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Martial Arts Films - How To Improvise

Martial Arts"I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way."
—Unknown Hong Kong Martial Arts movie

Introduction

Genre very popular in Asia based around fighting and action stunts. Action is high-speed, athletic and often amazingly choreographed.

Essence

  • Stunts and fights usually performed without stuntmen and without artificial aids, although nowadays wires and so forth are used to get characters to perform amazing gravity-defying feats, like running across water.
  • Sometimes jumping around with very little ground contact so that it is almost like flying.
  • Dubbed very badly, so words don’t match what is said.
  • Usually low production values
  • Slow motion for particularly good kicks, etc, especially if it is the coup de grâce.
  • Often a strong mythical element.

Characteristics

WhereUsually made in Hong Kong, but can also be made in other Asian counties, especially China and Korean, and also Europe and US.
When Anytime, usually from 1970s until present.
WhoUsually the underdog who has to fight his way to the top or to get back at those who have wronged him or his family or who has to fight his way up to win a championship. Aging Martial Arts Master. Champion fighter who is also evil. Cops and gangsters.
WhatJumping around with very little ground contact so it almost looks like flying.
Slow motion for particularly good kicks, etc, especially if it is the coup de grâce.
Skills developed can be demonstrated outside of fighting, e.g. catching flies with chopsticks.
Everyone has their own type of kung fu each of which has a secret which is taught only to the select few. Each type has its own name: Deadly Cobra; Seven Ages of Man; Shining Moon. The name often suggests how the style is done. For example Deadly Cobra would have snake-like movements.
Plots are usually about revenge.

Examples (from Amazon)

 
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