Where Are our Martial Arts Gods?

Zero

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You know, maybe it’s just the time I grew up in but having just posted a bit of a joke link re Chuck Norris, it got me thinking, just who are our martial arts “gods” these days?

Back in the day there was the likes of Bruce and Norris (and for a while possibly even JCVD) but now days I wonder if there is really any equivalent. From an entertainment perspective I am not sure, there was a brilliant flash of energy and power when Tony Ja initially stole onto the scene but the greatness from the original Ong Bak has somehow never really been built on or recaptured.

Obviously in his day, Norris was a superb competitor and Bruce was sublimely gifted. We have top notch fighters these days in UFC and K1 but, perhaps given it is more accessible now or main stream or because more people are training and competing in MAs themselves, there is no one that seems to take on the “crown” for the new generation and to have straddled both competition/physical ability and stardom…maybe the new generation does not even mind about that.

I just donÂ’t see anyone seeming to fill the shoes of Bruce, Chuck (Jackie in his own humorous niche) or even JCVD. Again, there are brilliant martial artist/actors like Jet and Donnie Yen but they are not exactly short in the tooth.

Looking over the above I can see I am struggling to communicate what it is I am trying to expressÂ…but surely the shadows cast by the likes of Norris and Bruce arenÂ’t so great that a new generation cannot step out and reveal themselves?
 

ballen0351

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I think special effects and chirography has gotten so advanced now you don't need super athletes and Martial Artist to play these rolls anymore. Now you got guys like mark walburg playing navy seals and using advanced special effects and stunt doubles that real martial artists are no longer needed. Chuck was great at spinning back kicks but his acting was pretty poor all things considered well now few cables and mirrors and real actors can do just as impressive kicks and can actually act
 
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Zero

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I think special effects and chirography has gotten so advanced now you don't need super athletes and Martial Artist to play these rolls anymore. Now you got guys like mark walburg playing navy seals and using advanced special effects and stunt doubles that real martial artists are no longer needed. Chuck was great at spinning back kicks but his acting was pretty poor all things considered well now few cables and mirrors and real actors can do just as impressive kicks and can actually act

I wouldn't argue with that but you know what, even when young I was aware of his limitations as an actor but that never bothered me at all or detracted form the enjoyment factor of the movies, in fact I was more than happy for Chuck just to focus on putting his spinning back kicks into bad dudes' faces and let the "acting" be what it was : )

I think in an autobiography by the late David Carradine, Carradine said that he and Chuck had a conversation on set where Chuck said he thought Carradine was as good a martial artist as Chuck was an actor. That kind of sums things up in that respect (for both of them).
 
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Zero

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MMA has made people cynical.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
Is that you being serious? How so and why? Is it because, in crude terms, kicking people in the head is reasonably mainstream now and on pay-per-view all the time so that people don't get enjoyment from watching or paying to see a martial arts movies or don't rate "martial arts actors"?
There might be something in that but not sure, given I enjoy watching UFC, boxing, whatever but still enjoy MA movies.
 

Xue Sheng

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You know, maybe it’s just the time I grew up in but having just posted a bit of a joke link re Chuck Norris, it got me thinking, just who are our martial arts “gods” these days?

Back in the day there was the likes of Bruce and Norris (and for a while possibly even JCVD) but now days I wonder if there is really any equivalent. From an entertainment perspective I am not sure, there was a brilliant flash of energy and power when Tony Ja initially stole onto the scene but the greatness from the original Ong Bak has somehow never really been built on or recaptured.

Obviously in his day, Norris was a superb competitor and Bruce was sublimely gifted. We have top notch fighters these days in UFC and K1 but, perhaps given it is more accessible now or main stream or because more people are training and competing in MAs themselves, there is no one that seems to take on the “crown” for the new generation and to have straddled both competition/physical ability and stardom…maybe the new generation does not even mind about that.

I just donÂ’t see anyone seeming to fill the shoes of Bruce, Chuck (Jackie in his own humorous niche) or even JCVD. Again, there are brilliant martial artist/actors like Jet and Donnie Yen but they are not exactly short in the tooth.

Looking over the above I can see I am struggling to communicate what it is I am trying to expressÂ…but surely the shadows cast by the likes of Norris and Bruce arenÂ’t so great that a new generation cannot step out and reveal themselves?

The new generation are mostly movie stars and for the most part always have been ....the guys you are talking about started out as fighters and became movie stars later
 

Haakon

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Michael Jai White. But for the most part as has been said, it's FAR easier to fake martial arts in the movies than it is to fake acting. Ever see the movie "Ninja Assassin" (2009)? The main ninja character is played by a pop star with no martial arts background. Great condition, probably a natural athlete who could be great in martial arts, but never actually studied it and didn't need to for the movie.

I read this about him in that particular movie:
Surrounded by some of the best of the best in the martial arts world as well as top form athletes hired as fight coordinators, Rain also needed to engage in an intense training regimen so he could appear to be a Ninja trained from childhood. His performance impressed them.
“Rain can mimic the action and then put a little emotion into it — he could act within the action,” notes stuntman Chad Stahelski.

Unless some great martial artist who can also act comes along I don't see this trend changing. We'll probably still have bad "B" movies made by real martial artists, but not big Hollywood hits.
 

Tenacious_Red

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The new generation are mostly movie stars and for the most part always have been ....the guys you are talking about started out as fighters and became movie stars later

You hit the nail on the head. I also think it's about what's trending on the silver screen (in media, is MA cool now?). I mean there was an era where MA movies were coming out left and right (think Segal, Van Damme in the 90's, Lee, Carradine, Norris in the 70's etc).
 

Mark Lynn

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You know, maybe it’s just the time I grew up in but having just posted a bit of a joke link re Chuck Norris, it got me thinking, just who are our martial arts “gods” these days?

Â…but surely the shadows cast by the likes of Norris and Bruce aren't so great that a new generation cannot step out and reveal themselves?

Back in the late 60's through the 80's I think we looked at Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and the rest as martial art "gods" because it was new, we weren't use to seeing it on TV, and it was only a few people doing martial art action on TV or in the movies. So it was easy to wait for Kwai Chang Cain to have a brief fight at the beginning of a Kung Fu episode and then to resolve the issues at hand during the end of the show with a final fight. We put up the a mediocre story in between all to see the brief fight scenes. The same goes for Longstreet, or Green Hornet. Movies really were not that much better, remember "Kill or be killed", "Kill and Kill Again", "Gymkata", "Force Five", "Kill the Golden (something)", "Black Belt Jones" "Yellow faced Tiger" (this one had a great cameo of Chuck Norris in it) etc. etc. All had good martial arts and martial artists in them but they were martial artists and not actors. So the stories often sucked big time.

Now you have the likes of the "Matrix" and it's sequels, "Hannah", the "Bourne" movies, any Jason Stratman film, "The Hunted", "Kick ***" and it's sequel, "Never Back Down", "Red Belt", "Abduction", the Bond movies, and so on and so on. Likewise the MAs are being shown on TV now like "Arrow", "Atlantis" and so on. So over all now everyone is doing them and a much wider section of the martial arts being presented such as the FMAs, MMAs, BJJ, Sayoc Kali, karate, Kung Fu, etc. etc. with weapons, without weapons, etc. etc.

Likewise you have the foreign films that have been made ever more accessible and they have become art forms in their own right, "Crouching Tiger...", "House of Twin Daggers", Tony Ja's Ong Bak movies, The Ip Man series, "Hero", and a whole lot of others that don't just have good martial arts but good acting, good stories, and can be visually stunning as well.

I don't think you will have anyone actually come out of the pack unless you have someone like Jackie Chan who really found a niche like comedy Kung Fu, but he has done that and it would be hard if not impossible to have that happen again. Other than Jackie doing the comedy Kung Fu, there are only so many Thai Kicks, or wrist locks and throws, or MMA type fights that without great acting or great stories the public will care to see on the big screen. So I don't really see anyone becoming the next martial arts movie god any time soon.
 

Forever Training

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Imagine if they made a movie like the Expendables, but with Seagal, Norris, JCVD etc, etc.

Wait..... forget it. Very bad idea.
 

TKDTony2179

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Michael Jai White. But for the most part as has been said, it's FAR easier to fake martial arts in the movies than it is to fake acting. Ever see the movie "Ninja Assassin" (2009)? The main ninja character is played by a pop star with no martial arts background. Great condition, probably a natural athlete who could be great in martial arts, but never actually studied it and didn't need to for the movie.

I read this about him in that particular movie:


Unless some great martial artist who can also act comes along I don't see this trend changing. We'll probably still have bad "B" movies made by real martial artists, but not big Hollywood hits.

Wow I thought he was legit! Learn something every day. .
 

Tony Dismukes

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It says something odd about martial arts culture that any of these people (past or present) would be described as martial arts "gods." What we are talking about are movie stars. Some of them are/were very good martial artists, but the foundation of their fame is the entertainment industry. Even if you limit the discussion to those action stars who are/were top-notch martial artists, you can find thousands of equally skilled martial artists who never made it to Hollywood.

I wonder if the lionizing of these action stars is the result of martial artists dreaming that they could be the invincible superhero that the screenwriters & stunt choreographers create out of these characters on the silver screen.
 
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