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Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Old 09-05-19, 10:35 AM
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Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

In the 70's we had Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. The 80's still saw Norris kicking butt and the late 80's saw the rise of Van Damme and Seagal. In the early- late 90's Van Damme and Segal were still going(mostly) strong, the straight to video market was being held down by the Jeff Speakman, Don"the dragon" Wilson's and Cynthia Rothrocks of the world. The 90's also saw the emergence of Jackie Chan and Jet Li finally starting to become big names in the US. And now the martial arts movie star seems to be a thing of the past. While probably the closest to a martial arts movie star of the last twenty years has probably been Keanu Reeves and Jason Statham. Scott Adkins has a big following in the straight to DVD world but no one wants to try and make him a star. Donnie Yen and other Asian actors are still big overseas, but no one has been able to cross over in the United States.So what killed the martial arts movie star and will we ever see another one again in the US?
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Old 09-05-19, 11:23 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

What killed it? Language barrier and lack of a story for a martial arts movie. You still have Keanu to fall back on as a major star. The last 'martial artist' that could be a star would be Michael Jai White. I don't think Iko and that crew could carry a US film. Wu Assassins is horrible.
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Old 09-05-19, 11:36 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Is Wu Assassins horrible? Damn, that sucks.
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Old 09-05-19, 12:10 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Martial Arts movies are a bit of a speciality of mine

If we take the american scene first. Yeah you had Chuck Norris (who during his whole career, fight scene wise never did anything which came close to his fight with Bruce Lee in Way/Return of the Dragon,), then Van Damme, Seagal and a heap of B listers following.

The american scene started to die with the rise of MMA and the decline of traditional martial arts. MMA does not translate well to movies as has been shown and with only a few exceptions, MMA fighters make terrible screen fighters

Screen fighting is all about crisp technique and some of the best screen martial artists had a competition forms background, which is all about technique. Cynthia Rothrock and Keith Cooke Hirabayashi are two great examples of this. It's a shame Keith couldn't act and didn't have quite enough to carry a whole movie, because his fight technique on screen is amazing. Check this out of you want an example


so we had a heap of rubbish MMA based films or films with MMA fighters and they pretty much killed the genre in the US. Yes there is Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White, aside form the fact they are both getting on, they are very clearly B level in terms of acting/overall appeal. I personally think Michael Jai white is a bit clunky on screen and i do really like Scott Adkins and watch everything he is in, but his choregraphy is a bit repetitive

Iko and Tony Jaa are two of the best in terms of amazing fight scenes, but don't quite have the international appeal like a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan to carry international movies on their own. They will always be bit parters in Hollywood movies or stars in lower budget asian productions

Even Jet Li struggled to really get a foothold in Hollywood

Donnie Yen is getting on, (as of course are Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung) there are many Hong Kong movie stars, but no real young successors to the throne in terms of martial arts movie stars in HK. There's probably a fair bit of 'new talent being held down' in the HK film industry


There's also that element nowadays that just about anyone can be choregraphed to look like a bad ass on screen. From Denzel to Keanu to Matt Damon to a hundred more. Short sharp, easy to learn techniques with great editing. Not much technical skill required

Check out the Martial Club youtube channel


These guys can do some amazing techniques, Not sure they can act or carry a whole film, but they have technique

check out this video


Hollywood nowadays is a lot of FX based than it used to be

There is less and less need for real world skill anymore

Just like there are many decent physiques in Hollywood nowadays, there are none (amongst the A list/ AB list) who even come without a country mile or Arnie and Sly in their prime in the 80s/early 90s
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Old 09-05-19, 12:13 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Is Wu Assassins horrible? Damn, that sucks.
Yeah, sort of....I stopped watching after the 3rd episode and was going to finish it up later but it's been a couple of weeks and I still haven't gotten back to it. I think it's the fantasy angle that's turning me off. If they kept it a straight martial arts/gangster movie I would be more inclined to finish it.

I do like Iko and most of his movies were pretty good; especially the choreography but he's lacking that certain something to really break out in the U.S.
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Old 09-05-19, 12:25 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by Original Desmond View Post
. MMA does not translate well to movies as has been shown and with only a few exceptions, MMA fighters make terrible screen fighters
The only two movies I can recall with really good MMA choreography are Donnie Yen's Sha Po Long and Flashpoint. Plus, that knife fight scene in SPL is still so bad ass today.



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Old 09-05-19, 01:02 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by mrhan View Post
The only two movies I can recall with really good MMA choreography are Donnie Yen's Sha Po Long and Flashpoint. Plus, that knife fight scene in SPL is still so bad ass today.
Basically, isn't that style most of the John Wick hand to hand scenes? I can't see an action film incorporating jiu jitsu in the way that Red Belt did. It's very slow and mostly about positioning.
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Old 09-05-19, 01:31 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Unfortunately, with the demise of grindhouse theaters and the relegation of mid-range genre films to cable and streaming, there's no real market for theatrical martial arts films of the type I used to go see in Times Square theaters (Seagal, Van Damme, Jet Li, et al). It's such a niche audience today that it's hard for an emerging star to build a following. The last remotely comparable film like this I saw in a theater was the Chinese propaganda film, WOLF WARRIOR II (2017), starring Wu Jing, who's in his 40s now. Think RAMBO from a Mainland Chinese perspective. It played at a single Times Square multiplex for a couple of weeks two years ago and the audience was mostly Chinese.

Nowadays, aren't there a bunch of Netflix superhero shows with martial arts battles? That's where the audience seems to get its fix. There are occasional martial arts films from China, but they rely heavily on CGI and they're just not very good. I would love to have seen more American martial arts stars emerge in the last 20 years, but no producer or studio had an interest in committing to such a project. I can't blame them, but it leaves me with time to re-watch my extensive collection of kung fu classics.
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Old 09-05-19, 02:36 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
Nowadays, aren't there a bunch of Netflix superhero shows with martial arts battles? That's where the audience seems to get its fix. There are occasional martial arts films from China, but they rely heavily on CGI and they're just not very good. I would love to have seen more American martial arts stars emerge in the last 20 years, but no producer or studio had an interest in committing to such a project. I can't blame them, but it leaves me with time to re-watch my extensive collection of kung fu classics.
Not counting the Marvel series, Netflix has Into the Badlands and Wu Assassins. Most of the current martial arts films coming from Asia are period/fantasy pieces like Shadow, Journey to the West and Ip Man 4. I don't think they translate to a Western audience (maybe the latter because it's action driven). John Wick and possibly Marvel's Shang Chi might stir interest in making a martial arts film, but if Keanu couldn't do it with Man of Tai Chi... or RZA with Man with the Iron Fists, I don't think it will ever happen again. There doesn't seem to be one bankable martial artist turned actor that can hold a Western audience's attention to be a leading man/woman.
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Old 09-06-19, 12:20 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by devilshalo View Post
I can't see an action film incorporating jiu jitsu in the way that Red Belt did. It's very slow and mostly about positioning.
That's true. Real life fighting techniques doesn't translate at all in films. Even Bruce Lee admits the training he does in real life isn't the same thing you see in his films. He did the flashy stuff because it looks good.

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Old 09-06-19, 11:32 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by mrhan View Post
Yeah, sort of....I stopped watching after the 3rd episode and was going to finish it up later but it's been a couple of weeks and I still haven't gotten back to it. I think it's the fantasy angle that's turning me off. If they kept it a straight martial arts/gangster movie I would be more inclined to finish it.

I do like Iko and most of his movies were pretty good; especially the choreography but he's lacking that certain something to really break out in the U.S.
Yeah that is about when I gave up as well sadly...I thought I was going to like Wu Assassins after the first episode but just not really into it.
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Old 09-09-19, 09:08 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Just watched in the line of duty 4 (1989) on bluray with a very young Donnie Yen

Boy his kicks were crisp
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Old 09-09-19, 02:27 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by robin2099 View Post
In the 70's we had Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. The 80's still saw Norris kicking butt and the late 80's saw the rise of Van Damme and Seagal. In the early- late 90's Van Damme and Segal were still going(mostly) strong, the straight to video market was being held down by the Jeff Speakman, Don"the dragon" Wilson's and Cynthia Rothrocks of the world. The 90's also saw the emergence of Jackie Chan and Jet Li finally starting to become big names in the US. And now the martial arts movie star seems to be a thing of the past. While probably the closest to a martial arts movie star of the last twenty years has probably been Keanu Reeves and Jason Statham. Scott Adkins has a big following in the straight to DVD world but no one wants to try and make him a star. Donnie Yen and other Asian actors are still big overseas, but no one has been able to cross over in the United States.So what killed the martial arts movie star and will we ever see another one again in the US?
No Sho Kosugi being mentioned anywhere.
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Old 09-14-19, 10:38 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
Unfortunately, with the demise of grindhouse theaters and the relegation of mid-range genre films to cable and streaming, there's no real market for theatrical martial arts films of the type I used to go see in Times Square theaters (Seagal, Van Damme, Jet Li, et al). It's such a niche audience today that it's hard for an emerging star to build a following.
This is very true. General Audience's tastes (in regards to Action Films) have changed, so Martial Arts films aren't putting people in the seats like they used to, at least in the States.

I remember because of Jet Li's popularity in the early 2000s, many of his films made overseas were getting Theatrical Releases here, such as Hero (2002), Fearless (2006). Rogue Pictures even gave Danny The Dog/Unleashed (2005) a release in theaters.

In the States at least, it looks like Well Go USA has taken on the mantle to distribute Action Films made in Asia both to (hopefully) new audiences or to those of us who hope to see these films in theaters, even if it's for a limited time.

In San Francisco, CA, Well Go USA usually screens their bigger films at two specific theaters and even then, as you mentioned, the audience is usually made up of the Asian Community as well as folks who love the Genre.

Still, it's great to see folks like Scott Adkins, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian & Joe Taslim getting big opportunities in Hollywood in various roles.
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Old 09-14-19, 04:17 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by mrhan View Post
That's true. Real life fighting techniques doesn't translate at all in films. Even Bruce Lee admits the training he does in real life isn't the same thing you see in his films. He did the flashy stuff because it looks good.
But that's true of everything. Real fencing techniques hide the attack until it's too late to block. Real car racing isn't like Fast and Furious. Real accountants don't write on windows. Real secretaries don't wear handcuffs.
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Old 09-14-19, 07:21 PM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

The real problem is that martial arts hold almost no appeal to female audiences, which Hollywood has decided is the only audience worth pursuing in mid-budget and larger films. So the genre has withered on the vine and died for Western audiences. It's also why pure action films rarely get made today. Hong Kong still produces some martial arts but Donnie Yen seems to be the only star left that knows how to get a decent martial arts flick made these days.

The one actor besides Scott Adkins I've seen that has the requisite skills and charisma is Van Damme's protege in the recent Kickboxer sequels. French martial artist Alain Moussi is the real deal, though he's mostly been a stuntman in Hollywood instead of a real star.

https://www.doblu.com/2016/11/15/kic...lu-ray-review/
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Old 09-15-19, 10:31 AM
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Re: Will we ever see another martial arts movie star?

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
The real problem is that martial arts hold almost no appeal to female audiences, which Hollywood has decided is the only audience worth pursuing in mid-budget and larger films. So the genre has withered on the vine and died for Western audiences. It's also why pure action films rarely get made today. Hong Kong still produces some martial arts but Donnie Yen seems to be the only star left that knows how to get a decent martial arts flick made these days.
Lol. What an idiotic post.
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