The movie begins with a super alpha male fighter Xiang skyscrapper hopping and crashing into a top secret government official meeting, smacking their bodyguards with his 'dragon palms' and flying kicks. Donnie Yen brings dynamic Kung Fu to Hollywood again. There are several elements of Chinese Kung Fu that western movies and amateur films cannot emulate. While most people will notice Kung Fu to have exemplary agility to strike and defend different directions while moving around with acrobatic footwork, they do not notice that the ability to deploy strikes in a tight fashion to overcome the enemy's attack or defense is the underlying essence of Kung Fu.
In this case what was being shown is the ability to change attacks to unexpected positions to bypass the opponent's defense. It goes like, he hits you left and you blocks but he traps your guarding arm and hits your right while you are unable to reach it with your guarding arm as it's stuck. Or he hits the top and seals your guarding arm while he hits below. Pretty much like stalling reinforcements from a simultaneous flanking attack.
For one of the groups of students I lead, I teach the trapping flanking strike exclusively. While equipped with this skill they will be less afraid to attack as they will be able to weave past blocks throw their way. It can be challenging though, as most beginners or should I say most martial artists are not able to pay attention to and control two limbs at the same time. Their hand eye coordination is not developed enough to do so. As hard as it is to pay attention to two limbs, it is equally hard for opponents without such coordination, hence the effectiveness of such moves. This Kung Fu tactic is not just demonstrated by Donnie Yen, in the 70s Bruce Lee has already shown them extensively.
People who has done generic Kung Fu or Karate or other Japanese martial arts drill in passive applications that are about waiting for strikes from the opponent so they can block or apply joint locks. Besides giving single strikes or combo strikes, they do not have other initiative moves. I have a student who's done a few years of Karate and in the practice when he strikes he doesn't move on to weave past the defense, instead he expects to be blocked and counterattacked. His Japanese martial art training taught him to robotically treat all drills as having the defender winning against the attacker. A widespread ailment of Eastern martial arts is the reverence of defense and the discouragement of initiating attacks. That does not apply for my style which also teaches people to be an offensive 'tip of the blade' commando who strikes first, like how Donnie Yen raids villain hideouts.
Many who watched this film expect to see flying knees and spinning elbows from Tony Jaa but he didn't get enough screen time with his spectacular Muay Boran moves. He was more of an acrobat than flying knees and elbows in this movie. Even for the few moments people remember of his character he was doing acrobatic stunts. And well, these stunts are not as dynamic as those 90s Jackie Chan stunts that involves lots of interaction with objects and buildings in an urban environment. I feel that the script made his character a little too shallow, he was just a skilled member of the team in the plot. Though if one team has 3 skilled fighters while the other hardly has martial arts specialists, then it is too much for the other team to handle.
The producers of the movies mentioned that they created 'motorcycle martial arts' for this movie, I like the sound of that. Other than the fight scenes with the motorcycle chase scene with ski attachments was what I looked forward to the most. Motorcycles offer lots of freedom, but motorcycle ski boards add another dimension of freedom.
An annoyingly unrealistic thing about the movie is how frequently dialogues are held at gunpoint. It's as though people take a very long time to pull the trigger. While it's possible to strafe pass someone who is still taking his aim, when the person know he already got aim, almost all the time you will end up dead.
In this movie we can see the close quarters combat more closely as they do not flash and fly the camera around like crazy when the characters are executing their combos. We have a couple of real martial artists in the cast and a capable stunt team. I'd really like to label the Hollywood way of capturing close combat as 'camera-fu', since modern movie goers like to identify Tsui Hark's style as 'wire-fu'.
Built around skateboards and swimming pools, xXx is a series that portrays the unique culture of the West that is so contrasting to the conservative, hardworking, academically inclined Asian youth. While our schoolkids do overtime in tuition centers, Western youth spend their after-school time skiing, wakeboarding, skydiving, driving cars and riding dirt bikes, climbing cliffs or building treehouses and remote control planes. It's very common for our adults spend their after work time in karaoke rooms and weekends sleeping in or doing health tai chi, their Western counterparts may opt for open water swimming or going to the range to fire some pistols and rifles.
In this movie though we have some highly skilled and extremely adventurous Asians in Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa, both daily life and entertainment media portrays the Westerners as more adventurous than Asians who find the ideal life is a sedentary one indoors.