Martial Arts movies gained popularity in the 70s and 80s and continue to grow even today. Before Tarantino’s 2003 “Kill Bill” reached renowned iconic public success, many extremely talented and adept actors and action figures contributed to the surging fandom of the genre.
This week, MovieZoot.com presents four such influential movies that have had tremendous influence on Tarantino and the Martial Arts genre in general, including Jackie Chan’s 1977 36 Crazy Fists, Bruce Lee’s 1971 Fists of Fury, Sonny Chiba’s 1976 The Bodyguard, and Fred Williamson’s 1987 blaxploitation film Black Cobra.
Sit back, relax and stream some killer action movies with some truly amazing and gravity-defying action.
Where you’ll find Movies you love with Stars you know.
“36 Crazy Fists” is a 1977 Martial Arts/Action/Drama film directed by Chi-Hwa Chen, billed as staring Jackie Chan (but he is nowhere to be seen in the movie – he was the fight choreographer and stunt man!), and actually stars Siu-Hung Leung, Michelle Yim and Lau Chan. 36 Crazy Fists tells the story of a man struggling to learn Kung Fu to avenge the death of his father who was murdered by Manchurian gangsters. Lots of stellar martial arts action, and wonderful set-ups for humor, but somehow the punch lines never seem to hit home. Maybe it was lost in translation? Or editing … but still a great martial arts period piece!
“Fists of Fury,” also known as “The Big Boss,” is a 1971 Martial Arts / Action / Drama film written and directed by Wei Lo staring the infamous Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien, and Yong-Chieh Han, and tells the story of how a young martial arts master, committed to non-violence, reluctantly but masterfully pits his inner warrior against the criminal forces behind the disappearance of his cousins. This was Bruce Lee’s first major film, however it was written for James Tien. When the film’s original director, Ng Kar-seung, was replaced by Lo, Lee was given the leading role instead. Lee’s strong performance overshadowed Tien, already a star in Hong Kong, and made Bruce Lee famous across Asia – and soon – the world.
“The Bodyguard” (aka Karate Kiba) is a 1976 Martial Arts/Action/Crime thriller directed by Ryuichi Takamori and Simon Nuchterm staring Shin’ichi (Sonny) Chiba, Jiro Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi and Aaron Banks, and tells the tale of a karate master and anti-drug vigilante who returns to his home in Japan, where he announces his intention to wipe out the nation’s drug industry and offers protection for those who inform on the drug-traffickers. Interestingly, Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” movie paid homage to this film when Samuel L. Jackson’s character quoted Ezekiel 25:17 from the bible, as did Chiba’s character in this film (with minor edits, of course)!
Black Cobra – with Fred Williamson
“Black Cobra” is the 1987 Stelvio Massi and Umberto Lenzi Italian blaxploitation action/thriller/martial arts film starring Fred Williamson and Eva Gimaldi where a detective protects a murder witness from a vicious gang of evil bikers. This is the first of a series of four Cobra character film sequels following the exploits of career detective Robert “Bob” Malone played by Williamson.