Had I known it's original title I might not have been so astounded by the detail and beauty of the fabric and clothing in the opening scenes. This is a film about beauty. The sets and props are incredible. Really! The film is also about fashion, the deepest subject there is.
Toward the end of the film it occurred to me that everything can be viewed as a rough allegory of the relationship between North Korea, South Korea, and America. The role of America is played by a cowboy-circus group, they are very happy but regularly traumatized by gangs of other cowboys who are criminally evil. The split between North and South Korea is twisted and complex, an inter-family feud among assassins over a baby. The screams of the dead are trapped in the hero's sword, but the audience never sees or hears them.
Watch the clips here: http://www.filmofilia.com/2010/11/18/4-new-the-warriors-way-clips/
The fight choreography is good and the love interest part of the story is as good as it gets. Did I mention that the clothes are amazing? Oh yeah, the fights are mostly with swords, a little old-school Zatoichi technique and a little slow motion computer animation like the movie 300. The Koreans can all jump really high, especially out of water, it is almost like flying but they seem to come down hard. This style of fantasy fighting is cool and can really work but they really should consult me on the nature of momentum. The best fighters in the world, cats, do fight in the air! But cats must spiral and twist. Cats use rotational momentum combined with maximum internal power to fight. The films fighters rely too much on force generated from turning around a vertical center-line. Folks, if you are going to spend millions of dollars on an international project that employs people from Korea, Japan, the US, New Zealand, India and Australia--then I demand perfection!
Now to the important stuff. Every little kid knows that the outfit, the kung fu or karate uniform, is a key component of the art. I often hear parents tell me, "My son really wanted to do kungfu and begged me for a long time, but when I finally signed him up and he started taking classes I realized what he really wanted was the outfit not the hard work!" Kids get shamed about this pretty early. They are told that the uniform is just a vain symbol and that what really matters is doing forms. Later they shame you about that and tell you that it's not the forms it's the applications and techniques that matter. And if you make it that far you are likely to get shamed about those too, sparring and competitions are what really matter! And if you make it through all that it's all about philosophy and health. It took me many years to realize that the observations of little kids were correct all along. The power is in the outfit!
I resisted teaching with a uniform for at least ten years. When I finally got one it made a huge difference. Wearing a uniform helps get the teacher's charisma out of the way. With out a uniform some kids may admire me right away and want to learn from me because they want to be like me. But with a uniform it isn't about me any more, it is about the art, and everyone can relate to that. Duh.
Adults think they are more savvy. They are less likely to be 'fooled' by an ethnic costume. But growing a beard doubled my credibility teaching at the college level. Imagine what a couple of inches in eyebrow length could do? What you wear and how you wear it has a profound effect on teaching. Clothing conveys ones degree of seriousness, whimsy, toughness, or irony better than anything which can be said or written on a white board.
Readers may be thinking, dude, what about skills? What about the movie you were reviewing? At the higher levels of internal martial arts techniques and applications barely matter because whatever you do is unstoppable. And eventually you realize that for self-defense in a surprise attack situation you can not expect to see, hear, feel, or know which way is up. The five senses are likely to be seriously distorted. That's why the old masters said, "Just do the form." That's what you can count on, and if it is a well designed form it will work for attacks from any direction, it will work in the air and it will work on the ground. At the higher levels of internal martial arts structure, mass and even fluid, the inanimate aspects of the body, just don't matter anymore. The body becomes like an empty suit moved by the spirit. The spacial mind turns off all the controlling impulses of the gross and fine motor movement, and the whole body become like someone else's body. Like a suit of chain-mail armor, or like a burlap sack (with arms and legs) filled with rice. In the end the body becomes like clothing.
Check out these cats fighting in the air with rotational momentum and internal power!