If someone told you that they’d learned about martial arts in a film, you’d probably laugh. But don’t be so hasty. Although it’s true that most films treat martial arts like fantasy, there are those that genuinely deserve a closer look. We aren’t suggesting, of course, that you watch Bruce Lee films or try and imitate Chuck Norris. What we are suggesting is that some films truly depict martial arts in a way that reflects reality.
Redbelt is an often overlooked martial arts film masterpiece. It tells the story of Mike Terry, a jiu-jitsu teacher that is determined to keep the spirit of the warrior alive. Doing so means that although he is comfortable teaching self-defence, he is opposed to martial arts being used for the purpose of spectacle. Hence, he refuses to take part in tournaments and other forms of recreational fighting.
To be clear, Redbelt isn’t outstanding in terms of actual moviemaking. What it does do exceptionally well is depict martial arts with stunning realism. You won’t be seeing any spinning kicks or backflips here, just grounded, true to life fights that lean heavily into realism. This is a must see for anyone that takes their martial arts seriously.
Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003)
Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior is legendary in the world of martial arts, depicting Muay Thai like it has never been seen before. Again, the film is arguably not incredible as far as production value is concerned. But then most aren’t watching for the story; they’re watching to see martial arts stunts that are truly breathtaking.
Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior tells the story of Ting, a resident of a small village in Nong Pradu. Ting is sent to recover a stolen artefact, forcing him to leave the village he has grown up in. As would be expected, Ting’s journey involves having to fight numerous mafia thugs in various interesting circumstances. It’s difficult to explain just how well Muay Thai is depicted here, with the choreography being virtually unmatched. Those unfamiliar with the fighting style will certainly be given a crash course. Next time you’re checking out mobile NFL betting make a stop at YouTube and watch a few clips, you won’t be disappointed.
Last is Kuro-Obi, also referred to as Black Belt. Kuro-Obi is truly an incredible martial arts film. It not only does the art of fighting respect, it also delves deeply into how martial arts is valuable beyond just the physical elements. The story told is of a karate master that passes away, though does not name a successor before his death. His top students, Taikan, Giryu and Choei, must decide which of them is most worthy to take over the school.
The story follows the students as they journey through life, each realising that the lessons they were taught in karate school are applicable in many situations. This is truly an incredible film, well worth a watch, and as much a story about Japanese history as it is about realistic martial arts.