Archived Events, Film



Ask any martial arts movie fan about their gateway film to the genre, and a vast majority of them will answer with ENTER THE DRAGON. While an undeniable classic, it’s also a safe and conventional option. As someone who can’t help the fact that I was born in the 1980s, I’ve always answered with THE KARATE KID. My viewing road map took a long, hard detour through the best and worst of American martial arts films — anyone remember KICKBOXER 5: REDEMPTION? — before I really delved into the cream of the Hong Kong action crop with names like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Moon Lee. Despite some dodgy and unconventional starting points, I certainly self-identify as a martial arts film fan. However, up until recently I had what some would call a severe “never seen COME DRINK WITH ME” problem. As one of best and earliest examples of the wuxia (“martial hero”) genre, this 1966 film is a must-see for foreign film fans and action cinema diehards alike. For those who may have missed the King Hu film series at Harvard Film Archive in March of last year, Sunday night is a great opportunity to see the director’s most influential film during an outdoor screening that will cost you nothing whatsoever beyond your time.

Set during the Ming Dynasty, the film begins when a group of bandits led by the spooky and treacherous “Jade Faced Tiger” Yin Chung-yu (Hung Lieh Chen) kidnaps the son of a general. In exchange for the new hostage, they demand only the safe return of their evil and dangerous leader. Rather than negotiate with known lunatics, the general sends his skilled daughter, Golden Swallow (Pei-pei Cheng), to free her brother. Joining her on the mission is an alcoholic singing beggar, Fan Tai-Pei (Hua Yueh), whose secret past promises nothing short of an extremely violent confrontation with the same group of bandits. While there’s plenty of bloody swordplay typical of wuxia films, the choreography is markedly different than similar Hong Kong films from even 30 years ago. The emphasis here is on short bursts of precise and fantastic movement — some characters use their bare hands to snap swords in half like they’re candy bars — so don’t walk in expecting protracted fight sequences with fast and complex combinations. The film turned Pei-pei Cheng into a star in Hong Kong, and kick-started King Hu’s visual and conceptual refinement of the wuxia genre as he worked throughout the 1960s and 70s.

9/14 – 7:30PM (or dusk)
Films at the Gate
Chinatown Park, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
185 Kneeland St
Boston, MA 02111

Closing of the Films at the Gate series.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019