Sunday, April 30, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
So after watching kung fu films for sometime, I always wanted to go to the source, the countless martial arts "pulp" novels that were the basis for some of the films I was watching. Plus, the romantaized depiction of Tony Leung Chui-wai writing the novels as cig smoke drifted in the air as seen in WKW's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE certainly didn't help. Then I came across the English translations of the works of Louis Cha, known to most by his penname Jin Yong (or Kam-yung in Cantonese), one of the most influential modern Chinese-language novelists who is also the co-founder of the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. Oxford Press published in three parts, his epic wuxia (martial arts) saga, "The Deer & The Cauldron" and while the hefty hardcovers are pricey, you can find them at most public libraries. This tale is filled with kung fu monks, traids, secret snake poison sects, deadly vixens, blind leathal eunuchs, and more characters and plot twists than you can imagine. And at the centre of it all, is the quick talking son of a brothel whore, Trinket. The tagline that Newsweek gave it, "Martial Arts meets Monty Python" hits the nail on the head. Cha's novels have been turned into lots of HK movies and TV series, with DEER being filmed as ROYAL TRAMP 1 & 2 and the Shaw Brothers version TALE OF A EUNUCH. Other titles include THE SWORD STAINED WITH ROYAL BLOOD, SWORD OF MANY LOVES, EAGLE SHOOTING HEROES, ASHES OF TIME, KUNG FU CULT MASTER, SWORDSMAN, SWORDSMAN 2, THE EAST IS RED and many others, not counting the TVB series. Plus his best buddy is Ni Kuang, who wrote a mind boogling amount of the best Shaw Brothers films like THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN, THE FIVE VENOMS, THE CRIPPLED AVENGERS and ENTER THE FAT DRAGON (not Shaw) and even created the sci-fi/horror hero Wisely (SEVENTH CURSE). Check his brief (and incomplete) bio here. So how does this fit in with my new discovery?
Well, earlier this week I was writing the into for the Heroic Grace 2 series that will play at the Ontario Cinematheque here in Toronto this June (announcements to follow here including news on a FIVE VENOMS screening!). There will be two films by the prolific director Chu Yuan who made lavish martial arts films based on literary works by another martial arts author, Gu Long. While I know a little about Louis Cha, I know nearly nil about Long, aside from the films based on his novels that I have enjoyed including: THE MAGIC BLADE and CLANS OF INTRIGUE. Yuan's style matched Long's writings, and their films were all the rage before the kung fu comedies of Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan (does he really need a link?), Yuen Wo-ping and Lau Kar Leung. Then when TV series came along, that format was better suited for the complex plots and many characters and audiences swithced to the tube.
But what about this discovery!?! I have always lamented that there were never any subtitles on the multipart television serials that star decent film actors and have great behind the scenes talent. The other night while idlely flipping through websites, I learned that the big HK television studio TVB has released a classic Louis Cha series starring Andy Lau, THE RETURN OF THE CONDOR HEROES on dvd with English subtitles at last! I love decent television series so can you imagine a Sopranos or Deadwood set in the martial world!? And with a script by Wai Ka Fai (director of TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 and FULLTIME KILLER) and martial arts by Ching Siu Tung (where do I start? from CHINESE GHOST STORY to HERO)! Now the price is a little steep at around $70-80, but for a 12 dvd set, but maybe not a bad investment with some friends (Kagan, Don, Pauline, Carol... reading this?). How can I test this new fangled concept to a gweilo like myself? Maybe with another series...
Some sleuthing just turned up bit torrent links for the first two episodes of another TVB series with English subs starring some legends of kung fu cinema! Yuen Biao! Gordon Liu! Yuen Wah! Lau Kar Yan!
REAL KUNG FU is a period series about Leung Tsan, a talented Wing Chun master, with Biao as the lead character.
Now if you get hooked on the first two episodes, I believe that the dvds with subs can be rented at TVB outlets, so head to your nearest Chinatown. I just downloaded these today and haven't watched them. They could be crap, might have too much romance and filler, but til I crack open my wallet and pencil in some time for CONDOR HEROES, I doubt I will be complaining! Get ready for bit torrent kung fu action with Episode 1 and Episode 2!
(links for this blathering, giddy post come from the Hong Kong Movie Database, Kung Fu Cinema, LoveHKFilm and the discovery was found on Kung Fu Fandom)
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Need to know more? Then descend into Rick Trembles' demented Motion Picture Purgatory cartoon review from the Aug 4th, 2005 ish of the Montreal alt weekly the Mirror.
May 6/06 - this update from on of the 5 original KFF blog disciples, Lars Erik Holmquist:
"I'm just back from Los Angeles where I attended a 3-film screening of Christina Lindberg films at the Egyptian - with the lady herself in attendance! It was great fun and Christina really enjoyed it, so maybe there will be more to come..."
Click here to watch (or DL) Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006
Or click here to watch Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 on Transbuddha
(First spotted at Boing Boing)
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Well since Jackie Chan was unable to attend the tribute to his contempararies, let me pull this little nugget from his past - excerpts from the Japanese theatrical sovenier programe for HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU. What is with the little cartoon image about of Jackie doing a drunken little jig? Maybe because he was dancing to the two little ditties made for the film, "Monkey's On The Loose" and "Cunning Monkey". It has been ages since I saw the film and I don't have a copy, so does anyone out there remember if these shongs are in the film or were added for the Japanese release? Check out the lyrics for these. Lets try and get these covered and spark a new kung fu pop song craze! Any contenders whose vocal martial skills would be up for the task?
Wish I had the actual songs to share with you, but instead, here is a disco song I found on a Japanese CD collection of Chan's film theme songs, aptly called, "Crazy Monkey" for your listening pleasure. Anyone know what Chan film that one is from?
And the flip side of this 45 playing on the kung fu juke box? Check out Jackie's fine vocals on the "Theme For The Young Master". "This road that I've been walking/Don't seem to have no end/And I've never met/A single man yet/That I could call my friend"... Gee Jackie, what about Chris Tucker? "It seems to me/I was born to be/A kung-fu fightin' man" Sing Jackie, Sing!
Monday, April 17, 2006
From the Hong Kong International Film Festival newsletter:
"April 3rd, 2006. From international stars to renowned directors, they were all out in full force to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of HKIFF, as well as to give tribute to Hong Kong’s cinematic treasures – our action choreographers. The night’s special guests were the five masters of action choreography: Lau Kar-leung, Yuen Woo-ping, Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Ching Siu-tung. Jackie sadly could not attend at the last minute, but the swells of applause for the four visionaries certainly proved that the night was not dampened. Other presenters of the evening included Joe Cheung, Ng See-
yuen and directors Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau and Peter Chan. In addition to these events, four martial arts practitioners gave a rousing performance to the sound of traditional Chinese drums, which was produced by recent Silver Berlin Bear winner Peter Kam. It was then followed by a medley of songs by chanteuse
"Led by Tony Leung Siu-hung, attending members of the Hong Kong Stuntman Association got up on stage and invited guests to come up with them to receive an honorary plaque from the HKIFF. Yuen Bun, Acting President of the Association, here receives the souvenir from Tai Chi Sword champion Li Fai along with Lau Kar-leung."
Couldn't resist but pop up this great Japanese LP cover - anyone out there heard this? Spaced out surf rock? The "Ultra" name means alot to me, not because I was a fan of the series as a kid (never saw it til I was 19...), but because it served as an indirect inspiration for my biz, Ultra 8 Pictures. And check out more of the groovy happenings at the Bubblegumfink blog including this trippy opening for the Ultraman tv show...
Sunday, April 16, 2006
(right - director Romeo Candido)
(left - the spooky shed / right - director Romeo Candido)
(left - director Romeo Candido / right - the hot Filipino supermodel actress... ?)
(right - the the only self portrait I took on my trip)
(gotta have a film producer who believes in protective amulets and spells!)