DVD Round-up: Martial Arts

Three ball explodingly awesome films perfect for any lads night in.

A Touch of Zen Carry On DVD Gore Guts Martial Arts Riki Oh Shogun Assassin

So you’re now entering Week Three and the prospect of Cindies every other night is somehow starting to lose its lustre. It’s a well known fact that man cannot live off VKs alone, but what is there to do instead? Well lads it’s time to take a leaf out of our female counterparts’ book and have a good old fashioned night in watching DVDs. No offence though ladies, but watching Bridget Jones and whatever crap Sandra Bullock was in last whilst drinking mint Baileys isn’t to most of our tastes. Have no fear though dear reader for I have endeavoured to provide the film starved male population with three DVDs recommendations every week in order to have a testosterone fuelled evening of cinematic pleasure. Hopefully the evening itself won’t be quite as homoerotic as that last sentence sounded (unless of course you’re into that kinda thing).

Where better to begin than Martial Arts films? It’s a commonly known fact that 90% of women fail to understand the appeal of Martial Arts films. Allow me to explain. Martial Arts films are an excuse to watch men with dodgy accents dance around and then beat the shit out of each other. We get to laugh at the unintentionally humorous and then have our minds blown apart by the intentionally violent. The best Martial Arts films resemble Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton having an illegal cage fight for nothing more than sheer manly honour. Now that’s been established, we come to the important question of what to actually watch. Pretty much everyone has seen Ong Bak and Way of the Dragon by the time they’ve reached university, so you’re going to have come up with something a little bit rarer and special to cut it. So without further ado, here are my three selections for a lads night in watching chop-socky Kung-Fu action.

1. Riki-Oh (The Mentalist’s Choice)
Imagine if someone decided to make a Martial Arts film with the same level of gore as the Evil Dead trilogy. That would be pretty fucking awesome in itself, but imagine then that this visionary director decided to spice up this gore with a Carry On style cheeky subplot. Imagine then that it was decided to set the whole thing in a prison. You’d probably end up with a scene in which someone disembowels themselves and attempts to strangle their opponent with their own entrails while a Chinese Sid James looks on and makes puns about guts. In short, you’d probably end up with Riki-Oh, the most ball-explodingly-illogical film in Martial Arts history. I’m sure I don’t have to say anymore. I’m sure you’re already ordering a copy off Amazon.
Violence: 5/5
Film quality: 2/5

2. Shogun Assassin (The Revenge Fan’s Choice)
Okay I know that Martial Arts purists are going to point out that Shogun Assassin is in fact a poorly edited together contraction of two far better films. I don’t really care though, as it’s much better for a drunken night in watching DVDs than either of the Lone Wolf and Cub films it is taken from. Shogun Assassin is that time old story of boy meets girl, girl has baby, girl gets murdered, boy leaves on a vendetta against the murderer whilst using the baby’s pram as a weapon against ninjas. The dubbing is actually pretty good for a change and Wu-Tang Clan fans will probably recognise it as being heavily sampled by the GZA on his seminal album Liquid Swords. More importantly, you get to see a toddler hit a secret button on his pram that makes a sword fly out and hit a woman in the chest.
Violence: 4/5
Film Quality: 3/5

3. A Touch of Zen (The Art House Geek’s Choice)
What if your lads aren’t really lads at all? What if they regularly wear tweed and drink Campari and Blood Orange Juice whilst discussing Foucault? If that’s the case you may be in trouble with my first two suggestions. One of them has probably already suggested Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. At this point you scoff loudly. You tell them that you refuse to watch something that is just a lame rip off of A Touch of Zen. Having thoroughly shamed your intellectual opponent you then put on the DVD in question and proceed to watch some of the finest three hours of Martial Arts genius outside of the Shaw Brothers’ canon.
Violence: 2/5
Film Quality: 5/5

That’s it for this week, next week we move on to the next essential genre in the man movie universe: Action Films.