Martial arts and kung fu movies are so commonplace nowadays that it is easy to forget that they were ever a novelty at all. However, the genre has evolved quite a bit over time. But, throughout these changes, the basic attraction of these action movies has remained the same. Fans love the fast-paced action and intricate forms of combat on display.
One of the earliest martial arts and kung fu movies was the Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery, a silent film. This 27-hour-long saga was inspired by a serial that appeared in a newspaper. A series of motion pictures was released. In spite of its length, it was popular in its day.
One thing that pops into people’s minds when they think of this genre is the tendency to include large fight scenes. These can include dozens of people, including extras, trained martial artists and other actors. To do this well, though, many cameras are required. Of course, now, computer-generated images can cut down on the number of people needed to fill out a scene.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, though, that the genre began to spread to a broader audience. A lot of this had to do with the actor and martial artist Bruce Lee. His films in Hong Kong took the industry by storm and found an audience in the West as well. Also, through making these movies, he inspired future generations of actors.
The popularity of Lee’s films extended to North America and Europe. Sometimes, performers from other countries would appear in important scenes, thereby making a name for themselves. This created another tier of famous actors and prompted more people to train in the martial arts.
Names like Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme came to prominence during this time. They used their skills to put on a show in Hollywood films that reached massive audiences. This breathed new life into the genre and gave it a different flavor. Hollywood used some of the typical elements of the genre and mixed them with new plots in a variety of locations.
Recent years have seen some of the film production move back to the East. Megastars like Jackie Chan continue to draw crowds around the world, no matter where their films are made. Mainland China has been the source of some blockbuster movies of high quality. Even smaller markets have jumped into the game. Thailand’s Tony Jaa has had success with some recent films and many people expect more from him later.
Fashion and aesthetics change over time, which has a lot to do with how popular martial arts and kung fu movies at any given time. But behind the fluctuations in popularity, these films have something inherent in them that always strikes a chord with viewers from many different backgrounds. Whatever this something is, it ensures that fans will not have to worry about finding new motion pictures to watch, year in and year out.
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