...and the fighter cracks his neck before his attack - when did this get common?

Oh, and by the way, I just took my 6 year old son and his buddy to see Thunderbirds (oh man, was that bad) and the bad guy played by Ben Kingsley - you guessed, cracked his neck right before doing his mind-control fu on the good guys (the origin of which powers were never explained…)

Bruce Lee also did the swiping your nose with your thumb bit that Neo used in the matrix.

It also happens in Laputa, just before the fight in the streets of Pazu’s village.

Seems like Chong Li did it in Bloodsport (1988).

I do it. In real life. See, I had a car accident a long time ago. Whiplash. I get this pressure buildup, sometimes. Now, if you fight a lot, you’re going to have the same thing happen to you, from a punch. So… might be just simulating a real life tic.

If Bruce Lee did it, it’s possibly this particular movement has antecedents in Hong Kong cinema, possibly dubbed over sounds as part of ritualized fighting. Anybody here familiar enough with the genre to confirm this suspicion?

I agree, the neck-crack was done to a different drummer, but it was still preparatory to some butt-kicking. And even in that movie it seemed familiar, 10+ years before Agent Smith.

I think I agree with the Hong Kong contingent, there’s probably a Lee or other Fu movie where we all first saw this cliche.

I seem to remember Oddjob cracking his neck before laying a serious ass-kicking on Sean Connery in Goldfinger. That came out in 1964, but some of Bruce Lee’s films pre-date even that one.

Oddjob! You know, it kept buzzing around the back of my head it was James Bond film I first saw this in, and for some reason I was thinking it was Jaws in either The Spy Who Loved Me or Moonraker.