Friday, 31 May 2013

Crowdsourcing Name and Design for Latest Chocolate Snack

German confectioners, Ritter Sport have turned to crowdsourcing to design and promote their latest snack product. The campaign, Ritter Sport Design award has been featured on the crowdsourcing platform crowdINNO calls for the crowd to submit ideas for a name as well as an innovative package design. A cash prize as well an assortment of products will be awarded to the winner and runner up selections.

Combining the terms "crowd" with "open innovation" crowdINNO is a launched in March 2012 platform that started as a project of Germany's EBS Business School . The idea was formed by member's of the school's Competency Centre for Technology Management made of professors and PhD students with interest in business development and innovation. Like many similar platforms, crowdINNO inivtes project owners to post their challenges and invite the "crowd" to submit ideas and presentations. Some challenges have covered mobile app technology, automobile design and mapping projects. 

The latest challenged marks Ritter Sport's first venture into crowdsourcing for its latest snack product. With a trail mix of ingredients including roasted hazelnuts and almonds, sun ripened raising, marzipan cubes and chocolate squares Ritter Sport are looking for a design with appeal to a dynamic, trendy and youthful demographic. 

Anyone can take part in the campaign from professional designers to consumers who are fans of the product. Simply upload the design, which can take the form of digitally scanned and captured images or a simple written presentation, to the crowdINNO platform. The campaign will run until 06th August 2013. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of 1,000 euros with an assortment Sport Ritter goods and i-pad tablets for runners up. For more information visit the Ritter Sport campaign page.

Image Credit; The Marmot

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Tipalti and CAKE Partnership Offer One Stop Analytics and Payment Solution

Tipalti, the leading provider of online mass payments solutions has announced a partnership with CAKE, a platform that enables real time campaign tracking for advertisers. Rolled out during the ad:tech Conference in San Francisco, the new platform offers CAKE customers a fully integrated platform that will not only allow them to better manage their campaign but also manage payments with Tipalti's renowned payment management system ensuring efficient and secure transactions.

CAKE is a platform that provides advertisers with real time analytics solutions, and like Tipalti, it is an SaaS platform enabling smoother integration with the customer's existing system. In an increasingly competitive and fast moving digital marketplace advertisers need to know where their money is being spent and how the expenditure translates into viable investments. CAKE monitors changing patters in the customers' web traffic and provides detailed instant analysis through its analytics platform. Customers are then able to use the data provided to target the markets more effectively. 

The partnership with Tipalti offers existing CAKE customers accustomed to the platform's array of online marketing analytics tools, a similar design with comprehensive capabilities in mass online payment management. The integrated features include additional payment reporting and analytic capabilities linked to existing features to create performance based payment instructions. 
We're proud to work with CAKE to offer networks a truly comprehensive solution to managing global affiliates. With CAKE's industry-leading campaign management tools and Tipalti's integrated global payment functions, brands, affiliate network managers  and advertisers finally have a way to manage all facets of a global operation. - Chen Amit, Tipalti co-founder and CEO.
Payment instructions automatically captured by the Tipalti system scans those payments to ensure they are not made out to blacklisted payees, ensuring transactions are made securely and in compliance with appropriate regulations. Publishers and affiliates are thus better served with an optimal payment method suited to their country of residence and currency. The seamlessly integrated system frees up accounting resources for payers who can then focus on other activities, and thus eliminating labour-intensive tasks such as invoice reconciliation and processing tax forms. 

Tipalti has grown from strength to strength since it was launched in Spring of 2011, responsible for the managing of millions of dollars worth of payments each month in over 190 different countries. It has also secured an array of leading names as its customers including Article One Partners, the crowdsourced global patent research platform. The partnership with CAKE seals it reputation as a unique system of mass online payment management.

Image Credit; Anise Smith

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

UK Peer Proposes Support for Micro Businesses as Boost to Economy

The UK Government has actioned various schemes to help support the rise and/or expansion of small business in a continuously fragile and uncertain economy from tax incentives to the Government's Start up Loan Scheme. Recently the Prime Minister's enterprise adviser Lord Young published a report in which he proposes an expansion of the Government Start Up Loan scheme to help thousand's of small businesses get off the ground as well as open up public sector contracts to micro businesses across the country. 

Last year Lord Young published a report entitled Make Business Your Business focussing on start-ups and small business development which led to the launch of the Start up Loan Scheme. The scheme was co founded by the peer along with serial entrepreneur and former Dragon's Den regular James Caan aimed at helping business ideas launch. A typical loan can be up to £4,500 along with mentor support for applicants. The scheme exceeded expectations by 50% in its first year with 3,768 loans offered worth approximately £16 million. All profits from repaid loans are recycled back into the scheme. 

In his second report Grow your business; A report on growing micro businesses Lord Young proposes a serious of measures for the scheme's expansion. Micro businesses, those with 10 employees or less, make up 95% of all UK businesses and Lord Young highlights their increasing importance to the success of the British economy. Businesses that grew with help from the Start Up Loan Scheme have since gone on to become employers and it is this employment potential that Lord Young feels is the key to economic recovery. One of the many proposals in the report include a removal of the scheme's age cap, currently at 30, so that more entrepreneurs can have access to support. Other proposals include;
  • implementation of a £30 million Growth Voucher scheme to better help micro businesses with workforce expansion, advice on marketing, financial management, and online growth
  • an increased role of business schools in local economy including the establishment of the  "Supporting Small Business Charter" with an award scheme to incentivise business schools to help with SME growth
  • greater private sector advice to be made available through the Government's website
  • marketing of government schemes aimed at providing resources and support targeted at the micro businesses most in need.
It is very much true that Lord Young brings solutions to the table – his excellent report highlights the steps we can take to fire up business growth, helping to boost our competitiveness and ensuring the UK can get ahead in the fierce global race we are in. I thank him very much for his report. - David Cameron, Prime Minister
The steps identified by Lord Young in his report are not only aimed at economic recovery at a national level but to encourage business growth that would also help the UK stay ahead on a global scale. The Government is currently reviewing Lord Young's report with a view to implementing his proposals later in the year. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

[Review] Olympus Has Fallen

Stars; Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo
Screenplay; Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benidikt
Director; Antoine Fuqua
Cert 15; Running Time 120 mins

When highly organised terrorists invade American soil, and take over the White House holding the US President hostage, it's up to disgraced former secret service agent Mike Banning to save the day. Time is not on his side however as the terrorists demand the removal of US military from South Korean waters but have a far more insidious plan to implement.

The first of two movies in which terrorists invade and decimate the White House  (the second being Roland Emmerich's unimaginatively titled White House Down), Olympus Has Fallen is a beefcake action extravaganza with tongue firmly in cheek but played out very straight laced. It is not so much a parody, yet woe betide anyone who takes it seriously, but a homage to the numerous films of 80's and 90's in which one man is pitted against a group of highly trained and deadly terrorists. The trend of course started with Die Hard in 1988 which launched Bruce Willis' cinema career not to mention numerous sequels that have at times proven divisive in debate yet on same scale hugely entertaining with bigger & badder explosive fun but less engaging villains. Let's face it Alan Rickman's European baddie set the bar so high that only Jeremy Irons in Die Hard with a Vengeance came close enough to match or even set the new standard. 

The success of Die Hard prompted numerous "copies" whilst so blatantly a Die Hard rip off one wonders why the courts were not awash with copyright infringement lawsuits. That said however, the likes of Cliffhanger (Die Hard on a rock face), Under Siege (Die Hard on a boat), and Passenger 57 (Die Hard on a plane) are sufficiently distinct in that they never quite match up to the one that started it all but were packed with thrill rides in their own right. Thankfully the trend died down being relegated to the direct to video/DVD market. Olympus Has Fallen brings the trend back to the big screen with a bang.

If there is an absence of fundamental aspect that made these films the blockbuster financial and critical successes of their day it the lack of decent bad guys and kick arse one liners. Rick Yune does his best to be menacing as Kang, the leader of the North Korean invasion force. Sadly however he ends up a pale imitation of his far more worthy villainous performance as the diamond encrusted albino Bond baddie Zhao from Die Another Day, but still excels in the action and fight sequences. The script is also devoid of the genre's quintessential one liners that made Die Hard and its compatriots the legends they are. In particular Gerard Butler's secret service agent Mike Banning's utterance of a poorly scripted line (Let's play a game of "go fuck yourself, you go first) was cringeworthy at best. 

From start to finish all the little homages to the far fetched action flicks of  yesteryear (or even decades) are evident, and writers Rothenberger & Benidikt pull out all the stops. Mike Banning is a combination of Steven Segal's Casey Ryback from Under Siege (a secret service agent who's more than he seems) and Stallone's guilt ridden rock jock hero Gabe Walker from Cliffhanger. The similarities risk bordering on the ridiculous where at one point it was anticipated Butler would turn to the camera and say "Yeah well I am also a secret service agent." The humour and explosive action save the film from the pit of absurdity. Any avid film buff will not only spot similarities to Die Hard-eque films mentioned earlier but also more obscure 80's action fare such as Invasion USA and even Red Dawn. It also casts Dylan McDermott, who played a secret service agent in 1993's In the Line of Fire as, you guessed it, a secret service agent. As much fun can be had spotting the references as simply watching the events unfold with plenty of entertaining shock and awe action.

Butler is excellent as Mike Banning, the former head of US President  Aaron Eckhart's protection detail engaged in self directed angst ridden guilt over the death of his boss' wife. He seemless transform into a one man counter invasion force and it is in the action that Butler truly shines giving Bruce Willis and Daniel Craig serious runs for their money, oozing charisma, spot on delivery & timing, and handling the action as easy as making an omelette  Eckhart's President Benjamin Asher is sadly lacking in depth and whilst the star of The Dark Knight and Battle; Los Angeles turns in a well executed performance it is too reminiscent of Harvey Dent his most noted role to date. Amiable support is provided courtesy of McDermott making a welcome return to the big screen but the supporting stars of the show are Angela Bassett as the Secret Service Director standing up for Banning's abilities, and Morgan Freeman once again taking the presidential seat as the reluctant POTUS with some difficult decisions to make.

The script is a fair first attempt from newcomers Rothenberger and Benidikt who have turned out a fun packed well paced action thriller. There are one or two lapses in realism, one wonders why the acting President and Joint Chiefs of Staff would easily acquiesce to terrorist demands  with so much more at stake. Saying that such trivialities are quickly forgotten with likeable characters and  a few plot twists whilst likely to be predictable do not disappoint. Direction courtesy of Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) keeps the proceedings moving along at just the right pace dispensing with the sub plots before getting down to the fun bits. The centre piece of Olympus Has Fallen, the explosive action is fun and over the top featuring giant aircraft unleashing a rain of ammunition from heavy calibre guns, gunfire and the obligatory close quarters hand to hand fisticuffs that look highly impressive. Action lovers will be left open jawed as some Washington DC's political landmarks are reduced to burning ruins, charred shells of their former glory. 

Olympus Has Fallen ticks many of the essential boxes for Saturday night popcorn flicks, which plot holes and underused characters aside, has all the thrills of speedy fairground ride. It has sent a high benchmark for Emmerich's White House Down. Until that arrives sit back, power down the brain and enjoy.

Image Credit; Marshalcover (C) All Rights Reserved

Monday, 13 May 2013

Crowdfunding for The Suspended Coffee App

Who would have thought that you could perform a good deed for the day by simply ordering a cup of coffee? What started off in Naples, Italy has become a global goodwill initiative thanks to the advent of social media, with thousands of people ordering their coffee with one to be "suspended" for someone in greater need. Now organisers behind the movement have turned to the crowdfunding platform AppsFunder to raise the necessary funds that would enable the development of a Suspended Coffees mobile app.

Originating from Naples where it has been age old tradition, the principle of the suspended coffee is simple. When ordering a hot beverage a customer can also ask for a coffee to be suspended. Essentially it is an equivalent beverage, usually a coffee, that is "banked" and offered to those in need. Should someone who is homeless or has simply fallen on hard times ask for a suspended coffee, is any are available, they will be given to the recipient for no charge. From Naples the idea moved to Bulgaria where it was thought to have support from over 150 cafes. Through social media the idea grew exponentially mainly due to a Facebook page set up by 28 year old plumber from Cork, John Sweeney. The Suspended Coffee page has over 80,000 likes and businesses from all over the world have subscribed to the initiative proudly displaying their support using the leaflet available to download. It has also become the driving force behind raising awareness all over the world for both customers and businesses alike.

As the major chains such as Starbucks and Costa are currently looking into the possibility of implementing the scheme in their stores, the initiative is looking to encapsulate the suspended coffee experience for mobile devices. The aim is to create an app that will enable users to easily locate nearby coffee shops that subscribe to the scheme. Users will also be able to purchase and request suspended coffees online and leave comments. The sum of $8,000 is needed to design the user interface as well as develop and test the finished app, which is being sought through AppFunders. In exchange for their donation funders will principally be rewarded with a series of mentions and thank you's on the Suspended Coffees website and Facebook page. However, the greater the donation the warmer the gratitude.

Suspended Coffees has just under 80 days to raise the necessary funds and to date it has raised $1,025 of the target with support from 37 backers. Whilst overall there is still some way to reaching $8,000 the project is already half way to reaching the target of $2,000 needed for design of the interface alone. For more information about the project and to pledge your support visit the AppsFunder project page.

Image Credit; anthony pc

Sunday, 12 May 2013

[Feature] Ray Harryhausen - Effects Guru 1920 - 2013

Many of us will pay good money to see a film at the multiplex that feature our favourite actors, or helmed by renowned directors. Yet very few of the creative genius' behind some of the most eye popping visual effects had eager viewers flocking to the cinema except for special effects pioneer and innovator Ray Harryhausen. Whilst the likes of Rick Baker, Tom Savini, and Stan Lee had a strong following who would watch a film solely based on their work, none had the strength of following like Harryhausen whose body of work includes Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans. He passed away on 7th May 2013 aged 92 at his home in London.

Rise of a Pioneer

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, young Harryhausen (whose parents were  of German descent hence the name) had always been fascinated with prehistoric creatures and would indulge his love of clay pottery to create some of his favourites from that era. When he was 13 years old Harryhausen went to see RKO's epic monster movie King Kong and was in awe of the stop motion special effects used to bring dinosaurs to life. Inspired by this a young Harryhausein using a borrowed non capture camera began experimenting with his own creatures. Through a family friend Harryhausen was introduced to Willis O'Brien, the man who created the creatures featured in King Kong. O'Brien offered some constructive advice to Harryhausen who enrolled at the Los Angeles City College to study graphic arts and sculpture.

Poster for RKO Pictures epic King Kong - Click here for rights details

Harryhausen's first commercial work was for producer George Pal's Puppetoons a series of animated short films alongside his hero Willis O'Brien. The two worked well together sharing a dislike for the unjointed wooden figures used in filming. World War II erupted and Harryhausen was assigned to the US army's Special Services division where he worked alongside renowned film maker Frank Capra who was serving as a Colonel at the time. Harryhausen gained extensive first hand knowledge and experience in film making working as a loader, clapper boy, and camera assistant. After the war Harryhausen was hired as an assistant animator for his first feature length motion picture Mighty Joe Young, reuniting him with his friend and mentor Willis O'Brien. Although not a commercial success the film garnered O'Brien an Oscar win. 

Dynamation and The Schneer/Harryhausen Team

Harryhausen worked on various animation projects both commercial and personal before going on to work on The Beast from 20,000 fathoms (1953), based on a novel by his long time friend Ray Bradbury whom he met at college. It was on this high budget feature length production that Harryhausen developed his revolutionary technique that would go on to change the face of visual effects.

Dynamation, as it was to later be named, enabled the combination of stop motion animation with live action footage using a split screen technique. The background and foreground of a pre-shot live action would be split into two separate images. The background was used as a miniature rear screen in front of which model would be animated using a special animation camera. All the elements would then be combined except for the foreground which would be blacked out. The film was then rewound and the foreground element re-filmed essentially sandwiching the models and live action shots. Harryhausen would carry out much of the work himself controlling the lighting both of the projector and on set using defused glass to soften the sharp lighting. This created a seamless blend of animation and live action shots that was to be the pinnacle of his most famous and cherished work to follow.

It Came From Beneath The Sea - Image Credit mononukleoza

It wasn't until the early 1950's  that Harryhausen met and befriended producer Charles H Schneer who was assigned to the B-picture unit of Columbia Pictures. They released their first picture, the classic It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955) which featured the infamous giant octopus destroying San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The film was a commercial success primarily due to Harryhausen's high quality (for its time) visual effects and was repeated with Earth vs The Flying Saucers (1956) which inspired Tim Burton's 1997 hit Mars Attacks. Riding on the coattails from the success of these films Schneer and Harryhausen were about to embark on their most ambitious and revolutionary project, and the start of not only a fruitful partnership but also a lifelong friendship. 

Harryhausen did not share Schneer's enthusiasm for venturing into colour due to the challenges it posed to the Dynamation process. However after having developed systems to  achieve the necessary colour balances, Harryhausen changed his mind and began work on the highly successful 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). So groundbreaking were the effects that the fighting skeleton in the climactic battle was deemed to frightening for children.Nevertheless it was a box office and critical success. 

The Auteur's Finest

More work followed by way of a loose adaptation of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (the Three World of Gulliver - 1960) as well as Jules Verne's Mysterious Island (1961). His finest work however had to be the classic Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Jason was epic in every respect from the colossal statue of Talos the Titan to Poseidon holding back the clashing rocks to enable safe passage for the Argo. However by the far most famous scene, one that showcased Harryhausen's dynamation at its finest to date was the skeleton fight. It is still held with high regard and in 1993 Sam Raimi featured battling skeletons in Army of Darkness. Whilst all three were critically revered, although for the effects alone, sadly they performed disappointingly on their theatrical releases. The poor financial performance together with significant changes at Columbia Pictures resulted in Schneer and Harryhausen's contracts not being renewed.


As a free agent Harryhausen was hired by Hammer Film Productions to produce the creature effects for the highly successful One Million Years BC (1966), and again with Schneer this time for Warner Brothers on The Valley of Gwangi (1969). Both were financial success but the demand for fantasy epics seemed to wane until the 1970's when Schneer approached Columbia Pictures with a proposal to revive the Sinbad films. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) followed by Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) re-established the duo's box office credentials.

Schneer and Harryhausen were given permission by MGM studios for a big budget monster epic with big name stars. Clash of the Titans (1981), which was to be the last feature film to showcase Harryhausen's talents, excelled in every respect, becoming a commercial success. Harryhausen's Medusa and Kraken drew much praise for the film setting the benchmark for visual effects so high that not even the 2010 remake was able to reach. Despite this however the rise of effects giants such as Industrial Light and Magic who pioneered digital effects, effectively killed the demand for this style of filming leaving both Schneer and Harryhausen to retire from film making. 


Given the expansive body of his work, Harryhausen was never nominated let alone awarded an Oscar unlike his mentor Willis O'Brien. This was possibly due to his decision in the 1960's to live and work in the UK. However after much campaigning by legions of next generation effects artists and film makers inspired by his work, the A.M.P.A.A.S in 1992 presented Harryhausen with the Gordon E Sawyer for technical contributions. Other accolades included a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame, induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and even Sony Digital Pictures naming their main screening theatre in his honour.

Ray Harryhausen (top left) 2006 at launch of Jules Verne Festival with organisers & some familiar faces

Harryhausen's work has influenced generations of film makers in the field of visual effects including Steven Spielberg, Nick Park, Tim Burton and James Cameron as well as Edgar Wright who described Harryhausen as the man "who made me believe in monsters". His numerous books on animation techniques and body of cinematic work, despite the advent of digital effects, are revered by the newest generation of pioneering effects creators. His passing is truly a loss to an industry that continues to bring fantasy worlds to breathtaking life.

Monday, 6 May 2013

[Feature] The Impact of Cinema on Martial Arts.

It is sometimes joked that martial artists train for years developing incredible skills with their feet and hands only to go on and make some of the worst films in cinema history. This might be true of many in the Martial Arts action genre since many of them consist of exploitative revenge filled stories so gratuitous as to make the average grindhouse film maker blush. Whilst the market for such films seems incessantly flooded with more bad productions than quality ones, some have actually served to showcase of a variety of styles, many largely unknown.

It all started of course with the legendary late and great Bruce Lee, a martial artist and actor who gained notoriety on US television in series such as Longstreet and The Green Hornet. After returning to Hong Kong where he became a huge star with his breakthrough film The Big Boss he returned to Hollywood and starred in Enter The Dragon. Bruce Lee's dream was twofold; to promote eastern philosophy and his non-style martial arts, and to elevate the status of Asian characters and actors from the stereotypical images of the day to international recognition and leading name status. Sadly he died before Enter the Dragon was released but his dream became reality. More people attended Kung Fu and Karate classes whilst Hollywood had tapped into a film genre largely dominated by Asian cinema. 

Here are a few actors/martial artists who, as ambassadors for their unique style have helped to bring a more diverse range of martial arts to the public’s wide eyed attention.

AIKIDO (Steven Seagal - Nico)

As a martial art Aikido is one of the few styles that is purely defensive in principle. Founded in the 1920’s by Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, and translates as “way of unifying with life energy” it came to prominence thanks to actor, singer and activist, Steven Seagal in his debut film Nico (US title Above The Law) in 1988. Although this is not the first time Aikido was featured on celluloid, briefly glimpsed in films such as The Challenge and Never Say Never Again (both of which Seagal choreographed the action) Nico is the first film in which Aikido is shown in its purest form.

Steven Seagal - Photo by Gage Skidmore
Seagal is shown dispensing with his attackers by blending with their movements and redirecting their force rather an opposing it. Using the attackers inertia Seagal employs throws and locks as well as entering and turning movements to deflect the attacker safely out of the way. Strikes, grappling and kicking are not studied extensively except to showcase Aikido’s counter techniques and have only been featured in Seagal's films purely for dramatic effect.

AMERICAN KENPO (Jeff Speakman - The Perfect Weapon)

Often confused being another style of Karate, Kenpo is very much a diverse mix of styles combining Chinese Kung Fu with Okinawan & Japanese styles karate. American Kenpo evolved around 1940's Hawaii when the traditional Jiu Jitsu form incorporated the circular flowing elements of King Fu into its existing arsenal of strikes, kicks, locks and throws. Hawaiian practioner by Ed Parker, who whilst a big proponent of the the traditional system felt it would be ineffective in a real life situations. Using a a more scientific approach, Parker scientifically re-examined Kenpo's every move at virtually a microscopic level, developing counter moves for every strike block and kick, thus American Kenpo was born. This approach heavily influenced Bruce Lee. 


Actor and Kenpo practioner Jeff Speakman, one of Parker's top students describes Kenpo as the science of street fighting. Whilst Speakman's debut The Perfect Weapon, is very much a typical revenge laden martial arts flick with some questionable portrayals of its Asian characters, as an introduction to Kenpo the film excels. Speakman takes on a bevy villains and the viewer gets to see Kenpo used in varied scenarios including taking down a group of muggers, hand to hand combat with well trained henchman and even a David and Goliath - eseque battle with the ultimate of Asian heavies, the late Professor Toru Tanaka. In Speakman's hands Kenpo is a unique and eye pleasing blend of the balletic flows of Kung Fu with the shock and awe bone crunching effectiveness of Karate.

CAPOEIRA (Mark Dacoscos - Only The Strong)

A quick glance at Capoeira in action and you would be forgiven for assuming it was a dance, especially on the streets of Brazil where this unique martial art derived. Capoeira is a martial art, developed in the 16th century by African slaves, that doesn't so much combine but contains music and dancing within its very core. Practitioners (known as capoeiristas) not only have to be physically fit, fast and flexible to perform the combination of swirling kicks and gymnastics, but also develop a sense musicality and rhythm to fully participate in the Roda (game). The form is largely devoid of hand strikes and blocks, used very rarely, as the emphasis is very much on skill and longevity with very little contact. Its effectiveness as a fighting form  saw Capoeria prohibited twice before being adopted by the police and military. 

Capoeira in Action - Photo by tbondolfi
What Only The Strong lacks in substance more than makes up for in its portrayal of Capoeira. It is easy to ignore the plot, essentially reminiscent of Dangerous Minds, and some of the cringe-worthy dialogue as the stage is offered to the various executions of Capoeira for some fun filled scenes featuring the Roda to its main lead Louis Stevens (Mark Dacoscos) using his skills to take on a Brazilian crime boss. While the film makes a bold statement that martial arts can help turnaround the lives of even the most troubled teens, it is not hard to see how. The musical fun elements of this eloquent fighting form is given more screen time than its more straight laced revenge fueled combat scenes. Viewers therefore are treated to singing & chanting, musical performances, and laughs all brought together in a breathtaking visual display of dance, fighting and gymnastics.

PENCAK SILAT (Uka Imwais – The Raid)

The name for this hard hitting and swiftly executed close quarters fighting form is deceptive giving the impression that it refers to a single martial art. Far from it, Pencak Silat is the umbrella term used to describe the grouping of martial arts from an assortment of nations in Southeast Asia which include Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, although the term is specifically used in Indonesia. Of all the martial arts it is considered the most obscure with a difficult history to trace (tradition dictated it be passed orally to the next generation). Pencak Silat is characterised by a veritable arsenal of hand to hand to combat manoeuvres including strikes, blocks, locks and holds as well a a variety of weapons forms and applications. It is particular effective for close quarters fighting and is a staple of military and police training in Indonesia.

Image Credit - The Pageman

The Raid; Redemption is the second collaboration between Indonesian martial arts actor Uka Imwais and Welsh film maker Gareth Evans. Featuring elements borrowed from the best of Hollywood and Hong Kong action, the film features fast moving, bone crunching martial arts performances executed with such zeal and professionalism the audiences are sure to wince and shirk from the screen with every blow. Pencak Silat is so brutal and effective on show one can imagine how suitable this would be for law enforcement and military use, a coincidence when it has been rumoured Yayan Rhuian (aka 'Mad Dog') trained the Indonesian Presidential Security Forces and Military Police Corps.

Many martial arts movies, mainly from the west, feature a generic kickboxing style filled with swift jabs and overstretched spinning and back kicks which look impressive but only really designed to thrill and excite whilst moving along a fairly basic story. Movies such as The Raid and Only The Strong provide a sufficient backdrop before stepping aside and letting the martial art speak for itself and in its purest form. For avid martial artists it opens the door to previously inaccessible forms but for action cinema fans, a visually impressive and refreshing change to a steadily growing stale addition to the genre.