Is Keanu Reeves The #1 Martial Arts Movie Star In The World?


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Keanu Reeves is one of the best known movie stars in the world. His pictures have grossed more than $6 billion dollars worldwide. The Matrix Trilogy and the John Wick Films have accounted for more than $2 billion in box office ticket sales over the past two decades. These are among the best and most influential films of a generation, and they make Keanu Reeves, potentially, the biggest martial arts movie star that ever existed.

While most people may not consider him a martial arts movie icon because, even by his own words he only knows, “movie kung fu“, there is a compelling argument to support the moniker, “#1 martial arts movie star in the world.”

While Reeves does not have a traditional martial arts background he began training in the martial arts for the first Matrix (1999) film, undergoing four months of daily intensive training prior to the start of shooting that blockbuster film. His work with Yuen Woo-Ping, Hong Kong’s acclaimed martial arts action choreographer, resulted in stunning fights and weapons scenes. Had it stopped there Reeves would still be responsible for one of the best martial arts and sci-fi films ever made; however, there was so much more to come.

Reeves went on to train intensely and release two more Matrix films, which were filled with martial arts action fight scenes. Neo’s fight scenes with Morpheus, Agent Smith, and The Agent Smiths are as good as any ever filmed. Reeves also paired with Woo-Ping to star in, and Direct, Man of Tai Chi (2013), a true martial arts combat film. The climax of that film involves Reeves and Tiger Chensquaring off in a classic, “old school’ fight scene.

2014 brought John Wick, a film by Chad Stahelski, in which Reeves again underwent 3-4 months of intensive training in martial arts and weapons to result in a stunning and pivotal film which transformed the genre and spawned two beloved sequels (with a 3rd in pre-production). The Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and weapons realism in those films set new standards in movie making, and martial arts fight choreography.

With Ten (10) martial arts action films, $6 billion dollars in box office gross, and serious martial arts training in Taekwondo, Kung Fu, BJJ, Judo there is no question that Keanu Reeves is not only a martial arts movie star, but perhaps, the biggest that ever graced the Silver Screen.

On this week’s program, Marc Zirogiannis explores the question of Keanu Reeves’ Martial Arts Superstardom.

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