What are some good MARTIAL ARTS flicks on DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Kevin Sharp, Apr 28, 2003.

  1. Kevin Sharp

    Kevin Sharp Stunt Coordinator

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    I spent the weekend watching a martial arts film fest & I'm now in the mood for more. My knowledge of the genre is limited, so don't hesitate to suggest obvious titles (though I've seen Crouching Tiger). Hand-to-hand, swordplay, even John Woo-style gunplay is cool.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    ps: Three movies I couldn't stay awake to see were HERO (Jet Li), THE RETURNER, and VERSUS. Anyone have comments on those?
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Kung Pow: Enter The Fist
     
  3. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    Sidekicks, but I don't think it's made it to DVD just yet. Keep an eye out for it.
     
  4. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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    What movies did you see? From the buzz, you missed one of the best by not seeing Hero, I'll let you know how good it is when I get my import. Check out http://www.loveandbullets.com for some reviews of DVDs you would like. http://hellninjacommando.net has some good reviews of martial arts movies too. IMO Jet Li is the best out there right now. Check out Once Upon a Time in China 1-3, some of Jet Li's best, along with Fist of Legend. And if you liked Crouching Tiger, you'll love Iron Monkey, you can get that at Wal-mart for ~$15.


    Chris
     
  5. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    Another good Jet Li film to watch would be 'Black Mask'.

    Don't forget about Jackie Chan's films either...I recently watched the original 'Drunken Master', that was pretty good.

    As for John Woo action, 'Once A Thief' with Chow Yun-Fat was released last week by Columbia so you might want to check that one out.
     
  6. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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  7. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

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    Jet Li's Fist of Legend and Twin Warriors are both pretty good. Twin Warriors has a lot of the calbe fighting though. Fist of Legend is a lot more grounded, but with some cable help. What did you think of Crouching Tiger? Personally, I hated it.
     
  8. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    The Legend of Drunken Master 2 has some of the best martial arts and weapons fights I've ever seen. If you enjoy wire-fu (and I do) my favorite is Iron Monkey with Donnie Yen. Unlike most martial arts films, these two pictures have reasonably good production values as well as fine martial arts.
     
  9. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

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    I agree with the Iron Monkey pick. And the Legend of Drunken Master 2. I haven't seen the first one yet, though.
     
  10. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA Extra

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    search the forum for "wire fu" or "wire-fu" for more.
     
  11. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    The 3 best u can get:

    -Chinese Connection
    -5 Deadly Venoms
    -Avenging Eagle (In P&S only, but IMHO its the greatest martial arts film ever made)
     
  12. Matt<>Broon

    Matt<>Broon Stunt Coordinator

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    Check out Hong Kong legends for some good examples.

    Any Jackie Chan pretty much kicks ass, especially Project A (HKL do a great SE release of this) and the Police Story films.

    Iron Monkey is as mentioned elsewhere on this thread a particularly fun film and I'd also recommend Dragon Gate Inn which is a fine example of the sword and sorcery style wire fu genre.
     
  13. Don Peskin

    Don Peskin Stunt Coordinator

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    Heroic Trio and its sequel The Executioners, both with Michelle Yeoh, are very good.
     
  14. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    Martial Arts films in general tend to get treated like anime. Namely, cut to pieces, dumbed down, and dubbed horrendously in R1. Either get a multi-region player and start importing or get used to really bad dubs. That being said, CTHD is a rare gem. Beautiful, well written, finely acted, and impeccably choreographed, it trancends the kung-fu flick format. Don't expect other kung-fu flicks to do the same or you'll be dissappointed more often than not! As an added bonus, the origional language track was included on the R1 disc! [​IMG] This is highly atypical of the genre.

    Iron Monkey: This is a good flick to rent. It's got some fine fight material in it and the production values are high. The fit and finish looks like CTHC, but the plot, acting, and cinematography are all inferior. The pole/ladder scene at the end has been recycled way too many times.

    Fist of Legend: The fight choreography is some of the best out there. The use of film-speed up is a bit obvious at times. Still, an excellent remake of the Bruce Lee origional, and worth watching.

    Supercop/Police Story:In R1 the later Police Story films were released as Supercop films. The numbering scheme got a bit obsfucated in the process. For example, the R1 "Supercop 2" is not "Police Story 2", but instead a horrendous spinoff that, despite having Michelle Yeoh, (from CTHD) is excruciatingly bad. Jackie Chan shows up for about 1 minute, in drag, and does some slapstick but no fighting.

    Drunken Master 1 & 2: The origional "Drunken Master" is a decent film. Low budget, but solid Jackie Chan nonetheless. "Drunken Master 2", often called "Legend of the Drunken Master" is an overwhemlingly superior film. It's one of the best martial arts films ever made, and Jackie Chan at his best. The production values were immense compared to the origional. The plot stands alone too, so it's not like your typical sequel. I'd say DM2 is the Jackie Chan film to see before any other.

    Project A: It's a bit campy, but fun. The plot plays like a cross beween film noir, period, and a cartoon. Some of the fight scenes, particularily the one with the pirate captain, are top notch. I'd leave this one till you're hard up for more Jackie Chan films. It beats the tar out of offal like "Tuxedo" though.

    Shanghai Noon: This is a thoroughly hilarious western that blends some top notch comedy and slapstick with off the wall Jackie Chan action. Definately worth checking out.

    Kung Pow: Enter the Fist: Not everyone's cup of tea. Hardly anyone's cup of tea in fact. However, if CG cows shooting milk bullets from their udders does it for you...

    The Swordsman: Starring Jet Li. (I think the title varies a bit. Might be the Swordsman 2 in places. If it stars Jet Li, it's the right one) This is an absolutely hilarious film. It belongs to the sword and sorcery sub-genre and is very cartoonish. People explode into flying red ribbons in mid-air. A horse gets cut in half. People fight with massive hooks and tiny concrete piercing needles on threads. It's a bit reminiscent of Ninja Scrolls actually.

    Romeo Must Die, Black Mask, The One:Leave these until you're really hard up for Jet Li films. Some good action, but overall, limp. RMD and TO have some cheesy CG which will probably make them very campy in a few years. They're probably prime candidates for future film roasts.

    Enter the Dragon:
    Bruce Lee kick-started the kung-fu genre. "Enter the Dragon" is probably his slickest hollywood film, and has been copied to death endlessly. "Undercover Brother" stole video clips from it, copied the patented Bruce Lee face-stomp more than once, and ripped off dozens of lines. It's even worse in kung-fu flicks. This is a highly influential film and worth a watch. Martial arts choreography has come a long way since Bruce, but the fights in this film are still very good. (Just don't expect wire-fu and camera speed tricks) Watching Bruce Lee fight is an altogether different experience from watching someone like Jet Li fight. While Jet Li often has the camera sped up to make his fights look faster, Bruce Lee actually had to slow down his punches for the camera to even record them. His physique was inhuman, to say the least. There are other Bruce Lee flicks out there, but none are as slick. There are some memorable fights in them though, such as when he faced off against Chuck Norris in Return of the Dragon. The R1 version of "Enter the Dragon" is good, thanks to the fact the the origional language is English, and no redubbing was needed. There is a R1 boxset containing some of his other films though that isn't nearly as good, but fairly cheap. You'd probably spend several times as much to get DVD's with the origional language tracks.

    The Street Fighter:
    Sonny Chiba is no kung-fu master, although apparantly he was a gymnast. The Street Fighter (not to be confused with the video game movie of the same name) is your classic 70's exploitation flick. However, what sets this flick apart is Sonny Chiba, who manages a classic, menacing snarl and is highly entertaining despite his relative lack of skills. To make up for the lacking kung-fu, he fights nasty. Throats are ripped out. People fly out of windows and fall to messy deaths. Skulls are crushed in X-ray shots. (later ripped off by Jet Li in Romeo must Die) Men's balls are ripped clean off! In this film he plays a total scumball too. He springs criminals out of jail, sells a woman into white slavery... Then he goes "good" after a falling out with the Yakuza. Definately worth a rental, or blind buy. (This flick can be bought at amazingly cheap prices. Just don't expect demo quality material.)

    Once you start watching kung-fu flicks you will come to expect different things from different stars. Here's my take on the three majors:
    • Jackie Chan: He typically plays well-meaning bafoonish slackers. Expect outrageous visual gags, slapstick, amazing stunts, and awesome but relatively honest fights. He hasn't done a whole lot of CG or wire-fu, relying isntead on his amazing physical talents. He can do some amazing styles. Watching him do drunken boxing is astonishing. His films often meld comedy and action to an amazingly effective degree. He puts out the occasional turkey though, like "Tuxedo". He's getting a bit old for some of his trademark stunts, but hopefully he'll make the transition to directing or fight choreography.
    • Bruce Lee: The genuine article. Bruce was not a photogenic actor with moderate kung-fu skills, but a full blown master who invented his own kung-fu style and taught thousands of pupils. The age of his films shows, but they occasionally tackled serious subject matter. He usually plays a quiet outsider, newly introduced to a situation, but inevitably winds up being dragged into trouble. Expect old-school arse-kicking with no wire-fu, camera tricks, etc. and out of date camera work. He *always* has a pair of num-chuks in his back pocket. The tones of his films are usually pretty serious, with the occasional tragic ending.
    • Jet Li: He doesn't have the raw kung-fu talent of Jackie or Bruce, but his films usually push the limits of fight choreography and technology. Expect cutting edge fight sequences, but don't expect total realism. Wire-fu, camera speed-ups, and CG are heavily used, and they show. His roles are diverse, but he always plays a thoroughly likable happy-go-lucky guy that almost never stops smiling. (Literally, it took him decades to make a film in which he does something other than grin.) He's made some of the best modern kung-fu films out there and a good number of Turkey's too.
     
  15. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    FIST OF LEGEND is a remake of Bruce Lee's FIST OF FURY. Both are very good movies.

    Also, BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR is a must. It's beautifully filmed.

    Kevin - You've seen CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. You are now familar with Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. Why not work out from there? Chow Yun Fat is known for his suave, cool as Hell, characters. You're more likely to see him with a gun in each hand than a sword. Some of the best examples of his are:
    A Better Tomorrow, I & II
    The Killer
    Hard Boiled
    Once a Thief
    City on Fire
    Full Contact
    For Michelle Yeoh movies, she seems to be comfortable with a variety of weapons whether it be swords, guns, or high kicks. Some of her best are :
    Wing Chun
    Heroic Trio
    The Executioners
    Yes, Madam!
    Supercop (Police Story III)
    Tai Chi Master (Twin Warriors) with Jet Li

    And the actress who played Jade Fox, Chen Pei-pei has been doing movies since she was 17. If you have a multi-region layer, you can see her in Come Drink With Me. This is a great introduction to Old School Kung Fu.

    From the list of movies above, you will find other wonderful actors, actresses, and directors that will allow you to branch out even more.

    Matt
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I was going to mention Bruce Lee. But Terry covered everything I was going to write—and more.
     
  17. Joe Valha

    Joe Valha Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't believe how long it took for someone to mention Bruce Lee and Enter the Dragon....

    Simply the best. Ever.
     
  18. Richard_D_Ramirez

    Richard_D_Ramirez Second Unit

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    I recommend these two, mainly for some of the best end-fight scenes ever:

    Way of the Dragon (aka Return of the Dragon): This film was written and directed by Bruce Lee himself. An interesting film which blended humor and drama. This film also contains the classic end-fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. Two fighters, clashing at the Roman Colosseum, what more could you ask for?

    Fist of Legend: A "retelling" of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection), Jet Li plays the Chen Zhen character in this film. The fight scenes have only a small bit of speeding up (called undercranking), but the fight choreography is a sight to behold. Watch for the nearly nine-minute end-fight between Jet Li and Billy Chau.

    8^B
     
  19. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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  20. Joshua_Y

    Joshua_Y Screenwriter

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    Drunken Master 2 (Legend of Drunken Master)
    Fists of Legend
    Iron Monkey

    Those are the 3 best from all the ones I've seen...
     

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