“Iron Fist is no stranger to controversy, and the latest aspect of the show fans have taken issue with are the fight scenes…one scene in particular. In this one 35-second scene, there are more than 50 cuts. The scene has been ripped apart by fans and critics for the lackluster fight choreography between two characters, but it’s not just this scene where Danny Rand’s martial arts aren’t up to par.”
The Defenders premieres today on Netflix and its got me thinking about fight choreography in movies and TV. They can make the difference between a great show (like the first Daredevil) and a crappy show (Iron Fist). Of course, 90% of it is the surrounding story. We’ve all seen martial arts movies in which they fight at the drop of a hat or where people are always randomly getting mugged by five guys for no discernible reason (other than creating a chance to demo the hero’s fighting skill – that’s right, I’m talking about you, 1991’s The Perfect Weapon).
But if you have a good story and you have a reasonable excuse for your hero to fight and you have a good stunt choreographer, a good stunt team, and a game actor, you can make a good story great. Consider one of my favorite martial arts movies, Fist of Legend. Yuen Woo Ping (one of the great fight choreographers, who did Iron Monkey and The Matrix among others) was able to create a series of fights of increasing intensity which perfectly matched the development of the story.
In Daredevil, there was something about the character’s scrappy street fighting that really got you rooting for the character. In fact, I think Daredevil’s true superpower is his ability to take a beating. And this is closer to real life than most people think. As long as you are on your feet, you have what they call a “puncher’s chance,” even if you are out-classed at every other level. This is something that used to be trained in martial arts schools by having students participate in tough training with their senior classmates. If they had the heart to keep coming to class after taking a little bit of a beat down, they would have a better chance at surviving on the street, where a large percentage of fighters only want to fight if they are winning and will take off at the fist sign of the tide turning.
I’ve created entries on this site for my favorite fight scenes in movies in the “Martial Arts Movies” category. Let me know what you think are the best and I will check them out!