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Sunday, 19 August 2018

Review: The Art of Action: Martial Arts In The Movies (2002)

The Art of Action: Martial Arts In The Movies

Synopsis: A look at the history of martial arts films from their Chinese roots to the present

'Deficient & Not Very Thorough Look At Martial Arts In Films History'

The Art of Action: Martial Arts In The Movies presents a very broad -yet far from comprehensive understanding of martial arts films; That, and it is strictly limited to mainland Chinese based movies such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, whereas Hong Kong offerings such as Jackie Chan's Police Story, Jet Li's Fist of Fury, are overlooked and ignored. 

Its selection of clips are restricted to populist and commercial mainstream action movies, whilst the overreliance of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon as the model example is one I find a bit ridiculous. Yes, Crouching Tiger was a massive global success during the 2000s, but that success was also hinged on its widespread appeal and hype from outside of China, Asia and far more so from the West due to the critical reviews. Alas, it ignores the films of the 1970s, but for Enter The Dragon, and 1980s and rather than exploring the popular and legendary kung fu offerings such as Drunken Master, The Art of Action focuses on a select few which aren't as influential or as noteworthy.

There is an interview with John Woo and features Face/Off and Mission Impossible 2: two movies that feature little or hardly any martial arts in them, Hollywood mainstream efforts, Charlie's Angels and The Matrix which are more action- based, rather than outright proper martial arts movies, but no mention of Hard Target starring Jean-Claude Van Damme & Kickboxer, Fist of Legend and the film fails to explore and go into detail and depth on how martial arts has played a huge and significant role in American movies, especially action martial arts films of the 1980s and 1990s. Another thing I noticed is that most of the movies referenced are in fact Qing dynasty type movies, & very few modern day action martial arts movies, including those from Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Thailand are highlighted.

Jackie Chan gets some spotlight, as well as Bruce Lee & Hong Kong director and fight choreographer, Corey Yuen appears, but very little attention is shone towards Sammo Hung, Jet Li, Yuen Woo Ping and not enough spotlight was on Michelle Yeoh, Tony Jaa, Donnie Yen. The interviews are brief and the way they are edited and handed just wasn't that good. 

The Art of Action: Martial Arts In The Movies is a sadly deficient, lacklustre and not very thorough insight into martial arts movies, but rather it is a cut- and- paste compilation & a basic overview of this particular sub-genre that doesn't do itself justice to its history and die-hard martial arts movie fanatics. 

Final Verdict

This was a slog to get through and I could only manage 30 mins of this. Alas, this is not the definitive guide to martial arts movies and plus, it is all too mediocre and flat in its delivery. Not even Samuel L. Jackson could redeem it.


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