Next to martial arts there is one thing I know well – movies! When you spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months lying flat on your back due to operations; you will spend a lot of time watching movies. I grew up in the 80s and 90s; so I watched some pretty exciting films with Chuck Norris, Cynthia Roth Rock, Don the Dragon Wilson, and Jean Claude Van Damm. It was during these times watching martial arts movies I got the idea that I wanted to do karate. I figured I could do what they were doing on TV.
Now let’s fast forward about 10 years. “Forget all martial arts you see in the movies. No one does that sort of thing in real life. It is all choreographed.” It is during my first month of karate class and I am sitting beside of my Sensei as he explains how Jean Claude Van Damm kick is ineffective. You know the move where he jumps into the air doing an inside to outside crescent kick. Then he lands on both feet and the camera does a close up of his face while there is a long 30 second “Hiyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”, or he is seriously constipated. My sensei even compared a few other movie martial arts techniques and went to say what you see in the movies is “-pointless, ineffective, and that it is all fake.” Duh, I knew the moves were choreographed.
During my early days of practicing and getting to know the basic moves in karate; I began watching movies in a different perspective. I remember me and best friend at the theaters watching Mission Impossible 2. We sat there scoffing at each kick and punch thrown. We looked at each other and agreed that the martials arts portrayed was “bullshit”. We would walk out of the theater all high and mighty going “well that wasn’t impressive at all.” Keep in mind; I was in my late teens. I was also of the wrong mentality that there was only one style that was effective. As teenagers we were easily influenced but as I have grown older I now appreciate other styles for what they have to offer, and appreciate that choreography is meant to be entertaining and not realistic.
After a few years I dropped this concept about the way martial arts is portrayed in movies. I know most of if not all in the movies is fake. I don’t care, I like being entertained. I soon realized that being close minded on something as trivial; I missed out. I was preventing myself from having fun; preventing myself from moving forward. Now that I am older and have kids; I love to sit around watching cheesy martial arts themed shows and movies such as the Power Rangers. My kids like the Mystic Force Power Rangers. Personally I like the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. On occasion I watch a show or movie that has good martial arts choreography (see Marco Polo on Netflix).
Thanks to an interesting discovery while my family and I were on our Memorial Day vacation I get to introduce my kids to Bruce Lee and some of the older imports from China. While we were on vacation at Lake Norman State Park in North Carolina, I found the Holy Grail of movie stores dedicated to martial arts shows and movies. KUNG FU MANIA, it is located at North Lake Mall outside Charlotte, North Carolina. This is a kiosk in the center of the mall. On one side of the kiosk was full of movies from the 60s and 70s with titles such as Fist of the White Lotus and an American classic such as the Green Hornet. The other side was full of modern day titles and featuring actors such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Donnie Yen. It also featured the latest in Japanese anime. My jaw hit the floor when I saw this place. Unfortunately I could feel the credit card breaking in half in my wallet. I think this is a good resource for teaching my kids how to keep an open mind and introduce them to new cultures.
The next time you are in Charlotte, North Carolina take a trip to the mall and check out the selection of movies. You can always send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a list or check them out on Facebook Kung Fu Mania.
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