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Martial Arts Action Cinema: Mining the Depths of Chop-Socky!

by Floyd Webb
Martial Arts Action Cinema: Mining the Depths of Chop-Socky! by Floyd Webb
With the premier of the new Karate Kid will there be a resurge of interest in martial arts films. Will all the middle aged guys like me get a saudade, a longing for the kung fu cinema of the 1970s and early 80s? I remember leaving the Kung Fu Stroll of 42nd street in NY, downtown Chicago with the McVicker’s Masters and then, when I moved to London in 1974, Midnight/All Night Kung Fu films at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. When I moved to Dar Es Salaam in 1975, Blaxploitation films like “Truck Turner”, would double bill with Kung Fu films like “Flying Guillotine” right across the street from Arab films like “Muhammad Messenger of God.” Crazy! It… Read more

With the premier of the new Karate Kid will there be a resurge of interest in martial arts films. Will all the middle aged guys like me get a saudade, a longing for the kung fu cinema of the 1970s and early 80s? I remember leaving the Kung Fu Stroll of 42nd street in NY, downtown Chicago with the McVicker’s Masters and then, when I moved to London in 1974, Midnight/All Night Kung Fu films at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. When I moved to Dar Es Salaam in 1975, Blaxploitation films like “Truck Turner”, would double bill with Kung Fu films like “Flying Guillotine” right across the street from Arab films like “Muhammad Messenger of God.” Crazy!

It is an amazing memory of true audience participation. A lot of the films were horrible, the martial arts mediocre. Bruce Lee and a few others were brief shining lights. But the shared social experience was absolutely unbeatable. And some of the audience beat on each other at the McVickers and on 42nd street. To that end, we are initiating Flicks of Fury, a monthly Xtreme Martial Arts Cinema Club, at ICE Theaters in Chicago. We start August 30, with a live appearance by Ron Van Clief, “The Black Dragon” and we will show his bio-pic, Black Dragon, the Legend of Ron Van Clief. talk is being bandied about concerning getting Soke James Caan, a real martial artist and reviving his film, The Killer Elite for one of the screenings.

Too bad a lot of the films that define that genre are not available to list here officially. Films like Master of the Flying Guillotine, The Last Dragon, Mystery of Chess Boxing, Death of Bruce Lee, Bamboo Trap, Way of the Black Dragon, Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow, Mad Monkey Kung Fu.

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