Presented by Samuel L. Jackson, THE ART OF ACTION is an enjoyable and entertaining look at the history of matial arts films from its origins in Peking Opera in China, which was performed by men in women's clothing. Strangely, the first kung fu features were made with the WOMEN doing all the fighting as film was then considered a lower medium in China, and it was "dishonorable" for men to stoop to that level!
Of course, no film about martial arts could be made without Bruce Lee, "The James Bond Of Martial Arts". Here viewers are treated to footage from RETURN OF THE DRAGON where Lee beats the bejesus out of a young Chuck Norris, as well as hearing Lee's philosophies on kung fu, which remain intriguing and inspiring no matter how many times you hear them.
THE ART OF ACTION also features appearances from Jackie Chan, recounting his experiences as part of a Peking Opera troupe at age 7, as well as ruminations by John Woo, Ang Lee and Steven Seagal. There's plenty here to educate and entertain viewers, though stranglely Hammer's martial arts/ horror film LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES is overlooked here... but Cynthia Rothrock's cruddy movies get some attention! I just don't get it! That remains my only quibble. Also features clips from more recent films like RUSH HOUR 2 and CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON.
If you like this, you may want to check out the similar documentary CINEMA OF VENGEANCE which is about the history of martial arts and Hong Kong action films, though personally I found THE ART OF ACTION to be more entertaining. Both movies are highly recommended.