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Jamie F (UK)

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Kung Fu Chaos (Xbox)
Kung Fu Chaos (Xbox)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have Ultra-Unlockness. Do you like my ninja-ness?, 9 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Kung Fu Chaos (Xbox) (Video Game)
This game is a CLASSIC. It's brilliant: hilarious, humourous and addictive.
Starring high-kicking cartoon characters in various (often film-based) locations, this game is hugely entertaining, and has great variety in its game play.
The levels are all very well presented, and often have an amusing basis on a film - such as being on a sinking Titanic, escaping dinosaurs in Jurassic Park or aliens from Indepence Day. From the massively playable standard levels where you have to destroy many other ninjas, to the mini-games where you have to jump a rotating stick (simple yet genius multiplayer fun), catch ninjas jumping from a bar, bump other ninjas off an icicle or 'toss a princess', you will have fun whether playing on your own or with friends.
The amount available to start off with is good, things are unlocked at a reasonable rate, and the mini-series are fun when the main game's are completed (although this is not a trivial undertaking). Top this off with colourful characters and the best kung-fu cool presentation imaginable, and you have a game I cannot recommend highly enough. Perhaps not the best single-player game ever developed (although still a lot of fun), but in my opinion there's not a better multi-player one - and that's high praise indeed.

Outlaw Volleyball (Xbox)
Outlaw Volleyball (Xbox)
Offered by marxwax
Price: £47.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Multiplayer fun, 9 Mar. 2004
Outlaw volleyball is a good game. It's quick to pick up with simple controls, meaning players can compete relatively evenly regardless of experience - although improved timing and positioning will inevitably pay off.
The game is based on beach volleyball (although in this game, the volleyball is not necessarily played on a beach; more on this in a minute), and features 2 teams - each of 2 players, trying to get the ball to hit the ground on their opponent's side of the net.
The 'Outlaw' part of the title means the game has some wayward characters, and many of their little comments and celebrations are quite amusing. The commentary is also rather funny, although it does get tiresome after a while - at which point you can simply turn it off and play some music instead. The 'Outlaw' tag also means it can place matches in some rather unexpected locations, such as in a prison or a toxic wasteland as well as the beach. Most of the locations are packed full of humourous or ironic touches, as are many of the features in this amusing title. Finally, it allows a player the option of starting a fight (surely a first for a volleyball game), similar to the old NHL '95 game on the Megadrive. If you have a beating token, you can use this to duck under the net, and pick on an opponent, with a simple punch/kick mechanism. Win the fight, and you steal some 'momentum' (confidence) from your opponent. This is very satisfying in the multiplayer environment.
A good variety of game modes are provided:
1. Normal - normal volleyball rules.
2. Hot Potato - if the point isn't won in a set time, the ball explodes, and if it's on your side of the net you lose.
3. Casino Rules - the longer the rally, the more money in the pot, most money (not points win)
4. Bombs - On a winning shot, where the ball hit the sand a bomb appears, which will explode a few seconds into the next rally, disadvantaging the losing team a bit further.
These can all be played in Rally mode (where you win a point when you win a shot) or Side Out (you only get a point if you win a shot you served, else you just gain the serve. Also, games can be to 7, 15 or 21 points, and can be decided by 2 point clear as well.
Despite all these variations, the single player game gets quite monotonous with a lot to unlock. It doesn't really matter which variation of the game you play, the core gameplay is the same, and the shot variation feels quite limited after a while. However, playing with more than one player (you can play in any combination in exhibition mode, so 1-on-1, 2-on-1, 2-on-2, 2 on the same side against the computer) and the game feels more varied and comes to life a lot more.
There are many amusing mini-games, which come in the form of drills - and when completed improve a character's stats. These are generally excellent fun, although after the first few, these have to be unlocked (there's over 20 in total), and this does take a while.
Undoubtedly the best volleyball game about and one of the best multiplayer sport titles in my opinion too - similar to Virtua Tennis in terms of multiplayer fun. The game is not impressive enough in it's own right to recommend buying a console for, but if you own an XBox, have a few controllers and a few friends, get this title.

Team England Rugby: World Cup 2003: The Official Account of England's World Cup Triumph
Team England Rugby: World Cup 2003: The Official Account of England's World Cup Triumph
by Team England Rugby
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninformative, brief and underwhelming, 23 Feb. 2004
This book is in 11 chapters, a chapter each for the three warm up games, one for the world cup squad selection, and a chapter each for the seven world cup games. Each chapter's a quick read and (except the squad selection chapter) follows a standard pattern. A couple of pages of comments before the game, a quick highlight of the game, then a few comments from after the game. The comments are largely from Woodward and the senior players, and are the comments which were publicised in the large media coverage of the event. If you read the rugby articles in any of the main English national papers over the World Cup, you'll have read 90% of the book. Even if you hadn't, the comments soon become repetitive: pre-game 'we respect the opposition, but we are focussed' giving way to post-match 'they deserve credit, but we won, and will focus on the next match'.
The book does demonstrate the lack of ego and real work ethic that has permeated this great team, but it doesn't offer anything new or insightful. As a nicely presented and official account of one of this country's great sporting achievements, it makes a nice memento, but as a book it disappoints. There's no behind the scenes comment, no insightful looks into the relationships or the stresses and strains within the squad.
There would be no reason to buy this if England hadn't won the World Cup, and for an official guide that would presumably have been publicised anyway, this is a disappointment.

Jazz Impressions Of Japan
Jazz Impressions Of Japan
Price: £36.62

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West meets East with exquisite results, 20 Feb. 2004
Dave Brubeck is, in my opinion, a living genius. I have seen him live twice in the last few years and am going again later this year. His most successful album 'Time Out' contains many of his signature tunes that would be instantly recognisable to all, but the man has written an astonishing amount of material beyond these.
The tracks on this album may not be amongst his signature tunes, but are arguably a better sign of his genius. Taking inspiration from oriental sounds and tunes, Dave Brubeck writes brilliant, accessible American Jazz with a definite Eastern flavour. The tracks complement each other brilliantly too, the opening Tokyo Traffic and Toki's Theme for instance are full of catchy melodies and rhythmic vitality (I particularly like the pitched, rhythmic sounds that play the melody alongside the piano in Tokyo Traffic), but are surrounded by more atmospheric pieces.
A superb album, an encaptivating and enjoyable listen, and a superb demonstration of Jazz that can be enjoyed by the mainstream as well as the jazz connoisseur.

Sibelius: Violin Concerto / De Falla: Nights In The Gardens of Spain [DVD]
Sibelius: Violin Concerto / De Falla: Nights In The Gardens of Spain [DVD]
Dvd ~ Maxim Vengerov

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definitive performance, 2 Feb. 2004
A nicely presented (and nicely cased) DVD, showing one of the worlds top orchestras with one of the worlds top pianists, playing a good work well. Add to this world-renown conductors and a couple of well-performed encores, and this would seem a DVD for classical musical lovers to savour.
Wrong. This is a DVD for everyone who appreciates watching a true talent at the height of his powers - and it has nothing to do with any of the above. Not only is Maxim Vengerov's interpretation of Sibelius' Violin Concerto absorbing, his flawless technique and perfect execution is simply stunning. This if followed by a couple of encores, the Sarabande by Bach which he often plays, then an unaccompanied Ysaye sonata of which the performance is at times jaw-dropping. Mind-blowing. Many superlatives have been written about Vengerov and his performances, yet there needs to be more. This DVD is a brilliant demonstration of his brilliance. Buy it.

Dumb And Dumber [DVD] [1995]
Dumb And Dumber [DVD] [1995]
Dvd ~ Jim Carrey
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.49

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a word: hilarious, 21 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Dumb And Dumber [DVD] [1995] (DVD)
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels excel as the leads in this film which must rate amongst one of the funniest ever made. From one-liners to sketches or situations, Dumb and Dumber exceeds superbly on the main criteria for any comedy: it's funny. The plot is simple, but it keeps things moving and provides perfect settings for the humour to continue.
Whilst perhaps setting the scene for the many teen and gross-out comedies that have appeared in the last 10 years, Dumb & Dumber is still fresh and very, very funny, even after many, many viewings.
The support actors perfectly complement the leads. The policeman, the waitress, Lauren Holly and many others play their roles seriously, emphasising the goofiness exhibited by the starring duo. Jim Carrey's talent at facial and physical humour (even if you're not a fan of most of Jim Carreys other films, try this film, he plays the role superbly) is perfectly complemented by Daniels, who manages to play the dumber of the two.
Without doubt in my mind, this is the vintage film by the excellent Farrelly brothers. As I've said before, it doesn't do anything special, it just does what so many comedies fail to manage. It's funny. Not only that, it's very funny, and not just in places. It's very funny throughout.
The disc comes with few extras, which is a bit of a disappointment. However, the menus are good, the picture is clean and the film is a gem. Coupled with the bargain price, this is a must-have disc.

Evolution [DVD] [2001]
Evolution [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ David Duchovny
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.30

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, 21 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Evolution [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
In my opinion, it would be no surprise if a film critic wrote a negative review about this film. For a start, the premise is hardly original. Men In Black was an earlier (and more successful), science-fiction action comedy featuring aliens that could spell the end of mankind. More noticeably, replace the aliens with ghosts and the film seems similar to Ghostbusters (I believe this is the directors only previous real success) despite being released almost 20 years later. Furthermore, there are moments when the lead actors seem uncomfortable with their roles, and Julianne Moore's attempt at physical humour is far from well executed. Then, at the end of the film, the most scary alien the film could conjure was a massive blob. Not even a marshmellow man, just a blob.
However, this would all be unfair on the film. The plot is decent, realistic enough and well-paced. The same could be said for both the action and comedy content of the film. Excepting the aforementioned blob, the aliens that evolve throughout the film, are inventive, colourful, imaginative, and fantastically recreated via some superb CGI. The actors, while not perfectly suited to their roles, are likeable and have good camaraderie -you certainly want them to succeed. Also, in parts, this film is very funny. Very funny.
I've watched this film many times with many friends. All have enjoyed this film. Watch it, you'll find yourself being entertained, and will find a film you will talk about and recommend to others.
Unfortunately, the disc does nothing to enhance the film. The picture and sound are more than adequate, but the features may as well not exist. The only extra of note is a featurette, but it really is quite poor. For a film this recent, deleted scenes and outtakes should not have been hard to find. Also, a CGI documentary would not have gone amiss. However, console yourself with the fact this disc can normally be found for less than a tenner, and contains an enjoyable film that you will watch more often than most.
Highly recommended.

Old School [DVD] [2003]
Old School [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Luke Wilson
Price: £1.55

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny, but nothing special, 18 Dec. 2003
This review is from: Old School [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
A teen comedy which is fairly funny throughout and very funny in places, yet fails to impress overall. I'm normally a huge fan of this genre, but this doesn't compare with the quality of some recent films in my opinion. The American Pie's and Road Trip are far funnier than this and their characters are more endearing and have more personality. Dumb and Dumber, Happy Gilmore and the Waterboy are also all far funnier and superior choices.
The picture quality on the disc is good, and there's quite a lot of extra's although there's nothing that impressive - a bit like the film really.
Worth a watch, definitely worth a watch, for the moment with the breezeblock if nothing else. However, save yourself a few quid, and rent it. You won't want to watch it too many times.

Grand Slam Heroes [DVD]
Grand Slam Heroes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Souster

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning achievement, 18 Dec. 2003
This review is from: Grand Slam Heroes [DVD] (DVD)
The DVD features Englands first Six Nations Grand Slam triumph, in a well-thought manner. England's victory over Ireland in Dublin was a huge achievement and a stunning performance that was noticed the world over, but the preceding five games lacked the fluidity, control and precision with which England have often played recently. Having said that, every game had its moments, and thankfully they are all here. There's highlights of all the games, and a seperate disc to show the splendour of winning away to Ireland and sealing the Grand Slam.
This should be a five-star disc then, but it is let down by poor camera angles on many of the plays and general poor presentation. Regardless, as a crucial part in a superb run by a superb group of Englishmen, this should be in any patriotic persons collection, and the quality of the Ireland England game should mean many rugby fans will have led the way already.

The Muppet Christmas Carol [DVD] [1992]
The Muppet Christmas Carol [DVD] [1992]
Dvd ~ Michael Caine
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £3.94

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and best take on the classic tale, 18 Dec. 2003
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a classic in its own right; wonderful entertainment executed with astonishing skill. Based on a tale that needs no introduction, the strength of the source material is wonderfully complemented by the inspired casting - none moreso than the pairing of Gonzo (as Mr Dickens) and Rizzo the Rat, whose interaction and narration is truly hilarious on occassion. Add to this a superb performance from Michael Caine (who sings on stage for the first time), the heartwarming factor that Disney films manage to repeatedly produce and some enjoyable songs, then an unmissable Christmas film is unearthed.
The film is nicely presented on DVD with fun menus and a couple of fun documentaries that are definitely worth a watch. Also, the film's slightly changed from the video, with the couple of irritating moments from the original release removed. The best has got better.

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