For the past several decades, whenever someone wanted to find the cream of the martial arts film crop, they (rightly) turned to China and Hong Kong. Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chang Cheh, Gordon Liu, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao—the list goes on and on, stretching back to form an unparalleled cinematic legacy.
However, within recent years, martial arts cinema has spread throughout the globe. Inspired by the aforementioned names, and the many films tied to them, other countries have begun their own vibrant, ass-kicking cinemas which blend together the influence of Hong Kong and China with each country’s own unique martial arts offerings.
Thailand immediately comes to mind, thanks to films such as Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong and people like Tony Jaa, Prachya Pinkaew, and Panna Rittikrai, which showed Muay Thai kickboxing in all of this bone-breaking glory. France burst on the scene thanks to Banlieue 13, Cyril Raffaelli, and the rise of parkour. Chile has contributed Kiltro and MirageMan. And now, with The Rebel, Vietnam is stepping up to the plate, and showing off some pretty impressive moves.