JUMP, and why you need to see it

JUMP promo image

At this year’s OzAsia festival, Wifey and I were lucky enough to go and see JUMP, a martial arts comedy show from Korea that’s been doing the rounds internationally. We went into this one blind purely running off the official press release on the website because it sounded quirky and interesting. Turns out our impressions were pretty accurate!

The story’s simple and stereotypical – the story is set around a Korean family (Father, Mother, Uncle and Daughter) who train diligently in martials arts as directed by their grandfather. There’s also the son-in-law, who the grandfather’s actively trying to setup with his granddaughter. Part one deals with the daily training regime, part two deals with the “incident” – a couple of guys decide to break into the household, and combat ensues. The show finishes with a run of acrobatics and martial arts, while the scenes are broken up with the great-gandfather offering some comic relief.

The concept itself seems a little staid, and that’ll probably bother some. However, there lies a certain genius in the way the show has been put together. Given the language barrier, the show relies on physical comedy and over-the-top exclamations to communicate with foreign audiences. This presents challenges, but great opportunities as well. There are wonderful pop-cultural overflows with the use of English quips and more than a few tips of the hat to martial arts flicks of years gone by – I’m particularly reminded of a lot of the physical comedy present in movies from the Shaw Brothers and some from Golden Harvest from the 70s and early 80s. There are also tips of the hat that echo animation and hollywood flicks, some of which are subtle or possibly unintentional, and others not-so (such as the amusing interpretation of the 360° camera work from The Matrix).

Of course, there’s also the acrobatics and martial arts, both of which are awesome to see in action. I realise that over-the-top martial arts choreography popular in action movies from HK/Korea/Japan is often frowned upon by some martial artists, but I love it – it’s entertaining even if it isn’t practial, and a great demonstration of human physicality. The acrobatics were great as well – lots of wall jumps, tumbles, flips, and so forth. Daughter does some nice-looking work with a bo too – not sure if it’s more dance performance than forms-based, but it looked cool, so that’s fine with me πŸ™‚

JUMP’s strength is in its physical action rather than its originality, but the execuction and sense of humour adds depth and makes it stronger for the sum of its parts. If it happens to come back again, I might have to see if we can drag a few more people along to the show, as I reckon my brothers, mates and fellow students would probably enjoy it as well πŸ™‚ Highly recommended.

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I watched Vision Quest, and it was awesome

Vision Quest poster

I’m a sucker for martial arts flicks from the 80s, whether it be from Japan or Hong Kong, or from the US. Even if it’s rubbish, I’ll probably still enjoy it, because bad 80s movies are entertaining by default. Vision Quest is hardly earth-shattering, but it’s not a stinking pile of gloop either. In fact, it did a very good job of entertaining Wifey and I for a couple of hours. This is because Wifey is suitably tragic as well. That’s yet another sign of our collective awesomeness.

Moving along – Vision Quest’s a bit of an unusual pick as it revolves around wrestling competitions from the perspective of a US high school, rather than my usual martial arts pics featuring one-man armies with optional mullets. While the film began with a bit of a false start, it didn’t take long to win me over. First of all, it’s a teen movie with 80s grit. Love it. It also features Jake Ryan (well, Michael Schoeffling, but he’ll always by Jake Ryan to anyone whose a fan of 80s John Hughes gold), so there’s more thumbs up, particularly if you’re like Wifey and still harbour a secret passion for Jake Ryan… bugger knows why she married a ranga with one leg considering it’s a bit of an antithesis to 80s Schoeffling, though I’m certainly not complaining πŸ˜‰

Then there’s the Madonna factor. Not only do we get to see her do her quality 80’s dancing, but we get “Crazy For You” played throughout the movie during montages, in a club, as an instrumental during terrible romantic moments, et cetera.

In fact, let’s give this one another thumbs up for cramming in plenty of montages – if there’s anything Trey Parker has taught us using the power of animation or marionettes, it’s that everything works better as a montage.

But going back to Madonna, I think we need to take a moment to consider the soundtrack. As noted, not only is there some 80s Madonna in there (I’ll admit to enjoying 80s Madonna sugarpop), you get a menagerie of awesomeness in the form of Don Henley, Style Council, Foreigner and (wait for it), Journey. Epic.

But what about the actual movie? Wasn’t too bad actually – I don’t know a lot about wrestling, but it was interesting to see some of the groundwork in there. The Wikipedia entry tell me it’s a bit of a cult classic among middle and high school wrestlers, so I’m guessing there’s something in there.

But for me, it was the cast, the music and the setting that won me over. This of course is completely obvious in this blocky trailer on YouTube:

I know I’m tragic, but as GI Joe told me in the 80s, knowing is half the battle.

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Awesome home-spun machete vs pipe fight clip at Martial Explorer!

Huge props to Jesse over at The Martial Explorer – he was involved with a video production a while back that saw him having a machete vs iron pipe biffo on the top of a small building, complete with gratuitous kicking of his opponent into a swimming pool below. The final cut’s been put together, and here are the details:

Make sure you visit his blog post on it (here) to view the footage (I can’t embed it from my blog)and leave comments/praise for its awesomeness πŸ˜€

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Examples of real-world martial arts

Matt over at Ikigai has posted a couple of interesting blogs this month, both of them showing good examples of what I would call “real-world martial arts”, or instances where previous martial arts training resulted in a swift resolution to an act (or perceived act) of physical violence. The first one concerns a home owner who is being threatened by someone chucking a wobbly outside his house:

There are a few comments I want to make on this one, though I’m sure it’s entirely arguable if I have any legitimate reason to since I’m still a young gun when it comes to martial arts training πŸ˜› I’m merely adding to the discussion πŸ™‚

First up, I was extremely surprised and impressed at the home owner’s patience with the aggressor and the restraint he demonstrated throughout the ordeal, including the moment he chose to defend himself and bring the confrontation to a conclusion. There wasn’t outward aggression, he wasn’t itching to fight back, he was calm and collected, even when the aggressor started causing damage to his property or started shoving him around. The fact he concluded the confrontation with a single punch and didn’t follow-up with excessive violence is also extremely important, as it shows the level of self control that a combination of martial arts training and personality quirks can create in a confrontation like the above. As Matt notes, he’s done all the right things from a legal perspective and it would be unlikely that any reasonable juror or judge would consider his actions unnecessary in the circumstance.

In addition, it was great reading through all the responses Matt received from his post, as there are plenty of people that join me in reading his blog with far more experience than yours truly! The common points raised in terms of warnings or criticisms are that he let the aggressor get too close, which meant that if the thug was carrying a weapon of some sort, it would give the victim less chance to effectively defend himself. Another point raised was that action should have taken place sooner, particularly once the aggressor started damaging the property.

I think both of these comments are very important to consider, and as a martial artist, are definitely ones I’ll be taking on board. Personally, I have no idea how I would react in such a scenario – would I react sooner? Would I have let the aggressor get that close to me? Could I have concluded the confrontation with a single, clear strike? I don’t know, and maybe that’s the unsettling part to the equation for me, personally. I can only trust that my demeanor and martial arts training will allow me to approach this kind of situation with a degree of control that only the most appropriate measures take place.

The second I want to share is from a “candid camera” prank gone awry – Matt’s given it a neat summary so I’ll quote form his blog:

This clip comes from a TV Show somewhere in Belgium. It is a candid camera program that annoys people in obnoxious ways (standard affair really). One fateful evening the show decided to visit a mall and harass local shoppers. The β€˜host’ proceeded to throw a net on a man, taunt him, and then run away. Unfortunately, to bystanders, it looked as if he was either robbing or accosting the local shopper. One bystander in particular didn’t take kindly to that kind of criminal activity.

That kick was, seriously, amazing stuff. The fact that he was able to perform a standing roundhouse kick like that without it even affecting his balance despite the amount of oncoming energy and still managing knocking the guy flat on his back – wow, I’m very impressed.

While the guy’s heart was in the right place, this demonstrates the reverse side of self defense, even if in this case the action was meant as the deed of a Good Samaritan rather than pure self-defense – despite the best intentions, there were apparently legal consequences for the martial artist’s actions. I guess this raises all sorts of questions that the hypocrisy of contemporary society paints for us – people bemoan the lack of community assistance when someone is physically threatened or in need of assistance, but at the same time, people are afraid to assist in case (a) they get injured, or (b) the legal repercussions that may result from what they determine to be a community service, even if they meant well. I’m in no way endorsing vigilante violence, but it’s a difficult line to walk today when it comes to assisting someone in trouble, but being worried that you won’t be rewarded by trying to help, rather, you’ll be putting yourself in a situation where you’re punished for your assistance.

If you’re interested in reading through the original posts Matt wrote, the one featuring the home owner is here, whilst the crazy-awesome face-boot is here. I’d highly recommend you check both of them out, not only to get Matt’s even-headed perspective on both of them, but also the great discussion that followed. I was thinking about jumping in, but by the time I got around to reading them, discussion had fallen off, so I figured a blog post might suffice πŸ™‚

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The Karate Kid movies are still awesome (well, at least the first 2)

So we were channel surfing a week or two back, and lo-and-behold, the first Karate Kid movie was on, and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita was being all awesome and stuff, and it was supremely awesome. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the first Karate Kid movie, but I swear I could watching it once a week and still love it after years on end.

Alright, that might be a bit of an exageration, but it’s such an awesome movie. Even if Ralph Macchio specialised in some pretty rubbish karate, it’s still 126 minutes of inspired awesomeness. I mean, it wasn’t his fault I guess – getting dropped into a six-month crash-course of martial arts training without any prior experience won’t exactly get the most polished results, particularly if you’re a Westerner, so thumbs up to him for not chucking a wobbly and chickening out.

So, continuing in the spirit of awesomeness, Wifey was channel surfing the other day and a choice piece of 80s awesomeness quickly hit the screen – she was about to turn over since the didn’t realise the extremity of awe-inspired film clip-ness that was hitting the TV:

Well, without the subtitles anyways πŸ™‚ Do you realise how many instances of this Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love there are on YouTube, and that this is the only one with the silly film clip? Pure tomfoolery.

Anyhow, it’s awesome, because he’s singing in a dojo.

… I don’t have much else to add to this. The above film clip will do the job I reckon πŸ™‚ If you’re interested, someone’s also added the lessons of Mr Miyagi to YouTube, so you can entertain yourselves/family/friends/coworkers by looking it up and sharing it with them. I know the people I share my office with were just thrilled when I decided it would be a good idea to share “Paint the Fence”:

πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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