-By King Ruckus
Every Monday, we’ll bring you martial arts fans a few recommendations from Netflix (US). For the inaugural Martial Arts Monday we’re starting off with two classic icons: Bruce Lee, and Donnie Yen!
The Big Boss (1971) – Around the time of this film, Bruce Lee was mostly known as Kato from the short lived television series “The Green Hornet”. By the end of its first weekend playing in international cinemas, he couldn’t walk down the street without being mobbed by fans.
All of Lee’s fighting films had a “stranger on the scene” type of theme to them. He typically played some guy from somewhere else who ends up in a bad situation and handles it the only way he can, by kicking everyone’s ass. Here he’s “Cheng Chao-an”, a cousin visiting from out of town. He wears a medallion from his mother, a reminder of his promise “never to fight again”, but it’s Lee so you know that’s not happening. You wait about 40, maybe 45 minutes for him to forcefully break that promise, and when he does it’s worth it. Classic Bruce Lee film, must watch.
Way of the Dragon (1972) – Bruce Lee’s third martial arts film, coming on the heels of the ridiculously successful “Chinese Connection”(a personal favorite that sadly isn’t on Netflix right now), is of course another “stranger on the scene” film. He once again plays a cousin from out of town(in this case out of the country, as the film takes place in Rome), this time named Tang Lung. His family runs a restaurant, the bad guys want it, they don’t want to give it up. All sorts of ass is kicked all sorts of ways, but it’s the final battle everyone remembers.
That last fight takes place in Rome’s famous Coliseum, against none other than Chuck Norris. It’s the best of the film and has stood the test of time in terms of classic showdowns. It would have been amazing to see these two work together again if Bruce Lee had lived.
Ip Man (2008) – Ip Man(also known as Yip Man) was the grandmaster who trained Bruce Lee in Wing Chun during his formative years. This film is Ip Man’s story so we barely see Bruce, but that doesn’t matter. Every fight in this film is awesome. The most memorable scene is Ip Man vs 10 black belt students. Even the lead villain in the film looks at him like “Damn, son.” during this battle. You think I’m kidding? See for yourself:
Aside from all the great fight scenes, you have a pretty solid story about the legendary Sifu Ip Man. Not entirely based in fact, but very entertaining nonetheless. It was about time someone did this man justice properly.
Flash Point – Donnie Yen has not only starred in but done action choreography work for a number of films over the years. Here he won both a Hong Kong Film Award and Golden Horse Film Award for his choreography work.
In Flash Point Donnie Yen plays Detective Sergeant Ma Jun, tasked with bringing down drug runners. Early in the film we find out Sergeant Ma has a bit of a penchant for violence, so you know you’re in for some grade A ass kicking. Lasting for about seven minutes, the final fight of the film against Colin Chou, also no slouch, is arguably one of the best put on film. If you somehow missed this movie, add it to your list right away.
That’s all for this week’s recommendations! What are your thoughts? Do you have any films you’d like to recommend? Any action stars you’d like to see featured here? Please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
Some added notes:
These films were on Netflix(US) as of 2/9/2016.
The Big Boss is known as “Fist of Fury” domestically. Way of the Dragon is known as “Return of the Dragon”.
Fans of classic martial arts films with a decent computer should try “Kings of Kung Fu”. Not the best fighting game, but it’s clearly a labor of love and you might get something out of it.
Honorable movie mentions: Game of Death, Kung Fu Killer. Both also on Netflix(US) as of 2/9/2016.