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The History of Kung-Fu

An attempt to sketch out the progress of the kung-fu film from 1967 to 1994.
by

Corey Reid

on 30 April 2010

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Transcript of The History of Kung-Fu

THE HISTORY OF KUNG FU (Movies) 1960's Come Drink With Me 1966 -- Cheng Pei Pei becomes a star. First film with "realistic" choreography, high production values. Sets a standard for action heroines and gender confusion. The One-Armed Swordsman 1967 -- The great Lau Kar Leung, trained by students of Wong Fei Hong (more on him later) provides brutal and realistic choreography for this great Chang Cheh revenge flick. Chang Cheh begins his initial run of influential action films. Golden Swallow 1968 -- Cheng Pei Pei's big hit "Come Drink With Me" earns a sequel -- this time with Chang Cheh directing. More action, more madness, more blood. Lots more blood. Return of the One-Armed Swordsman 1969 -- And sequels are already filling the theatres. Chang Cheh again directs, this time with Ti Lung in a leading role -- he will be a major leading man in the 1970's... From 1967 to 1994: 27 years of punching people in the face. THE 1970's THE (The first half) THE BIG BOSS 1971 -- Bruce Lee arrives, and starts throwing down like nobody's business. Audiences go nuts for the brutal, undeniable power of Lee's film. No fancy costumes, shot on location -- kung-fu movies will never be the same again. INTIMATE CONFESSIONS
OF A CHINESE COURTESAN 1972 -- Sex, blood, more sex, and more blood. Action heroines fill the screen in a savage, hilarious, blood-soaked outrage. Yuen Chor directs Lily Ho in an unforgettable epic. Things are getting pretty over-the-top as studios strive to bring in the audiences driven crazy by Bruce Lee's charisma and skill FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH 1972 -- Lo Lieh, previously seen in Chang Cheh's "Golden Swallow" stars in a tremendous action picture with about 500 bad guys, all of whom die horrible, horrible deaths. Things are by now completely over-the-top. ENTER THE DRAGON 1973 -- After only two years, Bruce Lee has become the biggest box-office star in Hong Kong, and makes the biggest box-office success in Hong Kong history. Also the great cross-over film -- the first Kung-Fu film to really break into the American market. Bruce Lee is on top of the world. And then he dies. MASTER OF THE
FLYING GUILLOTINE 1975 -- In the wake of Lee's passing, films try increasingly bizarre gimmicks to stir up the audience. Lau Kar Leung (remember -- he set up the fights in "The One-Armed Swordsman") brings his honest-to-goodness knowledge of kung fu to spectacular effect in this collection of freakish fight scenes. The latter part of the 70's will see Leung dominate the kung-fu cinema genre until the rise of a young Peking Opera star... 1970's THE (The second half) HAND OF DEATH 1976 -- An unknown director named John Woo leads a collection of nobodies: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah and Jackie Chan in a low-budget actioner. Young Woo shows a preference for long tracking shots, while the kids in front of the camera display a grace and willingness to do insane things that will shortly transform the whole industry.
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