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Lionclaw

Why are Hollywood martial arts movies so bad?

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I am curious to hear everyones opinions on why Hollywood just can't seem to get it right. Back then on the late 80s and early to mid 90s there were many good american martials arts movies. So, what happened? They got the money, they got the connections, they got the resourses, they even bring well known martial artists and cheorographers. If thats the case how come most Hollywood martial arts movies are just not good. Whats stopping artists like Donnie Yen to suck in the US but kills all competion in Asia? Same thing for people like Woo Ping and Corey Yeun. Any answers?

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Hollywood does not allow creative freedom when making these films. Look how long it took Jackie Chan to sell his previous work and make films here in the US. Even at that Hollywood sliced and diced his film from original sound effects all the way down to the original sound tracks? On another note, I think these films are not appreciated by American audiences. :S

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There was another thread in the 1928-1985 section discussing what made the classic era films so much more enduring than latter day efforts and whilst this thread relates to Hollywood movies there are still similar reasons, such as there just dosent seem to be the mix of Opera School grads and talented screen fighters (martial artists or otherwise) who can do 10+ movements in a take like there used to be. Talented action directors ca only do so much! Goes to show that modern technology and fancy editing in itself is not enough to produce films with enduring quality. Add to that creative restrictions, script changes and dumbing down (such as some of those poor dubs) and its not hard to see why the films are not all that good

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Guest Markgway

Let's be honest though... Hong Kong produced a lot of shitty action movies at the same time the "classics" were coming out... Not every action film was Jackie or Sammo it's fair to say. In many cases the only thing these HK films had going for them was the choreography and in terms of script and acting (as well as technical credits) the US had them beaten hands down (hard believe at times, I know). Is Kickboxer a worse film than anything starring Yukari Oshima - be honest?? Just think it's worth taking the rose-tinted specs off for a change.

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Why do Hollywood movies suck in general any more??

I was taking a look at IMDB, and they had a list of upcoming movies. I think 1 out of 10 was something original, instead of a sequel, prequel, remake, or something based on a licensed property...

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"Why are Hollywood martial arts movies so bad? " Pretty simple really, martial arts originated in Asia. It's just natural that they would make better movies of this type.

Your typical Hollywood actor is a robot, he just does/says what he's told to do. He generally doesn't really have an outstanding talent to speak of. That's what makes say, the Venom crew stand out so much in terms of action movies-they can really do it. Plus, you got a bunch guys fighting with weapons at once, doing these intricate moves-forget it. Nobody even tries to do that stuff anymore.

These guys were astoundingly talented. No amount of budget,sets,trickery can match raw phyical talent when you're talking kung fu films. That's why there's so few even decent North American movies.

Now you take the combination of raw talent and mix it with great directors,lavish sets choreographers,great costumes...well you can see the result. The Shaw Bros just did it better plain and simple.

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Why are Hollywood martial arts movies so bad?

I agreee with Mark, in most cases its simply the HK choreography thats stands out. Why are most westerns not made in the States so bad?

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I am curious to hear everyones opinions on why Hollywood just can't seem to get it right. Back then on the late 80s and early to mid 90s there were many good american martials arts movies. So, what happened? They got the money, they got the connections, they got the resourses, they even bring well known martial artists and cheorographers. If thats the case how come most Hollywood martial arts movies are just not good. Whats stopping artists like Donnie Yen to suck in the US but kills all competion in Asia? Same thing for people like Woo Ping and Corey Yeun. Any answers?

I always felt the biggest obstacle facing Hollywood was - as Mark alluded to - their complete lack of understanding as to what makes a good fight scene work.

They ALWAYS seem to go about it in a half-assed way.

They get the first part right by getting someone like Yuen Woo Ping or Corey Yuen to design the fights but then they proceed to ruin everything by taking away THE most important element/ingrediant from these guys that go into making everything complete...

And that's full, 100% control over the CAMERA SET UP during filming and then the EDITING of what they filmed!

Seriously, what's the point of getting these masters to design these fight scenes when they just turn around and get the DP or director to take charge of the filming/editing everything.

Completely defeats the whole purpose of getting these guys in the first place and explains (to me anyway) why Hollywood has never gotten it right.

(with MAYBE the exception of "Drive"((?)) w/Kadeem Hardison)

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A very good point about the lack of acting\scripting\continuity in many martial arts films. Its easy to forget there are tons of films that sit the in the could have been classics category but for this.

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Every major film industry around the world produces its fair share of great films and downright piss-poor films.

In terms of martial arts movies produced in Hollywood, they are not the best for fights or real time dangerous stunts, but I still like to watch them.

The reason filmstars like Jackie Chan cannot do what he wants for action pieces is because of one word: INSURANCE. Insurance companies will not insure anything they deem would cause them to pay out lots of money, and in america you need insurance to do anything

Also remember that these massive movie companies bankrolling these films want to make money, that is their priority. So they need to put out something which would attract the widest audience, that means cater to mainstream interests.

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I think the problem is because Hollywood never really took the martial arts films seriously. Look at how many of them in the 80s were directed and written by Robert Clouse!

Too often the martial arts films were delegated to low rent hack writers and directors, with awful lead actors. Also, the martial arts elements was often wartered down at the expense of fantasy, hip-hop etc. Even the Rush Hour films have Jackie Chan secondary to Chris Tucker

If Hollywood had commissioned a martial arts film and trusted it to, say, Martin Campbell to direct, and cast a good actor, and had a decent revenge script, it'd work fine I'd think. But too often they just want to make cheap expoloitation pictures. Which is fine, except they, and now the Hong Kong filmmakers, have forgotten how to make them fun

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Take a look at the US Ninja films, I think they sold the "word" Ninja more than making a movie on what a Ninja actually was, that being said back in the 80's you kinda took what you got on tv, after black belt theater you'd be lucky if you had a video store with some old Jackie Chan movies if you didn't live by a Chinatown.

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Some interesting points raised, the ones I kind of agree with are the ones about hiring a top class HK action director and then letting someone else set up the cameras and edit the fight scenes, thats just crazy. Insurance was also mentioned, you cannot in a million years get away with the stuff they did in HK in the US because insurance companies won't allow the stars to put themselves in any kind of danger. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the actors guild in the US prevent a stuntman from acting in the movie? (this could be for insurance purposes too?) Imagine all those kung fu films without the stunt guys being able to act in the supporting roles

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It's also a cultural thing. Martial arts were a very fundamental aspect of Hong Kong and Formosa/Taiwanese entertainment culture for over a century. There were over 70 Huang Fei Hung movies before KING BOXER was exported! SO they've always known how to film it and use it in movies. In America, martial arts are a gimmick and have little to no cultural relevance. ENTER THE DRAGON owes more to 007 and Terry & the Pirates than Chinese culture. In Norris or Seagal's movie, its just a heroes weapon, like Dirty Harry's magnum or James Bond's gadgets. The only director in the US who "gets it" is Isaac Florentine, a karate black belt from Israel. Give him a real budget and see what he can do.

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Good points everyone! I understand that every industry has there fair share of good and bad movies but it seems like hollywood gets it wrong way more than they get the martials arts movies right. Just look at how the legend of chun li turned out! You would think they would study the way hk makes their martial arts movie and get it by now.

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It's also a cultural thing. Martial arts were a very fundamental aspect of Hong Kong and Formosa/Taiwanese entertainment culture for over a century. There were over 70 Huang Fei Hung movies before KING BOXER was exported! SO they've always known how to film it and use it in movies. In America, martial arts are a gimmick and have little to no cultural relevance.

I agree

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Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the actors guild in the US prevent a stuntman from acting in the movie? (this could be for insurance purposes too?) Imagine all those kung fu films without the stunt guys being able to act in the supporting roles

Could be, In my opinion it's so that stuntmen do not take roles that "actors" should have, to keep the two things separate. They probably think stuntment do not have proper acting training and thus should not take their roles.

who knows lol

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Hollywood is all about rushing through faking there representation of any films they are responsible for releasing. Martial arts or not. They treat viewers as though they are lacking in intelligence but overly concerned with image for image sake alone. There are a few exceptions now and then, but the majority of their releass seem to hinge on this concept, it's all about image.

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the insurance factor was raised but the other big one is unions. HK style action direction can't happen because some union member might get his toes stepped on and he will file a complaint. :quiet: in the US every aspect of film making has a union.

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Some interesting points raised, the ones I kind of agree with are the ones about hiring a top class HK action director and then letting someone else set up the cameras and edit the fight scenes, thats just crazy. Insurance was also mentioned, you cannot in a million years get away with the stuff they did in HK in the US because insurance companies won't allow the stars to put themselves in any kind of danger. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the actors guild in the US prevent a stuntman from acting in the movie? (this could be for insurance purposes too?) Imagine all those kung fu films without the stunt guys being able to act in the supporting roles

I don't think HK action is enough to save a film. The Musketeer is a prime example. You need an all round quality production

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lots of good points have been made already. A couple others to point would be the factor of time. for example, I believe Jackie Chan said he spent about a month on the finale alone of Drunken Master II, while he had maybe 1 or 2 days to work on a fight scene in Rush Hour for example. another thing is that Hollywood simply doesn't seem to respect martial arts/action films, therefore they don't take them seriously. a book I'd recommend, although I'm just at the beginning of it, is Fight Choreography: The Art of Non-Verbal Dialogue, by John Kreng. he makes several good points in the first chapter alone, also about how we'll likely never see stuntwork or action direction of any kind ever acknowledged at the Academy Awards, even though they give out awards for best special effects etc., while good on-screen fighting and choreography takes far more talent, and is much closer to acting than any kind of cgi.

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Hollywood are just starting to catch on now, for good fight sequences and stuff like that you need to get the best ie yuen woo ping, lau kar leung, etc.

plus hollywood have stuntman unions, if these unions saw what had to be done for certain thing helllllllllll noooooooo they wouldn't be having none of that. So burn hollywood burn.

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