MOVIE: “The Bladed Hand: The Global Impact of FMA”
A film review by Bernie Cortes-Kimmerle
The Bladed Hand, a documentary had its first screening on October 12, 2012 at the Aratani Theatre at Tokyo Town, Los Angeles. The filming of this documentary took three years in the making according to its producer – Jay Philip Ignacio. He wrote, directed and produced this inspiring documentary about a lost art – Eskrima/Kali/Arnis (known as Filipino Martial Arts-FMA), resurrected by masters. Mr. Ignacio spoke before the screening and told us his story of why and how he was inspired into making this documentary, the financial challenges he encountered (since he was pretty much on his own) and how he now cherishes the fruits of his labor, along with his co-producer, Sonny Sison.
Ignacio admitted he had no background in filmmaking. However, this film was wonderfully edited and can be claimed as a true documentary. It takes us back to how and when FMA started then it flashes to masters training their students to shots of historians talking about FMA as it blazes into fight scenes- be it movies or masters fighting with students.
The Bladed Hand was filmed around Cebu, Baguio, Bacolod, Batangas, Hongkong, Moscow, Oakland, San Diego, Honolulu and Los Angeles. This film attempts to reveal and educate audiences the impact of our native art and that this is one of the Philippines’ greatest export but not much is known about it. Thus, comes this documentary. And, it was a success.
The Aratani theater was packed with Masters, martial art students and teachers and those who are avid in the martial arts. A sprinkling of martial art celebrities such as Cynthia Rothrock, one of the best martial arts/action film star in the world who also holds 5 Black Belts in various martial disciplines attended. Gracing the red carpet as well was Jeff Imada (friend of Brandon Lee –he also choreographed the fights in Lee’s final film – The Crow). Imada, a well known fight choreographer who uses FMA for fight scenes trained under Dan Inosanto whom Bruce Lee trained and lived with.
The Bladed Hand, shows how Bruce Lee’s 1973 movie “Enter the Dragon” paved the way and opened the doors for FMA. Ignacio interviewed many masters, and we learn, in the film, that after Lee trained with Dan Inosanto, FMA techniques were the choice of fight choreographers for use in Hollywood Films because of its graceful movements. FMA’s techniques are used in many movies worldwide including Hollywood, in the military and law enforcement agencies in the US, Moscow. In 2009, the Philippine Government finally passed the law that FMA now is the national sport through the lobbying of masters and celebrities. This fact is not even known by our 1st to 3rd Fil-Am generations.
The documentary – The Bladed Hand, has a raw, jagged edge to it – much like a blade. In-depth interviews of the original Arnis masters were shown and their rivalries amongst each other was portrayed. Most of the filming took place on location – we can see how simple the Filipino Masters lived, how they trained their students and provided insight to the art of Arnis and Eskrima. We learn in this film that Arnis is an indigeneous martial art –originally a blade fighting art but popularly accepted as a stick fighting system. However, the FMA system is known worldwide as “Kali.”
The Bladed Hand is a success on its own because the audience cheered, clapped at certain scenes and when it was revealed that one of the original masters died poor in the Philippines, in an unmarked grave, one can feel the stunned silence of the audience. The audience was also educated as to the genesis of FMA , its global impact and that FMA is one of the Philippines’ greatest cultural export.
The Bladed Hand showed the importance of recognizing that FMA has been used for 30 years. More importantly, it shows that this art is from the Philippines – our own. In one part of the movie, a foreigner was training defense techniques to policemen in Manila and even the police had no idea that they were being trained an art that is their own – Filipino Martial Arts.
This film featured FMA luminaries such as SGM Diony Canete, SGM Cacoy Canete, Guro Dan & Diane Inosanto, Guro Ron Balicki, GMs Ising Atillo, Nick Elizar, Remy Presas and many more.FMA luminaries SGM Diony Cañete, SGM Cacoy Cañete, Guro Dan Inosanto, Guro Diana Inosanto, Guro Ron Balicki, GM Nick Elizar, GM Ising Atillo, Master Christopher Ricketts, GM Remy Presas, Jr.
For those devoted to the martial arts, this is a movie to see. Mr. Ignacio deserves a standing ovation of this endeavor.
Here are the next screenings:
The Bladed Hand - USA screening schedule for 2012
October 18 – San Diego, CA - Ultra Star Cinemas Mission Valley Hazard Center
7510 Hazard Center Dr #100, San Diego - 8 PM - call 6195748684
October 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Pepitos PArkway Theater – 6 PM
November 3 - New York, NY - Philippine Integrated Martial Arts Academy – 11 AM
Anthology Film Archives – Court Theater 32 Second Avenue NY
November 11 – Washington DC – Cinema Arts Theatre – 9 AM
9650 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22031- Contact Jhun_Occidental@yahoo.com
November 14 – New York, NY – International Film Festival Manhattan – 1 PM