Martial arts movie

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The martial arts film ( listen ? / I ) [ ˈmɑ: ɹʃəlˈ.aɹts.fɪlm ] (from Latin Ars Martialis , “the art of Mars ”, cf. martial ) is an originally Far Eastern variant of the action film in which the aesthetic stylized presentation of martial arts dominated, e.g. B. Karate , kickboxing , judo , Kung-Fu or Taekwondo . Sometimes the laws of gravity are overridden in sometimes complicated choreographies. Wuxia (Chinese fencing art films ), Jidai-geki (period films ) or the samurai film are considered sub-genres . Many Wuxia films are set in a romanticized version of the Chinese Middle Ages from the early Yuan to the late Qing dynasty, while the Japanese Jidai-geki, according to their name, are set in the period shortly before the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century. Thematically, the savior or avenger motif is often used, whereby the plot is often used primarily to show as many battle scenes as possible. Audio file / audio sample


The genre of martial arts film became known in the west in the early 1970s through Bruce Lee's kung fu films , mainly from Hong Kong . Films like The Sword of the Yellow Tiger  (1971) by Chang Cheh and The 36 Chambers of Shaolin  (1978) became classics of the genre. As a result of imitations, the film genre achieved immense international popularity with a large wave of often sensationally titled and staged films, which was often referred to as "Kung Fu Craze". The first significant director was King Hu from the mid-1960s . From the peak period also went Jackie Chan appears to especially his slapstick made known worldwide inlays and daredevil stunts.

With the advent of blockbuster films in the late 1970s, the kung fu wave subsided again. Nevertheless, hundreds of English-language dubbed kung fu and ninja films continued to be produced in Hong Kong , which were mainly broadcast on American television at weekends. In the 1980s, there was also a short wave of American martial arts films in the young video sector in which actors such as Jean-Claude Van Damme , Don Wilson , Steven Seagal and Michael Dudikoff play the leading roles.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Asian martial arts film experienced a renaissance. Lavishly staged films such as Tiger and Dragon (2000, four Oscars ) or Hero (2002) with Jet Li impressed the critics and also delighted many Western viewers, while Hollywood films such as Blade (1998) or Mission: Impossible II (2000, directed : John Woo ) were influenced by the Asian martial arts film. These include films with actors such as Michael Jai White , Tony Jaa , Yanin Vismitananda , Donnie Yen and Scott Adkins . Some Western films such as the Matrix series explicitly adapted the style and choreography of Asian wuxia films, and some action sequences were staged by luminaries of martial arts choreography from Hong Kong. The fight sequences of Matrix were staged by old master Yuen Woo-Ping , who also staged the action scenes in Quentin Tarantino's revenge epic Kill Bill .

See also


  • Marilyn D. Mintz: Martial Arts Films. Gazelle Book Services Ltd, 1978.
  • The Making of Martial Arts Films: As Told by Filmmakers and Stars. Hong Kong Film Archive, 1999.
  • Bill Palmer, Karen Palmer, Ric Meyers: The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies. , New York 2003.
  • Jürgen Sorg: Enter the Games of Death. On the form, reception and function of the fighting in martial arts film. In: R. Leschke, J.Venus (Hrsg.): Game forms in feature films. transcript, Bielefeld 2007.
  • Ric Meyers: Freat martial arts movies. From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan… and more . New York, Citadel Press Books 2001.

Web links

Wiktionary: Martial arts film  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Theo Bender, James to Hüningen: martial arts films . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender