Dojo Tribute: Karate Movies

While Kung Fu fever has many fans clamoring for the unique flavor of Chinese Martial Arts many audiences crave other martial arts in addition to the stylings of Chinese Kung Fu. Whether it be Korean arts such as Tae Kwon do or Hapkido, Indonesian Silat, MMA, or kickboxing, fans of our beloved martial arts genre seek out additional styles to visually enjoy.

In the old school martial arts film Hong Kong and its Southern Chinese styles of Hung Gar, Wing Chun, and Southern Mantis led the way. Other countries, however, used their native martial arts to create some entertaining movies as well. One of these arts, Karate, has provided the old school martial arts movie fan with many classics and visual flavors over the years.

Many Japanese martial arts filmmakers have turned to the art of the empty hand, or Karate, to form the basis of the plots and fight scenes of their movies. Like Hong Kong Kung Fu movies, Japanese Karate films explore master-teacher relationships, produce awesome and outlandish fight scenes, and have been influential in martial arts cinema worldwide. Karate, a very disciplined and powerful martial art, has provided us with some vey entertaining moments in movie history.

One of the most famous and most recognizable Karate stars is Sonny Chiba. Chiba, a real life Karate master, combined physical skill with a remarkable screen presence similar to Bruce Lee (as well as some classic facial expressions) to become a cult favorite among genre fans. Chiba’s Street Fighter Trilogy is usually cited as a favorite among classic marti arts movie admirers. His other Karate movie masterpieces include Shorinji Kempo, Karate Bearfighter, and Karate Bullfighter.

The Karate sub-genre produced other noteworthy Japanese stars such Sue Shiomi ( Sister Street Fighter and Dragon Princess), the highly talented Hiroyuki Sanada, and the regal Yasuaki Kurata.

The Karate movie introduced many to the lethal fighting skills of the empty hand and some famous Karate Sensei ( teachers) such as Mas Oyama, and Doshin So. The fight sequences in Karate movies were brutal, creative, and sometimes very quick ( the one-kill concept). Karate enlivened the genre adding its own unique flavor and entertaining many fans. It also helped the United States martial arts film industry to find its way in the cinematic world.

The Film Fan Dojo salutes the art of Karate, its practicioners, stars, stuntmen and stuntwomen, directors, and the Japanese martial arts film industry for entertaining as well as providing excitement through its creative use of Karate. OSSSSSSS!

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