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The Art of Action: Martial Arts in Motion Picture (2002)

A look at the history of martial arts films from their chinese roots to the present, presented by Samuel L. Jackson.


(as Keith Clarke)



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Credited cast:
Himself - Interviewee
Himself - Interviewee
Herself - Interviewee
Raymond Chow ...
Himself - Interviewee
Latrell Walker in Exit Wounds (archive footage)
Himself - Interviewee
Himself - Narrator
Himself (archive footage)
Himself - Interviewee
Himself - Interviewee (archive footage)
Himself - Interviewee
Himself - Interviewee
Chia-Liang Liu ...
Himself - Interviewee
Hoi Mang ...
Himself - Interviewee


A look at the history of martial arts films from their chinese roots to the present, presented by Samuel L. Jackson.

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Release Date:

June 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Arte Marcial no Cinema  »

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Did You Know?


Bruce Lee: To me - okay? - to me, ultimately martial art means honestly expressing yourself. That is very difficult to do.
See more »


Features Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

An Amercanized version of the history of Kung Fu
15 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary uses the term "martial arts" very loosely, as the main focus is on the Chinese martial art kung fu (with only a small part dedicated to Japanese director Akira Kurosawa,) while some major stars from karate and muay thai movies (specifically, Sonny Chiba and Tony Jaa) are not mentioned whatsoever. However, kung fu has been the prevailing martial art in cinema, and the main point seems to be a historical progression from the origin of martial arts movies to their use in today's American films. So, because the emphasis is on telling the story of how The Matrix and Face/Off (and more ridiculously, Charlie's Angels and Exit Wounds) came to use "martial arts", the gaps in history are forgivable. This incidentally also makes Samuel Jackson a fairly perfect narrator. The documentary progresses mainly through segments on each major kung fu icon in the history of cinema, and gives a fairly basic overview. If you have any prior knowledge of the history, there may not be a lot of information you don't already know. Also, John Woo gets his own segment in which he is called a "serious filmmaker." Please ignore this. While John Woo movies can be fun, he has no business being talked about in a movie about martial arts. Basically, if you're an American who wants to understand the history of kung fu in movies, or if you're wondering if there's any job Samuel L. Jackson won't say yes to, this doc is definitely worth checking out.

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