As a child of the ’80s, I grew up watching martial arts films with memorable names like The Octagon, Enter the Ninja, Bloodsport, Karate Kid, Drunken Master, Blind Fury, Enter the Dragon, Remo Williams, and one of my all time favorite movies…Big Trouble In Little China. Incredible fight scenes with Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Jackie Chan are burned into my memory. I still enjoy a good cinematic hand-to-hand fight scene and modern movies devoted to Martial Arts will garner my attention, even cartoons like Kung Fu Panda.
Twenty definitive films and TV series are examined – from the genre’s beginnings in 1920s China through the global popularity of Enter the Dragon to modern Asian classic Hero – along with their influence on Hollywood blockbusters like The Matrix. Discussing a full range of actors and directors, from the traditional Bruce Lee and King Hu to contemporary masters Chow Yun Fat and John Woo and focusing on the common themes of the movies, fighting styles, set-piece martial battles and rigorous training sequences, Martial Arts places the films within the development of the genre and discusses what it is that sets them apart.
I was hooked instantly and have since read Martial Arts by PTJ Rance twice, cover to cover. It is an enjoyable read if you love cinematic martial arts, but an even better inspiration for martial arts in games. I wish this book had been on my shelf long ago. I have run numerous martial arts influenced rpg campaigns over the years using Bushido, TMNT, Oriental Adventures, Ninja Hero, Ninjas and Superspies, L5R, and Feng Shui. Now my go to rpg for this type of game is Feng Shui 2 and this book by Rance feels like it was written specifically for Feng Shui fans. The book delves into the actual martial art forms used in each of these movies, both real and fictional. It also gives an in-depth discussion of some of the best Martial Arts movies ever produced.
So, if you are planning to add some martial arts to your game or just love cinematic martial arts, I highly recommend this book for your research and reading pleasure.