tony jaa

How did Jon Foo become the co-star of the CBS TV series Rush Hour? It all started when he was 8 years old, watched a Jackie Chan movie and took up Shaolin kung fu.

This article comes from Black Belt’s December 2012 issue — long before Jon Foo was selected to take on Jackie Chan’s role in the 2016 CBS TV version of Rush Hour.

— Editor

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In addition to appearing in three Bruce Lee classics, Tony Liu portrayed in four films a Chinese emperor who had a great impact on the way the martial arts evolved in China and around the world.

This blog post will test your knowledge of kung fu films, challenge your understanding of who’s had the greatest impact on the development of Chinese martial arts movies and maybe even cause you to examine your kung fu film “nerd quotient.” My first question is, What ever happened to Tony? Tony the Tiger? No, but he was g-r-reat! Tony Jaa? Too much of a suit-and-Thai guy to be linked to Chinese cinema. How about To Ni? Nah, he was a background actor often seen in old films but rarely credited. My question refers to the first actor to bear the brunt of Bruce Lee's iconic death blow: Tony Liu, aka Liu Yong.

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Read the conclusion of our film critic's examination of the martial arts in the latest installment in the Furious franchise.

In the first part of my Furious 7 blog, I noted that action-based movie franchises that feature martial arts have a tendency to act like the month of March: Enter like a lion and exit like a lamb. In other words, each sequel usually has fewer and fewer fight scenes, with the Taken and Bourne films being prime examples. However, since the release of Furious 5, this franchise has made fantastic fights and awesome automotive duels a staple. The formula seems to be working — Furious 7 became the fastest film in history to earn $1 billion globally. Photo by Scott Garfield/Courtesy of Universal Pictures For those who came in late, in Furious 7, villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his family, along with CIA agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), for what they did to his brother in Fast & Furious 6. An explosive early scene in the latest movie pits Hobbs against Shaw — two military-trained he-men overflowing with self-confidence — in an all-out test of strength, technique and mental acuity. Being athletic and in possession of profound pugilistic skills, Johnson and Statham were committed to perfection during the filming. "When it comes to fighting action, Jason brings authenticity to this franchise,” Johnson said. “He’s a pretty tough guy, and he’s legit. He's all about wanting to make every scene incredible, and with the action sequence put together, I was happy. It’s Jason showcasing his well-versed martial arts and me inflicting Hobbs’ very straightforward, hard-core way of fighting." Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures One of the most challenging fights in Furious 7 is set inside a speeding, out-of-control bus. It features Paul Walker and Tony Jaa — a tricky task for Jaa because running, jumping and flipping are integral parts of his style. On the subject, fight choreographer Jeff Imada shared the following: "My goal was to utilize the tight confines and give audiences a feeling of great action and have Tony show off his signature moves. It was nice to use traditional techniques but to also allow improvising while incorporating their precarious environment.”

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The box-office numbers for Furious 7 indicate it's not disappointing the public, but how does the latest film in the franchise stack up when it comes to action and martial arts?

Martial arts-rich TV shows are a lot like a Fourth of July fireworks display done in reverse. The crescendo of explosive action usually comes at the beginning. It’s followed by the constant rhythm of ground and air displays, then ends in a way that often exemplifies Macbeth’s soliloquy: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more." Sadly, this plight also afflicts film franchises. The Taken and Bourne movies are good examples. In each installment, audiences were treated to fewer and fewer fights. (Photo by Scott Garfield/Courtesy of Universal Pictures) And then there’s Furious 7, the latest entry in a series that started in 2001 with a flute of champagne called The Fast and the Furious. With the release of Fast Five in 2011, the franchise increased in potency even more. Thanks in part to nonstop martial arts action, it’s now a veritable 100-proof bottle of Scotch with a Corona chaser. (Photo by Scott Garfield/Courtesy of Universal Pictures) The fight-fermentation process took off with the addition of Dwayne Johnson as CIA agent Luke Hobbs in Fast Five. His job was to track down and capture Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel). Since that flick, which boasted more over-the-top car chases and featured the wicked WWE/MMA/LA-street-brawl Dom-vs.-Hobbs matchup, hand-to-hand combat and wacky automotive duels have become a staple.

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