How was that for alliteration, eh?
I just recently watched Ong Bak, which is a great movie about a man named Ting who is forced to fight to get the head of a sacred statue back to his village. It stars Tony Jaa, who is an amazing martial artist, and incorporates one of my favorite fighting styles, Muay Thai. I recommend seeing the film for some grade-A fights, which is always helpful to watch if you have some fighting sequences in your novels.
But today I want to talk about why I love foreign fighting films. I’ve been trying my hardest to watch as many as I can on Netflix, and I found some that I have truly fallen in love with. I’ll watch pretty much anything Jeeja Yanin is in because I think she’s incredibly talented, and I always love seeing a girl doing her own stunts and totally kicking butt! I also recently discovered Tony Jaa, and I think he’s amazing. I can’t wait to see more of his movies.
The main reason why I love foreign martial arts films is because the fighting is almost always superior to American-made films. The sequences are more complex and more beautiful. It’s not just about throwing punches and who can take the most hits before they fall over, it’s about your skill set and your ability to adapt to your opponents’ style, to truly defeat them using your mind and your body.
I find the sequences to be far more realistic, both in how they play out (i.e. when someone gets punched, they don’t get knocked out cold for the rest of the scene, they actually get back up and try to keep fighting) and how they look. From the movies I’ve seen, a lot of the times these actors are taking real hits. It’s a lot more dangerous that way, but it also makes for some incredible shots.
Another reason why I love them is because they have far more respect for the art than most American films do. In so many of these action films we have here in the States, people get beat up and blown away by guns and no one really thinks about the impact it makes on a person. It’s just entertainment. And that’s fine. It really is. I love action movies, and I think they serve their purpose. But films like Ong Bak often portray the main character as a reluctant fighter, and I think that’s important. A lot of the time it isn’t about revenge, it’s about self defense. They have a respect for what they can do, and they know how dangerous even one punch can be. It’s something I’d like to see more of in all kinds of movies.
While the storylines aren’t always the greatest (for example, if I were to watching Raging Phoenix again, I’d stop about three-quarters of the way through and pretend it ended there), that’s because the highlight of the film is the fighting. If you can get past the cheese and the silly dialogue and the not-always-solid writing and just focus on the talent of the actors and their skill sets, you’ll find movies like Ong Bak to be incredibly enjoyable and enlightening.
Do you like watching foreign martial arts films? Which ones have been your favorites? Least favorites? Do you have any recommendations for me? (Preferably something I can find on Netflix Instant!)