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Martial Arts Movie

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The martial arts movie is the cinematic genre mainly created in East Asia (especially Hong Kong) often being action showcases with martial-arts styles. Similar to traditional Wuxia but where most Wuxia uses more extreme Supernatural Martial Arts and High Fantasy settings, the Martial Arts Movie more often takes a more Low Fantasy with the occasional Charles Atlas Superpower and Urban Fantasy approach. They usually feature exaggerated and highly-stylized presentations of traditional fighting techniques and swordplay along with other weapons, but the action set pieces and the focus remain on characters using Good Old Fisticuffs, displays of Martial Arts and Crafts and/or being a Improbable Weapon User.

This style is strongly based in conventions drawn from traditional Chinese theater, ballet, and acrobatic performances — particularly the art of Chinese opera, and is accepted by the audience for which most of the films were made. During The '70s, with the rise of Bruce Lee and other the films started to gain traction in various other countries, leading to numerous Hong Kong Films (a number with questionable dubs) being brought over to various parts of the world.

The boom in popularity throughout the 70s and The '80s internationally also led to numerous films elevating the careers of Asian action stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Donnie Yen, but also other action stars from different countries that notably include Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Sonny Chiba and Chuck Norris.

In The '90s, the upcoming handover of Hong Kong back to China in 1997 caused consternation among many martial arts moviemakers and fans—would the communist government allow filmmakers the same freedom? But where some were worried, others saw opportunity... especially other Asian countries. Countries such as South Korea, Japan and Thailand began producing their own martial arts films, hoping to fill the void, and creating some new stars in the process, such as Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin.

And as it turned out, the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong did not signal the death knell of martial arts movies there, either, particularly with the rise of "arthouse" martial arts films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero (2002), and House of Flying Daggers. China continues to produce many martial arts movies today.

Compare with Heroic Bloodshed, which often features stories set within the modern time frame usually around cops and gangsters and has the action centering on gun battles. Or Chop Sockey, where the stereotypical elements of classic films such as Hong Kong Dub or Artistic License – Martial Arts are Played for Laughs.

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Alternative Title(s): Martial Arts Film, Kung Fu Film