academic portfolio & musings of a PhDad on
movies, fatherhood, social justice, and everything in between
movies, fatherhood, social justice, and everything in between
I really tried, but apparently I’m not done thinking about these ideas. So here we go! My first Trilogy! Part 3: in which I discuss some of the ways that thinking about action aesthetics in terms of stunt-centric and choreo-centric could be helpful or useful.
This is Part 2 of my post attempting to more accurately describe and delineate the differences between two general approaches to action. Click here for Part 1, in which I describe the general priorities and emphases of a stunt-centric approach to action. This post will deal with the choreo-centric approach. To recap my goal real quick from Part 1:
Since my last post on the Emmy snub of Into the Badlands for Best Stunt Coordination, I’ve been thinking a lot about one of the claims I briefly made regarding the difference between action stunt work and action choreography. To be absolutely clear, I think that the men and women in the stunt world do not receive the kind of recognition and acclaim they deserve. The same is also true for action/martial arts choreography. However, due the frequent conflation of the two – particularly in the US – choreography gets the short end of an already short stick. While there are certainly overlaps in skills and abilities, they are also distinctly different in many ways.
Yes. This is another post about Into the Badlands. Here are some other things I’ve written about the show.
Let me get right to it: the Emmys announced their nominations for 2018, and Into the Badlands was snubbed completely. Forget the fact that they have some of the most amazing, beautiful, and original costume, makeup, and overall character designs you’ll see anywhere. Or the fact that they have some incredible production design, set pieces, music, and cinematography. All of those areas - and more, like, you know, acting - would have been well-deserving for Into the Badlands to at the very least have earned a nomination, much less a win. And I’m sad that such an original, diverse, and engaging show, and all the incredibly talented people in front of and behind the scenes missed out on all that recognition.
Season 3, Episode 1: Enter the Phoenix
Wow. What a season opener! I was thinking of writing something after each episode, but don’t want to make it too long either, so here’s where I landed. My goal will be to post some hopefully-weekly quick thoughts about what stands out, no more than 2-3 days after each episode. I feel like they should be pretty spoiler-free, since I don’t see myself spending too much time on the specific events of the episode. But, in the event that I do, I will definitely give you a SPOILER ALERT.
This post will be SPOILER-FREE. Though I will have some screenshots.
It’s been criminally overdue, but I’m finally catching up on Season 2 of Into the Badlands, and – mark my words – I will never let another season go by to be caught up later! I feel like AMC developed a technology to go into my head, scour the depths of my psyche for everything I love – and didn’t even know I loved – and created a show from their exploratory efforts. To name a few of its Munib-approved elements: post-apocalyptic settings, kung-fu action, western aesthetics, fantasy-ish elements, Daniel Wu, a diverse cast, strong female characters, father-son relationships, Chinese martial arts cinema aesthetics, appropriate and knowing nods to martial arts cinema history, etc.
Since posting my last post on Iron Fist, I’ve completed the series and kept telling myself that I was done with it. As the show went on, I liked it less and less but wanted to write about it more and more. I still have some Iron Fist demons that need to be exorcized, because I still find myself talking about or thinking about this show on an almost-daily basis. And I feel a little bad because I don’t want it to be all critically negative stuff. I also wanted to discuss some of its greatness (like Claire Temple and Madame Gao), some of its goodness (like some of the not-Danny-Rand-performances), and some of its awkwardnesses (like every time Bakuto speaks).
But I still haven’t said my peace on the martial arts and action of the show. And it turns out Episode 8, “The Blessings of Many Fractures,” provides some really great concrete examples to talk about. AND, since the show’s been out for a little longer now, it’s easier to find clips of specific fights streaming online. So here goes!
So I’m finally getting around to Iron Fist (I’m only 6 episodes in at the time of this writing) and I think I’ve come to certain realizations. Episode 6, in particular, helped crystallize a lot of the thoughts that were bubbling and percolating in my head throughout the first five episodes.
Let’s start with the big one: Chinese martial arts.
When I first started writing this post, I began with a story aimed at proving to you how much I like Spider-Man and comics in general, but I don’t want to take up too much blog space trying to establish my fanboyness, so I won’t. Just trust me. I like superhero comics, and I absolutely love seeing them in live-action. And Spider-Man doesn’t really have anything to do with this post, anyway. The story I was going to tell has more to do with how ridiculously slow dial-up connections used to be in early 2000s.
AMC’s new show Into the Badlands premiered this past Sunday and man, what an opening!
I’ve written before about how I’ve seen the Chinese martial arts cinema aesthetics travel to Hollywood, particularly through the success of The Matrix, and it’s very exciting to see it coming to the small screen too! I’ve also written about Inseparable, starring Daniel Wu, who leads the cast of Into the Badlands. Another topic I’ve written about quite a bit – but never on this blog – is the representation of Chinese men in Hollywood. What I’m trying to say is, partly as a means of full disclosure before I really get into this, is that Into the Badlands brings together quite a few of my favorite things, making it virtually impossible for me to dislike it. I can already tell that no matter where the story takes me, I’m going to be very forgiving towards this show. Not only because I personally enjoy the various elements that creators Al Gough & Miles Millar and producers Daniel Wu & Stephen Fung have brought together, but also because it feels like a relatively important show to support.
So I finally watched Yuen Woo Ping’s True Legend (2010) last night and had a thought. Well, I had many thoughts, most of them negative, but one main thought. Martial arts cinema – especially from Mainland China – seems to be adapting to the requirements of a globalized cinema audience in all the wrong ways and making history repeat itself in the process.
The Bill and Ted movies and cartoons were a childhood favorite. Speed blew my mind, and I’ll never forget that movie’s score. I walked out of The Devil’s Advocate (I was way too young and should have never been allowed in that theater in the first place!). And I still quote The Matrices on a daily basis. And before you ask, yes, I’m a fan of all 3 movies. He’s got an interesting celebrity, though, and a lot of people seem to enjoy making fun of him and his acting. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
What I am interested in is Keanu Reeves and his connection to martial arts cinema.
Born in Belgium. Raised in Brazil. Cultured in China. Corrupted in America.