Lazy Saturdays with Dad: A Kung Fu Inspiration Story
When I was a teenager, my Dad and I used to rent and watch Jackie Chan movies together. We usually held our viewings in the rec room/basement so we wouldn’t annoy the crap out of my Mom. Operation Condor, Supercop, Drunken Master, First Strike, Project A. Those afternoons hanging out with Dad instilled a lifelong love of martial arts movies, particularly comedic ones. Kung Fu Hustle is probably my current favorite. Now, Kung Fu Hustle is delightful because it’s funny and a total flight of fantasy, and it does have amazing fight scenes.
I find it really inspirational, in a magical-thinking sort of way. But when I think about studying action, writing about action, I always go back to those old Jackie Chan flicks. Watching Jackie jump around (often in terrible mom jeans) kicking ludicrous amounts of butt is always a good time, but the really great thing about his movies is that they’re not stylized to the point of obscurity. Unlike 99% of today’s action flicks, you can really see the physics of the fights. There’s no bullet time, no frantic jump cuts, no cgi, no beautiful handwaving garbage. Just Jackie fighting off half a dozen dudes with a ladder.
Because he is a comedian, he often wears fear on his face when he fights. He sweats, he trips, he gets kneed in the nuts a LOT. Just like a normal person! And he is the real deal, a totally authentic person, a genius of physical comedy, and a Kung Fu master. I find it really helpful to study his fights. Big props to Mr. Chan.
And big props to my Dad, for sharing these movies with me, and giving me something magical.