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CloseFriend
Aug 21, 2002

Un malheur ne vient jamais seul.


I've only watched classic kung fu films for about eight months now, but I loving love them. I just devour them! So let's take a thread to talk about them in all their greatness.

I won't pretend to know enough about the genre to classify it down to a science, but by "classic" I mostly mean Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest with the occasional non-kaiju Toho film like Lady Snowblood, spanning from around the mid 60s to the mid 80s. Wuxia, wushu, swordplay with curvy swords, produced in Hong Kong or Taiwan or Japan… You know the kind.

I'll post YouTube links if I can find them, but I strongly recommend you watch the films on DVD or BluRay, and subtitled, if at all possible. Higher quality makes the choreography and acting (such as it is) so much more enjoyable.

Come Drink With Me/大醉俠 (1967)

This film predates most of the really successful martial arts films, but it has some amazing cinematography and a surprisingly interesting plot. Actress Cheng Pei-Pei stars as the protagonist and demonstrates astonishing agency both for the film's creation in 1967 and its setting within the Ming Dynasty. The deuteragonist shows off the "drunken" style of fighting that would become famous in the coming years. Director King Hu went for operatic, balletic overtones in Cheng's movements and in the general presentation of events. This film boasts a very clever plot as well, at one point having characters communicate a hint by encoding directions for drawing a Chinese character within a song! It also closes with one hell of a grudge match.

One-Armed Swordsman/獨臂刀 (1967)

I'd credit this film with launching the successful careers of Jimmy Wang Yu and Chang Cheh as well as helping to kick-start this entire genre. The action gets repetitive in the extreme—particularly in the second act—but it has gorgeous cinematography for its time and surprisingly nuanced characterization. I found myself very engrossed by the main character's conflict between a filial obligation to a woman who irreversibly wronged him and an obligation to repay the kindness shown him by a woman who doesn't quite understand him. The film pioneers two longstanding trends in the genre: disabled protagonists (the idea of which peaks in Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms) and the transformation of an ostensible disadvantage into a decisive advantage.

The Angry River/鬼怒川 (1971)

YouTube
This film marks Golden Harvest's debut. Much of the people involved behind the scenes defected from Shaw Bros.—particularly Huang Feng, an already-experienced director who took the Chang-Cheh-esque triple duty of writing, producing, and directing. This also marks Angela Mao Ying's first leading role, and the script gives her a surprising kind of agency; her protagonist gets kidnapped twice, yet she ends up playing the most important role of all in the film. The storytelling uses subtle elements of magical realism and mythology; the resulting film actually does feel more like a folktale than anything.

One Armed Boxer/The Chinese Professionals/獨臂拳王 (1971)

YouTube
Jimmy Wang Yu returned in this spiritual successor to One-Armed Swordsman—produced by Golden Harvest Studios as Yu's middle finger to his previous employers at Shaw Brothers—to prove to the world once again that his martial arts acumen far exceeds his ability to have arms. This film feels mostly like a trial run for its sequel, Master of the Flying Guillotine. Like that film, this one boasts frenetic martial-arts action and a diverse, quirky array of supporting fighters. This film lacks its sequel's style, but it still has a lot to enjoy in its own right.

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Enter the Dragon marks the beginning of Hollywood's relationship with martial arts films: Warner Bros. and Golden Harvest teamed up to make it happen. Unfortunately, it also marks the end of Bruce Lee's career, as he died less than a week before its release. Co-star Jim Kelly passed just last month.
Considering this film's status as America's first big-budget flirtation with this style of film, I find its subtle use of Yellow Peril characterization apropos. It also has inimitable Bruce Lee action that reaches a fever pitch in the famous, unforgettable mirror-hall climax.

Lady Snowblood/修羅雪姫 (1973)

Not many films can pack what feels like an epic into 97 minutes, but Lady Snowblood succeeds wonderfully. Toshiya Fujita does a ridiculously amazing job with winter and beach cinematography, making Japan look beautiful, mysterious, and unpredictable all at once. Tarantino fans absolutely must check this out, since Kill Bill (in particular Volume I) borrows enormously from this film.
In a way, Kill Bill subsumes this film's narrative as part of its own symbolism. Quentin Tarantino based O-Ren Ishii on this film's main character, now a warrior who already achieved her desired revenge and faces off against a new adversary with a vendetta of her own. In that sense, watching the two films in sequence enhances Kill Bill's statement about the cyclical, almost Sisyphean nature of revenge.

Master of the Flying Guillotine/獨臂拳王大破血滴子 (1976)

YouTube
Of all the films in this thread, I saw this one first, and I have yet to see it beaten. Jimmy Wang Yu reprises his role from One-Armed Boxer; the master of two students he slew in that film seeks revenge: a blind martial arts expert with a weapon that decapitates whomever it lands on… and it tends to land wherever he intends! The film stands out less for its central conflict than its fluid plot involving a plethora of colorful fighters from all over Asia. If you've ever wanted to really understand Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and SNK's fighting games, you must watch this film.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin/少林三十六房 (1978)

Perhaps the most famous collaboration between director Kar-Leung Lau (who directed a number of these and many other films and unfortunately died just last month) and Chia-Hui "Gordon" Liu, this film put the latter on the map as San Te, an aggrieved martial artist who joins a Shaolin monastery as part of a protracted revenge scheme. (He'd repeat this character arc many times, particularly in The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, Shaolin and Wu Tang, and Legendary Weapons of China.) This film strikes me as somewhat of a Far Eastern mirror image of Rocky, inasmuch as it boils the protagonist's edge down to industriousness, frustration, and the realization of the importance of his goal. The film became famous as a source of inspiration for the Wu-Tang Clan. Indeed, RZA—who grew up on these films—did an interview and feature commentary for the film's BluRay.

5 Deadly Venoms/五毒 (1978)

5 Deadly Venoms serves as both the namesake and most famous film featuring the Venom Mob as well as one of Chang Cheh's many masterpieces. The masks induce me to see a bit of cross-pollination with tokusatsu superhero works as well, particularly Super Sentai.
This film helps establish a trend of supernaturally-skilled fighters that became perhaps most famous in America in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It doesn't have a huge amount going on story-wise—in particular the film telegraphs its central plot twist—but it has amazing and incredibly heterogeneous action.

Drunken Master/醉拳 (1978)

Crackle
Jackie Chan had not acted in film for long when he did Drunken Master, but it established his charisma and bankability not just in action, but action-comedy (I call this the Schwarzenegger strategy). I won't pretend I busted a gut, (seriously, why the gently caress did its writers find hairy moles so Goddamn funny?!) but this film gives an excellent cross-section of Chan's ability to integrate the comedy directly into his martial arts. King of Fighters fans should check this one out in particular, since a certain mainstay of the series undoubtedly descended from one of this film's main characters.
Of note, this film, among many, many others, serves as a biography of Chinese hero Wong Fei-Hung, a Qing Dynasty folk hero who inspired works ranging from an 89-movie series in Hong Kong to Xenogears. Yes. That Xenogears.

Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms/Crippled Avengers/殘缺 (1978)

All but one of the stars of 5 Deadly Venoms returned for this film. Four martial artists wage war against a warlord who permanently crippled them, as well as his son (who pulled a Dr. No after a hand amputation of his own). The characterization feels a bit gimmicky, but the film remains nothing if not novel. One can scarcely help but enjoy watching the martial arts interplay between a blind man, a deaf man, an amputee, and a man rendered… "special." I found the depiction of the heroes surprisingly affectionate; one would expect some severe ableism from the premise, but the film rarely veers into such territory… at least outside of the actions of the villains.

Heroes of the East/Challenge of the Ninja/中華丈夫 (1978)

Here we have another of Lau Kar-Leung's many collaborations with Gordon Liu. In a relative rarity for Liu, he actually doesn't end up shaving his head in this film. Heroes of the East starts with a lovers' quarrel between a Japanese kunoichi and a Chinese kung fu practitioner that escalates out of control. What starts as a comical "marital arts" lovers' quarrel escalates into a martial arts competition pitting Gordon Liu against eight Japanese martial arts masters.
In a strange contrast with most of the genre, this film's story revolves around exhibition matches with ultimately no serious stakes. Although half the cast actually did come from Japan, the Chinese bias quickly becomes clear as the film progresses. One can't help wondering how much of this film's plot serves as wishful thinking or blowing off steam over the Second Sino-Japanese War, in which Japan attacked Hong Kong and China ultimately won a Pyrrhic victory.

Knockabout/雜家小子 (1979)

YouTube
I've always admired Sammo Hung as a man who worked very, very hard for the success he's had. This film serves as a representative picture of his talent. As with Jackie Chan in Drunken Master, he plays a character who centers his combat around deception. The film vacillates strangely between drama and comedy; it has a strikingly dark second act turn for such an otherwise lighthearted film. It has some wonderful action, though, and in another comparison with Drunken Master, we see amazing choreography for a film that showcases a defensive style.

My Young Auntie/Fangs of the Tigress/長輩 (1981)

My Young Auntie stands among Lau Kar-Leung's quirkier entries and a deconstruction of the Chinese conception of respect for elders. Kara Hui stars as Cheng Tai-Nun, the most skilled martial artist in the film, but also an arrogant traditionalist. She marries into a superior position within the Yu Clan of martial artists, clashing particularly with male lead Ah Tao, a callow, Anglophilic college student given to querulous outbursts and code-switching. As in a number of Lau Kar-Leung's other works, he peppers the serious martial arts story with domestic comedy. The resulting film feels like an odd mix, but a memorable one. Kara Hui's martial arts prove the highlight of the film. Like Gordon Lui she excels not only at the martial arts itself, but intentionally downplaying it for a role.

Legendary Weapons of China/十八般武藝 (1982)

Legendary Weapons of China boasts a particularly confusing plot, mostly because it introduces characters in a way that makes events difficult to follow. If you can decipher it, though, there exist some interesting points made about the inevitable conclusion of the Boxer Rebellion and the conflation between realism, defeatism, and unfaithfulness. As the title suggests, the 18 legendary Chinese weapons serve as the real stars of the show, culminating in a protracted but very engaging fight scene where most of them come into play (the remainder show up in other fight scenes). Like 5 Deadly Venoms, we see elements of the supernatural, but here they mingle with history in an almost magical realist sort of way.

Five Element Ninjas/Super Ninjas/五遁忍術 (1982)

YouTube
I rarely say this about any film, but to describe the plot of Five Element Ninjas feels a bit like spoiling it. Suffice it to say the film chronicles the conflict between a martial arts clan and a cadre of ninjas separated into five groups by element. This film interested me because the concept of what the TVTropes crowd calls "Plot Armor" carries little weight in Hong Kong martial arts cinema. You may find yourself surprised by which characters die and which turn out to have actual importance later on.

The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter/五郎八卦棍 (1983)

Of the martial arts films I've seen, this one ranks among my favorites. Gordon Liu returns yet again as a wronged martial artist who turns to a Shaolin monastery to get revenge. This film struck me for its operatic appearance. The film opens with a borderline-surreal mêlée with minimalist backgrounds and heightened, stagey emotions and effects. This film gives us Liu and director Lau Kar-Leung at their respective best, with a final climax that ties the film's themes together wonderfully… even if an unexpected real-life death prevented the plot from fully cohering.

I have not even come close to naming all of this genre's best films. Still, you get the idea. Thankfully, a number of these show up on YouTube. They don't have much of a presence on instant viewing services (which frustrates me endlessly), but you shouldn't have much of a problem finding the discs for the ones you want to see. So if you haven't seen any, you have a lot of research to do!

CloseFriend fucked around with this message at May 19, 2014 around 04:20

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Sprecherscrow
Dec 20, 2009


I think the notion of the 36th chamber vs. the 1st chamber, i.e. the political vs. the spiritual, has intellectually shaped the way I view so many things after I watched that movie. I contemplate whether or not San Te would be better off abandoning the outside world and trying to master the 1st chamber. Communal obligation vs. self improvement. It has perhaps never been expressed better.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

It is a classic symbol of racism in America. This is where the white man has taken the black man and put him between two buns. And then dumped ketchup on him.


Thank you for this thread, I've been wanting to get more into classic Kung Fu but never really knew where to start. I've seen a handful (Enter the Dragon, 36th Chamber) but I'll be tracking down a lot of these now. I've always preferred Kung Fu films that take place in old time villages and similar settings rather than the Bruce Lee modern, city setting so I'm glad to have a bunch of them to go from.

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD
Sep 14, 2007

everything is yours


Sprecherscrow posted:

I think the notion of the 36th chamber vs. the 1st chamber, i.e. the political vs. the spiritual, has intellectually shaped the way I view so many things after I watched that movie. I contemplate whether or not San Te would be better off abandoning the outside world and trying to master the 1st chamber. Communal obligation vs. self improvement. It has perhaps never been expressed better.

Can you elaborate on this? What an enigmatic response.

Sprecherscrow
Dec 20, 2009


HUNDU THE BEAST GOD posted:

Can you elaborate on this? What an enigmatic response.

I'll try. San Te's purpose in creating the 36th chamber is to teach Shaolin Kung Fu to people outside the monastery for the explicit purpose of resisting the Manchu government. When he expresses his intent to create this chamber, he had just been offered to teach his choice of chambers 35-2 with mention being made that the 1st chamber being the only one he hasn't mastered. The 1st chamber is for meditation and spiritual enlightenment. The film doesn't really take a stance as to which is the superior pursuit, but it does present them as incompatible. San Te's choice is motivated primarily by a grudge he has held for years, by anger. A monk who has successfully mastered the 1st chamber has let go of his anger. It is no longer a motivator and certainly not the primary one.

When presented with the current political reality which I find so frustrating and terrifying, do I attempt to change it or find a healthier way to exist inside of it? Do I head for the 36th chamber or the 1st? If I head for the 36th, is that a futile struggle which will make me unsatisfied and miserable while failing to accomplish what I set out to do? If I head for the 1st, am I being selfish in failing to even try to help other people? Is it a retreat into Solipsism? The film is probably wrong to present these as wholly incompatible, you can try to do both, though I feel that one does undermine the other. I can't help but get angry thinking about politics. I can't help but get impatient trying to meditate.

Has this helped? This movie connected with me emotionally in a way I find difficult to express in words.

Profondo Rosso
Feb 14, 2012


I also love kung fu flicks! You hit a lot of my favorites in the OP. Another classic you should def check out if you haven't yet is Duel to the Death.

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD
Sep 14, 2007

everything is yours


Sprecherscrow posted:

I'll try. San Te's purpose in creating the 36th chamber is to teach Shaolin Kung Fu to people outside the monastery for the explicit purpose of resisting the Manchu government. When he expresses his intent to create this chamber, he had just been offered to teach his choice of chambers 35-2 with mention being made that the 1st chamber being the only one he hasn't mastered. The 1st chamber is for meditation and spiritual enlightenment. The film doesn't really take a stance as to which is the superior pursuit, but it does present them as incompatible. San Te's choice is motivated primarily by a grudge he has held for years, by anger. A monk who has successfully mastered the 1st chamber has let go of his anger. It is no longer a motivator and certainly not the primary one.

When presented with the current political reality which I find so frustrating and terrifying, do I attempt to change it or find a healthier way to exist inside of it? Do I head for the 36th chamber or the 1st? If I head for the 36th, is that a futile struggle which will make me unsatisfied and miserable while failing to accomplish what I set out to do? If I head for the 1st, am I being selfish in failing to even try to help other people? Is it a retreat into Solipsism? The film is probably wrong to present these as wholly incompatible, you can try to do both, though I feel that one does undermine the other. I can't help but get angry thinking about politics. I can't help but get impatient trying to meditate.

Has this helped? This movie connected with me emotionally in a way I find difficult to express in words.

That has helped a lot, that's one of the most succinct things I've read here in a while. I feel that typically this would be expressed as if it were a generic take on "modernity" but I think your personal context is much more interesting while not being unrelatable.

Ugly In The Morning
Jul 1, 2010


CloseFriend posted:



Enter the Dragon (1973)

Enter the Dragon marks the beginning of Hollywood's relationship with martial arts films: Warner Bros. and Golden Harvest teamed up to make it happen. Unfortunately, it also marks the end of Bruce Lee's career, as he died less than a week before its release. Co-star Jim Kelly passed just last month.
Considering this film's status as America's first big-budget flirtation with this style of film, I find its subtle use of Yellow Peril characterization apropos. It also has inimitable Bruce Lee action that reaches a fever pitch in the famous, unforgettable mirror-hall climax.



I think the only Kung-Fu film I like as much as this is The Chinese Connection/Fist of Fury (you might find it under either), just for pacing. But I still think I prefer Enter The Dragon. The "art of fighting without fighting" scene is a favorite of mine to this day.

Sprecherscrow
Dec 20, 2009


The thing that you can find in every worthwhile Kung Fu film, from the absolute cream of the crop to the more run-of-the-mill thinly plotted and poorly written ones, is a celebration of human movement and body control. One of my absolute favorite examples of this is actually a more humorous one that comes not from a fight scene, but a training scene. In Fist of the White Lotus the protagonist (another phenomenal Gordon Liu performance)is trying to teach a bumbling non-fighter (Hsiao Ho) his two man fighting style to avenge his late partner. Ho's bumbling through the training session is masterful. He follows along with Liu's movements but manages to convey it as incompetence. The result is hilarious.

Drunkboxer
Jun 30, 2007

Ehhh?

Ugly In The Morning posted:

The "art of fighting without fighting" scene is a favorite of mine to this day.

So much of the coolness of that movie is in the way Lee delivers his lines. "It is like a finger, pointing away to da moon..."


edit: I guess the sequel to Drunken Master is too modern for the theme of this thread? The fight choreography in that is untouchable in my opinion.

Drunkboxer fucked around with this message at Jul 22, 2013 around 00:45

KingsPawn
May 22, 2006
E4!

I remember as a kid, my grandfather would sit us all down and we would watch all of the Bruce Lee films. What made it even better was that my grandfather would wear the white tank whenever we did a Bruce Lee marathon. I also remember watching The Magnificent Butcher as a kid too, and while the story is still fuzzy, I do remember the one scene where the protagonist uses his brother's tombstone as a weapon for revenge. I might be misremembering but it was a really powerful scene and it's the only part of it I can still remember to this day.

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD
Sep 14, 2007

everything is yours


Drunkboxer posted:

edit: I guess the sequel to Drunken Master is too modern for the theme of this thread? The fight choreography in that is untouchable in my opinion.

A world in which Drunken Master 2 "doesn't count" is not a world I want to live in.

White Kid Polo
Mar 28, 2006

you must take me to taco bell and i am not kidding

I don't have anything to add except that these movies are kickass, and I'm really happy you made this thread OP.

davidspackage
May 16, 2007

Well done, Hopkins!


TrixRabbi posted:

Thank you for this thread, I've been wanting to get more into classic Kung Fu but never really knew where to start. I've seen a handful (Enter the Dragon, 36th Chamber) but I'll be tracking down a lot of these now. I've always preferred Kung Fu films that take place in old time villages and similar settings rather than the Bruce Lee modern, city setting so I'm glad to have a bunch of them to go from.

Pretty much the same here. I always wished I had a local video store that had a wall-to-wall library of these to randomly check out, but I guess I was born too late for that. Put a bunch of these on my to-watch list.

Al-Saqr
Nov 11, 2007


Sheikh of the Couch

What's I love about sammo hung is how completely off guard he catches you with his round physique, then suddenly BAM super agile kung fu master.

'The magnificent Butcher' is pretty awesome too.

Wank
Apr 26, 2008


davidspackage posted:

Pretty much the same here. I always wished I had a local video store that had a wall-to-wall library of these to randomly check out, but I guess I was born too late for that. Put a bunch of these on my to-watch list.

Wow, I wonder if that is what dropped my interest in this genre? These movies just plain work as a VHS cover and a impulse rental. Without that for some reason I just have not been that interested...

I actually prefer the more mid-80s to mid-90s "Hong Kong"(?) time of movies. Project A and (Part 2), Armor of God, Police Story, Once upon a time in China, The Tai Chi Master etc. They seem just more "fun".

stratdax
Sep 14, 2006


Wank posted:

Wow, I wonder if that is what dropped my interest in this genre? These movies just plain work as a VHS cover and a impulse rental. Without that for some reason I just have not been that interested...

I actually prefer the more mid-80s to mid-90s "Hong Kong"(?) time of movies. Project A and (Part 2), Armor of God, Police Story, Once upon a time in China, The Tai Chi Master etc. They seem just more "fun".

Well it's no coincidence that four of those are Jackie Chan movies, and the other two Jet Li. Jackie Chan took his theatre training that he learnt from the Peking Opera School he attended and combined it with huge influences from Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges. I think he's amazing and was probably the most gifted action movie martial artist ever, but I think he's a little too modern or not quite what the OP is looking for, outside of early movies like "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow". That being said "Dragons Forever" is a great send off to the Three Dragons - Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao - three friends from the Opera School. Also starring Benny The Jet Urquidez. All four previously starred in the classic "Wheels on Meals".

Bruce Lee obviously was the first star to really bring this kind of cinema to North America and paved the way for Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Who knows where the genre might have ended up without him. Everybody knows "Enter the Dragon", but not nearly as many people have heard of the movie he did directly previous to that, called either "The Way of the Dragon", "Return of the Dragon", or sometimes just "Dragon". It also stars... Chuck Norris. Yup. Norris and Lee were training buddies, and "Way of the Dragon" has a climax of a ten minute fight between the two. Great stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUfuZJI9LK4

stratdax fucked around with this message at Jul 22, 2013 around 11:47

sean10mm
Jun 29, 2005

Dispensing unwanted fitness advice since 2005. P.S. Squat more! BEEFCAKE!!!

Another good Gordon Liu movie is Heroes of the East (aka Shaolin Challenges Ninja), where Gordon Liu is forced to fight basically every Japanese martial artist on Earth because of a wacky misunderstanding. I think it has like a dozen duels with everything from fists to swords to darts to Ninja gadgets and poo poo, but the tone is also a bit lighter and it has more comedy than some other famous kung fu films of that period.

Synonamess Botch
Jun 5, 2006

dicks are for my cat


stratdax posted:

Jackie Chan took his theatre training that he learnt from the Peking Opera School he attended and combined it with huge influences from Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges. I think he's amazing and was probably the most gifted action movie martial artist ever, but I think he's a little too modern or not quite what the OP is looking for, outside of early movies like "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow".

Thing about Chan is his best films aren't really martial arts movies. They all incorporate martial arts, but when I think of Jackie Chan I think of Police Story, Rumble in the Bronx, Who Am I, and then his later American films. I would never discount the inclusion of his earlier work on the genre (Drunken Master is basically required viewing), but Chan in his prime and at his best was the spectacle of stuntwork and choreography, with the martial arts serving to back those up. Traditional kung fu flicks are also thematically very different from the films he became famous for.

Drunkboxer
Jun 30, 2007

Ehhh?

Synonamess Botch posted:

Thing about Chan is his best films aren't really martial arts movies. They all incorporate martial arts, but when I think of Jackie Chan I think of Police Story, Rumble in the Bronx, Who Am I, and then his later American films. I would never discount the inclusion of his earlier work on the genre (Drunken Master is basically required viewing), but Chan in his prime and at his best was the spectacle of stuntwork and choreography, with the martial arts serving to back those up. Traditional kung fu flicks are also thematically very different from the films he became famous for.

This would be true if The Legend of Drunken Master (Drunken Master II) didn't exist. It's the pinnacle of Chan's physical humor (I don't think he could abuse himself like that when he got a little older) and the fight scenes are really just masterpieces. It has the Axe Gang fight to top all Axe Gang fights (arguably I guess) and the final sequence is just flat out amazing. My memory's not totally clear on this but I think the last bad guy was portrayed by Chan's real life bodyguard, and the scene resulted in some actual serious injury to both parties. I wish I was better at describing films so I could do more than just rave about how great this movie is, but you work with what you got I guess.

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD posted:

A world in which Drunken Master 2 "doesn't count" is not a world I want to live in.

Yesss.

Starscream
Aug 17, 2000


Al-Saqr posted:

What's I love about sammo hung is how completely off guard he catches you with his round physique, then suddenly BAM super agile kung fu master.

'The magnificent Butcher' is pretty awesome too.

My favourite Sammo Hung fight in one of his best, however lesser known, movies: Pedicab Driver.

Sammo Hung vs. Lau Kar-Leung

CloseFriend
Aug 21, 2002

Un malheur ne vient jamais seul.


I watched Lady Snowblood again last night, and something struck me… A consistent aesthetic dots the film's major moments throughout: the Japanese flag (nisshōki/日章旗). Red as a foreground element and, to a lesser extent, white as a background/secondary element suffuse most of the shot compositions in the film. Hell, look at the title: red blood and white snow. The Japanese title has 修羅 for red bloodshed and again, 雪 for white snow.

In this sense, the film exhorts us to see the title character's story as one of Japan in general. Indeed, throughout the film, Yuki's costumes betray Japanese flag imagery. The reddish colors vary between a bright, bloody scarlet, lavender, maroon, purple, auburn, burgundy and orange, but the dominant shape remains near the center of the screen against desaturated or bright negative space. Just look at her birth—surrounded by a large cluster of prison jumpsuit orange against a white bed in the dead of winter—or her very first adult appearance—holding a circular umbrella above the snow-encrusted landscape…





From this, we infer that Yuki embodies Japan… or, more specifically, pre-Meiji Japan. We infer that Japan's entire history has the same driving force as Yuki herself: revenge. The film implies that up to this point in history, Japan has lived in a Saṃsāra-esque cycle of revenge. Look for the subtle Japanese flag composition in these sanguinary backstory paintings: a red splotch against a mostly-white background…




Nearly all of Yuki's costumes have a reddish element against a white background. When they don't, the entire costume becomes that element. Just try not to catch your eye on Yuki's lavender kimono in its contrast against the otherwise quotidian tea room.



As for her other costumes, with their reddish sashes against the white, Yuki spends most of the film looking like a five-foot Japanese flag turned on its side, especially when blood mottles her clothes.





The Japanese flag, then, recurs in the film to keep us cognizant of Japan's history. This becomes strikingly apparent in this scene, where a blood-read rickshaw blanket anchors a Dutch-angle composition wherein deuteragonist Ryūrei Ashio comes face-to-face with his shameful past, and later in the scene where a rufous safe does the same.




The film avers, in essence, that even before the Meiji Restoration, Japan's history had problems of its own. Look for bright red elements in the middle of the screen in these scenes featuring gambling, a release of poison gas, a prostitute's recompense (linked for spoiler), and an unprovoked murder (linked for spoiler).




Since Yuki stands surrogate for Japan itself, her upbringing then tells us the story of the formation of the Japanese mindset through unforgiving inculcation. We see it in this shot of young Yuki—wearing in a red sash to indicate her status as the rising sun—tethered to her punitive yet motivated guardian Priest Dōkai, clad in white as the sky against which she rises to take her place.



In a cyclical note, Kobue wears mostly red throughout the film, hinting that she represents the incipient successor of the "rising sun" mantle, herself marred by adversity and injustice and motivated by revenge. The relative lack of white tells us that unlike Yuki, her youth leaves her in the beginning stages of her own trip through the revenge cycle.



Even the villains get in on the composition; take a look at Tsukamoto Gishirō's headband as the blood therefrom drips down his rubicund face, Shokei Tokuichi's eye-grabbing bright red loincloth in the compositional center, Kitahama Okono's fiery invocation of the Vajrayana god Acala across her backside, and the way the blood stains the white foam that buoys Takemura Banzō's hemorrhaging body in its last moments.





All of this points to the film's idea that revenge, bloodshed, and remonstrance underpinned Japanese history up to that point. The turning point of the climax—where Gishiro dies dragging down the flag of Japan and staining that of the United States in his failure to grab it as well—tells us that Bakumatsu marked not only the end of Japan's isolationist foreign policy and shogunate, but the end of Japan as the Japanese knew it.

The decidedly Pyrrhic nature of the victory also tells us not to regard Japan's sea change as entirely a positive. The film ends with Kobue becoming the new symbol of Japan by nearly slaying the old one, thereby positing that while Japan itself may change, the themes governing its history never will.

Wrageowrapper
Apr 30, 2009



A lot of the films that I wanted to post have already been posted but there is another classic traditional style martial arts film that was left off the list.

Hapkido
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEAqgQf-Nwc

One of the few films of this era and type that stared a woman, Angela Mao as the central character. Also includes Sammo Hung. Plus look out for the very brief appearance of Jackie Chan as a random goon (you can see him in the trailer).

Its about a good honest Chinese Hapkido school under attack by the evil Japanese Black Bull (from memory) school. Its a pretty standard martial arts story line but the action is solid and brutal in that glorious late 70's way.

In terms of wuxia or your fantasy swordplay type films I have two to recommend.

A Chinese Ghost Story
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rko8ZqCJVIY

Apparently there was a remake from 2011. Haven't seen it, doubt I ever will. The original is far too classic to need an update. The sequel that came out in 89? was pretty good though.

The Daoist monks beard is glued on but the character is the best of his type in all of fantasy wuxia films.

Zu Warriors from the Mystic Mountains
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGbsCiN3GqM

The film that inspired Big trouble in Little China. There was also a remake of this which I did see and it was a confusing mess of cgi but the original is a lot of fun especially the opening antics with Summo Hung.

PS. If you're one of the ironic types who really like god awful abominations of film then let me just leave you with these words. Fantasy Mission Force

h_double
Jul 27, 2001


Synonamess Botch posted:

Thing about Chan is his best films aren't really martial arts movies. They all incorporate martial arts, but when I think of Jackie Chan I think of Police Story, Rumble in the Bronx, Who Am I, and then his later American films. I would never discount the inclusion of his earlier work on the genre (Drunken Master is basically required viewing), but Chan in his prime and at his best was the spectacle of stuntwork and choreography, with the martial arts serving to back those up. Traditional kung fu flicks are also thematically very different from the films he became famous for.

I like his later films (Drunken Master II is a masterpiece), but I'm more partial to his early films. It just feels like there's more energy in the stunt work -- there's no question of fancy post-processing effects -- plus I'm with TrixRabbi that vastly prefer kung fu movies with a rural/historical setting. Snake In The Eagle's Shadow (1978) is probably my favorite Jackie Chan movie, it's not the flashiest or most spectacular thing he's done, but it's full of badassed fights, just the right amount of comedy, and is such a great example of the classic "bumbling apprentice gets abused and levels up to badass hero" template.

Starscream
Aug 17, 2000


Wrageowrapper posted:

PS. If you're one of the ironic types who really like god awful abominations of film then let me just leave you with these words. Fantasy Mission Force

Love this movie! You might regret watching it, but you'll never forget it!

DEAD MAN'S SHOE
Nov 23, 2003

We will become evil and the stars will come alive

Regret can be tempered with drugs, and lots of them. Jackie Chan has a cameo too! FMF is well below his level but IIRC he appeared only as a favour to the producer under rather shady circumstances..

The trouble with Martial Arts films are the multiple names that they have, often meaning that finding the good stuff in the days of VHS was pure luck. And that's not even going into the quality of the picture.

There is one film that I've always been curious about but never been able to find: Sammo Hung stars, title has frog or monkey in it. I've heard a practicing martial artist swear blind that it was the best thing he had ever seen. Any ideas??

DEAD MAN'S SHOE fucked around with this message at Jul 28, 2013 around 00:56

GreenX
Aug 21, 2007


DEAD MAN'S SHOE posted:

The trouble with Martial Arts films are the multiple names that they have, often meaning that finding the good stuff in the days of VHS was pure luck. And that's not even going into the quality of the picture.

There is one film that I've always been curious about but never been able to find: Sammo Hung stars, title has frog or monkey in it. I've heard a practicing martial artist swear blind that it was the best thing he had ever seen. Any ideas??

It's probably Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog, which I have yet to see myself.

O hey, it's on youtube

GreenX fucked around with this message at Jul 28, 2013 around 07:17

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006

I was gonna put him on the bus. I got tired of him talking. It was time for him to go home.

You beat a man, they call you tough.

You beat an army, they call you The Street Fighter!



Full Movie

A great change of pace narrative in the martial arts genre. Whereas Bruce Lee is a stoic man of virtue that no man can lay a hand on, Sonny Chiba is a cowardly and ruthless mercenary, bandit, occasional slaver. His fights are a mess of broken bones and blood, not philosophical art. I highly recommend it as one of the best martial arts movies of all time.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at Jul 28, 2013 around 21:58

Starscream
Aug 17, 2000


SlipUp posted:

A great change of pace narrative in the martial arts genre. Whereas Bruce Lee is a stoic man of virtue that no man can lay a hand on, Sonny Chiba is a cowardly and ruthless mercenary, bandit, occasional slaver. His fights are a mess of broken bones and blood, not philosophical art. I highly recommend it as one of the best martial arts movies of all time.

I'm a big fan of the Street Fighter series! Sonny Chiba spits and hisses at bad guys before ripping them to shreds with his bare hands. Awesome!

CloseFriend
Aug 21, 2002

Un malheur ne vient jamais seul.


Drunkboxer posted:

So much of the coolness of that movie is in the way Lee delivers his lines. "It is like a finger, pointing away to da moon..."


edit: I guess the sequel to Drunken Master is too modern for the theme of this thread? The fight choreography in that is untouchable in my opinion.
I haven't seen it yet, but go for it! Hell, your username is made for it. Speaking of more modern films along these lines, I recently watched House of Flying Daggers and I really liked it.

Speaking of films I recently watched, I added My Young Auntie and Heroes of the East to the OP, if that interests anyone.

Anal Surgery
Apr 23, 2003

Well I am
over-fucking-whelmed...


Thanks for this thread! In the last couple days I watched Drunken Master, Master of the Flying Guillotine, and The Street Fighter. I enjoyed all of them for different reasons, but my favorite so far has been Master of the Flying Guillotine. I loved the tournament and all the weird contestants and I love the influence you can see on video games, like the OP said. I've always loved games with lots of fighters or monsters or bosses, so MotFG was a real treat for me. My favorite fighter was the Mongolian with the upside-down moustache. I want a whole movie spin off with that dude doing Sambo throws.

The Street Fighter reminded me slightly of The Raid: Redemption only for the brutality of some of the fights. With that in mind, which of the recommendations or which other films of this era are known for the crunch and savagery of the combat?? I don't even necessarily mean bloody, just combat known for it's "heaviness"?

Illinois Smith
Nov 15, 2003

Ninety-one? There are ninety other "Tiger Drivers"? Do any involve actual tigers, or driving?


Speaking of Jimmy Wang Yu, I'm gonna throw out a recommendation for The Man From Hong-Kong.



This is like the polar opposite of those 80s Jackie Chan movies where he tried to enter the American market but ended up in lovely buddy cop movies where he shoots and swears a lot. It's a joint Australian-Hong Kong co-production released two years after Enter The Dragon that features The One-Armed Boxer vs James Bond well, George Lazenby anyhow with fight choreography by Sammo Hung.

outlawvern posted:

But what makes this movie great is that it has about twelve times more action than most action movies. Okay, so the hang-gliding scenes may go on a little too long. But it’s a movie with foot chases, climbing up the sides of buildings, motorcycle jumps, various vehicles going off ledges, a van that blows up three times, a chain fight on top of an elevator, a skyscraper rapelling scene, and more. During the car chase Lazenby’s car drives right through a house and keeps going, so Fang has to catch up with him and ram his car so hard it splits in half like a fortune cookie. (that’s not some racial comment, fortune cookie just fits what happens better than, say, wishbone or something.)

You get used to movies where you’re waiting for a fight or a chase to happen, and when it does you get excited but it’s over before you know it. THE MAN FROM HONG KONG does not believe in that type of bullshit. THE MAN FROM HONG KONG believes in fight after stunt after chase after long-rear end fight. I knew I had rented well early on when Fang chased a suspect through the streets, caught up with him in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, had a long fight involving various cooking utensils and ingredients, then moved to the restaurant where they proceeded to destroy many dinners, tables, chairs and dishes as well as their own clothes. His opponent actually splits the rear end of his jeans and you can see that he’s wearing yellow underwear. And that is long before the fight is over.

That’s my favorite fight but it’s only one of many. There’s also the “kung fu demonstration” at Lazenby’s backyard barbecue where he ends up fighting all of the henchmen and destroying all of the snacks and only has to leave when a bow and arrow gets involved. Or the scene where he sneaks into a martial arts academy at night but for some reason every member of the dojo is there and he has to fight all of them at the same time. They should actually have to pay him for lessons because they get a real workout and get a chance to try out every weapon they have on hand.

I mean, this guy beats up a whole lot of people. At one point one of the cops complains that Australia has a small population and that Fang is working through all of them.

But he’s got some Shaft in him too. The movie takes place over a few days but he meets, falls in love with and beds two different Australian ladies. One of them gets blown up, the other one teaches him how to hang glide.

There are plenty of more artful martial arts movies out there, and where it is more convincing that everybody is hitting each other every time. This doesn’t compare to, say, the best Shaw Brothers movies. But the story of an arrogant rear end in a top hat tearing his way through Australia with no regard for the law, ethics, strategy, manners or common sense is pretty hilarious, and the action is so relentless and down and dirty that you gotta love it.

Starscream
Aug 17, 2000


Illinois Smith posted:

Speaking of Jimmy Wang Yu, I'm gonna throw out a recommendation for The Man From Hong-Kong.



This is like the polar opposite of those 80s Jackie Chan movies where he tried to enter the American market but ended up in lovely buddy cop movies where he shoots and swears a lot. It's a joint Australian-Hong Kong co-production released two years after Enter The Dragon that features The One-Armed Boxer vs James Bond well, George Lazenby anyhow with fight choreography by Sammo Hung.

This is a great one! Great car chases (like most ozploitation), great action, great stunts, hilarious dialogue -- it's all there. I watch this one a couple times a year. Speaking of movies I watch a couple times a year, I believe you were talking about The Protector, a violent buddy cop movie with Jackie Chan and Danny Aiello of all people! It has comedy, nudity, explosions, cartoonish violence, racism and piss poor american fight choreography. It's not great, but it's a lot of fun!

FishBulb
Mar 29, 2003

Marge, I'd like to be alone with the sandwich for a moment.

Are you going to eat it?

...yes...


That movie looks great, is it on any kind of DVD release?

edit: Oh its on Youtube, of course it is. Awesome.

FishBulb fucked around with this message at Aug 5, 2013 around 00:03

Al Cu Ad Solte
Nov 30, 2005
If you're a chick and get the reference, email me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI2dzMEzX2w

The absolutely astounding fight scene between Jackie Chan and Benny the Jet in Wheels on Meals is probably in my top 3 favourite martial arts sequences ever. It's right up there with the main guy going berserk and killing an entire evil kung fu school in the finale of Mantis Fist Fighter.

Unfortunately I can only find the second half of the fight on youtube. Godammit. Well you should watch the whole movie anyway because it's magnificent.

Illinois Smith
Nov 15, 2003

Ninety-one? There are ninety other "Tiger Drivers"? Do any involve actual tigers, or driving?


Starscream posted:

It's not great, but it's a lot of fun!
I wouldn't mind it if it starred anyone else but it's just such a brutal misuse of one of the biggest talents of the genre at the top of his game.

The best thing about it is that it pissed Chan off so much it made him go I'LL SHOW YOU HOW TO DIRECT A drat COP MOVIE and finish Police Story later that year.

Nickoten
Oct 16, 2005
Yojimbo

Al Cu Ad Solte posted:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI2dzMEzX2w

The absolutely astounding fight scene between Jackie Chan and Benny the Jet in Wheels on Meals is probably in my top 3 favourite martial arts sequences ever. It's right up there with the main guy going berserk and killing an entire evil kung fu school in the finale of Mantis Fist Fighter.

Unfortunately I can only find the second half of the fight on youtube. Godammit. Well you should watch the whole movie anyway because it's magnificent.

Wheels on Meals is great. Some Jackie Chan movies fall into the "some amazing scenes connected by far less interesting scenes" (like Dragons Forever, in my opinion) category for me, but Wheels on Meals was pretty entertaining to me from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.

Rolling Scissors
Jul 22, 2005

Turn off the fountain dear, it's just me.

Nickoten posted:

Wheels on Meals is great. Some Jackie Chan movies fall into the "some amazing scenes connected by far less interesting scenes" (like Dragons Forever, in my opinion)

Dragons Forever also features a fight between Jackie and Benny, but the fight isn't as great as in Wheels on Meals. Benny also has some hilarious make-up, designed to look "intimidating", that is anything but.

CloseFriend
Aug 21, 2002

Un malheur ne vient jamais seul.


I just watched Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance.



Like its predecessor, the film boasts beautifully violent visuals. It also depicts a continuation of the Japanese flag motif from the first film. Again, we see it mostly in blood, specifically in the sanguinary results of Yuki's handiwork and in various Yuki-related plot turns…





Although the context for this shot severely spoils the film, suffice it to say this composition symbolizes the release of Japan from the fetters of the Meiji restoration and its exploitation of the lower classes.



As in the first film, this one also contains subtle reminders of the Japanese flag in its less bloody compositions. Quite a few shots will put a red color shape in or near the center of the shot as a hidden nod to the rising sun.



The sequel continues in its depiction of Yuki as a symbol of Japan herself… and of the Meiji Restoration as a time when corruption and authoritarianism have left the proletariat mute and destitute.

Indeed, at the 9-minute mark, when the inciting incident happens, we see Yuki wake up to a rising sun: the literal manifestation of the Japanese flag.



The film even goes so far as to juxtapose Yuki herself with the sun in the same shot.



However, in an intriguing statement of the pernicious effects of Meiji corruption on all of Japan, we only see the actual Japanese flag used in irony. First, soldiers and their families wave the flag as they sing about pride in winning a battle that cost a third of a million Japanese lives and in celebration of the Spartan ideal of not even returning home without victory.



Second, the main antagonists walk under the flags on their way to a ceremony. Here, the Japanese flag symbolizes the war, famine, pestilence, and death they unleashed to their own selfish ends.



This motif doesn't recur in this film to the extent that it does in the first. In fact, this film starts new motifs of its own, most prominently symmetry…



For other examples, several characters who sustain an injury on one side of their bodies later become injured in the same place on the opposite side. Two brothers who have bad blood between each other ultimately find themselves in similar roles in the story. Both films prominently feature a women's prison and cemeteries. Characters in this film have antecedents with roughly the same role in the first film.

Yuki's umbrella returns as a symbol in this film as well (spoiler), this time not as a symbolic calling card, but as a symbol of protection. She uses the umbrella to signal a shift in loyalty after she learns some new information.

This all serves to convey the idea of Love Song of Vengeance as a mirror-image of its predecessor. Whereas the first film dealt with Yuki's internal struggle behind her own existence, this one makes her struggle external, a struggle for all of Japan.

Anyway, while this film doesn't compare to its counterpart, I recommend it to anyone who likes violence and Japanese cinema, and I think fans of the first will find something to enjoy.

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hseiken
Aug 25, 2013


I'm a sucker for:



And I really hope this post belongs here...forgive me if this belongs elsewhere and I'll take my business right out of here.

I think the movie is a special kind of poop, but one thing that I actually do like that's not a 'so bad it's good' aspect of the movie, but an actually a, no poo poo, "this is cool stuff" is the soundtrack. I discovered by accident that three of the soundtrack cues in the movie is actually from ROCKY ("Philidelphia Morning", "Marines' Hymn Yankee Doodle" and "Reflections"). This got me thinking that the rest of the tracks are likely stolen from other sources. However, I've not been successful in locating any of them. Does anyone have any knowledge to share on this movie concerning soundtrack sources? I've looked on IMDB and several reviews including a fansite on the movie and none really research the soundtrack (though they did figure out "Bruce K. L. Lea" is actually Jun Chong who instructs Tae Kwon Do in LA currently) so that brings us to the gist of this post.

I was hoping maybe someone else has sat through this stinker of a movie recognized some of the tunes and could post title/artist or even leads as to where to look.

It's a public domain movie and is on youtube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-rEXS99dDI

Here are time stamps for the youtube link for all song cues (without posting repeats as several make multiple appearances). I've also pointed out the ones I've ID'd.

(NOTE: Only first movie cue of track listed, tune may appear in longer length elsewhere in film)

0:00:15 <-- also used on the trailer, seems to be completely uncut on the trailer which goes for 2 minutes.
0:00:42 <-- super funky spy sounding...James Bond soundtrack?
0:04:38 <-- the flugelhorn blues track, used constantly in the film...Blue Note?
0:05:00 <-- used twice I think, sounds like another film soundtrack
0:08:54 <-- used a couple of times, another one seemingly from a better movie's OST
0:09:20 <-- is this part of 0:09:32 or another cue?
0:09:32 <-- Godfather maybe? Some 70's mobster movie?
0:09:46 <-- good ol' lazy jazz/funk stuff...no idea even where to look for this
0:12:59 <-- DANGER! Another OST ripoff? Maybe same as 0:05:00's source?
0:17:14 <-- super groovy tune, the one I want to find most of all...shades of madlib digging in Blue Note's catalog...
0:19:52 <-- I swear I've heard tons of variations on this throughout 70's kung fu cinema. Various portions of same tune?
0:21:44 <-- also seems like classic 70's cheap soundtrack mill stuff...?
0:21:51 <-- ROCKY OST "Reflections"
0:22:28 <-- Also ROCKY? I didn't recognize it in the fanfares
0:22:54 <-- drat, this is some speedy funky fresh poo poo. I thought maybe it might be Spirit of Atlanta...nope. It also sounds edited, as if there might be singing or other elements that were undesirable cut out...
0:26:14 <-- possibly a western soundtrack? Would seem fitting in the context of the scene...the shadowy stranger at high noon.
0:26;59 <-- elevator bossa nova, but still...it begs to be ID'd...
0:28:27 <-- ROCKY "Philidelpha Morning"
0:31:23 <-- some synth-accordion love theme? Played pretty much from start to finish...
0:39:02 <-- Enter the Dragon?! Confirm? I don't have the OST
0:40:07 <-- check out the drums on this one...groovy! Needs ID for sure!
0:41:32 <-- goofy musical cue of a couple of low basson/saxaphone/tuba or something...menacing or comical? You decide!
0:43:07 <-- not only is this the most random scene in the movie (hard to achieve in random scene-ness which comprises the entire scope of the film) but the most out of place musical cue, lasts 1 second. Just an orchestral stab with evil dripped on it.
0:43:23 <-- horror film? What is this doing in a kung fu flick? ID...maybe Exorcist or something?
0:48:54 <-- sounds like it could be an edit of the western theme? No idea...
0:50:21 <-- more Exorcist?
0:51:00 <-- more James Bond? Or what?
0:51;50 <-- okay, one unidentified tune played on another...I HATE THIS MOVIE!
0:52:33 <-- library music? This is making my head hurt...so many possible sources...music director is evil.
0:53:51 <-- ROCKY "Marine Hymn Yankee Doodle"
0:55:37 <-- is there no end to the music this movie borrows from?
1:04:29 <-- and another curveball...maybe the same soundtrack from 0:09:32? (an aside note...dig that spring reverb on the shoes, bro!)
1:04:58 <-- seriously, I can't tell anymore if this is more of a previous track or not...OST experts, here's your time to shine! Of special note, it seems to directly go right into the track at 0:40:07...or maybe that's just clever editing?
1:08:17 <-- surely someone can recognize the origins of that sinister percussion...or is it sinister windup toy?
1:09:49 <-- I don't even know anymore...is this a part of an earlier theme? You've got me...No idea...help!
1:16:44 <-- seemingly out of place musical cue...soundtrack guy out to lunch on this...but the source..?

And that's it. I do hope people can point me in the right direction.
Thanks for help in advance. Again, if this post is deemed to be moved, may I request it be moved with all info in tact.

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