Not everyone has karate skills that translate to film. If they did, then everyone would be Jean-Claude Van Damme. And now that I've given Jean-Claude Van Damme the plot for his next movie, let's talk about some of his colleagues. These are the action stars who, regardless of any real-life martial arts experience or toughness, never seemed able to put together a convincing fight scene.
In 1972, David Carradine was hired as the star of the show Kung Fu, supposedly because Bruce Lee looked too Chinese. There was hardly any kung fu in the show, which was lucky, since Carradine fought like a gentle current pushing a corpse against a rock. His character used combat as a way to spread peaceful enlightenment, probably because by the time one of his punches landed, no one could remember why anyone was fighting.
Despite attacking with the fury of a beginner tango class, Carradine was typecast as a martial artist and went on to film hundreds of clumsy slow motion kung fu battles. He fought Chuck Norris, James Remar, Rick Springfield, Al Leong ... he even had his own cardio karate workout video where you could stand and breathe your way to Shaolin fitness.
He eventually learned how to perform martial arts, but never managed to make it look like they'd hurt. The only thing slower than a David Carradine karate chop was the editing process for one of his fight scenes. If you didn't use eight camera cuts and a perfectly wigged stuntman for every attack, his battles looked like Tom Petty politely trading business cards with someone. It took David Carradine longer than a minute to throw a kick and, in what would be his undoing, longer than one masturbation session to get his neck out of a belt. It got to the point where the editors of Kung Fu seemed to be using the slow motion effect just to make fun of him. Take a look at the absurdly unnecessary use of slow motion in this scene and tell me I'm wrong:
When you picture the kind of filmmaker who would write, direct and produce a movie just to cast himself in the lead role of martial arts master rock star, you're picturing David Heavener (Lethal Ninja, Kill Crazy). Undiscovered actresses take one look at him and know his first question is going to be unzipping his pants. If evil scientists collected all the sperm from Hollywood casting room couches and jammed it into Tori Spelling, David Heavener is the beast that would hatch from her chestplate. I understand that the last half of this sentence will sound like I'm kidding, but Heavener is the man in this fight who isn't in a dress or a wheelchair:
Heavener is a living Tim and Eric sketch, and his fight scenes are violent mockeries of violence. It's often hard to tell if Heavener is trying to punch someone in the face or knock the boom mic above their heads out of frame. He makes battles against enemy ninjas look less exciting than battles against tile mildew. His co-stars have no idea how to react to him, since they can't tell when he's throwing an actual kick or just adjusting his pantyhose against their ribs. Luckily, he makes up for it with his incredible parkour. Prepare yourself as best you can for Outlaw Force: