Martial arts film

From ArticleWorld

Kung fu move
Kung fu move

One subgenre of the action film is the martial arts film. These originated in Asia but are now made around the world. They are action films but they tend to rely on hand to hand fighting styles to entertain the audience. A range of martial arts can be employed throughout the film or one style can continue from start to finish.

There are two types of actor in the martial arts films, those who are martial arts experts first and who have taken to acting because of their skills, and those who are actors but are taught and thoroughly choreographed by professionals for the fight scenes.

Martial artists

Originally martial arts films were exported from Asian countries to the West. These starred unknown actors but were often people who were widely recognised in the martial arts world.

The first genuine martial arts star was Kwan Tak-Hing, a master in the art of Tibetan White Crane. He starred in over 100 films between the 1940s and 1960s, appearing as Wong Fei-Hung in the series of films, a character who specialised in Hung Gar. He was followed by the first prolific female martial arts actor, Yu So Chow, starring in over 170 films during a similar timeframe. Perhaps the most famous martial artists who have become known in the West for their acting roles are Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.


Over recent years America has started to produce films incorporating martial arts themselves. To do this they have often employed unskilled actors and trained them to perform the martial arts manoeuvres that are required of them. Sometimes this is simply choreography and the actor never really learns the art, and sometimes they are trained and acquire a level of skill whilst making the film. The most impressive example of this is Jason Scott Lee, who had no martial arts knowledge prior to his role in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.