Endangered Species! How to Save the Martial Arts Film Industry
In the old days, martial artists starred in martial arts movies that were released in theaters. Nowadays, actors are coaxed through mostly forgettable fight scenes. That need not be the case!
As digital communication takes over our lives, it naturally affects the way we connect with each other. It seems as if more and more people are studying writing at AU (Acronym University), which enables them to use “capital” punishment as a means to say a lot by writing a little. For the longest time, it seemed that the martial arts world was immune to this affliction. But now we live in the era of mixed martial arts, the sport that’s better-known as MMA. So who came up with the phrase that led to the acronym MMA? It must have been some famous martial artist, right? How could someone not in the know have devised a term that would have such an impact on the evolution of the arts? Well, let me save you the google. In 1993 a non-martial artist named Howard Rosenberg used the words “mixed martial arts” in a review of the UFC 1. He probably never thought the phrase would stick, let alone become a war cry for a new form of martial arts competition.
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MMMA is similar to MMA in that, at the end of the day, every martial arts film made is a result of a mishmash of combat skills and fight choreography used by earlier genres. So I say the time has come to lump all the past, present and future martial arts film fights under one cinematic genre umbrella: MMMA, which stands for “mixed movie martial arts.” The easier — and cooler — way to refer to it is “3MA.”3MA has deep connotations and implications. First, when a person says he or she is a 3MA connoisseur, it means that person has watched lots of martial arts films from around the world and probably possesses a deeper understanding of why scenes in movies look the way they do. (I smell awesome 3MA conventions in the future.) Second, a more important part of the MMMA equation is that it can ensure the survival of martial arts cinema — and, in fact, fight scenes in any film — for the next 50 years! Consider: How many fight directors and choreographers in Hollywood can create a scene in which an eagle-claw hero battles villains who use praying mantis kung fu, karate, tiger-claw kung fu and MMA — and do it so every move looks different? How many can do that off the cuff?
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