Ne plus ultra

Ne plus ultra (noun): the perfect or most extreme example of its kind; the ultimate.

It’s the height, the zenith, the ultimate, the crown, the pinnacle. It’s the peak, the summit, the crest, the high-water mark. All these expressions, of course, mean “the highest point attainable.” But ne plus ultra may top them all when it comes to expressing in a sophisticated way that something is the pink of perfection. It is said that the term’s predecessor, non plus ultra, was inscribed on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar, which marked the western end of the classical world. The phrase served as a warning: “(Let there) not (be) more (sailing) beyond.” The New Latin version ne plus ultra, meaning “(go) no more beyond,” found its way into English in the 1630s.

Had it not been for Bruce Lee and his movies in the early 1970s, it’s arguable whether or not the martial arts film genre would have ever penetrated and influenced mainstream North American and European cinema and audiences the way it has over the coming decades. Still Bruce Lee remains the undisputable ne plus ultra of martial arts cinema.

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