The Greatest Martial Artists on Screen Part 1
The martial arts are sacred and historical practices that come from experts in the field who slowly and surely train new followers in their diverse ways. As far as Hollywood is concerned though the martial arts are a film genre that has had a huge and lasting following for several decades and one which doesn’t seem to be dying down. Indeed although the sanctity of these ancient practices isn’t exactly sustained by the movie industry, the business of putting some of the best practitioners on screen has done a great deal of publicity for the movement.
Growing up in any era of film it would be impossible for you not to have seen a film, a TV show or often an animated series that depicts one or many of the martial arts. The honourable and often self-defensive nature of these practices makes them an accessible and much more appropriate form of violence that can be shown without backlash, unlike someone simply going on a killing rampage which would be perceived as gratuitous. What this has spawned is several well known on screen actors who have had lengthy careers in the industry, bringing their abilities to kick, punch and evade attacks to audiences worldwide, here are some of the most frequent faces on film sets who show off their fighting skills and often much more.
He may be a little past it now but there was a time not so long ago when Steven Seagal was the big name in martial arts films. After his time as an Aikido teacher in Japan where he spent some of his young adult life, this imposing looking long haired man returned to the United States for his first role in Nico: Above The Law. Here he put in place many of the staples that became tropes throughout his career including his characters’ near invulnerability no matter the threat which has become an ongoing joke for film lovers. Despite this he does have some expertise in the field and made a handful of fun but forgettable action flicks, too bad his life outside of film makes him seem like more of an antagonist.
A much more jovial character both on and off screen, Stephen Chow is known for his often-comedic martial arts based roles in film. Though he was an actor on children’s TV to begin with Chow saw much more success as he entered the film industry. Here he would go on to write, direct and star in the lead role of Shaolin Soccer a comedy sports film that put in place Chows crowd drawing style. By adding elements of martial arts, modern filmmaking choreography and adding some humour what results is an exciting and eye-widening twist that a wide range of audiences find easily engaging. He improved on this further in his next film three years later, the action-packed Kung-Fu Hustle. Today he is bringing his impeccable direction and vision to TV and more epic Chinese films in a career that will no doubt continue for a long time.