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Posts Tagged ‘Shaw Brothers’

Lady of Steel

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

I can say I love Shaw Brothers movies, because most of the ones I’ve seen are so good. But there are so many more of them than I’ll ever see. Every once in a while I remember that and I check one out. This one is from 1970 and it stars one of the pioneering female martial arts movie stars, Cheng Pei-pei, perhaps best known for COME DRINK WITH ME.

My dad could beat up your dad with one dagger stabbed into his skull.

It starts with an origin story. Some guys transporting silver taels get ambushed at an inn. The main guy is so badass that he keeps fighting even though he has daggers sticking out of his back and forehead. He dies, but his young daughter Fang Ying Qi is carried into the woods where she’s found and adopted by a kung fu master named Xuan Zhen (Ku Wen-Chung, a prolific actor and director since the ’40s). In her first appearance after the opening credits, the master has been enjoying his tea, when suddenly Cheng Pei-pei as grown up Ying Qi drops in from above the frame – I think she’s been hanging out in the trees.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Mercenaries From Hong Kong

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

You know who had a hell of a studio? Those Shaw Brothers. As far as a company that develops a formula and evolves an artform into a recognizable “brand,” those guys were tops. Within their voluminous catalog are hundreds of period martial arts films, including some of the best ever made, THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN and THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER being my favorites of the small percentage I’ve seen. I’m sure I’ll be watching these for the rest of my life and never see all of the good ones or get tired of their approach.

But it’s still a special treat, an exotic delicacy, a rare limited edition collectors item when you see one that breaks out of the usual template. For example I love SUPER INFRA-MAN, their version of a kaiju movie. MERCENARIES FROM HONG KONG – the third film directed by Wong Jing, who recently did CHASING THE DRAGON with Donnie Yen – isn’t as unique as that, but it’s a beautiful thing: the talents of the Shaw Studios stunt teams and choreographers applied to a contemporary ’80s story with guns, grenades and motor vehicles. It came out in 1982, same year as FIRST BLOOD, but seems to predict that post-RAMBO-2 period with its Vietnam vets putting the team back together and returning to the jungle to fight drug lords. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Sammo Hung’s amazing EASTERN CONDORS, but it’s a similar vibe of seeing tropes we love from American action being elaborated upon using techniques unique to Hong Kong cinema. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Boxer’s Omen

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

tn_boxersomenTHE BOXER’S OMEN is one of these movies I’ve had recommended to me for years but for some reason never listened. I guess everybody just talked about how FUCKIN CRAZY it was, and I like FUCKIN CRAZY but sometimes a man needs more. For example (HERESY ALERT this paragraph) I couldn’t get into that beloved Japanese freakout available from Criterion, HOUSE or HAUSU. It is indeed unique and goofy and graphically fun, but feature length? I think that’s the ultimate example of a movie that if I stumbled across it on TV at 2 am and had never heard of it it would seem like the greatest achievement in the history of cinema, but when I intentionally sit down to watch it as a real movie I have a hard time getting through it.

Maybe that’s what I was worried BOXER’S OMEN would be. Then I was looking at the box and it said Bolo Yeung was in it so of course I rented it. Why didn’t you say so?
(read the rest of this shit…)

Executioners From Shaolin

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

tn_executionersMany of us know Pai Mei from his strict teachings of Beatrix Kiddo. In KILL BILL VOLUME 2 he’s a mean old bastard with long white hair. But he’s meaner and older than you may realize: his first movie appearance is in EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN (1977), a movie that opens with him dueling a Shaolin priest to the death and burning down the temple with most of the monks inside. He was already an old man then, and that was 1727 (at least according to the first literary references to the alleged historical figure he’s based on).

still_executioners1

(read the rest of this shit…)

Kiss of Death (Shaw Brothers)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
tn_kissofdeath
This came out the same year as ENTER THE DRAGON, so the face-slashes might not be an homage

KISS OF DEATH is a 1973 Shaw Brothers production, but not a period martial arts movie like what they’re mostly known for. The director, Meng Hua Ho also did CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB and OILY MANIAC. This one is a contemporary urban story about a lady (Chen Ping) who, one night walking home from her job at the textile factory, gets gang-raped by five street thugs, and now she wants revenge.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t get I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE graphic about it, but of course everything to do with the attack is very unpleasant. I was actually shocked by a scene where she is surprised by blood dripping down her legs. Most movies about sexual assault don’t bother depicting the ugly details of the physical aftermath.

But it turns out not to be what I thought it was. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dirty Ho

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

tn_dirtyhoDIRTY HO is one of the comedic Shaw Brothers pictures. And yeah, I know, the title is funny. It sounds like it would be about, I don’t know, a Manchurian prince who has to get to a certain ceremony but one of his thirteen brothers is scheming to have him killed and meanwhile him and another guy named Ho keep playing dirty tricks on each other so that’s why he’s a Dirty Ho. That’s what it sounds like it would be about, but really the tricks are not dirty per se. In my opinion he’s a Sneaky Ho at worst. The movie should be called HE’S UP, HO’S DOWN. (read the rest of this shit…)

Heroes of the East

Friday, November 12th, 2010

tn_heroesoftheeastaka CHALLENGE OF THE NINJA, SHAOLIN VS. NINJA, SHAOLIN CHALLENGES NINJA

HEROES OF THE EAST is a really top notch Shaw Brothers production that’s half all-time classic martial arts movie, half romantic comedy. There are cultural differences that separate it from a Katherine Heigl movie besides just martial arts, the main one being arranged marriage. In a Heigl picture she’s forced to be with a guy she initially hates because of a baby, here it’s because of powerful Chinese and Japanese business families trying to expand their reach by making their kids marry each other.
(read the rest of this shit…)

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

Friday, June 24th, 2005

tn_36thchamberaka SHAOLIN MASTER KILLER

So you got these fuckin Tartars goin around oppressing people, right? No surprise there. Humiliating people, publicly executing people, fucking with innocent people’s seafood shops and all that kind of crap. I mean let’s be honest here, we all know how these fuckin Tartars are. And in a Shaw Brothers classic like this, we know Gordon Liu is gonna do something about it.

There’s this classroom of kids (played by adults) and they’ve been learning about the importance of their country and standing up to their enemies but they can’t figure out why they’re learning this in the classroom and then watching the Tartars pull this kind of crap. Are those lessons just words or are they concepts they should really live by? They decide on the second one and when they try to stand up and make a difference, they are rewarded with a serious assbeating.

But Gordon gets away, and you know what he always does when he gets away. He finds his way to the Shaolin Temple where the monks patch him up, then he demands to stay and become a monk, and then he asks to learn kung fu. (read the rest of this shit…)

8 Diagram Pole Fighter

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

Well when it comes to the classics of the kung fu genre, who the fuck knows where to start? Not me, but a recent browsing of the book THE WU-TANG MANUAL BOOK 1 by outlaw award winning composer RZA gave me some tips. In one chapter he tells about the three kung fu movies that most influenced him, and this one sounded the best. He tells a story about getting high and watching it late at night with a gentleman named “Ghostface” and some other buddies from the Stapleton projects. Supposedly they all started crying because of its messages of brotherhood. It would be interesting to know which scene got them going.

The movie comes from our friends the Shaw Brothers and it’s apparently considered one of their best. And god damn if it isn’t one of the best martial arts pictures that I’ve seen, anyway. (read the rest of this shit…)