Black Belt's film critic looks at Kingsman: The Secret Service and comes away impressed. That's surprising, especially when you consider that the stars are not martial artists.

In last week’s blog, I lauded the efforts of Hayley Atwell, the actress who delivers very convincing fight performances in Marvel's Agent Carter TV series. This week’s topic is Kingsman: The Secret Service, a motion picture in which Colin Firth does that and more. In fact, his action scenes rank as perhaps the best combative achievement of a never-done-a-fight-on-film-before actor — at least, in the history of non-Asian martial arts movies. Firth, of course, is renowned for his quintessential “British gentleman” roles — for example, in The King's Speech (2010), both Bridget Jones's Diary films (2004 and 2001) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). That’s why his Kingsman portrayal of Harry Hart is so amazing. He’s further out of his comfort zone than Jackie Chan would be if he did Shakespeare on stage in London. The King’s Mission I like to think of Kingsman as what you’d get if you crossed a James Bond movie with a 1970s Hong Kong kung fu flick in which a master takes a downtrodden street bumpkin under his wing and teaches him the physical and philosophical ways of kung fu. Hart is a member of Kingsman, a clandestine agency that combats evil around the world. His training enables him to defend himself with the utmost confidence and competence. He walks through fights unfazed and emerges unscathed. Afterward, in typical gentlemanly fashion, he adjusts his tie and his cuff links, not even having broken a sweat or mussed his hair. Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, is a street-smart waif whose Kingsman father died because of a mistake Hart made. Raised by a single mom who’s somewhat of a floozy, Eggsy is now on the lam from thugs and lawmen. Obviously, his life is rapidly going nowhere. After Hart convinces him to apply to join Kingsman, Eggsy begins training, and all aspects of his existence start improving. That’s not surprising because the main philosophical tenet of the Kingsman organization is that one should strive to become superior to one’s previous self. The King’s Nemesis In Kingsman, many of the action sequences revolve around Eggsy and how he implements that self-improvement mandate while he transitions to manhood. Along the way, he’s forced to do battle with henchmen who work for an evil genius who threatens the world as we know it. That evildoer is Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Valentine has managed to hatch a plan for world domination despite his awkward idiosyncrasies and aversion to the sight of blood. Because of the latter, he delegates pugilistic duties to his sultry valet Gazelle, portrayed by Algerian model Sofia Boutella. A double amputee, Gazelle wages war with her “blade” prosthetics. They’re similar to the ones real-life athletes use, but hers are razor sharp. She’s like Goldfinger's Oddjob but with much more slice and dice.


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The King’s Fight "She’s called ‘Gazelle’ because she’s in total control of her legs," said Boutella, who formerly worked as a dancer on Madonna's concert tours. "The stunt training for the film was intense,” Boutella continued. “They taught me Thai boxing, taekwondo and how to work with cables. Gazelle uses her legs to kill, so I had to learn different types of kicks. I’d never done anything like it before." Read Part 2 of this post here. Photos by Jaap Buitendijk © Twentieth Century Fox/Poster © Twentieth Century Fox 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.
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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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