Fri Nov 19 -Sun Nov 21
No film genre is more scorned and underappreciated than grindhouse films--low budget Asian films from the '70s in which kung fu, sex, and revenge collide with scratchy film stock and spraying geysers of Technicolor blood. Thankfully, the Hollywood Theater's Grindhouse Film Festival resurrects some of the genre's best--and whether you already know if you're a grindhouse fan or not, just trust me: Go. You'll thank me later.
First up is Invincible Pole Fighter, which has some of the most astounding action pieces ever filmed--and, yeah, a whole shit-ton of poles. Next up is Master of the Flying Guillotine, which follows a blind teacher (Jimmy Wang Yu) who takes out his foes with his super-cool flying decapitation device. Also up: 36th Chamber of Shaolin, which has San Te (Gordon Liu) learning martial arts from Shaolin monks.
But the festival's crown jewels are Shogun Assassin and Lady Snowblood. Shogun Assassin follows a toddler (Masahiro Tomikawa) and his father (Tomisaburo Wakayama) as they take down a corrupt shogunate; aside from the lethally tricked-out stroller that helps the duo deal out vengeance against ninjas, the real draw is the darkly sweet bond between father and son.
Then there's the exhilarating Lady Snowblood, the fest's best film. A young woman (Meiko Kaji) is born and raised for the sole purpose of hunting down those who brutalized her family. With her deadly moves, sexy looks, and lethal attitude, she kicks ass and doesn't even bother taking names. The film itself is similarly powerful, shattering kung fu clichés even as it reinforces the genre's strongest points.
If these flicks sound familiar, they should. Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill was inspired by these little-known classics; from actors to music to plot points, Kill Bill is one big fat tribute to grindhouse. But while widespread familiarity with Kill Bill might be the impetus to get asses into the seats, it's the films that'll keep 'em there. These rare movies have spent the last 30 years on VHS, being both celebrated and reviled by a small portion of film geeks. Now--in Portland, at least--these astonishingly entertaining classics are finally getting a crack at a larger audience, thanks to a far larger screen.