitably and invariably leads in the wrong direction and/or to a dead end.


Enjoy!



Episode Synopsis

Ray is hired by Sister Allison of a traveling religious show to find a serial killer murdering prostitutes in the cities that the show stops at. Ray goes undercover as a preacher to find the culprit, but when he does it seems to profoundly affect him.






Other episodes of Stingray posted:






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