Martial Arts in
ollywood is is great to identify trends and capture the public's imagination.
Before the arrival of martial arts, fighting in Hollywood movies was
generally limited too fist fights and bar brawls. When the Amerian public
became aware of karate and judo and dubbed martial arts movies became
available in the West, Hollywood movies became aware of the value of
martial arts as entertainment. Choreography fighting was inorporated
in some "B" action movies but such fighting was still considered
to be too violent for mainstream prodution. In 1974, Bruce Lee exploded
on to the scene - introducing the audience to a new type of action.
From then on, martial arts will become a vital component in any action
genre. More importantly, western film makers slowly explore the Wuxia
genre and applied it to Western films. Examples of martial arts movies
or movies featuring great fighting include:
Pretty silly but captures some of the essence of traditional martial
arts training. There are lots of memorable quotes:
"First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel San,
not mine." Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Pat Morita)
A note: well known karate teacher, Fumio Demura, performed most
of the fighting for Pat Morita.
||The Last Dragon
Produed by Barry Gordon and Motown. This movie is a cult classic
starring Tiamat as Bruce LeRoy battling Sho'nuff, the Shogun of
Harlem. The movie never reached critical mass with the main stream
The Wachowski Brothers took full advantage of the expertise to Yuen
Wo Ping and brought Wuxia elements to the North American audience.
Produced on a budget of $63 million, it will eventually grossed
over $171 million. For the students of Wuxia cinema, the fighting
exhibits Yuen Wo Ping's trademarks as seen in his movies such as
Once Upon a Time in China (1991) and the Iron Monkey (1996). How
good is he? Well, he made Keanu Reeves into a kungfu fighter :-)
||Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Classic Wuxia finally reached the main stream North American audience.
Ang Lee made a visually great movie on a budget of $15 million and
created a monster hit grossing $128 million in the US. The movie
was film in Chinese but it did not seem to be an obstacle to North
American movie goers.
Martial arts fighting has become an integral part of Hollywood. With
higher production value, Hollywood movies easlily surpass movies produce
elsewhere. However, Wuxia genre still remains to be a culural phenomenia
for main stream movies.
Martial Arts Cinema around the World
arts tradition in movies can also be found in many other countries.
Japan has a long tradition
producing Samurai movies (Chambara eiga) and other martial arts based
movies. Korea is also producing such movies. Explosure to those movies
provide another cultural perspective to the influence of martial arts
Representative movies from other countries include
- Sugata Sanshiro (1943), Zoku Sugata Sanshiro (1945) and Sugata Sanshiro
(1965). Judo movies.
- Shichinin no samurai (1954) Seven Samurai (1954)
- Nemuri Kyoshiro (1956) Full moon swordsman series.
- Kakushi toride no san akunin (1958) Hidden Fortress, The
- Yojimbo (1961) ... aka Bodyguard, The (1961)
- Shinobi no mono (1962) Ninja, a Band of Assasins. A ninja series.
- Zatoichi (1963). The tales of the blind swordsman, a 27 movie series
and then made into a TV series.
- Dai-bosatsu tôge (1966) Sword of Doom.
- Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru (1972). The story
of a Ronin (i.e. a masterless samurai) who wanders the countryside
of Japan with his small child, having various adventures. Adapted
from a comic book, also known as the "Baby cart in Hell"
or "Lone Wolf and Kid" series.
- Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken (1974) THe Street fighter, show casing the
talents of Sonny Chiba.
- Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) (1980)
- Ran (1985)
- Hong kil dong (1986). Historical drama is based on Korea's Robin
Hood hero produced by North Korea.
- Eunhaengnamoo chimdae (1996) Korean movie.
- Bichunmoo (2000) Korean movie.
- Musa (2001) A Korean period movie with Zhang ziiyi as the Princess
- Onmyoji (2001)