XMA is a 2003 documentary which pioneers stop-motion technology for research into the scientific side of Martial Arts. It looks into the sport of XMA or Extreme Martial Arts pioneered by Mike Chat, telling the story of his 5 time world champion student and current martial arts movie actor, Matt Mullins.
XMA is a Karate open tournament for the best and flashiest the United States has to offer. it has a combination of sparring, brick breaking and form competitions. But the one thing that makes it really interesting is the open championship – where young and fit martial artists get up there and show off some really acrobatic stuff – the type of thing that makes for a good fight performance in a Martial Arts Action Movie!
While the story follows on about XMA and Matt Mullins, the real gold of this documentary is in the Scientific & CG expolration into the martial arts.
Using some of the Martial Art’s finest performers we’re shown a vast variety of techniques and styles, broken down to see how everything works including the stats – how damaging some of these techniques are! With many techniques being equal or greater to that of high impact car accidents!
It’ scientific proof behind the raw power of martial arts technique!
They explore striking, grappling, weapon work – detailing individual weapons and even taking the centre’ (for more passive styles like Aikido) and explain exactly how everything works, and even pull apart the many traditions.
Using Stop-motion capture – tracking the performers movements, this documentary has some cool animations and effects as the energy and mechanics of each movement is explained!
This Documentary has some top names!
So Mike Chat and Matt Mullins are at the forefront, and are right up there with some of the industries best performers. Mike Chat pioneered XMA, while Matt Mullins has moved on to star in top films like Blood and Bone as ‘The Pretty Boy’ (opposite Michael Jai White!) and playing Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat Legacy.
The next go to man is James Lew, a legend of the Martial Arts movie industry in America and is a member of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame. You’ll see him with other names of the industry like Johnny Nguyen, Bren Foster and other familiar faces.
But we really see Matt Mullins in his element here, trying to make a come back after 3 years off the scene. We learn a little about him and his background and are able to see behind the scenes as he travels and trains with some of the most recognized and authentic martial artists in the world (not just flashy performers).
Is it Worth the watch?
It sure is! From a point of view of education you’ll really learn a lot about Martial arts culture and technique. In terms of entertainment the narration is quite well done and the story unfolds with an almost mystical feel at some points.
The presentation is also glossed right up with the 3D animated scenes mixed up with choreographed fights that could be used in any great martial arts movie. For fans of not just movies but the martial arts in general this is a top documentary. If you’re not all that knowledgeable about martial arts, this is one of the best introductions to the culture and will give you some direction as to what you would like to study if you were interested.