Some of you might know that even though I couldn’t fight my way through a sturdy paper bag, I am an avid fan of all types of martial arts and combat sports. There is something about the grittiness of two men pounding each other into submission that keeps me riveted to my seat. My curiosity was peaked when I saw a copy of Human Weapon, Season One appear on my doorstep. Hopefully this History Channel show would help me appreciate martial art combat that much more.
Imagine traveling the globe from week to week learning about various martial art styles from the originating country. Once you get to that country, you spend a whole week in intense training from a variety of experts that happen to live there. Then you take all that you gathered that week and use it against somebody who has studied the martial art for years, perhaps even a master and try to beat him. Sound impossible? Well tell that to Jason Chambers and Bill Duff.
Jason Chambers is a former MMA fighter. His record is a decent one, winning eighteen of twenty-five fights with fifteen by knockout or submission. His style is a mixture of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Muay Thai and Jeet Kune Do. He is the personification of Hollywood with a pretty face and superstar looks. He might be 6 foot tall and only 170 lbs, but behind those looks is a hard fighter who can mix it up with just about anybody.
Bill Duff is a different sort of animal. In fact, animal is a very good description of Bill. A former football player (played for the NFL, NFL Europe, Arena Football, and XFL), he also has skills in wrestling and a brown belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. At 6’4 and 280 lbs, he is a beast and anybody who tries to take him down isn’t going to do so without some teeth missing. But this beast comes with a big heart and in his spare time enjoys a good meal (or two).
Each episode deals with a different martial art or combat sport such as Eskrima Stickfighting, Sambo or Kung Fu. They start out each episode with a bit of history in the sport. In fact, the usual show will have several history lessons where they talk about how this style of fighting got started. Usually they will also talk about how it influenced government (whether it was against or for it). At this point, Bill and Jason will land in the country and strike up a local dojo or training for their introduction to the sport.
From there, the two students will travel to different places in the locale and learn different techniques or training methods that go along with the martial art. Often, when they show a special move, they will leap into a physics demonstration where CGI takes over. The CGI will show two fighters performing the move and how much damage it can do to your opponent. Then Jason and Bill will practice the move along with other techniques.
Then in what can be described almost as a Bobby Flay Throwdown type maneuver, they challenge a master or one with great experience in an impromptu match using the techniques they learned. Usually, the match will have rules to protect the two students, but the match can still have very real consequences. Often, they will lose to the master who spent half his life learning the sport. But a few times, they can surprise their opponent who either don’t take the warriors seriously or put in a student of their own who is too green for combat.
As can be expected, I love this show. The history lesson alone would probably be enough of a hook to interest me but then they go over the top and add two fighters trying to learn the sport along with some physics demonstrations. It is pure bliss and each episode does a great job of trying to hook you in. Jason and Bill are also extremely likable and have something that I truly admire: complete and absolute respect for the combat sport they are learning.
Without that, it would be another silly reality or travel show. But these guys know their stuff and even though sometimes they get their you know what handed to them, they always seem to pull out a few moves that you wouldn’t expect so soon in their training. One has to admire that often these two fighters put their life on the line. Take a look at the foreign locales after Bill or Jason humble one of their grand masters to see what I am talking about.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. The color here is excellent and surprisingly the blu-ray format does a lot for this impressive high definition track. Flesh tones are accurate and there is a decent degree of detail all through each episode. The only times when things get a little messy is when poor lighting occurs. This happens usually in the heat of battle where you wouldn’t expect competent camera work, so it’s hardly a complaint.
For the audio portion, we get a 2.0 DTS-HD English Track. The dialog here is actually very loud, again living up to the blu-ray format. What’s more is that the dialog is crystal which is very helpful when dealing with a lot of dialects that are not common to this side of the world. The sound effects or action sections are fairly decent but don’t expect any real left to right separation. There are no subtitles that I can find unless they are speaking in a foreign language.
Nothing, nada, zip, except the nicely made 4-disc blu-ray case.
Human Weapon only lasted one season, sixteen episodes. Eventually, there was a follow-up show on the Discovery Channel called Fight Quest that featured different hosts but similar concepts. Honestly, the best was the first and this blu-ray package is a treat. It is amazing to see two fighters learn a sport so quickly and then be able to apply those techniques in a real match. It is entertaining and informative.
The disc package contains some excellent video and above average sound but the lack of no extras is a puzzler. In fact, it does draw down the replay value of this set unless you are a hardcore fight fan. It is almost as if they started to include extras (as evidenced by the final disc having two episodes) but then forgot to include or film them. It’s a shame and while I loved the show, most people should try to catch a rerun before committing to the whole set. Recommended, but more effort should have been put into the discs.
Muay Thai: Ultimate Striking
Judo: Samurai Legacy
Pankration: The Original Martial Art
Krav Maga of the Israeli Commandos
Marine Corps Martial Arts
MMA: America’s Extreme Fighting
Sambo: Russia’s Extreme Fighting
Cambodian Blood Sport
Silat: Martial Art of Malaysia
Passport to Pain