Horror Fu: 1990s

by Michael Lauck on October 15, 2012 · 2 comments in Buddhist Blog

In our third installment on the intersection of kung fu flicks and horror movies we are ready to look at the ’90s. Ahhh…. the ’90s: Vanilla Ice, OJ, Titanic. Dude, the ’90s sucked. Well, they might not have been all bad. Jackie finally broke through as an action star in the US, John Woo brought Hong Kong action to the world and Chuck and Sammo both rocked primetime television shows. It could have been worse, I guess.

When it comes to martial arts horror, though, it does kind of suck. Sure, you have Spooky Encounters II and the Chinese live action adaption of Wicked City with Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai and Yuen Woo-Ping. Other than that you have a handful of Chinese Ghost Story sequels and rip-offs which frankly just are not scary in the least. The 1990s saw a huge amount of Tsui Hark kung fu fantasies, many of which sport a demon or evil wizard, but no real horror…. at least not like Black Magic or Human Lanterns. Japan doesn’t offer much either. This is the decade that really saw Japanese horror break out in many ways, Audition, Ringu and Gemini all hit the theaters at this time. By and large, though, they are strictly horror films with little in the way of martial arts. Tokyo Fist, a strange boxing film that is often called a horror movie, is probably the closest live action martial arts horror picture I can think of form Japan in the ’90s. I say live action because in the animated realm there is a bit more of a cross-over (such as Yu Yu Hakusho, about a street tough guy turned “detective” for spirit realm incursions into the land of the living) but that really isn’t our focus!

Luckily, the US finally steps up to the plate with a pair of martial arts horror films. First up Chuck Norris steps up and fights the champion of the Devil in Hellbound. That’s right, who is going to save the world from being ruled by the forces of Hell? Chuck Norris, that’s who! It might sound like it is the Chuck Norris version of Schwarzenegger’s End of Days but it came first by about 5 years! The ultimate martial arts horror flick of the 1990s would come in 1998 in one of the best adaptions of a Marvel Comic property ever (at least for my money): Blade.

Blade has everything that you could possibly want in a martial arts horror movie: vampires, sword fights, soundtrack by RZA and a lead actor with some real martial arts talent! Wesley Snipes is probably one of the best martial artists in Hollywood and he brings his skills to the screen with his use of the dynamic art of capoeira. It is an art that is perfect for the movies and is not seen nearly enough. If you are looking for a little martial arts to put a kick in your Halloween viewing, you can’t do much better than Blade.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MIchael L October 18, 2012

You’re jumping the gun! The Blade sequels didn’t come out in the ’90s… so rest assured, they will be mentioned. I actually like them both (the TV show, though, not so much).

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Leung Tsan October 17, 2012

wooord, very well written….. personally I loved Blade II…. there was the most terrific and powerful vampire in there as the bad guy, and it was pretty impressive…. and in the cast there was also Donnie Yen playing a vampire teaming up with Blade hehe….
Now I really would like to watch it again…

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