Jackie Chan: A Master With Props

I’ve saved my favorite martial artist, Jackie Chan, for my last post in my martial arts series. Jackie Chan is brilliant at Kung Fu, but he is a master at turning ordinary, everyday objects into weapons.

The bo staff is one of the best weapons to learn because, when you are in a fight, almost anything can be turned into a bo staff. Chan proves this point in the marketplace scene in Shanghai Knights. At one point, Chan grabs an umbrella and uses it as a bo staff, quickly dispensing with the bad guys. He also manages to throw in a tribute to Gene Kelly when he opens the umbrella and dances along some crates, which I think is cool. Chan somehow manages to finish off the bad guys in the process.

While that is a great fight scene and one of Chan’s best, my favorite fight scenes are from The Spy Next Door. In one scene, Chan turns a bicycle into the ultimate weapon. He does some great spinning and sliding maneuvers with it, which not only look great on camera, but take out three bad guys.

In the kitchen scene, Chan uses a pot of spaghetti, dishes, and pans as weapons. I’ve watched this scene at least one hundred times and still can’t believe how fast he is with those pans in his hands. By the way, one of the pans is a frying pan. I’ve said in the past that a frying pan makes a great weapon.

The Spy Next Door is a family movie, but I recommend it just for the fight scenes alone.

Jackie Chan announced last year that he was retiring from action movies. With three movies coming out in the next year and the possibility of Rush Hour 4 in the future, it appears that he’s not retiring after all, which means we’re in for more great fight scenes from Jackie Chan.

What do you think of Jackie Chan? Do you have a favorite martial artist?

Angelina Jolie Isn’t Afraid to Use Her Head

Angelina Jolie may not be the first actress you think of when you think martial arts. However, I’ve said a number of times that if I was making an action movie and needed a female lead, she’d be my first choice.

Are her moves textbook perfect? No. But what she lacks in finesse, she makes up for with brute force. She reminds me more of a street fighter. Her fight scenes always include a lot of shoving and punching. She knows how to block accurately and her kicks are okay. Though she did one hell of a spider kick when she took out Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) in Salt.

So why am I writing a post about Angelina Jolie? Because she has one signature move that I think is often ignored – the headbutt. That’s right. Jolie isn’t afraid to use her head in a fight. Breaking a hold is not easy. Usually, holds are broken by spreading yours hands wide open, which gives you more room in the wrist area, allowing you to get your hands free as you push back with your hips. But, in her movies, Jolie will often break a hold with a headbutt, showing what a great self-defense move it can be if you can’t escape a hold.

I admit I don’t practice headbutting. I’d have a terrible headache if I did. Jolie makes it look easy, but your head will hurt as much as your opponent’s. Despite the possible pain, it’s still an effective move to keep in mind if your desperate to get out of a hold.

Let me know what you think of Angelina Jolie and her fighting skills.

Maggie Q Has Lethal Martial Arts Moves

Maggie Q stars in the CW’s underrated, Nikita. What I find fascinating about Maggie Q is that she didn’t grow up doing martial arts, but she’s so good at it. She was actually discovered by Jackie Chan and trained by his team. Since then, she’s gone on to do a number of action films in the United States and Asia, including Live Free and Die Hard.

I’ve noticed that there are common elements in her fight scenes. I don’t know if it’s because she favors those particular moves or because the choreographers happen to stick them in, knowing they are her best moves. But whether it’s a fight scene in Nikita or one of the many action movies she’s made, you’ll notice she’ll always throw an elbow strike and often it’s the first move. At some point in the scene, she’ll do an out block with a grab and incapacitate an arm. I happen to think that’s her best move, but her back hook and crescent kicks are pretty good too.

As a woman who started doing Tae Kwon Do as an adult, I can appreciate what Maggie Q has accomplished since training with Jackie Chan and company. She is an inspiration for women, especially those of us who do martial arts.

Sadly, Nikita will end next season. But that does not mean the end for Maggie Q. She is set to star as Tori in the much-anticipated 2014 release, Divergent.

If you have a favorite actress who does martial arts, feel free to leave a comment.

Jet Li: A Combination of Speed and Power

I remember when I first saw Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4. I had never seen anything like him. His speed was incredible. One would think he would lose some of the technique with his speed. But that’s what makes Jet Li so good. He doesn’t lose any of the technique. Even with the speed, his movements are crisp and powerful.

In the final fight scene in Lethal Weapon 4, Jet Li as Wah Sing Ku takes on Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtagh (Danny Glover). He is so fast that his movements are a blur. At one point, his leg comes up over his back and kicks Riggs in the face. It happens so fast that if you blink, you’ll miss it and most of his moves are like that.

In the end, Riggs kills Ku (Jet Li) with an AK47 after they fall into the water. Because it’s a movie and Jet Li played the bad guy, the fight had to end that way. However, in a real fight, my money would be on Jet Li. I don’t think Riggs and Murtagh would even stand a chance.

With age, Jet Li hasn’t lost any of his speed. We don’t see much of him in the The Expendables 2, but he has one of the best fight scenes in that movie. The fight scene takes place in a kitchen and my favorite part is when Li picks up two frying pans and uses them to block and hit. Frying pans are great weapons. Even Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled used one. 🙂

Seriously, though, even if The Expendables 2 isn’t your kind of movie, Google this scene and watch it. You’ll be amazed at what Jet Li can do in a kitchen.

With The Expendables 3 set for release next year, nothing seems to be slowing Jet Li down.

Tom Cruise Has “All the Right Moves”

Usually, I write about television shows. However, after watching the recent Mission Impossible marathon, I thought I would take a break and do a series on celebrities and martial arts. Why you might ask? I can relate to martial arts. I’m a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I’m training for my second degree, which if everything goes as planned, I should get next year.

With each post over the coming weeks, I will focus on one particular celebrity. This time, I’ve picked Tom Cruise. Over the years, Cruise has proven that he knows a thing or two about martial arts.

I realize his fight scenes are choreographed, but even with choreography, you have to be able to do a proper roundhouse or back kick–one of Cruise’s best moves. Cruise showed off a lot of his martial arts skills in the four Mission Impossible movies. In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, we saw Cruise’s Jiu Jitsu moves. The fight scene in the parking garage is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Cruise’s hand technique is right on. To be successful at any martial arts move, you must have snap otherwise there’s no power behind the move whether it’s a block, punch, or kick. Cruise shows that he has plenty of snap in his moves.

While I enjoyed that fight scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, I thought Cruise really shined in my favorite scene from Jack Reacher. Surrounded by a bunch of thugs, Cruise as Reacher says, “Remember, you wanted this.” He then proceeds to take three of the guys out with his sharp and accurate moves and two others run off. That’s exactly how I take out the bad guys in my dreams. 🙂

It’s rumored that Cruise will be starring in Mission Impossible 5. With the success of the previous movies, I’ve no doubt that it will be another blockbuster and that Cruise, who is now in his fifties, will pull off another stellar fight scene.