Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
I have to preface this review with a quick note about myself - I have loved martial arts films since I was a kid, and I currently hold a third degree black belt in kempo, so I know a thing or two about the subject matter of Films of Fury, which is Ric Meyers’ documentary that’s based on his book of the same name. That being said, as a lifelong student of the martial arts I’m always ready, willing, and able to say “teach me more,” which is exactly what I said when I popped in this DVD.
For starters, this film should have come equipped with a seat belt, because there’s a heck of a lot of movie history jammed into the 80 minute run time of Films of Fury, and it moves at a very fast pace. The film features a ton of great clips, and very friendly narration, which makes everything being said seem more like a conversation with a well-versed buddy rather than a lecture. This is a huge plus, because documentaries have ruined great subject matters in the past simply by being boring, or overly professorial.
Another great aspect of Films of Fury is that they put the names of the actors on the screen when first discussing their work. This may seem like a very small point, but if you ever want to seek out more information about a certain actor it makes it much easier to jot down their name rather than attempting to phonetically spell out names that are in a foreign language.
Films of Fury, however, is not a perfect movie. At times I felt like "Kung Fu" was being used a synonym for "Martial Arts," which it isn’t, it’s a form of martial arts. This issue is exacerbated by the movie's tag line - The Kung Fu Movie Movie. There’s also an overuse of hyperbole. We're told a scene is “the best” group fight scene, and “the best” finishing sequence. I understand this is part of the whole “conversation with a buddy” presentation style, most of which I’m a fan of, but let me, the viewer, decide what’s best.
Finally, I would have liked the film to go a little more in depth, especially with a few points that were mentioned in passing regarding Chinese law requiring certain types of films to be made, and preventing others. I realize going as in depth as I would like would end up making the film somewhere in the neighborhood of ten hours, so choosing what to leave out had to have been a challenge. That being said, a little more history would have been nice.
Despite it’s couple of flaws, the pros of Films of Fury outweigh its cons, as the documentary is a solid introduction to the martial arts film genre, and is worthy of repeat viewings. Actually, with the fast pace, and amount of information in the film, it probably requires repeat viewings just so you can catch it all and remember who’s who!
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.