If fighting is violent, kung fu is the art of gracefully decimating your foes. Over the last few years, the respectable genre of martial arts movies known as Wuxia (pronounced woo-shaa) has suffered a hit with family-friendly movies taking over your nearest multiplexes. I think Kung Fu Panda was the worst, and Jackie Chan is simply overdone.
Here’s a list of lesser-known martial arts films for kung fu fans:
1. Kung Fury (2015)
Perhaps the most interesting Kickstarter project ever. Kung Fury merges ’80s cop movies, time travel, and old-school visual effects to create an epic 30-minute tribute to the decade.
How many times will you get to see a Miami supercop, who becomes a kung fu master and goes after Hitler? Watch it for free, NOW!
2. The Grandmaster (2013)
Wong Kar-wai made this unknown gem as a tribute to Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man – the man who trained Bruce Lee.
Equal parts meditative and gorgeous, it depicts the legend’s life story from the 1930s until his death in 1972. It is text-book kung fu done in style, and thoroughly enjoyable for its visuals at least.
3. The Raid: Redemption (2012)
A SWAT team battle their way through gangsters in a building occupied by a kingpin in gritty Jakarta.
Silat – Southeast Asia’s indigenous martial arts form – features prominently in this modern action movie from Indonesia. And of course, there’s lots of violence and moments that induce claustrophobia.
4. Chocolate (2008)
Kung Fu needn’t only be a man’s domain. JeeJa Yanin is Zen, an autistic girl with supernatural reflexes, who learns kung fu while watching Bruce Lee films. People owe her family money and she’s going to get them to pay.
Featuring dramatic stunts without a body double, this is a rare gem from Thai cinema that often goes unnoticed.
5. A Touch of Zen (1971)
Set in 14th century China, this King Hu-directed masterpiece tells the story of Yang, a noblewoman who’s hiding in a village as a fugitive. It’s a slow build-up to the actual action (about an hour into the film) but once it starts, you can’t help but notice how Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was influenced heavily by this film.
Combining Zen spiritualism with breathtaking action choreography, this ’70s wuxia thriller is a time-tested cinematic lesson in kung fu and other martial arts.
Image Credit: Imdb.com