Friday, 17 July 2015

Let's talk about martial arts and movies


I have just finished my Saturday morning workout tonight, because I have to work tomorrow.

Now that I am done I feel like relaxing and chatting. 

So- grab a seat, light a smoke (stop being a hypocrite if you smoke. I smoke!), grab a beer(yikes!)and let's talk about how the martial arts in movies have changed over the years.

Well- I was born in 1978. By the time I was old enough to notice what's going on on television I could see that some secret agents (sometimes beautiful ladies) made men collapse with a well placed chop on the shoulder with their bare hands. 

In a society where honourable men did not use kicks when they fought people who used kicks in screen fights stood out.

Little Annie swept a grown man's leg with a low kick in the shin while some boy in a Disney movie threw a thug to the ground using a Judo throw.

Have you seen these movies as a kid?

Back then Karate and Judo grasped the imagination of Western audiences after Bruce Lee's death. If you wanted to see Kungfu you had to find some Shaw Brothers movies. Hollywood, however, liked Judo and karate. :D

Hey! Who knows who Remo Williams was? :D  

Guys like Chuck Norris raised the bar in Hollywood by not just kicking, but showing audiences that they did not just kick, but did spinning kicks, roundhouse kicks and jumping kicks as well...
(Yeah- Bruce Lee was there before them, but he was in a different league altogether. I am talking about the US movies now.)

The 80's moved on and at the start of the 90's Jean Claude van Damme kicked the crap out of villains and- when he was not doing that- did the splits as if to convince us that a martial artist is someone who kicks where others would punch.

Now- I don't know about the rest of you, but the new millenium seemed to favour Kungfu at its dawn... By then Jackie Chan was my second favourite actor. Jet Li is my favourite! Hollywood loved them! Sure- Jet Li had to make his Hollywood debut as a villain in Lethal Weapon 4, but soon he re-emerged as the hero in movies like Kiss of the Dragon and The One. Yeah- kungfu was the way to go if you wanted a fight to look good on screen. By now Bruce Lee's high kicks and punches were not good enough anymore, however. Now was the time for intricate Wing Chun sequences, lightning fast footwork, dazzling hand combinations and of course- mind blowing acrobatics! Little wonder that by the time we got to see the Matrix Neo and his buddies did not even bother with Stephen Seagall-style CQC or Chuck Norris style kickboxing. Nooooo no no- They did KUNGFU!

The Beauty of kungfu had to make way for a beast, though, when the UFC got enough screen time... Now our movie heroes no longer used acrobatics or dazzling kicks. Now some fight scenes look like they are copulating with their on-screen adversaries! Well- tastes vary... 

A fact I had come to accept is that real fighting just does not look as beautiful as a Yuen Wo Ping choreographed action sequence... 

Maybe some of you prefer the realism of actual CQC, MMA and Krav Maga in their movie experience...
I can dig that.   

Now: For fun- comment the martial art you practice and the movie that features it. Now don't overthink is and go like "uhhh I do Tenshinkan karate and I can't find a Hollywood movie that features it..." If you do Judo then Expendables 3 counts! Get it? If you do karate- then Karate Kid (the 80's one with Mr Miyagi) counts. If you do Hsingyiquan- then it counts as "Kungfu" and you can choose Karate Kid (the one with Jackie Chan and Will Smith's kid). If you feel like it you can even say something about what you think of that movie's portrayal of your type of martial art.

I look forward to seeing your comments.  

1 comment:

  1. Lai Tung Pai, and as it is most closely related to Wing Chun, I'll say Ip Man for the movie. We are a striking art that gets up close and have much of the same training techniques like mook jong and chi sau, so it's probably as accurate as movies get to our style, but of course as you say, it rarely looks that beautiful in reality.