Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

John Wick 2 - Great Movie


As the author and creator of a great "tough guy" character, (Trent Smith, the world's greatest martial artist, who appears in two books so far, Killer of Killers and Killer Eyes,) I happen to appreciate great tough guy characters in the movies, and there have been several.

Recently, I talked about how John Wick was a great character and a very good movie. John Wick 2 was even better. I said before that Keanu Reeves does not necessarily look like a tough guy. Not like Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, and Matt Damon do for their respective roles as Richard Riddick, Frank Martin, and Jason Bourne. But I also noted that being a good actor can make up for that. And Keanu Reeves is a good actor, and being such, he can play the part, and pull it off.


In the two (so far) John Wick movies, Keanu Reeves does pull it off. No, not as well as Diesel, Statham, and Damon can, but well enough. Being over six feet tall, Reeves' moves, sometimes come off as somewhat stiff. That never happens, say, for Statham, who's a natural when it comes to fighting moves. He's trained in the martial arts, and it shows on the screen. Like Jet Li, who's a martial arts champion, he's fluid in all of his fight scenes. But when it comes to being a pure tough guy, no one has a step on Vin Diesel. Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is not necessarily a natural, but he does look like the role he plays in that franchise. It works. Very well.

Perhaps what I like most about the John Wick movies is the writing. The writer has created a great character, and, for me, the John Wick character has proven worthy enough to rank up there with the great tough guy characters. They include James Bond, Conan, Captain Kirk, Frank Martin, and perhaps yes, Jason Bourne. I could be forgetting some. For instance, I've already ranked many of the old time actors as the classic tough guys. Actors which of course include Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson.

But beside Connery in his seven movies as Bond, and Bronson in the five Death Wish movies, those actors never really had a franchise series of movies portraying the same tough guy. The Bond movies and the Death Wish movies were the exception back in the old days instead of the rule. Nowadays, a series of movies, AKA a franchise is the rule. Diesel has three Riddick movies to date, Statham has three Transporter movies, and Damon, now has four movies as Jason Bourne!

The John Wick character with its second movie has become a franchise for Reeves. He had one franchise already with the Matrix movies. And they were good movies, but the character of Neo really wasn't a "tough" guy. He was a hero, to be sure, more like Captain Kirk was more of a hero than a tough guy in the original Star Trek TV show.

But clearly more than Neo, John Wick is a badass. And in these movies, he's a top ranking badass worthy to be placed with Riddick, Frank Martin, and Jason Bourne of the modern badassess, and James Bond, Conan, and Captain Kirk of the badasses of old. And as far as franchises go, it does appear as though there will be a third one. Because at the end of John Wick 2, it appeared that it wasn't ending. It sure seemed like a third one was set to go. And that's fine with me. Can't wait!

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