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Shaw Brothers Studios and Kill Bill


#1

Ive been reading alot about the history of Shaw Brothers Studios. Ive learned many things about the strudios and their effect on popular cinema. Here are some exerpts from an article that will shed some light on the studio and why QT is so influenced by them:



“During its 1960s and '70s heyday, Shaw Bros. had the largest privately owned movie studio in the world, churning out 40 movies annually. Some directors made three or four films a year.”



“The Shaw Bros. library is so rich in genre, you could study it for ages,” Chung said.

Watching the old Shaw Bros. films is bound to prompt comparisons with movies being made in Hollywood by Hong Kong directors and actors, many of whom got their start at Shaw Bros. studios.



John Woo, whose themes of heroism and loyalty and carefully composed action shots owe much to Chang Cheh, his mentor. Chang directed more than 60 martial arts films for Shaw Bros. during its golden era, including “The One-Armed Swordsman” in 1967 and “Five Deadly Venoms” in 1978.



During the 1960s and ‘70s, Run Run Shaw was determined to create a new style of martial arts movie. He wanted his “martial arts century” to deliver more realistic action and psychological detail than earlier Chinese films, which reflected the influences of Peking opera in their action and character portrayal.



Shaw advised his directors on which new foreign films to watch for ideas. Chang, for example, was quick to absorb the techniques and styles of such directors as Sam Peckinpah and Akira Kurosawa.



One of Chang’s martial arts choreographers, Lau Kar-Leung, went on to direct some of Shaw’s most popular films, including the 1978 cult favorite “36th Chamber of Shaolin.”



These directors, said film scholar David Bordwell at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, created a film language that “communicated the qualities of grace and force so effectively that you almost feel the kinetic impact, not just from the martial arts moves but also through the framing and cutting” of the film.



Without the budgets or technology for flashy special effects, the Shaw films relied on their actors’ physical prowess and directors’ resourceful camera work and hiding of wires and trampolines.



“When you look at the old pictures, you have to wonder how we made them, without computers or anything,” said Lawrence Wong, director of film production and a veteran of numerous Shaw Bros. classics.



Fight scenes in “old school” kung fu movies typically used long, carefully composed shots, giving a clear view of the martial arts techniques, with their staccato rhythm of explosive punches, kicks and blocks.



This cultural disconnect, aggravated by the hilariously bad dubbing endemic to the genre, contributed to martial arts movies’ reputation among mainstream foreign audiences as little more than gore and kitsch-in other words, cult fare.



The cult status, Bordwell said, was reinforced by distribution patterns. During the 1970s, the movies played mostly at inner-city theaters and other down-market venues under the radar of mass audiences and critics, cross-fertilizing other genres and subcultures, from “blaxploitation” and horror films to rap and reggae music."


#2

Theres a big difference between Hollywood action films and Shaw Brothers action films. I think thats a main reason why QT is choosing to have Kill Bill be very much a Shaw Brothers style fight movie. I also think Kill Bill will spark off a whole new era for Shaw Brothers Studios. Just like Pulp Fiction made a huge impact on film goers and brought back certain types of underground movies to the mainstream, Kill Bill will do the same thing for old school kung fu.


#3

Interesting excerpt, Pete!  Where did you find it?



I’ve always wanted to watch all the old school Shaw Bros. classics, but most either were unavailable or were only offered in poor quality yet overpriced pan-and-scan versions and Chinatown bootlegs.  It looked like most of these films would remain in obscurity forever or disappear never to be seen again.



The Shaw Bros. library is a huge resource of Hong Kong film from the last 3-4 decades.



Quentin made a special trip to the Shaw studios just because he’s such a fanatic about the library.  Tarantino said:  "There is no white man on earth who knows these films better than me!"



But recently Celestial Pictures bought the entire Shaw Bros. library and plans on releasing many titles in cleaned-up letterbox format versions on DVD and VCD.  And even has talked about releasing certain titles on 35 mm prints to select theaters.



So it looks like modern fans of old-school, kung fu or martial arts films will finally get a chance to see these movies for the first time, possibly up on the silver screen!



More info contained in next post.


#4

Here’s a news article from last month discussing the Shaw Bros. history, Celestial’s plans and Tarantino’s involvement.



[because this was a long 2-entries post. i put that thing on my website, because it’s good, and here’s the link:]



www.tarantino.info/archive/articles/shawbros.htm


#5

Here’s a cool website for Shaw Bros news with a list of titles to be released:



http://www.hkcinema.co.uk/shawbronews.html


#6

read the boardrules jeff! i will delete that full article post and put a link to it. you know, you can do pretty much what you want in here, and thats cool with me, but please respect my board rules okay?


#7

Ok, thanks Seb. I’ve just read the rules so I know what’s allowed. Thanks for linking to it. ;D



So any thoughts on Shaw Bros. films?



Which ones have you seen? Which ones do you want to see? Which ones do you recommend? Which ones would you like to see remade?


#8

Jeff I found that article at kungfucinema.com. Thats a great site for Kung Fu fans!



Im definitely gonna start collecting Shaw Bros Kung Fu films on DVD. Its been more than 20 years since I watched Shaw Brothers movies. I saw a lot of them on Kung Fu Theater as a kid. But, its been so long, I dont remember which ones I saw.


#9

they get all completely remastered for dvd. i suggest you wait a little bit to get better quality dvds. better fill your shelf with remastered collector’s editions than non-anamorphic low-quality discs, right?


#10

i think the idea of having a Shaw Brothers logo in front of Kill Bill would rock, I hope it stays.



Damn, it would be awesome to have the “shaw scope” logo on the DVD cover…


#11

I think it would be AWESOME to see the Shawscope logo at the beginning of the film, but I think the one at the test screening was just something QT added on himself to make it look cooler.



Kill Bill isnt a Shaw Brothers production is it?


#12

No, it’s still produced by A Band Apart.





Anyway, thanks for educating me on the Shaw Brothers shit…because this name came up a few times in this forum and it was just a big question mark for me…