During the 70s and 80s there was a big martial arts boom in the film world, but no one has ever produced them like the Asian film market. Even when they declined here in the states, they continued to produce the epic period pieces like only they could. The latest, The Master, is yet another to come out of that market, but does it offer up anything to help it stand out or will it not be able to live up to its title?
The Master follows a martial arts master who refuses to join the armies of the Qing Prince when then kidnaps his mother and his students. To save them, he has only one path: all-out war. As far as a movie goes this is far from the epics that are usually released these days, but instead plays out more as a clichéd homage to those from the 70s and that is why it works. You always pretty much know where things are pretty much going if you have ever been a fan of those old films, but it doesn’t matter. There are some random fade outs at the end of scenes as though it is breaking for a commercial that don’t always make sense, but a lot of those films were made that way so it still fits. There is plenty of old school action that delivers the same vibe as the overall picture. There isn’t a ton of over the top wire work or trick kicking, it feels more like old school Kung-Fu and it just feels refreshing. Sure there are some bad edits to the action from time to time and some of the choreography isn’t the best, but it isn’t trying to blow the audience away by doing something new, it looks to clearly be emulating those classic films. For this reason the film works on almost every level complete with the often unfitting voices in the English dub. The film keeps it short so not to drag on like a lot of these films these days and instead gets to the point and makes sure to deliver some great classic Kung-Fu action along the way.
If you were a fan of the old school Kung-Fu flicks of that time that used to re-air here during Kung-Fu theater then you will no doubt have a great time with this film. It isn’t one of the best martial arts films out there and won’t be shaking up the genre, but instead harkens back to a simpler time in the genre that delivered some of the most iconic martial arts films of all time.
Join the fight when The Master hits DVD on February 24th.