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Author Topic: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films  (Read 4878 times)

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Johnny Unusual

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #90 on: December 19, 2019, 06:18:54 AM »
I think I like Kill Bill Vol. 2 more but I feel that despite Pai Mei and the fight between Beatrix and Elle, its far less of a martial arts movie while vol. 1 is wall to wall action.

The 36th Chamber was a relatively new watch for me but it hit my "watch a guy train with unusual methods" buttons for sure.


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #91 on: December 19, 2019, 05:21:17 PM »
#12 – Fist of Legend
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/zfZXiw-lgMs" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/zfZXiw-lgMs</a>
56 points on 3 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #4 (Charles Castle)

Year:1994
Director: Gordon Chan

Paste ranked #15 and wrote...  Jet Li is one of the few kung fu practitioners who can make the claim that he’s played his own teacher and student—his character Chen Zhen is the student of Huo Yuanjia, who he then played 12 years later in Fearless. Fist of Legend, on the other hand, is essentially a remake of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, another tale pitting Chinese nationalist against the oppression of Japanese invaders in the Second SinoJapanese War. There’s nothing too fancy about the story: “You killed my master, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.” What’s fancy is the fighting, because oh man, can Jet Li kick some serious ass in this one. Through most of the film, he’s seriously on another level, until he meets the seemingly superpowered Japanese guy who is the final villain. I actually prefer one of the earlier fights, though, when Jet takes on an entire school of Japanese karate students—and then punches their master right on the bottom of the foot in a particularly goofy bit of violence. —Jim Vorel


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #92 on: December 19, 2019, 05:24:41 PM »
#11 – Iron Monkey
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/0zM0fEsZjhM" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/0zM0fEsZjhM</a>
56 points on 4 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #6 (George-2.0)

Year: 1993
Director: Yuen Woo-ping

Ranked 24th by GamesRadar - Ranked 10th by Paste who wrote... One might reasonably call Iron Monkey the quintessential Hong Kong martial arts film of the ’90s, well known in the U.S. as well thanks to the enterprising efforts of a young Quentin Tarantino, who convinced Miramax to give it a successful U.S. release. However, one should really see the original Chinese version in its unedited state for the performances by Yu Rongguang as the vigilante Iron Monkey and Donnie Yen at his best as the father of a boy who would go on to become one of China’s greatest folk heroes (and subject of many films as well). Purely entertaining, Iron Monkey never takes itself overly seriously, striking an easygoing balance between hyper-kinetic, somewhat unrealistic action and a broadly appealing, Robin Hood-like story. It’s the definition of a kung fu people-pleaser. —Jim Vorel

Trivia: The little boy in this film is based on Wong Fei Hung who is associated with fighting style  Hung Ga (洪家), Hung Kuen (洪拳), or Hung Ga Kuen (洪家拳), which is a southern Chinese martial art (Cantonese, to be more specific) belonging to the southern Shaolin styles. The hallmarks of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage of Hung Ga are deep low stances, notably the "sei ping ma" (四平馬) horse stance, and strong hand techniques, notably the bridge hand, and the versatile tiger claw. To read further... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hung_Ga

My thoughts: I saw the Miramax cut in theaters and loved it... later saw the original version, and yes, it's even better. Miramax has a tendency to sanitize the films and alter the script via the dubs. While Monkey was still a wonder, other pictures weren't so lucky - The Heroic Trio, for example, was butchered by Miramax beyond recognition (thankfully I've seen it uncut). The one Miramax change I agree with here was getting rid of the undercranking. I hate undercranking, especially with modern films - these folks are fast enough - it isn't needed and it looks daft.


Johnny Unusual

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #93 on: December 19, 2019, 05:28:50 PM »
I remember liking it at the time.  But it was ages ago when I saw it.


Online George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #94 on: December 20, 2019, 12:47:14 AM »
#10 – Master of the Flying Guillotine
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/RmdP1qTjGZY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/RmdP1qTjGZY</a>
57 points on 3 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #2 (F-Zero)

Year: 1976
Director: Jimmy Wang Yu

A sequel to the 1971 film One Armed Boxer - Paste ranked this 13th and wrote… Master of the Flying Guillotine is a hallucinogenic delight, the kind of inspired lunacy that people who have never seen kung fu probably picture in their heads when it’s brought up…except crazier. A Jimmy Wang vehicle (the same guy from One Armed Swordsman), it’s more notable for its awesome villain, the titular user of the flying guillotine. What’s the flying guillotine, you ask? Only the coolest weapon in martial arts cinema history. It’s essentially an oversized hat, attached to a chain, that is thrown over a victim’s head. When the chain is yanked, the hat spins and the inner blades neatly cut off the victim’s head like a circular saw. Jimmy Wang’s duels with both the master and his lackeys are presented seriously, but they’re equally funny because the villains are so out there. Particularly great: The “yoga master” who can extend his arms like Dhalsim in Street Fighter 2, because that’s how yoga works, right? —Jim Vorel

My Thoughts: Might have the greatest soundtrack of any kung fu flick.

From wiki...Most of the music in the film is taken from Krautrock bands, and includes:

* "Super" (Opening theme) and "Super 16" (Master Fung's theme) from Neu!'s second studio album, Neu! 2
 
* "Rubycon, Part One" (The One-Armed Boxer's theme) from Tangerine Dream's sixth studio album, Rubycon', and
 
* "Mitternacht" (Suspense theme), "Morgenspaziergang" (courtyard music) and "Kometenmelodie 2" (End credits) from Kraftwerk's fourth studio album, Autobahn.

The soundtrack has been referenced and sampled extensively, including the use of "Super 16" in Tarantino's Kill Bill


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #95 on: December 20, 2019, 12:53:57 AM »
#9 – Fist of Fury, aka The Chinese Connection
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/w_4RjSbSIFY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/w_4RjSbSIFY</a>
61 points on 4 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #2 (linszoid)

Year: 1972
Director: Lo Wei

GamesRadar ranked it #4 - Paste ranked it #31 and said… Bruce Lee’s second feature is a definite upgrade over the rawness of The Big Boss, sporting a bigger budget, better production and a story more important to Lee’s values. His character, Chen Zhen, becomes a Chinese folk hero when he stands up to the invading Japanese occupiers—especially in the classic scene where he breaks a sign permitting “no Chinese and no dogs” in the local park. This is the film where Bruce Lee truly arrived in a fully formed state, and if there’s a precise moment when that happens, it’s the classic dojo fight where Chen shows up at the Japanese training facility and absolutely goes to town on everyone inside. It’s iconic, like so many Bruce Lee moments. Do you know how you can tell just how iconic he is? Literally every piece of clothing he wore in a film has become a visual symbol for decades to come, whether it’s a simple white shirt, or this film’s navy blue suit, or of course the yellow tracksuit from The Game of Death. That’s how you know the guy is a legend. —Jim Vorel

Kung Fu Kingdom gave it 10 out of 10 and wrote... In any genre, films run the full spectrum of quality – from terrible to mediocre, from good to fantastic. But only a few have achieved the distinction of being truly groundbreaking and worthy of historical note. “Fist of Fury” is unquestionably one of these prime examples. With an emotionally-gripping story, electrifying martial arts action, and Bruce Lee’s dynamic, larger-than-life charisma combined with tremendous physical prowess, “Fist of Fury” is a specimen of near perfection. His previous film, “The Big Boss” may have made Bruce Lee a star, but “Fist of Fury” was the film that made him an icon for the ages

My Review: https://letterboxd.com/captainquint/film/fist-of-fury/

And see it with subs, the dubs are funnier, but lose nuance in the performance. Plus, I hope the Rifftrax release hasn't hurt this picture's reputation among forum members... it really is an outstanding kung fu flick. And for the record: Bruce didn't figure out that one guy was Japanese because of his nipples - as some forum members joked- but by the sarashi wrap he was wearing. You'll often see sarashi in Japanese anime, yakuza films, etc
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 01:13:29 AM by George-2.0 »


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #96 on: December 20, 2019, 01:05:01 AM »
#8 – Duel to the Death
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/gDPjaSaJqt8" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/gDPjaSaJqt8</a>
66 points on 3 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #1 (F-Zero)

Year: 1983
Director: Ching Siu-Tung

Ranked 10th in WatchMojo's list of "Top 10 Underrated Martial Arts Movies" - Kung Fu Movies Guide gave it 5 out of 5 stars and wrote… Tony Ching Siu-tung’s directorial debut is a shot of pure adrenaline; treading similar ground to the golden age of Shaw Brothers’ finest post-modern wuxia films, only tanked up on amphetamines. The wirework maestro exploits his talents in scenes of overblown wizardry, with cliff-top showdowns and clans of crazy ninja. But it is also a heartfelt film in spite of the flying stars and severed heads; heads which, in one instance, continue to talk even after they have been decapitated. The story focuses on an ancient Ming dynasty duel held every decade between China’s greatest Shaolin fighter and Japan’s best Samurai. The duel doesn’t happen until the very end of the film, after we learn about the Holy Sword House and its fragile inhabitants, and the attempts of their Japanese rivals to sabotage the main event and steal China’s martial secrets. That’s when the ninja arrive: a hyperactive brigade of stealth fighters who disappear into smoke, fly through the air in defiance of gravity, spring from absolutely nowhere and, in one great scene, disguise themselves as a single, giant, towering super ninja entity, before springing out of formation to wreak havoc. The final duel is an exhilarating climax set in a coastal landscape with heavy fog, crashing waves and falling rocks. Tony Ching would later hone his more supernatural leanings with the seminal A Chinese Ghost Story films. If you loved that beguiling, weird franchise, then this even weirder masterpiece is definitely for you. -Ben Johnson

My Thoughts: A surprise entry in the top 10, but a worthy one. I could find very little info on the picture (stethacantus, did Ric Meyers say anything about it in his book?) When Mojo calls it underrated, they probably mean underseen. Because it's not that it isn't respected among martial arts movie fans, but few outside that circle seem to know of it.


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #97 on: December 20, 2019, 01:08:33 AM »
I'll post the other 2, and a short piece on the power of 5, later today.

And yes, I changed the title font for the top 10, to impact. What an appropriate name for a martial arts list.


Offline F-Zero

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #98 on: December 20, 2019, 05:15:09 AM »
Duel to the Death is the ultimate Japan vs China showdown.  The best swordsman in Japan vs the best swordsman in China.  Crazy action yet philosophical. 

They clash in the beginning and eventually join forces to fight a common foe.  After an epic battle and just when you think it's all over, in true Samurai fashion the Japanese swordsman turns on the Chinese swordsman as a matter of honor.  The rivalry MUST be resolved!  They have an epic wire sword battle on the cliffs overlooking a raging ocean.  You can find the youtube of the battle but you need the context of their relationship first.

The filmmakers present both sides of the rivalry not as a political 50/50 split of respect, but somehow simultaneously present both sides with 100% heart, if that makes sense.   



Flora Chong-Leen is so unearthly beautiful I can barely believe she's real.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 08:16:13 AM by F-Zero »


Offline F-Zero

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #99 on: December 20, 2019, 05:54:56 AM »
Does anyone remember the late, great hkflix.com?  THAT was what the internet was all about.  What a terrible loss for that website to shut down.  You can't even see web pages on waybackmachine any more.

Here's an article by the owner on the shutdown:
https://cityonfire.com/original-founder-of-hkflix-com-speaks-out/


Offline PsychoGoatee

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #100 on: December 20, 2019, 10:00:17 AM »
Nice to see Duel to the Death so high on the list, what an awesome film.

And yeah, getting unedited versions of some of these is always tough, especially on blu-ray. Rumble in the Bronx and Iron Monkey as mentioned, etc.

Lot of great fun movies! Master of the Flying Guillotine is fun. Quite a few of these came to my attention thanks to Wu Tang, RZA and whatnot mentioning them.



Online George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #101 on: December 20, 2019, 03:54:53 PM »
I watched a bunch at ok.ru (which I linked to for the Savage Five), I don't know how legit they are, but with some hunting, I was able to find movies uncut, original language with English subs. Netflix also had a bunch I could stream with English subtitles - so I was able to catch a lot of these the way Kung fu God intended.  ;)

Flying Guillotine was a kick, it just missed making my list, so I'm glad others voted for it, as it deserves a spot at the table.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 04:14:51 PM by George-2.0 »


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #102 on: December 20, 2019, 03:58:27 PM »
#7 – Five Element Ninjas
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/OA68I1u31Z0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/OA68I1u31Z0</a>
66 points on 3 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #1 (Stethacantus)

Year: 1982
Director: Chang Cheh

aka Chinese Super Ninjas - Paste ranked it 8th and wrote…. This was Cheh’s swan song with the Shaw Brothers, as tastes were changing and leaving the costumed period pieces behind—but man, it’s a doozy. Responding to the out-there stylistic choices of the town, the director apparently said “I’ll just outdo everyone,” and he produced one of the most ludicrous (but awesome) kung fu films ever made. This is the essence of Saturday morning kung fu theater in America, but if you only saw it that way, it’s doing the film a disservice, because you’re likely to miss out on the surprising and sometimes comical gore of the fight scenes. The story revolves around a few young fighters seeking vengeance against a ninja clan that massacred their classmates, but it’s the villains that really stand out. Each group of ninjas has their own absurd costumes and ridiculous quirks. Gold ninjas use their shields to blind enemies. Water ninjas use snorkels and pull opponents down underwater to drown them. Fire ninjas use smoke shields to hide and move. Wood ninjas pose as trees and use claws to slash and tear. And finally, the supremely goofy Earth ninjas are somehow able to tunnel through solid soil like freaking earthworms and explode out of the ground with an almighty bang. Five Element Ninjas is as crazy as kung fu gets, but you’ve got to love it for its entertaining excesses. —Jim Vorel


My Thoughts: I first saw this during the weekend marathon I had a while back and just loved it. It's incredibly fun, violent, absurd with an involving story. This is playing at Amazon Prime and Netflix (which gives you subtitle and language options. While the English dub is hilarious -it sounds like the voices come from South Park- I'll say it again, stick to the original language with subs…. It’s much more enjoyable that way)


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #103 on: December 20, 2019, 04:00:56 PM »
#6 – Police Story
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/EpXMJ3wo0kI" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/EpXMJ3wo0kI</a>
67 points on 4 of 11 lists - Highest Ranking: #6 (stethacantus & PsychoGoatee)

Year: 1985
Director: Jackie Chan

Paste ranked it 18th and said… Remember that scene in The Blues Brothers where Jake and Elwood drive the Bluesmobile through a mall and wreck it up good? That’s basically what Jackie Chan does to a shopping center in Police Story, except it’s with his own two hands. Seriously, there’s enough breakaway glass in that one, nine-minute fight scene for 10 martial arts movies. Chan plays a cop (again) who goes after bad guys (again). Why complicate the plot synopsis any more than that? The only sensible way to rank Jackie Chan movies is simply to focus on the action and the death-defying stunts, which all the films in the Police Story series have in spades. Chan has called the first Police Story his greatest film, though, and who are we to argue? — Jim Vorel

Trivia: from kung fu kingdom
* Jackie Chan sang the theme for the film.

* It won the Best Film award at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards.

* The scene where the villains go through the green double-decker bus window and crash land onto the concrete was actually an accident. They were supposed to fall onto the car. They kept the take in the film.


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Re: List of Crap #121: Top 50 Martial Arts/Wuxia Films
« Reply #104 on: December 20, 2019, 04:07:51 PM »
And before I unleash the final 5 tomorrow, here's a piece about 5 - you see a lot of martial arts movies with 5 in the title, and appropriately, our 50(+1) had 5 Fives (Five Fingers of Death, Five Venoms, The Savage Five, the Five Fighters from Shaolin and Five Element Ninja). Five is a big deal in Chinese philosophy and culture. I'd like to give you a straight forward and easy summary of what it all means, but it gets pretty murky.... you have 5 elements, but I've read that they are not like the 4 elements as westerners understand them. There are 5 phases, but they are not really like phases.... confused? I was.

Wiki defines it as...



The wuxing (Chinese: 五行; pinyin: wǔxíng), also known as the Five Elements, Five Agents, Five Movements, Five Phases, Five Planets, Five Processes, Five Stages, Five Steps, or Five Ways, is the short form of "wǔ zhǒng liúxíng zhī qì" (五種流行之氣) or "the five types of chi dominating at different times" .It is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs. The "Five Phases" are Wood (木 mù), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 tǔ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water (水 shuǐ). This order of presentation is known as the "mutual generation" (相生 xiāngshēng) sequence. In the order of "mutual overcoming" (相剋/相克 xiāngkè), they are Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.

The system of five phases was used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. After it came to maturity in the second or first century BCE during the Han dynasty, this device was employed in many fields of early Chinese thought, including seemingly disparate fields such as geomancy or feng shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, military strategy, and martial arts. The system is still used as a reference in some forms of complementary and alternative medicine and martial arts.