Gun fu

Gun fu

Gun fu is the style of sophisticated close-quarters gunplay seen in Hong Kong action cinema [cite book|title=The Cinema of Tsui Hark|url=|page=203|author=Lisa Morton|publisher=McFarland|isbn=0786409908|year=2001] and in Western films influenced by it. It often resembles a martial arts battle played out with firearms instead of traditional weapons. It may also be described by other terms such as "bullet ballet" or "gymnastic gunplay". [citation|publisher=Seattle Post Intelligencer | url= | title=Just saying no to drugs in the fascist future | author=Sean Axmaker | date=Friday, December 6, 2002]

The focus of gun fu is style, and the usage of firearms in ways that they were not designed to be used. Shooting a gun from each hand, shots from behind the back, as well as the use of guns as melee weapons are all common. Other moves can involve shotguns, Uzis, rocket launchers, and just about anything else that can be worked into a cinematic shot. It is often mixed with hand-to-hand combat maneuvers.

"Gun fu" has become a staple factor in modern action films due to its visually appealing nature (regardless of its actual practicality in a real-life combat situation). This is a contrast to American action movies of the 1980s which focused more on heavy weaponry and outright brute-force in firearm-based combat.

Heroic bloodshed and gun fu

Director John Woo originated the style in the Hong Kong film "A Better Tomorrow" in 1986. The film launched the "Heroic bloodshed" genre in Hong Kong, and "gun fu" action sequences became a regular feature in many of the subsequent heroic bloodshed films. John Woo continued to make several classic heroic bloodshed films, all featuring gun fu, and all starring leading man Chow Yun Fat. Chow wielding a gun in each hand became an iconic cinema image around the world.

Anthony Leong wrote of the gunfights in "A Better Tomorrow"::Before 1986, Hong Kong cinema was firmly rooted in two genres: the martial arts film and the comedy. Gunplay was not terribly popular because audiences had considered it boring, compared to fancy kung-fu moves or graceful swordplay of the wu shu epics. What moviegoers needed was a new way to present gunplay-- to show it as a skill that could be honed, integrating the acrobatics and grace of the traditional martial arts. And that's exactly what John Woo did. Using all of the visual techniques available to him (tracking shots, dolly-ins, slo-mo), Woo created beautifully surrealistic action sequences that were a 'guilty pleasure' to watch. There is also intimacy found in the gunplay-- typically, his protagonists and antagonists will have a profound understanding of one another and will meet face-to-face, in a tense Mexican standoff where they each point their weapons at one another and trade words. [ The Films of John Woo and the Art of Heroic Bloodshed by Anthony Leong from ] ]

Stephen Hunter, writing in "The Washington Post" wrote::Woo saw gunfights in musical terms: His primary conceit was the shootout as dance number, with great attention paid to choreography, the movement of both actors within the frame. He loved to send his shooters flying through the air in surprising ways, far more poetically than in any real-life scenario. He frequently diverted to slow motion and he specialized in shooting not merely to kill, but to riddle -- his shooters often blast their opponents five and six times. [/]

Other Hong Kong directors also began using gun fu sequences in films that were not strictly heroic bloodshed films, such as Wong Jing's "God of Gamblers" (1989). And there were several heroic bloodshed films that did not feature gun fu, but opted for more realistic combat, such as Ringo Lam's "City on Fire" (1987).

pread to the West

The popularity of John Woo's films, and the heroic bloodshed genre in general, in the West helped give the gun fu style greater visibility. Film-makers like Robert Rodriguez were inspired to create action sequences modelled on the Hong Kong style. One of the first to demonstrate this was "Desperado" (1995). "The Matrix", especially the infamous "lobby scene" played a part in making "gun fu" the most popular form of firearm-based combat in cinema worldwide. Since then, the style has become a staple of modern Western action films.

For example, a classic gun fu move consists of reloading two pistols simultaneously by releasing the empty magazines, pointing the guns to the ground, dropping two fresh magazines out of one's jacket sleeves, or strapped to one's legs, into the guns, and then carrying on shooting. In the film "Bulletproof Monk", Chow Yun Fat empties two pistols, ejects the magazines and spins to kick the empty magazines at his assailants. In "The Rundown", the character played by Dwayne Johnson fires two shotguns, flips both to be up-side down and pointing backwards, and snaps them between his arms and torso to reload them in an instant. The style is also featured (albeit in a small way and with the assistance of gadgets) in the "" movies starring Angelina Jolie.

Gun Kata

The character John Preston demonstrates this technique in Kurt Wimmer's "Equilibrium" (2002). Wimmer made gun fu quite literally a martial art within the world of "Equilibrium" with the "Gun Kata". Preston also has special devices mounted into his sleeves/wrists that feed the magazines smoothly into the weapon, but the gun kata itself provides him with optimum firing angles as well as defensive postures, which means he hits his targets and rarely gets hit.

Gun kata is a cinematic martial art constructed to create visually appealing gunfights and not to reflect reality. Gun battles in the real world revolve around cover, concealment, and lines of fire, which are dictated by terrain and thus inherently unpredictable, as opposed to statistically predictable positions and lines of fire that can be exploited by rote memorization, as depicted in "Equilibrium." [cite web
url =
title = FM 3-22.9 RIFLE MARKSMANSHIP M16A1, M16A2/3, M16A4 and M4 CARBINE
accessdate = 2008-04-20
author = United States Department of the Army
] [cite book
title = THE SOVIET ARMY: Troops, Organization and Tactics: Field Manual No. 100-2-3
publisher = United States Department of the Army
year= 1984


"Gun fu" moves appear in the video game "Max Payne", along with dual-wielding various weapons, including Berettas, and machine pistols such as Uzis, and the Ingram MAC-10. As well as in the "Shadow Hearts" series were the character Natan's special skill is labelled "Gun Fu" and is designed to resemble the martial art.

In 2007, "Stranglehold", a game sequel to John Woo's cult film 'Hard Boiled' was released, which featured the protagonist 'Police Inspector Tequila' on another blood driven conquest. With 'slo-mo' action sequences precision sniping in area's such as the crotch and face and persistent use of two hand guns and Uzi's; this game is the latest in the Gun Fu world.

Other media

"Gun Fu" is also the name of a series of comic books by Howard M. Shum and Joey Mason about a Hong Kong police officer in the 1930s who employs a combination of gun-play and martial arts. [ [ Comic book series] ] . In the "Iron Fist" comic books, the character Orson Randall uses his Iron Fist power with his two fire-arms, which a colleague jokingly refers to as "Gun-Fu".

In the Buffyverse role-playing games, gun fu is the name for the firearms skill, but this is more likely meant to be humorous rather than to imply characters practice an actual firearm-based martial art.

ee also

*Girls with guns


External links

* [ Gun Kata: the action & fight style of Equilibrium]

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  • gunþa- — *gunþa , *gunþaz germ.?, stark. Maskulinum (a): nhd. Kampf, Kämpfer; ne. fight (Neutrum), fighter; Hinweis: s. *gunþjō; Quelle: Personenname; Etymologie: s. ing. *gʷhenə …   Germanisches Wörterbuch

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