martial arts movies

What Robin Hood is to Great Britain, Wong Fei-hung is to China: a folk hero with a reputation of standing up for the poor and downtrodden. However, while Robin Hood is a fictional character, Wong (the family name is first) is a real person. He was born in what is now Guangdong Province in China, and lived from 1847 to 1924. Wong was an exceptionally skilled martial artist. As a child, he learned Hung-Gar from his father, and later went on to train with several other masters and open his own school.

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With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum ($75 million budget; $314 million worldwide box office as of press time), director Chad Stahelski has finally done it! He's created a superbly made American movie, filled with innovative fight and camera choreography that matches the creativity of the man he accidentally learned from, Yuen Woo-ping. Yuen, you may recall, did the fight choreography for 1999's The Matrix and is still considered one of best directors of cinematic combat in history. Now, you're probably wondering what I mean by "accidentally."

For The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers wanted frenetic-paced, over-the-top, Hong Kong–style martial arts action, and they wanted to shoot it in a way that no one had shot martial arts action before. They needed two things: cutting-edge special effects and a Hong Kong fight director.

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Photos Courtesy of Well Go USA

NE ZHA: With an elegantly constructed allegory that mirrors William Ernest Henley's 1875 poem Invictus — which asserts, "I'm the master of my fate; I'm the captain of my soul," — the Chinese animated feature Ne Zha is loosely based on a martial arts legend from the Ming-dynasty novel Creation of the Gods. With earnings that topped $650 million in 30 days, Ne Zha clearly rivals the glitz of any production from DreamWorks or Pixar, and it's appealing to audiences everywhere.

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This article was published in the April 1974 issue of Fighting Stars magazine, a sister publication of Black Belt. That means it appeared just five years after the original Star Trek was canceled and many years before the sci-fi series became a staple of film and television. At the time, William Shatner was not the international superstar he's recognized as today. He was just an actor who'd had a good run on a series that happened to be set in space. And he was a martial artist.

When the USS Enterprise abruptly splashed down from its three-year trek to the stars, angry fans denounced the TV "high-thinkers" who chose to ground the space adventure with the hope of replacing it with an even higher-rated show. The industry captains never did find that higher-rated program, but the adventures of Capt. James T. Kirk and his Star Trek crew still delight science-fiction aficionados, even if only in syndication.

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FROM SOUTH KOREA: I've watched thousands of martial arts movies, but I've never witnessed one like director Lim Kyeong-taek's No Mercy, which recently played at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Throughout the movie and even during the credits, you could have heard a pin drop.

I didn't see anyone leave their seats. When the crowd filed out of the theater at the end, people barely looked at one another. My guess is no one could escape the unspeakable premise presented by the movie's gruesomely uncomfortable plot.In-ae (played by Lee Si-young) is a bodyguard who, because of some previous brutal tactics she used to help a client, gets sent to prison. Upon release, she assures her mentally challenged, high-school-age sister Eun-hye that she'll never leave again. Later, Eun-hye unwittingly falls in with the wrong crowd and gets kidnapped, but the police don't seem to care. Eun-hye is sexually abused by a group of teens, who pass her on to equally evil men. In-ae must then face the question, What do you do when you confront the men who raped your sister?No Mercy is full of such touchy subjects, including school bullying, treatment of the mentally challenged, sex trafficking, exploitation of minors, and complacency and hubris on behalf of law enforcement. Furthermore, it blurs the lines between politicians and criminals.At the Brussels International Film Festival, Lim spoke about the movie: "I wanted to express the woman as a victim without avoiding that real expression of being a victim.

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