Known for delivering whopping jump-up dancefloor tracks, Rawtee (aka Raul Chavez) remains alive and kicking since his first major release with Formation records circa 2004, and he shows no signs of closing down his production dojo. But did you know he’s equally passionate about brawl-filled action movies? We caught up with the DJ/producer to tap into his wide range of fight film knowledge, from wushu and capoeira to Thai boxing.
What sparked your interest in martial arts films?
My father was the main proponent behind my addiction to martial arts cinema. He grew up in New York in the 1970s, which is where the kung fu boom hit hardest with theaters playing double features all over town. He started me on Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan then I moved on to do my own searching. The reason why I fell in love with it is because he would always point out the difficulty of the stunts and choreography on display, which garnered my appreciation for action scenes and stunt performers.
Do you have any experience in martial arts yourself?
Although I am long out of practice due to music commitments, my previous experience is in American kenpo karate, acrobatics, martial arts tricking and boxing when I am in a training mood.
Okay, so let’s chat about these films.
Undisputed 3 (2010)
I must mention this one first as it’s a great film to show friends who are tired of “wire-fu.” The talent in this film is off the charts with a lot of well-known stunt players like capoeira expert Lateef Crowder and of course Scott Adkins as Boyka who became a cult character. Brutal and beautiful, it works because of choreographer Larnell Stovall and director Isaac Florentine, both experienced martial artists. A fourth film is in the works as well!
Fatal Contact (2006)
I’m really not sure how a film with a former wushu champ like Wu Jing and a Jackie Chan stunt team member as director could ever be underrated! There are several fights in this film that continue to get more dangerous after each last bout, which keeps a great pace. I would say one of the longest bone-crushing elbow combos I have ever seen is in the middle of this film. Wu Jing is a graduate of the Beijing wushu team famously known for producing action actors like Jet Li. The end also features a former shaolin monk turned actor, Xing Yu, famous for his fights in other films like Flash Point with Donnie Yen.
Ong Bak (2003)
Although he is in Hollywood films now, this was the big break for Tony Jaa and still sets the bar some 12 years after its release. Full of some of the most intricate and dangerous stunt work since early Jackie Chan films, it sort of brought back the “real” element that was missing from martial arts film for some time. Tony Jaa dominates the screen, flipping and spinning all over and doing what some may consider impossible double rotations before kicking, all while still in the air! I must mention the action was helmed by Tony’s master and Thai action originator, the late great Panna Rittikrai—look him up!
The City Of Violence (2006)
The style of action scenes coming from Korea have become legendary in the past decade, and you can definitely see a surge of influence from Seoul to Sunset Blvd. I think fans of tae kwon do will enjoy this one for the grand execution of kicks and flavor of the fighting exchanges between the actors. Movie fans will enjoy it for its aesthetically pleasing art direction and photography, which honestly plays like a Tarantino film. Once again, the quality is marked by an experienced martial artist both directing and co-starring in the film: Seung-wan Ryoo.