A three-day barrage of the rarest, wildest, and most incredible classic martial arts and action movies from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s is back!
SUBWAY CINEMA and METROGRAPH proudly unleash THE 6TH OLD SCHOOL KUNG FU FEST! This film festival is infused with the grindhouse spirit of New York’s (pre-Gulliani) 42nd Street and Chinatown theaters, and designed for the maximum audience enjoyment. It runs April 8 – 10, 2016 at Metrograph 7 Ludlow Street (between Hester St. and Canal St.) Presented with Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York in association with Warner Archive.
This year, the focus is on Golden Harvest, the studio that became Hong Kong’s leading purveyor of truly insane action cinema. Established in 1970 by Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho, Golden Harvest fast became a rival to Shaw Brothers with a string of blockbusters in the 1970s, and went on to became a dominant force in the Hong Kong film industry throughout the 80’s and 90’s, producing, financing, and distributing over 600 films across many genres. The studio has nurtured the talents of Bruce Lee, John Woo, Michael Hui, Stanley Kwan, Jimmy Wang Yu, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Angela Mao, and many others.
Golden Harvest was also active in the international market. After successfully collaborating with Warner Bros. on Enter the Dragon, the studio went on to set up its own film division in the U.S. and invested in around 20 Hollywood films, including Battle Creek Brawl (1980), which was Jackie Chan’s first attempt to crack the U.S. market, The Cannonball Run (1981), High Road to China (1983), Cannonball Run II (1984), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
If you are a fan of Hong Kong cinema, but can’t make the festival, I’ve got exciting news! Warner Archive has begun to make Golden Harvest titles available as part of their manufacture on demand service! 16×9 widescreen DVDs in their original language with English captions can be ordered for the discerning film fan’s collection. For information on how to order visit www.warnerarchive.com
BIG BULLET 衝鋒隊─怒火街頭
(1996, Hong Kong, 92 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles)
Directed by Benny Chan
Starring: Sean Lau Ching-Wan, Jordan Chan, Cheung Tat-Ming, Theresa Lee
1996 was the end of one era of Hong Kong movies, and the beginning of another. The box office was in freefall, and people were trying new things because no one knew what worked. Benny Chan, previously known for his light comedies, wanted to try action and Big Bullet was his shot. Starring Lau Ching-wan (Full Alert) as a hard-nosed cop demoted to riding in a patrol van with a gang of misfits (including Jordan Chan, who’d score big playing a gangster in that year’s Young & Dangerous movies), his gang of losers runs afoul of a pair of baroque criminals played by Anthony Wong (The Untold Story) and Yu Rong-Guang (A Terra-Cotta Warrior) out to knock over Interpol Headquarters. Ridiculous? Sure, but it was a chance for Chan and action director Ma Yuk-Sing (The East is Red) to showcase their new brand of action that mixed high octane Hollywood boom-boom with Hong Kong’s complex action set pieces to deliver what feels like an 80s Hollywood action classic like Lethal Weapon with the “Mayhem” dial turned up to 11.
Showtimes: Friday, April 8 at 5:40pm; Sunday, April 10 at 10:00pm.
THE BLADE 刀 (1995, Hong Kong, 104 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English subtitles) Directed by Tsui Hark
Starring: Zhao Wen-zhou, Moses Chan, Xiong Xin-xin, Austin Wai, Song Nei, Ngai Sing.
Missing out on seeing The Blade on the big screen would be like going to the carnival and not going on the gnarliest, biggest and wildest ride. A masterpiece by anyone’s standards, The Blade is Tsui Hark’s tribute to the martial arts films he grew up with. It’s a reimagining of director Chang Cheh’s landmark wuxia (swordplay) classic, The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), as a psychotronic phantasmagoria full of scars and tattoos, mutilation, amputation, sexual frustration, and sharp, heavy chunks of steel splitting muscle and breaking bones. Rapid cutting, berserker camera movement, frenetic choreography and compositions packed to bursting with rhythm, texture and detail, Tsui Hark’s revved-up ancient China roars away from the viewer like an out-of-control freight train, never saying what can be shown, never showing what can be said. Brains and eyeballs are battered and bruised and the audience has to run to keep up, but the experience of seeing one of the world’s best directors at the top of his game is indescribably ecstatic.
Showtimes: Friday, April 8 at 10:15pm; Sunday, April 10 at 1:00pm.
ENTER THE DRAGON 龍爭虎鬥
(1973, USA/Hong Kong, 98 minutes, 35mm)
Directed by Robert Clouse
Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Angela Mao, Shih Kien, Sammo Hung, Bolo Yeung.
The legendary martial arts film that cemented Bruce Lee as an international cinema icon, Robert Clouse’s Enter the Dragon is a punchdrunk ride through exploitation heaven that shaped the pattern for the thousands of martial arts movies that followed in its wake. Bruce plays a martial arts champ who goes undercover for British intelligence on the island of Mr. Han (longtime Hong Kong star Shih Kien) where he’ll fight in an underground tournament where the world’s best martial artists try to kill each other to earn a job with Mr. Han. Competing against him are American exploitation star John Saxon and blaxploitation hero Jim Kelly. Lee is especially hacked off that his sister (Hong Kong martial arts heroine Angela Mao) was recently beaten to death in the streets by Mr. Han’s bodyguard. Bruce Lee is a beautiful animal in this flick, burning like a supernova as he dishes out beatdowns and neck breakings like candy at a Shriner’s parade. This was his one shot to show the world why everyone should know his name, and he seizes it with both hands and takes a big, bloody bite out of it.
Showtimes: Saturday, April 9 at 3:15pm.
THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (aka THE DRAGON FLIES) 直搗黃龍
(1975, Hong Kong/Australia, 103 minutes, 35mm)
Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, Jimmy Wang Yu
Starring: Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Ros Spiers, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rebecca Gilling, Sammo Hung, Frank Thring, Bill Hunter.
In the first Hong Kong-Australian co-production, Inspector Fang of the Hong Kong Special Branch (Jimmy Wang Yu, The One-Armed Swordsman, 1967), goes to Australia after dope smuggler Kim Po Hung (Sammo Hung), with the intent of taking down Sydney mob boss Wilton (George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969). Long before Jackie Chan would apply a similar format to his international crossover action films, such as Rumble in the Bronx, Golden Harvest and Australian action maestro, Brian Trenchard-Smith, showed him how to do it. Featuring a car chase that would give the one in Bullitt (1968) a run for its money, stunts by Sammo Hung and his team, an explosive finale, and laced with an earworm theme song (“Sky High” by Jigsaw that you have definitely heard before) this is how you do it when you want to make a swank, international action movie that feels as macho as drinking a can of lager while hang gliding through an exploding fireball.
Showtimes: Saturday, April 9 at 5:40pm; Sunday, April 10 at 3:15pm.
PEDICAB DRIVER 群龍戲鳳
(1989, Hong Kong, 93 minutes, 35mm, in Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles)
Directed by Sammo Hung
Starring: Sammo Hung, Nina Li, Yuet Suen, Max Mok, Fennie Yuen, Lau Kar-Leung, Corey Yuen Kwai, and Billy Chow.
Long unseen and unavailable on home video, until Warner Archive finally brought it to DVD this year, Sammo Hung’s action masterpiece is here and it wants to kick you through a wall. Set in 1950’s Macau, this action-comedy-drama-romance burns up the screen with old school intensity, and is sprinkled with appearances by a galaxy of big-name Hong Kong stunt actors and filmmakers. Yuen Biao and Corey Yuen get into a “light saber” duel with fluorescent light tubes! Eric Tsang hides! Sammo takes on Lau Kar-leung, and you won’t want to miss two of the world’s greatest action directors duking it out. As Lau Kar-leung tells Sammo: “Fatty, you’re crafty!” Then watch Sammo unleash infinite pain on super-kicker Billy Chow (the Japanese baddie in Fist of Legend (1994). Audience-pleasing, heart-pumping, nitro-burning moviemaking in what is arguably one of the best martial arts movies of the 1980’s.
Showtimes: Friday, April 8 at 7:50pm – followed by a panel discussion on the history and importance of Golden Harvest Studio (TBC); Saturday, April 9 at 11:00pm.
THE PRODIGAL SON (aka PULL NO PUNCHES) 敗家仔
(1981, Hong Kong, 100 minutes, DCP, in Mandarin with English subtitles)
Directed by Sammo Hung
Starring: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-ying, Frankie Chan
This posh Wing Chun epic is a masterpiece of Sammo Hung’s early career, and the last period kung fu film that he directed at Golden Harvest. Spoiled brat, Yuen Biao, comes up against a true martial arts master, Lam Ching-ying, and begs to become his student. Lam’s not having it, and a series of savage throat locks ensue. Yuen Biao does backflips off the sprocket holes and Sammo Hung punches holes in the screen, but it’s Lam Ching-ying, as an asthmatic Chinese Opera diva, whose blistering fu scorches the emulsion and burns up the film. Unequaled in cinema history, this movie serves it up hot and fast. Lam Ching-ying died sixteen years later at the age of 44 and this movie is a ferocious tribute to the man who was Bruce Lee’s stunt double, and an iconic martial arts star in his own right.
RUMBLE IN THE BRONX 紅番區
(1995, USA, 103 minutes, 35mm, in Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles)
Directed by Stanley Tong
Starring: Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Francoise Yip, Bill Tung, Marc Akerstream.
It’s the candy-colored, DayGlo movie that finally broke Jackie Chan big in America, Rumble in the Bronx is like the 90’s Saturday morning cartoon of your dreams. The second time Chan teamed up with director-stunt coordinator, Stanley Tong (the first was Police Story III: Supercop), it’s really “Rumble in Vancouver” with the freshly-scrubbed Canadian wonderland standing in for the “dangerous” Bronx, and that sets the tone for this lighthearted riff on the Jackie Chan formula. Here he plays a cop coming to Bron-Couver for his uncle’s wedding, but he randomly runs up against diamond thieves, and winds up having to protect a local supermarket. It’s as goofy as it sounds, full of rampaging hovercraft, goodnatured gang members, kids in wheelchairs wishing their legs were “normal,” and some of the goofiest dialogue to ever come out of Hong Kong. On the other hand, it features Hong Kong’s great diva, Anita Mui, as the supermarket owner, some gravity-defying fight scenes from Jackie, and it’s peppered with Stanley Tong’s jumps and stunts — including a leap onto a hovercraft that broke Jackie’s ankle (he finished the movie with his foot in a cast painted to look like his shoe). The gooniest, most 90’s movie that Chan ever made.
Showtimes: Saturday, April 9 at 1:00pm; Sunday, April 10 at 5:30pm.
TERRA-COTTA WARRIOR 秦俑
(1990, Hong Kong, 97 minutes, 35mm, in Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles)
Directed by Ching Siu-Tung
Starring: Zhang Yimou, Gong Li, Yu Rong-Guang, Suk Bung Luk.
Drawing inspiration from Kurosawa to Spielberg, A Terra-Cotta Warrior is a feast for the senses, and one of the most exquisite period fantasy films to come out of Hong Kong in the 90s, with its unique blend of romance, swashbuckling action, and comedy, thanks in equal parts to the screenplay by Lillian Lee (Green Snake, 1993, Rouge, 1988), action direction by Ching Siu-Tung, and breathtaking cinematography by Peter Pau (The Bride with White Hair, 1993). A collaboration between producer Tsui Hark (The Blade) and director Ching Siu-Tung that was two-and-a-half years in the making, A Terra-Cotta Warrior follows one of the First Emperor of China’s soldiers (Zhang Yimou) as he is accidentally awakened in the 1930s by Zhu Lili (Gong Li) after being encased alive in clay in the Emperor’s tomb as a punishment. At the time it was made, director-actor Zhang Yimou and his leading lady, Gong Li, were China’s power couple, and they shine in this one-of-a-kind rarely screened movie.
Showtimes: Saturday, April 9 at 8:45pm.
Friday, April 8
5:40pm – BIG BULLET (92min)
7:50pm – PEDICAB DRIVER (93min)
10:15pm – THE BLADE (104min)
Saturday, April 9
1:00pm – RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (103min)
3:15pm – ENTER THE DRAGON (110 min)
5:40pm – THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (103min)
8:45pm – A TERRA-COTTA WARRIOR (97min)
11:00pm – PEDICAB DRIVER (93min)
Sunday, April 10
1:00pm – THE BLADE (104min)
3:15pm – THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (103min)
5:30pm – RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (103min)
7:45pm – THE PRODIGAL SON (100min)
10:00pm – BIG BULLET (92min)
Showcasing first-run and repertory films, Metrograph is a two screen movie house built with archive-quality 35mm film projection, state-of-the-art digital projection, a restaurant, cinema-dedicated rare bookshop, café, and lounge. The definitive place for people to celebrate cinema.
For more information, visit metrograph.com, facebook.com/metrographNYC/
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Metrograph – 7 Ludlow Street (between Hester St. and Canal St.)
F Train to East Broadway
D/B Train to Grand Street
J/M/Z/F Train to Essex Street
all art-Golden Harvest / Warner Archive