Recommend Martial Arts Movies

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Especially ones I can probably find on DVD.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 1 January 2006 14:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Shaw Brothers Classics:
Five Deadly Venoms
Crippled Avengers
Kid with the Golden Arm
Five Masters of Death (probably not available on DVD though)

More modern:
Drunken Master II w/ Jackie Chan

Joe (Joe), Sunday, 1 January 2006 14:45 (fourteen years ago) link

Uh oh! This is a major obsessive area of mine. Joe's off to a great start with the SB stuff, but seems to prefer Chang Cheh to Liu Chia Liang aka Lau Kar Leung (my fave.) Reasonable people can disagree though. Some of the cream of Liu/Lau's filmography:

Mad Monkey Kung Fu
Master Killer (AKA 36 Chambers of Shaolin)
Ninja Vs. Shaolin
Legendary Weapons of Kung Fu

Also be sure to check out his protoge Sammo Hung's (NOT WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE!) Golden Harvest era comedies. Sammo is the fat dude that was in the dumb TV show 'Martial Law' and sidekicked for Jackie Chan a lot - as well as directing many of Jackie's movies. He's probably my fave ma movie star period, 'cause he looks like a chinese santa claus but moves with the nimbleness of a spider monkey and the force of a prison riot. Anyway, some of his best material, all of these with Yuen Biao*:

The Prodigal Son
The Victim
Eastern Condors
Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind

Also, although it doesn't have Yuen Biao in it, Pedicab Driver is great, and has what is probably Sammo's greatest fight scene ever - against Liu Chia Liang!

That should get you started.

* Yuen Biao is a smaller, nimbler yet guy who is a star in his own right. Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung made many movies together, all recommended, and attended the Peking Opera School together. Taken together, along with four other guys who are mostly character actors they were known as the Seven Little Fortunes.

Austin Still (Austin, Still), Sunday, 1 January 2006 15:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh yeah.


Followup coming soon!


Promises to be the best violent movie ever made about noodle soup!


Austin Still (Austin, Still), Sunday, 1 January 2006 15:59 (fourteen years ago) link

Sammo is my second favourite, I think. Jet Li is my #1 - he combines being astonishingly good at the fighting with looking beautiful and being a genuinely good actor, and is in some of the best looking films in the genre. The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk is a big favourite of mine, and I just got the Once Upon A Time In China trilogy box set, directed by the magnificent Tsui Hark, one of my favourite directors in any genre. His bonkers supernatural kung fu works (whatever the nature of his involvement - he's produced at least as many as he directed) are all wonderful - I recommend A Chinese Ghost Story and Zu: Warriors Of The Mystic Mountain unreservedly.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:22 (fourteen years ago) link

The Sword! my favourite hk movie ever :D

Yawn (Wintermute), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:22 (fourteen years ago) link

I watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon last night (which I guess is sort of a crossover martial arts film), and I was reminded how much I like this stuff. And yet I haven't really watched many movies in this genre (not even when I was going to the movies fairly regularly).

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:30 (fourteen years ago) link

It makes me a little sad that I am not a kung-fu master though.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:32 (fourteen years ago) link

Of the stuff mentioned in this thread so far, The Tsui Hark stuff is going to be closest to CTHD. In fact, CTHD is pretty much a tribute to Tsui Hawk. The stuff I recommended is trashier, b-movie type material. And therefore better.

Austin Still (Austin, Still), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:34 (fourteen years ago) link

B-movie type stuff is fine. I am looking for any type (hardcore, tasteful crossover, classic classic), for now.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:43 (fourteen years ago) link

"the sword"is pretty close to "crouching tiger", as well, in that its basically a lush melodrama with fight scenes (extremely fast and gritty fights, make no mistake)

Yawn (Wintermute), Sunday, 1 January 2006 16:58 (fourteen years ago) link


for the bean curd scene alone

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Sunday, 1 January 2006 17:31 (fourteen years ago) link

rockist, if you liked Crouching Tiger, rent *The Tai Chi Master*. You will dig it. One of my all-time faves.

scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 1 January 2006 17:48 (fourteen years ago) link

For some reason, Remo was the first movie I thought of but I've not seen it for over 10 years.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Sunday, 1 January 2006 20:21 (fourteen years ago) link

what Austin Still wrote

Arhats In Fury
Tigers of Shaolin
Dragon Princess
Duel to the Death

all i ever seem to watch for kung-fu these days is a sonny chiba ten pack a few years back.

kephm (kephm), Sunday, 1 January 2006 20:30 (fourteen years ago) link

Jet Li:

Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2
The Swordsman 2
Fist of Legend
Tai Chi Master
New Legend of Shaolin
Once Upon At Time In China 1 & 2 & 3
Bodyguard From Beijing
The Black Mask

There a couple of earlier ones which are good, too, but I can't remember the titles off the top of my head.

Jackie Chan must sees:

Police Story
Drunken Master 1 & 2
Project A 1 & 2
Armour of God 1 & 2

Non-Jet, non-Jackie classiques:

Eastern Condors
Iron Monkey

Non-Jet, non-Jackie stuff, not very martial art-y but super worthwhile:

The Blade
Ashes of Time
Time and Tide
Full Contact
Heroic Trio
Naked Killer
Rikki O
Black Cat
Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain
Bride With White Hair

I will come back with some 70's/early 80's stuff later.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Sunday, 1 January 2006 22:06 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah, drunken master 1 & 2, since Drunken Master 1 has the probably the best training montage of any movie ever.

also, for american work, you could always go for Rapid Fire(Brandon Lee doing Wing Chun). It has Powers Boothe as a crusty policeman!

any Stephen Chow flicks.

kingfish holiday travesty (kingfish 2.0), Sunday, 1 January 2006 22:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I read that as Spencer Chow for a moment...

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 1 January 2006 22:27 (fourteen years ago) link

DO NOT see early 90s Stephen Chow flicks. Seriously you will regret it. Also do not (except for Bullet in the Head and Ashes of Time) see anything with Jacky Cheung in it.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Sunday, 1 January 2006 22:28 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm not versed in(or interested in, for the most part) the more recent high production value type stuff so I can't help you there, but some older stuff that hasn't been mentioned:

Bruce Li's Deadly Strike - can only find this on vhs I think and the pan and scan is terrible, but I love it. kind of a chinese dirty dozen with cool villians starring Bruce Li(not in fake-Bruce mode though, he kicks ass here)

Shaolin vs. Lama(not Shaolin against Lama! which is terrible)

Master of the Flying Guillotine(as opposed to the inferior but still enjoyable Fatal Flying Guillotine) - the DVD edition comes with commentary, which is rare.

any of the films now marketed under "Wu Tang Collection" (Iron Man,
Ninja Checkmate, Invicible Armour, et al.). sometimes come with Wu videos!

I'll spare you some others I like, I have a high tolerance for this stuff so I might have a skewed vision of what's "good" at this point.

tremendoid (tremendoid), Sunday, 1 January 2006 23:49 (fourteen years ago) link

You NEED One-Armed Boxer I and II in your life.

I Am Sexless and I Am Foul (noodle vague), Monday, 2 January 2006 00:26 (fourteen years ago) link


gear (gear), Monday, 2 January 2006 00:42 (fourteen years ago) link

A couple more late additions:

"Dragons Forever" and "Wheels on Meals" - both starring Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung, and each climaxing with a punch out between Jackie Chan and real life kickboxing champ Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez. I can never decide which of them is my favorite kungfu fight onscreen.

Austin Still (Austin, Still), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:00 (fourteen years ago) link


ha, i saw this recently. its a love story about a boy & his elephant! theres one amazing scene where he rips through a vice den, i dont think its in one take but it fells like it is & goes on for about 10 minutes, he wastes about 100 people

zappi (joni), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:05 (fourteen years ago) link

Mr. Vampire is a fantastic film with kung-fu in it, thought I'm not certain that it's great kung-fu.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Is noodle soup really important in the flick?

Austin Still (Austin, Still), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:14 (fourteen years ago) link

God of Cookery, for the Shaolin monastery sequences.

gear (gear), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:19 (fourteen years ago) link


Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:26 (fourteen years ago) link

no tomato flavoured noodle contents involved sadly - just clean wholesome proboscidean love

zappi (joni), Monday, 2 January 2006 01:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Eight Diagram Pole Fighter is the best I've seen. Absolutely essential.

One-Armed Swordsman and Return Of The One-Armed Swordsman (the third can be ignored, but might be worth a watch for completists' sake)

Magnificent Butcher - classic Yuen Woo Ping flick starring Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Amazing fight choreography and funny as hell.

Mil (Mil), Monday, 2 January 2006 07:52 (fourteen years ago) link

god of gamblers 1 and 2

white hole (white hole), Monday, 2 January 2006 07:58 (fourteen years ago) link


waldo jeffers scenario (haitch), Monday, 2 January 2006 08:26 (fourteen years ago) link

when i was in germany, i saw this one on TV called like "ghost cop" or something, about three knucklehead friends and then some crazy ghost monster that's after them, or something? it kinda sucked, but the last 5 minutes were so hilarious, in a sort of jackie-chan sort of fight-scene hilarious way, except goofier, that i went and bought it for like $40 in chinatown, but then i lost it in a move. but maybe its not even called "ghost cop". sorry

phil-two (phil-two), Monday, 2 January 2006 08:41 (fourteen years ago) link

DV (dirtyvicar), Monday, 2 January 2006 12:46 (fourteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Crippled Masters exploitative or not?

jocelyn (Jocelyn), Friday, 27 January 2006 18:56 (fourteen years ago) link

I just today got Butterfly & Sword, The Blade and What Price Survival.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Friday, 27 January 2006 21:07 (fourteen years ago) link

Alex in SF, I want to watch movies at YOUR house. Yes, even though you robbed me of the chance to champion Heroic Trio.

Laurel (Laurel), Friday, 27 January 2006 21:11 (fourteen years ago) link

I can't remember what it is called, but there is a sequel to The Heroic Trio which is also pretty good (and much weird too.)

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Saturday, 28 January 2006 00:59 (fourteen years ago) link

It's called The Heroic Trio 2: The Executioners or The Executioners (haha or if you go by the LITERAL english translation it is Modern Day Wonder Heroes Legend!!)

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Saturday, 28 January 2006 01:02 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm falling behind on my martial arts movie DVD viewing. I think I could use one or two this week. Maybe tomorrow night after work.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Saturday, 28 January 2006 02:06 (fourteen years ago) link

Wait, so Fist of Legend has semi-historical Shotokan stuff in it? This is supposed to be that Funakoshi? I had no idea what to expect, and this is a surprise, since I dabbled in Shotokan karate for three months (after which my money ran out and it would have been time to be tested on the first kata--my reasons for leaving were a little of both). I had never sweated so much before in my life.

(Actually, I think Kung Fu is more interesting to watch.)

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 29 January 2006 22:46 (fourteen years ago) link

imdb sez that the Funakoshi in FoL is named Funio, not Gichin. The actor, Yasuake Kurata has played Japanese heavies in about a million Shaw Brahs flicks.

Austin Still (Austin, Still), Monday, 30 January 2006 03:05 (fourteen years ago) link

I would take "Funio" as just being a nickname. He's definitely supposed to be the Funakoshi, imo.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 30 January 2006 14:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Or maybe not, now that I look at credits elsewhere. Is it possible he is a composite? There was another Shotokan teacher named "Fumio." I don't know why I'm so attached to all of this, but I guess my very brief daliance with Shotokan was pretty positive.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 30 January 2006 14:39 (fourteen years ago) link

Incidentally, something I did not mention: I was primed for all of this when the Shotokan symbol was flashed at the beginning of the film.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 30 January 2006 14:56 (fourteen years ago) link

Aside from the obvious Enter the Dragon, The Chinese Connection is a very good Bruce Lee movie.

"They've just never felt the sting of Japanese fists!"

Abbadavid Berman (Hurting), Monday, 30 January 2006 15:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Is there any footage available of Bruce Lee doing cha cha cha?

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Monday, 30 January 2006 17:55 (fourteen years ago) link

I keep thinking the title says "Recommend Martial Arts Moves"

Abbadavid Berman (Hurting), Monday, 30 January 2006 23:26 (fourteen years ago) link

That would be even awesomer.

Laurel (Laurel), Monday, 30 January 2006 23:28 (fourteen years ago) link

Checked around the Shaolin Chamber forum for best martial arts films of the last two decades and I'm a bit disappointed based on the ones I have seen, but I should check more out. Apparently Yuen Woo Ping never lost his touch, I should try True Legend and Master Z.

People seem excited about Scott Adkins, I actually hadn't heard of him but he's in Ip Man 4 and Triple Threat (with Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Jeeja Yanin). Oddly the gritty british hard bastard prison film Avengement appeals. All these films out just this year.

I've got a lot of Jet Li films to see but somehow he just never appealed to me as much as the other major stars.

Distribution is an obvious problem. I thought of getting Mrs K but it would have cost 30 pounds minimum. Some real digging and fan discussion is probably needed to highlight the best of recent times and more countries are making the stuff now. Are period films even viable on anything but a high budget now?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 17 December 2019 02:58 (seven months ago) link

Mrs. K is pretty fun but probably less action than you would expect, it's a sorta ripoff of Taken - but with ass-kicking Kara Hui, so good! I saw a screening a few years ago. Definitely not worth 30 pounds tho.

True Legend and Master Z, though both imperfect, are recommended. (Particularly True Legend, which has a really bleh third act, but a great first 2/3rds).

Nhex, Tuesday, 17 December 2019 04:10 (seven months ago) link

How about The Thousand Faces of Dunjia and Crouchin Tiger Hidden Dragon 2?

Any other good stuff you seen recently?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 17 December 2019 04:38 (seven months ago) link

8 Diagram Pole Fighter coming in march. Glad I held off on watching everything on prime streaming. 88 Films seem to be going with safer bets.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 17 December 2019 12:23 (seven months ago) link

one month passes...

Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain coming on bluray. A film I'll happily buy a second time.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 February 2020 23:11 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks - Better than the other martial arts film documentaries I've seen so far (that's not saying much, some of them were godawful). Grady Hendrix is in it and he seems almost strangely passionate. I feel slightly guilty at enjoying the stories about the risks taken while filming.

I hate it when these documentaries spend so much time talking about how Hong Kong influenced american films but this additionally follows other kinds of influence (work out videos, dance, youtube, african films).

I wish it clearly labeled all the film clips it shows, especially when there are alternate film titles.

Although it did fire me up and make me want to see everything, I think there should be a tv series on this or even something that goes deeper into chinese film/tv history in general. Because the pure Hong Kong comedies are often referenced but rarely seen by western viewers and there's a whole lot of other things that probably should be discussed.

Police Story 3: Supercop - Really wish this was in the Eureka boxed set. Apparently it can be difficult to find a good version of this, there are a few mistitled or similarly titled films that people buy by accident. I got the Umbrella edition.
The train/helecopter/motorbike scenes with Michelle Yeoh are amazing.

Butterfly & Sword - Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen and a few other stars of the era (actually those two are still big stars). Some of the better wirework I've seen. Sadly the ending in my dvd version was cut off in an extremely clumsy fashion. Someone thought the ending was too sad! They should have cut a few seconds earlier.

Wing Chun - Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen again. Solid.

Flying Dagger - Jing Wong filmed this same year as Holy Weapon with much of the same cast. Fun to see Maggie Cheung ripping through a tree while screaming like a cat. Pretty costumes.

Kung Fu Cult Master - Imdb says that Jing Wong and Sammo Hung directed this together but Hung had no official credit onscreen.
This clearly was supposed to have sequels but they were cancelled (the translation of the Jin Yong novel should be coming out soon, so I can maybe find out if the incest-baiting wasn't just in my head. But he revises his novels a lot.) The old man embedded in the rolling stone ball is interesting.

Biggest flaw is how obviously sped up much of the film is, even dialogue scenes look like they are on fast forward. The lushness of the visuals makes it all the more awkward, if it was more cheap and nasty looking, it might have had a chance of working. A stunning blunder for such a big film.

Fate Of Lee Khan - As with other King Hu films, the buildup takes a very long time. This might be more inn-bound than Dragon Inn (someone in the features very aptly compared it to Fawlty Towers!), but the last third is excellent. I'm ranking this just after Legend Of The Mountain.
Only real flaw is that allies seem to just stand around watching each other fight when they most need assistance.

Fingers crossed that Eureka releases The Valiant Ones and Painted Skin.

Miracles/ Mr Canton & Lady Rose - Jackie Chan's 1930s HK gangster film. This is incredibly long, the international cut shaves off 20 minutes and it's kind of understandable.
I wasn't wowed by it but someone in the features makes a quite convincing argument that it shows Chan as a particularly strong director and ideally should have led to better things for him and maybe there was a huge missed opportunity.

The Protector - Jackie Chan teamed with James Glickenhaus in the hopes of doing something more serious and becoming a star in America.
I watched the HK version with added fights but after seeing the comparison feature, I realized that the american version would have been a better idea, as the non-dubbed dialogue gives the actors far more presence and it's more stylistically coherent. Glickenhaus' direction is deliberately slow and almost Michael Mann-ish at times.

Interview with Glickenhaus is great, he doesn't pull his punches about his dislike for the HK version and he talks at length how Golden Harvest didn't support Chan's ambitions and Chan possibly didn't put the right work into becoming a global star.
Some other good interviews about the american and hong kong crews working together.

Crime Story - Yet again Jackie Chan teamed up with a harder edged director in hopes of doing something more serious and fell out with Kirk Wong because he was ultimately too perverse for Jackie. Some deleted scenes are still vaulted. Why? It seems like this is part of Jackie's image control.
As seen in the documentary mentioned above, some buildings were blown up without permission; there's a genuine sense of danger in these scenes.
Like a more stylish, down to earth and dirty version of Police Story.

I watched David West's commentaries to Dragon Missile and Spiritual Boxer. I'm always in discussion with myself how much time and money I want to put into Chinese martial arts films but I'm really enjoying just learning about them, filling in the gaps, recognizing more and more actors, learning which actors were previously martial artists and who learned on the job.

West mentioned the freeze frame endings both times and although they are initially confounding I think they are often the best kind of endings. I generally dislike endings that settle down and tuck you into bed.
Bringing back more abrupt endings might be a risk but people might come around to them. I think Killer Joe had one of the best endings of relatively recent times.
I wonder how Peter Jackson's Return Of The King might have been if it had ended with a freeze frame of Golem falling in mid-air.

I'm not a big fan of Spiritual Boxer but somehow the brief scene of Lau Kar-Leung shouting and posturing with his top off made my week. I've never seen him like that.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 15 March 2020 19:52 (five months ago) link

More forthcoming UK disc releases: Throw Down, Clan Of The White Lotus and Operation Condor.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 15 March 2020 21:34 (five months ago) link

8 Diagram Pole Fighter - I had some misgivings about this to start with. It's often treated as the last great Shaw studio film but the fake plain at the start (why couldn't they have used a real one?) makes the battle look like a reenactment and the two heroes who spend much of the first half lashing out in anger and madness get really annoying. But the very high complexity of the end fight, the bamboo cart used like a cannon and the dental devastation redeems everything.
The studio was so confident about the film that there's some text at the end saying something like "an undeniably good film". This is relying heavily on the second half.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 26 March 2020 18:09 (four months ago) link

The final fight scene in "8 Diagram Pole Fighter" is thoroughly insane.

JRN, Thursday, 26 March 2020 19:29 (four months ago) link

I keep meaning to see that one.
Saw Martial Club recently; not one of the best overall, but the final fight scene is spectacular. Also, Kara Hui A+ as always.

Nhex, Thursday, 26 March 2020 21:24 (four months ago) link

This is a pretty good guide to Shaw blurays around the world.

Germany is doing quite a lot but it's strange how little common ground there is between countries.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 26 March 2020 21:57 (four months ago) link

The Eureka bluray of Wheels On Meals is pretty great for interviews (and the film better than I remembered, I totally forgot most of it somehow), especially with the american martial artists. Benny The Jet was so energized and inspiring.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 8 April 2020 17:45 (four months ago) link

two weeks pass...

There's a super long podcast about martial arts with Tarantino
List of films discussed

Was quite annoyed he was so positive that Kao Pao-shu/Gao Baoshu was THE ONLY female martial arts director. I'd be surprised if she and Pearl Chang were the only two.

Wikipedia says Dark Lady Of Kung Fu is a sequel to Wolf Devil Woman so I might check that out soon.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 25 April 2020 03:31 (three months ago) link

I don't suppose that's transcribed anywhere, because I am not gonna invest 2 and a half hours into that

Nhex, Saturday, 25 April 2020 04:04 (three months ago) link

I wouldn't recommend it that much. Quentin spends at least the first 15 minutes talking about people he interviewed early on (no martial arts people) and his voice is really echoey (I thought the technical things like that wouldn't be an issue for him).

Most interesting for me was how he rates Lo Lieh as the best martial arts actor, he thinks Jimmy Wang Yu was a really great director and talks about double and triple bill combinations that get an audience excited. It's very fixated on the early 70s, that seems to be his preference.

Didn't know Lee Yi Min starred in a Kamen Rider knockoff called Super Rider, but not so sure it is a complete knockoff because Toei are listed as the co-producers.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 25 April 2020 19:31 (three months ago) link

QT wrote a long article about Jimmy Wang Yu if you're more interested in that:

Nhex, Sunday, 26 April 2020 02:04 (three months ago) link

I read a bit of it but I mostly taken away his main recommendations, which he also talked about in the podcast. Most of the films he talks about are on the Wu-Tang Collection on youtube, which seems sorta legit (they're on amazon prime) but I can't imagine they own the rights to them all or that they're public domain. I'm sure there's some Golden Harvest films in there.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 26 April 2020 20:28 (three months ago) link

Kind of taken me by surprise that Wang Yu is rated as such a great director because I've never before heard anyone say anything positive about him. Everything is about how badly he treated people, being accused of murder or that he didn't cut the mustard as a martial arts performer (Tarantino disputes this last part but admits his kicks weren't very good).

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 28 April 2020 23:34 (three months ago) link

a timely thread. i only know the most famous martial arts movies and would like to know more. i watched the jet li 'fist of legend' tonight with my kids and they liked it.

we're going to watch 'wing chun' tomorrow (my third time seeing it)

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 28 April 2020 23:36 (three months ago) link

I've got a ton of stuff lined up and I'm kind of impatient to order more but want to wait til things are a bit safer.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 28 April 2020 23:57 (three months ago) link

i don't think Wang Yu is - this is Tarantino talking him up because of his lack of fame, imo

Nhex, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 00:38 (three months ago) link

Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain - I was happy to buy this again because it's one of my favorite films ever. I still don't completely understand it (a lot of that is due to fast dialogue, and I only have so much patience for rewinding to re-read it all).

I was surprised to hear this was initially a flop. Now it seems like the main cinematic foundation for every chinese fantasy blockbuster. depending on how specific you want to be about approaches to wuxia, this can be considered the first of a certain kind of wuxia and I haven't seen or heard of anything bettering it.
The costumes and designs are wonderful (I think Brigette Lin has as many as 3 different costumes/hairstyles and they're all great) and the wirework scenes at least seem to me a lot more complex than almost any other film I can think of.

Interesting things from the Tony Rayns commentary:
Talking about Stanley Kwan's documentary on gender flipping in chinese film, I'd love to see this.
I didn't know that this was an adaptation (don't know why I was surprised because most fantasy leaning wuxia films seem to be adaptations of books), he says that Tsui Hark only did a very loose adaptation and wasn't interested in following what the novels were actually about. Rayns says the book series by Huanzhulouzhu is 64 books but I seen one listing saying 8 books; perhaps there's a core series and various spinoffs? Only the prequel is available in english and I'm hoping the recent Jin Yong and Gu Long translations make this series a possibility in english print.

The bonus interviews included are very long so the Eureka version has a lot that the Hong Kong Legends bluray didn't.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 2 May 2020 22:53 (three months ago) link

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 2 May 2020 23:07 (three months ago) link

Deadful Melody - A Story about a magic lyre which isn't particularly well told; Yuen Biao doesn't make notable use of his talents and Brigitte Lin completely steals the film from him (they were both in Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain too). The villains are colorful (in the most literal sense) and all the best scenes are the ones with the lyre (and the big drum and hammer at the end), often creating explosions from Lin's rapid playing; it's worth seeing just for these few good things.

The Optimum dvd has an annoyingly small screen size (why was this so common back then?)

Story is based on a Ni Kuang novel. I'm surprised how often and where his name pops up. There's another Wisely film in production. Check his credits and biographies.

"a Chinese author whose life began unpromisingly as a teenage drop-out, before his swift rise through the ranks of the Communist Party security police. Accused of counter-revolutionary activities, he fled to Hong Kong in 1957 and embraced anti-Communist fiction with all the zeal of a convert
In public punditry, Ni presented a grim view of the future. Based on his own experience, he predicted that China's rising middle class would not become a catalyst for democracy, but merely a fresh crop of potential Communist stooges. Fearful for the consequences of the 1997 Handover for dissenting voices, he left for San Francisco in 1992, only to return in 2006, claiming neither he nor his wife could ever fit in. Hong Kong remained his home thereafter, but his antipathy for the Communist regime did not slacken in later years. In a 2009 interview, he provocatively announced that he was less afraid of China during the purges of the Mao era, since the worst possible danger to the world would be presented by a predatory capitalist system run by a dictatorial elite."

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 6 May 2020 22:14 (three months ago) link

I knew that name sounded familiar... he's done a bazillion Shaw movies

Nhex, Wednesday, 6 May 2020 22:22 (three months ago) link

This trailer shows some of the cool bits

I'm starting to use this thread to remember which Shaw films I've actually seen.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 6 May 2020 22:28 (three months ago) link

Some nice posters here
I maybe like this one best because it has a 16-bit vibe

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 7 May 2020 00:02 (three months ago) link

how is Birth Of The Dragon? it's been on film4 recently.

Zu Warriors goes on the wishlist, i think.

koogs, Thursday, 7 May 2020 10:09 (three months ago) link

Birth of the Dragon?
iirc that's the movie that's supposedly about Bruce Lee but makes it about some random white guy

Nhex, Thursday, 7 May 2020 19:26 (three months ago) link

Eureka just announced Mr Vampire. I've never liked it much (Encounters Of The Spooky Kind is superior) but I'm looking forward to the features.

Something else from Tony Rayns Zu commentary: he talks a bit about Mou Tun-fei, best known for the infamous Men Behind The Sun. Rayns says two of his earliest films are two of the nastiest sexploitation films, I think both were banned and his last film was never released (I think it was much like Men Behind The Sun). There's an interview/documentary about him on youtube.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 7 May 2020 23:34 (three months ago) link

How dare, I love Mr.Vampire! Honour the hopping vampires!

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 8 May 2020 10:02 (three months ago) link

The hopping vampire in Encounters Of The Spooky Kind is superior, one of the best movie monsters ever.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 May 2020 01:27 (three months ago) link

I really gotta find a good copy of that

Nhex, Saturday, 9 May 2020 07:40 (three months ago) link

The sequel isn't as good but has some hilarious bits.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 May 2020 15:46 (three months ago) link

If I was a trillionaire I'd try to get Sammo to make a third film in the series.

I've heard that Mr Vampire 3 is quite good but most of the hopping corpse films are supposed to be total dross.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 May 2020 15:51 (three months ago) link

> Birth of the Dragon?
> iirc that's the movie that's supposedly about Bruce Lee but makes it about some random white guy

i see what you mean. i'd only seen the first 2 minutes and that was all subtitled, but 5 minutes in it's already all about the white guy and how the temple was against bruce lee because he was half-white, let alone teaching white guys.

koogs, Saturday, 9 May 2020 16:48 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

Bride With The White Hair getting a Eureka bluray. It doesn't include the sequel (I've never heard that it's a step down). My Tartan dvd copy is shockingly bad for such a good label.

Someone from Eureka says there's hopefully going to be a Michelle Yeoh box set.

I had a fairly long list of Wu Tang Collection (youtube channel) films to watch but I ended up only watching one of them because most of them seem to have multiple problems. Older martial arts fans might say I'm a brat spoiled by the last 15 years of mostly reliably good disc versions (some of the earliest dvds are terrible) but I say why bother when there's a steady stream of remasters coming out?
The problems included bad picture quality, wrong aspect ratio, english dubbing and worst of all: screen cropping. Some fans actually seek out english dubs but wrong aspect ratios and screen cropping just destroy films.

The one that was scratchy but watchable was Crystal Fist/Jade Claw. It's not particularly distinct, I'm guessing the fights are the only reason anyone remembers it but I wouldn't really recommend it.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 1 August 2020 21:40 (two weeks ago) link

Kinda funny to see Eureka be the best label hands down in rereleasing Hong Kong cinema stuff but still sniffily witholding the Masters Of Cinema distinction even for releases directed by Tsui Hark or Jackie Chan when Criterion at this point has caved in and does a Bruce Lee boxset.

Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 2 August 2020 12:01 (one week ago) link

Drunken Master was in their Masters Of Cinema series, which is funny because it's really not one of his best films and as far as I know, Bruce Lee's films aren't often considered the best in the genre (apart from himself of course).

I think all the King Hu reissues have been in the Masters Of Cinema series and most of them fit comfortably enough in the genre.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 2 August 2020 18:26 (one week ago) link

I think it's wonderful that both Eureka and 88 Films are both sort of doing this together (much of the releases have the same reissue credits), but why has Arrow released so few martial arts films? They really ought to get in on it.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 2 August 2020 18:29 (one week ago) link

How did I miss this thread before now? Catnip!

Maresn3st, Sunday, 2 August 2020 21:11 (one week ago) link

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 2 August 2020 22:33 (one week ago) link

Great thread, btw, glad it's on my radar now.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 2 August 2020 22:34 (one week ago) link

Yeah they include King Hu but his stuff is more self-consciously "classy" than yer average Hong Kong actioner. All great stuff, don't get me wrong.

88 Films sorely lacking in extras featuring Nicky Wire in a banana suit.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 3 August 2020 10:25 (one week ago) link

King Hu is definitely more refined but I never thought there was anything self-conscious about it. And I never felt that the Chinese arthouse directors who do martial arts stuff needed to distance themselves and they always use the same actors that everyone else does. King Hu was an architect of the genre in the early days when the language was being properly established so I'm not sure it would occur to him to want to psychological distance himself from Chang Cheh or whoever else.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 3 August 2020 19:07 (one week ago) link

Kinda disagree on that one, at least A Touch of Zen feels like it's shooting for way higher than the average pic at the time. Of course, it's amazing, so who cares I guess

Nhex, Tuesday, 4 August 2020 01:19 (one week ago) link

It has higher aspirations but I never saw any evidence that any of those kind of directors were pretending to be working in a wholly different tradition or that they hadn't seen the regular martial arts films. Touch Of Zen and Legend Of The Mountain have different priorities most of the time but Come Drink With Me and Fate Of Lee Khan are fairly straight forward.

I was surprised to find out that in italy, guys like Lucio Fulci could hang out with the arthouse directors.

But I did see Hsiao-Hsien Hou say that he thought super elaborate fights were annoying and that he wanted The Assassin to have a samurai film simplicity.

Comics writer Joshua Dysart made this list about Hong Kong cinema in general and I found the comments at the bottom really interesting discussion about the fate of the industry.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 4 August 2020 03:39 (one week ago) link

Great list there! Very interesting.

Nhex, Tuesday, 4 August 2020 06:29 (one week ago) link

Man, I'd love to see some of those Shaw Bros 'James Bond' knock offs, can't seem to find them after a surface search, need to dig deeper I guess.

Maresn3st, Thursday, 6 August 2020 20:41 (one week ago) link

Best awkward english title: A Punch To Revenge

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 13 August 2020 21:45 (two days ago) link

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