domingo, 16 de outubro de 2011

KALI SILAT NA MIDIA, PESQUISA INTERNACIONAL



Southeast Asian martial arts in films and other media including Filipino kali, Thai Krabi Krabong and old-school Muay Thai, and Indonesian pencak silat

Films (by date):

Daab / Sword (TBD) - krabi krabong
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) - kali, pencak silat
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) - kali
Mission Impossible 3 (2006) - kali
Ultraviolet (2006) - kali
Tom Yung Goong/The Protector (2005) - krabi krabong
Batman Begins (2005) - keysi
Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004) - pencak silat
Daredevil (2003) - kali
The Legend of Suriyothai (2003) - krabi krabong
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) - kali
Chronicles of Riddick (2004) - kali
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) - kali
Matrix: Reloaded (2003) - kali
The Hunted (2003) - kali
Ong Bak/Thai Warrior (2003) - krabi krabong
Sema, the Warrior of Ayudhaya(2002) - krabi krabong
Equilibrium (2002) - kali
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002) - krabi krabong
Blade II (2002) - kali
The Bourne Identity (2002) - kali
Scorpion King (2002) - kali
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) - kali
Kiss of the Dragon (2001) - kali
Bang Rajan (2000) - krabi krabong
Under Seige (1992) - kali
Exposure (1991) - kali
Out for Justice (1991) - kali
Rambo III (1988) - kali
Game of Death (1978) - kali
Man with the Golden Gun (1974) - krabi krabong
Enter the Dragon (1973) - kali

And coming soon - Ong Bak 2!!!


FILM: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Overview: Bourne is once again brought out of hiding, this time inadvertently by London-based reporter Simon Ross, trying to unveil Operation Black Briar---an upgrade to Project Treadstone---in a series of newspaper columns. Bourne (Damon) sets up a meeting with Ross (Considine) and realizes instantly they're being scanned. Information from the reporter stirs a new set of memories, and Bourne must finally, ultimately, uncover his dark past whilst dodging The Company's best efforts in eradicating him.

Rating: 9.2 (of 10) - This is an amazingly good piece of action. There isn't much of a plot, save as a continuation of the previous two, but it really doesn't need one. Like knocking over the first domino, the resulting chain reaction isn't a surprised - you can only watch in amazement as all the pieces fall.

Featured arts: Once again, Jason Bourne utilizes recognizable Filipino kali techniques in the various hand-to-hand fight scenes. Typical of the other two, use of improvised weapons (a book and a towel), The fight scenes are fast, furious, and brutal. The entire film is a heart-pounding end-to-end action sequence, with barely time to catch your breath between bursts of energy. The use of the towel to finish off an assassin looks suspiciously like sarong from pencak silat Mande Muda - which would not be surprising considering the source of the choreography - but given that FMA has lots of flexible weapons techniques, it is hard to say for sure.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Resident Evil - Extinction (2007)

Overview: Years after the Raccoon City disaster, Alice is on her own knowing that she has become a liability and could endanger those around her is struggling to survive and bring down the Umbrella Corporation lead by the sinister Albert Wesker and head researcher Dr. Issacs. Things get weird - there are flesh-eating zombies as usual. Why stop now when you can make a few more zombie flicks?

Rating: Unrated (so far)

Featured arts: Rumor has it that there is a pretty nasty bit of double kukri fighting. This might be derivative of Bando but is more likely just another exotic weapon substituting for the usual kali sticks.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Mission Impossible 3 (2006)

Overview: During a party, former super-spy Secret Agent Ethan Hunt is once again called back into action by IMF Operations Director Musgrave for the newest mission, to recover a missing IMF Agent, Agent Lindsey Farris who has been captured in Berlin by the toughest villainous Owen Davian, a prominent dealer in the international black market. Ethan must confront Owen Davian the toughest villain person he's ever faced.

Rating: 8.2 (of 10) - with a big budget and decent stars, this MI is once again a solid movie packed with lots of action. It doesn't offer anything fundamentally new from its predecessors and it is hard not to see Cruise, the actor, instead of Hunt the role.

Featured arts: An unmistakable kali scene is thrown into a flashback - while training an agent, Hunt apparently requires her to learn sinawali (amongst other things). Amusingly, the woman's technique looks pretty good especially compared to Cruise who is passable but clearly not a kalista.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Ultraviolet (2006)

Overview: Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans have emerged who have been modified genetically by a vampire-like disease (hemophagia), giving them enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence. As they are set apart from "normal, healthy" humans, the world is pushed to the brink of worldwide civil war... Milla Jovavich again, only this time vampires instead of zombies. Do you detect a pattern?

Rating: 6.3 (of 10) - Some interesting scenes but still not much better than a B-film. And seriously lacking any conceptual or character development. Why does Hollywood need to kill decent sci-fi with its forumlae?

Featured arts: Hard to say precisely - likely some kali influence. But the film also features a fire sword duel, one of which is a burmese dha with square nose. Unusual but a nice touch.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Batman Begins (2005)

Overview: Returning to a distinctly "dark knight" feel, Batman Begins presents the prequel to the Batman saga. The early history of the emotionally tortured Bruce Wayne includes training in remote Tibetan locales in strange and deadly arts. As usual, his sometimes savage response to criminality and victimization offers an edgy insight into his early character.

Rating: 8.2 (of 10) - One of the better Batman movies certainly. Both a good story and good action, it can stand-alone for the uninitiated or prove itself as one of the best of the series.

Featured arts: The recently developed art called "keysi" was utilized for this film (as it was also used more recently in MI-3). The intention was show an art that was both unusual and distinctive, but also brutally effective. The Keysi Fighting Method or KFM was co-founded by Inosanto International Martial Art Instructors Association Instructors, Justo Dieguez Serrano and Andy Norman. Both are based in JKD and demos of their art include movements that appear similar to pencak silat, muay thai, and kali. Use of kali sticks is evident in out-takes.

YouTube: Watch the trailer




FILM: Tom Yung Goong (The Protector) (2005)
Overview: A young man Kham (Tony Jaa) from the countryside of Thailand grows up in the company of elephants. When one of the elephants is kidnapped by unscrupulous businessmen, the youth heads for the big city to track them down and save his boyhood friend.

Rating: 7.2 (of 10)

Featured arts: Hot off the success of Ong Bak, Tony Jaa once again executes impressive demonstrations of old school Thai kick boxing (Muay Chai, Muay Boran) as well as Thai weapons (Krabi Krabong). In particular, there is an excellent fight between him and Lateef Crawder (Brazilian capoeira) in burning temple full of water (from fire sprinklers). And Jaa utilizes the unique Thai "mae sowks" or forearm shields, using elephant bones in place of the traditional weapons. In many cases, the plot is shaky and the action overly staged - however, it definitely worth watching.

YouTube: Watch the fight scene



FILM: Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004)

(Princess of Mount Ledang)

Official Web site

Excerpt from Web site on pencak silat

Overview: Filmed in Malaysia, this period epic from the late 15th century depicts a forbidden romance between Gusti Putri, a Javanese Hindu princess and Hang Tuah, a Malay Muslim warrior from Melaka, against a backdrop of war and mysticism.

Rating: 9.1 (out of 10) - This is a very good movie, both as a historical epic and as a martial arts flic. Some may not agree with the high rating, but the high production values, substantial story (based on a Malaysian tragic myth), and sumptuous scenes make this very watchable. A must-watch for anyone with an interest in pencak silat or SE Asia.

Featured arts: It is one of the first major movies to centrally feature pencak silat. It makes direct reference to the cultural, spiritual and mystical nature of the art, as well as showing fight sequences, with and without weapons. The quality of the fight choreography is a little rough in places, compared to the current standards, but this is an excellent introduction of the general public to pencak silat.

YouTube: Watch the opening fight scene (about 5 min. in)



FILM: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Overview: A sequel to the modern spy thriller, the Bourne Identity, this film continues the theme of efficient but likeable assasin out-of-control with amnesia. When a CIA operation to purchase classified Russian documents is blown by a rival agent--who then shows up in the sleepy seaside village where Bourne (Damon) and Marie (Potente) have been living under assumed names--the pair collapse their lives and head out. Bourne, who promised retaliation should anyone from his former life attempt contact, is forced to once again take up his life as a trained assassin to survive.

Rating: 8.5 (of 10) - A generally accessible A-class film with lots of great Hollywood action - and not bad as a sequel.

Featured arts: Carrying on the general use of Filipino martial arts as part of Bourne's arsenal of weapons, several fight scenes feature well-choreographed use of recognizable FMA technique. Although most people may not notice the difference, the FMA enthusiast can pick up on some of the distinct movements in the use of knife and third hand.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Resident Evil - Apocalypse (2004)

Overview: Another zombie movie featuring Milla Jovavich. It may have an actual movie synopsis - but that's not why you're watching it anyways.....

Rating: 5.8 (of 10) - ummmmm, another zombie B-film with Milla Jovavich couldn't possible be good.... could it?

Featured arts: There are two different uses of sinawali (from kali) using double asp. This is very similar to the arts used in Ecks vs. Sever by Lucy Liu. Nothing new to see here. But still fun.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

Overview: Another sequel, to a pretty decent B-movie called Pitch Black that first launched Vin Diesel's career, Chronicles finds Riddick now a hunted man, in the middle of two opposing forces in a major crusade. The Lord Marshal, a warrior priest who is the leader of a sect that is waging the tenth and perhaps final crusade 500 years in the future. Once again Riddick is poised to save humankind from evil by being twice as evil himself.

Rating: 5.6 (of 10) - this is a bad movie. There was lots of potential but it somehow never translated to the screen.

Featured arts: Vin Diesel claims to have trained in kali describing it as an "art originally from Spain that was imported to the Philippines" - oh dear! However, it didn't seem to help shape his fighting ability overmuch. The double daggers he likes to throw around were apparently influenced by sinawali.

YouTube: Watch the trailer



FILM: Daredevil (2003)

Overview: Matt Murdock is a lawyer who was blinded during a chemical accident when he was a kid. However, after that accident his other senses were heightened to a superhuman degree making him the costumed hero known as Daredevil.

Rating: 6.1 (of 10) - Like many comic superheros, the movie treatment isn't always flattering. Wooden, ridiculous, and unbelievable in equal measures. Still, Daredevil is kind of fun....

Featured arts: The influence of any particular arts is indeterminate. However, there is a sinawali-like feel resembling kali to the staff when it separates into two pieces - with a cable in between the two for catching and choking. It is pretty mildly influences, if at all.



FILM: Matrix: Reloaded (2003)

Overview: In part two of the Wachowski Borthers' Matrix trilogy, Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) begins to explore his superhuman abilities. He must gain enough control over the Matrix to be able to defeat the forces arrayed against him in the real world. Zion, mankind's last free city, has been located by the machines. With 250,000 sentinels only hours away, Zion's military leaders scramble all hovercrafts and personnel to defend the city and its people. Believing mankind's salvation lies not with a military action, but with the Oracle's prophecy, Morpheus pleads for time and resources to allow the Oracle to contact Neo.

Rating: 7.5 (of 10) - A veritable orgy of martial arts and stunt wire work, the action scenes continue to follow the spectacular standards set in the first film. While the plot lines become harder to follow, the film is a worthy follow on from the ground breaking part one.

Featured arts: While most of the arts applied by Neo and others echo Chinese influences, there are snatches of Filipino arts. In particular, there is a decent sinawali scene in the melee fight between Neo and a group of attackers arranged artfully on a double staircase.



FILM: Suriyothai / Legend of Suriyothai (2003)

Overview: Filmed in Thailand, this period epic from the 16th century relates the tumultuous history of Siam and its ongoing battles within and without the kingdom. Harried by its eternal foe Burma (now Mayanmar), Siam suffers terribly when the death of its beloved king throws its future into question. Infighting and backstabbing eliminate leader after leader as the forces of Burma descend upon Siam's borders. The film follows the life of the heroine, Suriyothai, who eventually becomes the queen of King Mahachakrapat. from the age of 15, to her tragic death as she sacrifices herself to save her country.

Rating: 8.1 (of 10) - While the story and cinematography are occasionally hard to follow, it is worth watching several times. Partly to catch all the details of the many intrigues, but also to take in the sumptuous costumes and depictions of a rich but unfamiliar historical and cultural landscape.

Featured arts: Although the martial aspects of this film are limited appropriately to the battlefield, several major battle scenes provide ample insight into the weapons, armour, techniques and context for Krabi Krabong. There is little hand-to-hand or one-on-one combat.



FILM: Ong Bak (2003)

Live demo from Tony Jaa

Overview: This movie offers a classic martial arts plot, but filmed entirely in Thailand, with Thai stars and production. When the head of Ong-Bak, the sacred Buddha of a poor village in Thailand is stolen, the population is plunged into misery. The Buddha was the focal point of an anniversary vigil believed to bring rain to the drought-stricken area. Young Ting is selected by the villagers to travel to Bangkok and rescue the relic in time for their ceremony.

Rating: 8.6 (out of 10) - as martials arts films go, this has all the right stuff in it and it isn't painful to watch in between the numerous fights and stunt scenes. And it offers a unique view of Thai culture.

Featured arts: This films does for traditional Muay Thai (such as Muay Boran and Muay Chaiya) and Krabi Krabong what Bloodsport did for karate/kick-bocking. Using highly stylized but dramatic fight scenes, the film portrays the unique energetics and techniques of the Thai arts, distinct from today's sport Muay Thai. Using a mixture of different older systems, Tony Jaa displays tremendous acrobatic ability and strength.



FILM: Sema, the Warrior of Ayudhaya (2002)

Overview: Sema, the son of a swordsmith, has fallen in love with the beautiful Rerai. However, she has already been engaged to Moo Khan, another warrior, against her will. Devastated, Sema joins the Siamese army as a nomad and fights the Burmese invaders.

In Thai only (no English sub-titles) - available only in SE Asia.

Rating: 8.7 (out of 10) - It is most unfortunate that there are no sub-titles because the film appears to be quite good - well-filmed and stunted with some meaningful plot and character development as well. Naturally there is very little (if any) CGI in use - all the extras are real people and the open-field combat scenes are intense.

Featured arts: Similar to the Legend of Suriyothai and Bang Rajan, this is an epic feature jam-packed with historical combat action between the Burmese and the Siamese. All forms of krabi krabong are present including mae sowks, daab song meu (and nung meu), spear and shield and much more.



FILM: Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002)

Overview: Set in 1765, during the reign of Louis XV, an epic adventure based in part on a well-known French legend. In a rural province of France, a mysterious creature is leaving a trail of mutilated corpses across the countryside, savagely killing scores of women and children. Unseen, possessed of enormous strength and a seemingly near-human intelligence, the beast has eluded capture for years.

Rating: 7.9 (out of 10) - This is an odd film, combining the otherwise distinct genres of horror, martial arts, and historical fiction. It is reaonably well acted and produce but hovers around the threshold of B-movie. Still, it is well worth watching, whether you like the fight scenes or not.

Featured arts:





FILM: Blade II (2002)

Overview: One could say that, not only is this yet-another-vampire movie, it also a sequel to yet-another-vampire -movie. However, thanks to the influence of Wesley Snipes who is himself a martial artist, this version of "Dracula" continues to amuse. Blade, played byMr. Snipes, is a half-vampire himself but with a real distaste for bloodsuckers. He is a vigilante for the rest of unknowing humanity. In this sequel, Reapers, a new breed of vampire that feed off humans and vampires, emerge with plans for world domination and Blade must team with the Bloodpack, an elite team of vampire warriors specifically trained to hunt him, in order to defeat this new menace.

Rating: 7.4 (of 10) - fun but repetitious - it doesn't offer much over the previous Blade movie. By itself, it might have garnered 8.2.

Featured arts: Needless to say, many arts are present in this film including Japanese swords arts like kendo/kenjitsu and Brazilian capoiera (Snipes actively practices). In particular though, several sequences feature sinawali (when the assassin fights Blade in front of the "god lights") from kali/eskrima/arnis.



FILM: Equilibrium (2002)

Overview: In a futuristic world, a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Cleric John Preston (Bale) is a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. Whe he misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes the only person capable of overthrowing it.

Rating: 5.9 (of 10) - Words like "ridiculous" and "melodramatic" come to mind - the movie is not even a proper B-film in its quality. It has a few interesting moments and might have been a good story if a bit more work was done on it. In many respects, the concept of the grammaton cleric who has a handgun-based martial art seems to have been the entire motivation for the film.

Featured arts: To suggest that there is actually any influence from kali may be somewhat hyperbolic. However, there is this pretty neat final fight scene with close range handgun grappling. Sayoc, Pekiti-Tirsia kali and Lameco all have something similiar called "tapping" (as do other Filipino arts), typically applied to knives. The similarity is notable but slim.




FILM: The Hunted (2002)

Overview: In the green woods of Oregon, Aaron Hallam, a trained assassin AWOL from the Special Forces, keeps his own brand of wildlife vigil. After brutally slaying four deer hunters in the area, FBI Special Agent Abby Durrell turns to L.T. Bonham-- the one man who may be able to stop him. At first L.T. resists the mission. Snug in retirement, he's closed off to his past, the years he spent in the Special Forces training soldiers to become skilled murderers. But when he realizes that these recent slayings are the work of a man he trained, he feels obligated to stop him.

Rating: 7.8 (of 10) - somewhat wooden acting and a pretty sparsely developed set of characters keeps this from getting very interesting. The knife fights are .... reasonably good. Certainly it's nice to see some specific techniques happening but the plot keeps stepping on the credibility.

Featured arts: For real, the hand of Sayoc kali is clearly seen. The famed Sayocs acted as consultants and choreographers for the fight scenes.



FILM: The Bourne Identity (2002)

Overview: Based very loosely on Robert Ludlum's novel, the Bourne Identity is the story of a man whose wounded body is discovered by fisherman who nurse him back to health. He can remember nothing and begins to try to rebuild his memory based on clues such as the Swiss bank account, the number of which, is implanted in his hip. He soon realizes that he is being hunted and takes off with Marie on a search to find out who he is and why he is being hunted.

Rating: 8.9 (of 10) - fast, smart action with lots of twists and turns. And the editting on the fight scenes is reasonably smooth without being dramatic.

Featured arts: Hand-to-hand fighting is dominated by well-defined use of kali. In particular, the opportunistic use of environment as weapons, such as a pen, reflects the nature of this Filipino art.



FILM: Scorpion King (2002)

Overview: In an ancient time, predating the pyramids, the evil king Memnon is using the psychic powers of his sorceress Cassandra to fortell his great victories. In a last ditch effort to stop Memnon from taking over the world, the leaders of the remaining free tribes hire the assassin Mathayus to kill the sorceress. But Mathayus ends up getting much more than he bargained for. Now with the help of the trickster Arpid, tribal leader Balthazar and an unexpected ally, it's up to Mathayus to fufill his destiny and become the great Scorpion King.

Rating: 7.2 (of 10) - Some smashing sword fights and some decent set design. But anything starring the The Rock has limitations. Meanwhile, lots of people seem to really enjoy it.

Featured arts: There is a clear kali influence with a sinawali training scene. In addition, though not clearly FMA-specific, there is a pretty fun fire sword fight.



FILM: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Overview: Jonathan Ecks , an FBI agent, realizes that he must join with his lifelong enemy, Agent Sever , a rogue DIA agent with whom he is in mortal combat, in order to defeat a common enemy. That enemy has developed a "micro-device" that can be injected into victims in order to kill them at will. Or something like that. Comic book spys and superheros.

Rating: 6.5 (of 10) - Wooden with usual problem of video games and comix being translated to movies.

Featured arts: Lucy Liu dazzles with a one-on-many double asp fight against a SWAT team. Her kali is pretty good as she fairly realistically deals them down.



FILM: Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

Overview: Liu Jian, a police officer from China, comes to Paris to help the vice squad apprehend a Chinese drug lord and his unknown French connection. The French connection is Richard, the head of the vice squad, who intends to kill the drug lord then frame Jian.

Rating: 6.5 (of 10) - Pretty standard B-film chop-socky with lots of setup fight scenes and unimaginative development. Boy meets girl, girl is threatened by criminal, martial arts erupts. Like that.

Featured arts: Jet Li does not specifically have a kali background, but several scenes feature stick fighting techniques. Awkwardly inserted, karateka show little adeptness with sticks while Jet Li just moves really really fast. The "40 stick fighters (in gi) against one" is interesting.. sort of.



FILM: Bang Rajan: The Legend of the Village Warriors (2000)

Overview: Oliver Stone presents a beautiful and violent Thai film; the true story of a rural 18th century Siamese village that managed to battle an army of 100,000 invading Burmese soldiers to a standstill for five months. When Bang Rajan's fearless warrior chief (Chumporn Taephitak) is wounded in battle, the men of the village elect a mighty rogue fighter who has been making raids on Burmese supply lines, Chan (Jaran Ngamdee), to step in and guide them.

Rating: 8.9 (of 10) - this is an excellent historical epic with good character development and action. It may not appeal to everyone as an Asian production. However, it has high production values and delivers good (true) story. The ending may disappoint for those expecting a standard Hollywood finish. The hair-dos and mustaches are fabulous.

Featured arts: Classic Siamese (Thai) and Burmese (Myanman) weapons arts, in particular Krabi Krabong, are in plentiful evidence. Extensive use and demonstration of open field combat, armour and shields, as well as a range of traditional weapons such as the dha, plong, and krabong, as well as exotic weapons like spiked war hammers.



FILM: Under Seige (1992)

Details pending....

FILM: Out for Justice (1991)

Details pending...

FILM: Exposure (1991)

Overview: An American photographer capturing the violent street life in Rio de Janeiro is attacked and his girlfriend raped when a drug lord thinks he has important information against him. The photographer studies the art of knife fighting, but as he trails his attackers he is unaware that the man who taught him to fight is the man he may have to kill.

Rating: 8.1 (of 10) - not a standard Hollywood thriller, the action is sparse but aesthetic. And the fighting scenes are intense and technique laden. Peter Coyote plays the role well and is easy to watch.

Featured arts: The knife fighting is clearly kali again - the angles of attack are even laid out by the erst-while knife instructor. There are specific training and fighting scenes that relate directly to no-nonsense FMA-based knife fighting.



Rambo III (1988)

Overview: John Rambo, unwilling to accompany old friend Colonel Trautman behind Soviet lines in Afghanistan, ends up going there on an unofficial rescue mission after Trautman is captured. Bullets and bombs fly in all directions as the indistructable Rambo quickly works his way through a large camp of Soviet soldiers.

Rating: 6.3 (of 10) - yet-another-Rambo movie - but admittedly, the opening stick fight is one the earliest examples of kali in a major Hollywood picture. Even if it is suggested that the location is Thailand....

Featured arts: Once again, kali is clearly present - an overly dramatic but reasonably well choreographed double stick fight at the beginning makes for a great opening.



Game of Death (1978)

Details pending...

FILM: Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Overview: A classic James Bond film - Bond has been sent a golden bullets inscribed with 007. Bond's main lead is Francisco Scaramanga (Lee), also known as 'The Man with the Golden Gun'. Whilst trying to avoid Scaramanga, Bond must find the missing Solex Agitator. Part of the usual globe-trotting has Bond in Thailand.

Rating: 7.8 (of 10) - as with so many Bonds, it is fun to watch and with the usual range of characters, situations, and high-tech devices. Nothing out of the norm in this particular Bond flick. Except the krabi krabong maybe.

Featured arts: Easily one of the earliest krabi krabong scenes filmed for a major motion picture, the technique is clean, fast, and unadulterated. To keep the audience aligned with the vaguely Japanese theme, the two fighters appear in a "dojo" and bow woodenly to the apparently Japanese sensei. Once past their bows though, they are all Thai - and pretty damn good too!



Enter the Dragon (1973)

Details pending....





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