IS THERE A FINER ART FORM than kung fu cinema? I'm open to the possibility; let's discuss it. Ballet, you say? DON'T WASTE MY TIME. Poetry, you offer? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The theater, you suggest? I THINK WE BOTH KNOW WHO WOULD WIN IN A FIGHT BETWEEN IBSEN AND BRUCE LEE, FRIEND, AND ONCE AGAIN, I RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT YOU STOP WASTING MY GODDAMN TIME.
This Saturday, October 17, kicks off a five-week-long, five-film-long kung fu festival at the Hollywood Theatre put on by the Grindhouse Film Festival and its organizer, Dan Halsted. Most of the films screening will come from a find Halsted made this past summer in Vancouver, BC, where he discovered over 100 long-forgotten, pristine-quality prints at a decrepit grindhouse theater ["Saving Shaolin," Feature, Sept 10].
And it's an impressive lineup, beginning with what's arguably the best kung fu flick of all time: 1978's 36th Chamber of Shaolin, starring Gordon Liu (Kill Bill, Invincible Pole Fighter). That's followed by 1983's Shaolin vs. Lama (which screens Tuesday, October 20, and features not only plenty of ass kicking but also an alcoholic monk/kung fu master), 1977's goofy classic Fatal Flying Guillotine (Tuesday, October 27; tagline: "Hold on to your heads!"), 1978's Invincible Shaolin (Tuesday, November 3; of which Halsted notes, "Funky style and huge sideburns reign supreme, colliding with director Chang Cheh's trademark violence and homoeroticism"), and another indisputable landmark in the genre, 1978's The 7 Grandmasters (Tuesday, November 10).
That'd be an impressive series of films even on crappy VHS tapes, but if Halsted's recent screening of Invincible Pole Fighter—one of the many films scored in the Vancouver find—is any indication, the quality of these rare prints will be extraordinary. What I'm getting at, I suppose, is that Ibsen is great and all, but for the next few weeks, that dude can suck it.