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The 8 Show, it’s absurd(ly great).

What describes The 8 Show? Gamification. Absurd. Intense. Insidious. Executions. Crazy. I will do my best to not spoil too much and my worst to make this as short as it can possibly be (no I won’t).

Gamification. The main premise of The 8 Show is to gather eight characters and give them a chance to earn money by confining them into a built up studio, where a gigantic digital clock ticks down ominously while 24/7 cameras point at every inch of the estate. If time runs out, the show ends. For the players to earn more money they only need to do two things: not die or earn more time. However we never know where the money comes from or who the show producers are, but how cheery of them indeed to add a titanic animated screen of an analog clock to tell the time! Oh, and 1-way phonelines that delivers, via a interconnected chute, whatever it’s asked of – for a special price!

Absurd. This is a show in full, well iykyk. But this, imho, is what makes it an intense, engaging and fluidly paced 8-episode shock/horror Korean drama. The cinematography is zany yet watchable. The setup and the sets may remind you of a certain Squid Game, but the similarity ends there. Here the participants concoct their own games and play by their own rules. There may be niggly silly details to pick on but it was easy for me to not get bogged down on them and focus on the creme de la creme: the cast, who are very..

Intense. The ensemble cast are well-fleshed and their characters continue to tease us all the way till the final moments. In abundance they share chemistry (at one point, literally during ep6), food, money, time and poop. There is not a lack of poop-related scenes, mind you, not for comic brevity but rather integral to the show’s guts, pun intended. What’s not lacking, thankfully, are the very strong acting chops where noone pulled their punches, again, pun intended. Each episode breezes past you provokingly and you will inevitably inch closer to the edges of your seat. It is gripping. It is shocking. It is..

Insidious. In Act 1, a homogenously dressed party of clueless individuals, from desperate backgrounds, are all trying to make sense of this mini voyeur world they are now in. They struggle to earn more time to continue earning money while resisting hard from getting anyone injured. We see conflicts and predicaments fly over each other as they constantly jostle to come to a decision. There’s even a poop-related election! Bit by bit each participant’s reveal their hidden stripes, some more impressive than others. Everyone begins strategizing and galvanizing. You will be forgiven for sharing a mea culpa with the show’s creator if you felt like the action could shift up a gear or two. In the early days, it’s all fun and games until it eventually becomes no longer fun and games, leading us to..

Executions. Act 2! You get an inter-gender fist fight, people getting tased and peeing uncontrollably after, a glimmer of sexual innuendos, plenty of righteous bravado (such as resisting a poop-sharing agenda), more people getting tased and peeing uncontrollably after, a formation of a dark government that reeks of high society shenanigans, a manic hide and seek chase, and a chain of celebratory sequences of a mutiny (what a brilliantly executed mutiny!) that gently lulls us into..

Crazy. Act 3!!! A diabetic induced act of altruism kickstarts a series of topsy turvy events, where we are treated to a whole load of crazy after crazy. I digress, but is it crazy now that poop no longer matter during this arc? The show gets grimy but never too dark, it gets fancy but never too light, and a matrix of schemes uncover relentlessly, where might I say, to an extent, delightfully. You can’t help but wonder if these 8 participants have accepted fate or are tempting fate. The show flies into its final moments and the zaniness crescendoes into a scintillating spectacle of circus acts, ushering us towards a morbid ending. As the group approaches closer and closer to its exit bit, towards humanity, towards normalcy..

The 8 show is a show about eight people where there are zero laws. It is absurd, intense and a lot of crazy. And poop too.

One Piece: Netflix’s live-action adaptation. It’s Perfect.

So let’s take care of the elephant in the room. One Piece, Netflix’s live-action adaptation, is precisely that: an adaptation, but one that is joyous, heartfelt, and entrenched with sea-riously raucous action choreography and sea-nematography.

While it relies heavily (and joyfully) on Eiichiro Oda’s source materials and embellishes to perfection the casting, writing, set-art, music, and costumes, some hardcore fans may have been aggrieved by the multiple minor/major storyline tweaks that were adapted to make this 8-part Netflix masterpiece.

So let’s just enjoy it for what it is and not get too gummy about the con-sea-quences of compressing over 60 anime episodes or over 100 hrs of material.

While Oda’s story arcs may have been sacrificed, a little, for brevity, nevertheless it has rolled up a delectable red carpet for new viewers to appreciate One Piece: a rag-tag band of coming-of-age pirates, where every fleshed-out character is driven by dreams, propelled by dogged determinations and aided with a very unique set of ‘survival’ skills.

The man-boy captain of the Straw-hat pirates, Monkey D. Luffy, has candourly made it his life mission to find the elusive ‘One Piece’, while uniting and enjoining his shipmates towards righteous and earnest ‘piracy’. He advocates camaraderie towards innocent lives and property, bravely battling those that get in the way of their dreams.

Ultimately he offsets the weight of carrying his team by listening attentively, making uncomplicated-albeit-impulsive decisions, and extending rubbery limbs.

The devil is in the details.

Recreating anime art to real life is never easy and the production team’s devilish attention to detail shines brightly– from the hung drawings and garnishes on dishes at the Baratie to the map drawings and game stalls at Arlong Park — as world-building was not spared a dime or should I say ‘berry’.

The various sets and soundtrack were crafted beautifully, immaculately, and passionately, putting to worth every $150mm production budget.

The blissful watching though, lies within the depths of the characters and their banters/quips. Great writing makes great stories, and here is one of the show’s strength, even though it may be a little campy, it is barrel-loads of fun and reins in viewers unsuspectingly.

Coupled with the trippy, melancholic, and dramatic soundtrack, every beat amplifies scenes and delivers moods desirably. The music is so well produced, that it cuts your ears like hot knife through butter, gliding every scene to ebb and flow perfectly.

What long-time fans have appreciated these last 26 years, new viewers have now learned to embrace the quirky, goofy, yet lovable charm of the Straw-hat pirates’ fun and free-spirited adventures, without skipping a beat nor episode.

Thank you Oda and Netflix, for agreeing to and for adapting this. Truly brought out the nostalgic goosebumps as I got a reminder and refresher of my love for One Piece.

And thank you, for reading this.

Aalita: Battle Angel. 7.5/10

Remember that teaser for this movie that you saw a while ago, that led you to watch this movie?

Well think of this movie as a 2hr version of THAT teaser for the actual movie (which i’m hoping James Cameron will helm, if ever he has the time off from directing the 4 sequels to Avatar!), where Aalita busts balls in Zalem.

No disrespect to director, Rodriguez, it’s an uphill battle taking over from JC, but he made it his own and as it turns out, what is actually a good entertaining movie that’s fast-paced with self-explanatory dialogues, beautifully carved buildings and cyborgs — but it does leave me wanting at the end.

What do I want? A better, tighter, script? Breathable 3D cinematography? Bigger character development and story arc? Expansive action sequences with deeper meaning? A score that will render my senses numb and make me forget that I’m in a cinema?

Don’t get me wrong, they could’ve called this ‘Motorball: The movie” and I’d still leave wanting more out of Aalita, performance captured by Roza Salazar, who may not have invoked much of a soulful justice of a protagonist but she’s definitely punched above her weight here, carrying the titular character from scene to scene.

Although I secretly wish she had had me  believe that good-hearted Aalita is emotionally hurting than just playing out emotions, stomping stomp stomp her way through the various sped up stage of adolescent and self-discovery.

Now even though my human heart is dying to give 10/10 to this prehistoric warrior on steampunked rollerblades, it’s still just a teaser to me, especially when it was revealed to us that the villain, Nova, bore too much of a resemblance to a certain fight club hero.

And you know the first rule of Fight Club? We don’t talk about it or you might just get panzer kunst-ed..

.. In any case, I don’t mean to be rude, but am I seriously supposed to expect a sequel here?