Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. This should be a tournament of truly….epic….pro..portions. Said in the voice of Han at the beginning of “Enter the Dragon”.
I am inviting you to place your votes for the greatest martial arts movies of all time. This will not be a simple vote of one amongst many. No, instead it will be a four round event. The breakdown is as such:
Round 1: An Artist Faces Himself. Each superstar will be pitted against himself as you are made to choose the best movie from each actor’s repertoire. Remember, only the winning movie gets to move forward.
Rounds 2&3: An Artist Faces His Enemy. In these rounds the artists will be pitted against one another from nearby divisions.
Round 4: An Artist Faces His Greatest Challenge. The two surviving artists will face off against each other for title of Greatest Movie.
Without further delay, let the voting begin and the decisions be made. Each round will only last 2-3 days, so check back frequently.
Just for kicks (PUNNNN!!!!!!) I decided to figure out the top 7 foot-smacks doled out in martial arts movie history. These kicks range from the acrobatic to the sheer face crunching. The criteria I used to determine the winners was a combination of style, athleticism, and influence in pop culture.
It was a difficult process as there are many great movies with sweet chin music, but the following stood out to me. Hang around until the end of the article and I’ll give a few runners-up that didn’t quite fit the bill.
Here we go…
7. Billy Jack – Face Whopin’
This iconic kick comes from the Movie “Billy Jack” and is delivered by Tom Laughlin. Laughlin plays an ex-green beret Hapkido do-gooder who runs afoul of the law. Find out what happens next when they back him into the proverbial corner:
6. The Transporter – Bicycle Kicking
When you think of bicycle kicks, you probably envision a skilled soccer player making a diving hit over his own head. This is much different. In the following clip Jason Statham finds a way to put the boots to all of his oiled up opponents:
5. Ong Bak – Knee of Doom
Have you ever heard of a knee technique referred to as a “knee kick”? I hope so, because I am using that as an excuse to include this hit from the movie Ong Bak. After a good minute or two of being taunted by his opponent, Tony Ja prepares something extra spicy once the round starts:
4. Enter the Dragon – Ohara Gets His
Almost every scene in Enter the Dragon is ground breaking and awesome. But there is one kick that actually led to physical injury of the cast and crew. When Bruce Lee finally fights Ohara, he lines him up for an absolutely brutal sidekick. The actor Bob Wall was ok afterwards, but one of the extras in the background broke his hand during the fall. That’s no joke:
3. Karate Kid – The Crane Kick
While it may not be physically impressive, is there any kick more iconic? The crane kick is what every d-bag relies on when they try to mimic or make fun of martial artists. It also inspired a generation of future karateka (yours truly included). It’s over Johhny yea, you did it!!!:
2. Kickboxer – The 360 Split Spinning Hook Heel Foot Kick
Is it possible to build an entire career on one face slapping technique? Yes. JCVD did just that and kicked his way into our hearts. The thing that makes this kick so powerful is that no matter how many times you see it (and no matter how many movies he uses it in), it still rocks. For your pleasure, this montage:
1. Enter the Dragon – Han’s Skull Crusher
I’ve never actually felt the vibrations of a kick through my TV until I saw this armageddon-inducing swat from Bruce Lee. In the final epic fight against Han, Bruce puts the beat knuckle down until Han is in a dazed state. At that point Bruce lines him up and delivers a blow so powerful that my nose is starting to bleed just thinking about it. If you watch carefully it seems obvious that they use a Han-doll as a stunt double, and I don’t blame them. In fact I hope there were no live crew members within a 20 foot radius. Enjoy the number 1 kick ever put on the silver screen:
The martial arts universe is home to a lot of awesome kicks, and here are a few that I thought deserved mention as well. Check out the following links if you want more foot flying action:
Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick – Certainly Chuck Norris’s famous roundhouse kicking meets the pop culture criteria to be a winner. Yet, despite the fanfare and entertaining jokes, I just don’t think there was enough here to trump the kicks on the list. I also discovered that Chuck Norris throws hook kicks far more often than roundhouse kicks, which made it difficult to find good footage of him from a movie (as opposed to Texas Ranger). I also had a tough time siphoning out all of the spoof and joke videos in order to try to find Chuck actually in action. You’ll notice the video in the link is a spinning hook from Return of the Dragon. Best I could do.
Captain Kirk Dropkick – Seriously famous, but from a TV show so I couldn’t include it.
Drunken Master Kick Fight – There is a fight of massive kicking in the Jackie Chan film “The Legend of Drunken Master”. Unfortunately no one kick stood out so I ultimately decided against it.
Wayne’s World II Flying Kick – The fight between Wayne and Cassandra’s dad is awesome, and everytime I see the dad pull off the flying kick I laugh out loud.
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This one’s wide open – any kicks that stand out in your memory?
Hey all! I hope everyone had a great Halloween (or baring that, just a great weekend). I’ve always found this holiday intriguing, both from its unusual roots and how my appreciation for it has changed over the years. The past few Halloweens I only put a passing effort into dressing up, but this year I decided it was time to try a little harder.
My inspiration, oddly enough, came from a random viewing of Kill Bill Vol. II on TV. When I tuned in it was at the part where Beatrix Kiddo was getting dropped off to study with the notorious Pei Mei. For those who might not be familiar the movies, Pei Mei is one of Bill’s primary martial arts instructors, and is renowned for being both cruel and unusual in his training methods. Despite the virtually guaranteed unpleasantness, Kiddo decides to train under him anyway in hopes of achieving some of the same skills Bill possesses.
I’ve always loved this part of the movie, and was inspired to do my best to dress up as Pei Mei this year!
Do I strike fear in your heart? Does your blood run cold at the thought of crossing me? There’s no shame in it.
Also, yes – that IS the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique I am about to perform. shortly after this photo was taken I laid waste to all in attendance.
Getting the wig and facial hair on was pretty annoying…but well worth it. This costume also gave me a great excuse to buy kung fu shoes; something I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t find a proper excuse. They are terribly comfortable!
For your continued amusement (and mine), here is a clip of the real Pei Mei being awesome:
Happy Halloween and feel free to include links to your costume in the comments below!