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Martial arts film


Martial arts film

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Martial arts film is a film genre that originated in the Pacific Rim. This genre of film is one kind of action film characterized by extensive fighting scenes employing various types of martial arts. This genre is no longer limited to Asian films -- there are many action movies starring well known western martial artists such as Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Wesley Snipes, and Jean Claude Van Damme.

Martial arts film stars can be classified into two types: genuine martial artists who pursued a filming career, versus regular actors who performed in martial arts film under the directions of action choreographers.

Martial arts film stars who are martial artists on their own merits:

Kwan Tak-Hing was the original celluloid Wong Fei-Hung, starring as the legendary Hung Gar master in roughly 100 films from the late 1940s to the 1960s, possibly the most prolific movie series ever. Kwan himself was a master of Tibetan White Crane rather than Hung Gar and specialized in the use of the whip.
Yu So Chow is probably the best known female martial arts actress of the 50's and 60's. She starred in over 170 martial arts films, still a record among all actresses.
Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon (1973) was one of the films that brought the genre into mainstream Western acceptance. His fame also helped popularize Wing Chun, the martial art that he originally trained in, and Jeet Kune Do, the martial art that he later created based on Wing Chun and other styles of martial arts.
Jackie Chan continued this crossover during the 80s and 90s, finally conquering the US market with Rumble in the Bronx (1995) and the two Rush Hour films. He is renowned for his blend of martial arts and slapstick comedy, but has directed, action directed and starred in over 50 films of almost all conceivable genres. Despite intensive martial arts training from a Chinese opera school, Jackie often tells people that he is an actor, not a martial artist.
Sammo Hung or Gumbo Hung was a fellow opera school student of Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao. He has directed, action directed and starred in numerous Hong Kong films, as well as playing the leading role in the American TV series Martial Law.
Yuen Biao trained at the Peking Opera School with Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan, and is the youngest of the three.
Cynthia Rothrock was considered "Queen of Martial Arts films".
Lam Ching Ying learned Peking Opera in Hong Kong.
Jet Li won the Chinese national wushu championships five times in a row before becoming a movie star, starting with the 1979 film Shaolin Temple.
Donnie Yen learned wushu from a young age and trained in Beijing also.
Chuck Norris learned Tang Soo Do, a martial art similar to taekwondo, while in Korea; Norris also trained with Bruce Lee.
Steven Seagal is an aikido instructor.
Jean Claude van Damme practiced karate in Europe.
Tony Jaa is highly skilled in muay thai, gymnastics & swordplay.

Martial Arts film stars who are primarily actors:

Michelle Yeoh : A dancer turned actor.
Aaron Kwok : A dancer turned to singing and then acting.
Zhang Ziyi : Another dancer/gymnast turned actor.
Jason Scott Lee : An actor who was trained in martial arts for his role in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.


  • Leung Kar Yan : had no formal martial arts training but was skilled at mimicking moves given to him by the action choreographer.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.