Everything you wanted to know about Kung Fu in film presented in brisk but detailed fashion is presented in the new documentary Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie. From the onset of Kung Fu and its Peking Opera origins right through to modern day influences, Films of Fury leaves no Bruce Lee unturned in this highly enjoyable and informative walk through film history.
Narrated by Yuri Lowenthal, Films of Fury has ribbons of animation connecting countless clips from early Kung Fu films leading all the way to the influence on the animated film, Kung Fu Panda in 2010. Directors Andrew Corvey and Andrew W. Robinson have definitely dug their noses into the film archives and provide countless film clips to help relay their obsession.
The retrospective flows fluently through the early days of Kung Fu in film, through Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan right through Steven Segal and the kung fu scenes of the Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix. Even the most fervent of kung fu film supporters will likely learn a few interesting tidbits of information (did you know that Jackie Chan appeared with Bruce Lee twice on film?) and those not interested in the dated and badly dubbed films of the 1970’s such as The Five Deadly Venoms or Drunken Master may still find relevant points of interest when the film explores more mainstream American films such as The Karate Kid or Rush Hour.
Corvey and Robinson go one step further and have segments focusing on special effects in kung fu films and the ‘Gun Fu’ films made popular by John Woo (if you haven’t seen Hard Boiled, do yourself a favor..). Jet Li and Stephen Chow get some much appreciative love and the directing duo even take time to explore the women of Kung Fu in movies and action films made in America that you may not think are martial arts films but pay respects to some of the classics in the genre (ex. Tango & Cash).
At only 80-minutes, there is a lot packed into the hour and twenty minute film reels, but nothing seems forced or ultimately omitted in the presented research.
Fists of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie makes the fourth documentary about a particular film genre we have screened in the past 15 months after Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Oxpoitation!, Machete Maidens Unleashed!, American Grindhouse and The Sci-Fi Boys. And Fists of Fury is just as detailed and involved in their topic as their peers.
Kung Fu movies may not be my favorite pastime, but Fists of Fury did at least educate me to a point of leaving my screening with more respect for a genre that is too easily dismissed thanks to poor English dubbing or high wire antics that make the characters defy gravity. I was thankful for the lesson and the walk down Movielane and I know have some scribbled titles that I have to research or search out as a result.