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Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland)
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Axis Of War: The First Of August [DVD]
Axis Of War: The First Of August [DVD]
Dvd ~ Liu Jin
Price: £14.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Zhu/Mao - The beginings of the Red Army, 11 Mar 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this movie o.k. and superior by far to the 2nd installment of the Axis of War Triology Axis Of War: My Long March [DVD] [2008]. But to enjoy it you must have a vested interest in Chinese history and not mind the brazenly obvious propaganda.

Production values are very high in this series but it is let down by a seriously old fashioned script and not so subtle propaganda. The story itself is interesting and shows well the beginings of the Red Army and the rise of Mao's Communist party. Interestingly the Communists and Guomindang (Kuomintang) worked together at the start and their members fought in the same battles, albeit usually under the Guomindang banner against the Warlords at the time of great strife in China. Both followed in the footsteps of Dr Sun Yat-sen. What set them apart was that the Guomindang power was military based while the Communists looked for support of the masses, while they had more support with left wing intellectuals and history shows that is the wrong crowd when going to war.

So the film tells the story of how Zhu De and his 10.000 strong army joined forces with the Communists under the leadership of Zhou Enlai and in this movie Mao has a secondary role although his presence is strong and the movie ends with a quote from Mao about how nothing can stop the Communists with Mao and Zhu in charge.

For the large part the movie is confusing for anyone not well versed in this part of history. A lot of seemingly powerful persons come to the front and it is hard to tell them apart and who is who. The bright spots are that production value is high, as good as you expect from any good movie. It has fun parts, I real liked the parts where they had the songs, like "Brother John" but about how to bring down the warlords and rise up people instead of the normal text. No expense is spared in the movie and the battle scenes are large and powerful.

The downsides are many as well. Overt propaganda and really old style script. It ruins the battles to have people crying in highly and over the top dramatic cliché. Also the battles have little sense of direction, so for all the money spent they aren't satisfying for a real war movie buff.

All told I thought the movie was o.k. but certainly no more than that. It is possibly best suited to an audience that knows this history best, is open to this form of propaganda and is over 50.


The Walking Dead - Season 1 [DVD]
The Walking Dead - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andrew Lincoln
Price: £10.00

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect but damn close! Closer than you ever want to be to a zombie, 8 Mar 2011
This is a zombie television series.

What sets it apart is four things. First is very high production value, this is of the same quality as the best Television has to offer and frankly surpasses next to all movies in the same genre. The second is strong character development, it allows a character build up and you get to feel and hope for the characters. The third is - It is scary like hell. Well built up tension, shock effects - everything is there and done well. If you like scary it will deliver and deliver well. The last is the plot. O.k. Zombie is zombie, but the story is plot driven and builds up. Here is shows well that it is built on solid ground, the graphic novel it is based on.

Where it is not perfect is certain nit picking things, like, well Zombies in general and survivor stupidness. All zombie stories have this weakness and this is no exception. But all zombie stories require a suspension of disbelief and this is no exception.

5 stars as it is among the best horror tv and zombie stories out there.


The Admiral [DVD] [2008]
The Admiral [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Konstantin Khabensky
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £4.35

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The great Kolchak in a big budget movie that is small., 25 Feb 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
The film never touched me in any way.

DISCLAIMER: I enjoy war movies when well made. I have no problem with foreign language movies with sub-titles. I only care for the movie itself.

Aleksandr Kolchak is a towering figure in Russian history. He led the whites against the communists and for many years was seen as the Arch Enemy of the Soviet Union. But after the fall of Communism a revival has occured and he has become something of a legend.

Kolchak was indeed the stuff of legend, a decorated and brave naval commander that rose through the ranks on proven ability. Portraid as upright and righteous he is a rock in the sea of turmoil. So we are told and a few scenes support this.

The film is o.k. at the start. Throw in a few battle scenes with similiar CGI animation as Star Wars (and about as unreal and cartoonish) we get a decent feel for Kolchak the Admiral. Then we get a good feel that the commies were bad. They go off on a killing spree and various ways are depicted of how they killed all the nice officers. A few powerful moments here.

Then Kolchak turns his back on the new regime and all of a sudden he is leading the White Guard without any effort to how that came about. Nor do you get any paticular feel for the war itself. But you do get to see he spent a lot of time on a train. The Crusade against the Bolsheviks is a complete let down.

Far more effort is spent on a strange love story between Kolchak and Anna. She is pretty, granted, but how he becomes love stricken is seems to be solely on her looks and the whole affair dominates the movie for the better part but is far from interesting or explained to satisfaction.

To say that this is a dramatical rewrite on history is streatching things very far, and that was rather what I was hoping for. Instead I get a category romance with great custume settings and historical figures in a sympathetic light. So you are made care for Kolchak, you are told what an upright guy he was and the commies are clearly bad.

On the whole I felt rather duped. The few battle scenes are either mediocre CGI or very limited in scope, you get very little feel for the battles. History is barely touched except in passing and the category romance does not carry the film that could have been more. Certainly it holds no place among the best of foreign cinema in my collection.

I found the film mildy entertaining, but now that I have watched it I have no reason to see it again.


Axis Of War: My Long March [DVD]
Axis Of War: My Long March [DVD]
Dvd ~ Zhong Qiu
Offered by videosanddvds
Price: £2.45

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mao has his hair combed, 23 Feb 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One of the best war movies of the last years is the Chinese made Assembly [2007] [DVD] a brilliant film with some of the best battle scenes filmed.

So based on that experience and good reviews here I bought the entire Axis of War Triology. I tried looking them up on IMdB or Wikipedia but both those sources are silent.

Buying online you can go wrong I am afraid.

...

Disclaimer
Before the rest of the review I would like to emphasise that I have a vested interest in Chinese history and do not intend the following to be any form of Mao bashing or critisim towards the Red Army. This is solely a review of the film as a war movie.

...

This is one of the most blatant and badly done propaganda movies I have seen from some time. No expense has been spared to make this movie, and the settings are well done and quite a lot of explosions but that is all that can be said for the pros.

The rest is rubbish.

The start is funny, almost Boratesque and you immediately get the feeling of a Propaganda Ministry Production. The acting is overdone and frequently silly with an emphasis on high (overdone) drama and a lot of constant crying. Mao himself is portraid as a model of calm in the storm of troubles but is overdone like all else. The scene where the boy combing Mao's hair is badly written, the boy (a central character) poorly played and the dialoge terrible. All combine into a scene that has to be seen to be believed and you are better of never seeing it. And the battle scenes are rubbish as well despite all the obvious money involved. The first scene has gritty and realistic surroundings, the bomb boys have brought all their special effects but the CGI Aircraft are very poor, there is even a scene where the camera action rolls to the left but the Aircraft fit the frame as if it was still so they have a very odd movement to the left. Very badly done.

Then there is the climax battle of Luding Bridge, a very important historical battle. Again the scenery and detial is very well done which makes it all the harder to see how silly the battle is, overdramatic acting, crying and such that puts Ben Affleck's Pearl Harbor to same. Through a sea of fire the soldiers crossing the bridge (only chains at the time since the boarding had been removed) are unhurt until one dies with an extravagant dramatic flair.

My conclusion is that the film is a error in time. Aside from the money and detailing in scenery and uniforms the movie is bad. The script feels like a long dated film and doesn't just border silliness as it has long crossed it. To imagine that a masterpiece of war movie making like Assembly can be done in the same country at the same time as this film is amazing. The only thing missing to make it bad enough to be tolerable is to have a few song and dance scenes thrown in but it isn't bad enough to be fun.

Avoid.


Red Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Joseph Pilyushin
Red Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Joseph Pilyushin
by Joseph Pilyushin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.27

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dour tale of war, 14 Feb 2011
This is Pilyushin's memoir of his part in World War 2 during the Siege of Leningrad. A monumental 800 day siege and brutal trench fighting, while the Soviet soldiers struggled to set their city free. Hardships of all kinds and intimate enemies often only a few dozen meters away.

Pilyushin's story too is one of interest og great personal tradegy and it is told in a somber manner. He is wounded several times and once very seriously while his wife and two sons suffer the hardships of the Siege of Leningrad, neaar starvation and constant shelling.

So everything is there to make a good story but I confess I didn't like the style in which it is written and it failed to capture me and became a labor to finish.

Which is sad for this is a worthy story, that fails in its telling. It reminds me of an old man telling a story that he hasn't practiced.

I have read a number of memoirs lately and found all these were a better read: Guns Against the Reich: Memoirs of an Artillery Officer on the Eastern Front, Tank Rider: Into the Reich with the Red Army and On the Roads of War: A Soviet Cavalryman on the Eastern Front


Earth & Steel: The German Defence of France: June-September 1944 (Flames of War)
Earth & Steel: The German Defence of France: June-September 1944 (Flames of War)
by Peter Simunovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.31

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dug in Germans, very historical but limited in play., 13 Feb 2011
Flames of War
Having been a wargamer now for over 25 years the table top game Flames of War has taken me by surprise and outclasses all other games in the field. Of course it helps that I am also an armchair general with great interest in military history. The better you know the history the more fun the game is and the better you know the game the more sense military history becomes. For newcomers this book is not a complete game in itself, the game is played with minatures and you will need the core rulebook Flames of War - but if minature wargaming is your thing - then this is the best game I have played.

D-Day is a fancy slipcase companion that includes 2 books, Turning the Tide and Earth and Steel. Both can be bought separately but here they come together and since they cover each side respectfully they seem a good buy, although the slip case cost as much as both combined with no discount.

Earth and Steel

I had problems with this book. The lists are fine and interesting if you are really into D-Day and the Normandy battles on the beaches and the fortified ports but beyond that I did find the lists lacking in interest and there is that general gaming element that is missing.

The Germans have been revalued, and a few things have been done very well. Mortars are more in line with their value (cheaper) and have become viable. MG infantry has gone down in value too and much closer to their actual gaming value.

The problem is that the lists are just to specific and limiting, Kudos to Battlefront for the time given to unique units such as the 21 Panzerdivision equipped with modified captured French tanks or Panzer Lehr one of the most lavishly equipped German Panzerdivisions but neiter are general. Probably the SS lists are most general but even they have limits.

Going through the book I was hard pressed making a list to my liking, even though this is currently the best representation point wise of the Germans I just didn't find a list I really liked. IMHO the Allied Book Turning Tide: The Allied Invasion of France: June-September 1944 (Flames of War)is superior in every way.


Stalin's Europe: The Soviet Invasion of Eastern Europe, Oct 1944 - Feb 1945
Stalin's Europe: The Soviet Invasion of Eastern Europe, Oct 1944 - Feb 1945
by Peter Simunovich
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neglected part of World War 2 brought to life., 26 Jan 2011
Flames of War
Having been a wargamer now for over 25 years the table top game Flames of War has taken me by surprise and outclasses all other games in the field. Of course it helps that I am also an armchair general with great interest in military history. The better you know the history the more fun the game is and the better you know the game the more sense military history becomes. For newcomers this book is not a complete game in itself, the game is played with minatures and you will need the core rulebook Flames of War - but if minature wargaming is your thing - then this is the best game I have played.

Stalin's Europe
Covers the conflict following Bagration the destruction of Army Group Centre. It covers the desperate battles of stemming the Soviet Onslaught as Stalin's attention moves to the Balkans and the German allies, Hungary and Romania which changes sides and attacks their real enemy the Hungarians but under the command and steel discipline of the Soviets who have little love for their former foes that have become turncoats.

This list are fantastic and the battles are gigantic in scale, Hungarians fight to hold Budapest (a siege that matched Stalingrad), Romanians fight stripped of weapons with Soviet Political Officers to bolster their morale in a draconian way. Soviets have special city assault forces and the Germans receive a proud unit that is often neglected as is the Eastern Front, the Feldherrnhalle Division. An elite formation with their history tide to the SA precursor to the SS. Their ranks are bolstered by turretless tanks that too have fallen into the shadow of their more famous cousins but a worthy adversary - the new generation of Panzer IV/70 tanks, mounting the same cannon as the Panther but on a cheaper turretless hull. Known as Guderian's Duck after General Heinz Guderian objected to its introduction but they were amongst Hitler's wonder weapons intended to turn the war back into Germans favor.

I am thankful for Battlefront for brining such a neglected but important part of WW2 history to the gaming board and gamers and modelers will find a lot to like about this good book. Recommended.


D-Day: Battle for France: June-September, 1944 (Flames of War)
D-Day: Battle for France: June-September, 1944 (Flames of War)
by Peter Simunovich
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Army lists for Flames of War for Normandy, 26 Jan 2011
Flames of War
Having been a wargamer now for over 25 years the table top game Flames of War has taken me by surprise and outclasses all other games in the field. Of course it helps that I am also an armchair general with great interest in military history. The better you know the history the more fun the game is and the better you know the game the more sense military history becomes. For newcomers this book is not a complete game in itself, the game is played with minatures and you will need the core rulebook Flames of War - but if minature wargaming is your thing - then this is the best game I have played.

D-Day is a fancy slipcase companion that includes 2 books, Turning the Tide and Earth and Steel. Both can be bought separately but here they come together and since they cover each side respectfully they seem a good buy, although the slip case cost as much as both combined with no discount.

Turning the Tide
Is a wast listing of the various allied units that fought on D-Day and in the following Normandy Campaign. With plenty of lists to choose from, armour to infantry, US, Canadian or British, including famous veteran units such as the 7th Armoured Division, reluctant veterans from the campaigns of the Desert and Italy and now still as skillful but having had their full.

These are the best forces of the US and British partnership and they have come to end the war.

Many of the lists have been seen before but plenty of new and interesting stuff as well as minor modifications that make the lists more playable and a happier experience.

A really good book!

Earth and Steel

I had more problems with this book. The lists are fine and interesting if you are really into D-Day and the Normandy battles on the beaches and the fortified ports but beyond that I did find the lists lacking in interest and there is that general gaming element that is missing.

The Germans have been revalued, and a few things have been done very well. Mortars are more in line with their value (cheaper) and have become viable. MG infantry has gone down in value too and much closer to their actual gaming value.

The problem is that the lists are just to specific and limiting, Kudos to Battlefront for the time given to unique units such as the 21 Panzerdivision equipped with modified captured French tanks or Panzer Lehr one of the most lavishly equipped German Panzerdivisions but neiter are general. Probably the SS lists are most general but even they have limits.

Going through the book I was hard pressed making a list to my liking, even though this is currently the best representation point wise of the Germans I just didn't find a list I really liked. IMHO the Allied Book Turning the Tide is superior in every way.


Turning Tide: The Allied Invasion of France: June-September 1944 (Flames of War)
Turning Tide: The Allied Invasion of France: June-September 1944 (Flames of War)
by Peter Simunovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting for Democracy!, 26 Jan 2011
Flames of War
Having been a wargamer now for over 25 years the table top game Flames of War has taken me by surprise and outclasses all other games in the field. Of course it helps that I am also an armchair general with great interest in military history. The better you know the history the more fun the game is and the better you know the game the more sense military history becomes. For newcomers this book is not a complete game in itself, the game is played with minatures and you will need the core rulebook Flames of War - but if minature wargaming is your thing - then this is the best game I have played.

Turning the Tide
Is a wast listing of the various allied units that fought on D-Day and in the following Normandy Campaign. With plenty of lists to choose from, armour to infantry, US, Canadian or British, including famous veteran units such as the 7th Armoured Division, reluctant veterans from the campaigns of the Desert and Italy and now still as skillful but having had their full.

These are the best forces of the US and British partnership and they have come to end the war.

Many of the lists have been seen before but plenty of new and interesting stuff as well as minor modifications that make the lists more playable and a happier experience.

A really good book!


Blitzkrieg: The German Invasion of Poland and France 1939 to 1940 (Flames of War)
Blitzkrieg: The German Invasion of Poland and France 1939 to 1940 (Flames of War)
by Peter Simunovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.00

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, 20 Nov 2010
Flames of War
Having been a wargamer now for over 25 years the table top game Flames of War has taken me by surprise and outclasses all other games in the field. Of course it helps that I am also an armchair general with great interest in military history. The better you know the history the more fun the game is and the better you know the game the more sense military history becomes. For newcomers this book is not a complete game in itself, the game is played with minatures and you will need the core rulebook Flames of War - but if minature wargaming is your thing - then this is the best game I have played.

Blitzkrieg
The entry into Early War. This hard cover book covers the forces of Germany, Poland, France and England during the first months of World War 2. The lists include Armour, infantry and in some cases cavalry. Each nationality has uniuqe charateristics and plays differently. There are even Armoured Trains for the Polish - a left over from the Polish Soviet wars but not outdated and would be used afterwards by both sides on the Eastern Front.

The feel of Early War is very different than what we have experienced before in Mid and Late War. The tanks are little tin cans with weak armour which is o.k. since the Anti Tank capabilities are lacking as well. Shorter ranges and more manoeuver is required and the battles are intense.

Again Battlefront has brough part of World War 2 to life and even though I would have liked to see more there are a number of historical texts included in the book to bring back to life those dire days when most of Europe fell under the Nazi regime.

Overall a very good book and a good buy. Recommended.


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