If you’re a fan of The Raid movies, you’ll know who the legendary Joe Taslim is. As far as martial artist actors go, he’s not as popular as Wesley Snipes or Jason Statham. That’s unfortunate, considering how madly skilled he is at martial arts. I once wrote before how he doesn’t get enough recognition, but recently, I have been seeing him in more movies and shows. I really hope he keeps this up, because he’s on top of his martial arts skills, he’s got the acting talent to go with it.
Let’s take a few minutes and talk about why I think Joe Taslim is severely underrated as a martial arts actor. One of his most important roles to date is that of Sergeant Jaka from The Raid: Redemption. Acting as the leader of the squad and commanding officer for Rama (Iko Uwais), this movie basically gave him his breakthrough. Before The Raid, Iko Uwais had Merantu, his breakthrough role. Joe Taslim, on the other hand, barely had any acting gigs under his belt. He was finding work as an actor and model, but where he really excelled in was martial arts.
Before he became an actor, he was a member of the Indonesia judo national team for twelve years. So not only does he have a black belt in the martial art of judo, he was also a professional judoka. He was good enough to win several gold medals, but he unfortunately had to retire due to an injury. That’s what happens in martial arts, but the most important thing about him is that he kept at it long enough to become a champion. On top of that, judo isn’t the only martial art he has experience with. Along with his judo skills, Joe Taslim is also proficient in wushu, taekwondo, and pencak silat. It helps to know more than one style and Taslim’s skills in these arts shows in his movies.
Speaking of his movies, there is one particular movie on Netflix that I think will turn anyone into a fan of his instantly. It’s called The Night Comes For Us, a very bloody 2018 Indonesian action film. When I say bloody, I mean blood is spilled by the gallons. It’s probably the most violent action film I’ve ever seen, but you know what? That only made it more awesome. Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais reunite in this action flick, except this time, they’re not comrades. Their final battle was basically out of a Mortal Kombat game. It was long, brutal, painful, and ended with Joe Taslim basically performing a sick fatality on Iko Uwais. Man, I had to of watched that fight between them over a dozen times. Both men show their skills in both of their arts and both of them got their hits in.
I don’t know how they both got up after some of those hits, but hey, action movies. Not to mention that Joe Taslim is, by my count, the only guy to beat Iko Uwais in a fight. Okay, except for maybe Stuber, but I want talk about that movie. The movie I do want to talk about, however, is the upcoming Shang-Chi movie. I just read this morning that the movie was wrapped filming. That’s interesting news to me, because we haven’t received much details about the plot or the cast. That makes me wonder which characters will appear in the film, but we need to keep one thing in mind. Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings is primarily a martial arts movie. Needless to say, a superhero movie about martial arts needs to have some talented martial artist actors in it.
My top choice is without a doubt, Joe Taslim. The Mandarin (the real one) is confirmed to be the villain of the film, but he’s not the type of villain to get his hands dirty. Just like his comic counterpart, I expect him to have his minions to do much of his dirty work. These are the type of minions who will give Shang-Chi the physical challenge he needs. Based on the details on the plot that were given to us, Shang-Chi will be fighting in an underground tournament against the best martial artist the MCU has to offer. Now that sounds like killer fun, but the only question is who will be there to challenge him?
I have at least two villains in mind, and I believe Joe Taslim is perfectly suitable for either one of them. The first one is a villain who is actually already rumored to be in the movie. His name is Moving Shadow, a character who actually had a short history in Marvel Comics. While his history in the comics is short, his role as a Shang-Chi villain was rather significant. He’s the half-brother of Shang-Chi, and of the two sons of Fu Manchu (in the movie’s case, The Mandarin), Moving Shadow was the unwavering loyal one. he obeyed his father’s commands without questions and had no qualms about killing. So after Shang-Chi abandoned his father, Moving Shadow carried quite the grudge against him. The final fight between them ended in tragedy, but what I like about it is basically sibling rivalry.
Joe Taslim would kill is as Moving Shadow. Not just because he would be a great physical challenge to Shang-Chi, but because he’s great at playing bad guys. The first time I ever saw him was actually in was Fast & Furious 6. He barely spoke, but he kicked the crap out of Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang. For me, it was one heck of a first viewing. After watching that scene, I was convinced that Joe Taslim could be the perfect villain who could be the physical threat for the hero. With the enhanced abilities of Moving Shadow, it would be epic to see him go at it with Shang-Chi.
The second villain I have in mind is Shen Kuei, aka Cat. A bit of an odd name for a villain, but he lives up to the name. He’s works as a mercenary/spy with extraordinary martial arts skills and his nickname comes from his uncanny stealth and agility. He’s gone toe to toe with Shang-Chi many times and they always fought to a standstill. That’s an impressive feat, considering Shang-Chi is one of the greatest martial artists in Marvel Comics. Joe Taslim would be perfect for Cat, because he plays a similar character in the Cinemax series, Warrior. He plays Li Yong, the primary rival to the series’ main protagonist, Ah Sahm.
What’s cool about Li Yong is that he’s not necessarily the bad guy in the show. He’s a noble warrior who wants to protect his people, but Ah Sahm just so happens to be a part of his rival Tong. They’re both the best fighters in town and Ah Sahm still hasn’t recovered from his defeat at Li Yong’s hands. It wasn’t personal, since Li Yong was ordered to fight him, but he still poses a threat to Ah Sahm. In fact, they’re both finding a common enemy in another Tong, so it’s possible we might see them fight together. Now that will be one incredible duo.
That’s how I picture his portrayal of Cat in the Shang-Chi movie. He’s not necessarily a villain, but he does stand in the way of Shang-Chi. They can have their epic martial arts duel in the beginning, but for whatever reason, they can become allies against the fight against The Mandarin. It would be a great opportunity to make Cat a more dynamic character while giving Shang-Chi a valuable ally to fight with. Oh, and the other reason he’s called Cat is because he has a cat tattoo on his chest. How awesome would that look on Joe Taslim?
Have I successfully convinced all of you that Joe Taslim is worthy of joining the MCU? If not, just check out his movie yourself and I’ll let those do the convincing. A movie like Shang-Chi require some top notch martial artists and if anyone fits the bill, it’s Joe Taslim.