Tag Archives: martial art

The Movie That Moved Me (part III)


If you think you're a big fan of Bruce Lee, I can say you're not until you learn more about Ip Man. I mean a real Bruce Lee's fan should know who Ip Man is and if you don't then be prepared Bruce Lee's ghost will hunt you and choke you to death.

Ip Man (may also spelled as "Yip Man" in Romanized Chinese) is a Chinese martial art (kung fu) movie and the title of the movie itself is after the name of the main role, a wealthy-yet-humble man named Ip Man, the most celebrated grandmaster of wing chun kung fu style in modern time.

As a fellow martial artist who have respect in Bruce Lee, I've always interested in knowing who is the person Bruce Lee learned his kung fu skills from. It seems like Ip Man is a forgotten legend because the first time I heard his name is around 15 years ago. Internet was still in its infancy on that time, and so does Google and Wikipedia so I was left in ignorance until year 2000 where me and a few of my friends in martial art class involved in a project to study the cause of Bruce Lee's death. Then I heard about a biographical movie "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" starring Jason Scott Lee and watched it (that's 7 years after the movie was released). Although the movie did not portray Ip Man as the man who trained Bruce Lee, the movie did remind me to look for him again. Lucky me the internet was already there and my search begins.

In the last 10 years, I was wondering why hasn't anybody make a biography movie about Ip Man? I keep wondering and finally in 2008 somebody is generous enough to make a movie about it at the right time everybody is still has the hots for martial art movies. A sequel titled "Ip Man 2" followed in 2010.

The movie has an awesome martial art features and not just focusing on wing chun. For example in the first movie we can see Ip Man fighting the Japanese soldiers whose practicing karate while in the second movie, we can see Ip Man having a head to head fight with a Western boxing champion. What amuses me the most is how well wing chun is depicted in the movie, thanks to Ip Man's own sons, Ip Chun and Ip Ching who act as advisors. Due to this I was able to see wing chun is quite similar to two martial art syles I've learned before, namely Silat Cekak Ust. Hanafi and Lian Padukan. Even the training is almost similar, except that I never have a touch on the wooden stacks.

For those who think this movie is really based on Ip Man's real life, take note that you're wrong. Apart from the names, fighting styles and the young Bruce Lee introduced at the end of the second movie, almost everything in the movie are fictional. However the movements in the movie aren't fakes. They are well choreographed by the trained wing chun pros, so in that sense this movie will not disappoint. And since wing chun incorporates almost no jumps, jumping is almost nowhere in the movie, which also means that wire works is almost non existent too (I didn't say there aren't any though).

So what's about this movie is great? I personally think it's a good introductory movie for those who are interested to know and learn martial art. Alright, I said 'introductory' so please don't rely on this movie to practice wing chun yourself. I do admit though many of the kung fu moves you see in the movie are effective but you should never learn martial art solely from any movies. If you want to learn some, go look for a real master. Although wing chun is relatively easy to learn, it doesn't mean it's easy to master without somebody to guide you.

Although this move did moved me to focus more in martial art training, it does not really moved me to learn wing chun myself. Besides since I found wing chun is quite similar to the styles I've learned before, I think it would be best for me to master what I already know rather than going for something new for now. Well, even if I wanted to chances are it would be very hard since real (full time) wing chun practitioners here is almost as rare as chicken's teeth.

(11/24 westerners think all kung fu are the same and think any Chinese-looking people knows how to kick someone's ass artistically)

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The Movie That Moved Me (part II)


Ong Bak is a Thai movie starring Muay Thai martial artist Tony Jaa which released back in 2003. Since then another 2 movies under the same title has been released (Ong Bak 2 in 2008, followed by Ong Bak 3 in May this year, but all movies does not related in any way in each other, except for the presence of Ong Bak, the Buddha sculpture being the subject of attention).

So why did this movie affect me so much? It's because I'm a martial artist myself, and I did learn some Muay Thai (locally called tomoi/tomoy) in year 2000. Actually on that time I do personally felt that there's no more hope for martial art movies. Yes, there were still many of the so-called martial art movies from Hong Kong and Japan but as a martial artist, I was able to tell that most of them are fakes. Why? Because many of the fighting scenes rely too much on wire works, not to mention the excessive amount of acrobatics that is pretty much unnecessary and does not have any great effects in real fights. To make it worse, it is performed by actors who does not really practice any martial art in real life and rely solely on fighting choreographers for the fighting scenes.

As far as I can remember the last "almost true" martial art movie I watched is the "Once Upon A Time in China" starring Jet Li. I said almost here because like many stereotypical martial art (kung fu) movies from Hong Kong, wire works are still utilized albeit not as heavily done as in most other movies due to the fact that Jet Li still performed genuine fightings in the movie. I also like another notable Jet Li's kung fu movie, "Fong Sai Yuk".

In the first 10 years of my life, I enjoyed watching some Bruce Lee's movies as well as Jackie Chan's movies from the 70's. Even on that time I managed to tell Bruce Lee is lacking the 'art' factor in his kung fu since he have discarded many elements he deemed as unnecessary despite he was a wing chun kung fu student. However, his fighting scenes are genuine at least, as claimed by Jackie Chan who did appear in some of Bruce Lee's movies, thus I have a respect on him.

Jackie Chan on the other hand, is another kung fu star but I like his 70's kung fu movies more compared to those in the recent years. I mean in the past the kung fu he depicted in his movies look more genuine but as many of you can see today, he is still a good martial artist but his fighting scenes now are mostly comprised of stunt actions. By the way in the sense of martial art, I still respect him.

After the era of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, I started to see a major decline in martial art movies. Although both Jackie Chan and Jet Li made more appearance in Hollywood after that, like I said it's not enough because like I said, Jackie Chan is more into stunt actions rather than real kung fu these days, while for Jet Li, his kung fu is badly depicted thanks to CG and SFX interventions (don't believe me? Go watch "The One" now). I thought there's no more hope for martial art movies, until…

In 2003, the world witnessed the emergence of a new breed of martial art star. If in the past martial art movies was dominated by kung fu (thanks to Hong Kong movie industries) now it's the time for South East Asia's martial art. Enter Muay Thai, popularized by the movie Ong Bak I introduced earlier. The story may not 'strong' enough to attract everybody but I believe this is a movie everybody who think they're martial artist should watch. I can guaranteed you everything (fighting scenes) you see in this movie are genuine, and there are no wire works at all. That is what I call martial art movie. In many ways this movie has moved me to focus more on martial art practice and I thanks to it now I'd like to meet Tony Jaa in person not as a fan but as a fellow martial artist.

After Ong Bak, I've seen a favorable rise of interest and demand in martial art movies. Their future is now brighter and since then we've seen a major increase in number of GENUINE (no fake fighting scenes) martial art movies, not only from Thailand but also other parts of South East Asia like Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. Even Hong Kong, Korea and Japan have followed suit by featuring more martial art or kung fu movies that utilize more genuine fightings and less faking it. I'm not against the use of real fighting movements because I know a true martial artist won't inflict permanent damage to each other since they are professionals who really know what they're doing. In other words, true martial artists won't have problems performing in real martial art movie like Ong Bak.

(9/14 people who watched martial art or kung fu movies think kicking someone's ass in an 'artistic' way is a lot cooler than doing it like a cowboy)

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