With the talent behind it, Jupiter Ascending could have been another Matrix. However, its action scenes and fight sequences weren't quite up to par.

What do you get when you cross The Matrix (1999) with Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and then create a universe steeped in contrived genetic science? Jupiter Ascending, of course. Big-budget sci-fi often does well at the box office, but Jupiter Ascending’s $179 million budget wasn’t enough to prevent a disastrous opening weekend that grossed just $19 million and set off sirens that were loud and clear in Hollywood: With all the superhero films that are bludgeoning our brains with expensive computer-enhanced special effects, is the public on the verge of losing interest in such cinematic spectacles? The next Star Wars film might be the genre’s savior — or it could be the final nail in the seen-it-before coffin. What Wars filmmakers and all the others should be talking about is whether a reliance on green screens and motion capture is making fight scenes less gutsy, less physical and less technical. It’s obvious that the fine art of fight choreography is being underappreciated and shortchanged.


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Between the 1960s and mid-1990s, Chinese martial arts action films evolved. It took Rumble in the Bronx (1995), The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) to wake up mainstream America and show the public how far kung fu films had come since Bruce Lee made his classics. But as The Matrix Reloaded (2003) showed us, the ascending fight sequences of yesteryear are now descending into CGI mediocrity. After Keanu Reeves’s stunt double Chad Stahelski did the fights in that film, Reeve’s face was digitally placed on Stahelski’s head. Few know that this is why Jet Li didn’t do the movie — he was concerned that someone else’s face might end up on his body. Although Matrix directors Andy and Lana Wachowski may have thought they were pushing the envelope, they were beginning to close it.

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Want to see how these movies should be made? Watch the mesmerizing battle in Jet Li’s Swordsman II (1992) involving a disfigured swordsman and five fighters as they leap and fly in all directions while attacking and defending. What viewers don’t see is the off-screen maneuvering of the five wire teams that had to jump off ladders, pull on ropes and scurry all over the place to bring to life this meticulously choreographed “wire fu” moment in which each fighter seemingly defied the laws of gravity. One is awestruck by the sheer physicality of the action that takes place on a real outdoor set.

Since The Matrix, each Wachowski film has featured progressively less groundbreaking martial arts action and progressively smaller box-office numbers. The budget and opening weekend gross for V for Vendetta (2005) were $54 million and $25.6 million, respectively. For Speed Racer (2008), the numbers were $120 million and $20 million, and for Cloud Atlas (2012), they were $102 million and $9 million.

Considering the pedigree of the fighting talent involved with Jupiter Ascending, the doors were wide open to create imaginative and clever martial arts choreography. Instead, even the few fisticuff exchanges and slow-motion capoeira-like kicks were camouflaged behind explosions, tight camera angles, ray guns and labored green-screen action.

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But there is still hope in the action-movie universe: Thank goodness for the latest Keanu Reeves film John Wick (2014)! Directed by the aforementioned Chad Stahelski, it features creative physical action based on demanding fight choreography. Obviously, all is not lost — yet. Go here to order Dr. Craig D. Reid’s book The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded With Action, Weapons and Warriors. (Jupiter Ascending photos courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Black Belt Magazine has a storied history that dates back all the way to 1961, making 2021 the 60th Anniversary of the world's leading magazine of martial arts. To celebrate six decades of legendary martial arts coverage, take a trip down memory lane by scrolling through some of the most influential covers ever published. From the creators of martial art styles, to karate tournament heroes, to superstars on the silver screen, and everything in between, the iconic covers of Black Belt Magazine act as a time capsule for so many important moments and figures in martial arts history. Keep reading to view the full list of these classic issues.

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When Black Belt Magazine was born in 1961, the Beatles were a start-up band, Sergeant Elvis Presley just left the Army, 77 Sunset Strip and Bonanza were the hot TV shows, and phone numbers started with letters. The mainstream martial art of the era was judo and the Dead Sea was just sick.

Black Belt Magazine is the martial arts' most popular and influential publication and has been so since the early 1960s when the first issues were published. From the contents of those early issues, readers recognized that honor and integrity was behind this new martial arts resource and that its objective was not just profit-making or commercialization. The 1960s work here includes three phases in Black Belt's development. Phase one spans 1961 thru 1964 prior to Black Belt becoming a monthly magazine. Phase two spans 1965 and 1966. Phase three is 1967 thru 1969.

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Matcha has got it all for a martial artist.

It creates focus, energy, concentration, curbs the appetite for weigh-ins. These are some great qualities matcha has. Learn more about matcha and how to get the best matcha to improve your health and performance.

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The quality of matcha should be vibrant or bright green. The vibrant green is called, ceremonial matcha, and is the best. It is used in very important Japanese ceremonies. Less fresh, lower grade or bad matcha will be a dark or dull green without the brightness and almost greenish yellow. Color is very important when choosing matcha. The consistency of matcha will be in a very fine powder form.

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