What do you get when you give a cat a hat, an attitude and a fencing foil? Just the kind of hero you need when ninja pigs are threatening!
The first kung fu film widely seen in American theaters was a feature-length Japanese anime work titled Alakazam the Great (aka Saiyu-ki). Released in 1961, it was based on Wu Cheng-en's 1580s kung fu novel Journey to the West, which highlighted the Monkey King as he used martial arts to protect a traveling Buddhist monk. The latest example of an animal using Chinese-style martial arts to protect others is the Netflix original series The Adventures of Puss in Boots. It’s based on a French fairy tale written by Charles Perrault almost 100 years after the Monkey King. The hero is not a monkey but a sword-wielding, swashbuckling cat. Produced by DreamWorks Animation Television, Puss in Boots revolves around the compact character that was introduced in 2004’s Shrek 2 (voiced by Antonio Banderas). The feisty feline has been cat-apulted into Netflix land, where he protects the fabled treasure and townspeople of the mythical settlement of San Lorenzo from thieves, vagabonds and ninja pigs. Shrek (2001) was the first animated film to tap into the Hong Kong-stylized action genre by using the kinds of sight gags and fight scenes made popular in “fant-Asia” flicks and The Matrix (1999). DreamWorks continued to borrow Chinese film flash while making its Kung Fu Panda movies. The process entailed having cartoon fight choreographer Rodolphe Guenoden watch 1980s and '90s period-piece Hong Kong movies so martial artists could perform real kung fu for the animators.
swordplay [and] extra punching, kicking and action.” As a protagonist, Puss is similar to the lone swordsman and knight-errant heroes in Chinese wuxia films. He selflessly protects the weak from evildoers, but he does it with a code of ethics. In particular, Puss righteously defends the honor of ladies, remains loyal to his friends and sacrifices personal gain to save downtrodden orphans — all with humor, swagger and, ideally, a bowl of milk afterward. fencing feline foils every scoundrel who’s foolish enough to cross paths with him. (Illustrations © 2015 DreamWorks Animation, All Rights Reserved) 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.