Posted by: toddzilla | March 22, 2007

Kung-Fu…Crack for Ya’ Eyeballs

shaolinmantis_v02.jpg

Growing up, I was blessed by the existence of Channel 48 WGGT (the greatest sounding call letters ever!  Especially when said real fast by their hick-sounding Billy Bob TV personality).  Channel 48 exposed my young imagination to such great shows as the Starblazers cartoon (sweet theme song) and Ultraman (another sweet theme song and  Japanese dude that pushed a button on what looked like a toilet paper holder and then he becomes a rubber-suit wearing giant monster fighter!).  But anyway, the other contribution that Channel 48 brought me was Billy Bob’s Kung-Fu theater on Saturday afternoons.  Like the title suggests, old school Kung-Fu has always been crack for my eyes.  I’m not talking about the polished Jet Li stuff or the superpowered Crouching Tiger movies.  They were good in their own right, but I don’t want my Kung-Fu mixed up with special effects and superpowers.  Crouching had too many flying scenes and that just takes away from it all as far as I’m concerned.

Sure, the old-school kung-fu had special effects but they were special in a short-bus kind of way.  Guys didn’t fly in “Shao-Lin Temple Fist of Death”…they just jumped real high (often onto tree branches).  The cinematic beauty of it was that the hugh jump was just footage of the dude jumping down, out of the tree that was then reversed!  Suh-weet and totally believable!  Then there was the dude with the razor sharp fan or the dude with the umbrella that shot little spears, and the always formidable blowfish poison in the temple doorway.  Everybody knows that blowfish poison kills upon skin contact…right?  Does it really?  Or is it just Chinese blowfish poison?

Then there’s the big dude that never wears a shirt and has sideburns AND his hair pulled back into a short ponytail.  He was the bad guy’s enforcer and always grimaced like he just smelled a fart when the good guy gut-punches him.  Then you have the off-tempo dubbed dialogue and the sound effects.  The sound of a punch landing..whew-peesh!  A high kick missing…whoow!  Or a high kick miss then punch follow up hit and return high kick hit…whoow wha-peesh whom-peenk!  That’s when the big bad guy would grimace and let out a late-dubbed NNNGGGGG! (Are sound effects lost in the blog medium?)

 Then you had all of the different styles that were usually talked about early in the movie as a legend, a rumor that really didn’t exist until one school of kung-fu was overrun by the bad school of kung-fu and the only remaining students would either find a book under a stack of hay in an hermit’s cave or would be taught by a skinny old man in the local temple.  The last kung-fu fighters from the overrun school would learn Tiger-style, Dragon-style, Crane-style, or my personal favorite…Drunken Monkey-style!  They would then seek revenge on the bad guy who was usually a known master of Tiger-style or Dragon-style.  The little guys had to learn Rabid Groundhog-style to defeat him.  Wow!  That’s good stuff!

What brings all this to the ol’ blog?  Well, two things I guess.  The first was a series of dates that I went on in college.  You see as a freshman with no car, the only “date-place” around was the Daryl’s on Hillsborough street.  Well one of the first dates that I took my gal (at the time) on was right after the ’94 baseball strike had ended and who can resist Peter Gammons after a year off from baseball?  Well, she overlooked this one until our next date when a Bruce Lee flick was on.  She was talking to me and I watched over her shoulder as Bruce Lee walks into a room full of bad guys and all of a sudden he jumps up and kicks the the overhead light out!!!  I actually jumped in excitement when this happened!  Cheering him on!  Of course the fun was over when she realized what was going on.  For some reason she was not impressed by Bruce Lee kicking out a light fixture…a light fixture I tells ya’!!!  Bruce Lee could change a light bulb with his feet and she wants to just talk about other stuff!?!  Anyway, that’s why I married someone else.

So, these things were all brought back to mind when I was cruising through the new Best Buy store nearby (Crack for my wallet), and I noticed a 10-pack of old-school kung-fu movies for $14.95!  That’s less than $1.50 per movie!  The willpower to resist that was outstanding and almost saint-like!  Maybe, just maybe I can launch secret-ops mission: Operation Buck-Fifty-Fu!  Whoo-Whah-Pish-Peesh!

Tell me something that’s crack for your eyes!  Keep it clean and remember, I’ve already got dibs on Linda Carter!

AN ASIDE:I was scanning a site for a quick kung-fu poster for your visual enjoyment and the above poster is  for a probable classic “Shaolin Mantis”.  How could I have forgotten Mantis-style?  I found the poster below for “Shaolin Handlock”  Not sure what that is, but I definitely don’t want to find out.  I also noticed what appeared to be kung-fu “gentlemen’s” films…Wow talk about two great tastes that must taste great together!  My favorite title was “The Amorous Lotus”.  Well, enjoy “Shaolin Handlock”.

shaolinhandlock.jpg

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Responses

  1. I have always been a fan of the Martial Arts tournaments of the new style MA movies. You know there is the Kung Fu guy, the Ninja guy, the Brazilian guy who fights like a Jaguar, the Monkey Guy, the Indian Guy who fights like a Cobra, the American Guy with a beer gut who just out toughs people and the guys who are destined to meet in in the finals. The battle ensues, the bad guy is suprised to be losing, he cheats, and the good guy uses some special power to overcome him. I just summed up 39 different movies in on synopsis.

    I also like Lew Alcindor in Enter the Dragon!

  2. You have described Enter the Dragon and professional wrestling as well! Remember the svelte foreign guys in Enter the Dragon and then there’s the hairy American? Man, the 70’s’ were great! I would have been chick gold in the 70’s! If I say so myself…

    Editor’s note: I have to pull a Derr here, but Lew Alcindor was in the 1978 Bruce Lee “classic” Game of Death. Which is funny because Bruce Lee died in 1973! They shot about 30 minutes of footage of Lee and Kareem fighting in 1972 and Lee took a break to shoot Enter the Dragon. After Lee died, the producer used archive footage and stand-in to finish the film. There is one scene where Lee’s double is looking the the mirror and they have a cardboard cutout of Lee’s face taped to the mirror! It’s hilarious! The double’s neck is moving and Bruce Lee’s cardboard face is taped still. Now all of that info was from imdb.com, but I distinctly remember ntoing the mirror footage on my own…priceless! Plus you gotta love the huge footprint on Lee’s chest after fighting Kareem.

  3. True dat, I always get the two movies mixed up. Mainly because I watched them over and over again on Saturday afternoons growing up.

    Peace-
    Greg

  4. Personally I love good Kung Fu movies however most of them in my opinion are insults to the intellect. One of the things that gave Bruce Lee his popularity is the timing of the fights. By the time he hit the guy we were emotionally craving for the guy to get hit and then he did it so flawlessly. Kinda like some of Jackie Chans earlier stuff like Drunken Master or the Big Brawl. Unfortunately many of the imports assault the senses with sensless violence from start to finish without ever developing the plot and villian enough to make it very exciting or rewarding unless you just like to watch fancy and unrealistic wushu acrobatic moves. That’s my two cents worth anyway.

  5. Thanks for remembering me!!!


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