Kick'em In The Ghoulies

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The Legendary Shaw Brothers

 

The Legendary Shaw Brothers


Fans of classic Gung-fu films usually have a penchant for the classic films from Shaw Brothers , the company produced films on a near weekly basis at one stage as output for the studio sky rocked during the 60's and 70's.


It was in 1958 that the legendary Shaw Brothers studio came to fruition in Hong Kong.. the studio sat on a 46 acre site in Clear Water Bay in Hong Kong. #


Taking a leaf out of Hollywood's book the site was a permanent production lot where actors and workers lived and worked . It was the largest privately owned film production studio in the World and during the 1960's was the biggest producer of film in the whole of Asia.


With such classic films as ''The One Armed Swordsman ''Come Drink with Me'' and Golden Swallow amongst some of the greats.



Production did tone down during the 70's partly due to competition from the new Golden Harvest studios fronted by former Shaw's employee Raymond Chow. Combined with the signing of Bruce Lee ( Shaw's biggest mistake when they turned him down) Golden Harvest literally took Shaw on at his own game ..


But this does not mean it all came to a abrupt end. The 70's was still very fruitful for the studio's ,due most partly to a AA list of stars under contract such as Ti Lung,Wang Yu ,Gordon Liu Chen Kuan-tai and of course the legendary Venoms group..


At one stage it looked like ,and they did for sure have a star on their hands that could become the biggest star since Bruce Lee in Asia.

 

Alexander Fu-Sheng

Alexander Fu Sheng signed with Shaw's in 1971 and was cast in The Fourteen Amazons as a extra, he went on to star in some of Shaw's biggest films including Heroes Two,Brave Archer ,China Town Kid and Five Shaolin Masters.



Alexander was asked to star in NG See Yuen's ''Snake in Eagles Shadow'' as the lead but Shaw would not release him. 


Jackie Chan got the role in the end and we all know the story there.


Alexander still would have had other roles that would have shot him to the top and one was the Shaw Production of ''Eight Diagram Pole Fighter'' aka The Invincible Pole Fighters. 


Shot in 1983 Alexander was to be the star but  tragically Alexander was involved in a car accident on July 7th 1983 and died.


The Films ending was rewritten with Gordon Liu as the main protagonist for the end fight due to Alexander Fu Sheng's passing.


It was all so more tragic as like Bruce Lee before him he was so young at just 28 .

Of note Alexander actually lived in Bruce Lee's old house in Hong Kong.


 

The Beginning and Runje Shaw

During the 80's Shaw's productions slowed quite a bit ,stars at the end of their contracts chose new ventures, Golden Harvest had proved themselves the power house they promised to be and in the 80's and early 90's no studio could match them in Asia.


But it may all seem like a giant rise to fame and fortune then nothing in a small amount of time ,but the Shaw legacy goes back to 1925 when Runje Shaw ( the eldest brother ) and Runde Shaw formed the Tianyi Film Company aka Unique Film Productions.


They had the one of the three biggest film production studios in pre WW2 China and it marked the beginning of the Shaw film group .


Younger brothers Runde,RunRun and Runme where sent out to set up of shore companies in Hong Kong,Singapore and Malaysia .


Runje ended up retiring after the destruction of the Shanghai studio's during the war.


 

A New Era in Hong Kong

After the war the younger three brothers concentrated their business in Hong Kong ,Malaysia and Singapore. 


But it was in Hong Kong that Run Run Shaw and Runme Shaw would build the biggest film studio in Asia.


Using funds that the brothers had buried during the war , according to Run Run Shaw ,they buried Gold, Jewellery and money amounting to a whopping $4Million ( and all in their backyard) , thus they could restart their business after the war .

One thing for sure the business they started has one of the biggest legacy's in film production .


And this is why you are here reading this.


* Photo- Runme Shaw


 

The Legacy 

With the death of Sir Run Run Shaw on the 7th of January 2014 at the grand age of 106 we felt it just to honour the man and his brothers by simply showcasing some of the greatest films to grace the screen.


As many will know in 2000 Run Run Shaw sold the back catalogue of 760 Shaw Brothers films to Celestial Pictures.




Celestial has since gone on to remaster all of the films in the original ratios and soundtracks. With added subtitles in Chinese and English .


Also there have been quite a few releases of these films outside of Asia ,with a selection released (though small) onto region 2 DVD in Europe by Momentum Asia which included ''Human Skin Lanterns'', Death Duel and ''Spiritual Boxer''.


In the USA they have been more fortunate with the Dragon Dynasty label releasing a much wider range of films on region 1 DVD ,some of these also have English soundtracks from when the films where dubbed for the Western market in the 70's. 


Films include titles such as '' The 36th Chamber of Shaolin'', Come Drink With Me and Killer Clans.


 

The People that Made Shaw Brothers Great

Chang Cheh

Director / Producer

Prolific Director / Writer  for the Shaw Brothers studio , made more then 90 films . 
Dubbed the Godfather of Hong Kong Cinema
Wrote his first screenplay in 1947
and first director role in 1949
Standout Films : One Armed Swordsman -1967
Boxer from Shangtung -1972
Five Venoms - 1978
Passed Away : June 2002 - Age 79

Gordon Liu

Martial Artist / Actor / Producer / Musician 

Born Sim Kam Hei in August 1951 Gordon Liu or Lau Kar Fei as he is also known is the Godson of Lau Cham .
Liu studded Hung Gar Kung Fu under Lau Cham and Lau Cham's wife. 
This is how he got his break in the Movie business. As Lau Kar Leung is Lau Cham's son and it's he who got him his first role in Shaw Brothers classic Five Shaolin Masters.
His big break came in 1978 with his role as San Te in 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
In 2011 Liu suffered a stroke while performing in his band .
He lost movement and had speech impediments . As of 2015 he has seemed to improved with his speech returning to normal . 
Liu's final film role was in 2012's Kill'EM All .
He is widely known due to the two Kill Bill films (2003 -2004 ) where he played he played the head of the Crazy 88's and Pai Mei in the second film.

Sun Chien

Martial Artist / Actor / Member of the Venom Mob

Orphaned at a young age and brought up by his sisters  Taiwanese born Sun Chien got his first role in China Town Kid (1977) 
A Dynamic Fighter Sun Chien is a exponent of Taekwondo which made him a good fit for the Venoms . He is always fun and exciting to watch . His last known role was in 1991's Angry Ranger Produced by Jackie Chan.
 
 
 

Lau Kar Leung

Martial Artist / Actor /Director 

Legendary Hung Gar Master who became one of Shaw brothers leading Directors and Action choreographers.
Worked with Many of the big name stars .
aka Liu Chia Liang   
Son of Hung Gar master Lau Cham 
Often refereed to as The Pops
Passed Away : 2013

Chen Kuan Tai

Martial Artist / Actor

Born in 1945 Chen Kuan-Tai was one of Shaw Brothers first true Martial arts trained stars . Prior to joining Shaw Brothers he had a won a world Kung Fu Tournament and held a job as Fireman.

One of his first roles was in Chinese Boxer in 1969 and continued to have good parts in Shaw's films including Vengeance with David Chiang , The Duel and Deadly Duo which starred Ti Lung .
But it was his role in 1972 film Boxer from Shantung as the lead that set the Martial arts film circles on fire.

Having starred in over eighty of Shaw Brothers films as well as others he continues to work in the industry till this day.
 
 
 

Spring of Shaw Season on Site

So our goal at Kick'em in the Ghoulies is to bring knowledge to Asian Cinema fans worldwide of the great films that came from the studio.


Now with more then six hundred films in the catalogue it's a long haul project and one we hope visitors to the site will enjoy and find out about that elusive film they have heard about .


Our Spring of Shaw Season will continue each year as and when films become available to us . Also with the event of more streaming services like Amazon and Netflix which also cater to fans of these films it seems more likely the reviews will be more often. 


Amazon Prime has a good selection of Shaw Brothers films to view. Even though here at Kick'em in the Ghoulies we do like our physical media . And when possible will obtain a physical disc for review. 


On site already are a fair selection of films reviewed from the studio, Just look below for links to those reviews , Just Hit that yellow  button and go .

 
 
 
 Spring of Shaw Season Reviews No 25 onward
 Year
 Star or Director
 1977
  Alexander Fu Sheng
 1976
  Alexander Fu Sheng
 1973
  Chen Kuan Tai
 1969
  David Chiang
 

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