Shaw Nuff: A Shaw Brothers Retrospective

 

 

Series co-presented by the American Genre Film Archive

 

Comprising the very essence of Hong Kong cinema craft, ingenuity and complete-’n-total asskickery, the legacy of the Shaw Brothers movie studio — founded in 1930, and continuing into the 21st century — is an endless bounty of kung fu mastery, hyper-colorful wizard battles, undying heroic camaraderie, unbelievable and unpredictable mutant monster madness, and some of the coolest on-screen attitude in the history of cinema. Cranking out dozens of films per year collectively, the Shaw Brothers stable of filmmakers (featuring Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-Leung and Chor Yuen) devised an astonishing run of crowd-pleasers while simultaneously defining a significant number of sub-genres now considered the very heart of the country’s action/horror output. While these films have influenced countless filmmakers that followed, they have curiously remained off American repertory screens for way too long — until now! Thanks to the tireless efforts of our friends at the American Genre Film Archive, we’re ecstatic to bring you two separate Shaw Brothers series in January 2013: classic double features on Tuesdays, and late-night brainbombs on Saturdays. And — it’s all on 35mm. Huzzah!

The Boxer's Omen (encore screening!)

Guaranteed mug-melter or your money back!
boxersomen_website
2/2/2013 - 11:30PM

The totally-nucking-futs ’80s Wizard Battle-sploitationer is back by popular demand for one show only! Where on Earth to begin? The Boxer’s Omen is The Holy Mountain, Altered States and Rocky all rolled into one; it’s all of ’70s gonzo kickass cinema compressed into an insane little ball, and blasted through a garishly-colored early-’80s Hong Kong filter. It’s more unpredictable than Dangerous Men, more unstoppable than The Visitor; it’s one of the craziest damned things you’ll ever witness in a movie theater, and this is NO hyperbole. It’s the Wizard Battle movie to end all Wizard Battle movies — it’s gooey, gory, neon-washed and, blessed Buddha, once you’ve seen it, you will run out into the street and demand that every single friend of yours hop on the Boxer’s Omen Express. This hexadelical, truly incredible piece of eye terrorism has only played in Los Angeles a handful of times before, so get your rear on down to see this one, before you end up cursing yourself forever! Guaranteed mug-melter or your money back.
The Boxer’s Omen Dir. Chih-Hung Kuei, 1983, 35mm, 99 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “The Boxer’s Omen”!

Five Deadly Venoms + mystery Shaw Bros. film!

The film that launched generations of acolytes!
fivedeadlyvenoms_website
1/29/2013 - 7:30PM

The film that launched generations of kung fu acolytes, a popular film series and a few thousand rap songs, this iconic film will also have Kill Bill fans experiencing serious déjà vu. Five skilled martial arts students — the Centipede, the Scorpion, the Lizard, the Snake, and the Toad — are mysterious, masked disciples of a clan leader whose dying wish sends his favorite student off to find out whether they intend to carry on for good or evil. Kickass fight scenes and psychedelic lighting that would make Dario Argento beg for mercy give Five Deadly Venoms “essential viewing” status, possibly even more popular now than ever — and the film’s climactic five-way battle is the stuff of legend, “as good as — if not better than –any on-screen fight before or since” (MutantReviewers.com). The evening’s secret second Shaw Brothers feature will also be on 35mm!
Five Deadly Venoms Dir. Chang Cheh, 1978, 35mm, 97 min.

Watch the trailer for “Five Deadly Venoms”!
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The Boxer's Omen + mystery Shaw Bros. film!

Guaranteed mug-melter or your money back.
boxersomen_website
1/26/2013 - 10PM

Where on Earth to begin? The Boxer’s Omen is The Holy Mountain, Altered States and Rocky all rolled into one; it’s all of ’70s gonzo kickass cinema compressed into an insane little ball and blasted through a garishly-colored early ’80s Hong Kong filter. It’s more unpredictable than Dangerous Men, more unstoppable than The Visitor; it’s one of the craziest damned things you’ll ever witness in a movie theater, and this is NO hyperbole. It’s the Wizard Battle movie to end all Wizard Battle movies, it’s gooey, gory, neon-washed and, blessed Buddha, once you’ve seen it you will run out into the street and demand that every single friend of yours hop on the Boxer’s Omen Express. This hexadelical, truly incredible piece of eye terrorism has only played in Los Angeles twice before, so get your rear on down to see this one, before you end up cursing yourself forever! Guaranteed mug-melter or your money back. The evening’s mystery second feature will also be on 35mm!
The Boxer’s Omen Dir. Chih-Hung Kuei, 1983, 35mm, 99 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “The Boxer’s Omen”!

Holy Flame of the Martial World + mystery Shaw Bros. film!

Eye-popping colors, knockabout acrobatics!
holyflame_website
1/22/2013 - 7:30PM

“You get demons, ghosts, zombies, living tapestries, an (English-speaking!) Western demon, superpowered hermits, conspirators, monks, deadly traps, skeletons, temples, dungeons, secret magic techniques, and the list goes on and on. It’s fucking amazing and doesn’t stop for a minute.” — Letterboxd.com

Drenched in eye-popping colors and energetic practical effects, this is a martial arts film for those who also want a heavy helping of fantasy and magic craziness. The mystical Holy Flame of the title — a yin-and-yang sword — is held by a couple who get murdered by some totally evil dudes. The dead couple’s kids grow up and proceed to tear up the countryside, with demons, blasting light rays, and tons of acrobatic duels filing the screen. Tsui Hark fans will love this knockabout display of acrobatic skill and FX wizardry, a popcorn movie in the truest sense. Bring your inner kid and enjoy. The evening’s secret second Shaw Brothers feature will also be on 35mm!
Holy Flame of the Martial World Dir. Chin-Ku Lu, 1983, 35mm, 85 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Holy Flame of the Martial World”!

Human Lanterns

A grisly workshop of the damned!
humanlanterns_website
1/19/2013 - 11PM

Martial arts and no-holds-barred horror make for a seriously wild experience in this 1982 slice of Shaw Brothers mayhem, as a clawed, skull-masked psycho is on the loose in a village, swiping young women to peel off their skin in his grisly workshop of the damned. Could the murders be connected to a brewing town rivalry over the upcoming lantern festival? The rowdy scenes of the hairy, hyperactive maniac going to town turned this formerly obscure genre mash up into a cult favorite among Hong Kong fans — so rejoice that you can see this “maniacal masterpiece of the macabre, the martial arts, and the just plain weird” (Hong Kong Cinemagic) it in all its flesh-ripping glory on the big screen!
Dir. Chung Sun, 1982, 35mm, 95 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Human Lanterns”!

8 Diagram Pole Fighter + mystery Shaw Bros. film!

A kinetic late-period SB masterpiece!
8diagram_website
1/16/2013 - 7:30PM

If there’s a real “fan favorite” Shaw Brothers movie, it would have to be this kinetic later-period masterpiece, packed with some of the studio’s finest stars and fight sequences, and helmed by Lau Kar-leung (director of the equally phenomenal The 36th Chamber of Shaolin). Fu Sheng, Lily Li and the great Gordon Liu headline this tale of two brothers who survive a clan massacre and seek revenge, leading to ultra-violent, acrobatic smack downs (including the dazzling titular pole fighting) that will leave you in cinematic traction. Don’t miss the chance to gather up your friends for a martial arts party movie that will obliterate you — even the opening credits sequence manages to smack you across the head! The evening’s secret second Shaw Brothers feature will also be on 35mm!
8 Diagram Pole Fighter Dir. Lau Kar-Leung, 1983, 35mm, 98 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “8 Diagram Pole Fighter”!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Pushing your sanity to its outer limits!
twinkletwinkle_website
1/12/2013 - MIDNITE

The screwiest movie ever made about alien molestation, this early ‘80s sci-fi/comedy will push your sanity to its outer limits. A Marilyn Monroe wannabe gets her cherry popped after getting scooped up into a giant spaceship! A mad scientist keeps a guy in a gorilla suit in a cage, develops glowing eyes, and slobbers all over the camera! ABBA-inspired musical numbers! Pie fights! Gun-slinging detectives in drag! A light saber attack with a Darth Vader lookalike! You won’t know what the hell you’re watching, but after 92 minutes, your brain will be too pulverized to care. Don’t miss your chance to see this deranged rarity — the closest the Shaw Brothers ever came to matching The Apple — up on the big screen in all its neon glory.
Dir. Gwok-Ming Cheung, 1983, 35mm, 93 min.

Watch the trailer for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”!

The Magic Blade + mystery Shaw Bros. film!

A great jewel of the Shaw Bros. golden age!
magicblade_website
1/8/2013 - 7:30PM

“This exciting extravaganza is the kind of kung fu spectacle that spawned us geeks in the first place.” — DVD Talk

One of the great jewels of Shaw Brothers’ golden age, this 1976 kung fu wonder pairs up genre favorites Ti Lung (doing an Eastern-style Clint Eastwood impression) and Lo Lieh as adversaries entangled with protecting and sometimes retrieving the precious Peacock Dart. It’s really just an excuse for a relentless display of astonishing physical feats and crazy plot twists, including a human chess game and a senior citizen cannibal assassin named Devil Grandma. It doesn’t get much better than this textbook definition of a good time at the movies — so come revel in and one of the best examples of the fantasy/swordsman wuxia genre. The evening’s secret second Shaw Brothers feature will also be on 35mm!
The Magic Blade Dir. Chor Yuen, 1976, 35mm, 86 min.

Watch the trailer for “The Magic Blade”!

Seeding Of A Ghost

Gore, goo and a cursed cab driver!
seedingofaghost_website
1/5/2013 - 11PM

Gore, goo, and a cursed cab driver collide in one of the most extreme Shaw Brothers horrors, a vicious look at the consequences of blind vengeance. More specifically, it’s about what happens when you recruit a black magic practitioner to raise the dead; in this case, the cabbie’s murdered, cheating wife, which results in a riotous face-ripping, shotgun-blasting finale. Stick with the moody opening act and brace yourself for a rollercoaster of monsters, excessive nudity, worm barfing, and highly improper use of coconuts. Oh, yeah, and you get to see a sex scene between a floating reanimated corpse and a ghost, which has to be a cinematic first. It’s also just a really good film, too — one complete with a creepy synth-laced score and some kickass graveyard sets. You’ll never have another cinematic experience quite like this one.
Dir. Chuan Yang, 1983, 35mm, 90 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Seeding Of A Ghost”!

The One-Armed Swordsman + mystery Shaw Bros. film!

Where it all started!
onearmedswordsman_website
1/1/2013 - 5PM

One of the first breakthrough films for legendary director Chang Cheh (one of Shaw Brothers’ greatest and most prolific assets), One Armed Swordsman functions as a sort of Dr. No for the SB studio, as it lays out many of the tropes later featured in wuxia martial arts classics to come. An orphan having a rough time at school gets his arm chopped off by his classmates, which means he’ll embark on a very complicated relationship with violence before he becomes — well, look at the title. The “disabled fighter” concept that eventually went nuts in Five Deadly Venoms got its start here, along with the thoughtful philosophy that became the backbone of the genre. With a heavy body count, wicked swordplay and a truly outstanding anti-hero, One Armed Swordsman is the best way to kick off this retrospective. The evening’s secret second Shaw Brothers feature will also be on 35mm!
The One-Armed Swordsman Dir. Chang Cheh, 1967, 35mm, 117 min.

Watch the trailer for “The One-Armed Swordsman”!