Thursday, July 12, 2018

WHAT WE RELEASED

So the Ennies are coming up and there is an open vote for Fan Favorite Publisher (HERE). I just wanted to clarify for anyone thinking of voting for us, what we released this year. Note that Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate was a 2016 release. From May 2017 to April 2018 we published the following: 

The Tournament of Daolu (December 2017): This is a free adventure set in the city of Daolu centered around a tournament. However it is a lot more than just a tournament adventure. It is a 100-page city supplement that presents the city in two different historical eras. Daolu is a place where gangs and corrupt officials reign. It also has a small time travel scenario included.

The Ogre Gate Inn and Strange Land of Li Fan (September 2017): The Ogre Gate Inn and Strangle Land of Li Fan is an adventure and setting supplement. It describes the region of Li Fan and includes a hex map of the area. It also has a three-chapter adventure set at the Ogre Gate Inn. 

Sects of the Martial World: The Glorious Death Cult (November 2017): A sect sourcebook for the Glorious Death Cult, who are disfigured by Supreme Master Tung and taught the art of painting new faces. They spread death and chaos through the martial world. 


Saturday, July 7, 2018

OPIUM AND THE KUNG FU MASTER

Last night on Wuxia Weekend we talked about Opium and the Kung Fu Master, a Tong Kai film starring Ti Lung and Chen Kuan-Tai. It is about "Iron Bridge Three" Leung Kwan, one of the Ten Tigers of Canton, who protects locals from a band of opium house ruffians even as he himself sinks into opium addiction. It is a very simple story, with heavy use of melodrama, that doesn't re-invent the wheel but tells its story effectively. The acting and action all help carry the movie as well.

This was one of a handful of films Tong Kai directed, but his extensive work as an action director seems to have been good preparation manning the helm. The fight sequences are all good and the drama works even when it  gets heavy-handed. Despite its dark theme, the film doesn't feel grim. It is a nice balance of light and dark. The contrast works in the movie's favor. 

I definitely recommend Opium and the Kung Fu Master. 

You can listen to the episode below and you can hear all of our Wuxia Weekend episodes on our podcast channel at the Bedrock Podcast.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

VAMPIRE CLEANUP DEPARTMENT

On Friday's Wuxia Weekend, we talked about Vampire Cleanup Department. It is a 2017 film starting Chin Siu-Ho, Baby John Choi, Richard Ng, Lo Meng, Yuen Cheung-Yan and Lin Min-Chen. 

Vampire Cleanup Department is a bit sweet, with a very simple love story at its core. But it is also an homage to jiangshi films like Mr. Vampire and Encounters of the Spooky Kind. It succeeds on both fronts and I found it improved with each viewing. 

The basic premise is about a character named Tim, who lives with his grandmother and joins the Vampire Cleanup Department after he is bitten by a vampire and it is discovered his blood somehow makes him immune. The Vampire Cleanup Department is in charge of secretly protecting the country from vampires, but is more of a sanitation office than law enforcement agency, so they occasionally have to work around other organizations with more power to do their job. As a new recruit, Tim learns that his parents were both managers at the department but died after being bitten by a vampire (and he was born after his mother had been infected). On his first mission, he has an encounter with a female vampire named Summer, but she mutates into something more human when she bites him. Most of the movie is about their romance as he conceals her from his superiors, and his experience training to become a vampire hunter. There is also the threat of a head vampire that looms and comes to a head at the end of the film. 


I think a lot of what made the movie work was its simplicity. It is very efficient as movies go, not wasting any time, and effectively moving the plot with each scene. Because Summer cannot speak (at least not with her vocal chords) the love story is largely a silent performance that relies on physicality and music to succeed. This is probably what makes it work so well. The other half of the movie is equally engaging, largely because the great cast and its chemistry. A lot of the movie is stuff you've seen if you are familiar with the genre, but it covers that ground well and still manages to feel fresh. 

You can listen to our thoughts in the podcast episode below. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

STRANGE SANDBOX AND MORE

Just giving an update on the things I am working on. 

Starting off with Strange Tales of Songling, an RPG inspired by Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, we are in the final phases of play testing for the core book. It will be about 100 pages and focus on providing mechanics and adventures (setting will be less of a focus in this one than in Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate for example). It is basically for anyone who likes Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio or wants to run adventures in the style of A Chinese Ghost Story or Mr. Vampire. 

Adventures presented in the core book lean heavily on investigation and mystery. The assumed adventure structure is Monster-of-the-Week (though suggestions for other approaches are also provided). But I also started work on a small sandbox campaign. This is a little different from what is offered in the core book and probably going to be a PDF or possibly even a blog series, tentatively titled Treasures of the Starlit Inkstone. I would like to put it out in print, but for that to happen, it needs to be 100 pages, and I don't think it will be that large (though that could change as it expands in the coming weeks). Either way though, I am not going to force it to be more sizable than it should be.   Whether it is done as a blog or PDF will be determined by the success of Strange Tales (if the makes enough money for more art, maps, layout and editing, I will do it as a PDF---print if it is lengthy). 

The art and maps for the Strange Tales core book are all completed, so once the playtests are done, we will revise and then start editing. 

Here is a preview of what to expect: 
"The Judge from Hell" by Jackie Musto 
Sons of Lady Eighty Seven, the sandbox campaign for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is also well underway. We just started on the maps and will begin the art in the fall. The book explores a prefecture in the southern empire where criminal groups and corrupt officials run rampant. The players are assumed to be part of the criminal underworld, but we also built it with players taking a more heroic path in mind as well. 

House of Paper Shadows is ready. I just sent the final layout corrections in and we are expecting to have it available in PDF soon, and released in print in October. 




Saturday, June 23, 2018

THE ENCHANTRESS DISCUSSION

On the latest Wuxia Weekend podcast we talk about Chor Yuen's The Enchantress, a 1983 film that blends wuxia and ghosts to interesting effect. It is about a ghost named Shui Tianjiao, who was killed when her husband joined forces with her enemies in a sect war 18-years ago. Now she uses her daughter (born shortly before her death) to get revenge on the entire martial world. 

While everyone enjoyed the movie, opinions differed on how good it was. Most of us agreed the strength of the film was its atmosphere and ghostly special effects. The story is good when you understand it, but it could have used more screen time (with perhaps less screen time being dedicated to the near-30 minute final battle). Still it is a very nice mixture of supernatural and martial arts, where it fully commits to both. There are lots of characters, lots of fights, and some very interesting spooky moments. 

Unfortunately The Enchantress is difficult to obtain these days (I've only ever been able to find it on VCD). So if you want to watch it, you might have to search around for a good deal. We do recommend it if you like Chor Yuen and want to see his take on Ghosts and Wuxia together. However, if you are not as familiar with Chor Yuen, you might want to start with some of his other films like Death Duel, Web of Death, Magic Blade, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan or Duel for Gold

Saturday, June 16, 2018

WU YEN DISCUSSION (WUXIA WEEKEND)

Last night we talked about Wu Yen, a 2001 film starring Anita Mui, Sammi Cheng and Cecilia Cheung. It was directed by Johnnie To and Was Ka-Fai, and is a blend of mo lei tau style comedy and the supernatural. Anita Mui plays Emperor Qi, who is seduced by Yin Chun (Cecilia Cheung), a fox spirit in love with empress Wu Yen (Sammi Cheng). 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

PAINTED SKIN DISCUSSION (WUXIA WEEKEND)

On Friday we talked about the 2008 Painted Skin film. It is based on the Pu Songling story of the same name. The story is about a demon who can't pain human skin disguises that allow her to seduce a scholar named Wang before ripping out his heart. The Painted Skin movie elaborates on this, adds characters and conflict, but is somewhat faithful to key elements of the original. You can listen to the entire discussion below. Next week we will talk about the Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai movie Wu Yen (starring Anita Mui, Sammi Cheng, and Cecilia Cheung). 



You can also listen to our discussion of the sequel, Painted Skin: Resurrection, here: