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Quentin Tarantino and Gordon Liu
Quentin Tarantino & Gordon Liu
EAST Meets WEST: Chinese Cinema Invades Los Angeles
February 2003

If you're thinking "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" or even "Enter the Dragon," then its time to go back to school (literally). From February 28 to March 16, UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (San Francisco) will be featuring: Heroic Grace: The Chinese Martial Arts Film Series.

This film program will trace the development of the martial arts film from the silent wuxia pian (swordplay films) of Shanghai from the '20s-'30s, through the war years when production migrated to Hong Kong and Taiwan, to the reign of the Mandarin swordplay films ('60s) and the kung fu golden era of the '70s/early '80s.

All films in this series will be presented in their original language (majority w/ English subtitles) and several will be featured in new 35mm or archival prints.

Beginning Friday, Feb. 28, a restored print of the Shaw Brothers 1977 classic Executioners From Shaolin will be presented. Directed by the legendary Liu Chia Liang and starring the recently deceased Lo Lieh (as the white-haired Priest Pai Mei), this film is considered by many as Liu's breakout film as a director.

Liu (aka Lau Kar-Leung), who honed his craft as an action-director in the early to mid '70s, with the venerable Chang Cheh, is scheduled to appear. The evening's showing will be tentatively hosted by Quentin Tarantino who is currently working on the production Kill Bill - his homage film to the genre that heavily influenced him.

Following Saturday's presentation of Killer Clans (1976) and The Six-Fingered Lord of the Lute, Part 1 (1965), a pair of rare silent films will be featured Sunday evening. Uproar at the Baolin Temple (1930) was the curtain-raiser to the adventure series "Swordswoman of Huangjiang" -- the only surviving episode of this 13 part series. The other rare gem will be the 1929 Red Knight-Errant (aka) "Red Heroine." This episode six (sole survivor of the 13-part serial) is one of the few complete and earliest extant silent martial arts films known to exist.

Executioners From Shaolin
Executioners From Shaolin (1977)
Vengeance! (1970)

Blood Brothers

Blood Brothers (1973)
The series will present a multitude of China's finest. Films by Chang Cheh (Golden Swallow and One-Armed Swordsman), King Hu (Come Drink With Me), Liu Chia Liang (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin), and John Woo (Last Hurrah for Chivalry) are just a sampling of those that will be honored.

On Saturday, March 15, another notable guest (schedule permitting) that will be in attendance is Shaw Bros. alumni Gordon Liu; best known as the bald-headed Shaolin priest in the "36 Chamber" series. On that day, restored prints of both The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Return to the 36th Chamber will be presented.

Liu, adopted brother of director Liu Chia Liang, has a distinguished career as both actor and action-director that spans four decades. While he is currently working on various TVB projects, Liu recently finished work on Tarantino's latest production. His character's name in that film (Pai Mei) is based upon the Lo Lieh character that appeared in "Executioners From Shaolin."

In conjunction with the film series, four international film scholars and critics will contribute their reflections on the martial arts film. David Bordwell, Sam Ho, Berenice Reynaud and Stephen Teo are those who have contributed essays (edited and introduced by film critic David Chute) that will be available in the complimentary Heroic Grace catalogue. Also in the catalog will be more extensive notes on the films and filmmakers in the series.

For a complete schedule of films that will be presented and further contact information for this event, click here.

Advance tickets for all Heroic Grace screenings can be purchased in person at UCLA's James Bridges Theater box office from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, 2/15; Sunday, 2/16; Saturday, 2/22 and Sunday, 2/23. Each ticket-buyer will be limited to two tickets per screening during the advance ticket sales. All events will take place at the James Bridges Theater, UCLA except for the premier screening on Feb. 28. That event will take place at the Writers Guild Theater, 135 South Doheny Drive (at Wilshire) in Beverly Hills. Additional in-person appearances are to be announced.

© Terrence J. Brady

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