2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively.
I thought Red Belt had an interesting plot line, although things at the end were setup too artificially in order to instigate the fight lines. The fights were more along the lines of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, thus weren’t as interesting as the earlier plot developments and social relatonships. This movie is mostly a conflict between principles and cash/other values. Personally, like Kelly Muir of Instructor Revolution, I believe that if you present quality training and principles, people will join and it will be made economically sustainable. But the movie presents a mutually exclusive dichotomy to better show the effects of corruption.
Reign of Assassins, the movie I saw after Red Belt, is in Chinese with English subtitles. It’s functionally the same as watching Japanese anime with Eng subtitles, except I understand Chinese grammar better than Japanese grammar. I felt this was a pretty well balanced movie between story and fighting action. The plot was pretty complicated with some time intensive reveals at the end. The presentation was smooth even though it was complicated and the fights had variety and often adapted a definitive move or weapon for each character. Reminiscent of Asian or Japanese titles which emphasize greatly a warrior’s name and his special abilities to distinguish it from other warriors. This was historically accurate as well, since Chinese Wu-Shu or kung fu started off on the reputation of a few warriors who had developed “special” moves that they had perfected. And thus warriors of legend were known for these special abilities. Additionally, it’s a good way to brush up on my Chinese.
Ninja Assassins came in last on the viewing order. The fights here were pretty action centered, so there’s not much story here. The real story is basically all focused on the main character and his background. While simple, it’s told in time compressed reveals as the plot unfolds, so much of the audience’s attention is held by the gory fight scenes which are high speed and have definite impact on the senses. They could also be called “overthetop” but I like things like that.
All in all, these movies were very different from the usual Hollywood offerings seen in AMerica or in the rest of the world. None of them had even one sex scene, which Hollywood seems obsessed with as if sex and snorting cocaine were the only things they can spend their money on in Hollywood. Not a chick flick, even though Reign of Assassins had courtship and marriage and married life as apart of the central plot. Reign of Assassins is also rather egalitarian, showing initially a weak husband protected by his wife. But given the Asian and Chinese reliance on patriarchy and male dominated power, I suspected it wasn’t quite going to end like that.
In order of Asian influence, I would say Red Belt is the most American, with Ninja Assassin being somewhere inbetween, and Reign of Assassins being heavily influenced because that was their source material: Asia.
Fight choreography, aesthetics, and physics: Red Belt 3/5, Ninja Assassins 5/5, Reign of Assassins 4.5/5. Every attack in Ninja Assassins, almost, had the intent to kill behind it. Meaning you could see that people were putting work into it and applying strength or bodyweight. It is a very different look than bouncing wires or when you have actors with no martial ability trying to slap fight. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186367/criticreviews One of the ways you can tell is how much Hollywood idiots hated the movie. If they really hated it, then pure and heartland Americans would tend to love it. The main actor, Rain or Raizo, had good abilities. It was said he worked 6 hours a day for 6 months to learn martial arts, 5 hours on martial arts and 1 hour on body fitness. He was primarily a dancer, and thus his ability to get the rhythm of a fight played well in the movie. Not something non-martial artists may appreciate, granted.
Red Belt’s action scenes were mainly MMA, and thus there’s nothing you couldn’t see in MMA like UFC or Pride.
Reign of Assassins uses kung fu and some tricks. They’ve refined the wire system so that physics will still work and people, like me, can’t easily tell how they are using the wires.
Storyline, plot, event complexity, mystery surprises: Red Belt 4.5/5, Ninja Assassins 4/5, Reign of Assassins 5/5. Red Belt started strong in the beginning but with no quality ending of the same caliber, it loses a half mark. Ninja Assassins didn’t have much in terms of background story or plot complexity, but it was done consistently from beginning to end. Reign of Assassins had a great beginning, an interesting middle, and a mystery twist at the end.
Currently watching Bulletproof Monk 2003, which has some weak fight scenes in terms of lacking the intent (to kill). Review will be coming up soon.