Peter's Blog

Just commenting on things that interest me

Month: September 2020

Shibumi and Satori

I have just finished re-reading Shibumi (my favourite book) for the umpteenth time.  Still a great pleasure.

And now I have started to re-read Don Winslow’s book about Nicholai Hel called Satori.

This is my first time re-reading this since it came out in 2011.

I was very excited to read it at the time. A new story about Nicholai Hel (and some familiar characters from the original book). And an endorsement from Rodney Whitaker’s daughter Alexandra on the Trevanian website.

At the time I didn’t enjoy it to be honest. I didn’t recognise Winslow’s Hel to be the same person as Whitaker’s. I note that Whitaker had two conditions for the idea of another author writing about Hel:

The character of Nicholai Hel — the aji of Nicholai Hel — must be respected, and the book must be of a quality that would not disappoint his readers

Anyway, I’m not that far into the book but I spotted a glaring error on the second page!

Winslow says that Hel killed his father-figure Kishikawa with “a single finger-thrust to the trachea”. Anyone who read Shibumi know that he killed him with a pencil (naked/kill is not about killing with no weapon, it’s about being able to use anything as a weapon).

How could anyone make such a mistake about a well known detail, and then hope to re-create the character of Hel?!

Anyway, I am reading the book and (in spite of what I have said above) trying to do so with an open mind.

By the way, while I’m writing about Trevanian once again, I should mention the sad update that:

  • There is nothing on the IMDB website to indicate that any work is going on in relation to creating new movies based on either Satori or Incident at Twenty-Mile
  • There is nothing on Alexandra Whitaker’s website to indicate that there is any progress in relation to Street of the Four Winds

Things I love about John Wick

In 2014 a movie came out which changed the face of action movies. It was “John Wick” starring Keanu Reeves.

The movie was  directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch and written by Derek Kolstad.

I had seen a trailer in advance so I was looking forward to the movie coming out. The premise (an assassin goes looking for revenge when some bad guys kill his dog and steal his car) seemed so very, very promising!

And the movie did not disappoint. It had some of the best action sequences (unarmed combat, guns and weapons) I had ever seen.

Here are some of the things I love about the John Wick movies:

Action

The action and fight scenes are top notch.

Chad and David are martial artists and stuntmen who formed a company together called 89Eleven in 1997. The company website says this:

Action design is an art form all its own. At 87eleven, our team has what it takes to create innovative stunts for studio films

So when they got the chance to direct the first John Wick movie, they made the movie of their dreams. And the action and  fight scenes raised the bar!

IMDB says that John Wick kills 77 people in the movie. In an interview, Chad said that the real number is higher!

The movie features “gun fu”. Although Chad is a master of many martial arts, he said that John Wick uses a combination of ” Japanese jiu-jitsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tactical 3-gun, and standing Judo”.

World

The movie creates a whole world of assassins.  They have their own code and rules. Their own way of getting contracts. Their own currency. And their own chain of hotels (the Continentals) where they can feel safe (no “business” can be conducted on the hotel grounds).

This world adds a lot of depth to the stories.

Shibumi

The book Shibumi by Trevanian is my favourite book.  It makes an appearance in the first movie in two ways:

  • Nicholai Hel (the main character in Shibumi) is an assassin and a master of “naked/kill” (the art of killing people with everyday objects). Nicholai’s life takes a sharp turn when he is forced to kill someone with a pencil. We are old in the movie that John Wich has killed three men with a pencil.
  • A security guard is seen reading the book at one point

Sequels

It is very hard to make sequels which are as good as the original. John Wick is an exception. The first movie scored 7.4 on IMDB. The two sequels each score 7.5! In Rotten Tomatoes the scores are 87%, 89% and 90%.

Quite an achievement.

And “Chapter 4” is due out in 2022. I can’t wait!

Interviews

As well as making great movies, the guys are great to listen to when they are discussing the movies.

Here is a video of Chad and David discussing the move while watching the “Honest Trailer”

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