Call me crazy, but I find nothing more exhilarating than watching a character who is really quite unlikeable copping a highly stylized fly kick to the face. Yes, I am a martial arts fanatic and I believe that there is an inherent and palpable satisfaction associated with witnessing a hand to hand exchange and flying feet delivered with precise technique.
The Kung Fu Revolution began around the early 70s, long before I was born, and the genre has certainly developed and evolved greatly over the course of the last four decades. Following the release of the unparalleled Bruce Lee classic Enter The Dragon in 1973, a legion of kung fu flicks soon after flooded the market to keep up with the new craze that had swept over the movie going public. The likes of veteran superstars with incredible talent such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cynthia Rothrock, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren and so many more have won success and acclaim due to their flabbergasting physical abilities.
Then there are the “newbies” who are rising in the ranks as talent to watch out for. Those such as Tony Jaa, who re-defined martial arts cinema with 2003’s Ong Bak and now finally getting his big Hollywood break with Fast & Furious 7, and Iko Uwais, who wowed everyone with his brutal physical performance in 2011’s sleeper hit The Raid: Redemption, are being entrusted with the prestigious honor of carrying the torch from the veterans.
To celebrate the recent release of Jackie Chan’s reportedly final big action spectacular CZ12 (aka Chinese Zodiac), let’s take a look at who believe are still the unsung heroes of the genre, those who have done amazing work but still just haven’t cracked that nutshell of worldwide recognition.