Steps To Survive A Martial Arts Movie
A while ago, I had a post on how to survive a horror movie. This is like that, but shorter.
Of course, the best step to survive a martial arts movie is to be Bruce Lee, but only one person has managed that so far and he ended up being too awesome to live for very long, so it’s a pretty hard feat to accomplish.
Anyway, here are the steps, in no particular order :
Steps To Survive A Martial Arts Movie
1. When fighting the bad guys, if you’re fighting a hundred highly trained ninjas, no matter how many battles you fought up to that point, it’s almost certain that you’ll win. If you’re fighting a single person for the first time, you will inevitably be beaten.
2. The bad guy will always provide motivation by killing the Hero’s family, so if you’re related to any handsome martial artists (much like this writer’s relatives), you should be worried.
- However, one lucky family member gets to survive long enough to wait for the Hero to come home and find out what happened. Unfortunately, that family member usually dies after explaining the situation to the Hero. So if you find yourself in this position, the best thing to do would be to never say anything ever again, and you should gain immortality.
3. All martial arts training takes place in one montage, so it usually takes a few minutes at most to become a master.
4. If the Kung Fu movie you’re in was filmed by Americans, then white people (or black people, according to one movie) will be much better at Kung fu than Chinese people.
5. And finally, if you’re losing a fight with the villain, simply rip your shirt off to get a boost of energy and to fight with renewed vigour.
Hope that kept you amused for a while.
Fighter In The Wind
Director: Yun-ho Yang
Starring: Dong-kun Yang, Aya Hirayama, and Masaya Kato
Synopsis: Fighter in the Wind is based on the book Karate Baka Ichidai, which is an account of the life of Choi Yeong-Eui who developed the Kyokushin martial art; considered the first and most influential style of full contact karate. The movie takes place during the tail-end of World War II and follows Choi Bae-Dal as he travels to Japan to become a fighter pilot only to have his life undergo a drastic change when he and his friends resist taking part in the Kamikaze. Through life changing events he eventually changes his name to Masutatsu Oyama and goes across country, following the teachings of Musashi Miyamoto, and closing one Japanese dojo after another to prove to the Japanese that the Korean people are not weak and should not be looked down upon.
Choreography: It’s not what you would expect from a modern martial arts movie. It’s so much more. There is no wirework. Instead you get a sense of the visceral brutality and the fear involved in the fights, especially when one is outclassed. Even in the scenes when he is training, you see the doubt, the fear, and the dedication that it requires to advance both physically and mentally. The viewer gets a strong sense of understanding that the training, while painful, is necessary. The techniques Choi Bae-dal uses are simple, effective, and provide a strong sense of real-world application. You can watch any of the fights, and there are a lot of them, and easily picture them in a real-life back alley or field instead of simply on-screen action. The choreography isn’t repetitive but, rather, insightful as you see Choi Bae-dal’s Kyokushin go up against styles such as Aikido, Judo, Ninjitsu, and Karate.
Cinematography: At times the director blurs the action during some of the fights. The majority of the fights, though, are fully focused. While the blurred action is jarring at first, this style of cinematography is used when the character is either in shock or disoriented. Overall, its shot very well with appropriate closeups to make scenes more emotionally intense. The movie does an excellent job of immersing the viewer in the time period that it’s portraying.
Actors/Actresses Performance: Dong-kun Yang, who portrayed Choi Bae-dal, did an excellent job of expressing a character who evolves. He begins as a shuffling, cowardly, man who cannot look people in the eye and evolves into a straight-shouldered, upright, reassured man who speaks confidently yet humbly. Aya Hirayama, who plays Yoko, has her character evolve in more subtle ways. While Choi Bae-dal fights physical battles throughout the movie, Yoko fights emotional ones. Aya Hirayama’s character, Yoko, evolves from a naive girl into a supportive woman who is not subservient; a characteristic all too common in the portrayal of asian women. Masaya Kato, who plays Kato, is a poster-child general in the Japanese army but is not by any means a stereotypical character as he is not the true antagonist. The Japanese council being the antagonist who simply orders Kato around. Kato is actually responsible for Choi Bae-dal evolving as a character when, after sparing his life, finds Bae-dal, years later, dressed like a clown an advertising a pachinko arcade. “Is this why you begged for your life? To live like this?” he asks and, as such, creates a pivotal moment where Choi Bae-dal leaves his emotional boyhood and begins to walk the path to becoming a man.
Final Thoughts: For an untold story, it’s a tale that we won’t want to forget. The characters were memorable, believable, and the story shows multiple characters evolving; growing through adversity to become more than what they were. It’s a solid period piece where you honestly feel that, for the span of the movie, you live in that time. The sense of immersion in the fights, the dialogue, and the emotional involvement is very well done. When Bae-dal gets hurt, you feel fearful for him, scared even. When he exiles himself to the mountains for 14 months of training you understand the loneliness he feels and grow to be in awe of his dedication to the rigorous and painful training regime he utilizes. When he comes down from the mountains to challenge the Japanese martial arts dojos, you honestly feel proud of him. Overall, the movie does an excellent job of depicting not only the physical strength but the strength of character of Masutatsu Oyama; a man who would one day not only devise the 100-man kumite but also complete it three times in a row over the course of three days.
Note: A kumite is a progression of fights, each lasting two minutes, where the next fight begins after the featured participant wins.
Overall Score: 8 out of 10