Virtual Martial Arts Tournament - A Van Damme Tribute
19 October, 2010
Jean-Claude Van Damme, aka "The Muscles from Brussels", celebrates today half a century of high kicks and mad splits. No doubt this is a substantial landmark and an opportunity to look back and see how he measures up to his hard-punching peers. We proudly present you the first Jinni.com Martial Arts Tournament.
These are the ones who started it all. Before they came along, most of the on-screen fighting was done using guns or swords. After them, bare knuckles became just as popular. In the red corner: hailing from Hong Kong, a fighter called by revered film critic Pauline Kael "the Fred Astaire of martial arts" and the genre's first star: Bruce Lee. In the blue corner: Japan's meanest man, and probably the martial arts star with the most brutal style: Sonny Chiba.
Winner: Bruce Lee, since ruthlessly bashing people's brains in can only get you so far. Oh, and he did take on a whole Japanese Karate school in Fist of Fury
They started their careers in the mid 80s and rose to stardom in the 90s with pretty straightforward stories about a master warrior beating people up. Then they ventured into the realms of the fantastic but soon discovered that they should go old-school again. In the red corner: the birthday-boy himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, most likely the only person in cinematic history to do a split to avoid electrocution and then time travel in the same film:
In the blue corner: Jet Li, the man who supposedly announced retirement from the genre back in 2006 when he starred in Fearless but has made 7 movies since – and is now working on an eighth.
Winner: JCVD – well, it's his birthday, and Jet Li's attempt at sci-fi was pretty dismal.
Originating in South East Asia, martial arts films have become a global phenomenon and US denizens couldn't resist the urge to join the fist fest. In the red corner: somewhat of a shape shifter, the actor who went from a lean mean bone-breaking machine to becoming a rather plump reality-TV star: Steven Seagal
In the blue corner: more of a myth by now, with countless facts detailing his superhuman feats and the power of his almighty roundhouse kick: Chuck Norris
Winner: need you ask? The guy with the extra fist, of course
Insurance? What Insurance?
For some, martial arts aren't enough; they need to pepper their performance with some death-defying stunts, chases and races. In the red corner: once considered to be one of the genre's fastest rising stars, Thailand's Tony Jaa, who burst into the scene with 2003's Ong-Bak
In the blue corner: with a career spanning almost four decades and with more broken bones than blockbusters, the inventor of Kung Fu comedy: Jackie Chan
Winner: the two last installments in the Ong-Bak series weren't as good as the first one, plus we give point for originality and longevity, so it's Mr. Chan.
Bruce Lee vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Damme may have come a long way since his debut performance as an evil Russian fighter in the 80s, but he still loses in this film to a teenager trained by Bruce Lee's ghost, so there you go:
Chuck Norris vs. Jackie Chan
A tough decision: the deadly serious Texas Ranger, who sued the publishers of a book praising his mythical prowess or the clown prince of action cinema, who never shies away from displaying his bloopers on film. We're trying to be serious here, so we'll go with bear beating Chuck.
Jean-Claude Van Damme