Review: Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks

If you're a martial arts movie fan—and I confess I'm one—you must watch Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks.

Directed by Serge Ou and co-written by the director and Grady Hendrix, this is a must see for anyone who wants to see the origins of today's action thrillers.

Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks, currently on Netflix, is a history of Hong Kong martial arts cinema, but it's not just that.

In case you don't know, those movies had a worldwide influence on popular culture and on movie-making.

Make no mistake, the low-budget movies had a lasting effect on the public consciousness in just about every country.

You may not know the names of most of the Asian actors and actresses, but you and everyone else in the world knows the name Bruce Lee. You may not know how to do a knife-hand strike, but you know the names of the different kinds of martial arts, i.e., karate, hapkido, kung fu, judo, taekwondo, etc. 

Production Details

Production company: Wildbear Entertainment
Director: Serge Ou
Screenwriters: Serge Ou, Grady Hendrix
Producer: Veronica Fury
Cinematographer: Geoff Ellis
Editor: Chris Bamford
Music: Rajan Kamahl

The "Cast"

Seen in interviews and in film clips are current martial artists and virtually all of the men and women who made those early martial arts movies.

Yes, women martial artists were hugely popular long before any Hollywood actress was portrayed as strong and invincible.

Of course, the amazing Bruce Lee is seen as well as a young Jackie Chan and a hat is tipped to Keanu Reeves.

Featured are Scott Adkins, Jessica Henwick, JuJu Chan, Amy Johnston, Cecep Arif Rahman as Rafael, Andre Morgan, Grady Hendrix, Ross Boyask, Mike Leeder, Mickey Facchinello, James Young, Jade Leung, and so many others.

Why I'm a Fan

I learned to love martial arts films when I lived in Japan. That was in the heyday of martial arts movies.

I watched old ones on television even though I didn't have a clue as to what they were saying. The action spoke for itself.

The only thing like those films was the 1971 American movie, Billy Jack, starring Tom Laughlin.

Billy Jack, about a Vietnam war veteran, was the hottest topic anywhere. It was the first enormously popular and financially successful independent film.

It was also the first western movie I can remember that showed a westerner who knew martial arts—Billy Jack was supposed to be a master of hapkido.

The movie also featured a protest song from the 1960's that was a huge hit, "One Tin Soldier" by Coven, The song fit the film's message perfectly.

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting
an entire album of different versions

In 1972, Carl Douglas released the song, "Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting."

Loved, loved, loved it—and so did the rest of the world where I lived. The local "American" radio station played it, and so did the Japanese stations. (The link goes to an anniversary edition with 16 different versions of the song!)

Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks pays homage to those who made the kung fu movies. It was a cultural phenomenon that swept the world and inspired men and women to study martial arts, and inspired movie makers to try to make their own version of this genre. I loved this film.

Takeaway Truth

To gain a perspective on why martial arts films from Hong Kong influenced what comes from Hollywood—even today—watch Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks. If you're not a Netflix subscriber, you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.

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