Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 29, 2010

Film Freak: Fear the fist

There are few men who can rock a yellow jumpsuit and still beat the ever-living crud out of a 7’2″ basketball player, but there are also few men like Bruce Lee. But as time goes on, more and more remarkable martial-artists have made their way onto the silver screen. Fighters like Jet Li and Tony Jaa have “Flying-Knee’d” their way into our hearts and our homes in a re-popularization of an age-old golden genre.

Maybe you never saw Fist of Legend or Master of the Flying Guillotine, but back in the day (Wednesday, June 7, 1995) people like Jackie Chan were the go-to inspiration for many a broken limb or trip to the principle’s office.

As time went on, however, fewer and fewer Kung-Fu flicks came to popularity on American shores (I intentionally disregard Shanghai Noon) and die-hard addicts were forced to watch and re-watch such classics as The Buddhist Fist, praying for new releases.

Then one day our prayers were answered with the arrival of one of the most popular US theater-released films of the style: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Suddenly mainstream America was reintroduced to the hard-hitting acrobatic stunts it seemed to have forgotten about. Movies like The Protector (If you haven’t seen it stop reading and go watch it now. Right now. Seriously. Stop reading and watch it.) and Fearless began finding their way into our cinemas, and began to refuel the fire lit 40-some years ago.

Perhaps the most promising feature of these “new” films is the diversity of styles presented. From Muay Thai to Krabi Krabong and even Savate, audiences are being exposed to a plethora of arse-kickage that brings tears (quite literally) to the eyes. That, when matched with the sudden widespread interest in Mixed Martial Arts (K1 excluded), signifies a promising reemergence of a cinematic style that holds a special death-grip on our hearts. Is a new golden age of Martial-Arts movies on the horizon? One can only hope that the flame continues burning brightly for a long time to come.

[Interested in a list of movies to watch? Have any questions about anything from the article? Feel free to contact me at dkahn@knox.edu for information or answers.]

Dan Kahn


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