kung fu

Why are kung fu movies more popular than films based on other martial arts?

THERE’S Jet Li and there’s Jackie Chan; one does serious cinema, the other does comedy. And when both of them come together, it’s sure to make kung fu flick fans happy. Which is what happened when both came together on-screen for the first time in The Forbidden Kingdom. Though Kingdom’s not in theatres anymore, there are other kung fu movies out this month — Kung Fu Panda and The Mummy 3, which has Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. But there no movies based on other martial arts — karate, jujitsu and judo, for instance — that have been made lately.

“That’s because karate is a more rigid martial art, while kung fu is more fluid,” says RJ Anjaan, who’s studied both art forms. “While karate relies more on inner strength, kung fu stresses on transferring power between opponents using props. So it makes more shooting sense,” he says.

Kung fu movies are more entertaining, says creative consultant Vishal S. “Jackie Chan movies are especially fun. But the ones with Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal aren’t that great,” he says. But kung fu isn’t only about Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat. “There’s Tony Jaa, who’s done a Thai martial arts movie called Ong Bak. I like him because he doesn’t use cables for his stunts,” explains ad filmmaker Sandeep Menon.

Filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, however, isn’t much of a martial arts movie buff. “The last kung fu movie I watched was Enter the Dragon. Bruce Lee was amazing and it was path-breaking then. Crouching Tiger... was good, but Ang Lee’s made better Chinese movies,” she says. She will watch Kung Fu Panda, though, because of her daughter.

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