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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Favorites - Nine Favorite Fight Scenes from Martial Arts Movies


Hey, all. Well, it’s sort of been a good month. Other than some weirdness here and there, I had fun doing this themed month again. I finally got to talk about some things that have been a long time coming. Of course, Butt-kicking month will be back next year. Last year, I ended it on my favorite Bruce Lee fights. This time, I’m just going to talk about nine of my favorite fights scenes in movies. It’s not going to be in order or anything like that.

I originally wrote a lot of this stuff a couple years ago. I was going to post it at the end of my first Martial Arts Month, but I decided to do something else. As I said before, these are just some of my favorites. It’s not a definitive list of the best since a couple of these wouldn’t be on that list. You’ll see ones I’ve talked about before and some I haven’t gotten to yet on the blog. I will also limit it to one martial arts actor or series of movies. I may have to cheat with one you'll see.

Leroy Green vs. Sho’nuff (The Last Dragon)
Yes, I’m throwing The Last Dragon on here. It may be pretty cheesy, but it’s cool to me. I actually talked about this movie last year. The movie is about a Bruce Lee fanboy trying to be the best martial artist. In the final battle, Leroy has to face off against the Shogun of Harlem, Sho’nuff. Leroy gets the upper hand at first, but Sho’nuff is then able to use the Dark Glow or something to beat up Leroy. Somehow, through the power of flashback and believing in one’s self, Leroy is able access his own Glow and beat Sho’nuff.

Now, I know you’re wondering why this is here. I had said that the movie’s fight scenes weren’t that great. I still think that now, but this fight does it for me. While it isn’t great, it is still pretty cool to see. You might have to blame nostalgia on this one. You got the 80’s music playing in the background and the late Julius Carry III playing a hilarious villain. It’s a fight that makes you want to ask someone “who’s da Mastah?!?!?”

Neo vs. Agent Smith (The Matrix)
While Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) have faced off many times in the Matrix trilogy, their first fight started it all. At this point in the movie, Neo is beginning to believe that he is “The One.” Instead of running away from Smith, he battles him in hand-to-hand combat. It’s touch-and-go at first, but Neo is able to beat Smith. Unfortunately, Smith gets back at Neo as he is trying to escape the Matrix. It’s here where Neo goes all Messianic and completely annihilates Agent Smith.

Everything about this fight works for me.  The fight choreography is awesome. The special effects still look cool.  It’s probably their best-looking fight. Even though these two go at it many times in the trilogy, something about this one fight trumps all of the rest.  Maybe it’s the fact that it’s grounded when compared to the rest. Both Neo and Smith are pretty much gods in the sequels. Overall, it’s one of the best battles in cinema.

Kham vs. Capoeira Fighter, Wushu Fighter, and Wrestler (The Protector)
Tony Jaa’s movies are different to say the least. While I looked at the Ong Bak movies last year, I haven’t gotten to the Protector movies yet. I haven’t even seen The Protector 2 yet.  The first movie revolves around his character going to the city to find his pet elephants. As I said, they’re a different sort which is something. I’ll give it that. While the movie does have a four-minute fight scene with no cutaways, there’s another fight I really like.

My highlight of this movie is when Kham gets into three back-to-back fights with combatants with different styles. I think this was the first time I’ve seen Capoeria expert, Lateef Crowder.  The whole sequence is awesome to look at. They’re in a burning building for crying out loud. Another fact that should be mentioned is that the Capoeira fighter (Crowder) and the Wushu fighter (Jon Foo) are both in the Tekken live-action movie. It may not be the best fight of the movie, but it is one good fight.

Jason Bourne vs. Desh (The Bourne Ultimatum)
The Bourne movies are great action movies. They provide car chases, suspense, and even a little martial arts. This one was from the third movie.  It’s really the only major hand-to-hand fight in the movie. Luckily, they didn’t pull any punches.  Bourne (Matt Damon) and Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) are being chased down by the authorities and an assassin by the name of Desh (Joel Anash). Desh chases Nicky into an apartment. Bourne does parkour in order to get to the complex. When he shows up, he and Desh go at it brutally.

While the movie isn’t a straight-up martial arts movie, you can tell it’s there on screen. It’s pretty short and lasts a little about three minutes. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad one though. It’s quick, a bit-disorientating, and pretty innovative. Bourne straight-up uses a book to beat up Desh. Taste the power of knowledge, I say! While it has a lot of shaky-cam, you can at least tell what’s going on here. It might be my favorite fight in that line of movies. 

Lu Yun vs The Silent Monk (The Forbidden Kingdom)
It’s Jet Li vs. Jackie Chan... IT’S JET LI VS. JACKIE CHAN!!!! DID YOU THINK THIS WOULDN’T BE ON MY LIST??? WOO!!!

Okay, I’m calm now. Also, the keyboard on my laptop sometimes sucks. The Forbidden Kingdom is a movie about a present-day teenager who gets teleported back to ancient China. The kid has a staff with him that is supposed to be used to free the Monkey King or something like that. Li and Chan are supporting players in the movie.  I don’t remember if I really liked this movie or not. It may need a rewatch. 

It’s not my favorite movie, but it has its moments. One highlight I remember is Li’s and Chan’s first meeting. Their first meeting is a fight and it’s pretty cool. It’s probably the only memorable thing from that movie for me. It’s not the best fight of either actor’s careers, but it is one that many fans have possibly wanted to see. 

Chen Zhen vs. The Japanese School (Fist of Fury)
Yes, it’s Bruce Lee again. I might as well include this fight scene. I’ve talked up the final fight from Enter The Dragon enough. Fist of Fury is possibly my favorite Lee movie. It and ETD switch places with that title.  I pretty much talked about this movie in detail as well. This is the first fight in the movie. The fight happens because representatives from the Japanese school came over to the Chin Wu School and harassed them. After their teacher’s memorial, Chen (Lee) heads over to the Japanese school for some sweet payback.

The scene is shot wonderfully and Lee is a beast in it. He just beats the crap out of all of the students. He even shows the teacher a thing or two.  It’s well-choreographed and has a couple of funny moments too. This is also the first time he uses nunchukus in his movies. Not only does he beat them, he also embarrasses the representatives by making them eat their words… literally. It’s truly awesome.

Chen Zhen vs. The Japanese School (Fist of Legend)
No, I didn’t repeat myself. Fist of Legend is the 1994 remake to Fist of Fury. It’s one of my favorite movies from Jet Li. While it is a remake, it does enough things to make it different from FoF. I should have included this on my Favorite Remakes list from a while back. I originally thought about doing a match-up between these two, but Fist of Legend would have won in spades. While FoF has Bruce Lee and good fight scenes, FoL has good fight scenes, a better story, good side characters, and better-handled villains.

The fight pretty much plays like the original did. The movie does plays out a little differently though. The master dies during a match with a karate expert. Instead of going over to the school for payback, Chen heads over to there to confront the fighter who fought his master and a fight breaks out. As usual, the scene is a beauty to behold. The choreography is pretty awesome and fast-paced. It even pays homage to the original in some instances. It almost trumps the original fight but I don’t know about that. 

Ma Jun vs. Tony (Flash Point)
Flash Point is a 2007 movie that stars Donnie Yen as a Hong Kong detective. He and his team are basically trying to take down Vietnamese smuggling ring. I thought the movie itself is fine but the fight scenes are pretty good. The stunt team incorporated a lot of MMA (mixed martial arts) in this one and it definitely shows. My favorite fight scene is actually the final fight between his character and Tony, one of the smugglers. For those who don’t know, Tony is being played by Colin Chou, Seraph from the Matrix sequels.

Their final fight occurs in an abandoned house. They literally go at it for seven minutes until Ma is able to knock Tony out. While I had seen Yen in other movies before this, this was probably my first time really getting a good look at what he could do. The whole fight is well-placed, brutal, and really awesome. As I said before, you get to see a lot of MMA moves here. If you’re a fan of the sport, you’ll definitely like this fight.

Wong Fei-hung vs. The Axe Gang (The Legend of Drunken Master)
My last fight here is this beauty.You know, I haven’t talked about Jackie Chan on here yet. I don’t why either. The Legend of Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master 2) is one of my favorite Jackie Chan movies. All of the fight scenes (especially the final fight) here are awesome. I know I’ll also talk about it one day.  The movie is about Wong Fei-hung, a really popular Chinese folk hero. Here, he’s stuck between betraying his father’s wishes and helping his country stop some artifacts from being stolen.  

While the final fight scene is glorious, this is one fight that really stands out to me though. Wong Fei-hung (Chan) and Fu Wen-chi (Lau Kar-leung) are in a tavern when they get attacked the Axe Gang. While the gang comes at them, Fei-hung and Wen-chi somehow hold their own. While Wen-chi pulls some cool stuff, it’s all Fei-hong’s show. The fight has what you’ll always find in Chan’s fights: nice moves, funny moments, and the usage of different objects. When Fei-hung gets his hands on a long bamboo stick, the fight goes up a level. All in all, it’s awesome.

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Well, those are some of my favorite fights in these movies. I can finally bring this month to a close. I think I'm going to go outside and enjoy this weather. It's about 59 degrees today... at the end of January. This weather's weird. Peace, God Bless, and remember to sweep the leg.

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