Last year was a good year for martial arts movies. With more than two dozen releases to theater and DVD, few people will have the time and interest to screen them all–myself included! Rather than writing a review for each, I have decided to simply list those you cannot afford to miss.
Bodyguards and Assassins
Winner: 2010 Hong Kong Film Award, Best Film
Bodyguards and Assassins [IMDB rating: 6.9/10]
Starring Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Cung Le
Clayton Prince is: The Black Ninja
Reviewer Mark Pollard says:
THE BLACK NINJA is one of those “should have” films. It should have been marketed as the no budget, amateur project that it is, rather than as a potentially gratifying B-grade exploitation piece in order to keep expectations to a minimum. It should have been a short film, omitting overlong dialogue while making better use of limited resources. It should have been campier. A vigilante ninja clad in black while riding a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle should not be taken seriously. Finally, it should have had nothing to do with ninjas to begin with since the martial arts action is miserably weak. And last but not least, it should have never been made.
“Diamond Dave, The Kung Fu Hillbilly”
At Diamond Dave’s Ninja School, you’ll learn the difference between a Ninja chop, a Judo chop, and a Karate chop.
I would love to cite Raging Phoenix as the first awesome martial arts film with a female lead. I would love to do that. But its choreographers and writers conspire against me.
Raging Phoenix is the story of a young female rocker (played by Jeeja Yanin) who gets caught up in a ruthless kidnapping ring. Women are abducted off the streets of Thailand, drugged, and taken to a secret laboratory hidden within a Temple of Doom, which is in turn hidden within a metropolitan sewage system. Naturally, the women’s tears are harvested there, to concoct a patent medicine for eccentric billionaires.
Only one force is strong enough to thwart the kidnapper’s plans: a small group of drunken vigilantes who learned to combine Muay Thai boxing with stylish hip-hop dance moves.
If you have to choose between seeing Ninja Assassin and Red Cliff this weekend, I recommend the latter–even if this abridged US release is not quite as good as the original 4-hour Chinese version. (Curious John Woo fans can order the longer cut of Red Cliff on DVD today.)
Fantastic tales about Ninja clans and other secret fighting societies are depressingly common in the martial arts world. These legends are used for marketing and entertainment purposes; repeated often, but rarely taken seriously.
Benjamin Fulford wants to be taken seriously. Formerly the Asia-Pacific bureau chief at Forbes Magazine, Fulford spent years reporting on the highest and lowest echelons of Japanese society, from politicians to Yakuza gangsters.
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation
LA JOLLA—Veteran actor Michael Dudikoff was discovered alive in his hotel room this morning, under mysterious circumstances. He was 54 years old.
More offbeat news from the world of martial arts…
“Manga Bible” Casts Jesus Christ as Samurai Warrior
Christian thinkers have tried to make the Bible accessible for centuries, scholars said. Stained glass windows related Bible stories when Europe was largely illiterate. New printing technology in the 19th century made it possible to mass-produce Bibles, including illustrated versions…
The goal of the Bibles is not just to win people to Christ, but to particular ways of thinking, said Jason BeDuhn, associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University. Manga Bible author Mr. Akinsiku said the biblical message he wanted to underscore was justice, especially for the poor…
[Continued in The New York Times]
Attention Anchormen: Not Every Swordsman is a Samurai
Recently confronted by a sword-wielding maniac, German police lower their guns, in favor of the trusty battle broom.
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.