Tag Archives: Kickin’ Butts

“BARE KNUCKLES”:
When Posting “#metoo” Is Not Enough
by Sheri Warren Sankner

1. #MeTooWe are living in empowering times! Since its battle cry rang out on social media in October 2017, the hashtag #MeToo has empowered millions to take back their personal and professional lives, sharing real stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Following last year’s high profile downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein amid a firestorm of sexual allegations, women in all industries from media to entertainment, education to politics, and technology to the culinary arts are finally supporting each other, speaking up and making a difference in the inequalities and injustices of the workplace.

Everyone is weighing in on this hot topic, including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In a recent CNN interview, she stated she thinks the #MeToo movement is a good thing, but is worried. “Let’s not turn women into snowflakes. Let’s not infantilize women.” Rice doesn’t want us “to get to a place that men start to think, ‘Well, maybe it’s just better not to have women around.’ I’ve heard a little bit of that. And it, it worries me,” she said. When asked about her own personal experiences, Rice answered, ”I’ve never had anyone do anything that I would consider assault. But I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t had somebody say or do something that was inappropriate at best and aggressive at worst.”

2. Harvey Weinberg photoThe entertainment industry is still rocking from recent allegations and accusations against directors, producers, actors, comedians, and newscasters alike. Pay parity also still remains an issue in Hollywood as in the rest of the world. Recently actor Mark Wahlberg decided to show his support by putting his money where his mouth is. After discovering his film co-star Michelle Williams earned a tiny fraction of his salary on reshoots for the “All The Money In The World,” he donated $1.5 million in her name to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Time’s Up, started with $13 million in donations for its legal fund, aims to lobby for legislation that creates financial consequences for companies that regularly tolerate harassment without action.

3. girl with tearsFear and ignorance are no longer an acceptable standard for behavior in the workplace or society in general. Educational institutions are getting onboard as well. The New York Times reports that “an M.B.A. education is no longer just about marketing, accounting, and economics. As topics like sexual harassment dominate the national conversation and chief executives weigh in on the ethical and social issues of the day, business schools around the country are hastily reshaping their curriculums with case studies ripped straight from the headlines.” At Stanford, they are studying sexual harassment in the workplace, while Harvard students are debating sexism and free speech. Studying psychological research, Stanford students found that more people are willing to challenge the powers that be if another person joins them. Hence, the popularity of #MeToo.

Social activist and community organizer Tarana Burke first created the phrase “Me Too” on MySpace in a 2006 campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who experienced sexual abuse. The phrase was then popularized by actress Alyssa Milano when she encouraged women to tweet it to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Millions spoke up! So there really is power in numbers!

4. Me Too SignTime Magazine recognized “the Silence Breakers” as its “person” of the year. Oprah Winfrey summed up the impact of these whistleblowers recently in a moving speech at “The Golden Globes,” which even encouraged rally cries for her possible future presidential candidacy. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up … So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women … and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”

5. Bloody fistsWanting a better life and literally “fighting” hard for it brings us to a kick-ass film pick this week, “Bare Knuckles,” starring stuntwoman/actress Jeannette Roxborough. Based on an inspiring true story, the film follows single mom, Samantha Rogers, a stuntwoman by day and cocktail waitress by night in a rowdy, dank club. Samantha is struggling to make ends meet for her and her disabled young daughter, Milla. Facing sleazy customers and a dead-end future, she is forced to use some deft fighting skills to stop a two-woman drunken bar fight, only to be recognized by a down and out fight promoter. Martin Kove plays Sonny Cool, the fight manager, who offers Samantha a chance at “the show.” He invites her to train for the underground, illegal bare knuckles all female fight circuit where brutality and elegance mix with high stakes and deception.

6. Bare Knuckles movie posterIf you’re looking for an empowering female lead, who thrives on strength and determination and who won’t be saying #MeToo, then check out 2013’s “Bare Knuckles” on MovieZoot.com here.

JACKIE CHAN MAKES AN IMPACT EVEN WITH HIS ABSENCE
Chan’s Trademark Fight Choreography Saves “The 36 Crazy Fists”
by John Francis

1. Jackie Chan PosterMartial arts superstar Jackie Chan made (or produced, directed and choreographed fight scenes) literally hundreds of films in his native Hong Kong and other Asian countries before trying to make his mark in America.

It took Chan several years and many attempts to break into Hollywood with his films. His first Hollywood film was “The Big Brawl” in 1980 and then a minor role in 1981’s “The Cannonball Run.” The former was a flop, the latter a hit that didn’t have anything to do with Chan, but its big American stars such as Burt Reynolds, Deam Martin, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, and Farrah Fawcett.

It wasn’t until 1995’s “Rumble in the Bronx,” which starred Chan and featured his trademark dazzling fight choreography mixed with his winsome, almost-slapstick humor. The film attained a cult status, especially when it was released on VHS.

What “Rumble” did was introduce audiences to this extremely charismatic figure, his incredible fight and action sequences, many of which he did himself (he did start out as a stuntman, after all), and a certain formula that Chan was able to ride throughout his successful career. The formula goes like this: star power from Chan, great action sequences, and so-so plots, character development and direction.

2. Jackie Chan's 36 Crazy FistsRoger Ebert summed up Chan’s unique appeal in his review of “Rumble” for the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Any attempt to defend this movie on rational grounds is futile. Don’t tell me about the plot and the dialogue. Don’t dwell on the acting. The whole point is Jackie Chan — and, like Astaire and Rogers, he does what he does better than anybody. There is a physical confidence, a grace, an elegance to the way he moves. There is humor to the choreography of the fights (which are never too gruesome). He’s having fun. If we allow ourselves to get in the right frame of mind, so are we.”

That mixture was fully evident in Chan’s biggest box-office successes, the three (so far, talks are under way for a fourth) “Rush Hour” action comedies with comedian Chris Tucker. The first in 1998 made $130 million at the American box office alone. “Rush Hour 2” in 2001 was an even bigger hit, grossing $347 million worldwide. The third was also a big hit, grossing $255 million in the U.S.

3. jackie_chanHe also teamed with another Hollywood star, Owen Wilson, for the comedy-action Westerns “Shanghai Noon” in 2000, and its sequel “Shanghai Knights” in 2003. Chan was a bonafide Hollywood star who could sell a movie on his own or paired with an American star.

But what Chan’s success also brought was his hundreds of action films he made in Hong Kong, India and Thailand. Many of them were throwaways, barely worth the film they were made on. And these films hit video store shelves in waves, many of them taking advantage of Chan’s star power, even if he was barely in the film, only directed the film or choreographed the fight scenes. The VHS boxes prominently featured his name and image.

One of those films is 1977’s “The 36 Crazy Fists,” which features Chan’s image prominently on the box/poster and his name in large letters at the top, even though Chan has a cameo role at best. He also served as fight choreographer.

IMDB’s synopsis goes like this: “A young man decides to learn Kung Fu to avenge the death of his father, a peaceful shopkeeper who was murdered by Manchurian gangsters for not paying protection money. At first he is rejected by his teachers because he is weak, but through persistence, and some help from other students and a mysterious drunk, he learns the skills he needs to avenge his father.”

Reviewers weren’t so kind to “Fists,” especially given Chan’s blink-it-and-you-miss-it appearance. But not all reviews were unkind. David Lee Andrews of www.comicbookandmoviereviews.com, who gave it a B-, said it was “so-so,” but liked it overall.

“Now underneath the surface of ‘36 Crazy Fists’ is a very cleverly constructed film that’s taken some of the characters from Jackie Chan’s early kung-fu flicks, and then amalgamated them all together into one fairly cohesive storyline. Moreover, it’s funny in places; Jovial in others. And by and large the kung-fu on show isn’t that bad either. However — as you might have guessed — where this film falls flat on its ass, is in every other department thereafter. It isn’t a bad movie. Granted, it isn’t the best one either.”

“The 36 Crazy Fists” doesn’t nearly rise to the level of Chan’s best, such as the “Drunken Master,” “Police Story” or even the “Rush Hour” series, but it can be a pleasant diversion if you don’t mind Chan’s absence.

Watch “The 36 Crazy Fists” on MovieZoot.com here.

“FISTS OF FURY”:
Anger Can Be Power
by Chris Hoey

Anger debuted as a force of human nature as one of the seven deadly sins. In opposition to peace, happiness, and joy, it seemed fated to be one of the villains of our nature. How did anger and fury rebrand itself from a vice to a virtue as civilization matured? The origins of this transformation in film and music in the past decades show anger may be more moral hero than sinister sinner.

Fist of Fury Image 1In ancient Greece, the furies tortured mortals with frustration and anger, often dooming hopeless humans to their own demise. Later anger and fury became something to rouse when you’ve been wronged. Grief is often summoned to rouse anger in order to fuel revenge so that justice can be served to the evil-doer — only then will the wronged find peace. Anger became the path of reasonable response by the innocent victims of the violence and misfortune to which humans are subject.

Fist of Fury Image 2In 1990’s “Ghost,” starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, each of the villains responsible for Sam Wheat’s (Patrick Swayze) demise are carried off to the terrors of the afterlife by shadowy creatures that seem to embody the anger of those they wronged. The furies here are friends to the fair and just, not the enemy. The audience finds satisfaction in this rough justice served to those who have done wrong. The villains know that terrors await them, but they also are helpless to fight back. They get what they had coming to them. The tables are turned.

Fist of Fury Image 3Anger as a vehicle for justice features prominently in Bruce Lee’s “Fists of Fury.” When his master dies unexpectedly, and a neighboring dojo disrespects his friends, Chen, played by Lee, sets off a series of anger-filled retribution that is the hallmark of this film. Simple insults and outright racism are among the wrongs that Lee’s furious fists right. Lee dismisses his rivals with a superhuman quality that seems to feed on the anger he feels for being mistreated.

Fist of Fury image 4Today’s cinema is also filled with superheros who conquer evil by harnessing and controlling anger. The best example of anger’s ability to bring about justice may be revealed by The Hulk. Like the characters brought to life by Bruce Lee, anger itself transforms Bruce Banner into the indestructible force for justice. Heroes who harness anger to serve justice are not sinners, but they are clever tacticians who tap into the supercharged emotion to achieve their ends.

Fist of Fury image 5Much-aligned punk rockers of the late 70s seemed to be angry for little reason. One of the most iconic bands of this breed was The Clash, who’s lyricist, Joe Strummer, wrote “let fury have the hour / anger can be power / d’you know that you can use it.”

In “Fists of Fury,” Chen knows how to use fury to restore the honor of his dead master. Bruce Lee has played an important role in anger’s evolution from a deadly sin to a force for good and justice.

Watch “Fists of Fury” on MovieZoot.com here.