Martial Club Enters the Hollywood Action Spotlight
In a recent Twitter thread, writer/director Daniel Kwan highlighted the guerilla-like approach to filmmaking that made Everything Everywhere All at Once possible. Among other things, he revealed that the film’s fight choreography was handled by Martial Club, a group of amateur YouTubers who learned everything they know about martial arts by watching classic Hong Kong films.
Entertainment Weekly’s Clark Collis offers more details about Martial Club, who have quickly become one of the hottest action-related properties in Hollywood, with its members appearing in Everything Everywhere All at Once as well as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Into the Badlands, and The Paper Tigers. The team was co-founded by brothers Andy and Brian Le, who have little actual martial arts training.
The pair honed their martial arts skills by watching videos on YouTube and old kung fu movies. “With the internet nowadays, you’ve got resources to learn pretty much anything you want,” says Andy. “We would literally play kung fu movies back in slow motion and try to copy their movements, shot-for-shot, frame-for-frame, angle-for-angle. That’s exactly how we learned for the most part.”
The Le brothers, along with their friend Daniel Mah, began uploading videos to YouTube a decade ago. Although they started off recreating fight scenes from movies, their videos began receiving more and more views, which inspired the team to get more ambitious. That eventually led to actual jobs in Hollywood, as well as a dream collaboration with Jackie Chan. As for their involvement in Everything Everywhere All at Once, that was due to YouTube, as well.
The directors of Everything Everywhere All at Once also discovered the brothers via their YouTube videos. “One day, the Daniels called us up and asked us if we wanted to be featured in this film [and] also do the action in this film,” says Andy. “A lot of action in the film industry has been very big, like, Marvel spectacles or the John Wick-style. The Hong Kong martial arts style has kind of died out, and they kind of wanted to bring it back, and that was kind of our speciality. We’re also known for our brand of martial arts comedy, which kind of fits in with their wacky, crazy style. The Daniels said they scoured the world; they couldn’t find anyone who really brought this flavor of Hong Kong martial arts action. They saw us on YouTube, and they were like, I think these guys are the only ones who can do it right now.”
Martial Club’s YouTube channel is filled with a wealth of content, including reviews of classic martial arts films, homages to their action heroes, martial arts tips and tutorials, behind the scenes footage, and hilarious shorts with titles like “Martial Artist vs. Normal People,” “When You Watch Too Much Anime,” and “When You Watch Too Much Bruce Lee.”