Where every film has awesome kick-ass fight choreography!
Remember when the Matrix first came out? A western blockbuster budget film, with actual Kung fu fight sequences and choreography? Remember how blown away we were by this rare combo! However, these days, almost every action film has some ex-Hong Kong stunt guy, mapping out its fight sequences, so much so a flying kick to the head is no longer special- but here are 3 2000s Kung fu films which I’ve watched recently. You’ll have to decide for yourself, whether or not they’re worth watching, as I have a biased opinion.
Whereas the original Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was globally praised and received oscar nominations (although to me as a 19 year old, I thought it was just another Chinese Kung fu film- nothing special right?), it launched the careers of Michelle Yeo and Zhang Ziyi- but not the same could be said for the CTHD sequel. 17 years has passed since the happenings of the first film, the character played by Chow Yun-Fat has long since passed away and his sword is now a prised possession which requires guarding from shadowy forces who desire to possess it. The storyline is as straight forward as that, while the main characters have a more complex back-story and relationships with each other. But if you’re watching this film, I can safely say that you’re not in it for its storyline, but for the action (or the promise of action). And you’ll won’t be disappointed as they’re Kung fu masters galore with Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee (Yes, that Jason Scott Lee from Dragon: The Bruce Lee story), Ju Ju Chan (from Wu Assassins), and Natasha Liu Bordizzo (an Aussie and UTS alumni!). We enjoyed it, for my wife she hadn’t seen the original CTHD before, so she didn’t have a point of comparison, and for me I enjoyed it as it was filmed originally in English and it had audio describe for non-sighted viewers! Yay!
Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior (2006)
Whereas CTHD Sword of destiny was ‘o so serious’, Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior took themselves less seriously- a Disney tele-movie (only on Disney Plus), it mashed-up American High school culture with Eastern medieval culture i.e. Shaolin warrior monks and reincarnating spirits. Wendy Wu a popular Asian American high schooler (played by Brenda Song) is just going about her business as a high school senior when a monk (played by Shin Koyamada) reincarnates to the present day, charged with the task to protect her a powerful female warrior- until she comes to terms with her duty and learns enough Shaolin Kung fu to save the world from imminent destruction. The preface sounds silly, however it’s a Disney film so it was light-hearted, and enjoyable- with great Kung fu fight sequences as Shin is a renowned and celebrated martial artist, while Brenda has a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do! High-kick high!
Marco Polo (2014)
We had started and watched 4 episodes of Marco Polo when we first got Netflix back in 2015, but we gave up on it after a shocking scene depicting cruelty to children turned us right off- but curious to see how this story unfolds on the most expensive production undertaken by Netflix- 5 years on I picked up where we had left off. If you haven’t seen an episode of Marco Polo before, the scale of the production is absolutely epic! I read that they had spent 200 Million on its production, for any blockbuster film that would have been a generous undertaking! But for a TV series! I guess a period drama does that to your Bottomline, when each extra needed to be kitted out to resemble a Mongol from the 13th century. Marco Polo tells of the tale of Venetian merchant Marco Polo who lived with the Mongols in the height of their dynasties’ powers, where they ruled much of the East- Marco the round-eye who won the interest of Kublai Khan and is invited to be a part of his court, a first-hand witness and scribe of the goings on inside the royal Mongol tent. The series is both fascinating and disturbing, as we watch a culture which we practically know nothing of, while being shocked by the culture’s barbarity. While back in 2015 we were taken-a-back by the amount of gratuitous nudity (on par with Game of Thrones), but now knowing what we do know in the 2020s,, it’s no great surprise to find out that Marco Polo is a Weinstein production (which will turn off many viewers). *Shudders*. But again, the Kung fu action was cool, led by 100 eyes- a blind monk who seems to get around just fine without sight. And throw in a female assassin, wicked sword plays and the round-eye giving it a go with his own attempts at Kung fu, all in all a not too bad watch.
So if you’re into Martial arts as well, give these shows a go- they were entertaining enough!