Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kung Fu Series at Row House Cinema in September.

The Row House Cinema recently announced the rest of the lineup for its Kung Fu Cinema series in September: the 1978 Jackie Chan movie Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (蛇形刁手) and the 1972 Bruce Lee movie Way of the Dragon (猛龍過江), in addition to the two King Hu movies announced last month 1967's Dragon Inn (龍門客棧) and 1971's A Touch of Zen (俠女).

A 1999 San Francisco Chronicle review on Snake in the Eagle's Shadow:
[Jackie] Chan made "Snake in Eagle's Shadow" in 1978, immediately before his blow-out success in "Drunken Master." At this stage, Chan had not yet discovered Buster Keaton, so "Snake" contains none of the jaw-dropping stunts that would define his later pictures.

But just about everything else we associate with Chan is already present in "Snake in Eagle's Shadow," made when he was just 24: the mugging, the slapstick gags, the willingness to be silly and the amazingly choreographed fights.

This film is all about the fights. The plot is just a clothesline, like that of a musical, and the fights are like the songs from the show.
Empire magazine says of Way of the Dragon, which placed on its list of Best 100 Films of World Cinema:
Why so great? Arguably his greatest film, it's undoubtedly the skill, charm and work ethic of Bruce Lee that steamrollered this martial arts movie into the classic it has become. It's tempting to confuse how great a martial artist Lee is with how good his films actually were, but in this case, the individual set pieces that dominate the film (notably the Chuck Norris gladiatorial fight at the end) are so well choreographed and so well delivered, that nothing else matters much. In a world now where every every fight and every punch is so full of trickery and post-production, the sheer purity of Lee's work here makes it one of the best of its kind ever made.
A RogerEbert.com review summarizes the Dragon Innn:
"Dragon Inn" (1967), a genre classic that has been often-imitated and directly remade twice, is to the martial arts genre what "Stagecoach" is to the Western. Writer/director King Hu ("A Touch of Zen") made "Dragon Inn" right after he completed "Come Drink With Me," an equally thrilling and essential 1966 action-adventure that would go on to be a major influence on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Hu cherry-picked some elements from "Come Drink With Me"—particularly from the portion of that earlier film that takes place in a secluded desert tavern—and distilled them to perfection. "Dragon Inn" is such a lean film that you never have to wonder what motivates the characters. It's an archetypal narrative: the children of a newly-executed Minister of Defense flee to the Dragon Gate Inn, but are met by an army of evil eunuchs, leaving it up to a quartet of heroes to save them from an unjust death. Hu evokes an entire world in his awe-inspiring wide-angle camerawork and graceful, still-unpredictable action scenes. Now modern viewers can enjoy "Dragon Inn" in a new 4K restoration that makes Hu's classic look appropriately majestic.
And a 2006 New York Times review summarizes A Touch of Zen:
Hu never made a better wuxia adventure than “A Touch of Zen” (1971), the first Chinese entry to receive an award at the Cannes Film Festival. An epic tale of a young woman fleeing a corrupt Ming dynasty governor, the movie was initially shown in two parts, over Hu’s objections. Now, Film Forum presents the uncut three-hour version in a print that features vividly green bamboo forests, balletic fighting monks and Hsu Feng, one of cinema’s fiercest warrior women. As an opening credit notes, Ms. Hsu, who would act in numerous King Hu movies before becoming a film producer herself, paid for the digital restoration of her mentor’s greatest work.
The 1976 Times review has a different take, writing that "that familiarity can also breed a touch of annoyance with a standard approach to the genre."

The series will run from September 23 to 29. Tickets and showtime information will be available on the theater's website later. The single-screen theater is located at 4115 Butler Street in Lawrenceville (map).