I recently saw the trailer for the new film Enter The Warriors Gate, written by Luc Besson, and I was reminded of films that beautifully balanced “eastern and western cultures” – and were terrific action films as well.
Romeo Must Die with Jet Li is a great example of the genre, and Rumble In The Bronx, Rising Sun, The Golden Child, and The Challenge are good warm ups as well, but I want to focus on these five great action films that are a perfect blend of “east meets west”.
Let’s begin with Ridley Scott, who took Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia to Japan in 1989 for Black Rain. It’s a simple setup: two NY Detectives take a Yakuza member back to Japan. Events plunge them deep into the Japanese underworld.
What more is there to say?
Speaking of Yakuza…
Robert Mitchum starred in this 1974 film directed by Sidney Pollack, with a screenplay by Leonard and Paul Schrader, along with the legendary Robert Towne. Mitchum returns to Japan to rescue his daughter’s friend, and gets sucked back in to this mysterious underworld.
Let’s head to the US now, where one of Hong Kong’s greatest cops must work with one of LA’s finest.
Rush Hour is the hilarious, action-packed 1998 film with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. These mismatched cops must rescue the Chinese Consul’s kidnapped daughter, and the film smoothly goes from amazing Jackie Chan set pieces to hilarious comic relief from Tucker. “East Meets West” has never been funnier.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
“Cowabunga!” Boy, does this franchise have fans! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been in six films, but the first in 1990 introduced a new generation of action fans to four turtles with Ninja skills, who live in the sewers of New York City, emerging to battle criminals of all shapes and sizes.
This is an upbeat, fun adventure that I was reminded of when I saw the Enter The Warriors Gate trailer.
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
In 1986, John Carpenter delivered a unique blend of eastern action and western comedy with the iconic Big Trouble In Little China.
Kurt Russell is Jack Burton, who gets mixed up in eastern intrigue while rescuing his friend’s fiance in San Francisco. The film is full of great dialogue – and Russell delivers it with aplomb, like when he sums up the action so far:
“All I know is, this Lo Pan character comes out of thin air in the middle of a goddamn alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds, and he just stands there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him with light coming out of his mouth!”
Now, I promised my AAGG friends a “secret” gem, and here it is, thanks to the legendary Charles Bronson!
The first “East Meets West Western!” This obscure 1971 film tells the story of a gang who steals a ceremonial Japanese sword meant as a gift from Japan to the U.S. President.
Charles Bronson is in his prime here, with great action sequences and taut direction. Iconic Japanese Actor Toshiro Mifune joins him on the quest to retrieve the sword, Alain Delon is a French Thief who joins them, and sex kitten Ursula Andress is great eye candy as well.
Red Sun was directed by Terence Young, who helmed THREE great James Bond films: Dr. NO, From Russia With Love and Thunderball.
Here is the trailer for this cult gem:
Thanks to Enter The Warriors Gate for inspiring me to seek out “east meets west” movies, you can see that trailer here: