Friday, May 27, 2011

A Fistful of Kung Fu! (Matt's Picks)

In honor of the release of Kung Fu Panda 2, we at In the Mouth of Dorkness wanted to tell you about some of our favorite moments of Kung Fu.  This list was actually extremely difficult for me to put together.  There are so many great martial arts fights in film.  I finally simply had to pick a few of my favorites.  But don’t stop here.  Check out some Shaw Brothers films.  Watch some of the modern martial arts films that came after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a worldwide hit and revitalized the kung fu film in Hong Kong.  Watch some of the amazing Zatoichi films from Japan. 

5.  The climactic battle from Master of the Flying Guillotine.  This is just nuts, and everything great about 70s chop-socky.  Bad dubbing, awful sound effects, crappy music and some knock-down drag-out fighting.  Crazy, man. 

4.  Trinity escapes the Agents in The Matrix.  Oh, sure, in the wake of the Matrix, we got inundated by stylistic imitations and it became ‘cool’ to dump on this film and especially on its sequels (though I love all three...yeah, that's right).  However, though its ideas were mostly recycled from cyberpunk novels and films, The Matrix was a watershed event picture that changed movie making, like Pulp Fiction a few years before.  And when I first saw it, I had no idea what I was in for.  The opening fight, where Trinity kicks a bunch of cops to the curb was pretty shocking and intense the first time I saw it.  When she ran across the wall, I got shivers.  The Matrix had me.  I saw it six or seven times in the theater.  Still one of the very few movies I saw more than twice during its theatrical run.

3.  Foxy Brown shows off her black belt skills to some angry lesbians.

2.  The oil fight from The Transporter.  In a movie that is made of crazy, the film makers dialed it to eleven with this slippery fight within a fight.  In this clip, it starts around the 4 minute mark.  Statham is in top form, and the goofy strangeness of the whole thing is no end of fun.

1.  Yu Shu Lien and Jen Yu have a difference of opinion in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  This film came out at the perfect time for me.  My love of Hong Kong melodrama had just peaked and my love of kung fu film was exploding when Ang Lee’s romantic martial arts epic hit theaters.  Featuring the usually gun toting gangster-type Chow Yun-Fat as a stoic sword master and my longtime crush Michelle Yeoh as his old friend, it also boasted a sprawling storyline with star-crossed lovers, bandits, assassins, a magic sword, some poor bastard named Gou, ancient rivalries, true love, poisoned darts, a rousing score, and stunning cinematography.  I named it my favorite film of the first decade of the 21st century and it ranks among my favorite films of all time.  All of that aside, this sequence is just badass.


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