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Thread: Bruce Lee's Warrior

  1. #31
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    If You Don’t See Blood, You Didn’t Come to Play

    Gene Ching
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    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #32
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  3. #33
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    All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

    Almost done with these reviews - just two more to go (but those will come with extras )

    Warrior Season 2 Episode 8 Review: All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

    Gene Ching
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  4. #34
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    Enter the Dragon & the Riot of 1877

    Gene Ching
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  5. #35
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    My final three articles covering Warrior for Den of Geek

    Warrior Season 2 Episode 10 Review: Man on the Wall



    Will Warrior Season 3 Happen?



    Warrior: The Historical Inspiration for Dylan Leary



    Warrior was a good run for me. I wrote 17 articles on it for Den of Geek. I'm not sure if that's more coverage than I did on my own show Man at Arms: Art of War or Into the Badlands.

    Note that there's now a campaign to save Warrior. Sign the petition - #SaveWarrior
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  6. #36
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    We're back!

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  7. #37
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    Brett Chan

    I find it fascinating that Warrior & Kung Fu are both choreographed by Brett Chan. This two shows are like yin and yang when it comes to choreo quality.

    Jun 3, 2021 9:05am PT
    ‘Snowpiercer,’ ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘Warrior’ Stunt Coordinator on Keeping Fights Grounded in Character


    By Danielle Turchiano


    Brett Chan
    Courtesy of David Bukach
    With more than two decades in the business, Brett Chan has racked up quite the résumé as both a stunt performer and a coordinator. On the small screen alone he has dozens of credits from superhero dramas “Arrow” and “Supergirl,” to Netflix’s “Altered Carbon.” Now, he is responsible for the stunts on a quartet of high-adrenaline series: TNT’s “Snowpiercer,” WarnerMedia’s “Warrior,” the CW’s “Kung Fu,” and the upcoming “Halo” for Paramount Plus.

    How does a character’s backstory affect the kind of fight style you create for them, especially on a show like “Snowpiercer” where people from all walks of life are crammed on that train?
    It’s basically characters first, and then you have to elaborate from there. Daveed Diggs’ [character Andre Layton] was an ex-police officer, and so was [Mickey Sumner’s Bess] Till, but they both have very different backgrounds in terms of what their positions were in the police force. [Layton] had been on the force for a little bit longer, so he had a little bit more of a street toughness to him. I tried to give them a little bit more adeptness because police do some basic self defense, gun disarms and how to deal with situations with multiple people or when you’re trying to keep a person [subdued]. It’s always harder to be police officer because you can’t just hit people, you always have to try and and incapacitate them by not striking at them, but at the same time keeping yourself safe. Neither Till nor [Layton] had any martial arts training. The Jackboots were trained military guys — soldier types — so we gave them a standard basic etiquette about how they move with their weapons and we gave them a little more regimented look. They had a definite order about they move in formation, and you have to because if you don’t and one side falters, then the line gets overrun and they can pull you over.

    Between Season 1 and Season 2 of shows like “Warrior” and “Snowpiercer,” did you have time to get in and train with any actors, or did they have to rely on muscle memory?
    If anything the actors came in more gung ho for Season 2: They loved the stunt team training room and spent more time in there than anywhere else. As more actors joined the “[Warrior”] cast in Season 2, it was more about trying to get them out of the stunt training room. Many of our stunt team remain very close with many of the actors. When Season 3 got renewed there was not any doubt that everyone would do whatever they needed to do in order to be a part of that season. It is an anomaly of a show and if you ever get to work on one like this in terms of the people and content of the project, you are lucky. It is one in a million. [Between seasons of “Snowpiercer”] there isn’t really time to do anything. It’s really up to the actors themselves. Mickey, in her spare time when she wasn’t filming, was training [such as in] jujitsu. It was on her own time. She just wants to train and kick butt — and she wants to be able to show women empowerment, that women don’t need to be saved by men all the time; they can have their own collective of how they survive, especially in that type of climate, where you have to be a little sneakier. She wanted to look like she was better at it, and she was really good and she picked it up really fast. We can definitely give her moves to make it look like she’s a fighter. And we always paired her with a really good dance partner, per se, so she can showcase what she’s doing.


    How does the train setting on “Snowpiercer” inform the scope of what you can accomplish in any given stunt sequence?
    It can’t be all martial arts. And we have cots in it and we’re dealing with extras. You’ve got to fill the train; you can’t have a car with 50 people and they’re all stunt guys. We have to be really cognizant of that, but we still have to make it look chaotic. We have to keep the action mitigated a certain way so that we can keep our actors safe and keep everyone else around them safe at the same time. I’ll either be able to choreograph on the actual train booth, depending on if they’re shooting or not. If not, then I’ll go tape out the dimensions of it and use boxes and choreograph everything in there. And it definitely limits what you can do and where you can go because the train walls aren’t all solid. Because we have to be able to take the walls off and on and move really fast between shots, that means we can’t always bang against the train walls or they’ll fall and hurt people.

    Do you have leeway to have walls moved if you need a bit more room for something special?
    They built some trains to be like that, like the Night Car: it’s supposed to be like a giant, two-level thing and it’s wider. But it’s definitely confining and it limits the weapons you can use because if you start putting long weapons in there and you’re swinging them around, you’re hitting people behind you and in front of you. But we’ve had no injuries!

    The second season finale had an unexpected dog attack stunt. How complicated was that to pull off, given everything you’ve already talked about as limitations?
    We used the actual trainer to be the person the dog attacks because he knows that person already. A dog comes on set, no one’s going to touch him, no one’s allowed to pet him, [there’s] no, “Oh you’re so cute!” You can’t do that because the dog’s got to keep the focus. We keep all things off the set that don’t need to be there because that changes the parameter of things, too.

    What sequence did you feel was the most complicated to choreograph and then successfully achieve on the day of production on Season 2 of “Warrior”?
    Episode 205’s Zing vs. Li Yong fight and the Episode 209 riot sequence with the individual fights were the most difficult because of logistics involved due to the time we had. We were shooting four episodes at once and I was action directing all of them while still choreographing and doing other work for them. Additionally I was in development for Episode 6 simultaneously. Episode 205’s saving grace was director Loni Peristere. He gave me full control to go to town, allowing me to time manage. He was extremely collaborative. For Episode 209, director Denny Gordon was also extremely collaborative and was a large reason I was able to execute such a difficult sequence. If I had to pick one fight that was the most complicated it would definitely be the riot with the individual fights in Episode 209.

    When you have characters like Ah Sahm, who are martial arts experts when they are introduced, what is your philosophy about “topping” the fights and sequences, to continuously show off more of those characters’ skills?
    I don’t know if it is just because they are cool fights or needing to “top a fight,” but more of that I think it all comes down to the story and the characters. Really, a fight is just a fight — but if you give it the story and individual characteristics associated with each character at that moment in time, the motivation for the fight becomes more meaningful and has more impact. As storylines changed in Season 2, so did our fight sequences.

    How different was experience on “Kung Fu,” in which Olivia Liang, who plays the lead, had no martial arts training before the show but whose character needed to look like an expert?
    Even after 10 years, you won’t even really be really that good in a stylistic martial art, and this is specifically stylistic. I said, “They need a little bit of martial arts training, give me eight weeks to train them.” But they gave me this girl who had no martial arts training and five days to to train her. None of the leads had martial arts training. But when they showed up, all they did was train. Olivia said, “I don’t care, I want to train Saturdays, Sundays.” We trained four to six hours a day. She has a dance background so she did fantastic, and she’s just getting better and better.

    How does the mysticism element of “Kung Fu” affect what you are creating?
    The show was never meant to be “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” has its audience has its genre, and it’s fantastic, but Christina [M. Kim], the showrunner, basically said, “Let’s ground it.” So, it was about keeping the kung fu grounded into daily fighting, but keeping the flair of the styles. We pick her movements depends on the style. Tiger is a very aggressive style, while crane is not. So you see a lot of crane, but when she’s angry, you’ll see the tiger come out. And then we start blending the two together, which starts leveling off her emotional levels. We tried giving that purpose to everybody.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #38
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    Catharsis

    Watching Martial Arts Movies Amid Anti-Asian Violence Is Much-Needed Catharsis
    Movies and TV shows like 'The Paper Tigers' and 'Warrior' show the beauty of Asian American survival.
    By Frances Nguyen
    June 8, 2021, 4:00am


    IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE
    When I saw the opening seven minutes of Mortal Kombat on Instagram, it was the first time I’d felt anything in the realm of joy in over a month. Given the contents of the clip, I was also a little horrified at myself.

    Faithful to its video game source material, the violence in the film begins almost immediately. Within the opening minutes, a woman dies. A child dies. Hanzo Hasashi—the man who will become Scorpion, the character in the game I played most often growing up—liberates what looks like quarts of blood from the bodies of his masked opponents before confronting his nemesis, the man who will become the ice-wielding assassin Sub-Zero. The teaser leaves you at the edge of a fight that promises to be an enthralling one; here, once again, someone will surely die violently.


    The theatrically gory film was an odd source of comfort during the weeks-long despondency I felt following a series of shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of whom were women of Asian descent. With a never-ending reel of brutal violence against Asians circulating online, there was something refreshing about escaping into a world populated by people who look like me and who are portrayed as strong.

    Coming at the end of a year that gave rise to more than 6,600 reported instances of anti-Asian hate between March 2020 and March 2021, and where assaults continue almost daily across the country, watching a group of Asian characters wield their bodies with physics-defying agility and precision to deliver bouts that look and feel more like physical dialogue than combat made for a stark contrast to the images I was seeing on news broadcasts and social media, which tend to foreground Asian bodies as quiet, passive vessels for someone else’s rage.

    Examining some of the most brutal recorded attacks that have taken place this year—on elders Vicha Ratanapakdee, Vilma Kari, and Yao Pan Ma—the abridged stories captured on camera repeat the same refrain: The Asian body appears and is brutalized; that’s all that we see. For Asian Americans, these scenes invite us to participate in a ritual of vicarious trauma: Without sound, our minds train instead on the movements of the bodies that appear on screen. We imagine ourselves and our loved ones in the only body that bears our likeness—the victim’s—and our own bodies are activated by the input of threat.

    Up until recently, however, Hollywood has arguably done little to provide counter-narratives to these stories, narratives that acknowledge the real-life experiences and agency of the individuals who are navigating what it means to be Asian in America in real time. A report released last month—co-authored by sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen, author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, and Stacy L. Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative—revealed that in the top 100 films of 2019, just over a quarter of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) characters die by the end of the film—and all but one dies violently. The study also notes that 42 percent of the API characters experienced disparagement, including racist/sexist slurs, with 30 percent being tokenized (meaning they were the only Asian character in the film or scene) and 67 percent channeling tired Asian stereotypes. Notably, only 13 percent were portrayed as “fully human,” (ie, complex characters with agency) which the report measured in terms of them having a wide spectrum of relationships.

    I wasn’t alone in gravitating toward media where strong Asian characters took center stage. After the shootings in Atlanta—and after the video of Vilma Kari’s attack went viral—Yuen, the report’s co-author, told me that she and her friends started watching Kung Fu on The CW, a reboot of the 70s show starring David Carradine that premiered in early April.

    Though the original was not without its shortcomings (the lead role, of a half-Chinese Shaolin monk who wanders the Wild West, went to the white actor instead of Bruce Lee, despite Carradine having no prior martial arts training), the CW series gives the story a 21st century update. This time around, the lead is an Asian woman—and, importantly, an Asian woman who kicks ass. Olivia Liang’s Nicky Shen stands alone as the only Asian American woman lead on network television right now, and her characterization as a strong and capable defender of her hometown of San Francisco offers some counterweight to the blunt fact that Asian women are twice as likely to report being targets of anti-Asian hate than Asian men are.

    “Certainly, our show is not the solution, but I hope that we are a part of the solution,” showrunner Christina M. Kim said in a press conference a day after the Atlanta shootings.

    As Yuen sees it, the show’s main draw is its constellation of rich characters with developed backstories. “As an Asian American watching it, I feel empowered, not just because there’s martial arts but also in seeing people who aren’t just the sidekick, or the friend, or the villain,” she said. “They are the leads, and you feel like you can see yourself in different parts of them.” Ultimately, she said, that’s the goal of the report: for Hollywood to represent API characters as complex, multidimensional human beings—just like in real life.

    The Kung Fu reboot isn’t the only recent work that draws on martial arts as a vehicle for telling more three-dimensional human stories. The Paper Tigers—a charming comedy about three washed-up, middle-aged former kung fu disciples looking to avenge their sifu’s murder—uses the martial art as a way of telling a story about redemption, brotherhood, and becoming men.

    Released to streaming platforms and select theaters on May 7, The Paper Tigers complicates the strong-versus-weak narrative by presenting its heroes as both in different moments. They’re strong when they’re aligned to the teachings of kung fu—which espouse traditional Eastern values like honor, discipline, humility, and bravery—and weak, both physically and morally, when they stray from them. Throughout the film, the men contend with choosing when to fight and when to walk away: When his son gets beat up by the school bully, Danny, the lead character, tells the boy that he should have walked away from the kid who has been terrorizing him and his friend. Later, after one of the Tigers is sorely wounded, Danny heads off to a fight, but not before calling his son to tell him that he’s proud of him for sticking up for his friend. Fearing that he might not make it to see another day, he tells his son how to make a fist, but offers this information with a warning: “If you go looking for a fight, that makes you the bully.”

    Beyond the moments of pitch-perfect comedy (see: the many fortune cookie-worthy proverbs doled out by a white sifu, the men’s former schoolmate rival, in Cantonese, which none of them understand), there’s also something deeply gratifying about seeing bodies, out of practice for 25 years, reckon with their limitations and slowly relearn their discipline, building back their strength over time. Tran Quoc Bao, the film’s writer and director, said he wanted to highlight martial arts as a practice of discovering one’s inner strength, and learning the right moment to express it. “With martial arts,” he said, “it’s that constant sharpening of the sword knowing that you can hang it up and not use it.”
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  9. #39
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    Continued from previous post

    As it turns out, the film’s resonance with the present moment is something of a coincidence: Tran conceived the story a decade ago, drawing on his experiences growing up in a multicultural martial arts community in Seattle. He never imagined it would be released during a pandemic, much less at a time of surging racist violence.

    “Obviously, there’s a different subtext now that kind of lingers in the air,” he told me. Still, with its subtle allusions to race and cultural appropriation, the film hits upon facets of the Asian American experience that feel just as relevant now as they did several decades ago. Importantly, it’s also an Asian American film that exists on its own terms. Though it centers non-white experience, it doesn’t announce itself as such—not to the point of color-blindness, but in a way where cultural difference feels normal, and honored.

    It’s nice to see martial arts, and kung fu especially, treated with reverence and respect. Although kung fu and martial arts movies have been a part of Hollywood’s diet since the 70s, the form has too often been relegated to an unintentional sub-genre of comedy—one replete with its fair share of racist stereotypes. As the report notes, a large component of the anti-Asian racism perpetuated in pop culture is the representation of Asian men as weak and effeminate compared to their Western counterparts—an emasculation that continues to be expressed by Hollywood through the physical domination of Asian characters by predominantly white leading characters.

    One of the most notorious examples is Quentin Tarantino’s characterization of Lee, the most beloved and celebrated martial artist of all time. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the Lee character—caricatured as a toxically masculine showboat—challenges Brad Pitt’s stuntman character Cliff Booth to a three-round fight. It technically results in a draw, but Lee walks away humiliated after Booth handily throws him into a car.

    Yuen described the scene as exemplifying American pop culture’s impulse “to take a strong Asian man down a notch.”

    “They get these really amazing Asian actors who are at the top of their martial arts game, and then they have the white lead beat them up in order to show his prowess and maintain a kind of racial hierarchy,” she said.

    Not surprisingly, over the past year, there have been disturbing reflections of that dynamic in real life. After a man of Chinese descent was assaulted in an unprovoked attack outside New York City’s Penn Station in March, his attacker reportedly assumed a mocking kung fu stance before fleeing the scene.

    “It makes them feel better about themselves to beat up an Asian whom they feel is the enemy, because Hollywood has historically represented Asians as enemies,” said Yuen. Trump’s “kung flu” rhetoric from last year, part of his campaign to scapegoat Asians as foreign vectors of disease, certainly hasn’t helped.

    Warrior, a Cinemax original series with an Asian-dominant cast that premiered in 2019, is yet another martial arts-related project that attempts to examine and subvert this sort of racist scapegoating. With a premise conceived by the late Bruce Lee himself, the show is set during the Tong Wars of San Francisco in the 1870s—a period in American history that arguably gave birth to some of the most enduring and damaging Asian American stereotypes, from that of the disease-carrying foreigner to the Chinatown gangster and the brothel worker. The series follows Ah Sahm (played by Andrew Koji), a kung fu prodigy who becomes a hatchet man for a powerful tong, or criminal brotherhood, as it vies with rivals in Chinatown for control over resources. Notably, it’s set on the eve of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which effectively banned all immigration from China until 1943, in addition to prohibiting Chinese immigrants from becoming American citizens.

    “[In the show], we are dealing with the introduction of the Chinese mythology and propaganda machine,” said Olivia Cheng, who plays Ah Toy, a fictionalized version of the eponymous Chinatown madame known as the first recorded Chinese prostitute in America. In an interview with VICE, Cheng said that she was challenged with not only honoring the real Ah Toy’s life but also playing against the traps of one of Hollywood’s favorite and most harmful tropes about Asian women: the “dragon lady,” an Asian femme fatale who wields power through sex.

    I began the show a month after the Atlanta shootings, shortly after it was announced that the series would be renewed for a third season, on HBO Max. Given the heartbreak and impotence I felt, I wasn’t surprised to find myself drawn to Ah Toy, an Asian female character who seems fully possessed of her power as she navigates gender dynamics and a racist criminal justice system—power structures that are not only designed to oppress her but that render women like her entirely disposable. In the first season, when the police raid Ah Toy’s brothel as a means of signalling to its white citizens that it’s “cracking down” on Chinatown crime, she bribes the sergeant with a few calm words and a small red envelope. “A gift for Chinese New Year,” she says, meeting his gaze with an unflinching stare.

    Cheng told me that other Asian women have expressed being triggered by her character’s profession, which she understands. She said she had to overcome her own reticence about Ah Toy, but ultimately decided to lead with her character’s humanity. “I definitely feel a responsibility,” she said. “I think you’d have to be incredibly vacuous to be in my position and not.”

    Every character in Warrior contends with different articulations of power, said Shannon Lee, executive producer of the show and Bruce Lee’s daughter. “We’re presenting power when it gets out of control and the people who have to participate in that culture, who are the victims of that culture but who don’t think of themselves as victims,” she said. “They think of themselves as humans. They want what every human wants, and are fighting for it.”

    As violent as Warrior can be (and disquietingly close to our current reality), I have been enjoying getting to know these kaleidoscopic characters—people who reveal new sides of themselves with every power play. Even as I tense at the scenes of racist confrontation (in the opening two minutes of the series, a white immigration officer singles out a man disembarking from the boat, calls him “Ching Chong,” and knocks him to the ground), I can take cover in characters with the agency to defend themselves. I can see them fight, and I can see them win.

    “Catharsis is something that people need right now,” said Hoon Lee, who plays Wang Chao, a quick-witted black market arms dealer. “In the context of a show, you can experience—and, hopefully, exorcise—some of that rage that you might not know what to do with otherwise. That’s a primary function of storytelling.”

    Martial arts might be a safe bet for a Hollywood looking for low-hanging fruit when it comes Asian representation, but in this new slate of film and television shows, it’s also the Trojan Horse: a vehicle for Asian characters whose identities are as layered and complex as people are in real life. And while, yes, these bodies encounter brutal violence, they survive to experience what lies beyond it—joy, grief, rage, and humor together. In devastating times like these, we need storytelling that shows us that access to the full spectrum of human experience is possible—not just suffering.

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    Once-Upon-a-Time-in-Hollywood
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    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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