Night of living dead Ep 1 – https://youtu.be/SGXriu9Mv2g
Batman: The Killing Joke
Ep 2 – https://youtu.be/vuSZcwKE9Ss
Episode 3 – Zombie Flesh Eaters
Ep 3 – https://youtu.be/JTKvMoQyMeU
Episode 4 – Predator
Ep 4 – https://youtu.be/EkckBjxlTsI
Episode 5 – Blade Runner
Ep 5 – https://youtu.be/D4nb6tOMGpc
Episode 6 – The Blair Witch Project
Ep 6 – https://youtu.be/Ed6EuLQYTkQ
As you may have noticed from my first blog I’m some what partial to a martial arts movie. Subsequently I have spent my entire life involved in martial arts. Studying various styles such as Judo, Muay Thai or my preferred and much loved Krav Maga.
I have always been drawn to genuine martial artists. As with the majority of fans of this specific genre my first idol was the legendary Bruce Lee. I vividly remember watching Fists of Fury at young age, probably too young, but being blown away by it. The way Bruce Lee moved, his sheer athleticism. His striking, the cat like noises he made. The fact that Jeet Kune Do, the system Lee created himself had no fixed pattern. It was born for the screen.
The scene where he first walks into the Japanese martial arts school and beats the living daylights out of those guys was the singular greatest thing I had ever seen. To this day I love that scene . The inventive combinations used to dispatch multiple attackers was ingenious and as a piece of fight choreography still holds up today.
But! I hate the but moment. Even I can’t hide the fact that when the great Bruce Lee was not breaking bones or punching someone through a window, he was somewhat limited in the old thespian department. The scene in Way of the Dragon where Bruce gurns at a child to steel his ice cream is just painful. Yes the dub doesn’t help. But bless him unless he was brooding or raging, Bruce was all a bit stuck.
Let’s take the mighty Chuck Norris. We all know Chuck Norris was bitten by a cobra and after five days of excruciating pain the cobra died. We also know Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird. Sorry.
Let’s get back on track. His battle with Bruce Lee in the Coliseum is legendary. The ebb and flow of that confrontation is a thing of beauty. The meeting of the free flowing Jeet Kune Do, clashing with the classical Tang Soo Do style of Chuck Norris is in my opinion a thing of genuine beauty. Brutally, bone jarring beauty. But beauty nonetheless.
Now Chuck has had a long career and has made some of my all time favourites. Silent Rage is a classic bit nonsense which I love. Delta Force is just a real guilty pleasure. But I think it’s fair to say his acting range is somewhat limited.
Let’s take Michael Jai White. A phenomenal martial artist. Holding multiple belts in multiple disciplines. I have really enjoyed his films including Spawn and especially To the Bone. Does he need to emote on a level that would trouble Anthony Sher. Not at all. The same for the old war horse that is Dolph Lundgren. Showdown in Little Tokyo is dire but I love every silly minute of that film.
But what of Jackie Chan I hear you cry. The Buster Keaton of the Kung Fu world. His influence is unquestionable. You only have to look at his body of work. Police Story, Armour of God, Meals on Wheels, Project A and the list goes on. He shows a level of martial artistry that is truly inspiring in some his early works. For example Drunken Master, Shaolin Chamber of Death, Young Master. It’s only when you look at those films closely and through a critical eye. You realise the acting is god awful. The less said about First Mission the better. Or dare I say The Protector!
There is a fairly extensive list of martial artists who have made great films. However there are very few films where you can genuinely say the acting was exceptional. But there are martial art films that are exceptional.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a beautiful film, with wonderful performances. The Crow, Brandon Lee is tragically spellbinding. Hero with Jet Li directed by Zhang Yimou. Is a film so exquisitely crafted it’s hard to place it in the category of a Kung Fu movie. I think it’s more of an art house film told through the lens of a martial arts.
So is it that you can have great martial arts films with less than adequate actors? Whose craft and dedication to their art is so powerful that it transcends their lack of acting ability. Or is it you can have a film that as whole is so well put together, like the above, that the martial arts only enhance it? In short the answer is yes! But on the other hand who cares because let’s face I will happily sit down and watch Sakura Killers and love every ridiculous, shoddy moment of it!
So in the immortal words of Count Duckula good night out there whatever you are.
Please check out my Podcast – The Undead Wookie Cast
Ep 1 – Night Of The Living Dead
Ep 2 – Batman: The Killing Joke
Ep 3 – Zombie Flesh Eaters
My entire life I have loved what some people would call cult cinema. Others B-movies my parents and some of my friends would call utter crap. Or as I would like to say specific genre movies. Particularly horror and science fiction. Don’t get me wrong throw in a good martial arts movie and I’m equally in my element.
But what has drawn me to these films over the years? What keeps me coming back for more? Why is it, the idea of some kind of horror, SciFi, martial arts mashup has me giddy with excitement?
Let’s take Avatar (2009) by James Cameron. Myself and a group of friends gathered to witness the birth of next generation filmmaking. As I sat there gently seething at the overblown, badly acted and quite simply boring nonsense in front of my eyes. All I could think of was they spent two hundred and thirty seven million dollars on what was essentially Dances with Smurfs. I felt somewhat cheated by this film. Had I been sucked in by the marketing? Probably. Had I put my faith in James Cameron to deliver on the same level as The Terminator and Terminator Two? Yes. Was I let down? Oh hell yes! However when my friends asked the inevitable question. “What did you think”? Of course I let rip. Much to their shock. They couldn’t believe it. Inevitably they all rolled out the old chestnut of “but you watch all that horror crap”. The classic “If it had been directed by John Woo, you would have loved it”.
But here is the crux of my rambling. Have I ever felt the same kind of hatred towards Michael Dudikoff in American Ninja? That I felt towards Sam Worthington in Avatar. No. Is American Ninja as a film badly acted. Yes! Are the set pieces on the same scale? No way on earth. But the film never ever fails to entertain. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. You never get the sense that the director is striving to take the Ninja movie into new uncharted territory.
There is no grand plan for some kind of multiple sequel saga. It’s genre cinema with no bells or whistles. The fact it made money for Cannon to do multiple sequels is a bonus. Don’t get me wrong I’m not someone who will watch absolute rubbish and say it’s a masterpiece. I’m not. If something is terrible then it’s terrible. Anything where the name Uwe Boll appears is no go for me or Jason Momoa (can just about cope with him in Game of a Thrones season one).
But my point is this,more often than not I have been far more entertained by so called lesser films than giant blockbusters. Simply because they speak to that ten, eleven year boy who just loved going to his local video shop with his friends. Finding those hidden gems like American Ninja, Class of 1999, The Magnificent Bodyguards, The Seven Golden Vampires. Then spending the next couple of hours lost in a world of dodgy special effects, ropey acting and ridiculous plots.
So here is the deal. My aim here is to talk about films I love, films I hate. How film and cinema has given me an entertaining escape over the years.
If anyone is interested you can follow my Podcast over on YouTube. Which is also called The Undead Wookie Cast. The links for each episode are below. So in the immortal words of Count Duckula. Good night out there whatever you are.
Episode 1 – Night of The Living Dead
Episode 2 – Batman: The Killing Joke