I’ve always loved martial arts flicks. The problem is, these days they tend to use CGI and/or wire-work to enhance the wild and crazy stunts they portray. While I can enjoy a CGI or wire-work movie if that’s what I’m in the mood for, when I want to watch a martial arts flick it’s generally because I want to see just what the human body can do when it’s properly trained and pushed to its limits. CGI could turn anyone into a martial arts madman on screen—I want to be amazed by what someone can REALLY do.
Recently my husband and I started visiting some friends in Virginia for occasional movie nights, and it turns out that they’re huge martial arts fiends. They introduced us to some Thai movies, and we’re completely and utterly hooked. Our two favorites so far are Ong-Bak and Born to Fight. As expected the plot is flimsy and largely there to provide an excuse for the fight scenes, but that’s to be expected. Thai martial arts are amazing to watch, and the man who produced both of these films apparently feels that the way in which Thai films can distinguish themselves, since they don’t have the resources of Hollywood or Hong Kong, is through their death-defying stunts and unique forms of martial arts. Boy howdy is he right. These are incredibly visceral movies, and if you watch the ‘making of’ specials on the Born to Fight DVD you’ll see at least one stunt that came entirely too close to killing a stunt man.
Ong-Bak is particularly amazing for its chase scenes and its long fights involving Thai martial arts. Born to Fight takes a bunch of professional athletes (seriously: they used real professional athletes instead of actors) so that they could do jaw-dropping stunts and fight scenes that mixed athletics and martial arts. It’s every bit as good as watching an old-style Jackie Chan-style scene using props to their fullest. I can’t wait to see The Protector next.