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Looking ahead at the martial arts movies of 2011/2012

Good to be home.

I’d like to begin, however, with what I’m seeing as a fast-growing genre trend, with productions and in-developments popping up all over the place. I am of course talking about martial arts.

Yes indeed, those Kung-Fu, Karate kicking ‘boards don’t hit back’ badass movies are flipping their way back to the silver screen big time. I’ve compiled a list of those movies I’m sensing, with my faux Ninja skills, to be the most promising of an ever increasing bunch.

Warrior: Yes, I know, it’s out in the US, but it’s yet to reach certain shores, but when it does, this $30m picture starring the awesome British acting talent Tom Hardy and the awesome Australian talent Joel Edgerton as brothers who are pitted against one another in a mixed-martial arts tournament. This really is an amazing movie. If you want raw passion, great performances, tough, fierce, gritty fighting with sculpted real blokes, who ooze true underdog appeal, then this movie is definitely one for you. It’s released in the UK September 23rd.

The Man With The Iron Fists: Not much has been spouted about this project of late, but with a cool cast, including the likes of Russell Crowe, Byron Mann, Pam Grier, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, and decent team behind it, Eli Roth wrote the screenplay and RZA is directing this unusual movie set in feudal China, telling the story of a blacksmith who makes weapons for a small village. It’s when the blacksmith is forced with no alternative but to fight for himself and his community.

Bloodsport: Yes, as reported recently, the Van Damme movie of the same name is getting a make-over by the team who brought you ‘Salt’ and written by Robert Mark Kamen (”Karate Kid”, ”Taken”, ”Colombiana”) and directed by Phillip Noyce (”Salt”, ”Patriot Games”) it’s said to centre around a marine who takes convalescence in Brazil and is drawn into the world of underground fighting.

Bunraku: Has this been and gone or is it still on its way? I have no idea, but the trailer looks insane! Woody Harrelson, Josh Hartnet, Demi Moore, Ron Perlman in a strange looking movie about a man seeking revenge but coming across extremely unexpected foes.

Snowblade: A beautiful looking movie, directed by sometime actor and magazine journalist Bey Logan, out in China.

Iron Monk: Another UK production, which I need to discover more about.

Untitled Noel Clarke MMA Movie: Clarke (”Adulthood”), is said to be developing a mixed-martial-arts film. There’s not been much more than that. It could be hot air, so we’ll see what’s what regarding this one.

Knockout: Zara Phythian, soon to be seen in a so-so horror film called ”The Hike”, stars. She plays a young woman, distraught from witnessing the murder of her parents as a child, who develops her own unique martial art by playing video games. It’s because of this she suddenly finds herself embroiled in the world of underground fighting. Cast isn’t too shabby – “Clash of the Titans” alum Jason Flemyng could possibly be involved, as well as Sean Brosnan (”UFO”, son of Pierce), Michelle Ryan (”Bionic Woman”) and even the legendary Cynthia Rothrock (”China O’Brien”), as well as a host of champion martial artists. Filming is expected to take place in London and Turkey.

Haywire: Formerly, oddly, previously titled ‘Knockout’, starring Gina Carana, Michael Douglas, Ewan MacGregor and a host of extremely cool talents, directed by the extremely cool Steven Soderberg. Is it purely a martial-arts movie? No. I get the feeling it’s more like Bourne, but Gina really does kick and punch and leap and gosh knows what else, so this is one to watch out for, too.

Kung Fu Panda 3: Sadly true.

“You have offended my family and you have offended the Shaolin Temple.”

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