Lazy Summer Day At Trinoma

    I went to Trinoma today to catch a movie. Since money is tight nowadays I didn’t want to spend too much and tried to look for an alternative to my usual Chef d’Angelo’s.

    Now I’ve been waiting for the restaurant marked “Fazoli” on the top floor of Trinoma to open. It was one of the last restaurants to open and since I’d tried eating at Fazoli in Eastwood, I wanted to have it open at the mall close to home.

    I discovered that it was already open today, but it had a different name: Ristorante Bigoli.

    I thought it would be a higher-end version of Fazoli (ie, higher prices, no bottomless drinks and no complimentary breadsticks.)

    I was surprised to discover I was completely wrong: If anything, it was cheaper than Fazoli.

    A single order of pasta costs only about Php 85, while a large order (for two people) costs around Php 125. This already includes complimentary breadsticks. (And if you’ve been to Fazoli you’ll know that asking for more breadsticks is definitely not a bad idea: The soft, buttery, garlicky breadsticks are a lot better than the half-assed attempts at garlic bread that you get from other restaurants.)

    The drinks, of course, are expensive–iced tea costs Php 45 (all drinks are bottomless). Keep in mind, however, that iced tea is always expensive: the production cost of each glass is only actually about Php 3. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s one of the few drinks that the food industry can afford to mark up over 1000%. And people still buy it anyway. I could sell a glass of iced tea to you for only Php 10 and it’d still be overpriced.

    Let’s compare prices:

    Item

    Chef d’Angelo Express

    Sbarro

    Ristorante Bigoli

    Spaghetti al Pesto

    P 125

    None

    P 85

    Iced Tea

    P 35

    P 48

    P 45 (Bottomless)

    Garlic bread

    Complimentary with pasta

    P 24 per 5-inch piece

    Complimentary with pasta; unlimited

    I’m not totally knocking Sbarro and Chef d’Angelo here: Sbarro’s pizza is awesome, while Chef d’Angelo’s is hard to beat in terms of freshness (you can see them prepare the pasta right in front of you, although they only do this in their Express concept at Trinoma’s food court and not in any of their other restaurants.) Still, the regular pasta dish size in Bigoli is just about as large as Chef d’Angelo’s and yet costs 40 pesos cheaper and it comes with unlimited breadsticks.

    Ristorante Bigoli is definitely a good option for students who want some decent Italian food without spending too much.

    The Forbidden Kingdom

    Jet Li vs Jackie Chan?

    Not really, though there was a scene that had them dueling, of course.

    Let me start with what I didn’t like before anything:

    The movie’s marketing is misleading. I expected it to be a primarily Chinese production similar to Hero or Crouching Tiger, but I was wrong. The poster did not show the lead character (who is an American teenager) and led me to think it was a pseudo-historical epic. But it really isn’t.

    Furthermore, while a lot of the action and plot is driven by Jet Li’s and Jackie Chan’s characters, they are not the protagonists despite being top billed in it. The primary conflict isn’t even between them.

    The plot is basically a Chinese version of The Neverending Story—wimpy teenaged boy with a geeky obsession discovers his true strength through an otherworldly journey, and as he succeeds he gets to go home, and when he returns he finds elements of his otherwordly journey back there.

    That’s about it for the things I didn’t like, because the film really was enjoyable in its own right. Where do I begin?

    Spoilers henceforth.

    The film begins with a scene of Sun Wukong (the popular Monkey King character who loosely inspired the infamous Son Goku of Dragonball/Dragonball Z) smacking members of the Jade Army around like nobody’s business. Sun Wukong is played by Jet Li, though I didn’t notice it at first because of the excess facial hair.

    This turns out to be a dream sequence, and our protagonist wakes up in his Kung Fu movie-decorated room. He visits an old Chinese man (it isn’t obvious, but this crotchety old man is actually Jackie Chan under a lot of makeup) who operates a store in the Chinatown of Boston. The protagonist, Jason, buys some old Kung Fu movies off the old man, but discovers that in a backroom of the shop, the old man keeps an ornate bronze staff that the boy recognizes as a monk weapon. The old man says the staff must be returned to its rightful owner, and that his grandfather had the staff since his time and yet the owner had never come to pick it up.

    The boy runs into some bullies who threaten him into opening the way for them into the old man’s store later that night in order to rob him, and in fear Jason lets them in. The old man takes the staff and bashes one of the bullies over the head, but their leader pulls his gun on him and fires. In a panic to prevent Jason from ratting on them, he chases Jason to the rooftop, where the staff seems to push Jason over the edge. He falls to the ground, and wakes up in ancient mythological China.

    He discovers from Jackie Chan’s drunken scholar character that he is the Staff Seeker, and it is his destiny to return the staff to its rightful owner—Sun Wukong, whom the Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) had turned into stone.

    The Jade Warlord is the commander of the Jade Army of Heaven, answering only to the Jade Emperor (the supreme God in Taoist tradition). He originally encounters Sun Wukong when the Monkey King (who seems to be a primordial force of chaos) tries to crash one of the Emperor’s parties, during which he and the other members of the Celestial Bureaucracy drink the Elixir of Life. While the Monkey King’s antics amuse the Emperor, who orders the Jade Warlord to give Sun Wukong a place in the Heavens, the Warlord is not pleased. The Emperor leaves to begin another 500 years’ worth of meditation, and leaves the Warlord to rule.

    This is not a good idea, as the Warlord is apparently Lawful Evil and begins a reign of terror. He challenges Sun Wukong to a duel and wins through treachery. Before Sun Wukong turns to stone, he casts away his staff into the Middle Kingdom (China).

    Jason and his new teacher are pursued by the legions of the Warlord’s army, and as they are surrounded by the army at the inn they’re resting at, Golden Sparrow (Liu Yifei) saves them and brings them to safety.

    Jason is confused about his role in this whole prophecy, since he’s horrible at martial arts. Like the typical eager disciple, he begs Jackie Chan’s character to teach him about “secret techniques,” and even tells his master about Virtua Fighter. The master is not amused, telling him to “empty his cup so it can be filled” again.

    While they are being pursued by the army, they encounter a white-robed Silent Monk (Jet Li) who at first seems to be an adversary. He turns out to be seeking the Staff Seeker, and joins them, leading them to the Five Elements Mountain where the Jade Warlord’s palace is (the Warlord apparently keeps Sun Wukong as a statue in his throne room).

    We discover that Golden Sparrow wants to personally assassinate the Jade Warlord for brutally massacring her family and hometown, and has prepared a dart made of pure jade that can be used to kill even immortals like the Warlord. Her dialogue is strange, as she always refers to herself in third person without using proper nouns. “She is thankful. This belonged to her mother.” (She also does not refer to others by name, using third person pronouns for them as well.)

    The party encounters the white-haired witch Ni Chang (Li Bingbing) who was promised the elixir of life by the Jade Warlord if she successfully brings the staff of Sun Wukong to him. She fires an arrow that mortally wounds Jackie Chan, and the party has to stop at a monastery to help him recover.

    Aghast at his master’s injury, Jason takes the staff and heads directly to the Jade Warlord’s palace to offer the staff in exchange for the elixir of life, leaving Golden Sparrow and the Silent Monk behind. The Jade Warlord initially thinks about giving the elixir to Jason, but the witch protests. To resolve this, the Warlord proposes a martial arts duel, awarding the elixir to whomever wins.

    Na Chang beats Jason within an inch of his life, and while she is about to drink of the elixir (and Jason is about to be executed), the Silent Monk and Golden Sparrow blast in and began owning all of the Warlord’s troops, while the monks carry in Jackie Chan.

    Golden Sparrow and Ni Chang begin an awesome catfight (two gorgeous Chinese women beating each other up with kung fu? Yes please.), while Jason is able to retrieve the elixir and have Jackie Chan drink it. The master wakes up and begins smacking the heck out of the soldiers, eventually cornering Na Chang and keeping her busy while the Silent Monk duels the Warlord himself.

    The Warlord mortally wounds the Silent Monk with his Glaive of Ownage, while Golden Sparrow, Jackie Chan and Ni Chang fight it out. Before he dies, the Silent Monk tells Jason to destroy Sun Wukong’s statue, and the colossal explosion flattens everyone. The Silent Monk fades away, and is apparently a simulacrum of Sun Wukong (he can create simulacrums of himself using his magical hairs). Sun Wukong and the Jade Warlord fight to a standstill, and Golden Sparrow takes out her ace in the hole—the jade dart. She distracts the Jade Warlord and tries to stick him with it, but the Warlord uses his magic to toss her fatally against a pillar. As she begins to falter, Jason runs to her side, and Golden Sparrow tells him to kill the Warlord with the dart. Sun Wukong bashes the Warlord, tossing him into Jason, who stabs him in the chest with the dart. The warlord crumbles to pieces and falls into a fiery chasm, while Sparrow thanks Jason (using “I” for the first time) and passes away.

    The Jade Emperor returns to restore order, and regretfully informs Jason that since Sparrow had written her destiny with her own hand, she can no longer be resurrected. Apart from this impossible wish, the Emperor grants Jason one wish, and he only asks to be returned home. Jason parts ways with Wukong and Jackie Chan, and wakes up back on the asphalt where he had fallen, and the thugs surround him, continuing to threaten him.

    Jason of course beats the crap out of the gang leader despite him having a gun, and the paramedics arrive to discover that the old man (here it’s clear that it is Jackie Chan) would recover; the shot had missed his heart. The gathered crowd leaves, and a girl who looks exactly like Golden Sparrow says she’d seen Jason’s fight with the thugs, and comments on his bravery. Jason continues his martial arts training, while the girl goes back into her shop across the street, which is named “Golden Sparrow Souvenirs.”

    The Verdict:

    The Good:

    -Jackie Chan and Jet Li are awesome in their roles.

    -The action is definitely enough to make the movie worth watching.

    -The movie was a visual feast, as expected for anything involving China—excellent costumes and landscapes.

    -Contributing to the above, Li Bingbing and Liu Yifei were gorgeous.

    -I loved the way Golden Sparrow’s dialogue went.

    -Awesome catfight.

    -Epic explosions.

    The Bad:

    -The plot was completely predictable from the moment you see that the protagonist is a teenage American boy.

    The Ugly:

    -Misleading marketing.😦 I expected an epic with Jackie Chan and Jet Li at the forefront. However, I understand—I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t want to watch a martial arts movie once they see an American teenager on the posters.

    -the movie was definitely targeted at Western audiences. I highly doubt it’s any way faithful to the Journey to the West epic where Sun Wukong figures as a primary character. But of course, that’s how you sell movies.

    All in all, I enjoyed the movie, and it’s a must see for martial arts fans. You just have to be aware that the movie may not be what you think. Also, I can’t help but gush for Liu Yifei. She reminded me how much I liked Chinese girls.😛

    (PS: Please pray for my mom, as she’s flying to Chicago tonight for a conference. Please pray for safety and productivity. That’s all. :))

~ by J. R. R. Flores on April 21, 2008.

10 Responses to “Lazy Summer Day At Trinoma”

  1. I havent watched the movie yet, but there never is any reference to the origins of the Monkey God: India. The monkey God is called Hanuman in SAnskrit, Hindi and other regional INdian languages. Hanuman is also a prominent charachter in Ramayana, the legendary and awe-inspiring INdian Epic. Thailand, Bali, & Indonesia, too have this Monkey God in their religious and epic holy texts…

    Just felt like more people should know about the origins….
    So also: India is the origin of all Martial Arts, whether it is acknowledged by other countries like CHina, Japan, Thailand, Korea, the US or not!

    Read more on Indian history, especially Bodhi Dharma, or Bodhi Daruma..and you will knwo that INdia was the birth place of Martial Arts…

    Nick

  2. I didn’t know much about India until I began taking up Indian literature with my third year students last year, and I have to admit that its history is interesting indeed! We began our lessons with the Ramayana, and I enjoyed it immensely. Sun Wukong indeed bears many similarities to Hanuman, the greatest of which is likely his martial prowess. (The image of a horde of monkeys beating up demons was awesome!)

    However, Hanuman seemed to me to be a lot more dutiful and lawful than Sun Wukong, who began as a force of chaos that was meant to be subdued through enlightenment (like how Buddha did). Sun Wukong eventually goes on his own journey to search for enlightenment.

    It’s a shame that Indian martial arts don’t get more publicity. Unfortunately, most of the West still thinks of China and Japan (and often can’t tell the difference between the two) when they hear about Asia.

  3. The director already stated before the airing of the film that Forbidden Kingdom is in no way an adaptation of Journey to the West although there are obviously a lot of references.

  4. hi, sir ^^ *wavves*

    “The Warlord mortally wounds the Silent Monk with his Glaive of Ownage”

    Is it seriously called that?O_o

    *rofl* i must wwatch thisO_o now if only movies were cheaper hereX.x

  5. I didn’t watch this (except for some youtube trailers), but Gold Sparrow is reminiscent of Liu’s past role as Xiao Long Nu/Dragon Girl in the Condor Heroes series.

  6. [

  7. Liu Yifei = Xiao Long Nu / Dragon Girl

  8. lol of course not.😄

    I just tend to call massively overpowering weapons strange names.

  9. ya! restorante Bigoli at Trinoma is a good choice… we’ve been there a lot of times, every after we watch movies! ..we go back becoz of the delicious but cheap food, nice ambiance & beautiful smiles from the staff!

  10. Thailand’s culture and religion was inspired by cambodia. cambodia’s culture and religion came from india. cambodia’s first relgion was naga, which dated back to the 1st and 5th century then later converted to hinduism mixed with buddhism in the 9th – 14th century. somewhere around that timeline, and after the fall of angkor. Siam (which is now known as thailand) was inspired by cambodia’s culture so they learned it as well.

    Though i don’t believe Jet li is Hanuman, because the movie doesn’t say anything about the origins and any contents of hanuman’s story.

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