As a kid, I was raised on a steady diet of action films. Particular favourites were the ridiculous B-grade Bud Spencer and Terence Hill films – Italian B-Cinema with terrible dubs. But the films that captured the imagination were the films of the Shaw Brothers and their compatriots from Hong Kong. Films like Drunken Master, Snake in Eagle’s Shadow and of course Bruce Lee’s magnificent yet short filmography starting with The Big Boss and ending with Enter the Dragon, fired the imagination of all the kids in my neighbourhood.
As I grew up, the films faded into my childhood as the big budget spectacle of late ‘80s and early ‘90s action cinema took hold. But whenever I had the chance I would revisit these films and with Jackie Chan finding a western audience first, Ang Lee adapting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Wachowski’s bringing Yuen Woo Ping’s magnificent fight choreography to sci-fi with The Matrix, the art that originated in Hong Kong finally found a wider audience. So much so that action films, some featuring martial arts and some not, from various Asian countries found a Western audience. Of these films, The Raid & The Raid 2 have gained a particular fan base, mainly due to the martial arts prowess of the cast and in particular star Iko Uwais.
With Netflix looking to bolster its original programming library, it has given the greenlight to what we all hope is the birth of a new Martial Arts epic in the form of Wu Assassins, Uwais’ first foray into western film. This ten-part series aims to make a mainstream star of Uwais and bring a particular brand of fantasy kung-fu with him – that of the fantasy epic. Aiding Uwais in this is veteran B-action movie star Mark Dacascos, most of you will know him as the chef/assassin from John Wick: Chapter 3 but fans of B-films will know him from such classics as Crying Freeman. Sadly this is where the show fails to capitalize on two potential modern action stars as in the mythology of the show, Mark Dacascos plays a monk who lends his power to Uwais’ Kai through his spirit and thus, they don’t share the screen as either partners or antagonists but rather switch bodies every so often. That’s not quite accurate and if you saw the trailer, you would know what I am referring to, but I’d rather not spoil it.
As an action show, first and foremost, it doesn’t go in-depth into the clash of cultures and traditions that the show could explore...
...this show easily features more impressive choreography given that Uwais and Dacascos are martial artists of many years standing...
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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9 August 2019
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