Dojo Commentary: A cool time to be a fan of martial arts action

The Mainstream Media

It’s a little over two weeks into 2015 and as a martial arts, comic book and action fan I couldn’t be happier. El Rey network is showing remastered Shaw Brothers movies, iTunes and Celestial Pictures have brought some of the classic Shaw Brothers to digital media, CW has Arrow, ABC has Agents of Shield, Fox has Gotham, Netflix has Marco Polo and Netflix is set to have Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones.

In all these shows fight scenes play an important role in the story ( the outcome of Ra’s Al Ghul and Oliver Queen’s duel in Arrow will set the stage for the remainder of Season 3 and Season 4). Fans of non or minimal CGI fight scenes can enjoy some Agent May fisticuffs in Agents of Shield and we get some good fights non CGI fights  in Arrow as well. Marco Polo pleasantly surprised me with Daoist Monk Hundred Eyes as Marco’s Sifu ( teacher), some cool Praying Mantis style from Jia Sidao, and some Mongolian Wrestling as well as the bloody battle scenes in the final episode.

Indie Action and Martial Arts films

The aforementioned examples come from mainstream media outlets, but in the Indie film-making world creative juices continue to flow.  Indie action shorts such as Ascended Masters, Die Fighting, Storms of Carnage, Nightwing; The Series, Super Power Beat Down and O Amuleto do Dragao ( just to name a few) are enjoyable viewing experiences and not just for the fighting. There is a spirit of boldness, freshness, and staying true to characters(in the comic inspired indie made productions). These film-makers and choreographers put their unique spin on classic elements from action and martial arts movies. For example, check the end credit sequence from Ascended Masters.

Full Circle

On my recent podcast with Sensei Bo Luellen, we discuss the eventual return to the old school roots of martial arts movies. I think we are beginning to see this in shows like Arrow, Agents of Shield, and in indie action productions. I think this is due to the respective budgetary constraints as well as the genius of the fight choreographers, writers and directors (especially of indie productions). While I don’t think we will see a return to Lau Kar Leung style choreography (it would be nice) I hope that we will continue to see creative fight scenes without an over-emphasis on wire work and CGI. With the legitimate release of Shaw Brothers classics, Wu-Tang Collection releases, and other classic kung fu becoming readily available modern action directors and fight choreographers are able to study these old school fight scenes and draw inspiration to add to their repertoire.  Talking with industry insiders such as John Kreng and Robert Samuels gives me hope that we will still see old school inspired screen fighting that many of us love.

So as I said at the beginning of this post I am excited for 2015!

Yours in Kung Fu,

The Dojo Caretaker

Bonus: Fight Featurette: Marco Polo

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