fant asia

Enjoy our entertainment blogger's examination of the origins and evolution of the martial arts-inspired action in the seven Star Wars movies.

In Part One of this blog, I noted that the sword fights from the first six Star Wars films were superior to those of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Fans of the films claim that because of executive producer George Lucas' love of early Japanese chanbara films, the lightsaber duels, the force and the amazing fighting skills of the Jedi — which were based on kendo, ki (chi in Chinese) and samurai/Errol Flynn films, respectively — were emphasized. Studying the evolution of the lightsaber duels throughout the original trilogy served as a basis for determining the extent of kendo's real and fake influence. With Luke Skywalker using telekinesis in The Empire Strikes Back, it begged the question, Was this the force? My "yes" answer was revealed in that blog, and my "no" answer will be expounded here.

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In the old days, martial artists starred in martial arts movies that were released in theaters. Nowadays, actors are coaxed through mostly forgettable fight scenes. That need not be the case!

As digital communication takes over our lives, it naturally affects the way we connect with each other. It seems as if more and more people are studying writing at AU (Acronym University), which enables them to use “capital” punishment as a means to say a lot by writing a little. For the longest time, it seemed that the martial arts world was immune to this affliction. But now we live in the era of mixed martial arts, the sport that’s better-known as MMA. So who came up with the phrase that led to the acronym MMA? It must have been some famous martial artist, right? How could someone not in the know have devised a term that would have such an impact on the evolution of the arts? Well, let me save you the google. In 1993 a non-martial artist named Howard Rosenberg used the words “mixed martial arts” in a review of the UFC 1. He probably never thought the phrase would stick, let alone become a war cry for a new form of martial arts competition.

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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.

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