The Matrix Movie Poster

The Matrix – the highest earning ‘Martial Arts movie’ of all time!  I had trouble calling it a ‘Martial Arts movie’ when I first went through the list.  But after watching it again with the amount of martial arts choreography and environmental setup for the fights it’s hard not to!  While I still call it more Science Fiction than Martial Arts, it’s still a contender for my list.

What is the Matrix? That was the advertising campaign that was widespread when the movie was released.  I was 15 at the time (a while ago!) and remember thinking ‘what’s this all about? ‘  so naturally I went and checked it out, having no idea what the movie entailed.

We’re introduced first off to the agents and Trinity.  Trinity is cornered by agents and is being chased.  When we see her and the agents doing some pretty magnificent stuff – jumping across a road form one building top to another, then down through a window with seemingly impossible accuracy I was left thinking ‘what the hell is going on here?’

Keanu Reeves as Neo

That’s when we meet Neo, who acts as a sort of bridge between us and the world of the Matrix as he asks the same questions we do before being contacted by Trinity and Morpheus – two famous computer hackers. Neo, a hacker himself is questioned by the same agents that were after trinity shortly into the movie, and they plant a device on him to keep tabs on what he’s up to.  He is then contacted shortly after by Morpheus, and he meets with him shortly after having the device removed by Trinity.

Morpheus speaks in riddles, describing the Matrix but doing a horrible job at it, keeping Neo quite obviously confused.

“The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us, even now in this very room.  You can see it when you lookout your window, when you turn on your television.  You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes.  It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” – the truth being that “you are a slave Neo”.  Confusing?

Laurence Fishburn as Morpheus

After a little back and forth he ends with a simple “you have to see it for yourself”, and offers him a choice between a blue and red pill – the blue pill has him waking up believing whatever he wants to while the red takes him further into the mystery and he is shown what the Matrix is.

From there Neo takes the red pill wakes up in “the real world”, a wasteland hundreds of years into the future from what year he thought it was.  He is then shown the ins and outs of the Matrix, and learns that it is like a virtual reality on steroids (why Morpheus couldn’t just say that I don’t know!)  , being used to keep humans alive and use them for energy.  This energy is used by machines, who have now become the dominant race on the planet – much like Skynet in ‘The Terminator’.

Neo – An Anagram For ‘One’

This movie tells the story of the search for ‘the one’.  A human who, as the prophecy predicts, can control and remake the matrix as he sees fit.  Morpheus believes that Neo is the one – not because he’s a crafty guy who notices anagrams, but because the Oracle told him he would find the one.

Neo has the same troubles and obstacles everyone faces in the matrix, so you’re never 100% sure that he is the one, so the movie is spent tossing up, wondering.

Of course Neo starts to believe he is the one and starts performing incredible feats that help keep the action interesting, before finally discovering his power.

Intriguing Concepts

The movie unfolds and really expands beyond your expectations the first time you watch it, but still manages to be interesting and entertaining when you see it again.

The idea of living in a ‘computer generated dream world’  is definitely not what I originally expected, but I think italso makes a bit of a statement on society and technology.  We all get caught up with whats in front of us sometimes, and the stepping into the ‘real world’ is some what of a wake up call.

bullet time

I also find Agent Smith’s description of the first Matrix interesting.  He states that the first matrix was designed to be perfect, like paradise yet millions of people didn’t accept the program.  The suffering (or negativity to be more accurate) behind the modern ‘peak’ of human civilization is what keeps the illusion real.

The character of Morpheus is beyond cool.  Everyone wishes they could be the hip tough leader he portrays, but the wisdom his character exudes is awesome.  The way Neo was mislead by the Oracle in order ‘walk the path’ as opposed ‘knowing the path’ (as described by Morpheus) is a really smart way of throwing off the audience and shows Morpheus’ wisdom and intelligence.

Even the idea of simply downloading martial arts into the brains of the characters is such a good idea and really fits the movie,  as well as creating the perfect platform to show off amazing martial arts action.

The Action & Martial Arts

The movie is filled with Wire Fu and fancy unrealistic fighting BUT that’s the only way it could have been done.  The unique action in the Matrix creates that hyper-real feeling behind the characters and the matrix itself.  This one very rare movie where the Wire Fu really made it fantastic to watch.

The Sparring Program

The Action in the Matrix is so unique and ahead of it’s time that it has set trends everywhere with over 20 films parodying the ‘bullet time’ sequences.

The fights aren’t the very best I’ve seen, but they’re pretty high quality.  The sparring program and the fight with Agent Smith are the absolute stand outs showing off a wide variety of movements and techniques and is very ‘Kung Fu-ish’.

What I found interesting is that the agents have a very ‘hard style’ reminiscent of Karate, while the humans have a ‘Kung Fu style which can be considered soft and fluid in nature.  This soft vs hard style further feeds the difference in strength and power between the humans and the agents – the agents being vastly more powerful that the humans.  Therefore it makes perfect sense for the humans to utilise a soft style which is more about evasive techniques and leverage, while the agents fight and block the strikes head on.

The Verdict?

This is an absolute classic, and despite many opinions it is a martial arts movie…. second, and a science fiction movie first.  What Martial Arts we do see are still very impressive and well worth a watch on so many levels!

On Blu Ray –

Region A (US & Canada)
The Matrix on Blu-ray

Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, etc)
The Matrix on Blu-ray

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Matrix on DVD

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Matrix on DVD

Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
The Matrix on DVD 

25 Martial Arts Movies All Fans Must See - FREE

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