The martial arts drought is temporarily over, and the art of kung fu is once again playing a central role in two destined blockbusters this year.
First of all there is of course the highly anticipated Forbidden Kingdom which features the two top contemporary martial arts heroes in the world, Jet Li and Jacky Chan. Watching Chan and Li locked in battle is a dream come true for three decades of martial arts fans. There have long been debates over who would win, with many saying it would depend on the circumstances and setting of the fight. The possibilities are endless, but the fight between them in this film was a wonderful balance of elegance and skill, power and fluidity, and the two heroes take turns pwning each other as audiences struggle over who to root for.
On a lighter note, we have Kung Fu Panda which is coming out in early June. This cg masterpiece has a star-studded cast of voices. Just to name a few, Jack Black plays the questionable Panda ‘chosen one,’ Lucy Liu is the double edged Viper, and Angelina Jolie brings her sultry yet powerful vocals to Tigress. To top it all off, Jackie Chan is the friendly prankster Monkey.
Both films do a great job of highlighting different styles of kung fu, especially in terms of the animal fighting styles. They’re definitely a far cry from the awkward fighting stances of Disney’s Mulan or the overly flighty and fanciful encounters of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that did so well here in the states. Further the backdrops are full of stunning Chinese aesthetics that would be eye candy worth going to the theater for in and of themselves.
Conclusion? Hollywood’s been improving their kung fu.