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.)
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The UFC returned to American network television for the first time in more than two years Saturday on ABC while former featherweight champion Max Holloway returned to his winning ways following two straight losses, earning a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Holloway showed he still has plenty left as a fighter dominating Kattar from the opening bell of the main event with a mix of punches and low kicks.

It appeared as if the former champion might stop his opponent in the fourth round landing a series of vicious body blows followed by hard elbows to the head as a bloodied Kattar sagged against the fence. But Kattar somehow survived managing to keep himself upright through the fifth stanza as well, only to lose a lopsided decision. After dropping his title to Alexander Volkanovski and then losing a controversial rematch, Holloway may have put himself in position for one more crack at the championship following Saturday's impressive performance.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BLACK BELT HALL OF FAME

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When it comes to grappling arts most people have heard of Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, and Sumo. The dynamic art of Shuaijiao, though it is not as well known as the others, should be.

What is Shuaijiao?

Shuaijiao (also spelled Shuai-Chiao) is a Chinese martial art that is approximately four thousand years old. Shuaijiao was born in a time of warfare long ago when to fall on the battlefield meant likely to never get up, and in that spirit, the curriculum of Shuaijiao focuses on throwing in a variety of ways. It is a standup grappling style, meaning that although there are hip throws, leg sweeps, and hand techniques, like many other arts, there is no ground grappling. The goal of Shuaijiao is to end up in a dominant position standing.

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ONE Championship's first event of 2021 is on the horizon as the company returns to the Singapore Indoor Stadium for ONE: Unbreakable on January 22.

In the main event, bantamweight kickboxer Capitan Petchyindee Academy challenges ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi "Babyface Killer" Ramazanov for his crown.

The Thai challenger has a chip on his shoulder for this contest. Capitan mentioned that he wants to prove all of his doubters wrong with a title-winning performance on Friday in a video detailing the matchup.

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