How We Score

Fist of Further Explanation: Ratings System to the Face

When I started sketching out the original editorial platform for this blog, I wanted to eschew some of the basic tenets of film reviews: concise writing, focused discussion, and a formal ratings system among them. Because I was interested in covering often silly films, I wanted the latitude to be smarmy, tangential, and contextual. I prioritized creating a "feel" for the movie over the assignment of a static star number.

I've come to realize that this isn't necessarily a great experience for readers, though. When I hit up a new site or blog that reviews films, I want to know what they think is a great watch versus a painful one. I like indexes of film titles where the cream has risen to the top, because chasing down obscure genre films costs time and money (or in some cases, bandwidth). It's really hard to create those separations in quality for readers without a formal system.

Effective immediately, Fist of B-List will use a ratings system customized for the subgenre of Western martial arts b-films. Reviews will use a seven-point rating scale informed by the following elements:
  • Technical qualities (or lack thereof) - Includes editing, dubbing, lighting, visible boom mics, stunt mats.
  • Line delivery - Includes overall acting performances as well as quote worthiness.
  • Plot - Includes the main story but also the unique wrinkles, like Annie’s parents being killed over a piece of plastic pizza.
  • Sartorial Flair - Includes memorable wardrobe choices: turtlenecks, sports jackets, mesh shirts, Canadian tuxedos, Zubaz or Otomix pants, fannypacks, as well as mullets and pompadors.
  • Villains - Includes the main villain as well as the quality of his/her henchmen.
  • Rewatch Value - Will you want to return to a movie again and again because of the sum of its parts?
  • Action - The quality of the fight choreography and stunt work. Includes training montages and strategic placement of cardboard boxes.
Above all, the reason I’m implementing a rating system for reviews is to provide a quantitative framework to contextual and qualitative reviews. Given that I rarely shit-can anything, how is a reader supposed to know whether I’d recommend City Dragon over King of the Kickboxers? (Answer: I wouldn’t...unless you did me wrong.) It will help everyone figure out which movies to skip, which ones to watch on YouTube, and which ones to buy on LaserDisc because they’re worth owning and that format is totally making a comeback any day now. Indexing will be easier for me, and finding the gold standards will be easier for you.

If you're familiar with the site, you'll know that all the items I’ve mentioned are things I usually touch on when discussing a movie anyways. A ratings system will not cause any major sea changes in the review formats; you’ll get the same attention to meaningless details and the same screen caps with borderline amusing word bubbles. The only difference? Every review will now have some variation on the rating below. No visual seemed more fitting, so we’ll call it the Seven-Point Exploding Scale of Zubaz. (Until I get a cease and desist letter, at which point we’ll switch to Seven Point Exploding Scale of Generic Zebra-Print Pants).

Questions? Complaints? Comment below.

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