August 20, 2005

Wu Xia

Wu Xia movies (martial arts swordplay, often with a fantasy element). Why do I like them? Because the flying and fight choreography are graceful and powerful. The costumes, settings, and colors are very expressive. They can be fanciful, historical, imaginative, scary. The themes of honor, friendship, strength, and good vs. evil are universal and inspiring. I am by no means an expert. I only really started watching them after I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But here are a couple of lists.

My 3 favorite:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
A Chinese Ghost Story

I did like House of Flying Daggers, but not nearly as much as Hero. I felt the story was not as strong. It was too convoluted, but predictably so. There was an amazing scene in the early part of the movie, though. I would almost buy the DVD just for that. Almost.

I haven’t seen yet, but really want to:
Green Snake
The Bride with White Hair
Iron Monkey
The Shaolin Temple
The Legend

Now this is not a swordplay movie, but Stephen Chow mixes Kung Fu and comedy with genius. Shaolin Soccer had me howling with laughter. The premise is that a group of Kung Fu trained monks form a soccer team and use their special skills on the field. He has a new one that I haven’t seen yet. It’s called Kung Fu Hustle.

I was inspired today because I caught part of “The Art of Action: Martial Arts in Motion Pictures”, a 2002 TV documentary hosted by Samuel L. Jackson.


Kabooke Quantum Fighter said...

dude! i love chinese/japanese martial arts flicks. i loved crouching tiger. iron monkey was alrite, so was hero. if you want to really get into the meaning of 'THE SWORD' you should try and get old Akira Karusawa movies. they are black and white but absolutely classic flicks. movies like seven samurai, rashomon and various others i cant remember are classics and have inspired people like scorcese and speilberg to direct. great to see people into this genre, because in the end it is all about 'the sword - honour, discipline and loyalty.'

Chaim said...

Crouching Tiger is a truly awesome film. I remember seeing it when it first came out in the theaters. A friend of mine and I had gone, and we ended up being pretty much speechlesss for a good 30 mintes. The movie still floors me every time I see it. Just like its characters, the film moves deftly between different tones and themes without losing its sense of direction or gettiing off pace. I honestly think it's one of the 20 or so best films in the last ten years. Ang Lee has always been one of my favorite directors, and he didn't diappoint me that time at all.

I saw Hero for the first time the other day, and I have so say I wasn't as impressed. I thought the movie peaked, and was at its best when we were unsure whether Nameless was there for worship and honoor or for assasination. It added dimension to a story that I felt was, for the most part, rather anemic. Although the swordplay was impressive, as were the effects (particularly the scene with the archers assaulting the school), the film just didn't have the epic emotional core that I thought anchored Crouching Tiger so strongly.

Iron Monkey was a lot of fun. I'll haave to see some of the others on your list. House of Flying Daggers is probably next for me.

Anyway, I realize this is a rather long comment. I'm sorry... I can get a bit long-winded :)