Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee
[Amazon] [IMDB] [Netflix]
Starring Dustin Nguyen, Roger Fan, Aiko Tanaka and M.C. Hammer
Loosely based on the true story of Bruce Lee’s “lost footage”, Finishing the Game is a dry, sharply written satire of 70’s era Kung Fu filmmaking. Martial artists and genre fans will enjoy it immensely, but newcomers may not appreciate its subtle humor.
My rating: A-
Finishing the Game
Fist Foot Way
A Review of The Forbidden Kingdom DVD
Recipe for Forbidden Kingdom: Take one part Harry Potter, one part Lord of the Rings, and one part Karate Kid; mix and heat until lukewarm; label as “Asian fusion” cuisine. Serves five hundred million.
Young Jason struggles in a low horse stance, building kungfu as his teacher Lu Yan stands by. “Go deeper,” Lu demands, “You must taste bitter before sweet.”
Your reaction to this single training scene, will most likely mirror your opinion of The Forbidden Kingdom as a whole.
Yanin Vismitananda, a.k.a. “Jeeja” Yanin, spent two years training for her role in Thailand’s latest martial arts showcase. A Taekwondo expert in real-life, Jeeja plays an autistic Thai boxer in Chocolate.
Jeeja collects on an old debt
(Icehouse scene inspired by Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury)
Where did Steven Seagal go wrong? His early movies—Hard to Kill, Out for Justice, Under Siege—reinvigorated the action genre, with their breathtaking displays of no-holds-barred Aikido.
His next two-dozen films weren’t so well received, or so I hear. I didn’t watch them myself.
It wasn’t the thin plots or dull acting that eventually turned me off Steven Seagal’s work; it was his characters, or rather his character.
On the unusual Chinese style of kung fu known as Zui Quan, or drunken boxing, Bruce Kumar Frantzis writes:
Eight Drunken Immortals [style] stresses several unusual martial qualities. It embodies more joint- and body-folding techniques than any other external or internal/external martial art. It imparts the ability to fold the body like a rag doll, thus enabling the practitioner to both block and attack from quite unpredictable angles with every part of the body, including the buttocks and back. The extreme body folding skill of the Drunken boxers makes it virtually impossible to apply joint locks on them.
Eight Drunken Immortals is neither a “this or that” style, and equally uses punches, hand and finger strikes, and a large assortment of usual and unusual kicks from odd angles, joint-locks, all kinds of throws, both upright and crouching, and extensive use of the legs while on the ground.
The precise control of their own and their opponent’s space enables Drunken boxers to create optical illusions and use deception to great advantage. Another weight displacement focus is the ability to make any point on the body, say an elbow tip, head, tantien, or knee become the center of balance and movement, and then to rapidly change at will from any of multiple balance points to another. Such maneuvering allows Drunken boxers to appear totally unbalanced when in fact their balance is perfect. Thus, multiple traps are set for an unsuspecting opponent.
Most of the performances you will see at tournaments, in video games and movies are only theatrical imitations of genuine Zui Quan—but that is no reason not to enjoy them! Here are a few of my favorite drunken boxing movie scenes:
Black belt karateka and Bollywood star
Starring: Mithun Chakraborty and Yogita Bali
IMDB reviews say: “An abomination to Indian movies and martial arts…pure garbage…watch this movie only if you are considering killing yourself.”
Dog Bite Dog [Amazon.com] [Netflix] [IMDB]
After a Cambodian child slave turned assassin completes his assignment, he in turn becomes the target of a vengeful Hong Kong cop. There are no heroic figures in Dog Bite Dog, and no glorification of violence. This stunningly brutal film illustrates an unfortunate truth: the fight isn’t over until everyone is satisfied, and nobody is content with a loss.
Steven Seagal reaches new heights of self-parody, in this scene from his latest movie Shadow Man:
Steven Seagal: So the idea of dim mak, or any kind of internal technique, is not to hurt others but to help others. Dim mak can be used to heal people, it can be used to kill people. This is the nature of chi. Chi can be used in striking for just external, or internal. If you go to the internal organs you’ll do great damage; external, you can just move them a little. [Applies ji posture to send Student 1 reeling backwards.] Or, you can go internal. [Strikes watermelon held by Student 2, ruining lunchtime for everyone.]
Musashi duels on the beach
Samurai Trilogy: Musashi Miyamoto (3 films)
Based on a true story, Samurai chronicles the transformation of a violent, headstrong youth (played by Toshiro Mifune) into one of history’s greatest swordsmen. Samurai won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1955, and is regarded by many as Japan’s own Gone With the Wind.
The Tai Chi Master (太極宗師)
Have you ever wondered how the slow and graceful movements of Tai Chi could possibly be applied in a real fight? If so, this expertly choreographed movie will give you some ideas.
In The Tai Chi Master, Chinese action hero Wu Jing (a.k.a. Jacky Wu, Jason Wu) portrays real-life master Yang Lu-Chan, the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi. Here, Wu Jing re-enacts the famous tower sequence from Bruce Lee’s Game of Death.