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Martial Art Movies

The first martial arts film was made in Shanghai in 1905. Ding Jung Shan starred Beijing opera star Tan Xi-pei, and it gave birth to the first of China’s five martial arts cinema genres: wuxia pian. Loosely translated as “martial chivalrous-hero films,” wuxia movies are soaked in traditional tales and legends of superhuman swordsmen who fight with magical martial arts skills. These films influenced the Japanese chambara (sword fighting) films.

The second genre from China is the gongfu pian (kung fu films), which emerged in the late 1960s and were brought to prominence by Bruce Lee. These movies were filmed with characters who fought with more realistic skills. Because of the success of Jackie Chan’s kung fu films at Golden Harvest, rival studio Shaw Brothers tasked director Chang Cheh and fight director Liu Chia-liang to create the third genre of film. Guoshu pian (national art film) mixed kung fu film fights with the magic of wuxia.

In the early 1980s, Jackie Chan invented the fourth genre of film known as wuda pian (fight films using martial arts). In these films, he combined martial arts with dangerous stunts in contemporary settings. In fact, most martial arts films made today and around the world are influenced by Jackie Chan’s wuda vision.

In 1983, director Tsui Hark created the final genre known as Fant-Asia films. These revamped, stylized wuxia movies mixed frenetic over-the-top action mixed with far-out sight gags and gravity-defying wire-fu.

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  1. Keanu Reeves Learns Judo and Jujitsu for His New Movie John Wick

    Keanu Reeves Learns Judo and Jujitsu for His New Movie John Wick

    The four months Keanu Reeves spent learning martial arts pays off handsomely in “John Wick,” which features brutal fights that don’t rely on camera tricks or fancy editing.
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  2. Jupiter Ascending and the Decline of Martial Arts Movie Craftsmanship

    Jupiter Ascending and the Decline of Martial Arts Movie Craftsmanship

    With the talent behind it, Jupiter Ascending could have been another Matrix. However, its action scenes and fight sequences weren’t quite up to par.
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  3. Martial Arts of Middle Earth, or a Hobbit-Forming Way of Doing Fights

    Martial Arts of Middle Earth, or a Hobbit-Forming Way of Doing Fights

    Ever wonder how moviemakers fabricate fantastic fights in which hundreds or even thousands of people wage war with weapons? Prepare to be educated!
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  4. Tribute to Darren Shahlavi, Co-Star of the “Kickboxer” Remake, “Ip Man 2″ and “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”

    Tribute to Darren Shahlavi, Co-Star of the “Kickboxer” Remake, “Ip Man 2″ and “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”

    To celebrate the life of Darren Shahlavi, who passed away on January 14, 2015, Black Belt is posting this article about the actor’s experiences making one of his best-known martial arts films.
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  5. Filipino Martial Artist Showcased in Quirky Film Titled “The Search for Weng Weng”

    Filipino Martial Artist Showcased in Quirky Film Titled “The Search for Weng Weng”

    Andrew Leavold became obsessed with a Filipino action star named Weng Weng more than 20 years ago. This film is what resulted when he traveled to the Philippines to learn more about the karate and JKD practitioner.
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  6. Touching New Movie Examines Pencak Silat From a Female Perspective!

    Touching New Movie Examines Pencak Silat From a Female Perspective!

    Next up in Black Belt’s new entertainment blog: Yasmine, a unique film that follows a high-school girl in Brunei who sets out to learn the martial art of silat.
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  7. New Film Profiles a Man Who’s Died by the Samurai Sword at Least 50,000 Times

    New Film Profiles a Man Who’s Died by the Samurai Sword at Least 50,000 Times

    The first installment of Black Belt’s new entertainment blog focuses on Uzumasa Limelight, a samurai film about a man who’s reportedly been slashed and stabbed to death 50,000 times.
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  8. Haruo Matsuoka on Steven Seagal and Aikido’s History in America

    Haruo Matsuoka on Steven Seagal and Aikido’s History in America

    Black Belt contributing editor Dr. Mark Cheng explores the history of modern aikido relative to the martial paths of the respected Haruo Matsuoka and his former sensei, action star Steven Seagal.
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  9. Bruce Lee Movies and Kung Fu Movies: Tune in for 48-Hour Thanksgiving Marathon!

    Bruce Lee Movies and Kung Fu Movies: Tune in for 48-Hour Thanksgiving Marathon!

    Special two-day martial arts movie marathon on specialty cable network will feature a tribute broadcast of Enter the Dragon and films such as Challenge of the Masters, The Deadly Breaking Sword and others!
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  10. Watch Sneak Peeks of 5 Upcoming Martial Arts Movies Featuring Michael Jai White, Donnie Yen, Don Wilson, Georges St-Pierre and Cynthia Rothrock!

    Watch Sneak Peeks of 5 Upcoming Martial Arts Movies Featuring Michael Jai White, Donnie Yen, Don Wilson, Georges St-Pierre and Cynthia Rothrock!

    Add to that list Tony Jaa, Scott Adkins, Dolph Lundgren, Dave Bautista and Sammo Hung and you’ve got yourself a party! Check out these fun sneak peeks!
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