Grady Hendrix: Critics just don’t understand action scenes

Thank goodness that Grady Hendrix is back in action, otherwise we wouldn’t have articles such as “Critics miss point, again,” in which Hendrix takes critics to task for downplaying the importance of action scenes in movies (specifically, the recently released Ashes of Time Redux).

What I’m trying to say is that in a lot of movies the physicality, the action, the fighting, is the point of the film, not a useless garnish put in to appeal to the masses while the classes can ponder the subtext. For many Hong Kong movies, the actions are the emotions. The brutality of the action in Tsui Hark’s THE BLADE, the physical bond between childhood friends Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan in DRAGONS FOREVER and even the fight choreography in ASHES OF TIME — these movies cannot exist without the action. It isn’t a kitsch distraction… it’s the point. The story of Tony Leung’s blind swordsman is just hot air without his big battle with the bandits. He does more physically in that sequence that he did in the rest of the movie, and his physicality comes off as honest, real and earned. Previously, he just talked up a storm about the insane odds he faced in his life, but in this action scene the sheer bravado required to face down those odds is made literal and heart-breaking.


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