Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks (2019) Movie Script

(gentle music)
(bell dings)
(dramatic music)
(gong bongs)
(gentle music)
(man grunts)
- Martial arts has infected
every form of media right now.
(man grunting)
- It's almost like a fever that you catch.
- [Man] It's a virus
that's spread everywhere.
(man grunting)
- We're not fully aware of it
being there anymore, it's just there.
- Hey!
- And you watch a commercial,
you watch a soap opera,
a music video, a kid's show.
- Oh phooey!
- [Woman] So many video
games, so many films.
- [Man] In music and dance.
- And it's a universal language.
(man grunts)
- But everyone takes
what they need from it.
- We've twisted it.
We've remixed it.
- It truly has evolved 10 fold.
- I would never believe that
Keanu Reeves would do Kung Fu,
that a kung fu movie would win an Oscar.
That just seemed impossible.
- Whoa.
(upbeat music)
- Ah!
(upbeat music)
(Bruce grunts)
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
(gentle music)
(gentle music)
(swords clanging)
(gentle music)
- Kung fu films are art,
beauty, movement, legacy.
There's history.
(all grunting)
- They were based on Peking opera.
If you've ever seen an authentic
Peking opera performance,
it's beautiful.
(gentle music)
- The beauty and the
artifice and the elegance
and the style are all
exactly what it's about.
- It was just all there like
a dance, like a performance.
- Oftentimes the fight itself,
it's based on inherited stories
which are passed on
generation to generation.
(dramatic music)
This was all to carry a forge into
the 20th Century
particularly in Hong Kong.
(gong bongs)
- [Announcer] Hong Kong, 100 years ago
a rocky inhospitable island,
is today one of the world's
busiest and most private cities.
Her new buildings match her new industries
producing goods which are
sold across the world.
- Hong Kong was a place
where everyone went
and they went there to make money.
In the 60's Hong Kong became
a manufacturing base and people
working in cement factories,
artificial flower factories,
button factories, radio factories.
Everything was light industry.
- I mean Hong Kong then and now is always
a very stressful place to work, to live.
Sometimes you just wanna have fun
and going to the movies is almost like
a community or family
gathering sort of event.
(men yelling)
- Hong Kong was a British colony.
For them film making was not merely
an exercise in entertainment but it's also
a way of postulating the Chinese identity.
- There had been movie studios
in Hong Kong before Shaw
Brothers but Shaw Brothers
was the Death Star of
Hong Kong movie studios.
(dramatic music)
- [Announcer] Run Run Shaw sits in
this remote corner of
the Commonwealth doing
what Hollywood would love to be doing.
Making a film every week of
the year and a profit at the end.
(man grunts)
He controls the worlds
largest privately owned studio
and cinema circuit and an annual
income of 100 million pounds.
- I can guess what the people want better
then most of the other producers.
- They would make movies
and more and more of them.
They would own their stars.
They would own their actors.
They would own their own fan magazines.
They would own their own
sound stages and composers
and editors and cameras
and lights and everything.
It would all be done in house.
(man grunting)
(dramatic music)
And what Shaw was making
was what was popular.
Adaptations of Chinese operas.
(film reel beeps)
(singing in foreign language)
Adaptations of classical works.
(singer vocalising)
There were a few spy movies.
(singer vocalising)
(dramatic music)
A lot of romance and musicals.
(singing in foreign language)
Shaw Brothers decided that at the end
of the decade to move
away from these graceful,
fanciful movies and instead
bring gritty realism and exciting combat.
(weapons clanging)
(jazz music)
- Kung fu took the passion of opera
and you combine it with the athleticism
and the acrobatics of ballet.
(girl grunts)
(weapons clanging)
- The Shaw Brothers, to me it was
like Cecil B Demille's "Ten Commandments."
That rich Technicolour
and you could just escape.
(weapons clanging)
(upbeat music)
(girl yells)
- The Shaw Brothers had this way
of everybody kinda understanding
how the genre should look, feel, sound.
How people should
be performing.
- Hi ya!
- They just knew it all.
They were all experts in it.
(man speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] Watching
Shaw Brothers films,
what impacted me the most was,
I thought the sound effect of
the sword fighting (swords
clanging) was nice.
(swords clanging)
- The way the sound was designed
was an important integral part
of what made that genre tick.
(men grunting)
(fists thudding)
People would still sit live in front
of the screen with a master
recorder rolling at the back
and literally perform the sound effects
in sync with the action,
with the choreography.
(men grunting)
They would frequently have three guys
in front of the mixing console each
with a reel to reel tape recorder
and they would quickly
grab a roll of tape,
lace it up and fire it
off in real time live
whilst they were watching the film.
(men yelling)
With a couple of guys in there
that had been in there with the
cigarettes going constantly,
they'd have been in there for probably
the last you know, maybe 72 hours.
The mindset here was you
guys are in this room,
you're not leaving this room until
you finished this film and by the way,
there's three more coming in (laughs).
(upbeat music)
(Chin Siu-Ho speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] Night shifts
right after day shifts
and then day shifts again.
(Chin Siu-Ho speaking in foreign language)
I had this record of me shooting
six films at the same time.
- It was a factory and there were actors,
stunt men, technicians
who lived in dormitories.
- That's how they could crank those out.
They had people making two
or three pictures at a time.
- [Interviewer] If you have them living
in the dormitories here you have much
more control over them of course.
- [Run Run] Yes, of course.
We know their movement.
The time they leave the
dormitory, time they come back,
and if they go out too
much we ask questions.
- You work for Run Run Shaw and of course
you are also beneath Mona Fong who became
his sort of girlfriend
and later became his wife,
who also became the head
of Shaw's production
and it would be hard to find a woman
more hated or more important
in Hong Kong film history.
Mona Fong knew how to
watch the bottom line
and she would do things like tell them
to cut their costumes from
floor length to knee length,
cut their spears from
six feet to three feet,
leaving the director who showed up
the next day flummoxed as to how he
was gonna make a three foot spear
look at all threatening on screen.
(man yells)
(gentle music)
Shaw Brothers big problem in the 70's,
was that they were too big.
They were too powerful.
They had no reason to second guess
their decisions because
all their decisions
had been right for a
really really long time
and so when someone came to Shaw Brothers
and said we got this guy Bruce Lee,
maybe you wanna try him out and hire him,
Run Run Shaw thought
you're just a kung fu guy.
Screw off.
- That was the biggest,
it's like not signing The Beatles, right?
(gentle music)
- Hong Kong was extremely male driven
and movies were originally
made only for house wives.
So they didn't want the housewives going
and lusting after handsome guys.
So all the women played the
leading heroic characters.
- One of the first big on screen heroines
coming out of the late
60's was Chin Pei-Pei
who was in Yueh Hua's
"Come Drink With Me."
(upbeat music)
- When I come to Hong Kong,
everything so strange to me.
I decide to go into movies,
only because dance training,
the dance make the fighting more feminine.
(tense music)
- She saw fighting as dancing,
and you could clearly see in
the movie that fighting was dancing.
(sword clanging)
(dramatic music)
(man grunts)
(dramatic music)
- And the funny thing is that often,
kung fu films are looked down
on by the cultural elite.
(dramatic music)
But this is the same thing as ballet.
(man grunts)
(sword clanging)
- Gradually, it become like my own style.
(swords clanging)
(gentle music)
- The image of Chin Pei-Pei surrounded
by men and then absolutely
annihilating them (laughs),
it's so striking because it was happening
in these Hong Kong films way
before it was happening over here.
(swords clanging)
(dramatic music)
(man yells)
- People don't wanna see always
some woman in a pretty dress.
I always loved the fight.
(dramatic music)
- In the older days in Hong Kong,
they actually show a real
martial artist actress
like Chin Pei-Pei who
actually can do action.
You can have longer takes,
you can do more complex stuff.
(men grunting)
(swords clanging)
- I didn't know this was something
special to me at the beginning.
I'm playing a girl who know how to fight.
(dramatic music)
(swords clanging)
From then on, I fight all
the time, all the movie.
(dramatic music)
(swords clanging)
(dramatic music)
(film reel ticking)
(dramatic music)
- [Announcer] Three straight
days of street rioting
in the crowded Kowloon Peninsula
of Hong Kong bring out scores of police.
- 1967 was a year Hong Kong was on fire.
When there was a strike by some workers
at an artificial flower
factory and the police came in.
They were a little heavy handed.
The word spread that
there was police brutality
going on and Hong Kong erupted.
(gun shot firing)
51 people died in clashes
between protestors and police.
Journalists were attacked and
burned to death in their car.
It was a crazy, crazy time.
- [Announcer] Police said
the rioters soul aimed
seemed to be an attack
on any and all authority.
(swords clanging)
- The spirit of the movies
that came out of this
were about angry, young pissed off people
who had nothing left to lose.
(objects clattering)
So they made "One-Armed Swordsman" which
is basically about a young man,
his father is killed and he's left with
the only relic of his
father as a broken sword.
(man grunts)
- Director Chang Cheh could see
that the classic Shaw Brothers sword movie
had been kind of staid and pedestrian.
(man grunts)
We should try something different.
We should have more blood.
We should run a sword through somebody
and then see it sticking
out the other side.
We should sever a few limbs.
(dramatic music)
- [Interviewer] You have entrails
being pulled out of bodies on camera.
What do you do for an encore?
- Well, we just...
People say it's not exciting enough.
We're putting more blood.
(blood gushing)
(Lo Meng speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] I did his fight scenes.
He shows the beauty of violence,
especially when he uses slow
motion when a character dies.
(swords clanging)
(men grunting)
- Chang Cheh liked machismo.
He didn't wanna see women on screen.
He wanted to go back to
the old school male heroes.
Usually with their shirts off
and their man boobs greased.
(men grunting)
- He got rid of the yin gang, the women,
and put in the yang gang,
the manly, manly men,
who liked other manly men.
(weapons clattering)
- He loved boys standing back to back
and taking on all odds as their
guts spill out on the floor.
He loved bloodshed.
(speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] Director Chang
was quite a serious person.
He would scold some of the
crew but he never did it to me.
(chair clattering)
- "One-Armed Swordsman"
captured the tenor of the times.
It was an angry young man
standing up to authority
with nothing but a
broken sword in his fist.
- That imagery of the innocent
fighting the oppressor.
The poor versus the powerful.
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- [Mike] That instantly got a response at
the box office that was fresh.
- So, Jimmy Wang knew how to brainstorm.
He thought well if we fight
with swords in these movies,
why can't we do it with
fists and use kung fu?
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
And why can't we fight the people
who really hack me off, the Japanese?
So, he was allowed to develop a script
and direct it and he
made "The Chinese Boxer."
And that started this enormous
trend for kung fu movies.
Everyone wanted to see young
pissed off Chinese guys,
but now they weren't fighting
martial arts masters with swords,
they were punching Japanese oppressors
in the face with their fists.
This was massive.
(blood gushing)
(upbeat music)
- It's, yeah, the sheer physicality
of Hong Kong's cinema at its best.
We've all been picked and we've all wanted
to beat up the bullies and in
a kung fu movie that can happen.
(dramatic music)
- These movies really tapped
into something in Hong Kong.
People wanted to see this.
They didn't owe something to the man.
They owed something to the people
they stood shoulder to shoulder
with everyday at the bus queue,
at their office jobs, at the
factory, on their streets.
(man grunts)
This explosion of film making
in Hong Kong of 67 captured
this youth energy, this spirit
of 'you can do anything.'
(upbeat music)
You can make the world
stop and pay attention
to you with nothing more
then your bare hands.
(gentle music)
And that idea spread from Hong Kong
and electrified audiences in America.
(upbeat music)
(crowd chanting)
- It's the height of the civil
rights movement in America.
It's the height of the
anti Vietnam War movement.
There was all sorts of youth
in rebellion going on everywhere.
- Sometimes action
speaks louder then words.
Actually, a lot of time it is.
- It's about some primal stuff.
It just permeates all borders.
- Fighting is very
universal, but the vocabulary
of it has to have the right timing.
- You know, things are gonna resonate.
You don't know what it is.
(film reel ticking)
(film reel beeps)
(upbeat music)
- I'm gonna take this right foot,
and I'm gonna whop you on
that side of your face.
And you wanna know somethin'?
(birds chirping)
There's not a damn thing you're
gonna be able to do about it.
- Really?
(birds chirping)
- Really.
(foot thuds)
(dramatic music)
- Billy Jack came out and he did the scene
where he's standing alone,
and he's got about eight people around him
and he just does these kicks
and gets out of it somehow.
- I just go berserk!
- [Announcer] This is why
they're talking about Billy Jack.
- [Man] He was a Vietnam vet.
He was a heroic guy because he was willing
to put his life down to save others.
- He wasn't only beating
people up for the sake of it,
he was actually defending
the American Indians
who were his friends and
he was an American Indian.
- That's what Billy Jack did.
He was a step above
just defending yourself.
(upbeat music)
Studios released it and lost money
in a couple theatres and
gave it back to Tom Laughlin.
He re-released it.
Grossed 100 million in the 70's.
- That's 'cause he was
an ordinary guy hero
resonated universally with people,
particularly working class people.
- I think I've seen it about three times.
This is the second time for my children.
- We have had people come
back eight, 10, 12 times.
- Well I decided to come
back and see it again.
(upbeat music)
- In America, the western world I believe
he would be the first martial
art action hero, Billy Jack.
(upbeat music)
- About 80% of these movies there's
a guy who's your average Joe Schmoe.
There was always a
fight against something,
where there was oppression or tyranny
or fascism or government.
There was always a fight.
Even racism but before the movies
we had Bruce Lee of course.
All of us like Bruce Lee.
That was a big deal for us.
(upbeat music)
- When the real rockstar of
kung fu emerges, Bruce Lee,
so many guys wanted to be that man.
- Bruce Lee I think is the kung fu savant.
Very early on he knew what
road he was going down.
- He was part English, part
Jewish and part Chinese,
so when he was growing up he
was discriminated in
Hong Kong from both sides
and when he got to America
he wanted to be the hero.
And he was the first person to come
to America and say I
wanna create essentially
an archetype which is the
Chinese kung fu master.
So he got his very first part
as Kato in "The Green Hornet."
- "The Green Hornet" started
as a "Batman" spin off.
So you had "The Green Hornet"
and Kato appearing on "Batman."
Also helped bring martial
arts and definitely Bruce Lee
into homes in the U.S.
- As a kid I was wondering why people
were looking over our fence when
my dad was working out with Uncle Bruce.
They kept saying Kato, Kato, Kato.
They absolutely connected with that.
- Bruce Lee appeared on
television and I was like whoa.
I kinda liked that.
- Every other little kid the next day
was like what just happened?
How cool was that guy that just
kicked the guy across the room?
Who the hell was he?
- And a lot of people would
be imitating Bruce Lee movies
on the street.
Friends of mine started taking
up martial arts as a result.
(gentle music)
- And then right after I was really
attracted to the "Kung Fu"
series with David Carradine.
Because I grew up on westerns.
I love my westerns.
(static crackling)
(shots firing)
- There had been a long string
of western television shows in the U.S.
Gunsmoke, Bonanza...
By the early 70's it was starting to fade.
(static crackling)
When "Kung Fu" first came on,
it seemed like another western show
but with kind of a unique spin.
- What we have to remember about the time
is this is the counter culture.
This is at the height of the Vietnam War
and so in many ways doing a TV series
about China was code for doing
a TV series about Vietnam.
The Asians are the peaceful ones.
They're wearing kinda pyjama clothes,
and then you got the cowboys and they're
the stand in for the U.S. military.
- Gentlemen, I'm gonna bust your head.
(man yells)
(upbeat music)
- It was picking up a cult following
especially among young viewers.
'Cause you could watch it and feel
like you were part of this kind
of counter cultural protest.
- I really don't think anybody,
even myself had any idea
how big a thing it was.
- To see kung fu in a western setting,
to me that was like whoa!
I used to collect the "Kung Fu"
trading cards and stuff like that.
- Before the TV show was on
who knew what kung fu was?
But after that show...
- You have this explosion where everyone
becomes interested in this Chinese
or Asian culture, martial arts.
(gong bongs)
- I mean David Carradine
and those guys did
a good job I must say but it
just felt a little weird because...
is this guy really Chinese
you know what I mean?
- Well, in Hollywood at the time
there was only one Eurasian
kung fu master right?
There was just Bruce Lee.
- Bruce Lee faces a real dilemma.
He's on the verge of
stardom in the United States
with a projected TV series on the horizon.
- And he had this idea to do sort of
an eastern western kung fu kind of movie.
- How else can you
justify all these punching
and kicking and violence,
- Yeah.
- except in the period of the west?
- They were interested in talking
to him about it and thought it was
a great idea but they also realised
that his accent would keep them
from putting him on screen.
- [Man] And then suddenly
Warner Brothers comes out
with a series that looks
a lot like his series.
- Bruce Lee was crushed by this
because he saw this as his big shot.
- Well Bruce actually went to China
because he didn't get that role,
and he said to himself well,
if I can't get this part,
what am I doing in Hollywood?
- They needed an actor who looked
a little more western
and who sounded western.
- When they interviewed David Carradine
The first audition he was
completely high (laughs)
and blew the audition.
They still gave him a second audition.
- Now I could do the David
Carradine Asian accent.
Talk very slowly.
That's all he did.
That was his accent.
I must go to the mountain,
to meditate.
(gentle music)
- [Interviewer] Did you
already know kung fu
or karate when you were there?
- No.
- [Interviewer] It's about--
- I heard the word, twice before.
- So a drug addled white guy
who doesn't know any kung fu gets the part
whereas the Eurasian kung fu master
who's the most famous martial artist
in the history of the
universe doesn't get the part.
- Hey, it's America you know,
where they would do those kinda things.
It's amazing how America finds a way
to put that old wine in a new bottle.
(upbeat music)
- Once World War II happens,
Asian Americans are no longer
allowed to have lead roles.
Even when they're casting
Chinese character parts
for example Fu Manchu or Charlie Chan.
- Hiding place discovered.
One masked figure suddenly developed
tell-tale scars on back of neck.
- They cast white guys and yellow face.
The yellow face era's underplayed.
It's a really horrible part
of Hollywood tradition.
- Growing up watching
TV or any other films
there was very little representation
of Asians in a great light.
Generally they're like the house boy
or somebody taking care of somebody or--
- Asian women are either very over sexed
or they're dragon ladies or what have you
and then the guys are gang
members or what have you.
(men grunting)
(gentle music)
- When I started I definitely tried
to veer away from martial
arts in that I was afraid,
I was afraid that it was
going to be stereotypical.
But why is that a problem?
There's nothing inherently wrong with
an Asian character doing martial arts.
It's just when an Asian character
is reduced to nothing but martial arts.
- It's the idea of just wanting to be
sort of three dimensional and be heard.
We just don't all just do
kung fu, right (laughs)?
(gentle music)
- In the late 1960's, early 1970's,
most film companies were going bankrupt
around the world because of the
advent of colour television.
(gentle music)
But in Hong Kong, a group of executives,
senior executives from Shaw Brothers,
Raymond Chow, Leonard Ho, Peter Choi,
decided that they had a different vision
for where the film
industry should be going
and their mantra was basically
if you make good films,
people will come to see them.
And so they left and they set up
a little company called Golden Harvest.
(upbeat music)
- Golden Harvest knew the
way Shaw Brothers didn't
that the future wasn't martial
arts, the future was stars.
- We had a very small handful of actors
that we were working with.
The most important being
a young American actor
by the name of Bruce Lee.
- He was a ticked off dude who
knew he had something in him
but he couldn't get
anyone to believe in him.
He was perfectly positioned
for western expansion
because he knew how to be a movie star.
- Are you gonna stay in Hong Kong
and be famous or are you going to go
to the United States and be famous
or are you gonna try and eat
your cake and have it too?
- I am gonna be both.
In the United States I think something
about the oriental should be shown.
- Bruce and I became friends
because we had a lot in common.
I could understand some of his aspirations
of wanting to make films for
the international market.
(upbeat music)
- What's interesting about
Bruce Lee's early movies
is they really sort of serve
as a metaphor for his career.
If you look carefully at "The Big Boss"
you will see it was a screen test.
- Because originally James Tien
is supposed to be the star of the movie.
- One of 'em has to die in order
to make the third act work.
Who do ya kill off?
(film reel ticking)
(upbeat music)
The director sent the
dailies back to Hong Kong,
they looked at 'em and
they said kill James.
(upbeat music)
- The Bruce Lee style of fighting
was completely innovative for Hong Kong.
(punches thudding)
The director wanted him to do the sort
of traditional Chinese opera style
of martial arts choreography which
is like clack, clack, clack, clack,
clack, clack, clack,
clack, clack like that.
And Bruce wanted to do a
kinda cha cha cha dance.
One, two, three, kick.
(Bruce grunting)
One, two, three, kick, pause.
(Danny speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] Bruce Lee loved to dance,
because he was focused on tempo.
(Bruce grunting)
- He also wanted the fastest choreography
yet seen in Hong Kong cinema.
(Bruce grunting)
(dramatic music)
- He was the one that would
throw a punch and almost make
it seem like it lasted
three seconds longer.
He'd be like (yells)!
That was about the intent that
I don't need a second punch,
everything is about finishing the fight.
- And the director hated it.
He's like, I need to fill a whole movie.
The script was only three pages long.
He actually called up
Raymond Chow the director
and said you need to fire this guy.
And Bruce called up Raymond Chow
and goes you need to fire the director.
- And Bruce went on to become
the star of that movie.
The movie worked.
- Long story short, "Big Boss" comes out,
smashes all the box office
records in Hong Kong, ever.
- [Announcer] Casual bystanders enjoy
a lunch hour of controlled violence during
a karate demonstration in Manhattan.
These are experts of course
so nobody winds up in the hospital.
(upbeat music)
- One thing that really
ticked off Bruce Lee
was that in the U.S. karate was big.
Everyone wanted to take karate.
Chinese kung fu, people
are like what is that?
(upbeat music)
So Bruce Lee then made "Fists of Fury"
about how Chinese kung fu can beat
up any number of Japanese
karate masters at any time.
- "Fists of Fury" represents
the most nationalistic
anti-Japanese movie ever
made in Hong Kong history.
- Because there are two
scenes in that movie.
Bruce Lee's walking past a plaque
that said no dogs or Chinamen.
(tense music)
And he kicks the plaque
off the wall breaking it.
- When they show that scene,
people just start cheering, applauding.
- Hong Kong audiences went crazy.
- [Man] That scene had never
been shown before in Hong Kong.
- That sign existed in America,
except as no blacks and
no Mexicans or whatever.
People saw that as oh yeah, I know that.
The Bruce Lee and his tribe
was the same as our tribe.
- [Man] I guess they just kinda associate
the people that are on the
screen like someone they knew.
- In the second there's a scene
when Bruce goes back into
the dojo to challenge
the Japanese and there was
a big Chinese calligraphy
that says sick men of Asia.
And Bruce, he looks at
the Japanese and says...
(Bruce speaking in foreign language)
- That line caused audiences to roar
and come off of their feet in Hong Kong.
- Because it struck a chord
of Chinese nationalism,
not patriotism but nationalism.
(gentle music)
(glass shattering)
(man speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] Chinese
people are not sick men.
- [Man] And Bruce and
Raymond and everybody there
were very quick to realise
that there was an undercurrent.
Our Hong Kong audiences
were enjoying seeing
the Chinese stand up
to the ugly foreigners.
- It suggests if you have enough skill
with your fists and your feet,
you can overcome injustice.
(Bruce screams)
- A strong proud Chinese man,
he was gonna punch his way out
and get the respect he deserved,
not by asking for it but by taking it.
(man speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] Bruce Lee
brought it to a world stage.
- He was speaking to the
oppressed of the world
in a way that he fucking meant it.
There's no doubt about it.
(man grunting)
(dramatic music)
(animal growling)
(dramatic music)
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
(fists thudding)
(upbeat music)
- The heroes in kung fu
movies weren't strong men.
They weren't John Wayne.
They were ordinary guys.
Small, wiry, poor, peasants, workers,
who because of their
skill learning kung fu
and putting the time
and effort into training
were able to overcome oppressors.
(dramatic music)
(men grunting)
- Everyone feels like
an underdog you know?
Everyone likes to see the
oppressed get, you know, rise up.
- And I think seeing somebody
do that on screen is so inspiring.
- No one wants to watch the film
about the guy who's got everything
and is successful at everything
and succeeds at everything you know?
- He'll never make it up here.
(Bruce grunting)
Yeah, we all want to
root for the underdog.
(film reel ticking)
(upbeat music)
- You had Bruce Lee doing the same thing.
He was gonna stand up to these forces
that were trying to keep him down.
(upbeat music)
- After "Fists of Fury" Bruce
Lee is a full fledged star.
And he's like the Steve
McQueen of Hong Kong.
He wants to direct, write
and star in his own movie.
So he makes "Way of The Dragon."
He calls up Chuck Norris and says
I want you to be the
bad guy and Chuck goes,
which one of us gets
to win and Bruce says,
I get to win, I'm the star.
(upbeat music)
"Way of The Dragon" represents
Bruce's happiest time as an artist
because he was in control
of every aspect of it.
- Uncle Bruce, one of the reasons why
he decided to write and direct and produce
his own projects also was he saw
that the medium was a way of
expressing his philosophy.
- Learn everything you can from
everyone and everything you can.
- And then picking and
choosing what fit best for him.
(Bruce grunting)
- The fight with Chuck Norris,
that was really about watching
a fight and seeing the strategy of
the fighter change as the fight went on.
The good guy's getting hammered,
then he started to change
his cadence and his footwork.
I mean, suddenly the strategy changed.
Now the whole pendulum tilts.
That's interesting because now
you have a story within
the fight, you know?
It's how do I defeat adversity?
I'm getting overcome.
How can I change my
strategy and my mindset
and everything else and my physicality
can now come out on top?
Well he ends up being where
he wouldn't have even stayed
the same strategy in
beginning is the point.
- The fight scene is considered
the classic martial art fight scene
of all time and I get a letter one time,
I get it because there's a scene
where I throw Bruce to the ground,
he grabs the hair on my chest and he says,
did Bruce really pull the
hair out of your chest?
He said if he did you're really a stud.
(sexy music)
(film reel beeps)
- I grew up when the Bruce Lee movies
were ridiculously badly edited.
So, the entire alleyway scene was missing.
So Bruce Lee walks out into the alleyway,
and walks straight back in and I thought
oh it's meant to be some joke.
He's so fast he can do it.
- Get him!
- That scene is very believable
that Bruce Lee is totally invincible
and I think we all want to be invincible
in our imagination at least.
(weapons thudding)
(man grunting)
- That movie cost $145,000 to produce.
It's grossed over 60
million dollars worldwide.
(upbeat music)
- We were very fortunate.
We caught lightning in a bottle.
Golden Harvest understood
there was a world out there.
- But Shaw Brothers didn't
care about the west.
They poked their heads over there
and didn't like what they saw.
It was confusing, it was
a very different market.
(punch thuds)
(upbeat music)
But, when Warner Brothers picked
up their movie "Five Fingers of Death"
and released it in the
U.S., that was a huge hit.
(men grunting)
(dramatic music)
(upbeat music)
- Leo Greenfield from
Warner Brothers said look,
I got a picture I want you to look at.
I'd like you to come across
and screen it with me
and tell me what your thoughts are on it.
I turn around and said to him after
it was finished it is nothing but money.
- It had been picked up by Warner Brothers
and distributed kind of almost as a test
to see if there was a market
for this kung fu stuff.
- There were big ads
forward in the papers,
a free screening that night.
And it was a packed house.
Nobody knew what to expect.
In the first scene an
old martial artist leaps
up in the air and kicks two opponents
in the head at the same time
and the crowd just went nuts.
They would jump up in the air
and exchange blows in mid air.
Everyone was just sort of dazzled by it.
It was more intense
fighting then we'd seen,
hand to hand fighting then
we'd seen in the movie before.
The fight was the raison
d'etre for the film.
The intensity of it, they were hooked.
They sat there.
They wanted to see what would happen next.
They were emotionally
invested in what was going on.
(all cheering)
(kick thuds)
And then as the crowd was coming out
they were clamouring for it.
You could see they were really excited
by what they'd just seen and they wanted
anything to get their hands on it.
Posters, buttons, stickers.
- Everybody was telling
everybody to go see that movie.
(men grunting)
- The first martial art movie I saw
was "Five Fingers of Death."
(eerie music)
- "The Five Fingers of Death."
- "Five Fingers of Death."
(imitates eerie music)
(eerie music)
- "Five Fingers of Death."
- "Five Fingers of--"
- "Death."
- And I was too damn young to be
in that movie and it freaked me out
a little bit because they
were pullin' eyeballs out.
- You know how many times
I watched that movie?
A million times right?
- No one had ever really
seen anything like it.
- [Man] It's success was so
huge for Warner Brothers.
- It instantly launched all these
smaller independent distributors
into a mad scramble.
- [Man] And there were quite a few in
the hopper I think they had waiting.
- [Man] To get the next movie
they could dub into English.
- It looks easy.
- Trim out the fat a little bit,
and releasing grind house
theatres all over the States.
(horns honking)
- I would pick up an average
of six or seven of these a year.
We would find that they
had adopted famous American soundtracks
from famous American songs and
dropped them in the picture.
I can remember buying in a short period
of time four pictures that had
"The Shaft" soundtrack in it.
("Theme From Shaft" by Issac Hayes)
I had this picture called "Queen Boxer"
which was full of barbaric action.
The putting out of eyes with cigars.
So I wanted to design a campaign
that had a palm of a hand out here,
and two large eyes and
blood dripping down.
Well, what do I do with
this female character?
And instead of subgum chow
mein let's make her Judy Lee,
give them advertising.
It's like a two by four
across the bridge of the nose.
And that was very important to me because
at one particular time I controlled
a lot of the theatres on 42nd Street.
It was the greatest film market
in the world in those days.
- You had 42nd Street between 7th and 8th
and it was all lined with theatres.
- That whole strip was only two genres.
Pornography and kung fu.
- It was a great spot for people
to see things that they couldn't see in
their normal neighbourhood theatres.
From eight in the morning 'til
12 noon, two bucks entry fee.
- You'd see three, four
movies back to back.
- In real slimy theatres
but it was total pure fun.
- Once you plunked down to watch a movie,
those feet are not leaving where they are.
They're stuck to the floor
with old Coca Cola (laughs).
And there were rats that
scurried back and forth.
(upbeat music)
There was no way to know what's good
or what's bad so the only thing is just
to park yourself in
there and enjoy the ride.
(woman yelling)
- It filled a niche and
what we actually discovered
was it was more then a niche.
There was a real hunger out there.
(dramatic music)
- These films are now
out grossing U.S. films,
like what is going on here?
- As the joke goes, the only
colour Hollywood sees is green.
Once they realised kung
fu could make them money,
they decided they would
give Bruce Lee a shot.
- When we did "Enter The Dragon" it was
the first Chinese, Hong
Kong, U.S. co production
with a major studio.
- They didn't trust Bruce Lee
to be the only star of the movie.
They had a white guy, a
black guy and an Asian guy
because they were afraid
that an Asian alone
couldn't carry a movie in America.
But I think the most
important thing he did
was after the Hollywood crew left,
the opening scenes of "Enter The Dragon"
all of that Bruce Lee filmed himself
as the director and the
writer and the star,
and they put it at the front of the movie
and then you know he's the star.
- When Bruce Lee took off his shirt
and he started (exclaims)
started makin' cat sounds,
never seen anybody do that.
(Bruce calling)
He inspired me to wanna
do martial arts movies.
(man speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] I was a timid
person when I was a kid.
I'm afraid of the dark and couldn't turn
the lights off at night.
After I watched his films, I thought,
this is what a man should be.
I learned we should overcome
the things we are afraid of.
- He genuinely invents the
kung fu hero in the west.
It would be like inventing the cowboy
or the samurai, it's the equivalent.
- Every teenage boy in America
had two posters in his bedroom.
One was a Farrah Fawcett
in a red bathing suit
and the other was Bruce
Lee in "Enter The Dragon."
- It was the biggest picture
I think in the world at the time.
(Bruce yelling)
- So the studios knew that
there was money to be made,
but they hadn't really decided
they were gonna work with us,
are they gonna work with Shaw Brothers?
The head of distribution
at one studio looked
at me and he said "we'll
never buy these movies.
It's un-American.
(dramatic music)
In our movies the hero throws a punch,
then he pulls out a
gun and shoots someone.
It's just un-American to kick somebody.
Your Chinamen are kicking people."
Within six months they were
releasing "Enter The Dragon"
and wanted to know if they could get more.
(air whooshing)
(Bruce calling)
(sombre music)
(singer vocalising)
- When you talk to people in Hong Kong
of a certain age just like people
in the States all remember where
they were when JFK was
shot everyone remembers
where they were when they
heard that Bruce Lee died.
- In Hong Kong 50,000
people filled the streets.
In America, "Enter The Dragon" of course
is released a month later.
That's when he becomes a superstar.
So, what's interesting about Bruce Lee
is he's the only icon of the
20th Century who died young,
who's fame was entirely posthumous.
- He died and he got stuck in time.
- [Man] There was a blank slate.
Bruce Lee was just this character on film
and his life could be essentially
reinvented for his fans.
(man speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] You can
learn from his strengths
and then be your own self.
If he lasts for another
hundred or 1,000 years,
it means he's a religion
of kung fu to an extent.
(sombre music)
(singer vocalising)
- [Man and Bruce] I said empty your mind.
Be formless.
Shapeless like water.
And water can flow or can crash.
Be water my friend.
- Like that is it (laughs)?
(hands clapping)
- [Announcer] The late Bruce Lee must rank
as the greatest martial
artist of modern times.
- After Bruce Lee died it was the height
of the kung fu boom and
suddenly Golden Harvest
had lost their money maker,
Hollywood had lost their money maker.
- Hong Kong's like what
are we gonna do now?
- Here's the seven o'clock news.
Bruce Lee the world famous film star died
last night of a sudden heart attack.
He was rushed to the hospital in a coma.
- Hey that looks like
uh, you know, Bruce Lee.
I heard they brought him in.
(eerie music)
- And so what they decided
the most respectful,
meaningful and classy thing to do...
- Your name is Bruce Lee Two.
- Yes sir.
- Would be to find a bunch of people
who kinda sorta looked like Bruce Lee.
(man calling)
And get them to make sounds
and do martial arts like Bruce Lee.
(man grunts)
- And they change his name to Bruce Li.
- Bruce Le.
- Bruce Long.
- Bruce Flee.
- Or Bruce Thai.
(men grunting)
- You had Korean Bruce Lee impersonators,
African American Bruce Lee impersonators.
They were coming out of the woodwork
and then movies were made
fast and cheap and crappy.
- And then it becomes this kind
of whole Bruce-ploitation tradition.
There are over 50 of these movies.
- A veritable popping zits worth of movies
just flooding the market
like a tidal wave of crap.
Nevertheless, the distributors counted
on audience confusion to fill
up the box office coffers.
(upbeat music)
- When I was growing up my father
used to put out children pictures
in Manhattan and surrounding boroughs.
The house was on a
mortgage and so my father
was saying we really need to come up
with a good gimmick to make something.
Bruce Lee was the
greatest thing I ever saw.
Let's look in to getting "Green Hornet"
which was a TV show he was on.
(fists thudding)
(upbeat music)
- Nobody move!
- Ask could we take the series
and edit it into a movie.
He said, a great idea but I don't think
we can get the rights as he's a big star.
(upbeat music)
Sure enough my father flew to California
and he got the rights
because 20th Century Fox
thought that the TV
series was not successful.
(upbeat music)
And they sent us 22 reels.
I knew how to use to the reel to reel
and do all these things
at like eight, nine,
10 years old 'cause my parents
were in the movie business.
We had a basement where
we edited pictures.
So I'd pick the three episodes,
I'd cut 'em together
and then my father said,
uh, it's okay, we need to add more things.
Added some sound effects,
some other things.
- [Announcer] Bruce Lee is heading
for more thrills and
danger then ever before.
Bruce Lee is back.
- My father had gotten on 42nd Street
at one theatre to start.
There was a line around the block
and so I went and I said this can't
be for "The Green Hornet" can it?
He said I don't think so.
It was people standing in the
aisles, screaming, cheering.
- Thanks for the editorial.
(shot firing)
(people cheering)
- And it was one of the most exciting
things that ever happened.
Everyone was perplexed by the success
of it but not me and my father.
My father believed in me
and he made it happen.
He had two phones in his ears.
He's like, you want Bruce Lee?
We got "The Green Hornet" and
it was a very exciting time.
- The Bruce-ploitation movies are where
you find a lot of awe's -
from awe inspiring to awful.
(gentle music)
- Bruce was working on "Game
of Death" when he dies.
He'd filmed like 30 minutes of it.
After telling Bruce Lee's widow
that he would take care of her
and that he respected Bruce,
Raymond Chow at Golden Harvest
took Bruce Lee's footage
he shot for "Game of Death"...
- And they edited unfortunately
down to about seven minutes
and then they had to come up
with some script to surround it
and they totally tossed out Bruce's idea
and came up with their own.
- Raymond Chow hired a poor Korean guy
that he renamed Tony Leung.
And used him wearing a paper
Bruce Lee mask in some scenes
to fill out the movie to
discover who killed Bruce Lee.
- So you've got him here finally.
Before and after.
- In the scenes made
after he died doesn't look
at all like Bruce Lee.
It kinda reminds me of
"Plan 9 from Outer Space"
in which they got somebody who didn't look
at all like Bela Lugosi to
play his part after he died.
(gentle music)
- You have to wonder how
the Lee family felt watching
someone pretend to be dead Bruce Lee
on screen in such an inexpert
and clumsy ham-handed fashion.
- Where's the doctor?
(men grunting)
- Right side by side with
the real thing itself.
- Watching it makes you uncomfortable
particularly since they cut scenes
from Bruce's own funeral
and put it in there.
So, they got pretty close to the line.
The amazing thing about
watching "Game of Death"
is it's a bad kung fu movie up until
the moment Bruce Lee steps on screen,
and you get to see his film.
And it reminds you what it is when
you see somebody who's a genius.
- Since it had footage
with Bruce Lee in it
it was a huge hit and made a lot of money
but I mean it reeks of
disrespect and grave robbing.
- I was involved in about
six Bruce Lee pictures.
Three of them actually had
the real Bruce Lee in them.
Including "Fist of Fear," Touch of Death."
(Bruce speaking in foreign language)
I had footage of Bruce
at a very young age.
I think it was less then
40 minutes of footage.
So, I had to get 90.
So I had to build a picture around it.
Terry has a black and
white film of Bruce Lee,
and then has a samurai film and wants
to see a connection between the two
of them and I said: Really?
(upbeat music)
So he said why don't we
take that samurai film
and make that the flashback
to Bruce's great grandfather?
And I said whoa, whoa guys wait a second.
I said, Bruce is Chinese.
Samurai is Japanese.
And they said don't worry about it.
(Bruce speaking in foreign language)
We had these black and white scenes
and Terry said oh you can dub those right?
And I said, yeah.
(film reel ticking)
- [Bruce's Translator] Ma, you should've
seen me in karate class today.
Mm, I got my black belt.
- [Jack's Translator] Hey Bruce, Bruce?
- [Bruce's Translator] Jack!
Sue, it's my brother.
He's come home.
- But then he wouldn't give
me a script for the dubbing
so I was just making stuff up on the fly.
I'm looking at the
footage and saying okay,
so what's the guy saying?
And he says you know,
it looks like how do you want your steak?
Medium rare.
- All right, we're goin' with that.
- [Bruce's Translator]
She's got it all wrong.
That isn't the way it was back then.
(men grunting)
(dramatic music)
- "Fist of Fear," "Touch of Death,"
was an enormous financial success for us.
- And I totally understand
that some people may feel
that this is totally dissing
Bruce Lee and his legend.
It was never my intention
to go and trash the guy.
(PA announcer chattering)
(upbeat music)
- I was flying to Hong Kong to make
a documentary about Bruce Lee
and everything was fine and I got
on the plane and we had touched down
and there was these big newspaper
headlines, Bruce Lee dies.
I made relationships there and I said
if I come back with a good
story and I could raise
half the money in Australia would
you be interested in the other half?
- Having done "Enter The Dragon" we knew
that it was possible
to make co productions
and that there was a way of doing
a co production in which you could come up
with a story that would work for
the traditional Chinese markets
and should be able to work
for the international market.
- And I thought hmm, I'd
like to make one of those.
And maybe it would be fun to
have a Chinese "Dirty Harry"
sent down from Hong Kong
on the routine extradition.
(tyres squealing)
(upbeat music)
- And so he wrote up this script.
Terrible title.
It was called "The Yellow Peril."
- Because I wanted to take a serotype
and turn it on its head.
- I never met a Chinese yet
that didn't have a yellow streak.
- But it wasn't very
funny here in Hong Kong
so the first thing we did was like,
right, change the title
before we give it to anyone.
- Anyway, that was the origin
of "The Man From Hong Kong."
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- [Announcer] Jimmy Wang Yu
is "The Man From Hong Kong."
- Jimmy Wang Yu was by then under contract
with us at Golden Harvest and
we were really looking to build him up
from what we had learned in the course
of working with Bruce Lee.
- [Announcer] Accompanied by
his co-produced Andre Morgan,
Asia's international
super star Jimmy Wang Yu
arrives in Sydney to star
in "The Man From Hong Kong."
Jimmy Wang Yu is regarded
as Asia's Steve McQueen,
a top action star who's films
are tremendous hits all over the world.
- And we have George
Lazenby under contract.
So, Wang Yu can be the hero,
George Lazenby can be
the criminal mastermind.
And of course that made me wanna give
the movie Bond-ish aspects.
"Man From Hong Kong" was
the first Australian,
Chinese co production.
- And it became part of
the early experimental days
of trying to mix Chinese and English.
- This is Australia mate.
- Don't give me any shit!
(men grunting)
Or did you huh?
- Golden Harvest Studios saw
Sammo Hung was a rising star.
(man speaking in foreign language)
He was to be the fight choreographer,
and he looked different.
He was fat but it's all muscle.
You actually hit that stomach
and you hurt your fist.
(gentle music)
There's Sammo being taken to
the red desert in the middle of Australia.
He doesn't speak a word of English
and none of us speak a word of Chinese.
- The next stage on
our tour is Ayers Rock,
the most famous rock
formation in Australia,
if not in the world.
- Naturally that's where
a drug dealer would go
to exchange drugs 1500 miles
into the Australian desert.
(upbeat music)
If you're trying to run
away for being busted
for drugs do you run into the desert?
Or do you run up a 900 foot rock?
I think you should run up
a 900 foot rock, really.
Sammo and I were able to communicate
with sign language and
mock punches and so forth.
So, that is how we basically choreographed
the fight on Ayers Rock.
- [Man] Who sent you?
- Yeah and I love you too.
- I wanted the fights
to be down and dirty.
You know, Street fighting with kung fu.
Prior to the R rating you
couldn't kick anyone in the balls.
No, no, no.
That was just not a
gentlemanly thing to do.
To hell with that.
I'm gonna put as many groin kicks
as I possibly can into the fight scenes,
and the infamous squirrel grip.
(man screaming)
(pants rustling)
It played in Hong Kong but it didn't
do the business that they'd hoped.
- It didn't work in America
because 20th Century Fox
bought the movie and purposefully put
it on the shelf to protect another movie
they had that was about hang gliding
and we had hang gliding
and "Man From Hong Kong."
So they just, they shelved it.
They didn't want it released in America.
The wind
But they had to release it because
the theme song that we put on the movie
was called "Sky High" and it became
the biggest selling song that
summer all over the world.
You've blown it all sky high
- We made as much money off of the song
as we made off of the movie.
There was no way the movie
could work for any market
'cause it was neither fish nor foul.
You either make an American
international movie in English,
or you make a Chinese movie
and stop trying to mix the two.
It doesn't work.
(upbeat music)
- When those Golden Harvest movies
resonated with certain communities
like the African American communities,
because it represented this
kind of fight the power,
fight the man spirit.
- And the response in those
theatres must've told them,
these could work with
black folks in America.
- And at the same time,
there wasn't too much for their audiences.
- [Man] So, we better
give them a black hero.
- [Announcer] Enter Jim Dragon Kelly.
- Jim Kelly was someone that
I looked up to very highly.
He was a high level martial artist.
- It breaks my heart
because he was so hurt
by what the industry had done.
He never got paid what he was due.
- It's top priory.
- So am I.
(upbeat music)
- Once I saw him in "Enter The Dragon,"
I mean, he was the measure
for all African American
young males that wanted
to get into cinema.
At that point we realised
that it could be done.
(upbeat music)
(gong bongs)
- [Announcer] Introducing Ron Van Clief
as "The Black Dragon."
We said enough, now we'll
let him do the talking.
- You know, you go through the movies.
You see all these guys doin' kung fu
and I said one day I'm gonna do that.
My father said what are
you talkin' about (laughs)?
Van Clief you are out
of your fuckin' mind.
Go get a job (laughs).
- [Announcer] The assignment went
to the most feared man in America.
Ron Van Clief.
- So I quit my job with the police,
and I went to Hong Kong.
I was the first black man that
headlined Hong Kong films.
So, I was an oddity.
- This makeup?
- No baby, it's real skin.
I didn't know you were
interested in my face, but I am.
You drive trippin'.
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
- When I saw "The Black Dragon"
movies I was just like wow,
another one did it.
I can do this.
(upbeat music)
- Hit movies were playing in Harlem,
they were playin' in Brooklyn,
they were playin' in Queens,
they were playin' in Long Island.
It was such a big deal at that time.
We even did live exhibitions
for movies in Times Square.
Sometimes I would cut five
carrots on five people's throats
with the sword during the intermission.
I shot 10 films as the
character "The Black Dragon."
These guys botherin' you?
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- Wow.
How can I ever repay you?
- [Announcer] I'm sure Ron
has some ideas of his own.
(gentle music)
- You have a string of movies where people
of colour are the heroes.
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
- [Announcer] And all
of that jumpin' around
and flyin' through the air
because this is the real shit.
- You have all these black
guys, cool, fighting the man
and being the hero at
the end of the movie.
- What you want it for little momma?
- I ain't your momma.
(fists thudding)
(upbeat music)
- They were good too.
They were cinema ready.
- [Announcer] Soul sisters
answer to James Bond.
- You had the clothes,
the looks, the hairstyles.
- As black people we could go to a film
and see a reflection of us on screen.
- So there was something up on the screen
other then Joe Whitehead.
- Gonna threaten me now?
(upbeat music)
- I was forged in their image.
Those were my heroes.
That's what I wanted to become.
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- But what's interesting
is is that Warner Brothers
was purposefully distributing
their kung fu pictures
that they licenced from Shaw Brothers
with their blaxploitation pictures.
- They planned a lot of the same theatres.
Blaxploitation movies and
the martial arts movies.
- [Eric] They realised that
those markets were very similar.
- A great double bill will
the blaxploitation pic
repeated with an all kung fu picture.
- The African American community were
the ones that really
supported Hong Kong cinema.
(gentle music)
- [Announcer] Well pal,
this south China seaport
is not exactly like Brooklyn.
- So parallel to New York City,
in 70's Hong Kong people were really poor.
You went to the theatre to
escape for an hour and a half.
(upbeat music)
Shaw Brothers created a
dream world of ancient China.
- The public want changes and
will have to inject new ideas.
- And throughout the 70's the really
have the tenor of the times.
Lau Kar-leung who had started out
as a martial arts choreographer,
he wound up directing movies for them
that are considered rightly so
some of the greatest martial
arts movies ever made.
(dramatic music)
- Bruce Lee gave the
world the idea of kung fu
and it was really Lau Kar-leung who took
on board this idea and ran with it.
- Lau Kar-leung said we
should make kung fu films
the way people actually practise kung fu.
(men grunting)
This like eagle claw versus
tiger versus panther.
In Lau Kar-leung pictures
where guys were doing 30
to 40 moves in one shot.
- So when I'm watching
a Shaw Brother film,
what I like to do is count how long
that scene plays out for until they cut.
You know, one, two, three, four,
five, six, the longer you count until
that cut you realise how
incredible it is to pull that off.
- There's a fight that moves into an alley
that gets progressively narrower
and he's using a different
style of martial arts.
- At this range I'll use my elbows.
- For each exchange as they move
from walls that are 12 feet apart...
- I call this the lion style.
- To eight feet apart to six feet apart
to just a couple of feet apart.
He's able to fit the style to
the action on screen and the story.
- I really believe that a film
is always about the
exchange of energy between
the person in front of the
camera and the audience.
The great thing that they do
is find the angles that work.
As a cinematographer that's
an astonishing challenge
because I don't know what
the hell they're doing.
I don't know (laughs).
- How is this super hero type of dude
and this girl doing that that fast?
That was amazing to watch.
- When Lau Kar-leung
wanted to sell the speed,
he wanted to sell the power the impact
and he became concerned with
having the audience feel it.
(all screaming)
(dramatic music)
(Sammo speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] I respected
Master Lau very much,
and he was a hero in my heart.
(gentle music)
- One of the more outlandish
Peking opera-esque
Lau Kar-leung movies was "Dirty Ho."
The title invariably makes people giggle,
but Ho is the guys name.
- "Dirty Ho" is like almost
like the ultimate example
of like how complex and
amazing you can get.
(upbeat music)
- The masterpiece in that
movie is when the wine shop,
the great Lung Wei is
serving him different wines
that are named not only
for their vessel...
- Dragon tiger wine.
- But also for the kung fu style which
the two then attack and
defend themselves with
in a way that no one else in
the White House knows it's going on.
Very advanced, very high level stuff.
(upbeat music)
- He also made "36th Chamber of Shaolin"
with his blood brother Gordon Liu.
- "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin."
One of the best kung fu movies ever made.
- This is about a hot headed young kid
who has to go into hiding
for the Shaolin temple
and he decides to learn Shaolin kung fu.
- Master, teach me kung fu.
- He works his way through
all chambers, one through 35.
(water splashing)
- Every stage he needs to
overcome a different challenge.
There was one he was using
his head on the sand bag (laughs).
Or having like candles and it
was like moving his eyes (laughs).
Martial artist, you have to
overcome all these obstacles
and you have to be disciplined,
you have to be dedicated in your craft.
(men grunting)
- You must pass it or
you'll never go any higher.
(dramatic music)
- When you see Rocky
doing a training montage,
when you see the 80's training
montages coming out of this,
it finds its original DNA in
"36th Chambers of Shaolin."
(dramatic music)
- I mean you see him learning
what he needs to learn
and you see him use it at the end.
- It's fascinating to watch this
as slowly this person trains and goes
from being a hot headed brat
to a focused intense individual
who's almost selfless in a way because
he's learned that there's something larger
then himself which is kung fu.
(dramatic music)
(pensive music)
(pedestrians chattering)
(pensive music)
- We all had some obligation,
to make ourselves skilled.
(pensive music)
Because you can disarm me by taking
away my gun but you can't take away this.
(dramatic music)
- North of the Brooklyn Bridge was
this Alfred E. Smith housing project.
I was a film artist at the time.
One time there was
incredibly powerful sound
coming from the gymnasium.
(all grunting)
(dramatic music)
It turns out that this was a
group of martial arts students.
They said we really wanna
make a film with you.
- The name of this film is
"Deadly Art of Survival."
- And it was like an urban kung fu movie.
A black guy who has a kung fu school
in the low east side gets into something
with a rival guy from
another kung fu school.
(men grunting)
(dramatic music)
- [Man] It was about
the spirit and the mind
becoming powerful through discipline.
- My school, my style is
better then your style.
So they eventually clashed.
(dramatic music)
- It's a kung fu art film
and I always thought,
hey I'm serving up the community.
(water splashing)
(dramatic music)
- [Interviewer] Any politician you know
ever done anything worth
while to this area?
- No.
- Nobody wants to fix these buildings.
- Brothers and brothers
and they doing nothing.
(upbeat music)
- Well in that time the
Bronx was barren wasteland.
Landlords used to pay gang members
to torch the buildings
for insurance money.
And in the middle of all this you had
the birth of hip hop which gave
us a chance to raise our hand and say,
hey look at me, I exist and I got talent.
I can do something.
- Kids who lived in urban ghetto areas
that would become a part of
this movement called hip hop,
we all went to see these kung fu movies.
(plate shattering)
- I mean "Super Ninja,"
"Five Deadly Venoms,"
"Shaolin Challenges The Ninja."
- [Man] Shaolin.
- [Man] "Ten Tigers of Kwangtung."
- Everybody watches kung fu cinema.
MC's, DJ's.
No one can tell me that they
didn't see that because they did.
(gentle music)
(upbeat music)
- 42nd Street I hung out
all day long every day
in one theatre out the next.
I was there every Sunday.
- There were people that were really funny
in those movie theatres that said things
at the right time and the whole
theatre would die laughing.
- You dummy, he's over there!
Like you better duck.
- Sometimes films mess up.
Sometimes the audio would get crazy.
You hear strange things like...
- Yo!
I didn't come here to watch no curtains.
I came here to watch a
motherfucker get his ass beat.
(punches thudding)
(crowd cheering)
- And a lotta times we
would clown with each other
just buggin' out off the
fighting, choreography.
- You gonna watch it four times.
Now in the first round you watch the feet,
I'ma watch the hands.
And you watch the throws, I'll watch this
and we took turns isolatin' the movements
so we could get these techniques.
- A lotta these guys that were breaking
were heavily into martial art films.
(upbeat music)
"7 Grandmasters" is my favourite.
I based my whole career
on "7 Grandmasters."
- My good name depends on this.
- I'll oblige you.
- What we saw on the screen was
the very essence of hip hop battling.
(upbeat music)
- Come on then, why are you waiting?
- Right now!
(upbeat music)
- [Man] One break dance crew challenging
another break dance crew
form another part of town.
- The power of style to defeat your enemy.
- But it does have that kinda
like face off thing (whistling).
- [Man] My style is better then your style
was really where that all came from.
- There was a recognition that
the other person was their
superior grandmaster.
(upbeat music)
- We know we're not grandmasters
but that's the whole
innocent fantasy about it.
- [Crowd] Go, go!
- It was a recognition
- Go, go, go!
- of respect and what is
more hip hop then that?
(upbeat music)
(man yelling)
(upbeat music)
- [Man] To see these films
with these amazing moves,
just kicking ass in a brand new way.
- They would see actors in
kung fu movies on the ground,
on the shoulders kicking guys.
The windmill was very similar
to certain moves in kung fu movies.
You can see guys doing
those scissors kick stuff.
In the intro credit scene
in "Spiritual Boxer"
somebody does a suicide dive
which is a flip onto your back.
(all yelling)
(upbeat music)
- But there's another break dancer
from Brooklyn called Up Rock
and you're comin' up
and down and you come up
and you exchange, punch,
punch, punch and you go
back down and come up the same.
(upbeat music)
And that is totally Chinese martial arts.
(upbeat music)
- The drunken style, I adopted that fully.
But I'll be honest with you guys,
my whole entire style is drunken style.
(upbeat music)
- The were already doing it but
it just expanded the vocabulary.
(upbeat music)
- [Man] And in a lotta neighbourhoods
the dancing stopped the
fighting drastically.
- They're tryin' to say well look,
I can do more then just steal
and rob and stick you up.
- I keeps me outta two places.
It keeps me outta the poor house
and it keeps me outta your
house, you know what I mean?
(upbeat music)
- Every single one of us that's creating
has this inspiration and if
we really creating right,
then we put an interesting flip.
- They were sampling.
It's about cultures talk to each other.
- We twisted it.
We've remixed it and brought it
back to you with a fresh new beat.
- [Man] We are constantly talkin'
across the water to each other.
- "Mismatched Couples" is very interesting
to this whole discussion.
It's this movie about
break dancing in Hong Kong.
In the intro right?
He's doing this un popping and locking
like putting his shirt
on and taking it off.
He's doing some moon walking.
- But it's amazing to see how this culture
has combined with hip
hop which it originally
had an influence on and then it could form
and function in it's own way.
I mean it's about time
we get some publicity
for this God damn rap shit.
- A lot of the theatres that ran
the kung fu movies at this time,
they were inner city theatres.
A lot of the suburban
kids, basically white kids,
parents were not comfortable
having them go into the city.
So, why not put these on television?
(static crackling)
(upbeat music)
- When they expand beyond 42nd Street
into the commercial TV
stations, then everybody got it.
- [Man] In Philadelphia, San Francisco,
Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Honolulu.
- [Man] People will be
outside all day long.
They came inside to watch
those kung fu movies.
- That inspired another generation of kids
like we were in the 70's
and they got addicted
and plugged in to the whole phenomenon.
(upbeat music)
- [Announcer] Journey to
the mysterious world of the far east.
(gong bongs)
The wondrous and wicked
world of the kung fu masters.
(gentle music)
- I discovered my love of
these films on television.
I think the first one I watched
was "Boxer From Shantung."
So I still have not seen anything
on commercial TV as bloody as that movie.
Chen Kuan-tai fights the
whole like last 10 minutes
of the movie with an axe
hanging out of his stomach.
(dramatic music)
On a Saturday afternoon at four o'clock,
it was still outrageous.
(gentle music)
(man grunting)
- The reasons why they were good
for kids because they basically show
that if you're disciplined
and you're prepared to study,
there isn't anything
that you can't achieve.
(men grunting)
(gentle music)
Which we know basically is nonsense.
(men grunting)
(child screaming)
(static crackling)
(kids laughing)
(gentle music)
- Hello.
I'm Ron Van Clief and
welcome to "Drive In Movie."
The "Chinatown Kid" is today's feature
starring Alexander Fu Sheng.
(eerie music)
(men grunting)
- Now pay me for 'em.
(man grunting)
(fist thudding)
- There were an English export
they were being done in Hong Kong.
So you have a lot of English
accents being dubbed.
(film reel beeps)
- You bums obviously don't know me.
- Oh I know you.
You're one of Lou's men.
The one they say can kick like a mule.
- We all take the
personality of dubbed movies.
- Hey, where do you think you're going?
- Hey, what do you mean over there huh?
- My kung fu is better then yours.
It's, it's (laughs)...
(film reel beeps)
- Ha!
- When we were dubbing
them we would grunt,
we would make terrible noises.
(men screaming)
They took 10, 12 hours to dub.
There was one film we did.
We drank 72 beers between six of us.
We musta been drunk.
You can trust him to me (mumbling).
- Very good.
- Can you make it a
little bit more Chinesey?
That was a bit English that one.
- So I'm just trying to write the thing
and trying to make the
voices fit the lips.
- [Interviewer] You say, you make them
say what you want them to say.
Surely they've got to
say what they are saying.
It doesn't make sense.
- No.
They can be saying anything at all.
- "You must be tired of
living" was a favourite.
Those words used to fit the lips.
- The lips go so many times.
So many times.
So many times.
- My favourite of all time
was "The One-Armed Swordsman,"
and I got him to say I'm
gonna kill you with my own two hands.
(upbeat music)
God knows it wasn't perfect.
Some of the time it wasn't even average.
- You be goin' left and right.
- "Fearless Hyena."
I did the Jackie Chan voice in it
and I saw it quite recently.
- What have I been teaching you?
- Study and act with thought.
- What else?
- Train hard to help others.
- Frankly I was horrified.
I could only watch 10 minutes of it.
I felt embarrassed.
- Why the hell did you attack me?
(upbeat music)
- As the 70's became the 80's
and the Hong Kong economy was booming,
Shaw missed the bus again.
Someone came to Shaw Brothers
for this guy Jackie Chan.
Do you want this guy?
He's really funny, he's really popular.
Shaw said no thanks.
(voice screeching)
- That was the biggest,
it's like not signing The Beatles right?
(upbeat music)
- He went off to Golden Harvest where
they had realised that what
people really really wanted
were kung fu comedies and
people were eating it up.
Yuen Woo-Ping directed a movie
called "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow"
with Jackie Chan as a young boy
at a martial arts school who
runs errands and cleans up.
- You have no idea (grunts).
- Who gets taught how
to be a real fighter.
This really was the first
big hit kung fu comedy.
(Jackie calling)
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
- Jackie Chan was not the next Bruce Lee.
- We don't need another Bruce Lee.
I'm going to make it my own.
- [Jackie] You must attract the audience,
see the movie (exclaims).
Then story, then comedy.
- And it was funny and
like his personality
just exploded on screen.
- [Jackie] If no violent, no action,
not different cool stunt,
few people are gonna see it.
(gentle music)
- Jackie Chan always said he was inspired
by Buster Keaton with all
his stunts which inspired
him to do the comedy
action that he's doing.
- Roll and action!
(upbeat music)
(shots firing)
- [Man] We want the audiences
to see someone fall 40 feet
with nothing to catch them at the bottom.
- Stunt is my life.
Movie is my life.
- The joke was always we didn't
have money for special effects.
We had to be the special effect.
(upbeat music)
(glass shattering)
- How do you appeal to the world?
Well, you make yourself the fall guy.
(upbeat music)
- [Jackie] And I'm not crazy.
- [Eric] That's genius.
- And you look at what
Jackie Chan did with space.
Hello, hoo hoo!
(upbeat music)
- Doing an entire sequence in a wide shot
so you can see it's all there.
- You would run all over the set
and not just that set but you'd move
on to another set and
another set after that.
- Jackie had his own style,
uses acrobatic abilities and learned
how to scale walls quickly
or jump over a table and come back,
slide on a table, flip
over, do things like that.
(dramatic music)
Which to me is the precursor to parkour.
(upbeat music)
(clock chimes)
(woman singing in foreign language)
- For me we live in a society.
We like boxing, we're like squared in
and everything so okay it's safer.
So for me escape was better.
(upbeat music)
Getting outside, doing something else.
We find something positive to do.
(upbeat music)
For me it's all about energy.
It's like vibration.
It's in my head forever.
It's like this is part of who I am.
(woman singing in foreign language)
(upbeat music)
Watching those martial art movie,
Jackie Chan is a huge
influence and he inspired us.
It was like he plant a seed in us.
Other kids where we grew up like,
the Dame du Laus which is
a very iconic structure
allowed us to practise like a tool,
like a wooden dummy.
We were (clacking).
Let's go
It just fuels you.
Like gives you so much energy.
That's what all his movie did for me.
- [Man] When you see
parkour, it's no different
than Jackie Chan getting
chased around town.
- Parkour felt like wire
work without the wires.
- He makes you think
like supernatural exists.
We could wall run.
So you change your mind.
The wall is no more wall,
the bench is no more bench.
Jackie Chan you see?
He uses the environment.
That's what we do, we use the environment.
We initiate the fashion phenomenon.
We're responsible for this
crazy famous discipline.
But there is people also
allow us to do that.
It's a link.
We are inspired and then we inspired.
(dramatic music)
- [Man] In the 80's Hong
Kong movies started moving
into the modern times with people
like Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung,
except their stars now
were white collar workers.
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- The plot was irrelevant.
It was all about how are we gonna
get from this acrobatic scene
to this comedy scene all with kung fu?
- Those guys would
start bringing this idea
of well a stunt man also
needs to know falls,
jumps, how to go through
a window or a wall.
(Sammo speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] You hope to show
the audience something new in every film.
I wanted them to be happy
when they watched my films.
- There's nobody better then Sammo Hung.
That guy's the most
incredible action director
I've ever worked with.
(men grunting)
In "Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars"
Sammo said you swing the chair at my legs
and I'll do somersault
and land on my feet.
Honestly I'm like,
where's the stunt double?
Course Sammo did it like 30 frickin' times
and you know how he's built.
Jackie made a comment once,
he looks like an elephant
but moves like a monkey.
(shot firing)
- Sammo Hung was concerned with impact.
He wanted things to hit hard.
(men grunting)
- As hard as he hit you, he wanted you
to hit him just as hard back.
(men grunting)
- Kung fu?
They put camera here and I have to put
my head into frame and Sammo boom,
bare fisted upper cut.
I remember after the first few days
in my fight scene with Sammo,
if I can get through this
I can get through anything.
(upbeat music)
- People wanted modern day movies.
Golden Harvest cleaned up with
their action comedy series
set in the modern day.
(upbeat music)
And Shaw Brothers was just
one beat behind what audiences wanted.
(gentle music)
And so slowly Shaw faded and faded.
(gentle music)
'Til eventually, Shaw
Brothers died in 1986
when basically television production
took over the Clear
Water Bay sound stages.
(gentle music)
They abandoned actually Lau Kar-leung
who was shooting his movie.
They just sort of left him there.
We're shutting down production.
Good luck.
They moved over into TVB full time
and made more millions of dollars there
becoming the biggest and
most powerful producer
of televisions martial arts dramas,
period dramas, romances
and contemporary cop shows.
(gentle music)
(men grunting)
- [Man] Marker.
- [Man] One thing Golden
Harvest understood
in a way that Shaw Brothers didn't is
that you had to constantly
have fresh faces.
- [Man] One more.
- [Man] Go overseas,
hold auditions and see what was out there.
(static crackling)
- In karate (exclaims),
I'm number one and Kentucky Fried Chicken
is number one in chicken.
It's got that taste that (exclaims)...
(static crackling)
- I was five time karate world champion.
The editor of Inside Kung Fu Magazine
said hey there's a Chinese company here.
They're in Los Angeles
and they're auditioning.
They're looking for the next Bruce Lee.
I did some fighting, I did self defence,
I did some weapons and Corey
Yuen says I want the girl.
(shot firing)
My first movie was "Yes,
Madame" in Hong Kong
and I was like what do I do?
I'd never shot a film before.
- Go away!
- Get away or I'll kill her!
- Ah!
(man grunting)
Nothing was in English.
I didn't know what I was saying.
I remember just going
(speaking in foreign language)
and they go cut, that's good.
And I was like no I said
(speaking in foreign language).
They said doesn't matter.
(speaking in foreign language)
Corey Yuen was such an innovator
to take a chance with two women.
- Ha, let's see how good you ladies are.
(upbeat music)
- Final fight with her
and Michelle Yeoh together
side by side is just mind blowing.
(all grunting)
(upbeat music)
- Their internal power
emanates out of them
through the lens to you in the
audience and it's like yeah.
(all grunting)
(upbeat music)
- The movie was a success and I signed
a three picture deal with Golden Harvest.
- So what about you lady?
You wanna try my kung fu?
- Of course I wanna try you piece of shit.
There's a big difference between shooting
in Hong Kong and in American.
We never had a script and I remember
I was shooting "The Magic Crystal"
and the director said to
me look at the ceiling.
And I said oh boy, why am
I looking at the ceiling?
He goes oh don't worry about it.
(man speaking in foreign language)
When I see the movie we're gettin' invaded
by aliens and they're attacking us
and I was like that might've been
a little bit important
information to tell me.
- And did you see the
alien when it came out?
It looked like some kid had made
it out of Plasticine or something.
(man screaming)
I did it with Cynthia Rothrock
who I've done nine movies with.
(upbeat music)
- And I always tell people it
doesn't matter how good you are.
If you're with a partner that isn't good,
you're not gonna look good.
If you did a movie then and
you weren't a good fighter,
that was not gonna sell 'cause people
could tell if you could fight or not.
(man grunting)
(upbeat music)
- The fight has highs and lows.
It has nouns and verbs and
adverbs and adjectives.
(upbeat music)
That's what's important in a fight scene.
(upbeat music)
(weapons whizzing)
(man calling)
(upbeat music)
(rock music)
(glass shattering)
- One of the toughest careers
is doing Hong Kong movies.
You get hurt.
(explosion booming)
- Hong Kong action is gruelling.
(upbeat music)
- There's a stunt in a movie,
it's called "Pantyhose Hero"
where you see Sammo Hung get hit
by a car and you see his body move
in ways a body shouldn't move.
And I'm like oh, how long did
you go to the hospital for?
Oh, I didn't go.
(shots firing)
- That's why Hong Kong's
action films are so unique.
Safety is not really
the first major concern.
(upbeat music)
- I mean there's a scene where Jackie's
gonna blow the top three
floors off of these buildings.
(alarm ringing)
(dramatic music)
They got 15 cameras so
eventually action, boom!
(explosion booming)
The whole thing's blown off.
(dramatic music)
Next minute, people are
running, grabbing cameras.
Come on!
Quickly, quickly!
And I get dragged into a car to get out
of there 'cause I hadn't told anybody
'cause they knew if they
asked for permission
they wouldn't get it so they just did it.
(gentle music)
- The stunt coordinator
is such a tough job.
So on this scene prissy guys,
they wanted to kidnap the girl and
they just grabbed the kid's
hair and then the car back off.
(man laughing)
(engine revving)
We show it to the parents first
to gain parents permission
and then okay, just do it.
(man laughing)
(engine revving)
In Hollywood you couldn't do that.
(upbeat music)
- These guys lay their
lives on the line everyday
to give us the cinematic beauty.
(upbeat music)
- When the doctor goes oh yeah,
you jumbled your internal
organs, am I like what?
I jumbled my internal organs?
What does that mean?
- He actually knocked my tooth out.
Boom, my tooth is rattlin'
around in my head.
Sammo's like put it in your
pocket, let's go back to work.
(upbeat music)
(all exclaiming)
- [Announcer] They were
supposed to land onto the car,
not the road.
Three months in hospital
they're back at work.
(all yelling)
(upbeat music)
- You're in a Hong Kong movie.
If the director says he's gonna set fire
to you and throw you down the
stairs, you gotta run with it.
- So I have to fall off from the flyover
and then land on a moving truck
and then bounce off to a moving van.
I stood on the flyover for seven nights.
Every single night to try to
fall in love with the stunt.
(shot firing)
It was so dangerous and so tough.
The director wanted me
to do one more time.
What's wrong with that one?
(upbeat music)
I go home, my mom ask me, you sure this
is your long term career or what?
Okay, I said yes.
(upbeat music)
- First time you be a
part of their stunt team
you would do whatever it took.
Often that meant gettin'
the absolute shit kicked out of you.
Like in "Twinkle" they
were real rackets you know?
They weren't balsa wood or anything.
Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.
The stunt guy, he's in
the corner (gasping).
He's like this.
I said oh my God, he's gonna die.
- You don't have a mark on you.
Let's make it worthwhile.
(upbeat music)
- In "Yes, Madam" Corey Yuen
kept saying hit him harder,
hit him harder and the guy's going no,
don't hit me harder it hurts.
(man grunting)
- Madam, I think he's had enough for now.
- When I went an did my
first American picture
they're like don't hit so
hard, this isn't Hong Kong.
(all yelling)
(dramatic music)
(bell dings)
(siren wailing)
(dramatic music)
My films in America, most of
them went directly to video.
(dramatic music)
- [Narrator] There are some
places in this world...
- [China] I can't see you back there.
- [Narrator] Where a pretty
girl should never walk alone.
- But I can feel you.
- [Narrator] Unless her
name, is China O'Brien.
(China yelling)
(dramatic music)
- It was such a iconic character
that people started callin' me China.
- [Man] The U.S.
I mean movies like China O'Brien.
she's one of chop suey fighters.
- Which was really trying to capture
an audience they knew was out there
but they weren't gonna fight
for them in movie theatres.
(upbeat music)
They knew they could get these people
in video stores which were everywhere.
- The VHS era comes in and then you have
a whole 'nother wave of people
seeing these kung fu films.
- People's necks are being split
and their hands are being chopped off.
- [Man] They had a hungry
audience that wanted 20,
30, 40 action movies in a year.
- It was the video boom
when I was growing up.
There's a local video
shop right by the house.
I would watch three
films a day and then go
back to the video store
and get three more.
- What made people kind of rent a movie
was usually the cover art.
I did "Equaliser 2,000"
with this Corinne Wahl
and she's kind of almost
naked and I'm bare chested
and it's oh, but that's kinda what
you had to do to sell the movie you know?
- [Announcer] Finally a
major martial arts movie
starring the greatest
kick boxers in the world.
(upbeat music)
- There was a time where
if you could throw a kick
okay we'll put him in the movie.
You had the Van Damme's,
you had the Don Wilson's.
- [Announcer] Don Wilson is
quite frankly a one man army.
- All my posters used to say
world kickboxing champion
Don "The Dragon" Wilson.
(upbeat music)
- [Announcer] Don Wilson is
the greatest kick boxer of all time.
- They had these physical guys doing
these very physical movies
and the acting wasn't so important.
- [Announcer] World karate
champion Billy Blanks.
- Don Wilson asked if I would play
a part in his movie "Bloodfist"
and I went wow this is a blessing.
Don Wilson is talkin' movies.
(crowd cheering)
I'm not a great actor but the goal is
to be able to take my martial arts
and make it be so good that
people don't even see my acting.
(upbeat music)
- I became what they called a video star.
I was doin' up to five
movies a year though.
There were not theatrical releases
that were direct to video.
- In Time Magazine they
have me and Don Wilson
as the top video sellers of that time.
- I would go around
the country for a month
going to individual video stores
and just meeting the public.
- I met Cynthia Rothrock at Blockbusters,
told her my aspirations that I wanted
to do what she did and get into the movies
and she signed a picture saying
I'll see you in the movies.
There's loads of guys like me
that were inspired by these films.
Okay, I wanna be one of these guys.
That's the goal.
(upbeat music)
(static crackling)
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- With the inception of
VHS, now we had the power.
- When we were trying to
learn how to make these films,
we would watch fight
scenes frame by frame.
- Slowly fast forward to that spot.
- [Man] Pause, rewind, go slow.
- Which causes the tape to
kinda degrade after awhile.
- A film like "Wheels
On Meals" for example.
Okay, so he was over Jackie's
shoulder and the shot changes.
- At this point this was
individuals controlling
their entertainment for the first time.
(static crackling)
(upbeat music)
- [Announcer] What's
happening in Los Angeles
that brings thousands of people to
the hottest training
centre in the country?
Here's a hint.
(upbeat music)
- And Jane Fonda was
the top aerobic instructor at the time.
Her studio where she was teaching
was probably two miles from my house.
So I would go down and look in the window
and watch her teach classes right?
- Hi, I'm Billy Blanks coming to you
with your first Tae Bo workout.
So then I started takin' kung fu moves,
callisthenics moves, boxing.
I started blendin' it all together
and then I decided I'm gonna come
up with somethin' and call it Tae Bo.
- [Announcer] Join the millions of people
all over the world and become part
of the Tae Bo fitness revolution.
- It became the most
popular video in the world.
It sold more videos than
the movie "Titanic."
It sold over 150 million copies.
How you guys feel?
- Woo!
- Good!
(dramatic music)
- [Announcer] Or "Tae Bo Gold,"
a workout specifically designed for
the exercise needs of
men and women over 40.
(static crackling)
(gentle music)
- The circumstances are unique.
Your agreement is unique.
It is right that we should
feel a sense of history
and pride and of confidence in the future.
(dramatic music)
- The mid 90's are an
interesting time in Hong Kong
because of the upcoming
handover to mainland China.
- The infrastructure in
the Hong Kong film business had changed.
Things were slowly moving to the mainland
and the Hong Kong film industry really
was a hit or miss at that time.
- Hong Kong was making
close to 300 movies a year.
This is from a city with fewer
then nine million people.
It is a scale of over production
that is hard to comprehend.
By 99 when the Asian economic crisis hit,
Hong Kong suddenly dropped to making fewer
then 50 movies per year.
People were out of work everywhere.
(Chin speaking in foreign language)
- [Translator] There was
a transitional period
where film makers got a bit
lost in the action cinema.
And they didn't know where to go.
(upbeat music)
- And then you have a flood
of these Hong Kong performers
and directors coming into the U.S.
(upbeat music)
- The people that I had grown up with
in the Hong Kong film industry
were now coming over to join
the Hollywood film industry.
(upbeat music)
- [Man] Executives or
agents, they were trying
to quickly catch up but, like,
how do we make sense of this?
- [Man] Like okay, who are these guys?
Like they obviously have market appeal.
- They were in a fish bowl of sorts
where they were sort of finding
them fascinating but at the same time...
- Not really understanding
why they were good.
What they could do.
(upbeat music)
- [Man] Then Yuen Woo-ping
came in and changed the game.
- I know kung fu.
- Show me.
(upbeat music)
- When the Wachowski's
went to Yuen Woo-ping
and said we want you to
choreograph the action,
and he said okay well, but I need
to train the actors for
like three to six months.
- The challenge is how we can make
these people look as though they know
they are born with the skills.
(upbeat music)
- And what happened?
Everybody, everybody
loves those fight scenes.
There's a reason that they love them.
- You want Hong Kong style action?
The actors gotta do it themselves.
- "The Matrix" made kung fu look cool.
It was the ultimate 90's movie
and it was infused with the
spirit of Hong Kong film.
(fists thudding)
(dramatic music)
- One of the things that we love
about Hong Kong action is the way
that they shoot fight scenes
with long takes and wider angles.
But they also do this wire work.
Everybody has like super
human, super natural grace.
- And after "Matrix" came out,
and everybody's going do you know
how to do this wire work stuff?
It's like yeah like, I tried talking
to you about that five,
six, seven years ago
but you didn't wanna do it.
- [Man] It helped permeate the idea
that Hong Kong visual
sense was really important
in cutting edge technology and film.
- And that was the moment in America
where Hong Kong movies became cool.
- Nobody in that audience is going
what does he mean by kung fu?
It's super pop culture in your face.
Everyone knows it.
(upbeat music)
- Yuen Woo-ping was suddenly
the biggest name anywhere.
He would go on to do "Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
(upbeat music)
Ang Lee the director who
was Taiwanese American
really wanted to do the
movies of his boyhood.
- They're using the
history but then adding
much more high gloss
production value to it.
- The culture tempers differed.
Go back to the "Come Drink
With Me" but here improve it.
- One of the reasons why it appealed
to international audiences
is to really show people
a hidden secret transfer that no one
had a glimpse of beforehand.
(gentle music)
- We introduced the western world
and they're like oh, wow look at this
yet they were doing that for
20 years in Hong Kong cinema.
(dramatic music)
- Michelle Yeoh, her fight
scene with Zhang Ziyi,
one of my favourite fights of all time.
- To see two women at their top
of their games was so wonderful.
- Very strong powerful women.
Also very graceful and elegant.
(upbeat music)
- The choreography was beautiful, yes.
(gentle music)
But it was the emotion, it was the story.
That film is about love.
- Actions, fantasies, romance, power.
- Testosterone.
(all yelling)
- And it spoke to everyone in the world.
Over 100 million dollars box office.
Four Oscars.
- [Woman] Taiwanese, Hong
Kong, China and America
all coming together in this one movie.
- And that did sorta set the stage
for all of these countries
suddenly exploding
and their markets blowing up and competing
with Hong Kong and mainland China.
(upbeat music)
- You look to Thailand where people
like Panna Rittikrai was
seeing Hong Kong movies
and making is own versions of them on VHS
that he distributed himself by hand.
He discovered a student named Tony Jaa
and their movies slowly got more
and more slick until they
wound up making "Ong-Bak"
and really putting the Thai film industry
on the international map.
(dramatic music)
- These are all countries
that have had barbaric history
and conflict so they all
hinge on different influences.
(upbeat music)
You're also seeing with each one of these
their own local indigenous
martial arts style.
In "Ong-Bak" the elbows to the head,
that was a very different style.
- If you watch "Ong-Bak
2" there's Tony Jaa
doing Chinese kung fu.
He's doing dragon and
tiger and everything.
It's chop socky.
It is a mixture of everything.
(gentle music)
- It's a global community and so it's like
one never ending jam
session at a jazz bar.
(upbeat music)
(glass shattering)
(men yelling)
(glass clattering)
(upbeat music)
- Wherever you consider
your stunt men expendable,
that's where the next big trend
in action is gonna come from.
Things moved to Indonesia
where "The Raid" came out.
That was where they could do it because
they could do it cheap and fast
with no one looking over their shoulder.
(men yelling)
(dramatic music)
- And the funny thing is for me
that Indonesian action cinema
was brought back by a Welshman.
- [Man] They all grew
up on Hong Kong films
and were like so inspired by that stuff.
- That's how they learned about framing
and they learned about tempo.
- We can't go off and copy
Hong Kong action cinema.
We need to do something
different and something new.
If we try to emulate it
we come off second best.
(dramatic music)
- You see "Raid," game over.
(dramatic music)
- Man, how can they go farther?
They're just going farther
and farther and farther
but they make it convulsively watchable.
And that's super cool.
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
(dramatic music)
- One place that action film making still
has this visceral street level feeling,
you'll find it on YouTube.
- I got my first audition
from a fight video.
My first lead film from a fight video.
(dramatic music)
So I did one specific video
called "Amy Vs. Many."
We wanted to create this really
cool powerful female warrior badass.
(upbeat music)
The choreography as
well as the camera work
as well as the performers
combined makes magic.
- "Amy Vs. Many" and I saw it and
I remember seeing that and
being like wow, who's this?
(upbeat music)
On "Accident Man" Amy
Johnson was the only girl
that I wanted for that role to be honest.
You don't often see a
petite little blonde girl
doing that sort of stuff.
Not since the days of
Cynthia Rothrock, eh?
(gentle music)
- YouTube is so powerful.
Being able to harness each other's skills
and show that to the world.
(dramatic music)
- And we are shooting movies.
We just did it in a different way.
- The way films used to
be done, it's over with.
It's all changed.
This digital technology has taken
things to a whole new realm.
(upbeat music)
- I mean I'm glad YouTube
wasn't around when I was a kid.
I woulda been puttin' out
all sorts of nonsense.
My career would've ended before it began.
(upbeat music)
- [Man] We grew up in like the
lower class side of Adelaide.
(upbeat music)
- [Man] Three, two, one, action!
(upbeat music)
- We grew up back yard wrestling
and beating each other up with
like light tubes and barbed wire.
We started recording our
like back yard shows.
It sort of veered off into film making.
(upbeat music)
(shot firing)
We were the kids that your parents
didn't let you hang out with.
(upbeat music)
We started doing our own stuff
for like Facebook and
that's when it blew up
and started to go viral straight away
and then the YouTube just blew up
and now it's like our jobs.
(dramatic music)
(all grunting)
When we're recording we work with
a lot of parkour artists and a lot
of martial artists and like,
I'm in love with what I do.
It's just those fight scenes and that's
what we started looking back.
(water splashing)
Every fight scene in "RackaRacka"
there's different styles and stuff.
So we delved a lot into those
original Shaw Brother films.
It was the first time they
used the camera as a character.
Like you felt like you
were inside those fights.
The sound effects of kung fu translated
to "RackaRacka" very heavily.
We take sound effects from
those old kung fu films
and put it into "RackaRacka."
Like I love in the kung fu films
even if someone turns their
head it's (air whooshing).
(upbeat music)
Everything's so safe with
I think western cinema.
Those films are so raw and nuts.
(dramatic music)
We were ranked the fifth
most powerful figures
in media for Australia
so before Nicole Kidman
and after The Murdochs,
between Facebook and YouTube
it'd be in the billions
that like the videos are
being consumed or watched.
(upbeat music)
(men grunting)
- You all right?
I'm sorry man.
- Why did you hit me?
- But you've been hitting us all day man.
- Not with a pole!
(air whooshing)
(film reel ticking)
(men grunting)
(upbeat music)
- This type of genre in
story telling, it connects.
And so the platforms may change
but the underlying storylines
are just so fundamental.
It erases the language
barrier 'cause you get it.
- It's all part of that ongoing dialogue.
- [Man] It's a great time
for somethin' like that.
Everybody united in action.
- [Man] It's kinda cool when
you think where it started from.
- And there's a message
there from those movies
that speaks to people who have nothing.
(horns honking)
- My girl dumped me the day I bought
the wedding ring so I was in a bar
on Saint Marks Place in East Village
and to cheer me up I'm lookin'
at the trailer of "Who
Killed Captain Alex?"
Uganda's first action movie.
It was 90 seconds.
Clearly they have no money, right?
But in the west if you have no
money you make a love story.
(shouting in foreign language)
Like you don't make a frickin' war film.
- Uganda!
- I thought it was brilliant
and he had millions of views.
I couldn't get it out of my head.
I bought the cheapest ticket I could.
It's like a 28 hour
trip airport to airport.
(dramatic music)
So we get on the back of a motorcycle
and we pull up to this little house right
in front of the sewage and
this Isaac Godfrey Nabwana,
founder of Wakaliwood and I
say hello, my name's Alan.
I'm from New York City and
I'd just like to talk to you
and he looks at me and he's
like (sniffs) all right.
And that was it.
- Yes!
- And then two weeks later I became
a Ugandan action movie star.
- Father let's go.
- [Man] Forget your ways in America.
She hates you.
That spice it was poo poo.
This is Uganda.
Poo poo everywhere.
- I've gotten horribly sick where I'm
like vomiting out my ass
and shitting out my mouth.
And that terrifies them.
They were like what are we
gonna do with a dead white guy?
(upbeat music)
I was adopted by the Owianchimawu clan.
I think my name now
is Alan Sali Owianchimawu
Sawakagbaka Aneme
Faniusugandalaptop Hofmanis.
Around 1981, 82, around
that period was first time
in over a generation where
like the country was open
(upbeat drumming)
to outside influences and culture.
Like hip hop but then also movies.
But then when violence erupted,
schools were pretty much closed forever
and so how do you learn?
Like how do you take it seriously
in Uganda when you're 14?
(gentle music)
In the beginning it's the movies.
- Action.
(singing in foreign language)
- [Announcer] It is from
inside this spooning slum
that Uganda's best known
action films director,
Issa Nabwana makes his films.
- [Issac] I used to like
Chinese kung fu very much
and I thought of making a kung fu movie.
- We just wanted to transfer
from Chinese to Ugandan kung fu.
- We need to do that.
We need to show the world
what African kung fu is.
- I think I need more kung fu in my movies
because kung fu is loved
over here by my audience.
(upbeat music)
- Issac I think is a crazy blend
of Hong Kong with commandos
but it's in a blender of Uganda,
where's there's Bruce Yu,
the Ugandan Bruce Lee.
- [Issac] Inspired by Bruce
Lee and Chinese movies.
- I love kung fu.
- Issac I think is a
genius on a world level
because he's a real storyteller.
And Issac says that like
yeah, I've seen violence okay?
I'm old enough, I know it, okay?
You know what violence is Alan?
Violence is when the soldiers
come into the village,
they point at your father,
you hear two shots behind
the shed and you never see him again.
That's violence.
It's not what I'm doin'.
What I'm doing is life lessons.
(upbeat music)
So we got the actors together and we said,
what if we make a kung fu
movie with our own kids?
Something where there's kidnappers
'cause they were really
afraid of kidnappers
but they could fight back.
They're tough in this.
So if there's a real life kidnapper,
they may think twice about
stealing our own children.
And so we made this "The Crazy World"
is a child kung fu film where the kids
are the action stars in a hope that
it may save their lives one day.
You sense some kind of dedication
to something bigger then themselves.
And when I first went to Uganda,
I really felt the same way.
I'm convinced that there's gonna be
some kid in a village in northern India
who's gonna see a kung fu film from
a village in Africa and in two seconds
understand the conditions
those films were made in.
And in 20 years we're
gonna know that kid's name.
(upbeat music)
(film reel beeps)
(dramatic music)
(static crackling)
(gentle music)
- As an actor, I know about stress.
I know I must remove this stress
in order to free my mind to create.
And with the help of our class members,
we will demonstrate the ancient techniques
and extraordinary powers of kung fu.
Rotate your head clockwise.
(gentle music)
Rotate your hips clockwise.
Keep your head still.
(gentle music)
Relax your body.
(gentle music)
Turn the hand over, form a crane's beak,
snap the wrist back and bend the elbow.
Strike up.
Knees out, toes forward.
Keep your back straight
and sit into the stance.
Push your buttocks forward.
(gentle music)
Approach your relationship to kung fu
as you would a courtship,
getting to know it
until you steadily build a
genuine love for the art.
(gentle music)
(bell dings)
(gentle music)