2015 Martial Arts Movies

NOTE: I’ve revised this post with up-to-date information. Please see that post here.

My third annual preview of martial arts movies will be presented in two installments. Many of the movies in the latter half of the year do not yet have release dates or trailers by January. Ergo, I’m posting the first part now, and will do a revision in mid-summer.

“Martial arts movie” is a bit ambiguous. Almost every action movie features martial arts. The leaked teaser for Ant-Man was pretty much a sequence of Scott Lang (Ant-Man) fighting his way through a corridor to access an elevator. So, does such a movie get included? I’ve opted against putting every action film with a kick in it into this post. Yet, I don’t want to stick to films that feature martial arts cliches (e.g. they killed my master, an evil billionaire is hosting a death match tournament, they killed me and left me for dead, etc.)  I, therefore, use the admittedly subjective litmus test of whether there would be a movie if one took away the martial arts and replaced it with brawling–not just whether it would be a less slick movie with a diminished “woo” factor.

I’ve tried to go as international as possible this year, including Bollywood (using the term colloquially if not precisely) and SE Asian releases in addition to the usual Hong Kong & Hollywood fare.

 

Underdog Kids (January 16): Described on IMDb as: “Inner city kids from a poor neighborhood go up against the undefeated Beverly Hills Junior National Karate Team.” I’ve seen no trailer for this, just a poster:
underdogs_2

Wild Card (January 30): This may be a cheat given what I said above. However, it’s a Jason Statham film, and like the “Transporter” films it probably doesn’t amount to much without the ass-kickery. Let’s face it, you’re not going to see Jason Statham for his extensive acting range.

Dragon Blade (February 19): Featuring Jackie Chan, John Cusack, and Adrien Brody. This is a period piece, and–as you can tell from the casting–is big budget as martial arts flicks go.

Wolf Warrior (March 1) [China]: This looks like more of a shoot-em-up action film than a martial arts film, but some have listed it as a martial arts film and the close quarters action is definitely reminiscent of a martial arts film.

Skin Trade (April): This film stars Tony Jaa and Dolph Lundgren as the good guys and Ron Perlman as the villain. As the title suggests, it’s set around a theme of human trafficking.

Bollywood Dragon  (May 15) [India]: The blurb for this one is: “An English martial arts instructor travels to Mumbai to identify her twin sister’s body, discovering she lived a mysterious life among the criminal underworld and decides to investigate by being her.”
There is no trailer up for this movie as of yet.

The Kickboxer: City of Blood: (May 15): This is a different project than the Bautista / Van Damme / Carano film that was originally titled “Kickboxer” and is now going by “Kickboxer: Vengence,” but there’s no graphic publicity out on it yet. It may not come out as scheduled.

The Transporter Legacy (June 19): Another “Transporter” film, but Ed Skrein plays the role of Frank Martin in this one. As with “Wild Card” it may be a cheat to include it as a martial arts film, but car chases don’t get these movies all the way to watchability.
I haven’t seen a trailer, but there are still photos.
TransporterLegacy

The Boy and the Beast (July 11) [Japan]: This also may be a cheat because it’s an animated film, but martial arts does seem to be a prominent feature of the work. (I believe I included one of the Kung fu Panda movies in one of my past posts, so I think this is fair game.)

Brothers (July 31) [India, in Hindi]: An Indian remake of the American film Warriors. In the American movie, two estranged brothers must fight each other in an MMA bout. (Hence the name of the Indian version, Brothers.) There’s not a proper trailer out, but there is this:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend (August 28): Interestingly, this sequel to an immensely popular film will be released on Netflix and IMAX simultaneously. If this were some risky, low-budget film, going straight to Netflix wouldn’t be at all surprising, but this is the sequel to a movie that was (maybe still is) the highest grossing foreign language film playing in America. If this bold move pays off, it could be the beginning of a new paradigm of movie releases. [Also with The Interview going with an unconventional release owing to North Korean threats and intervention, there maybe a great deal learned about alternatives to a traditional film release.]
CTHD2

The Bodyguard (undesignated Summer release) [China]: Featuring and directed by Sammo Hung.
sammo-hung-740x400

Movies with unspecified release dates:

SPL (Sha Po Lang) II / A Time for Consequences / SPL2: Rise of Wong Po [China]: This Hong Kong film will feature Thai superstar Tony Jaa. (Is he in everything? Have they cloned him, or does he not need to sleep, eat, and poop like the rest of us.)
SPL_II_Teaser_Poster,_Apr_2014

The Chemist: A grain of salt on the 2015 release, please. This is an “assasin-who-can’t-bear-to-kill-his-victim-and-ends-up-protecting-her-instead” film.

Pound of Flesh: Jean-Claude Van Damme. The blurb says: “A man’s heroic attempt to help a woman in distress ends up with him waking up the next day without a kidney and plotting his revenge.”
PoundofFleshMovie

Kickboxer: Vengence: Featuring Dave Bautista, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Gina Carano.

The Martial Arts Kid: As the unimaginative title (generic knock-off of the alliterative “Karate Kid”?) suggests, this is low budget. It features past martial arts competitors like Don Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock.
MartialArtsKid

Ultimate Justice [Germany]: The blurb on IMDb reads: “A team of former elite soldiers are drawn back into action when the family of one of their own is attacked.”
I haven’t seen any publicity for this movie yet.

The Monk (Summer) [China]:This movie is based on a popular Chinese novel entitled Dao Shi Xia Shan (A Monk Comes Down the Mountain.)
I’ve seen no graphic publicity on this one, and the novel has apparently not been translated to English, so I don’t have much to tell you.

Unlikely 2015 Releases:

Stan Lee’s Annihilator: IMDb has it listed for an unspecified 2015 release. If so, those involved are better at keeping secrets than anyone else in Hollywood.

Showdown in Manila: Featuring Mark Dacascos. It’s supposed to begin filming early in February, so a release this year is unlikely. It’s said to be like “The Expendables.” I assume that means that it’s a big cast of past super-stars, but it might just mean that it sucks badly.

2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

From Goobe's Books, one of my favorite local bookstores in Bangalore

From Goobe’s Books, one of my favorite local bookstores in Bangalore

Recently, a FaceBook friend posted a link for the 2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. This is a scavenger hunt for readers. There are 24 categories for which one should read at least one book each. For many categories there are also links to posts that will provide some recommendations.

 

While I’m not particularly good at planning out my reading, I thought it would be fun to give it a try.

 

What follows are my choices in each category.

1.) Author was under 25 years old:  The Icarus Girl  by Helen Oyeyemi

or possibly Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

2.) The author was over 65 years old: All That Is by James Salter

3.) A short story collection or anthology: 999: New Stories of Horror and Suspense ed. Al Sarrantonia

4.) Indie press published book: I Have Blinded Myself Writing This by Jess Stoner (and, incidentally, SF/LD [Short Flight / Long Drive] Press)

or, alternatively: Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach (published by Akashic Books)

5.) By or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ: Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima

6.) A book by someone of the opposite gender: House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty, or The Tale of the Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

7.) Book takes place in Asia: My Boyhood Days by Rabindranath Tagore

or, possibly, Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, or  Underground by Haruki Murakami. I’ll likely read several books in this category.

8.) Author is from Africa: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

9.) Book by or about someone from an aboriginal culture: Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette

10.) A microhistory: Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel

or The Emperor of Maladies by Siddartha Mukherjee, or The Pirate Coast by Richard Zacks,

but–most likely– Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton (Which I just realized qualified and I already have queued up to read soon.)

11.) A YA novel: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

12.) A Sci-fi novel: The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, or Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, or Tears in Rain by Rosa Montero, or Under the Empyrian Sky by Chuck Wendig. I’ll likely read several books in this category.

13.) A romance novel: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

14.) A recent winner of the National Book Award, the Man Booker Prize, or a Pulitzer: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (2012 National Book Award) or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2014 Pulitzer)

15.) A retelling of a classic tale: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (of Hamlet), or Going Bovine by Libba Bray (of Don Quixote.)

16.) An audiobook: (Truth be told, I probably won’t listen to any books this year. I used to get audiobooks all the time when I had a commute, but it’s not so convenient anymore. However, to play the game to its fullest): All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

17.) A collection of poetry: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

18.) A book someone has recommended for you: It may be cheating because I already have it down, but so far the only book I’ve had recommended for me recently (that I haven’t yet read) is Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

If you want to keep me from being a dirty cheat, feel free to make me a recommendation.

19.) A book originally published in another language: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, or Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar

20.) A graphic novel or comic collection: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, or Serenity: Leaves on Wind by Zach Whedon

21.) A guilty pleasure read: Never Go Back by Lee Child, or Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, or Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

22.) A book published before 1850: The Aeneid by Virgil (19 B.C.), or Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1605)

23.) A book published in 2014: Station Eleven  by Emily St. John Mandel, or The Martian by Andy Weir

24.) A self-improvement / self-help book: A Conversation with Fear by Mermer Blakeslee, or Golden Cloud, Silver Lining by Ashok Chopra

 

Well, there’s my list. Now I’ve got to go get cracking on doing the reading.