About a year ago, my nephew introduced me to an animated series filled with martial arts action, Asian philosophy, and far-eastern mythology. I was blown away by the intellectual and mythic depth of the show, especially by it's attention to detail in areas like philosophy, cultural anthropology, and martial arts choreography. I wasn't the only one. Famed writer/director, M.Night Shyamalan said it was "the coolest mythology I'd ever seen" and put his own work on hold for the next 6 years in order to dedicate himself to bringing this story to the big screen with live action. The first installment "The Last Airbender" hits theaters in 3-D this summer.
To give you a little background, the story is set in an ancient, mythical world inhabited by 4 nationalities, each based on one of the Four Elements of ancient Eastern philosophy, Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. Each culture is built around the philosophical properties of it's respective element. So for example, the Earth Kingdom is strong, rigid, unchanging, and persevering, while the Fire Nation is aggressive and consumptive, and the Air Nomads are spiritual and indirect like Tibetan Buddhists, and the Water Tribe that inhabits the polar regions are adaptive and resilient. Each nationality has among it gifted individuals (sorta like Jedi) who are able to use their people's unique martial arts to manipulate the element around which their culture is built. These individuals are called "Benders" because they can bend the elements to their will. The creators of the show are big martial arts fans and, along with their Martial Arts technical advisors, they choreographed the movements of each nation's martial art to mimic the philosophical properties of their respective elements. Trust me, it looks cool as hell in the cartoon. And the live-action film looks like it's gonna follow suit. Here's the preview!