Martial arts movies make up a significant chunk of the film industry. The action, flying punches and roundhouses might be looked down upon by some critics with their long noses and high sensibilities, but us regular peasants often grow quite fond of a solid martial arts film. Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee might be more valuable than a multi-Oscar winner — to many of us, they’re masters of their craft, having honed their bodies and created an awesome (in the truest sense of the word) film (or films) for us to enjoy.
Styles change, as do tastes, but for anyone interested in martial arts films, I would recommend the Indonesian “The Raid: Redemption,” made in 2011. Directed by Gareth Evans, the first installment of these movies follows a SWAT team as they assault a criminal enterprise held up in a massive apartment complex. The main character, played by the insanely talented Iko Uwais, battles alongside his buddies as they fight their way to the top. I would argue that the latest “Dredd” movie took a lot of inspiration from this film, and rightfully so. It was an amazing show of these guys’ talent, wrapped up in a great story with some crazy stunts and action sequences. Think of it as a modern realist-styled, but still old-school, somewhat fantastical martial arts film (we all know one guy isn’t going to beat through hundreds of people like Jackie Chan did, but we still loved Jackie Chan).
If you must see proof, check out this clip. If you don’t need proof, just watch the movie and enjoy it yourself without spoiling anything.
Here’s what happens when a “realism/gritty,” modern movie meets an old-school martial arts film:
This was a favorite among my friends on our deployments. While many liked the first better, I was a bigger fan of its sequel, “The Raid 2.” It’s a little slower in between fights, the scope of the story is larger and more is going on in the grand scheme of things. However, the fights absolutely do not disappoint, and still retain the same style as the first (better, in my opinion). Iko Uwais pushes his boundaries, flinging his knees and elbows into the faces of waves of oncoming bad guys.
While the final fight is the best, I will not ruin it here. Still, this prison fight scene at the beginning is something to see.
Martial arts movies like these have really influenced a lot in the film industry. In one writer’s opinion, they have saved us from filmmakers relying on the handi/shakey-cam technique that so many of us have gotten sick of. Seeing real actors performing their own, lengthily choreographed fight scenes has pushed the standards of actors and stuntmen to give the audience something they will truly look upon with awe and wonder — something that ought to be achieved any time someone steps in the theater.
Featured image courtesy of Sony Pictures.