Dark Matter: Episode Six (recap and review)

Jodelle Ferland as Five in Dark Matter
After last week’s combination Pandorum and Event Horizon homages, this week sees the crew threatening their “only friend” and Five undergoes a journey that feels like another homage or two. At the very least a few nods and winks are given to Inception (or Dreamscape) with perhaps just a touch of the 1970s TV series Kung Fu and more than a little bit of the Jennifer Lopez (2000) film The Cell. Episode six of Dark Matter begins with One asking Two about having sex with Three.

Her response is that Three was picked to avoid complications. One decides to accept this and leaves satisfied. Five approaches Two and says that she may be able to access her mind to search through all the memories to learn the combination to the vault. Two says it sounds too dangerous and Five says that she wants to help Two keep from making the same mistakes it is not just about finding money.

The Android helps Five to adapt some equipment to function as mind probes. The crew monitor her as she goes into the memories of the rest of the team. She begins by relieving Four’s childhood experience with his father. Her blood pressure and brain activity spike and the team pull her out. Afterward she goes to tell Four about the memory. He tells the Five she needs to learn control.

Five goes under again and once again she is in Four’s memory. She relives the murder of his father the Emperor, his half brother’s banishment and learns that the Empress is the one who killed the leader of Ishida. Four was framed and when he tries to leave, he is forced to kill three of his father’s security team.

Her next memory clears up a lot of things. Where the inter-dimentional key came from, who the dead boy was and how Five got on the ship. It is also made very clear why Three does not like, or trust, Five and why she reciprocates the feeling. In her memory, she lifted the key from a mark, she is a pickpocket and after lifting another man’s wallet she returns home to find all her friends dead except for T.J. who has been shot.

The two kids stowaway on the mercenary ship and when she goes to get medicine for T.J. she sees One and Six talking, One asks “Why Ms. Maplethorpe?” Six replies that he will never forget her, she used to hit his knuckles with a ruler; the two men are talking about the code.

During Five’s internal journey, The Android says the girl is in trouble. Her brain is relying upon the memory, or dream, input and if she does not come out she will die or become lost in her mind. Someone has to go in to get her and although One and Two volunteer, it is Six who insists that he will do it.

Back in the memory, Three has put her in the airlock to shoot her into space, just as her friend T.J. predicted. Before going into Five’s mind, Six is briefed by The Android who tells him that he should not get lost like Five…in theory. The robot also explains that he will have to be in control to bring her back.

When Six enters the memory, it turns out to be his own. This shows how he became a member of the mercenary crew. He was betrayed by a revolutionary who used him to kill 10,000 innocent people. He was, apparently, the only member of the team who did not know about a planted bomb. When the leader of the small team tells him to “man up” Six shoots him and kills the other members of the group. He tries to shoot himself and the weapon misfires.

As Six watches the memory, he is shocked and he shakily states that it has to be a mistake. He forces himself to leave, The Android’s theory was correct and he can leave memories at will, and he is in a barn. Five comes in and sees him. The girl goes to a woman and they talk about pie and her father’s birthday.

When the woman leaves, Five talks to Six and tells him he should not be there. He asks whose memory this is, and she replies it must be One’s. The people call the boy “Titch” and she loves his childhood. She skates on the pond every day and Six tells her she’s been on the table two hours and that her body is shutting down.

Five begs to stay. Six tells her this cannot last, he reminds her that something bad is in store for Titch, because he wound up on the ship. He tells her that they all had something horrible happen to put them there. She leaves with Six and afterward she tells Four the truth about his father’s death and explains that he did not kill the Emperor. Five tells him it was the Empress and that now he knows the truth, he can move on…right? Four turns and silently leaves the room.

Later the girl goes to thank Six for coming to get her and he tells her that One and Two volunteered. “Not Three?” she asks. Five tells the Six she trusts him. After she leaves, Six turns on the news and learns about the general who made him a criminal.

Dark Matter this week was Jodelle Ferland’s show, full stop. Her journey, which allowed her to really show off some impressive chops, was brilliant. The show’s writing continues to be top notch and shows a deep appreciation of the genre with a some excellent references to other productions. There was even a Wizard of Oz quote towards the end.

Each week a little more information is revealed about members of the team. Personalities and traits are emerging. Four is deadly and cold, Six is wise and deep, Three…not a nice chap who is trying hard to be better, Two is scarily efficient and, like Four, deadly, One is confused and Five a victim of her own abilities.

While Dark Matter may be science fiction, it plays more like a mystery creating more puzzle pieces as it fits others in place. Part of the SyFy Friday lineup, this is addictive viewing.

Ip Man (2008): Donnie Yen’s Masterful Performance

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It is not often that a film benefits from having not just one legend, but two associated with it. Ip Man has two. Starring the legendary Donnie Yen in what is quite possibly his best role ever and featuring choreography by the legendary Sammo Hung. (Who when asked how he was going to work with Yen to direct the action scenes, Hung replied matter-of-factly, “With my mouth.”) *Wikipedia* 

Both men are well-known for their fight choreography with Sammo nudging Donnie out by sheer number of years that he’s been practising his craft.

Directed with past Yen collaborator  Wilson Yip, Ip Man is the “true story” of Yip Man grandmaster of Wing Chun and master of film legend Bruce Lee. Touted as being semi-biographcal, the film is pretty liberal with the “truth” as things of this nature tend to be. While the rudimentary facts may be correct a lot of things were added to make the film more entertaining.

Despite this frugality with the real facts, the film is a powerful one. The recreation of Foshan in Shanghai looks so authentic you feel as if the film company had really gone back in time to shoot the scenes.

Some complaints were raised about Ip Man’s house being incorrect and that he never shovelled coal during the occupation and the facts of his move to Hong Kong are misleading. But as the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance says, “print the legend.” Or in this case, make it up.

Yen is stunning as the placid, peace-loving martial artist who won’t give lessons and spars with the local masters privately in order to save them the public embarrassment of being beaten.

At one point, he has to take on a usurper from outside the town. This ruffian fights his way through all the Foshan martial art instructors until only Ip Man is left. Going to his home, the outsider brings what looks like the members of every school in the town to watch him beat Ip Man.

Everyone in Foshan knows that Ip Man will be victorious and he is.

Everything changes in 1937 when the Japanese invade China and this is where majority of the drama and tension come into the film.

The legendary Sammo Hung.
The legendary Sammo Hung.

The fight scenes are exciting, original, and furious. The Wing Chun style is breathtaking to watch and the other martial arts battles are impressive as well.

The entire cadre of actors in the film sold their characters and I spotted quite a few familiar faces in it.

My only complaint was that in some instances parts of the story were a bit “over the top” so that it almost felt like a “kitchen sink” drama instead of a biopic. But theatricality aside the film looks, overall, fantastic and I got caught up with the characters and the “true” story completely.

A real 5 out of 5 stars for a film that had me munching my popcorn furiously throughout. I’m now going to “watch’ my way through the rest of the films in this four film series.

Even if you don’t love martial arts films the story of Yip Man could turn you into a fan.

The real Ip Man (Yip Man) and a young Bruce Lee.
The real Ip Man (Yip Man) and a young Bruce Lee.