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Posts tagged “Martial Arts

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee_BannerBruce Lee (born Lee Jun-fan; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a Chinese American actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He is widely considered by many commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist, and a cultural icon.

bruce-lee_enter the dragonLee was born in San Francisco to parents of Hong Kong heritage but was raised in Hong Kong until his late teens. It was in Hong Kong where the largest influence on Lee’s martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun. Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 13 under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1954, after losing a fight with rival gang members. Yip’s regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (sticking hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring. There was no set pattern to the classes. Yip tried to keep his students from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong by encouraging them to fight in organized competitions.

enter_the_dragon_poster_005After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man’s other students refused to train with Lee after they learnt of his ancestry (his mother was half Chinese and half Caucasian) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians. Lee’s sparring partner, Hawkins Cheung states, “Probably fewer than six people in the whole Wing Chun clan were personally taught, or even partly taught, by Yip Man”. However, Lee showed a keen interest in Wing Chun, and continued to train privately with Yip Man and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

Lee emigrated to the United States at the age of 18 to claim his U.S. citizenship and receive his higher education. It was during this time that he began teaching martial arts, which soon led to film and television roles.

Bruce Lee_Game of Death_posterHis Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Warner Brothers’ Enter the Dragon (1973), directed by Robert Clouse; and Game of Death (1978), directed by Robert Clouse. Extended articles on each of these movies will appear here at a later date.

Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world. Although he initially trained in Wing Chun, he later rejected well-defined martial art styles, favouring instead to use techniques from various sources in the spirit of his personal martial arts philosophy, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist).

On 10 May 1973, Lee collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for the movie Enter the Dragon. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling.

bruce-lee_game of deathOn 20 July 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, to have dinner with George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee’s wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 pm at home to discuss the film Game of Death.  Lee later complained of a headache, and actress Betty Lee Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), he went for a nap and never woke up. He died later that day in Kowloon Tong, he was only 32.


The Wolverine by my 7 year old Son ****½

The Wolverine_Poster ArtA delayed review from my son as he wasn’t really that interested in seeing The Wolverine on initial release. I couldn’t understand why as it seemed to have most of the ingredients he likes: Comic book superheroes battling bad guys… When I asked why he wasn’t keen, he said that “Wolverine just ‘complains’ all the time, it’s boring” Anyway, we eventually saw it, here’s the inevitable review… albeit more synopsis than review:

The Wolverine starts in an army prison in Japan, the Wolverine is a soldier and he’s locked in an empty iron well. A nuclear bomb gets dropped on a Japanese city (Nagasaki) and Wolverine saves one of the Japanese soldiers.

A few years pass and Wolverine is in the mountains with a beard. He is friends with a bear, then some guys kill the bear with poison arrows. Wolverine takes one of the poison arrows and stabs it in the guys hand and he says “It’s poison” then pours some beer on his hand.

Then a Japanese girl, who is like a Ninja, arrives and takes him to Japan where he meets the soldier that he saved in Japan. The old guy dies and Wolverine gets a haircut and at the funeral Wolverine won’t get back in line because he is suspicious of some bad  guys. Soon an army of bad guys come to the funeral to take the old mans grand-daughter away but Wolverine and an archer save her. Then he is on a bullet train and washes his wounds , just then he fights some bad guys!

He wakes up and Viper takes some of his mutant power away so he wont heal. He takes the girl to her old house which is where the old prison was. He does work chopping up a tree on the road, then some bad guys take the girl away. When he’s on his way to save the girl that’s when Wolverine fights 40 Ninjas but he gets about 23 poisoned arrows in his back and he gets caught.

SPOILER ALERT: He then has to fight a giant adamantium Samurai the ninja girl fights Viper. Viper shedded her snakeskin. Wolverine sees that inside the adamantium samurai is the dead old Japanese man.

I give it 4½ stars. Because there’s not much fighting and a lot of talking.


Jim Kelly R.I.P

Jim Kelly_Movie BannerJim Kelly, the martial artist who starred alongside Bruce Lee in the iconic 1973 film Enter the Dragon died yesterday. He was 67. His ex-wife confirmed his death in a Facebook post. Jim Kelly was an international karate champion with his own school in LA when he was cast in the kung fu classic billed as “the first American-produced martial arts spectacular”. His fighting skills and imposing screen presence — a lanky 6-foot-2 topped by a funky Afro — earned Kelly the title role in 1974′s Black Belt Jones. After that, he appeared in numerous action films through the 1970’s. Later he became a professional tennis player, joining the USTA Senior Men’s Circuit and starred alongside LeBron James in a 2004 Nike TV ad.


Birth of the Dragon – Bruce Lee Biopic

Bruce Lee_Birth of the Dragon_BannerQED International and Groundswell Productions have joined forces for Birth of the Dragon, which will focus on Bruce Lee’s career-defining 1965 no-holdsbarred TKO battle with kung fu master Wong Jack Man.

According to Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce Lee’s wife, Lee’s teaching of Chinese martial arts to Caucasians made him unpopular with Chinese martial artists in San Francisco. Wong contested the notion that Lee was fighting for the right to teach Caucasians as not all of his students were Chinese. Wong stated that he requested a public fight with Lee after Lee had issued an open challenge during a demonstration at a Chinatown theater in which he claimed to be able to defeat any martial artist in San Francisco. Wong stated it was after a mutual acquaintance delivered a note from Lee inviting him to fight that he showed up at Lee’s school to challenge him. Martial artist David Chin reportedly wrote the original challenge, while Wong asked Chin to let him sign it.

According to author Norman Borine, Wong tried to delay the match and asked for restrictions on techniques such as hitting the face, kicking the groin, and eye jabs, and that the two fought no holds barred after Lee turned down the request.

The details of the fight vary depending on the account. Individuals known to have witnessed the match included Cadwell, James Lee (an associate of Bruce Lee, no relation) and William Chen, a teacher of T’ai chi ch’uan. According to Bruce, Linda, and James Lee, the fight lasted 3 minutes with a decisive victory for Bruce.

Lee gave a description, without naming Wong explicitly, in an interview with Black Belt: 

“I’d gotten into a fight in San Francisco with a Kung-Fu cat, and after a brief encounter the son-of-a-bitch started to run. I chased him and, like a fool, kept punching him behind his head and back. Soon my fists began to swell from hitting his hard head. Right then I realized Wing Chun was not too practical and began to alter my way of fighting.” 

Cadwell recounted the scene in her book Bruce Lee: The Man Only  I Knew:

“The two came out, bowed formally and then began to fight. Wong adopted a classic stance whereas Bruce, who at the time was still using his Wing Chun style, produced a series of straight punches. “Within a minute, Wong’s men were trying to stop the fight as Bruce began to warm to his task. James Lee warned them to let the fight continue. A minute later, with Bruce continuing the attack in earnest, Wong began to back pedal as fast as he could. For an instant, indeed, the scrap threatened to degenerate into a farce as Wong actually turned and ran. But Bruce pounced on him like a springing leopard and brought him to the floor where he began pounding him into a state of demoralization. “Is that enough?” shouted Bruce, “That’s enough!” pleaded his adversary. Bruce demanded a second reply to his question to make sure that he understood this was the end of the fight.”

This is in contrast to Wong and William Chen’s account of the fight as they state the fight lasted an unusually long 20–25 minutes. Allegedly, Wong was unsatisfied with Lee’s account of the match and published his own version in the Chinese Pacific Weekly, a Chinese language newspaper in San Francisco. The article, which was featured on the front page, included a detailed description of the fight from Wong’s perspective and concluded with an invitation to Bruce Lee for a public match if Lee found his version to be unacceptable. Lee never made a public response to the article. Wong later expressed regret over fighting Lee, attributing it to arrogance, both on the part of Lee and himself.

Written by Oscar nominees Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele, who worked on Oliver Stone’s Nixon and Michael Mann’s Ali, the film focuses on the aforementioned Oakland fight that launched Lee to martial arts stardom, which happened against the backdrop of the Hong Kong Triads’ criminal control of San Francisco’s Chinatown. The film will also detail a team-up between the two legends to take on the Triads. The fight with Jack Man was the last official one of Lee’s career before he headed into acting, competition and building his martial arts philosophy. “We’re excited to retell the fantastic origin story of the world’s most famous martial arts icon, which in the hands of Christopher and Stephen, lends itself to an action thriller we’re sure will enthrall movie fans around the world,” QED’s Bill Block said in a statement. The film will be produced by Block, Groundswell Productions CEO Michael London, Wilkinson and Rivele, and executive produced by Groundswell’s Kelly Mullen.


John Saxon

John Saxon (born August 5, 1936) has worked on over 200 projects during the span of sixty years. Saxon is most known for his work in horror films such as ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’  and ‘Black Christmas’, both of which feature Saxon as a policeman in search of the killer. He is also more famously known for his role as Roper in the 1973 film ‘Enter the Dragon’, in which he starred with Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly. If you look further, you’ll find he’s made some incredibly good/bad B-movies.


13 Assassins ****

In 1844 Japan, a sadistic young Shogun, Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira is in line to ascend to the Shogunate where he will become second in command. The swearing in ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Akashi domain. Determined to stop him before he arrives at his destination is master Shogun Samurai Shinzaemon Shimada. He enlists the help of 11 Samurai and they head to the town of Ochlai where they plan to ambush Naritsugu and his army of 70 men. On their journey they get lost in the jungle and enlist the help of a local hunter as their guide and the 13th Assassin of the title.

As they prepare the small town of Ochlai for the ambush, they learn that although Naritsugu has delayed his journey, his arrival is imminent, and he now is now travelling with a 200 strong army. Massively outnumbered, the 13 would be assassins must battle against the odds to complete their suicide mission…

Takashi Miike, the controversial cult director behind ‘Audition’ and ‘Ichi the Killer’ has made one of his more accessible movies. That’s not to say that 13 Assassins doesn’t have some disturbing scenes and a lot of violence, it has those in abundance, however it is also a very traditional story about loyalty and honour. These principles are displayed by the contrasting beliefs of the two high ranked Samurai in the film. Our hero, Shinzaemon favours the belief that the Samurai are protectors of justice for the people of Japan, and his direct opponent and rival Hanbei, Lord Naritsugu’s number one, believes that a Samurai’s duty lies in complete and total servitude to their master.

Having said that, the main reason most will watch this film is for the action, and it delivers, the final battle sequence alone runs for almost 50 non-stop minutes! It is incredibly well choreographed and beautifully shot.

There are a few disturbing moments, this is a Takashi Miike film after all. They involve the cruelty of Naritsugu and are perhaps a little too extreme for this type of film; the first involves him shooting an entire family at close range with arrows and most disturbingly, we see the results of a girl he tortured by chopping off her arms, legs and cutting out her tongue. Miike makes Naritsugu so despicable that he’s almost a caricature of a bad guy.

The film will draw comparisons to Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ however although a good movie and worth the effort, it’s not in the same class.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars


Chocolate ***½

I was given this DVD by a friend at work, his description of it made it sound like fun… Zin (Ammara Siripong), the former girlfriend of a Thai mob boss falls for Mashashi (Hiroshi Abe), a rival Japanese gangster. After much bloodshed her boss banishes them both, Musashi to Japan and Zin with her young autistic daughter Zen to an apartment in a poorer part of the city. Blessed with incredible reflexes Zen spends her days watching and absorbing the students at the martial arts school next door. Zin adopts a young boy Moom after seeing him bullied in the streets, he and Zen (JeeJa Yanin) develop a close bond as he looks after her and helps to ‘train’ her reflexes. When Zin is taken to hospital and needs chemotherapy Moom looking for money to pay the bills discovers a ledger listing business men who still owe Zin money from her former life. He goes to get the money and takes Zen with him… as each business man refuses to pay Zen has to use her skills to fight more and more foes. A showdown with Zins former boss is inevitable…

You get what you’d expect from Prachya Pinkaew, the director of Thailand’s biggest ever box-office hit, Ong-Bak.  Chocolate features similarly exciting action set-pieces with the added twist that this time it is an autistic teenage girl doing the ass-kicking. Star Yanin is a decent actress, great fighter and good looking; she’s obviously a real star in the making. The best thing about the action is, like Ong-Bak before it, there is no wire work, what you see is real even if some of it is slightly sped up for effect.

As a movie it’s well made for the martial arts genre, although as is usual with this type of fare the first third of the movie, the story set-up and character development feels rushed. Of course it is, the whole point here is to get to the scenes with Yanin kicking the shit out of the bad guys and she does so for two thirds of the movie. Prachya could learn to use another transition other than fade to black to end each and every one of the opening scenes but that is a small complaint.

It’s an interesting angle for a martial arts action movie to take and I’m no expert on autism, Rainman being the extent of my limited knowledge, but for a movie making such a big deal about its action realism, maybe a slightly different approach to the ‘realism’ of the script would help lift the movie out of limited action-fan-only territory.

Quality: 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars (great fun if you like this sort of thing)