What makes a movie sword fight good?

The cinema in Hong Kong broke me. Since my first encounter with Bruce Lee, I have never been able to watch American action movies in the same way. Other than the gun-wielding protagonists that populate the Western media, American action heroes cannot fight. To put it more precisely, the choreography and cinematography used in American action films do not accentuate how skilled their protagonists are claimed to be. The cinema in Hong Kong does not make such a mistake.

When a fight breaks out in a Jackie Chan or Michelle Yeoh action movie, the filmmakers approach the sequence with as much care as any other aspect of the film. On the other hand, American movies generally aim for functional fight scenes that only exist to bridge one sequence to another.

If what I’m talking about seems sketchy or even pretentious, I invite you to watch the video linked above. The YouTube channel Accented Cinema, which focuses on Asian films and filmmakers, dissects Western and Eastern differences in swordplay in films.

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