Musical Talents of Famous Martial Arts Actors

I just realized that some of the famous martial arts actors have a musical talent under their sleeves. This post popped in my mind while I was listening to High Upon High by Jackie Chan during my weekly workout. I’ve seen some videos of an interview or an event where they perform something beyond their combat skills. I’m impressed with what these guys can do. Just take a look at what each actor has to offer.

Jackie Chan

You probably know this already, but I’ll include it here anyway. Aside from doing stunts, Jackie is also good in singing. He recorded tracks for his movies, including Drunken Master 2 and Armour of God. He also sang the Chinese version of I’ll Make a Man Out of You for the Disney movie Mulan. back when he was a child, he had vocal lessons at the Peking Opera School. He has released over 20 albums from which he sang in different languages like Mandarin, Cantonese, English, Japanese, and Taiwanese.

David Carradine

Known by the older audiences (nope, far older than me) as Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu and known by the younger audiences as Bill from Kill Bill, David Carradine can also play the guitar and flute. He can actually make flutes out of bamboo, and you can see him playing one of them in the mentioned movie. As a guitarist, he was a member of the band called Soul Dogs. They play in small venues and charity events.

Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen’s hand-speed is top-notch as you can see in his movies like Ip Man and Flashpoint, so it’s not surprising that he can utilize such skill for playing the piano. Donnie actually belongs to a family of musicians. Her mother was a soprano and a martial arts teacher while his father is a violinist, so he was taught to play different instruments at a very young age. You can actually see him playing the piano in his movie Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. He plays classical music like what you’ll see in this video…

Tony Jaa

This is the most surprising part for me. I had no clue that Tony Jaa can actually rap. This wasn’t explicitly mentioned in any of his online profiles. Probably he’s doing it for fun, but I still find it cool. I mean, how many actors can you name as a spit artist and martial artist rolled into one? Here’s a video interview where he showed this hidden talent. He’s rapping in Thai language.

It’s good to learn new skills. Like these martial arts actors, I hope you get inspired to learn something new too, even beyond the field of music. Find it, and show the world the talented person that you are. (~^_^)~

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My Recipe for a Good Live-Action Adaptation

For the past few years, there were several releases of live-action movies based on Manga, Anime, and Video Games. It has been a hit-or-miss opportunity for every production wherein big budget doesn’t always equate to a great movie. Here, I’ll try to give my two cents on what it takes to translate these media properly. Just a disclaimer, I didn’t graduate from a film or literature related course. These are just purely my opinion, and I based them on the live action movies that I’ve seen so far.

Resembling Cast

It’s one thing to give an actor or actress a make-up and hairstyle to match the character that he or she is portraying, and it’s another thing to pick a cast member who looks just like the character, effortlessly. The latter is quite difficult to fulfill, but when the production pulls it off, it will leave a lasting impression to the audience. One best example I can think of would be Christian Howard who plays Ken Masters in Street Fighter Assassin’s Fist. One look at the guy, and you instantly imagine him executing a Shoryuuken. Beyond the looks, the guy can perform martial arts moves that are convincing enough to emulate the reference character.

Speaking of martial arts moves, picking Takeru Satoh was a perfect choice to play as Kenshin Himura for the Rurouni Kenshin movies.  He’s a trained athlete, and he can do some insane acrobatics combined with elegant swordsmanship. You can see on his execution that he’s the guy for the job. Don’t believe me? Watch this video…

As for an example of a bad casting, you can look no further than Dragonball Evolution. Among other things that this movie had done, the casting alone was a complete mess for me. Watching on mute will leave you confused who’s who. Even Piccolo who can be worked around through proper prosthetic failed to deliver.

Loyalty To Story

One big reason that the fans got hooked with the source material was probably the story. There were events that made the series memorable, and they are looking forward relive these moments. Of course, there are parts that need to be changed or omitted due to the constraint that movies can only run up to three hours, but it should be done in a seamless manner. Kind of like what was done in Death Note. The events were modified, but it still made sense to the overall story. I actually think that the L in the live-action was quite smarter than his anime/manga counterpart.

Now, if only the Tekken movie did not happen. Seriously, the good plot of the video game franchise was murdered by this B-Movie.  The monumental moment where Heihachi threw Kazuya on the cliff was not presented, heck even the story behind the devil gene was not there. Christie’s not using Capoeira, Marshall Law not using Jeet-Kune-Do (Blasphemy!), and the list goes on. The only thing that the movie did right was picking Lateef Crowder as Eddy, but hey, that’s for the Resembling Cast criteria.

Familiar Cinematography

It’s an awesome feat if you’ll be able to remember that shot that exactly captures the same image that you’ve seen in a manga or an anime. Such moments will give you nostalgic fun. Also, if the director can get a clearer view of highlighting the character’s resembling features and skills, it gives the viewers the feel that this medium had been loyal to the source material. Take a look at Rurouni Kenshin (yes, I really love the film, and I’m going to cite it more than once). You can see from the camera angles how Kenshin’s speed and agility were emphasized with beautiful rope works that enabled the actor to lean, bend, and high-jump like the original character.

I understand that the filmmakers have a certain liberty to play with a franchise in the way that they know best. However, I believe that it’s just proper not to ruin that franchise with such style. After all, it was the stuff that the source material was made of that gave it its popularity. Disregarding these factors may prove to be disrespectful to the fans. I hope they will learn from the indie and Asian movie scene on how to do things right. ‘Til then, I recommend the following movies for good samples of live-action adaptations. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

Good Live-Action Movies:

  • Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy
  • Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist
  • Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe)
  • Gatchaman
  • Shinobi (Live-Action for Basilisk)
  • Kamen Rider The First and Kamen Rider The Next
  • Garo: Red Requiem

Filipino Actors Who Starred in International Martial Arts Flicks

With my love for martial arts films, I wonder if there will be a time when our film industry is able to produce such decent flicks. I always believe that with the right director and action choreographer combined with proper training for the cast, it’s possible, at least for the fight scene department. For the past movies and series though, there are Filipino actors who made their way through the martial arts film scene either as a protagonist or an enemy against a legendary action star. Here are some of them.

Ernie Reyes Jr.

He’s a son of a Filipino actor and stuntman Efren Reyes Sr., so it runs in their blood. Starred in the martial arts comedy film Surf Ninjas, he plays the role of Johnny, one of the sons from a monarch family. If you were a fan of Million-Dollar Movies in channel 2 during the early 90’s (ugh, another age indicator), you probably watched this movie about a couple of times. The fight scenes were okay, but I think Efren’s skills here have not been fully utilized. He also played as Keno in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.  Well, if the mentioned films were too old for you, maybe Dwayne Johnson’s The Rundown will somehow ring a bell. Remember the scene when Dwayne encountered what seemed to be some group of hunters, the character with the name of Manito was played by Efren. Their fight scene was quite impressive and given the size difference, Efren knows how to keep up with a huge man through sheer agility.

Paolo Montalban

Well, this actor is not originally an action star but an actor and a singer. Yup. He actually starred as Prince Christopher in the early film adaptation of Cinderella co-starring with singer Brandy. However, by any chance that you watched Mortal Kombat Conquest in channel 23, you’ll recognize him as Kung Lao, the protagonist of the series. The choreography was decent, but as the fan of the franchise, I can say that the show wasn’t that loyal to its roots, ditching the character’s abilities and fighting styles when they presented it. I have to commend Paolo though, given that he’s not that immersed in the action genre, he fairly performed the fight scenes well. He must have gone through some proper training. Here’s a sample of what he can do.

Dan Inosanto

More than an actor, he’s a martial arts master of various disciplines, including Eskrima, Silat, and Jeet Kune Do. He was actually one of the few who was authorized by Bruce Lee to teach his martial art. According to the documentary film, I Am Bruce Lee, he taught Lee how to use the nunchaku, Bruce Lee’s iconic weapon.  The most memorable role that Dan portrayed was in Lee’s unfinished film, Game Of Death. There, the two showcased their skills in handling the nunchucks. To be honest, the pace is considered subpar compared to modern martial art movies, but it was due to technical limitations at that time. Lee’s movements were too fast, it can’t be captured by the camera, so they had to adjust. Who would’ve thought that this legendary master will go toe to toe with a Filipino martial artist in a film? Dan continued to teach in different parts of the globe and a known promoter of the Filipino Martial Arts, including Arnis which Bruce Lee displayed in his Hollywood film, Enter the Dragon.

I hope more Filipino actors and actresses will get included in the future martial arts films. With the fair support of the different martial arts communities in our country, we have a lot of capable talents who can do a great job of executing a good fighting scene. Do you know any other Filipinos who were also featured in a martial arts flick? Let me know in the comments below. (~^_^)~

Review – Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist

Whether you’re looking for an impressive adaptation of the Street Fighter series or just looking for a well-made action movie, you can’t go wrong with Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist. This is a web-series released in Machinima’s youtube channel which features the story of the students of Ansatsuken (Assassin’s Fist), the martial arts used by the flagship fighters of the SF franchise, Ryu and Ken. This originally started as a Kickstarter project until four private backers provided the necessary funds for production, in turn canceling the project in the said website. Don’t fret. It may be an indie production, but it’s properly executed and will make you wonder why Hollywood can’t produce such good video game movies.

Courtesy of hadoken.net

Story

Before anything else, I’m just spilling the general synopsis here, but if you don’t want to know anything about the story, then feel free to skip to the next section. The story revolves in two timelines, the story of the brothers Gouki and Gouken, who trained under Gotetsu-sensei, and the story of close friends and at the same time, rivals, Ryu and Ken under the guidance of Gouken. The timelines are shown interchangeably with Gouken’s training days as the flashback. The highlight would be the secret of the Ansatsuken and the events from Gouken’s past that somehow will cross the paths of his two current students someday.

If you watched Street Fighter Alpha Generations, then you’ll be familiar with the storyline. Nevertheless, this has more focus with the training days of Ansatsuken practitioners, providing you with a fresher look on the history of these iconic characters. The pace of the series is just right, and with the story divided to approximately 11-minute episodes,  you’ll always witness a significant event or revelation and an ending that will keep you hanging and force you to watch the next episode (in a good way). Each character had enough exposure to portray a rich history behind them as well as some inner conflicts that they had to face. Some cool back story elements that they tackled include how Ken got his flaming Shoryuken, why their fighting style had a hybrid of western boxing, and why Gouki had a kanji of Ten (which means heaven) on his back.Though this series is not canon, I like how they came up with the idea of adding these details without departing from the original source.

Cast

To be honest, I don’t know anyone from the cast, and the only thing I know about them is that some appeared in their proof of concept video, Street Fighter Legacy, which I saw during the time that they released it. The movie uses Japanese and English language interchangeably. Surprisingly, Christian Howard who plays the role of Ken has a very good Japanese accent. He even got the intonation correct when delivering the phrases. I can say that among the cast, he’s the one who had the most resemblance with the character that he portrays both in appearance and acting. I had some problems with the old Gouken played by Akira Koieyama since his English accent is quite hard to understand. There are moments where I wished that he just speaks in Japanese for the entire series since i don’t mind reading the subtitles. Other than that, he got the aura of a typical martial arts master that you see in martial arts movies. It is notable that Joey Ansah who plays the role of Akuma (old Gouki) is also the creator and writer of the series. His appearance is totally loyal to the source material and I believe they used a dubber that really matches the video game voice. It was fascinating to hear him utter the same words that you will hear in the actual game, especially the moves that he executes. All of the actors and actress did pretty well in the acting department. For the Japanese cast, some English lines may sometimes get in the way of their acting, but not too much that it ruins their character portrayal. Most of the parts where they needed to convey more emotions used Japanese language which I think is a good call. The actors seem to be really trained in martial arts. You can see from their stance that they practice the art. They are able to pull of above-average fight choreography in a satisfying pace. Even the special moves from the actual video game were justified in their actions.

Courtesy of eventhubs.com

Production

The costumes are well made, really loyal to the source material. Akuma’s overall appearance is top-notch. As far as I know, this is the first time that Akuma is included in a live-action Street Fighter, and they nailed it. The scenery is beautiful, and they were able to find a good dojo to shoot to. There are enough places to do a great fight, but the grasslands beside the river is my favorite. The only place that was off for the story would be the night club. Seriously, a town in the middle of the woods is acceptable, but a modern night club seems too forced. The fight scenes are well choreographed. It may not have the complexity that you’ll see in Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa movies, but it was just right in terms of speed and wow-factor, thanks to the special moves. The camera transitions did not hinder the action scenes which is a sigh of relief for me. This part is something that gets me frustrated when I watch western action movies. The special effects are also good. Considering that this is an indie production, the output is pretty decent. The graphics for hadouken were fantastic. I remember I had goosebumps when Gouken demonstrated his Hadouken to his students. The series used actual music from the video game most notably, Ryu and Ken’s theme in two separate scenes. It fits perfectly for fight and training scenes.

Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist is a great treat for all the SF Fans and a good entertainment for those who are looking for a new action series. This is what a live-action adaptation of a video game franchise is supposed to be. Loyal to the source material, well-written story, and well-planned execution. Based on my research, there are possible plans to continue the series that will be based on the World Warrior storyline with Scott Adkins being considered for the role of Guile. If this will push through, then I can’t wait to see it. For those of you who haven’t watched it, here’s the link to the entire series. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

Martial Art Techiniques: Movie vs. Real-Life

My fascination with Martial Art Movies motivated me to read and study more about martial arts itself. Movies were created for entertainment, so it’s not surprising that they tend to make the moves more flashy or exaggerated at some point, and I have nothing against that. That is actually the reason why I enjoy watching it over UFC or other actual fighting tournaments (though there are spectacular moments like when Silva broke his leg during his recent UFC match or Cro-cop’s signature left high kick). I enjoy the uniqueness and the technicalities of a well-thought fight choreography and how they timed each move to utilize a few seconds of fight as opposed to real-life combats that last longer but lesser things happen. So how do the filmed special moves fair with their real-life counterparts? Here are some of the examples.

1) Roundhouse Kick

One of the most-used moves (if not the most-used move) in action movies. Some filmmakers who can’t offer a properly choreographed scene resolve to roundhouse kicks repeated in different camera angles just to force some spectacle to it. Well, the move doesn’t get old if used right. The most exaggerated portrayal of the said kick is when the enemy throws himself/herself  in mid-air, sometimes with a bonus twirl which is fun to look at. However, real roundhouse kicks will just involve some head-shaking and then knock the person cold. It’s totally dangerous nonetheless, but no flying bodies. Watch this video to take a closer look.

2) Knee Kick

More popular in muay thai and MMA themed movies, the knee kick looks devastating both in movies and in real life. The actual move can be equivalent to hitting the chest with a sledgehammer, using the strength from your lower body to create an upward force. An informative video explains how the move builds its strength to deliver a deadly blow. Well, the best way to compare this technique to its real-life counterpart is to use the same actor Tony Jaa for an actual demonstration. See how fast he delivered his knee kick in the video below.

3) Hook Punch

At some point, I thought I should’ve made this the first item for this blog entry due to its simplicity, but then this move is so commonly used in any action movie, it created a film stereotype that humans can survive several minutes of fistfights or significant number of punches before finally getting knocked-out cold. Though it’s not that usual for the actors to deliver the proper hook punch, it’s a type of attack that forces you to use your entire body-weight, which is a lot stronger compared to quicker techniques like a jab or a 45-degree kick. So how many hook punches can a trained boxer survive before his/her lights go out? Well…

4) One-inch Punch

The move that was popularized by the martial arts legend Bruce Lee (no, you shouldn’t need any link about him). This was featured in a scene from the reboot movie of The Green Hornet starring Jay Chou as Kato. The original series starred Bruce Lee himself. It’s needless to say, the scene pays homage to the move that showed Lee’s martial arts superiority. Well maybe not strong enough to blast a guy through a window, but it’s strong enough to knock someone off his feet. You don’t believe me? Here’s a proof for you. No scripts. No camera tricks. No BS. Just pure power.

I really intend to include more moves to this post, but reference images and videos for the other items are just hard to find >_<. For the purists who say the things that action stars do on film are impractical in actual combat, all I can say is it wasn’t made for that in the first place. It’s for entertainment, so calm down, shut up, and enjoy the movie. As for the real martial art, it’s not just for self-defense. It’s a cliche, but it also teaches discipline. Aggression is not always the key to victory. As Mr. Han from Karate Kid once said, the best fights are the ones we avoid. (~^_^)~

My Anatomy of a Good Fighting Scene

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a professional critique or a high rated director of action films. All stuff that I’ll mention here are purely my opinion and mostly not based on any studies in film and audio visual arts but on over a hundred action movies that I watched, which served as my reference materials.

I’ve watched a lot of action movies that I developed a strict taste when it comes to watching them. To some extent, I tend to bypass the story or lack thereof once I see the fighting scenes. Not that I’m saying it is unnecessary to have an engaging plot to create a good action movie, but if the production claims that its movie belongs to the action genre, then they have to deliver violence in its most entertaining form. I don’t think that you can label an action movie as an action movie without any fighting scenes in it. With this, here’s my take on what I think are the elements of a good fighting scene.

Awesome Choreography

In real street fights, you’ll rarely see those fancy backflips or flying roundhouse kicks for the simple reason that it’s impractical to use in such situations. However, your aim in making a movie is to entertain, and in the action genre, one of the most effective ways to execute this is to use awesome fight choreography. This is what I like in a lot of Asian action movies (spare my fanboy side XD). The heavy influence in martial arts has been effectively used, they can have a single template of a story in all movies but each will still stand out based on the unique presentation of the fight choreography.  Speed of movement, strength of strikes, and difficulty of execution. Combine these three characteristics and you can create total eye-candy violence. Take a look at this example:

The three factors I mentioned were totally captured in this fighting scene. Both Donnie Yen and Wu Jing displayed exceptional weapon handling skills that pulled of this fast-paced combat. One wrong mistake could lead the one knocking out the other. It may seem that the overall difficulty is not at par with other fighting scenes, but take a look the timing and placements of each strike and you’ll see how carefully choreographed this scene is. By the way, the choreographer was Donnie Yen himself (*_*).

To be fair, the western movies had its own share of good choreography. I commend Troy in capturing the Greek style of combat and present it in an entertaining way. Most of the fight scenes were set on army confrontations, but my favorite scene is none other than the Achilles and Hector face-off. The pace was just right, and the usage of different weapons was fantastic to watch.

Spectacular Camera Views

Sometimes, the good choreography doesn’t cut it. If the moves were not captured in the right angle, the opportunity to display an excellent execution is wasted. Come take a look at this example:

It’s such a shame that the camera angle was too unstable to follow. Eun-Kyung Shin and her double had a pretty decent performance in the fighting scenes, but the shifts and angles of the camera views did not complement with the actresses’ skill. This is one of things that can get me frustrated in watching an action movie. Actors/actresses are trained to perform at their best but then the end product did not properly capture the scene. Moreover, there are certain parts of a fighting scene that are best viewed in slow motion. Usually, when executing a high-risk maneuver (yeah I watch WWE). However, there’s a limit on how much you can use this element. When abused, the scene can get dragging, which damages the pace of the fight scene (*cough* *cough* Resident Evil Movies *cough* *cough*).

On the other hand, a good handling of camera views can make amateur action stars perform like they are trained for combat for a long time. A good example would be the movie So Close. Shu Qi, is not an action star at all, but although she was trained in martial arts before the production, it’s the good cinematography of the movie that really amplified her performance. Take a look at this one-on-one fight with Karen Mok.

http://www.filmsmasharchives.com/musicvideo.php?vid=20f2b99de

Perfect Playground

I believe that choosing the right place to get it on is essential in determining the limitations for the other elements of a fighting scene. Based on the location, the team can define the set of choreography that can be included in a scene. Different places can present the same choreography on distinctive perspectives. An overhead kick on a wide park may seem mediocre, but do that same move inside an elevator, and you will see the difference. Such confined space will significantly increase its difficulty of execution. On the other hand, a small cubicle will give you limited camera angles to use and a limited number of people to put in. In large areas like parking lots and playground, you have more freedom in the types of choreography that you can use, and you can include more people for a classic one man vs. goons fight scene.

Nobody uses this element better than Jackie Chan. If you watched Jackie Chan: My Stunts, he showed the viewers that he collects different magazine pictures of unique and interesting places in his kitchen wall. That serves as his database of target locations when conceptualizing his next film. He also has his own stunt lab to experiment on various objects that he can improvise as weapons as well as practice on different stunts that he can use on different environments. All these references led him in creating the finest action-packed and stunt-oriented fighting scene that JC can pull off. Well, I can’t find a source for the Playground fighting scene in Police Story 2 (such a shame, it was the best example for this part), so I’ve chosen the couch fight scene in his recent movie Chinese Zodiac. The scene was filmed in what seems to be a typical sofa set. However, they added a nice touch to the actual fighting scene by implementing a Swagger rule that whoever loses his touch from the couch will be declared as the loser of that bout.

Swagger Image

If there’s one thing that makes an action star look awesome… it’s the swag, and a good fighting scene can utilize this element to create those in-between spotlight moments wherein the scene focuses on that main character when he or she is either striking a pose, delivering a hard punchline,  performing single strike knockout, etc. Basically, it’s about anything that can make the action star look fabulous ahem… in a bad-ass way.

I think Jet Li not only mastered the art of combat, but also the art of being a swagger. That fierce look in his eyes scream i-am-a-motha#$*(!%-bad-ass-who-will-kick-your-teeth-down-your-throat. That guy portrays so much swag, I can’t imagine how he can fair with a comic role (but he did in his latest movie, Badges of Fury). I don’t want to sound redundant here, so just watch this end fight in Kiss of the Dragon. All the examples of being a Swagger that I mentioned above had been used here.

Intense Music

I think this is more of a bonus since a good fight scene can live without this, but it adds a nice touch to the final product. Like in other genres, it sets the mood of the scene that something bad or cool is going to happen, and if it’s an action movie, it’s a no-brainer to figure out what will happen next. The music should not only harmonize with the combat’s pace, but it should have the right tune and instrument to be used in each part of the fight.

As much as I want to use a live-action movie, one of my favorite music for a fighting scene is the one used in Rurouni Kenshin. The one played in the first 30 seconds of this video. It’s also worth mentioning that this anime series was able to utilize the use of music to intensify any type of mood of the scenes that it portrays.

Whew. Is it just me, or I just made a long post XD? Maybe it’s because of watching too many fighting scenes that it made me tired after writing this post. Well, I hope you had fun, at least by watching the sample video clips. If you think, I missed anything, or you disagree with some of my points, then feel free to post a comment, but let’s leave the violence in the movies shall we? Peace out! (~^_^)~

My Top 5 Not-So-Mainstream Martial Arts Action Stars

Ever since I was a kid, I was really amused with all the classic Kung-fu movies. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Bruce Lee play a significant part of my childhood. With Jackie Chan now finished with his last major action movie (though he will still film more action movies without the stunts and starring roles), I felt a little sad knowing that I won’t see anymore of his death-defying-stunts and totally unique humor imbued in his well choreographed action sequences.  However, there are a lot of other Martial Arts action stars who have a great potential to follow the footsteps of this legend or even surpass him. With this, I give you my own top 5 not-so-mainstream martial arts action stars.

Some Rules First

First of all, no Steven Seagal, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Van Damme, Chuck Norris, or Bruce Lee. These men have already reached a reputation of epic proportions. I prefer those who starred in more than one action movie, except if his or her performance is really that exceptional. It’s also a big plus for me if the star doubles as the director, stuntman,  and/or fight choreographer.

The Runner-Ups

Before proceeding with the top 5, I would like to include some other action stars who are worth mentioning.

Lateef Crowder – A capoeira practitioner, this guy’s unique and fascinating art had contributed a lot in the movies that he’s in. My personal favorite is his fight with Tony Jaa in The Protector. He also starred in Tekken as Eddy Gordo, the only appropriate cast that I’ve seen in this disappointing movie.

Mark Dacascos – A very agile martial artist in my opinion, hiss fight sequences are fairly fast and well choreographed. I’ve only seen a few of his movies, but most of them have been impressive. My favorite movie is Cradle 2 The Grave where he played as the villain and fought one-on-one with Jet Li.

Wu Jing – Based on my observation, this guy has very good footwork. His fight sequences may include some noticeable ropework, but it was not obtrusive if you look at the entire choreography of his fight scenes. My only rant is that some of his movies have a depressing story. I just didn’t like it. Anyway, my favorite fight scene is in SPL, where he had a one-on-one match with Donnie Yen. This fight is totally awesome.

Now for the Top 5…

5) Scott Adkins

I first saw this guy in the movie Undisputed 2. He’s actually the antagonist in this movie, but his moves were a lot more awesome than Michael Jai White. Good thing he became the main character in Undisputed 3 which showcased what this bad-ass is really capable of. He already worked with a lot of famous action stars, including Jean-Claude Van Damme (Assassination Game), Jackie Chan (The Medallion), and Jet Li (Unleashed). He’s also the stunt double for Deadpool in X-men Origins: Wolverine. Just take a look at this film montage to see how good he is (*_*)

4) Iko Uwais

First time I watched The Raid, I was astonished on how good the Indonesian production had pulled this off. The movie had breathtaking fight scenes and excellent cinematography. More than that, the main actor, Iko Uwais also displayed a superb performance during the action scenes. Now I know the potential of the martial art Pencak Silat  when it comes to action movies, thanks to him. Before watching the said movie, I suggest checking out Merantau first. The movie has good action sequences too, but I like the other movie better. Here’s the trailer for The Raid.

3) JeeJa Yanin

Her first movie, Chocolate, was a hit in Thailand and for a good reason. The interesting plot and Jeeja’s amazing combat skills really captured the attention of the action movie fans. She also does her own stunts, and I’m telling you, her stunts are no joke at all. Just see this trailer to see what I mean. You can also catch her in the Thai-Korean movie The Kick, a good mix of Taekwondo and Muay Thai action. Highly recommended.

2) Donnie Yen

To be honest, I’m not sure if this guy is still qualified in the not-so-mainstream category. In my opinion, he’s noticeably more popular compared to the other entries in this list. In any case, he’s well known for his portrayal of Ip Manthe mentor of the late Bruce Lee. He did justice to the powerful art of Wing Chun thanks to his incredible hand speed. However, I think his best performance as an action star is seen in Flash Point. He was trained in MMA style of fighting just for this movie, and he did very well.  I never thought that I would see a UFC-like fight scene in a fast-paced manner. I commend his flexibility to use different martial arts, from Shaolin Kung-Fu to Kickboxing. He even used Jeet-Kune-Do as seen in the trailer below. Other than that, he also collaborated with some of the famous action stars like Jackie Chan (Shanghai Knights), Jet Li (Once Upon a Time in China), and Sammo Hung (SPL). For this entry, I’ll leave you with a trailer for Legend of The Fist, a continuation of the Fist Of Fury series popularized by Bruce Lee.

1) Tony Jaa

Combat skills? A certified muay-thai pro. Stunts? How about sliding under a stopping car or jumping in the middle of a circular barbed wire? I think this guy is the action star who may come close (if not equal) to Jackie Chan’s capabilities. He can do totally complex fighting scenes, specially in dealing with huge number of goons. He can perform parkour sequences like jumping on walls, swiftly passing through tight spaces, and even backflip to break lampposts. He’s popular for his starring roles for the Ong-Bak series with part 2 as my favorite series since he combined different martial arts to create a magnificent montage of fight scenes. By the way, he is a Jackie Chan fanatic himself, that he even included a scene in his movie, encountering a Jackie Chan look-alike in an airport. This movie will have a sequel which will also star Jeeja Yanin.  Just thinking about what these two can do is giving me goose bumps. I’m having a hard time which movie trailer to show here since all of his movies are really top-notch, so instead, I’m giving you a video of his live demonstration for the promotion of Ong-Bak. You’ll be amazed specially on the last part.

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