Author Topic: Shaw Brothers  (Read 944 times)

Chedney Honks

  • When life gives u no hair, ball spin
Shaw Brothers
« on: February 06, 2021, 05:12:22 PM »
I must confess straight away that I know very little about this studio or their films, but I've picked up a couple of the most well-regarded entries and I thought I'd get some chat going. There's been a few bits and bobs discussed in various threads so I'm sure there are some fans and connoisseurs here.

I've only seen The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, and I thought it was fantastic.



It stars Gordon Liu as a paradoxically vengeful monk and he absolutely batters a load of bastards with a pole, basically. It's quite theatrical and abstract at times, particularly with the opening battle sequences, and then very down to earth elsewhere. The ending is one of the best I've seen in an action movie. I won't spoil anything, not that I really could, I'd just recommend that you give it a go. Many thanks to Shit Good Nose for putting it on my radar (I think). The 88 Films Blu-ray release is great, very lively, detailed and rich.

Beyond this, I've picked up The One-Armed Swordsman, Come Drink With Me and House of Traps. All are supposed to be very good, so I'll get to them in the coming days and weeks.

Any other fans or recommendations?

I'm also interested in their non-KF movie output, in theory. Is there anything of theirs worth trying in a different genre?

Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2021, 02:57:04 AM »
I thought House Of Traps was a little bit disappointing compared to the other Venoms films i've seen. Not that it was unwatchable, it's still a lot of fun, but the high, fun sounding concept never amounted to much, and I watched it the same day as Masked Avengers which builds to one of the best final fights i've ever seen. Can't really go wrong with the other two, Wang Yu is untouchable and Come Drink With Me is just the fucking best. Watched the blu ray last night and it's such a good looking film. There's a gorgeous shot early on where Golden Swallow walks into a temple that's just a nice smooth flawlessly done tracking type thing. Love it so much. My old Shaw DVD of it is letterboxed so i've waited an age to see it fully.

Killer Constable is great, I love Bastard Swordsman I and II and 14 Amazons for more Wuxia swordplay stuff, Return Of The One Armed Swordsman too, Buddha's Palm, Boxer's Omen, Battle Wizard and Holy Flame Of The Martial World some of the more obscure madder ones like Descendant Of The Sun, Portrait In Crystal and Demon Of The Lute are worth tracking down if you like the more brightly lit or weirder side of things with flying, lasers, corpses and other magic shite, I love all that stuff so much but people's tolerance seems to differ a lot

Non KF wise, Inframan's essential. Forgot this was Shaw too, but Hong Kong Godfather from 85 starts slow but ala Masked Avengers, the waits worth it for the end fight, like Police Story with FUCKING MACHETES LADS

bgmnts

  • Depressed to the point of poisonous toxicity.
Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2021, 03:13:22 AM »
Five Deadly Venoms
Five Elements Ninja
Crippled Avengers
36th Chamber of the Shaolin
Avenging Eagle
Invincible Shaolin
Kid with the Golden Arm

Thats your week sorted

Chedney Honks

  • When life gives u no hair, ball spin
Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2021, 07:24:56 AM »
Awesome, thank you both. I'll report back with a proper reply.

Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2021, 06:56:11 PM »
I'm also interested in their non-KF movie output, in theory. Is there anything of theirs worth trying in a different genre?

Huangmei operas: the best ones I've seen are Madam White Snake (Griffin YUEH Feng, 1962), The Love Eterne (Li Han-hsiang, 1963) and The Mermaid (Kao Li, 1965). Mostly based around that hoary old Chinese standard of a scholar meeting a young woman, one of them is probably a ghost or an animal spirit and so it's a doomed love thing, or else maybe mistaken identity (e.g. Love Eterne, where it's a woman disguising herself as a man, etc etc). Anyway if you like musicals these three are great, especially the first two. There's also Dream of the Red Chamber (Li Han-hsiang, 1977) with Brigitte Lin and Sylvia Chang, which IIRC is kinda a semi-modernisation of the genre. I don't know how it would work if you've not read the book it's a massive abridgement of; I have and I love both, YMMV obv.

Another Li Han-hsiang is The Enchanting Shadow (1960), from the same Pu Songling story as A Chinese Ghost Story. Not a musical, but still filmed on the usual Shaw Brothers sets, bags of charm again if you like that sort of thing.

Also there's a couple of notable Chor Yuen (the old enemy boss in Police Story) films from the mid-70s that have good reps: House of 72 Tenants (1973) is a remake but famous as the film that kicked off the Cantonese language cinema revival in Hong Kong; if you've seen Kung Fu Hustle then the slum in that is a riff/homage to this. Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972) is kinda a wu xia adjacent (although not to the degree of Chor's later films) but really it's more brothel intrigue + revenge against the patriarchy wrapped up in some opulent sexpolitation. Highly recommended.

Chedney Honks

  • When life gives u no hair, ball spin
Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2021, 07:38:35 PM »
Man, what a great post. Thank you for all of that. I'll get exploring. I do love Brigitte Lin and Kung Fu Hustle so those will probably be top of the list but I'm really keen to explore the 60s stuff, as well. I'll report back.

buzby

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Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2021, 02:30:56 PM »
I'm also interested in their non-KF movie output, in theory. Is there anything of theirs worth trying in a different genre?
Well, Run Run Shaw co-produced Blade Runner, for a start...

Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2021, 02:51:35 PM »
Some great stuff already mentioned in this thread, and most of the best ones have already come up, but I'd say that Golden Swallow, the sequel to Come Drink With Me is actually a pretty worthy follow-up, even if there's more Jimmy Wang Yu than Cheng Pei-Pei in the film to which I'm inclined to say boo, but Wang Yu does actually impress by the end. He's also great in The Chinese Boxer, a film that maybe should be a classic, as it is bloody and beautiful in the best ways, and features a teahouse fight that holds up incredibly well. Also a fan of Chang Cheh's Vengeance, for both the elegantly choregraphed bloody knife carnage and David Chiang's floppy hair. Other great Chang Cheh films from that era include The Duel, The Heroic Ones and The Blood Brothers (featuring John Woo and Godfrey Ho as assistant directors). The Chang Cheh films can get a bit samey after a while, but the great ones are great. Also, if you're a fan of Sammo Hung, Shaw produced a lovely biographical film about the early days of Jackie, Sammo and Yuen Biao called Painted Faces, with a very touching performance by Sammo as his former teacher.

Chor Yuen has already been mentioned but he really is one of the best Shaw directors, as he really leaned in to that sort of artificial, set-bound vibe that characterises Shaw productions. His period-set films have a smokey, dreamy vibe that I can't get enough of, especially the aforementioned Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, and also Killer Clans, The Magic Blade and The Sentimental Swordsman. Chor Yuen seems to me like a bit on an unsung master whose reputation will grow now that these films are becoming more available in better versions worldwide

Chedney Honks

  • When life gives u no hair, ball spin
Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2021, 10:00:08 AM »
Tremendously informative post, thank you. I'm still working my way through a few and will post back when I've got a decent handle on them. Come Drink With Me is definitely my favourite after The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter but I've still got a few more I picked up to try, and that's before I really get into all the recommendations here.

Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2021, 10:31:50 AM »
Come Drink With Me is amazing. It was one of the first non-Bruce Lee, non-Jackie Chan martial arts films that I ever saw. And it makes as good a case as any that these films are beautiful, balletic art. The film is so texturally rich, from the costumes to the beautifully constructed sets and the very precise acting styles, which seem unbound from naturalism and reaches for sort of rhythmic play of archetypes. Cheng Pei-Pei as Golden Swallow is always and forever one of the great action heroines. That first fight in the inn is like the beginning of the next 50 years of action cinema.

Re: Shaw Brothers
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2021, 06:58:10 PM »
gave Executioners From Shaolin and Clan Of The White Lotus a go the last few days, loved both but I think maybe Executioners overall, but White Lotus is about as good TBH. Think I prefer the villain in that, guys really funny flying round a sauna with his cock out.

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