Reviewing Sword of Destiny I watched a lot of Donnie Yen fights and then I started watching fights from martial arts movies that I love. During the days of satellite I remember there being a channel that played nothing but badly dubbed martial arts movies and I watched, and watched, and re-watched them. I also used to try and copy my favorite actors like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Sammo Hung. This led to a lot of smashed objects that happened to be within my vicinity. I figured it was time to make a list about martial arts movies that you should watch. Now this is a purely subjective list of movies that I love and that are accessible enough that you can have a good night watching them. One notable exception here will be Tony Jaa as I wasn’t watching all too many martial arts movies at the time, and when I got back into it, his star was nowhere to be found. Now let’s grab some popcorn and go down the disordered list. Full disclaimer: scenes that are violent in nature, but super awesome at the same time, will accompany some of these movies. Viewer discretion is advised.
With that intro you may be surprised that we are starting this list with a French movie. One day a friend and I decided to go to the movies. Not content with the batch of boring stuff out there we decided to watch a movie we knew nothing about: District B-13. The English subtitles had us groan a bit before the opening chase sequence utterly blew us away.
Now you may make a joke about how the French would make a martial art of running away, but seriously, how many guts does it take to be on the top of a 10 story building and then jump onto a lower building and to not break every bone in your body or plummet to your death. In essence, it’s a recreation of the training scene from The Matrix while you’re Keanu saying whoa with a dumbfounded expression on your face.
District B-13 takes place in a Paris where the city has been split up into different sections. The most dangerous of these is District 13 where Katnis Everdeen must choose to be a tribute…wait, wrong movie. In this movie District 13 is cut off from the rest of the city by walls, but when a gangster acquires a nuclear warhead it’s up to the founder of Parkour, David Belle, and French Jason Statham to go into the district and beat up everyone. When shooting the movie Belle performed all his stunts with no CG involved. So when he jumps from a building to a building, he really does it, when he swings on a rope and runs the side of a building, he really does that, and when he walks down a street, well damn it he really does that, too. Hollywood would later remake this movie as Brick Mansions, Paul Walker’s last movie. They couldn’t get anyone awesome enough for David Belle’s part from the original so they just recast him in the remake.
Legend of Drunken Master
Alcohol is a bit of a miracle drink. We use it as a social lubricant and when we have too much we gain the power to dance and sing Uptown Girl. Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung as portrayed by Jackie Chan drinks it and gets the ability to kick eve more ass, like an alcoholic Popeye. Drunken Master II, better known as Legend of Drunken Master, is by far Chan’s finest work. This is due in part to the fact that Jackie Chan took over a good part of the fight choreography, especially with the final fight that involves Chan getting kicked into hot coals for real. But then again, can we expect any less from Chan at his prime.
The movie concerns Wong Fei-hung discovering a conspiracy by the English and their henchmen to smuggle ancient Chinese artifacts out of China. There is also a subplot with Fei-hung learning to find a balance between drinking and drinking too much. His father is concerned that Fei-hung will eventually become nothing more than a common drunkard. As he strives to find this balance he also has to fight numerous adversaries as he tries to get the artifacts back and bring the criminals to justice.
This movie boasts some impressive fights that include Chan using every single piece of furniture as a weapon. Although the final fight is impressive, the middle fight against an axe gang sees Chan and a Manchurian official face off against a gang of numerous thugs wielding axes.