FantasticFest 2019 Movies: Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks


Serge Ou (Director)

Shaw Brothers. Golden Harvest. Wirework. Are you with me?

How about Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, or Bruce Lee? Everybody knows Bruce.

But what you might not know – what director Serge Ou lays out in great detail – is the connection from Chinese opera to Jackie Chan, or how dollar cinemas in big cities put these movies in front of audiences that understood the oppression stories built into the genre, or how the VHS market (and now YouTube) lowered the barrier of entry and let Kung Fu movies inspire and encourage its own next generation of filmmakers and action stars. All these narrative lines and more flow through this documentary. I expected some talk about the Matrix and Wu Tang Clan, and got an education about the ever-shifting center of action cinema, and the kung fu at its core.

The doc touches on the great companies of Hong Kong cinema – Shaw Brothers and Golden
Harvest, and spends some time on the career of Bruce Lee. Surprsingly, though, the parts that stayed with me were about Sammo Hung and his work ethic on set, and the Golden Harvest films of the 80s. Interviews with the actors who made these often direct-to-video fight flicks reveal again and again the love that backs this genre. Like any good documentary, I came away from Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks more interested in the subject matter than before. Rather than leaving me feeling exhausted, I was ready to re-watch some old classics with fresh eyes, especially the more obscure (to me) films

A Judy Lee retrospective, anyone?