Reviews

History Ticking Over: A Closer Look at Radical's 'Time Bomb'

A Simple Story: Scribes Palmiotti and Gray excel in taking simple elements and constructing infinitely engaging narrative arcs from these.

As a wartime period action book Time Bomb has stiff competition on a number of fronts. But the dream team of scribes Palmiotti and Gray do not fail to deliver.

Time Bomb

Publisher: Radical
Length: 165 pages
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Paul Gulacy
Price: $14.95
Publication Date: 2010-03
Amazon

It's not the ultraviolent comedy of errors that Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds turned out to be. More farce than frenzy, Tarantino's most recent offering (although superficially opulent) held at its core a measured disillusion with the World War II era.

Rather, the Jimmy Palmiotti/Justin Gray-scripted Time Bomb has more in common with the Richard Burton- Clint Eastwood-classic, Where Eagles Dare. The one in which Burton in his role as wartime spy-chief launched a false flag operation within a Nazi castle to root out a mole at the highest levels of Allied Command. Clint Eastwood, at the beginning of defining himself evermore outside his Man With No Name cowboy persona, played with aplomb the thinking man's vicious ultra-soldier. A man who'd need just one bomb to kill hundreds of Nazis, seemed to ring true as a character only Eastwood could play.

The joy in Where Eagles Dare, and it's secret triumph over Inglorious Basterds was the former's ability to engage you in the plot right from the start, and keep challenging you. Why exactly would Burton's character sneak off to murder a member of his team he parachuted in with? Was it because the man stumbled through his el-zee and got his chute caught in some trees? With Where Eagles Dare, you just kept on guessing. Could Burton be the very mole he was himself hunting?

It's hard not to expect the cadillac of war movies from the pairing of Palmiotti and Gray. It's not hard to recall the opening of DC's Jonah Hex which, along with Michael Bay's first Transformers, Chris Nolan's Batman and Jon Favreau's Iron Man stands out as perhaps the most significant reboot of the past decade. Remember the money raining down from the night sky in the opening pages of Jonah Hex #1? Remember that simultaneous feeling of stone-cold vigor and ice-water chilling fury as Hex prepared to kill Ronnie James? There was no way to bring this coward to just, no way to make him pay for what he'd done. And we rooted for Hex even if we had no proof of James' dastardly crime. Reading that Jonah Hex opening was a shot across the bow. Here was Hex as he always should have been.

And honestly, with Time Bomb, the Palmiotti-Gray dream team do not falter in the slightest. The story is flawless in its progression. In the first act we come up against the fear and the horror of a Nazi Doomsday weapon, and its accidental triggering by simply discovering it. In the second act, we come to understand the hidden joys in a gospel that has been preached by the gifted Mike Mignola for nearly 21 years now -- that attacking Nazis with 21st century weapons is an endless joy. But it's the third act that sets the gold standard for wartime period movies.

It's the story of Dr. David Page, the scientist directly responsible for building the time machine that allowed the insertion team to infil the past. And the story of Metzger, the sociopathic Nazi scientist who first dreamt of such a machine. With the time travel equations of Dr. Ronald Mallett recently being funded, Palmiotti and Gray's story takes on a chilling dimension. But there's more to the story than just that. Dr. Mallett explains in his book Time Traveler that his desire to build the time machine is deeply rooted in a love he shared with his deceased father for the HG Wells story, 'the Time Machine'.

The real engagement that Palmiotti and Gray offer here is the meditative examination of a science that is fueled by the idealism of popular culture. And for that alone Time Bomb is worth reading, worth owning. Radical's latest offering comes with the highest praise.

9

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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