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An image from the martial arts film The Raid

“Oops”

The Raid is a 2011 martial arts film and one of the best recent film releases. There are two things which make this film different. It was directed by a Welshman, Gareth Evans (his IMDB page here). And it was cast and set in Indonesia. This is perhaps the most famous martial arts film to come out of Indonesian cinema. But it has earned its place as an awesome martial arts film. Let us tell you why.

The Raid Cast and Characters

Respect must first be paid to the cast of this martial arts film. The Raid has a lot of great actors in it. And some of them really know their stuff when it comes to action-packed fights. Below is a list of the cast and the characters played by them.

  • Iko Uwais as Rama.
    This rising martial arts star was discovered by director Gareth Evans while he was filming a documentary. His martial arts is great to watch, being strong and lighting fast. His character is an armed policeman in Indonesia, desperately trying to save himself and his comrades from Indonesian gangsters.
  • Joe Taslim as Sergeant Jaka.
    This is a great character and really well played. In The Raid there is a lot of tension between the Sergeant Jaka and Lieutenant Wahyu characters. Joe Taslim really helps to build that tension. He also does some great martial arts, especially in his fight against Mad Dog.
  • Donny Alamsyah as Andi.
    This character adds a big twist to The Raid’s plot. Donny Alamsyah plays his part well and he, Taslim and Ruhian have an awesome martial arts fight scene.
  • Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog.
    Yayan Ruhian’s character is full of menace and anger. Mad Dog is the boss’ right-hand man. He does some amazing kicks in the martial arts scenes which he appears in. Not a likeable character, but really well acted.
  • Pierre Gruno as Lieutenant Wahyu.
    Another hard to like character. Lieutenant Wahyu has his flaws, and Gruno does very well in making us feel almost embarrassed for this corrupt police officer.
  • Ray Sahetapy as Tama.
    Tama might be the scariest character in the film. He is the gang-leader, drug lord and king of the tower. Sahetapy brings out all the worst in this character until he seems to ooze evil.

The Raid Gun Fight Video

If you want to know what The Raid is all about, check out the below trailer. It shows some awesome gun fights from the film and gives a good idea of the level of intensity. Hint, it is pretty intense.

The Raid Martial Arts Video

Guns are easy though. Martial arts is harder. Watch Iko Uwais take on a corridor full of machete-wielding bad guys. He is pretty awesome right?

Similar articles:

Top 10 Martial Arts Films

Top 10 Martial Arts Videos

The Tonfa, Martial Arts Weapon

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Percy Jackson series books covers

Percy Jackson and The Olympians

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I did not want to read the Percy Jackson books. I would not even say that I went out of my way to see the Percy Jackson films. It just so happened that other people were going and I tagged along. What did I think of the films? They were nothing special, but more of that later.

Why did I start reading the books if the films weren’t amazing? I am interested in ancient history and the Ancient Greeks. That interest comes with an enjoyment of Greek mythology. That is how I started reading Percy Jackson. And once I started, I was hooked.

What Is The Percy Jackson Series About?

The Percy Jackson books are works of fiction. They might fall into the category of fantasy fiction, or even historical fiction. Why historical fiction? They are based on Greek mythology and revolve around the adventures of demigods. Most of the characters are teenagers or young adults. Teenage and young adult life therefore play a big part in the narrative.

Who Is Percy Jackson?

Percy is the main character in the Percy Jackson series. He is the son of one of the Big Three gods of Olympus. His character had a troubled childhood, being expelled from schools on a yearly basis. Percy Jackson was raised by his mother but had never met his father. He is in many ways a typical teenage boy living in America. But there are also aspects of his character which make him extraordinary.

Where Are The Percy Jackson Books Set?

The Percy Jackson series is set in America. The specific location does change during the course of the narrative. One of the most prominent locations is Camp Half Blood. This is the place where young demigods live and go through training. It is essentially a Summer camp for gods’ children. Locations in Ancient Greece and other areas outside America are also referred to.

Why Is The Percy Jackson Series Good?

Percy Jackson is a gripping series of books because it is dynamic. I have already mentioned that the narrative takes place in many locations. New characters are also introduced in each book. The books themselves are unique and build upon the plot of previous Percy Jackson novels. The series also draws on some of the most powerful stories in literature, Greek mythology. These ancient and well-known stories are at the heart of the Percy Jackson adventures.

The Percy Jackson Films

Compared with the book series, the Percy Jackson films were disappointing. The first film was The Lightning Thief. This felt like one of those films which tries to cram as much of a series into one script as possible. Similar to the Series of Unfortunate Events film. I am guessing that they were not expecting to release another Percy Jackson film. The second did do better than the first. But those elements which made the books great just weren’t in the film.

Below are the trailers to the Percy Jackson films.


Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief


Percy Jackson and The Sea Of Monsters

Where Can You Buy The Percy Jackson Series?

Many book stores sell the Percy Jackson books. The series is also available on iBooks and Amazon. You can read Percy Jackson online by following the above links to iBooks or Amazon.

Martial arts videos. One soldier uses a martial arts throw on another

Martial arts have become very popular and their has been a recent mixed martial arts explosion. Lots of people around the world are now practising karate, taekwondo, MMA etc. What does this mean for you? It means that there are loads of awesome martial arts videos out there.

1. Chuck Norris Uses Martial Arts To Fight A Car

Chuck Norris begins this video beating someone up. Big deal right? His opponent then gets in car. That is not good. Chuck Norris is about to get punched by a car… Nope. He kicks it, simultaneously killing the car and its driver.

2. A Six Year Old Masters Martial Arts Kata

We’ve done some martial arts training in our time. And we hate to admit it, but we’re a lot older than a 6 year old. This small sensei managed to master the martial arts kata so well that it puts us to shame.

3. Bruce Lee Wins An Epic Martial Arts Fight

This is a scene from the film Enter The Dragon. One of Bruce Lee’s most popular martial arts films, Enter The Dragon is one you should watch.

4. Jackie Chan Uses Martial Arts Minus Clothes

Here’s a clip from The Accidental Spy. It is another of Jackie Chan’s classic martial arts and humour blends. Here he has to fight Turkish gangsters after losing his clothes. Protecting your modesty while defending yourself is not as easy as he makes it look.

5. Bruce Lee Beats Up Everyone

The final scene from Fist of Fury here. Bruce Lee manages to beat up just about everyone who comes at him in this video. Bruce Lee really is a martial arts genius.

6. Chuck Norris The Martial Arts Cowboy

It must be rodeo time. Chuck Norris is wearing cowboy jeans and throwing his legs all over the corral. This is the first martial arts fight we have seen involving two men and an angry horse.

7. Drunken Master, Another Jackie Chan Martial Arts Classic

We all know that Jackie Chan can fight. The only remaining question is can he fight drunk? Of course he can, watch the below video if you don’t believe me.

8. Martial Arts Makes Bar Fights Better

Here is the bar fight scene from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. This is one of our favourite martial arts films. This video goes to prove that girls can win bar fights. If that needed proving…

9. Matrix Martial Arts Fight Scene

This is a really good one which we had forgotten about. It is the scene from the Matrix Reloaded, where Neo uses martial arts to upset a lot of people. Some antique furniture also suffers.

10. British Martial Arts Courtesy Of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes’ character is very intelligent for someone who gets hit in the head a lot. This is a fight scene from one of the recent films, in which some martial arts and a lot of brawling is used.

More martial arts articles by us: 5 Examples of Why the Tonfa is a Terrifying Weapon, Top 10 Martial Arts Films, Shogun 2 Total War

Other blogs similar to this: REAL Martial Arts, Epic Martial Arts

What is Glossybox?

 

I signed up to the Glossybox subscription service at the beginning of the month, having heard much about it and admittedly found myself curious. I did my research, scouring YouTube for videos and the internet for blogs, and finally decided to take the plunge! For those who don’t know, Glossybox is one of the subscription services whereby, for a fee of £10 and £2.95 for P&P you get 5 beauty products sent to your door. It seemed like a nice and easy way to try new things that I certainly wouldn’t have had the guts to go out and buy. Signing up at the beginning of August meant that I received the July box as my first, and I admit that I took the opportunity to do some more video watching to see what  I might expect to get. Before I get to that, let me tell you a little more about Glossybox! Each box is shipped out around halfway through the month and payment is taken through direct debit. It’s a little like getting a present sent to you every month.

Products are chosen for you based off a beauty profile that you fill in when you start, although some products seem to be standard for boxes regardless of what you put in your profile. Products come in a mix of full size and sample size products. Also in the box comes a pamphlet with a list of the products, with a description/blurb from Glossybox and the price and size of the full size product. To figure out how much your box is worth may take a bit of time and a calculator, something I’ll be doing to write these posts. There is, however, a guarantee that the worth of the box will always be greater than the £10 you spend. By how much depends on the products and sizes received.

They have a number of affiliated brands which you can browse through on their website, from which the products are chosen by the elusive ‘Glossybox Team’. It seems that the service caters to more than the UK, but you should have a look at their website to see if they deliver to where you live!

 

July Review

 

 

 

The month’s theme was ‘Seaside Splash’. “Perfect” I thought, as I’m off to Sicily in a couple of weeks! In the pamphlet I found a note from the glossy box team, explaining the theme, information on a 10k charity run that glossy box is partaking in and how to donate to the charity in question. Also was an advert for an online shoe store, along with a discount code for an extra 5% off (I may very well go and have a peek for my weakness is definitely shoes!), and finally my list of products. All of this was housed in a cute, blue box covered in pictures of coral. Very beach-y. July box has been out for a while, so you may already know what to expect, but anyway, onto the fun stuff, what did I get?

 

 

 

1. Inecto Pure Coconut: Inecto Pure Coconut Refreshing Dry Shampoo

 

I can’t rotate this!!!!!!!

 

I usually avoid dry shampoo because it makes my hair feel heavy, powdery and they tend to smell quite strongly. But this one I could see myself buying again. I got the full size, which is 150ml and available to buy through Amazon. It’s probably too big to keep in your handbag, but that’s not so much an issue when you need to use it as a hair pick me up before rushing out. Its light, feels as good as a dry shampoo can, and it smells great! I was really worried about using it as I thought it would be a heavy, cloyingly sweet coconut scent, but the mild scent really sealed the deal for me. If I were ever to be converted to the way of using dry shampoo, this would be the product to do it for me.

 

2. Alterna Haircare: Bamboo Style Boho Waves Tousled Texture Mist

 

 

 

That one is a real mouthful to say! When I opened up this box I was really interested in trying this one out. I like styling my hair, but I avoid hairdryers, curlers and the like if I can get away with it. So products are really my only way of giving it a go. This sample was a 1/5th of the full size which retails at £23. I need to give this one more of a test before I can make my mind up. I’ve used it all of one time so far, and it left my hair a little crispy for my tastes. Next time I’ll use a brush instead of my fingers (like they tell you to in the booklet!) to spread it through and see if that helps. Unless this makes a huge difference, I’m unlikely to go and buy this again. I’ll try to have fun with it while I have it though.

 

3. Ciaté London: Paint Pot

 

 

With flash

 

Without flash 

You may or may not have heard of Ciaté, but they seem to be quite popular, and expensive. A full size nail polish is 13.5ml and costs £9. The longer I venture into the world of nail polish, I’m coming to realize that this may not be as expensive as I once thought. I received the colour called ‘Island Hopping’, a colour I might have bought for myself. It’s a very shimmery mixture of red, gold, and orange, much like O.P.I ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. Depending on how the light catches it, the colour looks different. I’m really happy with this, as a full size it’ll last me absolutely ages, I probably won’t hesitate to buy this again, depending on how it stays on my nails. (Weak nails means that most nail polish chips very quickly after I put it on, it drives me crazy!)

 

 

4. Coola Organic Suncare Collection: Coola Mineral Face SPF 20 Unscented

 

 

 

This was another product that I was quite excited about. Glossybox had three different kinds of the Coola facial sunscreen this time, but you won’t hear me complaining about receiving the unscented, uncoloured one. I’ve used a little to see how it works, but as the sun hasn’t been shining as much the last couple of days I haven’t had a chance to give it a proper go. Regardless, this is a pretty light cream, easy to apply with little to no white cast. My skin didn’t feel sticky or oily after application. So I’m happy. Unfortunately the full size product is £29.99 for 50ml, and the sample size was a mere 7ml. I’ll have to think long and hard before I consider buying this.

 

5. Ila Spa: Facial Oil for Glowing Radiance

 

 

 

The description of this was enticing, to quote “[Ila Spa Facial Oil for Glowing Radiance] has been named ‘a little miracle’ by celebrity make-up artists”. Nice right? The sample size is teeny weeny, but as they say you only need to use 3-5 drops, so a little goes a long way. Especially when it comes to facial oils. I have been using the Caudalie Divine Oil (a dry oil) as a moisturiser on and off for a while, and I really liked it, it sank into my skin quickly and didn’t leave it looking shiny or oily. This product boasts the increasingly popular Argan oil, rosehip oil, sandalwood oil and some others. When I tried it, I used only 2 and a half drops because it was damn near impossible to get it out of the phial that it came in. The first issue I have with it is the scent, it was pleasant enough but far too strong for something I would want on my face. I could have looked past that but even hours after application it still felt like the oil was sitting on my skin, making it uncomfortable and even impractical as my glasses slid down my nose every few minutes! In truth, while my skin does feel soft and healthy, I’m not sure I could deal with the inconvenience of it. The sample is 1.75ml and the full size is a huge £75 for 30ml. (Although I suppose that 30ml could last a very long time if used well). While I don’t see myself shelling out for a product that I wouldn’t be able to use as a moisture, I’ll give the rest of my sample a go as an overnight treatment, the other alternate use. Perhaps I’ll change my opinion on it as a treatment oil instead?

 

Conclusion

 

So there we go, not a bad selection of products there. Even though I did say that I was more of a makeup fan than skincare in my profile, I’m in no way displeased. There were two products I’d be happy to buy again, and one that I certainly would consider, and the final two I’ve decided need a longer testing phase. A much better result than I was hoping for. Before I forget, Next to the info on the facial oil the booklet also came with a 20% discount code for your next purchase from the brands website. This was a decent box, worth around £25, I’ve heard that they can go higher, but let’s wait and see! 
Alina

What is The Last of the Mohicans about?

The Last of the Mohicans is a historical novel written by J. Fenimore Cooper. The story is set during the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). This war was fought between Britain and France, with the assistance of their native allies. The Last of the Mohicans describes some of the events of this war. It also portrays frontier life in the American colonies.

Where is The Last of the Mohicans set?

The novel is mostly set in North America (around the present day state of New York, USA). But the story does take the reader up towards Canada as the narrative develops. Think the area around Lake George and Fort William Henry. Fort William Henry’s museum looks really awesome by the way! Cooper’s descriptions of the American landscape are among the most memorable features of this book. He really manages to bring the scenery to life in a way which you don’t see much in modern literature.

Who is The Last of the Mohicans about?

The book is about two distinct categories of people. The first group are white colonial soldiers and a couple of their family members. The second are Native Americans. This second group are split between numerous tribes and families. The most notable Native American tribes in the book are the Mohicans or Delawares, the Lenape and the Huron or Wyandot. The last group are also referred to as Iroquois. The colonial group is more simply split between British and French.

Who are the main characters in The Last of the Mohicans?

-Major Duncan Heyward, a young officer in the Royal Americans.
-Colonel Munro, commander of the British garrison of Fort William Henry.
-Hawkeye, a British scout and sharpshooter.
-Chingachgook, a Native American chief and the eldest surviving Mohican.
-Uncas, Chingachgook’s son and the only other survivor of the Mohican tribe.
-Magua, a Huron ex-chief with a grudge against Colonel Munro.
-Cora Munro, Colonel Munro’s eldest daughter.
-Alice Munro, the colonel’s younger daughter and object of Major Heyward’s affections.

What happens in The Last of the Mohicans?

The plot of this novel covers various aspects of frontier life. War is one element. This includes Western warfare, armies lining up opposite each other to do battle, and Native American warfare. The latter involves fighting in small bands in the forest and keeping behind cover. Peaceful exploits are another element. Characters fall in love and suffer losses, but are also forced to survive in an inhospitable landscape. The narrative is full of action from beginning to end and characters are well-developed.

Why is The Last of the Mohicans so good?

The Last of the Mohicans is a great novel because it really encompasses all aspects of life in colonial North America. War, survival, hunting, tracking and raiding are combined with aspects of everyday life. This makes the book both believable and engrossing. It brings the combination of normal life and exciting adventure which was unique to the frontier into the reader’s home.

Should you read The Last of the Mohicans?

You should definitely read this book. It is very high up on my list of top historical novels, and is a must-read for anyone with an interest in American history. There are also relevant social issues contained in the narrative. Gender and race controversy is present throughout the novel within the characters’ opinions of each other.

The Last of the Mohicans film

Here is a video of one of the best scenes from the The Last of the Mohicans film. This movie came nowhere near doing justice to the novel. But it is still a great film to watch.

Joe Malpas

Reading a good novel is a relaxing and fun activity. I would say it’s a form of escape but that isn’t how I like to think of books. For me, they are more like a quick holiday from reality. In the numerous worlds of historical fiction, you can escape into something completely new, different or maybe somewhere you know quite a bit about and are glad to revisit. For me, that would be Ancient Rome. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction based around Rome. But the great thing is that each novel you read presents a different interpretation of a place, so you are always experiencing something new. Here is a list of some of the best selling historical novels which I think deserve to be in the top 10.

10. The Great Gatsby

As I’ve reviewed The Great Gatsby before, follow this link to have a more detailed look at the novel. The Great Gatsby really is that great because it combines a highly engaging plot with a commentary on its historical setting. Life and luxury in early 20th Century America are criticised throughout the novel. This combination of a critical analysis of the historical context and an exciting storyline are what historical fiction is (or at least should be) all about. Here’s a video from the recent Great Gatsby film trailer.

9. The Alexander Trilogy

Valerio Massimo Manfreidi’s trilogy about the life of Alexander the Great is a good read for people young and old. I first read the Alexander books as a young teenager, and found them thoroughly enjoyable. Manfreidi writes the narrative to Alexander’s life from start to finish from a very human perspective. Myth, history and a well-spun story are all combined in this three part historical fiction novel.

8. Pompeii

Pompeii is a great book for readers with an interest in archaeology, Roman history or the fiction genre as a whole. This work of historical fiction focuses on the time before and during the eruption of Vesuvius which buried the town of Pompeii for hundreds of years. The plot is based around the mystery of a failed aqueduct, drawing the reader in before the dramatic ending. The below picture is the true location of one of the most dramatic events in the book, you can’t get closer to history than Pompeii.

Real life location of an event from the historical fiction book Pompeii, interior of an aqueduct

Attilius and Corelia’s point of entry to the aqueduct

7. The D’Artagnan Romances

7.1 The Man in the Iron Mask

This is one of those historical fiction books which has all of the right ingredients. It is also my favourite story from the D’Artagnan Romances. Historical setting, romance, engrossing plot, well-developed characters and the mystery of the historical event upon which the novel is based all make this a true classic of the historical fiction genre.

7.2 The Three Musketeers

Second out of the D’Artagnan Romances only due to the brilliance of the above, The Three Musketeers is a great historical fiction book. 17th Century France is brought to life in D’Artagnan’s writing, once you start reading it you won’t be able to put it down. Below, some funny scenes and quotes from the 1993 film.

6. Atonement

Young love, loss, betrayal and war are all merged into a single plot in Atonement. Happily, they mix well in this novel which is a very recent addition to the historical fiction classics. The book takes you from one perspective, time and location to another, never being what you think it is and refusing to end how you want it to. But the author is right on this occasion, the story becomes far more poignant in not giving the reader a conventional romantic ending. The final scene of the film here. And below, you can see moving pictures of Keira Knightley!

5. The Other Boleyn Girl

If you came here looking for women in bodices and men in tights, I’m sorry to have disappointed you so far, but this is the post for you. Another of those historical fiction books in which Henry VIII gropes innumerable female courtiers, this novel has characters you will love and others you will hate. The Other Boleyn Girl has become extremely popular and deserves a place at no. 5.

4. The Pillars of the Earth

Life in Medieval England was pretty hard, and The Pillars of the Earth reflects this harsh reality. Politics, romance and religion fuel the action-packed plot. Read this and you will become engrossed in the lives of each character as they attempt to carve out a place for themselves in feudal society. Another extremely successful book in the historical fiction genre, a great TV series has also been based on the novel.

3. The Aubrey/Maturin Novels or Master and Commander Series

The Napoleonic Wars are a constant source of inspiration for historical fiction writers, as you will see further down the list. The plot of this series of novels flows along to the thunder of cannons and crashing waves of the ocean. It encompasses a near-perfect balance of character development and naval action. Nautical terms are used frequently, but do not worry too much about it because you find yourself picking them up surprisingly quickly. A trailer from the Master and Commander film below.

2. I, Claudius

In the introduction I talked about Ancient Rome. I, Claudius is certainly the best book of the Roman historical fiction genre, and no.2 out of all historical fiction novels. The life of Emperor Claudius is related from his perspective, including all of the nasty behaviour of his predecessors. A book which pulls no punches and leaves no gaps unfilled, this is a true literary classic.

1. War and Peace

I’ve written a blog review of War and Peace before, which can be found here, so I will try to keep this short. In this book Tolstoy takes us to 19th Century Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. Great battles are fought, romances are kindled and lives are cut short. This is the best work of historical fiction that I have read thus far. Watch this clip from the film to get an idea of the book’s epic scale and harsh realism.

What is your favourite historical fiction book  or author? Let us know by leaving a comment 🙂

Joe Malpas

Bruce lee

10. Kagemusha

A samurai film with an emotional plot. A nobody is hired as a double for one of the most powerful samurai warlords in Japan, Takeda Shingen. However, when Takeda dies, how long will it take before his enemies and allies figure out the double’s true identity?

9. Red Cliff

This is a must-see martial arts film for anyone with an interest in China’s Three Kingdom’s period or fans of the Dynasty Warriors series. The armies of Xu and Wu desperately try to hold back Cao Cao’s imperial army and navy. Battles on epic scales and engrossing characters.

8. Kill Bill: Vol. 2

The sequel to Kill Bill: Vol. 1, this is a fine example of how well the genre of martial arts films mixes with revenge-based scripts. But does the sequel ever live up to the standards of its predecessor? In this case, probably not. But here’s a video of how to stop a heart with one hand!

7. Kill Bill: Vol. 1

This film beats its sequel by quite a margin. One of the modern martial arts film greats, Uma Thurman is more than just eye-candy, wielding a katana like a pro. Here’s the famous scene where she takes down 88 bad guys in a fight.

6. Ip Man 2

Another sequel which very nearly holds its own with the original Ip Man. This martial arts epic only missed out on being in the top 3 due to the number of near-perfect movies clamouring for the top spot.

5. House of Flying Daggers

The House of Flying Daggers film is one of the best choreographed movies we’ve seen. Stunning scenery and breathtaking fight scenes ensure that it has earned this spot at Number 5 on the Top 10 list. To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here’s our pic of best clip.

4. Hero

Number 4, for an awe inspiring combination of fantastic scenery and dynamic fights, all woven into an incredible plot, check out Hero. Here is the final scene, which was just too good to leave out!

3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Another oldie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a must-see for martial arts films enthusiasts. Memorable scenes involving running up walls (in a more-believable-than-The-Matrix) kind of way and through treetops combined with a riveting plot secure this old-time favourite a spot at Number 3. Watch the video below for some really fast-paced action showing what a girl can really do with a sword (couldn’t keep up eh, Kill Bill?).

2. Ip Man

Number 2 and the first Ip Man film, the story still gets me. A tale of China under Japanese occupation and one man’s fight against oppression. Ip Man moves hands and feet faster than the human eye can follow in this hit epic martial arts film. Otherwise, I’ll let the following video speak for itself.

1. Fist of Fury

The best out of all martial arts films. Bruce Lee plays the part of a young man looking to take revenge on his sensei’s murderers in this 1970s film. The best scene in the film is the final segment when Bruce Lee forces his way through his enemy’s compound with a storm of kicks, punches and blocks.

What’s your Top 10? Leave a comment below letting us know your opinions 🙂

Joe Malpas, you can also find Negau on Blogger