Legend of the Drunken Master/ Drunken Master 2
Still my favorite Jackie Chan movie. Many of his films are geared towards stunts and using the environment to fight—Legend of the Drunken Master/ Drunken Master 2 is all about kicking ass and doing it while drunk—what could be better? Jackie Chan is an artist with a fist, you just don’t get to see it much, especially now as…well he is gettin’ up there in age!
Drunken Master 2 was Jackie at his best. Using a style of Kung Fu, called Drunken Boxing, in which the fighter mimics the moves of a drunkard during combat. From the opening fight scene underneath a train, that is so damn fast I discover something new every time I watch it. To the best final fight in any movie I’ve ever witnessed.
The final scene is just a great showcase of sustained Martial Arts between two very well trained athletes. The movie does play up some more fanciful aspects, such as Jackie having to be intoxicated in order to win, but it does spice things up—it is a Jackie Chan movie after all, so it’s always going to have a lighter side to it. Still the ending is more about Tae Kwon Do versus Drunken Kung-Fu, it’s just kicks and punches being thrown. The stunts are still there; Jackie actually crawls threw flaming charcoal at one point. It’s about the fight scenes though, and Drunken Master 2 is one of the best.
Brutal. So brutal. Every hit is a bone-crunching devastator in Ong Bak. It looks real! Every knee and elbow Tony Jaa throws has such force to it. It looks like he’s actually beating the crap out of people. It’s such a visceral fighting movie to watch. Ong Bak showcases a unique style of Kickboxing in which Jaa strikes with both his legs and arms at the same time; diving at people and slamming his knees and elbows right into someone is so animalistic.
There are numerous fight scenes in a club in which Jaa has to match against different styles, besting all of them with his furious and traumatizing punches and kicks. It’s a hard-hitting movie, and the final scenes of the film actually have some cringe worthy moments of sheer violence. It’s hardcore and fantastic, a real Martial Arts feast for the eyes. The sequels aren’t so hot, but the original is one of the best Action movies out there.
5 Deadly Venoms
Honestly the concept for this movie is better than the film itself, as it really doesn’t have that many fight scenes to speak of. The movie opens with a dying master telling his last student about each previous person he’s taught—each having his own unique style. I mentioned the concept is why I enjoy this film, and the intro, in which we are shown each of the 5 Deadly Venom’s is what makes it interesting. The student must track down each practitioner of the Deadly Venom styles: Centipede, Scorpion, Lizard, Toad, and Snake.
It’s a Martial Arts film from the 70s so a lot of the fights are slower and the choreography isn’t very complex; it’s also got that corny dialogue that only comes from very bad translations to English. Yet I’ve always liked corny Kung Fu movies, and Five Deadly Venoms is right there with the One Armed Boxer and Master of the Flying Guillotine. Not a great movie from top to bottom, but it has it’s moments…. plus the Wu-Tang Clan took a lot of influence from this film so the quotes are awesome for Wu-Tang fans wondering where they came from in the first place.
Zatoichi Blind Samurai
I’m not actually going to be specific with this one, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Zatoichi films…older ones starring Sintaro Katsu mostly. There are so many films from the 60s all the way to the 80s so there’s a lot to choose from. Most of the films just feature Zatoichi—a blind nomad samurai—traveling from village to village helping the underprivileged from thugs and otherwise nefarious characters…but he really just kills a lot of people! Slicing people with the hidden sword in his walking staff.
Zatoichi, Darkness Is His Ally (made in 1989) might be my favorite because it’s really just more bloody and savage than its predecessors. The final scene having Zatoichi just stumbling around killing every person he finds; even killing a guy while he’s trying to take a piss---mean, but that’s what he does. Zatoichi isn’t really a Kung Fu series, but it’s close enough. Seeing these films may make you distrust blind people with walking canes. Turn your back on them and you might find yourself without a head!