One day I felt a strange urge to watch kung fu movie, though, to be fair, I mainly just watched the fight scenes and skipped most of the rest of the movies. When it was all done, my kung fu thirst had been quenched, but I started thinking more deeply about the movies and what could be learned from them. Of course, you could learn a lot of things like how fight choreography, sound design, special effects, and general cinematography in kung fu movies have advanced from the 1970s up to around 2010, (the general time period that the movies I watched came from) but I wanted to focus more on some of the underlying lessons of these films. This is meant to be a less than serious analysis.
Learning kung fu frequently gets your friends and family hurt or killed
Things were going fine, until either the hero learned kung fu, or until other people found out that he knew kung fu. Then all hell breaks loose. The hero of course can’t get badly hurt or killed at the beginning or middle of the movie, so his friends and/or family bear the brunt of the villain’s wrath.
People who use karate, and Japanese people in general, are usually the villains
Black Belt = Evil. That is the simple equation of most kung fu movies. There are a few exceptions, but in the majority of cases anyone in a karate outfit is out to get the hero. Since karate is usually associated with Japan, it therefore follows that Japanese people are bad.
Related to the previous lesson, white people should not be trusted
While the Japanese are common villains of kung fu movies, anyone from outside China should also be viewed with suspicion. White people in particular are always scheming to steal China’s riches and destroy its culture. Sometimes the white people do the fighting themselves, and sometimes they are just the boss giving orders to henchmen, but they are always up to no good.
Villains have a bad habit of forgetting to bring guns to kung fu fights
Somehow the bad guys in kung fu movies either don’t have guns, or if they do have guns they have a strange sense of honor that forbids them from using them. The lone exception to this rule in the movies I watched was a Japanese officer in the movie Ip Man, but even then his commander berated him for shooting a kung fu master.
Bad guys are not allowed to fully utilize their numerical superiority
Even when they have the hero hopelessly outnumbered and surrounded, the bad guys can only attack him one at a time, or in small groups. It is strictly forbidden for them to all simultaneously assault him from every angle, an attack that would be impossible to counter. Even villains have a code, one that, unfortunately for them, severely handicaps their combat effectiveness.