In the Flesh is our series where we admire at some of the most mind-blowing color realism being produced in the tattoo industry right now. Today we’re staring at portraits of the most skilled martial artists ever to kick ass across the silver screen. Be sure to check out our previous installments while you’re at it.
If you’re idea of an entertaining movie is one with next to no drama and a whole lot of excellently choreographed brawls, then you’re probably a fan of kung fu flicks and will get a kick out of these color portraits of famous martial artists. The amazing athleticism found in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Master of the Flying Guillotine, The Game of Death, and many others has made such an impact on viewers over the years that a few daring fans have commemorated their love of hard-hitting genre by getting tattoo tributes to their favorite fighters.
In the United States, kung fu movies are grossly underrated, and because of it, not many are being made by Hollywood. The majority of martial arts films have been, and still are, produced in Hong Kong and Beijing, and they simply don’t cater to the sensibilities of stateside moviegoers. The most recent high-end production geared toward American viewers was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (also made in China), and it was released on Netflix, if that says anything about the state of the cinematic genre.
Prior to recent years, kung fu movies were hugely popular throughout the United States. A convergence between Eastern and Western cinema blossomed as martial artists and directors alike attempted to merge the kung fu aesthetic with Hollywood-style storytelling. Bruce Lee’s movies, with their resemblance to spaghetti westerns, are perhaps the best example of this trans-Pacific phenomenon. But what sets authentic kung fu fight sequences in masterpieces like Enter the Dragon apart from the montages of jarring footage in most mainstream action films is the painstaking choreography.
The magic of martial arts movies comes from shooting take after take until every fight is utterly flawless. Just watch Lee take out an entire dojo of black-belts in The Chinese Connection or fuck up chuck Norris while a kitten watches in Way of the Dragon and you’ll see the difference.
Though kung fu films may be going by the wayside in the new millennium, at least plenty of unforgettable martial arts movies were made between the ‘70s and 2000s. Who doesn’t fondly remember watching Jean-Claude Van Damme roundhouse his way through the Kumite or Daniel Larusso walloping on a bully while perched on one foot? The same goes for other action stars like Jackie Chan, whose insane acrobatics with a ladder in First Strike may go down as the most innovative fight scene of all time. Because of the invaluable contributions these asskickers made to cinematic history, they deserve to have karate chopped their way into the world of body art.
If you want to see more portraits of famous actors, makes sure to hit up these artists’ Instagrams. Should you want your own depiction of the Little Phoenix or JCVD on your skin, consider having one of them design your next knockout tattoo.