entertainment

Dr. Craig's Martial Arts Movie Lounge

When I watch action films that have martial arts in them, which most action films do these days, including Godzilla vs. King Kong (2021) that used martial arts inspired fights on the monster level, there are three things I always do: within five minutes, take note of my initial impression; after the movie ends, create a short emotional expression; and finally develop an overall view of the action. This sentence reflects the importance of chemistry in a film, three ions. And when it's comedy, my brain goes into overdrive.

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It is unlikely that anyone ever grabbed something from a drive through at a local fast food place and upon finishing that meal (including the straggler fries in the bag) exclaimed, "That is one of the finest meals I have ever eaten!" That is of course unless one has entirely out-of-balance expectations. Well, there may be something even more 'fast food' than actual fast food and it is the world of social media with its inhabitants. It is almost certain that being called a "Youtuber" in the current milieu of our culture is nowhere thought of as an actual compliment. It is true that media has changed and morphed drastically in even the last decade and content creators are making their way (and living) in the space, but it is still not the case at this juncture that those who do it are taken too seriously as professionals. They are just Youtubers or influencers, which implies of course they are not much more.

Speaking of foods you should probably avoid at all costs, you may be a root beer float person. Someone who loves a scoop of ice cream in a carbonated drink (this writer had trouble even typing this analogy). There are many things like this where when worlds collide, some will cheer while others jeer. Some will celebrate every ounce of the exact thing others despise. One man's Triller is another man's... the reader can finish that one. Is there something to see in the oddity that is social media influencers like the Paul brothers (Jake and Logan) entering the hallowed space of combat sports? Maybe we can go down a short contemplative road here to see if we can find some help in answering that.

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Dr. Craig's Martial Arts Movie Lounge

There's a weird cold chill in the MMA world that bothers me. Over the past month, several TV programs like Law & Order: SVU, where because a crime suspect was an MMA practitioner, the assumption was drawn that the suspect is dangerous and has a violent temper. Though a far cry from when masters of martial arts characters on TV were respected for following a code of ethics and fight only when it was needed, this profiling of MMA athletes is still rather odious.

Successful boxing films use a formula, a down trodden misunderstood lad overcomes hurdles by finding a mentor who changes the lad's attitude and helps him become a champion or win a rematch. MMA films need to keep having characters with a sense of humanity fighting for noble causes rather than for ego, fame and fortune. Favorably, American Fighter (2019) pursues an upright path with a Persian persuasion.

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Dr. Craig's Martial Arts Movie Lounge

The fight between good and evil is an ongoing deception by one that clouds the reality of the other; choose your side carefully. When I saw the 1992 video game Mortal Kombat (MK) it reminded me of the old kung fu films based on Chinese wuxia novels that I learned to read in simplified Chinese in 1980 Taiwan, where two opposing powerful Clans vied to control Jiang Hu (translated as the Kung Fu Underworld in English dubbed Chinese kung fu movies). When the first 1994 MK comic book introduced Shang Tsung's power of stealing a fighter's soul to remain young, it was obvious to me, which wuxia novel had the most influence on the MK franchise. Watching Robin Shou's Mortal Kombat (1995; MK95) confirmed my conjectures.

Fast Forward 26 years, the beauty of the new Mortal Kombat (MK21) film is that even if you know nothing about the franchise, the opening superimposition succinctly tells the main plot, "Earthrealm on the verge of catastrophe, should it lose one more tournament, the savage realm of Outworld will invade, but an ancient prophecy foretells that a new group of champions will be united by the rise of Hanzo Hasashi's blood." It turns out that to have a fighting chance, the five Earthrealm heroes, Cole, Sonya, Kung Lao, Jax and Liu Kang must use or find their arcana secret powers from within.

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