Maybe it’s because I was raised in Asia. Maybe it’s because of the early influence of Sean Connery as James Bond, followed by the Rambo and Chuck Norris fims. It’s probably a bit of both.
For whatever reason, I’m a fan of martial arts films, especially the samuari ones. “Kill Bill I”, with it’s many bloody fight scenes, is easily the film I rewatch most.
Asia has enjoyed martial arts films for decades. Which is why films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero” are among my favorite foreign films. They mix martial arts with a decent plot. When, I wondered would American film makers get in on the …action?
It looks like the answer is: 2012. Because martial arts boosts box office appeal in Asia, where there’s a much larger audience and going to the movies is still prevalent. Martial arts films there are still what westerns once were in the U.S.
When I talk about martial arts movies, I mean the ones with humans fighting. But that’s apparently not a requirement in Asia. Kung Fu Panda 2 broke the weekend opening box record in China. The thought is hard to…bear. (But then, pandas are Chinese.)
So it wasn’t that much of a surprise to read in The Wall Street Journal that many 2012 American films will feature martial arts. The first…blow…was in December. In the new Sherlock Holmes film, our hero goes mano a mano with his evil rival in the film’s climax.
Other films with “name” stars will follow in displaying their martial arts skills. Ryan Goslin is in “Only God Forgives,” which appears to be “Death Wish” in Bangkok. Leonardo DiCaprio is a martial arts assassin in a film (which has planned sequels) based on the novel Satori. Keanu Reeves, who displayed his dexterity in the Matrix series, has finished 47 Ronin. (Ronin are samurai unattached to any warlord and often mercenaries.). Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu (the villainess in “Kill Bill I”) also have completed their martial arts contribution – “Man with the Iron Fists” which was filmed in Shanghai.
I hope that if this American martial arts trend continues it will, as the more “modern” Asian films have, give equal attention to women. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero”, among others, had women in prominent roles. Here’s one of my favorite fight scenes, featuring two women, from “Crouching Tiger.”
Here’s Uma Thurman Kung Fu fighting in the bar scene “borrowed” from “Crouching Tiger” with a special soundtrack from Fatboy Slim
Let’s not forget that Jet Li has been Kung Fu fighting for years:
2012…? Bring it on!