Chinese Martial Arts Film Series 2005
All screenings at the Wang Center Theatre. Coordinated by Professor Robert Chi, Department of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies. Admission is free.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Li Mubai (Chow Yun-fat) wants to retire from the martial arts world, but the precocious girl Yu Jiaolong (Zhang Ziyi) steals his sword. Li Mubai and his maybe-love-interest Yu Xiulian (Michelle Yeoh) must recover the sword. But then they discover that Yu Jiaolong’s teacher is Li Mubai’s arch-enemy the Jade Eyed Fox (Cheng Pei-pei). A rich homage to everything from King Hu to teen romance, Crouching Tiger heralded a renewal of Chinese martial arts cinema in a transnational context. (Ang Lee, 2000, 119 min., Mandarin with English subtitles)
Tuesday, May 3, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
Previous Films in the Series
Come Drink With Me
The heroine Golden Swallow teams up with a martial arts master nicknamed "Drunken Cat" in order to rescue her brother from a gang of bandits. But when they discover that the chief ally of the bandits is the sworn brother of "Drunken Cat," the real battle begins. Directed by King Hu (Dragon Gate Inn; A Touch of Zen) and starring Cheng Pei-pei (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Come Drink With Me is one of the classics of Hong Kong’s "new style" martial arts cinema of the 1960s. (King Hu, 1966, 95 min., Mandarin with English subtitles)
Tuesday, February 1, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
The One-Armed Swordsman
Qi Pei’er is the daughter of the martial arts master Qi Rufeng. She loves her father’s leading disciple, Fang Gang. But Fang Gang doesn’t love her…so she chops off his arm. The One- Armed Swordsman smashed box-office records and established its director Zhang Che and star Jimmy Wang as leading figures in the “macho” version of martial arts cinema that was quite different from King Hu’s style. (Zhang Che, 1967, 112 min., Mandarin with English subtitles)
Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
The Blood Brothers
Based on one of the most scandalous events of 19th-century China, The Blood Brothers recounts the assassination of the government official Ma Xinyi by his own sworn brother Zhang Wenxiang. The film features an outstanding ensemble cast led by Ti Lung (A Better Tomorrow) and David Chiang, two of the biggest martial arts stars of the 1970s. (Zhang Che, 1973, 118 min., Mandarin with English subtitles)
Tuesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
Five Fingers of Death (King Boxer)
When Zhao Zhihao learns the "Iron Palm Technique," his colleagues become jealous. A sportsmanlike martial arts competition quickly turns into a bloodbath mixing Chinese and Japanese fighters. Five Fingers is a remarkable example of transnational film culture: it was made for a Hong Kong film studio by a Korean director and was one of the first "kung fu" blockbusters in North America. (Cheng Chang-ho, 1972, 105 min., English dubbed)
Tuesday, February 22, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
Fists of Fury (The Chinese Connection)
In the early 1900s, the Chinese martial arts student Chen Zhen avenges his master Huo Yuanjia’s mysterious death. Of the many fictionalized versions of this real story, Fists of Fury is by far the most famous, with its iconic Chinese nationalist imagery (No more "No Dogs or Chinese Allowed!") and the amazing screen presence of its equally iconic star Bruce Lee. Keep your eyes open for a very young Jackie Chan as one of the martial arts students! (Lo Wei, 1972, 102 min., Cantonese with English subtitles)
Tuesday, March 1, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
The Way of the Dragon (The Return of the Dragon)
In the only film that he wrote and directed, Bruce Lee stars as Tang Lung, who goes from Hong Kong to Rome to help out at a Chinese restaurant. He may not be good at waiting tables, but he can fight. More than a mere fiction story, The Way of the Dragon is a quasi-documentary about the traveling of “Chinese kung fu” to Italy. Features a classic cameo appearance by Chuck Norris. (Bruce Lee, 1972, 98 min., Cantonese with English subtitles)
Tuesday, March 8, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
Game of Death
At the time of his sudden death in 1973, Bruce Lee left unfinished a film in which he battles his way up a tower of formidable opponents, one level at a time. The producers spliced the finished footage together with highlights and leftovers from his previous films and concocted this metafictional story about a kung fu star named Billy Lo who fakes his own death and then battles his way up a tower of formidable opponents, one level at a time. Game of Death speaks volumes about the nature of cinematic stardom. (Robert Clouse, 1973, 94 min., English)
Tuesday, March 15, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan
Ai Nu ("Love Slave")is a beautiful girl kidnapped and forced into high-class prostitution. She learns the tricks of the trade all too well from Madame Chun Yi. Part martial arts revenge story, part girl-power flick, and part soft-focus erotica, Intimate Confessions might be even better called The No Armed Swordswoman. (Chu Yuan, 1972, 86 min., Mandarin with English subtitles)
Monday, March 28, 7:00 p.m. Free to all.
A Better Tomorrow
Mark and Ho are middlemen in a counterfeit money racket. They are double-crossed and left for dead. Years later, they team up against the man who betrayed them. Director John Woo was an apprentice with Zhang Che, and despite the present-day urban setting of Woo’s gangster films, they are really martial arts stories in disguise. A Better Tomorrow is one of Woo’s finest, with a cast of headline stars including Chow Yun-fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Ti Lung (The Blood Brothers), and the late great Leslie Cheung (Farewell My Concubine). (John Woo, 1986, 95 min., Cantonese with English subtitles)
Tuesday, April 5, 3:30 p.m. Free to all.
During the British colonial period in Hong Kong, the local policeman Ma Yu-loong ("Horse Like a Dragon") finds himself assigned to fight the local pirates. Aided by a gang of sidekicks including a fat but nimble con-man (Sammo Hung), Ma fights, feints, and bumbles his way to victory. Along with the Police Story series, the Project A series is one of Jacke Chan’s most beloved and representative works, demonstrating his unique mix of opera acrobatics, kung fu fighting, and comedy stunts. (Jackie Chan, 1983, 101 min., Cantonese with English subtitles)
Tuesday, April 12, 3:30 p.m. Free to all.
Once Upon a Time in China II
The Cantonese hero Huang Feihong has been the subject of nearly a hundred feature films in the last half century. In Tsui Hark’s version, Huang Feihong (Jet Li) is a formidable fighter, a patriotic doctor, and the object of his distant aunt’s love. History becomes a mishmash of fictional elements, with Huang meeting the father of the modern Chinese revolution, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, dueling xenophobic cult-priests, and battling the local commander played by Donnie Yen (Hero). (Tsui Hark, 1992, 108 min., Cantonese with English subtitles)
Tuesday, April 19, 3:30 p.m. Free to all.
Ashes of Time
Evil East and Malicious West are friends—or are they? In the martial arts world of jianghu, nothing is certain, and nothing is forever. Loosely inspired by Jin Yong, the most popular Chinese novelist of the 20th century, Ashes of Time is less a swordplay adventure than a meditation on memory, inaction, and the cinematic image. The film features the award-winning director Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express; In the Mood for Love), the maverick cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and an endless parade of grimy but fabulous Hong Kong stars. Bonus question: where is the Ashes of Time reference in Kill Bill? (Wong Kar-wai, 1994, 99 min., Cantonese with English subtitles)
Tuesday, April 26, 3:30 p.m. Free to all.