Last August I mentioned my first experience with classic kung-fu movies, and I’ve since become a regular at Kung-Fu Theater. It’s a bit of an event.
Chinese and Hong Kong kung-fu movies from the 70’s are a local couples passion, and they’ve acquired over 100 of them. They show their favorites the second Tuesday of most months at Portland’s Hollywood Theater to full houses. There’s a t-shirt and everything, and I’ve learned that there are clubs organized around the event.Having been to about half a dozen showings, I’ve found attendance ranges between ‘full’ and ‘sold-out’ in an average-size movie theater. The crowd is a total Portland cross-section, and the LGBT demographic are out in nearly the numbers of a Thorns game. The curator does an intro before the film explaining why he likes it and talks bit about the director, choreographer, actors of note, and recently, Trump jabs. There’s a raffle (when you buy the shirt you get a ticket) with prizes like original movie posters and lobby cards.
This IS your father’s kung-fu, and it’s a blast. The better movies are actual movies, with plot, story, character arc, acting, and other things not found in Micheal Bay films. No CGI, although some clumsy editing can be seen, and very little wire-fu. It’s skilled martial artists demonstrating their ability. Some choreography is better than others, but the boss fights tend to be minutes of non-stop fighting action.
I’ve seen enough of these films to appreciate some directors and actors. Director Lau Kar-Leung is especially good at showcasing various fighting styles and his movies are complete to the point where the films are a bit of a cultural excursion. The movies tend to feature at least one strong female character, who can not only hold their own but show the boys a few things, all ‘as fast as lightning’.
If you’re in town the second Tuesday of the month you may want see what all the excitement’s about. Seeing these movies with a crowd is a lot of fun, and a more ‘Portland’ experience than Voodoo Donuts.
At the beginning of each film there’s a trailer for another movie, and they’re good warm-ups, as well as previewing films you may want to see (or not). The Five Element Ninjas (maybe), Sister Street Fighter (no). The most recent film featured a trailer for a film whose name I do not recall, but there were a lot of guys getting the fake blood beat out of them. The voice-over boomed without hint of irony “Fun For The Whole Family!”. It must be a cultural thing.
Seen in Hillsboro: