Top 10 1974–1975 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films

1974 and 1975 were great years for the Shaw Brothers studio. They partnered with international studios to co-produce films more than they ever had before, they finally released a lot of unfinished projects, and Chang Cheh went to Taiwan to form Chang’s Film Co. There Chang Cheh made some of his best work, most notably the genre-shaking Shaolin Cycle which ushered in a new era of kung fu film thanks to Lau Kar-Leung’s mission of bringing real martial arts to the silver screen.

Narrowing down any list is something of a challenge, but this one was a unique beast. All of my Shaw lists are fairly Chang Cheh heavy, and this list is no different. In fact, it sets a new precedent! I never intend for any one filmmaker to dominate a list like this, and I’d honestly be more happy with a wider cross-section of filmmakers. But if I’m going to be honest and make a list of my Top 10 films from 1974–1975, then it just has to be 70% Chang Cheh. I liked a lot of other movies from these years, but no one else making martial arts films at the Shaw studio was on par with Chang Cheh at this point in his career. I imagine Lau Kar-Leung and Chor Yuen will help diversify the next list, but only time will tell. If you’re interested in what’s below the cut and you don’t want to troll through my review archive, I have ranked lists on Letterboxd for every year I’ve finished already. You can find 1974 here and 1975 here.

As usual, I’ve included links to iTunes/Amazon/YesAsia/DDDHouse for easy access if you’re looking to get them. The availability is current as of the posting of this list. eBay is always a good option, as well, if the links I have here don’t turn up any results.

Also: I actually managed to get these two years of my Shaw series done on schedule, so hopefully I can keep the train rolling to deliver the next list (1976–1977) roughly one year from now!

OK, OK, let’s get to the list!


#10 The Spiritual Boxer (1975)
Directed by Lau Kar-Leung
Reviewed June 3, 2017

Besides the great Chang Cheh films, Chang’s tenure in Taiwan also inadvertently gave us the directorial career of Lau Kar-Leung. I’m sure it would’ve happened at some point regardless, but the films of the Shaolin Cycle gave Lau that extra push to fight Chang for his vision to come to the screen. The two legends had a falling out, so producer Mona Fong offered Lau Kar-Leung a job directing a film of his own back in Hong Kong. Lau jumped at the opportunity and The Spiritual Boxer, one of the first true kung fu comedies, was born. It’s definitely not as refined or iconic as his later work, but it’s a fantastic debut that really entertains. It also introduces us to a new star, Wong Yu, who carries the film with his comedic charm and exceptional physical performance.

On disc, The Spiritual Boxer is currently only available on an out-of-print Region 3 DVD, which is still available from DDDHouse or 3rd Party sellers on Amazon. Digitally it is available for rental/purchase at iTunes, Amazon Prime, and other top digital platforms.

#9 The Golden Lion (1975)
Directed by Ho Meng-Hua
Reviewed June 9, 2017

If you told me at the beginning of this chronological endeavor that I would one day look back with nostalgia on the early Shaw wuxias, I would have never believed you. As much as I love seeing the genre mature, I really came to love those early Shaw wuxias for their unique flavor. To my surprise, they had a few of them lying around unfinished from 1971, so whenever they popped up I welcomed them with open arms. I enjoyed them all, but The Golden Lion blew me away. I love the way it’s structured, with the main character slowly losing his strength over the course of the movie while the villains continually increase their pressure on apprehending him. The tension is thick and the action is powerful, and The Golden Lion is one of my favorite films from Ho Meng-Hua.

On disc, The Golden Lion is currently only available on an out-of-print Region 3 DVD, which is hard to find, but it is available (and very overpriced) from 3rd Party sellers on Amazon. eBay is your best bet at this point, but also keep your fingers crossed while you pray to the Celestial gods who may, at some point in the future, release the film to digital platforms such as iTunes.

Continue reading Top 10 1974–1975 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films →

Top 10 1972–1973 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films

This list has been a long time comin’, and I’m overwhelmed to finally reach this stage in my review series! As I mentioned in the previous Shaw list (1970–1971), if everything had gone to plan, I would’ve dropped this one sometime in 2014! Real life took precedence over Shaw Brothers, though, as I saw my care-giving role progressively increase over the last couple of years. I’ve recently turned a corner in speeding up this Shaw train, in terms of re-establishing a routine for getting a review out once a week, so perhaps the next list (1974–1975) will actually come within the next year. If nothing else, it feels great to be back to once a week, I always feel like the reviews are better if I see the movies in closer proximity to one another. This list, one the other hand, contains a spread of movies I reviewed from August 2013 to last week, so I’m going to blame any lapse of memory or details on this.

1972 was an incredibly strong year for Shaw films, so this list contained some hard choices. They weren’t as hard as they could’ve been, though, as 1973 wasn’t all that great — especially in direct comparison to the 1972 films! Each year had over 20 films, so I briefly considered doing a Top 20, or a Top 10 for each year, but if I did that the 1973 list would be padded with some Good/OK movies, and I’m not interested in a list with movies that I think are just OK. If you’re interested in what’s below the cut and you don’t want to troll through my review archive, I have ranked lists on Letterboxd for every year I’ve finished already. You can find 1972 here and 1973 here.

As usual, I’ve included links to iTunes/Amazon/YesAsia/DDDHouse for easy access by those intrigued enough to check some of these out. The availability is all current as of the posting of this list.

OK, enough of my caterwaulin’, let’s get to the list!


#10 Pursuit (1972)
Directed by Cheng Kang
Reviewed January 10, 2014

pursuit

Pursuit was the second of three Shaw Brothers films released in 1972 based on sections of the classic Chinese novel Outlaws of the Marsh (AKA The Water Margin). It focuses on the story of Yueh Hua’s character, Lin Chong AKA Panther Head. Where The Water Margin is a grand epic tale of the 108 Liang Shan bandits, Pursuit dials it back and delivers a wonderful exploration of a single member of the clan, in the years prior to where we met him in The Water Margin. Another fantastic piece of cinema from Cheng Kang, Pursuit is the perfect companion film to The Water Margin.

Pursuit is currently only available on an out-of-print Region 3 DVD, which is not currently available from Amazon, but if you check that link from time to time it might come up for sale. Amazon does have the VCD, though, and YesAsia still has the Region 3 Taiwanese DVD release available. eBay is also a great option for your DVD searches.

Continue reading Top 10 1972–1973 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films →

Chinese New Year Special: My Top 10 Under-the-Radar Shaw Brothers Films (as of Feb 2015)

lion-dance-chinese-new-year-3

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
恭禧發財

It’s Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) and Celestial Pictures, owners of the wonderful Shaw Brothers film library, have asked me to contribute something to their big celebration. Yesterday I published a list of my 10 favorite Shaw films, but there’s too many great Shaw films for me to just leave it at that. So I came up with this list, offering up another 10 great films! This one’s more for the seasoned Shaw fan than it is for the newcomer, but who am I to say that you have to start with the genre’s so-called favorites? Start wherever you like!

As with the previous list: Before you send me hate mail and “Why isn’t so-and-so movie on the list?” comments, I haven’t seen a lot of the Shaw Brothers films past 1972 (the year I’ve most recently finished in my chronological series), so that’s why this list steers toward the early years of their color martial arts output. But I imagine a good many fans are the opposite of me and haven’t seen a lot of the early films, so I hope this list is a help. In any case, I’m not trying to say these are the best or anything, just my favorites. With that in mind, here’s my Top 10 Under-the Radar Shaw films as it currently stands (and in no particular order), with links to where you can get ahold of them!

Killers Five (1969)
Directed by Cheng Kang
Reviewed February 10, 2012killersfive

One of the best parts of doing my chronological Shaw Brothers series is discovering great directors I previously knew nothing about. Cheng Kang is at the top of that list, and Killers Five is the first of three films of his on this list. I’m a sucker for any kind of movie where a team is recruited for a dangerous mission, and Killers Five is an incredibly entertaining Shaw Brothers version of the tried-and-true formula.

Killers Five is currently only available on an out-of-print Region 3 DVD through Amazon or YesAsia.

Continue reading Chinese New Year Special: My Top 10 Under-the-Radar Shaw Brothers Films (as of Feb 2015) →

Chinese New Year Special: My Top 10 Favorite Shaw Brothers Films (as of Feb 2015)

LA_ChineseNewYear

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
恭禧發財

It’s Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) and Celestial Pictures, owners of the wonderful Shaw Brothers film library, have asked me to contribute something to their big celebration. I thought that a list like this would provide newcomers to the Shaw films a few places to start their journey, and provide me an interesting picture to look back on as I continue to work my way through more of the Shaw Catalog.

Before you send me hate mail and “Why isn’t so-and-so movie on the list?” comments, I haven’t seen tons of the great Shaw Brothers classics that I’m sure will eventually vie for a place on this list when I do see them. That’s part of the reason I started my chronological series, to eventually see them all. I’m also not trying to say these are the best or anything, just my favorites. With that in mind, here’s my Top 10 Shaw Favorites as it currently stands (and in no particular order), with links to where you can get ahold of them!

The Super Inframan (1975)
Directed by Hua Shan
Reviewed by Uncle Jasper June 17, 2010inframan_1

The Super Inframan is one of those movies that most people would call campy and a waste of their time. For me, I was in love with it about four seconds into the movie. I’ve never understood why “campy” was considered a bad thing. Whatever, it’s their loss. The Super Inframan is an incredibly fun film, packed with so much imagination and wild visuals that it remains endlessly re-watchable.

The Super Inframan is available on DVD, and digitally at iTunes and Google Play.

Continue reading Chinese New Year Special: My Top 10 Favorite Shaw Brothers Films (as of Feb 2015) →

Introducing the Black Love Fest and Poetry Contest for Valentine’s Day!

Well, hello you Silver Emulsions! Welcome back to our Annual Valentine’s Day Love Fest. Will and I are pumped the hell up! We have been planning a Black Love Fest for quite some time. And now… drum roll please… Black Love Fest has arrived!

This Love Fest is an all-out sexy “Turn Up” (in my Kevin Hart voice) for Black Love. It was hard to narrow down the selections, but we finally whittled in down.

Starting today, and continuing over the next two weeks, we will review:

  • Love Jones
  • Love & Basketball
  • Something New
  • Brown Sugar
  • About Last Night (ALN)

Quick note: About Last Night was a part of our sexy ’80s Love Fest last year, except it was the original cast with James Belushi, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, and Elizabeth Perkins. This year’s remake features an all-black cast of Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, and Regina Hall.

Many of you may wonder why we’re paying homage to black love this year. The most honest answer is that we just need to. As a woman of color myself, it has always been very exciting to see a trailer for a romantic comedy with a black cast. I grew up without many images of black-on-black love on-screen. One of the reasons we, the audience, watch movies are to see images of fantasy, and/or our own reality. I can’t wait until the time when a romantic comedy with an all-black cast is just a romantic comedy, but that time has not come. An authentic qualifier for a “Black Movie,” is a movie that mirrors or is similar to the experiences of black culture. That’s not to claim that all black experiences are the same. However, there is a universal knowledge and close kinship to an experience. I didn’t live the experience of Boyz n the Hood, but it was an experience through association because of my friends and family members.  It’s also these movies that expose us to a variety of black culture. In the past, most black films were about slavery, civil rights, and Blaxploitation. Those movies just show the struggle and hustle associated with being black. The films we are reviewing also show the trials and tribulations of falling in love, friendships, artistry in the black community, and the joys of sharing and experience. Before Cosby, many of us did not know of black doctors and lawyers. Black romantic comedies are often a continuation of what Bill Cosby started with the television series The Cosby Show and A Different World. The films introduce the audience to black, educated professionals, who share the same obstacles when trying to meet “the one.”

I am always excited when I see a new romantic comedy trailer. I have a tradition when a black film comes out. My closest sister/friend, Barbara, and I go and see the films together. It’s always a great girls’ night out. We can drool over the cast and discuss the plot at dinner afterwards. Black romantic comedies are not released enough. When a new film comes out, it gives us a chance to see some of our beloved actors, who are not “commercial” enough to be on sitcoms or mainstream movies. I encourage everyone to watch the films that we have chosen. They may have all-black casts, and may include cultural norms that you may not be familiar with, but they have the universal language of love and experience. And isn’t what we all want… some experience and some love?

Here are a few other noteworthy runner-up movies:

  • Think Like a Man (2012)
  • The Best Man (1997)
  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
  • Boomerang (1992)
  • Claudine (1974)

POETRY CONTEST!

Like last year, we are having a contest!

This contest will require you to bring out your “inner nasty.” After reading my first review, “Jonesing For Some Of That,” you will notice a little surprise at the end of my review. You are to take the title of my surprise and create your own written word. There is no min or max word count. Just make Will and I pant. Use your imagination and let the title consume you. The person who gets the most comment replies with the word “ummm,” will win something you can use on your next romantic night out!

My Top 10 Favorite Sam Fuller Movies

I made it a point to have the word “favorite” in the title of this post because I think ranking Sam Fuller’s “best” movies would shape up a little differently. If you’re interested in how I’d rank them under that banner, I made a list of just that on my Letterboxd account. I also made an expanded version of this list of favorites that includes all of his films, for those who are interested to see what’s beyond the #10 spot.

Any list is highly subjective to the person making it, though, so take my rankings with a grain of salt and definitely check the films out for yourself. I know that Sam Fuller is a bit of a “hit and miss” director with a lot of people, but his films deserve to be seen and you just might be one of the ones that loves his work.

So without further ado, here’s my favorite Sam Fuller movies! (Which was quite the hard list to make, considering how much I adore so many of his films.)


#10 Verboten! (1959)
Reviewed December 10, 2010

Verboten_1

I shuffled films in and out of this spot a lot while making the list, but I ultimately decided on Verboten! for a couple of reasons. First: I love it. When I put it up alongside the other Fuller films that missed the cut, I always came back to how much I was moved by Verboten! and how much it had stayed with me since watching it almost three years ago. Its use of stock footage — primarily Fuller’s own footage of the liberation of the Falkenau concentration camp — is incredible and lends the film a level of undeniable reality. The other reason I picked Verboten! is because I’ve never once heard anyone talk about this film, and it’s far too good to go unnoticed.

#9 Pickup on South Street (1953)
Reviewed May 4, 2010

pickuponsouthstreet_1

Pickup on South Street was the first Fuller film I reviewed for Silver Emulsion, kicking off what would eventually become this series. Widely hailed as one of his best films, Pickup on South Street is an expertly shot film noir that showcases Fuller’s impressive ability to use his camera to tell the story. Just the opening montage alone is worthy of careful dissection and discussion. Obviously, I like a lot of other Fuller films better, but this one is a perfect jumping-off point for anyone interested in seeing what Sam Fuller is all about.

Continue reading My Top 10 Favorite Sam Fuller Movies →

Top 10 1970-1971 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films

Just about a year ago, I finished the first phase of my Shaw Brothers project, AKA the 1960s, and I posted a Top 10 list for the period. And as promised on that post, roughly one year later I have finished “Phase 2” (1970–1971) and have put together another list of 10 films for those who don’t want to waste time watching all of the films from the period. This list was culled from 39 eligible films, and it was a lot harder this time around. The films are getting much better overall, so even though I limited this list to only two years, I had a number of quality films on the list to consider. As I did last time, I’ve included links to Amazon and Netflix for easy access by those intrigued enough to check some of these out. This time I’ve also added links to DDDHouse.com for films available through them. The availability is all current as of the posting of this list update to this list on 6/11/2016.

OK, enough jibber jabber, let’s get to the list!


#10 The Swift Knight (1971)
Directed by Cheng Chang Ho
Reviewed April 12, 2013

theswiftknight

This 10th spot was the only one on this list that I didn’t fill quickly. The others were all easy shoe-ins, but for this final spot in the list there were a few very good ones that I could have gone with. I ultimately chose The Swift Knight for a couple of reasons. The first is that the film is one that tries to blend genre thrills with artful intent, something somewhat rare and precious in the Shaw Brothers films (although a good many of the films on this list do the same). The second is that it’s a ridiculous amount of fun. Fantastic fights and a thrilling story combine to make for a really outstanding film. Definitely worth your time.

The Swift Knight is unfortunately out of print and currently unavailable everywhere. eBay is your best bet at this point, but also keep your fingers crossed while you pray to the Celestial gods that could, at some point in the future, release the film to digital platforms such as iTunes.

#9 The Deadly Duo (1971)
Directed by Chang Cheh
Reviewed June 21, 2013

thedeadlyduo

The Deadly Duo isn’t your average martial arts film in that its focus is somewhere other than tightly choreographed martial arts battles between colorful combatants. Those elements definitely exist but they are sidelined in favor of a more straightforward action film. It’s odd that the film still works so well as a martial arts film, and sad that many non-Chang Cheh films don’t even have fights that match the ones seen here, and the ones in The Deadly Duo feel like an afterthought at times. It’s a worthwhile watch just to see a different take on the classic martial arts tale, and it also features Bolo Yeung in a small villain role.

The Deadly Duo is available from Amazon for purchase on DVD & Blu-ray. Digitally it is available for rental/purchase at iTunes, Amazon, and other top digital platforms.

Continue reading Top 10 1970-1971 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films →

Page 1 of 8123...Last »




Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 71 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages