40 Years of Kung Fu in the West!
We’re celebrating 40 years of kung fu’s mainstream popularity in the west at Fantasia this year! In 1972, Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) made its mark on history when KING BOXER, aka FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH, was the first kung fu film to achieve potent box office results in the West. This meaning of kung fu is not merely restricted to Chinese martial arts or fighting but also to the patient achievement involving much hard work and energy and a high degree of righteousness. The broad success in the west inspired other countries to plunge into the genre and interject their own distinct culture into the mix. In Hong Kong and China, the style is in perpetual change and frequently intermixed with other non traditional components. Many of their action films which involve guns rather than fists or swords still employ the spirit and narrative foundations of martial arts films.
Frequent John Woo collaborator David Wu who edited many of the most influential films of the genre for nearly 40 years will host the Canadian premiere of COLD STEEL. Though on the surface, an action film involving gun fire, the essence of kung fu is ever so present in the characters. Director Wu has worked with some of the true pioneers of martial arts including Lau Kar Leung, Tsui Hark and Ching Siu Tung. Some of the finest modern Hong Kong martial arts films starring Donnie Yen (DRAGON/WU XIA — opening night), Michelle Yeoh (REIGN OF ASSASSINS), Jet Li (SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE) and a Shaw Brothers classic starring Gordon Liu (FISTS OF THE WHITE LOTUS) will heroically grace Fantasia screens this summer. Veteran kung fu stars can also be seen in VULGARIA, LOVE IN THE BUFF, REVENGE and VIRAL FACTOR. From Thailand, rising action queen Jeeja Yanin showcases her fists of fury(muay thai versus taekwondo) in THE KICK and Vietnam brings us its first ever kiem hiep (swordsman) film, BLOOD LETTER. The dynamic martial arts selection ends on closing night with the North American premiere of PAINTED SKIN: THE RESURRECTION.