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Film Review: Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks (2019) - Australia

Andrew Chan Australian Film Bruce Lee Documentary Golden Harvest Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks Jackie Chan Sammo Hung Shaw Brothers Yuen Woo Ping

Review: Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks (2019) - Australia


Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)

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Australian director Serge Ou delivers the goodies in the latest Tribute to the origins of Kung Fu films and the influence of the once great Hong Kong cinema to not just Hollywood, but the rest of the world. In making the the in-depth documentary “Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks”, Ou presents more than a fan-boy service affair, but instead provide valuable insights for novice and long time genre fans alike.


For a good 30 minutes of the documentary, we get impacted by the power and passion of Bruce Lee. Lee is not only a pioneer, but one of the few bold faces to stand up against the powerhouse of Hollywood in the racist 60s and 70s. What made it more impressive is how Bruce became a legend and how Hollywood missed the original chance. There is also equal screening time for cinematic powerhouse Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest and how the former is a set formula that produces classics and fail to adapt and the later modernised the entire Kung Fu genre and evolve as per market needs.


Of course, no documentary is complete with a tribute to Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Master Yuen Woo Ping. These are masters that shaped and modernised Hong Kong Kung Fu genre into America and the world. “Matrix” showed the world how Hong Kong inspired one of the biggest Hollywood blockbuster in the 90s. It’s a shame that the documentary only glimpses past the contribution of Jet Li and Donnie Yen.


All in all, “Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks” is a well edited and produced documentary on a genre beloved by so many and inspired an entire race and generation to other creative channels never seen before. The 90 minutes breezes by in no time as we witness the former greatest of Hong Kong cinema once again and how it is now giving way to the “Ong Bak” and “The Raid” taking over the marital arts mantle. The final segment on Africa seems rushed and padded on to the film, in an otherwise wonderful documentary for long time genre fans to rejoice and new timers to learn about the history of the infectious art.


I rated it 8/10


Streaming on Netflix.

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