Sunday, August 28, 2011

5 Coolest Martial Arts In Non-Martial Arts Movies

Alright, so you're probably wondering how can you call it a non-martial arts movie if there's martial arts in it? And my answer would be, can you call a jelly doughnut a jelly doughnut if there's no jelly in it? Oh wait, maybe I'm not making sense right there either. Perhaps an excerpt of a previous entry could help clarify it?
"Martial arts movies are really about an alternate universe where authority figures doesn't seem to exist, and regardless of the nature of dispute, everything can be solved by the good ol' street justice. Whoever can kick ass in ways cooler than the opponent (usually the protagonist) wins, and they can rest assured that there will be no repercussions whatsoever."
- From Favourites #5 (March 22nd, 2011)
So in essence what I was saying up there, martial arts movies will do everything in their power to ensure that there will be frequent opportunities for our martial artists to flaunt their skills, even going as far as writing the story around fight sequences.

A formula raped many times over by Thai action films...
So you see, right there you can already tell there's a difference between, say... Tom-Yum-Goong [2005] and Mr. & Mrs. Smith [2005]? They both feature martial arts, but in the case of the latter, it was only a byproduct of the movie, where the reasons for having the fight scenes were well justified.

Now that we've established that, let's move on with what I think are some of the coolest Martial arts in non-Martial art movies. However, please note that some of the disciplines named here are based on my own observations and a few internet searches. I don't expect some of them to be spot on, because film-makers tend to go for what shows up better and flashier on camera, so they might have taken some artistic liberties.

Anyway, here's my list.

#5 Sherlock Holmes

Discipline(s): Bartitsu (spelled as Baritsu in the stories)
No speculation needed here, because it was explicitly mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories that he was a master of Bartitsu. While the origin of it can be traced all the way to Japan, this form of martial art was really developed in England by Edward William Barton-Wright, and it was dubbed as the Martial Art of Gentlemen.

It is actually rather complete as far as martial arts go because while martial arts like Muay Thai place heavy emphasis on striking, Bartitsu here comprise of other elements like striking, takedowns and fighting with a weapon. Although it didn't prove to be as enduring as the former, it is said that there has been a renewed interest in Bartitsu from as far back as 2002.

#4 Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace

Discipline(s): Close Quarter Combat (CQC), Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Eskrima
Okay, this one I had to speculate just a little bit, although I know that it's highly unlikely that James Bond would be trained in any particular form of traditional martial arts. He belongs to a paramilitary organisation so chances are he's a practitioner of CQC. Now CQC isn't a martial art per se, it's more of a fighting system. Oh yes, there is a difference. It's less about self-defence and more about killing your opponents before they kill you.

Eskrima, in case you're not familiar, is a martial art of Filipino origin. Eskrima mostly forgo unarmed combat in favour of fighting with sticks, knives and various other improvised weapons. So if you clicked on that link up there, you could see how James Bond implemented this. Daniel Craig really made it look good.

#3 Batman Begins & The Dark Knight

Discipline(s): Keysi Fighting Method (KFM)
I didn't need to speculate on this either because they specifically mentioned this aspect in The Making of featurette of this movie. I must admit that the first time I saw Batman Begins I kind of took it for granted. Upon second viewing, however, I paid attention to his fighting style and it was brutal! Not to mention it was a hell of an improvement to the days when Batman simply punch someone and the screen goes KAPOW!

This is probably the youngest martial art of all the ones listed here, which means it's a hybrid of other disciplines, one that is deeply rooted in Bruce Lee's revolutionary way of looking at martial arts; Jeet Kune Do. KFM doesn't care about having any sort of distance with the opponent, instead it favours getting up close and personal with the aim of incapacitating you as fast as possible.

#2 The Jason Bourne Movies

Discipline(s): Eskrima, possibly Krav Maga as well
I bet you would agree with me if I say that the Bourne movies have some of the most exciting fight scenes ever? It's fast, it's hard hitting and it pure badass. It featured Eskrima as well, evidenced by the amount of improvised weapons Jason Bourne used. But I'm a little hesitant about that Krav Maga part, because this was the part I had to ask Mr.Google.

But from what I do know about Krav Maga, it is similar to CQC in the sense that it isn't exactly a martial art, but more of a fighting system. Kind of make sense since Jason Bourne wasn't just some dude on the streets, he was trained to be a killing machine.

#1 Taken

Discipline(s): Aikido and Eskrima
This one was a lot trickier to identify. No doubt, they choreographed it using the best moves from various martial arts, so it would show up better on camera. But I believe at the very basic there was plenty of Eskrima going on, as the character Bryan Mills used plenty of knives as well as some other improvised weapons.

The other major discipline he used, I believe looked a lot like Aikido. Note that Bryan didn't utilise that many strikes, most of his moves were about locking his opponents in certain positions before taking them down. I know that sounded a lot like several other martial arts too, so this is where I began scouring the internet for more info.

What I found left me more confused than I was in the first place. There were so many obscure martial arts being attributed to the movie, I simply said "Screw it" and went with my gut instead.

Besides, it's Liam fuckin' Neeson kicking ass, so let's not split hairs because he would top any list of this sort any day regardless of how he fights.
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