Sunday, January 1, 2012

This Movie Makes Our Movies Suck More

I don't read movie reviews. I don't know how to write them. But I would like to express to any man that reads this blog one thing - I have found a hero movie. In fact, I think its a genre that alone captures in contemporary films the themes of virtue, self-mastery and honor. That last word should have given it away... yes, it is the Kung Fu genre.

Ip Man, available for instant watch on Netflix, is a prime example. But instead of telling you what the hero does, lets look at what a hero can never do in our western movies (as in, the West... not wild west movies):

- The hero usually lives a at least partially shady life and then "redeems" himself with one heroic act. You never really know his motivation, though saving a girl might get his blood pumping. How heroic.

- The hero always pushes back against the pull of tradition, patrimony, etc. He cannot be restrained by ignorant back-looking. Oh no, he chooses his own way because he's so damn rebellious (in a "good" way) and is never held down by his ancestors' nonsense. If you can make fun of religion, this is especially helpful. (Every kid movie these days is like this. Happy Feet is a prime example at how your children are being indoctrinated to not trust you.)

- There's always "irreverence" in the hero. It seems I can't read a play or movie's description without the word "irreverent" in it. This is seen as some sort of good thing. If I die, tell people I was nauseatingly reverent. Make sure to tell them I bowed my head in public at the name if Jesus because my ancestors said it was a good thing... tell them I didn't even think about it, I just "reverently" "followed" "ignorance."

- You're not sure if the hero is a hero. Like "irreverence," it's better to not know if the good guy is really good or the bad really bad (especially towards the end). That just says it all about how we figure morality doesn't it?

- The hero is made in a moment. He's been shady and lazy, gets some kind of chance for greatness, kinda takes the chance and comes out a celebrity (much better to be a celebrity than a hero). He spends life void of virtue and self-mastery and then gets a chance to display it. No need for 40 whole days in the desert. He's always had it, he just had to shake off his past and be discovered. This is why most teenagers actually think they'll be famous some day and could care less about working hard. Why work hard when your discovery will come. Suicide is also very common among teenagers.

Get it? Now the movie Ip Man, I just watched it. It portrays the opposite on every single above point. The West doesn't believe in heroes. Man is not capable of that. And anyway, he may be a hero to us but to someone else he's a bad guy. I mean, was it really such a big deal we win at Lepanto?? Mean old Westerners. I mean, who does John Wayne think his is?!

Like I said, Ip Man is a hero movie. Here's how the (true!!!) story counters our lame movies that lack the good old sense of right and wrong that we Catholics use to understand so well (before unshackling from tradition):

- Master Ip (the hero) lives an honorable life apparently from childhood. I like that. We tend to so glorify conversion stories that we forget some saints start their formation in the home and live holy lives until a holy death. This should be the norm, not just big grand conversions. I had a big conversion, but it's not nearly as impressive as one who has lived virtuously his whole life - something he learned from his father. We need more second sons to rejoice with the father when the prodigal son returns, not just gawkers and naysayers.

- Master Ip lives the tradition handed on to him. He is successful because of his assimilation to the skill and wisdom of the past, not his reinvention of every wheel on the planet.

- Master Ip is reverent to everyone and everything. Really really reverent. Reverently reverent. Sooooo reverent. Reverentastic.

- He's a hero from the moment you see him. He is truly free in his self-mastery and assimilation to tradition. You see his freedom and wish you could live in it.

- There's a big moment at the end (with a little self-sacrifice mixed in), but Master Ip is a hero that has been in the making for decades. He would not be the hero had he not been the hero his entire life. The Johnny-come-lately kung-fu wannabes either jump ship or keep moving from master to master without ever submitting to a disciplined, sustained commitment like the big Ip Man.

Watch it. It's a real man movie. If you don't want to read the subtitles, get off the internet and go read a book, lazy.

1 comment: