Fantastic Fest 2019 Review: IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Australian director Serge Ou’s comprehensive documentary tells the vast history martial arts cinema and does so with great style and aplomb. It is a rather daunting task to pull this off, as the filmography of martial arts movies is quite extensive. Still, Ou manages to condense a lifetime of work into a mere 107 minutes. It seriously is a lot to absorb and retain, but it does set itself up well for repeated viewings.

Ou begins in the early 1960s with the Shaw Brothers studio and zips through decades of material in multiple countries. The director shows how the movies evolve and change and how each nation brinfs something different to the genre. Ou also explores modern movies, such as The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and how these movies drew their styles and inspirations from the classics.

When I say Ou covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, he definitely does and to be honest, it is a bit overwhelming in the end. Still, I very much enjoyed this informative, enlightening and entertaining journey through cinema. I found myself applauding the familiar entries, and also marveling at the material I had yet to experience. This is certainly a documentary tailor made for cinephiles, particularly those who love and enjoy martial arts films. It is an exciting history lesson and movie journey I must highly recommend.

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