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Reviews Written by
Laurence R. Hunt "Laurence Hunt" (Kenora, Ontario, Canada)
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Ringside Super Bag Gloves, Large, Black
Ringside Super Bag Gloves, Large, Black
Price: CDN$ 60.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible gloves of top quality., Aug. 23 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are incredible gloves of top quality at a good price. They are firm/tight-fitting and sturdily-constructed, as they should be, with no noticeable slippage. Very pleased with this purchase. The Ringside brand seems to produce products at a consistent, high standard.

TKO Medicine Ball Display Rack
TKO Medicine Ball Display Rack
Price: CDN$ 101.60
3 used & new from CDN$ 101.60

5.0 out of 5 stars A sturdy, well-made, versatile product., Aug. 23 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a sturdy, well-made, versatile product. I will caution that it is designed for the older style (larger) medicine balls. The holders are larger than would work for some of the newer, smaller weighted balls, particularly those that are "soft-grip," as the U-shaped holders will put a crease in those. However, I have quite a few weighted balls of various styles, and this has been perfect for my purposes. I can't imagine how this stand could be better made. I should add that the price on this product was highly variable, literally hopping around over the few weeks I was watching it. I was able to purchase this under $90 with free shipping, which feels like a very good deal.

Trademark Innovations Speed Training Hurdles, Pack of 5, 12-Inch
Trademark Innovations Speed Training Hurdles, Pack of 5, 12-Inch
Price: CDN$ 32.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well-made, lightweight training hurdles., Aug. 23 2014
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This is a very reasonably priced product for the home gym. These hurdles are light, sturdy and well-made in all respects. I cannot think how they could be improved.

Black Mountain Products Multi-Use Exercise Gymnastics Rings
Black Mountain Products Multi-Use Exercise Gymnastics Rings
Price: CDN$ 39.31
2 used & new from CDN$ 27.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product., Aug. 23 2014
I am totally pleased with these rings, which I have just installed. In my setting, I am using them in a fixed position, so I am not using the straps (rather rope loops). Though I am rating only the rings, the straps look to be of good quality with a sturdy buckle. The rings are of good size, extremely sturdy, and reasonably light. They have a good feel on the hands, and are comfortable while supporting full body weight for periods of a minute at a time or so. I am glad that I have added these to my home gym. I am now very pleased with everything I have ordered from Black Mountain. They seem to be producing to a high standard.

Black Mountain Products Dual Stability AB Wheel Roller
Black Mountain Products Dual Stability AB Wheel Roller
Price: CDN$ 17.93
2 used & new from CDN$ 17.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a class by itself., Aug. 23 2014
This is a superior roller, and I have used others. It is in a class by itself. The best handgrips I have seen, much superior to the soft foam that most of them have. Nicely finished. The wheels are somewhat smaller than the ones you commonly see, but that causes no problems that I have identified. Best in class.

Avatar (Extended Collector's Edition)  [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Avatar (Extended Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 19.96
15 used & new from CDN$ 15.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Dated/wrongheaded social commentary, and without any real technological imagination...., Aug. 22 2014
I was honestly very disappointed by Avatar, and this reaction is despite my enjoyment of the homage to Philip Jose Farmer and some other very well-executed scifi flourishes. My problem is that, as a social commentary, Avatar One was entirely misguided. I am a huge James Cameron fan, but he is at his best when telling stories, which he does quite well. So blowing up "evil" corporations is the way to save the world? How about looking at how it really is? These days, miners spend decades working out agreements with indigenous peoples, providing job training, repairing environmental damage, etc. Avatar is about 100 years out of date in its social commentary. In my own view of the long-term future, we will have unlimited fusion power, and raw materials will be derived primarily, perhaps entirely, through robotic recycling. So maybe we will leave the era of mining the earth entirely behind us (maybe we'll mine asteroids instead - space travel looks different when energy is virtually free). But Mr. Cameron is not telling us ANYTHING about what could make it better in future. He has no real technological imagination, and Avatar spells that out in spades. There are many brilliant failures in science fiction, and unfortunately, Avatar is yet another of them.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (-Recrue dans l'ombre) [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (-Recrue dans l'ombre) [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Chris Pine
Price: CDN$ 12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haha... Dr. Evil Theme Makes the Suspension of Disbelief Inconceivable - but it is entertaining!, Aug. 17 2014
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I recently watched Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. As a Kenneth Branagh production, I was expecting something pretty sophisticated. My quick take... Mr. Branagh (or Mr. Clancy) should have taken a few minutes to talk to somebody on Wall Street before finalizing the "Dr. Evil" story line. I say this as somebody who has been an active investor in precious metal mining companies for the past 15 years or so. The basic premise of the film is that the Russians are going to launch the US into a second Great Depression first by driving up the market price of the US Dollar, and then by selling off their US Dollar hoard, while also blowing up Wall Street. Let me point out a couple of holes in the plot. (1) The Russians are basically buying high and selling low. Usually, this is a way to lose YOUR OWN money, not somebody else’s. (2) The US Dollar was gaining “several cents a week.” Sorry, in the real world, several cents per YEAR is a big move in the currency markets. (3) I'm sure Goldman Sachs was happily selling dollars to the Russians at levels above long-term market trends. Wall Street is full of traders who would be game for that play. And you have to know that the shorts would be piling on in such a market dynamic as well, so the Russians would have had a large coterie of counterparties hanging on as the US Dollar topped. (4) When the Russians start selling off their dollars, the price will fall, as correctly described in the movie. However, it is the Russians themselves who are losing on the falling price. So they now plan to be out billions or trillions on this so-called act of financial self-sabotage. (5) Then they are going to blow up Wall Street. That brings with it a few other problems: (a) world markets would certainly close in response to such an act, thus there would be no venue in which to carry out the planned trade; (b) the suspicious selling activity linked to an act of terrorism would be investigated; and (c) Don't all of us know that Wall Street brings no value to the market in the first place, as their main job is to see how big a piece of the action they can keep for themselves… so wouldn’t things actually get better if Wall Street blew up? (I'm not advocating it, but the shutdown of Wall Street would not carry with it any immediate harms for Main Street, apart from the need to develop an alternative clearinghouse for bank activity, which could certainly be done.) (6) Finally, at the end of the envisioned Russian strategy, (a) the Russians would now be broke, having sold off their assets at below-trend prices; (b) Goldman-Sachs would be back as a counterparty, this time buying up all the cheap US Dollars; and (c) let’s not forget that Warren Buffett wouldn’t want to miss that trade either – a long-term bet on the resiliency of the US economy!

So, I cannot deny that I was actually laughing my way through the “financial terrorism” aspect of the plot, as the holes were big enough to sink the Titanic. There were a couple of other odd things about the film, too. Jack Ryan underwent a spinal fracture/spinal cord injury in Afghanistan, and he then meets Keira Knightly as the medical student who pushes him through his therapy and rehabilitation. This is all great. But at the end of the film, he was doing Jackie Chan types of stunts, which establishes him perhaps as the world’s most successful example of recovery from spinal injury.

So, in balance, this was light entertainment at best. The scenery and camerawork were a nice aspect, but I for one had trouble suspending disbelief, if not outright laughter.

Strike Back: Cinemax Season 2 [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres franais)
Strike Back: Cinemax Season 2 [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres franais)
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 26.98
5 used & new from CDN$ 26.98

5.0 out of 5 stars My "lucky find" of the year: one of my all-time favourites!, July 12 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
While this series has some glaring flaws and inconsistencies, that doesn't stop me from loving it. Let's start with the problems. Virtually every episode has one or more shoot-'em-up scenes with a massive body count, often of a dozen or more, and the sequences are pretty much set up like the violent shooting video games that young people have been playing for the past 20 or more years (I assume it's thus being marketed to that audience). Also, there isn't much analysis of why the bad guys are THAT bad, and sometimes, the rationale can be pretty superficial - I thought this to be particularly true at the end of (North American) season two, though I'll offer no spoilers on that one. Finally, unlike, say, Game of Thrones, where "anyone" can die, we can feel pretty confident that the two protagonists are going to make it to the end of the season, so long as there are no problems with their contracts, or they don't drop this show to take on something even bigger (and this one is pretty big, mind you).

Now, on the positive side... It goes without saying that Philip Winchester as Stonebridge and Sullivan Stapleton as Damien Scott are absolutely inspired. This is a buddy show, and these two guys are perfect buddies in that time-honoured tradition - with Winchester the "straight" guy and Stapleton the "loose (but dependable) cannon." They are also allowed at times (never for long) to have fun, and that element of intermittent delight was never written into the (earlier) UK season one (see my review of Chris Ryan's Strike Back). As to the production budget, it's obviously of good size, and thus we are able to travel the world (literally) with our protagonists. The screenwriting is excellent, the dialogue regularly engaging and deeply insightful, and the soundtrack/music are state of the art - outstanding. The same goes for the cinematography/camerawork, and the Blu-Ray picture is crisp and clear (you will not get that in UK season one, which is equivalent in terms of the competency of its actors, but produced on a much lower budget). Finally, it should be obvious from what I have written that these are characters you will care about (Mr. Stapleton sustained a head injury in Thailand earlier this year, and I'm concerned for him in the same way I would be for a friend).... but, more than that, these are characters who will teach you about yourself and the world: that is, they often face moral dilemmas, and are able to handle them in such a way that it is necessary to reflect on one's own life and choices, and how we might measure up in the same circumstances. The moral dilemmas feel VERY real - they are not staged or strained, and the actors are at that highest level, in that they have the ability to take us to the unexplored places of our own lives.

In conclusion... this series (originating in the UK) was a surprise. I hadn't heard anything about it until seeing the first season blu-ray on display one day while shopping. So I'll rate this one my "lucky find of the year." (Last year, my lucky find was Orphan Black, so I think my standards are reasonably high.) If you can handle the extremely high body count, you will be rewarded with every episode. There is very little time wasted at any point in this series. And... season two stands up perfectly well to season one. Two great years and counting.

Strike Back: Cinemax Season 1
Strike Back: Cinemax Season 1
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 16.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 14.50

5.0 out of 5 stars My "lucky find" of the year: one of my all-time favourites!, July 12 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
While this series has some glaring flaws and inconsistencies, that doesn't stop me from loving it. Let's start with the problems. Virtually every episode has one or more shoot-'em-up scenes with a massive body count, often of a dozen or more, and the sequences are pretty much set up like the violent shooting video games that young people have been playing for the past 20 or more years (I assume it's thus being marketed to that audience). Also, there isn't much analysis of why the bad guys are THAT bad, and sometimes, the rationale can be pretty superficial - I thought this to be particularly true at the end of (North American) season two, though I'll offer no spoilers on that one. Finally, unlike, say, Game of Thrones, where "anyone" can die, we can feel pretty confident that the two protagonists are going to make it to the end of the season, so long as there are no problems with their contracts, or they don't drop this show to take on something even bigger (and this one is pretty big, mind you).

Now, on the positive side... It goes without saying that Philip Winchester as Stonebridge and Sullivan Stapleton as Damien Scott are absolutely inspired. This is a buddy show, and these two guys are perfect buddies in that time-honoured tradition - with Winchester the "straight" guy and Stapleton the "loose (but dependable) cannon." They are also allowed at times (never for long) to have fun, and that element of intermittent delight was never written into the (earlier) UK season one (see my review of Chris Ryan's Strike Back). As to the production budget, it's obviously of good size, and thus we are able to travel the world (literally) with our protagonists. The screenwriting is excellent, the dialogue regularly engaging and deeply insightful, and the soundtrack/music are state of the art - outstanding. The same goes for the cinematography/camerawork, and the Blu-Ray picture is crisp and clear (you will not get that in UK season one, which is equivalent in terms of the competency of its actors, but produced on a much lower budget). Finally, it should be obvious from what I have written that these are characters you will care about (Mr. Stapleton sustained a head injury in Thailand earlier this year, and I'm concerned for him in the same way I would be for a friend).... but, more than that, these are characters who will teach you about yourself and the world: that is, they often face moral dilemmas, and are able to handle them in such a way that it is necessary to reflect on one's own life and choices, and how we might measure up in the same circumstances. The moral dilemmas feel VERY real - they are not staged or strained, and the actors are at that highest level, in that they have the ability to take us to the unexplored places of our own lives.

In conclusion... this series (originating in the UK) was a surprise. I hadn't heard anything about it until seeing the first season blu-ray on display one day while shopping. So I'll rate this one my "lucky find of the year." (Last year, my lucky find was Orphan Black, so I think my standards are reasonably high.) If you can handle the extremely high body count, you will be rewarded with every episode. There is very little time wasted at any point in this series.

Chris Ryan's Strike Back [Import anglais]
Chris Ryan's Strike Back [Import anglais]
Offered by Rarewaves-CA
Price: CDN$ 16.46
9 used & new from CDN$ 15.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Top-of-the-line acting and story-telling, but on an unfortunately limited production and marketing budget...., July 12 2014
This British Region-2 PAL DVD requires a multi-region DVD player in North America. I have one, and it plays fine. I thought I should comment on this 6-part, approximately 4-1/2 hour production, which was released only in the UK prior to Cinemax/HBO picking up the Strike Back series with British Sky TV the following year. In brief, Cinemax/HBO spent a lot more money on their (so-far) three seasons of the show. The present series (call it UK season one) is based on the Chris Ryan book of the same name, and thus follows Ryan's story of John Porter. (Porter - the character - also makes a brief appearance in Cinemax/HBO season one - episodes one/two, which are thus UK season two.) I have also watched Cinemax/HBO seasons one and two, and can therefore compare the two productions. Here are the similarities and differences: (1) The acting and narrative meet a high standard in both productions. I would credit ALL the actors in both productions. (2) This series is shorter, at six episodes (technically, they are presented as three, 2-part episodes), whereas the Cinemax/HBO product runs to ten episodes. (3) Cinemax/HBO spent A LOT more money on its seasons, and the difference in production values is obvious. While both are set in real-world venues, UK season one feels more enclosed. It is also more sombre and serious. (4) I think most strikingly, UK season one (this product) has a simply poor soundtrack. That is, the music is overly melodramatic and simplistic, and the sound quality is not inspiring either - to state it charitably. Honestly, the booming, urgent and intrusive background music in this one is difficult to listen to, particularly after you've watched the Cinemax/HBO series, which is an extremely professionally-produced product. So, in brief, this is a much lower-budget production, and that fact stands out when comparing seasons. (5) Due to the production differences, this season has not so far been released in North America. Unfortunately, this is probably also a consequence of the fact that the budget was lower, and probably nobody was thinking of international release when this series was pieced together. Too bad... as, again, dramatically, this is an equally good product. (6) Richard Armitage as Porter easily stands up to Philip WInchester as Stonebridge and Sullivan Stapleton as Damien Scott in the subsequent Cinemax/HBO series. What he is lacking is the big budget, the soundtrack, the studio promotion, and - to some extent - the screenwriting (that is, Porter is denied the moments of "fun" that Stonebridge and Scott are sometimes allowed). IN CONCLUSION: It's too bad that this first UK series was run at such a low budget... as just fixing up the soundtrack would pretty well bring this UK-only series up to par with the subsequent Cinemax/HBO effort, of which I also have a high opinion.

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