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Rating: 3 votes, 3.67 average.

Favorite Movies with fight choreography not available as DVDs

Posted 07-14-2011 at 13:41 by MinervaDoe
Updated 07-14-2011 at 15:37 by MinervaDoe

I enjoy action movies. Lately, my ten year old son and I have been especially immersed in science fiction with the Stargate series, but outside of that genre, I find myself revisiting a half dozen films for the fight choreography. For gunfights, Open Range, Tombstone, We Were Soldiers, and the Lost Battalion are at the top of my list. For martial arts, a lot of movies come to mind, but not all hold my attention.

It is ironic that several movies that I really enjoy the fight sequences from are only available on VHS. With all the real cluckers available on DVD, it's a surprise that these three are not available.

The first movie, The Perfect Weapon, showcases Jeff Speakman's kenpo karate skills and contains some of my favorite martial arts choreography. Speakman's skills as a martial artist allow the camera to take whatever angle best displays the choreography. Since they are not trying to intersperse clips of a stuntman with shots showing the actor's face, the film has few of the choppy sequences so typical to films using lots of stunt doubles. The scene where Speakman challenges three Tai Kwan Do practioners to a fight is easily my favorite karate scene of all time.

I have always enjoyed movies which have training sequences. Sure, the fight choreography in movies like The Perfect Weapon, The Three Musketeers (with Richard Chamberlin and Michael York), and Rob Roy is second to none, but nothing is more inspirational than a good old underdog style training sequence to give a movie a spark. Two movies I really like (Streets of Gold and By The Sword) are actually not out on DVD and (after years of waiting) I had to resort to buying them on VHS.

Streets of Gold is a gem, with Klaus Maria Brandauer and Wesley Snipes. It chronicles the efforts of three boxers to train for a boxing match against the Russian national team. On the surface, the boxing and training sequences are both instructional and inspirational. The underlying plot that Brandauer's character had been denied his chance to box for the Russian national team due to his Jewish heritage just gives the movies final fight that much more tension as Brandauer's protege takes on the Russian champ who had usurped Brandauer's spot on the team. The film showcases the athletic skills of Adrian Pasdar and Wesley Snipes. Since they portray
boxers you expect them to be well choreographed, but even Klaus Maria Brandauer shows off some very well chorographed footwork in a scene where he introduces himself and gives Wesley Snipes a boxing lesson in an alley.

I have to describe the next movie, By The Sword, as little known, although it does have some famous actors (F. Murray Abraham, Eric Roberts). I saw it on t.v. once and I have never heard anything about it since. My VHS copy just arrived in the mail yesterday and I hope that memory serves me well and that I find the training techniques employed in the movie are as interesting the second time through as I did ten years ago when I first saw the film. The training sequences emphasize subtle footwork and the fight sequence utilize some expert fencing.

With hundreds of films possessing fight scenes worthy of watching over and over again, part of the reason that I like all of the films mentioned above is due to the lack of excessive clipping and editing done to the sequences. The techniques are expertly demonstrated and do not attempt choppy two and three second clips to make it appear as if the stars are in the action and instead, demonstrate clean and perfect movements (even where the stuntmen's faces are not clearly visible). In the case of the Perfect Weapon, Jeff Speakman's exceptional Kempo skills allow him to carry the scenes flawlessly, as do the athletic skills of Adrian Pasdar and Wesley Snipes in Streets of Gold. Similarly, By the Blade sometimes makes little effort to make a stuntman appear as though he is the actor, but in exchange, the viewer gets crisp and expert demonstrations of sword techniques.
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