Martial Arts & Movies – Episode 48
Martial Arts movies are a critical component of martial arts culture. Anyone that has trained in the martial arts for a time knows that there’s a large overlap between the people that train and the people that enjoy martial arts films. If you’ve listened to this show before you know that some of the most passionate martial artists are also huge fans of martial arts films.
Perhaps more than any other pursuit, film is woven into our culture. Martial arts school owners, in particular, know the impact that The Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other films had on encouraging society to seek out martial arts instruction.
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The Battle of Dingjunshan – 1905, first martial arts film
Bad Day at Black Rock – 1955 American film
Below, a slide show featuring moments from great martial arts movies. Can you name them all?
Martial Arts Movies
(excerpted from the episode)
The first martial arts film was made in 1905 in China and titled The Battle of Dingjunshan. Based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms it starred Tan Xinpei and was, technically, a recording of an opera performance. Unfortunately the only print was destroyed by fire in 1940.
The second oldest martial arts movie may be The Buring of the Red Lotus Temple from 1928. It, too, has failed to survive. The most interesting thing about this film is that it was 27 hours long and released in 19 installments over three years.
Of course, there have been a tremendous number of films made in the martial arts genre. It wasn’t until martial arts so-called Golden Era of the 1960s and 70s that these films started to enter the mainstream, however. On the leading edge of that in America was the 1955 film Bad Day at Black Rock, which featured the character John Macreedy, played by Spencer Tracy. During the film Macreedy uses martial arts, marking this as the first Hollywood film to do so.