Sunday, April 30, 2006

Last ninja: 'Be able to kill your students'

After our great Kung Fu Fridays screening of LIFE OF NINJA along with a special pre-show by local Toronto turntablists, INSIDE A MIND, honourary disciple David Simmons dropped us thie article on the supposed, "Last Ninja", Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi from The Mercury News. Below are pics from the fabulous set that INSIDE A MIND did for the audience as the film DESCENDENT OF WING CHUN played behind them without sound. Hopefully the two masters of the needle will grace us with another performance in the future.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

finally! I can read kung fu!

Oh glorious Buddha! Thank you!
I just made the best discovery in ages!

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

in love with a one eyed avenging angel

Never heard of Christina Lindberg? Then race to your coolest video store (in Toronto go to Suspect natch!) and demand they rent you THRILLER aka THEY CALL HER ONE EYE. Want to know what you are in for? Buddha praise! Maybe not safe for work... And for more info on this dealy dame, visit the links over at PCL LinkDump and be in awe of the PS Britney Spears tweaking!

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..."

Look out! It's Pirate Baby! He has my girlfriend!

Fasten your heads for this treat, an imaginary computer game with zombies, maggot slugs, lots of blood, a datsun jeep and an evil Pirate Baby! Boggled? Well watch or download this terrific short film by Paul Robertson and prepare to oh and ah at the pixelated plundering...

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

Jackie, you cunning monkey, you!

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

sitting with the masters: revenge of iMovie...

As I posted a few months ago, on April 3rd, as part of the 30th Hong Kong International Film Festival, a gala tribute was held to honour the men who made HK cinema famous. Awards were given out to Yuen Wo-Ping, Sammo Hung, Lau Kar Leung, Ching Siu Tung (whose name I spelt wrong in the film - sorry) and Jackie Chan (who was absent). While I took some snaps, I also shot some litte 15 sec clips on my wee camera. I have cobbled together a little quicktime flick on iMovie and posted it up on Enjoy!

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
Coco Lee."

"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."

ultra surf!

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

the hong kong connection

Busy trying to make a flicker gallery of all the pics I took in HK. Thanks to the kind words of praise for my amateur photography! I hope to have more treats from the land of kung fu shortly, but back to the subject of kung fu with this scan of one of the super 8 digest films in my collection that hits the upcoming theme...

behind the scenes of THE INHERITANCE

so far the pics have been in front of the camera. now I swing the camera around to give you a behind the scenes peek at Romeo Candido's THE INNHERITANCE... for more behind the scenese pics, visit Inherited Adventures or the offical site of the film

(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!)

inheritance set visit part 2

here are more pics from the spooky set. look out for the