'Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks' - Movie Review

"Wherever you consider your stunt men expendable, that's where the next big trend in action is gonna come from."

That was in reference to "The Raid: Redemption" which came from Indonesia in 2011 - just as it applied in Hong Kong in the 1980s and Thailand in the 00s.

This is a movie about the history of martial arts films, as well as the influence they've had. Understand that I'm looking at this with a particularly critical eye: I saw "The Karate Kid" in a repetory cinema in 1985, and I've watched martial arts movies (many, many of them) ever since. I also studied the martial arts intermittently for a couple decades. I'm not an expert martial artist by any means, but I've probably watched nearly as much martial arts movie footage as the makers of this movie.

They start by discussing the Shaw Brothers in Hong Kong in the 1960s and 1970s. They do mention many of the pivotal movies: "Come Drink With Me," "Way of the Dragon," "Snake In Eagle's Shadow," "The Matrix," "Ong Bak," and of course "The Raid: Redemption." The movie also spends time with industry insiders, both performers and influential people behind the camera. It's a fairly good overview of the subject, although I really didn't like their frenetic editing and garish red-and-yellow inter-titles.

I was disappointed that the Kung Fu Panda series was only given a two second visual nod, and Stephen Chow wasn't mentioned at all (his "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle" were very successful martial arts comedies). They mentioned Parkour and Paris, and interviewed S├ębastien Foucan ... while ignoring the extraordinary "District 13," which really deserves a place in a documentary about the history of martial arts movies. (How many other French martial arts films are there? Oh right, none except the sequel. And the first one is an excellent action movie.)