By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Former World Karate Champion (1981-1985) Cynthia Rothrock certainly loves the martial arts movies from the 70’s and 80’s, and in the documentary, Fists of Fury, I’m believe she hand-picked all the forgotten B-grade classics. I recall seeing a few of these on the big screen!
Of those which I have not seen, after seeing this extensive reel of trailers and montage presentations, I’m tempted to seek them out. Thankfully, YouTube is my friend because The Lucky Seven (1986) can be found. This movie came out a year after The Goonies and I’m betting the filmmakers were inspired by Spielberg’s film. Sho Kosugi’s movies, to which Revenge of the Ninja is featured, defined part of my childhood love for the genre. This product is filled with plenty of nostalgic laughs. It will become available online Jan 20 on FullMoonStreaming.com and their Amazon channel, along with a physical copy.
This product divides the various films into specific themes or aspects in why martial arts is loved. Rothrock does a great job in explaining what Hollywood was after, to find the next Bruce Lee. After his death, studios wanted an individual who looked just like Lee but in terms of charisma, none could match what he can do. I particularly enjoyed this segment and did not know that Lik Cheung and Bruce Li tried to keep interest in the Oriental fighting arts alive in America. After the martial arts legend’s passing, I did not always look for new imports as not every film arrived in my city or video rental shelves to see.
The other sections are not as explanatory in an academic sense since it became more focused on showing as much martial arts action as possible. With one strong segment, the rest did not match the teaching Sensei Rothrock was offering. I did get a kick about the challenges of fighting prowess versus the gun. In the back of my mind, I wondered how this concept can be expanded upon since I was comically reminded of the famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene where Indy simply shot down the Arab sword master. Her enthusiasm is very evident, but I was left yearning for more. Perhaps a bigger product is in the works where a compendium collection might get offered if negotiations for re-release of these old movies are possible. To study the art (be it combat skill or this genre) and achieving a high level of knowledge is one thing, but to know all is always an ongoing process.
When Asian cinema is rich with lots of martial arts movies spanning decades since its inception, I’m sure a Fists of Fury 2 is being considered. In the meantime, I have to seek out Peter Cushing’s Shatter (1974) and The Crippled Masters (1979) to keep me sated.
3½ Kung-Pows out of 5