Bruce Lee’s teacher is a larger than life legend. This film goes even bigger.
Thai good, like shirt?
A beautiful film that also happens to kick ass…
In which we journey back to the 40’s and a time of Gangsters and badass Landladies…
Yes this movie exists and yes it is worth your time
Quite possibly the greatest film ever made
If you have never seen this film before, you are in for a treat
Kung Fu Fridays is back with a vengeance, white hair, historical references, beauty, and a whole mess of other stuff.
We now conclude our summer series with the best Kung Fu flick ever made!
Chinese Super Ninjas aka Chinese Super Ninja aka Five Element Ninjas is, without question, my favorite Kung Fu film of all time. Released in 1982 by the Shaw Bros., it was one of the last big, bloody, fight movies to come out of Hong Kong. Comedy martial arts flicks were gaining traction, thanks especially to Jackie Chan, and the audience’s desire for the over the top, bloody violence of the past was waning. As such, Chinese Super Ninjas did not do well at the box office. It seemed doomed to be forgotten, overshadowed by the absolute gems that had come before and the silly, more family friendly action that rose to prominence during the mid to late 80’s. (proving once again that the 80’s, despite what some would have you believe, were in fact, for the most part, terrible)
The penultimate article in our summer series is about a classic in every sense of the word
I debated including this movie in my Kung Fu Fridays series. Not that it isn’t worthy of inclusion, that should be obvious BY its inclusion I would think, but because it almost seemed too easy. Sure, some of the movies I have covered have been popular to some degree. None of them has been so obscure as to be a complete left field choice. But this, Five Deadly Venoms, you know this movie. You may not have seen it but you know it. It has name recognition above all else and really always has.
Stretching the definition of Kung Fu a bit but for this flick, it’s worth it
Shogun Assassin is an interesting beast of a film. Essentially a mashup made specifically for American and European audiences, Shogun Assassin is the first twelve minutes of Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance and most of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx. Those films, both released in 1972, are the first two in a series of six films based on a Japanese manga series by Kozuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.
One of the greatest Kung Fu films of all time. Why is it so loved? Read on and find out.
In 1978, martial arts films were dropping at an absolutely intense rate. They were cheap to make, cheap to shoot, and highly profitable. Martial Arts mania was in full swing in Asia and America and studios, as they are wont to do, were eager to capitalize. As we have seen, if you have read any of the previous pieces linked conveniently below, there were more than a few gems to hit the silver screen during this period. However, the glut of releases meant that not every one would be a classic.
It was only a matter of time before Bruce Lee was featured.
For many, Bruce Lee is Martial Arts. He is one of the most identifiable stars film has ever produced. His legacy endures to this day, forty two years after his death in 1973. His list of films is nothing short of legendary. At some point in your life you will see Enter the Dragon; it is one of “those” movies. (I mean that as the highest compliment. “Those” movies consist of things like Shawshank Redemption or Forrest Gump) But, Enter the Dragon is not the film up for discussion here.
That right there boys and girls, is Sonny Chiba.
One of the baddest men to walk the planet. A military brat who almost made the Japanese Olympic team, Chiba achieved worldwide success through the film The Street Fighter. No, the film has nothing to do with the game, or the film based on the game, or the game based on the film based on the game. (though the film is available in its entirety in the game The Darkness on any TV found in that game world) What The Street Fighter is is a really well done martial arts flick, a staple in many top ten lists, and an incredibly violent movie whose cult following was helped no doubt by Quentin Tarantino’s decision to not only cast Chiba as Hatori Hanzo in Kill Bill but this as well…
The Ghost Face Killer is a man out for revenge.
Released in 1979, and also know as Ninja Checkmate, The Mystery of Chess Boxing is one of the most storied Kung Fu films to ever make its way stateside. It was released on 42nd St in NYC. During the late 70’s 42nd St was a mecca for Grindhouse films. The story goes that The Mystery of Chess Boxing was so popular that it played in various theaters for over two years! For a Kung Fu film, not with a high budget and not starring Bruce Lee, to have a run that long is saying something. Perhaps it was the fights, deliberate and beautiful, perhaps it was the abysmal voice over, it really is terrible for the most part, or perhaps it was the blend of traditional and comedy stylings that was all the rage during this time period. Or maybe the reason it stayed around so long, and the one I hold to, is because of the Ghost Face Killer.
If you’ve ever wondered why the bo staff is the coolest weapon a martial artist can use…
Based on the generals of the Yang family, a Cantonese legend, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter was released in 1983 by the legendary Shaw Brothers and starred the absolutely incredible Godon Liu. (most readers will recognize him as Pei-Mei from Kill Bill vol.2 and Johnny Mo from Kill Bill vol.1) The film, known as Invincible Pole Fighter outside of Hong Kong, was hit with tragedy as Liu’s costar, Alexander Fu Sheng, was killed in a car accident before filming wrapped.
Jackie Chan is the kung fu version of Groucho Marx
Directed by Woo-Ping Yeun and hitting theaters in 1978, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow made a star of Jackie Chan and introduced the world to two things that would become staples of Kung Fu cinema; one, the notion of the kung fu movie as comedy and two, animal style kung fu being one of the greatest things in the history of makind. While Chan had been in a few films before this, the attempt to make him into the new Bruce Lee failed miserably.
Weekly Kung Fu recommendations start here
Summer for me, as a child of the 80’s/90’s growing up in suburban New Jersey, was a time spent equally split between outside activities, bike riding or skateboarding or playing baseball or just getting up to general mischief, and inside activities, video games or tv shows or movies or comics.