World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Martial arts film

Article Id: WHEBN0000019028
Reproduction Date:

Title: Martial arts film  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Action film, Spaghetti Western, East Asian cinema, The Man with the Golden Gun (film), Fantasy film
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Martial arts film

Martial arts film is a film genre. A subgenre of the action film, martial arts films contain numerous martial arts fights between characters, usually as the films' primary appeal and entertainment value, and often as a method of storytelling and character expression and development. Martial arts are frequently featured in training scenes and other sequences in addition to fights. Martial arts films commonly include other types of action, such as stuntwork, chases, and/or gunfights.[1][2][3]


As with other action films, martial arts films are dominated by action to varying degrees; many martial arts films have only a minimal plot and amount of character development and focus almost exclusively on the action, while other martial arts films have more creative and complex plots and characters along with action scenes.[4] Films of the latter type are generally considered to be artistically superior films, but many films of the former type are commercially successful and well received by fans of the genre.[5][6]

Martial arts films contain many characters who are martial artists, and these roles are often played by actors who are real martial artists. If not, actors frequently train in preparation for their roles, or the action director may rely more on stylized action or film making tricks like camera angles, editing, doubles, undercranking, wire work, and computer-generated imagery. Trampolines and springboards can also be used to increase the height of jumps. These techniques are sometimes used by real martial artists as well, depending on the style of action in the film.[7]

During the 1970s and 1980s, the most visible presence of martial arts films was the hundreds of English dubbed kung fu and ninja films produced by the Shaw Brothers, Godfrey Ho, and other Hong Kong producers. These films were widely broadcast on North American television on weekend timeslots that were often colloquially known as Kung Fu Theater, Black Belt Theater, or variations thereof. Inclusive in this list of films are commercial classics like The Big Boss, Drunken Master, and One Armed Boxer.

Martial arts films have been produced all over the world, but the genre has been dominated by Hong Kong action cinema, peaking from 1971 with the rise of Bruce Lee until the mid-1990s with a general decline in the industry.[8] Other notable figures in the genre include Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and Donnie Yen.

Sonny Chiba has appeared with karate and jidaigeki from Japan of the 1970s. Hollywood has also participated in the genre with actors such as Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee), Wesley Snipes, Gary Daniels, Mark Dacascos, and Jason Statham.[9] In the 2000s, Thailand's film industry became an international force in the genre with the films of Tony Jaa,[10] and the Cinema of Vietnam followed suit with The Rebel and Clash. In more recent years, the Indonesian film industry has also become an international force in the genre, with the films Merantau (2009)[11][12][13] and The Raid: Redemption (2011).

Women have also played key roles in the genre, including such actresses as Michelle Yeoh, Angela Mao, and Cynthia Rothrock.[14][15][16] In addition, western animation has ventured into the genre with the most successful effort being the internationally hailed DreamWorks Animation film franchise, Kung Fu Panda, starring Jack Black and Angelina Jolie. Currently, an independent kung fu fantasy film called "Sins of the Dragon" is being produced by the new production company Platypus Underground, Ltd. It will be released in December.


Kung fu films are a significant movie genre in themselves. Like westerns for Americans, they have become an identity of Chinese cinema. As the most prestigious movie type in Chinese film history, Kung Fu movies were among the first Chinese films produced and the wuxia period films(武俠片) are the original form of Chinese Kung Fu films. The wuxia period films came into vogue due to the thousands of years popularity of wuxia novels(武俠小說). For example, Jin Yong[17] and Gu Long,[18] their wuxia novels directly led to the prevalence of wuxia period films. The most famous wuxia film made was the Ang Lee masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was based on the Wang Dulu series of wuxia novels: it earned four Academy Awards, including one for Best Foreign Film.

In Chinese-speaking world, martial arts films are commonly divided into two subcategories - the wuxia period films(武俠片), and the more modern Kung fu films(功夫片, best epitomized in the films of Bruce Lee).[19]

In Chinese-speaking world, martial arts films commonly refer to a genre wuxia which presents historical background, usually in ancient dynasties, there lives a common person, usually poor and without social status, but possessing a kind heart and would like to help people and fight for justice, so the character develops though the plot fighting against the bad ones who hold the power and finally achieves the peace and justice for people and becomes a master of martial arts.

See also


  1. ^ "The Problem With Fx". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  2. ^ Beale, Lewis (1986-04-20). "Martial Arts Pics--packing A Hard Punch". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  3. ^ "Martial arts moves get a hip-hop flair".  
  4. ^ Wren, Celia (1992-02-23). "FILM; Martial-Arts Movies Find a Home In South Africa". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  5. ^ "Maximizing The Matrix". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-07-04. 
  6. ^ Film genre 2000: new critical essays. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  7. ^ "The Problem With Fx". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  8. ^ Schneiderman, R. M. (2009-05-23). "Contender Shores Up Karate’s Reputation Among U.F.C. Fans".  
  9. ^ Beale, Lewis (1992-11-15). "Revenge of kungfu Martial arts films are socking away the dough".  
  10. ^ Perrin, Andrew (2004-10-18). "Hitting the Big Time".  
  11. ^ "Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais talk Merantau".  
  12. ^ "Jury Winners & Audience Winner at FAantastic Fest 2009 Announced!". Ain't It Cool News. 
  13. ^ Brown, Todd. "UNDISPUTED 3, 14 BLADES and MERANTAU Win At Action Fest 2010. Chuck Norris Declines Lifetime Achievement Award!". Twitch. 
  14. ^ Meisler, Andy (1994-07-03). "TELEVISION; The Biggest Star You Never Heard Of". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  16. ^ Miller, Davis (1992-08-23). "MOVIES The Next Action Hero? Kathy Long is a champion kickboxer whose movie moves remind some of Norris and Van Damme".  
  17. ^ "Jin Yong and Chinese Martial Arts Novels". Hong Kong Films Free Web. 
  18. ^ "Kung Fu (Wuxia) Novels Translation". Lannyland. 
  19. ^ "Everybody is kung fu fighting".  

External links

  • Martial Arts subgenre at Rotten Tomatoes
  • martial arts at IMDB
  • The 20 Greatest Fights Scenes Ever at Rotten Tomatoes
  • The 50 Greatest Fight Scenes of Film at
  • The Five Best Fight Scenes Ever Filmed at
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.