Iron fists and kung fu kicks

Serge Ou (Stranded, Building to the Sky) takes a look at Hong Kong action movies , starting with the Shaw Brothers, and at the exchanges and (counter-) cultural reappropriations spawned by the genre, either on New York's 42nd Street, in Hollywood with films like The Matrix, in Asia, in Africa or even in France.

With many prestigious  contributors (Cheng Peipei, Cynthia Rothrock, Sammo Hung) and still very impressive extracts by Chang Cheh, Jackie Chan ou Yuen Woo Ping, this documentary carries the mark of its passionate producers, and never gives in to sappy nostalgia.

Todd Brown

What happens when you take the producers of wildly entertaining pop culture documentaries MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED and ELECTRIC BOOGALOO and turn their sights on the history of kung fu cinema? IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS is what happens and fans of martial arts will be ecstatic that it did. Documentarian Serge Ou takes the director’s chair here and it would appear that the subject matter has absolutely blown his mind. It’s certainly raped his edit style into overdrive as he takes the audience on a delirious trip through the history of Hong Kong martial arts cinema – a trip that begins, appropriately enough, with an in depth look at the Shaw Brothers but doesn’t stop there. You want veterans of the original kung fu explosion telling behind the scenes stories? You’ve got that. You want to know the cultural context that led to this explosion of stylish action? That’s there, too. Personalities even more colorful than the images on screen? Yep, those are there. A look at how and why these classics have had such a huge impact on the entire world of cinema today? You bet.  As entertaining itself as the films it examines, IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS is a blast of excitement and energy for all of your senses. It’s a film that not only embraces the nostalgia of these amazing works but also looks to a bright and exciting future. So hold on tight and try to keep up as it rockets you through the most exciting period in the history of action cinema.

Iron fists and kung fu kicks. 2019. Color. 80mn. Original version with English subtitles. USA. Documentary.
Directed by: Serge Ou. Produced by: Veronica Fury. Screenplay by: Serge Ou, Grady Hendrix. Editing: Chris Bamford. Photography: Geoff Ellis. Music by: Rajan Kamahl. With: Cheng Pei-pei, Cynthia Rothrock, Jessica Henwick, Richard Norton.
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