Thursday, December 29, 2011

Aoi Sora Merely Saves it From the Sewers of the Undead

Title: Kyonyu Dragon aka. Big Tits Zombie aka. 5 Strippers versus Hot Spring Zombies.
Starring: Aoi Sora, Kasumi Risa, Sakurai Mari
Director: Nakano Takao.

When it comes to Japanese splatter action movies, the unfathomable degree of absurdity featured in such movies never fails to accompany the exaggerated amount of sprinkler-spraying gore that often leaves audiences staggered if not disgusted. One does not have to watch the full-length movie to realize such characteristics of Japanese splatter action movies as a 2 to 3 minutes glimpse of the video trailer will suffice. As I was browsing for interesting movies to kill my free time with during one of my recent visits to the video shop, I came across a crude titled Japanese movie called "Big Tits Zombie". With the words "Aiyo..." written on my forehead and a huge slap of utter disbelief about the movie's poorly scripted title (not to mention how the alternate title for the movie such as 5 Strippers vs. Hot Spring Zombies which I later found out, accelerated the sense of awkwardness), I convinced myself that Japanese splatter action movies are rotting beyond the point of help (just like Japanese zombie movies) seeing that their movie titles are equally bad as their movie content and presentation. Nevertheless, behind all the extreme dismay for the ridiculously titled movie, curiosity as to how bad this seemingly low-budget movie can be, prompted me to read the blurb featured on the back of the DVD. Surprisingly, Kyonyu Dragon's (I'll be using this title instead of its ridiculous alternatives) story plot was interesting enough to make me learn more about the movie. Furthermore, the fact that Kyonyu Dragon was adapted from a manga with the same name and the movie's lead cast (Aoi Sora) seemed very attractive (as I later learned that she was a Japanese adult video idol...ahem), I decided to give the movie a shot. As the movie's credits rolled, I was surprised to learn that Kyonyu Dragon wasn't as bad as I dread it would be.

Kyonyu Dragon speaks the tale of 5 exotic dancers struggling to survive the humanity devouring zombie outbreak that has befall Japan. After curiously exploring a hidden entrance to an underground cellar that leads to a dark and sinister basement of an abandoned haunted spa resort which holds a grim past, the dancers discover the Well of Spirits and and a huge collection of occult journals in the basement. Among the occult journals is a 16th century Italian Book of the Dead that grabs the interest of one of the dancers who happened to be an intellect and a book-worm . As she reads a Latin phrase from the ancient book, she unintentionally provoked the Well of Spirits which unleashes the souls of the deceased, bringing the dead back to life in their decomposed form. It was only a matter of time the dead rise from their graves plunging Japan into a zombie apocalyptic nightmare as the dead devours every living thing in their path. Already struggling to stay alive, the exotic dancers must now return to the origin of the hell-spawn or die trying in order to seal the Well of Spirits once and for all should they wish to save their country from becoming a permanent ground for the walking dead. Although there are other zombie movies with a better story (especially the American ones), nevertheless Kyonyu Dragon still presents a fairly interesting story.

However like every other Japanese splatter action movies, Kyonyu Dragon reveals its decomposed rotten side with incomprehensible nonsense and exaggerated display of gore . From the presence of ridiculous zombie characters like zombie ninja, zombie samurai and even zombie sushi to a zombie that breathes fire from her vagina, one cannot help but to give a slap on his or her forehead in complete disbelief. Another example to illustrate how dumb this movie can be is a scene depicting one of the strippers negotiating with a horde of zombies which are close to devouring her, by offering a lollipop and flashing her breasts in exchange for her life which was ironic given her superior intellect to realize that the dead cannot be reasoned with. Grotesque bloody scenes of mutilation and body dismemberment in zombie movies are quite common if one is familiar with other zombie titles especially from the George A. Romero series. However Kyonyu Dragon takes advantage of such norm by stepping the gore level up to the point of being ludicrous. Scenes of zombies dining on the organs of a naked and mutilated female hot-spring resort keeper in a nyotaimori manner may be tolerable but the sight of the heroine dancers showering half naked in zombie gore after decapitating it with a katana and chainsaw is not only disgusting but also totally unnecessary display of sexual suggestive theme. Given that Kyonyu Dragon shares a spot under the Japanese splatter action category, one should not expect much common sense and decency from such type of movies.

Conversely, there is always two sides to a coin and Kyonyu Dragon happens to have some remarkable characteristics. First of all, the movie tries to deliver the theme of sisterhood, friendship and loyalty beyond death as it can be exemplified by one of the heroine embracing her zombie sister and another heroine making sure that her fallen friends are fairly compensated by the manager. Second of all, the fight scenes are not as horrible as one would think given how absurd this movie is. Although they are not really that great, they are not that bad either seeing that the katana and chainsaw fight scenes were fairly enjoyable to watch. Third of all, the movie features a variety of characters with interesting background. Although the heroines in this movie share a common job as an exotic dancer or stripper, each of them has its own unique characteristics and background. Fourth of all, Kyounyu Dragon does not disappoint its lustful audiences since the movie offered an unforgettable topless cat fight scene. The best part of Kyonyu Dragon would come from the ability of the cast to present their roles amazingly. Even the main villain of the movie who displayed atrocious treachery in the story is still adored by the audiences as she did a great job presenting her character. However the lead cast Aoi Sora who played one of the dancers Lena Jodo, amazed the audiences the most with her load of charisma and humor that soothes the pain of ridiculous exaggeration which scarred the movie. Despite mostly known as an AV idol, Aoi Sora surprisingly packs a remarkable acting arsenal in addition to her physical sex appeal as she greatly molded her chainsaw zombie-slashing character Lena Jodo, into an unforgettable heroine. Fortunately for Kyonyu Dragon, the fact that the movie still presents some positive aspects-not to mention Aoi Sora's marvelous acting-have saved this action splatter movie from completely hitting the bottom of the undead's sewer.

As the movie's credits rolled, I was surprised to learn that Kyonyu Dragon wasn't as bad as I dread it would be. To sum it up, Kyonyu Dragon merely reaches a 5 out of 10. If it wasn't for Aoi Sora's charisma and humor that delighted the movie, Kyonyu Dragon would have completely turned into a rotten zombie-flick just like other Japanese zombie movies. Now that Aoi Sora has my attention, I'll be looking forward to her next movie...ahem...

5 unlikely heroine to save a country from a zombie apocalypse.

Maria (Sakurai Mari) in grave trouble .

Once you're bitten there's no turning back. Nene (Tamayo) succumbing to her death before she becomes a zombie.

Ginko (Kasumi Risa) and Lena Jodo (Sora Aoi) prepares for the next wave of zombie attack

Bring it on!

Lena Jodo hacking the head of a zombie with her trusty chainsaw. Expect heavy shower of gore for the day.

Slice and dice with the katana

Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome to the Bank Robbery Capital of America

Title: The Town
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Ham, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper
Director: Ben Affleck

When the movie trailer for Takers was first shown in cinemas during the early days of summer, fans of action movies were bracing themselves for a high-octane stylish robbery movie of the year which featured a cast of capable actors and actresses. What nobody realized was the fact that Takers wasn't the only bank robbery movie to be released for this year. Few weeks after the release of Takers' trailer in cinemas, the trailer for The Town was circulated all over YouTube before reaching the big screens of cinemas in North America, informing movie fans that another bank robbery movie was pitting for their attention. Instead of illustrating the glitz, glamor and style of bank robbers as shown in Takers, The Town featured a darker, grittier and even disturbing side of bank robbery which accelerated the authenticity and realism of the movie, thus making it more appealing for movie goers who crave for no-holds-barred action and also a little twist of reality. The Town started tempting action fans as well as fans of Heat and The Italian Job ( another famous bank robbery movies) when it featured more established actors like Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner. My first impression for The Town was favorable given the fact that I am a big fan of action movies, especially those which are realistic. Initially, The Town was a movie that I categorized as one that I "intend to watch". However after reading a news article and movie review regarding the movie, I immediately shifted my category for The Town to "a must watch movie". The news article and the movie review regarding The Town that I read was more favorable than usual and apparently, The Town was being considered for Oscar nomination; seeing that I had enough convincing testimonials that the movie was really good, I told myself that I should visit the cinema as soon as possible. It just so happen that I manage to complete my assignments ahead of schedule today and I had no plans for the remaining of the day. Consequently, without hesitating, I dragged my Saudi friend to the cinema with me later in the evening to watch The Town. After more than 2 hours in the cinema, I couldn't agree more with the positive movie review and news article I recently read about The Town; it was just like what I have expected.

Set in Charlestown, Boston, The Town revolves around a team of professional bank robbers who are on their illegal quest of getting financially wealthy by robbing banks and armored vehicles transporting money. During their recent bank robbery where they raided a bank in masks, the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) was taken hostage as the robbers made their clean escape from the bank. After her release, the bank manager was traumatized before she fell into a deep state of depression. James "Jem" Coughlin (played by Jeremy Renner), one of the bank robbers was concern that the bank manager might recognize him as the perpetrator. Consequently, he decided to hunt her and silence her only to be stopped by his teammate in crime, Doug Mac Ray (Ben Affleck) who volunteered to keep an eye on the bank manager. As Doug secretly observes the bank manager, he could not help but to feel sorry for her as she continued showing signs of trauma and depression. Consumed by guilt, Doug befriends the bank manager and comforts her out of her misery. Their friendship soon blossom into a passionate romantic relationship which later forced Doug to abandon his job as a criminal and his team of robbers since he desires to start a new life with his newly made love. However, Doug's team members are not willing to let him go just yet as they have one last big lucrative but dangerous job to take care of. Meanwhile, Special Agent Adam Frawley (played by John Hamm) a determined FBI agent, diligently strives to bring Doug and his team of robbers to justice via questionable tactics such as extortion and physical abuse. The Town features an interesting and unique storyline that details the unlikely love relationship between a bank robber and a hostage.

Apart from an interesting storyline, The Town features a great content that tremendously enforce the story of the movie. The presentation of the characters were simply marvelous; Ben Affleck did a good job in presenting his role as Doug Mac Ray, a robber who did not have a good childhood yet a kind and conscious individual. Rebecca Hall carried her role as the traumatized and depressed bank manager very convincingly and Jeremy Renner played the perfect villain in the movie which never made the bad guys looked so good. Like other casts of the movie, John Hamm who played Special Agent Frawley did a great job as well, seeing that he perfectly portrayed a dedicated and relentless FBI agent which never left the movie audience in doubt for a single moment at all. The plot of the movie which goes beyond the love relationship of both Doug and the bank manager enriches the story of The Town. Doug's sad and depressing childhood was clearly narrated in the movie and the strong friendship between Doug and James was also elaborated. Although The Town starts off at a slow pace which at some point of the movie becomes a little dull, the action sequences in the middle and at the near end of the movie makes up for its short-coming. The action sequences were not only well choreographed but also featured intense action with a layer of realism to maintain its authenticity. The shoot-out between the robbers and the SWAT team which was the climatic part of the movie was above average, making The Town an action movie to remember. The car chase scene on the other hand was nothing spectacular, nevertheless it manage to give the audiences a mild thrill. Overall, the content and presentation of The Town deserves two thumbs up.

The Town excels in its presentation and content, nevertheless there were several issues that prevented the movie from reaching a perfect score. The most obvious flaw from the movie can be located at the dialog of the characters. Although the character's dialog were authentic, natural and real, occasionally one will wonder what did the characters just mumbled earlier on; it is moments like this that movie audiences can't help but to beg for English subtitles to be displayed on the screen in order to fully comprehend what the characters just said. The soundtrack of the movie wasn't even close to average. The rhythm and the music score did not help excite the audiences during the action scenes and at worst, it was easily forgotten. Despite these setbacks, nevertheless The Town is still a movie that deserves positive reviews.

After more than 2 hours in the cinema, I couldn't agree more with the positive movie review and news article I recently read about The Town; it was just like what I have expected. Overall, The Town deserves an 8 out of 10; it is a must watch movie for those who are fans of the action genre. Given, its significant emphasis on the movie's romance, The Town would actually appeal to the female audiences as well.

Celebrating at a casino after a successful bank heist

James "Jem" Coughlin. A good friend, but a bad enemy

The beginning of a romantic relationship between a hostage and a robber

Robbers in disguise.

The determined FBI agent on the hunt for the robbers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Good Reminder on how the West is not Necessarily Universal

Title: The West Unique not Universal

Author: Samuel P. Huntington

Publication Date: 1996

"The West Unique Not Universal" is an article written by Samuel P. Huntington which details his argument against the idea that Western countries like North America and Europe are very influential until the extent that their culture is universal. In his article, he begins with how the Coca-Colonization has gave the wrong impression that Western culture is universal as well as how the idea global modernization is directly linked to Westernization is misguided, false and even arrogant. Later in his article, Samuel P. Huntington described the core characteristics of Western civilization which makes it a unique civilization compared to other civilizations in history. Huntington later explained how different countries around the world modernize yet adhere to their traditions and culture, which further enforced his argument that modernization does not necessarily mean westernization. He even stated a point on how modernization and economic development actually produced a cultural backlash as non Western countries who modernized renewed their commitment to their indigenous culture. Finally he described how Western countries can secure their influence in the global arena by strongly emphasizing on unity through multilateral policies. Seeing that the author made a lot of good points, we mostly agree with his main premise that the West is unique but not necessarily universal.

The author's first point on how the consumption of Western products by foreign consumers does not Westernized their mentality as the heart of culture consists of language, religion, values, traditions and customs is indeed correct. Language, religion and especially values have been embedded into an individual for most of his or her life and it is just difficult to believe that foreign products is capable of eroding the culture, values and customs of an individual. Of course one might argue about the Westernization of Japan during the Meiji era where most of the Japanese population embraced western culture to the extent of not only adopting their technology but also dressing and behaving like a Westerner, nevertheless, that did not change their way of thinking and there were always more than a handful of Japanese who remained loyal to their traditional roots and culture.

The author’s second point on modernization as a means of embracing Westernization which is not only flawed but also misleading is another idea that cannot be debated. Many believe and some even try to promote the idea that modernization equals Westernization can be explained by the historical roots of Western civilization as the first civilization to modernize. By studying the definition of modernization, the phenomena itself can be described as the industrialization, urbanization, expanding education, mobilizing the social structure and diversifying the occupational structures of a country. Many developing Eastern countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China have modernized their countries and in fact they continue to do so to keep up with globalization, nevertheless these countries remain loyal to their traditions and in fact are against Western policies, cultures and beliefs.

The authors points on what makes Western civilization a unique one compared to other civilization is mostly true except for a couple of points. The author was correct on how Western civilization was the only civilization to adopt the classical legacy, to embrace Western Christendom, to separate spiritual authority from the state, have multiple European languages and was the pioneer of individualism. The authors point on how Western civilization's tradition of rule of law which laid the basis for constitutionalism and the preservation of human rights is true; however, the author's emphasis on how this criteria made the West unique due to the fact that "other civilizations law has been much a less important factor in shaping thought and behaviour" is not only questionable but ignorant at a certain extent. Rules and laws itself regardless of which civilization it is embedded in serves the main purpose of maintaining peace and order as well as upholding justice in society through the means of punishment if they were violated or broken. The idea of punishment as a way to ensure every individual abide by the law is sufficient enough to shape the thought and behaviour of the people to obey the law at all times as the thought of experiencing punishment is dreadful and even painful. Of course this does not mean that there will not be any law breakers but the main idea here is that punishment itself would suffice to influence the thought and behaviour of the people within the circle of society that the law applies to. Another questionable point that the author made was how Western civilization was the first one to feature social pluralism where there were plenty of diverse autonomous groups not based on blood relationship or marriage such as monasteries, monastic orders and guilds. In Eastern civilization like ancient China, there were plenty of organization where members had no blood relationship like the boxers associations (Kung-Fu clans), trading guilds, performing troupes, opera groups and even pirates; this was enough to contradict with the author's point on how social pluralism is a unique attribute of Western civilization.

The first civilization to use mercenaries and the only civilization that extensively hired mercenaries is a core characteristic of Western civilization that the author left out. Western civilization was known for their affiliations with mercenaries to settle regional conflicts. This can be illustrated through the use of mercenaries in the Hundred Years War, the Punic Wars and the Battle of Thermopylae to name a few. In fact, not many are aware that before there were state armies in Europe, there were private armies employed by European kings as the kings were afraid that the state armies would turn against them. Another remarkable point to note about Western civilization and their mercenaries is the fact that how mercenaries from medieval European slowly evolve into today's more structured and ethical Private Military Companies that are operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or other conflict-ridden hot spots. What is even more amazing is that most Private Military Companies in the world today originated from the countries of Western civilizations.

As Huntington proceeds further into his article, he mentioned how modernization and economic development produced cultural backlash. The idea alone was difficult to understand initially; nevertheless the author gave not only a logical explanation but also a good one. He mentioned how modernization enhances economic wealth and military power of the country as a whole which later leads to confidence and cultural assertiveness. This greatly makes sense as when an individual or a nation achieves success, it not only gives them the confidence but also a certain amount of ego and arrogance which explains the cultural assertiveness. The author made a very good point on this part of the article; however he could have added how a country's nationalism can be enforced through the confidence and cultural assertiveness upon achieving economic and military success. Nationalism from Eastern countries can itself be another reason to defy Westernization.

Before Huntington ended his article, he recommended how Western countries can secure their influence in the global arena by strongly emphasizing on unity through multilateral policies among Western countries. It is not difficult to understand why unity is required to enforce Western influence in the global arena. However, ideas like forbidding non-Western countries to participate in NATO is a bit disturbing especially when NATO is an influential military alliance in the world. Such idea presents a significant form of segregation in the global security community and especially with the war on terror escalating, the last thing the world wants is the hiding of military and counter-terrorism intelligence from one another.

In conclusion, Huntington's "The West Unique Not Universal" is a good article and it deserves attention as it is an eye opener to many who agrees that modernization is Westernization in addition to the thought that Westernization should be universal. Furthermore, this article exposes the unique characteristics of Western civilization that not many are aware of.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Movies I've Watched During the Summer Holidays

Despite my "house arrest" in Malaysia during the summer holidays, I was fortunate to catch several movies in the cinema as I was invited by an old friend from college for a movie outing more than once. To be precise, I managed to watch a total of four movies during my summer holidays; they were Blood: The Last Vampire, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra and Vengeance. Unfortunately this time, my visits to the big screen this summer wasn't as exciting and enjoyable as there are plenty or rants to make nevertheless, there was at least a movie which I greatly enjoy and the ones I didn't were at least passable.

The first movie I watched in Malaysian cinemas on the second day of my summer holidays in Malaysia was no other than Blood: The Last Vampire. This movie is based on a Japanese horror animation film released in the dawn of the new millennium which I once watched when I was in my first year of secondary school. I enjoyed the animation for its fast-paced action despite its overwhelming gore, therefore I was eager to see a live-remake of the animation I once enjoyed nine years ago. Directed by Chris Nahon and produced by Ronny Yu, Blood: The Last Vampire tells the story of Saya, a 400 year old human-vampire hybrid, on her endless quest to hunt vampires masquerading as humans and their mother-of-all vampires, Onigen. Saya's hunt for vampires and Onigen is assisted by a group of Illuminati-like covert organization known as "The Council" which bears an endless strings of network and connections around the world in locating the vampires. With intelligence reports from "The Council" pointing to the presence of Onigen in Japan, Saya goes undercover as a student in a school near the Yokota Air Base to carry out her ultimate duty in slaying Onigen and the vampires alongside her. Blood: The Last Vampire presents a simple and straight-to-the-point story; nevertheless there are few unexpected scenes of betrayal, explanation and surprises which does a decent manner of twisting the plot. The cast of the movie which consist of Gianna Jun, Allison Miller, Masiela Lusha , JJ Feild, Koyuki and Lian Cunningham did a great job in delivering their respective role as their acting were simply authentic and convincing. Despite featuring a group of cast whom were rarely heard of, Blood: The Last Vampire offers grade-A acting performances equivalent to the big names in Hollywood. However Blade: The Last Vampire is restricted from entering the "must watch" categories due to several aspects that holds the movie back. First of all, the special-effects in the movie fails to impress the viewers as it clearly resembles the standards used by action movies in the mid ninety's. Second of all, the martial art choreographing which was orchestrated by Cory Yuen (the action choreographer for most of Jet Li's action movies) himself was disappointing as it demonstrated a lack of effort and originality. Lastly, the climatic battle with Onigen is simply ridiculous and it clearly shows that the film crew are so eager to end their film project without placing much dedication in presenting a good ending to the fall of the villain, Onigen. Blood: The Last Vampire gets a 6 out of 10 from me. Despite its low ratings, Blood: The Last Vampire is still passable as a movie to watch for action fans.

A few days later, the same friend of mine who took me out for Blood: The Last Vampire, had free tickets to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I thought of passing on the movie as it was just another overrated sequel to me, in addition to my lack of interest in the Transformers saga. On the contrary, I decided to go along with my friend and watch it as she wanted someone to accompany her and also it was because I had nothing interesting to do that day. I've watched the first one with another friend of mine who dragged me along as he was a Transformers fanatic, four years ago. Surprisingly it was not bad despite the ultra fast paced action which left me confuse of what's happening on the big screen back then, so I thought maybe the second one could be better thus giving me another reason to watch Revenge of the Fallen. Directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg, Revenge of the Fallen revolves around the evil Decepticon's quest to resurrect their long-trapped leader and unleash their vengeance by activating a machine on Earth that would channel the Decepticons a massive amount of energy called Energon, at the expense of all life forms on Earth. Standing in the Decepticon's way is an alliance which consist of the Autobots and the United States government. Trapped in the conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons, is Sam Witwicky a university student who recently had visions of Cybertronian writings and is in the wanted list of the Decepticons under the orders of their long-trapped leader. Revenge of the Fallen greatly excels in its story as it does not only provides an arranged chronology of Sam and the Autobots in their fight against the evil Decepticons but it also explores the historical background of the Transformers which further enriches the story of the movie. In addition to that, the movie also details the living nature of the Transformers which makes the movie even more interesting. The cast of the movie comprise of Shia Le Beouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro did an outstanding job in performing their respective roles although there were a bit of overacting especially by Shia LeBeouf's character which slightly leaves the audiences feeling awkward at times. The special effects are truly amazing as the robots and their interaction seem very real and convincing which makes Revenge of the Fallen a must-watch for action fans who love being amazed by today's computer generated images. Soundtrack for the movie is good as it ideally compliments different scenes of the movie; the best music score for the soundtrack which is saved for the climatic battle of the movie illustrates high production and editing value of the movie. Revenge of the Fallen did a great job for its overall presentation of the movie; however there are a couple of dents that prevents the movie from getting a full score. As mentioned earlier on, the casting group's performance was simply outstanding nevertheless there were a bit of overacting especially form Shia Le Beouf's character which leaves the audiences awkward at times. The humor of the movie is most of the time difficult to laugh which further exacerbates the sense of awkwardness especially among mature audiences and there are a couple of Transformers which are dreadfully annoying as they break out lame and excruciating jokes which can be deeply annoying. It also seems that the producer and director of the movie did not learn from their previous mistakes when it comes to the combat of the Transformers; no doubt that the action choreographing is top-notch, on the other hand the pace of the action scene is too fast leaving audiences perplexed and confuse as to who is throwing their metallic fists or blasting who away. The same problem was illustrated in the previous Transformers movie and apparently audiences who suffered the same problem in the first movie have to re-experience it again in the sequel. To sum it up, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen gets a 7 out of 10 from me. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is something the kids will definitely enjoy; however the same cannot be said with mature audiences. Nevertheless, for those who are a fan of the saga and for those who enjoys a fast-paced action flick, Revenge of the Fallen caters what they need.

A month later another movie based on a cartoon series like Transformers hit the theaters in Malaysia; it was G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. I've watched the teaser of the movie when I was still in Canada and my first impression regarding the movie was bad as I thought the movie was going to be an absolute exaggerated and ridiculous portrayal of the Army Special Forces. When I was back in Malaysia the same friend of mine asked me if I was interested at all to watch the movie with her. Of course the answer was no but as always, seeing that I had no other plans for the day and since I was a sucker for anything Special Forces, I eventually followed my friend to the movies. Furthermore, my interest in flak masks was growing and apparently the flak masks worn by the villain commandos were just awesome therefore, I had an extra reason to watch the movie. After approximately an hour and a half in the cinema, I was completely amazed by the movie and I felt like an idiot the second I reflected on my first impression on G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. Directed by Stephen Sommers and produced by Brian Goldner , Bob Ducsay and Lorenzo di Bonaventura, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra tells the tale of a diabolical Irish arms dealer and his plans to take over the world with one covert multinational counter-terrorist organization code name G.I. Joe, standing in his way from allowing him to unleash his sinister plans. As simple as the story may sound, rest assure that Rise of the Cobra has an enriched story as it can be exemplified by the main villain's family history, the operating nature of the villain's doomsday device and the structure of the G.I. Joe organization. In addition to that, almost every character in the movie has his own story or agenda which not only explains the unconnected dots of the movie but also ignite the interests of the audiences. Rise of the Cobra is one of the few great action movies that keeps viewers at the edge of his or her seat leaving him or her blown away ever since Live Free and Die Hard . The action choreographing is simply superb especially with the ninja fight scenes between eternal rivals Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. The movie's special effects and computer generated images are above average as they are convincing. The B-grade cast of the movie which comprise Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Dennis Quaid and Lee Byung Hun did a fairly good job in delivering their roles. There is nothing much to rant about Rise of the Cobra except for its disappointing cliff hanger ending which contradicts with the title of the movie; other than that Rise of the Cobra is one great movie that excels into the "must watch" movie category. G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra gets a two thumbs up from me with a rating of 9 out of 10. Rise of the Cobra is a must watch for action film junkies and definitely for the big fans of the G.I. Joe saga.

Just last week, I happened to watch the fourth movie entitled Vengeance. This movie came to my knowledge after I saw the trailer on public television a couple of times. A quick glance of the trailer which featured a slick and stylish presentation of gun action was just sufficient to get me excited. Did I mention that Vengeance is a Chinese movie? Unlike the other movies I have mentioned earlier on, Vengeance is a Chinese movie with a mix of English and a little bit of French. Directed by Johnnie To, Vengeance presents a dark and gritty story of a French chef who seeks to even the score with those who were responsible for murdering his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. Traveling all the way to China, the country where his loved ones were murdered, the French chef begins his own investigation to determine those who were behind the brutal murder. However, as he begins to feel lost in the foreign land, the French chef employs a triad of Chinese assassins to help him in his investigations and his quest to return the favor on those who were responsible for the murder. Just like any action-flick regarding redemption and revenge, Vengeance itself does not present anything new as movies like these has been in the market for a long time. Nevertheless, the movie which features a bit of surprises that turns the plot inside out makes Vengeance a movie worth the watch. Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Wong, Lam Ka Tung, Lam Suet and Simon Yam are the cast of this action crime film. Like any other professional actors in the Hong Kong entertainment industry, everyone did a great job in portraying their characters. On the contrary, the dialogues between the characters which happens to be monotonous makes the movie slow and slightly boring. To make matter worst, the movie tries to deliver a stylish presentation but fails to impress the audience as there are previous Hong Kong action films which did a better job. The shoot-out scenes are simply boring and it clearly shows that no effort has been invested in the movie's action choreographing. Somehow, the trailers which I saw made the movie even interesting than the actual movie. Overall, Vengeance did not impress me and I have to say that I was disappointed with Johnnie To this time. To sum it up, Vengeance receives a 5 out of 10 from me. Perhaps those who enjoy slower paced films might find Vengeance worth watch; as for me, once is already enough.

Unfortunately this time, my visits to the big screen this summer wasn't as exciting and enjoyable as there are plenty or rants to make nevertheless, there was at least a movie which I greatly enjoy and the ones I didn't were at least passable. Compared to two years ago where I visited the cinemas in Malaysia during my summer holidays, I managed to watch a lot of great movies and I watched them more than once in the cinemas. Unfortunately for me this time, there aren't any of them which prompt me to watch it again in the cinemas except for G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobras. This fall, there are more great movies coming out and I'll be looking forward to watching it with my friends in Canada. Lets just hope the streak of movie disappointment does not continue for me this fall. Here are the trailers of the movies, I've watched. Enjoy.

1. Blood: The Last Vampire

2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

3. G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra

4. Vengeance

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seoul Raiding 2

"Earlier this morning, a military convoy was ambushed at the 32nd south highway by unidentified gunmen resulted the death of 2 military officers and 12 soldiers in addition to the missing shipment the convoy was transporting. The unexpected massacre at the 32nd south highway shocked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Yoo Byung Tae. At the press earlier today, the chairman disclosed all details regarding the military convoy as classified information and expresses his condolence to the families of those who were killed in the convoy raid. The chairman added that the public should not be concerned as the stolen shipment does not pose a major threat to national security. He concluded his speech at the press by assuring the South Korean public that the Ministry of National Defense will conduct a thorough investigation into the daring raid and bring those responsible to justice. The National Intelligence Service with the assistance of the Korean National Police Agency (KNP) has already begun a joint-investigation on the convoy ambush. This is Yoo Jun Sikh reporting, SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System)."

Cheju Island, South Korea
2130 hours
Day 2

A F470 combat rubber raiding craft storms through the cold waters of the sea under the darkness of nightfall; aboard the rubber boat were mysterious individuals dressed in black skin- tight rubber suits equipped with pocket vests that held several ammunition magazines and grenades. The identities of the individuals were masqueraded with black light-weight metallic visors equipped with built-in computerized goggles, mini cameras and microphones. The passengers grabbed tight on the ropes of the craft as it accelerated further through the waters; in the middle of their hasty boat ride, one of the passengers received an incoming transmission. As the mysterious passenger tuned into the transmission, a Heads Up Display (HUD) appeared on the goggles of his computerized visor which later illuminated an image of the sender. "Peter, report in" the sender began. "We're all good to go, Jacqui. By the way, this is one slick wet suit we've got here. Kinda tight though..." Peter commented as he carefully observe his rubber suit with amaze. "Oh yeah, what's wrapped tight around you guys is a Mk. 26 sneaking suit. Our friends at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) recently produced this suit for their spy boys at the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and apparently, they had extras so they generously donated to ICPU (Inter Continental Paramilitary Unit). This isn't any ordinary rubber suit as it contains sensors that monitor the surrounding temperature thus cooling or heating the wearers' body for his or her comfort. Given such capability, the Mk. 26 sneaking suit is also an ideal wet suit especially if you're swimming in ice cold waters." Jacqui, the information officer explained. "Great! I was beginning to worry about the cold waters that we will be swimming in later on." Melissa, another passenger of the craft replied with relief as she nervously peeked into the dark cold sea water. "The Mk. 26 sneaking suit's temperature sensors unfortunately comes with the expense of absent body armour unlike the standard ICPU combat gear; in other words, you guys are practically very vulnerable, therefore extra precautions should be taken." the information officer regretfully warned. "There's always a trade off huh?" James chuckled nervously as he was not fond with the idea of going into a mission without protection. "I guess it's like doing it without a condom on but hey, it'll be more comfortable given that we don't have to deal with the weight of the body armour unlike before." Rachel chuckled as she gave a friendly pat on James's back. "Interesting metaphor Rachel...Oh guys, you've got incoming transmission from the commander. Patching you through." Jacqui alerted the ICPU operatives. Shortly after, an image of Commander Moaz, the team's commanding officer appeared on the ICPU operatives' HUD.

"Team, before we get into the mission briefing, allow me to congratulate everyone of you for the amazing job you guys did back in Seoul." Commander Moaz complimented proudly as he began. "Thank you sir!" the team replied simultaneously with utmost pride. "I hope you girls and boys had a good rest yesterday night as you're all gonna need every ounce of energy for your upcoming mission. Shit just hit the roof and our friends at the South Korean Ministry of National Defense are pissing themselves wet when their military convoy was ambushed earlier this morning." the commander explained. "Oh yeah, it was all over the news today" Soo Tian interrupted as he immediately reflected on the news flash he caught this afternoon. "So what was the convoy transporting which had our Korean friends here freaking out?" Peter asked curiously. "You won't believe it, team; the military convoy was transporting the same weapon caches you guys intercepted at the arms deal which took place at the abandoned mall yesterday." Commander Moaz surprised the ICPU operatives. "You gotta be fucking kidding me..."Rachel replied in disbelief. "How did the weapon caches ended up in the hands of South Korean army? Moreover, how did the details regarding the military convoy got out?" Peter perplexedly wondered. " Given the specifications and standards of the confiscated weapons, the Ministry of National Defense thought that it would be better if the weapons were in the hands of South Korean soldiers instead of police officers; I mean, it would be outrageous for a police officer to be enforcing the law with a heavy machine gun or a rocket launcher right? Therefore, under national orders, the KNP immediately transferred the weapons to the army which the army gladly picked them up with their own military convoy. KNP speculated an inside job within the ranks of the army which caused the ambush on the convoy. Conversely, the Ministry of National Defense immediately denied, regarding such speculations as simply ridiculous." the commander explained. "So what does ICPU speculate at the moment?" James asked curiously. "Although we hate to take sides in the blame game, ICPU could not help but to speculate that an inside job within the ranks of KNP's Interpol caused the convoy massacre. We believe that the South Korean Interpol undercover agent who tipped us on yesterday's arms deal has switched sides by leaking the information regarding the convoy to Cho Min Hae and the Red Sickle mercenaries ; his reasons for switching sides are yet to be confirmed." Commander Moaz explained. "A rogue agent huh? That's interesting". Soo Tian commented. "Shortly before your departure, our intelligence analysts discovered trails of transmitter signals captured by our radar. After carefully studying the trail, they developed a locus of the transmitter signal which originated from the 32nd south highway, the location of the convoy massacre. The last transmitter signal ended up in Cheju Island where our satellite procured magnified visual of a mansion which happens to belong to our crime diva, Cho Min Hae. We have every reason to believe that the stolen weapon caches were transported through sea before ending up in Cho's mansion given the locus of the transmitter signal that crossed through the sea on our radar. There is a high possibility that Cho will be at the mansion therefore, your mission priority will be to apprehend her alive as usual. If luck is on our side, Cho might continue the arms deal at her mansion which will prompt the presence of Sergei this time, giving us the opportunity to take him in as well. Taking in Sergei alive will be as important as taking in Cho alive, so watch your fire, team. Seeing that this weapon caches have cost the lives of South Korean soldiers, your 2nd objective is to destroy the weapon caches. Finally, your last objective is to apprehend the South Korean Interpol double agent for further investigations on his actions; we want him back alive so make sure you engage with discriminate. Details regarding the double agent will be transmitted shortly to your HUD." the commander explained. As the ICPU operatives received the data regarding the double agent in subject, they studied it carefully. "Bae Dong Min, our wanted double agent, was with the the National Intelligence Service and KNP's SWAT team prior to his transfer to Interpol department; this means that he is well versed in tactical engagement and marksmanship, thus making him a deadly target. Apprehend him with utmost caution." the commander warned before he continued. "Given the size and scope of this operation, your team will be working along side another ICPU strike team which will be led by Harmeet. Jacqui will brief you on the mission plans shortly. Good luck team." Commander Moaz greeted before he disconnected from the transmission. Shortly after that, the image of the team's information officer and Harmeet later appeared on their HUD.

"Okay here's the plan: Peter, your team will be given the call sign, Bravo. Harmeet, your team will be acknowledged as Lima. Bravo team will infiltrate the compound via the mansion's wharf. Satellite imagery shows that the wharf is not heavily guarded; nevertheless, given that the wharf is in an open area, you will be very vulnerable to direct attacks, therefore, maintaining total stealth is vital. This means you'll have to abandon your combat rubber raiding craft 2 clicks away from the mission location and swim your way to your designated insertion point, team. Lima team will infiltrate the compound through foot; additional intel which pointed out a crack in one of the walls which leads to the mansion's garden will be an ideal insertion point for your team, Harmeet . Like Bravo team, maintaining stealth is important, therefore, your Black Hawk will drop you off 2 clicks away from the mansion. Bravo team, upon reaching your designated insertion point, you will sneak into an underground passage which leads to the basement of the mansion where intel believes the weapons cache are stored. Upon clearing the basement, you'll rig the weapons cache with the C4 explosive which have been provided for this mission. Once you've rigged the weapons cache, you'll move to the balcony of the mansion which leads you to the upper levels of the residence, and standby for further orders. Lima team, you will proceed to the power house which generates electricity for the mansion, 20 paces northeast of your insertion point. Rig the power house with the explosives provided and proceed with stealth to the back doors of the mansion next to the swimming pool. Once both teams are in position, detonate the explosives which will then cause a big diversion before entering the mansion. Lima team will clear the lower part of the mansion while Bravo team will take care of the upper levels. Strike them hard and fast; remember: speed kills. Apprehend Sergei and Cho and escort them to the extraction point. That's practically it. Any questions, people?" the information officer concluded her mission plan. After a short moment of silence, Jacqui knew that the operatives clearly understood what she briefed earlier on. "Okay teams, lets get this right and go home. Good luck!" the information officer wished the ICPU commandos before she disconnected from the transmission.

"Harmeet, it’s been a while. Great to know I'll be working alongside with you and your team" the Bravo team leader said. "Likewise, my friend. Be sure to keep each other posted on the field and be careful out there, Bravo team" the Lima team leader reminded before she disconnected from the transmission. "Boss, approaching diving point in five" James informed as he checked the GPS on his HUD. "Okay people, let's load up!" Peter ordered as he cocked his MP5SD. The operatives of Bravo team wasted no time in arming their silenced sub machine guns, putting on their flippers and checking their oxygen tank; as they armed themselves, they braced themselves feeling a bit nervous. "Diving point approached! Disembark!" James informed as his GPS alarmed him him with a small beep; the commandos leaned back and threw themselves into the dark icy water of the night. As they splashed and submerged deep into the water, they were welcomed with a strong pierce of the ice cold waters of the sea. Nevertheless, comfort immediately welcomed them as their Mk. 26 sneaking suit heated up to the ideal temperature and warmed their shivering bodies. "Praise the Lord for the Mk.26" Peter gratefully mentioned as the warm heat embraced him with comfort. "I wouldn't mind substituting our standard assault gear for something like this" Melissa chuckled as she started her swim. "Be careful of what you wish for, Melissa. Keep in mind the sneaking suit isn't bulletproof. It’s mostly for stealth infiltration hence the name, "sneaking suit"". James sarcastically reminded the purple hair sniper who started to forget the countless times where the standard ICPU assault outfit saved her and her team from serious combat injuries. "Thanks for bringing up the obvious, professor" the sniper replied with annoyance despite knowing that her fellow comrade made a good point. "Cut it out, you kids!" Save the chatter for later and keep swimming" Soo Tian firmly ordered his comrades as he flipped his leg repeatedly trying to swim. "Boss, you think there'll be sharks around?" Rachel worriedly asked her team leader as she carefully scouts the dark waters while she swims. "For our sake, I hope not. I'm sure none of us intend to be shark food . Stay sharp, just in case, team" Peter ordered his team as he shared Rachel's concern. "Rather end up dead like the shower scene from The Rock then those poor bastards from Jaws ."Rachel shivered in slight fear the moment she remembered Steven Spielberg’s horror movie. The team of commandos continued their night swim, increasing the pace as they did not want to reach their insertion point later than Lima team. In the middle of his swim, Peter received an incoming transmission from the team leader of Lima team. Harmeet's image appeared on the HUD of Peter's visor, "Bravo Team, we're at the insertion point. What's your status?". "We're still kicking the flippers here. We're thirty meters away from our insertion point, Lima team." Peter responded as he carefully looked at his GPS window on his HUD. "Copy that, Lima team. We'll hold our position and recon the area while we wait for you to get into position." Harmeet replied before her image disappeared from Peter's HUD. "Okay team, lets increase the pace. We don't want Bravo team to keep on waiting." the Bravo team leader ordered before his comrades started increasing the pace. Seeing that the swimming commandos pushed themselves harder than earlier on, it was not long before they reach the insertion point; they were ten meters away from the wharf. "We've reached the insertion point" James informed while he took a quick peek at the GPS window on his HUD. The commandos then slowly emerged from the dark surface of the water with the sub machine guns pointed to the front in a stealthily manner.

As the night was dark, the commandos suffered from low visibility. Nevertheless, their state-of-the-art visors allowed them to toggle to night vision mode. The second the ICPU commandos activated their night vision, the once dark scenery than illuminated into a clear dark green. Melissa the peeked into the reflex scope of her MP5SD before she scouted the wharf for enemies. "All clear?" her sniper buddy,Soo Tian whispered the question quietly. "Negative, I see three tangos patrolling on the wharf. One's on the far right end facing the waters while the other two is at the center with their backs facing us" Melissa whispered as she observed the wharf carefully. "Okay, here's the plan: Rachel and James, you guys will take the two from the center of the wharf. I'll handle the one on the corner. Keep it quiet though. Sniper team, hold your position and provide cover." the team leader ordered. "Roger that!" everyone acknowledge as they got themselves ready for their enemy engagement. "Let's move out" the team leader whispered before he, James and Rachel returned underwater. Soo Tian and Melissa continued observing the wharf with their gun sights on the patrolling gunmen. As Peter, Rachel and James were all at an ideal distance from their "prey", they withdrew their combat knives getting ready to kill. They carefully looked at their targets and got themselves prepared for a stealth kill. "James reporting: Target in sight.". "Rachel here: ready for the kill.". "Take them down!" Peter ordered before he emerged quickly from the waters and grabbed the surprised gunman. He then pulled the gunman into the water, drowning him before he stabbed him with his combat knife. At the same time, both Rachel and James burst up from the water, grabbed the unsuspecting gunmen before pulling them down into the water. Immediately, the both of them quickly trusted their knives into the heart of their victims. Shortly after eliminating the sentries, the three commandos climbed up onto the wooden platform of the wharf and reported, "All clear!". As James and Rachel secured the wharf, Peter ordered the sniper team to regroup; Soo Tian and Melissa quickly swam their way to the location of their comrades. As the commandos regroup, they removed their oxygen tank and flippers. The Bravo team leader then contacted Lima team via his computerized visor. "Lima team, we've reached our insertion point. Commencing operation!" Peter reported. "Copy that, Bravo team. Let's get this done quickly and go home. Be careful out there." the Lima team leader reminded Peter and his team. "Likewise." Peter replied before he disconnected himself from the transmission; the commandos left the wharf and made their way for the underground passage.

The ICPU commandos of Bravo team crawled their way slowly behind bushes and foliage, avoiding the walkway to the underground passage to maintain their stealth. Unfortunately for the operatives, a handful of patrolling gunmen armed with Micro Uzis and assault rifles whom were keeping the area safe, made their infiltration slower. The commandos carefully observed the patrolling gunmen, making sure they were out of the gunmen's line of sight before quietly advancing further. Occasionally, the members of the ICPU had to silently remove any sentry or gunmen which made advancing impossible with their combat knife or their silenced weapons. A few minutes later, the commandos spotted the underground passage. In the middle of their observation, the commandos received an incoming transmission from their information officer. “Bravo team, report in” Jacqui ordered as her image appeared on every Bravo operative’s HUD. “We’ve spotted the underground passage that leads to the basement. It seems to be lightly guarded.” Peter reported as his visor’s camera zoomed into the entrance of the underground passage. “Copy that, Bravo team. Continue with the mission.” the information officer acknowledge as she received the team’s updated report. After a few minutes of careful observation, the Bravo team leader started giving orders, “Looks clear. James and Rachel, the both of you are on me. Sniper team, cover our six while we advance to the entrance”. “Got it, boss” Soo Tian acknowledged his team leader’s order as he and Melissa scoped the area with their sub-machine guns. Peter, James and Rachel ran with their heads down to their designated position. As they reached the entrance of the underground passage, they hold their position and kept an eye out for any gunmen before giving the sniper team the green light to advance. After receiving the permission to advance, the sniper team quickly regrouped with their teammates under the watchful eye of their comrades who were providing cover. The underground passage to the basement was clear of gunmen which made the commandos’ infiltration easier. After slowly and carefully scoping the underground passage with their guns, the ICPU operatives came to a steel door which led to the basement. “This must be the place” Peter thought as he got himself ready next to the door. Rachel then approached the bottom of the steel door and sneaked in a snake camera which was connected to her computerized visor via Blue Tooth. As she rotated the snake camera around, she got a full picture of what was behind the steel door. She spotted several weapons cache and a couple of armed guards sitting on them, chatting in Korean to one another. “That’s our weapon caches. We’ve got two tangos guarding them.” Rachel reported. “Okay team stack up and prepare for an entry”. The Bravo team leader ordered as he finished observing the visual presented by Rachel’s snake camera. “Flash and clear?” James asked as he reached for his stun grenades in one of his vest pockets. “Negative. We want to keep it as quiet as possible. By the way, it’s just the two of them. An enter-and-clear should do the trick.” Peter had an alternate way of entering. The commandos got themselves ready at the door, standing by for their leader’s order. “Go! Go! Go!” Peter barked before the ICPU operatives opened the door and rushed in with their silenced MP5 blazing. The surprised gunmen dropped dead to the ground before they could even raise their weapons. “All clear!” Soo Tian reported as he and his teammates secured the basement. “Rachel, plant the explosives. The rest of you secure the basement.” The Bravo team leader ordered as he moved to one corner of the basement to secure the parameters. The other ICPU commandos made sure the basement was secured as Rachel set the charges on one of the caches. “Charges set!” Rachel reported as she activated the C4 explosive on the weapons caches. “Jacqui, we’ve rigged the caches.” Peter reported to his information officer. “Good job, Bravo team. Proceed to your next objective” Jacqui replied before she shortly disconnected herself from the transmission. Shortly after that, the commandos received an incoming transmission from the leader of Lima team, “We’ve already rigged the power house with the C4s. Making our way to the back doors of the mansion.” “Copy that, Lima team. We’ve already set ours and we’re heading to the balcony of Cho’s mansion. We’ll let you know once we’re in position.” Peter replied. “Roger that.” Harmeet acknowledged. The commandos of Bravo team then regrouped and left the basement as they continued their infiltration.

Upon reaching the outer quarters of the mansion quietly, the team of commandos were welcomed by the luxurious and beautiful sight of Cho’s gargantuan mansion, flowery gardens and a huge swimming pool; the commandos had their jaws reaching the ground in amaze for a second as they witness the “garden of Eden”. “Gosh, it’s beautiful...” Melissa admired. It was unfortunate that she could not walk freely around the beautiful gardens and swimming pool; instead she had to crawl around infiltrating like an earthworm. “Okay, maybe we should consider a criminal career.” Rachel joked as her eyes toured around. “That’s the stairs that lead to the balcony.” Peter informed his team as he spotted his team’s designated entry point. The commandos continued making their way to the balcony quietly. In the middle of their infiltration, the team of commandos spotted Lima team entering the backyard of the mansion. “Boss, Lima team in sight” Soo Tian inform. The commandos of Bravo team halt their infiltration as they kept an eye on their comrades from another team. The operatives of Lima team cleared the backyard of the mansion as they systematically and quickly sweep forward killing every unsuspecting gunman in their path quietly; Peter and his team was amazed with their professionalism and skills nevertheless they weren’t surprised with Lima team’s performance as they are aware of the rigorous training every ICPU operator have to undergo which made them an efficient and effective killing machine. “Lima team reporting in. We’re in position.” Harmeet reported as she and her team got themselves ready to storm the mansion. As the Bravo team reached their entry point, Peter radioed in, “Bravo team here. We’ve reached our entry point.” Shortly after that, the information officer’s image appeared on every operative’s HUD, “Very well, both teams are in position. Detonate the explosives before making your entry. Remember to check your targets as you clear the mansion. We want Sergei and Cho back alive. Keep in mind for the suspected double agent as well.” Jacqui reminded. Rachel wired the door with a breaching charge while James had the explosive detonator ready; the rest of the commandos got themselves in position for a close-quarter-battle. “Countdown to assault” Peter informed every members of Bravo and Lima team as he got a flash bang ready. “This is the moment of truth. In five...” Peter started the countdown; the others braced themselves. “Four...” Peter continued. “Three...Two...” Peter gripped the pin of the flash bang. “One...” he pulled the pin out while James laid his finger on the detonator’s trigger and Rachel got herself ready to blow the door. “Hit it!” Peter finished the countdown; James and Rachel pressed their respective detonator. A loud boom followed by a huge fireball violently erupting from the basements and power house, alarmed the occupants of the mansion. As the door exploded and slammed open, a flash bang was tossed in before a white spark and a loud bang echoed the upper floor of the mansion.

The ICPU commandos of the Bravo team rushed into the mansion with their guns sweeping the area. With their adrenaline pumping, time around them seem to have slowed down giving the commandos the advantage to react faster to their slower moving environment. As the power to the mansion was disrupted, most of the lights in the huge residence were off, giving the occupants in the house low visual. Unlike their host, the commandos who had night vision on their computerized visors allowed them to see through the dark clearly giving them a better advantage. As the commandos sweep through the hallways of the mansion, several gunmen armed with pistols appeared before opening fire. The commandos took cover behind walls and flipped over furniture before they returned fire, killing them. The ICPU operatives then came to another hallway of the mansion which houses several rooms. “Lets all split up and clear each room! James and Rachel you’re together. Soo Tian and Melissa, you’re another team. Move out!” Peter screamed as he fired his silenced sub machine gun at the incoming gunmen. “Copy that!” the others acknowledge as they quickly form into their new teams. Peter rushed to the living room on the upper floor and tossed in a flash bang before clearing the area of enemies with his weapon. At the other end of the upper floor, Rachel and James got themselves ready at a door of the bedroom before they kicked opened the door and tossed in a flash bang. As they rush into a room, they encountered a gunman who was holding one of the maids working in the mansion, as a human shield. “Stay back or the bitch will catch a bullet in her brain” the gunman warned in Korean as he rested his pistol on the temple of his sobbing hostage. “Please let me go...” the maid pleaded in Korean. “Shut the fuck up!” the gunman ordered his human shield. “Let her go!” James ordered the gunman in English as he could not speak Korean. “Fuck...I’ve got not shot...” Rachel whispered as the gunman’s hostage was perfectly shielding him. Shortly after that, the gunman’s head burst before he dropped dead to the ground; someone fired a round to the gunman from behind. The maid immediately ran to the corner of the room before a Korean man came to comfort her. Rachel and James shifted their gun sights to the Korean man and to their surprised it was Bae Dong Min, the suspected double agent.

“Dong Min! Drop the gun! Now!” Rachel screamed as she aimed her MP5SD at him. “Hey, hey, I’m with you guys! I’m Interpol!” Dong Min immediately identified himself in perfect English. “No! You’re the fucking traitor who sold your country out to that bitch, Cho!” James denied as he grabbed onto Dong Min’s collar. “Hey you watch your fucking mouth! I did not betray my country!” the furious Interpol agent pushed James’ hands away from his expensive suit. “So how the fuck did Cho knew about the military convoy?” Rachel raised the question as she found it difficult to believe that the Korean Interpol agent was on their side. “One of Cho’s men hacked into the South Korean Army’s network to obtain the traveling log of the military convoy that was transporting her weapons” the Korean agent explained. “And you did not inform your superiors about it!? You dumb son of a bitch!” James responded with rage. “Hey fuck you, asshole! I had to stay off the grid or I would risk blowing my cover! Never mind that, our years of hard work trying to nail Cho would be down the drain. Who the hell did you think planted the transmitter on the weapons cache that led you to her mansion?” Dong Bin argued angrily as he could not accept the barrages of insults and speculations from the commandos. “So you took part in the ambush? You killed your country’s soldiers?” How could you?” Rachel questioned the Korean agent in disbelief. “I did not kill any of them! Yeah, I was there but I did not fucking kill any of them! I could not stop Cho’s strike team from killing them or they would have suspected me! Look, enough of this shit already. You can interrogate my ass once we get back to HQ but right now, I’m going to nail Sergei and Cho. You’re with me or what!?” Dong Bin asked impatiently. “You’re coming with us! If I catch you turning your gun on us, I’ll fucking bury you myself. You got that!?” Rachel warned the agent fiercely. “Yes ma’am!” Dong Min acknowledge angrily as he cocked his pistol. “Boss, we’ve found the agent in subject. He’s with us” James reported as he continued keeping a watchful eye on the Korean agent. “Copy that, James. Soo Tian, Melissa, report in” Peter ordered the sniper team. “We’re all clear over here, boss” Soo Tian reported his status through the transmission. “Copy that. Team, regroup on me” the Bravo team leader gave out his next order. As everyone regrouped, Peter immediately reported to the team’s information officer, “Jacqui, we’ve neautralized all hostiles on the upper level of the mansion and secured several unarmed civilians in the process. The Korean Interpol agent is with us. However, there is no sign of Sergei or Cho.” . “Good job Bravo team! Lima team, give me your sit rep.” The ICPU information officer requested. “Lima team here, we’ve secured the lower level of the mansion. Both Sergei and Cho are in our custody, Jacqui.” Harmeet reported. “Outstanding job Lima team. Guys, your next objective is to escort the “precious cargos” to the extraction point; I’m sending you the coordinates of the extraction point.” the information officer continued. A few seconds later, every ICPU operative’s HUD gave a soft beep as they received an updated information. “Coordinates received. Moving to extraction point now. Peter, I’ll see you and your team at the extraction point.” Harmeet said as she checked the location of the extraction point. “Copy that. We’re almost home” Peter acknowledged. All of a sudden Jacqui interrupted the commandos seeing that she had alarming warnings for them.

“Teams, this is not good: Our satellite just picked up multiple tangos converging on your position. I guess Cho’s backup got attracted to the fire display you guys put on. The number of them seems to be overwhelming. I suggest you guys get the hell out of there right now and head for the extraction point on the double or there’ll be hell to pay.” . “Fuck! How long do we have before, Cho’s men arrive?” Peter nervously asked. “Given their pace, more or less ten minutes” the information officer answered as she calculated the speed and distance of the converging tangos. “Okay team, you heard the lady! Lets head for the extraction point on the double!” Peter ordered his team; however the Korean agent interrupted his intentions to leave hurriedly with a suggestion. “There are several cars in the garage. Inform the other team to transport Sergei and Cho on one of them. We can take the helicopter from the mansion’s helipad. The helicopter is armed with a M60 heavy machine gun; we can provide cover for the other team from the air while they move to the extraction point.” Dong Bin brilliantly suggested. “Who the fuck asked for your opinion!?” Rachel interrupted the agent rudely. “No he’s right, Rachel. That’s the only way we can reach the extraction point quickly. Hey Harmeet, are you getting this?” Peter asked the Lima team leader through the transmission. “Loud and clear. My team and I will head for the garage now!” the Lima team leader replied before she disconnected herself from the transmission. “ I’ll pilot the chopper. I’ve flew it many times before” Dong Bin volunteered. “Okay, let’s head for the helipad now” Peter agreed as he and his team of commandos rushed to the helipad which was just a stone’s throw. As they reached the helipad, they were welcomed by the sight of a black UH-1N helicopter armed with an M-60 machine gun on the right side of the chopper; it was the Bravo team’s ticket out of the mansion which would soon be swarmed with Cho’s backup. “Quickly! Everyone get on board!” Peter ordered; his men wasted no time in embarking the helicopter. The Korean agent hopped to the cockpit of the helicopter with the Bravo team leader before he put he fastened the pilot’s helmet on and started the helicopter’s engine. “Rachel, man the machine gun. The rest of you sit tight” Peter ordered as he fastened his seat belt; Rachel immediately posted herself to the mounted heavy machine-gun. As the propellers span faster, the helicopter was about to take off. “Lima team, what’s your status?” Peter contacted the team leader of Lima team. “You gotta be fucking kidding me. We can’t find the keys to this goddamn Hummer” Harmeet expressed with frustration as she continued looking everywhere for the keys to the Hummer she and her team was in. “There’s no time to look for the keys! You’ve got to hot wire the car! Cho’s back up would be hear any minute from now!” Peter warned Harmeet worriedly. “Okay, but this is gonna take us a minute” Harmeet replied over the transmission. Shortly after, Jacqui’s image appeared on every operative’s HUD as she tried to contact the commandos. “What the fuck are you people still doing there!? Cho’s men are just seconds away from your position. You won’t leave the mansion alive if they reach there!” Jacqui warned the commandos. “Fuck! I know! I’m wiring the goddamn car right now! Is it the red and the yellow wire or the blue and the red wire!? Fuck!” Harmeet panicked over the transmission. Not far away from them, a long convoy of black sedan and SUVs smashed through the front gate; it was Cho’s men ready to storm the mansion and rescue their captured leader.

“Fuck! They’re here already! Get this chopper in the air right now. We’ll have to draw their fire and buy some time for Lima team!” Peter ordered. The helicopter soon lifted and it headed straight for the intruding convoy of black sedan’s and SUVs. Dong Bin flew the helicopter to an ideal altitude before he turned the metallic big bird where its right side, the part of the helicopter with the mounted machine gun, was facing Cho’s backup. “Rachel, waste them!” the Bravo team leader ordered. “My pleasure!” Rachel replied as she squeezed the trigger of the mounted machine gun; hails of bullet started pouring on the first wave of sedans and SUVs which forced the occupants of the vehicles to stop and exit. “Die motherfuckers!” Rachel screamed her lungs out as she continued firing the M60 heavy machine gun on the SUVs and sedans. The gunmen immediately returned fire but they missed most of the time as they could not proper themselves for a proper firing position seeing that they were constantly on the run , trying to avoid being showered by machine gun rounds. “Circle around them! We’ve got to distract them from entering the house!” Rachel suggested while she continued hailing rounds of machine gun bullets to the trapped convoy. “Got it!” the Korean agent acknowledged as he flew around the convoy, presenting Rachel more targets to engage. Several feet below the ground, the Korean gunmen continued firing their assault rifles and their sub machine guns, trying hard to hit the chopper but to not much effect. “Fuck! We’re wasting ammo here!” one of them cursed in frustration. He then went to his bullet ravaged SUV to withdraw a rocket launcher. Soo Tian who was observing outside of the chopper as how his sniper’s habit would usually prompt him, spotted a gunmen with a rocket propelled grenade. “Fuck! RPG! Watch out!” Soo Tian warned with alarmed; however it was too late as the gunman from below launched the rocket. “Eat this bitches!” the gunman screamed in Korean as he squeezed the trigger of the RPG-7 rocket launcher. “Oh fuck.....”Dong Bin struggled to evade the incoming rocket which nearly left everyone on board obliterated. “Someone take out that goddamn RPG!” the Korean agent screamed as he was threw into a state of deep panic. “I’m on it!” Rachel responded as she continued firing the mounted machine gun; she managed to spot the RPG wielding gunman before he showered him with hails of bullets killing him instantly on the spot. The chopper continued circling around the convoy at the same time pinning them down with machine gun rounds; Bravo team was doing a great job as none of the gunman managed to reach the mansion seeing that they were busy taking cover behind their bullet ravaged vehicles for protection. As Rachel concentrated her machine gun fire on one of the SUVs, the bullet-riddled vehicle then burst into a huge ball of flames killing the gunmen nearby. “Whoa fuck! Its just like Vietnam!” Rachel laughed with excitement. “I’m out of machine gun rounds!” she informed as she noticed the M60 was not projecting any more bullets. “Here’s the reload” Melissa dragged a box of 7.62mm rounds from the back of the helicopter. James assisted Rachel by loading the belt of ammunition into the machine gun. A short while later on, Peter received an incoming transmission from the Lima team leader, “Lima team here. We’ve managed to hot wired the Hummer. We’re moving!”. “Its about damn time Lima team! We’re taking lots of heat for you out here. Use the side gates of the mansion to exit. The front is barricaded with tangos. We’ll cover you from above.” Peter suggested. “Copy that, Bravo team. We’re moving. We appreciate you taking the bullet for us” Harmeet replied before she disconnected from the transmission. A black Hummer then rushed out from the wooden gates of the garage before it drives through one of the gardens, ravaging its beauty in the process. The Hummer then violently smashed through the side gates of the mansion as it attempted to escape. “There’s our “precious cargo”. Let’s get them” Peter spotted the black Hummer accelerating through the dusty roads of the island. “Copy that!” the Korean agent navigated the chopper to close in on the Hummer’s position.

“Lima team, Bravo team has your six covered. Head to the extraction point on the double” Peter informed his Lima counterparts moving fast on the ground. “Roger that, Bravo team.” Harmeet replied with relief as she felt safer since a gunship was escorting her and her team to the extraction point. The Hummer accelerated its way through the dark dusty night of the islands' quiet road with a helicopter escorting it hundred feet about ground. The ICPU commandos who were on the run later received an incoming transmission from their information officer; like before, she had more bad news to present to the commandos. “Guys, I’ve just picked up multiple tangos converging on your trail. They’re moving in fast!” the ICPU information officer informed. “Damn it...These guys don’t give up, do they?” Rachel dreaded as she remounted herself on the machine gun. It wasn’t long before three SUVs appeared in their sights, catching up with the Hummer; The gunmen then popped from the side windows and sun roof of the SUVs before they started unleashing rounds of assault rifle ammo on the Hummer. As the Hummer caught several rounds of bullets, it swirled left and right trying desperately to avoid more incoming rounds. “We’re taking heavy enemy fire here! Bravo team, do something about it” Harmeet shrieked in panic over the transmission. The helicopter then flew pass the pursuing SUVs before its machine gunner repeatedly fire upon them. The trail of 7.62mm rounds smashed through one of the SUV’s wind shield killing the driver instantly, before forcing it to swirl out of course. The remaining gunmen then shifted their line of fire to the helicopter; they started releasing burst of assault rifle rounds to the helicopter forcing it to retreat. Rachel who was manning the machine gun caught a round to her head; she was immediately pushed back before she hit the deck of the helicopter. “Oh God! Man down! Man down!” James screamed with alarm as Rachel lay unconscious in the deck. Bravo team was in a state of chaos the second they knew their teammate was down. Soo Tian and Melissa pulled the unconscious Rachel to the back of the helicopter, while James took over the mounted machine gun unleashing more rounds of bullets. Jacqui then interrupted as her image popped up on the commandos’ HUD, “Bravo team, report your status!”. “Fuck! We’ve got a man down! I repeat we’ve got a man down! Its Rachel” Peter informed hastily as he started to sob. “Jesus Christ...Medical units are standing by...”the information officer responded in disbelief. “Checking her vital signs...” Melissa reported as her computerized visor scanned the anatomy of her fallen comrade. “No signs of bleeding or wounds. Just head concussion. The bullet is in her visor but it did not reach her head. She’s just knocked out. She’ll be alright” Melissa reported with utmost relief. The rest of the Bravo members then shared Melissa’s relief. As James concentrated the machine gun fire on the front SUV, the land vehicle then exploded into flames; the rear SUV which was following it then crashed violently into the front SUV which was covered in flames before it discontinue its pursuit. “ All tangos have been neutralized” James reported with relief. “Outstanding job, James” Jacqui complimented. Shortly after the dramatic action, Bravo team received an incoming transmission from Harmeet. “We’re already at the extraction point” the Lima team leader informed as she witnessed a Black Hawk helicopter on the ground with its rotors still spinning fast.

The Hummer then stopped to a corner of the dusty road before its passengers disembarked; Bravo team continued providing cover from the air for their comrades on the ground as members of Lima team secured the extraction point and escorted both Sergei and Cho to the Black Hawk. As all the commandos from the Lima team were on the Black Hawk together with their prisoners, the Black Hawk slowly left the ground before it flew off with the escort of the UH-1N helicopter. “This is Bravo team. We’ve left the extraction point with the “precious cargo”. The mission was a success. Heading back to HQ” Peter reported with joy and relief to his information officer as he knew the Inter Continental Paramilitary Unit just achieved another victory for the day. “Outstanding job team! We’ve got incoming transmission from the commander. Patching you through” Jacqui informed. The image of Commander Moaz reappeared for the second time on the commandos’ HUD. “Excellent work out there, everyone! South Korean Interpol can’t wait for the arrival of Cho and Sergei. With the arrest of Cho, you guys just topple one of South Korea’s biggest organized crime syndicate in addition to preventing further illegal flow of weapons around the world. As for Sergei, we hope to learn from him the whereabouts of the Red Sickle mercenaries in South Korea. It’s about time we push this goddamn mercenaries off South Korean soil. Report back to HQ for debriefing ,boys and girls.” The Commander proudly concluded. The Bravo team then received an incoming transmission from Harmeet. “Bravo team, we really appreciated the support your team has provided a few minutes ago. If it wasn’t for you guys we wouldn’t have made it to the extraction point with the prisoners in one piece. Beers are on me once we get back”, the Lima team leader insisted. “The success belongs to everyone who risked their lives for this operation, Harmeet.” Peter responded as he took a quick peeked at Rachel who was still unconscious. The helicopters then disappeared into the darkness of the night; the Inter Continental Paramilitary Unit was done for the day.

Later on that day

“Members of the Korean National Police (KNP) SWAT team and the 707th Special Battalion Unit stormed the residence of South Korea’s infamous crime diva Cho Min Hae hours ago in Cheju Island, under a joint-operation between the Korean National Police Agency and the National Intelligence Service. Cho Min Hae was responsible for the military convoy ambush at the 32nd South highway yesterday which cost the lives of 2 military officers and 12 soldiers. The joint operation came to a conclusion with the arrest of Cho herself and the death of twenty five gunmen who were killed during the dramatic assault on the mansion; no casualties were reported on the side of the authorities indicated the assault was a success. The director of the Korean National Police Agency, Yong Minh Wok once again praised the courage and professionalism of the men and women of the KNP’s SWAT team and the 707th Special Battalion Unit who took part in the raid. He extended his appreciation and compliments to the National Intelligence Service for their effort and dedication in solving the investigation regarding the military-convoy ambush. Yong Minh Wok added that the arrest of Cho will deal a huge blow to organized crime in South Korea, given her massive influence in such underground affairs. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Yoo Byung Tae applauded the successful joint-investigation between the Korean National Police Agency and National Intelligence Service, stating that the success has reassured the Korean public that the authorities are always capable in preserving national and public security. This is Min Jae Soon reporting, SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System).”